Xcommunication: XCOM – Enemy Unknown Interview

By Adam Smith on May 25th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Pod, people

After playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Adam sat down with associate producer Pete Murray and asked him about some of the changes that have been made, as well as seeking clarification on a number of issues. Discussion of the chryssalids’ new look attracts the wrath of an unseen assailant, queries about base invasions lead to talk of balance and punishment, and an unhealthy interest is shown in the various ways that a soldier can bleed to death.

RPS: Hello! It’s great to have finally played the game after hearing so much about it.

Murray: Yes! Jake has spoken to you guys on a number of occasions.

RPS: At great length. But not to me. Alec, who Jake has spoken to, is on holiday in Greece so I usurped him. I am almost equally in love with the original game though.

Murray: And are you OK with all of this?

RPS: It was most enjoyable. When you have such a huge and dedicated fanbase for a game, and I’m part of that fanbase, there can be a lot of cynicism toward what you’re trying to do with the license. Do you feel that at least some of the cynicism is evaporating?

Murray: I hope so. I understand where the concern comes from. People play these games – when did you last play the original?

RPS: Last week.

Murray: OK! I first played it back in college. It was 3 O’clock in the morning and I was scared shitless by it. It’s those early hours and those terrifying moments that you remember so well, they really bring you into this level of attachment with the franchise. And so when people are remaking them, you feel that you have such fond memories, so don’t go polluting that. I think that’s where a lot of this protectiveness comes from.

RPS: Obviously you’re doing a lot of things that are very different. Do you see that as a case of not wanting to just recreate the original game because, after all, it still exists?

Murray: Right. Exactly. And that’s the key thing to remember. The original will always be there and that game will stand on its own regardless of what we do now. The game we have now does a lot of cool things. I think, for me, the moment I got the most excited about the game was when the current combat system went into place. Suddenly, this plan that I made in my head for how I was going to fight the aliens was seamless to implement. Everything became more dynamic at that point.

That was the moment for me where it was like, ‘holy cow’. Not only have we remade XCOM but it’s still X-COM, heart and soul and bones, and we’ve added something to it. It’s a case of this game now being a worthy successor.

RPS: Having just played it for an hour, it was kicking my ass. And that’s what it should do.

Murray: Yeah. And when you start kicking its ass, it feels like you didn’t just get handed that victory, you earned it for yourself.

RPS: I always felt with the original that I started out very reactive and then by the end I was proactively going out and…

Murray: Kicking ass!

RPS: In the video you showed to us earlier, with the Sectopod (a giant alien mech-type thing crashing through a building), there’s a sense of escalation. The tougher you get, the tougher they get.

Murray: Oh yeah. The important thing to remember is that it’s an invasion. It gets more and more intense independent of what you’re doing, and that’s where the loss condition comes in. If you’re not able to rise with the tide, as it were, then you’re going to be overwhelmed.

RPS: So you can get punished for being too patient?

Murray: Ummm, well if you’re not making progress you get into this spiral where you’re losing veteran soldiers, you’re losing missions, panic levels are rising. You’re losing resources, which means what you do have can’t get any better, which means you’re losing faster, so there’s this cycle, this death spiral that you get into where you start to go downhill.

Players are willing to accept that because you tell them what the rules of the game are. You make sure they know what the consequences are if they don’t do well, that they’re going to get into this process. But if you do do well, you’ll find more and more ways to fight back, and so having players understand that is key to XCOM. Letting them know where they stand relative to that has always been an important challenge.

RPS: In terms of the way that the player progresses through the game, am I going to see the same options every time I start a new campaign? Or is there a randomisation in terms of the choices you’re given regarding missions.

Murray: It would depend. Given what you just played through, that initial experience, if you opted to restart the game that would be very similar, but there’s a point where things start to diverge. But if you start the game outside that controlled experience, the sort of tutorial, it will be different each time you play it.

You can play through the game twice in its entirety and never see the same map. Between that and the randomised starting locations on some of the maps, randomised enemy placement, dynamic AI that responds based on what you’re doing, even a map that you’ve seen before can seem very different the next time you go into it.

Your own approach will be different as well, with different soldiers that you’ve brought and maybe it’s later in the game than it was last time, so instead of sectoids maybe you’re up against mutons…

RPS: And they will have their own companion aliens?

Murray: Yeah.

RPS: I got a few guys killed, but I got one guy injured as well. I didn’t have a medikit so I had to watch him die. What decides whether a guy gets injured or dies?

Murray; If your soldier takes exactly as much damage as he has health remaining, there is a chance that he’ll be critically wounded, which means he’ll bleed out in a number of turns and you better get over there with a medkit to stabilise him. Even if you stabilise them they’ve taken a hit to their stats so they’re not going to be quite the same anymore.

RPS: And are those stats then permanently lowered?

Murray: Oh yeah. You’re gonna have Shakes McGee if someone gets close to death too many times. His will’s not going to be quite what it was.

RPS: I saw a guy panic as well. He froze on the spot. In the original, sometimes they went berserk, sometimes they dropped all their shit, which I guess they can’t do now since there are no inventories as such.

Murray: No, but they will shoot at stuff, they will randomly spray fire. And sometimes that leads to some random positive outcome, you could have some rookie who flips his shit and still manages to kill an alien. When that happens it can be so awesome. It’s the kind of thing you’re going to go back and tell people about. ‘You wouldn’t guess what this guy did!’ That was important to Jake, to have that in the game, to make sure it carried over.

RPS: One of the things that struck me was in the tutorial, seeing the squad coming out of the Skyranger, they look absolutely terrified. Their expression says ‘Oh God, what is out there’. I know Alec was concerned by some of the voiceovers, that they’re a bit too gungho, but when the guy panicked, the radio chatter there is really intense. The fear and the tension is important to carry over, right?

Murray: I think the tension rises out of understanding what the consequences are for failure, so knowing that if you do badly some of the guys aren’t coming back. There are things that we do in the game that reinforce that, like having the rookie freak out and yell in the radio. That’s what we do to reinforce that.

That tension really comes out of the game itself though. It just rises up from the experience. If we’re having that happen it means that we’re doing something right and we hope that people are going to feel a little bit of the trepidation that those rookies feel.

RPS: The visuals are pretty horrific…

Murray: Having a chryssalid burst out of your guy? In the original it was a sprite, a zombie drooling green…

RPS: The chryssalid autopsy image in the original was kind of ludicrous. They’re one of the most terrifying things ever created but they didn’t look all that…

*A loud crash is heard*

RPS: Did I just piss of a chryssalid?

Murray: Nah, chryssalids don’t burst through walls. That must be a berserker.

RPS: Speaking of chryssalids, we knew that they were going to be there. Or at least if they weren’t, people would have been baffled and would have thrown bees at you, but the way that you’re reinventing things, to keep with ‘enemy unknown’, how important is that? That some of us ‘know’ them but don’t really know this iteration of them.

Murray: You want the aliens to be able to stand on their own, so they need to be good, worthy enemies. And there are certain gameplay characteristics that they need to conform to. We could have an alien that is completely invisible but that wouldn’t be the most compelling thing on the planet.

The chryssalids work well because we have a lot of technological aliens like the floater. That guy is half machine. We don’t have an alien that is as organic as the chryssalid is and the chryssalid is organic in the gross sense. It’s right up there with the xenomorph in terms of the bad shit it’s going to do to you.

Creating an image that is more buglike, that fit for that character too in terms of the hunger that they have. It wants to feed to make more chryssalids, it wants to eat your face to make more chryssalids. Creating that in this scary kind of alien increases the fear that it produces. You already know what it does, it’s already a scary alien, and now it looks like a cockroach too. It’s like, ‘Oh God, I just want to kill that right now!

RPS: When you talk about the fail state, how you lose, it makes me want to ask about base invasions. Is that a fail state, losing the base? Or is it to do with losing all the funding?

Murray: (long pause)

RPS: Can I be attacked where I live?

Murray: Base invasions are, in the original, something that happened if you were doing very well. Once it happened it changed the way you played the game ever after. It was something you were guarding against.

With something like that, which is almost entirely punitive, that is such a psychologically intense moment for the players, you have to be really careful with how you handle that. I know Jake has considered the base invasion question from a number of angles but getting it to work in this version of XCOM has always been a challenge.

I actually don’t want to answer the question entirely in terms of how it stands because there are elements that work well in this XCOM. We have a fail state that you can get into. But adding a component that is punitive and not only punitive but really punishes you for success feels a little counterintuitive to the idea of making a game that’s very hard but very fair.

RPS: I think that when people ask these questions, a lot of it is a fear of change. Losing base invasions feels like a big change. When we speak to Jake, we’ve found that he’s very good at explaining the changes. People just want to understand the reasons behind things…

Murray: Are you trying to coddle the answer out of me? (laughs) I think the fear of change comes from having such fond memories.

RPS: People have a checklist of expectations.

Murray: Right. And you get fifty fans of XCOM and they have seven hundred features between them that they want. Some of them are more relevant than others.

RPS: One of my top features, perhaps weirdly, is that I have to be able to rename my soldiers. I would have been so pissed if that wasn’t in there.

Murray: You can do that!

RPS: I know, if I couldn’t I’d have been yelling at you this whole time! It was always my family and friends getting killed.

Murray: Well, that is in the game and it turned out to be a really common demand. We knew we could implement that no matter what because it doesn’t affect balance and gameplay, so we’re going to go ahead and give people that control.

Something like base invasion touches so much else of the overall experience that we really have to be careful, there’s a huge knock on effect to so many other things. And I know people ask about it because it was something that was such a strong moment. The people who ask about it have had that moment, at 3 AM in their dorm room, with a battleship descending on their base, with only fifteen wounded guys with pistols to deal with it.

RPS: On the video of the late game stuff we were show, when everything goes to Hell they call in a second squad as backup. Is that something that can actually happen in game?

Murray: No, that’s a little bit of demo magic. We just wanted to show the difference between rookies and the guys with the late game equipment and training.

RPS: So essentially a squad is on its own once it lands?

Murray: Yeah, completely alone.

RPS: And can they always retreat by heading back to the extraction zone?

Murray: Yeah, you just head to the extraction zone and opt to abort the mission, in which case the guys who are in the extraction zone evacuate safely and the guys who are left behind are toast.

RPS: What if somebody is bleeding out and you finish the mission?

Murray: That has swapped back and forth a few times. Sometimes we’ve had it where if you don’t get to him in the field we decided he should die in the Skyranger, sometimes we decided it’s assumed that you get him the treatment he needs on the Skyranger. I don’t remember where it is right now.

RPS: It’s a very specific question isn’t it?

Murray: Yeah! (laughs) We’re in the balance stage at the moment so some questions like that can vary almost daily in terms of how we answer them.

RPS: I don’t want to ask too much about endgame because we all want surprises there, but the sense of escalation is very important. The way the alien tech and species escalate in danger and fear level, and the way XCOM’s response escalates alongside that. How do you balance that?

Murray: We make sure you stay terrified. We keep increasing the challenge. By the last mission you undertake you’ll still only have six guys and they will have their hands full. Trust me, when you see what we have for you there…well…

RPS: So you’ll never let us get too confident that we’re winning?

Murray: It wouldn’t be XCOM. You hold the fate of the world, and it’s like an eggshell. If you trip, it all goes to Hell. If you don’t have that, it’s not XCOM. It doesn’t matter if you have base invasions, it doesn’t matter if you rename every soldier, if it’s a cakewalk it’s not XCOM.

RPS: I always used to refer to the Skyranger as The Frying Pan.

Murray: (laughs) Yes! And sometimes you didn’t make it out of the thing. Blaster hit, everyone dead.

RPS: Now at least they always manage to get out.

Murray: Yeah, we gave them that.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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83 Comments »

  1. povu says:

    I love how much you guys are covering this game. Can never be too much.

  2. Mr. Mister says:

    So, balance-wise, base invasions were at the same level as Oblivion’s bandits gear?

    • Bluerps says:

      In a way, though they made much more sense. The aliens simply retaliated against you, when you got too successful in fighting them.

    • jonfitt says:

      It did stop you running away to victory, it ramped up the threat as you got better.

      In terms of the “story” of a game of X-COM it was a good point because it felt like the aliens had realised that you were a serious threat that they needed to try and destroy. You went from being a minor annoyance, to a foe and then with the base invasion, a nemesis.

      • ScorpionWasp says:

        Well, yeah, it WOULD do that if the AI in the original wasn’t so pathetic. THEY invaded your base and it was YOU who had to move your ass over to the hangars to take out the trash and then spend half an hour trying to locate the last cowering alien. This time, if there are base invasions, I want them to be, well, invasions. Aliens should try to do as much damage to the base as possible, and consider retreating if things are going poorly. I want to fight INTELLIGENT enemies. Oh, and about the ongoing escalation… DON’T do it like in X-com Apocalypse. You give the humans the toxi-guns at about the same time you give the aliens personal shields and mind control. Toxi-guns penetrate shields and cause no damage to other humans (so mind controlling a soldier with one is useless), so the only function the shields serve is getting captured by the humans, turning them nigh indestructible. I indeed expect the battle to remain a close, vicious call throughout the ENTIRE game this time, if you please.

        • mondomau says:

          THANKS for your INPUT. It was very ENLIGHTENING. Shame everybody doesn’t feel the SAME about the original X-Com, or share your TACTICAL genius – it will PROBABLY be ‘pathetic’ and too easy, just like you REMEMBER it.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            Obviously you played a very different game, where the aliens actually left the entry points and did things, anything other than just waiting for the humans. Sorry for speaking so many falsehoods about your sacred game, fanboy.

          • Torgen says:

            Perhaps you shouldn’t have only played it on easy, and then the aliens would have moved.

    • Nick says:

      except you could invest in enough alien tech based defences to stop all but the toughest ship from ever landing at your base, plus you could detect and shoot down with interceptors craft that looked like they were heading your way.

      • Wisq says:

        It still changed the focus a lot.

        Taking down a battleship with interceptors still put you at a very high risk of losing them. Even a foursome of fully kitted Avengers would probably take some damage to most or all of them, which puts them out of commission for days.

        Fitting your bases with enough defences to take down a battleship required a substantial investment and recurring expenses to run all that stuff, plus it cut into your productivity. And a “landed but successfully repelled” attack meant they (inexplicably) “forgot” the location of your base, while shooting them down just meant they would keep hammering at your defences until they got through.

        Really, unless you wanted to farm battleships by repeatedly shooting them down, it was better to just set up a strong defensive squad and deal with them inside the base. Moreso once you got blaster bombs and could just nuke ‘em from anywhere, or mind control and make them nuke themselves.

    • Lemming says:

      Re: Base Invasions.

      It’s got nothing to do with fans ‘fearing change’ and it’s not about whether they were punitive or not. Make them non-punitive if that’s the case – have the base invasion happen if you are doing badly if you prefer.

      The reason we like them (sorry if others are different), is because you got to play a tactical mission in the base you made. You got to see all those rooms and areas from a different perspective and play through them as, essentially, a map you made.

      Perhaps that’s why it didn’t feel punitive. It felt like a reward.

  3. Continuity says:

    Pffft… multiple bases and base invasions were a pretty central mechanic from what I remember, sure wont be the same without it. Big strategic element of the game thrown away for no good reason…. smells like fail.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      adding a component that is punitive and not only punitive but really punishes you for success feels a little counterintuitive to the idea of making a game that’s very hard but very fair

      seems like a good reason

      • Snidesworth says:

        True, but there’s arguments for it too. While it screws with you for doing well it keeps you feeling vulnerable and, when you overcome it, you also feel like you’ve won a battle that was really stacked against you. If the player is informed about the possibility of them beforehand they can alwo take steps to prepare (or fail to), making it more fair.

        • kud13 says:

          THing with base invasions was, they generally caught you off guard. But it didn’t really make the game feel cheap. Because instead of of feeling “OMG, wtf is this BS!”, you’d be tossed into a loadout screen containing pretty much EVERYTHING you owned. And you had to make the best of it. The first time it happened, it was really a high point.I mean, you’d be scrambling, and totally disoriented and terrified, but at the same time it wouldn’t feel like the odds were against you, unless you made some unsound decisions–like selling off all of your weapons except for some lasers, vbecause you had that shipment of heavy plasmas that were about to be done, or unless your best guys were all out of action with major injuries, and you only had a rookie squad left.

          The only time base defences would seem really cheesy is when you’d get rushed, while the ranger was on a mission, and you’d have the dregs left to defend your base with. Even then, it’d feel ridiculously tense first, and cheap and “the AI’s overpowered” second.

          I don’t agree that base defences were really “punative in nature”–I personally found the “government of X formed a secret pact with the aliens and quit the program” to be much more annoying, especially if I’ve been diligent in hunting down UFOs, but some bastard snakemen got a base set up in Antarctica, and all of South America would defect within a few months. ESPECIALLY if it was just as I’m about to finish my Avenger. THAT was punitive with a vengeance.

          But i’m willing to see how they play this out.

      • Coriolis says:

        On the other hand if the game gets easier and easier the more successful you are, you get to point where the game is much easier at the end than at the beggining. In that sense, a mechanic that “punishes” you when you’re too successful is kind of neccesary. Doesn’t have to be base invasions though.

        • Torgen says:

          I agree. base invasions only kicked in when you were *very* successful, i.e. the game was too easy. It was a good way to reset things so that the game didn’t become a cakewalk.

        • aircool says:

          Base Invasions would be a bit annoying considering you only have one base. Hopefully some decent voiceovers get added.

      • Trixie says:

        No, it’s a bad reason. You can say the same thing to justify not introducing more powerful enemies as you make progress. Base invasions help prevent the snowball effect that usually happens in strategy games if you perform exceptionally well. It’s like the aliens are aware they’re losing and decide to make a change in strategy. It also works quite well because the player can’t just send off all of their men on missions and leave the base undefended. It adds a whole new element that greatly affects the gameplay. The problem is obviously that this is difficult to balance, which may be why they’re doing away with it, but if that was they case they would have just said it.

        • Torgen says:

          Well, when they decided 4 soldiers for most of the game, and six at endgame, it pretty much ruled out having folks guarding the base while you were gone.

          Oh, I forget: Have tanks been confirmed/denied? Nothing like sending the rocket tank out in the early game as bait, and for demolishing the occasional alien-housing warehouse or barn.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            you still have more soldiers than what is in the squad. People get injured and have to take sick time to get better. Which means you will be sending out your b squad or even worse c squad for missions.

            Those guys could easily be base defenders.

            Its not like you only have 4 guys and then upgrade to 6. You will have atleast a dozen.

          • Torgen says:

            Ah, that’s right. I forgot about that.

        • Archonsod says:

          Base invasions didn’t do a thing. You maybe got caught out by them once or twice; after that you learned to simply stick defences around the lift and any hangars. At which point they were little more than a loading screen with some interesting fireworks.

      • Continuity says:

        Seems like a bullshit excuse you mean.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      considering that everyone who has touched the game has come away thrilled. Only your post is fail.

      Nothing wrong with being disappointed about things being missed. But declaring FAIL for little reasons without looking at the entire picture is simply foolish.

      I do like that they are going to increase the difficulty level as we get further in. Thats one thing i disliked in the original. There was a turning point where the game went from earning my victories, to just getting them, and i would get bored and start a new campaign.

      Good news about the amount of maps also. Also for all we know, they could have all new mission types that the original didnt that will blow away base defense maps.

      As an Xcom vet, they are very flawed games, but the core gameplay, the tension and such were so great they overcame the failings. While i love Xcom i’m not blinded by it, and realize that it had its flaws and could be improved, and this seems to be doing exactly what i want.

    • Kadayi says:

      I was into them before they sold out!!!

      /S

    • Smashbox says:

      It must be tough for developers to pour their heart and soul into a game when there’s so much knee-jerk, rampant negativism on the internet. Complainers gon’ complain.

    • cptgone says:

      the aliens attacking a base of mine was the best fun XCOM had to offer IMHO.
      i also enjoyed building new bases to cover more ground / specialise.

    • wodin says:

      I really don’t think this game lives or dies by base invasions. Saying it does is hyperbole.

      If they couldn’t get it to work well in this game so be it.

      I’m judging this game on it’s own merits not on a game thats shrouded with nostalgia.

      • Continuity says:

        whatever way you want to look at it they are making a game with less features and less scope than its spiritual successor from nearly 20 years ago. that’s just pathetic, if anything they should be expanding on what xcom built not “streamlining” it into irrelevance.
        I wish Firaxis the all best with making this game, however its plain to me they’ve made design decisions that stunt its potential, design decisions that don’t even make a lot of sense unless they are concessions for a console version.

        Basically what I want from this game is a game that I want to play more than the original. This doesn’t sound like that game. Why would I bother with this when the original offers more?

        • Antsy says:

          This game has a spiritual successor made 20 years ago? Thats awsome!

          If you don’t like it don’t buy it. X-Com still exists and personally I’m just happy someone is bothering to revive it beyond a half-arsed FPS with the name tacked on. Perhaps the new game should be judged on it’s own merits? No, just continue to moan about what it isn’t doing.

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          How do you feel about xenonauts?

  4. frenz0rz says:

    I’m glad rookies can still flip their shit and go nuts. It wouldnt be XCOM without a guy screaming like a little girl, dropping his gun, and sprinting around a corner to get shot in the face by a sectoid.

    • jonfitt says:

      It’s sad that they can’t drop their gun though. I will miss inventory management.
      Many times I had a guy toss a spare pistol to another who had run out of heavy ammo. Or I’d have one guy drop his weapon for someone else to pickup so he could perform a heroic charge with a demolishion pack.
      It was somewhat superfluous though.

    • Smashbox says:

      He said “Shakes McGee”

  5. Totally heterosexual says:

    I still want to know if you can make your guys go shirtless. :(

    Could you ask that next time around? :3

  6. StickyNavels says:

    This will probably be the first XCOM game I play – and I’m actually kinda basing that buy on the strength of these interviews. The developers come off as passionate, which is always nice, but most of all they seem to have a coherent vision regarding their project. Confidence is bleeding through the edges. :)

  7. MistyMike says:

    Stop sucking that UFO tit already, RPS.

    • dongsweep says:

      Boo this man!

      • Torgen says:

        Just ignore the unpleasant little goblin. He’s obviously looking for the attention that eludes him in real life.

  8. Joshua Northey says:

    I keep throwing my money at the monitor, but nothing is happening!

    I hope this doesn’t disappoint. Civ 5 was decent (though the no mods in hotseat/MP just kills me, since I am done with vanilla and the AI is not worth playing against).

  9. Livebythesword says:

    A lot of talk about challenge in these previews. That’s nice, but if this game turns out well I’m looking forward to playing it on easy mode too. Sometimes I just like to build up my forces at my own pace without having to worry much about losing.

  10. Brise Bonbons says:

    I’m mostly happy with what I hear about this game, and reasonably excited about it. But holy shit did the dissembling in that answer about the base invasions nearly make my tear my little remaining hair out.

    Look, if you removed the base invasions, just own it and explain why, don’t try to talk around the topic for a couple hundred words without actually saying anything.

    Maybe I’m just feeling grumpy, but that one response nearly soured my attitude towards the whole interview.

    In short, next time just tell it straight. We really won’t bite, and it’ll be better in the long run.

    Um, back on topic, good interview, I’m more excited about this one every time I see something about it! Carry on.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I really don’t think they know and they don’t want to make any promises. Its the only part of any of these interviews where the dev team was all “er….uh….maybe? It’d be cool wouldn’t it? But there’s problems too…..”

      Jake seems to want it in there and they just haven’t figured out how to do it. Any response he gave would have created hordes of Angry Internet Men, and remaining non-committal is useful. If they just haven’t managed to balance out a design for base invasions that works, they’ll say that and everyone will assume they’ll be in. Then they won’t be in and the world will explode. Or maybe there’s just disagreement on the dev team. Who knows? But you really shouldn’t let that ruin the interview for you. That’s kinda silly.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I think the easy way to do base invasions with the limited rosters is to just break it up into one or two key engagements.

        So if your base gets invaded and you have twenty troops you will have an option of fighting one of two battles that maybe take place in some particular room or floor, and if you lose that mission then the base is lost.

        So you are not fighting the whole base defense but you are fighting a skirmish within it.

      • AstaSyneri says:

        I agree. Jake seemed to be able to steer interviews better to promote excitement. Or Murray just got the short end of the stick – and stuck with the difficult questions.

        So far almost everything about the game excites me. Missing Base Invasions comes only second to my fear that I can possibly not fill another hangar with Skyranger-2. Having to choose between mutually exclusive missions while you have a bunch of squaddies sitting the ready room doesn’t make sense to me.

        One really enjoyable part of the original XCOM to me was to juggle my resources when the UFOs came in hot and thick. Yeah, downing them was one thing, but when you had one base mission and three downed UFOs, your hospital started to fill up and your resources were stretched really thin. Coping with that kind of situation was fun!

        • Hug_dealer says:

          they are aiming to keep that same sense of dread.

          Your soldiers that get injured will be out for X missions healing. So now you are out your star quarterback, and this next mission turns out to be an extremely important one. Before, your stars were never in much danger, you always sent your rookies out first to the hits, then your hero steps around and drops them. Not so in this, now everyone on your mission is someone you want to live, and you have to weigh in on if you want to go around that corner.

          The entire reason for limited you is forcing you to make tough decisions on who to save, and who to sacrifice. If they let you do them all, there isnt that moment where you start weighing in on the advantages of what each mission will offer what to do.

          You still get to build interecepter hangers around the world. But now you gotta make tough decisions on what missions you go on. Instead of being I can save everyone kind of game, which isnt really xcom style, even though you had that option in the past.

          The squaddies sitting in the base waiting are the guys who need to be alive when the ones who just left come back in a zip lock bag. Cutting the max soldiers, rosters, and other things puts more emphasize on keeping those guys alive, and building your attachment to them. The old one boiled down to 3-4 guys you cared about, and 40 that were simply cannon fodder. In this, every single guy on your mission is a critical asset and not just there to take a plasma shot.

          That rookie could be your one and only hope. And when he pulls it off, he then makes it to your A squad and you build an attachment to him, and he dies.

          Those kinds of stories didnt happen with the old one. You had your few badasses, and everyone else was expendable.

          • kud13 says:

            I dunno what kinda UFO you were playing, but it happened to me plenty.

            especially when on a routine run you’d run into ethereals, and all of a sudden your best guys get turned or panic, and one or 2 rookies, who just happened to have high psi-resistance, need to clean up, while there’s someone lurking with a blaster, and your best guys are hunting you with heavy plasma, while your “backup” guys are standing in the clearing, weaponless like idiots, with 0 AP left.

            And it always happened on desert maps, too. terrifying.

  11. Craig Stern says:

    I am totally buying this.

  12. Ministry says:

    You could almost see Murray easy up about mid-way through the interview after RPS said “shit”. Before that Murray had his “good guy” face on. Humorous.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      I got the impression that the guy sure seems to like his cursing, and he was holding himself to sound proffessional and only let a couple “shit”‘s escape here and there. He sounds like the ideal interviewee to put in front of the Old Man Murray-era Erik Wolpaw.

  13. Sidewinder says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that chryssalid looks kinda… zergy?

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      I’ve been looking at that screenshot with this deja-vu-ish feeling in the back of my mind, I can’t believe I needed to read your comment to make such simple connection. Thank you.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      More Tyranid if ask me.

    • Soon says:

      It looks like a sinister Christmas tree.

      I don’t think being a quadruped is helping its image at all. But maybe its movements are exceedingly creepy.

    • kud13 says:

      That’s one scary-looking lurker.

  14. eclipse mattaru says:

    All these previews officially turned this into my most anticipated game for 2012. I’m buying THE SHIT out of this before it even settles in its Steam shelf.

    I wish the Dishonored guys learned a thing or ten about properly promoting their f’ing game from these guys.

  15. Nick says:

    Well, the crysalid looks shite, cross between a zerg a tyranid (ok, they are basically the same) and a bug from Starship Troopers.

    • AstaSyneri says:

      I think the art style is great. It’s not the most important aspect of this game anyway.

      I recently tried X-Com Apocalypse again (I had played the first two parts back then but X-Com Apocalypse never clicked for me.

      It took me one mission to give up – clunky interface, tiny pixel graphics. It simply doesn’t work for me anymore. UFO: Aftershock (the third, keep confusing the names) was pretty good, but I hated having predetermined characters.

      This XCOM is going to be great – if they polish it in the remaining 2-3 months I wouldn’t be surprised if it reaped 90+ ratings.

      • Nick says:

        Apoc is the ugliest of the X-coms, imo, its art style is hideous, stupid pink sperm and muppet aliens.

        I like the general alien design so far, but not the crysalid. Then again I always prefered the Tentaculat.

  16. kpi says:

    - No inventory system (What is the reason for removing it? Console players?)
    - No time units (Why?)
    - No multiple base strategy (Why?)
    - No base invasion (Probably because there is only one single base now)
    - Graphics look like from 2001

    • codexer says:

      Yeah those graphics should look like they’re from 1993

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      -Where did they say there wont be one? (seriously asking)
      -already explained
      -already explained
      -already explained
      -derp

      You should read things more.

      • hosndosn says:

        They say there won’t be an inventory in the interview above.

        Also their explanations are flat PR speech. Of course a base invasion is “punitive”. That’s the idea.

      • Trixie says:

        You broke character. I thought you had some sense of professionalism but I guess not. I’m not saying doing that invalidates your points but it’s a bit hard for me to take you seriously now. I’d recommend changing back into character, and we can all pretend that this little slip up never happened– everyone deserves a second chance.

  17. hosndosn says:

    What a weasel way of saying there are no base invasions. Why is “improving” game mechanics always equal to just removing 25% of stuff? Only 6 units per mission, only one base, no base invasion,…

    Let me put it a different way: What did they add? In terms of content, variety, depth? I hear nothing, quite literally. “More immersive visuals.” A quicker (and more console-friendly?) interface.That’s it?

    Apocalypse took a year or two to make and it added a proper new chapter to the franchise, a new game, even a working real-time mode. What did Friaxis add? Graphics? What did they remove? Oh, I don’t even know where to start…

    It’s true, the original still exists. So why should I play the new game if it’s essentially just a more restricted clone in a new coat of paint? What was my favorite feature of the original X-COM? Depth. Gameplay I’ve never seen before or after. The new X-COM has neither, especially compared to the original.

    • MrRoivas says:

      I would love to have your time machine.

      Tell me, how does Warcraft 6 play?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “Let me put it a different way: What did they add?”

      That your soldiers now get various special abilities seems like a significant enough addition to me.

  18. derps says:

    Xenonauts looks better everyday.

  19. RegisteredUser says:

    “You can play through the game twice in its entirety and never see the same map”
    If they are all pre-generated, then I don’t believe this for a second.
    Unless to him 1 different alien in the same map means “not the same map”. Or the campaign is only 4h long and there are only 20 missions or something.


    The whole degradation and will thing still sits a bit wrong with me.
    It might be because I hexedited the crap out of my old UFO experience, but on a different note, it seems extremely weird that someone who would have seen action in some of the world’s most terrifying warzones would suddenly puke his guts just because instead of slaughtered and blown apart children and women they see an ugly alien.
    If anything, I would expect it to be easier to distance yourself from, as the enemy is more of an object or animal rather than a human.
    Which, btw, would make a shapeshifter taking the form of the squaddies he’s killed a very powerful will-breaker.

    But otherwise? We have squads consisting of the world’s elite that boil down to: Too dumb to fire the weapon they trained and worked most of their life with, too scared to do the duty they already performed in warzones across the globe.
    Seems a touch odd, unfitting.

    And as I said before: not having medkits along for a soldier is like not having ammo along(oh wait, there is no more ammo, yes, I know..).
    At the very least you should get to save your people bleeding out if you win a mission.
    Maybe their epic armor is too epic to carry some gauze, and their manlyness too manly to put on a backpack, but the transport should have everything.

  20. The Smilingknight says:

    Its Sunday, and i have only one question.
    Why am i not watching this video right now RPS?

    RPS: On the video of the late game stuff we were show, when everything goes to Hell they call in a second squad as backup.

  21. The Smilingknight says:

    Is that why i give you all this money, on that account?!

  22. codexer says:

    So many console apologists/Firaxis titsuckers here. Consoles stopped having intelligent games after the Playstation. Firaxis died after the simplified mess that is Civ 5. The simple fact that this game is multiplatform should be a clue that this game will be a steaming pile of turd. But no, you guys actually have the audacity to say this game will be GOOD? Enjoy feeding off the simplified mainstream banalshitboring feces the declining industry makes, sheeple. Only truly intelligent gamers like kpi and hosndosn can recognize TRUE gems when they see one.

    • Unaco says:

      Haha… Thanks for that. I needed a laugh. Do you do parody professionally or something. It’s good, but could be better.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      Mmmm love me some of that fireaxis titty~

    • Trixie says:

      I find your interpretation lacking in subtlety and propose a better alternative:

      It is hilarious to see the commenters of a supposed PC-centric site salivating over this piece of turd and its shitty xbawks controller. They haven’t shown any PC controls, so just keep sucking Firaxis’s collective cock, until they cum in your eye like they promised they wouldn’t. It’s due to faggots like you who continue to buy dumbed-down garbage that these shitty devs don’t learn how to make good games. I would have thought that X-COM fans would be more discerning, but just keep believing their marketing BS where they don’t actually say anything except how immersive and visual the game is while they constantly remove from it everything that made X-COM good. This game is fucking decline, and it will be puerile shit with no tactical value that everyone’s retarded nephew will be able to enjoy. Don’t worry, I’m sure you retards will enjoy this popamole trash just as much as he does. Faggots.

      Notice how I didn’t overblow it, and every time you thought I was about to make a valid point, I descended into lunacy? Also note that sexual slurs are used with great frequency, which is something you didn’t even touch on. Don’t worry son, just keep practicing and I’m sure you’ll get better at it. You might have to visit their forums for inspiration; just remember that no matter how sickening it is, you are an entertainer and it is for the greater good.

      • cptgone says:

        you guys got me confused.
        what is it i’m not supposed to suck, Firaxis’ *** or Firaxis’ ****?

      • codexer says:

        I…I am not worthy. *slow clap*

  23. kelbear says:

    The last time I fired this game up last year, on the very first mission, I had a grenade tossed into my skyranger on turn 2. All but 2 soldiers killed, and the 2 that were left panicked and were gunned down.

    Yep, I was playing X-com.