XCOM 2’s upcoming DLC War of the Chosen
“Photo booths, Friendship, and Fresh Factions!”
This August 29th a truly enormous expansion is arriving for XCOM2, the turn-based strategy game that revived and in some ways defined the genre. In a lot of ways it could be said that The War of the Chosen is bringing a full conversion mod ala the poplar Long War\Long War 2 mods to the series at one last. While no information on pricing has been made public yet, the expansion War of the Chosen serves to completely rework and redefine key features of the base game for the better. Everything from 3 new player classes, 3 new alien champions in the titular Chosen, 3 new human resistance factions, each with their own skillets, needs, and missions. A new intro video and finale video serve to further underline how comprehensive the changes being introduced will be. Similarly to the Second Wave options present in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, these “New Game+” options will be available for players to tweak prior to beginning a new campaign. In particular the ability to double the timers for turn-limited missions will be well received by large number of players both new and seasoned. One particularly requested area for change was the controversial and punishing Alien Rulers introduced last year in the Alien Hunters DLC. Creative Director Jake Solomon detailed that they had been reworked after due consideration, now only taking a free action after an attack or move action from an XCOM soldier that is within the Ruler’s line of sight, rather than the present mechanic where all actions taken activate a free action for the Alien Ruler you are battling. As a result, players are no longer being punished for simple actions ranging from reloading to select character abilities such as the Specialists’s Aid Protocol. In addition the Rulers have been moved to guard specific Advent facilities rather than just appearing randomly in missions. There is a caveat however: if you fail to slay the Alien Ruler in the given mission they are free to reappear in future missions, provided that the new Big Bads, The Chosen, are not already present.
The Chosen are three new alien lifeforms\siblings engineered by the Elders to combat and foil the player’s Commander character—each with their own personality, tendencies, behaviors and abilities. One thing however that serves to differentiates the Chosen from Alien Rulers or any other enemy type: they are not trying to kill your XCOM soldiers, not at first anyway. According to Solomon upon the player initiating contact with Advent the Chosen will appear on the opposite end of the map and begin attempting to induce a new “dazed” status effect that permits them to interrogate or worse, capture the soldier and take them off the map and out of play unless a teammate can prevent this by moving adjacent. If one of the Chosen is successful in their attempt at interrogation and abduction the only way to regain the taken soldier is to perform a new stealth recovering mission.
In addition to interrupting missions, the Chosen are also active on XCOM’s traditional hologlobe\strategic world map. This ranges from taunting the commander, sabotaging the Avenger’s core functions, interfering with your soldiers new Covert Actions system, to an entirely new mission featuring ground-based artillery targeting the downed Avenger. This is in addition to, not a replacement of the present UFO interception mission in the base game.
The saving grace for the player base is that the Chosen are not working in unison—in fact they are competing for favor with the Elders by gathering a new resource “Knowledge” from captured or interrogated soldiers. Running in parallel to the player’s campaign the Chosen upgrade their gear over time as well as the tactics required to defeat them, as they gain new abilities and even weaknesses randomly, ranging from the ability to not activate overwatch, to taking double damage from explosions or fire. As Solomon elaborates: “…one of the interesting ones is that if you miss a shot against them they have a chance to return fire immediately. So now you have to be like ‘Oh, I shouldn’t take any low-percentage shots against this one.’ Or, when their turn ends, they go into Overwatch immediately. What they’re really supposed to do is modify how you approach that Chosen, and then they change because they pick up a new strength.” Fortunately this information is available to the players, so you won’t have to find out the hard way by losing your squad and reloading.
Now as Each Chosen commands and controls a specific geographic region on the world map, they are countered by one of the three new human Resistance factions being introduced. The Templars, Reapers, and Skirmishers provide the path to acquiring the most powerful weapons for XCOM in the battle against not only Advent and the Elders, but the Chosen as well. Each of these new powerful champions levels up using a new Ability Point system. Skirmishers can take multiple actions in a turn similarly to the Alien Rulers mechanic at high levels. The Reaper provides the ability to stage discreet interventions by firing from Stealth, a new enhanced layer on top of Concealment, ultimately upgrading to be able to empty an entire magazine without leaving Stealth. If that isn’t powerful enough for you, the Templar’s psionic abilities permit them to “absorb corpses to create a clone”! While these abilities are designed to be massively powerful, Solomon has promised they will be balanced by their long time to unlock.
But wait there’s more! A slew of new fun social features are being introduced for the original 4 XCOM classes! A bonds system links soldiers via “compatibility”. Upon completing missions or Covert Actions together, solider’s compatibility rating improve and unlock access to new combat abilities.
Solomon describes the process: “After the mission you’ll see a flyover on the soldiers, and the camera will zoom in and you’ll see those two soldiers having a beer together, or looking at a computer together, or at the rifle range shooting guns together, and Bradford will say ‘these two have enough compatibility to form a bond.’ The rewards for doing so ranges from lending Actions from one soldier to one another, preventing negative status effects, to even firing simultaneously at the same target. In addition, another of the clever refinements being brought back to XCOM’s 4 base classes is the introduction of Combat IQ, a stat which will rewards players for taking flanking shots and other tactically savvy decisions. Upon constructing one of the 3 new structures that previously comprised the Advanced Warfare Center (another big change), soldiers may spend these acquired combat IQ points to acquire new abilities outside of their traditional class skill set. This only scratches the surface of The War of the Chosen, and we will be covering all of it here are Project-Nerd! Check in with us in our next article for a more in-depth dive into the new Fatigue and Will systems being implemented as well as the new Covert Actions system and the new weapons and enemy types!