A fresh take on the XCOM series is on its way, and it's arriving pretty soon too. XCOM: Chimera Squad, a standalone XCOM game set after the events of XCOM 2, will launch digitally for Windows in just over a week on April 24, 2020.
Firaxis Games' first revival, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, put players in command of humanity's last hope against an invading force, while XCOM 2 had them lead an insurgency against the alien threat. XCOM: Chimera Squad is set five years after the latter, and focuses on an elite task force—the titular Chimera Squad—and their efforts to maintain peace in a post-invasion world. Oh, and humans and aliens are living together now.
Mysterious forces are working to undermine the peace between humans, aliens, and hybrids, so it's up to the agents of Chimera Squad to put a stop to it. But while this XCOM may look cosmetically similar, there are some big changes to the XCOM blueprint in store for Chimera Squad.
Each of the 11 agents of Chimera Squad is a distinct character, with their own abilities and even species-related attack, like the Viper's infamous tongue-pull. Agents can work together through the laid out, discrete missions to coordinate combos and cooperative actions. Since Chimera Squad is a law enforcement agency, there is a Breach Mode where players select entry points and assault options, similar to Rainbow Six Siege.
The order of action is getting a shake-up too. Rather than each side acting all at once, agents and enemies will have their turns interwoven during rounds, rolling out in a timeline. Two agents might act first, but then a few enemies will get their turn in before other squad members. All of it melds together to look like an XCOM game, only with new ideas and unexplored territory.
"With XCOM: Chimera Squad, we felt there were exciting gameplay opportunities yet to be discovered within the XCOM universe," said Lead Designer Mark Nauta in a press release. "Gameplay like Breach Mode, interleaved turn order, and the introduction of agents as fully fleshed-out characters will revolutionize how the game plays while still retaining the combat experience that makes the XCOM series so loved by the gaming communities around the world."
It's a bit of a departure, but not only is it arriving sooner than you might expect, it'll also be discounted at launch. As part of an XCOM franchise sale, XCOM: Chimera Squad will be discounted to $9.99 from its launch on April 24 until May 1, 2020. It'll then jump back up to its regular price of $19.99 on May 1.
A surprise launch of a new XCOM game, much less one that's experimenting so much with the tried-and-true XCOM formula, is exciting. Chimera Squad seems intentionally poised to test the waters, from its standalone status to its discounted launch. With a Switch version of XCOM 2 on the way, I was already interested in the prospect of more XCOM. With all the indoor time I've had as of late, this seems like a pretty interesting way to spend some time, rolling and losing on 98% shots with my new human-alien hybrid cop squad.
XCOM: Chimera Squad lands on PC digitally via Steam on April 24, 2020. If you're wondering about all the hype, check out our games of the decade list, which included XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen.