The 90s were a golden era for strategy games, and as an avid completionist, there’s nothing more satisfying than a game that challenges your strategic thinking while rewarding meticulous planning. XCOM 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown, attempts to deliver on this front by placing you in command of a guerrilla force battling an alien occupation. Here’s why it almost hits the mark, but not quite.

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XCOM 2’s gameplay is a delightful concoction of tactical strategy, resource management, and edge-of-your-seat tension. You command the Avenger, a repurposed alien supply craft that serves as your mobile base. From here, you manage resources, research new technologies, and recruit soldiers—everything is designed to inch you closer to toppling the alien regime.

The tactical combat is where XCOM 2 shines. With five soldier classes, each featuring unique skill trees, the game encourages players to experiment with different tactics and team compositions. Whether it’s ambushing enemy patrols or making a last-ditch rush to the extraction point, the exhilaration of pulling off a successful mission is unparalleled. The game’s new concealment mechanic allows for strategic setups, adding a fresh layer of depth to the combat.

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Immersive Tactical Combat: The thrill of commanding your squad through turn-based battles is intoxicating. The game rewards creativity and careful planning, making each victory feel well-deserved.

Replayability: Randomized maps, mission objectives, and the sheer variety of enemy types ensure that no two playthroughs are the same. This means XCOM 2 is a game you can come back to time and time again.

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Persistent World: The ongoing sense of urgency, as the aliens tighten their grip on Earth, creates an engaging narrative that drives you to keep pushing through difficult encounters.

Difficulty Spikes: While challenging gameplay is part of the allure, XCOM 2 sometimes feels unfair. Sudden difficulty spikes and unlucky RNG can be frustrating, especially for completionists aiming to achieve perfect runs.

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Technical Issues: Despite its praise, XCOM 2 struggles with occasional bugs and performance issues. These can detract from the otherwise immersive experience, breaking the player’s focus at critical moments.

The visual design of XCOM 2 is a mixed bag. The environments, ranging from wildlands to alien-controlled megacities, are richly detailed and contribute to the game’s atmosphere. However, character animations can be stiff and occasionally glitchy.

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The sound design, while not groundbreaking, does its job effectively. The music ramps up tension during missions, and the sound effects add weight to every action. Voice acting is competent, though it may lack the emotional depth to make you truly care about your soldiers.

XCOM 2 is a compelling sequel that nearly lives up to the high bar set by its predecessor. Its intricate tactical gameplay, coupled with a deeply engaging world, makes it a must-play for fans of the strategy genre. However, technical hiccups and uneven difficulty can sometimes mar the experience. For those willing to slog through these challenges, XCOM 2 offers a rewarding journey where every decision counts.

As a completionist, the game provides plenty of content to sink your teeth into, from diverse missions to a plethora of research and upgrades. Yet, the maximal frustration from its unpredictable RNG elements can be a turnoff. If you thrive on meticulous planning and strategic depth, XCOM 2 is worth your time but brace yourself for the occasional rage-quit moment.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Recommendation: Strategy enthusiasts and completionists will find a lot to love in XCOM 2, but be prepared for a rocky road filled with frustrations and triumphs in equal measure.

Want to check it out yourself? Click here to see it on Steam.