At one point, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified marked the return of the popular PC gaming series, despite focusing more on traditional action than tactical strategy. However, with that game's delay, 2K Games opted to release Firaxis Games' XCOM: Enemy Unknown first, and it reintroduced fans to the tactical battles they've come to expect. The fun continued a year later with the release of Enemy Within, a worthy expansion that evolved the story.
Later this year or in early 2016, PC owners will return to the battlefield to take on a number of new threats in XCOM 2. This time around, the aliens continue their assault on Earth, forcing your team to go behind enemy lines to bring them down from within.
Twenty years following the events of Enemy Unknown, alien forces have less resources at their disposal, which makes them even more unpredictable in the heat of battle. Through each turn, you must carefully place soldiers on the front lines, putting them in a position where they can strike enemies while at the same time avoiding damage.
Similar to before, each soldier type benefits the team, including Assault (run and gun), Heavy (slower moving, but more powerful in combat), Support (provides assistance to allies while serving as a competent gunman) and Sniper (takes out targets from afar with quick shots). In addition, a new Ranger class joins the squad, working in a similar manner to the Assault class, but with better stealth so enemies won't see them coming.
The key is to gain the element of surprise in battle to catch enemies unaware. The Ranger class will play a fundamental role in doing this, although Sniper and Heavy do their parts as well, provided they're in the right positions. Getting the upper hand is vital to keeping the squad alive, because once you lose a squadmate, it's game over for this character, and you'll have to recruit someone new from your home base.
However, along with the routine aliens you faced from the original game, there are new classes to deal with. One of these is a Viper, which uses stealth to grab soldiers and kill them quickly with melee attacks. It's probably a good idea to wipe out these guys first.
How well you progress in the game depends on how effectively you complete each mission and who survives from it. There are different mission types available, such as the Sabotage mission during the demo. With this, the squad was sent in to destroy a large Advent status on the 20th anniversary of Unification Day (the day humanity surrendered to the alien forces). Needless to say, reaching the statue can be tricky, with roving patrols and the armada of angry aliens pursuing your team, diminishing their chances of reaching the evacuation point.
Not much was shown of the demo outside of the one battle, but if it's anything like the original XCOM, we should see the return of a customizable base. Here, players will be able to create new heroes, as well as adapt to new technology that can be used with both soldiers and their weapons. Genders should also play a big part in creating new soldiers, so male and female gamers can pick and choose their favorites.
Even though it's not headed to consoles (not yet, anyway – it was initially announced for PC), XCOM 2 should be an enthralling experience for fans of the series. We'll see how well it fares when it releases later this year.