Help, Help, I’m Being Suppressed: XCOM

By Adam Smith on May 18th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

With their Guile haircuts and their baggy jumpsuits, the original members of X-COM couldn’t suppress an alien if their lives depended on it and, boy, did their lives ever depend on it. The new XCOM are all about suppression though. There’s nothing they love better than pinning some hapless sectoid behind a car and then flanking the mind-probing little bastard. Of course, all this suppression and whatnot is change and change can be more frightening than a chrysalid in a confined space. Here is a developer diary that intends to explain why modernisation is not necessarily the enemy you know.

More words on this soon, so watch the skies, but mainly watch this here website. Unless you’re projecting RPS onto the clouds, in which case you are the best person ever.

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55 Comments »

  1. MythArcana says:

    Help! As a hardcore gamer, I’m being oppressed!

  2. Chris D says:

    I tried projecting RPS onto the clouds once. I had to stop though. Projecting a particular screenshot from the Arkham Asylum coverage resulted in a very stern talking to about false call-outs. Not trying that again.

  3. Drake Sigar says:

    Yay! This is my most wanted game of the year, and I squeal like a teenage fangirl every time it’s mentioned on RPS.

    • Alceste007 says:

      This game ranks way up there for me as well. I am a huge fan of the original Xcom.

  4. fuggles says:

    Those aliens in the screenshot are so scared that they appear to be literally shitting themselves on the streets – how uncouth! Are chrysalids confirmed yet?

    • RadioactiveMan says:

      Chrysalids aren’t confirmed yet, I think. But, we’ve got Sectoids, Floaters, and Mutons. I reckon both Chrysalids and Ethereals are in the game, and they just haven’t revealed them yet so that they have something to reveal later on.

      • Torgen says:

        I think that combo 5 o’clock shadow/bloatee is the latest monster to be revealed. O.o

    • Thirdstar says:

      If/when Crysalids are revealed I hope they’re enough of a threat that the player is expected to freeze and go “oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, they’re all going to die”.

      • Malk_Content says:

        I hope that from the get-go chrysalids aren’t in the game. A week after launch the release a patch which adds them, but they tell no one! Imagine how awesome that’d be, you think you’ve seen all the different alien types, you think you’ve perfected your tactics for each and every combination and then BAM, chrysalids. Being blindsided like that would be the best thing in gaming for a while.

        • Torgen says:

          While that idea is fiendishly devious and awesome, there are hordes that would rage over no Chryssalids at release, and then when they appeared would assume that “lousy Firaxis” only put them in in reaction to their rage and were making excuses when they said this was planned all along.

          • Malk_Content says:

            Which a damnable shame. Mayhaps they could do something like that with new enemy designs. Hell GW2 is toting such a thing as a feature (we’ll change shit and not tell you) and I think it could be an excellent way to keep a game feeling fresh and in the gaming community’s mind. Imagine if they worked on DLC which had 5 new alien types following a similar theme how much good publicity (and more sales) they decided instead to sneak one of those into a patch.

      • Torgen says:

        Chryssalids *always* had more TUs than half your squad put together:

        http://i.imgur.com/324VO.jpg

        If there was a nighttime terror mission featuring Sankemen, I made sure I got there after dawn. If I was too late, well, sucks to be Buenes Aires.

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      jezcentral says:

      “Change can be more frightening than a chrysalid in a confined space.”

      No, not even close. *shudder*

    • Josh W says:

      It’s a new kind of terror mission; they go round crapping everywhere so that local people will blame each others’ dogs, arguments will be enflamed and society will collapse into anarchy.

  5. Trixie says:

    The suppression mechanic in JA2 1.13 is pretty good (in theory anyway; more bullets flying over your head = less stuff you can do on your turn), but it’s quite different from what Firaxis seems to have planned for this game so it may not be a fair comparison. I’d like something more than just an animation and the enemy being stunned. Is it possible to suppress multiple aliens at once? Is it possible to suppress your own teammates if they’re in the way? Is it possible to forget suppression and just shoot a giant blaster bomb to destroy both the aliens and their cover?

    I mean, I know the game has immersiony immersiveness, but I want to know what kind of tactical options we have available.

    • Malk_Content says:

      Ideally I’d want it to be something like how the Infinity skirmish game does it. In Infinity doing suppressing fire is no more effective than taking a normal shot and takes twice as long (a whole action rather than an half) but it creates a corridor of “if you go here you get shot at the full ROF of my weapon (in Infinity soldiers react but only fire one shot in reaction normally.)” In that is an excellent defensive manoeuvre as you essentially shut down a two inch corridor on the board.

      • Trixie says:

        That sounds good, but my problem with what we’ve been told so far (which is very little) is that it seems like the suppression mechanic will just function as some kind of magical stun spell instead of actually modeling suppression as the example you gave with Infinity tries to do.

        • Malk_Content says:

          I think the magical thing from a game design point of view is to allow enemies to do the same thing as player and see if it fun/creates tactical options. Stun-locking isn’t fun and only removes options. I sure as hell hope (as you do) to be something much more to it. On the plus side I should get to play Infinity on Monday, though my opponent fields a god-damn Tachikoma type things that hang off the side of buildings surveying the battlefield with a HMG.

          • Trithne says:

            A lot of the mechanics presented in this X-COM remind me of the Infinity ruleset. This isn’t one though. And it will be disappointing if it’s just a stun button.

            Also, you know there’s a rule of sorts against units standing on the sides of buildings? Even with Climb+. It’s the same rule against firing Repeaters or Mines against vertical surfaces. The model has to be able to physically remain there. Although I don’t agree with every rule the game has, so houserules, Away!

          • Malk_Content says:

            Honestly I would love an almost direct port of the Infinity ruleset into a computer game. With some expandind hacking and engineering stuff, environmental interaction and that sort of thing.

            We let people have models “hang” halfway off of buildings as it is a limitation with our terrain and modelling that we cannot leave the model there rather than an intentional, “You may not do this” with the ruleset. Afterall I’ve heard of people magnetizing their models and using hollow terrain they can place another magnet inside of to anchor them, but we haven’t got an specialized terrain yet so just use what is available at our FLGS and books/boxes.

    • hosndosn says:

      Even more worrying: I’m starting to think that the “suppression mechanic” is actually just a name for a new “cinematic” way of animating a heated turn based battle in a way that looks real-time. He doesn’t say much of anything at all, but I could interpret it that way. It barely seems to serve any tactical advantage.

  6. Maldomel says:

    I always use suppression fire as an excuse for my poor aiming skills.

  7. coldvvvave says:

    Oh no, a video on the net told me I’m not a real man.

  8. President Weasel says:

    I regularly think “help, help! I’m being supressed!” whilst playing that Battlefields 3 they have now.
    (I also cannot hear the frequent callouts of “I’m engaging!” without thinking “you’re a little too proud of your conversational skills”, but maybe that’s just me.

    Yes, I haven’t watched the video and posted just to comment on the pun.

  9. fuggles says:

    @2.21 -2.41 “it’s ridiculous what we can do now that we could not then”… followed by a list of things, then followed by “all these things that you could do in the original x-com, but it seems more immersive”.

    Just stop it. Write a script or a better script if more appropriate. X-com was not short of immersiveness, and better graphics won’t sell the product alone, but if that is the plan then just be honest.

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      blind_boy_grunt says:

      followed later by: “Q:what is the thing you are most excited by? A:the big thing we bring to the table is the immersiveness by the visuals…” seems like the thing you wanted to hear.

    • hosndosn says:

      Yep, if they kept that in for a PR video, it’s the last straw. I’m convinced now that this game will offer quite literally nothing new. While, of course, removing tons of stuff that’s not “modern” enough. The net result? A game somewhat less deep than X-COM with “more immersive graphics”.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Yeah, except that you couldn’t do all those things in the original X-COM. I guess the guy misspoke, or was just thinking of the last thing he’d said (blowing holes in walls), but you certainly could not climb through windows and kick down doors in the original. If you’re such a true fan, I’m not sure how you failed to remember this.

      • Roshin says:

        Please. In the original game(s), you didn’t kick down a door or climb through a window, you shot out the wall and fucking walked through. You know, like a MAN.

        Yes, this little video didn’t do a thing for me. All the things you could do in the first game, only it looks cooler, because graphics, man, immersive graphics.

  10. Dariune says:

    Got to say, im a little concerned that they seem to be emphasizing graphics and action as the main good point when this is a game which will get less benefit from graphics then content and atmosphere.

    • mckertis says:

      All the console gamepads on the table dont help to convey the right message…

  11. Strangerator says:

    Excited about the visuals, wow. And these are die hard X-com fans… Sadly, I actually believe them. I think they’ve been pushed to make a certain type of game that is so broad in its appeal that much of the “good stuff” has been stripped away.

  12. irongamer says:

    I like how after he mentions lots of things that he has to sorta pause and quickly think, “what are those actions”. I’m sure there are more but it makes it sound like, Four Actions = Lots of Actions. Not that the original X-Com had any more really. I just found it funny and human.

    I’ll admit there is a lot of interface action reduction going on in games these days. The actively available skills a player can use seems to be shrinking these days (Diablo 3, GW 2, etc). There are a lot of good things that come with this but it can creep into other areas and make the game too shallow.

    Now, I hate the “standard” mmo button interface. So I don’t mind limiting the abilities in that respect. Diablo 3 (at least so far) really forces you to choose which skills you want to use (although I expect the number crunchers to find the dps build eventually). I haven’t got my hand on GW 2 yet but at least you can swap a weapon and have a different set of skills.

    I can’t remember the name of the MMO [The Chronicles of Spellborn], I think it may have tanked, but it has a rotating bar as you used skills. You could setup your skill sets beforehand and during combat your options changed as you used skills. I really liked this system as it had a minimal interface but had depth to it as well, it also forced you to make choices in setting up skills and during combat. However, it tanked. So many people aren’t into that evidently.

    My concern is this mentality can lead to a simplification of other aspects of the game leaving it rather shallow.

    • Brun says:

      I think two main things are driving that simplification. The first is the obvious Call of Duty effect, for single player action games and shooters. For RPGs, especially MMOs and online ARPGs, skill trees are likely getting simpler because having fewer skills makes it easier to balance the game. Or rather, having fewer combinations of skills makes it less likely that something game-breakingly overpowered will pop up. WoW’s balance team has spent the last 7 years stamping out flavor of the month builds because the skill system was (at that time) so complex that it was impossible for them to balance it properly. Why do you think they’re moving to a Diablo 3-style talent system?

      • irongamer says:

        Yeah, I agree. I know that is one reason they are doing that for Diablo 3. I also mentioned that you can see similar moves in GW 2.

        I just hope they don’t mistakenly remove depth along with these changes.

        Chronicles of Spellborn kept depth but also with a limited skill bar which changed every time you used a skill. Basically they could balance it similar to a card game, like Magic.

        • Malk_Content says:

          Sorry just had to put in a lol and someone considering Magic balanced. There is a reason after every release they have to put out a list of banned cards for official play.

          Though I agree with everything you’ve said I’d rather have fewer more meaningful skills than an over abundance of skill in which only 2-3 are the best.

          • irongamer says:

            I knew this would come up. I know Magic is not balanced. I was trying to relate that Chronicles of Spellborn’s skills were basically like cards in a deck and that balancing the system would be more similar to balancing cards in a card game. Perhaps Magic was not the best card game to mention in that sentence.

            It was the idea of balancing method, not that a game was balanced. =)

          • Malk_Content says:

            To be fair I can’t think of any card game which involves the ability to pay for extra cards outside of the game that has achieved any reasonable sort of balanced. I’m a fan of deck-builders though.

  13. RegisteredUser says:

    I can’t help it. Honest to god, I can’t. I hate him for having Xbox controllers connected to a PC.

    Yes, I have a controller for my PC, too, but for some reason when I see it in the video it becomes this symbol of a lot things I just really, really hate…

    I’m weird, aren’t I.

    Other than that, this video hasn’t really given me much.
    Quite honestly, I am not yet sold on animation and gfx, but I do still keep a quiet, reserved hope that this game might finally be something I really enjoy playing again.

  14. Nick says:

    This game has me really excited, I just wish the squad size limit was higher, even 8 would be a HUGE improvement.

  15. theleif says:

    They zoomed in on Twilight Imperium! Already looked forward to XCOM, but now I love them.

  16. The Smilingknight says:

    So, there is actually nothing in this video about suppression…

    And a whole lot of fake hype meaningless statements about graphikz, cameras, details… and how awesome the unreal engine is.
    Told by a face that avoids looking straight into our eyes, and shifts the view/eye direction often and rapidly to its left side…?

    Plus that piece…oh that precious piece about “today’s technology allowing” all this stuff…. like this and that and this……. that was uh…. in original x-com – ………….only not so immersive?

    And i just started being somewhat cautiously optimistic about this game…. what the hell RPS?
    Youre spoiling my minimal emotional engagement!

    And who the hell in the firaxis thought this is a good idea?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yeah this particular video left me concerned they have no idea what they are doing. In the interviews they came off much better. This guys sounds like some random dude pitching a $5,000 kickstarter.

      We are going to use this modern engine, and it will make things “more immersive”, and stuff. They need to make a script before hand or at least have some talking points.

  17. Rugged Malone says:

    I used to be Microprose and Sid Meier’s biggest fan, but Firaxis jumped the shark for me with their Railroad Tycoon reboot. For every good thing they did, they added three fatal flaws. Then they left it in an unfinished, buggy state.

    Firaxis keeps striving to make everything “simpler and more accessible” as though the minimal complexity present in the old games made them unfun. What they seem to keep failing to understand is that their old games were pretty dumbed down already.

    There are always things you can streamline to make a game better, but XCOM’s gameplay had a unique appeal, and I worry Firaxis aren’t trying hard enough to preserve the overall depth and feel of the original game.

    I find it hard to believe that zoomed-in graphics and controllers and 4-6 squad members are decisions you make to improve a strategy game. They smell more like decisions you make to suit playing with a controller on a big screen TV.

    • Izzan says:

      Dunno about the latter part of your comment, all i know is the more i hear about this the more i disassociate it from the Microprose games. It may have common ground but it isn`t X-Com. For as long as i can remember now, the words (not necessarily used in this case but applicable) “streamlined” and “simplified” have hit me like a massive hammer of disappointment. I want complex, i want strategy with options and i want depth.

      I`ll pin my hopes on Xenonauts and keep this at a no-expectations-no-disappointments distance, which, i`m sorry to say, is par for the course for me with games recently.

  18. hosndosn says:

    The main feature of the new X-COM is the “immersiveness of the visuals”, then. Awesome.

  19. sneetch says:

    A genuine question here. Who finds that taking control of the camera and moving it to show action in a cinematic way increases immersion? Who thinks it decreases it?

  20. zach538 says:

    all of these people worried that right now they just think that its all about the graphics and stuff and thats the only thing they are improving on need to relax. think about it theres about 5 more months before the game is scheduled to come out so they are probably going to not only work on the game more but release more information on the stuff they are planning to improve and add. right now im pretty sure they are just saying this to make people more interested in the game and want to see where they can go with it.