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One of the best strategy games ever made is now less than $2

Tense, intuitive, and deeply rewarding, one of the greatest strategy games of all time, from Civilization dev Firaxis, is cheaper than ever.

XCOM Enemy Unknown Steam sale: An alien from Firaxis strategy game XCOM Enemy Unknown

It’s perhaps a critical dead end to try and define and singularize what videogames ‘ought to be,’ but Firaxis, beloved creator of Civilization and the overlooked Marvel’s Midnight Suns, has come the closest to what I think is the philosophical essence of great game design. You’ve got crisp, clear mechanics that are intuitive, understandable, and yet still allow for variation and player creativity. From those mechanics emerge not only a robust and entertaining confluence of systems – a really great videogame experience – but also drama, tension, and something deeply narrative. Firaxis uses game mechanics – and virtually very little else – to catalyze and tinder a rich, dynamic story, which is also driven entirely by player actions. In short, the studio pioneered by Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, and Jeff Briggs has created not just one of the best strategy games, but one of the best games, period. And now you can get it for cheaper than ever, at the irresistibly low price of less than $2.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the epitome of powerful, vibrant videogame design. Released in 2012, while XCOM 2 would follow four years later, Enemy Unknown remains the (even if it’s just slightly) superior strategy game. It’s not the mechanics, as such. It’s not the world or the mission design, or differences between the two games when it comes to randomization or difficulty.

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What Enemy Unknown possesses – again, just ever so slightly more than its almost equally superlative sequel – is horror; is an ability to inspire panic and fear. Put simply, the enemies are more frightening, Chryssalids and Sectopods in particular, and the overarching narrative pretense, that Earth is being invaded and encountering the aliens for the first time, inspires a much greater apprehension. You have no idea what’s hiding beneath the fog of war.

It makes every move, every shot, every roll of the cosmic dice that much more laden with emotionality. Hope, fear, optimism, dread – every single input in XCOM Enemy Unknown is informed by these feelings, equally crushing and encouraging. You need to play XCOM Enemy Unknown, and this is the perfect chance. Right now, the Firaxis classic is available for its lowest price on Steam ever. $1.49 / 74p gets you one the best games of all time. Any way you cut it, that’s a sweet deal. Just head right here.

Alternatively, get the best 4X games, or perhaps the best grand strategy games that have ever graced the PC.

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