Having successfully relaunched the classic strategy of the 90s in 2012, Friv5Online Games Studio employees do not think to stop there. And although the release of XCOM 2 was postponed from November this year to February 5, 2016, there is plenty of information about the project. And there is no doubt that the publisher pushed the release aside and the developers will eventually release a premium product, there is no doubt that Friv5Online is not a bastard.
The second part basically differs little from the first: the strategy is still divided into a global part, in which you can receive reports from the fields, allocate resources and assign tasks to base personnel, and turn-based tactical battles, where each soldier has two action points. For example, during a turn, an XCOM fighter moves a certain number of cells and fires a shot. However, Friv5Online would not be itself if, while retaining the familiar from the days of UFO Defense, the basis turned everything else upside down.
The authors, led by creative director Jake Solomon, have developed the story of the game universe in a very original way. The aliens we methodically destroyed in Enemy Unknown, nevertheless captured the Earth and by 2035 built a civilization at the junction of their own and local technologies. Having pulled the entire population into huge metropolises, the occupiers created sterile totalitarianism there - just like in City 17 from Half-Life 2 . While smiling TV presenters report on the next successes of the "friendship of peoples", the number of patrols, scanners and other control systems, including monuments pressing on the psyche, is growing on the streets. After all, information about arrests is becoming more and more difficult to hide, and all over the world there are pockets of resistance.
One of such partisan detachments, or rather, the XCOM group that went underground under the tutelage of the mature commandant Bradford, we will be offered to lead. If earlier aliens were engaged in sabotage, now they have secured the consent of the silent majority, and the role of saboteurs is played by a small number of daredevils who disagree with the inhuman regime in every sense. Accordingly, the situation has changed and the conditions for fighting the invaders: now there is no international support and monthly bonuses for satellites in orbit. From now on, you have to be content with little. Instead of an impersonal army of engineers and scientists - a handful of volunteers, each of whom you will eventually remember not only by name, but also in person. And instead of a well-equipped base under the ground and hangars on every continent - the Avenger, repulsed from the enemies.
Previously, aliens were hiding, but now XCOM fighters are hiding, roaming the Avenger on the outskirts of the map. Like all guerrillas, they must not only establish contact with the cells of resistance, support riots and do everything to dirty the enemy, but also independently obtain funds for the fight. The captured weapons will serve in the next operation, and the researchers will certainly come in handy with samples of technologies, which, like containers with the Enemy Within composition , lose value a few turns after the start of the battle. Therefore, daring raids on warehouses and convoys of aliens are even more important here than the destruction of enemy manpower: the resources of the invaders are practically inexhaustible, and you will have to save everything - from people to weapons.
Tactics in XCOM 2very different from what we are used to in the original. Now it is important to plan both a surprise attack and a retreat without losses, because delaying the firefight is more expensive for yourself. Unlike Enemy Unknown, where the defenders of the Earth and the aliens noticed each other at the same time, the second part gives a couple of moves for the preparation and maneuvers of the fighters, which will remain invisible if you use shelters. So you can catch the enemy by surprise, but the factor of surprise is, perhaps, the only advantage that will be used. Otherwise, due to the enemy's superiority in strength and equipment, battles remain difficult, requiring the interaction of the entire squad. Retreating to the point of evacuation, it is important to collect trophies and take out the fallen soldiers from the battlefield - if earlier such heroes died, now the doctors on the Avenger will patch them up and put them on their feet.
Difficulties are also added by the abolition of the standard set of levels, which were repeated from time to time in Enemy Unknown . Having studied this or that location along and across, it was possible to plan tactically flawless battles, and in Enemy Within , it was also possible to know in advance where the containers with the Composition were located. Now the levels are randomly generated, so each sortie turns into a surprise for both aliens and players. Coupled with the never-ending ability to demolish walls and fences, this does not make it easier to complete missions.
In the spirit of this "guerrilla", the developers have also remade the classes of fighters. Sharpshooter replaced the sniper (in principle, the words are close in meaning, since the second since the Civil War in the United States implies the same sniper armed with a Sharps carbine). This class still specializes in accurate shots, but since the tactics of XCOM 2 almost eliminate the concept of a rearguard, they can also practice handling a pistol. Grenadier replacing Heavy from Enemy Unknown, remained with their explosives. Instead of Assault, "the first to enter the battle and the last to leave it" are the rangers - with a shotgun at the ready and a sword behind their back, such a fighter is more useful in close contact. Finally, the support soldier was replaced by a Specialist: he acts in the company of the Gremlin drone, with the help of which he hacks into enemy turrets and distributes bonuses to his comrades.
Each character will be allowed to customize as you like: change gender, race, nationality, play with appearance, as if in good RPGs, pick up options for clothes and give weapons a unique look. That is, the emotional attachment to individual fighters will be stronger than in the first part. In order not to part with them forever, you will have to save the game more often - XCOM 2, like Enemy Unknown, will punish for mistakes and a missed opportunity to make a save.
In the new strategy from Friv5Online, not only wards, but also enemies have become more expressive. Thanks to human DNA, the sectoids increased in height and dexterity, the mutons began to act more prudently, and the berserkers and chryssalids, dangerous in melee, took on a truly threatening appearance. From the classic aliens familiar from the X-COM sample of the 90s, the Viper will be returned to the game of 2016 - serpentine monsters, with the tongue of pulling fighters out of hiding places.
Although XCOM 2 turns Earth soldiers from defenders of world order into fighters against it, and instead of the usual shootouts to destruction puts stealth at the forefront, the strategy still looks promising. Given the success of Enemy Unknown , there is no reason to believe that the developers will give up on the second part. Sleepless nights solving tactical puzzles, emotions from defeats and victories, frantic attempts to properly allocate resources when it's too late to do this - all this awaits us in February.