XCOM: Release Date Unknown: FPS Slips To ‘Fiscal 2014′

By John Walker on May 22nd, 2012 at 10:02 pm.

You're so pretty, but we can't touch you.

I hope you’re all now familiar enough with the Walker Principle to have assumed that XCOM wouldn’t be released on its stated release date. As surely as the Sun rises in the morning and floats off into outer space, there was no chance the concerning FPS remake of the classic strategy game would appear on the 6th March 2012. And you’d have to be a fool to then believe it could come in the months after, last November’s slip pushing it into 2K’s “fiscal 2013″. Well, now only two months into that mad-money-date, it’s been announced as slipping again, this time all the way into fiscal year 2014. Which starts next April. Because of the reasons.

Goodness knows what’s happening here. The extremely attractive-looking game may be the root cause of the “remake it as an FPS” meme, but it was EA’s Syndicate that plopped out and ensured there was something to worry about. While X-COM fans were somewhat understandably aghast that their precious game was being crowbarred into a deeply odd choice of genre, that’s rather been curtailed by Firaxis’s making a proper one, and Xenonauts leaping in too. And actually, XCOM never really looked that terrible. The fantastic 60s stylised design, combined with the rather significant knowledge that Jordan “The Cradle” Thomas was working on it, meant it wasn’t one to sneer away.

But oh boy, has this one been through the mill. In July last year, Thomas was explaining why the game had been so significantly changed since a year before that. You can watch that footage here:

We’re coming up to the magical time of year when more revisions would have been revealed at E3, but I doubt that’ll happen now. Another slip, despite the game still having another ten months to be finished to fit within the last one, likely pushes it into the third quarter of 2013 at the earliest, if you assume they’ll want an E3 build up once more.

2K aren’t the sort to give explanations, but they are the sort to support a game to let it be a BioShock. Presumably Thomas and co are struggling to find their angle here, to make a game that won’t be thrown on top of Syndicate in the 50p bins. With the release pushed back into what’s essentially “some time in the future, not soon,” hopefully they’ll have time to get a grip on it and make something truly worthwhile.

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68 Comments »

  1. BooleanBob says:

    The reasons have a lot to answer for.

  2. Mike says:

    Can you subtly slip a link into the Bioshock Infinite story so it links back to this article via The Walker Principle?

  3. Palindrome says:

    To be honest this has become almost an irrelevance. There are much more interesting XCOM titles/remakes nearing release and frankly this looks like just another FPS.

    • Ajax19 says:

      No doubt. They should just rename this “XCOM: Nobody Gives A Sh*t Anymore And Never Really Did To Be Honest”

      • Chubzdoomer says:

        LOL So true! Why is this game still being developed, again?

      • Pattom says:

        They should rename it to absolutely anything other than XCOM, X-Com, or another permutation thereof. Haven’t 99% of people’s gripes with this game been that it’s so heavily advertised under the X-Com brand? Without that burden of expectation, it would be an inoffensive squad-based FPS with a Bioshocky/pulp sci-fi aesthetic.

      • RagingLion says:

        To provide balance this is genuinely the XCOM I’m most interested in since I wasn’t a fan who played the original and I quite liked the lookk of what I’d seen if the framework for the game remains an interesting and non-linear one.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I actually thought this had already been released and I’d just ignored it.

      • enobayram says:

        The same here. Thinking that way, I was actually worried for a moment that this is the proper(relatively) remake being delayed. For the next moment, I became happy over the knowledge that this abomination hasn’t seen the light of day. I then resumed not caring about it.

    • Hematite says:

      With Xenonauts and the other XCOM looking so strong I don’t have any interest raging about this.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment in another thread to kick Diablo 3 while it’s down some more.

  4. povu says:

    Find it hard to care, with XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s release date being announced.

  5. Yachmenev says:

    The art style is fantastic yes, the choice of setting very interesting, but nothing about it seems fun to play. Linear mission structure with the occasional sidequest seems boring, and the actual FPS combats looked dull.

    • Monkey says:

      Yes, great style but still haven’t actually seen “a game” yet.

      With Firaxis’ effort coming, i would change this effort to a story driven fps, like bioshock. Forget trying to bring RTS elements and just make a good story.

      • miansud says:

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        • wootles says:

          Well if it’s not that much cheaper. Why don’t I just buy from a reliable source, and have a little piece of mind.

  6. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Well, that’s good news. There’s a chance it won’t be horrible. In the meantime, back to the Xenonauts demo.

  7. Maktaka says:

    XCOM’s issue is that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. All the gameplay footage released didn’t really put it in a great light as a shooter, but it didn’t retain enough aspects of X-COM to merit those being the twist that makes it unique. Teammates…. who don’t do useful damage and just act as ability carriers. Research…… that had some breadth and little depth (and was barely ever discussed in previews). Aliens…. that just weren’t that interesting. Were it not for the overall setting of fighting aliens with Tommy guns in 1950s smalltown America being a niftyidea, I’m not sure there would be any reason whatsoever to pay attention to it. Well, that and the impotent gnashing of teeth across the internet over “defiling a legacy” and all that, which I mostly find amusing.

    Answering the question of “what is unique about the game, and why is that aspect good gameplay?” is a hard one to answer for this title, and I think the fact that the game didn’t seem to have any engaging ideas beyond the 1950′s scifi stylings means they’ve pretty much gone back to the drawing board to find the hook for this title. I hope they find something, because the IDEA is pretty nifty and one I’d like to see explored (I think of pre-Great War Fallout but with good shooter mechanics and start getting grabby hands at the game that should fill that niche), but the implementation of that idea was pretty bland by the look of things.

  8. Ministry says:

    To be fair, this game could end up being a lot of fun. Just wipe the XCOM from its name and picture it being something else if it bothers you.

  9. S Jay says:

    XCOM FPS? Those marketers could only be wronger if they were trying to market ice to the North Pole… please, delay forever.

  10. Justin Keverne says:

    I’m happy to be the lone voice in the wilderness who thinks this game is an interesting concept, but then I’m still bitter about what happened to X-Com: Alliance.

    • DK says:

      SWAT 4 with Aliens is an interesting concept. This is Gears of War in brighter setting.

      • Muzman says:

        It didn’t seem like it was going to be that, initially. It seemed like you’d be at base, research, choose missions, head out and gather evidence, come back and keep going etc (with some tweaks to that). The game was supposed to evolve based on how you did in those missions, what your choices were etc.
        Seemed pretty cool.
        Then they put out that demo that was all like “We have chesthighwalls! Never fear! It won’t be so radical you consolers won’t know how to play it!”
        I don’t know what that was all about. It was like they got cold feet. I suspect it’s quite tough coming up with enough solid scenarios for enough missions in this sort of game. The pressure to be personal and “cinematic” in an FPS is high, I suspect. Where that’s not such an obstacle with the third person version.

  11. DClark says:

    I remember when they first released that 22 minute video. When they got to the 5 minute mark and introduced Angela, XCOM’s Division Chief, the first thing that popped into my mind was “Why can’t I play as her?” Her job of taking the analyst’s data and arranging mission profiles then sending out soldiers to combat the aliens seemed more interesting than letting her do all the work then letting me choose which mission I want to do (besides, what Division Chief is going to say ‘here are four choices – go on whatever mission you feel like’?).

    If this game gave you the choice to play as either Agent Carter or Division Chief Angela I’d be much more interested in it.

    • Ministry says:

      Because in the 60′s women only cooked, cleaned or were someones secretary. They surely didn’t fight aliens. I agree with you.

    • genius_starship says:

      Well you know, they did kinda make a game about that too..it was called X-COM…

  12. Yargh says:

    I was sure this had been canned. Guess not. I am curious to see what it will turn into though…

    With a bit of effort it should be doable to make something that vaguely respects what we love about XCom

  13. catmorbid says:

    If they, for some reason, end up releasing a linear corridor shooter with pretty graphics and on-release multiplayer DLC, I wouldn’t really care. Much like I don’t care now.

  14. ResonanceCascade says:

    Nothing about this project sounded particularly good initially, and all the news that has come out since has made it sound worse and worse.

    I don’t know what 2K is thinking. If they wanted an FPS that badly, there were a million other directions they could have gone that made a million times more sense.

  15. ScottHarrigan says:

    I never played any of the original XCOM games, but it seems like a pretty cool idea. I love retro style aliens. Old school Humans vs Aliens could be a refreshing changing from all the dystopian science fiction. Not that those types of games aren’t great, but sometimes I want to go retro. The trailer feels like something for an old school science fiction horror movies.

    http://www.videodetective.com/games/xcom/822900#.T7wRt-uWclc

    Even as a linear shooter it has potential to be really awesome story wise and in capturing the feel of an old alien invasion.

  16. Bhazor says:

    I’m getting a feeling this is following the Furious 4 trend.

    Announced with big trailer and pr spiel, (E3 2010)
    Crowd unanamously say “The fuck you do to that franchise we love?”
    Devs back pedal frantically, (adding squad control after saying there’d be none, new old research system)
    Game vanishes for extended period (when was the last preview? IGN says June 2011)
    Plans for true sequel emerge. (Firax’s turn based evolution of the original gameplay)
    We all forget it exists.

    I think that like Gearbox, 2K hugely underestimated just how many fans the original game has.

  17. Sidewinder says:

    Is it still schadenfreude if it’s not shameful?

  18. Andrigaar says:

    Did Syndicate tank that hard? I stopped keeping up after the promo for the first area up to the brain-brain extraction.

    So… a while ago.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Everything I’ve read definitely points to Syndicate tanking, but since they didn’t release official numbers, it’s hard to say.

    • Shooop says:

      VG Charts says it sold 81,284 copies.

      • Torgen says:

        So, about 1/5 as well as Amalur did.

      • hosndosn says:

        It even got poor reviews. And you have to fuck up really hard these days to get big reviews for a shiny AAA game.

        Maybe they realized they wasted an iconic name on a mediocre FPS?

        • oceanview says:

          I hope this tanks as much as Syndicate. It will teach big publishers there is no easy money in fucking over a great yet old IP.

          • Lemming says:

            A bit unfair. This is a) 2K we are talking about here and b) the footage we’ve seen makes it look like a decent shooter with some unique touches.

            I was annoyed when it was going to be the only XCOM we saw, but it isn’t. Syndicate however, looked like derivative bullshit from day one.

          • Avish says:

            Syndicate tanked because it was a bad game not because it defiled our precious IP. With a little more effort and thought it might have been a good game.

            With XCOM we’ll just have to wait and see how it turned out to be, before we can judge it as being crap or not so crap.

          • oceanview says:

            By being a bad game it has defiled the IP, just like this was the final nail into the star wars coffin…

  19. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Feels like they’re getting ready to put a bullet in it to me.

  20. buzzmong says:

    Despite the change to a FPS, I quite digged the details of the game back when it was first annouced, the premise that you were acting more like a reporter: Get in, find out what’s been happening by taking pictures and evidence, get out. Maybe shoot something on the way, but it’s probably not a good idea until you’ve been in and out a few times and done some research.

    I really didn’t dig the current “Arrrgh, aliens! Kill them!” type of game it had turned into, so I hope that with it slipping another 12 months, they’re going to revert back to the earlier gameplay but massively expand on the extra features and hopefully, maybe, introduce some sort of larger management game on top of the ground combat.

    It still shouldn’t be called XCOM. It would be acceptable with a subtitle.

  21. hosndosn says:

    I’m so bored with the Friaxis X-COM (“the main new feature is what was in X-COM 1 but with more immersive visuals”), I already start to find the FPS one more interesting. Still crap, but at least something new. And it’s not even really new. Looks like a slightly more linear version of Bioshock, i.e. Bioshock 2.

    If it wasn’t called X-COM, thus serving on a wave of goodwill from a franchise best known for hardcore strategy and micro-management, I’d even feel cautiously sympathetic towards the game.

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    Now that we’re getting at least two “real X-Com”s, I’m rooting for the shooter-X-Com. It always seemed like a neat game, just hampered by the expectations of the games that had come before.

    I mean, it’s not as bad as Lords of Ultima after all…

  23. blind_boy_grunt says:

    this reminds me a bit of batman and robin(george clooney as nippled batman) now, i hated that movie (and there are a lot of good reasons for that). But i watched it recently and after the nolan batmans the clooney batman seemed fun and, i guess, harmless is the word. It had no longer the weight of the legacy on it’s shoulders or something. Not that i mean to say the xcom fps would have become a disaster on the scale of batman and robin, it’s still far from being a good film.

  24. Cinnamon says:

    Really wish they would just ship this and get it over with so the few people who want it can play it in whatever shape it is in and stop whining about how oppressed they are.

  25. Secundus says:

    see guys, bitching on the internet CAN stop horrible games from being released. cya shitty ME clone

  26. kud13 says:

    seriously, the very best thing they could possibly do is take the X-com out of the title.
    And then call it “Bioshock: Space Effect”

    This would eliminate any griefers, and leave them free to cash in on those who want more shooters set in the post-WW2 Americana

  27. Dave L. says:

    Expect more of these announcements. If a game that isn’t an established annual IP (i.e. Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, sports stuff) isn’t going to make it out by November or so of this year, it’s going to get pushed to the end of next year so they can re-work it into a launch title for the next-gen consoles.

    • kud13 says:

      As long as they don’t touch Dishonored, I couldn’t care less.

  28. JackDandy says:

    I would honestly feel kind of bad for that game, if it wasn’t such a stinking turd.

    They should just cancel it and move on. The tactics game looks miles better then this one anyway.

  29. Big Murray says:

    Soon we’re going to need a separate RPS article to keep track of all the different XCOM remakes.

  30. varangian says:

    In light of the solid proof of the Walker Principle in just the last few weeks I begin to see why Valve just maintain the silence of a Trappist monk. Thus they cunningly avoid looking like idiots when it turns out that implementing a range of stylish hats, available at low, low prices, for Gordon to wear in HL2.3/HL3 turns out to be more time consuming than they thought.

  31. Jason Moyer says:

    I’m more interested in what 2K Marin is doing with XCOM than I am in what Firaxis is doing. Hopefully this is just a “making it better” delay and not a prelude to the cancellation of one of the few games I was looking forward to this fall.

  32. aircool says:

    Shit! I thought this was about the proper XCOM for a moment…

  33. BobsLawnService says:

    Add my voice to the chorus singing that the X-Com brand is an albatros around the game’s neck and not a boon.

    The game does look interesting and if it was a new IP we’d all be talking about an intersting new franchise trying something new rather than a bad cash in on an established brand.

    I do hope they go back to the more investigative style shown in early previews though.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      An interesting new IP franchise trying to emulate a bad cash-in on an established brand, then?

      There’s no reason this game should be called X-COM, but even as its own game it seems lackluster.

  34. Strangerator says:

    If this game really wanted to turn some heads, it could incorporate some cool layered strategy elements and ditch scripted content in favor of procedurally generated content.

    My guess is, if it’s ever released, 2K will say, “Just salvage this mess and turn out a pretty shooter, scrap the rest.” Some people will buy it because it’s a shooter with aliens in a new setting.

    It could be a really interesting game if they implemented investigation of incidents and more RPG elements, interviewing witnesses, etc. IT REALLY COULD BE and interesting game. But I am 99% sure it will not be. I’ve lost faith in so much of the gaming industry, that they now are all guilty until proven innocent.

  35. Severn2j says:

    Didn’t the “remake it as an FPS” meme start with Fallout 3?

  36. studenteternal says:

    Chest high walls, regenerating health, and allies that do not permanently die but are incapacateted until you run over and help them to their feet by pressing the ‘x’ button. What more could a gamer possibly want?