The Complete XCOM 2 DLC Guide22 Oct 2018 0
Firaxis has a singular talent for making good DLC, but XCOM 2 suffered from a few notoriously bad ones. Upon release, its pre-order bonus and day one downloadable content were subject to heavy flak, but the team managed to pull it together with later DLCs being a lot more on par with what we'd expect.
XCOM 2 is one of the best turn-based strategy games around. You should check out the others.
However, one of the best DLCs to date - War of the Chosen - has caused more than a few kinks; XCOM 2 was pushed to its limit with new features; missions, enemies… even classes shoved into every hole, displacing the previously released expansions. At the time of writing at least, there has yet to be a decent effort to study and explain how all of XCOM 2’s DLC interacts together.
Without further ado, here’s our complete guide to XCOM 2 DLC with specific segments on how it fits in (or doesn’t) with War of the Chosen.
XCOM 2: Resistance Warrior Pack (Steam)
Originally a pre-order bonus, the Resistance Warrior Pack is a textbook example of an interesting concept ruined by a cynical execution. It's meant to be a throw-back to XCOM 1 that adds four 'resistance' armours based around the old Enemy Unknown design -- including a vest-covered sweater reminiscent of Central/Bradford’s outfit in XCOM 2 and the standard armour from the first game -- alongside an additional rookie recruit meant to represent a veteran soldier that fought in the first war, sporting a slightly battered XCOM 1 armour and a unique Guile-like flattop hair.
The idea has a lot of potential, giving players the choice to try to rebuild the organization that was steamrolled by the aliens 20 years past using the same outfits and bringing a veteran soldier to the fight, but it is very much an early-game only deal. The armour is not a customization option, but an item called the Resistance Kevlar Armor, which becomes obsolete the moment a better model is researched. To make matters worse, there are four pre-set versions of the armour that can be chosen by changing the torso customisation options, but things like legs, arms, and shoulders can’t be touched, giving players a lot less freedom to design their own troops.
That is compensated very slightly by four face paint options added to the game, so 'cosmetics' is pretty much what this DLC boils down to; even the additional rookie soldier is unremarkable in any sense besides his looks. This is a mostly cosmetic pack that will only really be useful in the very early-game DLC, so treat it as such.
Is it worth it?
Yes, if you like the military design of the first game’s armour and wants more options to attain that look.
XCOM 2: Anarchy’s Children (Steam)
No. Just no. Next DLC. [Marcello -ED]
Anarchy’s Children is a cosmetic-only DLC including more than 100 different customisation items based around the theme of 'Anarchy'. These items range from clown face paints and piercings to mohawks and leather trousers, making your soldiers look like a band of *very* edgy goth/punk teenagers.
The problem with Anarchy’s Children is that it is a surprisingly thorough misconception by the developers of what XCOM players like about their game. A squad-based tactical strategy franchise where you build a military base full of military soldiers and run military operations as the military commander of a top secret military faction does not lend itself to the addition of 'anarchist' soldiers, and the huge majority of XCOM players love the game partly because of its military theme. Resistance be themed -- you can run a rebellion while looking professional, and I don’t want my operatives looking like actors in a goddamn Mad Max-parody porn movie -- and neither does 70% of players that reviewed the DLC on Steam.
To make matters worse, the sheer number of customisations virtually guarantees that new recruits will come sporting horrendous get-ups, forcing you to either change them one by one or accept that the Earth’s best hope of salvation is a bunch of idiots and clowns.
Is it worth it?
Seriously? [What he mean't to say was - if you want more cosmetic options, then sure -ED]
XCOM 2: Alien Hunters (Steam)
Alien Hunters was the first real content pack for XCOM 2, adding three new enemy bosses, three new suits of armour and four weapons, as well as a single mission where Bradford/Central is deployed to investigate these new enemies. This DLC made some waves upon launch, creating very extreme opinions on both sides of the player base due to its difficulty.
The meat of the pack comes in the form of the three new 'Alien Rulers', powerful variations of the basic Viper, Archon, and Berserker units. Each is a unique character that is gone forever once killed, but they can be a pain in the ass to get rid of thanks to their immense health.
A good portion of the player base finds the Rulers to be badly balanced, thanks to their propensity to appear early in the campaign and keep showing up for every single mission afterwards. While there can only be one boss per level, they can react to every action a player takes (including passive ones like reloading if you don’t own War of the Chosen, more on that below) and have a tendency to escape through a psionic rift when suffering too much damage, forcing you to face them again in another mission.
On the good side, their health usually freezes between appearances, meaning any damage inflicted to a ruler on a previous operation will be carried over to their next appearance, creating an interesting self-contained narrative where you slowly cripple a powerful boss. The DLC also adds four new weapons that can only be crafted once and are lost forever if abandoned on a mission, but their stats and special abilities such as the concealment-granting Shadowkeeper pistol or the Bolt Caster rifle can be effective in dealing with the new enemies.
Once defeated, each Alien Ruler can be autopsied, granting access to a unique suit of armour that also can only be crafted once. These are far more powerful than any armour available in the early game, making it a valuable reward for taking out the bosses, and some even contain the new Frozen status effect added by the DLC. Given their looks and how hard it is to obtain them, the new armours are also a bit divisive. Plus, they make your soldiers look like Power Rangers.
Is it worth it?
Yes, if you like the idea of overcoming a vastly powerful enemy; No, if you have difficulty keeping your soldiers alive. It can be a hard experience, but the game does give you the tools to eventually beat it, and War of the Chosen fixes some of the most glaring issues.
XCOM 2: Shen’s Last Gift (Steam)
Another throwback to XCOM: Enemy Within, this expansion adds a new huge (seriously enormous) mission to investigate Chief Engineering Officer Dr. Raymond Shen’s last project before he passed away. The mission allows you to take his daughter along, Chief Engineer Lily Shen, and rewards you with a new robot soldier class.
Before War of the Chosen, Shen’s Last Gift was the most well received XCOM 2 expansion. It includes a good, yet very lengthy mission, that ends up overstaying its welcome, given it easily takes one-three hours to complete.
Upon completion, you unlock the use of a SPARK robot, scratching that MEC-shaped itch left in XCOM 1 veterans’ lives. The robot levels up and can be customised with specialised weapons, tools, and armours, allowing them to play any role from defensive tanks to devastating close combat units.
Is it worth it?
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (Steam)
XCOM 2’s biggest expansion, like Enemy Within before it, improves upon virtually every good facet of the base game. It takes the vanilla XCOM 2 experience to new levels by stretching it to the breaking point filling in the gaps with exceptional new mechanics and toys.
The expansion is seriously too big to be summarised in a couple of paragraphs, so I suggest you read our review here. But just to give you a quick round-up, War of the Chosen includes three new squad classes, four new factions, multiple new mechanics, several enemy units, and a new special class of boss.
These bosses -- the eponymous Chosen -- are deadly uniquely generated enemies and the centerpoint of the DLC, appearing throughout the whole campaign like your very own personal nemesis. There are three of them (a lot of War of the Chosen’s features number three), each with its own personality and motivations and each with unique stats and abilities generated at the start of a campaign, creating unique narratives for every player.
The mechanics include things like squad bonds, that enhance the effectiveness of squad members that fight together and grants them bonuses and unique abilities, and the new Resistance Ring room, which allows you to contact three different rebel factions throughout the world and recruit them to your fight against ADVENT.
It is a fantastic and gigantic expansion to an already brilliant game, and regardless if you played XCOM 2 before or is just going to dip your toes on it for the first time, it is a definite must buy.
Is it worth it?
XCOM 2 War of the Chosen: Tactical Legacy Pack (Steam)
A surprise free DLC for owners of War of the Chosen (Until December 3rd, 2018), the Tactical Legacy Pack is a mix of serious storytelling and fan service. It's worth noting that this is a DLC for WOTC, not the base game itself.
Focusing on the time between the fall of XCOM's headquarters and the rescue of the Commander in XCOM 2, the pack features four campaigns chronicling the rise of the resistance. Told through the eyes of XCOM's second-in-command John "Central" Bradford and Dr. Raymond Shen's daughter Lily Shen, these Central Archive's missions are accessible as a standalone series of seven-missions-long challenges via the main menu's new Legacy Ops button.
Aside from bringing in new story elements through dialogue, the pack leans heavily on nostalgia, bringing back 28 different levels from XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Enemy Within -- like the gas station, the dam, and the chrysalid pier -- alongside the original game's weapons and armours. Those can be used as sidegrade options during the main campaign, but the downside to that is that you first need to play all four Central Archive's campaign to completion and achieve a bronze rating at the end, but the requirements are lax enough to allow the vast majority of players to reach that threshold quite easily.
The last important addition comes in the shape of soundtrack options changeable in the main menu, with the addition of the full XCOM: Enemy Unknown score and an OST inspired by 1993's X-COM: UFO Defense. The EU soundtrack is just brilliant as it always was, perfectly altering the feel of the game, while UFO Defense's is a remastered and highly respectful version that masterfully executes the original compositions note by note while raising the bar tenfold with the traditional XCOM gusto.
Is it worth it?
It is, as long as you don't expect it to perfectly fill in the blanks nor change the way the game is played. This is better seen as a nice bite-sized series of XCOM 2's campaigns, with a some added in story bonuses thrown in for fun.
Wait, how does War of the Chosen expansion affect the other DLCs?
War of the Chosen is a pretty big expansion, essentially changing the XCOM 2 experience from beginning to end. While cosmetic packs like the Resistance Warrior Pack and Anarchy’s Children are available from the start and unaffected by this DLC, Alien Hunters and Shen’s Last Gift change drastically. The Tactical Legacy Pack doesn't cause any weird interactions, but it's a DLC for WOTC and not the base game, so you need it in order to access the pack's content.
The first and most important change is the rebalance applied to Alien Rulers. Firaxis heard players’ complaints and fixed some of the most egregious issues with those bosses, such as enemy reactions and map-wide sight -- they are now unable to react to passive actions like reloading and hunker down, and no longer detect your whole squad across the map like some clairvoyant freak. For those who own War of the Chosen, the Alien Rulers now provide a much more fair and enjoyable experience.
The second yet equally important change is to the way the story DLCs are integrated to the expansion. War of the Chosen greatly increases the number of early story missions, putting the player through a tailored meat grinder. Both DLCs were previously unlocked through early-game story missions, causing some conflict with War of the Chosen and potentially prolonging the time a player would take before tackling the main campaign.
Complicating matters further, there’s the new stress mechanic added in War of the Chosen, which taxes soldiers mentally and physically the more missions they go on. To combat that, you must give them some much needed R&R time and not send them in a series of operations in a row -- which immediately becomes a problem during Shen’s Last Gift’s three-part behemoth. War of the Chosen virtually guarantees that your whole squad will come off Operation Lost Towers shaken and exhausted, essentially docking a whole squad off-duty after one mission.
In order to deal with that, War of the Chosen adds a new option when starting a campaign called Integrated Downloadable Content. It removes the Alien Hunters and Shen’s Last Gift missions from the game, adds the Spark class and all new weapons to the laboratories and Proving Grounds from the start, and spreads the Alien Rulers across Avatar Sites throughout the world.
That integration is not obligatory, however, and players can opt to play the DLCs alongside War of the Chosen if they so choose. This will tie equipment and classes unlocks to their respective missions, and Alien Rulers will only be unleashed after the Bradford mission instead of being first encountered in hidden Avatar locations. However, regardless of your choice, the changes brought by War of the Chosen will still be in play, meaning Alien Hunters are re-balanced (and Sparks more effective) regardless of DLC integration or not.
Unlike other games we do DLC guides for, there isn't a lot of DLC for XCOM 2 but there's still a priority order in which you should consider checking things out. Here's our official verdict:
- War of the Chosen
- Shen’s Last Gift
- Tactical Legacy Pack
- Alien Hunters
- Resistance Pack