- Developer: Firaxis Games, Virtuous
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Release Date: 29/05/2020
- Price: $49.99 / £39.99
- Review code provided by 2K Games
Introducing: XCOM 2 Nintendo Switch Review
Finding quality strategy games on the Nintendo Switch is becoming easier and easier with each passing week. Finding quality strategy games with a compelling story and a rich lineage is a bit more challenging. Enter XCOM 2 from Firaxis Games. Its history dating back to the mid-90s, the XCOM series became a cult classic. There was roughly a decade of silence between 2001 to 2012 before XCOM saw a reboot, which propelled it to new levels of exposure. Its latter success saw various spinoffs and even influenced the Nintendo exclusive, Mario + Rabbids. XCOM 2 originally launched in 2016 and now, four years later has been ported to the Nintendo Switch. Continue reading our Nintendad review of XCOM 2 Collection to see how this port fares.
XCOM 2 is set twenty years following an alien invasion on Earth. You no longer command the Earth’s elite military and now work to hobble together a ragtag band of resistance fighters. Returning characters grace the screen from the previous entry and new allies serve as your support. You play the role of “The Commander” and make all critical decisions, including the minutia of ordering each soldier during missions.
XCOM 2 does an incredible job piling on pressure and upping the stakes in this alternate Earth, plagued by villainous invaders. Each choice is vital and the smallest mistakes can be disastrous. In the heavily fortified Avenger, you fly all over the world searching for recruits, intel and supplies. All the while engaging in skirmishes with alien enemies and attempting to link up with resistance cells. The story is intense and engaging. I can’t help but feel the burden of the Commander as I step into the shoes and take control. XCOM is immersive with an impactful narrative.
First Alien Invasion
XCOM 2 is a hardcore strategy game. There are two main aspects of gameplay at work. Outside of combat missions you have to maintain a delicate balance of searching for resources while striking at enemy strongholds to prevent a secret alien project dubbed Avatar. This means you’ll have to link up with resistance cells across the world and recruit scientists, engineers and soldiers. Your mobile base can be upgraded and customized. You’ll assign research projects and order new gear to be crafted for your troops. Making the wrong call during this phase can prove just as fatal as leaving a troop exposed during combat. Many of the missions are timed. If you don’t plan accordingly, you’ll find the doomsday countdown inching closer to the end, until you’ve succumbed to your new alien overlords.
XCOM 2 is challenging both during the planning phase and the combat phase. Combat is turn based with light role-playing elements. The top-down tactics approach gives you an isometric look at each randomly generated map. Your troops field of vision is shrouded by the fog of war, masking enemy placement and strength. Running in blind will likely end in disaster. You start the game with the ability of fielding four soldiers with the possibility of expanding to more later. Each combatant starts out as a rookie. As they level up, they’ll be assigned a class with certain specializations. For example, a sniper who excels at long range or a ranger who can charge in with a sword for devastating damage at the risk of exposure.
The Bureau Declassified
It had been a few years since I played XCOM 2 on the PlayStation 4 and thus I made key errors during the first missions and lost an entire squad in poor combat planning. It didn’t help that the random number generator (RNG) was often unfair. There’s something annoying about a trained Sergeant who can’t hit a hulking alien the size of a barn when he had a 96% chance of success. Though this is a common occurrence, it’s not unique to the Switch.
There’s a lot of customization in XCOM 2. Each soldier is randomized but can be altered in a variety of diverse ways. Even following their initial class specialization, you get to pick perks to make combat slightly easier. XCOM 2 is tough and not always fair, but it’s incredibly entertaining and will easily keep me coming back over the years.
One of the drawbacks I’ve seen with a lot of games ported to the Nintendo Switch is that they often keep some of the problematic issues from the original. The Switch port of XCOM 2 carries with it the graphical issues prevalent in the PS4 and PC versions of the game from 2016. There’s a lot of instances of objects cropping into each other. Melee attacks can go through walls. Characters run through barriers. Some jarring graphical glitch happened in every combat mission I experienced.
Unfortunately the Switch port did have problems that were detrimental to the gameplay. Every few missions, an enemy character would change positions and completely vanish. I would be unable to target or interact with them unless I tried to move to the space I knew they occupied or it was their turn again. For a game that hinges on getting everything right to bring your troops back home safely, I lost a lot of soldiers to this glitch and would have to reload.
Fortunately the autosave works well and gives you the option to go back a turn or two, but the long load times made it a trial in patience. There were a few other odd bugs that popped up during my time fighting the Advent. A cutscene played during one of the key missions. When the cutscene concluded, it ended my remaining turns and even left the soldier who crossed the threshold which triggered the scene to stand in the open to be gunned down by alien forces.
Despite the graphical drawbacks and technical problems, XCOM 2 ran as well on my Switch as I remember it running on my PS4. The long load times plagued both systems but the enjoyment from the gameplay makes it worth waiting for, and having the option to play in handheld is hard to pass up. The story is gripping and the gameplay is engaging. XCOM 2 is one of the most authentic strategy games I’ve played to date as it requires careful thought and planning. It won’t hold your hand. And if the core game is too easy, there’s always ironman mode. And if it’s too difficult, just ask the Godfather, Sid Meier for help.
- Unparalleled Strategy
- Story has Weight
- Gripping Gameplay
- Deep Customization
- Graphical Glitches
- Vanishing Enemies
- Troubled RNG
XCOM 2 Collection isn’t without its flaws but the compelling storyline mixed with next level strategy sets it apart from the crowd, Commander.