After 20 hours of X-COM 2 I have emphatically decided it is the best game I have played in five years. I don’t know which exact game it is replacing from 5 years ago as the new best, only that it is so good and so perfect for me right now, that surely it is at least the best in the last 5 years. Maybe the last 10.
There are several things that hits the nail on the head just perfectly for me.
- It is challenging, but not frustratingly so. I bet if I notched it up a difficulty level or two that it could become that way, but I have a lot of upward movement. I am already dreaming of doing an Ironman campaign (after I complete the experience the first time) at a higher difficult level. It really flows so well right now.
- Character customization and care is just right. I think there is something to say about games where I control people (the Commander!) instead of being the people/person. When I do something dumb in WoW, I do it to my own character. When I order my sniper to hit a rooftop solo and he walks into a couple aliens and gets killed, I feel like I killed him and feel shame and remorse. I care more about my X-COM team than most of the MMO characters I have played.
- The Meta Game of research, engineering, scanning and salvage feels way smoother than X-COM of 2012 and is a big improvement.
- The game completely checks off the box of “just one more day, one more turn”. Which sucks you into a mission. And some new research, that needs some more supplies. Which sucks you into “just one more day, one more turn…”
- The Avatar program is a nice, threateningly reminder that you can’t just dawdle along (hello, Fallout 4. Lost child where?) and builds tension.
I love the turned based format – it really works. It also makes me dream (again) of what other games could be made that would be perfect in this format. Mechwarrior, I am looking at you.
Still, until then, I have a game to complete, and a new mode to get into right after. Looking forward to expansions already, which is a bit silly (I know) but hey, it’s nice when you hit it off with a game just right.