The original XCOM released back in 1994 called UFO: Enemy Unknown. Since then it has had multiple releases across various platforms, with the last release, XCOM: Enemy Within, being an expansion to the 2012 hit XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

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XCOM 2 is nearly upon us, and it is a direct sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. If you do not know, XCOM is a turn based strategy game, but not like Command and Conquer, and not as slow as Final Fantasy Tactics. It holds its own with its unique style of gameplay.

The preview of the game is so close to complete, that it could actually be what the final release would be like when it comes out exclusively on PC in February 2016. The game is running smoothly and makes for a decent PC-only game. It’s challenging, and you really have to be dedicated to learning the mechanics  before you can call yourself an “XCOM Veteran”.

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The game is tough, like previous titles, one wrong move in the field and you are dead, take cover at the wrong spot and you could be detected or killed when the enemies have their turn to move and attack. It all revolves around a parameter of movement. Blue means you can move your team-mate to a spot and still make a move like hunker down to avoid damage, and even shoot an enemy in range. If you want to move further, you will then lose out on the ability to attack and use character skills.  Then again, it is all up to you, but do not expect the game to go easy on you if you make the wrong move.

There were times that I thought I was safe, only to be shot in the back while running across the field. The enemies have similar abilities to you, so if they stay in a certain spot, that means they have used the concealment ability which sets them on the offensive stance for when they spot an enemy. This means that if you run in front of them, they get the upper hand and get to shoot you. Never fear though, as you have the same abilities. That is where XCOM 2 does well, you cannot just expect the enemy to perform a certain task, you have to watch every move as you never know what they are planning, and the same applies to you.

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Each match, starts with you in a concealment phase. This means that you are safe, away from enemy sights and free to move around as you wish. The game highlights pieces of ground that are a no-go for you as you could be seen by the opposing side. Getting into the right position for your mission objective is the most important part of the game.

Each team-mate that you take with you has their own abilities that get upgraded after each successful match. Hacking, sniping from a distance, and healing is all part of your arsenal when playing. At first you might feel a little under-powered, but after one successful stage and after keeping all my team-mates alive, they all unlock new abilities.

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  • The Ranger is a close-combat specialist. Shotguns and swords are their forte.
  • The Support class, supports in healing and hacking.
  • The Grenadiers are the heavy weapons specialists. Mini gun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, you name it they’ve got it.

These classes will level up by being “promoted” as you play. Be warned though, team-mates suffer from anxiety and tiredness, so if you overuse them by picking them every match, then their performance will suffer. The same goes for in-game, if your team-mate dies next to another, panic will set in, creating a “confusion” on the battlefield.

XCOM 2 has some rather freaky enemies, and they all add to the game’s challenge. Later in the game you will be faced by certain enemies that will force you to switch up your entire tactic to avoid being killed. Just when you think you have the best team and setup going, a new enemy will be thrown into the mix which will change everything. From mind control, to reanimating the dead, there is even a freaky cobra-looking enemy that pulls your team-mates out of cover using its tongue.

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When you are not in the battlefield, the game offers an upgrade system which is accessed from your base of operations. Here you will upgrade new tech for your team-mates, research alien artefacts, and improve on your overall global stance against the enemy.

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