XCOM 2 Preview – A Cinematic Experience Where Aliens Rule the World

At E3 I had an appointment for an “unannounced 2K game”. That game turned out to be XCOM 2, a sequel to one of the greatest strategy titles of the past decade, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Upon arrival at 2K’s booth I was treated to a 15 minute demonstration that gave me a better idea of what to expect.

XCOM 2 picks up 20 years after where its predecessor left off. The world has changed dramatically during that time due to humanity’s defeat by the hand of aliens—human defeat is enforced as canon. Humanity is dejected by oppression and you as the surveyor of a small and poorly funded resistance group fight against all odds. Your goal will be to stop the world from continuing on its current path of alien rule. It’s the perfect situation for anyone who enjoys playing as the tactical genius.

Watching the demonstration it became clear that one of XCOM 2‘s greatest improvements over the last game is how it presents actions on-screen as well as enlivening the world around you. Player actions were highlighted with camera angles that made it much easier to become immersed in the combat scenario. Although not all maps will be rich with epic choreography, most of the main missions will, and those are the ones that matter most.

The new user interface is easier to read.

Gameplay has been altered in a dramatic way with the removal of concealment as a standard for most enemy types. There will be a greater variety of enemies, and they will be presented in a more standard strategy RPG style with them revealed from the onset of battle. The developer I spoke to said that this change has resulted in offensive play being critical to success, a departure from the defensive-oriented nature of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Enemies have become more of a physical threat as the result of their loss of stealth, though. They are well-equipped and in most circumstances will have the odds in their favor. Success as a leader of the resistance won’t be easy.

One new playable unit type was shown, called the Ranger. It’s a close-combat expert equipped with a blade. Its potency further emphasizes aggressive play. Supporting this unit as it rushes into the face of foes will be a key component to being successful in some missions.

The best thing is that, like Fallout 4, XCOM 2 was announced this month yet is only five months from launch. This year’s Fall line-up just got a whole lot better. The only bad news is for console fans; XCOM 2 will be exclusive to PC.