Curious about XCOM 2 mods? You'll be pleased to hear that, armed with the latest tools from the boys and girls down in Engineering, modders have set to work altering and improving on an already excellent turn-based tactics sequel. Firaxis lay a foundation intending that others would come and knock down their houses to build condos, and the community has obliged.
The Nexus has filled up with features and fixes both obvious and inventive. Modders are digging deeper, tweaking rules and topping up the map pool, as well as turning their attention outwards, with wilfully absurd weapons and brand new classes. Here are the finest we've found.
How do I install XCOM 2 mods?
As an XCOM commander you'll know the value of good prep, so create a folder named 'Mods' under \Steam\steamapps\common\XCOM 2\XComGame\ if you haven't got one already. Once that's done, it's a simple matter of unzipping a given mod package into that folder (and ensuring you haven't accidentally popped it into a subfolder in the process). Any mods in that location will be selectable in the XCOM 2 launcher.
XCOM 2 gameplay mods
XCOM 2 expanded on the player’s ability to forward plan with concealment and overwatch indicators. Gotcha builds on that foundation still further, making it possible to precisely predict flanking and line of sight to enemies before committing to potentially fatal moves (which in XCOM is all of them).
Lucubration’s Infantry Class
XCOM 2’s classes are new and exciting, but modder Lucubration missed the basic rifleman of Enemy Unknown's Long War mod. In their Regular guise the Infantry squaddie is a “tough customer”; follow their Irregular perk tree and you’ll find they’re more nimble, able to put pressure on ADVENT and escape tight spots.
Lucubration’s guiding principle? “Hey, wouldn’t that be a cool ability? I wonder if I could make the game do that?”
Stop Wasting My Time
There are some odd pauses in XCOM 2, elapsing after shots and kills and runs for cover, that can sometimes lend the game an irregular rhythm. It’s that unnecessary downtime that Stop Wasting My Time targets, snipping a few seconds here and there and upping the movement speed of both the Avenger and units on the ground. “It doesn’t break immersion by turning every unit into Sonic the Hedgehog,” promises modder BlueRaja.
Looking to stop the tick of ADVENT's doomsday clock so you can poke about the globe at your own pace? Prefer dice rolls when they always come up six? Don't like to think about resource management beyond finding a broom cupboard large enough to store all those beam cannons? You're not alone: this cheat mod is proving surprisingly popular, and is designed for those who want to see Firaxis' alien utopia without worrying about squad wipes.
Configurable Mission Timers
XCOM 2 is about the squeeze - the terrible tension and hard choices created by the interplay of ADVENT reinforcements, distant evac points and, yes, a harsh mission timer. Understandably, however, that upsets some of the more methodical Enemy Unknown vets among us. This is for them. One note: the mod can’t adjust existing timers, so that impossible save scenario you’re holding onto is still a lost cause.
The yang to the muton centurion's yin, the leader pack grants buffing abilities to XCOM soldiers than can help the entire squad. Less a new class than a secondary progression path, as psionics was in Enemy Unknown, leader skills take a lot of time to train and are restricted to one squaddie per mission. But it pays to have somebody on your squad working to keep it together.
Free Camera Rotation
An update of an existing Enemy Unknown mod from Wasteland Ghost, free camera rotation functions as simply as you'd like. Hold down Q or E to spin the map in your chosen direction, freeing XCOM 2 from its self-set angle constraints. Or tap the same keys just once to move the camera by 45 degrees as Firaxis intended. That should help with pulling off some of those awkward indoor grenade throws. You can also zoom in and out via T and K if you fancy inspecting your soldiers' scars.
XCOM 2 voice mods
Arnold Schwarzenegger Voice Pack
You fall behind, and you’re on your own. Sound XCOM 2 advice, and also a sample line from the Arnold Schwarzenegger voice pack currently flexing its pecs on the Nexus. Modder tdc733 reckons it’s simply “not an alien invasion without the Austrian Oak”, and so attached Arnie quotes to more than 90 actions on the battlefield. This is the only way you’ll hear a squaddie boom “THE ICEMAN COMETH!” as you order them into cover.
XCOM 2 visual mods
Hatsune Miku Hair
Counter sectoids with vocaloids. The advantages of digitally-creating your pop superstars are threefold: no rider demands, an unerring sense of pitch, and the ability to fold them into any videogame you fancy. Here all-singing, all-dancing, all-digital Japanese prodigy Hatsune Miku lends her hair to, well, your entire squad if you think that’s best.
More Maps Pack
Firaxis’ procedurally generated maps are made up of small “parcels”, distributed randomly to create new battlescapes each time. Consider the More Maps Pack a bunch of new parcels in the post - composed of new and modified morsels for the game’s pool.
“You will not see entirely new and 100% custom levels,” explains its creator, “but rather smaller chunks of unique new content sprinkled into the familiar levels you already know.”
XCOM 2 weapon mods
Whatever strange and brave wonders the XCOM 2 mod community births over the game's lifespan, let it never be forgotten that the very first mod for the game was a corgi gun, sticking its tongue out at the sophisticated alien invaders and looking just as cute as can be. Who's a little deadly weapon, huh? That's right. You are, ACORG-47.
"I legit feel bad that this is the first XCOM 2 mod to be released," says creator JonTerp on the mod's Steam Workshop page.
Extra Weapon Upgrade Slots
XCOM 2’s weapon mods throw another bag of dice onto the table, precipitating surprise kills when you least expect them. This Extra Weapon Upgrade Slots tweak allows for thrice as many shock victories. Which, frankly, would be welcome in anyone’s campaign.
Accurate Ranger Swords
The ranger’s take on run ‘n’ gun - a sprint ‘n’ slash - is risky enough given that you’re choosing to occupy a tile next to an opponent. But on top of that you’re contesting with both a percentage-to-hit and variable weapon damage. Accurate Ranger Sword sees to that, allowing you to spend more time thinking about the slice than the dice.
One of three release day mods Firaxis and 2K commissioned from Long War Studios, the core team behind the standout Enemy Unknown conversion of the same name, the submachine guns are a tree of lightweight, concealable weapons equivalent to the assault rifle. You're imagining a tree hanging with fruity firearms now, aren't you, but what you should really be thinking about are the possibilities: what you might do with the bonus mobility, concealment and close-range accuracy. There's a trade-off, however, in damage and long-range percentage-to-hit.
XCOM 2 enemy mods
Long War Studios' second offering is a big meaty bugger squeezed into a figure-hugging suit. He looks like Sam Fisher, if Fourth Echelon's finest had the physique of the gruffalo. Don't expect stealth, though: the muton centurion is a sort of squad leader who buffs nearby aliens. Nevermind that XCOM tells us that mutons have a tribal structure rather than anything like legions. We can argue about lore once he's safely on the research slab.
These are our current favourites on the XCOM 2 mod scene. Tell us about your own essential installs in the comments.