If you’re a strategy fan and own a Switch, I’ve got the game just for you. The XCOM series has always been a favourite of mine on PC, and now it’s making its way to the Switch. Eliminate the alien threat and save the human race from extinction in XCOM 2 Collection from 2K Games.
You get the base game, War of the Chosen expansion, and 4 DLC packs all in one neat little collection. Let’s take a look at how this game has made its transition to Nintendo’s portable screen.
XCOM 2 Collection Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Firaxis Games, Virtuos Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: Turn-based tactics, tactical role-playing
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Ignite a global resistance to eliminate the alien threat
XCOM 2 Collection builds upon the excellent foundation of the Firaxis reboot of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It ups the ante with even more punishing missions that emphasize proper planning and making prudent, spur of the moment decisions under intense pressure during the heat of battle. This is a game where the odds are constantly stacked against you, and losses come just as often as the wins do.
XCOM 2 Collection begins by assuming that you, the Commander, failed to defend the Earth from the alien invasion in XCOM. It is now two decades later, and XCOM—now known as “The Resistance”—has been whittled down to a covert splinter group following the betrayal of the council nations, who capitulated to the aliens. Urban streets that were once lively are now patrolled by the ADVENT Administration.
This is a puppet enforcement agency established by the aliens, who mercilessly subjugate humankind into obedience. As Commander, it’s your job to build a global resistance network large enough and with the technical know-how to push back against these powerful, otherworldly oppressors. Very few strategy games will make you as emotionally invested in its story, characters, and outcomes, as XCOM 2 Collection.
A solid base is a key foundation for success
It’s evident from the start, the aliens grossly outmatch you in both military size and technology. However, your team has a fighting chance with its ability to operate below the radar in a commandeered alien supply barge. This ship, called “The Avenger,” serves as your main base where you customize your soldiers, direct your scientists’ research, construct new facilities, and upgrade your unit’s weapons and armour.
Initially, there is only a limited number of rooms in the ship that are available. And, to add new facilities you need to assign Engineers to clear out the junk. In addition, Scientists can be assigned to research projects that have a range of positive benefits. These range from bolstering the Resistance’s worldwide communication channels, to reverse engineering alien weaponry for your own use.
XCOM 2 Collection does a fantastic job at making every micro-decision within the Avenger matter in the larger scope of the war. Weighing every option available to you is paramount, and there are no right or wrong routes to take. It’s 100% up to you to figure out how to balance immediate priorities with your long-term strategic approach.
You must weigh the opportunity costs for every action
Once you have your preparations finished, it’s now time to visit the Avenger’s main deck. It just so happens to have a holographic view of the outside world, called the Geoscape. Entering this whisks you away to an overhead map of the world. Here you can fly your airborne army to various hot spots.
Need more resources? Perhaps there’s a supply cache sighting in eastern Asia. Facilities taking too long to construct? There might be an Engineer in need of rescue in France. Again, decisions are hugely important. Although missions reward you in different ways, travelling to locations consumes precious time. The farther you go, the more time is required, and it’s up to you to weigh the opportunity costs of every action.
Turn-based missions determine your success or failure
While the game’s planning phases are important components of your fight against the aliens, it’s the turn-based missions that will determine success or failure. As a result, missions take place all over the world ranging from shanty towns, to neo-laced urban centres, to elaborate alien installations. And, the majority of missions start with your 4-person squad in “Concealment”.
Additionally, this gives you the opportunity to move around in secret, and allows you to set up your tactical positioning. A word to the wise, watch out for enemy sightlines. You’ll exit the concealment phase immediately upon being spotted. Ambushing your opponents while in concealment is just one of many tactics at your disposal.
Keeping your squad alive during missions is crucial to success, since death is permanent and irreversible. Your mobile base even has a memorial wall to help you fondly remember your fallen comrades. Initially, your squad consists mainly of rookies. Though, they gain experience and specialize in one of five classes. You can also choose perks and skills for them to have. Thus losing a high-ranking soldier in battle can severely impact the team’s effectiveness, as well as being emotionally devastating. At least you can carry a downed soldier to your extraction point to retrieve their valuable gear, but it’s a small consolation for such a tragic loss.
Portable play with some visual sacrifices
Graphically, you can see that some trade offs were made to XCOM 2 Collection to run on the Switch. As a result, framerate drops are visible and stutter is apparent during the action. Additionally, environmental damage has been scaled back as well as special effects.
And, while textures have been lowered and the resolution lowered, the game still looks pretty good on the Switch’s screen. Although it may seem like a lot was sacrificed to get this game running on the Switch, it doesn’t really deter from the overall gameplay and enjoyment.
XCOM 2 Collection is a worthy addition to any strategy fan’s library
Although this game has its shortcomings, XCOM 2 Collection on the Switch is a great addition to any strategy fan’s library. It offers deep, complex and relentless gameplay that is compelling and comes with War of the Chosen expansion, and 4 DLC packs. The amount of content included is amazing! However, that does bring up my next point. The game ships on a 8GB cartridge, which is not enough space. An additional 24GB must be downloaded to get the entire game.
Despite some graphical downgrades and the fact that the entire game isn’t included on the cartridge, I still recommend this game. The ability to play XCOM 2 on a portable screen and on-the-go amazes me.
+ A compelling story
+ Vast strategic depth in all three gameplay phases
+ Surprising amount of content included with the game
– Long loading times
– Multiplayer modes were removed
– Occasional performance issues
– Entire game isn’t included on the cartridge and requires additional download
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF XCOM 2 COLLECTION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5