Three years later, Firaxis Games follows up its 2012 hit X-COM: Enemy Unknown with the plainly titled X-COM 2. But, if gameplay previews are anything to go by, plain stops at the title. This next entry to the now over twenty years old series promises the same unforgiving turn-based tactical warfare, brilliant micromanagement, and slick complexity the series has become known for.
Twenty years after the events of Enemy Unknown, aliens have occupied the planet and the X-COM team has become a mere resistance force. Players must lead X-COM’s remaining forces to try to take back Earth. Sector by sector, players must survive by managing their resources, facilities, tech development, scientific research, and operative training and recruitment.
A new concealment mechanic allows players to arrange their operatives on the battlefield totally covertly until spotted by the enemy AI. Whereas in EU only aliens could move in shadow, now players can set up their own ambushes and fulfill objectives without engagement. Procedurally generated environments will vary stages and objective locations, as opposed to the carefully crafted but mildly repetitive maps of EU.
Operative customization has been vastly expanded to include weapon color schemes and attachments as well as more available accessories, faces, and armor. All the more reason to grow attached to your forces. A new character pool feature allows customized characters to be saved into a bank for use in another playthrough, i.e. if a character dies, they may reappear as a recruit when playing on a different save file.
Given Firaxis’ dedication to nuance and the strategy genre, as demonstrated by EU and their entries to Civilization, we can anticipate an entry worth our time. But will X-COM 2 bring enough innovation to the table? Will its changes live up to the standards set by its predecessors? We’ll find out Feb 2nd when the title launches onto PC, Mac OS, and Linux.