XCOM 2 is known for its brutal firefights against a series of menacing aliens, but we loved every tense minute. We haven’t heard much from the series since the release of the XCOM 2: War of the Chosen expansion in 2017. That might be because Firaxis has secretly been working on a new standalone adventure called XCOM: Chimera Squad, and you’ll have the chance to play it next week, when it releases on PC on April 24.
At the end of XCOM 2, humanity had successfully beaten back an alien hegemony and reasserted its control of the planet Earth. Chimera Squad tells the story of what happened after that. Set five years after the liberation, players control a group of elite human warriors who’ve made an uneasy alliance with alien agents as they work together to keep the peace.
All of Chimera Squad’s turn-based battles begin with a new phase called Breach Mode. During this initial setup, players can assign their agents to specific entry points and better coordinate their assault. Some entry points offer different tactical opportunities, and others might only be accessible to agents with certain abilities.
One of the biggest changes to XCOM’s tactical combat is the new interleaved turn order. Instead of letting all your heroes take their turn back-to-back, each unit is now given a specific turn, and enemy turns are interwoven between your units’ actions. However, some agents have special abilities that allow them to move some heroes up in the turn order or freeze enemy attacks.
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Outside combat, your team can manage its base of operations in the heart of City 31. Instead of a global war, all of Chimera Squad’s action takes place inside the walls of this one city, which is rife with crime and civil unrest.
Chimera Squad looks like it was built off of XCOM 2’s tech, but you don’t need to own any of the previous games to play this one. You can purchase Chimera Squad for PC starting on April 24 for a limited-time introductory price of $9.99. But act fast, because on May 1 the price will double to its suggested retail price of $19.99. 2K hasn’t commented on whether or not it plans to bring the game to consoles, but stay posted for our review after the game releases.