After a critically acclaimed (but technically rocky) PC release, XCOM 2 has landed on consoles. Has it been worth the wait?
Developers: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One
Release Date: September 27th, 2016
Back in February of this year, we gave XCOM 2 an 8.5 out of 10, in which we praised the original PC release for its “highly replayable campaign” and “smart changes in gameplay”, though not without criticizing the unfortunately commonplace amount of bugs that were present at launch. Seven months later, and Firaxis Games’ action-strategy sci-fi sequel has finally invaded the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, though not without a few hiccups upon landing.
As with many titles in the strategy genre, XCOM has always been at its best on the PC. Even so, Firaxis Games has clearly put considerable thought into making sure XCOM 2 succeeds as a console experience and, for the most part, they’ve pulled it off. While it’s no substitute for the pinpoint accuracy of the cursor, scrolling across the map using the analog sticks of a controller has been well-tuned to ensure players retain a competent command of the battlefield. Within the first hour, you’ll be comfortably proficient with the updated interface and controls, able to perform precise actions and commands with ease.
While it’s true that nothing can match the freedoms of the keyboard and mouse (try writing a biography for your character using the DualShock 4, for instance), Firaxis has made sure that using a controller is now the next best thing for XCOM 2.
While XCOM 2 arrived immediately equipped with mod support on PC, such a feature is, at present, completely non-existent on consoles.
Unfortunately, the extent to which you’re able to customize the control configuration only extends so far as the ability to modify scrolling sensitivity and a few other options, so if you do happen to find the button scheme not to your tastes, you may be left feeling somewhat short-changed.
Additionally, those who jump in expecting a more bug-free, polished version of the PC edition are likely to be disappointed. On the PlayStation 4, I experienced frequent split-second freezes, janky animations, delayed lip-syncing and drops in framerate during specific moments such as explosions or environmental destruction. What’s more, as you might expect, XCOM 2 isn’t as pretty on consoles as its PC counterpart, with diluted textures and a generally lower framerate that can sometimes undermine the impressively crafted sci-fi aesthetic.
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It’s been less than a year since XCOM 2’s original launch which, according to the unwritten games industry gospel, means that 2K Games apparently has no obligation to bundle any add-on content with the console edition of the game. If you want any of the XCOM 2’s DLC, you’ll have to throw more cash towards the Digital Deluxe Edition, or buy each piece of content separately. It comes across as a little stingy towards those who have been eagerly awaiting to play XCOM 2 on their console, especially considering that this port already costs more than the PC version did at launch.
What’s more, while XCOM 2 arrived immediately equipped with mod support on PC, such a feature is, at present, completely non-existent on consoles. There is a chance we could see it implemented in future but, considering Sony’s recent spat with Bethesda over mod support for Fallout 4, it would be foolish to count on it.
With all that considered, however, XCOM 2 is still the fantastically addictive strategy game it was seven months ago, and the compromises made for this translation to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 doesn’t undermine the entertainment value of the core gameplay to any large degree. In fact, this is probably one of, if not the best strategy game on the current generation of hardware right now, so if you’re a console player who enjoys the genre, XCOM 2 is definitely something to consider jumping into.
As someone who was basically addicted to the game for about a month earlier this year, XCOM 2 is no less enjoyable on the PS4. Upgrading your base, researching new abilities, building your elite team of super soldiers and sending them out onto the chess board battlefields…it’s this gameplay loop at the core of XCOM 2 that holds real power in creating an engaging strategy experience. That hasn’t changed on consoles and, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.