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Games Like XCOM You'll Definitely Want To Try

When the reboot of the "XCOM" series, "XCOM: Enemy Unknown," arrived in 2012, the game managed to not only uphold the legacy of the revered 1994 original but set a new high bar for tactical strategy games. Four years later, the sequel, "XCOM 2," arrived, with procedurally generated maps, new gameplay features, and mod support added, and it became one of the best games of 2016. Expansions such as "XCOM 2: The Long War" and "XCOM: Chimera Squad" have reliably delivered new experiences, meaning that anyone looking to dive into this universe has plenty of content to enjoy.


However, as good as those games are, there are still plenty of other great tactical combat experiences waiting for players out there. After all, while "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" may be a standout in the genre, strategy experiences have a long and proud history in gaming. There are tons of high quality, turn-based combat games out there for anyone looking for a variation on the "XCOM" gameplay loop.

Here are a few games similar to "XCOM" that fans of the tactical combat genre will want to check out.

Phantom Doctrine

As noted by PCGamesN, one of the frustrating parts of tactical games like "XCOM" are the secret die rolls that determine whether shots hit or miss. No matter how exposed an enemy is or how well developed a character might be, one lousy roll can mean a missed shot and a lost game.


However, "Phantom Doctrine" is a tactics game that eliminates dice rolling hit determination at a core level. Polygon explained, "The team at CreativeForge Games clearly hates [dice rolling], so it built 'Phantom Doctrine' to be different at its most basic level. When you pull the trigger, enemies die." As a result, combat engagements are quick and deadly, and the game incorporates a variety of systems to build complex tactical encounters from there.

The main campaign of "Phantom Doctrine" plays out as a cold war era spy thriller, where players must investigate a worldwide conspiracy for an agency called the Cabal. Anyone looking for a satisfying tactical experience that operates on a different set of principles than "XCOM" will find an excellent match in "Phantom Doctrine."



Anyone who felt that "XCOM" had too few giant robots should take a look at "BattleTech," the 2018 turn-based tactics title based on the tabletop game of the same name. "BattleTech" came to be thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that met the project's initial funding goal of $250,000 in less than an hour, according to VG247. In fact, the crowdfunding campaign was so successful that it managed to hit all three of its stretch goals, which meant the inclusion of an entire single-player campaign alongside PvP multiplayer.


The final product was a polished, in-depth, and well-received strategy game that scored high marks on Metacritic and was nominated for Best Strategy Game at The Game Awards 2018. "BattleTech" combines the deep history of the tabletop game with modern aesthetics and graphics just as effective as any of the newer "XCOM" titles, making it a rewarding experience for anyone looking for a deep tactical strategy game.

However, "XCOM" fans should be aware that, as GameSpot describes it, "Enjoying Battletech takes time and patience." The systems that players have to manage in-game are complex and require a certain level of commitment to master — which makes for a satisfying reward for the players who put in the necessary time and effort.


Into the Breach

Gamers looking for an "XCOM"-style game that can often resolve in short, 15-minute sessions should consider "Into the Breach." This tactical strategy title was developed by Subset Games, the indie development company that helped revitalize the roguelike genre in 2012 with "FTL: Faster Than Light," an early Kickstarter success story.


"Into the Breach" puts players in charge of a squad of giant mechs that face off against equally massive alien enemies in a city defense scenario. However, as game designer Justin Ma told Shack News, "The entire game is structured around trying to avoid and being threatened by collateral damage." In "Into the Breach," any damage to the city affects the power grid, which ultimately equates to player health. Taking too much damage will end the game.

This dynamic means that "Into the Breach" plays as a game where positioning is just as important as firepower, offering a chess-like strategy experience that is as complex and engaging as any "XCOM" game. This hidden gem ultimately won Best Strategy Game at The Game Awards 2018.



Most "XCOM" fans are aware that the series is a reboot of a revered franchise of tactical strategy games from the '90s, beginning with 1994's "X-COM: UFO Defense." That game and its sequels are renowned for their high level of quality, and IGN has described the original as one of the best games of all time.


While the original "X-COM: UFO Defense" remains a perfectly playable game, it is still nearly three decades old. As a result, some of its mechanics and visuals can feel dated. Bridging the gap between the traditional "X-COM: UFO Defense" experience and modern conventions is "Xenonauts," a Kickstarter-funded reimagining of the original "UFO Defense."

The game cleans up the blocky, pixelated art style of "X-COM: UFO Defense" with a crisp, 2D isometric style. "Xenonauts" features a full campaign mode that progresses at the same pace as the original "XCOM." As project lead Chris England explained to Rock Paper Shotgun, the game also includes improvements such as a cover system and the ability to arrange starting positions within the dropship. 


Anyone looking to experience the original "XCOM: UFO Defense" in a more modern way would do well to dive into "Xenonauts."

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

While many games aspire to be something similar to "XCOM," few games wear their influences as proudly as "Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden." On the game's official website, "Road to Eden" is described as "A tactical adventure game combining the turn-based combat of 'XCOM' with story, exploration, stealth, and strategy."


Thankfully, this underrated tactical RPG largely lives up to the series that inspired it. "Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden" received a positive reception from critics and fans on Metacritic. It's post-apocalyptic world, inspired by the pen and paper roleplaying game "Mutant," also gives off some serious "XCOM 2" vibes. Players explore The Zone, as the world map is called, in real-time, looking for artifacts and scraps that they can use in the Ark, the last refuge of civilization.

Once players encounter enemies, "XCOM” veterans should feel right at home. Game Informer writes, "Engaging the enemy initiates turn-based combat that will be instantly familiar to 'XCOM' fans, encouraging players to use cover, high ground, and character abilities to their advantage." 


Players searching for a challenging but familiar "XCOM” experience with engaging characters would do well to give "Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden" a shot.