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Is XCOM 2 Harder than XCOM: Enemy Unknown?

by Kyle Hanson


After years of waiting, XCOM 2 is finally out and available to play for millions of gamers around the world. For a series like this, which is well known for its difficulty and general randomness when it comes to how it deals with the player, the big question on many players’ minds is, is XCOM 2 harder than XCOM: Enemy Unknown?

I’ve put a bunch of time into comparing the two games, figuring out what has changed, and trying to determine what game features have been enhanced. Along with that came a new Reddit thread this morning from the XCOM community, essentially asking this very question. After looking over all of this information I think that it is safe to say that yes, XCOM 2 is harder than its predecessor in a number of ways.

The key thing that makes XCOM 2 tougher to deal with is the timer. It isn’t present on every mission, but many objectives have a turn timer associated with them. You need to get into a building and destroy a comms tower before it sends off its message in 10 turns, for example. This small change makes the combat in XCOM 2 much more fast-paced and frantic. Players can’t sit back, putting their soldiers behind cover and into Overwatch and waiting for the enemy to walk into their line-of-sight. Instead they need to press toward the objective, taking out enemies along the way, while keeping an eye on the timer.

On top of this are the Sectoids and a few other tougher enemies, which make very early appearances in the game. Within the first few missions players will encounter Sectoids who feature more health than before, along with being able to mind control your soldiers, and bring dead enemies back to life to cause even more havoc. There are ways of dealing this mind control and the Sectoids other abilities, but early on players might not know about them, and they don’t always work exactly as planned.

Finally, there is the Avatar Project, with its seemingly inexorable march toward completion. You are always working against this project, figuring out how it is moving forward, and how XCOM might fight back. It’s quite easy to miss some key development and end up in a no-win situation.

These, and a few other reasons make it so that XCOM 2 is a much harder game than XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and even Enemy Within by many players’ estimates. Have you had a chance to check it out? Any opinion on this all important question? Let us know in the comments. And if you agree that it is harder, check out our tips for beginners for some help getting started.

- This article was updated on:February 6th, 2016

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