The next XCOM game is taking the series in a different direction, and fans won’t have to wait long to play it.
XCOM: Chimera Squad is a stand-alone spinoff set after XCOM 2 that sees developer Firaxis Games experiment with the turn-based tactical action the series is known for. Releasing April 24 for PC, the shorter experience costs $10 at launch until May 1, when it will go up to $20
Separating Chimera Squad from previous entries is that it will have a larger focus on storytelling. Rather than featuring customizable characters, the player’s squad will feature 11 unique agents that each have unique personalities. On the battlefield, each character will have different tactical abilities to make them stand out, such as the Viper species’ tongue pull.
The narrative will take place five years after the events of XCOM 2 in City 31, which publisher 2K describes as “a model of peace in a post-invasion world.” However, conflicts do arise occasionally and that’s where the titular Chimera Squad comes in. This elite task force of humans and aliens works together to get rid of any threats.
Firaxis estimates that the campaign will take 20 hours to complete and says it chose to deliver a spinoff in order to experiment with the core gameplay. These changes include the opportunity for agent-specific cooperative actions that will see characters team up to offer damaging attacks and an interleaved turn system that will sort by individual members rather than having one team go before the other. The studio designed missions with action in mind as it wanted to keep in-game encounters unpredictable and filled with action.
Other feature unique to Chimera Squad is a new combat phase called breach mode. Squads will no longer drop into a preset location on the map at the start of missions. Instead, players will assign agents to different sections and can use different skills to surprise foes and make their entrances more impactful.
All of the player’s actions will reflect on City 31. If agents are unsuccessful or cause issues during missions then the city will increasingly become on edge and total anarchy will erupt. It’s up to the player to prioritize tasks or investigations above other issues. The city will be kept safe, and its future will be bright if this balancing act is done correctly.
Chimera Squad is the first release in the XCOM series since 2017’s XCOM 2: War of the Chosen expansion pack. The strategy series by MicroProse became a PC hit in the 1990s and was successfully rebooted by Firaxis in 2012.
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