XCOM Remake: Screens, Details, Worries

By Alec Meer on January 9th, 2012 at 5:41 pm.

Maybe I should close the comments thread?

OK, here we go. Brace for impact. Barricade yourself in your home. An American magazine has just put the first screenshots of the XCOM remake ‘reimaginging’, some teasy details, plus the vital answers to to whether it’s linked to the XCOM shooter and if it’s been… altered for consoles.

Good news! Well, ish.

Two key things to stuff in your head first:

1) “The shooter takes place earlier in the fiction, chronicling the aliens’ first attacks in the United States. The strategy game we’re talking about here deals with the global response to the later full-blown alien invasion of Earth.”

Which is why the aliens on show look like lanky G-Men rather than trad. X-COM baddies, I guess. (Pure speculation here, but I bet that hints at some kind of multiplayer, with an even humans vs human-likes playing field).

2) “Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t call it “dumbing down” the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics.”

Uh. Um. Aaargh. I’ll reserve judgement until that’s clarified, but “tedium and uninteresting mechanics?” What tedium and uninteresting mechanics? You don’t throw that kind of vague insult at such a revered game unless you’re fully prepared for angry consequences from the internet or you just have no idea what kind of fire you’re playing with. That’s the magazine writer summarising the game as he sees it rather than the devs’ line, so hopefully they’d explain things less dismissively and in detail rather than generalisations. Yeah, there’s a fair bit of annoying/outdated interface stuff in the original but that sounds like features being thrown out wholesale. I am okay with that in theory – Firaxis are seasoned strategy devs, after all – but I want to know what and why rather than be left to worry what “streamlining” means.

By way of reassurance, there’s “Soldiers still die permanently, fog of war and line of sight are hugely important in combat, and you absolutely can lose the game if you screw up too badly”, but, well, the micromanagement was always a big part of X-COM. I want to micromanage! I like micromanaging! Micromanagement is my middle name! (Or I wish it was, anyway. My real middle names are far more embarrassing. Yes, ‘names.’ Sigh).

Also confirmed: global management view, soldier levelling, interceptions, managing R&D, chasing funding, more. So the major ingredients are there – it’s a matter of which minor ones have been thrown out in order to make XUO gamepad-friendly, I guess. Worried! Also, hopeful. But worried. Worriedly hopeful.

The screens I just find confusing. They don’t much evoke X-COM in either aesthetic or interface, but then I didn’t want a straight retread anyway. The use of 3D terrain (terrain! This is like 2002 all over again) and cover is promising on a tactical level, I like the bulky body armour look, and there’s a reasonable amount of info scattered around the screen without taking up too much real estate. The base appears to be a full-fat base but in 3D, which I like – I want to explore my home as well as build it. There’s a lot to be excited about in there, but on the whole. I just don’t know what to make of it yet: I need more screens and a video. And a lie down.

More details and full-size versions of the screens at the magazine’s website.

No matter what, at least it’s not a shooter – this new XCOM really is a turn-based strategy game with a real-time management view. We didn’t think that was ever going to happen.

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190 Comments »

  1. Teddy Leach says:

    So more or less exactly what I was worried about then.

    • Biscuitry says:

      I can’t say I was. There’s no point worrying about the inevitable.

    • Underwhelmed says:

      I find it amazing at just how impossible it seems to be to come even close to the original game. You either get a dev that tries to modernize it and misses the whole point and changing too much, or you get another that tries to copy/paste it whole sale and still manages to miss the point and spirit of the original game. It’s like the game is sitting in some sort of design blind spot, and nobody can figure out why it was good exactly, but they sure think they do.

    • PJMendes says:

      Check out the interview with the devs (http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/06/why-firaxis-loves-xcom.aspx). They’re massive X-Com nerds, understand it pretty well, and some worked for Microprose. They’re not the original creators but that’s some pretty good indications of fidelity.

    • Fiatil says:

      That video makes me very happy. The lead dev is definitely a huge x-com nerd, and he spends half of the time talking about how the brutal difficulty is so important to the game. This bodes well.

    • Chickenfeed says:

      Thanks for linking that video, I was pretty sceptical about this game but now I am officially looking forward to it.

      Still concerned about lanky suits, but we’ll see…

    • sPOONz says:

      Another thanks for that video link. I really enjoyed seeing the energy between those guys. The screenshot above puts me off this remake yet that video reignited my interest. Nice to see games being made by gamers. I all too often think developers are out of touch grey suited numb nuts. Nice to see its not always so.

    • phylum sinter says:

      The pictures and words make me want to cry, but that video does reduce the number of tears (and helps me maintain a reptilian level of hydration) while this game will be agonizingly developed… and honestly, i know it might be pessimism at this stage but i still feel like it’ll be all in vain by the time it reaches us.

      I just don’t think the kind of developers that made X-COM exist anymore, there’s been too much change in what we value in gameplay basically.

      To do this game properly, you’d have to ignore a lot of what is considered par for the course in game design for the past 15 years and retool even more than i think any team is willing to do for this game, regardless of its’ heritage.

      EVEN WITH THIS DOUBT, I STILL CROSS MY FINGERS.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      You can’t come close to the original if you make a game for consoles.

      Also: A game about alien shooting without shooting aliens(as in:visuals)?

  2. Zyrusticae says:

    Hmmmmm.

    HMMMMMM.

  3. TsunamiWombat says:

    *internet siren goes off*

    PREPARE FOR FIRESTORM

    *puts on tinfoil hat and gets in the bathtub*

  4. jalf says:

    Please tell me that soldiers’ stats improve with use, rather than some silly levelling-up mechanic where I get to distribute points. I don’t think I would’ve connected so much with my squad if they hadn’t grown on their own, based on what they actually did. People became snipers or heavy weapons specialists based on what they were actually used for, rather than arbitrary “ah, two soldiers levelled up after the last battle. Hmm, I’m short on snipers, so bump up their aim” decisions.

    Also agreed about the micromanagement. Micromanagement can be a terrible thing in some games, but others depend crucially on it.

    (That said, certain (lack of) game mechanics really were tedious in the original game. Like the inability to reserve TU’s for kneeling, not saving soldiers’ equipment loadout, and a million other silly UI limitations that forced me to micromanage trivialities where the game just didn’t give me the tools I needed.

    • sinister agent says:

      I definitely agree about the levelling thing. It won’t be DISASTROUS if there are levels and manual points and that, but it would definitely be a downgrade.

      On the plus side, even being cynical in this instance makes for a more hopeful outcome – skills improving through use is arguably far more streamlined, and less hassle to implement. Win-win, really.

    • CMaster says:

      I’m expecting a levelling system (as game designers of late seem to have forgotten there are progression systems that don’t involve levels) which leads to a generic improvement of stats across teh board and picking a perk, which fits into a perk tree of some kind.

    • Craig Stern says:

      The only interface thing I really really hate from X-Com is how easy it is for me to accidentally click the ground when I am trying to click another soldier, thereby causing my currently selected soldier to go running off somewhere I don’t want him to be. An “undo move” function, in other words, would be really nice. I’m not sure how they can resolve that without getting into tricky territory re: the fog of war (maybe just have a key to cancel movement before the soldier arrives and the fog of war gets peeled back?), but one way or another, I desperately want them to fix this.

      If they can manage to fix issues like this without killing the game’s complexity, I will be a happy camper.

    • sinister agent says:

      Easy: two click movement. Or right button for move, left for select (or vice versa). Or any combination of those you like. JA2 had (optional) ‘confirm move’ clicks that worked just fine.

      That was a damned annoying problem with the xcom games though. Even the sequels didn’t correct that, though they picked up on some issues like reserving time units for kneeling.

  5. pakoito says:

    Alec “Nancy Bleu” Meer?

  6. BenLeng says:

    This sounds truly splendid. Finally X-COM comes back.
    Mr. Meer which dark god did you have to sacrifice something to get this wish finally granted? I’m asking for a friend.

  7. promenad says:

    That last picture is from their first cardboard prototype, right?

  8. zaphod42 says:

    Ah, XCOM, ever my favorite old pc game. Somehow the original is still by far the best at it. There have been many attempts, but none have been so perfect.

    Yeah, I too am very wary of some of the things I’m hearing. Those screenshots look kinda funky, not XCOM, as you said. They do look kinda cool, so I”ll be checking it out. And I’m happy enough that they’re actually putting some money into a proper XCOM game instead of just that FPS that we were all upset about. (Not that I won’t play that either, looks interesting, but it IS. NOT. XCOM. >_> )

    Oh well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just play
    xenonauts
    They’re doing a proper xcom, not changing anything that made it good. If anything, I kinda wish they’d change some more! Their biggest shortcoming is their indie status, so its been a long time in development and doesn’t have the most content / features. But looks pretty promising, I’ll play the hell out of it.

    • jalf says:

      Xenonauts *again*? I still don’t understand why. Yes, it’s an X-COM clone like two dozen others. It’s developed by untried indies with no resources, like two dozen others. So far, the other two dozen have ended up anywhere between the two extremes of “incomplete and abandoned” or “finished, but absolutely no fun to play”, and that’s fine, because no one really expected more.

      But for some reason, everyone are full of confidence that Xenonauts will change everything.

      I hope so, I just don’t get what this faith is based on.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      There’s also Open X-Com.

      http://openxcom.org/

      Jaif, have you actually played Xenonauts?

    • jalf says:

      Nope. I’ll obviously give it a try when it’s complete, but my life doesn’t need another half-complete X-COM clone.

      Why? Do you feel the magic when you play the current alpha?

    • zaphod42 says:

      @Teddy

      Awesome, I’ve seen a few open-source x-com attempts, but as @jalf said, many are unfinished and going nowhere. That one, by keeping its sights on just remaking the original, not adding 3D or any nonsense, looks like they’ve done pretty well. As a developer myself, Imma have to download the source and poke around. Yay open source projects!

      @jalf
      Yeah, the glass is half empty. But hey, its half full!

    • jalf says:

      Yeah, the glass is half empty. But hey, its half full!

      Well, sure, I can be optimistic too.

      But I don’t understand the type of mind which, when faced with 12 different glasses, goes through the first 11 noticing that they’re empty, and then nevertheless not just hoping, but believing that the 12′ths will be full. And bigger.

      I’m not saying we shouldn’t look forward to Xenonauts.
      I’m just asking where this boundless optimism is coming from, and why people believe so much more in it than they did in the countless X-COM clones that came before.

    • wcanyon says:

      @jaif: you should watch some of the vids on youtube. It’s very faithful to the feel of the original, it’s making good progress and they are keeping what made it “x-com”. Every other X-Com ish thing I’ve seen out there has been severely disappointing in comparison.

    • jalf says:

      So why is it still in alpha, if it is already better than the actual X-COM games?

      It’s very faithful to the feel of the original, it’s making good progress

      I’m not questioning that. But it’s not the first X-COM clone to be faithful to the original. But will it also be *complete* some day?

      Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping it’ll be as amazing as everyone’s saying. But literally the day it was announced, people were going “this is going to be different. This is *it*”. And I never really understood why that was.

    • slight says:

      So this X-Com thing. Is it as good as Laser Squad?

  9. MiniMatt says:

    Hmm – they look like hexes rather than squares which, being one of (relatively few) universally praised features of Firaxis’ other puppy Civ 5, leaves me with some hope that not everything new should be bad.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Definitely look like hexes. Yeah, I’m super worried about them messing with it, but if anybody should know how to do this right, you’d think it would be Firaxis. We’ll see what happens.

    • thecjm says:

      Oh gods that’s the 3D Civ V engine in the screen shot. This whole thing is going to be based on a Civ engine. The base screenshot from the link looks like the Civ’s pre-rendered throne room/castle mechanic – adding pieces to a static screen as you build. The first screen shot is obviously from a cinematic,

    • BenLeng says:

      Hexes! The most intriguing polygon!

    • Khemm says:

      To be honest, the hexes in this screen appear to be almost stupidly larger than they need to…

  10. Kaira- says:

    I don’t know. The screens look a bit busy, I think. As in, I have hard time grasping what’s going on. They really need to pump up the visual style a bit. Or maybe it just looks like that in screenshots, and better when playing.

    Also, the “streamlinging a bit”-part leaves me… hm, confused. On the other hand, every unnecessary thing you must do left out increases the time you get to actually enjoy the gameplay, but on the other hand, are the left out bits unnecessary?

  11. Bhazor says:

    “but then I didn’t want a straight retread anyway”

    You could have fooled me after your last article about this.

  12. Delusibeta says:

    To quote The Book of Resurrecting Video Game Franchises, Chapter 1, Verse 1: Never let anyone point out you’re simplifying anything. It will only anger the nerds.

    • mouton says:

      While internet rages about everything, many times in the past simplifying did mean removing important features, consolizing, shifting focus from gameplay to graphics and effects, as well as depth removal. Thus, even though preemptive hate is uncalled for, skepticism is only healthy.

  13. PJMendes says:

    That Batcave looks amazing (reimagining of the “Basescape” as known by X-Com pros).

    • frenz0rz says:

      Agreed, the base looks fantastic. I’m not entirely sure how base attacks will work though, assuming they’re still in. I guess it’ll switch to top-down view, and there’ll be stairs and/or elevators between the different levels. If thats the case, I hope you get the ability to place them, as I always enjoyed building an easily defendable base full of chokepoints (although it always seemed a little silly that you could just stick structures anywhere you like – i.e. shouldnt alien containment facilities be attachted to a lab instead of, say, next to the living quarters?).

  14. SirKicksalot says:

    The magazine’s main audience is the console crowd so I guess they decided to put less emphasis on the game’s depth and preemptively assure dudebros that it’s not too challenging.

  15. Unaco says:

    I’m still reserving judgement. The part about “getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics” is hardly the games death knell, and it’s not an insult. You doth make too much of it Alec.

    • Nick says:

      Insinuating that it HAS dull parts to “streamline” is very much an insult.

    • Unaco says:

      I’d disagree. It’s being honest. There were some tedious and uninteresting mechanics in the original games. Many of them are mentioned below.

  16. Hexidecimal says:

    Screens look interesting. I’m still eagerly anticipating this, I like the move to hexes as well. It shows a little promise, just don’t dumb it down to oblivion.

  17. CMaster says:

    Tedium in the original? I can think of a few:

    - Having to redo each soldiers equipment every mission, as it assigned your heavy weapons to your flyweights, and mind control devices to those who couldn’t use them.

    - Checking every damn closet and cupboard under the stairs for the last, panicked, remaining alien.

    - Watching the Geoscape for ages while nothing happens.

    The screenshots above look odd though – they look pretty ropey and not good for seeing what you are doing.

    • JohnW says:

      -Making sure you didn’t have TOO MUCH stuff at your base, so your guys ended up trying to fight off an alien attack with electro flares and clips with no weapons!

    • NathanH says:

      Checking the alien activity graphs every few game hours and sending interceptors to patrol around to where there is activity trying to find stuff got old pretty quickly too.

    • jonfitt says:

      As I recall I think TFTD had equipment sticky to each person, but I could be wrong. I want to say Apoc definitely did.
      .
      Also the hunt for the last alien could be anywhere from tense to boring depending on the situation. Perhaps the aliens could have some more exciting behaviours when they detect that they’re the last ones rather than padding back and forth in a cupboard. Or perhaps there could be a victory condition like “all enemies disarmed” where it assumes a cleanup crew would move in and finish.
      .
      I didn’t mind watching the world spin, if anything it was good watching it and hoping your funding would drop in before the next attack.

    • Unaco says:

      Some of the mechanics surrounding the Interceptors were pretty annoying indeed.

      @jonfitt… I’m fairly sure as well that Apoc had ‘sticky gear’.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      At least, in Apocalypse, you could collapse a building onto the alien if you couldn’t find it.

    • CMaster says:

      TFTD didn’t have sticky gear, nor did it fix the 80 item limit that could lead to your top base being destroyed as described above.

      And yes, the search could be tense when there was still one or two of the nastier aliens out there. But frequently teh sole survivor would have panicked and dropped their weapons, or was otherwise just stuck in some 2 box room you hadn’t seen.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      I think it’s more of a complaint that since the author is the one who mentioned the tedium and uninteresting mechanics and is the only one who has seen the game, the onus is on him to explain what he considers to be tedious and uninteresting.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Those are hardly “game mechanics” though, except for the sending of interceptors to search for aliens and looking for the last alien on the map. They are more quirks of the interface and side-effects of some design decisions.

      As far as looking for the last alien, I simply think the game should stop counting them for you. After all how is anybody sure of how many aliens are on-site? The game should simply let you decide when to end the mission, and if any aliens are left behind you may (or may not) know about it later in the news, and your mission rating or your funding could be accordingly modified by your superiors.
      Granted if you *have* killed all aliens on site it would just make missions drag on if the mission didn’t end automatically. So my idea isn’t perfect.

    • Seboss says:

      How do you distinguish “ending the mission manually” and fleeing then? Because I seem to recall fleeing the battle was considered a loss and had dire consequence on the mission rating even if there was only one alien remaining.

    • SiHy_ says:

      As long as you took the alien corpses and artifacts back to the Skyranger you’d get the points for recovering them and could technically get a decent mission rating. Never bothered doing that though.

  18. aircool says:

    Ok… ok… First thing, for a turn based strategy, gamepad’s do just fine. All you’re doing is moving a cursor around a screen and using buttons for shortcuts. No big drama. The DS is currently the turn based strategy king, and that’s a console. Ok, a console with a touch screen, but still plenty of great turn based games.

    The original did have some annoying micromanagement, like constantly having to arms your troops at the start of every battle on one screen, and making sure they were armoured in another screen. Also, constantly buying ammunition was a bit of a pain. The geoscope and battlefield interface was clunky and back then, hyperlinks in games didn’t really exist – you couldn’t arm a dude with a weapon and then compare stats with another one without a lot of farting about.

    Looks – Ok, this one does look strange. All the textures look flat and wrong. To be honest, I really think it would be better if it avoided hyper-realism and went more for a Borderlands type look – cartoony, but no in a shit way.

    Be careful what you wish for…

    • ascagnel says:

      Believe it or not, the original X-COM had a PS1 version. Which was terrible because the interface didn’t get a redesign to be gamepad-friendly.

      Gamepads and mouse+keyboard can coexist nicely, but that version was not a good example.

  19. PJ says:

    It’s so funny seeing one of the RPS lads – who are usually very level-headed and pondering before giving considerations – going “ohdearohdearohdearohdear” like a proper fanboy would. :D

    To be honest, I doubt that it would be a 100% faithful to the original copy, because that even if you do not want to add something yourself, your “translation of idea” is going to be radically different of the original author or anybody else. That is, IMHO, the major problem that this remake will have, even if it happens to be a pretty good one.

  20. MFToast says:

    Don’t worry, be happy! This is Firaxis we’re talking about! Y’know? Alpha Centauri? Civ V? I’m sure they can please us. SO FREAKIN EXCITED YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! I don’t even care if this looks like UFO: Aftermath, I will pet it and love it and make it my own.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Civ V isn’t really Firaxis’ highpoint, and worryingly it’s their most recent one.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I simply don’t get all of the Civ V hate.

      I’m not nearly good enough at Civ to criticize the AI’s overall performance, so feel free to disagree with me here, but I find it’s no more or less arbitrarily aggressive than in Civ IV; in fact, I find it easier to understand the AI behavior in V than in IV, which makes it far less frustrating to deal with.

      Religions were nice, but they didn’t actually add much to the game mechanically (unless you controlled a founding city and built the special building there andwent out of your way to spread the religion) and certainly didn’t contribute much to winning the game. Now corporations are something that should definitely have been brought over to Civ V; in fact, as a mechanic they seem much more at home in V’s economy-heavy model.

      Unit stacking was awful (the best unit available will always face off against the enemy, making numbers more important than anything else, not to mention the atrociously arduous task of capturing cities) and auto-transport-across-water was something that should’ve become standard when Rise of Nations did it, what, ten years ago?

      Dynamic governments are a fun idea, but I never found it useful to change up very often as some were simply so much better for my style of play that I would often rush to them and then stick to them the whole time. Not to mention the fact that some were simply vastly inferior in virtually any situation. The Civ V policy system has a greater effect on the game, as it shapes and is shaped by how you play, rather than being a benefit/detriment combo that you can toggle off whenever it’s convenient for you. I’ll grant that it may be more boring since you can’t press a button and change stuff on the fly but are instead stuck with your choices for the length of the game.

      There are certainly more things, good and bad, to say about both titles, but I think those are some of the major criticisms. I’m not saying that Civ IV is bad, mind you, as I love it dearly and it was the gateway to the franchise for me. But Civ V isn’t bad either, and is, for some players (me included), an improvement. Regardless, it’s a franchise about all of human history. They can’t be direct sequels, so the only way to avoid a straight-up rehash is to significantly change or tweak systems. I think that whenever people complain about a sequel being too “samey,” we need to look at fan reception to Civ V and remember that game companies don’t make their products in a void.

      Oh, so, er, our opinions on previous Firaxis titles shouldn’t necessarily color our opinions on upcoming ones. I loved Civ IV & V, Railroads!, and Pirates!, but didn’t care for Colonization at all. I may love or hate this, but I can’t judge until it’s out. (YES, relevant reply!)

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Some of the changes in Civ V are pretty good, but the game doesn’t grab my attention nearly as much as Civ IV did. Not sure why exactly, but I think it’s because of Civ V offering simply less choices to make every turn, or those choices not feeling very interesting. I couldn’t care less about the city buildings and map improvements, for instance, whereas in Civ IV they felt essential. Probably because I came to care about the state of health/food and happiness in every one of my cities. Game #5 reduced those to a global score which feels less involving.

      Also while I’m generally favorable to the move to hexes and one unit per tile, when you have a large amount of units or when friendly units get in your way space can really get cramped, which makes me whish they at least allowed a unit to lose its combat abilities in exchange for entering an already occupied friendly hex.

      Anyways, even though Civ V is not my favorite I think Firafix stilll has what it takes to make good strategy game. One mildly disappointing title shouldn’t be enough to lose trust in a game studio… software is so easy to screw up after all.

    • MFToast says:

      Without this turning into some derailed game review within a preview thing, don’t forget Alpha Centauri… Good eatin…

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @MellowKrogoth:

      You’re not the first person I’ve heard complain about space issues in Civ V, and I find it kind of interesting. One of the key points of moving to a one-unit-one-space system is to make space an issue. The relatively small space in which armies fight (and it is always small, even on wide open plains, due to the realities of Civ’s movement system) means that battles are brutal affairs, quickly won and quickly lost, or with ragged survivors desperately hanging in hoping to last until reinforcements arrive.

      As for the other issues, I always prioritize map improvements. In fact, my early research is often dictated by what resources are nearby, as getting early happiness boosts from luxury resources (and having spares to trade when that becomes an option) is critical to avoiding the unhappiness penalties. And on that note, I really enjoy the streamlining of city management. I can easily guide a city towards massive population or productivity or whatever through proper building prioritization, and can supplement that with Great Person improvements to create very specialized, very efficient cities. In Civ IV I would constantly be battling disease–God, what an awful mechanic–and trying to keep each individual city happy, which was a nightmare of micromanagement.

      I have a theory that part of why Civ V doesn’t appeal to many people (especially big fans of IV) is its presentation, but this is neither the time nor the place for that. Maybe I’ll post it to the forum. Still, you make one point I 100% agree with: there should be some way to easily move friendly units from the rear of an army to the front. Maybe tie it to a tech to help emphasize that military advancement isn’t limited to equipment.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This is kind of irrelevant given I said “isn’t Firaxis’ highpoint”, not “IS TERRIBLE AND AWFUL AND THE WORST GAME EVER AND YOU’RE A BAD PERSON IF YOU LIKE IT”.

      Unless you’re claiming that V is better than Civ IV, easily the best Civ, followed by II and I Alpha Centauri. In which case, just sit still while I warm up the nerve stapler…

  21. wodin says:

    Why is everyone going on about it not being like the old XCOM as it will be released on consoles when the old XCOM was released on consoles.

    I had it on the PSOne.

    I like the loom of the screenies. I’m not expecting it to look like the old XCOM but to play like it. All I need to know is turn based strategy and I’m happy, so I’m happy.

    • Prime says:

      Because back then the PC version came first then it was ported over to consoles. What tends to happen nowadays is that games are developed for consoles then ported across to PC leading to much screaming and gnashing-of-teeth at the ‘consolised’ experience: simplified graphics, simplified UI that often ignores keyboard and mouse, smaller levels, a game ‘streamlined’ for the lowest common denominator audience etc, etc. That’s what people are worried about here – any remake should be made with the PC very firmly catered to and developed for from the word go.

    • BoZo says:

      There’s a difference between a 1:1 port and being developed for multi-formats with focus on consoles.

    • vodka and cookies says:

      PC fanboys have the nasty habit of branding console as dumbing down when in actuality it’s dumbing down for a bigger audience irrespective of platform which can also just as easily be accused of some PC games.

      There are tons of turn based strategy games on the consoles but they are all niche games that most PC fanboys (closed minded who never owned a console) have no clue ever existed.

      New X-Com looks decent enough to me I’m not complaining, it’s rare enough that this kind of game gets the AAA treatment.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Vodka & Cookies:

      Agree with you 100%. People have been ooh-ing and ah-ing about Dark Souls around here for a while now. And guess what? It’s a console game! And guess what else? It’s absolutely not dumbed down or accessible! In fact, I’d argue that it actually goes way, way too far with its difficulty; it’s really for a very niche audience of people who value difficulty above all else. But you know what? It has reviewed extremely well, both with critics and with players!

      You can dumb anything down. And plenty of games that are simple can be very in-depth (chess anyone?). The real issue is in properly configuring a port–regardless of direction–to function well. And since PCs have the wonderful benefit of being able to use gamepads, complaining about controls often seems to be missing the point (unless the devs don’t allow non-keyboard controls, which goes back to proper configuration).

      Also: awesome name.

    • Brun says:

      A gamepad should NEVER be a requirement to play a game on the PC.

      As for Dark Souls, console games CAN be good, but it’s a very rare thing. It’s very much a PC-style game (I’d argue that it’s more suited to the PC than to a console), but for various reasons it was not feasible to implement on the PC – and that’s why it’s unlikely that we’ll see a port anytime soon. Those reasons are mainly infrastructural – a lot of the best features of Dark Souls require an online service like Xbox Live or PSN and there is no uniform online platform for the PC, and it’s likely that the back-end stuff would not integrate well with existing online game services (such as Steam).

    • Dominic White says:

      @Brun – You can try playing flight sims and driving games with a keyboard and mouse, but it’s just going to end in tears.

    • Llewyn says:

      “A gamepad should NEVER be a requirement to play a game on the PC.”

      Agreed. Neither should a joystick or a steering wheel. That doesn’t change the fact that many game designs work better with one of those three controller types.

    • Kaira- says:

      console games CAN be good, but it’s a very rare thing

      Hohohoho! Ho. Ho. Get out.

    • Brun says:

      There is a difference between “requirement” and “recommended.” I won’t deny that some games work better with a gamepad, or joystick, or steering wheel. But unless it ships with a gamepad, the game should at least FUNCTION with KBM.

      “Hohohoho! Ho. Ho. Get out.”

      No.

    • iucounu says:

      Again, in Valkyria Chronicles on PS3 you can do just about everything you can do in UFO and the gamepad works like a charm. UFO isn’t so complex that you *need* a complex interface. All the clicky buttons and things in the original UI were there because that was, at the time, how you had to build a UI; not because the game design demands it.

    • pilouuuu says:

      I’m troubled by the ammount of people here defending filthy consoles. Consoles are evil! Evil and dumb! I don’t want to read about consoles on my RPS. Evil console games!

  22. Zenicetus says:

    Why do the aliens in that tactical combat view look like people? Why can’t they look like aliens? Is this some half-assed tie-in with the possessed people in the shooter version? I want alien aliens, dammit. (stamps foot)

    • AndrewC says:

      REAL ALIENS DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT DAMMIT!

    • MFToast says:

      Well, they are infiltrating the governments of the world in the original, maybe they just got done bribing the prime minister of Tanzania with cool alien wares. “Wow that went surprisingly well, what a nice rock this is…. oh, didn’t see you guys there… *PEW PEW PEW PEW* “

    • Highstorm says:

      This is what worries me most about those screens. That and the expected news that it continues on from the new XCOM timeline. How then is it “Enemy Unknown” if we’ve already dealt with them 50+ years ago?

      Argh those shapeshifting cuboid things are so uninteresting to me.

    • NathanH says:

      Highstorm, we dealt with them 50 years ago, but the fools at the UN decided that it wasn’t really an alien threat after all, it was just a Russian plot. Now the only hope to save the galaxy is to put our faith in the terrorist organization X-COM, who have just reconstructed the dead Commander Shep—oh wait, wrong franchise.

    • MFToast says:

      I’m pretty sure every alien in Xcom was psychic other than the snakemen and mutons. Psychic disguises? Ooooooooh… god… This is pants shittingly awesome.

    • Yor Fizzlebeef says:

      I’d say that those slim, suited men might very likely be Slender-men.

      This would actually fit in very well in a new X-Com game I think.

      Edit: Also, they are in the woods: One of Slender-man’s prime habitat!

  23. Nick says:

    UI looks terrible.

  24. Jim9137 says:

    Visual style is most bland, reground reimagining of the current art trends possible.

    Also too dark

  25. Khemm says:

    I share the same worries.

    - dumbification might be an issue, but let’s have faith Firaxis don’t screw something up

    - the art direction… OH DEAR. It’s ugly. Yep, I said it. UGLY. Actually, the first two screens look OK, but not X-COMy at all. The third one is just hideous. The interface is minimalistic to the point it looks awful and the entire picture is a mess. Random models and textures, none had a vision of how to make all those things blend together.

    Actually, I think Silent Storm from 2004 looks much better – clean, consistent, with great models and colours. Examples:
    http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/pc/silentstorm/0905/silent_screen002.jpg
    http://www.dailyraider.com/vg/pc/silentstorm/fireinthehole.jpg
    http://www.heroicfantasygames.com/SilentStorm/2.jpg
    http://oranges-world.com/data_images/silent-storm-game.jpg
    http://www.rps.net/QS/SCREENSHOTS/S3/silentkiller.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/–eGEWdKzTzg/Td_m4eHQoyI/AAAAAAAAAA0/wVmDt2MBRCU/s1600/208685-s2-silent-storm-windows-screenshot-grenade-launchers-could.jpg
    http://imageshack.us/f/402/sentinels20090320222002.jpg/

    • Khemm says:

      “Your comment is awaiting moderation”
      Hello, RPS team? That’s discrimination, I say! ;D

  26. HermitUK says:

    I’m excited, myself. I’d like to see some more interesting combat screens (or ideally a video).

    Also hoping that, given Firaxis’ previous titles, mod support will be in at launch or soon after. Even if they don’t hit every note there’s a passionate enough fanbase out there that will fix stuff they think is wrong, if they’re only given the chance.

  27. Klydefrog says:

    I hope this is going to be good because I pretty much have to buy it. I mean, do we have a choice? If we don’t buy it then surely devs will just use that as evidence for their ridiculous claims that there’s no market for turn-based strategy any more. I’m going to remain hopeful for this though, I love X-Com and would rather like a bigger, better, high-resolutioner version (although I agree with Alec the original in 1920×1080 would be enough). Still, even failing that there’s always Xenonauts to fall back on.

  28. ffordesoon says:

    You should probably watch the video entitled “Why Firaxis Loves X-Com” that’s up on the GI site now, Alec. The lead designer is interviewed in it, and he really does come across as a diehard fan of the original, not just a guy who says he is.

    Not saying that means it’ll be good, but the guy’s heart is absolutely in the right place.

    • Sangi says:

      Yeah the lead designer seemed very into it. However the other two guys in the interview were like “yeah its a game”. I just hope that the lead’s passion override’s the other two’s attitude of its a job.

      To me the screen shots are not inspiring. There’s very little interface to the interface. It also doesn’t have the proper feel to it. Of course this is just two screen shots (actually one, with one being clipped from the other).

  29. Dys Does Dakka says:

    “Hold X”…?

    : /

  30. zeroskill says:

    I shall have no opinion on this for the sake of optimism.

  31. bglamb says:

    COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS INTERNET.

  32. Bluerps says:

    Finding the last Sectoid in some convoluted base is kind of tedious. Maybe they streamlined that.

  33. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    A tentative “okaaaay, we’ll play it by ear” from me.

  34. Wizardry says:

    Why does the graphics look worse than X-COM? Not only does the camera angle suck, the graphics make everything look indistinguishable. Technology is a bad thing, people.

    • Unaco says:

      “Technology is a bad thing, people”

      Please. Step away from the computer then Wizardry. Leave it alone… Not many of us here would mind.

      It’s 3 screenshots. 1 of the BaseScape. 1 of the Tactical Combat. 1 from a cutscene. I feel that it’s a little too early to be passing judgement on the graphics, from 1 screenshot really… However, I don’t think there’s any way you can say they are worse that the original… and that they make everything look indistinguishable. They actually echo the original a little, to me, anyway. And it all looks very clean and concise, and everything is perfectly distinguishable to me.

    • Khemm says:

      @ Unaco
      The tactical screen looks horrible. The interface is “in your face” and you can’t tell what’s happening on the screen. The original X-Com had a very consistent cartoony/comic-like style, the new one has no art direction to speak of.

      Granted, it’s only one screenshot, but it’s the one they’ve chosen to show off. If this is an indicator of what they’ve got in store, then oh boy…

    • Unaco says:

      I disagree. The interface is not “in your face” (what does that even mean?). I can tell pretty easily what’s going on. It’s not that difficult.

    • Khemm says:

      “In your face”. It tries to be minimalistic and subtle, but achieves something opposite. And it’s beyond ugly.

    • Tomhai says:

      i would agree that in some sense the graphic and UI look worse then the original. There are some strategy games which did not mess things up by going 3D, but more often than not, 3D has meant that the game will become just a horrible camera-rotation-fest. This looks the latter – real ugly and kinda out of proportion. I mean just looking at the screen it already makes me want to rotate the camera to a better position. Dam, I hate that feeling in a strategy game.
      When it comes to platformers, for example, devs have understood finally that every game does not need to be 3D. There was a time when I felt like all the new platformers where also 3D, but now there are a lot of woderful looking sidescrollers around. More beautiful than any 3D game. I hope that some day we will see this for strategy games as well.

    • Khemm says:

      @Tomhai
      Silent Storm is a fine of example of TBS done right in 3D. 3D didn’t get in the way of fun factor at all, it enhanced the experience. As I’ve pointed out earlier here, I honestly consider SS to be a superior-looking game at this point.

    • Tomhai says:

      yes, SS was exactly what i meant by “some.. which did not…”:) There probably are a couple of others that i cant recall straight away

    • Wizardry says:

      I love Silent Storm. It’s a fantastic game. Even though it’s 3D it’s 3D done right. Everything is easily distinguishable. The screenshot above from this new X-COM, though? Looks a mess to me. I hope it’s not representative.

    • RakeShark says:

      I seem to remember a maxim of PC gaming: Graphics can be excused when all other things work swimmingly awesome.

      It remains to be seen if the “all other things” are in fact swimmingly awesome, however.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Everything is easily distinguishable.

      A million times this. It’s frustrating that modern pixel-shader chasing and crap art direction has lead to a world of object highlighting because without it everything blends into a grey-brown black-but-shiny-highlights mess smothered with bad DoF and bloom like we all have damaged disposable cameras and dirty NHS spectacles strapped to our faces.

      Unless you have brain damage, when your attention shifts to look at something, you refocus on it, damnit. Ergo everything on my screen should be in focus ready for when I look at it. If I’m not looking at it, it’s in peripheral vision and thus how focused it is isn’t relevant anyway.

  35. RyuRanX says:

    Likes: Hexes, vertical base-building.

    Dislikes: Interface, camera angle, streamlining.

    Worries: Line of sight? Minimap? Art-style? Console game?

  36. Derek Smart says:

    The box asked me this “Wot you want to say:”

    I can sum it up into one single word: FAIL!!

    • MiniMatt says:

      Really? You can tell it’s “FAIL” from three screenshots and a couple of hundred words from a third party before it’s even released?

      Because without wanting to get into an all too predicatable and oh so weary ego-stroking dialogue and/or litany of excuses, I have a certain game box on my shelf that upon actual final release was very easily described by that same one word.

      From most devs I’d expect better than the rubbishing of other’s works before a game has even seen playable code. From most devs.

    • kyrieee says:

      Lets just say he and FAIL are acquainted

    • ffordesoon says:

      My God, Derek Smart!

      I remember when Computer Gaming World made fun of you. Which is to say, I remember reading CGW for ten years until its closure.

    • Lulzbat says:

      When i see a dog turd on the street i dont claim to myself “Oh im gonna taste it maybe that actually pudding”.

      Its shit it doesint take rocket science to tell if its shit or not.

  37. DK says:

    Looking like that, you can forget about destructible terrain. It’s not gonna have it.

    • Dana says:

      Why not ? Elaborate ?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Probably because it looks like flat-with-objects-on Civ engine.

      Pray it’s just for prototyping. If nothing else, Civ’s world is very 2D under the graphics, and that’d rule out buildings with multiple accessable floors.

  38. Cinnamon says:

    Firaxis are not a company with a perfect record and sadly calling a game x-com gives a developer less than a 25% chance to make a good game. But it might be good, and there are other titles like Skulls of the Shogun and Xenonaughts in the works as well.

    So as I see it, in front of us there is a metaphorical alien representing not having a good turn based tactical game in the next couple of years. But several soldiers are taking snap shots at it and one of them is a high ranked veteran with a heavy plasma. I can live with those odds.

  39. buzzmong says:

    Not enough info to make a comment really.

    Out of all the studios, I think at least Firaxis will realise and hold on to what made the original two games great though.

    Still, Xenonauts is going along swimmingly, so I’m not too fussed if this “reimagining” goes nips north.

  40. Jimbo says:

    Xtreme Checkers On Mars

  41. Larkington says:

    Don’t fret: Put a bird on it and it’ll be better.

  42. mondomau says:

    “Which is why the aliens on show look like lanky G-Men rather than trad. X-COM baddies”

    *Buzzer*

    Strike one paradox.

    Half the fun of the original is not knowing what aliens you were going to discover next and working out the best tech / strategy you needed to beat them – if i(if) this is just progressively tougher G men with more more sophisticated laser guns, count me seriously disinterested as far as the aliens go.

    The rest of it looks interesting, especially the base. I could personally handle a bit of gameplay streamlining, though not too much. The micro management must stay, or it isn’t an xcom game dammit!

    • Unaco says:

      They’ve shown Aliens in the art that’s been released (the Magazine cover, from the Game Informer article). I think these G-Men are possibly a sort of pre-cursor, advance party to the main invasion. They’ll be early enemies, maybe even just for a tutorial/preliminary mission.

      There will (almost certainly) be Aliens in the game.

    • mondomau says:

      Ah, well. Tantrum aborted then. Back to excitement!

  43. foda500orama says:

    Cautiously optmistic about this.

  44. coldvvvave says:

    So it looks like UFO: After-sries.

    • jezcentral says:

      That was my first thought, then I realised that what I thought were soldier-paths were (presumably) hexed-out areas showing area-of-view or something similar.

    • coldvvvave says:

      Oh, it really looks like hexes now, though aren’t they a bit too big?

  45. kud13 says:

    this is a comment that belongs in every single post about X-com,

    “but will there by Chryssalids?”

  46. pl4t0 says:

    While what Game Informer are saying can be interpreted as a bit worrying, this is Game Informer we’re talking about here – they know next to nothing about why PC gaming is unique (or, pretty much anything about PC gaming at all), and so I wouldn’t exactly put too much stock in what they say.

  47. pilouuuu says:

    It’ll be funny when this sells much more and is better reviewed than XCOM the shooter. That should teach the industry a thing or two. We don’t want just FPS or Third Person Shooters… We want other kind of games too! Other games can be good too. They can be even better! We will you understand?

    • Brun says:

      Sadly I don’t think it will teach the industry anything. They’re too creatively bankrupt and set in their ways.

      It will take a blockbuster phenomenon to “wake the industry up” as you put it. Something that obliterates sales records, etc. Then the industry will switch over from shooters and start making clones of that for the next decade.

  48. TheWhippetLord says:

    *warning – grumpy old man post*

    I really think the industry needs to grow up and stop trying to remake UFO:Enemy Unknown. It was a one of a kind game that hit at the just the right time when a lot of the fans, like me, were at just the right age to dig it. Trying to recapture the magic is as misguided as remaking Casablanca or Citizen Kane. It’s like looking for someone as special as your first love. It’ll all end in tears.

    I sometimes wonder what we’d have if all the effort that’s gone into XCOM remakes had gone into trying to make original games *as good as* XCOM.

  49. Dana says:

    Human enemies = cult of sirius-esque.

  50. Sunjumper says:

    There is also an interview with the developers which makes the whole project stand in a more favourable light. Like having the production team play the original every second week, asking hardcore fans and ex Microprose for feedback and that the designer of the new game seems to be a serious fan of the original who understand what made the game special.

    Have a look:
    http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/06/why-firaxis-loves-xcom.aspx