Among many of the new features coming in XCOM 2's huge War of the Chosen expansion is a faction of alien defectors whom you can win over and command. That's according to a new interview with game director Jake Solomon.
We reckon XCOM 2 is one of the best strategy games on PC.
The expansion’s titular feature is the addition of three new alien champions, The Chosen, each of which has a different personality. You’ll fight each Chosen several times over the course of the game, and their abilities will evolve procedurally, gaining new strengths and weaknesses with each encounter. Solomon says he took some inspiration from Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system, so at least someone has cribbed from one of 2014's best ideas.
Just as significantly, there are three new factions, each of which you can win over on the strategic map for certain advantages.
“All these different factions have different philosophies, and you need to win them over,” Solomon says. “The way you do that is that each faction is paired off against one of The Chosen, and so to win over the factions you have to go after the Chosen they don’t like. Eventually you can recruit their soldiers, which are very, very powerful units. You can have more control over the faction, you can start telling them what to do.”
Those three factions are the Reapers, “who are stealth marksmen and saboteurs. They can attack from concealment, and there’s a chance they won’t be revealed.” Then there are the Templars, whose soldiers wield deadly psionic blades. “They’re cool because every time they attack, they build up power, and then they can unleash it with a really powerful ability. So there’s this trade-off between wanting to build up power and wanting to unleash it.”
Perhaps most interesting of all are the Skirmishers - half-human, half-alien defectors from Advent who have joined the fight against the aliens. “They’re really powerful, they take a lot of actions every turn,” Solomon says. “They get an extra action if somebody attacks them, they even have an ability called Battlelord, which, if they trigger it, then every time an AI unit takes an action, the Skirmisher gets an action. So they can take like ten actions in a single turn.”
Solomon also mentions the new soldier bonds and traits systems, which he discussed in our own interview with him. In War of the Chosen, even if soldiers don’t get injured, they will tire if you send them on several missions in a row. Tired soldiers can develop negative traits, including one that will cause a soldier to ignore your orders to reload their gun. This gives you an incentive to develop a deeper pool of soldiers and keep rotating them out.
As for bonds, there’s a new compatibility system, in which some soldiers will form a bond if sent on many missions with other soldiers with whom they are compatible. When they do, they’ll “get a bunch of free abilities that are all about their bond.”
All the new content makes the game much longer, Solomon says, but if you prefer to play just a little XCOM at a time, there's a new challenge mode. “You can jump in and play a challenge that you’ll have 30 minutes and one attempt to complete, and then you’re ranked against everybody else in the world.”