New XCOM board game pits co-op players against Digital Companion App
We love board games here at Expert Reviews, but we don’t usually find a good enough to write about them. XCOM The Board Game gives us two however; as not only is it based upon one of favourite games of recent years, XCOM: Enemy Unknown but it also has a digital angle, requiring you to use a companion app to play the game.
The game looks to concentrate on the more strategic elements of XCOM titles, with the board showing a sizeable global map, rather than a tactical shooter in the style of the Gears of War boardgame – one of the many properties that developer Fantasy Flight has on its books. Although there are some cool-looking miniatures of XCOM squad members included, and hopefully lots of cool kit to equip them with.
It’s a co-op game for up to four, with the players working together to hold back the alien menace. This is where the companion app comes in, as it dictates the invasion plan of the alien forces. We’ve seen a similar style of play from the excellent Space Alert in the past, which initially used a CD that you played to say where and when the enemy attacked.
The companion app goes further though by also mixing up the various phases in the game, based on in-game events, for a more dynamic and varied experience. It also allows you to choose from three different difficulty levels, adding to the replay value. It looks to be available both for smartphones, tablets and for PCs (presumably through a browser) so everyone should be able to use it OK.
The different roles for the various players brings to mind the long-popular Pandemic. The Commander, Central Officer, Squad Leader and Chief Scientist will have to work together to succeed, but we can see there will be a fight everytime between players to be the Squad Leader and get to play with the miniatures.
As with all co-op games we’re concerned that one dominant player will take charge of the whole effort, so it will be interesting to see how Fantasy Flight mitigate against this. Though you can play it with 1, 2 or 3 players if you prefer.
A release is planned for the fourth-quarter of 2014, so we’ll be defending earth before the year is out.