The Truth Is Somewhere: XCOM Shooter Videos, Site Gone

By Nathan Grayson on April 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Quietly – ever so quietly – XCOM: The Game Of The Other, Very Different Game has poofed into Duke-Nukem-scented vapors. It’s touched down and carved crop circles into the fields of our imaginations a couple times, but not without 2K Marin knocking it out of its bicycle basket and dragging it back into the deepest reaches of some underground testing facility. Matters, I imagine, were only complicated when XCOM: Enemy Unknown defied 2K’s expectations by being incredibly well-received, leaving the idea of an XCOM shooter in an even fuzzier limbo. That in mind, it’s not entirely surprising to see the repeatedly revamped reboot suddenly vanish without a trace – especially when another revamp may well be the culprit.

First up, the big, obvious bits: XCOM’s website and all traces of video footage on 2K’s official YouTube channel have suddenly disappeared. It’s apparently not just some momentary fluke either, as 2K’s refusing to discuss it. Eurogamer tried to get some clarification, only to be met by a good old-fashioned “no comment.”

Big, obvious, barely obscured neon signs, however, point to a potential rebranding. Kotaku recently uncovered a squirmy mess of 2K trademarks for something called The Bureau, which were linked to domains for whathappenedin62.com and whathappenedin62.net. Marin’s XCOM, meanwhile, takes place in 1962. You can probably do the math.

If true, I can’t really knock the decision. Enemy Unknown is the modern successor X-Com needed, and its trigger-happy cousin never really fit in at any of the family gatherings. Removing XCOM from the equation entirely, then, could allow Marin to really embrace what is, on its own, actually a pretty cool setting. Slicing and dicing it to better fit the XCOM mold just wasn’t working, and it showed in an increasingly generic-looking squad-based to-do. So hopefully, this ends up being for the best.

And if not, well, at least we got Jake Solomon out of the deal. Oh, and Enemy Unknown. That was good too, I guess.

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56 Comments »

  1. John Connor says:

    Damn, I was sort of hoping this would become a sort of prequel to XCOM:EU. It would be fun to explore the origins of the XCOM project.

    • vedder says:

      XCOM:EU… I read that as XCOM: Europa Universalis. And now I totally want that.

      • Bhazor says:

        Oh my goodness, Floaters in tricorn hats flying wooden Jules Vern style spaceships. Funding the fight with exotic alien spices.
        I so want that.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Good evening, milord Commander.

          The Royal Society for the Combating of Extra-Terrestrials has received a letter about a terror attack in Wethampton-upon-Sea. Those bothersome aliens have landed on the village green. The parson requests your aid! He promises tea and biscuits if you repulse this attack, and he hopes you are well.

          The 10:12 to Botherington leaves in fifteen minutes. The journey is five hours by rail, then travel for two further hours by King’s Highway to Wethampton as there are sheep on the line at Bringley. Watch for highwaymen.

          Outfit your regiment! Our savants have researched the alien corpses you have recovered and we can now turn dead Sectoids into rather fetching hats.

          Unfortunately, half your regiment is out of action due to dysentery and the rest have smallpox.

          Tally-ho, milord Commander! Give Johnny Alien what-for!

          • welverin says:

            Rather fetching hats at that.

          • ShowMeTheMonkey says:

            I…. Just…. I…. This is beautiful.

          • Optimaximal says:

            I’d like to think the random NPC generator in Botherington will produce nothing but John Walker clones!

          • belgand says:

            I desperately want to play this game now. Make this happen. Make this happen or I shall have a valid casus belli.

          • Archangel says:

            I am in tears. No game could possibly be as perfect as this. Top form, sir, top form.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    A rebranding to “not an Xcom game” would probably see a FPS 20′s shooter land better.

  3. King in Winter says:

    A wise decision. This way it won’t be inviting comparisons with the XCOM franchise. Well, it still will, but not as much of the kind they’re probably wanting to avoid. And without that baggage, they’ll be able to go where no XCOM has gone before.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Well considering their original intention to use the X Com franchise triggered the “Betrayal!” meme that resounded throughout the internet, and everyone is super happy with this other “XCOM” that’s definitely not a shooter and seemingly not set in the same universe, I’m super not surprised.

      That said, I never had the Betrayal reaction myself, and am still looking forward to the totally-not-X-Com-shooter. The X Com inspired setting still intrigues me, and the themes are even more appropriate to the shooter genre than, say, Bioshock infinite.

  4. finbikkifin says:

    Now that there’s a good strategy game which I can’t wait to buy a third time*, I think a shooter version would get a much more positive reception. I hope whatever this turns into is good.

    __
    * My PC was crap, so I bought the PS3 version. Then I bought the PC version when my PC could run it. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the iPad version to make my life all XCOM, all the time. Seriously. Although I did sell my PS3 copy.

  5. bar10dr says:

    What a great decision! I might actually look at this game with new eyes now that they don’t claim to be XCOM!
    I wish more companies would do exactly this! *cough* dragon age 2 *cough*

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Most of the things that changed from Dragon Age Origins to Dragon Age 2 weren’t very good in the first game, either.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Perhaps to you, but that is not the general consensus.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          The only thing I’d say was worse was the exploration, with the awful re-use of levels and also having to retread the same ground over and over through the campaign. The writing/story was better in some ways (and worse in others). The combat was different, but it was awful in both games anyway.

        • dE says:

          General Consensus stood atop a hill, overlooking the valley ahead. The breezing wind toyed with his magnificient beard. He inhaled a bit of smoke from his pipe, then gestured towards the valley.
          “Into the valley of dissent, we shall ride tonight”, his pipe scented of cinammon.
          The general nodded.
          “We have the advantage in numbers, morale and smugness”, another puff from his pipe.
          “But won’t the Dissenters disagree?”
          “That’s what they do, son. That’s just what they do”
          “We’re out of ammunition though, our argument cannons will not light the sky”
          The cinammon scent was perhaps a bit much. More at home in creaky old places with a lot of books and large wooden tables.
          “You don’t need arguments, you ride with General Consensus”.
          Another gesture.
          “Tonight we ride.”
          “Can’t argue with that”
          “Me neither”
          “Nah, nothing wrong in that”

        • mouton says:

          General consensus? Ah, it’s all settled, then

    • c-Row says:

      *cough* Syndicate *cough*

    • Convolvulus says:

      *cough* actually coughing *cough*

  6. JuJuCam says:

    This is the most intelligent thing I’ve seen a big game publisher do all year. I was pretty much on board already, and now I don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying it while everyone around me poos all over it.

    • Kollega says:

      I second this. People hated this “X-COM reboot” for not actually being X-COM, but now, if it really will be it’s own thing, it might actually find success on it’s own merits.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      I third this. It was looking like a standard shooter, but I really liked the back story that they were developing. But the X Com brand would have just made it a pathetic, pale attempt to cash in. Now, I am extremely interested in this game.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I fourth this. Although, they had better step up their game, and make it more interesting than the one bit of in-game footage we saw, which showed very generic shooter mechanics.

      I love the late 50′s – early 60′s setting (lots of 50′s design aesthetic was still around in the 60′s), love the FBI hats. But it takes more than a nice setting to make a good game. I think I’m probably oversensitive to that now, after slogging through Bioshock Infinite.

      Anyway, yeah… good decision. Assuming there’s still something in the works, it can now stand or fall on its own merits.

  7. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    Squad-based tactical shooters are very thin on the ground (I actually started replaying Freedom Fighters last weekend, a 10 year old game on my uber PC) so this has been on my radar for a while. Hopefully you’re correct about the rebranding, I have no emotional attachment to the XCOM franchise other than having enjoyed the most recent one.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for recent squad shooters? I’ve googled but can’t find much under 5 years old, and I love me some graphics!

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    I don’t care what it’s called, I just want to play it already.

  9. rustybroomhandle says:

    I lost touch with X-COM after the first one since I only had an Amiga back then, but recently got all the games in a Steam sale thinking I’ll catch up. I was a bit shocked upon realising how far they strayed from the strategy genre.

    • Bhazor says:

      That was Microprose.

      Gollop wanted to carry on with the turn based series but Microprose said “Fuck that! Screw your proven track record of excellent and universally loved turn based games. Kids want action! They want real time!.” These well reasoned and logical actions are the reason why Microprose stills stradles the world like a collosus today.

    • lowprices says:

      If the game turns out to be anything other than this I will be very disappointed,

      • Muzman says:

        Tagline: Whiskey. Sexism. Aliens.

        • lowprices says:

          In all seriousness I’d like to see something like this. I’m enjoying Bioshock Infinites “SOCIAL VALUES WERE DIFFERENT BACK THEN” stuff, and 2K Marin seem to be good at world building in the same way Irrational are, but I’d like to see that in a more real-world setting than Columbia.

          A real-world setting being trashed by aliens, but still.

  10. RaveTurned says:

    It was just under two years ago that 2K boss Christoph Hartmann defended the XCOM shooter project saying strategy games are just not contemporary.

    My, how times have changed! :)

  11. Nevard says:

    I completely forgot that this even existed

  12. Muzman says:

    Now that this has happened we should correct the record somewhat on X-Com fans (as they are publicly represented at least).
    With the new Thief coming along and old fans picking that apart there’s the occasional sniffiness, some times from journalists, about “those guys” and their “crazy inflexibility” and won’t they just get over it, 1998 lol etc. Fallout of course was fairly famous for people who just couldn’t let go and gosh how obsessed.

    Well ever since this game was announced old school X-com fans behaved like the most stuck-up, whiny, anal bunch of prigs you’re likely to see. All about some riffing on their beloved concept (as though that hadn’t happened already) and nary a cross word was uttered. “Oh noooo! the name is the same!!!! How can I be expected to enjoy this game with that name and it being DIFFERENT!!”
    It’s as bad or worse than anything turned out by the aforementioned remake/sequel controversies involving old games. Just because they haven’t got some old forum or other place to nitpick in they somehow get away scott free.
    Well bollox to that. I remember and everyone else should to. Nobody go around sneering at old game purists any more without chucking the X-com fans in the pile.

    • lowprices says:

      Has there been an internet-wide campaign to portray the old-school fans as particularly calm and open-minded that I missed? It’s true that plenty of fans of old-school x-com shit themselves inside-out over every change that the various reboots were making, but I can’t say I’ve ever noticed anyone say “… and let me state what good eggs the fans of the original have been throughout this difficult period.”

      • andycheese says:

        I for one thought the whole thing looked rather interesting… even when it had the Xcom name appended to it. Just for the record I spend an inordinate amount of time on the original Xcom back in the 90s, TFTD too. I’m glad Firaxis decided to go with a turn based ‘reimagining’ of the original concept, but I still would have picked up 2K’s adaptation; first person or otherwise.

      • Muzman says:

        No, but they seemed to have a much easier ride. Not that I read every little thing of course. Thief being my touchstone, I note those little asides about “uh oh, here come the Thief fans” when something is shown. The X-com reaction was allowed to be “the online community reaction” it seemed (I suspect because, for a change, a lot of journalists agreed), rather than the obsessed fanboy-ism it mostly was.
        Game fandoms are often excessively nitpicky and nostalgic, no doubt about it. That slightly dismissive “Oh it’s just fans” thing didn’t seem to be applied in quite the same way as other games and (perhaps because of that) had an air of undeserved righteousness about it.
        Seemed.

  13. tikey says:

    I hope it goes back to its roots and picks some of the original pitch ideas. Most of it seemed quite interesting, but the latest masseffectization made it seem another generic game.
    Still, I’ll keep an eye on this one.

  14. S Jay says:

    If this is true, it is a very wise move – one that 99% of X-COM fans already suggested.

  15. Strangerator says:

    I’m in two minds about this…

    On the one hand, now they can make whatever they want, and nobody is going to hold them to any standard of quality. They’re free to just release another generic shooter, this time about aliens in the 60′s.

    On the other hand.. after XCOM:EU I no longer minded having a sort of first-person prequel. Because they already made the true successor. And I was in fact more likely than not to give the shooter a try if it retained any of the interesting decision mechanics that made XCOM so compelling (albeit for one playthrough).

    So now they are basically restarting at zero as far as winning my interest. It seems like now the odds are pretty good that they will not take any risks and just release something generic that will sell a predictable amount, in order to recover some development expenses.

    • Triplanetary says:

      On the other hand.. after XCOM:EU I no longer minded having a sort of first-person prequel. Because they already made the true successor.

      That’s exactly how I felt too. The reason the FPS reboot had a lot of classic XCOM fans frothing is because they were afraid that it would mean that XCOM would never get a proper strategy-game successor. And that wasn’t an entirely unfounded fear, however thankfully wrong it turned out to be.

      But in principle, I have absolutely no problem with the XCOM universe being explored in other genres. So after EU came along I thought it might be a pretty cool idea to sort of expand the franchise this way. But whatever. *shrug*

  16. buzzmong says:

    I too hope they return to their original announcement ideas.

    The idea of an investigation game where the fighting was only to allow you to escape and generally to be avoided (at least for a while) was quite an interesting premise.

  17. HumpX says:

    Looks like someone learned a lesson from the Shadowrun debacle. A great MP shooter game destroyed by an obstinate developer who refused to change the tile.

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