The XCOM games are known for their challenging tactics, roster management and bullshit shooting percentages, so it’s surprising (or really, not surprising at all) to see 2K license out a new mobile game that has absolutely none of those traits.
XCOM Legends, developed by Iridium Starfish, has been “soft launched” in certain territories around the world on Android phones, meaning the game was just kinda released quietly without any kind of grand fanfare or big announcements, at least until it gets a wider release in more places.
This isn’t a turn-based tactical shooter. There aren’t maps to explore. There’s no flanking, no base management, and everybody looks like they’re new Overwatch characters.
Instead, XCOM Legends has you rushing automatically from staged encounter to staged encounter, using loads of abilities that have cooldowns and earning all kinds of different in-game currency that can be spent on all kinds of gacha crap.
Which of course it does, because almost every mobile game is now broadly the same thing, so focused have the studies of metrics and economies and player engagement and endorphin hits become.
There are hints of Firaxis’ recent games here, like some of the background art and unit design, but then this game pretends those never existed canonically, as its plot description is:
Twenty years have passed since Earth surrendered to the alien invaders. By the time we realized the alien threat, the war was already over and humanity was lost. To exterminate the last of the resistance fighters, the aliens have unleashed an untold, ancient evil.
We now need your help once again, Commander, to assemble XCOM’s greatest warriors, both past and present and take back Earth. Are you ready?
What I don’t get here is why bother with the XCOM license? This isn’t XCOM, and XCOM isn’t exactly a household name. Even if it were, the actual XCOM games are already available on mobile. Both of them! And they’re pretty great!
Only those games are both standalone purchases, not custom-designed money sinks designed to prey on people’s impulses and….ah, OK I get it.
Update 11:31 p.m.: This post and its headline have been edited to reflect that soft launches are common in the mobile space, and not reflective of the quality of the game itself.