xcom 2: war of the chosen
Over the past few years Firaxis has managed to do the unthinkable. First they rebooted a beloved strategy series with a deep cult following and managed to make it great. I mean against all odds they were able to breathe fresh life into X-COM (now just XCOM) and turn it into something that was easy to play on a console. And it was good. Really, really good. So good in fact that there's maybe an argument to be made that if we put nostalgia aside, these new games may very well be better than the original X-COM series. As much as I loved Terror From The Deep as a kid, I'd personally rather play the new games now than go back to the old.
But this isn't the unthinkable thing that I'm talking about that Firaxis did. I'm talking about the fact that they've now made two full games and two full expansions in this new series - and while the first game, 2012's Enemy Unknown was excellent - they've somehow managed to make each new entry even better than the last. While Enemy Unknown came out feeling fresh and confident and well... perfect at the time, it now feels quaint to my memory having spent many hours with each subsequent release.
XCOM's first major expansion was Enemy Within which added things like mech-suits and telepathic abilities for soldiers. The "Within" part of the title sort of alludes to the fact that you get to mess around with the alien tech in this one. Enemy Within wasn't just a fresh coat of paint, it was some drastically new colors. But the core of XCOM remained the same.
When XCOM 2 finally hit in 2016 it was a really big deal for me. It was easily one of my most anticipated games in a very long time. And it managed to do everything better than the first game(s). Well, everything other than loading screens. And once again I felt like the game had been perfected. How could they possibly improve upon this?
But War Of The Chosen is incredible. I can tell you this with total confidence given that a horrible crash actually deleted my Ironman save file thirteen hours into the campaign and y'know what I did? I just started right back over again. Losing thirteen hours of progress would have probably killed my interest in any other game, but in War Of The Chosen... eh, whatever.
Perhaps the biggest addition to this iteration are the titular Chosen. These are three aliens who will spend their time hunting you on the map. They can randomly appear (one at a time) in various missions and totally ruin your day. Each one has specific powers and downfalls. It's totally interesting stuff. Anyway, as part of the new campaign you'll want to turn the tables and hunt each down yourself, thus saving you a much bigger blowout later in the game.
I will say that once I had killed the three Chosen the game started to feel slightly less novel as a lot of the later mandatory missions basically made me feel like I was playing through the vanilla XCOM 2 again. But I'm probably just nitpicking since there's so much new content here. For instance there's The Lost which is a swarm of alien zombie things. There's also new classes to align with for your own troops. Oh and there are soldier bonds that add even more depth to leveling up your team. Basically anything you can think of from base facilities to weapons to enemies and so on - everything has gotten a fairly major upgrade here.
So yeah, this is now the fourth time that I'm citing an XCOM game as the new perfect example of such a thing. I look forward to calling XCOM 3 a perfect game.