The best XCOM 2 mods
Considering the success that XCOM: Enemy Unknown had in bringing its glorious turn-based strategy experience to console, it was something of a surprise when Firaxis announced that its sequel would be - at least initially - bound only for PC. The developer explained that this choice would allow a greater focus on mods than it was possible in the previous game.
The mod that opened Firaxis’s eyes to the potential of XCOM modding was the Long War, a complete overhaul of the game that added to or changed every aspect of the base game for a longer, more difficult campaign. Firaxis even partnered with the development team that made it, to help them make XCOM 2 welcoming to mods. We’ve already seen an influx of mods, some altering the game’s difficulty, some tweaking UI elements and gameplay mechanics, and many more bringing in new customization options for your elite group of soldiers.
So you won’t have to rifle through the swathes of available alterations, we’ve done the hard work and picked out the very best in XCOM 2 mods. It should go without saying that using these mods may well cause issues with your game, but that’s still something you should be aware of. In particular, it’s worth noting that - at least at the time of writing - if you remove a mod, the game save in which you used that mod may not load.
Tweak the Timers
The time restrictions on missions is something of a sore point for some XCOM fans. While it does force your hand-- in a good way-- its inclusion does frustrate some gamers. Thankfully you can remove them. Not completely, though: the Disable Timers mod actually keeps the timers on story missions, as well as UFO and terror missions. there has to be some tension, of course.
If you’d rather not remove the timers entirely, you can instead opt for True Concealment, a mod that instead eases the challenge just a little. If you start a mission concealed then the timer for the mission won’t count down until you’re spotted, while lengths of the timers themselves have been extended by a handful to give you a little extra time.
Conversely there’s Timer Turn Tweaks, which does the same but lets you manually adjust the number of turns you’re given.
Since XCOM 2 is all about calculating odds and pitting your wits against increasingly tougher enemies it’s important that there’s nothing to distract you. The vanilla camera is just fine, but there are two mods you might want to consider if you find yourself wanting: Free Rotation Camera and Better Tactical Zoom Out.
Free Rotation Camera, as you might expect, unlocks the game’s restrictions on camera angles to give you more precision and therefore a better view of the battle. Better Tactical Zoom Out is another fairly simple addition, too, increasing the limit at which the camera will zoom out.
Long War Studios’ Mods
The developers at Long War Studios have released a set of three different mods for the game on release as part of its partnership with Firaxis. They’re not especially exciting or as grand as the Long War mod they made for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but they’re really high quality, very well balanced and fit in quite nicely into the XCOM 2 base game.
SMG Pack adds in a new type of weapon that will allow for greater mobility and accuracy up close, but at the cost of lower damage and a horrific accuracy at longer ranges.
The Leader Pack adds in a new set of skills that can be unlocked for your soldiers, giving them the ability to provide buffs to the rest of the squad. Only one soldier can have these equipped in any mission, so it’s not overpowered. It gives you a reason to keep the leader alive above all odds.
Similarly, there’s the Muton Centurion, a new Muton enemy type that has the ability to buff nearby aliens. It works in much the same way as the Leader Pack, so you’ll likely want to install these as a pair.
Sometimes the simplest mods are the most important. Rather than have to click on the evac button for each of your soldiers in turn, this mod provides an option to instead select ‘Evac All’, causing any soldiers in the extraction zone to be removed from the map at once. It’s not exciting, of course, but it’s a mod that everyone will appreciate all the same.
The modder who created Hidden Potential describes it as a “spiritual successor” to Enemy Unknown’s free DLC Second Wave. The idea here is to allow for the option to randomise soldier’s stats rather than having each class improve in a uniform fashion.
Essentially it means that your soldiers performance will be affected by randomised dice rolls. It could make the game harder since you may just be unlucky with the stats you get each time a soldier levels up, but some of you may actually prefer the game this way.
There are some concessions for snipers and psiops soldiers since - according to the modder - “both get such a huge amount of stats at that rank, a bad roll would cripple them”.
It’s safe to say that the AI of XCOM 2 isn’t particularly the smartest, which is what makes this mod one of the most integral to dedicated players. There’s a long list of changes to the AI detailed on the mod’s Workshop page and you can be sure more and more tweaks will be coming over the coming months.
But essentially it adjusts some of the strategies that the different enemy types use to allow for them to make smarter decisions. Mostly this involves running away a lot more, but it’s a far more robust selection of improvements than that.
It’s worth pointing out that since the mod adjusts the strategies that the enemy uses, a mission can take a little longer. You may want to use this in conjunction with the Timer Turn Tweaks mod to give yourself more time to deal with the fleeing aliens.
Capnbub’s Accessory Pack
There’s a good number of visual mods already available for XCOM 2 - such as a corgi for a gun - but it’s Capnbub’s collection of accessories to customize your characters with that stands out as one of the ones you ought to seek out.
The additions he’s brought over are already incredibly stylish and high quality, but if you subscribe to the pack, you’ll get any extras that he adds over time. Capnbub has a Patreon page to help fund his XCOM 2 mods creation, if you’re interested.
Make XCOM 2 Easier
It’s perhaps not a surprise that mods that make a game known for pitting you against seemingly impossible odds just that bit easier are among some of the most popular. If you find you’re getting entire squads wiped out more often than you’d care to admit, these mods will be for you.
XCOM Legion allows you to send in more than the typical four to six squad members, with a further two soldiers allowed to come with you into battle for a maximum (after in-game unlocks) of eight.
Accurate Rookies just improves the initial accuracy of rookies, which might seem like a heavy-handed cheat-- but how many times have you gone through one rookie after another simply because they couldn’t hit anything?
No AP Hacking means you don’t have to use action points to hack terminals, which will make the process more manageable.
Accurate Ranger Sword does what it suggests it will, removing the frustration of having to position a soldier directly next to an alien only to miss completely.