XCOM 2 Collection (Switch)

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
XCOM 2 Collection (Switch) Game Poster Image
Hard, bloody, permanent death strategy invades the Switch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Friendship and teamwork is depicted as key to success. Narrative themes include duty, honor, sacrifice. Characters learn that if they tolerate those who are different, that tolerance could develop into authentic comradery. But the action glamorizes sci-fi violence and shows no sign of empathy for enemies.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's customizable soldiers are gung-ho combatants eager to do their part to save humanity and the planet, taking pleasure in killing alien enemies. Non-player protagonists show a mix of traits, ranging from thoughtful, caring, and strategic to coldly analytical and antisocial.

Ease of Play

Play is complex, but plenty of tutorials (including an optional beginner's mission) walk players through basics and more advanced strategies. Gamepad controls aren't exactly intuitive but become comfortable with time. Multiple difficulty options are available, but even the easiest is pretty challenging. Expect to lose a lot of soldiers and restart many missions.

Violence

Players control squads of soldiers outfitted with guns and explosives in combat against humanoid aliens. Action is viewed from a raised perspective, but camera zooms in for kills, showing splashes of yellow and red blood. Alien autopsies show scientists digging into corpses; blood spatters the camera lens. The player's soldiers can be wounded, scarred, even permanently die in battle.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

This is the latest game in the popular XCOM franchise. It's a re-release of XCOM 2, with all of its previously released downloadable content included.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters visit a bar-like room aboard the main ship. Some soldiers are seen smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that XCOM 2 Collection is a re-release of XCOM 2, a turn-based strategy game about humans fighting an alien invasion, for the Nintendo Switch. Sci-fi military combat involving guns and explosions is viewed mostly from a distant, raised perspective, but players still see plenty of blood (yellow and red), close-up kills, and rag doll animations. The soldiers under the player's control are clearly fighting to save humanity and the planet, and they create bonds with each other and engage in teamwork, but they also take pleasure in bloody combat and feel no sympathy or remorse for their enemies, though some do learn to tolerate and become friends with human-alien hybrids that join the squad. Customization options for soldiers include use of tobacco products. Parents should also note that this is a tough game that could prove frustrating for players who lack patience and perseverance.

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What's it about?

XCOM 2 COLLECTION anthologizes all XCOM 2 content, including the original game, its bonus DLC (downloadable content), and the paid expansion War of the Chosen. XCOM 2 picks up years after the original game ended, with the assumption that the war against alien invaders was lost and humanity's resistance is now limited to isolated cells. Your job as XCOM's commander is to organize these cells into a legitimate invasion-repelling force, and to do it before the alien's latest project comes to fruition. This is done battle by battle in locations across the globe, with players commanding small squads of soldiers as they move across gridded environments, using stealth and cover to strategically attack aliens while accomplishing objectives such as saving captives, stealing supplies and technology, and carrying out demolition activities. Meanwhile, back at your mobile base, you'll slowly build up facilities, research alien technologies, train soldiers in new techniques, and customize and outfit them with new weapons and gear -- including all of the additional customization options made available in the DLC packs. Be warned, though, that none of your soldiers are immortal, and that if they die in battle, they're gone for good. Even wounded soldiers carry the psychological and emotional scars of the horrors they've faced, which can impact their performance in the field. Those who've already played XCOM 2 can jump straight into the War of the Chosen expansion, which appreciably alters the story and adds plenty of new enemies and features.

Is it any good?

Technical problems keep this version of Firaxis' terrific strategy game from being the definitive edition, but there are still some good reasons for many players to give it a shot. For starters, XCOM 2 Collection on Switch lets you take the game anywhere, and as fans of turn-based strategy games know, it's a genre that lends itself to stop-and-start play on buses and subways as well as waiting rooms and restaurants. Just as important, it has all of the additional content released for other platforms, including tons of soldier customizations of both the cosmetic and performance enhancing variety, as well as new environments and missions. It also features the War of the Chosen expansion, which alters the main campaign so much with new tactics, classes, enemies, and gear that returning players will almost feel as though they're playing a completely different game. The Chosen enemy bosses -- who can appear at almost any time and are capable of one-hit kills -- are fantastically challenging, and the hordes of Lost enemies provide terrific fodder to up your soldiers' kill counts.

All of this said, playing XCOM 2 on Switch does come with drawbacks, all of which fall into the technical category. Expect long load times between missions and some very choppy frame rates. Plus, the visuals have taken a significant hit, with characters and locations appearing muddy most of the time. This even applies to the game's text, which can be so small and blurry that it's almost impossible to read, especially when playing on the Switch's small screen rather than a TV. Happily, these problems don't really impact the game's turn-based action or base building tactics, which have always been the chief draw. If you can grow accustomed to these limitations, XCOM 2 Collection will deliver dozens of hours of turn-based strategy bliss.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in XCOM 2 Collection affected by the lack of empathy each side has toward the other? Would the game have the same engaging quality if there was a way to negotiate with enemies instead of attacking them all the time? Would gameplay be as fun if the blood and gore wasn't included in battle?

  • Do you feel more invested in your decisions as a player when your heroes don't come back -- if they're killed in a mission? Does knowing and fearing that they could die create more of an emotional connection with these characters as they evolve and grow?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy

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