When it comes to SRPGs, few are as satisfying as XCOM and you can now enjoy the latest game in a massive new portable collection.
Even though XCOM debuted for PC way back in 1994, I (like many other gamers) never experienced the series until the 2012 reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Its premise of a ruthless alien invasion blew my mind and the fact that the battles were actually challenging and required a great deal of strategy made the takeover feel even direr. Add in the fact that your soldiers can perish and your home base may not survive if you manage it poorly and you're left with a visceral tactical simulation hybrid that's tricky to master yet supremely rewarding once you power through and claim victory. Since Enemy Unknown, the series has remained very similar while also introducing new elements and everything culminated in XCOM 2 to make it the best that the franchise has to offer. Now, 6 years after its initial release, you can finally enjoy this modern SRPG masterpiece portably thanks to the new Nintendo Switch version and it's fantastic.
XCOM 2 Collection is a strange name for a game because it sounds like it contains multiple games and it kind of does in that it includes the base game as well as the huge expansion War of the Chosen which on its own takes at least a few dozen hours to complete. Add this to the main campaign which is of similar length and you're left with a massive experience. On top of all that, XCOM 2 Collection contains 4 DLC packs in the form of the Resistance Warrior Pack, Anarchy's Children, Alien Hunters, and Shen's Last Gift (the latter 3 compose the previously released Reinforcement Pack) which collectively offer bonus outfits and customization items, a new character class, extra weapons and armour, and a nifty additional mission and matching Lost Towers map. Undoubtedly, that's a ton of content.
As I've touched upon, XCOM 2 has some of the best SRPG gameplay out there. For the unfamiliar, battles are played on grid-based maps and you can't see past the fog of war which can make encountering aliens that patrol the maps quite scary if you're caught off guard. To help with potential ambushes and surprises in general, there's a cover system where you can position your soldiers behind walls, blockades, and such to reduce the chance that they'll take damage from enemy fire. On top of this, there's a whole base management component that you tend to between missions in order to expand your capabilities through research, recruitment, and plenty of other aspects. Hopping between these 2 modes provides a thoroughly engaging and multifaceted gameplay dynamic that'll keep you hooked as you deal with the alien threat as effectively as you can. Just writing about it makes me want to dive back in and keep playing.
Of course, playing XCOM 2 Collection on Switch allows you to enjoy it portably which is wonderful as its gameplay lends itself very well to a handheld experience. In other words, it's definitely the sort of game that you'll want to pick up and play whenever you need to focus on something for an extended period of time such as when you're waiting at the DMV or you're lying in bed and can't sleep. With all of that being said, the performance on Switch surely isn't optimal. I encountered plenty of choppy visuals, voice acting going out of sync with character models, and more than a few occasions where the graphics simply stopped moving for a short while which made me worry that the game was about to crash. On the plus side, the loading times are definitely not as long as they were on PS4.
Performance issues aside (which I hope are fixed in a patch), XCOM 2 Collection has a couple of other slight downsides. First, there are many frustrating difficulty spikes that can halt your progress and failure feels exceptionally devastating when you see your base and party of soldiers devolve into a dire mess. Finally, I wish there was some Switch-exclusive content in order to incentivise folks who already own it on other consoles. Portability is great but that's really the only thing that this Switch version has going for it above its other releases.
XCOM 2 Collection is bursting with a treasure trove of awesome content that you can enjoy the fantastic SRPG gameplay within. Also, although it suffers from some performance issues, being able to play it portably is a welcome treat.
- + Challenging and rewarding turn-based SRPG gameplay with clever mechanics
- + Features an incredible amount of content
- + Being able to play it portably is great
- - Difficulty spikes can be frustrating
- - Doesn't perform optimally on Switch
- - No Switch-exclusive content