How to play your next XCOM 2 run

When you go back to slagging Sectoids, make sure you do it right: with the perfect combination of mods.

There’s new XCOM 2 DLC out, and you can probably guess what that means—we’ve got the itch. The itch to kill more Sectoids. To rage at RNG. To feel our hearts pound as we line up a do-or-die shot. It’s time for a new run. And why should we play vanilla XCOM since there are now more than 1800 mods on the Steam workshop?


You can browse through the Workshop’s thousand-plus mods from start to finish and find all sorts of tweaks and enhancements you never knew you needed. If you don’t have that kind of time, however, here’s a short list of excellent mods to get you started on your next world-rescuing campaign, broken down into four specific categories:

Optimizing XCOM 2: small changes and tweaks like an improved line-of-sight indicator. Quality of life improvements that make XCOM 2 a better game without dramatically changing it.
Adding more content: More map packs, custom soldier classes, and customization options.
Difficulty mods: Fun ways to make XCOM 2 easier or more challenging by changing AI behavior, grenades, and more.
Gameplay overhauls: Big changes to how XCOM 2 plays, including new mission types and reworks of the mission timer and overwatch.

Optimizing XCOM 2

To keep XCOM 2’s basic play and difficulty the same with some upgrades and enhancements, there are plenty of mods that fit the bill.

Reliable Smoke deals with how unreliable XCOM’s smoke grenade indicator can be, ensuring that all smokes provide exactly as much defense coverage as they claim to. Flamethrower Panic Fix allows your flamers to properly panic enemies as intended (no, ADVENT is not so brave that they laugh in the face of hellfire). Patrol when Revealed rounds out this set of unofficial patches, removing an issue that caused enemy patrols to annoyingly camp on top of you when you spotted them while concealed.

Gotcha (Flank Preview Evolved) is essential—it upgrades X2’s line of sight indicator to properly reflect whether you’ll flank an enemy from your new position or, even more importantly, if you’ll be able to hack/shoot objective items and even if your sniper will have a squadsight angle on distant targets.

In a similar vein is LOS Preview Ability, granting an ability that you can place on top of enemies and positions to preview exactly what they can see—no more being surprised when a Muton draws a bead on you through two separate windows and over a car hood.

Show Health Values is another great choice for people who value perfect information, summing up friendly and enemy healthbars into numeric form for easy reading.

Stop Wasting My Time is a much-loved mod that speeds up many unnecessarily slow elements in XCOM such as moving the Avenger, without messing up anything important or ruining the game’s atmosphere and animations.

EVAC All is another excellent timesaver that allows you to extract your entire squad with one button instead of roping them up one soldier at a time, which not only speeds up your evacuations but also looks brilliant in action.

Stabilize Me! is a nice upgrade to the game’s medical system, allowing you to use the medkit of a downed trooper to stop them from bleeding out—it’s a sensible tweak you’re likely to appreciate when your only medic goes down.

Better Shieldwall gives a similarly reasonable boost to an otherwise ignored ability, allowing the lategame WAR Suit ability to provide cover to its wearer, not just allies around them.

PanicMod_AlwaysHunker is another voice of reason, ensuring panicked soldiers will always go to ground on the spot instead of shooting or running in a random direction. While it can initially be amusing to watch cowardly troops run into the line of fire instead of away from it, this Commander tired of such unnecessary deaths a long time ago.

As our final entry for optimizations and enhancements, EU Aim Rolls is a brilliant piece of work that fixes a host of issues you likely weren’t even aware of. Long story short: in vanilla XCOM 2, the chance to hit and chance to crit shares a single roll, meaning if you have a 10% to hit and a 10% to crit, you can only crit or miss. This mod separates the rolls as it should be, while also removing a bunch of other problems you’ll be happy to avoid. Ever seen an on-target grenade decide to miss an Archon? Install this mod and you’ll never have to experience such nightmares.

With all of the above fixes and upgrades working together, you can jump straight into a new campaign with all manner of UI luxuries and comfort. That’s just the tip of the modding iceberg, though—on the next page, read on for some top choices to add more content and options to your game.



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