By Austin Gatcomb, Staff Reporter
Recently, on February 5, 2016, the long awaited sequel to XCOM: Enemy Within was released. Titled XCOM 2, this squad level turn based tactics game takes place twenty years following the conquest of Earth by alien forces where once again, players take on the role of the Commander of XCOM, short for Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, but this time leading a resistance force against the aliens.
“I think it had a pretty good play through for the first,” said Warren Barter, a junior who has been playing since XCOM: Enemy Within, “but its replay value is not very high.” This is unfortunately rather true, as after the first play through players know what will happen and have generally come up with tactics that work for them rather well. Tactics are not the only thing becoming old fast; however, as the maps that are generated by the game start to be repeated after a few dozen hours of actual game time.
“I’d disagree about the maps,” said Tom Reid, a sophomore who has logged countless hours in XCOM: Enemy Within, following Barter’s statement. “I think that the cover and the general layouts was different enough that it allowed a different solution each time.”
“Overall it was a great game,” said Barter, “[Firaxis Games] fixed a lot of things that the original XCOM games was miserable.” Such improvements were to enemy AI, were in XCOM: Enemy Within retreating aliens would run in random directions, XCOM 2 aliens would retreat to another squad of aliens. Also there is now the Concealment Phase were the player’s soldiers are hidden until they are either spotted by the aliens or launch an ambush against the aliens. There has also been a change to the number and types of aliens seen from XCOM: Enemy Within to XCOM 2, which in the spirit of avoiding spoilers will not be talked about.
XCOM 2 also features a significantly easier way to create Mods, a simple catch all term for modifications to the game for either cosmetic or gameplay purposes, by modders, a term for a mod creator. This was done by allowing the download of the developmental tools and built in tutorials. Three weeks after the game was released, over 850 mods have been released onto the STEAM workshop, with even more being available on Nexus Mods.
“I have a mod that makes the doomsday timer thing… longer,” said Lukas Kenison, a junior who has played most of the XCOM games including the original from 1994 XCOM: UFO Defense, “and another mod that increases the base squad size from six to eight.”
The game features advanced customization of your soldiers, allowing you to create friends and family to help in the fight to free the planet. “I built Warren and I on like, the first day,” said Reid, “I built Austin and Justin later.”
“It’s been kinda upsetting because hey they’re my friends and they’re dying and I don’t like it when they die,” said Kenison. This personal investment in the game to prevent friends, family, and even themselves from dying in the game can drive players to try even harder.