New Mutons: More XCOM Remake Glimpses

By Alec Meer on January 31st, 2012 at 3:16 pm.

Where's your green skin-tight catsuit, man?

We’ll have a very big chat with the XCOM: Enemy Unknown devs at Firaxis up for you at some point in the next few days, but in the meantime an American magazine has released a few more screenshots of the strategy reimagining of darling old X-COM. The magazine’s post also shows off some of the tactics you’ll be using, how a battle might play out, a little on the (inevitably) contentious new movement/action system and perks and – you’ll like this – the destructible environents. Plus a close-up peek at the new-look, slighty Stroggy Mutons. I’ve snuck a couple of shots below and hope it won’t result in a threat, but there are many more, plus vital descriptions over here and over here.

Conveniently explosive gas station:

Enviro-boom:

A more familiar view:

Sectoids, sprinting, cover:

Class and perk stuff aside – impossible to make useful comment until I’ve tried that stuff myself – it’s looking more like it, isn’t it? The American magazine’s dripfeed of information a bit of a tease in a way, but I suppose that’s the point. I’ll be bringing you much more detail very soon though, promise.

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108 Comments »

  1. Cinnamon says:

    I hope that you asked them if we can have a 1994 mode with things like no rpg class system and full squad sizes from the start.

    • Dana says:

      No. If I will want 1994, Ill play games from 1994. I dont want same game with new graphics, that would be pointless and a waste of cash.

    • Cinnamon says:

      How would it hurt you to have it in there as an optional game mode? Oh no, it’s appeasing those horrible people who want to play it like a strategy game so no sale for me.

      If anything from a new UFO game in this era I want more units on the field and more emergent strategy decisions, not less.

    • sneetch says:

      Yeah, I find it difficult to understand those who are opposed to optional modes and features.

    • Unaco says:

      I find it difficult to understand people who think adding in an optional, radically different game mode, can be done quite easily and wouldn’t hurt the other game modes. I’d rather they keep their development focus on balancing/features etc. for a single game, and not two.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Oh my life, whatever, if it’s too much trouble for them they can just say they are not doing it and I don’t have to buy it. What harm is there in asking for something that would sell the game to me.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      Optional features that will make a little percentage of the playerbase happier aren’t worth the developing time. It’s much more efficient to polish and add content to the main game.

    • Nevard says:

      Optional modes and features take dev time
      I wouldn’t mind myself but I can see why people might be annoyed by it

    • Sheng-ji says:

      If it’s fairly easy to mod, then everyone will be happy :)

    • Cinnamon says:

      They already say that they have a mode for fans of the original although I forgot what they are calling it. I just want to know if this mode has enough features more like the original for it to seem like a more interesting game to me. If they are serious about this mode then they should put some effort into it in my opinion.

    • PoulWrist says:

      You could always play Xenonauts

    • sneetch says:

      Of course it would take time, of course it would take effort, nothing in coding (or life) is truly free. However, only the developers themselves would be able to decide how much effort it would be to provide these kind of features just as only the individual customers can decide how much they are truly worth. Personally, I don’t care for the specific options Cinnamon mentioned but I do believe that options and suggestions are good in general.

      I find it odd that the argument seems to be that “it’s not worth the effort because very few people want it”, surely that attitude is the reason why games are being “dumbed down” and are so homogenous now (and why Syndicate is an FPS now).

    • Cinnamon says:

      I just find it odd that people are trying to correct my behaviour towards being more defeatist and pessimistic. I thought that I already excelled in both areas.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      >surely that attitude is the reason why games are being “dumbed down” and are so homogenous now

      Most of the times “dumbing down” is actually an improvement in gameplay design by removing the non-fun parts and concentrating on the fun ones. We are playing a game to have fun, after all.

    • vecordae says:

      @Cinnamon:

      Ah, don’t worry mate. I’m with you on having an optional game mode. Yes, it’ll take additional time and resources, but it would be a cool feature and wouldn’t, necessarily, hurt the game experience as it was originally envisioned. Even if it was simply a player-only tweak, giving you additional options while the aliens did their move/action thing like they would in the normal game, I would be pretty happy.

    • Hanban says:

      I recently tried to play Terror from the Deep and honestly I couldn’t bear it. I have no idea how I had the patience to reload saves back in the day to keep my aquanauts from the impending disaster waiting around every goddamned corner.

      No, everything was certainly not better back in the day. Let’s hope these devs can keep what worked and improve upon what didn’t!

    • Kent says:

      I think this is a good idea for an optional mode, but I think that most people that respond here have their brains on auto pilot. He says that he wants the RPG systems to be disabled in the new X-COM and fair enough: I mean, most RPG elements are really shit.

      What people seem to notice though is that he says ’1994 mode’ and get the impression that he wants to play the same game, but with better graphics. You’re all obviously wrong, since it’s all about the removal of the shitty RPG mechanics that he wants to be able to do without having to wait three years for a mod.

      I’m not hopeful about RPG elements in this game. You know what you get when you blend RPG and strategy? Dawn of War 2. Sure the original X-COM: UFO Defense have RPG elements too but they’re there to compliment the game with some randomness and more subtle instead of telling the player which person that should use the auto cannon and who should use nothing but pistols.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      How about 1984 mode, in which we’re all told what to think, and FPSes are the right way.

    • Tuco says:

      @CaspianRoach says: “Most of the times “dumbing down” is actually an improvement in gameplay “.

      No, it isn’t. And apologetic fans like you, always quick to justify any stupid dumbing down for the sake of “change and progress” are exactly part of of the problem.

    • Cinnamon says:

      RPS is just yearist against 1994. Sure, Ken Levine talks about 1999 mode and it should always have been that way for everything but mention 1994 and it’s all pitchforks and boiling tar.

    • Archonsod says:

      “No, it isn’t. And apologetic fans like you, always quick to justify any stupid dumbing down for the sake of “change and progress” are exactly part of of the problem. ”

      If it annoys idiots like you, I’m inclined to support the problem.

    • Brun says:

      @CaspianRoach:

      It’s a very fine line. A certain degree of streamlining or other “quality-of-life” changes are welcome. When those changes come at the expense of gameplay depth is when there’s a problem. Dragon Age: Origins vs. Dragon Age 2 is a prime example of the developer sacrificing WAY too much gameplay for the sake of streamlining.

    • Zyrusticae says:

      “You know what you get when you blend RPG and strategy? Dawn of War 2.”
      And this is supposed to be a bad thing…?

    • Big Murray says:

      No game has had it in it yet, and I’m already sick to death of the phrase “[insert year here] mode”.

    • psycho7005 says:

      None of us have actually played or even seen a video of this game yet, so why all the arguments? God forbid you may actually like this game for what it is, and if you don’t then that’s a real shame. Either way, how about we reserve all this until we have a little bit more information, hm?

    • noom says:

      Well, this was the most pointless argument I’ve read on here in a while.

    • lurkalisk says:

      @Archonsod – “If it annoys idiots like you, I’m inclined to support the problem.”

      I have a hard time believing that’s actually true, but if it were, I’d think you a total dreg. Not just because I agree with Tuco, mind you.

    • jamesgecko says:

      I demand that my 1994 mode contain mandatory futzing with autoexec.bat and config.sys before the game will start.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Don’t forget trial end error to find out which of the slight variations of Sound Blaster 16/AWE/Pro/Compatable will actually get you sound, ideally in stereo, and trying to remember the IRQ for it and high and low DMA settings if it doesn’t quite autodetect right.

      (When you kvetch about “Windows bloat” and how things should be written “to the metal”, this is the past you’re crying to have back.)

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Programming motto: Options Are Bad.

      Options do more than just add dev time… if only they only did that. What they do is increase, exponentially when they interact with each other, the complexity of your software, and make it much harder to debug and polish.

      Quick explanation for those who have never made a large (i.e. several thousands of lines of codes) program in their lives. What happens is that when getting to the game mechanic affected by the option, the programmer instead of just implementing it must then branch into IF option A THEN… ELSE THEN, which makes the code harder to make, understand and test. Then both in branch “A” and in branch “not A” you get another branch for option B which interacts with option A, and so on. You can get around the huge conditional structures that ensue by using object-oriented programming techniques and by swapping out one class for another depending on the option, but those structures are even more costly to make and maintain: they help to manage the problem but only move it elsewhere in a sense.

      In other words if you ask for both many game-changing options and a bug-free game released on time, you’re an idiot.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “I recently tried to play Terror from the Deep and honestly I couldn’t bear it. I have no idea how I had the patience to reload saves back in the day to keep my aquanauts from the impending disaster waiting around every goddamned corner.”

      You’re playing X-com wrong. Savescumming ruins the game.

  2. Chalky says:

    Oh god, it really is looking a bit good, isn’t it? I cannot wait.

  3. Kdansky says:

    Looks great, though they would not have to copy every single alien species down to the dot. Surely, they can come up with new monsters that I can weep over!

    • Maktaka says:

      They have. Thin Men are a new foe, and arguably the Cyberdisc has gotten such an update that it might as well be new. On the flip side Sectoids are the same (and very similar in appearance) while Mutons are the same in functionality, but with a much more shock-troop-appropriate look instead of the green onesie. Check out http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/18/alien-breeds-the-evolution-of-xcom-s-enemies.aspx

    • Unaco says:

      Well, we’ve already seen the Alien controlled, impostor G-Men as enemies… so that’s something at least. I think there will be some new enemies, but at the same time they’ll likely keep them quiet I would reckon, so as not to spoil any surprise.

      Also, you have to remember, when the first couple screenshots came out and the G-men were spotted, there was a Daily Mail level OUTRAGE going on… Tantrums about enemies that weren’t in the original (sacrilege), certainty that they would be the ONLY enemy type (progressively tougher G-men with progressively better guns, and that’s all), that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t really blame them if they tried to concentrate on the ‘familiar’ for the next few rounds of publicity.

  4. Meat Circus says:

    I’m going to allow this.

  5. Snids says:

    This is different to the old X-Com! I want it the same! WHY HAVE THEY CHANGED THINGS?

    • hosndosn says:

      Can we please stop this? It’s not unreasonable to hope it won’t offer less strategic options than the 1994 game. This has nothing to do with innovation. I wouldn’t even mind the FPS approach if it didn’t look so shallow and uninspired.

      So far the Friaxis game looks promising. I just hope they don’t polish out the ridiculous depth and amounts of micromanaging that made the original game so special. I wouldn’t even mind a game-mode (i.e., a difficulty setting) that allows you to skip the more tedious bits, but it’s the truly detailed and strange gameplay bits that are most memorably about the first game for me. Psi-controlling an alien, going into it’s inventory, priming all his grenades and leaving them in there… mmm.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      *raises hand* I think Snids was being Sarcastic.

    • Chris D says:

      I think hosndosn had picked up on the sarcasm but there were quite a lot of double negatives in there so it wasn’t obvious.

    • Jesse L says:

      Can we all try to stop being sarcastic in this way? It’s worse than saying nothing.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      But how else can we appear to have a superior grasp of anything without having to present a convincing arguement?…

      Crap, I did it too! The easy route truely is tempting isn’t it?

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Actually, despite the sarcasm, the complaints are almost solely fulminating on the incredibly modest changes.

    • hosndosn says:

      It didn’t even occur to me that someone might not have picked up on the sarcasm. My reply was anti-anti-anti.

  6. Meat Circus says:

    The destructable windows on the cars is a nice touch.

  7. Lugg says:

    Is that a placeholder texture in the background of the title screenshot, or is it just really ugly design?

  8. hosndosn says:

    I’m curious how “free” the destructibility is, i.e. whether you can shoot out a building’s walls exactly where you hit it with a rocket or if it’s more of a scripted thing where a gas station just has an “asplode now” trigger and that’s it.

    • Bfox says:

      This worries me a lot too, it’s such a wonderful feature in the original would be the worst shame for it to be over simplified so that some textures change when things are shot at rather than proper destruction and removal of objects

  9. Cooper says:

    Can someone coherently explain why the move / fire system is definitely worse than the time units system?

    I can see that they are very different, and that they means very different decisions and tactics. What I can’t see is that there is a clearly obvious judgement that one is ‘bad’ the other ‘good’…

    • hosndosn says:

      I’m no expert on the new system but in a way the time unit system was a “blank canvas” taking into account a gazillion factors you could manage to your advantage if you wanted.

      For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have minded them going with a real-time but easily stoppable approach like X-Com: Apocalypse. It offered the exact same options (actually, you could switch to turn-based at any time!) and felt great.

    • Seth says:

      Pretty much what Hons said. Because it was so fine-grained, the TU system allowed for a number of cool design elements –

      Soldiers could gain more TU as they gained experience.

      Small, sub-movement actions like reloading, moving a grenade from belt to hand, or crouching down could be modeled in terms of their time cost. (One of the coolest things: moving a grenade from belt to hand was slightly more expensive than, for example, shoulder to hand, but less expensive than backpack to hand. So you could make your commandos MAXIMUM PRO TACTICAL by optimizing where they put everything.)

    • Chris D says:

      Time Units vs Move+Action

      Pro’s: Allows for more finely detailed turns as these fine gentlemen have pointed out.

      Con’s: Makes all actions that bit more fiddly.
      How often does it actually make a difference?

      It’s a trade-off between those times when it actually does allow you to do something cool and the other times when it’s just a bit more hassle. I’m not sure there’s a definitive right and wrong here. It’s a judgement call depending on what your design priorities are and how it works together with the rest of the game.

    • Wizardry says:

      I haven’t read much about this game, but what is move + action? Is it “move units” + “action units”? If so then I don’t see much wrong with that.

    • Chris D says:

      Wizardry

      In this case I believe it’s that every unit gets a move and a single action rather than a stock of time units with which to do both. I forget what the source is for that so I may be wrong.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      With move + shoot the optimal tactic is usually blindingly obvious. Is there anywhere better to move to? Move there. Is there anything to shoot at? Shoot it.

      With time units you have to balance your priorities much more carefully, you can’t have your cake and eat it every time like move + shoot. Want to move to better cover/firing position? Ok, lose TUs for one of your shots then. Shot an enemy but he’s not down? Do you go for broke and shoot again and have no TUs to move or hedge your bets and get behind cover?

      Essentially, TUs give you a great deal more options, argueably making the game more exciting and mentally stimulating.

    • psycho7005 says:

      The guys at Firaxis tried the game with TU’s first, and then tried it with move+action, and there was a consensus that the m+a option was more fun for THEIR game. I say ‘their’ in big letters as although it is a remodel of a classic, there are a lot of changes going on and it will be a different beast than the original. They say they have a ‘Mutator Friday’ thing too, where every friday they add/change something in the game they think could work, and see if it actually does. It’s all in the interviews that gameinformer had with the devs.

    • Wizardry says:

      Essentially, TUs give you a great deal more options, argueably making the game more exciting and mentally stimulating.

      No. That’s a lie. SSI moved from time units to separate movement points in the late 80s and their games massively improved as a result. The tactical depth didn’t change much, even though the tactics required changed, but the playability sky rocketed. I’m not saying Firaxis hasn’t dumbed things down, but separating movement and actions isn’t necessarily a bad thing from a tactical perspective.

    • hosndosn says:

      What I don’t understand is why there aren’t difficulty options that re-add elements like detailed Time Units in this case. Apparently, they actually had them in at one point but removed them. Why not keep them for people who want it? It’s such an unheard concept in gaming. The last time game difficulties actually affected gamemechanics was… Theme Park comes to my mind. You could set whether you wanted to manage food stocks and price negotiation in the difficulty settings. Why isn’t that standard by now?

  10. Bluerps says:

    Interesting – this could actually be good!

  11. Torgen says:

    When I saw the gas station, my face lit up.

    I’m still not sold on the console-game-like “abilities” of the soldiers though. :(

  12. Robin says:

    > I’ll be bringing you much more detail *very* soon though, promise.

    How many “e” that *very* has? Is it like “very” or more like “veeeeeeery”?

    Btw: small unit cap and no TUs are still aspects very hard to digest to me.

  13. zaphod42 says:

    You had me at “grapple to higher ground.”

  14. Jorum says:

    Interesting. From the links it looks like will be very class and class-skill/perks focused.
    For example heavies have a suppressive fire option, snipers get high ground perks etc..
    Which sounds like could be cool.

    Only worry I have is that by hard-baking these roles and tactics into the game fights could become a little formulaic, as compared to players fluidly creating roles and tactics.
    (i.e heavy does suppressive thing because thats obviously what the class is for , while assault flanks because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and sniper climbs onto building because all his perks and gear tell you that’s where he should be).

    I guess my fear is that to make it more less intimidating to xbox players they make tactical aspect a hand-holding, do-this-then-do-that affair.

    • BrendanJB says:

      Yeah I can’t say I am a fan of giving set classes to characters. I kind of like the “forging your own class” thing based on what your soldiers do in the field. If they use their pistol most of the time they get better at using their pistol, if they throw grenades their aim improves with grenades, if they use heavy weapons then they get stronger with those, etc, etc, so on and so forth.

      Not that it’s a deal breaker or anything, it’s just what I would prefer. Hopefully it’s not all customized skill points and perk trees.

    • Torgen says:

      In the original, when I’d get to the point where the last alien(s) were holed up in the saucer and I had 8 troops positioned to out the doorway in a crossfire, I’d have the rookies practice tossing illumination balls around for skill improvement.

    • Svant says:

      What i dont like about the abilities is that they instead of giving you more options actually limit your options. Why can’t my assault guy lay down coverfire with his rifle? Sure it probably wouldn’t be as effective but it could still work with enough fire etc.

  15. BloatedGuppy says:

    Well this sucks. Why are they remaking 2K’s spectacular looking FPS as a hum-drum turn based strategy game? Everyone knows strategy games aren’t contemporary.

  16. sephiroth says:

    hmm well this is looking like it might be fun and maybe even tactical and thinky but its not what I want.

    serioulsy the ’94 game with the well know problems fixed and shiny would be better, right now I’ve said that AGAIN! back to this game. think I’ll buy it on what I’ve seen here.

    any words on multiplayer? that could be fun and someting x-com always missed out on due to age and unballanced sides but its mandatory today isn’t it?

  17. Lars Westergren says:

    >contentious new movement/action system and perks and – you’ll like this – the destructible environents.

    I am reminded of Freedom Force. This is a good thing.

  18. nimzy says:

    There’s a class system? But it was so satisfying doing psi-testing and finding out the most worthless member of your squad had massive psionic talent…

  19. Duffin says:

    This may just be incredibly picky but with all the bright and ‘pastely’ colours I’m afraid it will lose that fear factor the original game had (similar to Space Hulk). I can’t imagine the same trepidation when I turn every corner with this art style / graphics.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Wait, what? If anything, this looks less colorful than the original. I mean, yeah, if we’re talking about the parts of the original where your squad shows up in some unlit field, I suppose the bits that remain unlit are by definition not colorful, but we haven’t seen this game’s version of those bits yet. Well, I guess there was that shot with the G-Men in the forest, but still, the first game was pretty damn bright. That didn’t stop it from being scary, because the fear was all in the systems and sound design and music. If the ones in this are similarly grim, then the fear won’t be going anywhere.

    • Torgen says:

      THIS sums up the epitome of nighttime terror missions: http://i.imgur.com/324VO.jpg

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Yes, I vividly recall my squad being one with the shadows as they paraded around in shiny blue spandex clutching their red-and-white laser rifles.

      Meanwhile, over on my other forum there’s a dude complaining that the exact same pictures are brown and washed-out. I don’t understand the internet sometimes.

  20. wodin says:

    Turn based “Commandos”.

    Oh hum, not keen on the different classes. Looks more like a puzzle game or chess.

  21. Jimbo says:

    “an American magazine”

    Oh, you mean the GameStop brochure?

  22. squareking says:

    Hold me closer, Kimmie Kaspar.

  23. Rei Onryou says:

    Can someone explain the “headline gags for Kieron Gillen” for me?

    • Chris D says:

      They’re never funny if you have to explain them,but…

      It’s a play on New Mutants, a comic featuring the X-men who Kieron Gillen, former writer and still director of this site, writes.

      Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    • Rei Onryou says:

      I liked that. I don’t follow the comic world too closely so I wouldn’t have known the names of individual series runs.

      Heh, KG joke.

      KG

  24. vecordae says:

    Reply failure! I just lost all of my meagre cool points.

  25. jonfitt says:

    Strogg poetry:

    Strogg is strogg. STROGG!

  26. Blackcompany says:

    Looking forward to more info about this game. But I cannot be bothered to go to “that American mag” for information. They’re the only American mag to get any gaming news and they advertise for games, not review them. Be nice to get some information from a source I trust, since I never trust information from a monopoly.

    Also: If there is one thing I have learned from Saints Row 3, its this: Convenient exploding gas station is convenient.

    God I hate that ‘word sandwich’ meme.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      You sound silly

    • Blackcompany says:

      Well, it wasn’t intended as a full-on serious reply, to be sure. Though I do wish we had a little more variety over here in terms of gaming news. Always nice to get a second opinion or another pair of eyes to look at something, you know.

  27. Rawrian says:

    Nice. I actually wish for an XCOM game based on Terror from the Deep. There’s too few underwater games around, and too many games featuring conveniently explosive gas stations.

    • Torgen says:

      Are there any other kind of gas stations?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      most are inconveniently explosive

    • Saiko Kila says:

      All stations in UFO: Enemy Unknown were inconveniently explosive, because they were present only during some Terror Missions, and the usual victims of explosions were fragile civilians. Terror units were often more resistant to explosions than to other forms of damage (cyberdiscs or sectopods), and none of them were more susceptible to it (despite Ufopaedia entry for chrysalids). So gas stations were rather unfunny, unless you define Fun as in Dwarf Fortress.

  28. Hoaxfish says:

    While we wait, some nice fellow stuck up a hex-based turn-based srpg type Flash-game thingy called “Mission in space: the Lost Colony” : http://www.kongregate.com/games/StormAlligator/mission-in-space-the-lost-colony

    Game informer is apparently running some sort of “event week”. They’ve got an interview with Sid Meier: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/30/civilization-and-the-future-of-strategy-games-an-interview-with-sid-meier.aspx

  29. Dawngreeter says:

    What? This is what passes for X-COM in this day and age? Why does EVERYONE have to start turning arcade-flavored space shooters into turn-based strategy remakes? Is Wing Commander: Land Squad next on the list? Disgusting.

  30. Craig Stern says:

    So this is going to take a different approach than Xenonauts. That means we’ll have a variety of different X-Com-inspired TBS games available rather than a series of games that all feature near-identical mechanics. Call me crazy, but I think that sort of variety is a good thing.

  31. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Interesting stuff. BUT: does this mean they won’t be doing any significant expansion–i.e. more than DLC factions–for Civ V? I know it didn’t set the world on fire in the same way as IV and wasn’t beloved by long-time Civ fans, but it was far from a bad game and got a lot of improvement from patches. If naysayers for Civ–which had several very different sequels and spin-offs and what-have-you–could kill expansion development in a core, long-running franchise, what will they do when the rabid zealots of a long-defunct classic start coming out of the woodwork? Which, by the way, is already happening.

  32. Navagon says:

    If this one’s successful I hope they remake Apocalypse next. Then I’ll that will be my year’s free time planned out.

  33. kud13 says:

    WIll there be chrysalids?

    I know I ask this in every post related to X-COM, but I want an answer, dammit!

  34. BobsLawnService says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. Like others I hope they get the level of destructibility right. I want the option of levelling a town in the face of crysalids if it means a few extra squaddies escape a fate of being infested.

    Also, a good tech progression.

    And flying power armour so that I can relive my Starship Troopers fantasies.

  35. Phasma Felis says:

    Reply fail. Why won’t this thing work?

  36. ThaneSolus says:

    looks good! I just pray they dont frack it up, just to get some sales from zombies/drones.

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