It’s been a little over two weeks since Phoenix Point’s release, leaving plenty of time to see how the game ticks. With all of that time under players’ belts, the only reasonable next question is how it plays in comparison to the other popular alien title in the strategy genre, XCOM 2.
Was the first time the charm for Julian Gollop’s strategy design? Or does Phoenix Point perfect chess-like alien warfare?
Find out below, as we ask which game is the better alien strategy game: XCOM 2 or Phoenix Point?
When it boils down to it, both XCOM and Phoenix Point have pretty generic story concepts. In each, a paranormal threat has taken over the earth, and it is up to an elite group of scientists, engineers, and soldiers to gather resources and fight against them.
For the XCOM series, the stories usually revolve around an alien invasion or dealing with the aftermath of one.
XCOM 2 is no different, as players once again take the role of the commander of the secret military organization, XCOM. The game takes place 20 years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, exploring a scenario in which humanity lost.
The choice to continue the previous story results in some familiarity for sure, but it doesn’t really carry too many interesting story threads over for it to matter or be an effective storytelling device.
The continued conflict with the ADVENT is an entertaining concept though, detailing what it would be like if aliens had created a puppet organization in order to make humans easier to trick and conquer.
While almost identical in premise, Phoenix Point’s story is definitely different from XCOM 2’s in a lot of ways.
For one, the threat is far more pandemic than that of the aliens in XCOM 2. Instead of a direct invasion from space, Phoenix Point looks at a global warming-type event, as an extraterrestrial virus is found in the permafrost.
Known as the Pandoravirus, this disease spreads via a mist, turning people into Lovecraftian monsters with terrifying abilities.
The surviving humans band together, forming eccentric factions, each with their own different ideologies. Aligning with or angering these factions, and the dialogues that come as a result, create some outlandish and varied interactions that one can only experience amidst an event that could end the world.
When comparing the two stories, Phoenix Point wins out thanks to its Lovecraft-inspired setting and characters, as well as the fun that comes from working with the factions.
If XCOM 2 had done a little more to tie in the narrative threads from its predecessor, maybe it would have won this round instead.
Winner: Phoenix Point