Firaxis Talk XCOM, Redux: Bases, Ammo, Skills Explained

By Alec Meer on March 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.


Just in case my three-part, 15,000 word interview with Jake Solomon, lead designer on Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown, wasn’t enough for you, here’s a follow-up chat with the effusive main brain behind the X-COM remake. This time, we’re finding out about how much soldiers’ special abilities define the game, what’s been done to ammo and why the perception that this new version only has one base isn’t quite right.

RPS: The special abilities, like grappling up to higher ground, are there loads of those?

Jake Solomon: There’s a lot. I mean, it depends. We have special abilities that can come from armour and items, and then some items can be upgraded to have more and more abilities. Items and armour are obviously unlocked, so anybody will be able to put those on – any class can have any kind of armour. And then the other abilities come from the classes and the perks. So you’ll choose ‘I want this ability, I want that ability’ and those are class-specific, but then some come from armour. Some are innate, every character can do them – overwatch, hunker down which doubles your defence, and things like that.

RPS: To what extent are players going to be using those abilities instead of a move or a shoot? Are they the bulk of what you’re doing?

Jake Solomon: No, I think that we’ve tried to keep movement really important, because – and this is actually interesting. [laughs] Well, I’m telling you that it’s interesting, it doesn’t mean that it’s interesting… Movement has always been really important, flanking cover which I showed and height advancement. We tried to build a lot of things into the environment, otherwise it gets static and the player goes ‘oh, well I’m a sniper and I picked headshot so I’m just going to use headshot all the time.’ And you don’t want to use cooldowns too often, you don’t want to have some things that are more abstract.

So what we try to do is have really big bonuses for environmental benefits – like when I flanked the Sectoid [in the demonstration], it seems minor, but that’s a really big bonus, flanking cover is a really big bonus. If [the enemy unit is] in high cover, especially if they’re hunkered down, flanking is the best thing you can do. We wanted to keep the player moving, moving is still probably the best thing you can do. So you’re always moving and then taking a shot.

The other abilities… you certainly use them, but I guess it just depends. Some abilities you wait until they come back up. Let’s say run and gun on the Assault class, that’s a good it example. It has a very long cooldown, so you use that but you know that when you use it that’s it during this engagement, or if other aliens show up in the middle of this engagement, you’re not using that again. That can save your ass a couple of times. So… yeah. [laughs] Was that a yes or a no question?

RPS: Nooooooot exactly.

Jake Solomon: Well, then, 7? Is that a good answer?

RPS: [laughs] That’ll do it. So the cooldown is simply just a cooldown, there’s nothing you do to tweak that?

Jake Solomon: Yeah. The cooldown is necessary but it’s not like all abilities have cooldowns. Let’s say the rocket launcher – at one point that had a cooldown on it, and it was funny because there were people out there who analysed the screenshots and they were like ‘oh my god, the rocket launcher has a cooldown, it’s the fakest thing I’ve ever heard of.’ And that hurt because by the time it came out we had already been around and changed the rocket launcher to just an inventory thing – you only have this number of rockets unless you perk. So it’s the sort of thing where cooldowns aren’t as common, but yes, we use every trick in the bag, so either you have this many charges or you’re only carrying this many rockets, or this item only has one use or we do have cooldowns.

RPS: So basically any point where someone’s having fun, you get in the way and say ‘no!’

Jake Solomon: Right, we say ‘hold on a minute, you’re having a good time.’ [laughs]

RPS: How much have you been tracking the response online now there’s more information out there?

Jake Solomon: Yeah, I’m surprised at how cynical some responses have been. I mean, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and I probably shouldn’t say this because I’m not that tuned into the response but people do keep me abreast of it. But ammo is a good example. People say ‘oh my god, they got rid of ammo, they’re trying to make this game too simple to play.’ And I was shocked by that, because ammo didn’t matter in the original. I changed ammo because it didn’t matter. So what I did was I said ‘okay, you’re going to run out of ammo a lot more, and if you use something like Suppression it’s going to use a ton of ammo because you’re firing the whole time.’

That’s the sort of thing that I was surprised people were unhappy about, because the only change I made was alright you’re not putting the clips on your guys, but let’s be honest in the original game the clips were huge and they weighed 1 and the lasers didn’t even have clips. So in our game laser weapons overheat, and you can actually run out of ammo so reload is actually a tactical decision. We actually tried to make that sort of thing matter more. I don’t blame people, but it was a little bit cynical, they were like ‘oh I can’t believe they got rid of ammo’ and we were ‘but we didn’t! We made ammo more important!’

Some of those things have surprised me, some of those things have not. I mean, time units…

RPS: I’m not going to ask you about those again, don’t worry. There were a couple of moments in my original playthroughs of X-COM where, because I was crap at it back then, I’d run out of ammo and need to go loot alien corpses for clips. That was quite exciting, when you found one that did have the right clip and you’re ‘oh my god, I’m back in the game!’

Jake Solomon: I mean, those are the tough calls as a designer, right? People have those memories… I won’t call them one off, but they’re experiences that, if you try to design for them, it’s very, very difficult and in some cases it fights the overall system. That’s a good example – I had that memory, and ‘oh, you can put dudes in your backpack’. That’s great, but… designing that kind of stuff, you have to devote effort to it rather than something else, so, y’know…

RPS: Oh, I must ask about the bases. You’ve only got one base in the new one, right?

Jake Solomon: Yes. [World-weary expression]. Yes. Are you looking for ammunition, Alec? [laughs] Yeah, you only have the one base, and then as you saw there in the hanger, you can expand your Interceptors and Satellites to other hangar bases on the other continents. So depending on what continent you choose to start the game – like, ‘I want to start in Europe because of bonus x,y,z’ – then as the game plays on you can then expand your satellite coverage to other continents which have other bonuses, and you can also expand your jets into hangar bases on those continents.

So you still have to cover the world, and if you don’t you will lose that part of the world. But it’s true that research, engineering, barracks, those all happen at a central location.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is scheduled for release in the third quarter of this year.

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187 Comments »

  1. Cooper says:

    Will we be finding ourselves defending our base?

    • MCM says:

      No. There will be no base defense missions.

      • jonfitt says:

        Whaaat!? Is that true?

        • ulix says:

          Since the base is displyed in a side-scrolling 2D-view (with 3D assets) it wouldn’t even work.

          • Makariel says:

            Why not? As you said, the assets are 3d after all. I can’t follow your logic.

          • Groove says:

            It could easily work, even the original had multi-layered bases.

          • Morlock says:

            In that case base defense should play like a 2D side-scrolling platformer or shooter. It’s really simple as that.

          • Kingcole225 says:

            What a ridiculous thing to say. Just because the base is represented in 2D doesn’t mean that they can’t make a 3D map out of it for you to fight in. The base in the first game was represented in 2D as well. That didn’t stop them.

        • mondomau says:

          As far as I am aware, there hasn’t actually been any confirmation of this. It’s conjecture, and should not be stated as fact.

          • Kingcole225 says:

            No it’s very true. They got rid of base defense because they decided that they one wanted to have one base (for no reason besides it being too complicated to have a couple of bases) and because you can only have one base they thought it would be unfair to have base defense, as you’ll only have one chance.

    • wodin says:

      I heard no then I’m sure he said yes in an interview (might be the last one done on here). SO I’m not so sure now.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Yeah I was sure I had seen him say there would be, but I thought it was more a “that’s something we want to do if we can”

  2. MCM says:

    This game is starting to sound as much “not X-COM” as the FPS is “not X-COM”

    • Mad Hamish says:

      No. No it’s not.

      They had me at Gertrud Schulz. That name is XCOM as fuck.

      • Vorphalack says:

        Having never played the original, and therefore looking at this preview with no emotional or nostalgic bias, I can’t honestly say i’ve seen anything that put me off. This title has a good chance of standing on it’s own if they manage to provide depth of gameplay and some decent challenge. X-COM will be on my watch list for this year.

      • MCM says:

        Yes, except that every XCOM clone has used names like that, and randomly generated combinations of names, yet none of them seem to have to fully captured the original game.

        • Mad Hamish says:

          Well I’ve only played up to Apocalypse(which I loved as much as the orginal and is generally thought of as an excellent game in it’s own right) and this games seems to be making less radical changes that was in that. So I find your pessimism a bit misplaced.

          • MCM says:

            Funny how you brought up Point A (soldier names) and then suddenly started talking about something else (general amount of change between Enemy Unknown and Apocalypse) when I pointed out that Point A was dumb, and then called my position misplaced.

            What is “misplaced” is the goalposts, because you just moved them.

          • Mad Hamish says:

            Bloody hell it was a joke not a point. Names are not important. I was taking the piss out of your rather silly original post. That’s what I was addressing in my second post. This thread seems to have gotten you all worked up. This isn’t and argument. Now go take a deep breath.

    • Sunjumper says:

      Really, what makes you think that?
      It sounds like X-Com 2, where they keep a lot of the things of the old games while trying out new things.

      It must be quite a bit of a nightmare for a developer, because they can’t just make the old game again, that wold be a bit pointless and everything they change might work but will always sound horrible to most of the fans of the old game.

      While I do have my reservations about how the new game handles things as I am not convinced by the ‘walk and action’ nor am I a big fan of the perk system, I am rather optimistic.
      It looks like a game that seem to be good on its own and has a good chance at actually being a worthy successor to the first one. (It does look better than Terror from the Deep already)

      • Antsy says:

        I agree. I’m looking forward to it. I couldn’t care less that they’ve changed some stuff. As long as it’s a good game in its own right i’ll be happy. If I want to play Enemy Unknown, I’ll play it. Not bitch about a new game doing stuff differently. Apocalypse was a completely different game and I still enjoy it too.

    • killias2 says:

      Hey guys, you know what’s cool? Exaggerated bouts of cynicism!

      • Postal76 says:

        Hey guys, you know what else is cool? Sarcasm!

      • MCM says:

        Exaggerated? Cynicism? I feel like many people do: as more information has been released about the game, I’ve become less interested in it. That’s not cynicism, that’s an analysis of incoming information.

        All the defenders of this game (and I’m a big Firaxis fanboy, except for that Jon Shafer nonsense) seem to be unaware of the actual changes made:

        1. A single base
        2. No base defense missions at all
        3. No time units
        4. No ammo – instead we get #5
        5. “Special abilities” with “cooldowns” that, from a design perspective, are arguably LIKE ammo
        6. Weird camera stuff that still isn’t fully explained
        7. “kill” animations and assorted nonsense that seems to be inspired by FO3
        8. Character “classes”
        9. No inventory at all

        Each of those things is a material change from the earlier games. They have been progressively revealed and my continuing reaction has been that they are moving further and further away from the original X-COM. That doesn’t mean the game will be bad – it will probably be a decent game in its own right that some people will enjoy a lot. But it is not going to be X-COM.

        • killias2 says:

          I agree that there are changes. However, at the end of the day, this game is still clearly a reboot of X-Com. The XCOM FPS is not. Therefore, you have exaggerated.

          • MCM says:

            So your argument is:

            1. Numerous core features have changed or been removed.
            2. Still the same game regardless.

            Perhaps if you used less conclusory language (“clearly” and “at the end of the day”) I might be more persuaded. Is it just because it has humans fighting aliens and the game will be called “XCOM”? What are the important XCOM features that mean this game is still X-COM? Turn-based combat with fog of war? Research? Global view contrasted with tactical battles?

            What are the necessary features that XCOM must have, without which it would not be X-COM? Because all I see right now is me explaining why this game is no longer X-COM and you just saying it is. Because, you know, clearly. At the end of the day.

          • Imbecile says:

            Yep, its not going to be x-com, because, well, that game already exists. I’m content with an update that ticks most of the x-com boxes, and has the x-com feel. And is a good game.

            From MCMs original list

            1. A single base – doesnt bother me overly.
            2. No base defense missions at all – will bother me a bit, if it turns out to be true. Links?
            3. No time units – not overly bothered by if the dnd 4e replacement works well.
            4. No ammo – wasnt a key part of the original game for me. Not bovvered.
            5. “Special abilities” with “cooldowns” . This could actually be good, if not overused.
            6. Weird camera stuff that still isn’t fully explained. ???
            7. “kill” animations and assorted nonsense that seems to be inspired by FO3. Not too bothered either way.
            8. Character “classes”. Possible improvement.
            9. No inventory at a. Not too bothered as long as we get to kit out our guys.

            The only thing that worried me significantly is the limited small squad size and lack of randomly generated maps.

            Edit: Most of the x-com boxes are:

            Squad based, turn based isometrically viewed tactical scraps against aliens
            Research
            Permadeath
            Random and improving soldiers with stats.
            Two tiers of gameplay (strategic and tactical)

          • killias2 says:

            MCM: here is my argument

            You said that XCOM Enemy Unknown will be just as different from the original X-Com as the FPS XCOM.

            I said, no, that’s an exaggeration. The FPS XCOM is a different genre completely. It’s not even close. It’s a real-time FPS with light squad elements. It’s more like Mass Effect than X-Com.

            XCOM EU, however, is a turn-based strategy game where you split your time between the “strategy” global level and the “tactical” mission level. Even if there are changes, which I don’t dispute, it’s simply much more in the spirit of the original game than the FPS. Honestly, this isn’t complicated.

            Hell, XCOM EU will likely end up more like the original X-Com than Apocalypse, much less XCOM.

          • nanowired says:

            @Imbecile

            At the end of the day, only the barest of essential boxes have been checked to make this game “x-com”.

            When is that acceptable? I mean, Let’s take a look at Bay’s TMNT.

            They are Turtles, and they are ninjas. Does that make them qualified for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle name?

            I mean they checked off some of the boxes. Right? Right?

            Or Transformers. Same deal.

            Or the Doom Movie.

            Or the Syndicate Game.

            In closing, This isn’t X-com. This is a corporate decision to use an old acquired IP and plugging it into a flowchart of “Make a successful game!” someone came up with last week based on vague demographics.

          • Imbecile says:

            @nanowired. As far as I can tell at the moment, most of the major elements that will make this similar to x-com are included. There are lots of minor variances, but at the moment its close enough for me. The final product will tell for sure, and I’ll be waiting for reviews before I buy.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Conversely, as more information has come out from the developer I have been more excited. It sounds to me like they may very well capture the soul of X-Com. There are some changes but at every step the dev has justified those changes in a way that shows that they still understand the mechanic, it’s purpose and how they can recreate the effect for this new iteration.

          1. A single base – A little bit of a shame but I think this has allowed a depth of life and character to that single base that the bases in the original never really had.

          2. No base defense missions at all – A great shame I agree

          3. No time units – I am not that upset about this. I enjoyed time units but the phase system in place seems to me to be slicker and more interesting. It reminds me of several of the best table top games/RPGs I have played.

          4. No ammo – instead we get #5 – As explained in this article, I think I will like the change.

          5. “Special abilities” with “cooldowns” that, from a design perspective, are arguably LIKE ammo – I think that’s different. The weapons seem to have ammo but not as a physical entity that you must equip and carry. Instead the effects of reloading and what-have-you are automatically in place. I am sad that I will not be worrying about those last few bullets in a tight situation though.

          6. Weird camera stuff that still isn’t fully explained – This depends. In the original you as the player had the isometric birds eye view but it was limited by a fog of war. Most crucially, you could only see what your squad members could see or what they had last seen (if a wall blew up out of sight, to your knowledge it was still there until one of your team got eyes on). Having a free camera wouldn’t change that. As long as you aren’t privy to crucial information that your team couldn’t know. I am not sure if that will be the case though.

          7. “kill” animations and assorted nonsense that seems to be inspired by FO3 – I’m not a fan of FO3/Skyrim’s kill animations but I don’t see it impacting on the actual game play. And maybeeee they will be done better than those. If they are quick and smart and fun it could be like FO1 or Blood Bowl – which I find much more enjoyable

          8. Character “classes” – which doesn’t limit the equipment choices but diversifies your squad in terms of ability. Much like the character stats in the original but with hopefully more effect.

          9. No inventory at all – I’m on the fence, it really depends on implementation.

          • J-snukk says:

            As there have already been a fair few intelligent and rationally argued rebuttals to MCM. I am going to add to the range of the conversation by simply saying: MCM is a silly grognard.

        • BenG says:

          MCM,

          what game do you want them to do? Because it sounds like what you want is Enemy Unknown with better graphics and a modern UI. You are right that this is not a remake, it is a new game. I, personally, am in favor of that, because I have the old X-Com on my hard drive. In my opinion, the formula has never been done better than in this first game, and I have played a number of X-Com-clones over the years. However, for me p, personally, that does not mean that I want the same game with prettier graphics, I want someone to finally take this concept and do it better than this almost two decades old game.

          Is this finally gonna be it? I don’t know. I certainly hope it will be, but I’ve had this hope before. For me, the changes they have announced are not dealbreakers – for you, they obviously are (at least in the sense that this game is allowed to bear the name of its predecessor). But given your restrictions, what design space is left for Firaxis? In which areas would they be allowed to make changes, or do you really just want a reskin?

        • Vraptor117 says:

          Man, just chill. I’m sure they’ll find a way to fix each one of these things:

          1. A single base – Hey Everyone! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have multiple bases holding down Earth while you take the fight o the alien scum? Well then the “Earth Defense Construction Initiative” DLC is for you ! Only $6.95!
          2. No base defense missions at all – Hey Everyone! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have fights in your multiple bases that are holding down Earth while you take the fight o the alien scum? Well then the “Earth Defense Base Attacks” DLC is for you ! Only $8.95!
          3. No time units – Hey Everyone! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a clock on the screen so you can see time pass as you fight? Well then the “Here’s a Clock” DLC is for you ! Only $17.95!
          4. No ammo – instead we get #5 – Hey Everyone! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have ammo for you guns? Well then the “Don’t Retreat, Reload” DLC is for you ! Only $10.95!
          5. “Special abilities” with “cooldowns” that, from a design perspective, are arguably LIKE ammo – “More Special Abilities DLC” Only $15.49!
          6. Weird camera stuff that still isn’t fully explained – Want explanations for the weird camera? Grab our “Some dev explains why the camera is fucked up” DLC. Only $12.39! (NOTE: will not actually fix camera)
          7. “kill” animations and assorted nonsense that seems to be inspired by FO3 – Hey, don’t you love kill animations? No? You want to turn them off? Then our “Kill ‘Kill Animations’” DLC is for you. This puts aliens with kill animation descriptions for names in the game for you to shoot and watch die with awesome kill animations! Only $23.89!

        • sophof says:

          Pretty much every single change they announced I thought “wtf”. Then I heard the explanation and finally usually thought “wel actually that makes sense”.

          It is clear they are not designing this game with blind enthusiasm or with some strange bias and that makes me excited, because we don’t need a remake, we need X-COM 2. So no, you don’t speak for all of us.

          Just to point out a few things. he clearly states that there is only a single main base, but that you still need to build mutliple bases to san and deploy. Now, maybe you played X-com differently, but that is exactly as I played it before. The new time-units system similarly leads to the exact gameplay, but more streamlined. They’ve clearly started from the question “what made this fun?”. I’m not sure what more you need to be excited :

        • suibhne says:

          It kind of amazes me that we’re getting a fully turn-based game – already a miracle in this day and age – which is clearly much more like X-COM than it is like any other franchise or game released in the last 15 years, yet people are still whining that this isn’t a true reboot because it makes some changes.

          Sheesh. This new one might not be better than the original, but arguing that it’s “as much “not X-COM” as the FPS is “not X-COM”” is more than a little silly.

    • sephiroth says:

      sad but true.

      Thanks RPS for keeping us all in the loop sadly for the DEV its not going all that well.

      Turn based X-COM game announced xD must buy YYYEEEEESSSS!!!!

      1st deatils Oh well ok ill still buy :)

      more deatils ER why call it x-com? :s

      this page so its called x-com to get sales like that shooter im not buying

      oh well its still a turn based game so ill keep looking at it and maybe it will get a nice steam price.

      even Fraxis can fuck things up it seems. sad sad day in gaming.

      original X-COM almost perfect, a few bugs and dated are its only flaws
      update —> profit serisouly thats all you need

      • wodin says:

        How can you know the game is fucked when it’s not even out yet?

        The verdict is out until release.

      • Reefpirate says:

        Quit whining and play Xenonauts instead.

        • JFS says:

          Xenonauts all the way, as it will most certainly be what a lot of old fans want: “just” a shinier version of the original. Personally, I think that’ll do. Those who want a modern version of X-Com with all the features that are en vogue now can play the Firaxis version. And those who aren’t as stubborn can play both :)

        • Twerty says:

          I know right? I can’t believe people are complaining when there’s also Xenonauts. If out both both of them, fans aren’t sated, they can pretty much go screw themselves. I know I’m excited for both of them.

    • Chris D says:

      The important difference between this and the fps is that I really want to play this one.

    • Elmar Bijlsma says:

      I think that is a bit harsh.
      But I too am not sold on this yet. It is too slick. The beauty of X-COM was that it was basically a fairly simple deal. It was interesting because of the interaction between player and game.
      This game seems to have made great tweaks to the formula and smoothed out the rough edges of X-COM in some areas. But in doing so it seems over-engineered. There seems less room for me!
      Firaxis would appear to know how their game should be played while the Gollop Brothers just set you loose in world where pretty much anything goes.

    • mondomau says:

      What a ridiculous thing to say.

    • PoulWrist says:

      So MCM if the goalposts are just names and there can be no others, I guess your initial post is invalid.

    • pantognost says:

      Well, since it doesn’t have
      1) squad turn based combat
      2)research and manufacture
      3)Geoscape
      4)Interceptions
      5) squadie progression
      6) player paced storytelling through research
      7) The same lore pretext as the original
      ….
      well it’s totally like the FPS sure…
      Oh wait…it has all these…
      But it doesn’t have ammo clips yadda yadda yadda

      …and us being teenagers again. That’s the core problem of this game.

      • Lowbrow says:

        @pantognost You’ve finally nailed the problem! Why have the developers not addressed the crucial “not ex[experiencing as a teenager” issue? I have heard no talk of time travel, memory wipes, or even hormonal injections!

      • Zaran says:

        The thing is I don’t think 4 guys = Squad Tactics.

        Soldier expericence was based on what the soldier did and not determined randomly at the beginning and then let you pick abilies after. This is gamist thinking. I much rather this stuff be chosen randomly because I’m not controlling that soldiers mind. I just send him on assignments.

        What’s to stop soldiers from just destroying all the terrain with unlimited ammo? Probably the restriction that you have to actually aim at an alien to shoot. I didn’t see the terrain getting lit up when they showed the overwatch function.

        i don’t doubt this game will be fun and will help turn based games make a come back. I just think it should not be called Xcom.

        • BloodyHoney says:

          Maybe I misread, but didn’t they just say the “Rocket Cooldown” is actually a limited use meter.
          Basically, from the interview I just read, they just said they locked in imposed ammo regulations as opposed to loading your dudes with a million billion clips and going to war.

          Did I miss something, or didn’t they just make the game harder? Isn’t that what we want? Actually keeping track of how many rounds your soldier fired as opposed to spraying and praying due to damn near bottomless magazine (or, in the case of the laser weaponry we actually used, actually bottomless) sounds like an improvement to me.

  3. c-Row says:

    Quick, someone get Khemm in here!

    • sephiroth says:

      lolz cant be far away

    • Khemm says:

      I’d rather complain about questionable design decisions instead of being spoonfed with marketing bullshit and pretending everything’s fine and dandy.
      I mean, they still haven’t explained if there’ll be base invasions and their explanations for no inventory, one base and the removal of Time Units all come down to “our console testers found it all too difficult to understand and 2K wanted this to be couch potato-friendly, so we kind of had to do this”.

      It might be a fun game in its own right, don’t get me wrong, but it sounds so safe, so formulaic, devoid of those options and random moments which made the original replayable and fun.

      • mondomau says:

        I have similar concerns, but the way the guy talks about it, I’d be genuinely surprised if they really do miss the mark that widely.

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        “the removal of Time Units all come down to “our console testers found it all too difficult to understand and 2K wanted this to be couch potato-friendly, so we kind of had to do this”.”

        Umm… what? Letting people think more about the strategy and spend less time pointlessly crunching numbers isn’t dumbing down, quite the opposite. Not needing to know the cost of moving an item from your legs to your off-hand frees up mental space for more interesting stuff, like actual tactical decisions.

        • gritz says:

          Only if you have limited mental space to begin with.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Number-crunching isn’t tactics. It’s busy work.
          Even if you just had a system like you move & act in a turn or move twice the distance without acting, it makes the turns much smoother without losing much choice or depth.
          In fact, some of the most difficult tactical or strategic decisions to make in games are the simplest ones. A good example being the Mario RPGs, you only have two stats you can choose to increase, attack or defence, so that decision ends up carrying a massive weight because it’s so limited.

          • gritz says:

            Yes if only X-Com could be more like Super Mario RPG. Truly the bar is set ever higher.

          • Ringwraith says:

            It’s an extreme example, but my point still stands, having less choices can actually make those choices more significant.
            There is a thing called ‘too many options’ if the net result is that none of them really do much.

          • mckertis says:

            It can, however, the KISS principle is not, and never was THE one way to victory. I love me some complexity, darn it !

          • Ringwraith says:

            It’s just you have to avoid it becoming overly-bloated to the point where there’s tons of horribly arcane stats that have no easily discernible impact on anything.

          • gritz says:

            Luckily that was never a problem for the original X-Com, so there’s really no reason to streamline it!

          • Ringwraith says:

            Like time units being incredibly fiddly to work out constantly?

          • gritz says:

            I have X time units available, and the action I want to take requires Y time units. Is Y less than or equal to X?

            Asking and answering this complex mind bender takes away precious microseconds that could be better spent watching a canned Extreme Kill Cam animation for the 600th time.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Well, time units in their original format needed to account for turning, each tile moved, and then firing, not to mention all the other actions you could take in a turn.
            It’s not as easy as you make it out to be. It’s the fact that multitude of actions which all have different costs, are controlled by a single reserve that makes it a nuisance to work out.

        • lordfrikk says:

          “number-crunching”

          Played the original, did you? If you were number crunching I am laughing at you over the internet, dear sir.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Our new Wizardry.

  4. Mavvvy says:

    I was optimistic after the 3 part….now I’m confused and bemused again

  5. jezcentral says:

    I’m getting more excited about this the more I hear about it. I’m still unsure about the time units mechanic, but the rest looks good.

  6. Cinnamon says:

    Something about being surprised by the cynicism then saying that moments like scrambling for ammunition or carrying bodies back to the skyranger are “too much effort to design” just makes my heart sink.

    • Sunjumper says:

      It is mostly to much effort to design it in a way that works with the rest of the game. Ammo pilfering would lead to a lot of other things which would break this game, so including it would lead to a ton of changes to the rest which would result in a more shoddy game.

      I am not sure how the carrying of fallen soldiers impacts the game. Wounded soldiers in X-Com would always return to the base after the mission and dead ones would remain dead and gone.

      • Cinnamon says:

        I guess there isn’t any point in carrying bodies in this game or indeed in many other games. Well spotted sir.

      • gritz says:

        Carrying bodies was mostly about picking up a KO’ed alien and carrying him far away from any weapons, so that when he wakes up he’ll be harmless for the rest of the mission.

        • RadioactiveMan says:

          Wot the previous poster said: The ability to carry bodies certainly had a use in my playstyle.

          Specifically, for TFTD on harder difficulties, I carried alien bodies back to the sub frequently. Anything inside the sub comes home with you if you abort the mission, including lived down aliens. This made it possible to do “smash and grab” missions where you knock down an alien and then haul ass back to the sub and abort. I loved doing this- it was always tense because the aliens would frequently hound you during the retreat. It was a good strategy for bringing back live aliens for research before you had the good weapons and armor… so much of the research requires live aliens to progress, which was a big challenge.

    • hosndosn says:

      Exactly how I felt. Friaxis is a company making AAA turn-based strategy games in the year 2012. They’re essentially the last major company that even has a *hint* of a connection to 90s level depth in strategy games. And they say stuff like this. Makes me want to weep.

      I just hope some successful indie developer grows in coming years and fills that gap with higher budgets games that bring back *true* depth. I mean, a popular indie game can sell a million copies, nowadays, right? I’m pretty sure there’s a hardcore market out there for a proper game of X-COM 1 level depth and AAA production values, they’re all just too much of a pussy to try it. The indie games scene is great, but I’d like to see big budgets polish spent on something worthwhile for once.

  7. jalf says:

    Next time you get the chance to chat to them, I’d really, really, really, really, really, really like to hear about the character progression system.

    So far, I’ve gathered that it’s level-based, and that you, the player, choose which attributes to improve on a soldier. That’s quite a departure from the old X-COM games (where skills went up semirandomly, with use).

    I’m sure they’ve playtested the hell out of it, but this was the one thing that really bugged me in the AfterXYZ games. Because I got to choose precisely what skills my soldiers should have, they ceased being, say, Gertrud Schulz (as mentioned above, that is indeed a wonderfully X-COM name), and just became “Sniper #2″, “Heavy Weapon dude #3″ and so on. In X-COM they always felt like their own unique people, soldiers I recruited, fought with and cared about. In AfterLight, they were just “the guy whose agility I levelled up”, “the guy who can wield rocket launchers” and so on. They were lumps of clay that I shaped to fit my precise needs. Which was much less fun.

    I’m hoping against hope that the new X-COM will carry over some of the unpredictability of the originals. I want to be excited when a new recruit turns out to be a decent shot, or when one of my squad members actually start being competent at some skill that I didn’t plan for.

    • pkdawson says:

      That’s an excellent point. Flaws make characters interesting, even if they’re just a bundle of stats.

      Syndicate, for example, didn’t have that. There were named characters, but they were all just generic, equivalent blank slates. X-COM characters were all different, a much better canvas for imagination.

      • Sunjumper says:

        Seconded.
        I did not realise this but the growing of the soldiers abilities over time without my influese did indeed turn my squad into a group fo people. I remember the sting of the loss of a great promising soldier as well as the pleasant surprise when one of the B-List rookies turned out to be a probability difying monster on the field of battle.

        • Highstorm says:

          I agree with all of this. The sense of loss when a soldier dies is greatly diminished when you know you can simply groom a new recruit to become his clone.

          It becomes a simple loss of time, rather than a loss of an asset, ally or dare I say: friend?

          • SanguineAngel says:

            I’m on board with all of these words!

          • Ringwraith says:

            Characters having flaws as well as talents does go a long way to making them unique and memorable.
            Although I haven’t played it much, I do remember trailing through the solider list in Valkyria Chronicles and identifying the characters more as they all have flaws of some description, as well as positives you can take advantage of. It also helped hammer home that they weren’t professional soldiers, they were a militia force that’s had some military training but otherwise are being drafted into service.

  8. Baytor says:

    Looks fun. Might not be exactly what I wanted, but doesn’t mean it’ll be a turd. My main criticism is that they don’t seem to have realised that there’s two Ds in “squaddie.” Unless the basic X-COM tactical unit is a squade.

  9. shadowmarth says:

    Lot of this stuff is troubling to say the least, but the real killer is that it looks like you’ll only have a handful of squad members. 6-8 instead of the original’s 8-20 or so. Which means they won’t die as often, by necessity. And if that is the case, then this cannot be called X-Com. Whatever else they change, the possibility of rapid and unexpected horrible death has to be maintained, or the tension that made it X-Com is gone.

    • TormDK says:

      They noted previously that you can lose the game if you don’t play right.

      As such I wouldn’t worry about it, overall your people will die and it will suck arse when they do because you have invested in them through the levels they have gained.

    • Robin says:

      The limit is 4-6. Confirmed.

    • Yargh says:

      I think the squad size limit (4 at the outset, 6 with research) is my biggest current worry.
      Part of that concern is that the maps will be smaller simply because less people cover less ground.
      In addition, with only 6 squad members you’re much less likely to try out team flanking and other, more evolved maneuvres.

      All that said, it is a fairly minor concern since I’m sure the game can be a lot of fun with a small squad and it didn’t hurt the more recent knockoffs much (which I quite enjoyed).

      It was always obvious to me from the first previews that we’d only have one major base (somewhat disapointing) and the constant mentions of remote hangars and satellites was a pretty good indication that there would still be some form of geographical coverage in the game.
      I;m willing to bet that most XCom players only ever had 2 major staffed bases and the rest were either listening posts or interceptor launch pads. So this isn’t a truly massive change. I do hope the base defense mission comes back though.

  10. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    The inventory sounds kind of convoluted. I never played the original, so I’m not attached to or expecting anything, but his description of the abilities and equipment was all-over-the-place. He goes from defending the removal of ammo to talking about how some items have limited ammo. What? Some abilities have cooldowns, some are tied to weapons, while others are tied to characters but only affect specific weapons (I think?).

    The preview we need is a blow-by-blow gameplay demo of a short mission, from character loadout to combat, with commentary. That would clear a lot of confusion.

    • Surlywombat says:

      Ammo was shown the the previous game as an actual item in your inventory. I believe from what he is say, ammo is now a finite resource displayed on the hud or something like that.

    • Bluerps says:

      I think what he meant was that some items – like a rocket launcher, for example – can only be used a limited number of times per mission. So, in a way, the rocket launcher has ammunition, even though you don’t have to manually put each rocket into the inventory of the soldier.

  11. CMaster says:

    In general I like the sound of the game.
    I do have to say “UGH” at classes though. It fits sometimes, but I’m not sure about this. “Well sure commander, I’d love to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but I was born a heavy and only assaults can do more than one thing at once.”

  12. TormDK says:

    Alec – Start hunting for skill tree info please!

    I need to know if we can finally make a melee build so we can slice those pesky aliens up with good old fashioned swords’n'stuff!

    • Groove says:

      This sounds so, so stupid………but the 12 year old in me is very excited by the idea.

      Also, the first time someone attacked a Chrysahlid with a sword, lol.

      • TormDK says:

        Well, some of the other UFO games had a Commando class, that gave huge bonuses to melee combat – except the games didn’t have that many melee weapons.

        So I’m hoping Firaxis took that into consideration.

  13. Maldomel says:

    Very promising. I’m looking forward to it. Also, that dev sure is talkative and seems to pay a lot of attention to player reactions.

  14. Drake Sigar says:

    We’ve had plenty of X-Com remakes in the past, and they were for the most part, utter shit. It’s time someone took the concept and built on it by blending old school and modern design philosophies. I really think Firaxis know their audience, and I love reading their X-Com news from RPS.

  15. Robin says:

    Won’t comment the specific things and there is no “hate” from me..
    ..but I’ll quote a comment from somewhere else, that summarizes my thought with utter accuracy:

    “The basic fact is that Firaxis have taken a game that some of us have viewed as being their favourite of the genre for coming up to twenty years and are saying that it can be improved and modernised by making it more like games we like significantly less. I suppose we could be bright and positive about that or maybe it would be more human to be a little bit “O RLY?” about the whole thing.”

  16. Bluerps says:

    At first, I scowled at the remark about ammunition being not important in the first game, but then I thought about it for a moment and agreed with him. I have played the first games countless of times, and I can’t remember when ammo was more than something you have to order/produce occasionally and load it into the troop transport. I can’t remember a situation in which one of my guys actually ran out of ammunition.

    Almost the same with bases. I always include some manufacturing in my outposts, but that is mainly because building space is limited in the main base. Apart from that, all my outposts are “hangar bases”, so nothing changes.

  17. Groove says:

    Rocket ammo worried me slightly. In the original, deciding how best to carry heavy items wasn’t a one-off decision, or a daft one.

    Giving your rocket guy a rookie as a loader/spotter was a sensible move. Or you could give ammo to a few people and let them rearm him as neccesary. Or you could have a high time unit guy ferrying equipment around. Or you could just leave a big bucket of ammo in the skyranger and have people run back if they were in need.

    This encouraged lateral thinking, and not having it will lead to the situation where you have an elite rocket guy, and you’re swearing at the screen because he’s used up his charges and now there are no more rockets in the entire world.

    Also, whether or not a decison is important isn’t always key. Letting the player make the decision is pretty important too. (Do I want to scavenge ammo off the enemy? No, that’s crazy! But I COULD)

  18. wodin says:

    Best thing todo?

    Forget XCOM (the original) before you play. Cast it out of your mind and see this as a new game, similar but new, you will enjoy it alot more.

    That’s what I did with JA BIA. With a couple of mods I really enjoyed it, if I kept looking for things that where in JA2 that aren’t in JA BIA I’d end up not enjoying the game as much.

    I for one am looking forward to it, I think if I had my heart on a XCOM update to the letter probably wouldn’t be.

    We have few enough turn based games over the last few years, very sad indeed. Lets not end up confirming to the industry the genre is no good, they will think to themselves “Even when we try we get loads of flak so forget turn based. So any ideas for a new RTS\FPS”?

    So to all who profess to love turn based games and bemoaned the death of the genre for years, please I implore you to welcome the genre back with an open embrace. Otherwise we will end up with nothing again and I’d rather have JA BIA offering and by the looks of this, this one coming out than non at all.

  19. InternetBatman says:

    I never played the original X-com, but this looks like a fun game in its own right.

  20. pilouuuu says:

    This is going to be amazing! And I agree that fans can be cynical and annoying.

    “Oh, it’s not the same game as 20 years ago. Oh, it has 3d graphics instead of pixelated. Oh, I’m not able to do every single stupid thing from the original.”

    Get over it! Mostly there are some different thing, which are design decision, not dumbing down and finally we’ll be able to play this with graphics that don’t make you puke. Great gameplay with modern looks. Can’t you feel happy about we having this game in a time where we just get FPS games? We gotta be thankful for X-Com and support it.

  21. BillyIII says:

    This game looks like a good T-RPG, and I don’t care if it’s X-COM or not.

    • subedii says:

      I DO care if it’s like X-Com or not. But to be honest, so far it’s looking like a pretty good rendition of X-Com to me.

      The problem is as Pilouuuu stated above, change in and of itself is neither inherently “dumbing down” nor bad. The key philosophies at work here are mainly to keep it as close to the original as the first game, and to make sure that the player has an interesting decision to make on every turn. As opposed to endless shuff-shuff-shuffling with no real decision making behind it (either of troops or equipment), just rote repeated behaviour.

      I’d be lying if I said some changes haven’t given me a raised eyebrow, but on the whole, most of them seem fairly intelligent design decisions, especially when viewed in context of the reasonings given.

      I mean it’s funny that Julian Gollop actually said that he’d have designed a modern X-Com very similar to Valkyria Chronicles. Because the new X-Com from Firaxis actually uses a very similar movement system by the looks of things.

      • killias2 says:

        If the Gollops descended from on high and delivered a new X-Com, there would still be an internet uproar denouncing it as stupid, bad, dumbed down, and console-ized.

        I mean, Jesus. Most X-Com fans already hate Apoc.

        (Some) X-Com “fans” hate everything. I’m sure they’ll find a way to hate Xenonauts, especially if it does well.

        • aircool says:

          Apoc cooked socks! It was better if you played it as 100% turn based, but the whole game became a grind.

        • mckertis says:

          “If the Gollops descended from on high and delivered a new X-Com”

          Not even Gollops can do that. After X-Com they had failure, after failure, after failure, for 20 years.

        • Cinnamon says:

          Naturally I would give a fair hearing to anything Julian Gollop has to say just like I would to someone from Firaxis but I have no great interest in hearing what he might do or have done from internet trolls. It’s not like the man gets a free pass for everything he has done either. Lord of Chaos was so so and nothing he has worked on since UFO has really been essential to me.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        V Chronicles is a great example of how to do a Tactical RPG Shooter. It had it’s problems, like how static much of the world is. Can you imagine playing a game like that being able to cross any terrain, or blow holes in buildings? Unst.

      • thelongshot says:

        Which is fine with me, because Valkyria Chronicles is probably the closest I’ve come to a X-Com type game since X-Com that I’ve really enjoyed. They could do worse than borrow ideas from that game.

  22. DK says:

    His ammo answer is pure PR bullshit.

    They didn’t make ammo more important, they cut it out. “having your gun overheat” is not ammo, it’s an negative ability trigger. It’s a cooldown for your gun.
    The point of ammo in X-Com was that it was present throughout the entire game. The enemy had ammo on them. Ammo took space (different amounts for different weapons!). Ammo took time to make.
    “Can I get by with x amount of ammo production without running short on tanks/armor/weapons/money/aircraft/psigadgets”

    So he’s blatantly spinning like a madman when he’s claiming that they’ve “made ammo more important”.

    • Maktaka says:

      Ammo management in X-COM was a detraction from gameplay, a fiddly and pointless inventory management for the sake of exceedingly rare moments where you had to care about it beyond it interfering with your 80 item limit on missions. It required the same investment of effort as tapping on your tomato crop to harvest it in Farmville: after every mission, order/manufacture another round of bullets, then put bullets on plane. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. If you forget or get lazy, you will be punished by not having enough bullets for all your guns.

      If a game mechanic is better managed by an automated script than by the human player, it’s not a good system. X-COM did a lot of things right in ways that successors have not, but simply by virtue of being good overall does not make all of its systems good.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        I agree. I’m all for meaningful micromanage, but don’t make me load every goddamn clip into my soldiers backpacks after every mission. I assume my professional world response team is intelligent enough to bring bangbangs for their shooty sticks without me babysitting them.

      • subedii says:

        I’d have a hard time expressing it better myself.

        To me this is pretty much what Starcraft 2 fell into. Gameplay mechanics which were actually in some ways actual design limitations on the earlier game, somehow came to be associated as the “skill” of the game as opposed to the rote behaviour that they pretty much are, so fans went absolutely ballistic over. Every. SINGLE. CHANGE.

        The actual changes to Starcraft 2 in real terms are pretty small, but there were wars fought over every one of them. Smart Casting? MBS? Crikey, even the ability to select more than 12 units at a time? Intense and unrelenting rage about how Blizzard was “dumbing down dumbing down DUMBING DOWN WHERE’S THE SKILL BLIZZARD HUH!??!!!!” for the casuals. Blizzard were cornered with the SC2 community in a way they never were with the Diablo community, which is why SC2 still has a lot of those things present. Although that’s probably an argument for another day (the stupid way that unit queuing is handled I feel is a case in point though if you’re wondering).

        • pkt-zer0 says:

          The actual changes to Starcraft 2 in real terms are pretty small,
          Small (positive) changes can have far-reaching (negative) gameplay implications. So I don’t think your analysis is entirely fair.

          • subedii says:

            I don’t believe I actually offered an analysis. To do that would take a long time and many, many pages of text. And I don’t really have the time or the expertise to do so.

            You’re correct in that these changes can have a wide reaching effect in some regards. The average APM requirement for a high ranked player is much lower than what you’d expect of one in Brood War, and that’s a pretty big differentiator to begin with.

            The difference being that I don’t see that as inherently having killed the skill of the game, because the majority of that APM was rote behaviour.

            Upon my saying of which, is usually where the REAL rage starts flying at me. :P

        • killias2 says:

          This is 100% true. I was actually thinking about making a Starcraft 2 comparison myself. Despite the fact that Starcraft 2 is seen by the wider gaming community as, if anything, way too slavishly attached to its forebear, there is still unrelenting complaining about how they “dumbed” down Starcraft. Massive joke. Skill still matters, even if APM doesn’t have the same meaning. Koreans still win all the tournaments, and only a small set of highly skilled players are really ever in contention.

          Starcraft 2 has a few issues: no LAN, always-on, and the campaign story is a complete joke.

          That said, the multiplayer and singleplayer gameplay is phenomenal. I’d say it’s the best classic RTS ever made. No exaggeration.

          • Calculon says:

            The real issue imo with SC2 is the game balance. It was b0rked at release, and continues to be b0rked, and will be even more (you guessed it) b0rked on the release of HOTS.

            Anyhoo, wrt to the new X-Com release, I am a little concerned about how they implemented ammo, I agree with the above discussion about character quirks, and some what random levelling of attributes which creates valuable unique characters, as opposed to direct levelling up.

            Im undecided in character classes, but leaning towards “BOO!”.
            Overall however, Im largely excited about the game, and am about 90% sold.

            I do however want want need need must must haz base invasions. Otherwise Im going to throw one or more tantrums.

          • killias2 says:

            I honestly don’t get why people still complain about SC2′s balance. I’ve played it since beta, watched a lot of the pro games, and followed the coverage. I just don’t see it.

            Don’t get me wrong. Not everything is perfect. Certain match-ups on certain maps and/or at certain points of the game aren’t quite balanced. However, besides games with symmetric multiplayer, is there any better example of balance? Balance is a relative thing, and I think SC2 blows the competition out of the water.

            Like I said, the big let down for me was in the campaign story. Wow. Just terrible terrible writing.

          • subedii says:

            For that matter, SC1′s balance was being patched for years afterwards. Largely because the South Korean scene, and with it all its ridiculous hours of testing, strategies and implementations didn’t simultaneously emerge at the same time the game launched. That took a long time.

            Balance is an extremely fluid thing in RTS’s. What is completely brokenly overpowered one week can easily become fixed or sometimes even broken in the OPPOSITE direction the next week, as the communities get to grips with each strategy and its alternatives (proxy Gateway rush is a good example of something that saw an HUGE amount of rage until the community adapted to it).

            SC2′s balance isn’t bad. It’s something that works very well, and crucially, will take an enormous amount of time to make as solid as in the first game (and even then, I’d argue there’s no such thing as “perfect balance” in any asymmetric RTS). The meta-game WILL shift dramatically as this happens (yes even with Heart of the Swarm and the later Protoss addon. It’s not like Brood War didn’t completely upend the Starcraft toybox when it released), as the game gets patched and as people work out techniques, timings and tactics that are different to those before.

            And I’ll agree on the SP storyline. After 10 years well… let’s just say I was expecting better writing than what we eventually got. It wasn’t a big surprise to me when they revealed that the story was actually left until fairly late in development.

          • killias2 says:

            @sub

            Well stated. I agree 100%.

      • gritz says:

        Extremely disappointed with the way this game is shaping up. After watching Civ 5 crash and burn, I’m having pretty big reservations about Firaxis.

        • DrGonzo says:

          Not sure what you mean by that. They managed to add complexity while simplifying the game at the same time. I adore Civ 5 and I could never go back to another Civ after it.

          So if this turns out like Civ 5 I’ll be all over it.

        • killias2 says:

          It’s true. Civ 5 was a big disappointment. Honestly, far far more than all of these little changes people are complaining about, Civ 5′s example worries me. What a screw up….

        • Calculon says:

          Good point regarding Civ 5. You have successfull depressed me (yae for you?)

          Civ 5 was an unmitigated disaster, and perhaps the worst turn based strategy release in recent memory due to sheer dissapointment. For the record, I threw several tantrums over Civ V.

          That being said, they did create Civ IV and that was full of win.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I think Civ V is a sign of hope actually. I might have been missing some things, but Civ IV seemed largely unchanged from Civ III, just with much higher production values. Civ IV was more fun for me to play, because the formula had gone through a refining process. Civ V represented some dramatic changes that I think will improve the formula in the end as well, but they just need to go through the refining process too.

          There’s no question in my mind that hexes, eliminating the superstack, and especially city-states are definite improvements.

        • killias2 says:

          I agree with you to some extent, but I don’t think OUpT (One Unit per Tile) is an unambiguous good. Read this piece, it’s long but very interesting: http://www.garath.net/Sullla/Civ5/whatwentwrong.html

          However, I would still share your optimism about its ability to grow and evolve.. except that it hasn’t at all. We’re a year and a half after release, and we essentially haven’t seen any changes of note. The presentation is still bare-bones (no charts, no interesting data, no end-game stuff, etc.), the AI is still brain-dead, and the multiplayer is still broken. The DLC has basically all been fluff. I’m as likely to buy the map and civ packs as I am to buy palette costume swaps for fighting game characters.

          Civ 4′s expansions, however, both came out less than two years after Civ 4′s release. By this point, Civ 4 was already like 70% of the way towards greatness. BtS put it over the top.
          Unless Gods and Kings hits it out of the park, Civ 5 will never be as polished or refined as Civ 4. Honestly, I don’t expect a lot from Gods and Kings. I hope I’m wrong, but I feel like they’re just adding religion and espionage on top of a broken system without trying to fix the initial release’s problems or really make room for the new content. I also bet 50 bucks that this is the last full-blown expansion we’ll see. Civ 5 simply doesn’t have the staying power Civ 4 had, and Firaxis is not sure how to replace it.

          • gritz says:

            That is pretty much a spot-on summary about why Civ 5 has me doubting Firaxis.

      • DK says:

        I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that the fiddly ammo placement and manual refill is what’s missing in the no-ammo-system.

        What’s missing is the fact that you could decide how much ammo to take, and taking/not taking it was a tradeoff between weight, space and ammo. And the fact that having an inventory and ammo meant you could make your medics carry spare ammo for your fire support people and other interesting things.

        None of those disappear when you remove the fiddly manual inventory refill – but they do all disappear when you remove ammo entirely. That is literally dumbing down the game.

    • sophof says:

      Such comments make no sense at all. he is not a politician, he doesn’t need to ‘spin’ anything. A spin implies he is not happy about what he has to explain. But he is the person responsible for what he is trying to explain. From that it follows that whatever he is explaining is what he truly thinks. You may not agree, but calling it a spin makes you sound a bit paranoid.

  23. killias2 says:

    Honestly people, if you want a game that plays exactly like X-Com, go play X-Com. If you want a game that plays mostly like X-Com, play Xenonauts. Those games are already both out there (the latter in beta, but you get the point), and you can already go play them. Why even make a new X-Com game like these if they already exist?

  24. Papageno says:

    How am I going to avoid paying my scientists by transferring them between bases at the end of the month, HUH? ;-)

  25. aircool says:

    The game is looking great and sounding great. I love [proper] turn based games and I think this will be a great successor to the XCOM series.

    I’ve played the original to death since it was released and am now looking forward to this modern version :))))))

  26. Dozer says:

    5:25 in the video: I hope they realise that when they swap the heads on the “soldier-dude sitting at a desk” model they should probably move the soldier’s body slightly. That was a bizarre sequence…

  27. Lemming says:

    TBH, it sounds to me like they know what they are doing. I hope they don’t spend too much time listening to ‘fans’ crying over unimportant missing things from a game I bet they haven’t even installed on their PC since the 90s.

    These guys played the game to death before they got to the design stage, and they are actual designers. So I don’t think we have any reason to be anything but quietly hopeful at this stage.

    I totally get what he’s saying about ammo. The scenario Alec describes is valid, but it’s also not that common. You can’t design a whole ammo system around it.

    I also don’t mind about the one base. It makes sense to me that it’d be centralised but have units and hangers across the globe. They aren’t a standing army, they are more like the CIA.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I agree, they’re a fast response team, not a standing army. I think what he MEANT was the game doesn’t have ‘ammo’ per say, but it does have reloading. So you have infinite clips, but must keep in mind how much ammo is in your current clip because reloading takes time. Diving out in front of some sectoids with 5 shots left in your BAR is a recipe for fucked.

    • mckertis says:

      “I also don’t mind about the one base. It makes sense to me that it’d be centralised but have units and hangers across the globe. They aren’t a standing army, they are more like the CIA.”

      It’s fine to make that comparison if your job was to protect a small country like USA or whatever, but protecting the globe ? From a single point ? What about response times ?

      • TormDK says:

        They did note we get bonuses on depending where the base is to be located. The most landmass is in the east, so should be interesting to see what sort of bonuses the different areas grant.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Small country like the US? It’s the third largest country by Land Area in the world.

        • mckertis says:

          Fourth, actually. Also, relative size doesnt account for actual size in any way, so it was pointless for you to mention that anyway. Yes, USA is a tiny piece of land. Which is why i wont worry when it will be taken by alien forces, while my base will be safely tucked away in Alps.

      • Lemming says:

        Well don’t the hangars across the globe account for that? Your R&D doesn’t need a fast response time.

        If that were the case though, it was good enough for the Thunderbirds…

  28. TsunamiWombat says:

    They changed it from the way it was 20 years ago now it sucks!

    Because game design hasn’t improved in 20 years… Look, I understand nostalgia, I understand defending the old guard games in their greatness. But the reason those games seem so perfect is because you learned to play them a long time ago, sometimes as an adult, sometimes as a kid. The game met your expectations, a long time ago. The developer wants to give that experience to a new generation, but expectations and game design has changed. And grumble if you like but the ‘Old Guard’ are a vocal niche – it’s always best to have them on your side to move product and provide a ready made install base, but there simply aren’t enough of them to make a game profitable. They -can’t- make this game, on the AAA budget level, just for the people who loved the old X-Com exactly the way it is.

    As for me, I missed X-Com back in the day and I dearly want to get into it, seeing greatness, but it’s an almost impenetrable mass of unexplained numbers, spreadsheets, and clunky UI. I also think time units were bullocks.

    Which is not to necessarily say that the idea of SHOOT ONCE PER TURN is a good idea, I think it’s been done best by Valkyria Chronicles (A game you’ll only find on the PS3 so most of you won’t have played it, a shame) which gives you overall command points and assigns each unit a value, and so long as you have the command points to use a unit you can move (to a reducing amount per turn so you can’t rush across the map with one unit in a turn) and shoot with that unit.

    • DrGonzo says:

      You didn’t play XCOM, so you aren’t in a position to make that judgement are you? Often nostalgia is completely misguided, but it’s not always.

    • buzzmong says:

      Wait, what?

      “time units are bullocks”

      But command units are awesomesauce, as they function, by your description in the same bloody way?

      Sorry, X-Com (aka UFO:Enemy Unknown for it’s proper name), was flawed in many respects, but the TU system was one of it’s crowning glories. Having limits imposed on you like it does makes you use what resources you have in a more creative way.

  29. mike2R says:

    Man, tough crowd!

  30. ThaneSolus says:

    This game designer doesnt get it. While the combat was the main focus of X-Com, messing with inventory, ammo, weapons, base management was tedious but fun and it made all the difference. What we gona get its a streamlined version of X-Com, not improved, beside combat which seems interesting. So basically a half ass x-com. BAH! I am so disappointed every time i hear these guys talking…

    STOP THINKING WITH CONSOLES in mind, Take the old design and improve it, not remove the features FFS. You can make a X-Com 1 Remake by focus on improving the old one, and then on the sequels and you can fuck them for ever with “accesibility, mainstream design”, but at least make one remake, reiteration well and true to the classic.

    Sorry i am just furious the more i read about this game, i got hyped when i saw the combat, but the more i found about it, the more i wanted to go and beat some game designers with a baseball bat (figure of speech).

  31. vodka and cookies says:

    Looked great to me, exactly what a modern remake of X-Com should be.

  32. DrGonzo says:

    I’m not actually all that bothered by the changes to gameplay. Wait till it’s out and then I will judge it. But the fact that the characters all look like Marcus Fenix does really, really bother me. If it didn’t have such a naff art style I’d be all over this. Will still check it out probably, but less enthusiastically.

  33. Dominic White says:

    I’d just like to point out that a lot of Xcom’s own most hardcore fans refuse to count Apocalypse – developed by the Brothers Gollop and all – to be a part of the series.

    Some people will never, ever be happy. Especially here. Those people are a lost cause – you can even make a straight remake/clone (see Xenonauts) and they’ll keep on moaning. Best to just ignore them and go with whatever seems like it would work best.

    • Cinnamon says:

      They should just make games for the viral marketers they pay to be enthusiastic about their games on the internet. They are so easy to please.

    • mckertis says:

      “they’ll keep on moaning”

      That’s odd, to hear a goon say that. Moaning is your entire habitat’s credo.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      I hear you..

      Apocalypse was actually excellent. But..OH NO! IT’S NOT IDENTICAL TO THE FIRST ONE! WE DENOUNCE IT!

      I don’t blame the Gollop brothers for pretty much giving up on the series after that.

    • gritz says:

      I love the whitewashing Apocalypse always gets, as though it weren’t an ugly impenetrable bugfest.

    • Lemming says:

      I think Apocalypse is fucking shit. But I loved the first two games, and I like what I see so far of this one.

  34. Coriolis says:

    Reading these comment threads you’d think that people actually want a completely slavish remake of the original with no significant changes. Fine, if that’s what you want, it looks like xenonauts will provide it. I’ll probably play it and enjoy it for what it is. But alot of us are willing to let these devs try to make a new and possibly better game.

    As far as I’m concerned the “core” of xcom is

    - Having 2 levels of strategy – short term, small-scale and tactical vs long-term, large-scale and strategic. And having these 2 separate layers influence one another – i.e. tactical gives you stuff, strategic improves tactical (new guns, etc.) and gives you missions (by downing ships).
    - Long-term improvement of both spheres – your soldiers improving in tactical, your resources (scientists, engineers, ships) increasing in the strategy layer, and research improving everything. All with the ultimate goal of beating the aliens.

    That’s it – everything else could be changed (for better.. or worse) and it would still be an xcom game in my book.

    It’s actually shocking how few (if any) games actually develop both sides equally. Almost all games focus on one thing, even if they in principle have both – like say MOO2 was mostly strategic (with basic tactical battles), and JA1/2 was mostly tactical.

  35. mike2R says:

    I mean I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t for the fact that they were going to come round my house and delete my copy of the original X-COM, remove it from sale worldwide, and force me to pay them money and play their game 8 hours a day for the rest of my life. I mean if they weren’t doing that it would be fine, why would I have any reason to moan?

    But as it is, I RAGE!

  36. Eddy9000 says:

    There’s a really simple way for people complaining that ommitting time units, inventory, ammunition etc. makes this game ‘not X-com’:

    Go onto steam, buy X-Com 1&2 and play them.

    This isn’t X-com 1&2, it can’t be because those games have been made. it’s 2012 now and a lot has gone on since 1996 in terms of games design and people’s expectations of games. Only one base! No base defence! No time units! Not X-com! Why complain about this? They were fun in X-Com 1&2, they might not have been fun in this game, there might be things in this game that weren’t in the originals that are fun. I’m 32, I played and loved X-Com 1&2 back in ’96 and I still play them now, this is a new game and I want a new game not a clone of something I’ve been playing for 16 years. When I say (and I do) that I was dissapointed that the FPS is an FPS using the IP it’s because I like tactical squad shooters, not because anything called X-com should never be an FPS. This game looks like it has many of the flavours of the first X-Com games while bringing something a little different to the table, so let’s judge it like that.

  37. BobsLawnService says:

    “Ammo didn’t matter in the original”.

    *Cry*. Ammo was a huge part of my strategies in the original. I used incindiary ammo to burn down wheet fields, explosive ammo to flatten barns. Reloading rockets from the inventory took time units which is a much better mechanic than cooldowns.

    Different aliens were vulnerable to different ammo types so your loadout for terror missions was very different to that of farm missions. Farms encouranged incindiary while terror missions encouraged precision.

    Sure the loadout screens in the original could have been improved but not this.

    • subedii says:

      All these things you’re talking about. They’re ammo TYPES, and not at all what he was even talking about there.

      And ammo for special weapons like rocket launchers is still limited.

      Grief.

      • BobsLawnService says:

        But a limited inventory meant that you needed to plan what combinations of different ammo types to take on a mission. It also meant you needed to arm a rocket specialist with a sidearm for when he ran out of options or have a dude with a sidearm and a medic kit also be an ammo mule.

        I agree that the original game sucked in terms of not remembering the loadouts of your soldiers. The answer wasn’t to scrap that whole aspect of gameplay but to implement a more efficient way of doing it.

        The design of the new X-Com seems to be emphasising pushing your squad into what the designers of the game have in mind for you. The charm of the original was that it gave you a world with a set of rules that allowed you to evolve your own playstyle and jave emergent gameplay situations arise.

        I really think that this game is suffering too much from focus tested over-design. I don’t like the fact that they think 6 soldiers is the maximum number the average person can deal with, or turn based movement confuses the average person and gives them too many options to plan with.

        I recall 4 soldiers was one specialised UFO assault team while I had two other teams of the same size roaming the countryside and covering their backs. When it came to multi-level UFOs I had a team of four soldiers on each level.

  38. Brise Bonbons says:

    I find myself stuck in the middle of this discussion, agreeing with arguments from both sides more or less. Despite that, I can’t muster any actual excitement for Firaxis’s vision of a modern X-Com.

    Classes are not exciting. Kill cam bullshit is not exciting. Removing ammo and time units results in the game being less idiosyncratic and unique, which is not exciting. They are simply not adding anything I personally value (your mileage may vary), while streamlining and removing the things that could be unique and set the game apart.

    When I think to myself “I want to play a game like X-Com, but more modern”, I will choose Xenonauts every time. I think Firaxis’s vision fails to evoke the spirit of X-Com through its details and, uh, gameplay texture, if you will.

    I’ll leave with a concrete example: Ammo. Many good tools for automating this sort of mechanic have been developed in the last 20 years: Why not use one instead of scrapping the system? If loading ammo on all your guys repeatedly was a chore, make a slick “orders” screen to issue general guidelines, such as “bring enough ammo for X turns, and everyone bring one rocket for the rocket guy”. You could build on the idea of each soldier having a personality, where one might decide she needs more ammo than another because she loves to shoot. Or you can allow the player to tweak individual soldiers before deployment. Or hell, just add a “load kit from template” feature.

    The same could apply for fancy new visualization tricks that would allow you to simulate the usage of time units before committing them, i.e. Frozen Synapse.

    In short, their explanations are simply not compelling to me, and without some glowing hands-on impressions before launch, this one is off my radar.

    • FhnuZoag says:

      You think ammo and time units are ‘idiosyncratic and unique’? The same system that’s been used in:

      Xcom series
      Jagged alliance series
      Silent storm
      Every spiderweb software game
      Fallout (inc tactics)
      Xenonauts

      Now try to name a single tactical turn based game that utilises a cooldown system. If anything, it’s Firaxis’ attempt to streamline the tactical turn based game that’s unique.

      Time will tell if this is a bad decision, or something positive like Company of Heroes’ choice to remove resource collection.

  39. Juggernaut says:

    Xenonauts is why I am so Zen with Firaxis’ changes. Xenonauts will provide me X-COM with modern UI and small fixes, and I can fiddle with ammo clips like in the olden times. But I am happy to see what Firaxis can provide in the way of more radical game play rethink, and will no doubt own both games when they are released.

    • wodin says:

      Well said. I’m looking forward to both games, I expect they will fulfill my sci fi turn based craving for awhile. I can see myself flitting between them both depending on my mood.

      I’m just excited we are seeing some tactical games coming out that aren’t RTS. I think JA BIA for all the nay sayers plan and go works and works well, needs some refinement and ample use of spacebar but I really enjoy it. Just like I will enjoy the next XCOM game. Approach it as a new game, forget the title tis but four letters, see it as a new sci fi turn based game and enjoy.

      • Haphaz77 says:

        +1

        You get a choice of approaches with Xenonauts, Xcom Enemy Unknown and Xcom – plus UFO on Steam exists too. Choice and evolution is good. Enemy Unknown could be even better than UFO – there were quite a few things in it that I found tedious despite the brilliance and my time for games is much less now – creative streamlining can be good (see parts of Civ 4 + 5).

  40. PodX140 says:

    The lack of distinction between the word clip and mag makes my mind hurt. Please, won’t anyone think of the gun-owners!?

  41. buzzmong says:

    I’m torn. Initially I was all excited, but just like the FPS remake, the more I hear the less enthused I am. Still not digging TU and inventory removal. Nor the smaller squads and the classes.

    As an aside, Xenonauts 9.2 was released at the weekend. It’s getting pretty good. Not only is it definitely UFO:AU, it’s also got the time-sucking factor of engrossing games. Lost an hour and a half before a crash in the tactical screen forced me to stop.

  42. Prime says:

    Have you guys watched this video??? This game looks fucking coool! I really like the base “ant-farm” concept! I was a bit on the fence before but I want this! Sold! Take my munny!

    One question, though. Can we name our own troops? During a recent play of the original I was delighted to be able to take my girlfriend, friends and family into battle with me. Of course most of them died horrible alien deaths in the first two or three engagements but, er, new soldiers with, um, identical names soon found their way into my ranks! Can you ask the nice developer man about this, Alec, please?

  43. hosndosn says:

    They removed ammo?!? I hear of this for the first time from the PR guy telling me people said they hate it, lol. Didn’t they learn from Invisible War? Those “genius” gamedesign revolutions that revolve around removing shit never work out.

    “There were a couple of moments in my original playthroughs of X-COM where, because I was crap at it back then, I’d run out of ammo and need to go loot alien corpses for clips. That was quite exciting, when you found one that did have the right clip and you’re ‘oh my god, I’m back in the game!’”

    Burned in real-time by the interviewer. This is exactly the kind of random depth I liked about the original X-COM and they remove it because “it doesn’t matter”. This is exactly what’s missing from modern games and they had a chance to bring it back and decided not to.

    Seriously now, all this new X-COM does is make me want to play X-COM: Apocalypse. Dropped from day-one purchase hype to maybe-on-a-Steam-sale. A proper tactical X-COM sequel and all micromanagement is removed because “it doesn’t matter”. Shame.

  44. Strangerator says:

    One thing that I have to give Firaxis big credit for is keeping destructible environments in this iteration. To me, that’s one of the biggest features of the ground combat and I’m sure it would have been easier to just toss it out with the rest of the complexities. I do worry that environments will only be partially destructible, where only certain parts of walls can be blown up, and not literally everything as in the first game. Also haven’t seen any sign of the autocannon with its many flavors of rounds.

    Having an elite team of 4-6 GI Joes is my least favorite part because it has sweeping implications on the rest of the game…

    Predictions
    1) There won’t be any expendables because you have so few men, and so the game probably won’t be arbitrarily killing off a rookie scout because “hey, war is hell kid!” Any single troop death means a large percentage of your force is gone. I think this also means your troops will be much tougher to kill, so they won’t feel like the fragile humans they are.

    2) Maps and battles will be on a much smaller scale, proceeding in an almost “linear” fashion. From the demo that has been shown repeatedly, battles look like they are a unidirectional affair, and the player won’t be asked to divide up forces and have one team cross a field while the other secures a house on the opposite side. You just won’t have the manpower.

    3) Not so foggy fog of war. Based on what we’ve seen, there isn’t a whole lot that your soldiers can’t see. This ties in with number 1… if there is an enemy lurking right through the next door, it could pop out and gun you down when you press “end turn”. It doesn’t look as though there was any part of the gas station’s interior that was not visible in the demo, though this may be strictly for the demo.

    4) Base defense missions.. I doubt they’ll let you play with more than 6 in your base, even if there ARE base defense missions. If defense missions are included, I predict they will take place solely in the hangar or somewhere static like that.

    5) Weapon platforms (SHIVs) – if troops wind up being not so squishy, then a steady supply of these lifesaving damage-sponges won’t be as necessary. They just take up the slot of a soldier who would otherwise be able to get experience. I’m sure once troop levels are maxed you will want to implement a SHIV to help guarantee your elites are exposed to minimal risk. I wouldn’t be too surprised if these got the axe before the game launches.

    6) A team – B team – It seems as though the base will only have room for a single skyranger. I’m not sure how the geoscape will work, but it doesn’t look as if you can double up on troop transports to handle multiple missions at the same time. Send your stronger team after the terror site and the weaker to investigate a downed UFO etc. I guess this is more a problem of overall force size.

    So you see how a cascade of changes could potentially (read: are probably going to) drastically change the way the game plays.

  45. Lord Byte says:

    The one base is pretty much how I ran my X-com :) I had one main base, the rest were basically outposts with a fighter and radar cover. Sometimes after a long time I put down a manufacturing base and moved my scientists over there, but that was the extent. The rest all ran from my main base, so no change for me.

  46. Tetragrammaton says:

    The amount of unabashed Luddites posting here is damned depressing. I really wish they hadn’t called this x-com just so we didn’t have to put up with all this tedious posturing.
    The game seems to shaping up fine and looks like it might be a really solid entry into a criminally sparse genre – it really sad that the genuine critiques or worries will get washed away in a flood of petulant rosy-eyed cynicism.
    Here is a thought: If you want the don’t want anything at all changed in x-com, then go play fucking x-com.

  47. G-Bee says:

    I’m actually kinda glad that this game differs a lot from the original X-Com. I mean, we can play Xenonauts for that original X-Com feel, so it’s not a problem that this one is different.

    I wish they’d chosen a different name, though. XCom Enemy Unknown is simply wrong if it’s nothing like the original in many ways.

  48. RegisteredUser says:

    Yea, okay, I saw the gameplay footage.

    Regardless of the rest: DO SO WANT.

    Love the animations. Feel free to make the amount of blood the aliens shed a slider in the options. I wouldn’t mind a bit more.
    It would also be a nice idea if some of the tougher/faster aliens left a trail of blood once hit, but that’s not something I’d cry over.

    Gore&blood and maybe even an option to NOT have the automated cutscenes / camera moves happen.

    Options. They are your friend for appeasing the masses.

    And make it moddable, si vous plait.

  49. Zaran says:

    Another thing I thought about. We didn’t run out of ammo in the original because we had more than 4 guys. If I tried playing the original with 4 guys each one would probably have to have 2 extra reloads.

  50. Sorbicol says:

    I’m really looking forward to this – like others have said if I decide I want the authentic XCOM expereince then it looks like Xenonants is going to provide it. So far the Firaxis version looks fresh and new and game I would love to play. If they get the sense of dread and terror when playing it right (Crysalids are going to be the pointer there I think – are you going to cack your pants when you see one of them lurking at the edge of your vision?) then I stand a few changes to the combat system.

    I’d much rather see this and an XCOM remake rather than some poorly implimented FPS.

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