XCOM 2 - Critique
The hopeless vibe of the post-apocalyptic world of XCOM 2 doesn't really invite relaxation. 20 years have passed since the sad defeat of humanity during the war played in the excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown released in 2012. We are now fighting 10 years of occupation by aliens. It is a theme that is perfect for a squad game where 4 to 6 soldiers will face a much more powerful enemy at first glance, as well as an excellent backdrop for unpredictable, tactical and addictive battles.
Just like in the previous installment, the challenges of turn-based tactical combat challenge you to become too attached to your characters, which can be personalized as you wish, when you know very well that they can die at any moment after an error or a stroke of bad luck. As with any game that includes a luck factor, such as Risk, Monopoly, or Warhammer, XCOM 2 is a cruel game. Even if the way you play is flawless, you can still lose from a bad dice roll. However, a good player will know how to stand out in the long term. Deciding what skills to improve and how to use them, and then crossing your fingers that your soldiers land their special move, all of these add up to a sometimes triumphant and sometimes tragic suspense.
It's like playing Russian Roulette with a single ball, your odds of survival are five out of six, or 83.3%. Pretty good isn't it? But you'd have to be crazy to risk your life on the remaining 16.6% risk, and yet that's what happens in XCOM 2. The game will ask you to play with the lives of your soldiers, and often with them. even worse percentages, every turn. You might think that an 80% chance is a guaranteed success… but when it fails, you need a plan B or you will only have your eyes left to mourn the death of your soldiers.
Not dying on your first game is one thing - you're doomed to fall for one of the myriad unknown traps, especially if you're playing on high difficulty (like I did - normal or 'veteran', don't. does not offer a challenge for someone who has already played XCOM). But one of the great strengths of XCOM 2 is its efforts not to become repetitive from party to party. Experienced players who have played XCOM: Enemy Unknown for a long time quickly understand how it works - they know what to build first, what research to prioritize, which paths to take in the maps, and where enemies spawn. In XCOM 2, this will no longer be possible, as randomness sets in throughout the campaign. The road that led you to victory the first time around may not have the same result in another game.
So within 20-30 hours of the campaign you will see a random assortment of weapon mods, bonuses for your soldiers, special ammo and grenade types, psionic powers, gains in your resistance network via the coverage of continents, etc. What are you going to use? Incendiary grenades that excel at disabling your enemies' special abilities while inflicting damage over time? Or poison bullets that reduce accuracy and deal constant damage? Or tracer bullets that increase accuracy in addition to other bonuses. You can't count on everything, but you will have something, and adapting to those resources is an ongoing challenge.
The same goes for high quality procedural maps, and variety of missions. Without knowing in advance the location of the objectives or the position of the hostiles, you will attack, defend, extract or eliminate VIPs by blowing everything up. Some missions will have a limited number of turns which will force you to play dangerously or retreat in a rush. I cannot say that I have ever lost a mission due to a poorly constructed map (although I have sometimes gotten away with blasting off.)
And since many missions start with concealed soldiers, your squad can ambush deadly and pay off, both for the mission and for the eyes. Stealth is an interesting concept, as if the aliens of XCOM 2 were telling us "humans, shoot first!" It is ultimately a simple system: at the start of a mission, the aliens do not know where the soldiers are unless they enter a certain perimeter or they open fire. It's not difficult to use, unless you go headlong into it (which I sometimes did, I admit). With a little caution, you'll put all but one of your soldiers into watch mode, circling the primary target, then watch your squad shred enemies (normally) in beautiful slow motion.
The aliens seem to be well equipped to compensate for your advantageous stealth, however, with powers that make them much more difficult to take down if they aren't downed in the first turn. Advent's shield holder is a case in point: if he survives and is unhindered, he will activate an ability that will give him and his allies an energy barrier capable of absorbing an amount. consequent damage. It is in your interest to pay close attention to who you are taking as your priority target because this has a huge influence on the rest of the confrontation, when it is their turn to attack.
Also when you take down two aliens in a group of three, sometimes the last one is smart enough to retreat and fit in with another group. This is great, because not only does the AI display a rare will to survive, but you also have to remember not to leave any survivors when you launch the assault, otherwise the next battle will be much more difficult.