XCOM 2’s ambush changes and terrifying Codex enemies shown off in new dev playthrough

XCOM 2 Codex

What could be described as an exploit was found within the preview build of XCOM 2 that went out a few weeks ago. It involved letting your soldiers be seen on the alien’s turns during the concealment phase at the start of a mission, meaning you got a selection of overwatch shots at whatever pack had found you, followed by a whole extra turn. It was a very good tactic, but Firaxis felt it trivialised that first pack. Dubbed the Beaglerush manoeuvre after the game’s premier streamer who showed it off, this week’s livestream described how Firaxis decided to counter it.

It’s possible, very possible, XCOM 2 will end up on our list of the best strategy games.

So, before now, if you were spotted on the enemy turn by them walking in to your (deliberately, in the Beaglerush manoeuvre) unprotected soldiers, the pack would scatter, triggering all your overwatch shots, and then pass the turn back to you. This was intended, but wasn’t meant to be quite so easy – what Firaxis want to incentivise is taking the first shot after commiting your turn to overwatchs to get good shots. You’re still quite likely to take out the whole pack, but if you don’t it leads to actual combat, instead of you getting another free turn to out-position them.

They’ve fixed the Beaglerush by making it so enemies that catch your troops out of cover will take a shot at them instead of moving. No overwatch shots for you and, worse, probably a crit on whoever is being shot at, since they’re not in cover. It doesn’t completely illegitimise a strategy where you leave people out in the open to be found, because the no-move shots usually mean the aliens aren’t in cover either, but does make it much more niche rather than an all-encompassing great start to any mission.

You can see it in action at the start of this latest livestream archive, as well as an explanation as to why Firaxis decided to change it:

What also popped up in this stream was the Codex, a mysterious new alien that Firaxis haven’t mentioned before. They have a vaguely humanoid female shape clad in a golden suit that looks like something out of a recoloured version of The Matrix. You can see a hastily taken screenshot of one above, terrifying shadow halo and all. In the missions they show off the ability to teleport, their basic plasma rifle, an auto-activating clone that goes off whenever they’re hit for non-lethal damage and a massive AoE psi-blast that disables all weapons in the area.

Horrifying as they are, I’m massively excited to see something new and unspoiled pop up, particularly when it’s something so weird. My only worry with XCOM 2 was that by the time release rolled around, Firaxis’ PR machine would have wrung every drop of enemies, weapons and scenarios out of the game to show off in pre-release. Assuming this isn’t the last of them, there should be some surprises left, especially considering how schtum they’ve remained on plot elements, to the point of disallowing any cutscenes from being shown in preview materials.

Here’s the details on Firaxis’ panel at PAX South this coming Saturday, with the first info on what Long War Studios is working on mod-wise.