I’m playing it! I like it!
For all that it’s clearly XCOM, it’s a bit of a shock to the system coming to this from XCOM2. Broadly, it’s about these short, intense combat scenarios, with diverse characters and powerful abilities. You pick a squad of four from a slowly increasing roster of soldiers, each with diverse and strong abilities that make them all fight distinctly. You set up a breach, which involves picking an entrance for each character, and deciding whether to use some breach-specific abilities, then hitting go. Your folks rush in, and you get some free shots as they automatically find cover. Then you find yourself in a relatively confined space, often just a room, and you have a short sharp shoot-out. A single mission may involve up to three of these encounters.
For all that XCOM veterans will find much very familiar about the game there are some ways in which it is a very different experience than its immediate predecessors. It’s a much brighter, snappier, and almost cheery game. The other main games had an oppressive weight of horror to them. The aliens were powerful, organized, and doing nightmarish things. Missions involved careful movement across big spaces, and every fight had the fear of losing precious soldiers, who you cared for because they were yours.
That’s not present here. You’re cops, fighting seditious forces, and trying to protect a fragile prosperity. There’s a strong optimism to it. There is friendly banter! Battles begin immediately and are over quickly, so you have nice, convenient, bite-size chunks of play. Characters always bleed out so you can stabilize them, and if they die you are made to restart the mission. This is not a criticism- I like all this stuff. It just feels different. Although, for those of you who completed an entire XCOM 2 campaign it might be nice to know that you won something with the potential to be good.
Just a note on the cops thing- your team is portrayed as good guys through and through. Your methods are to go to places of suspected crime, bust through the doors and windows and kill almost everyone. Yes, you can arrest low health foes (by smashing them in the head with a rifle butt) and there are civilians you have to avoid killing, but most folks do not come out alive. I find the whole business to have considerable cognitive dissonance. It doesn’t undermine my enjoyment, but does colour it a bit.