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I am a stickler for customization. I like to tweak sliders, change armor, and equip the weapon that fits the character best. So I guess naturally, the first thing I did when booting up XCOM 2 was jump into the character pool and start tweaking. At the time of writing, I’ve spent roughly two hours in the customization pool, and I’ve noticed a few standout ups and downs. So today, I’ll be showing off what works and what doesn’t with XCOM 2‘s customization the only way I know how: recreating some of my favorite pop culture icons.

DUKE NUKEM

XCOM 2 Duke

Damn, he’s looking good! Duke was the first character I created, and I genuinely think he’s the best. He’s very simple to make and showcases some very simple edits. To create Duke, all you really have to do is switch whatever hair you get to the flat top, give it a nice blonde shine, and then go into props and start adding. The props menu is interesting, considering the few props it offers are very good … But trust me, there’s just a few. The lower face props are the most baffling, consisting of a cigar, a cigarette, and four horribly unattractive and bulky bandannas that do nothing more than obscure over half of your character’s face. They could be good in specific uses I suppose, but they all really do feel like filler to try and distract people from the fact that there aren’t any real lower face prop customizations. Either way, this is the best custom Duke I’ve made in any game (And trust me, I’ve made many).

DOOMGUY

XCOM 2 Doomguy

How could I show Duke without Doomguy? First thing’s first, the helmet. Sadly, there are only four actual helmets, with the rest being all sorts of scarves and hats that are admittedly really cool. Thankfully, this helmet works just right, and so does the rest of the armor. Being able to customize the sleeves was a huge help here, considering that Doomguy doesn’t have sleeves on his armor for some bizarre reason. Something I really want to highlight here is the ability to change the color and pattern of your weapons. So I slapped a brown coat of paint on the shotgun and thus I have made a surprisingly accurate recreation of Doom‘s iconic shotgun. 

OLD SNAKE

XCOM 2 Old Snake

Head customization is really what makes Old Snake a standout character. Not only do the props allow for an eyepatch that could stand in for the Solid Eye (which sadly is only on the left eye, so you can’t accurately recreated Big Boss without mods), but the cigarette and bandanna help round Snake out. There’s also a surprisingly robust scar menu, which allows you to add stitches, cuts, and burns to your character’s face, again only in predetermined locations. Thankfully, the cheek burn was just perfect for Old Snake, making the additions to his face pretty much perfect. If I had to nitpick, it’s that there’s no way to make a character’s mustache the same color as their hair, which can really cause some strange clashes between beards meeting the hair. Even here, you can notice that Old Snake’s signature creepy mustache is much lighter than his salt and pepper-esque hair.

THE DEMOMAN

XCOM 2 Demoman

The Demoman was quite an easy one to put together, mostly thanks to the attitude options. As you can probably tell, everyone shown off so far has a different stance, and this is no coincidence. You can actually modify how your character presents themselves, and all of them are instantly noticeable. Duke has the “laid back” personality, Doomguy is “intense,” the Demoman is “happy-go-lucky,” and of course, Old Snake is “hard luck.” Would the Demoman look as good with an intense scowl, or the blank stare of “by the book”? Don’t think so.

QUIET

XCOM 2 Quiet

To round things out, why not a female character? Quiet’s simple facial design was rather easy to implement, with the perfect hairstyle and the Resistance DLC pack offering face-paint. However, like many characters I’ve made, Quiet is just betrayed by the small amount of facial types on offer here. I guess it comes with the more realistic style, but creating a soldier that looks like a stylized, almost anime-esque character such as Quiet isn’t an easy feat. I am still puzzled by this, considering the fact that many other games of all sorts of genres with character creation have some sort of slider system to tweak the faces in a way that makes them just right, which is clearly absent here. You just get four races and six facial builds each. So while Quiet’s features are on point, the weak face is something that many XCOM 2 soldiers have to deal with.

STEVE IRWIN

XCOM 2 Irwin

Crikey! Making Steve was just using the basic customization traits, but here I wanted to show off the custom biography. So whenever you check on the soldier in the Avenger, you will not only be able to see their stats, gear, skills, etc, you will also see their custom bio. This is a small touch, but it really helps make each and every soldier your own. I think this is what makes XCOM so great, when your most prized soldiers bite it. Did I give a crap when any randomly generated rookies bit it in XCOM 2? No way, especially when Gordon Freeman ended up biting it the same mission. Sure, customization is small, and it’s all optional, but getting to make your soldiers your own just enhances the experience. So before you set out on your mission to retake earth from ADVENT, why not make some of your own? Or just download the six above here?

Either way, good luck commander. And remember, we will be watching.


Perry Ruhland

Staff Writer

Aspiring author. FPS connoisseur. Tactical games journalist. Digger of giant robots. Professional hater of fun. No matter what role Perry's currently playing, it's a safe bet to assume that he's doing it fairly poorly - but still managing to turn it into some sort of article.