It’s been a few weeks since XCOM: Enemy Unknown invaded store shelves worldwide (read our review). Now that players have had a chance to test out the waters of the turn-based strategy title, Firaxis Games has announced XCOM‘s first official downloadable content package (excepting, of course, the pre-order bonus DLC that allows players to customize their soldiers’ armor).

So, what is Slingshot? Is it what fans have already been clamoring for? Well, it turns out that it certainly isn’t – but that doesn’t mean Slingshot won’t be worth playing.

The title of the DLC, Slingshot, alludes to the sort of David vs Goliath fight that XCOM veterans are accustomed to: catching up in terms of technological advantage against the alien threat. Players will have to start a new game post-download for the DLC to take effect, and will then have the option of taking on a three-mission-long story arc in China.

The DLC’s story will be based around a mysterious Triad operative named Zhang, who has come into a position of knowledge regarding advanced technology (re: Blaster Launcher). Players will be faced with getting Zhang out of China alive, risking their soldiers against tough opposition early on for a chance to grab some late-game technology. The missions, while being the same for each playthrough, will feature unique objects not found in any other council missions.

XCOM Enemy Unknown Slingshot Maps

Zhang will feature a unique character voice and face, and will join XCOM once the missions are completed. He reportedly features “improved” stats over regular soldiers, which is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst he’ll make a great addition to the XCOM squad, one of the best things about the game is customizing your squad by naming and editing soldiers. By implementing a static character who can’t be altered – and making him better than most – it feels like Firaxis is goading you into always placing him in your squad instead of your customizable soldiers.

The DLC will also allow gamers to customize individual armor sets, like Titan, Ghost or Psi. It’s a nice touch that makes sense when you want your Psi Soldier to rock out some hot pink as he mindwarps some sectoids. There’ll also be a few new haircut options for both genders included in the update, which is great news for players who try to make their soldiers look like friends. You know, before they likely get horrible killed.

When asked why Firaxis Games opted to add static missions instead of new maps, aliens or weapons, Game Designer Ananda Gupta had this to say:

“[It’s] a good way of offering new stuff to the player that doesn’t distort the core experience. If we add new weapons and new tech, then we’re expanding the tech tree, and that adds research time — and that’s on a fairly finely balanced pinpoint right now.”

It’s a curious statement, considering that giving the player extreme late-game technology early on will unbalance the game anyways. Regardless, we’re looking forward to the first of two planned DLC releases, though Firaxis hasn’t revealed the release date or pricing of it yet. We’ll keep you posted when more information becomes available.

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Source: Joystiq