You heard me. If you’re playing Xcom 2 without Ironman enabled, then considering coming on over to the dark side. With Ironman you only get one save, so you better savor it. No reloading for you, commander.
If you’re wondering what’s Ironman? Why didn’t I see such an option when I first began the game? Then there’s a good chance you missed it. You would’ve needed to disable the tutorial for the prompt to show up, and who does that on the first run around? I know I didn’t. I just assumed Ironman would show up after I beat the game, or – as a worst case scenario – it was omitted to be patched in later. So I just went about my business, killing aliens, and getting soldiers killed, until one point I was like “really, there’s no Ironman?” and a quick Google search revealed to me how foolish I was. It was there all along, tucked away so that the unworthy would not accidentally enable it.
But why make your job even more difficult with Ironman?
To put it simply: Xcom 2 is a far more fulfilling experience this way. Despite my best efforts, I found myself reloading frequently every time I made a bad decision, or whenever my prized soldier took a fatal blow to the face. But without the ability to reload to a previous save, you’re stuck with every decision you make. Good, or bad, or downright catastrophic. It almost turns the game into a semi roguelike. It’s more tense while at the same time offers less pressure because you’re not obsessing over every move you make, every step you take. No I’m not going to finish the lyrics. Most of the time you can’t predict what’s going to happen in Xcom 2 anyway, so if you’re not careful you might find yourself reloading when things just go pretty well instead of excellent. It’s a slippery slope.
Winning an Xcom 2 campaign is no easy task, and part of the fun of Ironman is seeing if you can crawl your way out of the grave you dug for yourself. Maybe you went into a hard mission unprepared and your A-team was completely wiped out. So then you went into the next mission with a bunch of rookies, and half of them didn’t make it back alive. Soldiers have died left and right. The living ones spend most of the time in missions panicked. Mutons are running up to your wee little guys and bashing their faces in. Still you persevere. Soon you find yourself low on recruits, low on supplies, and there are more names on the memorial wall than there are in the roster of available soldiers.
Eventually you push through till the end, probably losing in the process, or you can start over and try again.
This is the gauntlet of Ironman, and it’s Xcom 2 at its best.