Review – XCOM 2 Collection (Switch)

These recent months have been great for fans of the tactical turn-based strategy genre. We not only had the experimental XCOM Chimera Squad, but the surprisingly great Gears Tactics. I’ve been playing XCOM 2 on PC since its launch and was incredibly excited yet skeptical about its release on Nintendo Switch. It is a demanding game, but can the Switch keep up?

Set after the events of XCOM Enemy Unknown and you have lost. The alien invasion was a success and in the year 2035 humanity the alien forces known as ADVENT have full control over humanity. XCOM has been reduced to nothing but a ragtag resistance back in action to stop the ADVENTS plan and the mysterious AVATAR project before it’s completed.

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The Chosen are a nemesis style group of enemies that adapt to your play style.

The Switch version comes as part of a collection; a huge bundled collection of all the XCOM 2 content released over the years including the War of the Chosen expansion. This expansion overlays the base game and introduces a ton of new elements. This includes two new allied factions, zombie-like enemies, soldier fatigue and bonds, and it’s biggest feature: The Chosen. A new dynamic threat that will adapt to your play style. It’s an exciting and difficult expansion that takes an already superb game to the next level. In fact, it adds so much to the game I would highly recommend first time players have a go at the base game first.

Played from an isometric view, XCOM 2 is a turn-based strategy game with a focus on tactics. It’s about commanding your squad of soldiers to give them the upper hand in battle. Increasing your odds to hit your target whilst decreasing your chances of being hit with better positioning. Remember, just because you have a 95% chance to hit your target doesn’t mean you will hit your target. Seeing your highly trained soldier miss a sure hit can be frustrating, but also hilarious. It’s part of the XCOM experience and this also applies to enemies as well.

Then you’ve got the strategy layer of the game. Mostly played from your home base of the Avenger, you will set-up research tasks to upgrade your equipment, contact resistance forces around the world to expand your reach, and prepare for upcoming missions. Everything that you do feeds back into the strategy layer, ignoring missions may have an impact later and refusing to slow down the AVATAR project will put an end to your campaign. You can fail XCOM 2 if you don’t pay attention.

Customisation is a huge factor of XCOM and you can personalise each and every one of your soldiers. Everything from their appearance to their armour and weapons, depending on their class. If a unit dies in combat, they stay dead. This makes every action feel so much more consequential; seeing your favourite soldier die can be devastating (though you can still save scum if that’s your style). In WOTC use a soldier too much and they become fatigued, this encourages mixing up your squad on a regular basis.

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XCOM 2 is about elite soldiers who can’t hit their target at point blank range…

With the recent ports of other 2K games, I have to admit I was incredibly concerned about this one. XCOM 2 Collection is an incredibly demanding game on PC, let alone the other consoles, and I was curious as to how the Switch would handle it. The results are much better than I personally expected. Whilst it’s not a perfect transition and has some huge compromises, I have enjoyed my time with the Switch version and will continue to do so.

First of all, the framerate. It’s not great; struggling to hit and maintain its 30 FPS target. It has regular drops and the occasional stuttering and hitching. Thankfully this doesn’t really make XCOM 2 Collection a struggle to play on the Switch. Being a turn-based strategy game, there’s some leeway here. It doesn’t need to be perfect and the drops are usually surrounding the animations in-between turns. There were a couple of instances where enemy turns took longer to process than they should have, or when control gets given back.

Then we’ve got the visuals. Pretty much running at the PCs lowest setting and possibly even lower than that, XCOM 2 Collection isn’t a looker on Switch. There’s some really low quality textures, shadows, and the destruction doesn’t seem as clean as it does on other platforms. Zoomed out it doesn’t look too bad, but the real problems occur when it zooms in for the cinematic style shots. I would highly recommend playing this game exclusively in handheld mode; put up on a big screen the problems just become much more clear.

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IT’S XCOM! ON THE GO!

Getting XCOM 2 Collection running on the Switch is a technical achievement, however there were a number of cutbacks that needed to be made to make this happen. If you can live with some downgraded visuals and subpar performance, XCOM 2 Collection on the Switch is a must buy. Just make sure to keep it in handheld mode. 

Graphics: 4.5

XCOM 2 Collection on Switch is ugly and doesn’t run great, but getting this game on the go makes up for it.

Gameplay: 9.5

XCOM 2 is top tier turn-based strategy gameplay.

Sound: 9.0

From the memorable deployment music to the general weapon sound. XCOM 2 Collection sounds great.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Even with the problems, XCOM 2 Collection on the Switch is an absolute blast.

Final Verdict: 8.5

XCOM 2 Collection is available now on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

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