XCOM 2 on consoles is the second-best way to play a great game

XCOM 2's trip to consoles has come with a few performance drawbacks, but the blemishes are easy to overlook.


XCOM 2 was aimed squarely at PC players, with a marketing campaign that accented its exclusivity and comments from the developers that implied it was just too powerful for consoles to handle. The heavy emphasis on mod support did lend some credence to the idea, especially given Bethesda's apparent difficulty gaining full support for its own mods. Still, it always seemed inevitable that it would reach consoles eventually in some form, and this port handles itself gracefully despite a few hiccups.

Being a strategy game certainly helps make the transition a smooth one. The limited field of view and lack of any need for split-second twitch responses likely make it easier for consoles to handle the workload. Even then, it does take a beat or two longer than it feels like it should to switch to the enemy's movements, so once my turn finished I always had a moment of wondering if the game had frozen. I also noticed occasional framerate hiccups, usually in the midst of animations. Neither impacted the flow of the strategy itself, so they were more aesthetic nuisances than real issues.

Close Encounters

Aside from those minor quibbles, this is the same XCOM 2 we praised earlier this year. The deep and rich XCOM strategy has been given an extra layer of depth that presumes you've already played the first. It can be jarring as a lapsed player who hasn't jumped in for quite a while, so it's probably too intense for brand new XCOM players. This game introduces aliens with psy abilities incredibly early, so handling them with my squad of scrubs served as the difficulty baseline. It's a brutal pace, and one that has required me to frequently reload to avoid losing my small handful of experienced soldiers.

The bells and whistles that stood out about XCOM 2 are well-represented here too. Procedural maps were a major bullet point feature of the PC version, and they still offer loads of variety. The toolset is so flexible that it's hard to say if it's exactly as robust as the PC version, but I certainly haven't hit any stages that felt too similar, and the joints of the map generation all feel perfectly natural.

Plus, the character pool is just as ingenuous as it was the first time around, letting you make loads of friends and loved ones that will show up as random recruits or even enemies during the course of the game. Modeling squaddies after real life friends was a community favorite in the first game, so capitalizing on that was a smart idea.

Back in Command

If you have the choice, a sufficiently well-equipped PC is probably the preferable home for XCOM 2. With a powerful enough system you could avoid the few small performance gripes of this version, not to mention that you'd have the ability to access a wealth of mods from the community. If you simply aren't a PC gamer, though, XCOM 2 on consoles is a perfectly fine way to experience another great addition to one of the best strategy series of the modern era.

This review is based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. XCOM 2 is available now in digital and retail stores, for $59.99. The game is rated T.

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