I love the latest incarnation of the XCOM franchise. In case you feel like “love” is a strong word here: The only video game I played during my honeymoon was XCOM. Naturally, I was stoked when Firaxis Games announced they were doing a sequel, XCOM 2. I even built a brand new PC out of parts just for the occasion. But XCOM 2 on PC was a mess, and it ultimately killed my PC.
That’s not a joke. I dropped over a thousand dollars on parts to build a PC, and XCOM 2 taxed my graphics card to the point that the whole thing overheated. Is some of that onus on me? Maybe. I did built the thing, and could have gone for better cooling. Or a better power supply. But even when I did, it still died over and over and over. It is still dead, and ignored, in a corner of my office.
Which is to say: I’m genuinely loving the console release. I’ve been playing on PlayStation 4, and, despite some loading issues, it’s been an overwhelming positive experience. The game and all its DLC make for a fine purchase. Barring a few bugs, I’ve no real complaints. My little squad of alien hunters have been doing their job exceedingly well. The only real issue I’ve had is that I can’t stop thinking about my crummy experience with the PC game.
The strategy elements are handled well, missions feels close even on the lowest difficulty setting, and the plot — or what I’ve played of it so far — has kept me interested in the continued my plucky team of rebels and their misadventures. Nothing ever feels cheap; it always feels like I’ve somehow brought misfortune upon myself. It’s my mistake, not the game’s.
But literally every event so far has prompted a, “Oh, yeah, I did this on the PC before it blew up,” or a, “Hm. This never happened in my PC game!” The other day, my wife asked me what was next for me in XCOM 2, and I immediately blurted out, “I don’t know! I’m pretty excited about that. This is as far as I ever got.”
I don’t think that’s what the developers intended, but it’s what they got. And while my specific set of circumstances are, well, unique, they are not terribly uncommon in a more general sense. A familiar refrain around the initial PC release of the game was regularly about how poorly it ran, drivers glitching out, and computers overheating. (Then again, this is something many PC games go through, though few of them end of spawning tips like “hit caps lock to speed up loading” like XCOM 2.)
Overall? XCOM 2 is great, and I’d recommend it. That goes double for anyone with a strategy game sweet tooth like me. The console version may or may not be the best version of the game, and it’s still unclear whether it’ll ever get mod support, but one thing’s for sure: It won’t blow up your computer.
Photos via 2K Games