Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Developer: Firaxis Games, The Workshop
Publisher: 2K Games
XCOM 2 has stood as one of 2016’s best games, not just on PC, but overall. So it should come as no surprise that Firaxis and 2K were planning on bringing the game to consoles at some point, perhaps just not as soon as we got it. I have fond (recent) memories of playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which was a masterclass in how you convert complex Strategy game controls intuitively to a console controller.
However, the difference between that release and this one is that XCOM: Enemy Unknown hit consoles and PC simultaneously back in October of 2012, whereas XCOM 2 released as a PC exclusive back in February. This has resulted in a mild case of Port-itis for XCOM 2, as there are some very clear rough edges around its console version.
Just to be clear, none of the performance issues I have had to this point have completely broken the game or my experience with it; XCOM 2 is a fantastic Strategy game through and through. But it is worth noting for anyone with an option for either platform who have been holding out for a better price, not to mention the fact that mods are completely non-existent on consoles.
Seeing as how we have a full review on XCOM 2 already, I will just talk about the things that console players need to be aware of when looking at the game.
Firaxis outsourced the console version of XCOM 2, and it shows.
I’m not going to get all naively idealistic on you, as I’m very aware that outsourcing for ports is a necessary practice in the industry. It’s just a shame that XCOM 2’s port doesn’t fully reflect the quality and care that has gone into making such an intricate game system. The modern XCOM games are among the most immersive games on the planet, so it’s a bit unfortunate when you’re brought out of the moment by a 5-7 second pause that takes the camera off into the corner of a level after an enemy turn (for whatever reason).
Again, this doesn’t break the game; it’s just more of a break in the immersion. Fortunately, you don’t have much time to fixate on it, as every decision you make could potentially be a mistake that leads you to your doom. It does require a bit more mental fortitude to battle the mild in and out nature of the immersion, but it’s nothing too daunting.
Just for your information, The Workshop are the developers behind the XCOM 2 port. They are an indie studio comprised of veterans from Treyarch that opened in 2007 and has partnered with other big time developers like Bethesda, Obsidian, and 505 Games.
XCOM 2 translates to a controller exactly how you remember it, creating a new standard for Strategy games on console….when it works.
Yes, it’s all here; precisely the way it was in Enemy: Unknown. For so many years, console gamers have not had the pleasure to experience some of PC gaming’s best, and while some have tried, most have come away with mixed results at best. That said, XCOM 2 feels as natural as can be on a controller…with a caveat.
As I mentioned performance issues above, there are some occasional input glitches as well, most notably when sending your troops into Overwatch. On a few occasions, the controller failed to register my Triangle command (on PS4) which automatically activates the Overwatch mode. With the game’s added focus on offensive tactics and utilizing the Overwatch mode to set up enemy ambushes, this problem tends to stand out a little bit more with XCOM 2 than it would have with Enemy Unknown. Fortunately, shifting characters alleviated this minor annoyance instantly, but it is still something to consider.
Performance issues aside, XCOM 2 is a great Strategy game, and if a PS4 or an Xbox One is your only means of playing games, you won’t regret picking up the game by how well it is designed. All of the port’s issues are fixable via patch, and given the fact that the game is due for PS4 Pro support, adopters of the new console should have zero problems with the game’s performance.
As much as I have talked at length about the game’s mild case of Port-itis, don’t let it deter you from what is the best Strategy game on console in 2016.