Turn-based tactics gamers are getting spoiled so far in 2020, with not one, but two major releases coming out in the last month alone. The first is likely on every strategy fan’s list, XCOM Chimera Squad. Gears Tactics is no slouch, though, as the debut strategy game in the franchise is attracting fans from inside and outside the genre alike.
While both games may be great, this begs the question as to which one you should get if you can only pick one: the veteran, XCOM Chimera Squad, or the spin-off newcomer, Gears Tactics. Find out which title we’d recommend based on our experiences with their story, gameplay, and replayability below.
For both series, the plot revolves around an “aliens vs. humans” conflict, as each human race must overcome an evil combatant to save their world. The main difference you’ll find narrative-wise is that one is a sequel, and the other is a prequel.
Set as a sequel to XCOM 2 War of the Chosen, XCOM Chimera Squad picks up right where players left off. You’ll control a mixture of humans and aliens, working together as a team to help maintain the peace of City 31.
Just like other games in the franchise, XCOM Chimera Squad’s story plays it safe, sticking to a linear structure that serves its purpose. Customizing your team’s look, character names, and other aesthetics is where the real fun comes in, as you’ll do your best to keep the characters you’ve named –likely after your friends in real life– alive in a permadeath atmosphere.
On the other hand, Gears Tactics follows an established group of characters, with supporting, customizable red-shirts sprinkled in throughout as well. These characters work together to fight off the Locust, featuring another gritty story that Gears fans are sure to love.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a fan of the series before Gears Tactics to enjoy the story either, as it takes place first on the timeline of events in the Gears of War universe.
If there is one drawback to the campaign’s otherwise solid storytelling, it is that the side missions feel like they’re added on last minute to pad the runtime.
When comparing the two, Gears Tactics has an edge when it comes to story. Even though I really enjoy the new alien-humanity community and plot in XCOM Chimera Squad, it still doesn’t compare to the hardcore cinematic experience that is the battle against Locusts horde.
Winner: Gears Tactics