Enemy Within’s big question is just how much you’re willing to monkey with your soldiers before they’re no longer human. Certainly, your troops seem more human now – each responding to orders in their native language and wearing armour appropriate to their roles – but XCOM’s expansion is about taking your pawns and tearing them apart until they’re as abominable as the alien threats they face. It’s all for the good of humanity; ours, not theirs.
Enemy Within is a director’s cut of sorts – the same story with new beats, the same systems with new mechanics, the same missions with new maps. “The Civilization expansion packs [are] one-third, one-third, one-third,” says senior game designer Ananda Gupta. “It’s one-third new stuff we dream up for this new title, one-third modifications of existing systems, and then one-third fan-service fixing. We’re taking a similar approach [with Enemy Within].”
New stuff includes XCOM’s Cybernetics and Genetics labs, where XCOM’s soldiers are filled with alien goo and riddled with robotic components in the name of winning this new, more difficult war. Powerful cyborg MECs can be deployed with flamethrowers, grenade launchers and cover-shredding special attacks, and while they can’t take cover, they can be cover when locked down. Fighting alongside them are genetically augmented comrades who can be modified with alien tech to add passive cloaking systems, psi-cancelling implants and other abilities.