Best Games Like XCOM

The XCOM strategy game franchise has been around for ages. If you love it, you will also like this list of the best games like XCOM right now.

XCOM is one of the longest-running strategy game franchises on PC, starting with X-COM: UFO Defense in 1994 and most recently XCOM: Chimera Squad, released in April 2020.

While the series still has its adoring fans, some have begun to voice concerns over XCOM’s shifting core values and perceived lower quality in later entries.

Naturally, this has led players to seek out other turn-based tactics games that scratch that XCOM-like itch or at the very least fill the empty void.

In this list, we’ll highlight the best games like XCOM to play in 2021, including the best strategy games like XCOM and best turn-based games like XCOM.

We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back and let us know if we missed any of your favorite games similar to XCOM!

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If you’re an XCOM fan, then chances are you’re already aware of Phoenix Point, which is considered a spiritual successor due to XCOM co-creator Julian Gollop’s involvement with its development.

Set in the future during the year 2047, the game has you commanding an elite military force as the human race scrambles to defend earth from invading aliens.

Like XCOM, each mission sees you battling hordes of aliens around the globe using turn-based tactics game mechanics.

While most encounters are presented as small-scale skirmishes, Phoenix Point also features boss fights against overpowered enemies that can pose a significant threat to your team.

XCOM players might also enjoy playing BattleTech, a similar turn-based tactics game that casts you as the commander of a mercenary outfit with high-powered mechs at their disposal.

Set during the year 3025, the game sees you navigating a world trapped in perpetual war between noble houses armed with advanced combat technology.

Like XCOM, BattleTech features a robust customization system that lets you modify your mechs’ appearance and equip different weapons, skills, and more.

Battles follow a similar structure with an emphasis on using environments, positioning, weapon selection, and special abilities to gain an advantage over your opponents.

Gears Tactics takes the long-running Xbox shooter and adapts it to a turn-based strategy format with tactics game mechanics reminiscent of XCOM.

The translation is surprisingly smooth for a franchise that typically revolves around constant action but a lot of the credit is owed to Gears’ extensive enemy and weapon types.

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Each one brings a new flavor to the game’s combat that results in overall more variety during battles, something that a lot of strategy games are sorely lacking.

While it may not be on the same level as beloved XCOM installments such as XCOM 2 or Enemy Within, it’s still a competent tactics game worth checking out.

If you’ve ever wondered what an XCOM game with a tactical espionage theme would play like, well Phantom Doctrine is the answer.

Set during the height of the Cold War in 1983, the game has you leading a secret organization known as The Cabal as they try to prevent a global conspiracy threatening peace between the East and West.

This is achieved by carrying out covert missions, investigating classified documents, and interrogating rival agents for intel to uncover the sinister plot before it’s too late.

Like XCOM, Phantom Doctrine offers an extensive customization system that lets you modify agents’ combat performance as well as their physical appearance.

Invisible, Inc. is another spy-themed strategy game that shares similarities with XCOM while focusing on an espionage agency under attack by one of its competitors.

In it, you play as a remote operator tasked with directing agents through stealth-based missions with the goal of gathering resources and intel to save the agency within a limited window.

At the start of each run, players are given three days to prepare for the final mission by completing smaller jobs across the globe and getting all the necessary equipment.

Since the mission details and map layouts vary with each playthrough, you’ll often find yourself having to improvise and plan ahead to be successful.

Although the Wasteland games may not be as popular as XCOM, they manage to get by just fine off the strength of their hybrid isometric RPG meets turn-based strategy gameplay.

Wasteland 3 sees you venturing into an irradiated frozen-over Colorado during the 22nd century where twisted cults and other factions wage war with one another.

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You control a squad of characters belonging to the Desert Rangers, a group of charismatic gunslingers battling their way through this post-apocalyptic world.

Much like XCOM, the game loves to throw high-risk high-reward decisions your way and force you to carefully assess the potential consequences of your choices.

Warhammer is no stranger to dipping its toes in just about every strategy subgenre, including turn-based tactics.

Among the property’s best titles is Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus, which does a great job at harnessing the franchise’s grim futuristic setting to deliver engrossing tactics gameplay reminiscent of XCOM.

Instead of battling aliens, you’re tasked with squashing out an army of undead robots all in the name of the mighty Omnissiah.

Taking around 17-20 hours to complete, the main campaign builds off of the series extensive lore and world-building for an immersive blend of fantasy and sci-fi storytelling.

Into the Breach is another title strategy fans will have already heard of considering it’s made by the same developer as the FTL: Faster Than Light.

Like XCOM, the game takes place in a far future where humanity must fight against an army of alien monsters known collectively as the Vek.

Gameplay has you engaging in tactical turn-based battles using soldier-operated mechs that can be armed and outfitted with a variety of weapons and armor.

Similar to its predecessor, Into the Breach’s content is divided up into missions with procedurally generated combat scenarios and environments.

Similar to Chimera Squad, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden launched in a rocky state but has managed to find its footing through various updates.

One of the game’s main selling points is its XCOM-like combat system that favors stealth approaches over outright violence.

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To this point, many encounters can be avoided altogether by carefully maneuvering your way around the enemy while your charismatic party members chat with each other.

If you find yourself getting easily attached to your XCOM soldiers, then Road to Eden’s colorful cast of anthropomorphic survivors will quickly feel like family.

Heavily inspired by shows like Super Sentai and Power Rangers, Chroma Squad is a tactical RPG about a team of stunt actors who decide to start their own company and create original action sequences.

The game likes to keep things fairly meta and not take itself too seriously while still providing surprisingly deep RPG systems such as skill trees, equipment crafting, and branching storylines.

Tactical combat is just as satisfying as playing XCOM and offers enough flexibility to carve out your own path by combining heroes’ distinct abilities and playstyles.

Additionally, the game includes the option to customize various details such as your studio name, your team name, individual character names, and most importantly, your squad’s catchphrase.

Crossing over Nintendo’s Super Mario with Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbits may not sound like the best foundation for an XCOM-like tactics game but you’d be surprised.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle manages to nail its execution of tactical RPG gameplay set in a chaos-stricken Mushroom Kingdom.

Gameplay sees you assembling a team of three characters that includes Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Yoshi, along with one of four Rabbids dressed up like them.

The Rabbids’ inclusion goes a long way towards providing some levity in a surprisingly tough strategy game that will have you carefully calculating every turn.

For better or worse, a large part of XCOM’s gameplay loop revolves around suffering, at least up until a point; RNG won’t always work in your favor and shots can miss entirely, resulting in long and drawn-out battles or even unfair deaths.

Regardless, part of the journey is learning how to overcome these obstacles and plan ahead; another game that nails this concept perfectly is the Lovecraftian dungeon crawler Darkest Dungeon.

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Designed as a turn-based RPG, it sees you recruiting, training, and guiding a team of flawed heroes through hellish environments brimming with danger.

Like XCOM, each character is equipped with unique skills and traits that can be combined in exciting ways with often devastating results on either side.

One of the more recently released games on this list, Urtuk: The Desolation is an indie turn-based strategy game that features a similar aesthetic to Darkest Dungeon but focuses primarily on tactics.

Combat specifically follows a similar structure to that of XCOM with some elements that will feel familiar to anyone who’s played Heroes of Might & Magic.

In it, you’re tasked with guiding a band of adventurers through the ruins of an ancient world, recruiting new followers, looting enemies, and doing anything you can to survive.

Battles play out on sprawling maps filled with environmental hazards that factor into combat and the game’s carefully crafted class/skill system offers total freedom to hone in on a desired playstyle.

Battle Brothers is another great XCOM-like game that leverages RPG mechanics and strategic turn-based battling to strike the perfect balance between the two.

You take on the role of a mercenary leader tasked with hiring recruits and carrying out contracts throughout a gritty medieval fantasy world.

Managing and leveling up your Battle Brothers is extremely satisfying and provides the same level of depth and personalization as modern XCOM games.

Additionally, the game uses procedural generation to ensure no two open-world campaigns play the same, resulting in a highly replayable experience you can return to over and over again.

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Xenonauts, which serves as a reimagining of the original XCOM formula.

However, since Goldhawk Interactive was operating with a smaller team and budget than Firaxis Games, the game ended up having a lengthy development period coupled with dated visuals for the time.

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All of these factors worked against Xenonauts and resulted in Firaxis’ XCOM reboot dominating the conversation among genre fanatics.

With that said, the game has amassed its own cult following and is worth checking out for anyone who enjoys XCOM’s more punishing gameplay mechanics.

Last but not least, anyone who closely follows Firaxis’ projects will know the studio is currently working on a superhero-themed tactics game set in the Marvel universe.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns looks to differentiate itself from the studio’s previous outings by introducing a card-based combat system that restricts heroes’ abilities to those included within randomized decks.

In it, you take on the role of a customizable hero called The Hunter as they team up with various Marvel characters to stop the demonic queen Lillith from awakening a Cthulhu-like dark lord.

The game features a hub area where you can interact with party members to develop relationships that affect combat, such as unlocking unique team combo attacks to use during battle.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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