A Strange Turn – What Is XCOM: Enemy Within?

By John Walker on August 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Last night a mysterious entry appeared on the South Korean ratings board website – something called XCOM: Enemy Within. And that was all that was known. Technically, that is still all that is known, except that now we know it’s for real. Publishers 2K have confirmed to Eurogamer that it, whatever it might be, will be revealed at Gamescom later this month.

Obviously people are most strongly hoping this will be a full sequel to Firaxis’s surprise hit of last year, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Surprise because it did quite so well, despite fears that a turn-based strategy might not prove popular in today’s modern world of sparkly lights and flat-screen skateboards.

It could, of course, also be a new lump of DLC. It would have to be a significant one, since the Slingshot Pack has already appeared containing extra missions. Others have speculated something for tablet or phone, but since Enemy Unknown came out for iOS in June, that doesn’t seem too likely either. We have to wait until the 21st August to find out what’s really going on.

In the meantime, I suggest speculating, and what about finally getting around to repainting that windowsill you’ve been meaning to for the last three years?

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98 Comments »

  1. Tom De Roeck says:

    Im hoping for an expansion, Civ5 style, or a full sequel.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      (as long as they keep the future electronica vibe)

    • John Connor says:

      I hope any expansion would make the game more of a dynamic conflict and less of a bunch of missions to take the time up as you go along a linear research tree.

    • fdisk says:

      Whatever it is I’m buying it Day 1; I do hope it’s an expansion a la Civ 5 though; only because the core game is so awesome as it is there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I would love to see more diverse environments like farms, jungles, airports, malls, etc.

      I would also love to have some kind of mechanic where the aliens attack your base although I don’t know how they could make that work in the current base view.

      Naturally I would also love to see more enemy and soldier classes and definitely more weapon, armor and accessory options.

      Definitely less of the slingshot pre-made character with a story bullshit.

      • GHudston says:

        “Enemy Within” could easily point to having to defend your base. It’s either that or a new campaign with an antagonist from earth.

        Either way, I’ll be here throwing money at the screen until it works.

  2. gwathdring says:

    Enemy Within might be making good on the “Look at what happened to them! This psychic stuff is clearly dangerous!” warnings …

    Whether or not it does, I’m excited!

    Unless it’s alluding to the expansions/sequel/iphoneapp being all Chrysalids forever. FUCK ThAT.

    • Dunbine says:

      Perhaps “Enemy Within” alludes to… base invasions? Daaaaaaaaaamn!

      • Sunjumper says:

        Well the disembodied voice that gave you your assignments always sounded suspiciously sinister, also the invaders said that they were invading us for our own good.
        It would not surprise me if the ‘individuals’ who directeted X-Com in part one turned out to be an evil alien force that was already present on Earth.

        • SaVi says:

          Thing is, he warned us in this teaser from March: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF1MqYb0dmE wonder why it wasn’t linked in the article.

          • Lukaspz says:

            I think this trailer was for the IOs version of the game. :(

        • StarkeRealm says:

          IIRC, if you loose the game, the Aliens have actually been controlling him. Not sure if that’s a spoiler, since it’s not part of the “correct” storyline, but *shrugs*

          A Terror from the Deep style expansion could fit that bill… somewhat. Though, I’m hoping for base invasions and more squad upgrade options.

          Control over what class? A third skill set, maybe a shift to full on skill trees? Hell, even new alternate weapons for the classes. I’d go for any of that.

          • mouton says:

            As the planet is being gradually overtaken by aliens, it just probably means they finally got to that dark suitcase fellow. There is no reason to think they controlled him all along.

        • mouton says:

          Evil government working with aliens. Now that would be fresh.

          • ViktorBerg says:

            I am sorry for being rude, but are you being sarcastic, or not? I wouldn’t call it exactly fresh, I mean, look at X-Files.

          • S Jay says:

            :) oh, silly confusing letters.

          • mouton says:

            Sarcastic. I wasn’t hostile, though.

  3. SAeN says:

    I was under the impression they showed a teaser trailer for this several months ago, but I’ve since been unable to find it.

    Also, I’d much rather they fixed the first game than add anything to it.

    • gwathdring says:

      Fixed?

      • SAeN says:

        The game still has some game-ruining bugs.

        • mike2R says:

          Bit of an exageration, Shirley.

          • coldvvvave says:

            Slingshot had some critical bugs, like being unable to finish the second mission even though you completed all goals. Happened twice to me and to some other people.

          • mike2R says:

            Ah ok, to be honest I’ve never completed Slingshot. I’m embarrassingly crap at the game considering how many hours I put into the original (and too stubborn to play anything except Classic Ironman). The first Slingshot mission comes up so early that I’ve repeatedly failed it with the bunch of rookies and squadies I have at that point. I generally skip it to avoid the casualties.

            I’d still say “ruining” is a bit of an exaggeration. Its a word I’d only use to describe bugs that make the game unplayable for a large number of people.

          • Grygus says:

            There are only a few bugs remaining in the game, but some of the design decisions are frustrating. The immediate extra turn that aliens get when discovered, the line-of-sight mechanic that allows you to be shot through walls, the fact that undiscovered aliens apparently teleport from place to place instead of having to move through the map, and things like that are not bugs per se, but they are flaws that break the game’s fiction and can result in problems for the player that aren’t the player’s fault, which feels like a bug.

            The only actual bugs I can think of are one where sometimes you can reveal aliens before you should be able to – I have activated them through closed doors a few times – and the one where sometimes a map clusters all the aliens near the beginning for a huge welcome party. This latter one is actually very fun if you’re advanced in tech, but near the beginning when your greatest scientific achievement is having cut open a dead Sectoid, it’s just auto-wipe, hope you don’t like any of those soldiers or the nations who are about to panic!

            None of those ruin the game, but they can ruin a mission, and failed missions are punished fairly harshly.

          • Xocrates says:

            My IronMan run had to be cancelled half-way through the final mission because an enemy got stuck under the map and I couldn’t proceed without killing him. I’m fairly certain the game hasn’t been patched since then.

            I love the game to bits, but “game ruining bugs” is no exaggeration.

          • bleeters says:

            I feel like my first encounter with a Sectopod involving it literally appearing from thin air next to my drop ship, completely flanking my squad and wiping out two of them in the free turn aliens recieve when ‘discovered’ was a bug.

            And seeing as it lead to the deaths of all of my soldiers, well. It isn’t game breaking per se, I suppose – though good luck fighting late game aliens with recruit rank soldiers – but it certainly killed my desire to keep playing.

          • gwathdring says:

            @Bleeters

            They aren’t supposed to get a whole free turn, just a free move. I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to move as part of the full alien round if they’re triggered *during* the alien’s turn, again just a free move as they arrive on the scene. So you either got royally fucked by timing (one could debate whether the last-of-turn discovery situation requires tactical caution and is good, or takes things too far because the hedge cases where it’s *just* unfair and unfun are too common), or the bug teleported them in during the alien’s turn, or the game gave them a whole turn for no reason in the middle of your turn.

            In any case, it happened to me plenty, and it’s an awful bug. :( I think there might be multiple bugs at work in your example, though, based on what I saw happening when the game appeared to be running properly versus during matches when shit got weird.

          • kshade says:

            Multiplayer is still absolute rubbish as well, just like Civ 5. Random disconnects, sometimes crashes, you can get stuck in text chat forever…

            I love Firaxis and what they’re doing, but please step up the QA.

        • gwathdring says:

          Sure does. Just wanted to know if you meant that kind of fixed or the other kind of fixed. :)

          The camera would lock weirdly and prevent you from moving to all of the spots your unit could move to (especially with the Grapple), the mouse wouldn’t lock properly to the level you wanted to move to again removing (sometimes crucial) tactical options, and worst of all shit just appeared magically next to you all the time.

          That said, typically patch vs. expansion isn’t a strictly speaking either-or. I don’t know how Firaxis works on this sort of thing though.

  4. Werthead says:

    We know there’s a sequel coming. Take 2 did a teaser trailer thing for it a few months ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF1MqYb0dmE

    So yeah, this sounds like that.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      actually, that turned out to be the iOS version.

    • kouru225 says:

      I’m pretty sure this was not the IOS version, and I’m also 100% sure that this is not a sequel. Firaxis was very open about their DLC plans. They had 5 DLCs like Slingshot planned, but they scrapped them in favor of another DLC project because Slingshot got terrible terrible feedback from the fans (as it should’ve.) This is undoubtedly an expansion like with Civ, though I hope it simply increases the scope of the gameplay and doesn’t add more story.

  5. twincast says:

    “Enemy Within” *could* (hopefully) refer to enemies from within the Earth, i.e. Terror from the Deep, although it’d be a slightly odd way to put it.

  6. CaspianRoach says:

    It’s in the Steam database, so it’s not a mobile game. http://steamdb.info/app/200510/#section_depots

    Also from Steam DB we know that the executable file will be XComEW.exe instead of XComGame.exe, so most probably this will be an expansion that majorly overhauls the game.

  7. danphango says:

    i feels far too early for a sequel to me. it could be a sort of re-polished re-release, like l4d2 was, but my money’s on expansion. hoping for some more RPG elements to the multiplayer, necomrunda style :)

  8. lowprices says:

    Deep breath everyone. Don’t get excited until they officially announce anything. We don’t need a repeat of Deus Ex: The Fall.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Its on steam. It cant be The Fall again.

      • lowprices says:

        Whoops, I missed the above comment about the steam registry. Still probably better not to get excited. That way people won’t be disappointed when it turns out to be a free-to-play match-3 puzzle game.

  9. Sillywhiteguy32 says:

    Painting windowsills? Really?

  10. mondomau says:

    Hold on, what’s the armour in the screenshot? I don’t recognise it?

  11. Max Ursa says:

    Bet theres things on sleeper agents, outsiders and other gubbins so ‘the bureau’ slots in more fluidly. A general expansion to mechanics, locations etc would also be welcome. Actual moddability would be great too.

  12. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I really would have liked them to have made The Bureau as a sort of spin-off of XEU (like what happened with Blood Dragon for instance). Same engine and basic gameplay but with inferior technology and more of a sense of hopelessness, and less emphasis on the global nonsense.

  13. Metalhead9806 says:

    XCOM expansion incoming!!! Weeeeeeee

  14. Moni says:

    “Enemy Within” sounds like free-to-play, multiplayer-only, PvP.

  15. Blue_Lemming says:

    Didn’t even finish it, the missions just got silly (dumping all my squad out of cover near 5 mutons on the mission start).Plus this looks like another mission pack, or some sort of tie in , and yes that windowsill can flake paint all it wants, gloss doesn’t grow on trees.

    • Borsook says:

      Interesting, for me the latter missions were silly because they were so easy, once your soldiers are properly experienced those Muttons all die in one turn.

  16. XhomeB says:

    I hated the reboot – and it’s a shame, because I had been rather optimistic about it until its release. It wasn’t broken or anything, but a few things completely killed it for me.

    1) The art style was beyond ugly – dudebro squad members, atrocious environments, bland colours… It’s such a generic looking game, I must be crazy, because I find Silent Storm much more detailed and appealing visually, and it was made 9 years ago.
    2) The camera made me furious, I never managed to adapt to the control scheme, I kept fighting it. You’d think allowing you to, for example, hold down the right mouse button to freely rotate the camera (again, Silent Storm says hello) would be an obvious thing to do. Nope. They basically copied&pasted the console interface and added the mouse cursor. Which resulted in a total, uncomfortable mess. I never felt I was in control of what was happening on the screen.
    3) The combat sequences could be described as “top down Gears of War” – they’ve been designed around around a binary, artificial cover system. Jumping from cover to cover and playing whack-a-mole is not my idea of fun… It only made fights very formulaic. A giant Sectopod hiding behind a collapsed tree, making him invulnerable to all damage? Makes sense.
    4) No base invasions, oversimplified base management (Ant Farm is nowhere near as engaging as building bases in the orginal), I honestly felt there was little strategy in this game – the campaign felt “on rails”, very plot/cutscene-driven. I lost interest in the game and got bored VERY quickly. I tried to like it, almost forced myself to play it. Nope. It’s boring as hell. Soulless.

    I wish it wasn’t tied to my Steam account, I would sell it without hesitation if I could.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      I get where you’re going with this but in all honesty, the original games had a lot of those problems too and in retrospect, lacked a lot of polish.

      One thing I totally agree with you on is the shouty, dudebros and broettes. It was all a little gung ho and totally lacking in emotional nuance .Which is a pity given how easy it is to lose personnel.

      Even allowing for all that though, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and look forward to EW.

      • RakeShark says:

        “One thing I totally agree with you on is the shouty, dudebros and broettes. It was all a little gung ho and totally lacking in emotional nuance .Which is a pity given how easy it is to lose personnel.”

        Now hold on a sec, I’ll agree new X-COM was a bit more man-beefy in the visual department, but to say the original had emotional nuance is nostalgia lying to you. The original X-COM was devoid of that too, but the presentation was such that you, the player, filled in that game. Like all other games of that time we gamers filled the void of “why/who/how/when” when the game utterly couldn’t reach the level of nuance we demand these days.

        Your opinion is valid when you say “I didn’t like the dudebro stuff, they should have made it more evident in the presentation that everything is horrible and these guys are in over their heads.”. But your memory of the original X-COM being designed as an emotional rollercoster of woe and loss is not. Your gameplay might have been, but you made that possible with your own investment. The new X-COM has more emotional nuance than the old one by design, it’s just not your style of nuance (more The Rock than Band of Brothers).

    • jonahcutter says:

      As far as type of enemies hiding behind a tree, I don’t think the game was intended to be as realistic as you’re wishing for. The gameplay is more abstract than the graphics suggest.

      Tactical gameplay-wise, it has as much in common with the abstractions of a board game like chess, as it does with more realistic squad-based video games.

    • darkChozo says:

      As far as I remember, Sectopods could not take cover, much like all the robotic enemies (though I forget if Drone could take cover) and melee enemies.

      Clearly this is the linchpin of your argument. Consider yourself defeated.

      • XhomeB says:

        I said “hiding behind”, not “taking cover. He was behind a tree, and I couldn’t target him. That was my point.
        I guess that you agree with the rest of the points I made? Thank you. :P

        • darkChozo says:

          Hmm, well that’s more “broken LOS system” than “binary, artificial cover system”. Not very many strat games would let you shoot at people you “don’t see”. Also trees are basically invisibility cloaks, obviously.

          Also don’t be silly. It’s the Internet, if you poke a tiny quibbling hole in an argument you automatically win and that argument is invalid. Duh.

  17. Yargh says:

    ‘The Enemy Within’ is clearly going to be a fight between miniaturised XCOM soldiers and alien bacteria trying to take over a famous scientist’s body.

  18. woodsey says:

    Calling it now: mobile game.

  19. MeestaNob says:

    PLEASE be an expansion.

    New tile sets, shinier graphics, etc.

  20. Tei says:

    Twist of the story:
    Humans attack your base.

    Twist on the twist:
    The humans are actually mind-controlled by aliens.

  21. InternetBatman says:

    I doubt they’ve figured it out, but it could introduce randomization of level layout.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      That would have been very welcome. One of the big issues of the new XCOM has always been that there are only so many maps in rotation. And the thing is, considering how the whole game is tile-based, there is literally no reason not to create some kind of level generator for it. Create basic rulesets for cover placement (providing adequate amounts of cover both for the humans and the aliens), level pathing (to funnel the player to his destination, if needed), terrain elevation (important in the forest/natural missions) and a script that can randomly assemble buildings out of walls, doors, windows and furniture.

      Not to mention, with this system, the levels could be much bigger and prolong battles, make them more interesting.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I would settle for just more fixed maps using the same assets (although more variety in outdoor environments would be welcome).

      With just a little more effort, they could have re-used the assets and shifted the maps around a little. It kills replay value when you know that when your team is dropped into an open city park with a fountain, there’s gonna be a bus on the right side as a sniper perch. Would it have killed them to shift those assets around a little? Maybe put the bus on the other side, once in a while?

      I’m wondering if it was a console limitation for map storage space. Did they really take up that much disk space? Anyway, I hope if there is a new version of the same game they’ve learned that lesson, and give us either auto-randomized maps or much more variety in the handmade maps.

  22. Lemming says:

    I bet anything it’s a F2P team shooter with the XCOM brand. This is the price we pay for settling for a poor cousin to the original games. Welcome to the XCOM franchise, fellas.

    • Bull0 says:

      seriously, you ‘bet anything’ that’s what’s going to happen? Based on what exactly- firaxis’ history of following up their strategy games with shooters?

      • strangeloup says:

        What about that Civilization FPS, where you begin by throwing rocks at enemies and beating them with crude clubs, then progress through the periods of Classical and Medieval warfare, before reaching the present day, and then stretching out to the future, as you strike forth onto the hostile terrain of Alpha Centauri?

        Actually… that might be pretty good.

  23. trillex says:

    I just want a deep, satisfying meta-game. The tactical gameplay was top notch but the metagame itself was incredibly dull and boring.

  24. AngusPrune says:

    The enemy within? Perhaps a meta story where you’re an X-COM developer fighting manfully against management drones who say turn based combat is outdated, and you should add real time action, boobs and perhaps a dog on a skateboard to the game to appeal to the yoof.

  25. adamsorkin says:

    While I’d much prefer a follow up to the PC version – A new mobile game might not be terrible. The iOS port, anyway, pretty much preserves the gameplay of Enemy Unknown. Not as stable as I’d like, and the visual detail is understanbly dialed back, but it plays pretty much the same.

  26. S Jay says:

    I would be happy with an “international accent DLC”, but I would be happier with a major overhaul of the strategy part.

  27. Frank says:

    South Korea? Must be a MMOTBT

  28. jonahcutter says:

    Fuck that windowsill. What has it ever done for me but gather dust?

    On a side note, I’d love more modern XCOM. I received it for free from pre-ordering Bioshock Infinite (I think) and didn’t think I’d care for it at all. Of course it turned out to be a hell of a game. I ended up playing and enjoying it far more than the game it was a bonus for.

    Randomly-generated levels and a level editor would be excellent additions though. Map repetition was perhaps it’s weakest point.

  29. Fitzmogwai says:

    Randomly generated maps, a less linear geoscape, base invasions, the opportunity to take on all alerts rather than being forced to choose just one incursion, and international voices please. And that’s for starters.

    And even though TFTD is my favourite game of all time, I do think that XCOM: The New One stands up very well, albeit with huge scope for improvement.

  30. Bobtree says:

    XCOM is still broken (teleporting aliens for example). Don’t give them your money.

    • Boosterh says:

      Ok, this? This annoys me.
      A game that CTD when you load it is broken.
      A game that does not register when you meet victory conditions is broken.
      A game in which key mechanics do not function is broken.
      X-COM is not broken.
      Does X-COM have flaws? Yes. Did the designers use some questionable design shortcuts? Certainly. But just because you don’t like something, even for a valid reason, does not mean that it is broken. Quit reaching for the most extreme terms in your vocabulary. There is a useful distinction to be made between imperfect and non-functional, and your hyperbole simply confuses the issue.

      • Nim says:

        I agree with Bobtree, XCOM is still in dire need of patching. Last patch came out in January, it’s like Firaxis has given up on patching the damn thing. Flanking bugs, CTDs, Line of sight problems, pathfinding problems, corrupted unloadable saves, teleporting enemies and unplayable DLC are just some of the issues I’ve experienced during my last game. I am not even touching multiplayer after all the bugs I have heard about it.

        • Bull0 says:

          Flanking bugs, CTDs, Line of sight problems, pathfinding problems, corrupted unloadable saves, teleporting enemies and unplayable DLC

          I’ve sunk 100+hours into XCOM EU and the only one of these things I’ve encountered is the teleporting enemies (it’s happened to me maybe twice, in the late game, with boss mutons, and in both cases my squad gunned them down ruthlessly so I didn’t care all that much).

        • Nim says:

          I envy you as it seems you have had the best of luck when playing the game. I was not just rambling up different afflictions gathered from the internet by listing those problems. All those things happened to me within 20 hours of gameplay during the last week.

          • Bull0 says:

            Really, I think Boosterh said it best, I’m not adding a lot to this now. :) I will just say that if my anecdotal experience is easily dismissed as good luck, then yours is dismissed as bad luck just as easily, although personally I wouldn’t do that.

          • Nim says:

            I did not dismiss your experience as good luck. There’s plenty of people who have finished the game without encountering any issues. I am fully aware that some users do not experience any problems while others seem to get all of the problems. There is however far too many posts about bugs and issues, backed up by savegames, screenshots and videos in all forums related to the game to dismiss issues and problems with the game as bad luck. Most of my problems were game mechanics-based and I daresay I would encounter the exact same issues using your copy and PC. In fact I am confident that you too may have had plenty of these glitches during your supposed 100+ playtime although you may not have noticed them at the time.

            For example, check out the Dedicated Bug Reports thread in 2K games’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown Support forum. Myself, I will start regarding the game as working when I stop encountering major issues on a frequent basis.

  31. kdz says:

    I remember there being some talk about how an early idea for the reboot/remake was to set the action after the aliens have conquered Earth. The players would lead XCOM soldiers on guerrilla-type missions.

    I want that in the form of a big-ass expansion so much. SO MUCH!

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