Best Expansion 2017: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

PC Gamer's Best Expansion of 2017 is XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, as selected by our global team. Below, its biggest fans on the team offer some commentary on their experiences with the game. Find the rest of our 2017 GOTY Awards and personal picks here

Tom Senior: In just five years Firaxis has successfully resurrected XCOM and explored a bunch of different takes on the formula. War of the Chosen is the most inventive yet, filling out the world with new friendly resistance factions and bitter rivals in the form of the Chosen themselves. The blue bad guys are obviously a focus point, but I love the resistance heroes even more, though, for their amazing, almost game-breaking abilities. The reapers get the cool long coats, but I came to love the templars the most because they look like they’ve dived out of Mass Effect to stab everything with electricity.

Bo Moore: War of the Chosen took one of the best games of 2016 and made it even better—by adding campy, moustache-twirling villains that mock you at every turn. The titular Chosen give a voice (more than Simlish-like gurgling) to your alien adversaries, and in that voice, the game's enemies finally have some personality. It feels awful when they ambush your squad, taunt your forces, and kidnap your soldiers. But it makes vanquishing them all the more sweeter.

I scarcely see War of the Chosen as an expansion. To me, it feels like XCOM 2's final form.

Evan Lahti: Bingo, Bo: XCOM 2's villains needed a voice, and they got three. I love that the Chosen taunt you at every turn of the campaign: in the menus, mid-mission, after they kill or wound a soldier. They permeate the game, but you can also take them on mostly at your own pace. Firaxis's approach here reminds me of some of my favorite board games—instead of treating the Chosen like a separate, vestigial storyline you have to play, they simply become part of the ecosystem of threats, shuffled in with the rest of the cards you can draw.

For me, The Chosen became XCOM 2's campaign—all my tech and personnel decisions revolved around tracking them down and prepping for their multi-stage missions. But another player might be content with taking out one of the Chosen and focusing on the Avatar Project instead. These jerks made XCOM 2 the only singleplayer game in 2017 that I wanted to keep playing after I finished.

Tim Clark: I scarcely see War of the Chosen as an expansion. To me, it feels like XCOM 2's final form. This is the game Firaxis always intended, complete with sneering alien supervillains, sweet new gear to research, and in the resistance factions, some incredibly cool characters to fight alongside. At this point XCOM 2 feels like it's become this delicious, rich, selection box of sci-fi chocolates. I almost never replay the big games, but for XCOM 2 I made an exception, and devoured the lot all over again. If it weren't for the fact it is an expansion, it'd be my GOTY overall. 

Part of my enjoyment derives from the fact I didn't touch any of the intervening DLC drops, which meant my playthrough felt even fresher thanks to the presence of the enemies like the Viper King and Berserker Queen, and the unique armor I could research thanks to their bullet-ridden corpses. War of the Chosen has tons of great touches of its own, though. The new way bonus perks are activated (ie not those part of that soldier's traditional class tree) is smart, if a little hidden. 

On a more cosmetic but no less cool front, the propaganda poster system was super fun to goof around with, and I swiftly decided to make only grim visual obituaries for my fallen meat shields/heroes of the resistance. War of the Chosen is the kind of game that, once you're done with it, you start dreaming about what the dev might cook up next. And then getting depressed because that meal is likely to be a long ways off. 

For more War of the Chosen words, check out Tom's review and Tim and Evan's back-and-forth on the game's memorable villains.