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What is XCOM: Chimera Squad?

Announced out of nowhere and released shortly after, XCOM: Chimera Squad continues the long-running turn-based series. Described as neither a sequel or expansion, it’s fair to ask, “What is XCOM: Chimera Squad?” In this guide, we’re going to give you the rundown on the series’ latest spinoff.

What is XCOM: Chimera Squad?

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XCOM: Chimera Squad is a spinoff of the XCOM series, featuring the same turn-based combat where you command a small squad of elite soldiers taking on an alien threat. However, in Chimera Squad, you don’t just control humans. Your squad is made up of humans and aliens.

Set five years after XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, the game takes place in City 31, where humans and aliens have lived in harmony since the events of War of the Chosen. You take command of Chimera Squad, a task force comprised of humans and aliens who respond to urgent and dangerous calls in City 31.

Chimera Squad’s small scope in narrative seeps into gameplay, too. Rather than recruiting new soldiers and training them up, you command a set squad of characters. You still get to choose which of the 11 characters you take into battle, though there aren’t any options to expand that pool.

Even with the set cast, Chimera Squad still features the series’ signature Ironman Mode. If you choose to play on this difficulty, you can only save to a single slot, overwriting when you want to update your progress, and your characters are susceptible to permadeath. Otherwise, if a character dies, you’ll simply fail the mission.

Missions also have a more direct effect on the game world. If your tactics are sloppy or you fail a mission, unrest will begin building in City 31. Should it grow too large, anarchy will break out, causing more issues to pop up.

Changes to combat

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Chimera Squad’s combat is mostly the same as XCOM 2. Battles are turn-based, you have two actions per turn — unless you rush — and the same cover mechanics apply. However, a new phase has been added. At the beginning of each battle, you’ll enter “breach mode.” During this time, you choose your entry points, with some points offering unique bonuses.

There are few differences once in combat, too. The biggest is that Chimera Squad has interleaved turns. Rather than commanding all of your units and allowing the enemy to command all of theirs, turns are mixed. There are some new abilities that allow you to modify the turn order, as well.

How much is XCOM: Chimera Squad?

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Chimera Squad is $19.99, which is surprisingly low, considering the main story is about as long as XCOM 2 (more on that in a minute). However, publisher 2K Games is running a 50% off sale from the launch date, April 24, until May 1 in an attempt to draw new players into the series. If that’s you, XCOM 2 is free to play in celebration of Chimera Squad‘s launch.

It’s planned as a standalone release. 2K and Firaxis say they have no downloadable content (DLC) plans.

How long is XCOM: Chimera Squad?

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XCOM: Chimera Squad takes around 20 hours to beat according to early player reports. By contrast, the main campaign of XCOM 2 takes around 30 hours to beat, with another 20 or so hours of content if you beat all of the side missions. XCOM 2’s massive expansion, War of the Chosen, is even longer. A playthrough of it will take nearly 40 hours.

What platforms is XCOM: Chimera Squad on?

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Currently, Chimera Squad is only on PC. Although XCOM 2 and XCOM: Enemy Unknown both eventually made their way to consoles, there are no plans to bring Chimera Squad over. Enemy Unknown launched on the same day for PS3 and Xbox 360 as it did on PC. XCOM 2, however, made its way to PS4 and Xbox One seven months after the PC release.

Since rebooting the series, Firaxis and 2K have had a clear dedication to bring XCOM to consoles, which was considered a PC-exclusive franchise until the release of Enemy Unknown in 2012. It’s possible that Chimera Squad could make its way to consoles at some point. For the time being, however, it’s on PC alone.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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