The worst thing I can say about XCOM 2 on Switch is that I wish it had touch controls, which should tell you just how good this port is.
A game like XCOM is a natural marriage for touch support, an advantage Nintendo’s little machine that could has over its competitors, so it is a shame Firaxis haven’t opted to include it here.
Everything else, though, is absolutely feature complete with the right concessions made to make it run as well as possible. And that is some accomplishment considering how intensive and resource consumptive XCOM 2 can be.
For those who haven’t played this masterpiece, XCOM 2 follows on twenty years after the original. Once thought lost, the Commander and hero of the original invasion has been reclaimed and once again you find yourself in the hot seat, in charge of troops, taking down aliens aplenty, all in the name of saving the world.
As before, you are in control of a ship, filled with Research, Engineering, Armory and Command Divisions. You can learn new things throughout the course of the campaign, filling up your event queue. As you complete missions, you pick up alien corpses and items which help you learn more about your enemies and how to beat them.
Standard fare with XCOM, you have a squad of four which you take into battle with you. Squadmates can be critically injured and even killed in battle, and if you keep using the same people on each mission, they become fatigued and more susceptible to defeat.
Missions vary, of course, with some putting you on a timer. Some requiring you to beat the mission in a certain amount of moves, or rescue an individual from danger. You can also hack into enemy tech, shut down turrets, or disarm bombs. The mission structure mostly stays fresh, though you will notice a steady, familiar rhythm to everything as you go deeper into the fray.
And then you’ve also got different classes to consider, making it almost essential for you to take a varied group in, rather than relying on the same set of skill to get a job done. If you leave a sharpshooter at home, for instance, that’s long range distance kills you’re shelving and could be the difference between success and failure.
Every mission seems to hang and balance on a knives edge in XCOM 2 and that’s what makes it so tense, unsettling, but incredibly satisfying. And with the portability of Switch and the nature of the game really suited to pick up and play, the game works at a previously unseen level, at a pace that constantly surprises.
True, it plays a bit sluggishly when compared to the PC version and the textures do look a bit sparse at times, but thankfully the brilliant XCOM 2 is not one of those games you wish hasn’t been ported across. And there are definitely some games which should never have come to Switch, eeesh!
XCOM 2, as you may know, was part of 2K’s love affair with Nintendo, launching along with Bioshock and Borderlands. And in many ways, XCOM 2 represented the biggest challenge of the three because of the style, cramming it all onto a small screen, and still making it run at the levels necessary to be even worth playing.
Text size is a constant issue with Switch games but everything looks well proportioned, sized out, and spaced on the small screen. In fact, the layout feels right at home on the small screen and everything is easily navigable using the shoulder buttons.
The game does stutter a bit when the action gets a bit frantic, and the loading screens seem to go on forever, but it’s never to the point of being too distracting or depreciating. XCOM 2 is a slower-paced game, but it still runs as smoothly as you like when you’re trading gun fire or the action is split up by the interspersed cutscenes.
Of course, the other big exclusion on the console version is the lack of mod support which is an essential and much-loved component of the PC experience. Fortunately, this package includes all official DLC, as well as the massive expansion War of the Chosen which adds new factions. We’ll cover that in a separate article.
As a collection, the value for money remains absolutely staggering, then. There’s at least 100 hours worth of content here and there’s plenty of options for campaign replayabilty with Iron Man modes and the like.
What’s more, you’re getting one of the absolute best turn-based strategy games of all time on Switch, which, in itself, seemed unimaginable at one point. But it not only shows the dedication and support 2K have given Switch, but just how extensive the console’s library has become. The playerbase are absolutely spoilt for choice at this point and this is yet another gem to add to the list.
Helped by the fact that this is an incredibly tough game, with the player often tasked to make difficult decisions, sometimes at the loss of squad life, and sometimes on which mission to tackle at the expense of another.
The good news is that the XCOM 2 Collection has been ported relatively well to Switch. It’s not a perfect port, by any means, but the recent patch has made the experience a lot smoother and a more well-refined experience. Aforementioned concessions aside, XCOM 2 runs just great!
The definitive version, of course, remains the PC OG with all the mod options available to you, but there’s something to be said for the portability and pick up and play possibilities only the Switch can offer. That really fits in with the essence of the game, and just makes this port an even more tempting proposition.
Frankly, XCOM 2 seemed like one of those ports that couldn’t be done. Just like The Witcher 3, at times, you’ll wonder how this level of sorcery is even possible. But the Switch exists to defy convention, and XCOM 2 is another fantastic example of just how this console continues to do the unthinkable in the face of the seemingly impossible.
XCOM 2 Collection is now available on Nintendo Switch
Code provided by 2K