XCOM: Enemy Within is an expansion to last year’s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown, bringing the usual bevy of features one associates with a competent expansion. There are new story beats, new units, new technology, new maps, new resources, new weapons, and on and on. In fact, the thing that strikes me as interesting about this expansion is how, for as many new things Firaxis has thrown into the mix, Enemy Within still feels almost exactly like Enemy Unknown.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Enemy Unknown is an outstanding game, and at times the concern seems well founded that the new tools and toys of the expansion might unbalance the expertly crafted game. Early on as I began to gain access to the new whizz-bangery of Enemy Within, I genuinely worried whether those toys might outpace the natural curve of the game. Fortunately, my impression didn't match my concern, or at least no more or less so than I got with the original game.
Enemy Within feels fundamentally like a classic Firaxis expansion. In Civilization, Firaxis' signature franchise, the developer has always done an admirable job of walking a fine line between bringing enough new mechanics to make their expansions like Beyond the Sword and Brave New World feel like solid evolutions, if not genuinely new experiences, without losing the soul of what made the game great in the first place. Firaxis pulls off that same light touch here, creating an expansion that justifies itself consistently as worthy of your dollars and time without ever sacrificing the core soul of the game.