I’ve been swimming in an endless ocean of XCOM 2 lately, but I finally decided to come up for some air and write down my thoughts. When I first installed it, the frame rate was awful, even with the graphics turned to minimum, and at first I almost returned it as unplayable, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m still hovering at 16 FPS, but I’ve gotten accustomed to it. The day after I bought it, I played for a few hours, and liked it, but felt it didn’t hook me in like XCOM: Enemy Unknown had. After I played for ten hours on Sunday, I had to admit that perhaps it had.
If I had to sum up playing XCOM 2 in one word, it would be “desperation.” I always feel like I need more. Just another engineer, or another empty room, or a bit more time, and I’d be in a much better place. My soldiers convalesce endlessly, selfishly healing from a plasma grenade for two weeks when I need them most. I’m stuck waiting for days as we make contact with a new region, only to be pulled away to deal with another mission and forced to delay while the aliens make progress on their Avatar project. It’s a lot more frustrating than XCOM was, but it’s much more fun, too.
There’s a lot more diversity in weapons. I think the art direction in general is better. I miss all of the old aliens, but the new aliens are awesome, too. I don’t get that same feeling of awed fear I got in the first XCOM, but that’s probably because Firaxis spent the last few months broadcasting each and every single alien they could, whereas when I got XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I knew absolutely nothing about it, not even the original game’s existence, so everything was brand new to me. I do wish I could have gone in with more surprises, but ah, well. There were at least a few surprises, but it’s still a different experience.
The story’s nothing amazing, but I didn’t really expect anything brilliant that would leave me in tears. It served its purpose, which was to motivate me to blast away aliens. I could have done with more grey. There was a little bit hinted near the very, very end, but it would have been to get more of that before the final level. The game had a good ending, too. Leaves more room for a sequel than XCOM did, I feel.
Overall, I love it. I’ve already finished my first campaign and started a new one on Commander difficulty. It’s going well so far, but I’ve been relying on miracle shots more, which isn’t a good sign for the future. I need to get more cautious. If you enjoyed XCOM, XCOM 2 is more of what you loved and then some, so check it out.