After multiple delays, the spiritual successor to the original XCOM – Phoenix Point – has finally been released. The latest title was created by Snapshot Games studios and its development was overlooked by Julian Gollop – one of the co-creators behind the original XCOM game published back in 1994. Because of obvious licensing reasons, Gollop could not continue the XCOM series himself, as latest XCOM games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown or XCOM 2 were developed by Fraxis Games and published by 2K. In turn, the creation of a new IP was required. The release of the recent title serves as a great chance to discuss the following comparison: Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2.

The history behind XCOM 2

Whilst comparing XCOM and the latest gaming title from Julian Gollop and Snapshot Games, it makes the most sense to put Phoenix Point against the latest iteration in the classic turn-based strategy alien invasion franchise. Of course, that would be XCOM 2. Before evaluating both games in terms of what they have to offer it would be wise to look back at the older title in question.

XCOM 2 was released just three years ago on February 5th, 2016, and it was a direct sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown that launched back in 2012. Both games were developed by Fraxis and were met with huge critical acclaim. In a discussion of Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2, the later should be admired for living up to the legacy of the original and justifying its name – a pressure Phoenix Point at least partially avoided by being a new IP.

Dystopian sci-fi setting

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the events in the Enemy Unknown. Based on the canonical ending of the first game, humanity has lost the war against the aliens known as ADVENT and the player must lead a guerrilla squad against the totalitarian regime established on Earth by the alien occupants.

Comparing Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2, story-wise, both games offer sci-fi settings based on very similar premises: an extraterrestrial threat, a dystopian future, different existing factions and humanity on the verge of extinction. This, in turn, constitutes the similar design of both games featuring guerilla warfare presented through tactical turn-based gameplay.

Definitive gameplay elements

Basic elements that make up the essence of XCOM 2 include a well-developed, beginner-friendly turn-based combat system. The player gets two moves each turn and with every move, the game gives a short close up cutscene to illustrate the actions of the characters. They look very cinematic and add up to the overall amazing visual presentation of XCOM 2.

Regarding the comparison of Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2, just like the recent Snapshot Games release, XCOM 2 featured highly customizable squad members who also had permanent deaths. Once one of your soldiers die – it’s over. This gives great emotional investment in the game, as well as raises the stakes and tension. XCOM 2 has an abundance of timer-limited side-objectives that need to be accomplished during unpredictable missions created through procedural map generation. There’s a constant feeling of urgency and desperation which makes victories in XCOM 2 feel uniquely rewarding.

Phoenix Point as a new IP

Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2: can Phoenix Point reinvent the bike? The latest game from Snapshot doesn’t aim to do that. Speaking within the context of the metaphor – it aims to build a car. A car made from exciting new features that address the annoyances which exist in the XCOM series, XCOM 2 included.

The recently released game is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the year 2047. After the melting of planet’s icecaps an infection of extraterrestrial origin – known as Pandoravirus – is released from Earth’s permafrost on to the oceans. It mutates the life forms in various ways turning them into hostile abominations that are hell-bent on humanity’s destruction. Once again, it’s up to the player to stop them.

Regarding Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2 comparison, the newest game doesn’t offer anything radically new with its setting but it does have a partial advantage as a more newcomer-friendly experience because as an original IP, Phoenix Point doesn’t have any direct precursors and serves as a beginning point for completely new series. There are no previous games to play, so anybody can jump right in without feeling lost in the story or the setting.

Ambitious new features

From the point of view of certain key gameplay features inspired by specific faults existing in XCOM 2, the Firaxis XCOM games simply can’t compare when it comes to the general overview between Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2. One of the most annoying things in XCOM 2 is the complete randomness of probability to hit your opponent during a turn. In XCOM it’s completely possible to miss the enemy shooting at point black range! This is no longer the case in Phoenix Point.

The latest TBS title from Snapshot Games features a new free aiming mechanic similar to V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) from Fallout series. In Phoenix Point, the player can enter the first-person view of a certain character and aim the gun at specific body parts of the enemy. This mechanic is not limited to increased accuracy as it has a huge tactical significance. In Phoenix Point, enemies mutate according to your tactics (another thing to keep in mind when comparing Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2) therefore shooting limbs is important to counter-act the mutations.

Another thing that sets Phoenix Point apart, is the presence of vehicles. If you choose to sacrifice the space on your aircraft, you’ll be able to deploy an armed vehicle on the map. You’ll have less soldiers on the battlefield, but vehicles can be essential when fighting building-sized mutants – a giant boss-like enemy type uncommon to XCOM games. These add a new layer of tension to combat, especially when maps of Phoenix Point feature completely destructible environments.

Pick the one you prefer and pay less!

Choosing between Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2, one must keep in mind that the latest game coming from Julian Gollop has many advantages, starting with being a newer title that had the chance to address the problems of its rival series during the development. Phoenix Point includes all great aspects of XCOM and expands upon them, without repeating the same mistakes.

On the other hand, everything great about Phoenix Point is inspired by XCOM. Therefore, you are free to pick whichever title you prefer without the fear of being disappointed. Neither will you be disappointed by the price if you choose to buy these titles cheaper at the Eneba store! Phoenix Point vs. XCOM 2 – pick the one you prefer, pay less and play more.