Hands-On: Forty Hours With XCOM

By Adam Smith on September 13th, 2012 at 1:30 pm.

I’ve been playing a preview version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown for the past few days. I haven’t really been doing anything else, except occasionally falling to sleep in front of my computer and dreaming about XCOM. I apologise in advance for the length and possible incoherence of what follows. I’m giddy, maybe I’m rambling, but I’m as excited about a game as I have been in a long time. No coy introduction here; XCOM is marvellous and now that I’m not playing it, all I want to do is talk about it, write about it, and jump up and down hollering about it.

Remakes, reboots, repetition and recall – welcome to the multiplex of today, where you might need to take out a mortgage on the sensationally priced barrel of popcorn that classes as ‘medium’, and may well have an unwanted and poorly implemented extra dimension forced into your eyes. I’m usually happy to visit the past rather than waiting for the old to be made new, perhaps even more so with games than with films. Despite that, from the moment I heard that Firaxis were making a new XCOM, an honest-to-goodness tactics and geoscape tale of alien invasion and defense against overwhelming odds, I had a good feeling. Spurred on by lead designer Jake Solomon’s enthusiasm, openness and understanding of the original game, encouraged by a promising but all too brief hands-on with the game, my excitement had become unmanageable.

It often happens that people innocently ask if there are any games I’m particularly looking forward to this year. Six hours later they’ve heard all my best stories, the ones where a squad survived the impossible, the ones where a lone survivor fled back to the Skyranger, her will shattered, and, of course, all the ones with the chrysalids. I’m talking about the past but I’m also talking about the future, because XCOM is coming back and I’m hoping for a new take on what I already know, all new stories with the same props and the same cast.

Preview code has been with me for a week now, allowing freedom of play up until a specific research-based cut-off point, and I’ve collected about forty hours of new stories. I want to tell you about the time my squad entered the burning ruins of a large UFO, searching the rooms slowly and methodically, travelling deeper into the interior, all smoke and the sinister glow of mysterious power sources. I want to tell you how they didn’t find a single living thing until they reached the very centre of the ship, how they heard the sound of movement and followed it.

Whatever was scurrying about in the wreck seemed to be on the run, perhaps the last survivor, an engineer or a pilot, not ready to face Earth’s best. Then I’d tell you how we lost track of whatever it was we were following and I’d gesticulate wildly as I told you how those men and women died, suddenly surrounded by noise as a trap was sprung, the broken ship now a tomb not for its crew but for us, for my people, for the poor bastards I failed.

It was chrysalids, you see, and they were coming out of not just the bloody walls but the bloody ceiling as well. It wasn’t a set piece though, they’d been waiting to strike and if I’d been smarter, I wouldn’t have sent my soldiers into that claustrophobic, smoke-filled labyrinth of twisted metal, I would have drawn whatever was inside out.

My sniper, who had been with XCOM since the very beginning, turned zombie on us and chewed the throat out of a young rookie. As the remaining members of the squad tried to blow a hole through the chitinous wave of death and devourance, one of them blew the ex-sniper’s infested guts out with a well-placed grenade. It didn’t feel right to leave her like that.

It feels so good to have new chrysalid stories, even if I’m still not entirely used to these scuttling insect incarnations of nineties nightmares. A terror mission turned from bug hunt to zombie horror when a pack of the blade-limbed monstrosities decided against peeling off our armour and instead darted down an alley to find softer, fleshier incubation chambers for their spawn. It didn’t take long for the civilians they discovered, the ones we were supposed to be protecting, to surround the grocery store in which we were taking cover, engaged in a deadly firefight with a gang of floaters. Then it was a case of cover-be-damned as eight hungry corpses bore down on our position. The dead don’t die easily and ammunition burned down quickly. The sound of each clip locking into place was like the cough that clears the throat at the beginning of a eulogy.

That’s two stories, both of which involve my squad being wiped out, the Skyranger returning with nothing but the stench of fear and scorched plasma. There are happier stories too: the unlikely shot that saves a squadmate’s life or the rare mission when the whole team comes home without so much as a scratch. The successful rescue, the necessary sacrifice, the old-fashioned, fist-bumping bout of xenocide.

Enough stories for now though. It’s time to pick through the details and to break down why XCOM works as splendidly as it does.

Before zooming back into the tactical level, here’s how base and squad management works. There’s just the one base, XCOM HQ, although you do get to choose which continent it’s located in. There’s a geographical bonus for the placement. These include Asia’s ‘Future War’ boost that reduces the cost of advanced weaponry and training, and South America’s efficient questioning and dissection techniques, which allow the player to complete autopsies and interrogations instantly.

Being based in one location doesn’t mean it’s not important to expand coverage though and this happens in two different ways. First of all, new satellites and uplink facilities must be constructed. The satellites can then be launched over different countries, which reduces the panic level in that part of the world and provides a bonus from the ruling government. Any UFOs in the nearby skies will also now be detected and this is where the second part of geographical coverage comes in to play. Detecting UFOs is all well and good, but to bring them down you’ll need to station Interceptors, or more advanced fighters, on that continent as well. They can be transferred or purchased, and to stop the world from turning its back on XCOM, it’s necessary to expand coverage frequently and intelligently.

The single base doesn’t dumb down the strategic side of the game and it has the advantage of looking utterly stunning, the side-on ant-farm design a perfect introduction to the game’s chunkily believable B-movie aesthetic. An alien containment chamber is instantly recognisable because it has a massive transparent chamber in the centre, with science bods prodding clipboards all around. Engineering workshops are full of automated machinery, robotic arms ready to build massive guns. And the guns really are massive – a heavy weapons squaddie can’t be mistaken for anything else because he is toting a bloody great machine gun, a rocket launcher strapped to his back.

Every animation is a big sell. People don’t reload carefully and daintily, they SLAM a clip into their weapon, and an angry muton doesn’t snarl, it ROARS AND BELLOWS AND PUNCHES ITS CHEST AND THEN EVERYBODY PANICS AND WHIMPERS, CRYING AND PEEING IN THEIR FANCYPANTS ARMOUR. There’s not a great deal of subtlety in the portrayal of the space bastards, although there’s a huge amount of character and variety. Sectoids are almost dog-like at times, fitting their role as advanced, expendable scouts perfectly. They scamper, crawl, snarl and flee when the going gets tough.

Adding to the characterisation are the comments of XCOM’s lead scientist, engineer and your own second-in-command. Encountering a new type of alien, technology or weapon for the first time leads to a description, usually shocked and awed, as the various higher-ups remain in contact. It could be grating but the execution makes it a wonderful touch, not only because it adds to the game’s atmosphere of panic and wonder, but because it also provides hints and a sort of ongoing guide to the world. “You probably want to avoid shooting that UFO power core”, science lady might say, to which you might well respond – “at this very moment, on the verge of total annihilation, I’ll shoot any damn thing I please as long as it’s guaranteed to vaporise every alien in the vicinity. Thanks for the tip.”

BOOM

Sure, she’ll chew you out for destroying precious artifacts but, hey, I just saved the lives of four rookies who were in over their heads. I’m some kind of goddamn hero.

The interaction with XCOM staff also helps to avoid some of the problems of the original (yes, there were problems; I usually try to deny them as well). It’s no longer possible to miss vital research and you won’t have to consult a FAQ to work out how to reach the next point in the game’s narrative. That narrative was always there, it was the link between one piece of research and the next, the escalation occurred in stages as did the player’s progression toward understanding and destroying the alien threat. The difference in Firaxis’ XCOM is that the narrative has found a voice, so objectives are set during discussions between the various members of the organisation. It starts with the construction of a containment chamber, and the research, construction and action necessary to fill that chamber with a living specimen.

There’s no requirement to follow these tasks but it’s all delivered sensibly, as part of the fiction, and it’s not as if the objectives are the only thing to concentrate on; the world is still falling apart around your ears, don’t worry about that. A great deal of Firaxis’ work, beyond the brilliance of the actual tactical systems, has gone into the setting, and the world, its inhabitants and its visitors are all recognisable to players of the original, but with so much more detail to them. There are still page-long textual descriptions when research is completed, but there are also cutscenes showing the joy that becomes fear when a UFO is shot down, only for movement to be detected inside the wreck.

Nowhere more so than on a terror mission is the effort that has gone into creating a living and dying world evident. There’s a real sense of activity beyond the pockets of activity that the player sees, with an ordinary mission area often surrounded by a perimeter of police vehicles, their occupants now encased in green gunk, their Pompeii-like poses suggestive of particularly unpleasant endings. One UFO crash site that I saw had a truck parked nearby, a dead stag dumped in the back. A hunter had seen the flaming saucer crash and curiosity had made him pull over and take a look. His body was a little further down the trail.

That’s one more, tiny story. On terror missions the stories are painted in broader strokes and there’s a suitably apocalyptic feeling. Air raid and ambulance sirens wail, blockades have been set up, tanks burn in the streets. The battle has already been lost, XCOM are just there to minimise casualties and to hit back as hard as they can, to let the invaders know that there are consequences, no matter how slight they might seem.

Maps aren’t randomised, which distressed me a little, but although I’ve seen a bit of repetition enemy placement and types don’t repeat, and no two missions have been quite the same. The detail and variety are excellent, and there are some sizeable locations. The alien AI takes advantage of the space too, with separate groups occupying different areas and then flanking, surrounding and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Cover is hugely important, with a normal turn being a quick jog to the best position available and then a shot fired, overlook engaged or an item used. The aliens know this too and the easiest way to see your squad decimated is to trade shots without moving, like a tennis player in a baseline rally not willing to take a risk. You’re always outnumbered, so in a straightforward slugging match, you’ll eventually lose. This is a game that rewards intelligence, learning and brave decisions as much as planning, prepration and positioning.

The special abilities, probably the most discussed change from the original game, are essential tools to tip the balance. You’ll need every trick your soldiers have learned and every piece of equipment you’ve researched. Choosing a loadout is simple; gun, armour, sidearm and auxiliary item. The latter can be a medikit, a flak jacket, a grenade, an ARC thrower (stun baton), or whatever else you’ve researched and constructed. That item is an ability or stat boost available in addition to whatever class-specific abilities your soldiers has. The classes are sniper, assault, support and heavy, and they all have strengths as well as a choice of abilities at each promotion after the first.

A sniper, for example, could have the ‘squad sight’ ability, which allows him/her to shoot at anything that a member of the team can see, even if it’s outside normal range. This kind of sniper is best placed on a rooftop, away from the action and with a height advantage adding to accuracy. But there’s another type of sniper, one with the ‘snap shot’ ability that allows him to move and shoot in the same turn, normally impossible with a scoped rifle. The sniper with that skill is better able to react but less accurate, less of a ghost. Brilliantly, long-serving soldiers are given nicknames that fit their class type, so a sniper might well become ‘Ghost’, although my personal favourite was a heavy weapons guy called ‘Stacks’.

Over a hundred missions in, I’m a happy convert to the class and ability system. It means there are more tactical decisions on each turn and more quandaries in squad selection, particularly given that there are only four-to-six soldiers allowed in the Skyranger. Do you take all of your elite soldiers or stick in an untrained rookie or two? They’re not as much of a loss if they die, plus on an easier mission they might pick up a few kills and become more useful in the process. That’s not to say it’s ever easy letting someone die, no matter how green they are. They might have silly gung-ho soundbites (can be turned off), but I’ve even found myself warming to that aspect of the game; it’s all part of the world’s oddball military sci-fi texture and, besides, bravado swiftly becomes fear. Further to that, when everything is going to hell, I sometimes yell daft things myself every time one of the ‘orrible things goes down screaming.

To counter your soldiers’ skills, every species of alien has a special ability too, none of which I’ll spoil here. Suffice to say, they fit the character of each type and often subvert the tactics already taught, making the battlefield even more problematic with yet more issues to take into account during every phase.

There’s so much more to say. I want to share everything that’s happened, want to talk at length about how critically wounded soldiers can be accidentally killed by a grenade even as a medic is closing in, about the special council missions that offer great rewards at great risk. We’re talking disarming bombs in a power station or rescuing a UN official, pinned down and under fire on a huge concrete bridge that looks like Godzilla just stomped on it.

I’ll finish by saying that my biggest concern has completely evaporated. I wasn’t sure how different the game would feel on each playthrough, whether it would be as replayable as the original. I’ll need to answer that when I’ve got the full game and spent almost two decades with it, but I’ve started from scratch at least ten times in the last week, and it’s felt like a different experience every time.

When I wrote about Crusader Kings II back near the beginning of the year, I said this: “If it doesn’t wind up being among my very favourite games of the year, spectacular things will occur in the next ten months.” Well, CK II will still be up there, but XCOM really is something spectacular. With all the burden of expectation and doubt, it manages to be both a hugely respectful reimagining and, all ties ignored, one of the best turn-based tactical games I’ve played in, well, forever.

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203 Comments »

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  1. wearedevo says:

    :O

    PRAISE BE

  2. Drayk says:

    I want this NOW !

    • Max Ursa says:

      the thought of there is a working copy somewhere here in manchester sent me into a mildly catatonic state. broken eventually by my wife:
      her:darling? you ok?
      me:X-COM, here, in manchester. i want it
      her: whats X-co.. *looks at screen* oh, that alien game, you’ll have to wait.
      me: damnit

  3. caddyB says:

    *salivates heavily*

  4. PatrickSwayze says:

    Can’t believe a glorified blog has had access to the game already for so long.

    Only official metacritic reviewed reviewers on official games review websites should be allowed to play it before time.

    Not glorified bloggers.

    • MrGtD says:

      You seem fun.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      XCOM preview access makes me wish my own blog were more glorified.

    • Jesse L says:

      You should try harder, this isn’t even insulting.

    • Kaira- says:

      I think many people just heard a big whoosh going over their head.

      • twig_reads says:

        Now this is the question – which game first, the rps homepage header or the comment by PatrickSwayze.

        • LukeNukem says:

          The header – it was taken from a genuinely idiotic comment about a week ago

          • lionheart says:

            so anyone who has views you don’t like, even if expressed reasonably is an idiot. If you’re looking for stupid comments I’d suggest you just spend time looking at your own in the future.

        • twig_reads says:

          I was wondering, as I was thinking PatrickSwayze has only posted niceties before. But my fear of my bad memory and genuine bad experience with people online mad me omit that line. Well, glad this was only a joke.

          Now only to worry about writing ‘game’ instea of ‘came’…

        • Jimbo says:

          Somebody said it the other day in some other comment thread. DETAILS!

          • LintMan says:

            Totally missed the original thread. Anyone have a link or more details?

      • PatrickSwayze says:

        It was a sonic boom of pure japes and they still missed it.

      • mrbeman says:

        And then said “gosh, I wonder what that whooshing sound was?”

      • brulleks says:

        That’s a relief. I’d missed both the new site header and the original incident that caused it. I was wondering why a regular poster would turn so suddenly and viciously against RPS.

        I feared a Chrysalid attack.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      PRODUCT RECALL NOTICE:

      Model 3800 line-scanning sarcasm detectors purchased before 30th August 2012 can develop an internal short when jarred, which reduces sensitivity by 97%. Those using this model should return it to the manufacturer for refitting.

    • The Random One says:

      The next header should be “official metacritic reviewed reviewers on official games review website website”.

      Let the records state, for the benefit of people in the distant future of next week, that at this moment the header reads “a glorified blog”. Get it?

    • zaphod42 says:

      Well, there’s the door right over there. Just go away.

      Can we get a mod in here to ban this asshat?

      • Premium User Badge

        Lambchops says:

        I don’t know whether this is pretend outrage (now that it should be clear no outrage is justified) or if somebody is still not getting it.

        Note to future posters: basing jokes on the website header may not be the best idea!

        • Azradesh says:

          The comment is dripping with so much sarcasm that I can taste it from here, how could someone not get it?

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Perhaps we can get the same mod in who wrote the webpage header that PatrickS is humorously quoting?

    • Hillbert says:

      All glory to the blog!

    • Alias says:

      Is this still a blog?

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Multiple humour fails.

  5. popej says:

    Finally, confirmation that I can pre-purchase a game based on a preview!

  6. Archipelagos says:

    Yes! Yes!

  7. Dominic White says:

    One dev interview mentioned that while the maps themselves are static, there’s enough of them that you can play two full campaigns and not see anything repeated. Seems a fair tradeoff for the increased detail/personality, like the aformentioned truck-and-trucker situation near a crashed UFO.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I haven’t kept count but, yeah, I’ve done around a hundred missions and there’s a huge amount of variety. Some of the crash sites are large as well, so survivors can be scattered around. Lots of delving into corners.

    • Premium User Badge

      Morlock says:

      I am certain that this game will soon see its first fan-created map packs.

      • Premium User Badge

        Snidesworth says:

        The devs did say that they were interested in supporting community modding post release. Fan missions that can be bolted onto the main game would do wonders for replayability.

    • Moni says:

      The lack of randomly-generated maps worried me, but, thinking about it, the old semi-randomly-generated maps weren’t always completely unique; it’s the starting positions and the choices units make that makes each mission feel different.

      • Prokroustis says:

        Shy little sectoid hiding behind the stairs of the 3rd floor of a barn. But WHICH ONE??!

  8. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    Pre-ordered this the other day. Tres excited!

  9. theleif says:

    Colour me exited now.

  10. D3xter says:

    Panic in Russia? Again?

    • Premium User Badge

      Morlock says:

      If riot grrl punk is too much for Russia, imagine zombificating aliens.

    • Bhazor says:

      Panic in the streets of Нижний Новгород.
      Panic in the streets of Екатеринбург
      I wonder to myself.
      Will life ever be the same again?

  11. jadefalcon777 says:

    I’m curious about how hard ‘Classic’ will be versus the new ‘Normal.’ I’m a fan of the old X-com, which was hard in a wonderful way, and the dev team said that they made sure that even Normal was relatively challening. Which difficulty were you playing on, Adam?

    • Adam Smith says:

      Should have gone into that actually. In general, soldiers don’t die quite as easily – it’s rare, early on, for one shot to kill someone. Usually they will just have an injury to recover from, but the second shot WILL kill them, so it’s often sensible to pull people out of combat.

      I played on normal at first and sectoids aren’t too much of a threat. Much easier to build up a strong squad, although once later alien types start to appear the difficulty really does ramp up.

      On ‘classic’, which I’ve spent most of my time on, it’s rare for me to bring everyone home. I’ve lost entire squads plenty of times now. It’s not as if alien weapons do more damage or anything simple like that – there are more of them and they are noticeably more intelligent. Much more tense experience as a result.

      • jadefalcon777 says:

        That’s great to hear! I was of worried that the difficulty would be kind of artificial, but it’s good to hear that it’s more a ‘think harder, play smarter’ sort of challenge. Did you still manage to keep any powerful veterans alive?

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        Agreed. Classic difficulty is kicking my backside quite soundly. I don’t think I’ve managed a mission without a loss.

      • modomahu says:

        Speaking of squads, from what you’re saying I can have a lot more soldiers on standby than the 4/6 I’ll be able to take into combat. My question is, can I have more than one dropship? If I get two missions at the same time, one in Prague and one in Bogota, am I screwed?

        • Adam Smith says:

          Just one Skyranger – it’s a very ‘gamey’ decision, since it forces choices and what have you. Works really well though since it creates dilemmas, false though they might seem to someone not willing to buy the single Skyranger idea.

          • modomahu says:

            Ah, shame. That was always something I really looked forward to in the old XCOM, getting to the point where I could keep two teams on standby and feel like I’m actually responding what the aliens are throwing at me, instead of just being caught with my pants down because I can’t afford another ship. I predict a lot of cursing and frustration when one of those choices pops up.

          • Aedrill says:

            I hope it’ll be modded somehow as it’d be really great feature.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        2-shot kills makes more sense than 1-shot kills when you can’t send 14 shot absorbers soldiers into combat before you get body armour.

      • Xorgrim says:

        I have a question:
        From what I have seen in early gameplay videos, on normal difficulty the first campaign missions are very easy. Because you only face sectoids and thin men and I think there were maybe four or five in each mission. But because they don’t engage at once, you outnumber the aliens at any given time.

        Will I be getting outnumbered later on in the campaign on normal difficulty?
        Otherwise I might start on classic, because they way I understand you,
        1. even numbers in a mission are challenging on classic because the aliens play better and
        2. there are siginificantly more aliens on classic.

        The thing is, I want to play Iron man from the get go. I never wnat to play anything else. So I was wondering if normal ironman would be better to learn the game. Yet again, if the difficulty displayed on those first missions is a fair representation of actual campaign difficulty, I might have to try classic ironman and fail. :)

    • Zenicetus says:

      Can you change difficulty settings mid-campaign, or do you have to re-start the game to play at a different difficulty?

      Also, what’s the savegame mechanic? Can you save/restore in the middle of a mission, or only at the beginning of a mission? Personally I’m hoping for no mid-mission saves, because save/restore makes it easier to cheese your way through a mission, but I can see where that might frustrate some people. I’m just curious how Firaxis is handling it.

      • Adam Smith says:

        You can change difficulty mid campaign and even mid mission, although not sure exactly when it takes effect and haven’t experimented with it myself. The option is there though.

        Saves are completely free – mid-mission, after every mission. Whenever the heck you want, although there is an optional ironman mode (optional as in you can choose it on any difficulty level) with just one save slot. I think it overwrites at the end of each mission.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Cool, thanks for the info. That’s a good decision to offer all the options. I’ll probably try Classic with a self-imposed Ironman mode, just taking my lumps as they come. Makes it all the sweeter when you pull off a successful mission, or at least get enough payback to make the squad sacrifice worthwhile.

          Also, thanks for all the write-ups and attention to this game on RPS, even though it’s made me break a year-long streak of not pre-ordering any games. Drat!

          • Premium User Badge

            Cross says:

            Be warned that the devs heavily warn against going for Ironman OR classic difficulty on your first playthrough. The game needs enough familiarizing that you are going to get beaten into a pulpy mass, so unless you’re that kind of masochist, it’s a bad idea.

          • ScorpionWasp says:

            We need more games that will only let you have your win when you earn it. If you win your very first playthrough, or even your second or third or fourth, the designer is doing it wrong. Atom Zombie Smasher and Spelunky were both merciless games to the same extent they were some of the most engaging experiences I’ve had in years, and I don’t think that’s correlation. Classic ironman from day one for me.

  12. Lenderz says:

    I pre-ordered this because of the RPS coverage thus far, I’m glad to see that its shaping up to be as good as I hoped!

  13. Abndn says:

    You didn’t have to be so harsh on it.

  14. Roshin says:

    Does anyone remember (or care) about the other Xcom remake now? You know, the “edgy FPS” one? :D

    • N'Al says:

      A few months back I would’ve definitely said yes. After having recently played the Syndicate remake, though, much less so now.

      Then again, edgy Xcom is being made by 2K Marin and I really like what they’ve done with Bioshock 2 – Minerva’s Den especially.

      Then again again, even after all the negative buzz surrounding it I bought Syndicate on the strength of Starbreeze’s previous FPS output (e.g. conversation options, hub-based non-linear levels, etc.) – too bad most of that strength isn’t anywhere visible in Syndicate.

    • LintMan says:

      I was all set to have my hate on for the XCOM FPS when it was first announced, but with this upcoming Firaxis version and also the impending Xenonauts, I find I’m OK with it. My main beef had been that the FPS “reboot” would ruin the chance of a real modern update of the original, and with that now being done, I’m willing to take the FPS on its own merits.

    • Barackus says:

      I cried real man tears when I saw that XCOM was being remade as a FPS. Then I cried tears of joy when I heard that Firaxis took over the rework of the core title. I am also really happy that they put such great things in the pre-order PC package. First title in a long time that I will purchase in a box rather than download.

  15. konrad_ha says:

    But how does it rate on a scale from 8 to 10? I can’t decide until I have that number!

  16. Squirly says:

    Damn you RPS. God. Damn. You.

    I can’t take this anymore.

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      I should stop reading about this now.

      Pre-ordered it a week ago when my excitement level was already far too high and then I read this, look at the date on my watch, realise there is still a month till I can play it (please demo before them, please, please demo before then) and wonder how I can possibly hold out that long without spontaneously combusting.

  17. BobbyDylan says:

    I want this game so bad it burns. IT BURNS, I tell you!!!!!

    • Dys Does Dakka says:

      Yes. I desire this as I haven’t desired a game since, uh…

      -Just give it to me! Nooooooooow!

      Argh!

      *Twitch*

  18. Runty McTall says:

    Already pre-ordered, so glad I did.

    I usually wait a while after release before getting a game, for a variety of reasons (I wait ~2 years in many cases, thus allowing me to surf behind moore’s law on the spec of my computer, to get games insanely cheap on steam sales and to try to catch up the backlog I have waiting for me). In this case though, these articles have really made me want this game and, more so, to reward the devs behind it. Pre-ordered it last week and now really can’t wait!

  19. BurningPet says:

    God damn, its about time a classic got reimagined the same way i imagined what reimagined games should be imagined like.

  20. CaLe says:

    Might someone with zero interest in the Civilization games enjoy this? I really have no experience in anything similar to this, but every time I hear someone talk about it they have nothing but praise. The same can be said of Civilization, which is why I’m wary.

  21. Kakrafoon says:

    Adam, I cried a little when I read this. Sure, I’ve been working myself into some kind of XCOM-frenzy over the past weeks, but on top of that your words did ring some chord in me, as weird as that sounds. XCOM has always been about stories, and you understand that perfectly.

  22. MistyMike says:

    I’m so happy this is coming out on the 360!

  23. mckertis says:

    “Jake Solomon’s enthusiasm, openness and understanding of the original game”

    Do you mean the guy who constantly talks about stuff from original they cut out, changed, or “improved” ? And who already claimed his game is better than the original ?
    Now, i DONT think XCOM will be a BAD game. But straight out lying about “love for the original” for the slimy cause of marketing is still reprehensible.

    • Premium User Badge

      Snidesworth says:

      Because you can’t love or understand something without thinking that it’s a flawless masterpiece that can’t be improved upon in any way.

      • Laurentius says:

        Well, but they’ve changed every game mechanic from original, it’s hard to say with straight face : UFO was a great game, it had :aliens, soldiers and missions and that’s what we are keeping in XCOM, everything else was a poo.”

        • Groove says:

          Every mechanic? Really? It’s only thematically the same?

          Well, it’s still a turn based strategy. That’s something you forgot to mention. You still build a base. The placement of the base still matters. You still do research, research sounds very similar in fact. You still equip your soldiers before missions, and the loadout is still very important. They still have terror missions and terror units. All the good aliens from the original have stayed in, with similar abilities and themes. You still need to appease the council. You still have stunning and capturing aliens in the field for research. You still have soldiers being wounded and bleeding out/being unable to fight while they heal. You can still aquire and use alien technology. You still need to detect UFOs before you can shoot them down. You still need to shoot them down. You still have ammo. I’ll still never give you up, never let you down, never turn around and desert you. I imagine you still go to Mars. There are still unmanned-tanks. Your soliders still rank up and gain massively in effectiveness over time. There is still panic and your soldiers losing their shit like Nicholas Cage.

    • Zanchito says:

      You can love something and still be critical of its shortcomings. To many people, that’s actually a truer form of love. And I smell a love around here…

      • Strangerator says:

        When reunited with your true love of twenty years ago, and she’s gotten all sorts of surgery done, and has become less intelligent and potentially vapid, you don’t automatically welcome her with loving arms. It is possible she has changed on a fundamental level, and that you are engaging in hopeful self-deception when you assume she has not changed.

        But…

        Give her a chance, beneath all the plastic surgery might be the same deep individual you fell in love with years ago. Once you own her you can mod her however you want (ok, analogy breaks down a little right here).

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Um, why would he not talk about the differences between his game and the old game? Isn’t that what everybody wants to know about?

      And he has never claimed his game is better than the original, although I’m sure he would like for it to be recieved that way. I don’t know where you heard that.

    • Caiman says:

      I think accusing the lead dev of lying about his love for the original shows that you are either out of touch with reality, that you haven’t actually followed the development of this game very much, or that you are a poo poo head. I suspect it’s the second reason, but I may be wrong.

  24. Totally heterosexual says:

    Aweeeeeesooooooooome

  25. Drake Sigar says:

    I was afraid we wouldn’t get anymore X-Com news for a while, but did you have to blurt this out so soon? My moistened eyes can’t take it anymore, there’s still a whole month to go.

  26. S Jay says:

    I pre-ordered and everyday I feel frustrated that it is not release day yet. MOVE, DAMN TIME, MOVE.

  27. The Smilingknight says:

    Good news, dear chaps.
    Very good.

    Can i get a clarification on one or two details?
    The team members that you take with you enhance in skills and level up and so on, right?
    So… the rookies… do not? Until you take them into combat? Right? Right?
    (i mean besides being able to get better equipment at their start because you and the core team found, stole, looted some or researched some tech meanwhile)

    Do rookies start at “zero level” generally?

    And can you raise their levels or skills in any way except taking them with you into missions?
    (i f`ing hope not)

    And…. what was the other thing… damn…
    Ah yeah…. is there any other classes except the basic four?

    • Adam Smith says:

      Rookies need to go out on missions to gain experience, rank and skills. Occasionally, the council will offer missions that ‘reward’ success with a high ranking soldier of a certain class. Say an American military base has been attacked – help to clear out the aliens and they might give you a kickass heavy weapons guy. You can still customise and name him.

      But rookies, otherwise, are at ‘zero level’. There’s a facility called the officer training school where you can level up all of your forces – it’s where you pay to increase squad size and there are few more universal boosts, but nothing that actually provides skills, just bonuses.

      Just taking rookies along doesn’t guarantee they’ll level up either – I suspect they get a small bump just from being deployed, but there’s no XP bar or anything so I can’t be sure. If someone consistently gets a couple of kills per mission, he/she will rank up really quickly though.

      • The Smilingknight says:

        Much obligggggged.

        But, now i have to ax…. how do you get xp or whatever in this game? Completing missions? Kills? Do you even level up or just get skill points directly and increase skills… or what? And is it individual for every soldier or the team gets the “xp/skill points” reward after completing the mission. Or is it some kind of mix of all of the above?

        I dont think i actually read about this at all… all this time.

        • Adam Smith says:

          there’s no xp bar or anything. Individual soldiers get promoted, usually after killing a few aliens so I’m guessing there’s an invisible tracker somewhere, with different actions pushing them toward a promotion. So they’re not levels, they’re ranks – rookie>squaddie, all the way through lieutenant, captain, major etc

          Each rank provides a skill – the first assigning a class. The skill tree is simple – two choices per rank.

          • The Smilingknight says:

            Oh, thats how it goes. Fine. Doesnt seem bad.
            Would be nicer if we could see that info but, whatever. Maybe its not even necessary in gameplay.
            (btw, im from that older generation that doesnt need an xp bar, or any other kind of bar to visually inform me of progress of something. Im fine with numbers and stuff. But i get what you mean to say.)

            Well, thanks for a reply, you funny looking green faced person that is living from playing games… that im talking to through this weird magical contraption.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I never played XCOM at the time. I liked the sound of it and tried playing it but could never get past the initial confusion of what the bloody hell I was supposed to be doing, being as I am a spoon fed younger gamer.

    So I’m vastly looking forward to this so I can finally get the XCOM experience.

  29. Askis says:

    Has there been any official info on maybe getting a demo before the game is released?
    Mostly to pass the time until it’s out ;)

    • JFS says:

      Demo would be great to check the system specs it actually needs… but I don’t think there will be one. There never are if you really need them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Haphaz77 says:

        Firaxis usually make demos post-release, so you’ll probably get to try before buying. If you can wait that long. I can’t.

  30. obie191970 says:

    This hands-on just turned my expectations up to 11.

  31. AstaSyneri says:

    Thanks RPS for your great work reporting on XCOM!

    Unfortunately this will mean that come October your page hits will drop mightily. It sounds like none of us will have time to just browse the web.

  32. wodin says:

    Music to my ears. If the game is this good stock imagine what it could be like once modders get to work….

  33. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I require this thing, and also kind of want it to not exist, because my already meager level of writerly productivity will take a nosedive when it comes out.

  34. Laurentius says:

    So, it’s actually dumbed down, from tactical-startegy to checkers with abilities (which isn’t a bad idea for a game per se and i would love it but not in XCOM), good that’s comfirmed though, i’m skipping it.

    • Asurmen says:

      How you get that from the article I don’t know.

      • Laurentius says:

        Pre-defined maps, combat based on abilities vs. abilities then actual tactics, streamlined base construction and technological development. Lots of awful animations, no time units, no morale on the battlefield. Author of the preview couldn’t even be bothered to explain how the core mechanics of intercepting UFO spaceships works because he is more preoccupied with animations and dialogues and finds it more important, well if that’s not general dumbing it down then I don’t know what is.

        • Adam Smith says:

          If within range of a satellite a UFO is tracked on the Geoscape – if there’s also an interceptor in range it can be sent to take it down. Much like in the original then, except there are certain technologies that can boost aim/dodge for a couple of shots or seconds. One use only but cheap to build.

          • Laurentius says:

            But is interception always succesful ? What about touched down alien ships ? Is it possible to destroy small UFOs by powerf weapons installed on interceptors ? Probably not.

          • Adam Smith says:

            Interceptions can fail because the UFO escapes or because it blows the Interceptor out of the sky – or, indeed, you order the Interceptor to disengage because it’s taking heavy damage. Not sure about blowing UFOs up completely, but then the preview code only covers early game tech so I’ve been using Avalanche missiles almost exclusively.

            Yes, you can attack a UFO that has landed. You get more tech from it, provided you don’t blow it up while killing the crew. The flight computers and power sources are modelled and damaging them means you take home damaged goods. Destroy them and you get nothing. It even looks like the amount of materials you recover is based on how much damage you do in mission. Certainly true with alien inventories – blowing them up tends to destroy or damage their equipment.

        • Trithne says:

          See, now you’re just straight up wrong. There is morale, exactly how it was in the original X-COM. And if you watch the hour long gameplay video they showed before, you’ll see that. And how the design is honestly, in my opinion, better than TUs. This system promotes actually co-ordinating actions and flanking. X-COM Prime was really just sending each guy through the door one at a time until one didn’t die. There wasn’t any co-ordinated actions, because TUs just had each guy acting in a vacuum.

          • Laurentius says:

            I am not going to say TU is pinnacle of combat tactic game mechanism, but hey it’s pretty old idea and it works quite well when done properly imo but we have 2012 and all they could think as an alternative in turn based strategy is this abomination? System that is even more artificial, even more abstract and restricted, basically checkers with a bit more advanced “rock, paper scissor” abilities added on.

          • Trithne says:

            I really don’t get your checkers comparisons. The two-action system here is more reminiscent of tabletop games like Infinity (I get massive Infinity vibes from this, actually), and pen-and-paper RPGs ala Dungeons and Dragons, where these systems are heavily tested, have been in use for years and are tried and true.

        • Fox89 says:

          Everybody knows combat abilities and tactics are mutually exclusive. This is why the original XCOM was such a disappointment to me. It added stupid, pointless abilities like ‘Move’ and ‘Shoot’ which just completely dumbed down the entire experience. Van Gough’s Sunflowers remains the premier tactical combat game off all time because it didn’t have any of those things. People could just appreciate it for what it ‘was’, not what it ‘did’.

          Hopefully Firaxis will patch in a ‘Stand around and do bugger all mode’ so I can really appreciate the strategic nuance.

          • Aedrill says:

            This. Correct me if I’m wrong but TU are just Action Points, right? It’s not actual time units (which would mean that if guy A uses his TU to, say, 10 then it’s turn of whoever’s got 11 or more. It would be very interesting but incredibly difficult to implement). If that’s the case, I really don’t see anything special about it. It’s just a turn based game with Action Points, like many other.

            Looks like I’m right:
            http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=Time_Units

    • zeroskill says:

      Also from one video where the dev’s are playing the game, it looks rediculously easy compared to the original. Maybe it was just for showing purposes, but for example, the way humans work that have been infected by Chrysalids. You can just kill them without a new Chrysalids spawing from an infected one. I feel this is a big deal. It makes Chrysalids way less threatening.

      Another thing is that you basically run up to a civilian and just send him home. He’s gone from the map. No more being a potential target for a Chrysalids. Hmm…not that big a fan of that.

      But that’s just me being a huge fan of the original. It’s prolly not a big deal if you aren’t.

      It’s little things like that you will recognize really quickly if you know the original very well.

      Also, not a big fan how they are overhyping this.

      I will stay careful, X-com was one of my favorite games ever, definitely not pre-ordering this for 49.99 Euro. I wanna see how this turns out first, to avoid dispointment.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Well, that recent developer video showed late game troops with heavy weapons and buffed skills, so I wouldn’t make any judgement calls on difficulty just from that video. As long as there is a difficulty setting where there is a chance I’ll lose most or all of the squad on missions — and it sounds like there is, from the write-up above — then I’ll be happy.

        As for the actual gameplay mechanics, I was sad to see time units go, and some of the other things may not track the original game that closely. But as long as the new system works smoothly, allows tactical thinking with good AI to fight, and is fun to play, then that’s all I’m asking for.

      • Tyrain says:

        The original is my favorite game of all time, hands down. None of the issues you listed bother me at all. It doesn’t have to do with you being a huge fan or knowing the original game amazingly well. It’s just your opinion of what matters and the significant weight you are placing upon that.

        I find it sad, almost something to pity, when someone can’t ‘see the forest for the tress’ — when there’s a fantastic gaming experience they turn their nose up to because of a few specific details. I say enjoy it for what it is.

        As for your specific complaints. The new mechanics are positive changes for a better playing experience and what I consider good design. First, since a Chrysalid will not popout of a defeated infected human, there’s a distinct reward to taking them out quickly. It can add a sense of urgency and create a meaningful risk and reward choice of whether you rush forward to try to get the easy kill, or hold back in cover/safety. This would be even more true on a Terror map. All those Civs being infected out in the fog of war are going to turn, but you could rush forward and try to catch a few in their zombie state. Incentive to over-extend like that is a good thing and the reward for executing properly is a plus.

        For the ‘instantly gone’ civilians, I see that as a hassle remover and probably necessary with the small squad limit. Spending the entire terror mission babysitting the civilians sounds boring to me. They become clear objectives on the map. You have to make it to them before they die. It makes sense as an objective and it’s offers smooth game play by keeping the action moving forward. It also introduces similar risk and reward by encouraging you to rush forward and save them – this is a good strategic element. Rushing would mostly be pointless if they are just going to wander deeper in and still die.

        Finally, the Devs have already stated there’s an Impossible difficulty mode beyond Classic. To write this off as ‘looking easy’ based on a couple videos would be making a woefully uninformed decision. Go Ironman mode + impossible and you’ll be very challenged.

        Personally even if this game turns out to be garbage (hah!), I’ll be happy with my pre-order simply to support a company who even marginally attempts to remake a classic while retaining the majority of the core values. I’m not talking minute mechanical details, but rather the broad stroke of what makes X-COM so awesome. They earned my money the moment they kept this turn based with each game player layer and not an FPS. If it’s good, that’s just gravy, because I want to show companies there is money to be had by staying reasonably true to classic remakes.

        • zeroskill says:

          You are not going to convince me that changes made to the original design formula are “good design choices” simply because you say so, and specially not by going around the comment section insulting people for not blindly pre-ordering this when they remain sceptical about this game.

          I’m not going to throw that much money, which it is for me, thats 49.99 Euro, for me living in the Czech Republic, that a bunch of cash, compared, I can get Guild Wars 2 at a local retailer for approximately 30 Euros.

          For the same amount of money, for the same amount of time I invested into working, I can get Guild Wars 2 from local retail here, plus Natural Selection 2 on Steam. That is value for money.
          Now this game has to convince me that my money is better invested, is giving me back more then those two games can, before i’m blindly throw my money away.

          And calling people sad and pitiful because they don’t share your opinions and blind optimism doesn’t really add any wheight to your arguments, other then making it look like you are trying to defend your pre-order.

          • Asurmen says:

            He didn’t just say so and expect you to agree. He provided well reasoned arguments as to why he likes it. If you’re not here to discuss he points and are just dismissing them then why are you commenting? You are being rather aggressive for what was a simple post. Sounds like you’re trying to defend you not pre-ordering.

            Also, not once did he insult you. He says he finds it sad and pities people, not that you are sad yourself.

          • Tyrain says:

            As Asurmen said, I’m definitely not calling you sad or pitiful! It’s perfectly respectable to not be on the pre-order train at this point (or any point) — it’s your money and your tastes.

            I just hope you eventually give the game a serious and open minded look despite your concerns. I feel you might be overlooking a game that on will hit that sweet spot in a way that few games other than XCOM ever have. Seeing someone pass up that experience based on what sounds like a few nit picky design issues makes me personally sad, not the person making that choice.

            I do have some personal investment in wishing to see the game be a phenomenal success, but I’d never want to push someone to blindly throw money at something. Fortunately with RPS’s coverage, I don’t feel the least bit blind in my own choice. Of course, it’s still a pre-order with no demo, so there’s always some amount of unknown. Time will tell!

    • Premium User Badge

      cairbre says:

      Have a nice time on your high horse I will be down in the mud playing xcom

  35. sketchseven says:

    Please please please stop talking about XCOM. Please. I’ve already pre-ordered and can’t do anything now except wait with growing impatience. Stop reminding me it exists.

    If I pretend it doesn’t exist it will come all the quicker and be an amazing surprise when it does unlock, right? Right?

  36. radiofireworks says:

    Hm, I had kind of dismissed this after being unimpressed by the demo/talk I saw on it at Rezzed. Now I’m thinking I may have jumped the gun, because this does actually sound great.

    • jalf says:

      My impression is that “this isn’t really X-COM, but it’s looking extremely promising anyway”.

      Someone suggested it might be closer to Incubation, which seems a pretty good way to look at it.

      So yeah, I’m looking forward to it, not as an X-COM sequel/remake, but… as a game that looks really fun.

      • radiofireworks says:

        Well, full disclosure, I never actually played the original X-COM (I know, I know), so I was judging it purely on the merits of what the gameplay itself looked like from the demo, which was a whole lot of shooting and not much else. However, I was with friends who had played the original, and they were as underwhelmed as I was, so there’s that.

    • playthatfunkytuba says:

      Yes, I was disappointed after the Rezzed showing, too, but as soon as I watched the hour-long gameplay video I was smitten. I quite fancy slipping into a coma for a week to hurry this and Borderlands 2 along.

      • agauntpanda says:

        Curious – what about the Rezzed demo/talk was a letdown?

        • radiofireworks says:

          Personally, I thought it seemed like every other alien-themed FPS ever. The demo focused almost entirely on all the different ways you can kill things, no real discussion of the tactical and strategy elements, no real hint of the plot, nuthin’.

          I mean, I might be judging the demo a little unfairly here because my attention wandered after a few minutes, so perhaps I missed something, but I was genuinely – and pleasantly – surprised after reading this article.

          • Tyrain says:

            Are you perhaps getting the FPS XCOM coming in 2013 (or later?) mixed up with this turn based remake of X-COM that releases next month?

          • agauntpanda says:

            Good feedback – I’ll keep it in mind for my next presentation ;)

          • radiofireworks says:

            Tyrain – Nope, I’m 99.9% sure it was Enemy Unknown, although it is entirely possible that I am misremembering because I didn’t pay it much attention at the time.

            Could anyone confirm for me that it was Enemy Unknown – it was in a small side room, a rolling demo with an American man talking over the features?

          • Goldeneye says:

            @RadioFireworks:

            If it looks like it’s from the 50’s, then that’s “XCOM”, the FPS game. What you’re describing does appear to be the shooter and not this turn-based game.

          • agauntpanda says:

            @Goldeneye – no, it’s clear from the venue description radiofireworks provided that he’s talking about the Enemy Unknown demo. I was there.

          • radiofireworks says:

            @agauntpanda – Thanks for clarifying, I was starting to wonder myself if I’d just got them both mixed up! (I’m a she though :D)

          • agauntpanda says:

            @radiofireworks: Woops, my apologies for the assumption.

  37. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    First of all, I don’t for one moment doubt how great this game is playing for you guys – it really is looking excellent and I’ve preordered it – but Firaxis must be rubbing their hands with glee at the sheer volume of positive coverage this game has had on here right through the whole process.

    It’s not necessarily a criticism, but boy has RPS been championing this. I wonder what other devs are thinking about their game’s development coverage on here in comparison…

    • Kaje says:

      When there are good things to be said, they’re said.

      No other developer should feel that RPS is giving undue care and attention to XCom – if anything, it should spur developers to produce games worthy of praise rather than churning out yet another incarnation of Call of Doody.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      It seems to be generating rabid enthusiasm across the whole spectrum of the gamin press. At least with journos of a certain age, if you see what I mean.

    • Zenicetus says:

      For me, the important thing about the RPS hands-on preview coverage is what isn’t being said. Nothing is being said about bugs, crashes, or game-breaking flaws as it nears release. Those are the red flags I look for, that indicate it might be a good idea to wait and see the public reception and patch-ups.

      Maybe I’m being a little too trusting here, but I think if this was a bug farm, the hands-on RPS previews would be mentioning it. The enthusiasm and gushing over the game I can wave off, because I’d feel the same way (as a former X-Com player).

    • InternetBatman says:

      Like most game press it’s a symbiotic relationship. RPS plays the game at a con, likes it, and then has two or three interviews with the lead designer (the lead designer, not some press monkey) who is open and forthcoming about the decision’s he’s made. I can’t think of a recent game where such an important figure in the process has given so many candid interviews.

  38. Kaje says:

    I’m an X-Com addict. I’ll admit it.

    From the original ‘UFO’ series to the Indie UFO:AI and Xenonauts (both of which have been keeping me sane for a while). And I was gutted and appalled when I first saw this remake announced – it just didn’t feel right.

    But after watching the videos, reading the previews and looking at the pictures that have surfaced over the last 12 months…I pre-ordered it over the weekend at Green Man Gaming for the whopping price of…using some points saved plus a voucher code…£22.25.

    £22.25. I remember when expansion packs for games were that price!

    I now can’t wait until release, it looks superb and it sounds superb! And the best thing? As it’s been built using the Unreal engine, it’s going to support mods.

    WHOOP!

  39. Enzo says:

    I have no clue how – after reading this article for example, or watching countless gameplay videos – someone can say that this game “isn’t Xcom”, or “it’s a dumbed down version of Xcom for console babies”. It’s pure, 100% XCOM, and it’s pretty much a game of my dreams. I will probably die in front of my PC when it comes out, just like those Koreans. This is finally the game that will kill me.

    • Tyrain says:

      Totally agree.

      Those people kind of depress me. How can they be missing the awesome right in front of them!?! How could anyone not recognize it? But that depression evaporates when I think about how there’s less than a month to go. They’re welcome to skip all the awesome they want. The rest of us won’t ;)

      I do hope to avoid having it kill me, but it’ll come close and that’s okay.

    • jalf says:

      Easy: it’s missing some of the features that defined X-COM for me.

      As I said elsewhere, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game (I’ve preordered it, and I’m *really* looking forward to playing it), but to me, it’s not X-COM. And that’s ok. It doesn’t *have* to be X-COM.

      (Note that this has *nothing* to do with people who say it’s a bad game, or that it’s “dumbed down”. I disagree strongly with those crazies)

      One of the things I loved about X-COM was that I was *not* God. I couldn’t tell my soldiers what they should be good at. It was very much “you go to war with the army you’ve got”. You didn’t ask for that guy who had to be given extra light gear because he was such a weakling he wouldn’t be able to leave the skyranger otherwise, but that’s what you got. And you didn’t tell *that* guy to become your expert sniper, it just happened. In Firaxis’ game, I choose how to level up my soldiers, I choose which abilities to give them. They’re basically my puppets. That’s great and fun, but it’s contrary to one of the defining characteristics of X-COM to my mind.

      Or things like the randomly generated maps: never knowing what the unexplored parts of the map looked like. That, to me, was kind of a big deal.

      I don’t think there’s some kind of international standard defining “what is X-COM and what is not”. I can only judge it based on my own subjective criteria. And according to those, this game is not X-COM, but it *is* looking like a really really *good* game — and one which is heavily inspired by X-COM.

      And that’s fine. I’m happy.

      • Groove says:

        Woooo, reasonable and courteous discussion!

        When you get wound up by the dumbing down brigade it’s easy to forget the actual differences between oldCom and newCom. Importantly, you need to know the differences so we can learn if the changes are improvements, mistakes, or different – sacrificing one area for a bigger gain in another (maps – sacrificing randomisation for hugely improved art detail and characterful one-off areas).

      • Tyrain says:

        Great points and I do think X-COM being such a deep game with many layers opens up an incredible number of interpretations of what makes it the game it is. For myself, so far it doesn’t appear to be missing a single thing I would consider critical to the joy I had playing X-COM. And in some ways, I welcome the changes.

        It’s also awesome to hear from a differing opinion who’s sane and willing to rationally discuss those differences.

        I can relate to your feelings on soldier advancement. I consider it a change for the better but I do love the unknowns of the original system. However, I did mostly tell a guy to become an expert sniper back then. Soldiers improved based upon their actions and I took willful steps to develop each soldier in the areas I wished them to excel to compliment my strategies. This new method is more heavy handed, but I’ll get similar results, now with awesome abilities that should enhance my strategic decisions.

        I don’t think it’s entirely God-like to be a military commander and tell your sniper that they should train greater endurance and focus on climbing towers since your primary tactical plan will be emphasizing height and long range support for two on-point assault troops who are focusing their training on running and gunning with melee take downs.

        For random maps, I again agree but with a counter point. The maps themselves were rarely all that distinguished. In my experience, it was far more about the alien position and their behavior. I think this new game will offer a similar amount of dynamic exploration and never knowing what’s around the corner. I’ll never forget the clang-clang of an approaching entity on those cold, cold metal floors. As for not knowing what the map itself specifically looks like, I guess we’ll have to just enjoy that unknown experience through the 100+ maps until we learn them all.

        I, too, am fine with heavily inspired by X-COM. I would love a pure HD reskin of X-COM as well, but I think despite how awesome X-COM is, there’s still room for improvement in the game’s design. I hope this new game finds a way to feel like an improvement.

  40. Premium User Badge

    Makariel says:

    I can’t wait for XCom to finally come out! I want to PLAAAAAY!

  41. Ureshi says:

    Pre-order: Done..

    Now Firaxis, is the perfect time to start making X-Com: Terror from the Deep Remake xD :P

    I love the original, here some pics of the my box and manuals. Perfect condition :P
    http://imageshack.us/g/545/41583531100361550861057.jpg/

  42. Premium User Badge

    cqdemal says:

    Jealousy Level: INFINITY

  43. Infinitron says:

    Turn-based Gears of War.

    • Groove says:

      I think being given a chainsaw to fight a chrysalid would just lower moral.

  44. Ashbery76 says:

    I am soo taking a few days holiday for this.

  45. ItalianPodge says:

    So who thinks the head of 2K will be proved wrong? As this X-Com release comes close to two thirds of the Steam pre-order target and the FPS nowhere in sight currently his comments from last year seem to be way wrong…

    “Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing – strategy games are just not contemporary.”

    Publishers! Wake up, we want games that are different from each other!

    • Kaje says:

      Amen to that!

      Though methinks it’ll be Call of Doody: Facewar 2018, which sells a whopping 6 copies, before the publishers realise…

  46. cronach says:

    “Panic in Russia!!”
    “Ok…”

  47. Superpat says:

    Aw damn, another game to buy!

  48. kud13 says:

    Curse you, Adam.

    I was all set to not buy this untill WInter Steam sale.

    but now… new Chrysalid stories.

    fuck, all right, Firaxis. take my goddamn money.

  49. NarcoSleepy says:

    XCOM has been covered so extensively on RPS, that I no longer feel that actually playing the game to experience it is necessary. Thanks! You saved me $60 ;)