XCOM Chimera Squad Review: More secret plans and clever tricks

XCOM Chimera Squad Review: More secret plans and clever tricks

XCOM Chimera Squad offers something new at a great price

XCOM Chimera Squad offers something new at a great price (Image: 2K)

The release of XCOM Chimera Squad was a pleasant surprise in 2020 and provides plenty of new clever tricks to keep you busy.

With the action penned into one large city, Firaxis has chosen to dump old features like permadeath and base building to tell a more traditional story.

And while they’ve also included some interesting new ideas like Breach Mode, some fans of the classic XCOM formula may not find it quite as engaging.

Providing a more streamlined version of an XCOM adventure comes with benefits and doesn’t necessarily mean that other parts of the game have been watered down.

At its core, XCOM Chimera Squad remains an XCOM game, offering fans the chance to develop new weapons and gather resources.

The tactical map returns, and while it remains centered on City 31, there’s still plenty of secret plans to uncover and thwart with a team of specialist soldiers.

In XCOM Chimera Squad, there’s still plenty of people who aren’t happy with the idea of co-existing with a bunch of aliens following the Advent War.

Disgruntled groups are being funded by shady background characters who want to destabilise the melting pot that is City 31.

Some want to see the place thrive, while other special interest groups will do everything they can to drive a wedge between humanity and the others that were left behind.

Unrest in the nine districts of City 31 needs to be controlled, and if the Anarchy Bar reaches its maximum level, much like in XCOM 2, it’s game over.

Your mission is to use Chimera Squad to uncover who is behind the recent terrorist attacks, and investigate the three resistance groups causing trouble.

This will mean gathering intel and completing objectives so that you can find out who leads these groups, and take them down during a big showdown.

You do this using Chimera Squad, a mix of human and alien soldiers, opening up new avenues of gameplay for the XCOM franchise.

You have a special forces unit that includes characters from all backgrounds, giving you your first chance at controlling a Viper.

You can choose a combo of different troops depending on your playstyle and you also have the option of building robots to help plump your numbers.

XCOM Chimera Squad sees your team face some interesting situations while breaching different areas, and this can lead to them taking more shots.

This means you might need to rotate your squad more than you’re used to from XCOM 2 but it also gives you the chance to experiment too.

Missions can vary in length but usually include bursting into different rooms, using a combination of different breach points.

This means smashing through a door, or going through a window, and most have different pros and cons.

Going through the door might mean your character will have much better accuracy for his first turn, while entering via the window could leave them more exposed.

You have to decide which character fits best for each slot, and sometimes the choices don’t stack in your favour.

You will unlock plenty of different squad members during your run-through, and these will help diversify your options when you do breach.

Following your chaotic entrance, you will find yourself in control of a battle screen, much like in XCOM 2.

You can move your squadmates about, giving you options to hide behind walls and rush enemies.

But due to how small the areas are, the room for manoeuvre is reduced, although it doesn’t take away from the difficulty.

You’re heading into a situation without the normal amount of intel, and the action starts right away.

You have to react to whatever is happening, and the longer you play, the more abilities you will have unlocked.

These can be used in combinations, making for some exciting playthroughs, especially after you unlock some good gear.

While Breach Mode adds something new, it also takes away a level of control which some gamers might not enjoy.

It does make for an interesting play to roll the dice and as mentioned above, having access to a colourful crew of characters means being able to do some interesting stuff.

Verge is an alien with psionic powers, and having that in your arsenal straight away makes a nice change.

Building combos is the best part of the new strategy layout and rewards those who push through the game looking for a new challenge.

While combat and research remain engaging and fun, I didn’t connect so much with the other changes made to the XCOM formula.

Having a set team strips away the unique personality of naming and creating your own XCOM characters.

The upside to this is that the team you have has a voice cast and a more engaging story includes animated sequences.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find this particularly engaging and found some of the character’s more annoying than charming.

Having had a survivor from one of your original squads battle it out to the end was a unique pleasure in XCOM 2, but it’s not something you will find in Chimera Squad.

This is only my personal opinion, and it should be noted that the cinematic sequences are well-made and add more of a visual story than what was available in past titles.


XCOM Chimera Squad retains much of what would have kept you playing past games, and the battles you face offer new challenges that aren’t just rehashed scenarios.

This is a fully-fledged turn-based tactics game that offers a lot of content at an attractive price point.

And anyone who is itching to explore something new in the XCOM universe may find something refreshing in the streamlined gameplay available.

XCOM Chimera Squad achieves what it sets out to; to provide a spin-off XCOM experience that plays by its own rules, even if you might not enjoy every new feature.

SCORE: 3.8/5

Published at Wed, 13 May 2020 06:46:00 +0000