XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Game Poster Image
Extremely tough strategy game with lots of bloody combat.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Promotes tactical thinking, teamwork. Themes of vigilance, determination, skepticism. But it also glorifies bloody sci-fi violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Human soldiers work to save humanity, showing bravery and selflessness, but often take great pleasure in violently killing their enemies.

Ease of Play

Even harder than game it expands. Players new to franchise need to learn a variety of complex systems in and out of combat. Players of all experience levels will be forced to juggle multiple high-priority objectives. It's possible to play for dozens of hours and end up losing.


Turn-based strategy has players using guns, explosives to kill aliens, human-alien hybrids. Close-up kill shots show characters thrown through the air -- often amid showers of colorful blood -- landing mangled on the ground. Other scenes show a scientist dissecting alien corpses, with squishing sounds, squirting blood.


Latest installment of very popular XCom strategy series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters hold cigarettes, cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is an expansion pack to XCOM 2, and it essentially remixes the original game, adding new content and systems. The level of violence -- which includes bloody slow-motion kills and gruesome alien autopsies -- remains unchanged, and the player's soldiers, though clearly fighting for the good of the human race, still get excited by and take pleasure in the violent killing of their enemies. The turn-based tactics are more nuanced than ever, rewarding players who think strategically and make difficult decisions that could end up sacrificing the lives of key members of their squad in order to achieve tough objectives. Like the original game, this expansion is extremely difficult -- you can even lose the whole game after dozens of hours of play -- and could prove frustrating for some players. Note that the original XCOM 2 is required to play, since this is an expansion.

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What's it about?

XCOM 2: WAR OF THE CHOSEN, a paid expansion to XCOM 2, is a thorough reimagining of the original game that's akin to a director's cut of a film. It tells the same story concerning resistance fighters working to reclaim Earth from sly and deadly alien invaders, but adds new systems and content that greatly expand and alter the experience. New factions include allies in the form of stealthy reapers and defecting human-alien hybrids, as well as enemies such as the titular Chosen -- smart, adaptive aliens intent on capturing the player's commander -- and new zombie-like foes that attack both good guys and bad. Original environment types -- such as exotic alien-altered landscapes and burned-out urban neighborhoods -- and mission goals have been added, as well. Other changes include a new fatigue system that simulates the mental exhaustion experienced by soldiers repeatedly sent into battle without adequate rest, and a bonding feature that allows soldiers who regularly fight together to become more effective in battle. Beyond the campaign, players can now access a challenge mode that allows one chance to play a specific and unique battle to try to outscore other players.

Is it any good?

Expansions encouraging the replay of a game for a second time might not sound appealing, but in this case, the changes are so extensive it feels almost more like a sequel. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen's new enemies, environments, objectives, and systems completely reimagine the experience, forcing players to figure out the abilities and tactics of fresh foes (and alter their strategies accordingly) while learning how to best navigate new types of terrain, exploit the abilities of new soldier classes -- the sneaky but powerful reaper is one of the best units in the series -- and take advantage of growing bonds between fighters on the battlefield. This is the sort of complete overhaul typically deserving of a new number behind the series name. The only reason we don't see one here is that Firaxis bolted it all onto a familiar story. Nonetheless, it feels like a fresh game.

The only potential downside is that it's now tougher than ever before -- and returning players know that the original game was far from easy. There are fewer unfair spikes in difficulty through the campaign, but the addition of new factions, objectives, and systems to juggle -- especially the fatigue feature, which at some points all but guarantees you'll be heading into crucial battles with troops who aren't at their best -- ensures that the game starts hard and then just gets harder. Some players will savor this feature as the additional, realistic challenge it's meant to be, while for others it might prove the straw the breaks the camel's back. The good news, though, is that most XCOM fans are gluttons for punishment. They tend to like their strategy games tough as a two-bit steak, and that's exactly what they're going to get from XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. What are some of the positives and negatives involved in depicting deadly soldiers enjoying doing what they've been trained to do?

  • Talk about thinking strategically. It takes longer and requires more effort to devise plans to accomplish objectives in life, but what are some of the potential rewards?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy

Themes & Topics

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