I could use no other avatar for this post.
One of my players in my XCOM-derived play-by-post campaign asked me for my thoughts on the newly-released XCOM 2. In case anyone else is interested...
It would make an excellent RPG setting in its own right. The premise, if you have not heard, is that it's the outcome of playing the 2012 game on Impossible Ironman mode and losing.
It's 20 years after the fall of XCOM. Earth lies under the heel of an alien-controlled puppet government which is slowly driving the Avatar Project, a shadowy master plan toward probably apocalyptic ends. A global propaganda campaign recasts XCOM and other resistance groups as terrorists and the aliens as benevolent elder space-brothers.
Members of your core command team have kept the flame lit. They've recruited a scattering of willing operatives and have established a mobile base in the hulk of a downed UFO. Your mission is to unite the scattered resistance groups still fighting across the globe and use that network to seek out information on Avatar with the eventual intent of bringing it down.
Technically, it's running okay, though our gaming machine is five years old and is choking out on framerate. We have a new rig on order, originally bought so we could play The Division at max graphics; XCOM 2 should be screaming fast on it. I'm supposed to pick it up sometime this week. I have seen quite a few annoying typos in the game text, which leads me to believe no professional writer was involved in the dev effort (cue professional-offended huffy cat face).
Strategic gameplay is a bit more complex than XCOM. You have multiple resource types: space in your mobile base, power to run the facilities in those spaces, communication links to resistance cells (analogous to satellite control facilities in XCOM), alien alloys, elerium crystals, scientific staff, and engineering staff. It's easy to get sucked into an incident pit
where you're short on multiple resources at once and struggling to get yourself back to operational viability.
And time. Oh, gods, time. Time is a resource and the whack-a-space-mole nature of not being able to solve all the problems has been turned up so far the dial broke off.
Tactical gameplay is very familiar, with the addition of a simple but beautiful stealth/ambush mechanic. If you start an op in stealth - and not all missions will allow you this luxury - the enemy forces operate in laid-back patrol mode until you walk into their vision range (which is clearly indicated when you plot movement). This allows you to put most of your squad on overwatch, then have one shooter start the party. The resulting cinematic kill-cam action as your other troopers pop up and mow down the aliens as they scatter for cover... that will never get old.
You have to fight smart, though, because the AI is much smarter and the enemies have some much nastier abilities. And many missions have timed objectives, which means you can't hunker down in defensive positions and wait for them to come to you. You have to keep pushing forward. And your people get shot to shit. Many times, I have had to recruit new resistance fighters because I had so many people in med-bay or in body bags that I couldn't field a full squad.
All of this may make it sound like a horrible play experience but it's really not. It's a lot of fun. The challenge level is just high enough that when you pull a mission success out of your ass, you feel like you've accomplished something.