The New XCOM: 24 Things We Want

By Alec Meer on January 6th, 2012 at 12:32 pm.

Sectoid!

Firaxis making a new, true X-COM remake is the best gaming news of the year, and I fairly much expect to still be saying that on December 31 2012. Of course, it isn’t that simple. There are things this game needs to do, to get right, if it is to be both a successful homage and a successful modern strategy game in its own right. Here’s what I want from it.

Higher resolutions. That’s it.

No, I’m kidding. Well, sort of. Just being able to play the original at 1920×1200 would keep me happy forever, probably. But there is more I’d like to see from Firaxis’ UFO: Enemy Unknown remake, both in terms of correcting the age-related problems of the original and expanding upon its formula. Here’s what I want. (I’m not going to say ‘keep it turn-based’ because they’ve already said it is, so hooray.)

  • 1) Higher resolutions, yes. As in, a whole raft of them, not just 480p and 720p for the console version. I want to play this game on any PC I lay my hands on, from throbbing ultra-beast to lousy netbook.
  • 2) A completely overhauled interface. This one’s a given, of course, but I want all features kept but with less on-screen buttons. If lesser-used features such as ducking and grenades could be consigned to a secondary toolbar that only pops up when you want it to, that’d be grand. I just don’t want 25% of the screen taken up by big Windows-style buttons, please.
  • 3) Moderate system requirements. I don’t want a super-spangly Just Because orgasm of pixel shaders, but instead a decent-looking strategy game that benefits from modern interface design that I can realistically play on a laptop: X-COM is ideal for train journeys.
  • 4) 3D but not. I’m thinking something along the lines of Civ 4 and 5 – 3D models but a fairly fixed perspective. Maybe a bit of zoom and rotate, but not a free camera. I don’t say this from a nostalgia-obsessed purist motive, but just in terms of retaining the commander’s eye view that’s so much a part of X-COM’s atmosphere. If you can peer into buildings and angle the camera to look around darkened corners, a lot of the creeping menace and paranoia could well be lost.
  • 5) Destructible environments, but more so. It’s something the unofficial sequels never pulled off, but it’s an essential part of X-COM. Not just as a feature, but also as part of building the sense that X-COM are a taskforce with free rein – respect for civilian property doesn’t stand in the way of hunting aliens. I wouldn’t seeing property damage contribute to funding level assessments, though: international funding’s an aspect of the game that could stand to be fleshed out.
  • 6) The original aliens, somewhat modernised. X-COM’s foes largely stem from b-movie stereotypes, and that’s just the way I like it. I’m quite intrigued by the transforming oblongs of the XCOM shooter, but they don’t strike me as being fun to hunt down in a slow-burn strategy game. I want iconic shapes, with faces to shoot at. I would like my Sectoids and Floaters and Ethereals to be proper scary though – not the comic booky 1994 look.
  • 7) Chrysalids should be the most frightening thing in the game. But the bulk of the scares should come from the tension of not knowing whether or not you’re going to get shot in the head/infected by horror-eggs when you round that corner. Yes, part of X-COM’s charm is the bright, comic book look, but as with Doom, it seemed scary rather than day-glo at the time. Recapture the sense of loneliness and vulnerability inherent in playing hide and seek with intergalactic murderers, please.
  • 8) Include the thing from the original UFO: Enemy Unknown box art:

    Always a tragedy it never appeared in-game. That sucker’s got spaceships for arms!

  • 9) We must still be able to rename our squaddies, even if that does allow us to have soldiers called “Dick Dickless.”
  • And I’d love a way to upload my team roster online, for posterity and willy-waving. I would kill to have a permanent record of my squad from my first playthrough of the original game.

  • 10) And make sure the soldiers don’t all look the same. I want individuals, guys and girls I can recognise on sight from the squad management screen. Ditch the Guile from Street Fighter haircuts though, please.
  • 11) Line of sight to remain vital, and perhaps even be expanded. I want the likes of height and crouching to have more of an effect; I want to be able to creep up on an enemy if I’ve been smart enough to work out where he almost certainly is before he’s seen me.
  • 12) Civilian casualties by the shedload, please. This is an invasion, not two teams playing foot-to-ball on a neatly cordoned-off pitch.
  • 13) Minimal story and exposition. Everything that needs to be told can come from Researching alien items and lifeforms to study and act upon at my leisure. I don’t need a big cutscene explaining what and where Cydonia is, I just want a brief message saying that flying there is now possible.
  • 14) I do want to see the planet, when I visit it in missions, slowly but visibly get into a worse and worse state though, thus making the need to attack the invaders at the source feel all the more pressing.
  • 15) An improved final fight. Shooting static cubes off a giant eyeball was a little underwhelming, after all.
  • 16) I’d love to be able to explore my own base, and outside of alien invasions. That’s one idea I really like from the XCOM shooter – wandering around your HQ and seeing your scientists and engineers at work, taking pride in your constructions. Imagine wandering past captured aliens in holding cells, being able to stare at them and their ‘orrible faces in close, safe detail.
  • 17) I’d like to see base invasions return though, and for there to be major consequences to a sloppy defence. It’ll encourage more art in base construction – Dungeon Keeper-style layouts intended to slow down invaders from reaching crucial rooms.
  • 18) Can we actually see the air battles and interceptions, instead of a just a radar screen with a couple of buttons? It’d be amazing to see the UFOs visibly taking damage before crashing to Earth. The original game’s interceptions do the job, but it’s perhaps the aspect of it that most needs expanding.
  • 19) Similarly, I’d love to be able to zoom in on the globe screen and see my bases’ constructions – defence systems and radars and whatnot – at work, with a visible radius of effect, rather than the simple little cubes-on-a-map shtick of the original game.
  • 20) OK, I know console versions have been announced, but can we please have the PC version on a separate development track? A hobbled, gamepad-centric interface would just be the saddest thing. We need full keyboard and mouse support, mods, the lot.
  • 21) Real-time replays. Look to Frozen Synapse – watching the battle as it would have happened, without turn pauses would be epic. It’s seeing your own self-made story from a new perspective. I could spend days on Youtube watching little XCOM action-horror movies – missions gone horribly wrong, Aliens-style, or slick, smooth, SWAT 4-style takedowns.
  • 22) Hire the Gollops. Consult with the Gollops. Beg the Gollops’ permission. Write their names on the intro screen in massive letters. Anything, so long as due respect is paid. And for the love of all that’s good, do not call it ‘Sid Meier’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown.’
  • 23) Multiplayer. Humans vs aliens. Let us play with Crysalids’ spawning powers and Ethereals’ mind control. That’d be amazing.
  • 24. I know there’s probably a strong need to stay true to the original, after the hullabaloo around XCOM, but please don’t make this new Enemy Unknown just the same as the original, a straight retread with modern tech. I want surprises. I want new monsters, new gadgets, new locations, new strategies, new anecdotes to bore people with.
  • And I want it now.

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    142 Comments »

    1. sonofsanta says:

      My god man, have you gone and had ovaries implanted over the break? You’re very demanding!

      Level editor would be nice, community generated challenge levels, that sort of thing.

      And less of the grizzled Space Marine thing. Although an actual Space Marine X-Com, based around the Inquisition and Tyranids, would be an excellent thing.

      • sneetch says:

        The original X-Com guys were pretty much grizzled space marines (but they had far dumber haircuts than that guy).

      • SF Legend says:

        “Although an actual Space Marine X-Com, based around the Inquisition and Tyranids, would be an excellent thing”

        A new spacehulk game would be amazing if done right.

      • Alexander Norris says:

        I’m not really seeing what ovaries have to do with asking for features in a video game.

      • westyfield says:

        Because wimminz are demanding, innit. Throw me a Stella and stick the footy on, worra lorra cor blimey fuck a duck ENGLAND ENGLAND bish bash bosh job done.

      • Jupiah says:

        It has nothing to do with ovaries, he’s just being a sexist moron by implying that only women are ever demanding about anything.

      • sonofsanta says:

        Exactly. All women are horrifically demanding all the time whilst men ask for nothing and accept their lot. Also, everything I say is deadly serious, because it is the internet, and that is the way of things here.

        @SF Legend: I had Space Hulk in mind, but with added research, character development & conspiracy plotting thrown in. Would be fun times, or at least, grimdark times.

      • cairbre says:

        I took the comment in jest . Since when did the RPS comments thread become a bastion of political correctness?

        Cant wait for the game thou

      • roryok says:

        +1 for Space Hulk!

      • thebigJ_A says:

        It’s not that RPS is a bastion of political correctness, it’s that the internet is a bastion of mysogyny.

        Less of that, please.

      • Alec Meer says:

        ‘Twas a silly thing to say and if it wasn’t already full of replies about 40K I’d delete it. So let’s just let it die there, please.

      • Wolfman says:

        I’ll let it die after saying “Chaos Gate”.

      • sonofsanta says:

        Aye, consider me suitably chastened, and instead let us get back to the happy news of Proper XCOM.

        Proper XCOM! Hurrah!

      • nikiasfae says:

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    2. Vexing Vision says:

      CO-OP MULTIPLAYER PLEASE.

      • Mavvvy says:

        Hmm yeah I suppose that could work, two starting x-com bases with forces split in tactical battles. The split decided by the forces owner, so your “mate” doesn’t kill your most xp’d guy with a blaster bomb.

      • Novack says:

        +1 to Co-op Multiplayer!!

        And also point (20) should be first and in bold.

        Like this:
        .
        .
        (20) ==> (1)
        .
        .

      • Abundant_Suede says:

        I’m not sure how well co-op really works as a concept in tactical turn based strategy, and my number one priority for the game is that it does indeed prove to an effective tactical TBS. I don’t really relish the idea of sharing control of my side with anyone. The whole point of TBS is to be a control freak.

        I would welcome well designed competitive turn based multiplayer though. That’s just some good old fashioned tabletop wargaming.

        Normally I am much more of a fan of co-op MP than competitive, but not in this case. Obviously one can say, “well you dont have to play it”, but it comes down to a question of development resources, and whether the game really needs to be all things to all people, or whether those resources should be spent making the game the best example of that type of game it can possibly be. In this instance, I dont see co-op contributing to that, but I could be failing to imagine some innovative game mode that would change my mind.

    3. mrpier says:

      17 – This worked fairly well when you had base assaults in Apocalypse, having one or two well placed defense stations was crucial for keeping your non-combat crew alive.

    4. Richie Shoemaker says:

      Ever since the announcement I’ve been refreshing the site every five minutes to see what Alec had to say about it. Now I can go to bed.

    5. scimon says:

      First up you can change the squaddies name in the original. Unless it included Weapon X as a random name… (He was nails but a psychic peanut, when we landed on Mars he got mind controlled on turn 1).

      My number one request would be to have multiple tech trees to add replay value. But really my number one request is to have it yesterday.

    6. AbyssUK says:

      You forgot about the HIDDEN MOVEMENT screen!! which plays sounds etc a definite requirement.. as sound is possibly x-com’s greatest thing, used so simply yet fills the game fully.

      Also modern remakes of the original music’s !!

    7. Frostbeard says:

      All of the above and multiplayer in general. I would like to build a lvl and pitch the two sides against each other. Or perhaps xcom vs. “infected xcom” or alien vs. renegade alien.

      And what in the world is “The Gollops” What is a Gollop?

      • AmateurScience says:

        Ahem…I believe they made the original.

        Either that or it’s a particularly nasty case of diarrhoea.

      • MiniMatt says:

        One Julian Gollop who appears to get sole recognition for the original offering. I have no idea if siblings were involved or if Julian’s lone credit is a great source of consternation and bickering at Gollop family gatherings.

      • Bioptic says:

        Julian was the designer, his brother Nick programmed the PC versions.

        Ever since Laser Squad Nemesis, he’s strangely moved to developing on Nintendo Handhelds – Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars on the 3DS is a particularly excellent turn-based squad game, although without the huge out-of-mission scope that X-Com has.

      • Harlander says:

        Julian and Nick Gollop, developers of X-COM and a pretty impressive portfolio of other games, including the utterly legendary Chaos (although Martin Brownlow’s Atari ST implementation remains the best version of that particular game)

    8. Bodminzer says:

      That walking around your base idea is wonderful. Any game with a construction element that allowed you to do this was great, when I was younger. Empire Earth, and I think one of the Theme Parks let you do it too, but walking around your own personal UNATCO would be heaven.

      • Sassenach says:

        SimCity 2000 had The Streets of SimCity too, and SimHelicopter. Those were good.

    9. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

      It must have that same “BONG” and the “whibbly bong” sound effect from the menus. It’s ingrained in my mind forever more.

      I enjoyed the UFO interceptions from the world map, while perhaps appearing a cheap and easy way of having to simulate air battles, they were very tense. Perhaps just a little garnish such as a shaky headcam view from the pilot, perhaps also a headshot of the pilots as they engage the enemy so you get to see their fear/excitement/horrible burning death and lots of radio chatter. I wouldn’t want any more control over them tactically, I’d want them to have to rely on their training and equipment.

    10. Savage Henry says:

      Personally, I didn’t think the Chrysalids were that scary. Annoying and hard as nails, but not scary. The sound effect of the Psionic attacks on the other hand…

      • Spad says:

        Terror missions. At night.

        Chrysalids with far too many TUs to be fair, scuttling around turning all the civilians into zombies, who then turn into more Chrysalids when killed.

        Nothing in that game was scarier, though a Battleship full of Ethereals and a squad of weak-minded spanners was much more devastating.

    11. Cooper says:

      I prefer the original title of this article…

    12. Raiyan 1.0 says:

      WAIT A MINUTE

      The UFO: Enemy Unknown box art is named ‘xbox’ when you save/open it in another tab!

      Clever word play, or CONSPIRACY?

      • wearedevo says:

        The first sign of a console port!? I’M PENNING AN ANGRY LETTER.

      • fearghaill says:

        @wearedevo – hardly the first sign, multiplatform confirmation was part of the original announcement

    13. MartinNr5 says:

      I played quite a bit of Laser Squad Nemesis back in the day and thought I’d give it a whirl again but it’s since long dead. :/

      Not the same as the original X-COM but quite fun none the less.

    14. Hodge says:

      All good points, though I’ll be surprised (and very happy) if more than around a third of them make it in.

      I just want a more physics-y version of the original. I want to be able to detonate a blaster bomb on the bottom level of a skyscraper and watch the whole thing go down in a glorious mess of smoke and debris. And then I want a stray brick to fly out and thwock a sectoid in the back of the head.

    15. bluebottle says:

      Take cues from the sound-track of the originals. Slow and ominous, with the occassional dramatic stab that makes you brown your trousers at the tensest possibly moment.

      Keep that unique difficulty curve. At the beginning the aliens should be much better than your team of inexperienced cannon fodder. Better weapons, better ships, better los, whatever. Then, after finally reverse engineering a bunch of technology and scraping to keep together a crew of relatively experinced soldiers, you begin to turn the tide. Not all games have to have a upward difficulty curve, and the unique structure of X-Com’s perfectly fit its setting. Essentially it’s a story of how humanity’s resourcefulness and flexibility allows us to overcome what, at first, seems like an insurmoutable challenge.

      That said, I’m not slavishly tied to a one-for-one remake. If it stands alone as a decent TB strategy, I’ll still be pretty happy.

      • Mavvvy says:

        You just reminded me the two sides mod/remake did some great things with the originals music. Must have a versus game of that again soon.

      • briktal says:

        The difficulty curve from XCOM is what I feel is missing from a lot of similar games (the UFO series, and the Jagged Alliance games).

    16. MiniMatt says:

      Ignoring the cheeky fact that 24 is rather contradictory to your main initial point of “same but higher res” you’ve nailed it.

      I’d possilby be tempted to nuke 20, in so far as *anything* done to the interface in the last TWENTY (nearly) YEARS will be a vast improvement, I don’t much care if the interface looks a tad console centric, console interfaces in this genre don’t worry me. If finances dictate that console is the lead then fine, spend the money on game design and, much as it pains me to say this, if the PC UI looks a little consoley from time to time I’ll forgive them.

      • iucounu says:

        I agree. Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3 is the nearest thing to UFO I’ve seen for ages, and that controls perfectly well with a gamepad. I’d be more than happy to have the UI stripped down to the bare minimum. Perhaps put the crouch/lie prone stuff in a radial menu that onmly pops up round the unit when you select it, and that can be mouse-clicked or analogue-sticked.

      • Lowbrow says:

        As long as they leave out VC’s need to have you confirm EVERYTHING. Got pretty sick of it taking 3 commands and a wait to switch between the basic menus.

    17. khamul says:

      Expanded line of sight: Lob-able cameras; The ability to break into security offices, and see everything on the surveillance system; wearable equipment to track and mark sounds; radar; pre-landing scans…

      A strategy game is all about decisions, and decisions are only decisions when they are meaningful, and you have some idea about the impact of the decision you’re making. Painstakingly breaking into a building when the last remaining alien is hidden in a loo on the other side of the map is not fun. Entering a building when you KNOW the last alien is inside, but not exactly where – and where a bad guess or missed clue will send one of your men to hospital, or the big dirt sleep – that’s fun.

      The biggest thing they can do to improve the depth and complexity of the original – and avoid the obligatory 5-hour bathroom hunt – is give us more ways to find the aliens. That are useful and good.. but not quite perfect.

      • AbyssUK says:

        mobile camera drones too..

      • konrad_ha says:

        Nooooo!

        Breaking into a house and not even knowing if anything is in there is great! Hunting down the last alien is fun, because it can still fuck up your whole squad.

      • Ovno says:

        Ahh thats what the 15 million blaster shells you keep in the skyranger are for, level all the buildings no more alien…

        Or in my favourite version (got to love the UGE) that was what the infinite ammo large area effect stun laser pistol was for =D

    18. Alexander Norris says:

      Just being able to play the original at 1920×1200 would keep me happy forever, probably.

      Isn’t this + the interface stuff what the very excellent-looking Xenonauts is doing?

    19. dtgreen says:

      I formally request that the senate declares this article to be made of WIN.

    20. Alexandros says:

      I really can’t put into words the joy and excitement I felt when I first saw the XCOM:EU announcement. After spending most of 2011 thinking that the Mayans were right and that the human race would be wiped out by the “xcom” shooter, there is now hope again.

      I do hope though that people will not forget there’s another xcom-like game in the works, and that game is Xenonauts. I’ve pre-ordered the game, it’s progressing very well and the team certainly deserves our support. Buy Xenonauts people!

    21. Dana says:

      Half of these things were done in Apocalypse. Im really disappointed in you guys…

      • Alec Meer says:

        Not as much as your mum is disappointed in you.

      • Spad says:

        To be fair, half of those things were half-done in Apocalypse; it was good but it wasn’t UFO good.

      • AmateurScience says:

        This is all so very disappointing….

      • Dana says:

        @Spad
        Im sorry, but Apocalypse is the best of Xcom series. It has best turn system (better ap management) more varied weaponry, enemies, research. More vehicles, more vehicle gear. Bigger, more varied battlescapes. Interactive cityscape. Various factions, with dynamic reputation that matters.

        Also, the awesome soundtrack.

        We could get the same game with new coat of paint (TFTD) like Microprose wanted, but we got something more original, deeper and bigger. Yes, the project as overambitious and didn’t met all the expectations, given all the features that were cut out, but what came out is one of my favorite PC games of all times.

      • McCool says:

        I’m one of those who actually prefer Apocalypse. Yeah. I love the chaotic setting, and how every mission is fucks up some aspect of the city. Having to be extra super duper careful because you are trying to clean missions out of a warehouse belong to the people who sell you ALL YOUR GUNS, etc.

      • Dys Does Dakka says:

        Apocalypse was my fave of the lot -yes, we do exist-, and I’d like them to at least take a lot of clues from it in designing this new one.

      • Cinnamon says:

        Apocalypse would have been the best if they had finished it and it wasn’t generally such an unfocussed mess. Releasing it for the N64 would have also been good since that is what I was buying games for at that moment in time

      • jonfitt says:

        I was always disappointed that you couldn’t wipe out a faction though. I raided the Cult of Sirius over and over, and reduced all their buildings to rubble, but they would never go away.

      • Navagon says:

        Another vote for preferring Apocalypse. It might be because it was my introduction to the series. But no other X-COM or X-COM inspired game has measured up to it.

      • mouton says:

        I loved Apocalypse for the huge beautiful buildings which you could happily burn and blow up. Especially if they belonged to someone you didn’t like, heh heh

        I don’t get why some people don’t consider Apocalypse “teh tru UFO”. Well, ok, I get it – people are never fully satisfied with sequels, because they don’t really know what they want – but I do not share it.

      • Overload-J says:

        Add me to the list of Apocalypse fans – UFO:EU had better atmosphere, but Apocalypse had better gameplay. I decidedly prefer pauseable continuous time over turn based, as well, for being simultaneously a more realistic (versimilitudinous? :) ) choice with fewer system oddities.

        @jonfitt — By raiding the Cult and driving their economy into the rubbish tip, you ensure they are a non-threat to XCOM; and since the Cult’s budget is key to (might even be?) the Alien’s budget, you are hurting the Aliens. It is possible to make the game unwinable by hurting the Cult so much that the Aliens are unable to continue raiding, which in turn denies you access to the tech you need to win.

      • sinister agent says:

        I adore Apocalypse – it’s on a par with the first for me, although it’s not really a fair comparison as they were going for different things.

        But it is true that it was chock full of half- or barely-implemented features. Diplomacy was pointless, road vehicles worse than useless, mind control could be pretty much ignored entirely (although in a sense, this was an improvement over UFO, where mind control was devastating and a massive stumbling block until you mastered it yourself, at which point the game became almost impossible to lose because it was so powerful and the aliens had no way to counter it), the economy was a bit all over the place… it would be marvellous to see the diplomacy and living city aspects of it in particular redone.

        Having said that, what they did achieve was pretty impressive. I particularly appreciated how you could throw an ammo clip at some bipedal aliens so that they’d think it was a grenade and run away.

    22. Mungrul says:

      They could also do worse than look at the Silent Storm games for a few design cues. The destructible environment was particularly brilliant. I never got tired of hearing a sneaky Nazi creeping around on the floor above and then peppering the ceiling with heavy machine gun fire only to have the Nazi’s corpse then ragdoll down through the resulting hole :)
      And outside of Temple of Elemental Evil, it had the best classic turn-based system I’ve ever played with.

      • Sorbicol says:

        I’d have to second that. Tactical battles in something akin to the silent storm engine would be fantastic. I loved that game

    23. aircool says:

      Yes. All of those +1 gazillion. Lots of multiplayer and co-op options. Editors and level designers. Real time replays via a ‘Space Hulk/Aliens’ type command console.

      Keeping the vibe of the original aliens without going overboard on the fifties kitsch (Apocalypse and Interceptor took the fifties thing too far).

      Keeping the assault rifles and pistols reasonable competitive via ‘new’ types of researched ammo; I guess that would be an editor option.

      Customisable uniform options for different squads; ‘This Terror Site is gonna be a tough cookie, were gonna have to send in Gollop Squad, we’ll send in Meier Squad as a hook so ready the body-bags.’

      • Rinox says:

        Keeping the assault rifles and pistols reasonable competitive via ‘new’ types of researched ammo; I guess that would be an editor option.

        I agree, I’d even go as far to allow for some kind of weapons workshop like the unit workshops in Alpha Centauri. Of course, it probably won’t be possible to make it as extensive but god would it be awesome to engineer your own weapons and decide whether the building cost/efficiency/reliability is worth it. You could even make specific weapons for specific enemies/missions.

      • steviesteveo says:

        Assault rifles aren’t meant to be competitive though. The graph of an XCOM game is aliens arrive and you’re on the back foot with equipment that just about kills them, then you research big advanced guns, blow holes in their space ship, steal their stuff and then SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.

      • aircool says:

        I liked the way the assault rifles looked, plus I enjoyed the idea of attacking the aliens using primitive earth technology. Like I say, that’s what all the millions of editors were useful for, like changing the explosives so they could easily punch through a saucer, but didn’t spread destruction over a wide area. Then dropping a ‘slightly overpowered’ stun grenade through the hole.

        There were plenty of ways to change the gameplay, but still keep it challenging.

    24. MellowKrogoth says:

      18 and 19 are pretty bad ideas. Adding this kind of detail will lead to adding even more detail to those areas so they are correctly fleshed out, and it’s an unnecessary distraction from all the stuff they need to get right.

    25. Khemm says:

      Alec, I totally agree with point 4. Something like Silent Storm would be beyond excellent – you can toy around with the camera, but you still keep that great “top down” perpective, the only times you get some great “cinematic” camera angles is when you kill an enemy/score a critical/destroy a wall in a spectacular fashion.

    26. RaveTurned says:

      DISAGREEMENT! I have grown fond of the Guile-style haircut and would like to see it turn up again, alongside a host of other possible hairdos (and hairdon’ts – I’m sure there’s some unwritten rule that proper sci-fi hair should err towards the ridiculous).

      Otherwise, yes. Carry on.

    27. sfaok says:

      Literaly the best gaming news.

      Your list matches a lot of my own wishes, but I’ll add a few:

      Biomes – I think this is probably a given, but I want diverse locations with their own gameplay implications- farmyards, tundra, forrests, deserts, towns (suburbs, gas stations), inner city… Just something as simple as long grass and barns in the countryside biomes of UFO Enemy Unknown spiced things up a lot.

      Alien Diversity – The aliens in the originals were great thematically, but there wasn’t any striking differences between them from a strategy perspective, apart from the obvious exceptions like Chrysalids! Having aliens that ambush, move in packs, hightened sense of smell etc. would add variety.

      Soldier Traits – If the squad stats from the originals make a return I’ll be ecstatic, but I also like the idea of soliders picking up traits/perks as their short careers progress – similar to how generals rank up in Shogun 2.

      I’m really, really anxious about the imminant Game Informer article.

    28. povu says:

      11) Yeah, and it definitely should keep the fog of war. Not go down the same route Jagged Alliance BIA did.

    29. Binary77 says:

      I’ve wished for a long time for someone to make a strategy game play out in a movie-like fashion, similarly mentioned in 21). It’d be like playing out your own personal Sci-Fi movie. Ideally i’d like the camera to be fairly classic when planning moves etc, but then cut to cinematic camera angles when the turns play out – to make it more tense. Nothing would be more impacting than being zoomed into a shot of one of your soldiers being pinned down & almost torn apart and then be saved by a sharpshooting comrade who’s been left on guard – with dialogue and everything.

    30. Ovno says:

      “If lesser-used features such as ducking and grenades could be consigned to a secondary toolbar that only pops up when you want it to, that’d be grand.”

      Sacrilege, I used duck and grenades all the time!!!!!!!

      • NathanH says:

        Duck is quite an important command in the original, having to do extra work to get at its button would be a bad idea.

        To be honest not having all the commands on the screen seems to be a strange request. Screens are big and resolutions are high these days. There’s no reason to ever hide a button.

    31. Clash says:

      The real time replays sound cool, but I don’t think it could be done in a turn based game like this. The reason it works in Frozen Synapse is because both sides are basically contributing to a single turn with unlimited set up time to simulate strategies. XCOM was truly turn based so replays would consist of someone standing still while being shot at before repositioning and returning fire.

    32. Lambchops says:

      I bought X-Com from GOG. I still haven’t played it. I assume this makes me a horrible person. Feel free to break out the tar and feathers.

      • Highstorm says:

        Well you at least bought it, so we’ll only feather you this time.

    33. Asurmen says:

      Am I the only one who chringed at the thought of trying to defend that base? Destroy those radars and it would be 10 times easier to defend. Hell, build another base for manufactoring and you’d get rid of the engineering bays and quite a number of storage and living quarters.

      Then again I only ever played on the easiest setting so by end game always had spare funds to do stuff like that. I assume it was more difficult to set up multiple bases in harder settings?

      EDIT: Possibly another thing to add would be being able to organise the layout of your base from the start. The first base layout is horrible. Obviously just give the player some default buildings to place for free.

    34. DukeOFprunes says:

      Interactive alien autopsies. You need naught else.

    35. Danorz says:

      this picture http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/10/apr/ufo/3.png

      heston blumenthal is really really getting out of hand now

    36. Navagon says:

      Did Danny Flynn do the original box art? It looks like his sort of stuff.

      Anyway, agreed on most points if not all. The option of actually taking part in the skirmishes with UFOs could be a very welcome feature.

    37. areyoucrazy says:

      I really love your blog but wtf is this?

      Seriously? Higher resolution? 3D? Duck a rarely used feature? Speak for yourself young man and only for yourself!

      I recently realised that a lot of charme get lost with high resolution, so I would prefer a pixelated treat with lovely shading. (I mean look at the latest pixelated awesomeness, Voxatron, Project Zomboid etc.)

      And please no 3D, why must everything be 3D nowadays?

      I almost feel like you are trolling with a lot of these features.

      Best regards
      A fan

      • LionsPhil says:

        #7 in particular seems to be asking for black and brown and shader shine effects and somewhere under all this next-gen there must be some game elements I’m supposed to be able to make out to me.

    38. foda500orama says:

      “Hire the Gollops. Consult with the Gollops. Beg the Gollops’ permission. Write their names on the intro screen in massive letters. Anything, so long as due respect is paid. And for the love of all that’s good, do not call it ‘Sid Meier’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown.’

      Laughed my ass off.

    39. NathanH says:

      Possibly a good idea would be to have a constant rough scanning of the entire battlefield active, so your minimap has an overlay with, say, different shades of red to represent estimated alien presence around that area. You wouldn’t make it exact and you’d subject it to random noise, but it would basically tell you roughly where to look, especially when there are very few hostiles remaining. Hopefully some method like that would alleviate the more annoying aspects of hidden map/fog of war while retaining the important threats.

    40. wodin says:

      I suggest you all go download this and play whilst waiting.

      http://ufoai.ninex.info/wiki/index.php/News

    41. 2late2die says:

      So right, how do we go about getting this list into the hands of Firaxis?

    42. Archonsod says:

      “## 8) Include the thing from the original UFO: Enemy Unknown box art: ”

      I think they were supposed to be floaters. Compare the metal spinal column with the Floater Autopsy picture.

    43. JohnW says:

      Good list. I’d add:

      1) Going prone.

      2) Much larger battles, with LOTS of aliens, especially in terror missions.

      3) The ability to bring more than one skyranger to a battle. If there’s a little delay, where the first squad has to hold the landing zone against great odds — a la We Were Soldiers– that would be even better.

      4) Mortars. That need two squaddies to fire.

      5) A dorsal turret on the skyranger for covering fire as your guys spill out of the back.

      6) Remember the damn equipment layout so I don’t have to click and drag a million grenades around before every battle.

      • frenz0rz says:

        “6) Remember the damn equipment layout so I don’t have to click and drag a million grenades around before every battle.”

        This, oh please this. Having to do that every time (particularly when restarting a failed mission) was very frustrating, as was having to remember on the equipment screen which soldier was best with which weapon or task. Oh, but keep the grid layout.

      • Hendar23 says:

        There is a fan patch out there that does -exactly- this. and it lets you play on modern OS without DosBox.

        HOW COME NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS?!?!?

      • frenz0rz says:

        @Hendar23

        Not only do I know about this, but I actually have it installed and have been using it for ages. Still, my complaints were about the original game :P

    44. Jahkaivah says:

      This might invade on the “NO FPS AT ALL” sensibilities. But I thought it would be kind of cool if when each unit carried out their orders you saw things from their perspective.

    45. Milky1985 says:

      Point 5 : “I wouldn’t seeing property damage contribute to funding level assessments, though: international funding’s an aspect of the game that could stand to be fleshed out.”

      Wouldn’t mind or wouldn’t want? :P

      Agree with most of the points there, the interface being the main thing but at least a very basic tutorial is needed to get you started (skippable)

      I did not play teh gaems when the came out but i do have the game now via a steam sale… and got absolutly nowhere, no idea what to do. I did get a base and shoot down a sjip (which crashed into the sea so i couldn’t get it), then first battle and the interface was just far to confusing. If they just fixed that (just added tooltips to the buttons!) then it would be great!

      • Saiko Kila says:

        I hope Firaxis will do it somewhat similarly to UFO: Apocalypse, where it was important to not damage property of our allies too much, and less important (and more fun) to not damage property of our foes. It would be great (again) to go to help guys you don’t like, but make as much “casual” damage as you want, and then laugh at their complaints :)

    46. DocSeuss says:

      I played X-COM, but… I did not like it.

      The main issue I had was not really understanding how to play it, and the general unwieldyness of being a turn-based top-down game. Honestly, I think I would have preferred pause-n-play.

      “How do I get funding?” “What, exactly, am I supposed to be doing here?” “How does this work?”

      It’s probably all in the manual (I’m so glad manuals are dead; as cool as they were, all the information you need in modern games, even relatively complex ones like DAO, are within the games themselves), but I haven’t got one of those.

      • NathanH says:

        Unfortunately the old X-COM games do sit on the edge of being unplayable to someone who has never played them and has become used to slick games.

      • aircool says:

        You kinda learnt via the suck it and see method. The thing was, you always thought you were losing, but you were actually making progress all the time. You never felt that you were getting the better of the aliens, which is kinda true as the final mission wouldn’t have needed to exist otherwise.

        But yeah, you did kinda need to read that manual.

        Most importantly, a turn based mechanic is the best way to play these games as you get total control over each soldier. You can get far more tactical in your approach than you could ever hope to get in a realtime/realtime & pause game.

        You really did have to think tactically on the battlefield and strategically on the world map.

      • sinister agent says:

        I wouldn’t say it was a game you learned by playing, really. It was 1994, so you read the manual.

    47. frenz0rz says:

      Speaking of sloppy defences, whoever designed the base in that picture is going to have one hell of a difficult time defending it. One of my (few) problems with the original game was that the fundamental layout of your base was prebuilt at the start of the game, and making it safe from attack (i.e. separating the elevator and hangars from the rest of the facility) required a lot of time and effort.

      To that end, if they’re sticking with the same basic structures/rooms from the first game, I’d like the opportunity to place everything from scratch rather than starting with a shoddy preset layout.

      Edit: As an aside, the ability to play turns back in real time sounds awesome, and is something I’d always wanted for Blood Bowl.

    48. Monkey says:

      4 radar placements AND a hyperwave decoder? tut tut tut

    49. Zenicetus says:

      I’m not worried about high-res screen support or the UI design, because Firaxis did well in those areas with Civ 5. The one thing I’m really hoping they get right, is making the game hard enough.

      There should be different difficulty levels, but the normal level should have your guys dying right and left, and you wondering how you’re going to cope with an overpowering menace, just like the original. It can’t be incredibly easy and coddle the player like the Civ series.