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 is a series that simply can’t be beat when it comes to tense, tactical, alien-blasting battles. We’ve already gone so far as to list it among the best turn-based games of all time. Building a squad over time makes each loss more keenly felt, plus the management side of things is always fun and challenging too. It’s no surprise that it’s spawned a whole series of games like XCOM.
Yes, indeed, plenty of other games have now taken inspiration from the XCOM series. There are loads of devs looking to break into an Area 51 base, needle at the ready, to borrow a little bit of that glowing green XCOM DNA. What that means is, if you need something fresh after investing hundreds of hours into stopping alien invasions, there are plenty of games like XCOM to try out.
Here we’ve abducted a series of the best games like XCOM and games to play if you like XCOM. All our picks offer tricky, turn-based tactics, and require you to manage a squad, but aside from that they differ wildy. Settings range from the warp-torn Warhammer universe, to a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you play a gang of walking, talking, shotgun-shooting animals. There’s bound to be a game like XCOM that’s right for you, so without further ado let’s get stuck into…
The best games like XCOM
- Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters
- Phoenix Point
- Gears Tactics
- Mutant Road Zero: Road to Eden
Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters
In Chaos Gate Daemonhunters you lead a gang of Grey Knights, the most mysterious and secretive Space Marine faction in Warhammer 40k, on an unpleasant stroll through the garden of 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.
Judgement day: Read our Chaos Gate Daemonhunters review
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.
A spiritual successor to the classic XCOM games of yore, Xenonauts is so similar to those older XCOM titles (right down to the steep difficulty curve) that you could easily mistake it for a remake. If you’d rather modern XCOM-like games were a bit slower-paced, and more detailed, Xenonauts is the title for you. 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.
We also bloody love the little scout car you get access to quite early on in Xenonauts. Its turret gun just chews through absolutely everything in its way with a rat-tat-tat, right up to the point where suddenly, it doesn’t anymore. RIP doom buggy.
Xenonauts 2 is in the works, but a release date is still TBD.
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.
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.
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.