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2K Games

Review in Progress: XCOM 2

Feb 05 // Nic Rowen
XCOM 2 (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: February 5, 2015MSRP: $59.99 I'm a sap. A total and complete sap. If a game has an option to individually customize characters, I will always engage with it to the exclusion of everything else until I'm happy with what I've done. Even more so in a game like XCOM where the stakes are high and characters run a high risk of dying a horrible, and permanent, death. What better way to make that loss feel real? When a squadie gets flayed by an alien soldier wielding a rail gun in my game, I'm not just out a decent Ranger, I've lost one of my friends. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who does this, because Firaxis leaned into the character creation element hard in XCOM 2. Before you even begin fighting the alien menace, you can hop into the character creator and start making your dream squad, filing them away to show up organically in your game as fresh recruits and VIP extraction targets. As I said, I know I'm a sap, but that didn't stop me from being positively giddy when I found a grizzled rifle-toting version of my brother in my first randomized squad. Unlike XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which had fairly limited customization options, there are tons of small, silly, character-establishing quirks to fiddle with in XCOM 2 when you should be plowing through missions and writing a review. Sunglasses, tattoos, cigarettes, scars, camo patterns, accents, all sorts of small ways to make your squad feel like yours. It does make me wonder why there are only a handful of possible faces to round out all these options, but that is a minor quibble. XCOM 2 seems harder than Enemy Unknown, but in a satisfying way. Whenever a game builds up a reputation as punishing, there is always a risk that the developers will take it too far in the sequel, ramp up the difficulty in ways that don't seem fair. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case. The challenge is stiffer, but it comes from a more varied and tactically interesting set of options and enemies than a brute force buff to enemy stats. While the aliens have always outnumbered the XCOM force, the imbalance is even greater here. Even in early missions you'll run into stacked odds. This is mitigated by the new concealment mechanic which allows your squad to move freely in stealth to setup a devastating ambush before the fight begins in earnest. Play your cards right, and you can trap the aliens in a crossfire straight out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's almost unhealthy how satisfying it feels to drop three aliens on your very first turn of combat. Not that you'll always have time to get that ambush in motion. Timed missions and pressure conditions are more common in XCOM 2, urging you and your squad to overextend and take stupid risks in an effort to beat the clock. In these situations, trying to set up that ideal ambush situation can hamstring you in the end when you run out of turns to complete the mission. You have to get a feel for when you need to rush and when you have time to get cheeky. I've already managed to lose a couple of squad members (including Jane Kelly, the named tutorial character with spoken dialog; hope she's not supposed to show up in more story stuff later on!) and I expect they are far from the last. Despite playing hundreds of hours of Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, XCOM 2 has done enough to change up the formula to make fighting the aliens an unpredictable, surprising, and scary experience. I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm going to need more time to beat the game, test the other difficulty options, and try out multiplayer before I'll be able to issue a final verdict. (2K Games only provided us a copy on the day before launch for some reason so unfortunately we're playing catch-up. Sorry!) So far, though, XCOM 2 is an impressive feat. A total improvement to a game that I already thought was pretty damn close to perfect. I've yet to pull out its guts, but if the first few hours are any indication, this is going to be one hell of an alien autopsy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
XCOM 2 review in prog photo
Welcome back, commander
I've only had a few hours with XCOM 2, Firaxis Games' follow-up to its 2012 XCOM: Enemy Unknown and I can already tell it's a different beast. At its core, it is still the same isometric turn-based strategy game it has always...

XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

Look at this XCOM 2 release schedule map while you wait for our review


Prepare yourself, commander
Feb 04
// Zack Furniss
XCOM 2 is almost here! This handy 'lil map will help you determine when you'll be able to start sending your soldiers (that you named after your best buddies, you monster) to their inevitable deaths. I think I've made th...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

If you can't wait four-ish more days, this is XCOM 2's opening cinematic


The four-ish depends on your timezone
Feb 01
// Zack Furniss
I know, I know. I really want to be surprised by XCOM 2 in every way possible, and I've almost achieved a perfect media blackout. And now I'm tempting you away from your impressively monastic willpower by dangling an int...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

XCOM: Long War mod creators are bringing submachine guns, new enemies, and leader abilities to XCOM 2


Available on launch day
Feb 01
// Zack Furniss
Knowing that the creators of  XCOM: Enemy Unknown's Long War mod have been working on new content for the upcoming XCOM 2 launched my anticipation into space. Eurogamer spoke with Firaxis and Long War Studios o...

WWE photo
WWE

2K renews WWE contract with a 'multi-year' extension


It appears they've reached an accord
Jan 28
// Chris Carter
2K has announced that they've extended their partnership with WWE, who is seemingly happy with their progress over the years. Financial terms and the length of the agreement have not been disclosed, but I've reached out for m...
XCOM 2 mods photo
XCOM 2 mods

The creators of XCOM: Long War are making mods for XCOM 2


They'll be available when the game hits
Jan 21
// Jordan Devore
Folks who wanted an even more challenging experience in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within got exactly that in the acclaimed mod, Long War. Nick recently warmed our hearts with news that the mod's creators had formed their ...
Mafia 3 gameplay photo
Mafia 3 gameplay

12 minutes of Mafia 3 gameplay show off beautiful New Orleans


The next Sleeping Dogs?
Dec 17
// Steven Hansen
Here's our first look at Mafia III from 2K and newly formed Hangar 13 since the obligatory Animals announcement trailer earlier this year. The sequel is a departure for the series, instead set in 1968 Louisiana and starring ...

GOTY 2015: Best logo

Dec 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immutable as I am in that belief, one game this year had the most brilliant logo that I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever, honestly. Gross as it is to shine a light on these marketing efforts, it's an easier pill to swallow given that the logo might be the best thing about this game. Pat yourself on the back, 2K marketing team; Evolve had the best logo of 2015. At first glance, Evolve's logo is nothing to write home about. It's minimalistic in its presentation, nothing more than some squares, rectangles, and a modest font. Actually, if you didn't know anything about the game, it'd be easy to mistake it as a really dull and uninspired look. At least Fallout 4 sprung for a lightning bolt in the "o." So, let's get just a little backstory on Evolve. It's a four-versus-one asymmetric multiplayer game. A team of four players takes on one giant monster. That's what's happening in the logo -- four letters in small squares are pitted against the final "e" in Evolve, a letter that gets a rectangle as long as the first four boxes combined. That rogue "v" represents a legal system-style "versus," as if this should be the way all court cases are determined. It's tough to remember a video game logo that's so on-the-nose, yet so clever about it too. Usually, understatedness is left wanting. Dead Island has a palm tree so you know there's an island, Rage has an anarchy sign so you know that there's anarchy, and Sonic Boom boomed so hard that it cracked all the letters. These are not examples of good logos. Even though it's almost 2016, so many game logos are stuck in 1996. They are hellbent on having attitude (or, 'tude as the designers might say). It's why so many gleam of gun-metal gray or have electricity shooting from the letters. Whatever it takes to let you know that This Is One Of The Cool Video Games. It's the equivalent of box art with a man toting a gun slung over his shoulder looking slightly away from the camera. Evolve skirts that and it does everything right (well, as far as its logo is concerned, anyway). Instead, it's simple and elegant and functional and restrained. More simply put: Evolve's logo was not dumb while most other logos were very dumb.  It's not like the competition was any good, but Evolve ran away with the best logo of 2015. In a wasteland of bad video game logos, 2K and Turtle Rock created one worth looking at and one worth thinking about. The game's legacy probably won't last a whole lot longer, but hopefully its logo's legacy lasts for years to come.
Best logo photo
More like LOTY
As media, we have no business caring about the marketing of video games. In fact, we actually have a professional obligation to parse through it, finding the good information and discarding the bullshit. That's, like, half th...

XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

$20 Season Pass confirmed for XCOM 2


Hmmm
Dec 10
// Chris Carter
Since XCOM 2 is a AAA game that exists, it is getting a Season Pass. This one, though, is a lot easy to swallow than the vast majority of publisher's "Mystery Passes" that I loathe so much. 2K Games is calling it the "Re...
BioShock & Borderlands photo
BioShock & Borderlands

Big PlayStation Now update means 4 PS3 games you've already played


BioShock and Borderlands come to Now
Dec 01
// Steven Hansen
Okay, okay, I don't want to presume. For the same reason that re-releases on current platforms are fairly innocuous (people miss stuff!), it's not at all a bad thing that five (four new) 2K games just joined PlayStation Now. ...
Deals photo
Deals

Green Man Gaming squeezes into sale madness with Thursday deals


Aka Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale
Nov 26
// Dealzon
PC gamers aren't left out in the cold this Black Friday, what with the Steam Autumn sale and a myriad of other ongoing sales. Green Man Gaming is squeezing into the "me too" pie with a fresh batch of deals during its wee...
Borderlands Online photo
Borderlands Online

Borderlands Online cancelled as 2K shutters studio in China


About 150 people laid off
Nov 06
// Brett Makedonski
Upcoming free-to-play shoot-and-looter Borderlands Online is no more and and neither is the studio that was working on it. 2K cancelled the game and shut down 2K China. Borderlands Online was originally scheduled to...
Battleborn delay photo
Battleborn delay

Battleborn needs a few more months


Now releasing May 3, 2016
Nov 05
// Jordan Devore
Take-Two is giving Battleborn an extra few months of development. The PC, PS4, and Xbox One shooter is now targeting May 3, 2016. Previously, it was slotted for February 9. "We at Gearbox are feeling energized by the data of ...
Heck yeah XCOM 2! photo
Heck yeah XCOM 2!

XCOM 2 Dark Events offer 'dramatic gameplay changes'


You better beat 'em
Nov 02
// Steven Hansen
One of my favorite things about XCOM: Enemy Unknown was that it lets you fail, so I kind of love that XCOM 2's canon centers around the Commander having failed in the first go and now needing to oust our alien overloads off o...
Borderlands updated photo
Borderlands updated

Gearbox is still updating Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel


FOV slider added on PS4, Xbox One
Oct 29
// Jordan Devore
Fresh updates for Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection rolled out today across PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and even PS Vita. Those 3x better legendary loot drop rates enab...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve has a new monster and a new version of the game


Ultimate Edition confirmed
Oct 29
// Brett Makedonski
It seems like not many hunters are still trying to take down the monsters of Evolve. It came and went in February, and not many peeps have been made since then. Developer Turtle Rock Studios is still trying to breathe life i...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands' season finale gets a trailer


Tales from Borderlands Space
Oct 16
// Mike Cosimano
I'll be the first to admit -- I was extremely skeptical about Tales from the Borderlands, especially considering how disappointed I was by The Walking Dead's second season. But I'm happy to have been proven wrong. This game l...
Sports games are funny photo
Sports games are funny

NBA 2K: Jerk Kobe, teammates smacking each other, and the best dance moves


I could go for some jerked kobe
Oct 12
// Steven Hansen
NBA 2K16's been out for a while now and since both baseball season and football season are already over and there's nothing to watch, here is a collection of things people have shared from NBA 2K16 that have amused me over the past two weeks. Here's a cheeky, old man Kobe stealing a high five.
Battleborn technical test photo
Battleborn technical test

Battleborn closed 'technical test' coming soon to Shift members


On PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Oct 09
// Darren Nakamura
You know Gearbox's Shift? It's that service Borderlands players signed up for in order to get keys to the golden chests in Sanctuary and Concordia. It also probably watches you sleep and alerts Randy Pitchford any time you sa...
Divas photo
Divas

Four of the best Divas won't be in WWE 2K16, and the reason why isn't very good


Without the Four Horsewomen
Oct 02
// Brett Makedonski
WWE is in the middle of something of a #DivasRevolution right now. The movement's aim is to give women wrestlers more of the spotlight to showcase their abilities. It's working to varying degrees -- usually fluctuating based ...
BioShock photo
BioShock

BioShock iOS is coming back to the App Store after all, says 2K


Silence finally broken
Sep 25
// Chris Carter
As you may have heard, BioShock's iOS port was removed from the App Store entirely, to the point where you couldn't even re-download it if you owned it. Multiple outlets have reached out to 2K for comment over the past week o...
BiOShock photo
BiOShock

BioShock mysteriously zapped from Apple's App Store


Full refunds are available
Sep 24
// Brett Makedonski
It's said that during the rapture, all who are good simply vanish from earth to continue their existence in the afterlife. Fitting given its eponymous setting that BioShock for iOS devices just kind of disappeared recent...
BioShock photo
BioShock

Did a retailer leak a BioShock remastered collection?


OMG I HOPE SO
Sep 21
// Vikki Blake
A remaster of the BioShock trilogy may be coming to current-gen consoles as early as this November. It's all rumours and conjecture at present -- and 2K is saying nothing -- but South African retailer Raru shared detail...
XCOM photo
XCOM

XCOM: Enemy Unknown free to play this weekend on Steam


Buy the full game for 75 percent off
Sep 11
// Vikki Blake
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is free to play on Steam this weekend. The preview is available now and will end at 6pm (BST) on Sunday, September 13, 2015. If you enjoy your trial and fancy jumping into the game for reals...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Turtle Rock gives the lamest PR answer about Evolve's pre-order DLC


'We understand [it] was confusing'
Sep 08
// Brett Makedonski
Evolve's pre-order campaign was, without hyperbole, a shitshow. Jordan weighed in when the game was first announced, and opined that it was way too early to pre-order the game. By the time it released, there was more than $60...
Borderlands Xbox One photo
Borderlands Xbox One

Borderlands supported on Xbox One Backward Compatibility in November


'Strip the flesh, salt the wound'
Sep 03
// Darren Nakamura
Current-generation console owners have been able to get their Borderlands fix via The Handsome Collection, but the game that started it all is notably missing from the HD rerelease. Soon enough, Xbox One users will have a way...
X-COM photo
X-COM

ESRB rates X-COM: Enemy Unknown Plus for Vita


Zuh
Aug 31
// Chris Carter
An ESRB rating has popped up for X-COM: Enemy Unknown Plus, which is being listed as a Mature game for the PlayStation Vita. It's important to note that the listing is for "Unknown," which is the base game, and not the "Withi...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

XCOM 2 delayed into 2016


Well, it was just announced...
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
Welp. Just a few months after XCOM 2 was announced as a PC-exclusive bound for a 2015 release, 2K Games has relayed the news of a delay. It is now coming worldwide on February 5, 2016. The reason for the delay? According...
Borderlands movie photo
Can it top Tales from the Borderlands?
Borderlands is Gearbox's star property. Though The Pre-Sequel was kind of a letdown, Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Tales from the Borderlands have all been critical and/or commercial successes. Of course 2K and Gearbox woul...

NBA 2K16 photo
NBA 2K16

NBA 2K16's latest trailer is predicated on a four-year-old hashtag


A bit late
Aug 24
// Brett Makedonski
"Winning!" That's what some marketer with tiger blood in his veins thought when he saw this NBA 2K16 trailer. "This is bi-winning. It wins here, and it wins there. This, now this makes all other trailers look like ...

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