The first XCOM 2 DLC pack Anarchy’s Children wasn't well received according to the Steam user reviews, its themed cosmetic changes looking somewhat irrelevant when compared to the extensive content on offer from the modding community. Perhaps the second DLC pack will fare better. Keen to keep the momentum of XCOM 2’s release going, the Alien Hunters pack opts to make actual gameplay changes. A new story mission, new weapons, armor, and a ‘Hunters Lodge’ update to the Avenger’s Armory are amongst the latest goodies.
The most significant addition is the rulers, a terrible threesome of elite alien bosses that show up randomly throughout the campaign and cause XCOM squads no end of grief. So far the Viper King and Berserker Queen are two of the three to have been revealed. Each has their own special abilities and behaviour. The Viper King has a breath all the Tic Tacs in the world can’t tame, freezing multiple soldiers simultaneously. The Beserker Queen can disrupt squad tactics with attacks that stun or shake morale. More about these alien rulers can be discovered at the official XCOM 2 website where a blog series goes into more detail, discussing the move sets and mentality behind their design.
Creative Director Jake Solomon claims they had to create a whole new unit UI to accommodate all the hit points of alien rulers, and I don’t think he’s joking. Rulers have more health than god and need to be whittled down by multiple engagements, often escaping to fight another day. Turning rulers into pudding is easier said than done when they get to take an immediate action after every action an XCOM soldier takes. Normally alien scum at least has the good manners to wait for the entire XCOM squad to finish their turn, but the uncivil alien rulers interrupt after every soldier's turn and take a turn of their own! This prevents soldiers from ganging up on the rulers and should make it virtually impossible to kill them on a first try.
With new enemies comes new ways to fight them. The Alien Hunters pack has four one-of-a-kind weapons. The Bolt Caster is a high-powered single-shot weapon that can’t be dodged. The Hunter’s Axe is a deadly bladed weapon handy for those close encounters, and can even be thrown. The ShadowKeeper pistol is guaranteed to hit and wraps its user in concealment if the target is killed. The frost bomb grenade temporarily freezes targets and gives players opportunities for ice-related quips. Let’s face it, puns for acid grenades were just getting too difficult to make.
Aside from the weapons, there are also three unique suits of armor that can be unlocked, each crafted from the corpse of a Ruler alien. These three suits each offer unique tactical advantages, one being to fly around the map for maximum mobility. They call that one the Icarus Suit by the way, which is a bit like calling the mobile base ship the Titanic.
The XCOM 2 Alien Hunters DLC is due to be released on May 12th (May 13th in Asia) and comes as part of the Reinforcement Pack or can be purchased separately for $9.99. A compatibility patch is included with some general bug fixes, performance optimizations, and rebalancing.