Reporting In On The XCOM 2 Console Port

For a few months up until the release of XCOM 2, we were repeatedly told that a console version just wouldn’t be able to happen. Reading back on articles and interviews about the PC version before release, it was never explicitly stated that XCOM 2 would never come to consoles, just that Firaxis would be focused on the PC version. In steps Blind Squirrel Games, straight from porting The BioShock Collection, to reverse engineer XCOM 2 for console owners and redress the balance.

Around the time of XCOM 2’s PC release, there were a number of stability issues with the game that have, thankfully, been ironed out since. Releasing on consoles, there’s two fixed hardware platforms to aim for, so the theory is that it should be easier to maintain performance on those machines. Working through a number of early missions, I can safely say that XCOM 2 runs fine on console.

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On the PlayStation 4 at least, XCOM 2 runs and looks about as good as you’d expect. Environments are well detailed, though there are definitely some areas that have been cut back in order to increase performance. Perhaps the only real thing that is noticeable is the long loading times. We’re talking Bloodborne pre-patch levels of loading between mission screens. One loading screen even gave me chance to make a cup of coffee and sit down before it had fully loaded!

Still, a lot of what made XCOM 2 such a great game on PC is transferred to the console version. You can customise personnel to look like your friends, though from what I’ve been able to tell there isn’t a way to share your creations with friends. It’s a minor sacrifice to adapt the game to consoles, but a strange omission because of the fact the developer skins are still present in the game.

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For those looking to catch up, the general gist is that humanity lost the war against the invading alien forces. XCOM has long since disbanded, with the aliens setting up a puppet governing body called Advent. Decades later, what little of the resistance that has been rebelling against the aliens, has found the Commander from the first game, reviving their cause in a big way.

Instead of keeping watch over the entire planet, trying to respond to any alien ships and incidents as they crop up, you’re forced to be more proactive. The Geoscape map now lets you move your mobile base from region to region, establishing contact with regions, investigating intel that appears and trying to hunt down elements of the Avatar project, as and when you find them. There’s a constant threat of annihilation, as the Avatar Project steadily ticks down toward your demise.

The turn based battles builds on the first game by putting you on the offensive. You start off in a concealed mode, scouting the mission area before trying to ambush the enemy and gain the upper hand in a battle. Though killing is still the aim of the game – though you go up against a number of new and very lethal aliens – you might be tasked with escorting VIPs, blowing up a target, defending alien tech, and so on.

If you’re looking to find out more about the actual gameplay, it’s largely unchanged from the PC version, which we reviewed here. It’s still a competent tactical RPG that dramatically changes the tone of the series, matching the gameplay accordingly.

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Coming from mouse and keyboard to a gamepad, the control scheme works most of the time. Those used to the PC version will be initially be scratching their heads thanks to the way that the camera works and selecting an ability to use and its target can be somewhat cumbersome, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. That said, the simplicity of clicking icons makes the PC version more intuitive.

Really the only thing missing from XCOM 2 on console is access to the mods that are so prevalent within the Steam Workshop. DLC released on the PC version is available from the get go, while all the amenities of the PC version are still there, from the base building and global map screens to the tactical combat with all the hostile alien forces. Even multiplayer is present, though its appeal is somewhat limited.

From what I played of the game, XCOM 2 on console is a solid port with only a few compromises to graphical fidelity for the sake of performance. If you really don’t have a PC that can handle the requirements needed to play, then the console version is a relatively reasonable alternative. However this is a game that was built with PCs in mind and that version still has more features on offer.

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2 Comments

  1. Good read. :-)
    I assumed there wouldn’t be another review, but this certainly satiated the little part of me that wanted one. :-P

  2. Sounds like it’s pretty much the same in terms of quality, as XCOM ENEMY WITHIN. Tis good to hear and XCOM is one of the few games that is proving that the turn based strategy genre is still viable on console. Sure, it has long loading but think of it as tea and coffee break reminders. More games need that instead of “I’ll make one in a few minutes.”

    9 hours later

    “Time to….. it’s 7am already!?”

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