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Firaxis' Creative Director Jake Solomon talked about XCOM 2: War of the Chosen for about an hour on Twitch yesterday. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a proper link to the VOD, but IGN offers an extensive text recap of what was said there. If you would like to know more about the Chosen, the new resistance factions, or the upcoming changes to some of XCOM 2's gameplay mechanics, look no further. Here's an excerpt:
First, a big issue for the existing XCOM 2 community: what’s to become of the Rulers, the absolutely vicious boss characters introduced in the Alien Hunters DLC? Once the ultimate threat to XCOM, they’ve been scaled back and reigned in. With War of the Chosen installed, you’ll be notified that certain facilities are guarded by a Ruler; they won’t come after you until you’ve voluntarily attacked their hideout at the time of your choosing. However, once you’ve engaged them if they escape they’re free to pop up in any other mission as normal (unless that mission is also invaded by a Chosen). They’ll also be easier to manage: instead of reacting to every single action any XCOM soldier takes, they’ll now only get a free move for an attack or a movement, and even then only if it happens within the Ruler’s line of sight. That means things like reloads or certain special abilities won’t trigger them, which should give us a little more room to breathe when in combat.
The role of showing up in random missions to ruin your day is now occupied by The Chosen, a trio of blue-skinned, white-haired alien siblings created by the Elders. (It’s not actually random - they each have an agenda behind the scenes.) The Hunter, the Assassin, and the Warlock each have what Solomon calls map behaviors, which means that as soon as you make contact with an enemy on a mission they’ll teleport in on the far side of the map and do their best to throw a wrench in your plans. The examples given were the Hunter, who can snipe you from across the map, and the Warlock, who can summon spectral enemies out of the ground. Solomon says that in the case of the Hunter you’ll be warned when you’re targeted and it’ll be easy to get out of his line of fire, but that and the Warlock’s summoning will force you to move and change up the way you’d have played otherwise. This makes the Chosen effectively map modifiers, forcing you out of the rut of playing the same way every time even before you engage them in direct combat.
Unlike the Rulers, the Chosen’s goal isn’t to kill soldiers - they’re trying to disable your troops and interrogate them in order to gain a resource called Knowledge, which will eventually lead them to the Avenger. So many of their attacks don’t even do damage, but instead inflicts a new “dazed” status that leaves XCOM soldiers temporarily vulnerable to interrogation - or worse, capture - if the Chosen can reach them before a teammate can move adjacent to them and snap them out of it. (Rescuing a captured soldier requires that you send your troops on a stealth mission.)
The Chosen are also active on the strategic world map. At first, they’ll just attack the regions you control, damaging your income and gaining Knowledge. But if they gather enough Knowledge they’ll begin sabotaging the Avenger, and they can start interfering with your Covert Actions (more on those in a moment), potentially resulting in your agents being captured. Eventually, they’ll attack the Avenger in their own special mission type that involves huge cannons trying to destroy the ship on the ground. (It doesn’t replace the existing one where you’re shot down by a UFO and have to defend - it’s a whole new threat on top of that.)
In order to hunt down a Chosen, you’ll need to work with your targeted Chosen’s rival resistance faction, which is randomly paired each game. You’ll need to spend some of your Covert Action efforts with either the Reapers, the Templars, or the Skirmishers to pinpoint the location of the associated Chosen’s stronghold (and the Chosen will take more damage from that faction). Solomon says you don’t have to and probably won’t hunt down all the Chosen before you beat a game. However (minor spoiler alert!) any Chosen you don’t kill before reaching the final string of missions will face off with you at some point - all at once. Also, there’s a whole new ending cinematic, too, so there’s something waiting for those of us who’ve already beaten it.
The Chosen aren’t the only new enemy types, though. We’ll see two new Advent soldiers: the Priest, a psionic soldier who can mind control foes, buff enemies, and has a chance to put himself into stasis and revive if he’s killed; and the Purifier, a flamethrower trooper with incendiary grenades. There’s also a new alien in the Specter, a stealth enemy who can knock out one of your soldiers and replace them with a dark copy of that unit. Effectively, it’s a mind-control ability, except without the added pain of losing a soldier for good if you kill them. Also, if you use a revive ability on the downed soldier, the dark copy will cease to exist.
Finally, there’s an entirely new enemy faction, the Lost. Yes, they’re zombies - hordes of former humans, transformed into mindlessly aggressive husks by the green gas-spewing pods we first saw in Enemy Unknown. They come in numbers and are attracted by the sound of explosions, which discourages the use of everybody’s favorite area-of-effect attacks. However, they also have what Solomon calls a headshot effect. “There are a lot of Lost - so many that you couldn’t kill them in a single turn without headshots. If you kill one, that’s a free action.” Basically, if you target the low-health zombies first and have a fair amount of ammo loaded into your guns, you can mow down a lot of them before they reach you, but it requires some thought in what order to take your shots. Also notable: if the Lost are on fire they’ll panic and run around, lighting other Lost on fire. The Advent know this too; hence the Purifier.
On the topic of the Lost, many missions will now have what Firaxis calls sitreps - mission-wide modifiers, which are visible when you’re choosing between mission options - that can drastically change the way you approach both new and old objectives.