The best XCOM mods
We've covered the best XCOM 2 mods, but what about Firaxis' first fantastic foray into our favourite universe? Well, despite being a seminal entry in the history of turn-based strategy games, it turns out introducing user-generated content into the mix is a lot harder than we remember. The sequel had Steam Workshop support, so installing new mods was as simple as clicking subscribe and ensuring you have the necessary DLC. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and its expansion, Enemy Within) have no such support and require a more hands on approach, in some cases requiring you to voyage into your game files and change values and replace files. Don't worry: each mod on this list will show you what you need to do in the mod description - just make sure you read the instructions! For a more in-depth look at modding XCOM, we actually recommend following the Nexus Mod's guide to installing mods. They summarize the process very well and all of the mods listed below are found on that site anyway. Read the rest of the story... RELATED LINKS: Humble Bundle have an E3 Digital Ticket, with a lot of DLC and a few full games XCOM Long War modders to Kickstart UFO invasion strategy game: Terra Invicta XCOM gets re-made by a fan... in Microsoft Excel
The Best XCOM Mods
We've covered modding XCOM 2, but what about Firaxis' first fantastic foray into our favourite universe? Well, it turns out it's a lot harder than we remember. As XCOM 2 has Steam Workshop support, installing new mods is as simple as clicking subscribe and ensuring you have any necessary DLC installed. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within have no such support and require a more hands on approach, in some cases requiring you to voyage into your game files and change values and replace files. Don't worry: each mod on this list will show you what you need to do in the mod description - just make sure you read the instructions! The Best XCOM Mods * XCOM Long War; * XCOM:EW Map Pack; * ... How to Install XCOM mods For a more in-depth look at modding XCOM, we actually recommend following the Nexus Mod's guide to installing mods. They summarize the process very well. XCOM Long War A full overhaul of the campaign, the Long War mod was such a massive success that the modders (Pavonis Interactive) actually worked together with 2K and Firaxis to develop mods for XCOM 2 and refine their modding software. Read the rest of the story... RELATED LINKS: Strategy Gamer News Bulletin - August 7th 2020 Review: Codex of Victory Review: XCOM 2
XCOM: Chimera Squad - Available Now on Steam
We’re excited to share that XCOM: Chimera Squad, an exciting new story set within the XCOM universe, is now available on Steam. To celebrate the launch, we’re offering the game at an awesome discount. This deal won’t last forever so if you’re interested in taking a trip to City 31, now’s the time! https://store.steampowered.com/app/882100 Your actions in XCOM: Chimera Squad will shape the fate of City 31. Five years after the events of XCOM 2, humanity has driven back the Overlords and City 31 has emerged as a beacon for cooperation and coexistence. It’s home to a melting pot of humans, hybrids and aliens - all trying to find their way in this new post-war world. Many have chosen the path of peace, but there are sinister agents lurking in the shadows who work to destroy the fragile peace forged in City 31. Enter Chimera Squad, an elite group of agents tasked with keeping the peace in City 31. Each agent in Chimera Squad has their own story, unique set of skills and motivations driving them, all of which you’ll learn in XCOM: Chimera Squad as you uncover conspiracies, breach enemy strongholds and work to keep City 31 from descending into chaos. The future of City 31 depends on you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39fhpegVBQQ Be sure to follow the XCOM: Chimera Squad community hub and add the game to your wishlist here on Steam. Follow the XCOM social channels below to keep up to date with all things XCOM. You can play XCOM: Chimera Squad when it launches here on Steam on April 24, 2020.
XCOM: Chimera Squad, all-new story in the XCOM universe, launches April 24
Welcome to City 31, the epicenter of XCOM: Chimera Squad -- a new game set in the XCOM universe. Five years after the events of XCOM 2, humanity has driven back the Overlords and reclaimed Earth. Now humans and former alien soldiers work and live together as they strive to forge a civilization of cooperation and coexistence. City 31, the setting for XCOM: Chimera Squad, has become a model of peace in the post-invasion world; however, not all who dwell here support interspecies alliance. Enter Chimera Squad, an elite force of human and alien agents who must work together to identify and thwart the hidden threats that seek to upend this fragile peace in City 31. Each agent in Chimera Squad has their own story, unique set of skills and motivations driving them, all of which you’ll learn in XCOM: Chimera Squad as you uncover conspiracies, breach enemy strongholds and work to keep City 31 from descending into chaos. The future of City 31 depends on you. Features: Unique Alien and Human Agents: Each of the 11 agents have their own distinct personality and tactical abilities, including species-specific attacks like the Viper’s tongue pull. Specialized and Complementary Classes: Execute devastating combos by teaming the right agents and utilizing cooperative actions. The difference between mission success and failure can depend wholly on team composition. Re-Envisioned Tactical Combat: Missions are structured as a series of discrete, explosive encounters, keeping the action intense and unpredictable. Breach Mode: Shape the battlefield to your advantage with a new combat phase that injects your squad right into action. Strategically assign your agents to different entry points and coordinate their assault with a range of Breach-specific skills. Interleaved Turns: An automatic initiative system slots individual agents and enemies into an alternating turn order, creating new strategic possibilities based on what unit is queued to act next—and what unit is at the greatest risk when they do. Suspenseful Strategy Layer: Outside of combat, manage the operations of a high-tech HQ, where you must prioritize competing tasks, investigations, and agent assignments in the face of a ticking clock: the constantly rising unrest in the city’s various districts, driving City 31 closer and closer to total anarchy. https://store.steampowered.com/app/882100 Be sure to follow the XCOM: Chimera Squad community hub and add the game to your wishlist here on Steam. Follow the XCOM social channels below to keep up to date with all things XCOM. You can play XCOM: Chimera Squad when it launches here on Steam on April 24, 2020.
Gears Tactics will appeal to XCOM fans and classic Gears Of War fans alike
"> Show me someone who says I’m not a fan of our excellent VidBud team, and I’ll show you a liar. Recently, VidBud Matthew got an in-depth demo of Gears Tactics, a turn-based tactical entry into the Gears Of War series, and my admiration only grew. Set 10 years before the events of the very first Gears Of War game, you’d be forgiven for thinking this’d have more in common with the alien-sniping fun of XCOM than the big, boot-stompin’ FPS action of the Gears games. But in his excellent video, Matthew explains why Tactics will win hearts among both long term XCOM fans and die-hard Fenix stans alike. (more…)
The best games of the decade on PC
"> "> "> "> It’s been an eventful decade for PC games, and it would be hard for you to summarise everything that’s happened in the medium across the past ten years. Hard for you, but a day’s work for us. Below you’ll find our picks for the 50 best games released on PC across the past decade. (more…)
PC Gamer plays: XCOM, One Finger Death Punch 2, Hades, and Woodwork Simulator
In the monthly 'now playing' section of PC Gamer magazine we spend a few pages discussing the games we've been playing recently—good or bad. Sometimes they are old-ish games we've been meaning to reinstall for ages, like XCOM. Sometimes they're strange meditative woodworking sims because, sometimes in life, you've just gotta build a nice birdhouse. This is also the last thing former UK editor-in-chief Samuel Roberts wrote before departing to some strange otherworldly plane called 'Brighton'. Let us know what you're playing at the moment in the comments. The social politics of naming your XCOM: Enemy Unknown squad—Samuel Roberts This is my last Now Playing for PC Gamer. In fact, it’s the last thing I’m writing for PCG full-stop, at least for now. You never know, I might write a Now Playing for issue 400, before complaining about the cover price on Instagram (this is an inside joke). An office PA annoyingly threw all my old PC Gamer issues out, so I’ve been perusing the few I’ve got at home. I’m reading them while I’m supposed to be packing to move to Brighton. We did slightly too many lists when I was editor, but damn, each issue was packed with features. I think I gave editing this magazine a solid shot, for a 25 year-old with no qualifications who didn’t know what he was doing. I give my editorship 81 per cent. It was no Dragon Age 2. Anyway, here’s a filthy secret—I’ve been denying myself a proper XCOM 2 campaign since the game released, because I’ve never finished an Enemy Unknown campaign with the Enemy Within stuff installed. That is, with the mechs, deadly new aliens, that sort of thing. I thought I should do that before throwing myself at XCOM 2, with its nine million things to micromanage. I’m enjoying it, but because I’ve loaded an old save file, it’s presenting a few dilemmas. Naturally, when I play XCOM, I rename all my soldiers to people I know. But there are a few problems with this. For example, my ex-girlfriend is my best sniper. I could just rename her, but I feel it breaks the theatre of the game to do that. So what do I do? Get her killed on purpose? She’s a good sniper, so it’s a tough call. And Enemy Within is actually a touch harder than Enemy Unknown was. Now, her and my current girlfriend, a new recruit, are on the same squad. It seems wrong. The other problem is I don’t really know some of the other people who are in my 2014-era XCOM squad any more. And yet, I’m sending a bunch of them into battle. When should or shouldn’t you name a game character after someone from your real life? To me, there’s a kind of invisible line you cross in your head when it’s someone you barely know, which is why I only pick people I regularly interact with. And, annoyingly, I’m running out of those. My good friend Dave was just killed in service by one of the deadly guardian aliens. Now I need to cycle in someone new from the barracks. I ask, do I know anyone else? I mean, if we’re getting down to acquaintances or people I sometimes chat to in corridors, it feels like I’m missing the point. Soon I’ll have to add people who want me to join their network on LinkedIn. XCOM underlines the fact that I only know about 20 real people, and that’s it, which is actually probably true for most people over 30 when they really think about it. Anyway, that’s my last, frivolous Now Playing, making an arbitrary point about something I could avoid entirely by renaming everyone and starting again. It’s been a pleasure writing and editing for you. Finding beauty in One Finger Death Punch 2—Phil Savage Lots of people will tell you that how a game plays is all that matters, and that’s an admirable attitude that I’d love to say I agree with. In practice, though, I’m a snob. You may have crafted the stickiest, most entertaining core loop of all time, but if it’s attached to an ugly game, I’m probably not going to play it. There is one exception, and it’s One Finger Death Punch. It’s a brilliant two-button action game in which you, a kung-fu stickman, beat down hundreds of attackers. If they attack from the right, you press the right-mouse button. If they attack from the left, you press the left- mouse button. Sometimes attackers will swap sides, or require more than one button press to take down, but that’s really about it. It’s compulsive—an elegant dance of precision button clicks that feels great to successfully pull off. My one wish for the sequel was that it wouldn’t look like absolute ass. Unfortunately, One Finger Death Punch 2 is just as repulsive as its predecessor. Maybe even more so. I buy it anyway. It’s not that the art is ugly—although it is—as much as there’s no coherent aesthetic. It’s a grab-bag of styles, reminiscent of ’70s kung-fu movies, early-’00s Newgrounds games and pretty much any era of DeviantArt. The UI icons are uninformative. The fonts are atrocious. The faux- Chinese accent of the narrator is questionable at best. It’s an unpleasant space to explore. And yet, it’s loads of fun. Ostensibly each level is the same—you fending off 100+ enemies without dying. Yet through the mix of different enemy types—bosses, brawlers, enemies that attack from range—each level feels like it has a specific combat flavour that makes it just different enough from the rest. I think the frantic pace helps distract from how unpleasant I find its art. I’m not really looking at the level, just the incoming attack prompts shown at the bottom of the screen. Button mashing is certain death in One Finger Death Punch 2, and so—much like in a good rhythm action game—you tend to focus down on just the essential information. And in this limited view, the animations of the fighters even look quite graceful. Then I win, and the ugly score screen comes into full view. The spell is broken. I click on the next level regardless. Going mad with (divine) power in Hades—Malindy Hetfield I’ve recently started playing Hades again after having stayed away from it since launch. Supergiant Games is one of those precious few game developers whose games I will buy sight unseen, but initially I thought that not even they could make me enjoy roguelikes more than I do. Which isn’t all that much. Then something magical happened—I got better. I know, I know, that’s the point of this type of game. And yet I often feel like roguelikes come with a skill floor that’s just too high for me to not be frustrated, and frustration gives me no reason to continue playing. But the updates kept rolling in, and with them a variety of skills and ways to meaningfully combine them that made me feel like I could perhaps actually do this. My entire journey with Supergiant titles has been like this, anxiously saying, “I’m probably not the core audience for this,” before completing the purchase anyway and subsequently falling in love. Hades feels like a culmination of everything that the studio has done before. Combat in Bastion now feels like a slower version of Hades—a speed that takes a further dip in Transistor in exchange for the meaningful skill combinations that I now appreciate so much. Additionally, Hades has the physicality and immediacy of Pyre, conveyed through stunning animation. I loved running in Pyre, and it’s the same here, paired with an incredible dodge that somehow manages to make me feel powerful while I’m running away. More importantly, Hades is slowly eroding my idea of this mythical core audience, and reminded me that a genre actually doesn’t have to define a game’s difficulty. Revelations! I know I’m doing myself a disservice by limiting myself in my gaming tastes, but I know I wouldn’t have played this if my taste weren’t already “anything by Supergiant”. Some aspects tickle my lizard hind brain in a way that feels like a dirty trick. During one run, for example, I bought a water basin on a whim, only to find it showed me my number of runs and total of slain foes. I swear I’ve never cared about high scores of any kind, and yet there it was—pride, unmistakably. The same is true for when I check the number of the furthest room reached, or when Zagreus mumbles to himself about never having made it this far before, a declaration which causes me to realise the same—almost inevitably stressing me out so much I die. Since Hades is still in Early Access, these triumphs are oddly terrifying. What if a weapon in need of a nerf or a weakness in a boss enabled my success? What if all of this is a warm-up for some really difficult battles while I’m already dreaming of becoming the Hades esports champion 2020? Well, if I’m honest, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t squealed like this at the speed and excitement of a game in a long time. Failing to build a birdhouse in Woodwork Simulator—Andy Kelly The developer behind PC Building Simulator has released a playable prototype of its next project, Woodwork Simulator, which is exactly what you think it is. I’ve had my fill of novelty simulator games on PC, but this isn’t something that’s played for laughs—it actually lets you make things out of wood, and it’s way more compelling than I thought it would be. I was absolutely hopeless at woodwork in school. Once I tried to make a CD rack and ended up with a shapeless wedge of pine with globs of hardened glue leaking out of the cracks. Several people laughed at it, including the teacher. I was alright at sanding, though. That thing might have been a mess and too narrow to hold a CD, but boy was it smooth. So I went into Woodwork Simulator thinking I’d be able to make something decent, because videogames let you excel at things you’re otherwise shit at, right? But I was wrong. So, so wrong. Because this is a simulator in the truest sense, requiring a delicate hand and some actual manual dexterity. You have a bunch of different tools to work with, and they all feel fantastic to use. You can saw, drill, plane, sand, varnish, paint, and even use a lathe. Sawing by pulling the mouse back and forth feels really tactile, and I love the attention to detail, like the little curls of wood that peel off the wood when you plane it. They’ve really nailed the finer details, which any great simulator should. The wood is enjoyably malleable, letting you cut out any shape you like and glue the bits together to create, well, whatever you like. There’s a free mode for people who prefer to dream their own creations up, but I thought I’d ease myself in with one of the tutorials, a birdhouse, which the game declares to be easy. When I begin I see a large piece of wood marked with a template telling me which bits to cut out. I find cutting out the various shapes that make up the birdhouse quite soothing. I stick a long, square piece of wood in the lathe to turn it into a smooth post, then I start gluing the pieces I cut out together. But I underestimate how gently and precisely you have to do this, and the end result is something that makes my CD rack look like a work of art. But it’s really fun. The simple act of cutting wood and sticking it together to make things, without worrying about getting sawdust on the floor or wood glue on my fingers, is enough of a novelty to keep me playing—even if I’m making a mockery of the art of woodcraft. And it’s remarkable to think that this is an early prototype given away for free, because there’s a lot going on in here. I still suck at woodworking, but at least here I won’t be mocked by my teacher and classmates.
Have you played XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen?
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time. My favourite XCOM is XCOM: Enemy Unknown*, a pure and direct, no mess/no fuss modern-day remix of metagame-augmented turn-based tactics. My second-favourite XCOM is the polar opposite, XCOM 2 DLC War Of The Chosen, an absurd explosion of superheroics that throws internal logic to the wind. (more…)
XCOM 2 is free this weekend (and DLC discounts a-go-go too)
Standard-issue XCOM 2 is probably my least-favourite of the four different flavours of XCOM now available to us (i.e. including the Enemy Within and War Of The Chosen expansions), but that’s a bit like saying I don’t enjoy 29 degrees of heat quite as much as 26, 27 and 28 degrees. They’re all great! Make it like that all the time, please. Only, y’know, without the heat-death of the planet. And, yeah, keep on releasing more XCOMs. If you’ve avoided Firaxis’ reimagining of The Greatest PC Game Of All Time (If You’re An Old Man Like Me), XCOM 2 can be a rather full-on point of entry. On the other hand, it’s currently free all weekend (and 75% off if you want to keep it forever), which is the easiest point of entry of all. (more…)
How a lifelong diet of games influenced The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
"I forget everything between footsteps. "'Anna!' I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise. "My mind has gone blank. I don't know who Anna is or why I'm calling her name. I don't even know how I got here. I'm standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain. My heart's thumping, I reek of sweat and my legs are shaking. I must have been running but I can't remember why. Read more…