Let's pore over these new XCOM 2 screenshots

By Owen Faraday 05 Aug 2015 0

Suit up.

It's a guerilla monsoon.

With the sequel to the most successful tactics game of all time due out this November, publisher 2K has started to dole out a few more screenshots of the game. This latest batch (released to coincide with Gamescom in Cologne) reveals a lot of new details.

In case you've just emerged, Kimmy Schmidt-style, from an underground bunker where XCOM-related news does not penetrate, XCOM 2 starts from the premise that humanity lost its battle with the alien invaders in the first game. The sequel in some ways flips the proposition of its predecessor -- the creatures that go bump in the night are now under your control, as you lead the human resistance bringing the fight to the alien occupiers in hit-and-fade missions.

We've seen a fair bit of tactical gameplay since XCOM 2's announcement, but not much of the strategy layer. These new screenshots take us to XCOM's base -- which seems to be a mobile flying fortress.


The sword strapped to this fellow's back suggests that he's one of the new close-combat Ranger-class troopers -- and the elaborate camo he's rocking combined with the Khal Drogo braid hint at much deeper customization options in XCOM 2. If you look at the line of stats between the Norwegian flag and the Soldier Abilities menu you'll note that there's a new soldier stat: HACK. This might be tied to breaking into the information networks in alien-occupied cities when you're on the ground.


2K labelled this screenshot "Engineering/Shen" -- looks like fan-favourite NPC Dr. Shen has been succeeded as XCOM's resident MacGuyver by his daughter. Note that "supplies" take the place of currency in XCOM 2 -- other screenshots suggest that you'll get a regular influx of supplies from resistance movements around the world. Keeping them going will presumably be a major objective for you.

This is probably my favourite shot in the whole new batch -- note that the enemy seems to have a deck of cards they're drawing from that dictate their mission and special abilities. Seems to me that this system has the fingerprints of Firaxis designer Ananda Gupta on it; Gupta was the lead designer on the excellent Enemy Within expansion to the original game, and his real claim to fame is being co-lead designer on Twilight Struggle, the highest-rated board game in the world, per BGG (and me).


This shot suggests that you won't start in immediate contact with every human resistance cell on Earth -- you'll have to seek them out (and possibly build radio transmitters -- cousins to XCOM 1's satellites?) to draw support from them.


This looks like a random event. I wouldn't be surprised if this exact one didn't make it into the final game, but there's definitely some sort of exploration system baked into XCOM 2.


An important screenshot here: XCOM have evidently discovered an important truth, namely that pull-ups are the best possible workout for your core muscles. Do pull-ups, people. Oh yeah -- and check out that "buy tactics" button. Is this a straight replacement for the squad expansions and other upgrades from the first game's Officer Training School... or something else?


This screen hints at a change that was recently added to the popular Long War mod for XCOM 1 -- being able to assign a particular class to rookie troopers, rather than being at the mercy of the dice.


This screenshot is labelled "Labs/Tygan" -- so that might be the name of our new chief scientist, replacing XCOM's notorious explosive-phobe Dr. Vahlen. Mr. Tygan apparently shops at the same optician as Deus Ex's Adam Jensen.


This base facility resembles The Foundry from the first game and it's called the Proving Ground. Note the box at the top of the screen -- it looks like you'll have to hire individual staff members to run this department -- or is Mr. Penelli an off-duty soldier?


This shot confirms the ability to customize weapon camo. I can't begin to imagine what modders are going to do with this -- but more importantly it seems that weapon modding will be another means of specializing your soldiers around particular skills and for different missions.


Another customization shot here, this time showing a weapon mod being applied. This is going to be neat.


This Specialist and her Gremlin drone are showing us at least part of an XCOM 2 skill tree. In the original game, there were a couple of implicit builds for each soldier type as they levelled up and unlocked new skills, but it appears that that dichotomy is more clearly defined in XCOM 2.

XCOM 2 is due out in November, and 2K have said it will be a PC exclusive -- no consoles or tablets this time around. We'll be keeping a close on this one as it approaches release.



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