XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Reviews

The War of the Chosen expansion for Firaxis Games' XCOM 2 releases in a few days, on August 29, 2017. To help you make an informed decision about purchasing it, we've rounded up several early reviews. From the looks of it, people are enjoying War of the Chosen and the features it has introduced to XCOM 2, with some of the outlets going as far as to call it XCOM 3, as opposed to a mere expansion. See for yourself:

IGN - 8.8/10:

Most of these classes’ innate skills, like the Skirmisher firing two shots per turn and free use of a grappling hook or the Templar’s retreat move after a melee strike feel like having a captain-level soldier (without the beefed up health and stats) in your squad from the start. I found that rather than unbalancing things, having some access to those abilities allows for more advanced tactics in the early game, while most soldiers were still learning the ropes of their classes. They’re highly useful and versatile without being absolutely essential, plus they are somewhat limited by their inability to equip heavy armor – and Reapers and Templars have only one utility slot. They’re also limited in aesthetic options, with only two slightly different textures for their armor sets and two voices per class.

The exception to that respect for balance is the Reaper’s super-stealth, which reduces the enemy detection range to just one tile and practically lets them walk up and poke an alien in the eye without being spotted. In fact, they have a 50 percent chance of doing almost exactly that – firing their rifles from concealment rolls the dice on whether they’ll be spotted, and later they can get a skill called Sting that guarantees they stay hidden for one shot. True, they don’t do as much damage as a regular Sharpshooter, but that’s still a huge advantage. Their Claymore mine is also an absurdly effective means of striking without risking retaliation, though because you have to shoot it to detonate it it’s mostly only good for stationary targets until it’s upgraded to a sticky bomb at a high rank. But the Reaper’s stealth was a real unbalancing factor in search-and-destroy missions like assassinations and even the Avenger Defense, where I was able to walk up, spot the disruptor for snipers across the map, and make an escape without taking a hit, all within five turns. Don’t get me wrong, I felt clever the first time I pulled it off, but henceforth there’s no challenge to what used to be a tough mission.


The Verdict

War of the Chosen is a wide and deep expansion for XCOM 2 that improves variety in mission objectives, tactical options, threats, and strategic map activities. The Chosen are worthy adversaries who advance along with you to put up great fights without feeling cheap, and the new elite soldier classes add opportunities for interesting gameplay earlier in the campaign. Some significant balance issues show up, but especially for the first two-thirds of a campaign War of the Chosen restores the fear of the unknown to a game I know well.

GameInformer - 9.25/10:

The new aliens add a few wrinkles to XCOM’s combat. Fortunately, War of the Chosen gives you access to several new soldier classes that expand your strategic options to compensate for these new threats. These new classes come from three new resistance groups you can befriend and share resources with. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Reapers are incredibly stealthy marksman who have a chance to attack without revealing themselves to enemies, Templars are psionic powerhouses who grow stronger after each kill, and Skirmishers are alien/human hybrids who specialize in close-quarters combat. All three units are wildly different from XCOM’s other classes, and each is so useful that I wanted to bring them on every mission. Unfortunately, you can only recruit new units by running missions with their faction leader, which makes them hard to replace if you lose one in battle.

War of the Chosen contains so much new content that it could almost have been called XCOM 3. Every mission dishes out a new enemy, mission type, or environment, which allows the game to remain fresh for several dozen hours. War of the Chosen’s wealth of interwoven systems might overwhelm newcomers, but strategy nerds willing to master the nuances will be treated to one of the most rewarding strategy games in years. I don’t know how Firaxis could make a more complex yet gratifying strategy game, but I can’t wait to see them try.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Recommended:

Where XCOM 2’s campaign could feel like the drawn-out prelude to the foregone conclusion of the climactic fight, this feels like, if you’ll excuse the term, a long war. It’s a hard-fought bringing together of a rag-tag army of vengeance, with landmark battles and true heroes emerging from the miasma of skirmishes. Sometimes, I shake my head at its absurdity and its noise, but I really cannot get enough of it.

There’s a raft of smaller, more under-the-hood changes I’ve not even mentioned, but all of which further serve to ensure your campaign does not stomp down the same path every time. It’s even cranked the graphicsosity dial up a little too, with improved lighting making everything pop that much more.

I said right back at the start that ‘DLC’ desperately undersells War Of The Chosen, this fat and bursting sausage of turn-based splendour. I think I might have found ‘XCOM 3’ a mite more appropriate.

Eurogamer - Recommended:

War of the Chosen proves once again that Firaxis really know how to handle an expansion. There's just so many new systems being introduced here, that it's hard not to be impressed that they didn't hold onto all of this stuff for an inevitable sequel. Don't let the first mission fool you, this is a wildly different beast to the core XCOM 2 experience. So much so, that I really wouldn't advise playing War of the Chosen without having already completed the original game - I think you'd find it too overwhelming, too busy. However, if you have defeated the Avatar Project before now, there's now a fantastic reason to do it once again.

If you enjoyed what Enemy Within added to the previous title, you're in for a treat. War of the Chosen makes the last game's expansion seem meager by comparison. And I bloody loved Enemy Within.

PCGamesN - 8/10:

The Lost don’t shoot salvos of plasma fire - instead closing to melee distance in numbers previously reserved only for XCOM 2’s higher difficulty settings. Firaxis balance the threat with a free-shot rule: every time you down one of the crumbly buggers, you get another go, potentially chaining a series of kills in a single soldier’s turn.

The consequences, in Lost-focused battles, are significant: there’s no sense in clinging to cover when it affords no bonus against melee. Instead you learn to position your troops out in the open, with line-of-sight to as many mutants as possible. It makes sense to cluster your soldiers together, ready to cover for each other when a shot doesn’t quite come off. Ammo conservation and reloading suddenly become the most important issues on your plate. It’s gratifying to see Firaxis flip the familiar givens of their game, seemingly just to find out how far it can be pushed.

From a technical perspective, there’s still a vague sense that XCOM 2 struggles under its own weight. Playing on a GTX 1060, there have been moments between turns when War of the Chosen slows uncomfortably, long seconds passing as the game presumably wrestles with unseen calculations.

On the plus side, this expansion sees the sequel’s more ambitious art style come into its own. In the cities of the Lost, you’ll find statuesque bodies frozen at the point of death, arms raised in vain like the citizens of Herculaneum. Firaxis dress these ghoulish mannequins in green fairy lights for maximum eeriness - and, in an inspired touch, cause them to collapse into dust as your squaddies brush past. We’ve come a long way from the sometimes incohesive look of Enemy Unknown.

Gameplanet - 8/10:

War for the Chosen adds a huge amount of content and a number of new mechanics to an already brimming game. It's a generous package that ought to please and frustrate (in a good way!) XCOM devotees.

The Chosen and Hero units shake up the game nicely. A lot of added variety, and randomness keeps things fresh. Bug fixes and optimizations bring it all together. More to love – a lot more.

The Lost weaken the combat experience. The world map is too busy, and loves to interrupt you. If you’re not already sold on XCOM, this won’t change that.