XCOM 2: War of the Chosen abilities, gear, factions, enemies - everything we know

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XCOM 2 is getting a new expansion called War of the Chosen, and developers Firaxis are saying it’s twice the size of DLC they’re worked on before. Yes, that means it’s double the size of Enemy Within, the big expansion rework of the last XCOM game that added new maps, mechs, and gene-alteration. 

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So, it’s big, but what exactly does it offer? Here’s everything we know about XCOM: War of the Chosen. 

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen - Release Date

It’s out very soon. In fact, you’ll be able to play the next big Firaxis expansion, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, on August 29. The page is even live on Steam already. Bang it on your wishlist if you want. 

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen - Trailer

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XCOM 2: War of the Chosen - The Chosen

The Chosen are a trio of persistent enemies that will haunt you across your XCOM 2 campaign. Inspired by Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System, these enemies will morph and react to you as your force repeatedly encounters them, growing in strength as your war efforts push on. For example, if you strike a Chosen with close-quarters attacks, the next time you face them they could be immune to melee damage. 

These alien bosses grow in power via a resource called Knowledge, which they can gain a variety of ways, including by kidnapping your best and brightest troops. If they gain too much knowledge they will eventually shoot down the Avenger and try to seize you, the Commander, in a unique mission. If you get captured, your campaign is over.

Like the orcs in the Nemesis System, XCOM’s The Chosen will have distinct personalities. They can taunt you during combat, referring to previous battles, which adds a whole new level of character to XCOM. This should combat the copy/paste feeling that the game’s procedural generation can sometimes cause. 

The three Chosen are siblings, and each come with their own unique strengths. 

The Assassin

XCOM 2 Assassin

Focused on duty and honour, the Chosen Assassin will turn up when you least expect it, cloaking and getting right up in your grill with a sword. 

The Hunter

XCOM 2 Hunter

The Hunter is a long-range expert who will keep your squad pinned down and pop heads with sniper fire. This Chosen has a sense of humour and a keen aim.

The Warlock

XCOM 2 Warlock

Expect unpredictable attacks from this warrior-wizard. A religious fanatic, The Warlock won’t grant you any empathy. 

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen - Rebels

You will want to track down and kill The Chosen before the endgame, otherwise those final missions will be nearly impossible, what with three super-powerful extra enemies bearing down on you. To do that, you’ll need the help of three rebel factions that each have unique abilities. Only problem is... they hate each other.

Each faction is tracking a member of the Chosen. Sending soldiers to fight a specific Chosen will gradually earn the corresponding faction’s trust, allow you to issue them orders, and get you closer to the new alien enemies. Eventually, you can hire special resistance fighter units from each of the factions, who are the best soldiers in the game. 

Like the Chosen, each faction - the Templars, Reapers, and Skirmishers - will have their own abilities and philosophies. Those philosophies are also likely to make co-operating with all three of them tricky, but we do know that there is an achievement to be unlocked for befriending all three of them. And you’ll want to chum up to all of them, too: hero class soldiers are powerful units in battle and can also aid your efforts in the game’s strategy layer.

The Reapers

XCOM 2 Reaper

These units are stealth marksmen and saboteurs. They also have stealthy hoods and glowing eyes, like some sort of Sam Fisher-esque concoction. They operate from concealment, and have a perk that means there’s a chance they won’t be revealed when taking an action. 

The Skirmishers

XCOM 2 Skirmisher

The Skirmishers are alien/human hybrids and defectors from the Advent army. These are essentially one-man armies, capable of massive destruction if used correctly thanks to the free extra action they get if somebody attacks them. Skirmishers also have access to the Battlelord ability, which when triggered provides the Skirmisher a free action every time an AI unit takes an action.

The Templars

XCOM 2 Templar

Templars are the wildcards of the bunch. Psionic masters with melee-only attacks, they work a little differently to regular units, since they build up power with each attack. Deploy them right, keep them alive, and they can be devastating towards the end of a battle.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen - The Lost

XCOM 2 The Lost

It won’t just be The Chosen you have to worry about, as this expansion also introduces The Lost - a swarm of angry, mutated humans that will attack both sides of any given conflict. War of the Chosen takes us back to humanity’s abandoned cities, and they are absolutely riddled with these not-zombie zombies. 

These messed up creatures don’t move individually. They attack in large swarms and are drawn to the sound of combat. Once they show up, everyone will be fighting for their lives against these mindless hordes. Expect some multi-threat chaos, basically.

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen new features

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There are plenty more additional features beyond the new factions and enemies. Indeed, War of the Chosen is a much bigger expansion than the Enemy Within pack for the previous XCOM game. One of the key new features is soldier bonds, which sees compatible units build a band of brothers-style relationship over multiple missions. When you deploy these soldiers together, they’ll have access to a set of abilities based around their bond that should make them incredibly powerful assets. You certainly won’t want to separate them. 

Keeping your pals together won’t be so easy, though. Not only is there the ever-looming threat of permadeath, but soldiers now suffer fatigue if you send them on too many subsequent missions. You’ll need to rotate through your roster a lot more to keep your men and women fighting fit. 

Soldiers can also develop quirks. For example, a unit can become ‘obsessive’, meaning they constantly require their weapon’s magazine to be full. If it’s not, they may ignore one of your orders and reload instead. It’s all in aid of providing more personality and emergent storytelling. 

Propaganda is being woven into the campaign, with the ability for you to write on posters and craft mottos for your teams. There’s also a resistance DJ that will discuss your victories and defeats on the Avenger’s radio (voiced by Jake ‘son of Gary’ Busey), and an Advent news channel that will broadcast stories covering up XCOM’s successful missions. Combined with brand new opening and end cinematics, and War of the Chosen should have far more narrative flavour than the base game.   

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