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I finally found the time to play through the XCOM 2 DLC Shen’s Last Gift [Steam] and what an experience it was. This has me really excited for more XCOM 2 with the huge War of the Chosen expansion due later this year.

Note: Spoilers.

I seem to have an XCOM 2 addiction at the moment, an unhealthy addiction you might say as it’s been sucking away most of my personal time recently.

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You might notice the little soldier icons along the top, that's a handy mod called "Quick soldier info" that I find nice to have.

I have a real love/hate relationship with XCOM 2. On the one hand, it’s incredibly exciting as a sci-fi nerd and an old X-COM lover. On the other, it’s incredibly frustrating when you miss a 99% accuracy shot from point blank range. It’s the kind of game I can sink 6 hours into at once, to rage quit at any moment's notice. The amount of devilish surprises waiting for you around every corner is quite insane. The whole campaign feels constantly tense to the point of grinding my teeth together on every shot—hoping, no, praying it hits. Mouse and Keyboard flips are common while playing XCOM 2 for sure.

I took some time recently to play the one DLC I missed, Shen’s Last Gift. It’s a much more scripted scenario than a lot of XCOM 2 and it constantly surprised me with just how fun it was. I was expecting something really basic, but it’s a surprisingly decent DLC.

You pick up some sort of signal you need to investigate, which leads you to an old overgrown facility abandoned some time ago. This facility harbours a secret, something Dr. Raymond Shen from the previous XCOM game left behind for you to find. An interesting glimpse into what some of the original team had been up to all this time, since it's been 20 years.

Don’t do this DLC mission too early! My first attempt lulled me into a real false sense of security, with these pathetic rusted robots blocking my path. Taking them down was easy, but then they kept on coming and there seemed to be no end to the amount it would throw at me. The level of mystery during the early part of the mission was incredibly exciting, it’s probably some of the biggest excitement I've had in XCOM 2.

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It will get increasingly difficult as you battle through one rusted kamikaze robot after another. Turrets popping up all over the place trying to cut you off and an angry AI taunting you. It's a well designed multi-stage level, with an escape mechanic that sees you making your way over to lifts that can only take one soldier at a time. It becomes difficult since you're losing a soldier or two each turn to escape one part of the level, while you have these rusted robots chasing you and often blowing themselves up next to you.

Eventually, I got to the finale of this scenario and I just wept at the sight of what I have to deal with. A monstrous mech unit with tons of health and armour and my soldiers went down one by one. I ended up having to do it over again as I just wasn’t equipped enough for it. Even when I went through it again on a fresh game, my heavily upgraded soldiers still had trouble dealing with the end boss.

What you get out of it is a new class of soldier, the Spark. A mechanical supersoldier that can be upgraded to be likely the most powerful unit in your squad. They will rank up, just like normal soldiers with you picking one of two options each time. They can be customized just like your soldiers too, with various different heads, different voices, various paint jobs and so on.

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You still need to watch their backs though of course, since they take forever to rebuild.

Seeing what the XCOM developers could do with something a little more scripted really impressed me. A very fun scenario with a damn good reward at the end of it, I highly recommend playing through it if you haven’t already. I hope there is more scripted elements to the new War of the Chosen expansion which is due "shortly" after the Windows expansion release. If you are a strategy game fan and you still don’t own XCOM 2, you’re really missing out.

I do have two wishes to go alongside the War of the Chosen expansion:
  • Better performance, it does dip down really low too often for my liking
  • Fix the mouse cursor vanishing, it's annoying as hell

Now if you don't mind after writing this I feel like I need to play some more. I'm currently stuck on a mission, again, as I'm just not prepared enough. Stupid Sectopod caught me by surprise and I'm pretty sure I've reloaded this mission five times already.

XCOM 2 is currently 67% off on Steam. If you pick up the Digital Deluxe edition it comes with the main DLC packs like Shen’s Last Gift.
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12 comments
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artvandelay440 3 July 2017 at 1:35 pm UTC
I really need to stop reading GOL articles everyday. When i read something like this, it makes me want to play $game and I can't ever finish anything!
Greaser 3 July 2017 at 1:38 pm UTC
I really liked the DLC too so far.

QuoteBetter performance, it does dip down really low too often for my liking
In deed that's all I wish too for the future. Besides that this game is one of my all time favourites.
dodrian 3 July 2017 at 1:41 pm UTC
Are you using mods? Which ones?
liamdawe 3 July 2017 at 1:45 pm UTC
dodrianAre you using mods? Which ones?
Oh yes, plenty. None of which change the gameplay, mainly stuff to speed bits up and give me a little more info.

Quick soldier info
After Action - Days Wounded
Stop Wasting My Time
To name a few.
Beamboom 3 July 2017 at 2:20 pm UTC
Ah thanks for the advice to not start too early on this expansion. I've only just started the game and wasn't even aware this was the dlc. And man I struggle there.

Now I know it's a side quest and can continue with the main game :-)
rustybroomhandle 3 July 2017 at 2:33 pm UTC
In my most recent playthrough I did exactly the opposite of starting too early. I went in with my tech pretty much maxed out. I did the whole thing without taking any damage, not even during the rooftop battle. Doing it this way is not great either because at this point in the game the brand new SPARK won't be very useful compared to your other soldiers.
Geppeto35 3 July 2017 at 2:56 pm UTC
Thanks for "Quick soldier info" and "Stop Wasting My Time" discovery. I'm currently playing long war 2, I was looking for something like "Stop Wasting My Time". Nice!
Maelrane 3 July 2017 at 2:59 pm UTC
XCOM2 is awesome, still I liked the first part more. I dislike all that pressure and running through the missions. I lose too many men just because of that stupid timers
dodrian 3 July 2017 at 4:11 pm UTC
Quick Soldier Info was what piqued my interest. Looks helpful, thanks!
Philadelphus 3 July 2017 at 6:49 pm UTC
I'm in the same boat, I played XCOM 2 twice through when it came out (and even got the expansion pass), including with the Sons of Anarchy expansion, but then lost interest and haven't gotten back to playing it with either the Alien Hunters or Shen's Last Gift expansions. But the War of the Chosen has me excited to get back into playing it.

I only discovered XCOM: Enemy Unknown when Enemy Within came out, got them both, and greatly enjoyed it, so I'm hoping War of the Chosen will offer a similar experience.
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