Xcom Enemy Inside Review
NOTE: Xcom Enemy Within comes as a standalone expansion on consoles and separately on PC. The console versions contain the original Xcom Enemy Unknown, as well as all previous DLC, including Project Slingshot and additional customization DLC, along with the Enemy Within expansion.
Xcom Enemy Within is the first major expansion for Xcom Enemy Unknown, containing new additions and modifications to the game, such as MEC Troopers, genetically modified enemies, a new enemy to fight (EXALT), as well as new types of aliens and missions from the tip. Xcom Enemy Within also includes many more new maps, with older maps slightly modified to adhere to the new MELD gameplay, as well as additional multiplayer maps and new second wave options.
The additional gameplay mechanics do a good job of being implemented, without disturbing the core aspects of the game. You will have to choose if the MELD containers are worth the risk to your troops and how you will spend the MELD you collect. Do you create MEC Troopers, Genetic Soldiers, or a mix of both? It’s your decision!
MELD is a new alien device feature on maps that applies to genetically modifying soldiers or creating MEC Troopers and their MEC suits. On the map there will be 2 sources of MELD, which a soldier must reach and then activate before the timer goes off, dealing damage to nearby units. MELD is not an infinite source, as missed opportunities will not be present if you revisit the same map. You can collect some MELD by destroying Mectoids and I believe Elite Floaters as well, but the gains are small compared to MELD containers on the map. The MELD gives you the choice between risk and reward, and it works very well. One MELD container will typically be close to your units and the other in a more remote location away from your units, begging the question of whether it’s worth risking your soldiers’ lives.
MEC Troopers are a unique addition to the game, allowing for more strategic options of higher firepower, at the cost of permanently turning a selected soldier into a MEC Trooper. Any MEC Trooper program volunteers will have their limbs amputated and replaced with cybernetic limbs, allowing them to operate the new MEC Suits. However, no MEC Trooper will ever be allowed to use conventional weaponry, nor his human skill set again, and will forever be a part of the MEC Suits, sporting a more robotic voice. This sacrifice gives them access to the very powerful MEC Suits, allowing them to use heavy weaponry such as mini guns, railguns, particle cannons, grenade launchers, etc. There are three level upgrades for the suits, of which you will choose one option between each. Do you choose a flamethrower or the Kinetic Strike Module, since you can’t have both and operate similarly to regular human skill sets? They will also retain their stats before the increase, so they are best reserved for higher ranked soldiers.
Their original class before becoming a MEC Trooper also gives them a passive advantage, and they will level up and gain new sets of MEC trooper skills as they rise. They are great when you need to bring some serious firepower, especially against Mectoids and Sectopods, and other heavy firepower units. You can also set them up for a support role, using restorative mist and becoming a shield for other units, so the options are up to you!
Genetically modifying your soldiers with MELD opens up new strategic options for your soldiers. As you autopsy the aliens, you’ll discover new mod options for the soldiers. There are 5 different sections that your soldier can have surgery for. Brain, Chest, Eyes, Legs and Skin are the options available to modify as you discover new options. These options offer interesting gameplay options, such as increased leg strength to jump onto buildings, a bio-electric skin that allows you to sense nearby enemies without alerting them, and becoming immune to strangulation (seeker attack). You can even give their brain neural feedback, which will cause psi attacks against them to be repelled back at the attacker, dealing a large amount of damage and putting all of their psi attacks on cooldown. So, as you can see, you can upgrade some interesting genetic soldiers, and they will also change their appearance, because their arms will be more exposed in their armor. As with MEC Troopers, they will be out of action for a while (usually 3 days), except if you have a trooper with multiple surgeries lined up for him then it will be 3 days for each surgery and they will be out of action until released.
Exalt is a new enemy organization that you will face in Xcom Enemy Within. They are a terrorist organization designed to hinder and bring down the Xcom organization, and they are alien sympathizers, and they will do whatever it takes to delay the project. EXALT operates through cells in the world, and this opens a new Covert Ops menu in the situation room. For a fee, you can scan and locate EXALT cells and send an operative inside to disrupt their work. Covert Op soldiers can only use a gun and an item, and no armor, and when it comes time for an extraction, you must send a squad to take down the cell and extract the agent, or he/she will be lost. Weaponry obtained from Exalt can also be used by your own units and has the same base stats as XCOM-created gear of the same type. For each operation completed against EXALT, you will gain new information about their base of operations and where they might be located. You can accuse a country of harboring them at any time, but making a false accusation will cause the country to abandon the project and add another brand to the Doom Tracker, so choose wisely! If you choose correctly, you can launch an assault on their base of operations, and if successful, eliminate them from the fight altogether!
There are 2 types of mining missions. One involves protecting the data in a “king of the hill” style game player, where he must protect a square area with the computer inside EXALT from being hacked and locating the other transmitters. In the other mission, your undercover agent must hack into two EXALT comms sets and then bring the agent to the Skyranger extraction point.
The XCOM Inside enemy also includes two new aliens to battle, the Mechtoid and the Seeker. The Mechtoid is a Sectoid inside a large bipedal mech similar to the MEC Trooper suits, and just as dangerous. They can even take mind melds from other sectoids, giving them a shield above their normal hit points.
The Seeker is a floating squid-like enemy that can hide and turn invisible, and will then seek out lone units to strangle. They will respawn and strangle their target, slowly killing them and rendering them unable to act while in the act, though there are genetic modifications and items that help against strangulation. They prefer hit-and-run tactics and will generally attack when you least expect it.
In addition to a base defense mission, and that includes Project Progeny (which was originally scrapped DLC, but remade and included in Enemy Within), there are additional Second Wave options (options that can drastically change the game in various ways ), changes to certain skills and level ups, and much more. New items have been added, such as all-new grenades and all-new cast changes, that work with the new MEC soldier additions.
Overall, Xcom Enemy Within is an amazing expansion for an already amazing strategy game, and it doesn’t hinder or hinder the core aspects of the original game, and is an example of how expansion DLC should be done. Personally, I’m looking forward to more XCOM from the firaxis team, and if you’re a fan of Xcom Enemy Unknown (2012), then this is a must for you.