Greatest game ever? Or glitched out mess?

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Firaxis Games’ War of the Chosen is a massive expansion to the already full length XCOM 2. This time around, a new wave of threats, missions, skills, an abilities are placed over the already existing game. Aside from a lot of new features in game, there are also numerous new options that allow the player to tailor their game to specific desires.

I love XCOM, and I think Enemy Within is one of the best games of the last generation. The gameplay is simple, but incredibly deep. Tactical maps and movements never get repetitive because one false move and your crew can be wiped out, permanently. The perma-death feature of these games keeps the stakes high, and it is amazing how connected you will get to some of your soldiers. Remember, real commanders don’t reload.

The biggest addition to the game is the titular Chosen. They are three incredibly powerful aliens who will dog you constantly in your missions. Growing to hate them is quite easy. While they make formidable foes on the battlefield, they are a bit obnoxious in the storyline. The narrative surrounding them is rife with something akin to teenage angst. I thought they were all kind of dumb, and their personalities aren’t becoming of the threat they pose. Small complaint, sure. I mean who really plays this game for the story?

The other major addition is the Lost, a zombie-like enemy that will swarm the player on certain missions. They are frail, but things can go south (the maxim of XCOM) quite quickly. All in all, this expansion is not only fantastic, but it also represents what expansions truly should be. It is almost a completely different game—well worth the price tag. I was hesitant to buy it because I have been burned so often by crummy DLC purchases. This one delivers the goods.

Mostly.

A major problem with Firaxis Games as a whole is that their games glitch and crash incredibly often. During my first experience in the series, a glitch kept the final mission from completing, and prompted a restart of the entire map. The narrative heft of the conclusion vanished as I had to fight the same enemies over again. Even worse, my first playthrough of Enemy Within featured a game-breaking glitch that no matter how far back I reloaded never went away.

For a large chunk of XCOM 2 I had no issues with any glitches aside from an occasional freeze or slight lag. After a recent update though, I have to wait a good 45-90 seconds after the enemy turn for control to come back to me. Further, I have had numerous missions freeze completely, or simply crash.

I love the hard difficulty of these games, but glitches and failures shouldn’t be one of the features. They are so frequent now it almost seems intentional. I have not beaten the game yet, and this is mainly due to having to do a mission six times due to crashes simply sucks the fun out of it.

Perhaps the most unforgivable bug I have experienced is gameplay failure. The mechanics in this game are usually perfect, but I am running into numerous problems. For example, some missions require you to get to a control panel and defend it. I have had the panel destroyed before I have even seen it, and before the third turn. What this means is that mission is doomed to fail no matter what I do. In another instance, an enemy shot at one of my soldiers, broke some cover, made the panel visible, and then it was destroyed the same turn. This isn’t an issue of difficulty, this is an unfair balancing issue that needs addressing immediately.

It pains me to say, but I can’t recommend the game until this issues are fixed. I am playing on the Xbox One, so I am not sure if this is a cross platform issue. I have a hard time giving the game a bad review, though. My experience might not be uniform, and these individual interactions can’t fully paint the game. I’m not going to give this one a score. When it works, it is a fascinating and addictive game. When it doesn’t, you will want to put your controller through your TV. I hope they patch out these issues. If they do, this could be game of the year.

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