I would like to highlight some mods of 2021!
At the launch of XCOM 2 Pavonis Interactive released Long War after being hired by Firaxis to create it following the success of the original Long War for XCOM as a way to show off what was possible with modding. Firaxis designer Jake Solomon called XCOM 2 the “20 hour tutorial for Long War”.
Long War is an incredibly brutal version of XCOM that takes what already makes XCOM fun and removes all the training wheels and things in the background that are secretly skewing rolls in your favor and on top of this adds what feels like more believable guerrilla warfare gameplay to the geosphere.
Now you need to do things like setup actual cell networks and strengthen them to help uncover missions. You have multiple squads of fighters that you need to balance because anyone of them could wipe. Advent will react to how you are doing in specific regions of the world and strengthen those areas and conduct more raids.
Enemy AI is updated to be more ruthless, there’s a new tech tree, you have all new classes, enemies, etc.
So why is a mod that came out in 2017 getting hype today in 2021 almost 5 years after release?
Because War of the Chosen came out in 2018 and might as well have been called XCOM 2.5 because it broke almost every old gameplay mod and by this point Pavonis Interactive had stopped updating Long War and were working full time on their strategy game Terra Invicta. The changes that War of Chosen brought to XCOM 2 are massive from a functional and quality of life point of view.
If you wanted to play Long War this meant you had to play on original XCOM2 and could only use compatible original XCOM 2 mods.
Things you lost from downgrading to original XCOM 2 in order to play Long War:
- Load times are significantly shorter on War of the Chosen. I’m talking measurable in minutes.
- Optimization, War of the Chosen runs a lot smoother
- Notification of who you can target when you move to a new space. It’s very easy to forget this is a feature that did not ship with XCOM 2 and was restricted to War of the Chosen somehow
- Bug fixes that prevented (or more often reduced the likelihood) of things like softlocking on overwatch reaction and crashes to desktop
- Newer gameplay and cosmetic mods
- Community Highlander which does major bug fixes that Firaxis never fixed
There has been a long running effort by a dedicated team of individuals to get Long War moved entirely over on to War of the Chosen and take advantage of War of the Chosen’s new features such as allied factions, the lost, and of course The Chosen.
This is a mod you start and you go in understanding that the first 3 runs you do are probably going to be failures and just learning how it works but winning feels so incredibly rewarding. I highly recommend this mod to anyone who is looking to play a challenging turn based strategy game.
If you are interested in playing this mod start by unsubscribing from all your current mods on Steam, read this, and make sure you not only subscribe to all the listed required mods on Steam, but use the alternate mod launcher (update broke the built in mod launcher earlier this year), and be sure to read the Steam workshop page and that a fore mentioned linked github page.
This is a HL2 RTS mod that’s been in development for a very, very long time (I want to say since 2007). It’s an RTS game built in Source which is just something you don’t think you would see very often given how optimization works on the engine but for some reason people keep making games with top down cameras in it.
I want to like this mod more given that it is technically impressive but it’s just okay. It’s the kind of thing that in 2010 I would have been all over being a free RTS with an ability map and mod for it but it’s just kind of not that exciting. If anything this makes me wish Overwatch was still an active mod, much more a fan of the idea of FPS + RTS. If you’re looking to play an RTS with friends on a Friday night and you don’t all have gamepass to play Age of Empires Lambda Wars is okay and worth checking out if anything for the HL2 nostalgia.
Map Labs did not release this year but it’s an ongoing project that I think is worth reminding people about. It’s a project setup to give HL2 mappers a challenge or theme every couple of weeks to complete and then the maps are packaged up and uploaded as a part of the mod forming an anthology of the communities work. It’s a fun way that the HL2 singleplayer mapping community has stayed active even when Valve seemingly wants nothing to do with their older communities (by which I mean would it kill them to add workshop support for HL2?).