The upcoming Enemy Within expansion for XCOM: Enemy Unknown adds a bevvy of new features for players to tinker around with. However, there's one primary takeaway fans have become fixated on: the ability to punch aliens with mechs.
Enemy Within is a true Firaxis-style expansion for Enemy Unknown, adding new abilities and enemies to the core game, rather than expanding the narrative with a new epilogue. That means you'll have to start your fight anew to access the new content--much like EU's previous DLC offerings.
The game's new research trees will give players plenty of reason to approach the campaign in a new way. It seems likely that any returning vet to XCOM will invest in the Cybernetics Lab. This lets you construct new armored MEC Troopers that offer tons of new strategic options. Not only can they equip new weapons like the flamethrower, they also have a ridiculous amount of health. While they cannot take cover, they can actually become cover for other squadmates to take advantage of. And depending on how you level up a MEC Trooper, you can also unlock the ability to punch enemies by standing next to them. It's a satisfying option that will undoubtedly be the most-used new feature in Enemy Within.
There are other abilities to research, but with neither your base increasing in size nor the campaign getting any longer, it's clear that accessing new technologies will require sacrificing other abilities you may have unlocked in the original campaign. There's only so much time and money to spend in XCOM, after all. Gene mods do seem incredibly useful, however, as equipping soldiers with the ability to deflect a mind takeover would be undeniably helpful towards the end of the game.
Unlocking these new abilities requires gathering a new resource called MELD. Randomly placed canisters will be placed on maps with random timers that cause the golden ooze to self-detonate. Knowing that the game's new abilities can be unlocked through the resource does a good job of counteracting the methodical move-and-overwatch combo that the most cautious players employ. If you want to collect the resource in time, it's likely you'll have to occasionally dash into the fog of war.
One surprising discovery from my playthrough of Enemy Within: you can accidentally punch aliens into MELD containers, causing them to be destroyed. Whoops.
BOOM video 15994
Although we mentioned it in the announcement, it's worth repeating yet again: while Enemy Within is a traditional expansion on PC, it will be a full game on Xbox 360 and PS3, bundled with the original Enemy Unknown. The reason for this is that the massive amount of new content causes the file size to balloon past DLC limits on both the console platforms. It will be available on November 12th.