While turn-based tactical and strategic games have not traditionally been the most successful, in recent years we have seen a revival of quality games in this genre. We have managed to put together several titles, old and new, which will undoubtedly scratch the jitters of XCOM.
Grandfather X-COM: Protection of UFOs
Originally created in 1994 by MicroProse and Mythos Games, the series began as X-COM : UFOs in the United States and UFOs: Unidentified enemy in Europe. He quickly gathered a loyal audience, because he had never seen a combination of 4x strategy and turn-based tactical battles before.
The plot is strongly inspired by the extraterrestrial and paranoid science fiction stories of the time. As the number of abductions of UFOs by extraterrestrials worldwide increases, governments around the world are meeting to agree on a working group to address the threat – the X-COM (Combat Out of the World) was born.
During the game you go from one man to another. Geoscape is an enlarged view of the planet where you can see the earth, manage resources and plan your next step. Here you can fly and equip your planes, request resources and a core team, plan research, build weapons, build units and send them on a mission. Battlescape is an isometric top view of the battlefield where you control a troop and try to kill or conquer all enemy troops.
Using nine different types of terrain, day and night times that affect your troops’ field of vision, and a semi randomly generated map, the levels never lag behind the tactical variety and keep the game fresh for hours.
If what we discussed above sounds very familiar to you, it’s because there is nothing special about modern games and you can improve them based on a classic recipe, without taking away the special.
The following games are listed in order of issue, not quality or preference.
|Date of first publication||April 1999|
|Platform||Linux, Microsoft Windows|
|Developer||Sir Tech Canada|
|Publishing house||TalonSoft (Microsoft Windows), Titan Computer (Linux)|
The game was first released in 1999, and there have been several re-releases with additional content, such as Gold Pack 2002 and Wildfire 2004. By borrowing from X-COM and Fallout you get a map of the world to conquer, RPG statistics for your troop, and the battle takes place in a separate tactical window.
In the story you create your main character and collect a distribution of mercenaries to liberate the fictional land of Arulco. Hired by Enrico Civaldori, the former leader of the country, you will be charged with destroying the oppression of the Romanian queen Daidranna Reitman, who came to power in a less than fair way.
At the beginning of your mission to destroy the monarch, you will first find yourself on the game world map, where Arulco is divided into sectors to be explored, conquered and managed. From there you can also hire mercenaries, buy weapons and equipment and assign tasks to your troops: train, improve skills, teach others, repair weapons, treat wounded, etc.
As soon as the war unit reaches an enemy sector, the view switches to the battle tactical screen. Here the game is a 2D sprite animated in a fluid, isometric perspective. Movement and action take place in real time until one of the mercenaries sees an enemy, after which the well-known X-COM step-by-step action point system is activated.
Deceptively long and complex, Jagged Alliance 2 can still be played comfortably by installing a few unofficial patches and mods to increase resolution to a more acceptable level for modern standards. Often praised as still the best game in the series, it’s worth a try.
|Date of first publication||February 2007|
|Publishing house||Interactive TopWare|
The UFO series, created by Altar, is inspired by the previous X-COM series and reconsiders the usual ideas about it. Earth is being attacked by extraterrestrials and we must save what is left of humanity and bring the planet back. Only this time the action is in 3D and uses a real-time combat system with pauses.
As the third game in the series, the UFO: Taillight follows a group of people who were driven to the Martian colony after the first attack from Earth. Seth 50 years after the first game, the plot unfolds parallel to the prehistory of the UFO: A line. So it turns out that the first inhabitants of Mars were in hibernation, only to wake up from our installation and try to terraform the planet.
In the classic X-COM style you alternate the map of the planet with the tactical ground map when the battle has to take place. Strategically, you can explore the Red Planet and expand your controlled area, build structures, manage your base, research, resources and units.
In tactical mode, the game is different: the battle takes place in real time, and unlike modern role-playing games like Dragon Age, you have the ability to pause and give orders to any member of your team. All characters, from soldiers to scientists, can earn experience points by playing their specific role. This allows you to improve your basic statistics and acquire new skills that will be useful to you.
If you need a different but very familiar experience, Afterlight will replace you. Even if old 3D graphics can’t stand the test of time and 2D graphics, there’s still a damn good game waiting to be reopened.
|Date of first publication||June 2014|
|Platform||Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X|
|Developer||The Interactive Golden Shock|
|Publishing house||The Interactive Golden Shock|
Calling this game after the original X-COM would be a bad thing. It is the work of love for the series, and it manifests itself in the summits.
Although developers like to call this a reworking of the original, it’s usually a remastering or remake. In good times and bad, this comes closest to a dismissal in 1994.
In the alternative story, the action begins on earth in 1958. A UFO entered our atmosphere and immediately resisted interception by the Air Force.
Only through joint efforts can governments around the world realize that this threat cannot be overcome on its own – this is how a clandestine organisation called Xenonawts came into being. Years later, in 1979, the aliens returned with the giant fleet, and your mission is to repel them and find a way to save Earth.
To stay true to its roots, there is Geoscape and Battlescape, there is a fixed isometric display when you’re in battle, and the artistic style is simplified but clear and functional. There’s nothing new to discuss in the game.
Several new additions and improvements have been made to the formula. Mention the improved air battles, alternative victory conditions and the cover system, but in general it is a faithful replica of the original, up to the sometimes unnecessarily complicated user interface.
If you are looking for a deep and complicated game, then this game is for you. Remember, this could take up all your free time, don’t say we didn’t warn you!
|Date of first publication||12. May 2015|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, iOS|
|Publishing house||Glue amalgamation|
With Invisible, Inc. we move away from the classic X-COM formula by making the mix a bit tedious. There are no strangers you can defend yourself against. No, kill them all to win. All we have here are futuristic companies, security guards and camouflage.
In 2074, mega-corporations overthrew the national governments of the world and took over power. Invisible Inc. is a private intelligence service that provides services to companies.
You command different agents in different missions to try to accomplish your task – usually a flight – and get out alive. If you look at us from a classical isometric point of view, we get a very stylized artistic style that is very pleasing to the eye.
The action is done step by step on a tactical level, but with an emphasis on stealth, because killing enemies is not the main goal and only serves to get you into more trouble. At the beginning of the game you have only two agents at your disposal, but as the plot develops, each of them becomes more open with his or her own skills and style of play.
With a villainy, Invisible, Inc. has randomly generated missions, levels and equipment you can buy in your game. This provides greater flexibility in the approach to your missions and allows you to repeat the game.
Although it’s not a traditional X-COM game, its random character, complex gameplay and customization make it an exciting game that you’re sure to want to come back for more information.
6 EXCOM 2 : Long War 2 Maude.
|Date of first publication||January 2017|
|Publishing house||Pavonis Interactive|
While I have to admit that I can get a little slack for adding a game mode to that list, I think Long War 2 contributes so much to the base game that it can be considered a full conversion mod – the whole game.
Due to the popularity and quality of the first long war, Firaxis Games officially approved the mods of the game and created them in collaboration with Pavonis Interactive. The availability of Firaxis Tool support has enabled the team to create an almost new experience for hardcore users. La Longue Guerre 2, published in January 2017, has many new features.
Although some of the battle scenes have changed, the general story remains the same – the overthrow of the extraterrestrial rulers and the extermination of their supporters, while revealing the truth behind the top-secret Avatar project.
When you start the game for the first time, you will be thrown into a deep game without holding your hands to facilitate your work in the first hours of the game. Today’s missions are much more complex and require careful planning of your troop’s activities.
The maximum number of troops you can send at the same time has been increased to 12, although it is desperate because of the game’s new infiltration mechanism. Infiltration is a balance between the number of troops you can deploy on a mission and the chance the aliens will find you and strengthen your position, or you can simply compensate for our inability to infiltrate.
The battle has been rebuilt and rebalanced. From the beginning, weapons are much more adaptable, armor works differently, crafts are modernised and even a new technical arsenal is added, resulting in a heavy arsenal.
Even the Geoscape isn’t the same. Events and missions take place much more often than you can, the economy is recycled and the collection of resources is based on the staff you have assigned in each region.
Long War 2 does not look back, it takes what is in the present and goes crazy, creating a deep, complex and very long war, similar to the modernized X-COM.
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|Date of first publication||April 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Publishing house||Interactive Paradox|
While other board games put you in the shoes of one of their giant robots, BattleTech returns to its roots and gives the commander a glimpse of the battlefield. BattleTech is based on the table franchise of the same name, better known in our game world as MechWarrior.
The world of BattleTech is dominated by five great aristocratic houses, which are involved in a long and destructive war that is technologically backward for mankind and makes Mechs and their pilots a very valuable asset. You assume the role of commander of a mercenary, a 10-foot troop called Spear. Throughout the story you choose one or more houses that serve as secondary missions to save money and gain access to most of the main storyline, which is a web of intrigue and political conquests.
The gameplay may seem more complex and clumsy for an X-COM veteran because the movement is not based on a grid and the foams are much more than a loudspeaker list to exhaust. Mechs have protection on different parts of their body that need to be whitewashed before they can damage the health of their pool.
On which part of the body you focus and in which direction the shooting of any material goes a lot. In most cases this can be the difference between the immobilization of the furs, cutting off part of their arsenal, the death of the pilot inside or a total explosion.
Each mechanic and driver can specialise in a specific role and objective, with the Mechs divided into four different classes: Light, Medium, Heavy and Attack. Although the level of design is not spectacular, it does play a role in the battle, with hills, mountains, forests and other terrain features that have a major influence on how you approach the situation and who wins.
As long as you’re willing to accept slow starts and sometimes stupid mechanisms, the game will seem even more intense and satisfying once everything fits together. With dozens of exchange machines to choose from and many more pieces to mix, you’ll surely be able to build a satisfying death machine that will trample your enemies.
|Date of first publication||August 2018|
|Platform||Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch|
|Publishing house||Good Shepherd of Entertainment|
Another spy game, Phantom Doctrine, looks like a mix of XCOM 2 and an 80s Bond film. Although it is remarkably similar to XCOM, it stands out in the overall game and fight process, for better or for worse.
During the Cold War, you play the role of a CIA, KGB or Mossad agent and are tasked with uncovering a conspiracy set up by a fictitious group called Beholder. The story can be very popular and escape the attention of most people, some people prefer a deeper story, while others don’t like the bits of extra information you can get in the mini-game of the Conspiracy Board.
That’s right, we have a map of the world from which we can choose which missions we set up, establish bases, manage resources and units. Although you have the ability to customize the game as you like, most agents tend to feel less important because the game generally focuses on stealth. Still, people feel more like characters, because events can reveal things that can make their past history more concrete.
Sometimes you are told that you work as a double agent or that a member of your team is not exactly who they say they are. You then have the choice to investigate, resist or simply ignore the advice. These small nuances make your agents much more distinctive.
During the missions you will get an isometric 3D view identical to that of the new XCOM games. By secretly moving around the map, synchronizing the movement of cops with the enemy guard and entering tightly guarded enclosures to get out unnoticed, you can experience a fascinating game of cat and mouse, even when the game is interspersed.
However, the fight is usually a last resort, or at least something I would not recommend, because I feel clumsy and limited, with a few exceptions such as melee combat and long-range sniper fire.
Tactical espionage game in the style of the ’80s. It may not be for everyone, but if you’re passionate about stealth games or if you’ve ever thought about how Hitman will play a turn-based game, look no further.
3 Hammer 40 000 : Mechanical
|Date of first publication||November 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux|
|Publishing house||Casedo games|
A strangely ominous story that navigates through the Warhammer 40k Mechanicus universe, takes a piece of XCOM, breaks it down into rough pieces and assimilates it into its own mix of step-by-step mechanics.
Founded in the famous and established World War 40k Hammer, the plot refreshes not a department of space fantasy, but a department of technical priests. Accompanied by small troops of ancient cannon fodder, you embark on a quest to rescue ancient technology from the mysterious catacombs of the world of Necrone Tomb, Silva Tenebris.
The story is one of the best parts of the game, because it allows you to discover Adeptus Mechanic and how they promote the religion of Omnisius and his opponent, Necron. Thanks to Warhammer’s universe, presentation, music and well-written script, the atmosphere can usually not accentuate the genres, but it can attract you as well as a fascinating game.
First, you will be offered a replacement geoscape where you can prepare and assemble your team, choose the mission you wish to take part in and work on certain rewards. You take charge of two technical priests and can call upon the cannon meat priests to carry out your orders.
As the story unfolds, you can increase the size of your team and customize it by placing points in one or more of the six available classes or skill trees. Provides both the classic isometric representation and a square motion grid.
However, the mechanics distinguishes itself by its special means, the so-called cognition and the teeth. Pigs can be used to control weapons, while cognition is used in combination with special skills and summoning cannon feed troops.
This creates an interesting game of balancing resources and allows you not only to rely on troops while staying away from your priests of technology, but also to know which skill or weapon to use when it becomes an essential skill.
In total, the Heat Hammer has 40,000 pieces: Mechanic is a good game, only ruined by the lack of difficulties and challenges at the end of the game. Any fan of the genre or the universe can easily recommend Warhammer 40k.
2Mutual year zero: The road to Eden
|Date of first publication||December 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch|
|Developer||Ladies with beards|
Based on the board game Mutant Year zero, the game depicts a post-apocalyptic world where few survivors of the human race and its descendants are. The game is suitable for both combat and stealth games, it has an interesting mix of gameplay mechanisms.
After the apocalypse, most of the remaining people were exposed to radiation and mutated into unlikely anthropomorphic animals. Most of the survivors live in the Ark, a fortified settlement and one of the few remaining bastions of civilization in the area. Their story begins with Dax and Bormin, a mutant duck and a boar, who are hired by a mysterious ark leader named Elder to search for a missing stalker.
We soon realize that their physical mutation affects not only their appearance, but also the gameplay and skill trees, effectively transforming characters into shoemakers in established roles. The Dux is an effective long-range hunter, while the Bormin is better suited as a tanker or melee damage specialist, etc. The game is played isometrically, it is designed for tactical adventure, and it shows.
Compared to X-COM soldiers, each of the characters you control has his or her own background, personality and skills that match who he or she is and his or her place in the world. Even if your list gets longer, none of the executives you receive will feel exempt. Most of the game, the quest, takes place in real time.
You explore the area, discreetly plan your way through the zone and set up the perfect ambush for your enemies. Once a real fight starts, the traditional step-by-step system, complemented by a cover, seems to have a major advantage and the chance to reach the percentage you love and hate.
A fight can be difficult or tense if not planned in advance. Enemies tend to forgive mistakes and seize every opportunity to make their lives a living hell.
This model can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, players who want a more careful approach will surely enjoy the game, while those who are squires may not.
It is worthwhile to explore his world and his humour, it is a good recommendation for people who are looking for a story based experience. The RPG XCOM Mutant Year Zero with its battles and tactics is a bizarre adventure that will surely challenge even X-COM veterans.
|Date of first publication||December 2019|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Xbox One|
|Publishing house||Snapshot games|
From the original creator of the X-COM franchise, Julian Gollop, and his new studio snapshot games, comes a new step-by-step tactical miracle called Phoenix Point.
At the time of writing this article, the game had not yet been released, but the goal is to remain faithful to the mechanics of the X-COM : The UFO defence has its origins and strives to be the broadest and deepest genre of UFO defence to date.
In one of the future versions of the Earth, with the melting of the polar ice caps in 2022, scientists have discovered an unknown alien virus. The virus soon began to infect marine life, turning everything into an abomination of Lovecraft. Not satisfied with the oceans, the mutated, matter-like creatures infect the earth and begin to emit a mist that infects and transforms anyone who can’t find shelter.
The action begins in 2047, when mists and aliens bring humanity to the edge of the abyss. There are few bastions left for the survivors, and those that do exist are ruled by radically different ideologies. We have taken on the role of commander of Project Phoenix, an organization created to help humanity in its time of need.
As the spiritual successor to X-COM, the Geoscope map is back, but this time, instead of hunting UFO bases and sabotaging aliens, we will explore various oddities around the planet. They can help other surviving factions, prevent them from escaping or even attack directly. By your choice, and depending on your relationship with the factions and the missions you carry out for them, we know that there are different goals.
Your soldiers gain experience and can be adapted in different ways. You can spend all the experience points to increase your stats, or you can buy certain skills for your troops and even declare them in a new class. The difficulty doesn’t end there, and I can live forever.
The battle is similar to that of modern XCOM, but with two major differences. You can first choose which parts of your opponent’s body you want to aim at. As with the VATS fall-out system, you can paralyse your opponent, draw his weapon or aim at a weak point. Secondly, bullets are physically imitated, they don’t go through walls and they don’t touch everything they come into contact with, be it walls, enemies or allies.
As the game progresses, alien monsters evolve and literally adapt to your troops by transforming into new creatures designed to disrupt your tactics. All this allows you to create an extra level of strategy when setting up your ideal units to steer on missions.
Let’s hope that the genre will continue to evolve like the aliens and that it will bring us new and amazing experiences. For example, I’m happy with this name and its subtleties and I hope it won’t be too big for me.
This concludes the list of the best games such as XCOM. As always, let us know in the comments below if we missed something or what you would add. Don’t be shy!