Firaxis Show Off XCOM: Enemy Unknown Death Horror

By Jim Rossignol on September 7th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.


Following on from Alec’s latest summit with Firaxis, there’s a video narrated by project lead Jake Solomon. It shows off some serious gameplay sequence, and by serious I mean it’s not only detailed, but shows an XCOM team in deep trouble. It really is looking fantastic, too. Watch. Watch.


Boy, I can’t wait to play this. OH WAIT. WHAT’S THIS IN MY EMAIL…

Thanks, VG247!

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81 Comments »

  1. Inglourious Badger says:

    With every article and video this bumps up my much wanted list. Can’t wait. This, Dishonoured and Guild Wars 2 coming back on sale are making this a very exciting end to 2012

    • Colonel J says:

      Oh backlog be damned. This, Dishonored, GW2 coming back on sale, also BF3 Armored Kill are going to make it a very exciting few months yes. Also ending in divorce and unemployment by Christmas if I attempt all of those at once.

      Pre-ordered today, largely as result of the videos posted here you buggers. Excited about this one. Don’t disappoint me.

      • Lemming says:

        “GW2 coming back on sale”

        Source? I can’t find anything saying that and all the retailers are still out of stock.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Oh I have no idea when it’ll be back on sale, just that it not being on sale again has added a whole pre-release excitement vibe back to it! Wish I’d pre-ordered rather than wait until I got back from holiday on Monday to find the entire world had sold out of GW2. Unbelievable scenes. PC gaming’s dead, obviously.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Lemming – You looking for Guild Wars 2 then? After much digging I found this site selling genuinely priced ‘digital downloads’ (rather than the £60+ ones that seem the only option now). Think they’re actually grabbing the CD Keys from boxed copies and selling you those instead but either way it means you can actually play Guild Wars 2! Site looked a little dodgy but I took the plunge and sure enough got my CD Key 10 mins later. Now just waiting for the 20GB download! Might be an idea to sleep now, game later.

          • Lemming says:

            It’s ok I found that gamestation are selling it online for delivery. They are promising they’re in stock compared to everyone else (even though they are charging £7 more than the general £33 retail price). I’d rather have a boxed copy, plus for some reason digital copies are being sold at closer to £50 a pop which is ludicrous.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Oh and Planetside 2! Jim’s getting me rather excited about that too. Come on summer, enough now, leave us to dark, cold indoor times with lovely PC games.

  2. tikey says:

    Ok, I never expected Sid Meier to be there. That was great.

  3. Slinkyboy says:

    Great video. Saw it at E3 already though.

  4. Morlock says:

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  5. Pindie says:

    The previous video made it look pretty good. Now they went back to disappointing.

    The magical abilities soldiers gain as they rank up are just an overkill.
    The endgame stuff is just too much and it looks silly.

    Now, correct me if I am wrong but in Xcom mixed crew missions were a rarity even on large ships and terror missions were always single species+their assigned terror unit. You could gear up to fight specific classes. In case of bases in TFTD you outright knew what was on the top level and had suspicions about bottom level.
    Seeing 3 types of aliens and 1 terror unit in one map for me is just not tasteful. Takes away from Xcom flavor where lore played major role in what engagements looked like. Makes it more… random.

    Really hope this will not remain in.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s a showcase video, you plonker. It’s a mix of gameplay and cutscene, narrated by a developer to show you specifically some high-level powers and gear and a broad mix of high-level enemies, all presented in an interesting way. It’s not real gameplay.

      • Laurentius says:

        Yet this shown team really looks like superheos rather then vetern soldiers. I would really like to see how is to shoot and kill aliens without these obnoxious animations.

        • thecaptain says:

          For actual gameplay, watch the stream embedded in this preview:

          http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/09/07/xcom-enemy-unknown-preview-3/

          It starts off with a full length, early game mission of 4 soldiers with laser rifles and alloy armor against a mixed group of enemies.

          • Imbecile says:

            I’m not sure laurentius is that persuadable, but who knows! I’m still pretty happy with the way it looks – especially that hour or so of footage, but I’m still slightly worried about the small squad limit size and to a lesser extent the lack of base defence missions.

          • Torgen says:

            Funny enough, the thing that is bugging me most about the game now (and was emphasized by the “roaring” Floater) is that all the enemies are savage monsters now. None of them behave like intelligent species, but instead act like fantasy monsters.I much preferred the Sectoids and Snakemen as intelligent aliens, who had lackeys (cyberdisks/Chryssalids/Reapers) that they commanded.

          • FhnuZoag says:

            I thought Xcom was always like that? Everyone in the alien army was a slave, except for the Ethereals at the top. (And even they might be being controlled by the mother brain.)

          • Torgen says:

            The Sectoids didn’t run around like baboons and claw the air, etc etc. Each alien “faction” had the intelligent play-callers (Sectoids/Snakemen/Mutons/Floaters/Ethereals) and the “pets” (Cyberdisk/Chryssalids/Reaper/Silicoids, etc.)

            The vibe I’m getting from these videos is that they’ve just reskinned orcs, trolls, etc. as far as the animations and way they behave on-screen.

          • Imbecile says:

            Actually I think I agree with you Torgan, though I’d not really noticed it before, damn you! Still, its a minor niggle. As long as the AI is challenging, thats the main thing

          • Laurentius says:

            It’s just that I’m baffled that every gameplay video and interview and presentation is emphasized on what they change from original, what things they ditched etc. One can wonder was there anything good in UFO in the first place with such attitude.

          • lhl says:

            WRT to the Sectoid Animations, there’s actually an interesting bit where they talk about it at the PAX presentation (actually, the entire panel is great – the title is “A Thousand Stupid Ideas on the Road to Glory” and they show off a lot of the things they tried during the development process). You can see the original early animations of the Sectoids in some of it and I think they made the right choice – it really does look like you’re shooting geriatric moving little children. For those that are intersted, here’s the link, I think it’s well worth the time to watch if you’re an X-COM fan: http://www.twitch.tv/2k/b/331363076.

            I also think it’s pretty unfair to say that they’re not big fans. From all the interviews, it’s clear that Jake, the design lead is a *huge* fan of the original (his favorite game, inspiring him to go into games, playing it for years, his familiarity w/ UFO2000, Xcomutil and the various minmaxing strategies/bugs, etc – a much bigger fan than 99% of the people posting here (including me!) I’d say). Of course they’re lots of differences, if you wanted the original, it’s available for $5 on Steam (or if you just want new tiles, buy Xeronauts) – from the development vids and the discussions it’s clear that they started with the original and worked quite hard to update it while trying to retain the feel and the things they loved about it (and what they believed made X-COM X-COM).

          • socrate says:

            if he was that big of a fan he wouldn’t have removed pretty much 60% of the stuff that made x-com so unique and awesome,there is plenty of other tactical game like x-com the problem is they didn’t have all that variety and cleverness into them and i am also not a fan of seeing my agent look like dumb superhero just to make a 12 year old fantasize about life as a super hero(because we all know super hero are a big hit right now /rolleye)

            Putting all the alien faction together not only doesn’t make sense at all but destroy one of a really nice element of the game and turn it into…well halo….actually this look like its a master chief game more then a X-Com game really with tactical instead of a bad RTS turn

            the huge variety and AI involved in each race made the game really really fun even still does now,good AI these days is almost non existent and that worries me alots also….lets not forget the really bad civilisation 5 with a brain dead AI that not only doesn’t make sense but is so bad that its just an unfair advantage as you just up the difficulty…i mean its 2012 and you still use that crappy stuff to make “better AI”…even master of orion 2 is more evolved in terms of AI then game today just doesn’t make any sense to me.

            the BIG ACTION!! and BIG ACTION SEQUENCE WITH IN GAME CINEMATIC!!…is just a slap in the face…..i am not 12 anymore you know…and even at 12 that didn’t impress me much because i learned that this didn’t make a game it would rather break it more often then not,graphic as never made a game awesome and a game that will stick in your mind forever…gameplay did,nothing else,i want to see inventory management and tactic,they seem to say that they know alots and removed all “bad” thing from the old x-com(i have no idea if they actually played it because there is almost 0 bad thing in this damn game other then its vintage look…and even then i think it aged really well,then again i would love a bigger research tree but il always want more cool gadget to deal with alien)and yet nothing was added new or fun to the game other then the impersonator alien which look really cool for an idea…but i never saw them really well on what they bring new to the game….do they pose as government officiel and lets say them infiltrated the government can you actually do something about it better then in the old x-com?covert ops,assasination of these to help get a grip back on the government in question?

            i could go on and on,but so far this game is all HYPE and nothing actually really concrete was showed to actually prove that it is doing thing right,i adore the x-com tactical game even the one that aren’t ufo defence…but i also venerated diablo until recently…now i can’t even watch someone play diablo,this industry is out for the money and nothing else and will step on everything that they have created so far just to get more without worrying about the consequence,il definitely TRY it before i buy it….sorry but i dont trust that industry or respect it anymore.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            Amen on the animations (specially the roaring floater and the “psychic” soldier). They look ridiculous. These people need to look up “subtlety” in the dictionary.

            Not only that, it appears they felt that they just HAD to shoehorn all sorts of out of place game “conventions” in there. Now we get cutscenes in the middle of tactical battles and… boss battles where all your units get out of cover too. Joy!

            I’ve watched the other gameplay trailer as well and one thing struck me as odd. Every time you spotted an alien for the first time (and they always appeared to be in groups of 3 for some reason), your turn was interrupted and the aliens got to move around a bit. What the hell is up with that? Do you get to move your units if the aliens spot them first too? It’s such a weird mechanic, and if it isn’t handled equitably and in a way that makes sense, it could ruin the tactical… “credibility” of the sim.

            I’m also worried about the endgame. The original Xcoms were infamous for degenerating into grossly imbalanced endgames where you often wiped out all the aliens with guided missiles and psyonics before they even got ONE turn to act. Think I’m gonna pass on this one.

      • pkt-zer0 says:

        I’d guess this is still one of the tutorial missions, its point being little more than “see all that cool stuff? you’ll get that eventually”. Metroidvania games do that as well.

      • Pindie says:

        Let’s not go name calling eachother, shall we? Because I think you are the one misunderstanding.

        It is a gameplay demonstration video. If they decide to show things that are not in the game that’s a bad thing in itself. I do not think you have red my last sentence: “Really hope this will not remain in”.

        The previous video had two alien races: Muton and Sectoids with Cyberdisk on non-terror mission.

    • Remmy says:

      The gameplay shown here is likely one of the cinematic story missions the game provides every so often in addition to the randomly generated ones. Perhaps it is the first time the aliens attack a major city? The rookies being slaughtered will likely stay the same, though perhaps you could save more/hold out, but the squad you bring in will be up to you. As for them mixing up aliens we don’t know how it works exactly. Aside from this cinematic, story-progressing mission the only things we’ve been shown are gameplay videos which had Sectors+Thin Men, or Sectoids+Mutons as heavy infantry and a roving Cyberdisk. Two races plus a terror unit isn’t that bad, and it helps the game by making things less predictable and thus able to be totally planned for.

  6. JonClaw says:

    I’m still on the fence about this game…

    I’d like a XCOM remake and I haven’t decided whether to throw my money at this or Xenonauts.

    • Morlock says:

      Depending on whether cash is an issue, you can always get both. The games are different enough.

    • Prokroustis says:

      Because it’s too much to get both?

    • Ravenholme says:

      I’m getting both, they fufil different niches imo.

      Xenonauts is very much a remake-alike of the classic XCOM gameplay ideals, whereas X-COM: EU is the spiritual successor to classic XCOM – The Bioshock to XCOM’s System Shock 2 (Except hopefully not shit, like Bioshock was)

      • Adventurous Putty says:

        Oh for the love of God, Bioshock was not shit, it just had different priorities from SS2 and did quite well enough in what it was seeking to do, in my opinion, which was create a narrative dependent upon the illusion of player agency being stripped away. Also a deconstruction of Ayn Rand. Isn’t that enough to satisfy most people?

    • bfandreas says:

      Just for affirmation that my memory didn’t fail me I just spent 3 hours of having my arse handed to me by the original X-COM. I have watched all available footage of the new X-COM and I can positively say that this is the game the original developers had hoped to create.
      And what’s this “or” nonsense that seems to be floating across the net these days? It’s not a question of “or”. Xenonauts and the new X-Com are two games of the same genre. And if you like the genre then you play both.
      Fanboyism is so tedious.

  7. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Is it the kickass 50s FPS with geometric aliens, or the other one?

  8. Stellar Duck says:

    I just don’t know.

    I want to like it. It just looks so actiony and too little fiddling with inventory and time units.

    I just don’t bloody know. Guess it’s wait for a sale for now, unless they show me something I can’t live without.

  9. jlivius says:

    The game looks great, but it’s a shame it requires Vista or higher without there being any obvious technical reasons why.

    • mike2R says:

      Oh FFS!

      What sodding particle effect was so important to make that happen??

    • Lorewin says:

      Anyone with the money to both run a gaming PC and buy the game these days who is not running Windows 7 is frankly just masochistic.

      Now, each to their own and all, but do we really want to encourage masochism? Really, the gaming industry gives the Daily Mail enough fodder without that crime to add to the list…

      • Vinraith says:

        While I run 7 myself I can easily understand why other folks don’t. OS switches take a lot of time and trouble, money need not be the issue.

        • Lorewin says:

          Since the humour part clearly washed over your head, let me introduce you to my business chums, Mr TCO and Ms ROI.

          These lovely characters work both for gamers AND developers! For developers, they’re writing code for a significantly improved (easier to work with and better performing) set of APIs (DirectX), which will run on an Operating System which

          a) Is currently supported by the manufacturer (XP is not); and
          b) Will have supported, updated drivers available for it.

          For gamers – well, if you honestly can’t take a long enough view to balance the very short term inconvenience of migrating against running an OS released in the LAST DECADE, then I’m going to pretty much assume you’re just someone who likes being able to whine on the internet.

          • Vinraith says:

            1) I got the joke, it just wasn’t funny.

            2) Clearly you’re at a phase of your life where your weekends are weekends. Enjoy that while it lasts, but don’t hold it against others for not being willing/able to sacrifice one of theirs.

      • mike2R says:

        It isn’t the money, it is the hassle of migrating my system. I built my current rig when Vista was still having issues, so I stuck XP on it. Until this point this hasn’t caused me the slightest pain. Indeed I have breezed passed years of hunting save game folders that have plagued the UAC beholden masses :)

        I was quite happy to extend this for the forseeable future, but I really want to play this game. Pre-ordered it on Steam without reading the system requirements about an hour ago.

        • derbefrier says:

          good news then Win7 is one of the fastest easy to install versions of windows i have used. literally only take a few minutes to install and as for drivers, well, It automatically found most of them(at least all the important ones) with out even any input from me. all i had to do manually for drivers was the video card driver and my gamin keyboard and mouse drivers. Honestly after years and years of dreading having to re install windows, windows 7 makes it a relatively painless and quick affair. If your prepared I would say your downtime would be more than an hour or two.

          • mike2R says:

            Thanks for that, it sounds better than I’ve been fearing. Either way I’m going to find out I guess, not playing XCOM isn’t really an option…

        • Prokroustis says:

          You mean you don’t format every couple of months or so anyway?

          • mike2R says:

            No, no I don’t. This install has lasted around 5 years at a guess, through various hardware upgrades. Still works fine.

        • iucounu says:

          I held off on Win 7 until this year, and was pleased to find that it was an easy migration – a bit of moving files about, but nothing too awful. And Win 7 is a hell of an improvement over XP, which I still need to use at work, and which I’m coming to hate.

          If you have cash and a Saturday spare to make the switch I highly recommend it. XP’s a faithful old hound, but… it’s time.

    • Pindie says:

      As Bohemia developers explained recently: DX9.0 is a hacked together mess of previous DX releases and has a lot of things for backwards compatibility.
      With DX 10 and 11 you get better performance and, more importantly, more stable engine.

      Same with OpenGL mode not being selectable anymore.

      • mike2R says:

        This is why I pay them money – to overcome these little problems…

        But I know I’ve lost. XP isn’t a big enough market for them to care. I remember feeling the same way when I had to buy a proper graphics card for the first time. To play a strategy game.

        Come to think about it, that was Civ 4. Bloody Firaxis…

        • Pindie says:

          Well, I was pretty mad when average looking games like Silent Hill Homecoming started to demand Shader 2.0 just because.
          Join the dark side, buy Win7.

          Or enjoy Heavy Gear 2 while none of us can anymore. T_T

    • wcanyon says:

      I have to assume you’re running XP.

      Vista is awful.
      XP is unbelievably insecure, not to mention unsupported.

      Do yourself a favor: next time you upgrade your video card, upgrade your OS instead. You’re basically 3 versions behind right now.

  10. squareking says:

    2:56

    DAT VOICE

  11. matnym says:

    It looks fluent and pretty good overall. Only thing I really don’t like though, is how every kill looks like a cut scene. Kind of like the close combat in Deus Ex Human Revolution or the VATS cam in Fallout 3. Would be nice if they include an option to turn that off.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      There is, they said so in one of the previous 31 interviews RPS had with them.

      • JB says:

        “previous 371 interviews RPS had with them.” Fixed that for you.

        I’m not complaining, I’m loving the coverage. I will be preordering next week and I very, very rarely preorder anything.

  12. Godsmith says:

    PSA for those who missed the previous article:

    Coupon code GMG25-1BW0K-K1A3G gives 25% off at Green Man Gaming. Yes, you get a Steam code.

    And note that select European countries like Sweden, Turkey and Poland can pay American prices at Green Man Gaming, which are quite a bit cheaper than at least the Swedish prices.

    • Prokroustis says:

      I think you should refresh your geography.

    • Ateius says:

      Last time I tried to buy something from GMG, they took my credit card info, informed me that they were “out of activation codes”, and then never responded to my queries or proided any follow-up (and I still haven’t gotten my game). They haven’t charged me anything – it was a promotional giveaway – but their service was pretty abysmal and personally I’m not using them again.

    • wcanyon says:

      That code isn’t working for me (US).

  13. RegisteredUser says:

    Mh. The screens don’t have me extatic yet, and I’m still a bit reserved, skeptical.

    But I guess playing it might quickly show whether I get the “zomg its HOW late already?” thing or whether it ends up just feeling kind of too casual / simple / bland. Or the opposite: too gimmicky-cinematic or something.

    But maybe, just maybe they might get it pretty dang right.
    Very curious to find out, to be honest.

  14. Dongs Galore says:

    That psychic soldier looked a lot like a Mass Effect 1 biotic, between the purple glowy hands and the armor

    • povu says:

      Didn’t help that at the same time the soundtrack got a bit Mass Effect-y and the word reaper was used. :P

  15. kud13 says:

    Looks quite nice, but, goddamn, that killcam…. it just ruins it for me.

    • Jad says:

      You can turn it off.

    • Unrein says:

      How the fuck does it ruin it for you? How the FUCK does it ruin it for you? What the hell is with this game that always brings out the Nitpickers Alliance out of the fucking woodwork?

      • Jerakal says:

        That pretty much happens with any game with a cult following when a remake is in the works. Someone in the fanbase will be able to find fault with ANYTHING in the game that wasn’t in the original.

  16. Oak says:

    Substanceless comment expressing nothing more than my desire to have this game on my computer as soon as humanly possible.

  17. Hunchback says:

    It has Sid Meier in it! (Yes, captain Obvious!)

  18. mckertis says:

    1. “we will show off some of the late-game aliens”
    And…we dont see anything new whatsoever. What is this ??? Floater, sectoid, berserker, chryssalid, sectopod – all of them were featured a long time ago.

    2. I must say i tend to agree that in this game aliens do seem pretty much to be mindless raging animals. Its this issue that put me off silly Apoc after EU. I wanted to tussle with intelligent technological based enemy, not mindless beasts (or even worse, vague microorganical alien goo). Alien SOLDIERS. Stargate SG-1 major races sort of thing.

    3. No XP support. Yeah…

    • lhl says:

      Yeah, even though is a new vid, the footage is actually older (what they’ve been presenting since E3). The newest stuff is all in-game missions (Single and MP) and much more fun and gives a much better idea of what it feels like I think – check out the 2kgames Youtube or 2k twitch.tv channels. They’ve purposely limited what they’re showing to avoid spoilers, so I doubt you’ll see any new aliens or stuff until the game is out.

  19. Rugged Malone says:

    Cool, didn’t know Phil Collins was in the game!

  20. aircool says:

    Looking good still.

    Anyone who still thinks it’s too cartoony etc… obviously never saw the Snakemen or Mutons in the original. This game looks like exactly what I want from a new XCOM game.

  21. JackShandy says:

    Boy, a lot of assholes liked X-Com. Not you guys, Youtube.

    “yep people are getting dumber and true gamers are getting rarer”, notes dragonoffate. “So true, this will be a dumb down trash” agrees grean777.

  22. Lokik says:

    Do corpses disappear from the battlefield before the battle is done? I might be the only one who cares about such things though.