XCOM: Chimera Squad is developed by Firaxis Games and Published by 2K. From what I can tell, this is designed to be a smaller scale and beginner friendly entry into the XCOM universe, a very successful game series that started all the way back in 1994. It is a sequel to the XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.
Set a few years after the war between human and alien factions XCOM: Chimera Squad is a very strategic and tactical game, which brings Chess like elements into a turn-based SWAT team battlefield. Released for PC on April 24, this game is already garnering a good following, peaking at a bit over 20,000 concurrent Steam players.
Having played a few hours of XCOM 2 in the past, I knew what to expect, although Chimera Squad has added a few new unique gameplay elements to the series. Although still challenging for experienced XCOM players, the new gameplay and storytelling mechanics in a smaller scale may draw many newer players into the XCOM universe. Bear in mind though that there are no plans for DLC or console releases. I find the storyline fascinating, and I feel the need to learn more about the lore behind the game. The diverse mixture of humans, aliens and robots keeps the game very fresh and entertaining for hours on end. For example, there are androids, MEKs, turrets in the robot world, as well as difference races of aliens all with their own abilities and weapons. All this diversity actually really makes for a great strategy game!
One of the new gameplay elements is the breach mode, where you can specify exactly where your agents will be breaching, from a few choices, as well as the order of entry. You can also buy utility items such as breaching charges or suits that let you climb in through vents, for a safer entry, and you can also bring in grenades that provide smoke cover for example. Each mission will have multiple breaches (missions are divided into encounters), and ensuring your agents have some utilities on them will help you be more successful in your combat situations. It may sound minor, but it can contribute quite heavily to how the combat plays out once you’re inside the room clearing it out.
There is a roster of about 11 agents, all with their own unique abilities, but you can only recruit 1 at a time and as you level up, you get access to more agents so you will need to pick wisely and try to get a good combination of agents that compliment each other. There is also quite a bit of management involved, as you want to constantly be training your agents, doing research into new technologies, buying equipment and upgrades for your weapons, armour etc, and also manage the city to ensure it doesn’t fall apart. The Chimera squad is basically tasked with keeping the peace in the city so that hostilities between the humans and aliens doesn’t get out of hand.
From a graphics perspective, I found it very appealing and interesting, and quite high quality. Quite a lot of work was put into this, as there are lots of cut scenes and story to read along the way, and there is also a lot of dialogue and banter between your agents which can be very entertaining. In fact, I am quite impressed at the level of detail that has gone into this. As eager as I am to continue on with my upgrades and start the next mission, I would stop and listen to the radio and TV broadcasts and banter between the agents as it was relevant to the campaign and it engrossed me more into what I was playing for.
Overall, if you would like to have a taste of the XCOM universe for the first time and are looking for something tactical and strategic without too much complication, Chimera Squad is going to fit the bill. Due to the different choices between enemy factions, and agent recruitment, there is a lot of replay ability offered also I can already see myself spending a good amount of time into this game.