clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

XCOM 2 video shows off new features, nuanced storyline and brutal new gameplay

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Firaxis Games brought a demo of XCOM 2 to E3, and today released a short gameplay video to the public. The 10-minute clip shows off the new setting for the franchise, which picks up some 20 years after humanity has capitulated to a superior alien force.

The single mission takes place in an urban area, where members of a heavily-armed force referred to as Advent are deployed to protect a press conference. The event is being held to commemorate Unification Day, the anniversary of the day two decades ago when humanity fell. The target for XCOM forces, now playing the role of guerilla-style fighters, is a statue. It's a sabotage mission, something entirely new to the series.

The Advent's messaging, delivered by friendly news organizations around the world, is inspiring. They speak of enhancing humanity through the gifts given by their new alien masters. And while the assembled crowd is cheering on the festivities, a sense of unease permeates the whole affair. At one point an Advent soldier smashes a fleeing civilian with the butt of their rifle, callously knocking them to the ground.

Much of the story is delivered in well-rendered cutscenes, which flow into the in-game animations seamlessly. XCOM forces are being called radicals, and several were previously arrested for attacking gene-therapy center. One of the members of the team tucks into cover only to come face-to-face with his own wanted poster.

New features seen in the video include melee weapons, flying drone familiars and a new stealth system that allows XCOM units to sneak into ambush positions without drawing aggro. Overall, the lighting and animations, especially the death animations, are much improved over the original.

The video ends with an XCOM soldier lifting a wounded comrade onto their shoulder, popping a flare in the place of their choosing, and extracting on a Skyranger while under fire.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon