XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Gameplay Previews

The official XCOM YouTube channel released a new Lost and Abandoned Gameplay Walkthrough video yesterday, and this opened the floodgates for a number of hands-on previews and gameplay videos from all over the Internet. So, if you've got an insatiable craving for some XCOM 2 coverage, you've come to the right place.

First, here's the official video itself:

Then, we have some gameplay footage from GameSpot:

80 minutes of gameplay from Eurogamer featuring the game's designer, Jake Solomon:

And over an hour of commentated footage from ChristopherOdd:

Then, we get to the written previews. IGN's write-up, for example, makes a point of noting all the Star Trek: The Next Generation actors providing their voices for the expansion:

All of the missions I played – including some revamped versions of original XCOM 2 missions – felt new and different thanks to distinct objectives, and none had a “game over” turn timer where you’ll lose if it expires. I don’t mind those as much as some, but it’s great to see less reliance on that mechanic in missions. The first one I played was an introduction to two of the three new factions: the Skirmishers (Advent defectors who’ve managed to remove their own implants) and the Reapers, in which you’re arranging a meet between the two feuding factions. They both hate Advent, but the Reapers’ leader (voiced by Jonathan Frakes, AKA William Riker) doesn’t trust the Skirmishers or their leader (voiced by Denise Crosby, AKA Tasha Yar) and… seems to want to eat them. As food.


As soon as I heard the voices of the Skirmisher and Reaper and recognized the voices of Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis, respectively, I renamed them accordingly as Worf, Son of Mogh and Deanna Troi. (The characters come pre-made in the story mission, but can be remade as you please; if you’re not playing with the story mode enabled they’ll be generated like everyone else.) At low levels, these hero soldiers are almost like starting with a fully equipped colonel, but with less health. The Skirmishers come with a grapple ability from the Spider Suit, plus a Viper-style grab and pull move. More importantly, though, they effectively have the Rapid Fire skill that allows them to shoot without ending the turn – the Ranger doesn’t get that until you hit colonel rank.

The Reaper, meanwhile, is a super-stealth sniper who can move and then shoot, right out of the box. They also start with a Claymore mine that can stick to enemies and be detonated at will, all without breaking concealment. And if a Reaper fires from concealment, they have a chance (which starts out as 50-50) to remain concealed to strike again. Plus their concealment is even more potent than the average soldier’s, with a much shorter detection radius that will let them slip through where the rest of XCOM can’t.

We’ll also meet the psi-focused Templar faction later, but I didn’t have time to reach them in this demo session. If Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, and/or Brent Spiner don’t show up in some capacity I’ll be disappointed – the more in-demand Patrick Stewart’s a long shot, but we can hope!

PCGamesN talks about the new enemies in The Lost and The Chosen and offers a couple of videos with Jake Solomon on top of that:

We got our first look at how it all comes together when Solomon swung by the PCGamesN offices to let us play the third mission in War of the Chosen’s campaign. Our task is to broker peace between two of the new factions, and for some reason, we’ve picked a Lost-infested city for the meeting. In a neatly fitting extension of XCOM’s lore, the Lost are what happen when you get covered in the green goo from XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Hence, you’ll mainly encounter them in the now-ruined cities that suffered the brunt of the first war with the aliens.

The Lost waste no time, and I’m soon fighting off a small wave. It’s no sweat so far, though: the basic Lost have only two hit points, and whenever your soldiers kill one they get another shot. Since Lost aggressors don’t bother taking cover, a soldier can easily kill two or three in a single turn. It’s a breeze – at least until your weapons run dry.

Previously, you’d run out of ammo once or twice in a mission, and reloading was more of an inconvenience than anything else. Against the Lost, it’s a central consideration – they’re a neat addition because they pressurise a mechanic that had been a little underused; fighting them feels new. And if you think they sound like ideal grenade fodder, think again – while effective, explosions will attract more Lost, so that’s strictly a last resort.

Indeed, it sounds like the Lost never stop coming. XCOM 2’s use of turn-based timers to discourage overcautious play was divisive (Solomon says he loves them, everyone else says the opposite), but the Lost achieve a similar result with more elegance. “The Lost function as a soft timer,” Solomon says. “They pressure the player to move forward because they never stop swarming, never stop coming. You can’t just camp there, or they’ll overwhelm you.”

And finally, PC Gamer offers a written account of their experiences with the Lost and Abandoned intro mission:

Like the first XCOM's expansion, War of the Chosen is designed to inject a pile of additional content to experience over the course of a fresh playthrough. Among a long list of other stuff, the expansion brings new missions, enemies, and resistance factions you'll encounter in your fight against the alien menace. Last week at 2K Games' office I played The Lost and Abandoned, a new mission from War of the Chosen that introduces many of the expansion pack's new characters and mechanics.

Chronologically, The Lost and Abandoned takes place near the beginning of a new campaign. You have to facilitate a meeting between two of WotC's three new resistance factions: the Reapers, who specialize in stealth, snipers, and explosives, and the Skirmishers, a warrior faction of former Advent soldiers who get extra actions when enemies do stuff, and can attack without ending their turn. The two don't exactly see eye-to-eye—the Reapers take a hard-line stance on anything alien, and the Skirmishers are, well, alien.

At The Lost and Abandoned's mission prep screen, I formed two pairs of soldiers to each escort a Reaper and Skirmisher operative. The resulting three-man squads were formidable, as the resistance factions come with powerful new abilities. The Reaper faction, for example, utilizes stealth throughout the entire mission, thanks to "Reaper Shadow," a more powerful form of concealment that is both harder to see through and has a chance to not be broken when taking a shot at an enemy. Undoubtedly, advanced Reaper talents will allow their soldiers to get into and stay in stealth throughout several waves of combat.

In addition to stealth, Reapers carry a Claymore mine that can be thrown and later detonated, both without breaking concealment. I also encountered a talent that would let me remotely detonate environmental explosives like cars and gas tanks—again without breaking stealth. Finally, Reapers attack with the Vektor rifle, a sniper rifle that can shoot on the same turn as moving. Powerful stuff.