The first mode is extremely difficult, with your characters unable to stand around and cover each other near the starting area because they need to reach a terminal and defend it. In our play session we turtled up for too long dipping into overwatch after each move and didn’t make it to the terminal in time. Fortunately this doesn’t necessarily mean Game Over, it just means that reinforcements are called to attack you as you fall back to defend a second point in the map.
No one survived this onslaught, so we tried the second mode.
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Here you’re able to take things a little slower. You defend your spy as they run to separate terminals. Your squad is initially separated from the infiltrator, so you’ll have to safely pick off enemies in an attempt to make up the distance.
Swarms of new attackers are gradually pumped in, replacing anyone you manage to incapacitate. We weren’t able to test out using a taser to take the enemy back to base because we were given pre-build characters, but hopefully this is accounted for in the full release.
If your spy manages to get to each of the terminals, you’ll be able to recall them back to the Skyranger transport and leave the area behind. This is tough, because all of the techniques you’ll have learned from your career as an XCOM commander up to this point are also utilised by the enemy. They’ll dip into overwatch, throw grenades and launch rockets at bunched-up units. You’ll never quite feel like you have the upper hand because you’re matched in tactics but constantly outnumbered.
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This isn’t the only addition, but all we were shown at the event. The new expansion is adding mechanised units which have increased armour and differing abilities, but sacrifice being able to take cover. There are also soldiers that can undergo gene-therapy to enhance their abilities, but that require a resource found in-world which dwindles as any mission drags on.
We’re impressed by what we’ve seen so far of XCOM: Enemy Within and have high hopes it will offers everything a player needs to get right back into XCOM.