2K Games “soft-launched” XCOM Legends on Android, generating discussion of Kotaku’s uncharacteristically blunt coverage of it.
GamesRadar reports that the game’s launch was noticed by YouTube channel, Android IOS Cabogame. This came without official word from publisher 2K Games, or developer Iridium Starfish.
In a statement to EuroGamer, 2K stated “We are constantly exploring and testing new experiences to offer our fans the best entertainment and value. Iridium Starfish has soft-launched XCOM Legends in limited territories, but we have no further information to share at this time.”
However, the game has only seemed to gather negative attraction, with an extremely high dislike-to-like ratio on the Android IOS Cabogame gameplay footage. This may have been thanks to how at least one major gaming news website covered it.
Kotaku initially published their coverage of the game as “2K very quietly launches new XCOM game that looks like shit.” This title was later updated to “2K Launch XCOM Game That Looks Nothing Like XCOM,” which was “edited to reflect that soft launches are common in the mobile space, and not reflective of the quality of the game itself.”
Nonetheless Kotaku gave a scathing opinion on the game. They criticized the game as not having any of the elements that would make it a true XCOM game, such as “challenging tactics, roster management and bullshit shooting percentages.” They also critisize how the game is more akin to an on-rails RPG, a trope commonly seen in mobile RPGs.
Devoid of any tactical movement or base management, players move from one battle to the next, utilizing their characters abilities (complete with cool-downs) to defeat the alien menace. This earns them in-game currency to be spent “on all kinds of gacha crap.”
The game’s plot is based around a world where Earth surrendered to the alien invaders, who are attempting to “unleash an untold, ancient evil” to wipe out the last of the resistance. Kotaku strikes out at the plot pretending prior XCOM games were non-canon.
The opening battles also shows the Alpha Team going missing, complete with very extravagant costumes. This may be where Kotaku’s comparisons to the characters looking like they come from Overwatch come from. Overall, they criticize the game as abusing the licence, and being heavily focused on micro-transactions.
“What I don’t get here is why bother with the XCOM license? This…isn’t XCOM, and XCOM isn’t exactly a household name, and even if it were, the actual XCOM games are already available on mobile. Both of them! And they’re pretty great! Only those games are both standalone purchases, not custom-designed money sinks designed to prey on people’s impulses and….ah, OK I get it.”
Kotaku even trended on Twitter, as many were surprised Kotaku took such a stance. Some have characterized Kotaku as loathing any games that were too challenging, too high-brow, featuring fan-service, and not featuring a left-wing political leaning. This in turn made many feel they would take a softer stance on mobile games, typically devoid of a fair challenge and instead seeking micro-transactions.
In the comments of the tweet and article, some praise Kotaku for being blunt and honest about how the game looked and seemingly played. Others criticized Kotaku as acting unprofessional, including developers such as Rami Ismail, and Jeff Hamilton [1, 2, 3].
Some others still felt the article was written in the “nose in the air“ arrogance their other works had been accused of, or simply being outright mean.
“It’s funny to me that the game is awful by all metric – microtransaction laden gacha that has barely anything to do with XCOM” notes @FallKoopa_, “but because it’s Kotaku calling them out, people can’t decide whether the article is good or bad.”
Are Kotaku getting more in touch with gamers? Did they pick an easy target for easy clicks? Sound off in the comments below!