So far, I played XCOM 2 around 80 hours. I’m not about to write a review about it: the editor Firaxis followed the recipe that worked for the previous one.

I pointed out that, in XCOM Enemy Unknown/Within, one problem was that the difficulty was decreasing. I finished it in normal difficulty and I’m about to finish it in commander difficulty and I’d say, so far, it is no longer entirely the case,  last mission can be quite difficult even with hardened soldiers.

Instead of a review, I’ll put here just some memos.

First memo : general XCOM tips still valid for XCOM2

  • in general, don’t fire with not a least 55% chance to hit (and even that is extreme), failure to hit is always worse than overwatch;
  • never do the two moves at once, especially in unknown territory, split the movement;
  • don’t play each character one after the other but play all of them simultaneously: ie don’t use all the actions of one character, then of a second, then, while moving the third, to find an enemy that would been best defeated if the it was still an option to actually play the final action of the firsts. Whenever you uncover enemies/territory, it is best to have the other characters still able to use their abilities;
  • same principle: it is nice to ambush the enemy with overwatch (putting all the troops in overwatch and provoke the enemy with the latest soldier). Sometimes it is efficient, for instance when the enemy is grouped in the open, so the overwatch will act before the units find cover. But in many cases it is still best to use soldiers abilities;
  • each soldier gets a random extra ability. In the end, that is likely to determine your best heroes;

Second memo : gears/items in XCOM2

  • non-generic armors are overrated (as of today) as they remove the ability to carry one extra item: spider/wraith armors are convenient for the improved mobility, you need at least one (at least for a sniper, to get to high ground to easily kill). The heavy is not really worth it, the extra weapon that comes along is likely to be less powerful and versatile than grenades;
  • the mimic beacon is a game changer. One is necessary. Two is good. Three is worth it, still. It allows you to seriously distract the enemy from your troops;
  • EMP grenades / bombs are great when facing heavy machinery with still underdeveloped soldiers. After that, a mix of grenades is good: one incendiary, one acid, two emp and some plasma, to be thrown by grenadiers;
  • bluescreen/emp round (more effect on machines and reduce their resistance to hack) and talon round (critical hit bonus) are worth it;

Third memo: soldiers abilities in XCOM2

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Here, we’ll reuse data already on the web: in red the one that I favor; it is obviously a matter of playing style and this reflect what I found effective for now for my playing style. Note also that in this approach, I’m considering that I have one soldier of each class. It could be interesting to actually have two but completly at odds of the same class

As general principle, I tend to prefer the offensive abilities and rather the one based on one firing attempt than multiple (in my demented mind, 3 times chance to hit 65% is not equal to chance to hit 65%, for example).

Ranger:

SCOUT ASSAULT
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Phantom When the squad is revealed, this soldier remains concealed. Not contextual, hence better Blademaster Deal +2 extra damage on all sword attacks.
Shadowstrike When concealed, gain +25 bonus Aim and +25 bonus critical hit chance when attacking enemies. Massive benefit Shadowstep This soldier does not trigger overwatch or reaction fire.
Conceal Immediately enter concealment once per mission. Overly necessary, as  in previous XCOM Run and Gun Take an action after dashing. 3 turn cooldown.
Implacable If you score one or more kills on your turn, you are granted a single bonus move. Can be used on purpose while getting on the path of enemies and provides very good defense against melee troops Bladestorm Free sword attacks on enemies that enter or attack from melee range.
Deep Cover If you did not attack this turn, hunker down automatically. Can be used on purpose, very useful Untouchable If you score a kill during your turn, the next attack against you during the enemy turn will miss.
Rapid Fire Fire twice in a row at an enemy. Each shot suffers an Aim penalty of -15. There is no cooldown on this ability. Undecided yet. Reapers seems good to clean and remove already injured enmies : but I found, in this situation, that the ranger was often usually still needed to pick off greater threat Reaper A devastating chain melee attack where the first melee attack cannot miss. Each melee kill in Reaper mode grants an extra action, but further melee attacks deal reduced damage. 4 turn cooldown.

 

 Grenadier:

DEMOLITIONS EXPERT HEAVY GUNNER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Blast Padding Your gear includes layers of extra padding and blast plates, granting a bonus point of Armor and 66% less damage from explosive attacks. Extra padding could be nice on occasion but destroying enemy armor is always necessary, easy pick Shredder Your cannon attacks shred armor.

Higher rank weapons shred more points of armor. The shredding effect applies before damage.

Demolition Unleash a volley of bullets at your target’s cover, significantly damaging or destroying it. Deals no damage to your target.Uses 2 ammo. 3-turn cooldown. A bit annoying to use ammunition not to do damage, especially with the grenadier that always throw grenades for that effect, with damage being done at the same time… So suppression it is. Suppression Fire a barrage that pins down your target, granting reaction fire against it if it moves, and imposing a -50 penalty to the target’s aim. Suppression is cancelled if the Grenadier takes damage. Suppression penalties stack. Uses 2 ammo. No cooldown.
Heavy Ordnance The grenade in your grenade-only slot gains a bonus use. Affects support grenades, not just offensive ones. Hard pick. One support the specific benefit of the grenadier (firing grenades), the second give benefit each times if fires. Undecided yet. Holo Targeting Any directed cannon shot, hit or miss, will mark the target, increasing your squad’s aim by +15 against this target. Applies to standard attacks and single-target abilities, including suppression.
Volatile Mix Grenades gain +1 tile to their radius and deal +2 damage. Does not increase environment damage. Undecided. Volatile mix is good in general. Chain shot can help destroy massive units. Chain Shot Fires a shot with a penalty of 15 to aim. If it hits, immediately fire another shot at the target. Uses 2 ammo. 3-turn cooldown.
Salvo Using the grenade launcher or a heavy weapon as your first action does not end the turn Firing twice? Can’t be beat. Hail of Bullets Fire a shot that is guaranteed to hit. Uses 3 ammo. 5 turn cool down.
Saturation Fire Fire a hail of bullets in a cone damaging every enemy and all cover within. Uses 3 ammo, 5 turn cool down. Rupture is massively efficient to destroy massive units. Required. Rupture Fires a shot that deals critical damage. The target, if hit, will also take 3 additional damage from all sources. Uses 3 ammo. 3-turn cooldown.

Specialist:

BATTLE MEDIC COMBAT HACKER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Medical Protocol The GREMLIN can perform healing actions remotely: GREMLIN Heal and GREMLIN Stabilize. The GREMLIN has a single charge. If a medkit is equipped, the GREMLIN will gain an additional charge. Required. There are not many ways to heal. Combat Protocol Send the GREMLIN to an enemy to jolt them, dealing guaranteed damage, which is increased against robotic enemies. Twice per mission.
Revival Protocol Send the GREMLIN to an ally to remove any negative mental status effects. Disoriented, Stunned, Panicked, or Unconscious. Best to attack instead of dealing with failure. Haywire Protocol You may target robotic and mechanical enemies with your GREMLIN, attempting to hack them and seize control.
Field Medic Equipped medikits have 2 extra charges. Required, not to many ways to heal. Scanning Protocol The GREMLIN can trigger an instant scan of the area, increasing the Specialist’s sight radius substantially for one turn and revealing any hidden enemies.
Covering Fire Overwatch shots can now be triggered by enemy actions, not just movement. Undecided. Both are good. Threat assement can be used to have a troop attack and get overwatch. Threat Assessment Aid Protocol now grants the target a Covering Fire Overwatch shot, but the Aid Protocol cooldown is increased by 1 turn.
Ever Vigilant If you spend all of your actions on moves, you are granted an automatic overwatch shot at the end of the turn. This is massive. Often result it 3 or more overwatch shot, making the specialist a killer. Could even be best with Covering Fire. Guardian Grants 50% chance during Overwatch to perform an additional shot if the previous Overwatch shot hits. There’s no limit as to how many times Guardian can trigger.
Restoration The GREMLIN flies to each squad member, healing or reviving them as needed. Once per mission. Best to attack instead of dealing with failure. Capacitor Discharge Send the GREMLIN to a location where it emits a substantial electric discharge, damaging and potentially stunning all nearby units. Robotic units take more damage. Once per mission.

Sharpshooter:

SNIPER GUNSLINGER
Ability Description Comment Ability Description
Long Watch Allow Overwatch to trigger with Squadsight. Otherwise it is no sniper at all. Return Fire When targeted by enemy fire, automatically fire back with your pistol once per turn.
Deadeye Take a shot with a small aim penalty for a significant damage boost. 2 turn cooldown. First, I was using deadeye. The aim penalty is often a problem tough, while lightning hands allows to often tenderize the meat of pick of an injured enemy. Lightning Hands Fire your pistol at a target. This attack does not cost an action. 3 turn cooldown.
Death From Above Killing an enemy at a lower elevation with your sniper rifle costs only a single action and does not end your turn. Not entitely sure. I was using Death From Above but found it is actually not that often used. Sniper making big damage, it is generally used on enemies with lot of health, the kill not being obvious. Undecided. Quickdraw Firing your pistol with your first action no longer ends your turn.
Kill Zone Take a reaction shot against any enemy that moves or attacks within a cone of fire. 3 turn cooldown. Kill Zone seemed great. I found that actually it very often miss to hit in this cone. Faceoff, on the other hand, allows to empty the area of already injured enemies like a charm. Faceoff Fire once at every visible enemy with your pistol. 3 turn cooldown.
Steady Hands If you didn’t move last turn, gain +10 aim and +10 critical chance. No real opinion. Tend to go with Steady Hands, since I’m not often using Hunker Down. Aim Hunker Down now confers +20 aim to the first shot on the following turn.
Serial Each kill made with your sniper rifle completely restores your actions. With each consecutive kill you get a critical chance penalty.4 turn cooldown. Still to be determined. Fan Fire Fire the pistol 3 consecutive times at a single target. 3 turn cooldown

 

Fourth memo: useful mods

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Many mods are already available. You can install the following without second thoughts:

  • ShowMeTheSkills (show units abilities when selecting them before missions, as on screenshot above);
  • Always Show Shot Breakdowns (give all relevant date before firing, as on screenshots above);
  • XCom International Voices Pack (it should have been included in the game, since it was there in the previous XCOM);
  • Evac All (it should have been included in the game);
  • More Maps Pack;

 

I also use the following but they might be not for everyone:

  • Revised Ranks for Immersion;
  • Nicknames Extended;
  • New Countries;
  • Numeric Health Display (more readable with big numbers);
  • Uniforms Manager (perfect to set uniforms/colors per class, overly convenient to identify units deployed);

That’s all.

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