XCOM Chimera Squad Gameplay: Fresh Strategy for XCOM

XCOM Chimera Squad features new strategy gameplay for the series.
XCOM Chimera Squad features new strategy gameplay for the series. / Photo by Firaxis Games

XCOM Chimera Squad Gameplay shows some new mechanics, ramping up the complexity to the beloved strategy game series.

Unlike previous games, in Chimera Squad you can play as non-human characters. The game takes place five years after XCOM 2, in City 31 where humans and aliens live together. The agents you play as will have more fleshed out characters, and the interactions between your characters will also matter more. Your job as Chimera Squad is to keep the peace and stability of the first human/alien city.

XCOM Chimera Squad Gameplay: Fresh Strategy for XCOM

Customization takes a back sat to the pre-set characters, and Chimera Squad seems to reward team building rather than individual character builds. There are still options for customization for individual units, but their set skills will be more important.

New to the series is what developer Firaxis call "interleaved turns". Unlike previous games where the player team acts and then the enemy, each individual unit has its own turn and priority. The interleaving of player and enemy units is not unlike initiative in RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons.

Adding to the complexity of the new interleaved turns, you can force a unit to act next out of order once per mission, called "Team Up". There are also new abilities some agents can use that take advantage of the new turn order system, allowing them to move earlier or make an enemy move later. Tempo is now an important factor to XCOM.

Entering battle is now different, giving you the choice of locations to enter with the new Breach Phase. Different agents can use different entry ways that others can't. For example, the viper-type alien can use vents. During the Breach Phase, you can get the drop on enemies can score picks before the battle begins.

Chimera Squad also features an Unrest Score for the city. Over the course of the game, you have to keep the peace in City 31 and manage the unrest. You fail the game if the city unrest gets too high.

XCOM Chimera Squad releases April 24 for Steam. If you purchase the game by May 1, it'll only run you $10, otherwise it's $20.