With the release date set for February 5, longtime fans might be wondering how its gameplay differs from its predecessors, and . This sequel has a variety of features that change up the series’ established formula in new and exciting ways. Join us as we run down every significant change below!
With Earth under alien rule, the XCOM unit is now acting as an army of resistance fighters using guerrilla warfare tactics to accomplish its goals. As a result, your unit is often dropped into missions hidden from the eyes of enemy troops. This altered combat premise introduces a new mechanic called “Concealment,” which allows you to sneak past enemies or set up calculated ambushes.
When you encounter enemies, their line of sight is represented on the map through red squares. If a soldier passes through/steps on a square, kicks open a door, or breaks through a window, their concealment is broken. All your allies automatically fire in sequence as you soon as you take your first shot, assuming they’re also in range of and can see your target. With clever planning and troop placement, this could potentially let you wipe out. an entire squad.
While most units cannot re-enter concealment after breaking it, the Ranger class is a notable exception. These special soldiers can unlock and use a unique perk that allows them to re-conceal their presence.
You can now loot enemy bodies to obtain weapons, upgrade parts, and artifacts for your soldiers. Loot randomly spawns on the map near an enemy corpses as optional timed-objectives, which creates a risk and reward situation that challenges you to decide whether or not it’s worth maneuvering over to the loot while in the middle of a tense battle.
Procedurally Generated Maps and Objectives
Unlike XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 features procedural map generation. The feature was initially planned for Enemy Unknown but was scrapped in favor of handcrafted maps. It has now been implemented in the sequel via a “plot and parcel system,” a new tech that generates and places random objects or buildings into pre-designated “holes” on a map. For more specifics on how procedural map generation works in XCOM 2, check out the Reality Check episode below where our very own Lucy James discusses it with the developers at Firaxis.
Additionally, mission objectives are procedurally generated based on the map layout rather than being tied to specific story instances. For example, one map requires you to extract secret data from a well-guarded module, while another has you blowing up a building. The game occasionally ups the tension by adding countdown timers to these objectives, challenging you to complete them within a set number of turns.
Call For an Extraction at Any Time, Unless Otherwise Noted
If a mission isn’t going in your favor, you can opt to extract your soldiers at any time by calling in a Skyranger. This is a great way to save the lives of essential soldiers when a dangerous mission threatens to kill them off. However, all living soldiers on the map must make it to the designated extraction point before they can be extracted. Be careful, though: some missions restrict this ability if they already have pre-designated extraction points.
New Soldier Classes
There are several new soldier classes in XCOM 2, including: Specialist, Sharpshooter, Grenadier, Psi Operative, and Ranger. Each comes with its own unique abilities and perks that can be of assistance in a variety of tactical situations. One highlight is the Specialist, a soldier class equipped with a handy drone that can provide offensive and defensive buffs to squad mates. You can find more screenshots of each of the new classes below.
Soldiers have more melee options this time around. The most obvious option comes from the Ranger class: a soldier equipped with a large machete that can slice up unsuspecting aliens. Psi-op units, on the other hand, can mind control enemies into using their unique melee attacks options–such as the Muton’s rifle bayonet–against other aliens.
New Alien Classes
Alongside the new soldier classes come new alien classes. While some are subtle alterations to aliens from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, there are plenty of new additions here as well, including Advent soldiers–which are humans spliced with alien DNA–and the Berserker, a hulking alien beast that’s liable to wreck anything standing in its way. You can find more images of the new aliens below.
In XCOM 2, you can carry the bodies of soldiers that have been knocked out, killed, or critically wounded. Carrying dead soldiers to an extraction point allows you to keep their equipment for future use, while carrying the body of a critically wounded soldier to an extraction point revives them upon returning to base. And if an enemy knocks out one of your soldiers, an ally can carry them to safety.
XCOM 2 introduces a new element to its base strategy mechanics by making your command center a mobile ship. This makes it harder to decide which missions to decide which missions to pursue as more become available. One mission can grant you 125 supplies, but another can net you new scientists to help expand your research development. All the while, you’ll be clearing out the lower floors of your base, building up your facilities to research technologies, upgrading your army, and deciding what facilities and upgrades to spend supplies on.