If there’s one genre that works perfectly on the Switch, it’s strategy games. The ability to pick up and play a few rounds or turns between the other responsibilities in your day-to-day life is very enticing – no wonder Mario + Rabbids was one of the earliest exclusives for the system. That drop in, drop out gameplay is why I was especially excited for the release of XCOM 2 Collection.
Bundling the original XCOM 2 release, the updated War is the Chosen content and four separate DLC packs into one collection provides even the most devoted XCOM fan a reason to try it on the Switch. There’s a lot of content to play through here, and enough added content and expansions that could easily appeal to those who’ve only picked up the base game in the past. Best of all, though, is that it truthfully does a pretty good job of matching up to the PC version.
Why have I mentioned the PC version? Well it’s pretty well known that the XCOM series hasn’t always fared particularly well on consoles. The original XCOM 2 release on PS4 and Xbox One came half a year after the PC version first arrived and was considered bit of a buggy mess. Fortunately, the Switch version seems to be much closer to the PC version, albeit with a few graphical sacrifices to squeeze it onto the less powerful console and some acceptable performance hitches.
XCOM 2 Collection is the XCOM you know and love in the palm of your hands. The story picks up 20 years after humanity lost the war in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, mankind subjugated and brainwashed into believing the aliens came in peace. You have to rove the planet, leading a revived XCOM in tense turn-based combat to stir up a global resistance, uncover the alien plot and put a stop to it. You can find our original XCOM 2 review here.
The trade offs to the PC version are certainly there. The game aims to run at 30fps, but it does drop and occasionally stutters quite noticeably as the action plays out. Fortunately it doesn’t really affect the feel of the game. The turn-based strategy genre is one of the few I think can get away with a questionable frame rate, even if it can tarnish the overall experience.
Graphical fidelity takes a bit hit in this port as the environment and character models are scaled way back to meet the Switch’s capabilities, possibly on par with the PC version’s lower settings. XCOM’s art style is a saving grace here, elevating the slightly fuzzy visuals, low quality textures and shadowing so that it still manage to look great on the Switch’s small screen.
One area that is disappointing is the reduction in environmental destruction and special effects such as explosions. In the PC version the world around you crumbles as weapons are fired on each side. Seeing buildings, walls and other objects crumble and tatter really added to the immersion, and added a tangible feeling to the game’s environments. This is one of the areas that took a serious cut in the downscaling with objects and environmental assets now disappearing as soon as they are hit.
Environmental destruction or not, this is still one of the best strategy games you can play in the modern age. Excellent mission structure and brilliant risk and reward gameplay blend together to create what is now probably the best strategy game you can play on the Switch – although I still love Into The Breach and Wargroove and you should definitely check them out if you’re into XCOM.
Truthfully, whether you’re a stickler for graphics or not, when you’re stranded in the middle of a city block with aliens flocking to your location, the visuals are the last thing on your mind. For this reason alone I think the XCOM 2 port is a success. It downgrades the XCOM experience without diluting it, allowing players to immerse themselves in the ongoing war when and where it best suits them.