XCOM: Enemy Within will expand Enemy Unknown’s chest Aliens-style with flamethrower-equipped exoskeletons

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No one would have believed in the last days of 2010 that by the time 2K Marin’s reimagined XCOM hit Steam libraries, we’d all be looking forward to another helping of Sectoids from the Civ guys instead.

Yet here we are: an honest-to-god Enemy Unknown expansion has appeared as an ominous blip on our radars. The new tools and terrors it offers are all about making your men and women more than they are; more than they could possibly have been before the invasion, for better or, well, not better.

“The incredible critical and consumer response to XCOM: Enemy Unknown inspired us to offer new content that would deepen the strong bond that has been created for our XCOM brand,” said 2K president and man of brands, Christoph Hartmann. “Firaxis Games is renowned for delivering massive, highly immersive PC expansions in the Civilization series, and XCOM: Enemy Within builds on that lineage.”

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised this isn’t the fully-fledged sequel we’re waiting for. When have Firaxis not expanded a thing? Besides, Enemy Within provides several ready excuses to return to Earth’s most expensive international initiative: an array of new abilities, upgrades, weapons, and tactical options.

  • New Soldier Abilities: Research a new alien technology to advance the capabilities of operatives:

Gene Mods: Construct the Genetics Lab to physically enhance operatives’ abilities, including augmentations to the chest, brain, eyes, skin and legs.

MECs: Build the Cybernetics Lab to enable the construction of the new Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuit, or MEC. The new MEC Trooper class has specialized abilities and each suit can be upgraded with new weapons including the flamethrower, grenade launcher and more.

  • New Weapons and Equipment: Give operatives an extra tactical edge with new projects from the engineering team in the Foundry;
  • New Enemy Threats: Adopt new tactics to counter the threats from a host of new enemies, including the Mechtoid;
  • New Strategic Resource: A valuable new alien resource, known as Meld, has been discovered. Secure it on the battlefield and use it carefully back at base to unlock new research and upgrades;
  • New Tactical Challenges and Maps: Face new tactical challenges, on nearly 50% more maps;
  • New Multiplayer Maps, Units and Abilities: Create custom squad from a wider array of options and dominate opponents in intense, one-on-one, turn-based matches.

Mechtoids! Maps! Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuits! And, I suspect, some kind of pernicious play on that title that’s been kept from the feature list but won’t be kept from our squads. Brr. I prefer to keep my enemies without, thank you very much.

XCOM: Enemy Within is out on PC from November 12 in the US and November 15 elsewhere. What’s the big news here for you? Or are you disappointed that this isn’t the underwater rework we’ve been wistfully waiting for?