Here I tell you about how I experienced XCOM 2 at GamesCom 2015.

When the announcement came for XCOM 2 from Firaxis Games, I immediately got excited in anticipation that 2K might show it off at GamesCom, the biggest games convention in the world aimed at consumers. As time progressed it became clear that 2K would indeed be presenting XCOM 2 at GamesCom, so I got ready to head off to Cologne! Just before I left, I got this huge surprise from Andrea at 2K: she got me access to GamesCom a whole day early! This is usually reserved for press, business people and a few very lucky consumers.

So Wednesday morning I got up and made my way to GamesCom 2015. My first (and most important) stop was the 2K booth to see what kind of setup they had, and I was not disappointed! 2K had a nice big presentation room for new footage from XCOM 2. This time it would be all about the strategy layer, as I was soon to find out.

After meeting up with Andrea, I had the special opportunity to visit the press demonstration of XCOM 2 given by Pete Murray from Firaxis Games. I was very impressed with what I saw!

The strategy layer has gotten an overhaul in XCOM 2. It will be much more than just selecting research projects, building your base, buying new items for your squad and upgrading your troops. In addition to all that, you now have to actually manage how you divide your personnel among the Avenger’s individual rooms, like the Proving Ground (engineering lab) and Research (scientists). You can now also train your rookies in your preferred class instead of the random assignment that was given to them in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. A nice change as well is that research is not as definitive as it was in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. You now select a research project such as “Experimental Ammo” and the outcome will be a new sort of ammo, but not always the same new ammo. In the demonstration they show one of the possible outcomes, namely “Venom Rounds”. This makes for a whole new research experience and, of course, improves replay value by having these slight variations in your research during the game.

Dark Events

In my opinion , however, the biggest change in XCOM 2 is the new, zoomed-in Hologlobe. You now get a map on which you will have to direct the Avenger, your mobile base, to the next destination of interest. The player gets all sorts of choices here: Do you stay around one location to gather intel or do you flee from the incoming attack ADVENT? The global map is where you make contact with the resistance cells throughout the world and initiate missions, but this is also where you will become aware of the Dark Events that are occurring and must make the difficult choices we all love to make in XCOM. As with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you can only pick one mission at a time. These choices affect your entire game, but you may not even know how important that choice was until it’s too late.

All together this means the strategy layer has been given much more depth and presents more decisions to players than in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This, together with the new elements of the tactical layer, means that I am even more excited about this new installment in an awesome series! I cannot wait until XCOM 2 launches!