Intercepted – XCOM: Enemy Unknown In Action

By Alec Meer on March 6th, 2012 at 1:01 pm.

Here are my words on Firaxis’ X-COM remake, here are the lead developer’s words, and below, for the first time, is your own chance to eyeball it in glorious technicolour and living motion.

More footage to come very soon. I need to do some video-editing and spoken commentary, neither of which I’ve ever done before. Pray for me. Also, another interview with Jake Solomon will be on the site in the next few days, which goes into whether special abilities rule the tactical roost and why the new game only has one base (and why it’s not actually that simple).

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154 Comments »

  1. mr-wolfe says:

    I desperately want this game on the Vita.

    Edit: Obviously X-COM belongs on the PC first and foremost, but it would also be a perfect fit for the Vita. I’m not so elitist (or insecure and defensive, as others here seem to be) that I can’t express support for other platforms.

    I have learned my lesson though. I should have drummed my chest and shouted “LONG LIVE THE PC! DEATH TO MULTIPLATFORM!”, followed by hooting wildly while dancing around a bonfire. What a tribal community.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Why when you already have a perfectly good PC to run this?

      Wait, what’s a Vita?

    • Drayk says:

      I have 2 hours of public transportation each day. I would LOVE to be able to play this next XCOM on my vita too.

    • mr-wolfe says:

      Oh trust me, I’d buy it for PC and the Vita. Ideally, it would allow me to synchronize my games across both so I can take it anywhere. This is the one game that I would happily buy 2 copies of, in order to have it with me when I have to walk away from the PC.

    • Choca says:

      Some of the journalists on site when I saw the game a few days ago echoed your feeling about a VITA port to the devs. It doesn’t look to be in the cards but now at least they’re aware that some people want it on a portable device :D

    • Drayk says:

      I am really impressed by my Vita. It packs a lot of punch and the screen is big enough to play games with heavy UI. I really hope it gets popular.

    • Zephro says:

      I’ve been saying this at work as I’m the only one without a Vita. Until there is a strategy game, no sale. I just want X-Com or Advance Wars on the vita and I’ll buy it.

    • Khemm says:

      RockPaperShotgun: The Place For Sony Fanboys Since Today

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      All turn-based games must be corralled into the mobile ghetto.

    • subedii says:

      Hey, even if I don’t own a Vita, I can appreciate that this place is welcoming enough of console-side stuff. I hate when comments sections head towards “LULZ Consoles!” And “Dumbifications!” and other trite comments.

      EDIT: And it appears I spoke too soon looking at the comments below. Pity.

    • Zephro says:

      Dude it’s Khemm in an X-com thread. Just ignore it.

    • Malk_Content says:

      @ Zephro: I found out last night (whilst browsing the store for something new after getting my arse kicked at Blazblue again) that it runs (and allows) downloads of anything psp that was on the store. Stuff like No Heroes Allowed (nearest thing to Dungeon Keeper I’ve played in ever) and the Disgaeas have started to scratch my tactical itch. Though I do hope some new stuff comes out from the Vita specifically, if you had a psp you can regrab everything you had before and if you didn’t then there really are alot of great titles ready to be grabbed.

      @ Khemm: It is a suprisingly good system, for £210 it is incredibly cheap for what it offers. I know I sound fanboyish, but I’m mainly a pc gamer but for those of us who travel anywhere for longer than half an hour, or take massively long shits (and haven’t updated their toilet library soon enough!) it offers a damn good experience. Wanting XCOM on there isn’t a bad thing, hell I’d buy two versions of it if it was good/had enough variation in replays and not an indication of fanboyism. Is everyone who wants a PC version of a console game a PC fanboy?

    • Brun says:

      Better the Vita than more Angry Birds iOS/Android “game” nonsense.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It does seem a little “off” to come on a PC only site, and talk about wanting it on Vita.

      Like if I went into a lesbian bar, and started talking about how I want a heterosexual relationship.

      It might be good on the Vita, or the 3DS, or IPhone/Android, since the whole interface would probably work quite well with a touchscreen (touch to select, touch to select destination, etc)… since they emulate the freedom and accuracy of a mouse. Gamepads are a little weird, since they usually force you into convoluated menu navigation (press down 4 times to select the menu item you want).

    • mckertis says:

      “it is incredibly cheap for what it offers.”

      Which is basically nothing. Launch lineup sucks, and if i wanted to play PSP games – there already is a PSP.

    • zergrush says:

      A Vita port with some kind of savegame sharing compatibilty would be pretty freaking awesome.

      Also, Final Fantasy Tactics: WotL and / or Tactics Ogre : Let us Cling Together are must buys for any Vita owner that likes turn based strategy games.

      @mckertis

      Absolutely. If you’re not into portable UMVC3 / Blazblue multiplayer there’s pretty much no reason to get a Vita.

    • c-Row says:

      RockPaperShotgun: The Place For Sony Fanboys Since Today

      More like “The Place People Never Get Tired Posting The Same Stuff In Every Comment Section Even Remotely Connected To Said Stuff Over And Over Again”

    • Khemm says:

      @Hoaxfish
      “It does seem a little “off” to come on a PC only site, and talk about wanting it on Vita.
      Like if I went into a lesbian bar, and started talking about how I want a heterosexual relationship.”

      LOL. Spot on.

    • Zephro says:

      face + palm

    • Milky1985 says:

      I’d love this on my 3DS

    • Antsy says:

      I’m sorry Zergrush but using PSP games as a reason to own a Vita isn’t a good argument.

    • Malk_Content says:

      @Antsy: It is. Backwards compatability (if only in the download store, sadly) is a big selling feature. Its like saying “being able to play those old PC games isn’t a selling feature of the PC,” it totally is. The PSP (which includes minis and old PS1 classics) games library is large and seems like a good reason to grab a Vita as moving to PC from console. If you had a psp already, the value for money isn’t as great, but at least you can play your games on one system, if you didn’t that huzzah there are lots of games to try.

      I agree the launch lineup is a little weak, but I’m a massive fan of Rayman, Wipeout, Blazblue and even Dynasty Warriors, so 4 games I want is a good enough launch for me. That said I wouldn’t have picked it up if amazon wasn’t doing a launch bundle (was checking for when Disgaea 3 was coming out for it when I noticed.)

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    • AJH209 says:

      I agree, I’d love to see it on the Vita, but I’m not convinced the Vita will be enough of a success for people to want to port things like this to it. As much as I would like to see it.

    • Antsy says:

      @Malk_Content

      Sorry but it isn’t a good argument. Backwards compatibility is a great feature but selling a system on the strengths of its predecessor is a poor sales pitch and its value is extremely subjective. I own a PSP and both those games and he’s isn’t selling me a Vita there.

    • pksadsad says:

      Which involved knowing the number of TUs required to fire etc. It’s not an elegant system as it requires users to juggle numbers in their short term memory. Most PhD students struggle with that ffs, it’s not a matter of depth or intelligence. http://kuvaton.com/u/yhy

  2. Roshin says:

    I can’t get over how tired and uninterested the guys look.

  3. SAeN says:

    I love the new bases, I don’t like the making the player think less attitude.

    • Drayk says:

      Think less is badly worded I think. I hope they meant: “Think more about tactical desisions and not: if they have enough TU to attack after moving.”

    • subedii says:

      That’s my impression. As much as I like X-Com, there ARE interface issues and mechanics that can be streamlined or reworked without losing the core gameplay. Stuff that when you don’t need to deal with it, allows you to get on with the actual decision making.

    • Khemm says:

      @Drayk
      With TUs, you have possibilities AND rich tactical decisions.
      With their newly conceived system, you have some tactical decisions and severely hampered possibilities, because there have been limitations imposed on what you can do.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      The base view-angle is kinda cool, but I wonder if we still get base-invasions… and how that’d work if everything is vertically arranged rather than horizontally. They specifically mention how they’d designed it “like the levels” then moved away from that.

    • Drayk says:

      @Khemm You’re right but I am curious to see how they’ll streamline/modernize the game without making it dumb. I can still play the old one if it sucks.

      Plus, it was really infuriating when you were one TU too short.

    • niasyn says:

      From what it sounded like to me, they removed TUs from the players “headspace” but they are used in the back ground, to control the badassery that you can accomplish.

    • noom says:

      I don’t think they’ve covered the move away from TUs in a good way in this video. In the previous interviews here on RPS the chap talked more about how they felt the new system worked better in terms of visualizing your tactics for your whole unit rather than individual soldiers. ie. with TUs it could be harder to tell if a specific soldier would be able to reach a location and still be in a position to lay down cover fire for example. So by limiting the complexity of an individual soldier’s abilities, you increase the flexibility of broader tactical decisions.

    • jezcentral says:

      @Drayk It was even more infuriating when you had the time to make a shot, and accidentally made your man rotate on the spot, using up a single time-unit!

    • Zephro says:

      Yeah, no undo function no deal.

      Then again that’s just me dumbing it down :P

    • Lucid says:

      I hate the new bases.
      They LOOK cool but that’s about it.

      Tactically, it makes no sense to confine yourself to a single base at a single location.
      And not to mention that it looks kind of like a pain to actually manage it.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      “With TUs it could be harder to tell if a specific soldier would be able to reach a location and still be in a position to lay down cover fire for example. ”

      This is such a load of old cobblers. X-Com allowed you to push one button to reserve the time units to allow reflexive cover fire.

    • ceriphim says:

      So… No base combat then? =(

    • Zephro says:

      “This is such a load of old cobblers. X-Com allowed you to push one button to reserve the time units to allow reflexive cover fire.”

      Which involved knowing the number of TUs required to fire etc. It’s not an elegant system as it requires users to juggle numbers in their short term memory. Most PhD students struggle with that ffs, it’s not a matter of depth or intelligence.

      Coupled with a lack of an undo function the TU system is terribly anachronistic.

    • Jolly Teaparty says:

      Actually I agree, it’s hard to get a feel for how far a soldier could travel before you’d see “TIME UNITS RESERVED FOR AUTO SHOT” flashing. That being said I did generate the feeling for it. It was something that developed as I played, I found it quite rewarding.

      It’s a shame they decided to dump TUs, but maybe this’ll work. After all I did play one other game which didn’t use time units had the same feel to it. However it was another game by the Gollops; Laser Squad Nemesis. The feel of sending a unit round the corner, submitting your turn, then watching the replay only to catch a split second glimpse of the enemy or the oncoming grenade/missile before the area got fogged… the only thing that compared was walking into a UFO, seeing an alien, but finding yourself one time unit short of a snap shot because you forgot to account for the soldier turning to face the right direction.

      This game looks little too swish for my liking though. It doesn’t look oppressive or moody or unnerving or any of the things X-COM did. It may be a good game anyway though, and I’d like to play more turn-based tactical squad games. After all, I’ve got my preorder for Xenonauts already.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      This is such a load of old cobblers. X-Com allowed you to push one button to reserve the time units to allow reflexive cover fire.

      Yeah, but you never actually wanted to “Reserve TUs for snap fire”. What you wanted was “Reserve TUs to rotate 90 degrees, crouch, and snap fire”, and there wasn’t a button for that, so now you’re clicking on the attack button to see how many TUs a snap shot takes and then doing mental arithmetic to make sure you don’t wind up vigilantly scanning the area 90 degrees to the right of the UFO door while Sectoids take potshots at your side armor, eighteen times a turn.

      The TU mechanic could have been good with a few tweaks, and I expect that Xenonauts will make it sing, but in the published X-COM game it just lead to endless, tedious, pointless micromanagement. It’s kind of a shame that Firaxis is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but the system they’ve got at least sounds streamlined and highly playable. I’ll take that.

    • jezcentral says:

      You can’t have an undo button, otherwise you’d have everyone cheating by doing a quick search round, and then undoing if there was no alien.

      Live and die by your choices! If you don’t, I bet you were the kind of person who reloaded the mission when you lost a favourite soldier. You were, WEREN’T YOU?!

  4. Alexandros says:

    I’m a bit annoyed by all the talk about how they are trying to make the game more visually appealing instead of analyzing core gameplay mechanics. However, I understand that pitching a turn-based game to today’s mainstream audience is not easy and you have to find some sort of angle. Gameplay footage was… ok I guess, not bad but also not terribly impressive. I need more info on this game.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      the talk about the camera basically spinning around the action sounds like something I’d like to see once, and then maybe turn off. At worst, it’s going to be like a cut-scene every time you shoot something or throw a grenade.

    • caddyB says:

      I hope you can turn it off. I had it on for a while on the new Fallouts, gets boring real fast.

    • wodin says:

      I always wonder why I can look at a trailer and think it looks amazing and yet others say it’s OK. I want to know what games these people play? I want them.

    • Urthman says:

      Provided you can turn it off, I think the cinematic camera is an amazing idea. It seems like a great way to emphasize how rewarding a turn-based strategy game can be vs. playing something in real time. The pleasure of taking time to plan your tactics and then watching them play out.

      I hate how RTS games let you create these enormous, amazing battles that you can never really watch and appreciate because you have to be frantically micromanaging everything.

      One of the things I loved about Freedom Force was the way it felt a hybrid between playing a game and directing an actually good comic book movie. You’d give your orders and the game would play out in real time, but at any moment you could freeze the game, move the camera to just the right place and angle, and then get a great look at all the most exciting parts.

      But then, in Freedom Force, you could also just let it run or even speed it up when you’re just moving around the map or bashing thugs. So being able to turn off or skip through the cinematic cam seems like it would be essential, and I’d be really surprised if that’s not in the game.

    • Reapy says:

      I like cinematic cams. I left them on in fallout 3, and I never got tired of headshotting someone with a hunting rifle from long range watching the bullet track in and the casing eject from the weapon.

    • Zephro says:

      “I hate how RTS games let you create these enormous, amazing battles that you can never really watch and appreciate because you have to be frantically micromanaging everything.”

      So true, I genuinely just loath micro management. I am a great general, my sodding regimental colonels should be able to manage their own troops bayonets without me baby sitting them. I want to sit on the hilltop and survey the whole sweep of the event.

      Why I’ve never gotten on with base builder RTS games like C&C, Supreme Commander or Starcraft. Give my Sid Meier’s Gettysburg every time.

    • Jackablade says:

      I must admit I’m not the most experienced XCom player, but isn’t having cameras swooping around where the players wouldn’t normally be able to see going to cause gameplay issues – revealing aliens that shouldn’t be seen and such like?

    • irongamer says:

      “I hope you can turn it off. I had it on for a while on the new Fallouts, gets boring real fast.”

      This. At least allow us to tap the space bar to skip the “fancy” camera shots. I’ll watch them once and then I’m done. Get back to the gameplay.

    • Rymdkejsaren says:

      Swooshing camera shots will probably look nice for the first hour or so, and then you turn them off.

      There had better be a game left to play when you do.

  5. Khemm says:

    Xbox footage. That pretty much shows where Firaxis’ priorities lie and why the dumbification is taking place. Their explanation for simplifying the game by removing Time Units among other things sounds so unconvincing, TU offer more possibilties than the new system they came up with, they’re imposing restrictions the TU-based system didn’t have, how is it MORE tactical again?
    With the new base layout, will invasions still take place or have they removed those, too?

    That aside, the gameplay footage is pretty OK. Nice animations, looks better in motion than in the static screenshots. It can be a good game in its own right, but I’m not getting many X-Com vibes from it. The visuals will become dated very quickly due to the bland, generic art style and simplification of the mechanics will severely hamper replayability, I fear.

    • Solskin says:

      Isn’t it time to drop the “X-Box/PS3 must mean a dumbifation” attitude?

    • Khemm says:

      @Solskin
      No, because in this case it makes perfect sense. They’re marketing this game to console players and designing it primarily for console, one would have to lie to himself to believe otherwise.

      I mean, there’s even no inventory now. No ammo. That’s ridiculous.

    • subedii says:

      If they’re marketing exclusively for consoles, then why the heck have they been doing all their major exclusive and in-depth interviews with RPS?

      Man, someone in the marketing department gonna get fired

    • GT3000 says:

      I understood the shoot-move system as a replacement for the tedious and unnecessary number crunching of TUs. Same tactical options, streamlined approach.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      @Solskin

      Well, there’re some current examples that maybe it just still does.

      A minor/silly example is ME3 putting the blame on consoles for the removal of things like holstering weapons.

      Obviously you can design around the limitations (like the lack of buttons on a gamepad), but when a PC can basically perform so much, consoles are an obvious limitation in a lot of terms outside of just pure design mechanics.

      This sort of hardware limit imposing game-design is why a lot of MMOs design around WoW-style combat etc… something arguably tied to anti-lag design induced by limited bandwidth of old.

      I think this X-Com is looking good at the moment though.

      @subedii
      They also did a bit of stuff with Game Informer a couple of weeks ago I think

    • caddyB says:

      As long as they don’t promise that something awesome will happen every time I press a button, I have hope.

    • subedii says:

      I believe they’re trying to deliver more on the prospect of “Every turn you will have an interesting decision to take”. Which is basically what Sid Meier said, and also something I can get behind.

      @Hoaxfish: Yes, but at least as far as I’ve seen, the vast bulk of the media coverage for this game has been focused on, and coming from, PC specific sites.

      The console oriented ones are more interested in the FPS XCOM.

    • RakeShark says:

      Not sure how there’s severely hampered possibilities Khemm. Maybe it’s limiting options that you can do in one turn, making the decisions more important, and that’s fine with me.

      Maybe you’ve played X-COM different from how I played it, but from my standpoint block TUs serve the same purpose as fluid TUs. Maybe with fluid TUs you can just barely pull off the kneel behind a wall you walked up to and snap shot from, where as what I’m seeing with the block TUs cover’s already taken care of so I don’t have to worry about kneeling, just moving/shooting/finding cover. That’s something I don’t mind at all. I’d kinda expect X-COM marines to know to automatically take cover, rather than act like shopping mall security and stand there like clay pigeons, relying on me to tell them “GET DOWN BEHIND THAT WALL YOU STUPID JARHEAD MUPPET!”

      You may have to be more specific as to what’s being mauled for the sake of “dumbification”. It sounds like more of a gut feeling, rather than fact as you’re trying to imply. Is it the loss of fine control over the marines you aren’t happy about?

    • Gesadt says:

      wait wait wait WHAT. no INVENTORY!?

    • Brun says:

      Isn’t it time to drop the “X-Box/PS3 must mean a dumbifation” attitude?

      No, because it’s the truth.

      For the past 5-7 years, all of the major studios (and a lot of the mid-level and smaller ones) have been concerned with “attracting new audiences” and “expanding their customer bases.” That’s basically shorthand for “sacrifice your core fans to go after the masses, which have more purchasing power due to their size.”

      The problem was that in 2004, the state of gaming was such that it was not going to be attractive to the wider audience. It was too hardcore. Gaming needed to be “democratized.” There were two ways for that democratization to happen. First, you could produce some more casual-friendly games and attempt to ease people in to gaming, then slowly bring them up to the level of the core fans. Personally, I believe (or want to believe) that this is how it started out at most studios – descend to the casuals’ level in order to raise them up. But once they were down there, they figured out just how much money they could make by simply staying there – it was cheaper to produce those games, and you could make plenty of money from it.

      Enter the Xbox 360. The PS3 can be lumped in here too, but if you want the real culprit, look straight at Microsoft. Now, a caveat here – I don’t believe that it was Microsoft’s intent that consoles be used to democratize gaming, at least not at first. However, it was wielded expertly by the likes of Activision (with CoD) and EA (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) as an instrument of that democratization. And slowly but surely, its taint has crept upstream into the PC gaming world, as publishers and developers continue to cater to the lowest common denominator.

      In short, the Xbox 360 hate exists because that console is the very symbol of the destruction of PC gaming culture and the sharp decline of gaming culture in general.

    • HothMonster says:

      That is some fine revisionist history Brunn.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Isn’t it time to drop the “X-Box/PS3 must mean a dumbifation” attitude? ”

      So we should ignore the evidence around us because we might be mean to the little consoles and hurt their little feelings?

      Removing complexity is “dumbifcation”, it may also make it more accessible (which is a good thing) but they are part of the same brush.

      You tend to not be able to have one without the other. Just one is seen as positive and the other not.

  6. Zephro says:

    The art style seems to chime off the original to me, it does look great so far. We’ll see about gameplay, move+ action is an ancient and thoroughbred game mechanic as well they’ve used it in D&D for ages so I don’t relally see it as *sigh* “dumbing down”.

    • c-Row says:

      Incubation had a similar system in which you had four (?) action points per character which you could spend on moving (one tile = one point) and shooting as necessary, and that certainly wasn’t “dumbed down” either.

    • jimbobjunior says:

      Not to mention the great tactical tabletop and boardgames that use pretty much exactly the same “move and action” mechanic.

    • Reapy says:

      Yeah, honestly, I don’t like to do math on the computer, that is what the computer is for. It is sort of like when you play a board game and it crosses over into tedium territory, and you think, this should be on a pc.

      I liked xcom a lot but I guess I wasn’t a rabbit zealot about it. Time units were a ‘oh, that is neat in how it sort of corresponds to real life’ way, but when you played with it, it just ended up with a lot of math overhead.

      I think about things I do in real life and heck in action games, and I have a pretty good estimate if I have enough time to do something. I can get cover in time, I can sneak up behind this guy before he turns around, I can get to that ball before it hits the ground etc.

      You just know these things, and it is very believable to think that your marines know if they can make it to cover in X amount of time.

      I’ve played a lot of strategy games on the pc and minatures and all that, and honestly “action points” just play so much clearer than time units.

      You can get all the variability of time units with action points but in a clearer way. If you want movement and actions to bleed in together you do things like the board game Descent where you sprint, that extends your movement by taking away an action.

      IE in time units you can move 5 paces, snapshot twice, or move 10 and snapshot once. The equivalent is that you have 2 action points, and a range of 5. A snap shot costs 1 AP. You can spend 1 AP to move another 5 spaces.

      The second way is much clearer to see at a glance than doing the math in your head to split out that one time unit pool.

      I will give it one worry though, the way they do movement is very clearly a 360 controller scanning around the ground. I know how they are probably going to implement that movement with a mouse and it’s probably going to feel like another console UI port.

      Overall am excited for the game though!

    • Zephro says:

      @Reapy

      I agree entirely. I really don’t understand the attitude at all. In miniature/board gaming/ P&P we rate games on their elegance to create a feel and depth with the bare minimum of fiddly rules, look up tables and other unnecessary gubbins. Also systems that can’t be “gamed”. So that you can really get your teeth stuck into strategy and tactics without micromanagement.

      But for some reason all these arguments, on PC, seem to imply that elegance in design is dumbing down.

      People can only memorise so much or hold so many numbers in short term memory. The ability to memorise how many TUs different shots all cost so you can estimate a turn better isn’t really focusing in on the tactics…

    • mckertis says:

      “Incubation ~snip~ certainly wasn’t “dumbed down” either.”

      *facepalm*
      Incubation was way, waaay simpler than X-Com. If that wasnt obvious (for ~some~) after very first mission – its pointless to explain further. However it wasnt dumbed down, indeed, but that is because it was based off of Space Hulk mechanics, and never had anything to do with X-Com in the first place.

  7. frenz0rz says:

    I spy an Alien Containment room on the “Build Facilities” menu.

    This pleases me.

  8. Hoaxfish says:

    run then shoot
    run then run some more

    what about…

    shoot then run?

    I’ve seen plenty of srpg games where they forget that someone might actually want to perform an action, and then leg it afterwards (duck into cover, run into the space they’ve just opened up, etc).

    I’m not expecting, shoot then shoot more, or action + more action… though that would be nice too.

    The cover-mechanic (stand near wall/low wall) appeases my desire to see “crounch/prone” sort of actions though (making it more about positioning, rather than manual adjustment)

    • Khemm says:

      Or how about “move out of cover, shoot, hide behind the next cover”? With TUs, that would be possible. The removal of TUs is the #1 concern for me.
      I so hope someone will mod the current system out or if that proves to be impossible at least modify it severely to open up more possibilities when it comes to available actions your soldiers can perform.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “Shoot then run” was mentioned in the interview as one of the skills your soldiers can pick up, if I’m not mistaken.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      yea, that whole cover -> shoot -> cover thing is nice.

      From just a blind design perspective it always sounds like it’s very hard to balance in terms of starting and then ending every turn with your character protected making it sound like an “ultimate defense” in a way…

      but in practise, plenty of games seem to pull it off.

      If we can’t do it here, hopefully they allow us some sort of defensive system, so if a unit is standing out in the open at the end of the turn they’re now a sitting duck for return fire. From the look of it, the cover system/hiding on the corners might be what they’re thinking (so you’re never supposed to be that “in the open” but creeping around the edges of obstacles)

    • Reapy says:

      There are many miniature games out there and board games and systems of simulating things that move and take actions. There are many variations on it.

      The boardgame descent has no time units, but does still allow you to move, take an action, and continue moving. Not every game with separate move/action phases forces you to take them in a particular order.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      But in original UFO 1 you can cover-shoot-cover. For example by crouching behind a bush or rock or fence, standing, firing, crouching again. Actually, sometimes it isn’t necessary to stand, because you could shoot above many such objects, like fences. They all have defined heights, the same with aliens and soldiers. Soldiers have different height when crouched. Some floating aliens also have a defined height they are floating at, so you can shoot under them, if you’re lucky. Personally, I love TU’s, I am still playing the first game as of today, and am not convinced by the changes they are making. The game they are making – tt really looks too much like “streamlining = dumbing down” slogan in action for now. But will see.

      As for interface – first UFO was also present on Playstation 1. That one with gamepad. So even console players these days were able to use that interface with the hardware they got, and were not crying. Maybe present players are pussies, if they need so much streamlining the game looks more like simple board game now than computer turn-based STRATEGY. But they haven’t covered all in that video, so there’s still hope.

  9. JackDandy says:

    This is looking great.

  10. megazver says:

    This looks excellent. And they got the Russian female last names right! Firaxis has always been good to us Russians.

  11. Stevostin says:

    IMO kill cam doesn’t bring attachment, it damages it. Attachment is about investing your self in a character, and as Scot Mc Cloud brillantly demonstrated with comic books, it’s directly connected to how much imagination the viewer put in the picture you provide him to complete it. The only cons to that is to allow great customisation thus – and it seems they have it.

    • Drayk says:

      I don’t think it’s really the case since you can make your own team anyway.

      I tend to get attached to my team even if they are well defined. Sure in some cases being a bit blurry can help the projection but i don’t feel less attached to Shepard than to Link or Mario. I am not a fan of the silent protagonist theory either.

      BTW: j’adore tes bds.

    • Stevostin says:

      Precisely ! The bright thing with Shepard is that you can define his face. It’s a really smart move coming from the “stuck to story line” paradigm used in those game, and it made a huge difference for me.

      And as you said, they’re puting custom faces in this one so kill cam make sens… As long as you’re using customisation. If you’re after working with the random dude the kill cam will not really help picture something really of you own.

      (now don’t get me wrong, you can be attached quiet a lot to ultra well defined character such as movie character. There are other things at work. I am just saying there’s a subtle involvement that exists only if you give enough to start imagination but not enough to block it. It’s not the only way but I am always happy when a game try this way round. Old X-Com certainly illustrates it well.

  12. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Looks good, but did I hear right when they said they “added” cover and made the game more tactical? In what original X-Com game wasn’t cover present? Unless they’re conflating cover with peeking out from cover.

    • megazver says:

      Being able to lean out of cover rather then having to run into the doorway, shoot and run back out like a moron each time you want to do something *is* the most important part of cover.

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      You’re conflating taking cover with a blitz or rush move. Or maybe just describing the consequence of how tile-based engines worked or were made to work. Which is not the same thing.

      Cover already was implemented in X-Com, with the difference that, being a turn-based game, all moves were individual. This means that I can duck behind a rock, but shooting behind it involves selecting and carrying out several actions: get up, aim and/or fire, crouch again. The modern day usage of cover automatically has characters “stick” to a surface, adapting a stance corresponding to the cover’s own elevation. Turn-based was always an abstraction of time; “shooting and running back out like a moron each time you want to do something” isn’t meant to be a literal interpretation of combat flow, but as a sequence in a series of events (imagine if Gears of War would freeze frame every step you made, to use a somewhat contrived analogy) and as a risk-reward mechanic, much like shooting from cover and exposing yourself in, say, a shooter that’s entirely three-dimensional and doesn’t section off every possible place on the map in a grid.

      Mechanically, walking out of cover isn’t different from peeking out of it – you’re still placing yourself at risk so as to get a couple of shots in. Even in shooters, I can be hit while shooting from cover. Same thing, different presentation.

  13. Hillbert says:

    Really looking forward to this. The one question is PS3 or PC when it comes out.

    On the one hand I’d like to support games like this on the PS3 and due to the limitations of my laptop the PS3 tends to be more immersive and comfortable, but on the other the PC will probably have better customisation and UI.

    Hmmmh, decisions decisions.

  14. Hentzau says:

    I’m not inherently opposed to the glam-cam, but I do hope I can turn it off for the routine missions I want to get out of the way quickly.

  15. iucounu says:

    Fuck me, that looks amazing.

  16. mckertis says:

    Please tell me i wont be forced to put my single available base in USA ? Pleeeeese can i leave USA to be ruled by the alien overlords ?

  17. wodin says:

    2012 looks like a decent year for PC gaming..thankgod.

  18. Mungrul says:

    I am slightly worried that their interpretation of TU means soldiers will feel more generic.
    Will every soldier be able to move the same distance every turn? Will this potentially go even further resulting in stats being uniform across the board? Will the only differences between soldiers be how the look and sound?
    Other than that, looking very good :)

    • Weed says:

      I’m with you Mungrul. Inventory carried by soldiers affected their TUs. You had to make the stronger soldiers the AT (rocket launchers), the soldiers with better aim were the snipers, etc.

      Nothing against this re-imagining. I definitely want to play it. But it might be kind of silly to compare it to the original.

      This will be a whole new game *based* on the XCOM of long ago. It’s just too bad that they include huge design decisions based on supporting consoles. I’ve yet to see a game that was designed for the console or supported by the console also, that transitioned well to the PC too. Just doesn’t happen. At least not yet.

      I think Xenonauts will be more of a remake. But again, although these two games will both be based on XCOM, they will still be very different. Funny how we all want to capture that original XCOM discovery, gaming rush.

    • Seboss says:

      TU are just abstracted away and wrapped in move-shoot or move-move actions. That does not necessarily mean soldiers will all be the same. Soldiers can have different movement allowance and weight capacity that can be affected by their equipement.
      But yeah, I’m afraid speed and equipment allowance will probably depend on soldier class and not individual soldiers stats.

  19. Cognitect says:

    Looks pretty good so far. Base building is in the game! Yay! There were a couple of things that made me raise an eyebrow, though. First was the “scan for UFOs” button. Why would it be there? Will nothing happen unless I press it? Is it actually the “start the next mission” button?

    Also, the game apparently tells players exactly when any ongoing research is going to finish. Which hopefully is information that won’t be available on higher difficulty settings.

  20. Beelzebud says:

    OMG that actually looks 100% totally amazing! The combat looked amazing, and the way they did the bases is really sweet looking. This just went to the top of my MUST BUY list!

  21. c-Row says:

    @Khemm

    Despite the fact that you will go on rambling about Firaxis dropping TUs even after everybody and their dog knows how you feel about it by now – why don’t you go back playing the classic XCOM games instead? The new game won’t render them unplayable, and posting the same vitriolic stuff over and over again won’t magically turn this game into what you want it to be.

  22. Robin says:

    The more I know about this game the less I think I’m going to like it.

    Yes, I’m a fanboy.

  23. Rymdkejsaren says:

    “Ok how can we simplify that and sort of free up ALL that headspace that takes up in the player’s head.”

    This kind of comment worries me. Trust me we have enough “headspace” to understand the concept of timeunits.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      The problem isn’t understanding what time units are, but what exactly 78 TUs let you do. Calculating that for an entire team is a boatload of unnecessary math.

    • mckertis says:

      “a boatload of unnecessary math”

      Did you really just sit in front of the screen with a calculator ? Most people dont think about math, they just take one glance at the field and ~presto~ !

    • Zephro says:

      Are you really saying working out what 78 TU really means when you’re planning an overall strategy is either elegant or intuitive?

    • mckertis says:

      What i’m saying is that i dont remember having to “work it out” in X-Com, ever.

    • Zephro says:

      Ah so you just improvised and never planned ahead when you were learning. Fair enough.

      For the rest of us when we first played it we would zoom into a mission and go. “Errr what’s 78 Time units mean? What does one TU represent?” then not really understand how 78 converted into actual action. You have to do implicit calculations to understand 78 means you can move so far and then shoot or duck etc.

    • mckertis says:

      “Ah so you just improvised”

      No i didnt. Is that a hard concept ? Where did you go to school, Texas ? All calculations happen in the background, you dont concentrate on having to calculate how many tiles is 78 TUs.

      “For the rest of us when we first played it”

      Now you just switched a topic on me. When you first play it you have no idea, but really, one mission is enough. It is enough for one soldier to take one step.

      Maybe its just me, i dont know, sometimes i watch Let’s Plays on youtube, and many people are just plain dumb. Never read the giant glowing piece of text right before their eyes, instantly forget things they saw three seconds ago, have ridiculous reading failures that change the meaning entirely, build elaborate theories on how a specific game mechanic works with no basis whatsoever…

    • MD says:

      Maybe you’re just really, really smart, mckertis.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      There’s no need to make any calculations after learning the game. If somebody’s brain doesn’t make it automatically – after some practice in given terrain of course – then I can only feel sorry for him. And even before you learn to do it subconsciously, the involved math is so simple and basic, I don’t have idea how could that be a problem. That’s a strategy, for heaven’s sake.

  24. shadowmarth says:

    Several EXTREMELY TROUBLING THINGS from this video, and honestly they all stem from one thing. X-Com had a lot of nuance, but it WASN’T convoluted. In fact, once you got your bearings, it was a very simple game. If anything they should be making it more complex, giving you more options, but they’re simplifying.

    First, they said X-Com didn’t have a cover system. And in the sense that it didn’t have an indicator of when your dudes were in cover, or any kind of snap-to system, that’s correct. But it ABSOLUTELY had partial and complete LOS blockers, and you could (and would if you had even a handful of brain cells) set your guys to crouch behind them to take cover. You would move between cover carefully, keeping your guys covered by the others still behind them. Yes, sometimes you needed to sprint across an open field with little cover, but that’s the nature of combat, and there’s nothing wrong with that, X-Com was hard and should be. Adding a snap-to system with two degrees of cover is just simplifying (or dumbing down depending on your point of view) an already present mechanic.

    The ant farm base. It looks cool, but that design pretty much excludes the possibility of base invasions working the way they did previously, with your design playing a key role. And without that, there’s literally no need to even think about your layout. On top of that, one of the things they said near the end suggested that you would only be managing ONE BASE! That is an UNACCEPTABLE degree of simplification!

    The art style doesn’t look at all like the original. Needs a lot more blood and color, a lot less Gears.

    The camera shots are lame, but my thinking on that is covered very well in the RPS article about it.

    And if what some people have said about NO INVENTORY and NO AMMO is true, I’ll be officially ready to write this off as not capable of being on the same level as the original.

    • lordfrikk says:

      Basically my thoughts. I don’t even play much turn-based stuff, except for X-Com and Heroes II once a year, but that video really made me worried. I know it’s old news, but did anyone really crunch numbers when deciding what to do with TUs? I fucking hate math and it never was a concern to me. How are the soldiers going to advance their skills? Or is that out, too?

      “Players hate it when you take control from them, and we do it every turn.” Good job? The killcam in Fallout 3 was the biggest annoyance ever, now you’re designing game around it. I pray it will be disable-able.

      TL;DR: When you want to make game better than original, don’t start with cutting stuff out…

    • corver says:

      No, we didn’t crunch numbers all the time with TUs, but at least based on my experiences, I’d believe we only managed one or two soldiers at a time. Pick a soldier, exhaust their TUs, then decide how to play the next unit around where that one ended up. You can make a general plan, but TUs serve primarily to restrict and create flaws in the execution of that plan.

      Regarding the killcam, Fallout 3 was real-time, and this is turn-based. That is their point. They’re not taking control away from the player because you don’t have control at that point anyway. The clips I saw in the video were quick. As long as they don’t make the mistake of lingering too long with the camera and creating lots of dead time, it shouldn’t be overly annoying and it looks very good. I certainly agree that there should be an option to turn it off, though.

  25. Strangerator says:

    A bit concerned by the scale of the battle shown. With squads limited to 4-6 soldiers I don’t think you’ll have battles of the same size or with the same risk of casualties. Aliens seem to die easily, humans appear to outmatch them. This too comes with not being able to have many troops. If enemy snipers were present, and able to just cap one of your troops, you’d lose 25% of your force quite quickly. Jake Solomon has said he never wanted to “unfairly kill off” any of your troops, but that was kind of what made the original’s battles feel like such a desperate situation.

    Fog of war is present, but appears to be pushed back a little too far considering the sight lines of the troops, and the fact that it is a night mission. Berzerker wall-crashing would work better if you couldn’t see through the walls and know it was in that building.

    Last pet peeve is the concept of having to earn basic actions, like firing and then moving, instead of those very basic things being innate to all trained soldiers to begin with. I know there’s always a push and pull between realism and gameyness (sp?), but it feels like gameyness is winning out with some of the concessions being made for accessibility.

    What I do like: Being able to play XCOM again. It may be a bit GI Joe, but it looks fun nevertheless. And there’s always Xenonauts too. It’s hard to be upset with two X-Coms coming down the pipe.

  26. hosndosn says:

    It looks… “safe”. But it kinda seems like they didn’t add a single new gameplay feature. Note that Apocalypse already solved the time units “problem” by turning the game real-time back in 1997! I wouldn’t have minded them using that system, their awkward turn-based-but-we-kinda-are-afraid-of-turn-based approach is weird. What other gameplay reasons are there to get the X-Com 2012 remake? The ant farm? Cute… but utterly superficial. The “cover system”? Uhm, X-Com had a cover system. It was called “positioning your units behind obstacles” back then. The… what are they calling it… “cinematic mode”? I can see myself turning it off in the options half an hour in because it will turn out to be annoying.

    So what did over a decade of advancements in gamedesign add to the gameplay? Except for dumbing it down a tiny little bit? And note: I wouldn’t mind these parts being dumbed down if there was something interested adding in the other end, but I plain don’t see any example of that in all the previews. At its current state I see a frickin’ turn-based X-Com release in 2012 that I have no reason to buy. Which is a frickin’ shame. All the potential. Friaxis working on it. This should blow my mind but I have a deep, deep sense of “Meh” about it.

  27. Dammokles says:

    I think I came a little. Don’t worry, none of it got on the money that I’m going to give to Firaxis.

  28. Bassem says:

    Does anyone else stop watching – or skip ahead – whenever it’s a video with talking heads? Especially as they’re made in-house. It’s like having an interview with yourself. I don’t know, it just bugs me, it seems self-congratulatory.

  29. Lemming says:

    You know, Alec had me worried about the glam-cam in his article, but now that I see it in action, I rather like it.

  30. Jimbo says:

    Looks ferocious.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I was surprised, but they actually managed to make the turn based combat look pretty visceral in those scenes.

      Assuming it’s not just selective editing tricks making things look more awesome than they are, it’s a pretty nice touch.

  31. TsunamiWombat says:

    so is there any gameplay here or is it just talking heads?

  32. Crumpled Stiltskin says:

    They are the moving the camera closer and showing you what you would see anyhow. Just closer up. I like it.

  33. aircool says:

    This game looks the fucking business. I was 22 when the original UFO was released and would often daydream about how awesome the game would be in the future on a more poweful PC.

    I don’t think they’ve lost any of the essence of the original, and the camera work looks fantastic. UFO has always been my favourite game. The new game looks like the best addition to the series since, er, well, the original.

  34. MFToast says:

    Looks like tactical combat will be a little more streamlined, I like that. The original is cool and all, but only a fool would try to argue that it’s not a clunky as hell system. Cover seems to be essentially the same, only your soldiers actually look like they’re taking cover now, rather than idly standing behind a corner. I’m thinking more the way cover works in Red Orchestra 2. It also looks like TU’s aren’t really gone. The way they explain it sounds pretty much exactly the same, “If you move too far you can’t shoot”, it’s just that you won’t have to bean-count every step and turn so you can still pop off an auto-shot at an alien which I think lots of people will appreciate. Also love the international flags on the soldiers’ uniforms and I think the specialization of your troops will totally make these guys a lot more personal to you. I’m excited to see this, but of course haters gonna hate.

  35. Antsy says:

    Brilliant. This can’t come soon enough for me. They’re taking the ball and running with it. Its 2012 and someone is making a new, proper XCOM and that’s awsome. I’m not going to piss and moan because of things it does differently to a nearly 20 year old game who’s mechanics go back another 10 years.

    Don’t mistake me, I had Rebelstar Raiders, Rebelstar, Laser Squad on my Spectrum, C64 and Amiga and I love them to this day but I’m happy to see someone develop the idea. They’re passionate about it so encourage them and maybe we wont wait another decade to see some more.

    I’m starving for some new UFO/Xcom, so when it’s set before me i’m not going to complain about the ingredients, if it tastes good i’m going to stuff my face.

    • MFToast says:

      Here, here!

    • wodin says:

      Aha..An old Rebelstar player here aswell.

      I just love squad based tactical games ever since Rebelstar. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this ASLONG as it isn’t a Commandos clone. As at the moment it seems more puzzle based than tactical

  36. RadioactiveMan says:

    After this video, I am much more comfortable with the Ant-Farm style base. It looks great, and I love how you zoom in on rooms when you interact with them- That seems like a cool design decision (at this point).

    I don’t know what, if anything, is planned for base defense missions, but I think something really cool could be done with a side-scrolling base defense mission utilizing that Ant-Farm view. It would be awesome to see aliens pour in through your Access Lifts, and have soldiers move to meet them on multiple levels within your base, seeking cover within the rooms, while you order your scientists to flee to the furthest part of the base… I’m just saying, the Ant-Farm perspective does not have to mean the death of base defense missions.

    • wodin says:

      I heard there where no base defense missions.

    • Jimbo says:

      You should install ceiling turrets and traps and shit as you build your base out. Have the base invasions turn into tower defence.

      Half because it could be pretty good, half because it would wind people up and I find that funny.

  37. MythArcana says:

    I came, I saw, I threw up in my mouth. Normally, I would want Firaxis to attempt an Alpha Centari sequel, but seeing how this thing is ending up, perhaps not!

  38. Calculon says:

    I squealed like a schoolgirl. Really. A schoolgirl.

    Im excited.

  39. mrbeman says:

    Is no one going to comment on how distractingly hot Jake Solomon is? Good god! I mean I’m excited for the new game or whatever, but holy shit, how can anyone pay any attention to what he’s saying? He’s all “hello, I’m made of sex AND I’m working on the x-com remake,” like, damn. Dude’s got it goin’ on.

  40. Matzerath says:

    I just hope the entire game takes place at a gas-station, and was originally intended as a Maximum Overdrive tie-in.

  41. bill says:

    It’s really hard to time clicking on the scrubber bar so that i skip all the boring talking people and see all the gameplay.

  42. sophof says:

    I haven’t been this exited about a game in ages, this is really dangerous…

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