Well, the point made in many posts on many threads in this forum is that this is not Chess. This is an immersive survival game about saving humanity from an existential menace. So anything that makes us care a little bit more about humanity is a good thing in my book.
If it was Chess I wouldn’t be playing it, because I find Chess to be soulless and dull.
I agree wit you here, I never bother with all that stuff I just get on with it. HOWEVER… There is always a however, when you give them a robot/bionic head it is impossible to pick them from the image as they are all the same. Which is a little time consuming because they mix up the start player every time. If we could at least see the face that would be great! Also It would really speed up things if they had the same start order as well this way you can get to know your men better. It don’t matter which they start with I always pick what is tactical anyway so this “mixing” is just annoying! If I could see my list the same each time I could quickly decide who I am going to start with. For me that would be enough, don’t need skins/heads/etc…
Fun thing when I start play XCOM2 from Firaxis and look into customization section my first thought was “OMG, no way I’m going to spend my time changing all this”.
But after some time playing campaign I surprisingly notice myself changing looks and everything else for MVP’s. Sometimes I just wanna do something different and rest from missions and customization make such game more enjoyable, moreover this campaign not for only single playthrough.
Well, finally all soldiers I did customization for became my “virtual friends” at the end of the game. Last time I play it year ago, but still remember how they looks and speak.
But it does float the boat of others. In my case, it makes the game feel less soulless, because it makes me care about my troops a little more - and in my opinion, that’s both a good thing and actually makes it a slightly more accurate simulation of the decision-making process of a Commander in that sort of situation.
I don’t need pre-generated backstories (I rarely bothered to read the backstories provided by XCOM2 - though I did write backstories for my own favourite Squaddies who I imported from previous games); but being able to rename and nickname my Squaddie, change their look and customise them for the role they were going to take makes the game that much more immersive and enjoyable for me.
Even in PP, my first two reskinned Squaddies are always Sophie ‘Sixgun’ (now renamed ‘Shotgun’) Robinson, and Suzy ‘Moby’ Wong, scarred sole survivor of the infamous Nantucket Whale Disaster that fatally crashed my first (and last) Ironman run on EW. And I have even been known to save scum to keep them alive.
Interestingly, in a strange nod to Vietnam, I find myself not bothering to nickname or customise a Squaddie until they have survived 3 missions. At that point, they cease to be anonymous rookies who could die at any minute, and become a person I start to care about and work to keep alive. And once again, that is indicative of how something as simple as letting you customise a few shapes and colours, and give them a nickname, will make you start to think and act like a Vietnam vet or any other soldier from any other war in history.
So yes, there is absolutely a place for this kind of thing in a strategy game, and IMO game devs should do it more.
Despite this I surprisingly found map design in Phoenix Point looks much much better than in XCOM2. All it need just a good artist, not tons of money. I’m not even talking about Chimera Squad where they downgrade everything including customization.