XCOM 2: New Weapons, New Enemies, Covert Actions, Fatigue and Will modifiers!
XCOM 2: New Weapons, New Enemies, Covert Actions, Fatigue and Will modifiers!
Welcome back Project Nerds! Today we have the second of our three part series on XCOM’s newest expansion War of the Chosen that drops this August 29th. A wide-ranging and comprehensive update, War of the Chosen is closer to a full conversion mod or spiritual sequel rather than just an expansion pack. In it, a whole slew of new systems, units, and second wave options are introduced to enhance and extend the games lifespan well into the future.
The first of several core system changes being introduced in the War of the Chosen is a new paired Fatigue\Will system being implemented for your non-silicon XCOM squaddies that will change how players are forced to balance their squad over time as Soldiers who are deployed in mission after mission will begin to deteriorate, opening them up to not just the run of the mill “Panic” state, but new status effects and quirks. One example of this is the new “obsessive” quirk. This new status effect effects XCOM operatives by constantly requiring their weapon’s magazine to be full, and if it’s not, they may ignore one of your orders and use their first action to reload instead. This can be cured by putting units through the new Infirmary building. The Infirmary is one of 3 structures that replaces the previous Advanced Warfare Center, with the other two being the Resistance Ring and the Training Center, where new abilities will be purchased. Says Solomon: “…soldiers who go on missions, even if they don’t get wounded, can get tired. At first, that sounds even more punitive, but what it causes is that you have to create this much larger roster. The game forces you to build a very big roster of characters. You can’t just rely on six heroes. You’ll develop 12 heroes or more.” In this way, not only does it ensure flexibility for your squad in the face of abductions by the Chosen but also by offsetting these drawbacks with the powerful Bond system being introduced, taking it’s inspiration from games like Fire Emblem and Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system to simulate the mounting cost of the war of attrition against Advent forces. This brings us to the new Covert Actions system:
This may be one of the single largest changes from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and vanilla XCOM2. The features won’t be unfamiliar to XCOM stalwarts, as it brings back the mechanic from the XCOM: Enemy Within expansion pack. Utilizing the strategic layer, players will be able to dispatch soldiers and scientists to remote places all over the globe in an effort to support and curry favor with the three Resistance factions and their respective champions. As before, soldiers with specific abilities or of a certain class will be required for completing certain mission types as well as potentially lowering the total number of turns before the Covert Action is completed. In completing these missions the player gains not only the obvious strategic advantage, but may also enhance the compatibility of two soldiers who might not get along by sending them on successful Covert Actions where they can “work out their differences”. In addition to this, there are Watershed Moments, where, for example, an XCOM operative might knocked unconscious\incapacitated due to one of the Chosen’s meddling. Upon a squadmate successfully carrying the unconscious soldier out on their shoulder and, evacuating to safety the compatibility of the two soldiers will automatically be reset to it’s highest level, as these moment are seen by Soloman and his team as being formative and cementing the relationship dynamic between the two soldiers.
XCOM isn’t getting all the love in War of the Chosen, however— Soloman and his team have been upgrading ADVENT forces to counter XCOM’s enhanced effectiveness in the field. The first of these will undoubtedly give players a burning need for revenge if it catches your squad flat-footed or in the open. Dubbed the Purifier, this new unit bolsters the Advent by dishing out lethal cones of flame and packing incendiary grenades for good measure. Standing shoulder to shoulder alongside the Purifier is the Priest, an attack unit with a psionic focus and some nasty new tricks. The Priest is capable of all the usual Advent mind games but with the added ability of being able to cast Stasis on himself if killed and then auto-reviving, a similar trick to the vanilla game’s Andromedon to be sure, but accomplished through psionic means rather than biomechanics that can be countered with Bluescreen Rounds. In addition to these more “human” threats comes a new alien threat: the Specter. The Specter is unique in that it is capable of incapacitating one of your soldiers and replace them with an identical “dark” copy. In essence, it’s a mind controlled shadow clone of your soldier with all of their attendant abilities i.e. a grenadier will drop bombs on you, a Ranger will use it’s Melee and Shadowstep abilities, etc. but one that you can safely shoot without fear of killing your trooper unlike in a traditional Mind Control scenario. It should be noted that in addition to simply shooting the clone it is also possible to effectively dispel them upon using a Specialist’s revive ability on your originally incapacitated trooper.
These are not the only enemies you will be facing for the first time on August 29th when War of the Chosen launches. Yes, Virginia, the rumors are true: zombies have come to our beloved XCOM. This entirely new enemy faction is known as the Lost. Presented in-game as hordes of transformed humans with little in the ways of hair or sentience the Lost are introduced as a mission modifier: part of a whole raft of such mods called ‘streps’ that will provide granular changes to each mission of your campaign, significantly enhancing both game depth and deployability. The Lost are not a homogenous mob of shuffling corpses however: alongside the archetypal slow Walker type are Dashers, close combat initiating units and Brutes, which are bullet sponging slabs of meat as the name would imply. As one might expect the Lost don’t care who they munch on, attacking any and all organic unit types that become ensnared in their undead limbs.
A list of just a few more sitreps is as follows:
Lost: while the Lost are present on all Abandoned City maps they may appear in any mission type with this modifier. The mechanic that has been revealed is of a swarm of Lost every few turns, with the caveat that the swarm is attracted by noise, with every explosion triggering the Lost’s swarm timer to decay by one turn.
Horde: the map is entirely populated by Lost, with no Advent present as your squad fights through waves of enemies to reach an objective such as destroying a relay or retrieving a file.
Surgical: Your squad is pared down to just 3 as you carry out a swift attack behind enemy lines.
Shadow Squad: Every member of your squad has the Conceal ability
Savage: All “beast”-type enemies prefer transformed Faceless and Cryssalids.
High Explosives: the map has an overly generous number of explosive caches that may be targeted by the player or by the AI.
Last but not least, in addition to these larger scale changes there are a number of smaller but no less necessary tweaks and changes to the existing in game units, one in particular that is of particular relief to the community, and I will admit, myself.
SPARKs: why are they so bad at shooting when they are robots, and why can’t you upgrade their weapons to accommodate their garbage targeting sensors? Well wonder no longer, as SPARK units are being given an overhaul! after August 29th they will be tougher, more accurate, and gain the ability to add modifications to their weapons — both Dr. Shens would be proud.