Xcom 2 went live on Steam today almost four hours ago, and since then, I’ve played almost four hours. But before I delve into my impressions, let’s start with the game’s launch trailer:
Okay now that we got that out of the way, onto the game. You might’ve heard this by now, if you’ve been paying attention to any of the prerelease feedback, but easily the most glaring issue with Xcom 2 is the polish. Or, should I say, the lack thereof. It’s not unplayable, that’s for sure. I did just get done playing it for four hours straight and didn’t have any stability issues or crashes, but the framerate definitely left something to be desired. The game’s pretty, but not pretty enough to warrant the performance. I think no amount of hardware you throw at Xcom 2 will cause it to run perfectly. The optimizations just aren’t there. But it’s a turn based game, so performance bumps aren’t nearly as detrimental here as they are in practically any other genre. So there is a silver lining. But let’s just hope that the game gets some love within the next week or two.
It’s not just performance either, there are little bugs and other issues that occasionally detract from the game. Not enough to ruin the experience, but enough to make you wish that people would actually start finishing their games before releasing them. Sometimes the camera will do wonky things. Sometimes turns will take a little longer than they should to complete. Sometimes you’ll be right next to an enemy and only have a 54% chance to hit them. That might not be a bug, but I definitely remember running right up on an Alien usually resulting in a 90-100% hit chance. But whatever. Missing shots is Xcom 2 in a night shell, so might as well get used to it.
Let’s get something else out of the way. Xcom: Enemy Unknown was one of my favorite games from 2012. So I’m biased, but so is everyone else evidently, because the game’s sitting at a 91 rating currently on Metacritic, and I can see why. Xcom 2 doesn’t just iterate over the original. It improves on it in many a way. there’s more customization, more options, more to do. Soldiers have vasts amounts of more customization, making it all the more glorious when they die horribly after just one mission. The story is more interesting, especially under the lens of having lost the war two decades ago.
The spinning globe has been turned into a fully-featured maps, with objectives and places to fly to, and choices of missions to pursue. That in an of itself is a huge change. Not to mention the changes to the game once you actually get into a mission. Concealment lets you go about the start of a mission more tactically, looking around, planning out ambushes, getting a lay of the land. A lot of objectives are still timed, so you can’t dawdle too much, if at all. But it’s much harder this time around to have an enemy get the drop on you if you’re playing it safe.
I can already see that my weekend is pretty much gone, but that’s okay. I can’t wait to see where the progression goes, and the story. Not to mention the possibilities of mods. I’ve already replaced the Shotguns on my rangers with the SMG mod. They have a sword, so a shotgun seemed a little redundant. I can even see modders patching the game before Firaxis gets around to it. Don’t know if they can fix technical problems, though.
That’s enough rambling for now. Expect to see something more final about the game next week, probably, but if the game continues to be as good in the next 50 hours as its been in the first 4, then expect more praise, especially if the performance issues are dealt with in a timely fashion.
Until then, time to go slice up some aliens with a sword, which will somehow leave them at 1 hit point and me quivering like a baby.
But that’s Xcom 2 for you.