Expansions are not a frequent thing in this generation of gaming. Instead of releasing a massive chunk of content for a title we get smaller DLC that often feels like a cheap way to make a quick buck. Saying that, however, XCOM 2's War of the Chosen has changed all that by releasing a decently sized expansion that packs a wide list of new content, missions, and a surprise game twist that forces you to rethink your battle approaches, squad decisions and much more. War of the Chosen brought back to life my XCOM 2 experience after it faded away into my video game backlog.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is fully playable from the start of the game experience. Instead of me continuing from where I left off on the original game, I could immediately jump into the expansion and start a new game with a new squad and HQ. This was refreshing as it has been a few months since I left the game and could do with a refresher course of some sort to get me back up to speed. Instead of branching off to the standard campaign the game starts off in South Africa as you head off to investigate three rebel factions that are at heads with each other.
A New Threat
The Reapers, the Templars, and the Skirmishers. While these new factions play a key factor in the game's story, they also mean that you can obtain new classes to assign to your squad. The Reaper class gives your team a specialized stealth mode that can continue to flank enemies from behind even after your team has been spotted. The Templars have unique psionic abilities that are at your disposal and the Skirmishers feel like brutes that can be damage sponges and even fire two shots per turn.
While all these abilities take a while to roll out and for you to feel the true power of them all, the effects are worthwhile in the end as my team was well-rounded and pretty powerful with the addition of these new classes and also the change to the ability cap which meant that you can now pretty much max out the entire skill tree on each character. This, however, comes at its own downfall too as there is now a refresher timer on each squad member if you use them in battle. Ths means that you could take them with you again for the next fight, but they will not perform as they should. This forced me to really make use of everyone at my disposal and grow the companionship and abilities across the board.
The biggest new addition to the game is the Chosen, which in a way is where the game's expansion comes in. The Chosen is a set of elite aliens who have been tasked by the Elders to defeat XCOM and recapture the commander. The Assassin uses stealth to kidnap your soldiers off the battlefield, the Hunter is an alien-human hybrid that uses long ranges attacks, and the Warlock is a psionic enemy that can summon additional aliens and take control of your troop with his special abilities. As I progressed through the game these Chosen became more of a threat to me as they gained new abilities over time and became a real threat to the team and overall tactical environment.
These Chosen drop in and out of battle at different times and as soon as I thought I had a win in the bag one would appear and mess up my tactics completely. While these enemies are much harder to kill than the standard ones, they are more forgiving than say the Advent forces as they do not try to brutally murder you as hard as other enemies. When I entered a new city map and had to face off against a dozen new Lost enemy type, which is like a horde of zombies, and Chosen, I felt that the game threw a curveball and challenged me in ways I never faced before.
These Lost enemies are pretty powerless but they do deliver different challenges that I had to face like avoiding them in order to sneak up to an Advent and flank him, or simply trying to juggle between the four or five zombies in front of me while protecting my team from harm. War of the Chosen has also changed how you spend your time outside of missions, and in a way, it is better in my opinion. Instead of being limited to what you research due to time constraints, the clock is now unlimited due to the exclusion of timed missions. All this means that you can finally fully upgrade everything, kill all the chosen, and have a bad-ass team at the end of the game without the fear of not going down the right path.
Covert action and a wide variety of new world map activities all add to the new upgrade system in the game. The more you play, the more powerful you feel and thanks to the three new factions and their deep ability trees, your characters benefit from every node and every new action you unlock in the game. Some of these new world activities also upgrade squads outside of battle too, so there is unlimited space to grow.
War of the Chosen also looks fantastic and has several performance upgrades over the original game. It runs better, has fewer bugs and frame rate drops, and feels fantastic on the PS4 Pro. The game works well with the controller and I had no issues playing it without a mouse cursor to direct my team. War of the Chosen feels like a fully-fledged game that takes everything so great about XCOM 2 and adds another layer of detail to it. It is a perfect example of an expansion done well.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro Release Date: 25 August 2017 | RRP: R629
This review was based off a PS4 code sent to us by 2K Games