So, XCOM 2 has had its big expansion pack come out and everybody’s excited. Except for the modders, as now they have to re-jig their mods to fit with the massive engine changes that Firaxis have put in. But whatever, you didn’t come here to read about mod problems because that quickly descends into an argument on “which nudie mod is the least horrible”. (Plot twist – they’re all atrocious.)
Oh, and a quick primer on XCOM 2 if you’ve never played it: It’s basically Civilization IV but you’re working with a guerrilla resistance fighting aliens that conquered the Earth.
So, the big draw on War of the Chosen (known as WotC on the forums) is these so-called “Chosen”, alien boss units that are annoying to deal with in the beginning, but soon become much less threatening when you’ve fought them a few times. They’re Firaxis’ attempt at a more responsive AI, countering your tactics with tactics of their own.
It’s basically Civilization IV but you’re working with a guerrilla resistance fighting aliens that conquered the Earth.
Eventually you get to kill them and nick their weapons, which is surprisingly anticlimactic. With something as integral as this to the expansion I would expect something like extra squad members or nastier aliens, but there’s nothing of the sort. Attacking them has one unique mechanic that I don’t wish to spoil, but that’s it.
Then there’s something called the Lost. At first glance, it smacks of developers running out of ideas and shoving in zombies, but on closer inspection it works well by linking the events of XCOM Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2, and (I can’t believe I’m actually admitting I read this) XCOM 2: Resurrection, the tie-in book. Still no sign of bloody Dr Vahlen though, so I’m expecting her to show up in XCOM 3, probably as a fourth Chosen that screams at you for using explosives.
Speaking of screaming, the whole game is much chattier now. The Chosen will witter on at you during battle, the alien spokes-thing will tell people that you are worse than Stalin, other minor resistance factions will give you light compliments... it’s a lot less eerily quiet than it used to be, but they may have overdone it a little.
There are new soldiers you can recruit now, as well as a Resistance Ring thing, thanks to those minor factions. The new soldiers are powerful but not unbalanced. The Resistance Ring, on the other hand, can really make or break a game; if you get the right bonuses, you’ll coast through; conversely, if all you have is +10% XP as a starting option, then you’re gonna have a bad time.
Weirdly enough, some of the best features of WotC come in the form of minor touches rather than major gameplay changes. For example, there has been a lot of work put into making it run faster. Little icons let you know if a group of aliens will notice or even shoot you if you move to a particular area. SPARKs (a robotic soldier class from a smaller DLC) now get weapon modifications, although this tweak seems low-effort; the weapons appear much too close to the screen, and the weapon mods don’t change appearance (unlike all other soldier classes).
Weirdly enough, some of the best features of WotC come in the form of minor touches rather than major gameplay changes.
Overall, XCOM 2 WotC brings about a bit of new stuff to the base game but shrivels up in comparison to the now-incompatible Long War 2 mod. Firaxis have forced a choice between the two and I’m sorry, Firaxis, but you lose this one.