Tuesday, February 28, 2017

XCOM 2 Multiplayer (initial thoughts)

I couldn't wait for Firaxis to port XCOM 2 over to mobile and my laptop is so weak it can only play games from before 2007 so I got a PS4 and XCOM 2 on sale from Amazon for $30.

One cool thing about the PS4 is how easy it is to take screenshots and record vidcaps then share them online. Since I found modest success on XCOM mobile multiplayer (400+ wins and ranked #1 on Android, but who's counting?) I decided to try my hand at XCOM 2 Multiplayer and man, is it different. Still fun, but I'm disappointed and feel like they've taken a step backward, trying to simplify the game, particularly pregame squad building in order to cater to the casual XCOM 2 player. However, I can't help but feel like XCOM 2 multiplayer could have been so much more.

I'll start posting some vidcaps of games here but let's start with my first win in XCOM 2 after several humiliating and humbling defeats. This was kinda a long, drawn-out match but I was able to win by flanking from the side while my opponent sat in the same spot.

Some thoughts on XCOM 2 Multiplayer:
  • It's not as customizable as the previous XCOM multiplayer. For example, you can only pick two flavors of each XCOM soldier class whereas the previous version had 5 variants of each class. Also you can't pick the XCOM soldiers' gun and armor. Also, you only get a limited number of utility items to choose from (no flashbangs??). This kinda dumbs down the multiplayer, making it easier for people to jump right in and not worry about having to customize their teams too much, but it really takes away from the game and makes it feel like it's harder to have a unique team since all of the soldiers are cookie-cutter replicas of each other. Here's a link to a photo album with screenshots of all the units/items you can use in XCOM 2 multiplayer.
  • XCOM 2 Multiplayer really needs to be balanced and the costs of units probably need to be adjusted. I'll need to play some more and think about why it feels even more unbalanced than the Enemy Unknown or Enemy Within. 
  • No more overdrive serum/combat stims? While I never really used them in the previous games, they were a big part of XCOM Multiplayer. It was powerful but there have always been counters and tradeoffs to using it so I welcome things like that because they add another dimension to the multiplayer game.
  • Archons are overpowered/underpriced
  • Chryssalids are actually useful in multiplayer this time!  Just check out how quickly they multiply and how fun they are to use (they're a good counter for people who rely on Advent soldiers too much):

Inevitably, you'll also notice the severe lack of players for XCOM 2 Multiplayer and how difficult it is to get a game going. A quick search on XCOM 2 multiplayer usually brings up posts like this, this, this, or this where people even question the point of XCOM multiplayer and say stuff like "people only play XCOM for single player mode anyway so QUIT YOUR WHINING." XCOM and XCOM 2 are definitely far from perfect multiplayer experiences, but I believe the layers of strategy and unpredictability of human opponents make it worthwhile. Also I'm just too old and my relexes are not fast enough for first person shooters. Turn-based strategy is my place to shine.

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