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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters visit a bar-like room aboard the main ship. Some soldiers are seen smoking.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.