XCOM 1 and XCOM 2 – Well Designed Sequels

Greetings gamers and a happy new year!

I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying my winter break, playing all the games I couldn’t even touch during the school semester. Although I am not the biggest fan of alien-themed games, I have always loved XCOM Enemy Unknown (EU) and Enemy Within (EW). These games really satisfied my desires for a truly personal experience as they allowed me to customize many aesthetic aspects of my soldiers (facial hair, armor style, face type …). Just when I thought XCOM EU was sufficient, 2K Games released XCOM EW, further wetting my appetite. EW introduced two new trooper types: MEC and Gene Mods.

“Bellator in Machina” means warrior in the machine in Latin. “Mutare ad Custodiam” means to change in order to protect in Latin. Beautiful coats of arms with powerful messages that truly represent each respective troop type. Kudos to the designers!
MEC troopers are truly powerful entities. They are basically huge hulking humanoid tanks that overwhelm enemies with sheer brute force. As expensive as they are to produce, they are truly worth having! 😀 (Image Source: The Games Pushers Blog)
While I am not a big fan of genetic modifications, gene mods are powerful augmentations to your “fragile” human soldiers. Fusing alien DNA to human DNA, gene mods allow your troopers to jump multiple stories in a single leap and have superhuman reflexes.

Now for those of you who have played XCOM EU and EW before, this is all familiar stuff. The principle reason why I am writing this article is to emphasize the importance of planning ahead when releasing sequels. Sure, you want your fans to play the next release but do you want your previous version to become completely obsolete? If I were a game developer, I would prefer that people continue to play the older version and reap great satisfaction from it. When XCOM 2 was released, I was quite worried that my cherished memories of XCOM EU and EW would be lost forever as I gradually switch over to the newer version. Thankfully, the producers at 2K Games made XCOM 2 a significantly different experience.

No matter how well you did in XCOM 1, XCOM 2 assumes that governments of Earth surrendered to the alien invaders. Instead of having a formal base with well-equipped troopers, XCOM is now reduced to a fringe guerrilla force that emphasizes stealth and quick incursions. Hence, the new XCOM project cannot afford to provide its soldiers with the state-of-the-art MEC suits (Dr. Shen! You will be sorely missed!) and awesome gene mods (Ah, Dr. Vahlen! Where are you?). At first, I was disappointed at this and wanted to file a request/complaint to 2K Games so that they would release a DLC that adds these nostalgic features. Then I realized that this may have been done on purpose to offer a new style of warfare and gameplay to players and keep XCOM EU & EW as thrilling as before.

Right now, I am playing XCOM 2 and I am enjoying every bit of it. It supports modding much better and has so many customization options that I spend a lot of time in the character pool screen. Let me you show my beautiful Elsa!

Isn’t she beautiful? lol

My hope is that more game producers care about their original releases as people grow attached to them and it is painful to be torn apart from it. As we greet the new year of 2017, I sincerely wish this year becomes a year of high-quality games like XCOM!

UPDATE***: I later learned that a DLC called “Shen’s Last Gift” enables a new soldier class called SPARK, which is pretty much the MEC trooper from XCOM 1. I haven’t purchased the DLC given its mixed rating on Steam. From what I’ve read, the SPARK is too expensive given XCOM’s new precarious resource situation, thereby reducing its effectiveness altogether. I doubt that I will be using SPARK in my future campaigns…


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