Overview: XCOM 2: Tactical Legacy Pack19 Oct 2018 0
Overview: XCOM 2: Tactical Legacy Pack
Released 09 Oct 2018
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was such an excellent experience, that most players feel an intense sense of nostalgia when thinking about it. The tale of the secret military organisation is a powerful memory, made all the more enticing by the obscurity of its fall in the 20 years until XCOM 2 kicks off. Now, Firaxis is shedding a little warped light into those events by chronicling the rise of the resistance in the Tactical Legacy Pack, out now and available for free to owners of War of the Chosen for a limited time.
The Tactical Legacy Pack is composed of four campaigns of seven missions each, all narrated by either John “Central” Bradford or Lily Shen, daughter of XCOM 1’s chief engineer Doctor Raymond Shen. The campaigns are basically glorified challenge levels, complete with scores for each enemy killed and XCOM soldier shot, and each needs to be completed in sequence to unlock the next one in the list.
All missions feature new narrations by the characters at the beginning of each turn, recreating a reminiscence or audio log and providing some insight into the state of mind of people at that specific point in time. Those are bite-sized and offer very little in terms of actual lore progress -- at some points straight up contradicting the closest thing XCOM has to established lore -- but they pad out engagements and add a sense of purpose to battles, helping players to feel engaged by the happenings of each self-contained missions.
The locations are all lifted from XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, featuring revamped and updated versions of by-now classic maps, like the gas station, graveyard, and the dam. It feels incredibly nostalgic to revisit those locations and see them update with XCOM 2 map assets, yet it feels like one huge missed opportunity that the original XCOM HQ map never appears in any of the campaigns.
Similarly, Firaxis decided to populate levels with XCOM 2 version of enemies, even though events are supposed to take place shortly after ADVENT is created. This would be a great opportunity to bring back some of the original enemies, but the game squanders that reunion and instead does a horrible job of explaining why you are facing tall Sectoids and serpentine Vipers instead of the smaller grey brethren and Thin Men -- and it gets even worse with every passing mission, as the DLC throws everything from Andromedons to Avatars at you. Aside from being rather immersion breaking, it makes no sense whatsoever considering how novel and unknown those enemies are when they appear in the course of the main campaign.
Even with those shortcomings, the campaigns are rather enjoyable, offering piecemeal portions of XCOM through usually fairly balanced missions. Each one lasts around 30 minutes, giving players a choice between two technologies -- such as experimental grenades or experimental ammo -- at the same time it promotes all soldiers in the squad, giving them new skills and equipment. If you do end up losing a soldier in an engagement, the game simply replaces them with one of equal rank and loadout.
Upon finishing each campaign, players unlock one of four “legacy” assets for use in the main campaign, ranging from old-world weapons and XCOM’s old armour to cosmetics. Unfortunately, the game requires you to complete each campaign to access the content, but it luckily only requires players to achieve a bronze medal, which is easy and forgivable enough to be attainable by virtually any competent XCOM player. The loadout items themselves are basically sidegrades of early game gear, providing a viable alternative to the early weapons and armours before being phased out by more advanced tech in the mid-game.
The last significant part of the Tactical Legacy Pack is the addition of XCOM: Enemy Unknown's original soundtrack, and the inclusion of a brand-new score inspired by 1993's X-COM: UFO Defense. Both are accessible from the options menu and can be changed on a whim, and as it is often the case with music, they completely change how we perceive the experience -- EU's dramatic military tracks remain as inspiring as ever, while UFO Defense's does a ridiculously good job of adapting the source material beat by beat. While XCOM 2 OST was already amazing, the fact players now have a choice of two other equally well conducted scores is definitely a point in Firaxis favour -- player choice is rarely a bad thing in a game, regardless of its facet.
All in all, the Tactical Legacy Pack is a surprisingly good addition to the base game, providing smaller portions of XCOM that manage to be enticing and engaging even without the strategy layer. It is not a replacement to the main campaign in anyway whatsoever, but the deeply tactical battles and powerful squads should provide plenty of fun for any players looking for just a little bit more XCOM.