The release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown on iOS back in 2013 was a huge surprise for mobile gamers. It was a sign of the future: big-budget AAA games were playable on the go without the need to fork out close to £200 for a dedicated handheld console. Fast forward to 2020 and developer Feral Interactive is working hard to turn mobile platforms into the fantastic gaming platforms they can be, and nothing shows the benefits (and drawbacks) of that aim more than the recent release of the XCOM 2 Collection on iOS.

For a not-so-cheap price of £23.99, Feral Interactive’s iOS port of the XCOM 2 Collection feels like a dream come true. Combining the original game, all DLC packs and the sublime War of the Chosen expansion in one portable package on the same device as your Twitter-on-the-sh*tter escapades is something I’ve craved since the original game’s release back in 2016.

It’s a match made in heaven. The tactical mission-by-mission structure of Firaxis Games’ sequel leads so well into the pick up and play mentality of portable gaming. In fact, in between writing news stories and reviews on my iPad, I’d consistently play a little bit of XCOM to keep myself sane. Next-gen? What?

Some battles will see you take on The Lost, a horde of mutated humans that love to take a big swing at you.

For those who have yet to experience the joys of XCOM 2, the sci-fi tactical game is set in a dystopian future where aliens have successfully taken over Earth. It’s like They Live except it’s not at all like They Live. (You should definitely watch They Live.) As the commander of Earth’s failing resistance, you’re tasked with growing the rebellion, killing aliens and save-scumming to save your troops from permadeath.

In essence, the XCOM 2 Collection has two forms of play: resource management and skirmishes. Between missions you’ll be collecting intel, recruiting troops, researching new ways of defeating the alien menace and sending your soldiers on away missions to bring new benefits to your cause. Skirmishes are where the real meat and potatoes are.

You can craft posters to memorialize your dead soldiers, then put those posters in the game’s bar.

Diving into a new mission in XCOM 2 requires a lot of willpower. You’ll know your objectives, but that’s pretty much it. You’ll select your squad, but they might not make it out alive. It’s always a risk to progress: do I choose my higher-tier soldiers to tackle this difficult threat and risk losing them or do I send in a bunch of untrained rookies to scrape a victory? Who you think I am, Tony Blair?

It turns out I’m very good at sending people to their horrible deaths. One mission saw me sending my crew of four into a four-pronged attack on a single enemy, completely forgetting about the nature of Fog of War. As it turns out, as my fourth soldier waddled into place, there was a hidden enemy, an enemy that was very good at killing my team.

XCOM 2 Collection is full of moments like this. Maybe you’ll accidentally move a soldier into the wrong spot due to some fiddly touch controls or a momentary lapse in judgement, maybe you’ll pull off a flawless mission and feel like a champion, which you will. Either way, success or fail, Feral Interactive has properly converted a fantastic tactical experience into a near-flawless mobile port.

Clos-up shots in XCOM 2 Collection can look, for lack of a better term, “soupy”.

Of course, on larger devices like the iPad Pro or iPad Air, XCOM 2 Collection looks rather muddy, but it performs fantastically. If you were looking for a looker, take off your glasses, this is a title that plays far better than it looks.

Trailer:

If you need a game on the go, Feral Interactive’s XCOM 2 Collection is the best conversion you could imagine for this beloved tactics game. It may be a few years later than its PC and console counterparts, but it’s here and it’s great. If you have an iOS device, you need this game.

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