We are not alone

It seems every publisher wants to get in on the Switch action these days and 2K is no different, with it recently releasing three collections on Nintendo’s hybrid platform; The Bioshock Collection, The Borderlands Legacy Collection and last but not least, The X-COM 2 Collection, with them handing over the jobs of X-COM 2 and Bioshock to porting specialists Virtuos, whose work includes the Switch ports of Dark Souls and The Outer Worlds.

The first thing I noticed about this particular collection is that it is missing a game. Whilst The Bioshock Collection contains all three games and The Borderlands Legacy Collection includes all but the most recent game; this collection is missing the X-COM game from 2012. It seems like an odd omission, especially as this is a direct sequel to that game and follows on the story after the invasion.

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Price: $49.99
Multiplayer: No

Having integrated themselves into human society the aliens are calling the shots. They have taken control of the government and armed forces, all under the guise that they are actually here to help the human race and that the control they have is simply to make sure that we can all coexist happily together. But not everyone is convinced and see the aliens as they truly are, a threat to human existence, who plan to genetically alter us for their own means. Leading the charge against the hostile forces is the X-COM team, who have gone from a government backed initiative to being the head of the resistance against those now in power in the 20 years since the first game. The player takes control of the Commander from the first game, who has been captured by the aliens in order for them to scan his mind for intel. After being set free by Bradford, the Commander is placed back in charge of operations and leads the assault against our enslavers.

The game follows the formula of the first game and never strays far from what has made the X-COM brand so popular, a turn-based tactical shooter that dishes out frustration and elation in equal measure. With each mission the player takes control of a squad of four X-COM soldiers who have been given one of several types of tasks. These range from simply clearing out aliens from a particular area, to rescuing VIPs to sabotaging alien technology. But no matter the mission, a high level of strategy is required to get through them in one piece. This may involve guns but is definitely not a shooter. The aim of each mission is to carefully plan every step of the objective so that the team are always in a position where if they are attacked, the damage they take is minimal. To aid in this the maps provide a lot of cover for the soldiers to move between, all of which offers varying degrees of protection. Move a squad member to full cover and the chance of them getting hit is reduced significantly; half cover however opens up an increased chance to get shot.

Full cover is always hard to find, so it will be down to the player to decide if the reward of getting closer to the objective is worth the risk of getting the team killed. When that does happen (and it will) there is no going back and that team member will be lost forever, as will all of the skills they have learned along the way. It is then a case of training up a new recruit, which can take a lot of time. Each mission earns XP for the squad, and as they level up they will unlock certain skills, with the idea being that the player will have a diverse set of operatives that will complement each other on the battlefield. That is why is can be so painful to lose a soldier, as it can dramatically change the dynamic of the squad and alter the course of future encounters. Unlike the previous game however, X-COM 2 does offer a helping hand, as team members now bleed-out before dying, giving the player a small window of opportunity to heal them or get them extracted. Not only does that offer a little hope but also makes the gameplay more dramatic as I found it changed my focus on the mission and made me think on my feet.

With each mission complete the X-COM division gets to learn more about the alien invaders and allows some of the main characters to research and develop counter measures. As with X-COM there is an element of base building here, but instead of an underground base it is now a hijacked alien ship. However, the idea is the same, where the player chooses what to research and how to apply that research across the mobile base. It is from this base that decisions about where to strike will be made, offering the player different objectives that will result in different rewards if completed. But by choosing one over another it will also affect the relationship that X-COM has with all of the different resistance factions. They then may choose to withdraw their help from the cause, which results in reduced support. It is a juggling act to keep everyone happy enough and to make sure that there are enough funds to keep the fight going.

On its own X-COM 2 offers a massive campaign with a ton of reply value. But when War of the Chosen is added it opens it up even more. This expansion isn’t a story-based add-on that you would normally expect, but a new way to play the main campaign. Its main addition, The Chosen’ are a group of three Human/Alien hybrids that have been genetically enhanced with the specific goal of re-capturing the commander. This new enemy faction is integrated into the main narrative, and much like the X-COM soldiers will level up and gain new abilities as the game progresses, creating more of a challenge. The expansion also adds in three new factions that have new missions to undertake and offer new soldier classes to explore. Finally, just to add in some extra chaos to missions, War of the Chosen introduce the Lost; a race of mindless humans that attack both the X-COM team and the aliens. X-COM 2 can be played either with or without the expansion being active, and it is my advice to play the game without it on the first playthrough, as is does ramp up the difficulty significantly.

Although the X-COM 2 Collection has just as much content as the PC version, it is hampered slightly by being on a less powerful device. Firstly, the visuals take quite a beating, with the game being very blurry during cut-scenes. This can be forgiven however, as during actual gameplay it was sharp enough to know what was going on; although as you would expect the visual flourishes have been toned down considerably. It also helps that this is a slow-paced game and as such means the core gameplay isn’t truly affected by this. I did also experience a few crashes during my time with the game, but seeing as the game saves pretty much all the time I never lost any meaningful progress.

Overall, the X-COM 2 Collection offers a great deal of content for a small price. But unless you don’t have any other means of playing it; or if you absolutely must play in on the go, then you and your wallet would probably be better served buying it on a different platform.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Massive amount of content
  • Plays just like it’s ‘Big Brother’ versions
  • Tactical turn-based action at its best
  • Visual compromises
  • Crashes
  • Better and cheaper versions available
Written by
News Editor/Reviewer, he also lends his distinct British tones to the N4G Radio Podcast. When not at his PC, he can be found either playing something with the word LEGO in it, or TROPICO!!!