XComforting: Happy Enemy Unknown Details

By Alec Meer on January 16th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

I can't make out what it says on the bottom right

New screens and resultant info-nuggets have arrived for Firaxis’ X-COM reimaginging, and they’ve assuaged some of my concerns. By which I mean “wahoooooooooooooooooooo! (cautiously)”

In addition to that, I’m hearing that XCOM – the shooter – has been delayed again, to 2013. Whether that means it’s gone back to the drawing board yet again, is waiting to see how the Firaxis game does or has its head on the executioners’ block I just don’t know. It does mean that Enemy Unknown is now definitely the first game in the XCOM relaunch, which pleases me greatly.

An American magazine is hosting a few new shots of the game, plus an oddly shrugging attempt to make fans of assorted console franchises believe that XCOM is for them.

First up there’s this, which demonstrates multi-tier levels and what I think are destructible environments, together with what just might be the new-look Mutons.

Also some pigeons, which might be another type of alien but honestly, I’m pretty sure they’re just pigeons.

This one has the game looking particularly spangly, and shows it off from a close-up camera.

Sectoids! To-hit stats! Dead civilians! Hard-to-pronounce Russian names! All of these things are good, X-COMy things. Obviously there’s a tell-tale console ‘RB’ icon in there, but that doesn’t worry me too much at this point. The magazine posting these shots is primarily aimed at console gamers, after all.

Then there’s the new-look geoscape, which is quite striking:

‘Hold Y to scan for UFOs’ is an odd one though – does this suggest you have to manually find them rather than are alerted by radar when one’s appeared? Good to see funding and research all present and correct though.

The shot at the top of this post, meanwhile, shows a more recognisably X-COMmy perspective than we’ve seen thus far. I.e. the one I’ll probably play from even if I have the option not to. I do generally like to be as zoomed-out as possible.

High-res versions of those shots are here. The magazine is also offering a video discussing the art of XCOM. Off you go.

I should be interviewing the devs later this week with a bit of luck, so we’ll know more very soon.

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144 Comments »

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  1. Nidokoenig says:

    Move and shoot isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Ghost Recon on the 3DS has move and shoot, and that was a good game. I almost said “had” there, though, that game is definitely a past tense thing for me, mostly because move and shoot allowed levels to be very specifically planned, killing replay value, I don’t want to repeat puzzles I already know how to solve. X-Com was very good at making you feel like this was a “real” event, that there wasn’t some nice, friendly game designer choreographing the level, and that’s as much about taking knowledge about how the player moves and can act away from the designer as it is withholding knowledge from the player. The less rigid the player’s options are, the less able the designer is to lay down rails and plan a solution, because they can’t be sure the player will be able to intuit where the rails are due to the chaos the system encourages. X-Com isn’t about solving this puzzle and moving on to the next, it’s about resolving a situation, a situation which has not been meticulously planned and focus-grouped.
    Move and shoot also tends to flatten weapon potency, because if you can fire a pistol once or a rawket lawnchair once you go for the lawnchair every time, so the lawnchair needs to be nerfed. In X-Com you can give everyone a laser pistol and put up an impregnable wall of reaction fire at no cost and wait an eternity for the enemy to decide to blunder into it, or give everyone a rawket lawnchair and clear the site in a couple of turns, at the cost of much expensive ammo and a lot of destroyed salvage. I don’t expect move and shoot to produce that level of asymmetry. Compare, say, Ghost Recon on the 3DS, where all the minigun is used for is suppressing fire and turret busting, not for clearing rooms.

    All the same, I don’t expect this to be the second coming of X Hyphen Com, it’s XCOM, it’s a different beast, and I’m going to enjoy it the same way I did Elder Scrolls: Capital Wasteland, even if it does make the exact mistakes I’m worried about, because they’re not gamebreakers, they’re just things I’d rather not see.

    Oh, but if only the intended target can ever be hit, and we don’t get missed shots flying off and killing what they actually hit, I’m gonna be pissed. Watching projectiles crawl ever so slowly across the battlefield, wondering if they’ll hit the target, the civilian next to it, or sail off across the level, through a second floor window and kill your Rear Commander, that anticipation, the fact that you have to watch your crossfire, the fact that a great many reasonable accidents are not just possible, but likely, that draws me in a whole lot more than bullets that either hit dead on or disappear.

  2. Sidewinder says:

    One thing I haven’t yet seen anyone mention about the ammo- how is this going to handle different types? Does this mean no more walking through town with a half dozen autocannon-HE troopers?
    And perhaps more worryingly, are we going to see area-limited terrain destructibility like Red Faction 2? I am hopeful, but concerned.

  3. Reapy says:

    Just had to get on record saying my confidence in the title is gone at the “RB” and “hold Y to scan” xbox controller. Once again, the dev build is on the xbox, what the show off, is on the xbox. This means that the game will be designed to be managed on a controller, which is inevitably going to creep into what the design of the game.

    Why is it that PEE CEE users still aren’t an important enough market to target. Us PEEECEEEE people are the ones driving the foot stomping demand for an updated XCOM game and want to make it rain on the developers, yet once again we are presented with this console bull shit. You may say i’m over reacting now, but let me tell you, when this game comes out, you’ll be feeling a game optimized for old hardware and a controller.

    I mean I own a 360 and PC and game on both. There’s a time for either, but a turn based squad strategy game by the name of XCOM should be geared for the pc and ported to the console. I guess sales figures say otherwise though.