As if you didn’t spend enough time losing in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 takes it to the next step by making your failure canonical. Picking up from where the original left off, XCOM 2 find the aliens ruling the world alongside the brainwashed humans that believe the aliens were peaceful benefactors rather than hostile enemies.
The XCOM unit has become an underground resistance force, and the mission we were shown found the group working to destroy a symbolic statue 20 years after Unification Day, supposedly the day on which aliens assumed leadership of the world. The demo showcased an impressive change in storytelling methods, with each mission in XCOM 2 featuring a narrative focus that was missing from the original reboot.
Rather than tell the story of a militaristic human resistance once more, XCOM 2 focuses on the futile underground resistance movement, and thanks to the introduction of new enemy types, Firaxis manages to replicate the helplessness that pervaded the original reboot. A new enemy type called the Viper was introduced, unleashing the ability to grab soldiers from across the map and kill them quickly. The knack from welcoming new enemy types to the fray and tasking players with dealing with it is still there, so hopefully the notorious difficulty level of the original will be left intact for fans.
A new solider type, the Ranger, has also been introduced, bringing close-quarters combat to the mix. Although her sword was a brand new tactic to work with, it seems extremely useful, especially when used in conjunction with the cover fire a well-placed frag grenade can offer. Firaxis seems happy to continue evolving the series, working hard not to ride on their laurels and instead introduce new elements to the award-winning combat.
If you loved the first XCOM, then you have so much to look forward to in the upcoming sequel. The narrative focus for each mission raises the stakes immeasurably, and hopefully the loss of each soldier will be infinitely more painful than it was the first time around. Only time will tell though, so be sure to check out XCOM 2 once it’s released this November.