Reviews - Updated on April 13, 2022

On August 29, a large-scale addition to the tactical strategy XCOM 2 will be released War of the Chosen (PC, PS4, Xbox One). Announced at E3 2017, it looks both ambitious and adventurous. Interestingly, War of the Chosen will appear on the shelves on the same day as Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch), which took over some ideas from XCOM and developed them.

War of the Chosen brings new enemies and Resistance factions to familiar gameplay. We constantly talk about them in the news feed, but it will not be superfluous to recall the main thing – the hunt for the XCOM commander will be arranged by the Chosen, cunning and tenacious creatures. Personal enemies that learn from mistakes and tease the player should really shake up the campaign.

In the addon, Firaxis Games revised the tactical and strategic levels, added a funny Photobooth mode, depressive skeletons of settlements with zombies … Otherwise, how can you call radical changes. We recently got in touch with Garth DeAngelis, Senior Producer of War of the Chosen, so give him a listen if you’re tired of listening to us.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen обзор

Garth DeAngeles – right.

: War of the Chosen is such a big expansion that it could well serve as the basis for XCOM 3. Why did you decide to limit yourself to an addon?

Garth DeAngelis: We’re not ready to leave the world of XCOM 2 behind just yet. Some time after the release, we took another look at the whole project and chose tactical and strategic elements, as well as parts of the narrative, which could be fine improved and presented in a new light. A lot of the cool stuff coming in the DLC is only possible because of what we did in the sequel.

SG: War of the Chosen will debut the “bond system” between Resistance fighters and their “compatibility rating”. The Chosen are also known to remember previous battles. Were you inspired by the Nemesis system from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor?

GD: Of course, we took inspiration from other games, movies, and comics when we came up with the idea of ​​personal enemies. In XCOM, each player’s unique story is the most important, and the Chosen Ones are a great way to up the ante. They challenge you, personally and without appeal. They tease you and do dirty tricks both on a tactical and global level.

SG: How will the strategy map change in the expansion?

GD: At the strategic level, there will be several new facilities and mechanisms. For example, the already mentioned “connection system” in the new training camp. In another location, The Ring, you can access Covert Actions – special non-combat missions for small squads. The reward for them will be additional resources and information. In addition, it is during sabotage that players will be able to discover the lair of the Chosen One and end it once and for all. And meeting with the Resistance faction will open access to Resistance Orders, which give bonuses that affect all aspects of the game. Moreover, the campaign will need to go through several times to see them all.

SG: Will the Chosen be able to harm the Resistance on the global map?

GD: Of course! On the strategic map, they are no less active than during missions. While you’re researching new technologies to advance your campaign and power up your soldiers, the Chosen are doing exactly the same thing. Sometimes they can sabotage the Avenger or sabotage the supply of resources. They develop over time. It’s very fun to fight them when you realize that the Chosen are also playing with you.

SG: What prompted the desire to implement social features in XCOM 2 – for example, regular missions in challenge mode with a global rating?

GD: New features like Photobooth and Challenge Mode are aimed mainly at the fans. In the latter, users are waiting for missions with squads that you can’t meet in a regular campaign. But then you can compare your strategy with what your friends did in the same situation – in the high score table. And Photobooth should just make you smile, because XCOM can be a fun game, if you will. Fans love to experiment with the appearance of the fighters, and we, in turn, will be happy to give them even more toys to have a good laugh.

SG: War of the Chosen is scheduled for radio broadcasts, and during the battles there are constant skirmishes. Do not you think that this will distract from the battles?

GD: I perfectly understand these fears – we had them too! But when we played the game ourselves, we realized that the jokes from the Chosen Ones noticeably enliven what is happening and only draw them more into the world of XCOM. Previously, we have not fully implemented this idea, but to hear how the enemy comments on the player’s past decisions or predicts his imminent defeat is very cool and unexpected.

SG: Each of the Chosen – Assassin, Wizard and Hunter – has its own character. Let’s say the Wizard is a religious fanatic. What inspired these types? Why is the Assassin armed with a katana and not more modern weapons?

GD: For each Chosen One, we chose a character that best suits their fighting style. For example, the Assassin is a constantly disappearing ninja, so the oriental notes in her appearance and personality fit just right. This can be seen even in the names of the abilities: “Flying Silk” (Parting Silk) or “Vanishing Wind” (Vanishing Wind). Our effects artists have also adopted this approach – the Assassin disappears from the battlefield like petals in the wind. As you rightly pointed out, we decided to portray the Wizard as a fanatic of a psionic “religion” or ideology, because his fighting style is built on very bad abilities. And the Hunter is a typical lone wolf who pesters with his sniper rifle across the map.

SG: Will the Chosen only appear in cutscenes or on the battlefield as well? Wouldn’t it be possible for the player to kill them prematurely? Will they be able to upgrade their weapons and armor as the campaign progresses?

GD: The Chosen Ones will appear in cutscenes, on the battlefield and on the global map. The game calendar will take into account all these events, and despite the randomness of many elements, there will be a structure here. The chosen ones can be left alive, and then they will all take part in the final mission. And yes, they get stronger over time. As the campaign progresses, their armor grows stronger, and the longer they live, the more tactical tricks will appear in the repertoire.

SG: In addition to the Chosen, the ranks of “Advent” will be replenished with new types of ordinary enemies. Tell us more about them.

GD: Three new enemies will debut in the game: a cleaner, a priest, and a ghost. The Cleaner is an Advent soldier armed with a flamethrower and an incendiary grenade. It is better to kill such people from afar, because there is always a chance that they will explode before death.

The priest is a psionic “unit”. They have several powerful abilities, but my favorite is Holy Warrior. Fans of Enemy Unknown will immediately recognize her as Mind Merge. The psionicist is able to mentally connect with another soldier and give him strength, but if the priest is killed in the process, then both will die.

And the ghost can create dark copies of XCOM fighters. Even worse, this ability knocks out the soldier. In one fell swoop, you temporarily lose a fighter, and the enemy receives impressive reinforcements.

SG: In addition, we will see abandoned cities with zombies. What is this – a tribute to the fashion for the walking dead?

GD: With the addition of Lost, tactical missions have unique puzzle elements. Alone, these opponents are not very dangerous, but they always go in crowds. Players will be able to use the new headshot mechanics – fighters will learn how to shoot several shots in a row at once. So you will always need to keep track of how many rounds are left, and evaluate whether it will be possible to kill the wanderer with one shot. There was nothing like this in the base game.

SG: Will the fighters have personal characteristics? For example, psychological trauma after being captured by the Chosen Ones? Or any relationship with colleagues?

GD: Yes, as you mentioned, the soldiers will have new features. Under certain circumstances, a fighter can get a lot of negative traits and phobias. But for the relationship on the “Avenger” is responsible just the “connection system”. However, all this will be very vague. We do not want to impose this or that attitude on the soldier. This is the beauty of XCOM – most of the stories of the fighters are written by the player himself.

SG: And what is interesting about the fighters of the new Resistance factions – “Reapers”, “Protectors” and “Templars”? How will the player be able to interact with them, including diplomatically?

GD: The Reapers are looking to an advanced form of stealth called Shadow Mode. Unlike other fighters, with her a shot at the enemy will not lead to instant disclosure – there will always be a chance to stay in the shadows. In addition, the Reapers carry Claymore mines. It is enough just to install one, and any soldier can detonate it. This allows the Reapers to engage in ambushes without leaving stealth.

Protectors are a very versatile class with many abilities that allow you to use additional moves. One of the strongest skills is Battlelord. With Battlelord, Protectors will be able to maneuver after every enemy action.

Templars are a psionic melee class. Their main weapon is the energy blades on their wrists. This is the only class that has access to the new tactical resource – “Concentration” (Focus). It can be accumulated and stored to increase the power of attacks, or can be spent on powerful abilities. Players will constantly have to find a balance – when to save “Concentration” for bonuses, and when to use it for the most damage.

In some ways, these factions are seen as a counterbalance to the Chosen Ones. This will manifest itself both in the narrative and gameplay. For example, the “Defenders” are Advent defector soldiers, and they are especially hated by the Killer – a warrior loyal to the Elders, for whom the code of honor is above all else. In addition, sometimes the Chosen Ones can have weaknesses on the battlefield, and then certain factions will deal more damage to them.

SG: Can we say that War of the Chosen will make XCOM 2 what it was originally intended to be? Or new ideas appeared after the release?

GD: We tried to implement some of these ideas in the original, but could not fully bring them to mind at that time. Jake Solomon (Creative Director) wanted to add the same “connection system” for a very long time. But in general, this addition became possible only after we had a chance to analyze the original.

SG: Thanks for the interview!

* Questions – Yaroslav Gafner, translation – Ilya Morozov.

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