XCOM 2: WotC — New System One-Page Pitch

Overview

In XCOM 2, when a soldier dies in battle, they die permanently. This adds to the stakes and anxiety while you play and feels horrible when you lose one of your favorite soldiers. Also, when your soldiers have reached the highest rank, any progress or EXP they gain doesn’t add to anything since they’re already at max level. For both of these reasons, players are encouraged not to send out their best soldiers and to focus on leveling lower level soldiers. The Mentor System’s goal is to alleviate some of the stresses of losing your favorite soldier permanently and to give uses to high-level soldiers that tend to be tucked away on the Avenger.

Mentor System

With the Mentor System, when a soldier reaches the maximum level of Colonel, they have the opportunity to mentor any soldier of lower rank. A mentor can have multiple mentees, but mentees can only have a single mentor. If the mentee soldier ever reaches the rank of Colonel, the mentorship between those two soldiers ends.

To become a mentor, the player must have the Training Center facility. If they do, they can choose two soldiers (a Colonel rank and a lower rank) to go into a mentorship session that lasts 3 days. This also makes them unavailable for combat during this duration. After the session is over, those two soldiers will be in a mentorship together. Being in a mentorship has a lot of perks on both the Strategy and Tactics layers of the game.

Strategy Layer

Any overflow XP and ability points that the Colonel earns can be distributed to mentees. This would be displayed as “Mentor XP” that the mentees can use to level up in the Training Center. All the mentees would share the pool of XP and Ability Points with their specific mentor.

Mentees can also talk to their mentor in a Counseling Session, which adds small positive traits. These sessions would last 4 days, and again, makes both soldiers unavailable for combat during this time period. Examples of these positive traits would be like a permanent 1% gain in Aim or +1 gain in max Will.

The overflow XP and AP would give an incentive for players to continue to use these high-level soldiers in combat, as it would give a lot of lower ranking soldiers the flexibility of having a pool of XP to pull from. The Counseling Sessions also help buff lower level soldiers in the mid- to end-game, making it less discouraging when the player does lose a high-level soldier in battle. These lower level soldiers have been preparing and getting stronger also so you don’t just have weaklings at the very end of the game. It also gives Colonels a use on the strategy layer, when they’re usually just being saved for really difficult missions that require lots of power. The Colonel, in a way, acts as a facility function on the Avenger.

Tactics Layer

When a mentor and mentee go on a mission together, there will be multiple perks. The first is that soldiers that go on battles with mentors get a 10% EXP boost gain for that mission. There is also a passive ability that the mentor has that affects all their mentee soldiers.

Do As I Do — When the mentor soldier does an action, such as move, shoot, hunker down, overwatch, all subsequent actions that are the same action by mentees get an upgrade for that turn. For example, when the mentor dashes to cover, all mentees afterwards will have +1 mobility when they dash. If the mentor takes a shot at an enemy, mentees with have a 5% boost in aim shooting that enemy.

The more days the mentor soldier is a mentor, they can reach the second (and final) tier of Mentor. On that tier. those soldiers have access to this active ability:

Rally — An area of effect ability that removes negative status effects from all mentees in the area. All mentees in the AOE also gain one extra move action for that turn. This can be used once per mission.

These abilities push players to using high-level soldiers in combat, and not just saving them up, having them gather dust in the Avenger menus. Using a Colonel mentor levels up lower level soldiers faster, and gives them a tactical advantage.

Death of a Teacher

Whenever a mentor soldier dies, all the mentor’s mentees will immediately lose a decent portion of Will and gain a fear of the enemy that killed their mentor. Usually when a soldier permanently dies, you lose all of the time and resources invested in that particular soldier. To alleviate some of the heartbreak, the mentee soldiers can share between 25–50% of the total XP and AP that was used and invested in their mentor. The percentage is higher depends on what tier the mentor soldier was on death.

This makes it hurt less when a beloved soldier falls in battle, because that time and money can be re-purposed into other soldiers. However, this comes with the negative of losing Will and gaining a negative trait.

What Does This Contribute to the Game?

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen already has so many awesome systems and mechanics, and this would add another layer of depth on top of those systems by making use of the high-experience soldiers in both the tactics and strategy layer. It also gives players incentive to use colonels in missions since XP is wasted without overflow. Finally, it makes players feel like hopeless and feel like their time was wasted if those time and resources could be used in some way, form or fashion.

Concerns

These are all changes that make the game easier, which would mean that it an overall easier game than the current version. The game would either have to compensate in difficulty through other methods, or balance very carefully. This concept is also similar to soldier bonding, so there would have to be work making the two systems more distinct, or more visually individualized. This feature may also encourage players to never train up non-mentee rookies in battle if they just keep sending out colonels with their mentees. The game should also be balanced in a way that the positives don’t outweigh the negatives too heavily, worst case being players purposefully killing their Colonels to get the positives effects.

Data to Gather

After the feature goes live, these are some of the data points to track to make sure the feature is successful and / or not having unknown ramifications across the rest of the game

  • % of a player’s army that are mentors
  • # of mentees that a mentor has
  • % of colonels that are sent to battle
  • % of players that use the mentor system
  • % of mentors dying

In Closing

The goal for this new Mentor system would be to help alleviate the gut punch of having a beloved soldier fall in battle, encouraging players to save scum less when they’re play. This also provides multiple uses for high-level soldiers that are usually relegated to the sidelines in fear of losing them forever. I love XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, and hopefully this Mentor system would help enhance the already-amazing design. Thanks for reading!

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Tri Nguyen

Tri Nguyen

is writing game design exercises and analyses

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