Yesterday XCOM 2 was announced by Firaxis Games, confirming that the popular real-time strategy game series will be continuing, if only on the PC.

This put me in the mood to go back and spend some time with the previous main outing – XCOM Enemy Unknown. Enemy Unknown is one of those games that will have you pulling your hair out one minute and jumping for joy the next. The range of emotions victims experience include deep-thought, anxiousness, anticipation, delight, and regret.

One of the most enjoyable elements of Enemy Unknown comes by the way of its character customization. After being told that aliens are invading and taking part in a brief tutorial, the game sends you off to a new operation. This in itself is not an easy situation, as the game forces you to make choices between where you will help to fight the extraterrestrial threat, so if for instance you choose to take a mission in America you will reap rewards from that area, but panic levels might increase somewhere else like China. If panic levels get too high a country will pull out of the union so any resources they would have provided will be inaccessible.

Anyway, as I was saying, once you’ve made this tough decision you are shown your squad. You’re given four pre-set characters which you can choose to roll with if you like, or you can choose to edit each one of them. Customization options aren’t overwhelming meaning you only get a certain number of pre-sets to tinker with (such as hair styles and faces), but on the whole there’s just enough to at least partially recreate a representation of someone.

Of course, part of the fun comes in creating people you know in real life to fight alongside you, so naturally I edited my troops to be a bunch of Gamespresso Editors, however for whatever reason you cannot change their nationality so I ended up being Russian whilst my fellow editor Patrick Nguyen is from the United Arab Emirates.

Nevertheless, once that’s out of the way it’s time to get hands-on with the meat and potatoes of the game. Missions often involve retrieving some sort of intel or artefact to help improve your squads weapons and such. But it’s how you go about completing these objectives that really up the ante. Each squad member must delicately be moved into cover as you progress up the map.

Eventually, alien activity will be present, meaning that there is a threat to your squad. Dealing with aliens can be taxing as you only have two turns/moves per character. Put anyone in the wrong position and you’ll learn the hard way that it doesn’t take many hits for a comrade to be killed. Fellow editors Tyler Driscoll and Alex Connellan both died before firing a single bullet.

It’s this risk/reward nature that keeps you on the edge of your seat when playing XCOM Enemy Unknown. At any given moment you might be flanked and fall victim to another alien attack. Seeing members of your team die is saddening as you wonder what you could have done to keep them alive. As the commander you are constantly facing tough decisions and that’s what makes Enemy Unknown so special. For every operative killed in action there’s a feeling of satisfaction when you kill an alien with one perfect shot.

All in all, XCOM Enemy Unknown will have you feeling overjoyed and upset all at once, but that’s the beauty of it. Do yourself a favor and re-visit the game for yourself. It’s not supposed to be easy so give yourself a challenge and see if you can overcome it. There will be failure – that much is inevitable – but there will also be great success.

Finally, let me know your thoughts in the comments below on XCOM Enemy Unknown – did you see the game through to the end or did the game kick you in the guts too much? Are you excited for XCOM 2 or do you dread the prospect of being put through this torment once more?

If you would rather see how I spent some of my time with the game, check out the video below.


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