XCOM 2's novel marketing website that lead us to believe that it was initially a new IP called Advent has created quite the stir among the gaming community. We were able to take a look at some of the gameplay they had at E3, and while it's much of the same, there appears to be some very significant improvements, even in the Alpha build.
XCOM 2 offers new classes, new enemies, new weapons and a very interesting story. More importantly, modding!
The demo for XCOM 2 starts with an in-game cinematic explaining the special day that's about to unfold. It's Unification Day on Earth, the day marking the conquering of Earth by the Alien races, the Elders, and the institution of a global government. A monument has been erected in the center of the city, and destroying it will be a great symbolic victory for the cause.
The UI and general animations are all very similar to what we know from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, great amounts of detail on the characters, exceptional weapons effects and a general fluidity to the movements of your teammates. What really shines through is the quick paced combat and easy movements from cover to cover. We were promised much more continuous and flowing combat sequences, and so far it seems that they've delivered that. XCOM 2 is a lot more action packed then what I remember from XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
They showed off two new classes in the demo, the Ranger and the Specialist. The Ranger is a close-quarter fighter, with the ability to rush enemies and use a bladed weapon to dispatch enemies. The animation they showed of the Ranger running up towards the Advent security and slicing him up was really neat, very well done. The Specialist is a technical class that has a Gremlin drone that follows them around, able to attack and also hack various pieces of technology. They showed the Gremlin taking control of a turret that then made quick work of the remaining enemies.
So, indeed, XCOM 2 is much of the same concept with a graphical tweaks (it's running Unreal Engine 3) and an infusion of new content. Based on the unique continuation of the story of the previous game, and the setting, it could very well differentiate itself as a completely new game and not feel like an expansion. The ability to mod will be a great addition, however.
The problem lies in when developers don't do much to differentiate, where there is nothing that truly sets it a part from even the others in the same series. Some new content and a graphics refresh just aren't enough to justify the cost sometimes, especially if it's not very long. They have a chance to incrementally improve the genre and the series to attract a larger player base. I just hope they take that opportunity by the horns. If the story is expansive and the unit customization just as or more extensive then it could very well be a very good game. So far it looks great, but a demo at E3 never truly captures the real essence of what they're trying to accomplish. So we shall see what the future has in store for XCOM 2.