Fans of the classic XCOM were incredibly surprised when 2012’s reboot from Firaxis was almost every bit as good as the original games were. Fans were even more surprised when a massive overhaul mod called Long War came out and basically rebuilt XCOM into an even better game. The two are now nearly synonymous with one another, and some fans argue that XCOM without Long War isn’t worth playing. Firaxis knew this, and when they announced XCOM 2 they also announced the release of its mod kit, complete with some extra content created by the Long War team. It’s been a long wait, somewhat sidetracked by the announcement that the team, now going by Pavonis Interactive, would be working on their own stand-alone game based off Long War, but the mod we’ve all been waiting for has finally landed, and it is a heck of a thing.
This isn’t your average mod, even by overhaul standards. Long War 2 makes XCOM 2 play and feel like a completely different game, a fact sure to stun veteran players and delight those looking for more depth in their tactical gameplay. The list of changes is far to massive to repeat in this article, so here’s a rundown of some of the bigger new ideas.
First is how the map handles. Rather than hopping from mission to mission, you’ll now be able to assign up to three squads in a region to prepare for deployments. Give the order, outfit your soldiers, and they’ll attempt to infiltrate the objective. Right off the bat you can field 10 soldiers into missions, and they can carry their primary weapon plus two different tools without needing to research it. That sounds great, but throwing large groups of men at the problem isn’t often the best idea.
That brings us to the second, and maybe biggest change: infiltration. XCOM 2 was a game about killing aliens, Long War 2 is a game about getting the job done. While the base game did have a light stealth element, most players just used that to get a few good hits before everything went down for real. Long War 2 might as well be in the Thief series for how much you’ll need to use stealth. Send in too many soldiers, you’ll get caught and slaughtered. Charge into the enemy line of site, you’ll get caught and slaughtered. This is a game about taking it slow and striking when the moment calls for it. Learning how to properly move your soldiers around to avoid detection is absolutely necessary, because if you’re caught it becomes an endless onslaught of enemy reinforcements.
There’s a mountain of other additions, like the new class system that plays around with the base classes in interesting ways, or the massive changes in research and technology build orders. enemy AI also seems to have sharpened up just a tad, using better tactics against your men and making better use of cover while going for flanks. Veteran players are sure to be constantly surprised by what’s been tweaked with, and if you’ve already sunk hundreds of hours into the base game prepare to change up your tried-and-true strategies to get through this new experience.
Long War 2 is likely one of the most impressive mods ever released, and it’s rare that a mod so totally changes the feel of a game while keeping what made the base game good. If you think you’ve mastered XCOM 2 and are looking for a new challenge, this is an absolute must. As an added bonus, the team themselves have been systematically testing other mods for compatibility. Every other mod it seems. Things like map and cosmetic packs are green across the board, but there are some other add-ons that might take some tweaking. Still, just by itself Long War 2 joins the ranks of great mods like Jagged Alliance 1.13, Skyrim: Enderal, DayZ, and so many others that remind us why modding is so great.