XCOM: Chimera Squad – Review
Follow Genre: Tactical, Turn-based
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

XCOM: Chimera Squad – Review

Site Score
Good: Allows XCOM to refresh itself with new gameplay
Bad: A bit buggy like XCOM generally is. The new gameplay is a bit restricting.
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Without any timely announcements, XCOM: Chimera Squad got revealed and released in a mere 2 weeks time span. It’s a game that clearly leans on the XCOM universe, but is in no way an XCOM 3. To figure out what it actually is, we went in-depth with the new human-alien hybrid tactical turn-based strategy game.


XCOM: Chimera Squad is already different in the way it tells its story and how it does so. It’s a game that’s not as big as the original XCOM and XCOM 2, but because of that, it’s able to have a specific cast of squadmates who each have their unique characteristics. It’s a big difference with the rather generic customization options of the previous XCOM games. Besides the squad differences, there’s also more story in general. Five years after XCOM 2 ended, aliens and humans are living together in the same city making the ethics shift from a ”humans vs aliens” to a  ”good vs bad” type of environment. Then, a prominent political figure gets assassinated and the XCOM squad sets up shop to figure out what’s causing the increasing unrest in the city and what scheme and groups are behind it all.


Chimera Squad feels fresh in its visual approach. It’s not as serious as the other XCOM games, and you see this in the comic-like visual overlay during conversations and cutscenes, as well as the color scheme that’s mostly purple and blue. Even the loading screen in-between is all sparkly and inviting. As nice as this is, and the animations of in-game combat seem to be smoother than they usually are, the game also has a few issues.

The entire XCOM series somehow does not manage to execute combat flawlessly, and that’s also the case with Chimera Squad. Sometimes the direction that an attacker is looking does not match the target, and stuff like a breaching scene where somebody enters a vent can suddenly end in him jumping through a floor. It’s not game-breaking, but it is slightly experience-breaking. Though, if you know XCOM games, you are used to such buggy situations.


Music in Chimera Squad is essentially the same as it has always been in XCOM. Largely atmospheric synths that make sure there’s generally a mysterious vibe going on which fits the alien theme quite well. What’s really the best about the sound design though, is that every squadmate (you get to choose one out of three new ones now and then so it can be different on multiple playthroughs) has their own voice and lines that can be fun to listen to in-between missions. They mostly tell you something about the personal thoughts of your members, as well as some in-depth information about Chimera Squad’s world.


All XCOM games got known for their original approach to turn-based combat where you use cover and movement tactics to out-position and shoot your enemies. In XCOM and XCOM 2, you generally got sent on a mission to either eliminate all hostiles, infiltrate a certain building, or i.e. disarm a bomb to save the day. Multiple missions like these were available every time on a globe, and besides doing these missions it was also your job to manage the global peace as well as to upgrade your gear and squadmates. The general idea stayed the same but Chimera Squad got a few tweaks.

For one, the bigger maps that you would normally navigate until you found a hostile or objective disappeared. Instead, Chimera Squad divided the map into several encounters. To begin one of these encounters, you get one to three entry points to position your squad of four members. After doing so, your squad storms in and takes the enemy by surprise after which they automatically and quickly take cover. It’s a new and fresh take on the combat, but it also feels slightly more repetitive compared to discovering what else is on a map. Also, the way Chimera Squad handles stuff like pick-ups that provide bonus resources during an encounter is poorly designed. If you wipe a room first, you automatically go to the next one, neglecting all types of loot. On top of that, the enemies quickly turn into a rather boring mass that needs to be killed despite that they all have their dangers.

Chimera Squad still has some addictive gameplay and it’s not badly designed, but there are just a few things that feel ”off”. Things such as upgrades that make you wait a long time before they are done, and a city map, instead of a world map, that has districts that are about to explode with anarchy, while you don’t have enough tools to do something about it, even if you handle your three resources wisely, feel off. There’s something about the little choices that you get to make that make your squad feel rather poorly equipped and not really able to handle themselves as well as the members of the previous XCOM games, but Chimera Squad is generally not too difficult to get into and still fills some of the same cravings that fans will have.


XCOM: Chimera Squad feels a bit like an experiment where the original games serve as the main menu but a few different elements make up the starters and the dessert. The graphics are a nice change, the sounds have good voices, it’s nice to see more focus on the story for once, but the gameplay feels fresh as well as limited or wonky. The game could use some polish, and perhaps (likely) we will see a combination of Chimera Squad with the old-school XCOM in XCOM 3.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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XCOM: Chimera Squad - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for 3rd-strike.com since 2017.

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