Real-time strategy games are to developers as soufflés are to chefs: Tedious to make, difficult to properly execute but rewarding when done properly. The best ones take cues from chess or even go, strategy games in which the pieces on the board don’t matter as much as the invisible metagame of anticipating your opponent’s moves. The bad ones try to hide their lack of complexity behind a sheen of aesthetics, epic cutscenes, and specious tie-ins to much better games (looking at you Halo Wars).
Upon first blush, XCOM 2 appears to fall into the latter category but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Released in 2016 to much fanfare, XCOM 2 hooks players with its look and keeps them coming back with its gameplay. In its four years, XCOM 2 has become a sort of gateway into a world of turn-based, real-time strategy games.