Punishing and precise, Firaxis has created one of the most demanding - and thrilling - strategy games ever.


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Urdnot Wrex, Clementine, Elizabeth, Claptrap, HK-47: these video game companions all conjure up distinct memories for the people who met them and played alongside them. Those close-shaves, those funny moments, those last minute saves. These complex pieces of code have transcended their unreality by tapping into our emotions from the very primal to the deeply complex.

Ahead of the release of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, Firaxis has released one of its most anticipated features as a free download: the photobooth. Okay, well, it was one of my most anticipated features anyway.

XCOM 2's expansion is going to be bloody massive. We've talked about this already, following its announcement at E3, but that first trailer only scratched the surface of what Firaxis has been working on. They couldn't properly convey that many new systems in a two-minute video, it's jsut not feasible.

Say what you will about Firaxis, the developer of XCOM and Civilization, it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to expansions. This studio has a fantastic history of using them to tackle big, fundamental issues with their games while adding boatloads of new stuff in the process.

War of the Chosen is XCOM 2's new expansion

Jake Solomon has just been onstage at the PC Gaming Show at this year's E3 to announce an expansion for XCOM 2. It's called War of the Chosen, and it features three new enemy factions and three new ally factions. Oh, and some people who are a bit like zombies. It sounds amazing.

The Chosen refers to the enemies, three champions from the alien army who will challenge players in different ways. The Assassin is duty-bound and honour-driven, focusing on stealth and close quarters. She can vanish from sight and attack with a blade, which sounds incredibly annoying - but in a good way, I think. The Hunter is a long-range sniper. Then there's a Warlock, "Which is, you know, a Warlock," according to Solomon.

Brilliantly, The Chosen evolve as players fight them again and again over the course of the campaign, getting stronger, picking up new abilities and even gaining procedural quirks. Meanwhile, there are three ally factions for the player to hunt down and win over: Reapers, who focus on stealth and sabotage, Skirmishers, who are half-alien hybrids, and Templars, who specialise in Psionic tricks that build power over multiple attacks.

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XCOM 2 getting Long War 2 mod

Welcome back (again), Commander.

Firaxis has confirmed that a Long War 2 mod is in development, as many of us had hoped. Obviously, XCOM 2 just wasn't difficult enough already.

Best-selling Steam games of 2016 revealed

Mix of old and new, big and small.

Happy New Year! Valve has revealed the top 100 best selling games on Steam in 2016. And given the size and dominance of Steam in the desktop gaming marketplace, the results are worth noting.

FeatureXCOM 2: Yes, it's harder, but you also care more

I'm not stuck, I'm just staying put.

XCOM 2 has just landed on consoles with a decent port of the PC version - a bit stuttery when loading missions, but otherwise fine, as far as I can tell. Meanwhile, how bad am I at XCOM 2? By way of an answer, here are a few of my recent save file names: Everyone Dead. Big Error. Oops. These sound like cocktails served at the world's worst theme party, but they also, to their credit, sound like the sort of thing an inexperienced soldier might radio back to base when things go horribly wrong. Okay, maybe not Oops, but when I'm the soldier in question nothing is ever entirely off the table.

VideoWatch: Is Firaxis done with XCOM 2?

Plus the alien unit they had to cut.

XCOM 2 is out on consoles this week and it seems to be a fairly decent port. We used this latest release date as an excuse to go and have another chat with Garth DeAngelis, the game's Senior Producer.

VideoHow does XCOM 2 perform on consoles?

"Getting our tech to talk to theirs is harder than you think."

Listen, I know I'm not exactly Digital Foundry, but this might be useful for those of you looking to pick up XCOM 2 on the consoles this week.

The Eurogamer Podcast #13: Ironman Bratt

And a bit about some games that aren't XCOM 2.

Listen, Chris Bratt has found another way to talk about XCOM 2. He's just completed the game on Ironman mode, which means that the game saves pretty much constantly and any mistakes are locked in good and tight. He wants to talk about it and so do I. Welcome to another edition of the Eurogamer Podcast!

XCOM 2 gets its long-awaited performance patch

XCOM 2 should now run better on your PC, thanks to its first major patch.

"The XCOM team has been working hard to improve performance, balance, and stability issues reported by our fans," explains the official blog post. "We will continue to improve the XCOM 2 experience with additional updates and patches over the coming months".

Firaxis have also added the option to activate a new 'Zip Mode', which speeds up animations and ensures a "faster-paced experience". This remains optional and can be found under the gameplay menu.

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A single button press skips loading screens in XCOM 2

UPDATE: But it could crash the game, developer explains.

UPDATE 12/02/2015 8.07pm: Apparently mashing the Caps Lock key can cause the game to crash, developer Firaxis has explained. Here's the developer's response to our query about if there's any reason players shouldn't use this trick:

XCOM 2 is a fantastic game - we've already said that - but I think it's fair to say that the strategy genre can be an intimidating one for newer players. Perhaps that's why 2K Games hired TV presenter Fred Dinenage to help explain the game's new concealment mechanic.

The Eurogamer Podcast

We talk XCOM 2, The Division beta and TRUCKS.

Hello again! We're back with the second episode of our video games podcast and this time it's all about XCOM 2. Or at least, it really should have been. After awarding Firaxis' latest a big golden badge yesterday, I assumed I'd have free reign to just talk about that for upwards of an hour, but, unfortunately, there were some other people on the podcast too.

XCOM 2 review

EssentialXCOM 2 review

The wisdom of Solomon.

XCOM 2 is released on console this week. Here's our review of the PC version, first published on 1st February 2016.

In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I discovered a tell.

Very occasionally, when you go to take a shot with one of your soldiers, you're treated to a little cinematic camerawork. This being an XCOM game, half the time that means watching your rookie shoot through a wall, or point their gun in some impossible direction. But that doesn't matter! If you see that extra bit of camerawork, you know you'll hit your target. You know you'll be doing damage. More than that, you know you've landed the kill as well. In a game of so very many uncertainties, such moments of guaranteed success are to be treasured.

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Long War team are making mods for XCOM 2

Reinforcements are coming.

Good news for XCOM 2, as developers, Firaxis Games, have announced a partnership with recently formed Long War Studios, the team behind XCOM: Enemy Unknown's incredible Long War mod.

Some fantastic games came out in 2015. Unfortunately, quite a few (hopefully) fantastic games didn't come out in 2015. With the likes of The Legend of Zelda Wii U, Tom Clancy's the Division and Uncharted 4 all pushed back into 2016, I decided to take a look at some of the upcoming games we really ought to own by now.

FeatureWatch: Almost everything that we played during the XCOM 2 demo

With expert commentary - don't leave Muton.

I've already written a little bit about why I think XCOM 2 is shaping up so well, but one of the nice things about playing games at preview events is that sometimes (usually if the game is half decent, in my experience) they let you record a bunch of video whilst you're at it. Now even when that happens, you tend to face some kind of restriction, typically in the form of a harsh time limit - but we didn't get too much of that with XCOM 2.

XCOM 2 is a faster, more urgent sequel

I didn't expect XCOM 2 to demo particularly well. I fell in love with its predecessor because it gave me the time to grow fond of the soldiers I was commanding and I couldn't see that happening within the confines of a brief preview. The concern seemed a valid one too, as my first mission came in the form of a restrictive tutorial (which can be skipped, thankfully) that had already decided who would live and who would die. I can't even remember their names...

This wasn't how an XCOM game should be played. I needed to see the numbers and make my own mistakes. I needed to rename my soldiers, give them different hats, and carefully fret over each decision I'd make on their behalf. Happily, this is exactly what the next two hours would look like.

And I enjoyed it. The game may be set 20 years after we lost the war in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but mechanically it all feels pretty familiar. You'll still be playing a game of two halves: either controlling a small squad of troops on the ground, or managing a base (albeit one that now exists within a repurposed alien supply craft). If you didn't enjoy what Firaxis accomplished with their 2012 reboot, don't expect this to be the game that changes your mind. But if you did, XCOM 2 offers the kind of improvements that make the game feel fresh, without losing what I enjoyed about the previous title.

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XCOM feels more confident this time around. I kept thinking that as I quizzed Garth DeAngelis, the XCOM 2 Senior Producer over at Firaxis Games. We met briefly at last week's Gamescom to talk about the base building or 'strategic half' of their upcoming sequel, and boy, was there plenty to talk about.

The Eurogamer Gamescom day two podcast extravaganza

What the blue blazes did Chris, Ian and Bertie see now?

Well, well, well, a second podcast, what on earth is going on. I tell you what's going on: Gamescom! Day two is over, Bertie, Chris and Ian are knackered, and Martin's gone home. However, we're not too tired to have good chit-chat about what we saw today (Thursday 6th) and we saw quite a lot: the brilliant Oculus Touch, the brilliant XCOM 2 and the brilliant but maybe a little simple Star Wars: Battlefront spaceship fights. We also saw Ninja Theory's curious new game Hellblade, which Bertie was a bit underwhelmed by. And how about that man who sent his game in a briefcase to Gabe Newell? Join us as we debrief - hope you enjoy it.

Gamescom is a beautiful, hot, noisy mess of a show and an utter delight to visit. Sadly, not everyone can go - and this year, that includes me. But thankfully, we packed Chris Bratt off to tour the show with a camera in hand to capture just what attending the world's biggest gaming show is like.

XCOM 2 sounds all kinds of exciting. With taller sectoids, procedural levels and humanity having already fallen from the get-go, it absolutely has my attention. But a November release date? Man, that is like five whole months away. I don't want to wait that long. I'd like more XCOM and I'd like it right now, thanks very much.

FeatureXCOM 2 serves a very different kind of strategy

Impressions and video of Firaxis' switched-up sequel.

When XCOM 2 was announced earlier this month, it wasn't quite the sequel I was expecting. I had always assumed the follow up to XCOM: Enemy Unknown would simply be more of the same, with alien forces launching a new invasion after recovering their strength in the far reaches of space. Instead, we glimpsed a future in which man and alien share an integrated society filled with guarded checkpoints, propaganda films and nods toward strange eugenics initiatives. The XCOM project has been pushed further to the fringe, continuing as a guerrilla unit trying to upheave this ordered society in any way they can. Hang on! Did we lose the war?

XCOM 2 likely won't launch with gamepad support

XCOM 2 likely won't launch with gamepad support

"When we talk about stuff, we only talk about PC."

XCOM 2 developer Firaxis doesn't plan on launching its upcoming turn-based strategy sequel with gamepad support, though it intends to add that later.

This may come as a surprise as its predecessor, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, appeared on both Xbox 360 and PS3. Then again, maybe it's not a surprise given that the sequel is exclusive to PC, Mac and Linux.

As reported by IGN, creative director Jake Solomon addressed the sequel's PC-exclusivity as a way to focus its efforts on a single vision of the game. And since Firaxis has been making primarily PC-exclusive Civilization games for two decades, that's the developer's comfort zone.

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XCOM 2 announced for PC this November

XCOM 2 announced for PC this November

Firaxis introducing mod support and procedural levels, no word on console versions.

Firaxis is working on a new XCOM game that's currently slated for PC only, and it's due out this November.

Simply called XCOM 2, it's the sequel to the warmly received XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which came out in 2012 and was itself a reboot of Julian Gollop's much-loved turn-based strategy classic.

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years on from its predecessor, at a time when aliens have established rule on Earth which must be broken by your team of specialists. Procedural levels and mod support are in, though for more substantial details we'll have to wait until E3.

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