The best games like XCOM

The best games like XCOM come in all shapes and sizes - here's our elite, hand picked team of XCOM-like strategy games for you to check out.

Games like XCOM - An alien brain creature on an operating table, looking at a scientist nervously with one protruding eye.

There are plenty of good reasons to seek out more games like XCOM. Whether you prefer the original gameplay of XCOM UFO Defense and friends, or the modern style of the reboots, XCOM Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, this series’ tense, tactical, alien-blasting battles; tightly balanced base building; and perma-death team management are a thing of beauty. Devs have been trying to recreate that (glowing green) DNA ever since, creating some legitimate bangers in the process – so this guide profiles the very best games like XCOM to try out.

 

In-keeping with the XCOM formula, our picks are all tricky turn based games, and require you to manage a squad, but aside from that they differ wildy. We’ve included various settings, from Warhammer 40k games to a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you play a gang of walking, talking, shotgun-shooting animals. To broaden your focus a bit, you could try our guides to the best RTS games or the best grand strategy games on PC; but, if you’re set on the XCOM-like path, then pick your team, and let’s deploy.

The best games like XCOM are:

Games like XCOM - A squadron of grey knights squaring up against a Great Unclean One.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters

In Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters, you lead a gang of Grey Knights – the most mysterious and secretive Space Marine chapter of all the Warhammer 40k factions – on an unpleasant stroll through an area of space being infected by the chaos plague god Nurgle.

As games like XCOM go, Chaos Gate Daemonhunters doesn’t stray too far from the tried and tested formula. Combat missions involving elite squads you customise and kit out over time? Check. Tricky choices about which tech to research and which missions to pursue on the management screen? Check.

Where this game diverges slightly from XCOM is the momentum of its battles. Instead of tense battles, creeping from cover to cover, in Chaos Gate Daemonhunters, various mechanics encourage you to get aggressive, keeping your squad members close together and up in the fight.

For more info, read our full Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters review

Best games like XCOM guide - Xenonauts 2 screenshot showing the player's team in a firefight on a road in a residential area

Xenonauts 2

Like its 2014 predecessor, Xenonauts 2 is a spiritual successor to the classic XCOM games of yore; it shares their slower pace, higher density of mechanics, and steep difficulty curve compared to Firaxis’ new-fangled offerings.

If you’d rather modern XCOM-like games were a bit steadier-paced and more detailed – but developed with 2020s technology instead of potatoes – Xenonauts 2 is the title for you. Like the first game, it’s super granular, putting you in charge of everything from inventory management, to building bases, to manually shooting down alien craft. If you like your strategy games like you like your cornflakes – crunchy – there’s a lot of depth to enjoy here.

Unlike the first Xenonauts, however, Goldhawk Interactive’s 2023 sequel has full 3D graphics instead of old-school isometric visuals, as well as huge quality of life improvements, including a solid tutorial; extensive accessibility and difficulty options; and the welcome ability to check what your attack hit chances will be after a given movement, before you make that move.

Because of the sheer variety of pre-game customisation settings that allow you to shape your challenge, Xenonauts is one of the more accessible XCOM-likes out there – but it ain’t easy by a long shot. You have been warned.

For more details, read our full Xenonauts 2 review

Games like XCOM - An alien landscape in Phoenix Point.

Phoenix Point

The premise of Phoenix Point: XCOM, but with Lovecraftian horrors, sounds pretty heavenly. Combat is shaken up with an action point system, along with will points measuring sanity, and both the fishy mutant threat and the three factions you’ll encounter as you play are interesting.

Phoenix Point is very like XCOM, but in fact it isn’t quite so easy to firmly recommend as some of the titles on our list. Some will fall in love with it, others may bounce off its slightly fiddly gameplay, which includes a couple of systems that feel a touch underbaked.

Games like XCOM - A screenshot from gears tactics of a heated battle..

Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics was a surprise hit of 2020, a spinoff that was a swift departure from the third-person cover shooter gameplay of previous Gears of War games.

You build up a squad of ‘Gears’ and then take them chewing through a series of XCOM-style battles in the course of a campaign. From the cover system to overwatch, the gameplay will be familiar to all fans of the XCOM series.

If you ever wished you could have the battles of XCOM, but without all the downtime and stress-inducing decision-making between battles, Gears Tactics is an excellent, highly-polished title to try out.

Games like XCOM - A duck, boar, and human in a dingy bar.

Mutant Road Zero: Road to Eden

Mutant Road Zero: Road to Eden has the turn-based combat of XCOM, but what surrounds it is an entirely different beast. You’ll take your squad of humans and animal mutants out carefully picking through apocalyptic environments – there’s an exploration focus to the whole thing.

Rather than rocking up to battles in a cushy flying craft, you’ll engage your foes out in the wilds, using stealth to set up battles to your advantage, ensuring you kick things off with a bang. Appearances can be deceiving, and neither the story nor gameplay of Mutant Road Zero is as cute and forgiving as its animal stars might suggest.