Not many do expansions these days but trust 2K and Firaxis to keep up with an appreciated tradition. XCOM: Enemy Within will be building upon the excellent Enemy Unknown of last year, adding a host of new content that would test veteran and new commanders alike.
Let’s address the obvious here. Yes, that is an XCOM operative with a mech. It’s called a Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuit (MEC) and, technically, MEC Troopers are a whole new class altogether. Building the Cybernetics Lab will let you toss any current soldier you have into an MEC; they’ll lose their former abilities but get to unlock the new skill tree up to their current rank. Over time you get to upgrade the suit with new weapons like grenade launchers and, more excitingly, flame throwers. With any luck that means area denials will be a new tactic, useful for those pesky Chryssalids and Muton Berserkers.
The thing is, XCOM has always been about reverse engineering alien technology. So to get the shiny MECs to play with, you first have to defeat the Mechtoid. These huge things apparently get the ability to fire twice in a single turn and a mind-merge ability that grants the other Mechtoid a shield. It’ll be joined by a second enemy class that hasn’t been revealed yet, but we’re certain that it’ll change the playing field by quite a bit.
If you’re already planning to stuff your Colonels into MECS like I did, then here’s some crushing news: you might not want to. Firstly it’s because turning into a MEC Trooper is as irreversible as it gets. Secondly, doing so will not let you take advantage of the new Genetics Lab, which effectively turns your elite soldiers into supersoldiers.
Increased Will and immunity to both Panic and Mind Control? I might just give Iron Man Mode another shot. Like the ability tree you’ll have to choose either one of two upgrades, although you do get the option of paying for a swap, creepy as it sounds.
The eagle-eyed among you will also notice a new resource called Meld. These will be randomly scattered across the battlefield for you to collect, provided you get to them before they blow up. The slow and cautious player will likely be groaning now, so it’ll pay to have a MEC Trooper and Assault class in your squad. Seeing how Meld seems to be linked with the genetic mods, they’ll probably be worth the effort.
All these will be joined by new weapons, equipment, abilities, “tactical challenges”, forty-seven additional maps and new multiplayer content. They’ll announce more soon so stay tuned for that.
Do note that PC and Mac owners need to own Enemy Unknown before picking up this expansion. The PS3 and Xbox 360 systems get XCOM: Enemy Within – Commander Edition instead, a package that comes bundled with Enemy Unknown and its DLCs.
XCOM: Enemy Within will be available on 15 November in Singapore and internationally. No word on local prices just yet but here’s the pricing in North America as a rough measure: the expansion will retail for US$30 (SG$38) while the Commander Edition goes for US$40.