5 Ways XCOM 2 Warps Your Sense of Probability

XCOM 2 Switch Feature: 5 Ways XCOM 2 Warps Your Sense of Probability

The primary culprit of probability issues with XCOM 2 is the hit percentage issue but the game is full of ways that challenge our sense of probability. Each playthrough of the game is unpredictable, which is intrinsic to the gameplay that Firaxis Games and Feral Interactive have crafted. The unforgiving and challenging nature of XCOM 2 is driven by the unpredictable nature and the impact of this gameplay design is felt from the battlefield to the map. Hit probability is one thing, but what’s the probability of the map being the same from playthrough to playthrough? What’s the probability of being safe behind cover? Are the Aliens of XCOM 2 as cohesive on the battlefield as they are throughout the plot? These are some of the questions the game and developers behind it ask us through the gameplay.


5. Cut My Map Into Pieces

While the map of XCOM will come together to create a futuristic version of our current planet, no two maps are the same. This makes the game less predictable the more you play it and increases the replayability of the game tenfold. Pieces of the map are generated piece by piece for each save file, creating a map that’s unrecognizable as the others you’ve come across, despite including a point of interest you may be familiar with. This procedural generation of the map is similar to how dungeons in the Diablo series work, with each of the puzzle pieces fitting together to create the same overall plot of XCOM 2.  Each map will involve radio communication with other countries, the mobile base of operations known as Avenger traverses the Earth landscape on each map and Dark Events often occur at the same intervals from map to map but each playthrough of XCOM 2 promises an unpredictable experience that challenges our perception and the sense of probability.

4. The Psionic Connection Beats Teamwork Sometimes

The aliens of XCOM 2 have a neural link known as the Psionic Network and it connects them all through brainwaves. Gamers could consider this a ghost in the machine, the system that links the enemy AI to each other in the plot and in gameplay. There are times you have to divide units to tackle multiple things at the same time and during these moments, the enemies seem more connected than ever. The Psionic Network allows them to always be a cohesive unit whether your playing offensively or defensively. The Alien ability to remain a cohesive unit maintains the difficulty that has been so familiar to the XCOM series over the years. Could the Psionic Network be what allows the enemies to dodge our 99% chance to hit them or is it simply a unique alteration of code? Could they be one and the same? How connected will humanity be once Elon Musk perfects Neuralink? Time will tell.


3. When They Can Control the Dead, Their Odds Improve

Some of the Aliens in XCOM 2 can control the dead or strike fear into the hearts of your soldiers. In essence, as the enemies dwindle your numbers, theirs increase. Over the course of the game, I had several encounters where the enemies manipulated the minds of my allies in various ways but what stung the most was definitely them taking control over my units or even AI civilians. The more humans the Aliens control on the battlefield, the more easily humanity is controlled in the plot. There’s just a certain harshness to the gameplay when you’re minus one and they’re plus one. When the enemies mind control the XCOM soldiers, they’re unpredictable and it can work to your advantage but the probability is it’ll have your units running in fear and controlling themselves. The only way to break the control that an Alien has over one of your allies is to command another soldier to destroy the Alien that manipulates their minds.

2. Being Behind Cover Doesn’t Always Save Your Ass

To the same token as enemies dodging 99% hit chance attacks, it seems like even when you feel completely safe behind cover, you’re susceptible to Alien attacks. Whether it’s a Viper wrapping its body around one of your allies or a laser shot from an Advent Soldier, you’re in danger at all times. Sometimes it seems as though there’s no way you’re getting wiped because you’re chilling behind a wall but that feeling of ease is always short-lived. There are various types of cover in XCOM 2, with each offering a different level of protection. You can choose to hide behind a concrete barricade, a ledge, a sign, a shipping crate, a train and far more, but each of these are broken down into two types of cover: partial cover and full cover. Even when you’re fully covered, you aren’t completely safe, unfortunately, due to the destructibility of some types of cover. Your allies also might have an arm showing within the sights of an enemy Alien and even when you’re behind full cover, they just may be able to hit you in the elbow and in some cases that’s enough to finish off your soldier.  This makes the best way to handle any level is transitioning from cover to cover but even if you feel 99% safe, it’s not enough. Allies can hunker down behind cover which will provide bonuses to your soldier, even when they’re flanked, but it’s impossible to be completely invulnerable and it constantly challenges the perception of probability.

1. 99% is Still a Failure Sometimes

The XCOM series is known for showing gamers a hit percentage that many don’t believe. Even with a hit chance of 99%, sometimes your soldiers just can’t clutch a kill. Many people consider these numbers to be inconsistent with the results and I’ve definitely encountered times where a shot seemed assured but something allowed the enemies to avoid the projectiles. Coders have discussed this flaw in the machine on both sides of the issue, with lead designer Jake Solomon weighing in on the unpredictability of XCOM 2. “If we were to use one word to describe our tactic, it would be the idea of unpredictability,” he said. “I think what’s valuable as a player is that when you go into a game, the challenges you’re confronted with are unpredictable.”  This may be a reminder to the fans that even when you think you have gained the upper hand something can go wrong, but it seems to happen too frequently to dismiss. Jake Solomon claimed during an interview with Gamasutra, “If you see an 85 percent chance to hit, you’re not looking at that as a 15 percent chance of missing. If you thought about it that way, it’s not an inconceivable chance you’re going to miss the shot. Instead, you see an 85 percent chance, and you think, ‘That’s close to a hundred; that basically should not miss.” In all of the ways that XCOM 2 warps your sense of probability, this is the most well known.

***Xbox One code provided by the publisher***

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