The Mod Squad: XCOM – Enemy Within Interview

By Adam Smith on August 27th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

I’ve been watching the skies, waiting for news about XCOM: Expansion Unknown ever since the first teaser trailer landed. Turns out I would have been wiser watching my inbox instead because that’s where I found an invitation to speak to Firaxis about the Enemy Within expansion at Gamescom. I spent half an hour with senior games designer Anand Gupta. As well as details on the contents of the expansion, we talked about the theme of the game, Lovecraftian possibilities and moral choices. Oh, and base invasions. Then Gupta casually mentioned that it’s possible to rip out a soldier’s heart.

RPS: During the presentation, Enemy Within was described as a ‘Civ-style’ expansion. Is that a Firaxis staple now and what exactly do you mean by it?

Gupta: I describe it as same stage, more actors, more sets, more props. It’s not a prequel, it’s not an additional episode on the end of the game. It’s the same alien invasion as in Enemy Unknown, but we’ve added more variables and more challenges. At Firaxis, we make these big strategy games and we structure them so that they are accessible but still complex. When you have these games, especially XCOM which has the tactical and the strategy component, the way to expand it is not in bits and pieces, it’s to do a lot all at the same time, all integrated into the campaign.

This is one of the things that makes DLC very hard for a game like XCOM. It’s a little easier for Civ because Civ is not asymmetric, but XCOM is very asymmetric. Even making decent DLC for Civ is very challenging, but there are more options as to how it can be expanded than with XCOM. For this game, we prefer to make Brave New World and Gods & Kings style expansions, and that’s what Enemy Within is. It’s a comprehensive set of new content.

Here at Gamescom, we’re talking mostly about tactical stuff, but we know that the spirit of XCOM is that it has both, the strategic and the tactical, feeding into each other in interesting ways. Missions in one affect the other and you can’t tank either one or you’re in trouble. We know that the spirit of XCOM dictates that we expand both of those things.

RPS: But you’re not talking about the strategy side yet?

Gupta: We’re talking about it a little. For example, the mechs and the G-mods that you saw, that has a strategic aspect to it. There are resources to develop and manage, new facilities to build in order to enable the development paths. That’s all on the strategy level but there’s other big strategy stuff we’re not discussing yet.

RPS: The G-mod abilities reminded me of Syndicate. Proper Syndicate.

Gupta: Oh yeah.

RPS: It has the look of it, with the separate body parts outlined and upgraded. Has the idea of body modification been on the cards for a long time?

Gupta: It’s funny that you mention Syndicate. I’m a huge fan of the original. I haven’t had the chance to play the new one, but the old Syndicate I played a lot of. I remember the final mission. You have your starting area and you move two pixels out and there are rockets all around!

When we were looking at what to do with Enemy Within – well, the theme came to me very early. We were brainstorming and discussing things and I wanted to explore what I think is one of the most compelling themes in XCOM – that you are bending the aliens’ technology to your own will and using it against them. How can we take that further? In Enemy Unknown, you gather alien tech and make new weapons and armour. With Enemy Within, you take the aliens and make them part of your soldiers in a more fundamental way.

RPS: There’s a line in Enemy Unknown, the engineer, whose name I’ve now forgotten, says that he fears what XCOM, or humanity, may become as they adopt the technology. Enemy Within seems like it may be the fulfilment of that fear.

Gupta: It’s interesting that you mention that. In Enemy Unknown, Doctor Chen is very cautious, he has strong moral reservations about cybernetics. I was listening to that exact line and I thought it could be interesting that he’s reluctant and yet that it becomes his path. Ultimately I decided that we had to change that line. We revised Dr Chen’s attitude a little. He still has a reluctance, a reticence, about cybernetics, but that line comes across more like – “it’s ok, provided we can keep it under the correct scrutiny.”

RPS: I think those dialogue sections at the base, that new level of storytelling, is something that Enemy Unknown succeeded at. It’s as much a difference from the original as some of the mechanical changes, but it worked for me. Even though it still has the B movie look to it, there’s a sense of apprehension and fear. Do you explore that more in Enemy Within? The idea of body modification horrifies me. I’d probably faint if somebody pierced my ear.

Gupta: One of the things that I’ve always liked about XCOM is that the moral choices are in the player’s head not on the screen. One of my favourite reviews of Enemy Unknown was from somebody who had never played the original. He described a terror mission in which chrysalids were bearing down on his squad and there was a civilian caught between him and them. He could take the chrysalids out with a rocket but not in a way that wouldn’t also kill the civilian. He ended up firing the rocket and waited for a pop-up to tell him that he’d made the right choice. Of course, that didn’t happen.

I agree that the idea of body modification at this level is horrifying, but it’s awesome as well!

RPS: This is the line that XCOM walks. You become more powerful but the aliens tend to counteract your confidence. Which allows you time to reflect on what exactly you’re doing to your men, whether it’s sending them into a suicide mission or grafting an alien leg onto their backside for added mobility. It doesn’t matter how big you get, they’ll find a way to hit back. Like the mech fighting the…

Gupta: The Mechtoid, yes.

RPS: It is called a Mechtoid! I knew it had to be. I would have been very sad if it wasn’t.

Gupta: Well, yeah (laughs). There was a design meeting where we were talking about this. Originally we had the Mech Muton, but then we looked at it and we thought, well, the Muton is pretty big anyway. He’s bulky and aggressive and powerful, so adding some sort of exoskeleton doesn’t make much impact. So in the meeting, we said ‘we need a mech alien but it has to be a bigger version of something’. So I figured, let’s go all the way and have a mech sectoid. Somebody immediately said…’mechtoid’? And a star was born.

Something that players find really fun about XCOM is the soldier narratives. We don’t lay out soldier narratives. We are not Mass Effect with scripted soldier plotlines. Even the DLC was pretty light-handed, Operation Slingshot. And so, players’ imaginations fill in the blanks. They ask questions – are these volunteers? The people who go into the mech suits – which they can’t be extracted from – are they soldiers who volunteer and say, ‘I will do whatever it takes to defend the Earth’. Or is there something more sinister happening? Are they perhaps being pushed into the decision by the commander?

RPS: I’d never thought of it like that.

Gupta: Well, that’s precisely what I mean. It’s up to the player to decide these things. We give you a user interface and let you decide what parts of your interaction with that interface and world mean.

RPS: My XCOM folks are definitely heroes. The bravest of the brave. The last stand. They want to be the last stand because they are awesome people. And they’re going to be a more convincingly international bunch now, right? With accents?

Gupta: It’s not accents, it’s actual language. It’s something we had wanted to in Enemy Unknown but we ran out of time. It’s a daunting engineering problem. I see fan commentary that says, ‘they can just flip a switch to turn on extra languages’. It’s not that simple. Loading VO data, especially when its dynamic and you don’t know which one is going to be triggered, is non-trivial. Our engineers did a great job of solving that problem, so that now the soldier’s language is basically a customisation option. You can pick between English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Polish. And so now we have an XCOM that feels international as opposed to the group of heroic Americans.

RPS: Do you have British accents?

Gupta: (sighs) No, we don’t. We explored that a little when Yahtzee said he’d record Australian accents for us, and we thought ‘that’d be kind of fun’. But we couldn’t logistically organise that.

RPS: The reason I ask, not about the British thing in particular, is that it ties back to storytelling. Making XCOM feel international is important for me. I like the idea of these people from all corners of the world, coming together to save all of the corners. Speaking of story, why is the name of the expansion Enemy Within? What does it refer to specifically?

Gupta: I alluded to that earlier. We’re taking the idea of using alien technology further, bringing it inside the soldiers’ bodies. The cybernetic enhancements and genetic modifications are unlocked by performing autopsies. You can imagine what Dr Vahlen is doing – she’s like, ‘oh, this is a nice bit! I’ll grab that.’ Once we came up with the theme of Enemy Within – and it’s hard for me to remember which came first, some of the ideas or the actual theme – we had a lot of stuff we wanted to add. It’s a strong theme.

RPS: It’s interesting that you talk about theme so much. It’d be easy to list new mechanics but theme is obviously important to you and to the expansion. Strategy and tactical games are often best described using numbers rather than themes.

Gupta: Narrative has also been a tough tightrope to walk with XCOM. We start with this incredibly strong core idea of defending the Earth against alien invasion. One of the things that I have some regrets about with Enemy Within, and regrets are unavoidable, is that we couldn’t change the opening movie very much. I said ‘can we put in some new scenes here?’ and they said, ‘yes, you absolutely can, but then you get no other movies.’ I’d rather have the other movies than a new intro.

But what we were able to do is to change the opening quote. So, the Unknown quote is the Arthur C Clarke quote about ‘two possibilities’. We took that out. Now it’s a Buckminster Fuller quote, the architect. The quote is: “Those who play with the devil’s toys will be brought by degrees to wield his sword.” The quote in Enemy Unknown captures the situation very well and the quote in Enemy Within captures the player’s progression.

RPS: It’s interesting that the first quote is about humanity and the second is more about XCOM. It’s about the player. Some of the new stuff that’s in there, like the splinter grenades.

Gupta: Needle grenades.

RPS: Needles, splinters, it’s all the same to me. Is that alien tech or is it derived from alien corpses?

Gupta: That comes from the chrysalid autopsy.

RPS: How much more of the adaptation of alien body parts is involved? XCOM soldiers are going to be dressed in gore at this rate, with Existenz guns.

Gupta: There’s a gas grenade now, which is based on the Thin Man’s poison sacs, which we are adapting and synthesising. Don’t try to use it against the Mechtoid because he’s sealed and doesn’t care if you gas him. The little sectoids will be very disappointed by the gas grenade though. We’ve added a lot of new foundry projects, the Mechtoid in particular adds some cool stuff. The tech tree in my head has changed so much that I don’t want to promise these exact unlocks, but we have added stuff like enhanced speed and health for mechs and robotic units…

RPS: How exactly do the mechs work?

Gupta: What you’ve got to do is research the correct tech, which opens up both of the paths, allowing you to build a genetics lab and a cybernetics lab. It’s pretty cheap to build in terms of money because I don’t want you to have to choose between that and your satellite (laughs). And then you can submit soldiers for augmentation. You pick a soldier, put him or her into augmentation, and they come out as a mech trooper. They can’t be rookies, they have to have a class already. This is important because all soldiers who become mech troopers have access to the full mech trooper training tree, which is a new class, but they also get a passive ability based on what class they had before.

RPS: So there are sub-classes within the mech class?

Gupta: Well, it’s just one passive ability but it does mean there’s a different choice when augmenting a support or a sniper. Then that trooper has base augments, which are the mech version of civilian skill upgrades. Limbs and an armored torso, which can be unscrewed and replaced with new types. Then they can be placed in a exoskeleton mech suit, which is built separately like a suit of armour, but unlike XCOM’s base armour, these are customisable.

There are three tiers of mech suit – the Warden, the Sentinel and the Paladin. Mech I, Mech II and Mech III. Each tier you get a choice of which tactical sub-system you want. So you can have a flamethrower or kinetic strike, which is sci-fi for giant powered fist. At level II you get to choose between grenade launcher or restorative mist – the first launches grenades really far, the restorative mist is an area effect medkit. At level three you get the choice between proximity mines, which are a great tactical device. You can fire them across a map, but they don’t set off when allies stand on them. Or you can have the Electropulse, which is a point blank area of effect electric attack, which does damage and stuns enemy robots, so it’s a cool countermeasure against cyberdiscs and sectopods and Mechtoids. So there are eight possible mech builds. It was really important to have that level of customisation between suits.

RPS: Once you decide to modify a soldier that’s it, there’s not turning back? Is it the same with genetic mods?

Gupta: With g-mods, say I pull you into the genetic lab…

RPS: Please don’t.

Gupta: …and squaddie Smith is…

RPS: Terrified.

Gupta: …about to get a second heart plugged in, I can then later decide I want you to have the other chest mod instead. I pay again and give you a different one. So unlike mech soldiers, which have fixed tactical subsystems, you can replace G-mods with alternatives. You waste the cash you spent on the old one though. But we wanted to let people respec.

RPS: You want to put a second heart in me and then rip it back out again. This has become uncomfortable.

Gupta: Yes. I urge you not to think too hard about that one.

RPS: Is it the same in that there are two choices for each part?

Gupta: That’s correct. There are five body parts – eyes, skin, brain, legs and chest. Each of those has two choices and the reason we allow the respec is because we wanted the choices to become available at different times, so you won’t get the two skin upgrades at the same time probably. So we don’t want your best guy to end up stuck with the first tech you receive.

RPS: Do you think – and this includes multiplayer – that people will find good squad builds fairly quickly? Entirely modified squads? Are basic soldiers still useful.

Gupta: They’re definitely not obsolete because they do have unique skills. I do think that the new hotness factor will make people lean toward the modified soldiers.

RPS: Right. But will they end up being better versions of the basic human soldier?

Gupta: In multiplayer there’s more of a trade-off, because of the values as well, but in single player adding this stuff makes you better. But you’re constrained by how much Meld you have. Do you know about Meld?

RPS: A little. Tell me everything.

Gupta: Meld shows up on most mission types: abductions, crashed UFOs and landed UFOs. The Meld canisters have self-destruct timers on them. The’re randomly placed around the maps and they start ticking down when the mission begins. Players who have become accustomed to a cautious style will now face a trade-off. We don’t want to punish that style, playing smart, but Meld is definitely something you want to reach for. There are always some easy spots and some hard spots, depending how far they are from where the squad starts, and we guarantee that on any given map you’ll always have at least one easy spot and one hard spot. So even if you play conservatively you’ll be able to get the easy one, but getting the hard one will be tough. For players who decide that Meld is a high priority because they want to advance along these capabilities, they will want to develop new tactics to make sure they get them.

RPS: I’m very cautious. I creep for hours at a time, which can become boring. If a soldier ends a turn without cover, I have to drink a measure of gin to steady my nerves. Having something to push me to take a risk is a good thing, I guess. How quickly do they deteriorate?

Gupta: It varies heavily. Some of the hard ones will be barely in double digit turns.

RPS: I was thinking of the bomb missions, which are very rushed at times.

Gupta: It’s rarely that tense. It’s a different dynamic, but we have the same approach in that recovering a canister doesn’t take an action. Run a guy up and you’re good to go.

RPS: Can you destroy Meld?

Gupta: Oh yeah. If you recover it and then the canister is destroyed, you still have the Meld. If you destroy it before touching it, Dr Vahlen will have something snide to say to you.

RPS: That happens a lot.

Gupta: If you are able to clear the map of aliens before the Meld has expired, you’ll automatically collect it. You don’t have to hunt the map looking for canisters – I mean, we do, but not when you’ve won. You don’t have to keep an alien alive to avoid finishing the mission.

RPS: Is there any advantage to destroying it – some kind of high explosive effect that means it can be a reasonable trade-off?

Gupta: No. It collapses in on itself. But the trade-off is that Meld canisters provide high cover.

RPS: I was speculating when I saw the teaser way back when that you’d be wading into Terror From the Deep. Any chance of that in the future?

Gupta: Jake (Solomon) definitely doesn’t like Terror From the Deep. He feels that underwater environments lose the terror of XCOM, which is that the aliens are on main street and in the fast food restaurant.

RPS: I like that it shifted from the sci-fi B Movie to the Lovecraftian.

Gupta: Personally, and this isn’t some faux announcement, if we were going to go Lovecraft XCOM, I’d want to go all the way Lovecraft XCOM.

RPS: The teaser does mention a new threat. It’s not talking about Mechtoids, right?

Gupta: I’m really looking forward to talking about that (laughs).

RPS: I’m really looking forward to hearing about it.

(pause)

RPS: OK. But there are more things than Mechtoids filling up the bestiary?

Gupta: Oh yeah yeah yeah. We’re adding a bunch of new enemies.

RPS: Everybody has asked you this. Base invasions. I’m not even wording it as a question.

Gupta: I love the way you’re thinking.

RPS: Multiple bases isn’t something that I missed. I thought I would but then I didn’t. Now that there are more facilities to build, is there any reason to have several bases? Specialised modification headquarters and jazzy stuff like that? That said, I very rarely fill up my base. Do you feel dropping multiple bases was the right decision?

Gupta: Yeah. They create a number of issues. For example, we have named characters. Having them at the main base inherently elevates it to the level of senior base, so the rest are second class. What do they give us? The shuttling of resources between bases is a pain as well. Are they completely autonomous? Do I have to send them resources – it’s the sort of dynamic that is fun in a Civ game, supporting a new city, but not here. Or maybe they are autonomous in which case what’s the point in having them, separate from one another. There’s a lot of reasons why they weren’t the right move for us.

RPS: Are the changes on the strategic side similar to the tactical changes? As in, you’re bulking out what is there rather than fundamentally changing it?

Gupta: I can’t really answer that just yet (laughs). And we’re actually out of time.

RPS: Thanks for your time!

XCOM: Enemy Within is an expansion. It’ll be out on November 12th.

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133 Comments »

  1. bleeters says:

    As much as I found the progression towards plasma weapons, power armour and psionics in Enemy Unknown mostly unenjoyable, and the idea further reckless, desperate transhumanism through gene manipulation and cybernetic enhancement doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm , oh boy but am I willing to shove anything into the brains of my little soldiers if it means they can’t be mind controlled anymore.

    Because seriously. Fuck that mechanic.

    • zain3000 says:

      One of my best moments in the game came on my classic ironman playthrough with having two squad mates concurrently mindcontrolled with muton elites bearing down on the remainder of my terrified squad… and surviving without losing a single soldier! I had to take a moment to catch my breath after that one…

      • gwathdring says:

        That sounds pretty awesome. I’ve avoided Ironman, though, because I inevitably make stupid mistakes. Not as in “I didn’t think about that move right!” but as in “Fuck. Shit. Balls. I clicked the wrong square.” or “Wait, I could have sworn I saw the Cover symbol on that square, fucking isometric camera!”

        And then it’s not so much dramatic when my unit gets mind controlled and blows away his allies as it is frustrating. Because I knew that would happen if I moved there. Which is why I tried to click somewhere else.

        I like save-games. It’s a trade-off, though. Because inevitably I go back and re-do missions when I lose them legitimately … so I lose genuine drama that I would enjoy if I were forced to accept the consequences. If only there was some way I could hook up a lie-detector and tell the game whether or not I meant to move there and thus appeal for a reload. :P

        • Dominare says:

          Ironman autosaves at the start of every XCOM turn in tactical mode. So if you do make an honest misclick, you can always force-quit the game then reload the autosave to put yourself back at the start of that turn.

          • gwathdring says:

            Yeah, but that’s obnoxious as hell to do. I’d rather have my magic lie-detector or just relax with my save games intact, accept that I will rarely commit to my mistakes, and cherish the poignant drama for my little soldiers when I DO commit to those mistakes.

        • latina168 says:

          my co-worker’s step-sister makes $60 an hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for seven months but last month her pay was $16395 just working on the laptop for a few hours. site ………………http://goo.gl/Q7yvka

        • embair says:

          Well, my way to cope with misclicks and bugs in ironman mode was to rationalize it as part of the story. Clicked a wrong tile? Welp, I guess Mr. Rambo McAwesome just tripped on his way to cover. Precisely the kind of stupid shit that kills people on a real battlefield as well.

          IMHO if you are willing to go into ironman mode knowing that your soldier can get 1-hitted by a lucky shot while in full cover, you can deal with bugs and misclicks too. Just one more slightly scary variable :).

    • DavidCasteel says:

      my buddy’s sister makes $79/hour on the laptop. She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay was $20009 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more… http://www.Day37.com

      • belgand says:

        She’d probably earn even more with some cybernetic implants.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      You must not be a D&D “Charm Person” fan…

  2. Serenegoose says:

    I am not a machine!

    • Grygus says:

      That is true, Sergeant Serengoose, you are not a machine. Please step into this apparatus so that we can measure exactly how much of a machine you are not; this will ensure that we can detect any attempts to convert you at a later date! It’s for your own protection. And this awesome chest-cannon. HAT. I meant hat.

    • Phendron says:

      You’re proud to serve your planet, that goes without saying.

    • zontax says:

      You mechs may have copper wiring to reroute your fear of pain, but I’ve got nerves of steel.

  3. Haphaz77 says:

    Can’t wait for the strategic and story details! Nice tries on getting more info out of Mr Gupta Adam. More movies could mean a deeper / changed plot. I hope you get to do the follow up interview.

  4. Dunbine says:

    Base invasions hinted at? Like half the world, I sorta predicted it!

    • belgand says:

      The problem with bringing in base invasions is that you don’t really get to design the majority of your base so there’s less element of “design this base to be defensible” going on. That was always a key part of it in the past. You built it and now you’re fighting in the base you built, not some generic X-COM base map.

      • Dunbine says:

        Agreed. If it happens, I’d expect the map to be the interior first few sections (forget the proper names, but the Control Room – Barracks – Engineering – R&D section – Hangar). A set, pre-made X-COM base map.

        • belgand says:

          Which is going to reduce the importance and personal feel of the base invasions. It’s essentially just another map then. In the past it had impact because it was your base. It felt like a true invasion of a space that you felt was safe and private.

          • Dunbine says:

            Agreed again. Still better than no base invasion, though.

          • unangbangkay says:

            Ah, but the difference here is that while you don’t really have a hand in designing the base you defend, your people are there. What if one of the objectives involved defending Drs. Chen and Vahlen from the xeno scum, or your announcer-fellow during a firefight around the Geoscape display. Or better yet, making a last stand in the situation room while the Agent 47-looking councilman says “We are watching, COMMANDERRRR”?

            That’d be pretty good.

          • c-Row says:

            How would losing XCOM’s one and only base not have any impact on the game?

          • horus_lupercal says:

            I see your point and agree with it slightly. However… everyone I know who played the original, back when it was responsible for so many of us not preparing adequately for our GCSEs, designed their bases in the exact same way – The hangars in a row at the top/bottom then just the access lift on the next row followed by all the rest of the facilities. This ensured the xenos could only come at you from one direction.

            Obviously there were other ways to layout your bases but, based on anecdote not hard data, practically everyone built them the same way.

  5. belgand says:

    Frankly I find it very odd that you can respec genetic changes, but not cybernetic ones. It seems a lot easier to swap out a new cyborg limb than modify someone at the genetic level. In fact, that’s one of the big advantages of cybernetics.

    I’m also a little unhappy at the deeply negative tone this takes towards transhumanism. You’re now significantly more awesome, but ooh… it’s not natural. Bringing in these ick factor views doesn’t seem like it really contributes to the game and, based on the title alone, it’s clear that we aren’t entirely supposed to be making our own “moral choices”… we’re supposed to feel at least that this is not an entirely good thing.

    • karsk says:

      i’m actually getting the exact opposite sense from this interview- i’m really disappointed they’re toning down dr chen’s reluctance, & the only real reason to not modify soldiers mechanics-wise is lack of Meld. there doesn’t seem to be a real downside to having a modified soldier

    • Ravenholme says:

      Well, I think given it’s roots, as in you’re copying (almost wholesale in many cases if you take the autopsies from EU) the aliens, who use their modification of the various species as a means of conquest and control, that a little negativity is entirely understandable.

      However, I didn’t really get much negativity from this myself. Just a justifiable amount of caution/introspection. Especially given that, depending on how your head-narrative plays out, the modification can be VERY invasive. A literal case of “I didn’t ask for this.”

  6. dangermouse76 says:

    Has this game received patches to the animation glitching it had ? It made the game annoying to play at times. Plus the camera would go wild as well. I like the game but there were some obvious issues they left uncorrected when I last played ( few months now ).

    Also Lovecraft oh yes please.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Do you mean when it would sometimes take over a minute for an alien to take a step? Yes, they did patch that out.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Nice. The looking over or around cover and firing straight into it, and at the enemy whilst not actually looking at the enemy even though you are only 10ft away was……….an immersion breaker.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Lovecraft definitely wouldn’t approve of them speaking foreign languages.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Or talking at all I remember one of the stories from At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror. It was nearly 90% from the disembodied narrators perspective.

      • Dave Tosser says:

        If there ever was a Lovecraft mode you’d only be allowed to recruit from England and Germany (What was the world before “Teutonic stock”, eh?) and wouldn’t have any skin colours other than a sun-deprived white.

        A proper Lovecraftian turn-based tactics game might be fun, provided there was investigation. The Wasted Land wasn’t very good.

  7. Big Murray says:

    My main gripe with XCOM was that the maps simply got boring; playing the same map over and over again is just tiresome and you end up knowing exactly what to expect, where every piece of cover is, what your strategy is going to be before the mission even starts.

    If I was going to pick it up again, I would want to see some kind of advance on this.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Agreed, that improvement would of been modding ( for me ). A map editor ? For shame they did not go down that root.

      • darkChozo says:

        A map editor with Steam Workshop support would be amazing. Take the route of some rhythm games where you can download big packs of maps quickly and easily for nigh-infinite variety.

        • PatrickSwayze says:

          OH FUCK YES PLEASE.

          I seem to remember them mumbling about mod support actually.

          I suspect we’ll get it after this final DLC.

    • Commissar Choy says:

      According to press, they’re supposed to be adding quite a few new maps. And since they’re adding the new resource and enemy types to existing maps, it should be at least a little different.

      • DrScuttles says:

        Yeah, 40 new maps from what I read. Which seems ridiculous and slightly unbelievable, but very welcome if true.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          40 is hardly any. The original game already had 90, I think? I saw all of them numerous times and I probably played the game through 3 times (plus a couple false starts). Adding another 40 isn’t going to be that interesting.

          No random maps is just going to continue to hamstring the game’s replayability, unless they can add like 1000 maps or something.

          • DrScuttles says:

            Oh, I never realised the original had that many. That being the case, it does seem like a missed opportunity to not include random maps of some variety.
            Considering how many expansions Civ V has had, there’s still a possibility for another one for XCOM that could add a few things like this.

          • S Jay says:

            I thought the original had procedurally generated maps.

          • Werthead says:

            “I thought the original had procedurally generated maps.”

            The original 1994 game did, I believe, but not the Firaxis one. Apparently they tried for ages to get it working and it wouldn’t.

          • DatonKallandor says:

            They count every possible starting position (4 per map, one for each cardinal direction) as a separate “map”, which is how they arrived at the ludicrous 90 for base XCOM. “40″ extra maps means 10 extra maps.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @DaltonKallandor
            That is just not true. There is some repetition but there are almost 60 unique maps, not 20.

            http://www.ufopaedia.org/index.php?title=Maps_%28EU2012%29

        • PatrickSwayze says:

          I heard that.

          What was there before, about 10 or 15.

          As long as we have some foggy xfiles forest, some windy desert, and some snowy mountain levels, I think I’ll be really really happy with this expansion.

          • DougyM says:

            Before as in the base game? There was overt 80 maps in that.

          • Werthead says:

            In the original game didn’t they count each different angle as a different map? So if there were 80 maps, that was actually 20 but each from four angles?

            That’s why there’s been some scepticism over the claims of the new maps: 40 might mean 10, just viewed differently.

          • basilisk says:

            Werthead: not procedurally generated, but they were semi-random. There was a certain number of fixed square “blocks” designed for all level types, like ten or so, sized roughly 12 by 12 tiles, and each level was made up by randomly selecting and joining those blocks into a 5 by 5 grid. (The numbers are pulled out of my head, and they expanded it slightly for TFTD, so take them with a grain of salt.) It worked beautifully, but it would look very primitive in a modern game. Procedural generation that would result in fun levels is much more difficult to pull off.

            EDIT: Reply fail, this was to Werthead’s post one subthread higher.

  8. Dariune says:

    Tried to play this through for a second time and I just couldn’t. The game is so … so simple and pointless at a strategic level.

    In-fact, I played through UFO: Afterlight again the other day and I think I prefer it. I don’t like the set characters but the gameplay is infinitely better IMO.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I found that playing through the game a second time was beyond me, too. I think its’ because I already know about all the technologies I can unlock and the various twists in the stages leading up to the end game. In that way, a second playthrough loses a great deal of that sense of suspense.

      Maybe the solution would be to add a technology tree that functions somewhat like SOTS 1?

      In any case, it sounds like I’m better off not even trying until this expansion is out.

    • DrollRemark says:

      It’s a real shame that the studio behind Civilization, of all games, couldn’t make a more interesting geoscape/strategic layer.

      A (massively) toned-down Civ-style layer, with separate, configurable bases, unit deployment, supply lines, territory control, and the like, would have been so good.

  9. Laurentius says:

    I don’t even….
    This guy regrets that they couldn’t change opening cinematics of all XCOM shortcomings ?
    Who the hell is Dr Chen ?
    Even more plot and boring talking heads ? Wow…
    Holy hell and i was praising Mr Smith and now reality comes and bites me in the ass, first fluff WIT on EUIV and now he actually likes those talking heads of XCOM… et tu Mr Smith, contra me ?

    • Ravenholme says:

      Dr Chen was the engineering chief in XCOM EU

      And I’ll probably piss you off more but I did enjoy the whole fluffy story context stuff in XCOM EU, it was nice to get some wider context to the story of my mission to save Earth. I liked the B Movie aspect of it.

      • Laurentius says:

        Why should this piss me off ? I don’t know you, You liked it and I didn’t, such things are hapaning all the time? I’m not an idiot who get pissed off because people like what i dislike or vice versa. I just feel a bit alienated here RPS recently with more and more emphasizing on story, plot and narrative elements in games, i don’t mind it but i also like games to be games like they used to be, especially strategy games and i had this ,as it turned out pretty false impression that Mr Smith of all RPS crew share this sentiment but alas, no…

        • jrodman says:

          More play-time, less story-time?

        • Phendron says:

          Right back at you: developer liked those aspects and you didn’t. Now you are getting pissed off that he glossed over the parts most important to you.

          I like story, dev said stuff about story. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

      • S Jay says:

        My issue with the story is that the replayability really went down the drain. Maybe a necessary evil, but the story + not enough maps made me few it was a chore to replay it.

        Oh, I dream with random maps and a “story-less survival mode”

        • gwathdring says:

          Yeah … it made for a really fun, tense first play. But it’s tough to go through twice becasue uncertainty and simple-but-slick-and-fun tactical missions was what made it really work. Without the uncertainty, it’s hard to engage with.

    • darkChozo says:

      He regrets not being able to change the intro cinematic for the expansion, not in general. Presumably they wanted to change the cinematic to be in line with the mechanics changes.

      • Laurentius says:

        For the life of me I can’t remember a single thing about XCOM:EU intro, there is big chance that i didn’t even watched it or it was so boring that my memory erased it momentarly.

        • DougyM says:

          Something about a German street with people coming to see the weird pod things you see on maps now and again, the pod opens and people get trapped in some green goo thing, people run for their lives but get massacred. Xcom shuttle takes off with the voice over saying that humanity is going to fight back.

          Something like that.

  10. Sardonic says:

    It’s “Dr. Shen” not “Dr. Chen”.

  11. BreadBitten says:

    The new expansion sounds frickin’ great, but I hope that this also means that Firaxis is hard at work on getting rid of the bugs inhabiting the game in its current state, especially the camera and UI bugs.

    Also, and I hope this doesn’t make me sound snobby or spoiled, I’d really appreciate if they got rid of some of the lower-rez UI elements (probably a result of the game’s multiplatform development) and replaced them with higher resolution ones. Things should not look like this in a PC game in the 2010s…

    http://i.imgur.com/7SsvkVB.png

  12. Sidewinder says:

    Wait- if the idea is to keep making expansions that add into the middle of the game (rather than before or after the main campaign), isn’t that going to discourage people from buying the game when it first comes out, instead waiting for the last of the expansions so they get the full experience?

    • Dominare says:

      No. See the sales numbers for Civ 5.

      • S Jay says:

        CIV doesn’t have a story. I am interested in the XCOM expansion, but playing the main campaign again seems like a chore.

  13. Captain Joyless says:

    Good points.

    Sadly nothing about this interview made me interested in playing XCOM EU again.

  14. mr_zen256 says:

    I would probably have been interested in this expansion if they re-introduced random procedural environments.

    • epmode says:

      I can understand the reasoning behind many of the changes between the original and the reboot but the lack of procedural map generation was a huge omission. It really hurts the game’s longevity. It especially surprised me to see Firaxis giving in to fixed maps after Civ’s popularity.

      Maybe in the sequel? If we get a sequel.

      • S Jay says:

        I think Jake Solomon said it was a time constrain thing. But indeed that would be the absolute best expansion they could ever produce.

  15. Rizlar says:

    New languages, yess! Didn’t realise that they are particularly hard to implement.. Can almost forgive Firaxis now, but for the lack of Austrian language option.

    ‘Get to da skyrangar aauguauugh!!!’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ_Fysh05l8

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Bogans vs pertol heads FTW !

    • caff says:

      New languages – but reading the interview seems to imply it’s a dialogue setting. i.e. if you choose Russian for the UI etc., it’ll make all your soldiers Russian. So English players will never hear the joy of non-US languages. A real shame, particularly with the lack of a British option.

      Or have I read it wrong?

      I want to play in English with a Russki sniper that goes “Da” every time I give them an order.

      • Goldeneye says:

        “so that now the soldier’s language is basically a customisation option. ”

        They do explicitly mention it’s a Customization option, meaning you set it individually from soldier to soldier. So you can have a French Soldier speak French, a Russian soldier speak Russian etc. However, the language pool at the moment is only limited to the ones they already dubbed for the localizations, so no Japanese or Chinese at the moment.

        • caff says:

          Ah that’s good then. Phew. Shame about the lack of brits though.

      • belgand says:

        I believe it’s a customization option for the soldier. In that you select the language that they speak in just like you currently select their voice. The problem is that they only have a small number of languages there compared to the number of countries that soldiers can come from. So you won’t be able to map it all 1:1.

        Which partly makes me think that this might just have been re-use of the languages that the game was already localized to. Maybe a few more were recorded, but a lot of regions are fully ignored there, primarily East Asia. It sounds like a budgetary issue though. They obviously solved the technical problems well enough if we can select alternate languages… so why not give us all of the available countries with appropriate langauges/accented English.

        • JarinArenos says:

          The voice acting to re-record everything multiple times *again* would be a lot more expensive than solving the technical issue would have been, I suspect. The reason they could do this much was they could sic a single dev on it and say “figure it out” while the rest of the team worked on EW. They could use the already-recorded localization voices without having to get more.

  16. Lemming says:

    “Jake (Solomon) definitely doesn’t like Terror From the Deep. He feels that underwater environments lose the terror of XCOM”

    Suddenly, the constant missteps with nuXcom become clear.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      Only someone who never properly played TFtD would dismiss it as not having the atmosphere chops.
      (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVUXCp8_jo)

      • Lemming says:

        I know right? And what kind of fool thinks terror is lost by being underwater? There’s nothing more terrifying on this planet than whatever is lurking in the sea. It’s an oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere, like space, only something massive could be lurking in the murk just beyond your vision!

      • Dominare says:

        Oh god, I think clicking that link gave me PTSD. Thanks buddy.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      Agreed. He has to go back to TFTD.

      Would be nice to see a wholly separate Lovecraftian menace though, in the future of the EU universe.

    • Goldeneye says:

      Kinda think Solomon was thinking of a different kind of terror in regards to TFTD, i.e. the Earth doesn’t feel as “threatened” if your threat is deep underwater, and not in plain sight of people they’re terrorizing. For one, how do you do civilian Terror Missions underwater.

      A completely Lovecraft themed XCOM would be incredible though.

      • Lemming says:

        They had terror missions on cruise ships, harbours and coastal areas.

      • Laurentius says:

        Solomon got it wrong like almost eveything about original games. It was far more terryfing in TFTD, in UFO it was pretty obvious, alien ships can land everywhere after all, but in TFTD you were battling underwater and bam! suddenly tuoristic resort attacked and holy hell you have to fight those Lobstermen on land too…

    • Nick says:

      Tentaculats are way scarier than Crysalids.

  17. WrenBoy says:

    Adding an incentive to take more risks would be great and improving the strategy layer and end game would be even better.

    But how much money do gamers have to hand over before the blasted teleport bug gets fixed?

    • JarinArenos says:

      If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s never going to happen. Probably because the coding derp is so deep into the core engine that they’d have to tear apart the entire game to fix it. At that point, it’s more a design misstep than a bug.

  18. strangeloup says:

    Observations:

    1. Fifth screenshot looks like XCOM is fighting EVA-01, which is like some kind of mad fanfic come true.
    2. Referring to the genetic modifications as ‘Gmod’ gives some wonderful/ridiculous ideas.
    3. I like the idea of being able to mod my soldiers for ‘hotness factor’ but I imagine it means something different to what I think it does.

  19. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    So….no base invasions then?

    I guess his explanation of why multiple bases wouldn’t work makes sense, but I think having some base maps that would result in one or more rooms getting destroyed if you lost would be fun. Making the air combat look less crap would be nice too.

  20. PatrickSwayze says:

    Can I just be the first to say THANK FUCK for no fucking Yatzhee or worse yet Total Biscuit as voices in the game.

    They are the worst sounding people on the planet.

    Bullet dodged!

    • Lemming says:

      I have to agree about TB. Before I was aware of who he was, his voice on the Space Pirates and Zombies intro, sounded appallingly out of place,not to mention cheap. Just some text would’ve been better.

      • PatrickSwayze says:

        Agreed, I was just playing that recently too.

        Maximum cringe.

  21. NotToBeLiked says:

    Not a mention about fixing the bugs that make the game very frustrating to play? The completely broken Line of Sight system will not be fixed?

    Nice to know I’ll never have to spend another cent on any Firaxis game then.

    I really hope they give this franchise to a competent dev next, who doesn’t make a dumbed down, half-featured, buggy XCOM game.

    Give the Civ franchise to someone else too while they’re at it. Next time we might not have to buy a bunch of expansions before we get the same features as the previous game.

    • Goldeneye says:

      The PC Gamer magazine apparently mentions that there will be bug fixes, including a fix to the teleportation bug.

      • JarinArenos says:

        I will believe it when I see it. They’ve been more than happy to focus all coding effort on things they can charge for rather than fix what people have already paid for.

        • Goldeneye says:

          You do know that the game was a lot more buggy at launch right? Three patches have since fixed most of the problems, so it’s not like they haven’t been doing bug fixes in the interim.

          • Oasx says:

            The teleport bug is so major that i have a hard time accepting that it would not be a priority to fix.

  22. JoeX111 says:

    These things sound, uh, neat and all. But if you’re going to make me play through the exact same campaign again, here’s what I want: Maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps, maps and maps. Yes, I know they said they are making 40 or so. But I want more. Dams, deserts, snow fields, farms, slums, caves, docks, zoos, highways, favelas, suburbia, beaches, jungles, glaciers, cruise liners, oil rigs, tropical resorts, tenement buildings, amusement parks, office buildings, toppled skyscrapers, and more.

    • bigblack says:

      I am un-enthusiastic about this for the same reasons.
      Really? I have to play through the exact same fucking campaign – for the THIRD time? I can’t believe that sticking a guy in a mech/exo suit is their huge selling point here… I loved XCOM:EU, but on the 2nd play-through it really feels like you’ve done and seen it all. Then Slingshot comes out and you get… new hats? A boring new character and like 4 new maps? The satellites and panic become so mechanical and tiresome with hardly anything you’ve done affecting the world’s overall outlook, the slog to plasma weapons (nevermind the waste of time that lasers are), the aggressive lack of scenery variety , and awful, terrible, game-stupidefying cover system which makes ZERO VISUAL SENSE and seems to have actually been an afterthought in a game all about strategic cover and squad movement.

      Again, I really enjoyed the game but after a single playthrough the seams and cracks and gaps in the design really start to show, and the fact they are just tacking more on rather than overhauling it makes me very unlikely to purchase until I see it at super-sale prices.

  23. SteelPaladin1997 says:

    Am I the only one who’s curious about the in-game justification for self-destructing canisters of alien awesomeness just sitting about on the map? I get it for crashed ships (the stuff falls out of the ship as it comes down w/the rest of the debris, and it’s valuable enough to be set to blow in those cases just like the alien weapons). Why would this stuff be scattered around in a landed UFO mission (I don’t imagine setting it out randomly in a field somewhere is part of the UFO’s mission) or in an abduction (had to set it down to snag this human; hope it doesn’t blow before I get back)?

    While I get that gameplay > all and XCOM already has a bit of B feel to it, the game has always taken itself very seriously internally. I hate the idea of arcade-style “timed powerups” sitting out on the Battlescape unless it is justified well in the story.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Agree. New XCOM has introduced too many immersion breaking gamey concepts.

  24. Severian says:

    I loved XCOM – definitely GOTY for me – and I’m 100% certain to pick up this expansion, if only to revisit my love. However, I can’t help but be a little worried that this smorgasbord of additions won’t fundamentally alter my campaign experience. More maps is appreciated (especially if there are varied environments, with associated hazards – and a wider variety of mission types as well). So are more enemies and more tools to use against them. But re-playing the same campaign, with the same overall narrative beats and strategic goals, does limit replayability. But I think it’s too early to judge this.

    • Subject 706 says:

      I’d love the re-introduction of customized soldier loadouts, a la old XCOM. The artificial limitations the new one has are downright stupid. TECHNOLOGY UPDATE!! Now your soldier can carry TWO grenades! Wow, now we finally have a fighting chance…

  25. SyrusRayne says:

    It might be interesting if they did do a TFTD type of thing, but not as a wholly new game; Building off of XCOM:EU, they pump in TFTD’s horrifying undersea things. Give the player the ability to build an undersea base (optional, perhaps, like the Slingshot stuff,) in which you build Ocean related facilities, weapons, and suchlike. A team of Aquanauts dedicated to combatting the terrors from the ocean, that sort of thing. All of this taking place during the main game.

    I’d play it.

    The Lovecraftian idea sounds pretty great too. A trans-dimensional invasion ala XCOM: Apocalypse but utterly horrifying and completely alien.

    • Tssha says:

      But that IS a wholly separate game! It’s just shoehorned into the existing game which turns it into a Frankenstein’s monster of competing design elements and competing games competing for your time.

      Separate base, separate squads of aquanauts, why not just add separate research and manufacturing queues while you’re at it? And while you’re at it, why not make it a standalone product because that’s the amount of work that’d be involved and the two games are just going to fight if you leave them in the same room together and oh my god why are we even discussing this.

  26. Nick says:

    TFTD is a better game than Jake ever made.

  27. Vulgar_Monkey says:

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that you can feng-shui a G-Mods internal organs as much as you want, but you can’t detach a gunarm from an exosuit and replace it with a flamer arm? If anything you’d expect the opposite.

    Not that I’m complaining. Sounds like a great expansion. Day one for me.

    • JarinArenos says:

      I suspect the suits are custom-built with a particular loadout, but you can swap out the suits.

  28. Zenicetus says:

    I think the point of the S.H.I.V.s was that you’d have a squad member that couldn’t be mind-controlled, if you rushed the end-game and didn’t have a decent team of psi warriors, or enough psi-protection gear like those tinfoil helmets. It’s a good shield for moving up against multiple Ethereals.

    That said, I never used S.H.I.V.s, preferring the more personal attachment to leveling up a human team. Also if you’re tight on resources, it always seemed like there were better things to throw money/Elerium at.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what they’re doing on the strategic side, because if it’s the same old campaign with just a few tweaks, then I’m not sure the new bells and whistles sound appealing enough to slog through that campaign again. I wish they had made the whole thing a bit more open-ended on the strategic side, because I do enjoy the tactical battles (but need more maps!).

    • Zenicetus says:

      Right, I’m not saying the S.H.I.V is actually that useful in practice, although it’s a little better at the lower difficulty level. But I think that was the design intent: i.e. a team member that couldn’t be mind-controlled and would last long enough to be useful.

      It ended up being something few people used, because they didn’t balance it well enough to be worth the cost, or the loss of a human in the team.

  29. RedViv says:

    So instead of solving the biggest problem I (and apparently quite a few others) had with the battles, that encounters ALWAYS relied on aliens just sitting around on their points on the map, occasionally wandering two or three meters, until you actually activate their trap card, is not solved but only further dug in with the new exploding resources?
    I like every other idea, but this… This.

    • Subject 706 says:

      This. Oh how much this.

    • gwathdring says:

      That was a problem. Another I’d consider just as major is the lack of re-playability in their campaign structure due to how limited the strategic play is (essentially non-existent), the lack of randomization in the maps and the lack of a compensatory, randomized AI Skirmish mode to make up for the first two problems.

    • Sandepande says:

      XCOM EU is built in boardgame style, more precisely in eurogame fashion. This means far more rigid systems and balancing acts. While the original was a simulationist system, this new one is a gamist one.

      Both are quite nice,

      • gwathdring says:

        As a board gamer, I never really felt like there was much of an elegant balancing act to it. It didn’t really remind me of the feeling I get from a well designed board game, let alone a Eurogame in particular.

        Care to explain more?

        • Sandepande says:

          It was in one or the other interviews with Solomon where he said that the dev team was very keen on boardgames, and that this was reflected in the game’s design. I play boardgames myself, too, and while EU isn’t copying any particular mechanic, the rigidly structured systems in the strategic part are very (board)gamey – choose this mission, or this, or this. No explanation why you have one Skyranger instead of three, a squad of six at most instead of an army.

          Even how LOS and cover are handled screams “game”, not a simulation – well, unless we accept that it is a very rough simulation.

          Still, it is a good game, pretty much what all the previews and interviews made it seem to be.

  30. Waldkoenig says:

    I still don’t get how this will be woven into the existing game.

    Is it a new campaign that you can play after the first campaign with your established squad? Or is it a separate campaign? Does nothing carry over in that case?

    • Svant says:

      It is the same campaign, I guess you can continue a save if you want to but the best choice would be to just start a new game and play it. It is simply more stuff to research and build during the campaign.

  31. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Full Lovecraftian XCOM? Like, BPRD the game? Be still, my heart. Such a thing is too beautiful for this world.

  32. DatonKallandor says:

    It’s completely ridiculous that they “don’t have the money” to change a goddamn in-engine 2 minute cutscene. Add the fact that they pretty clearly aren’t fixing the fundamental flaws of the strategic layer – Satellites are king, interceptions have no depth whatsoever and only having one team means the random mission selection is simply broken – much less the flaws of the tactical layer and this expansion is disappointment numbero uno.

    Of course it’ll be hailed as flawless by the games media. PR and nostalgia is powerful innit?

  33. Dys Does Dakka says:

    Sounds neat enough, and I’ll probably give XCOM EU another playthrough when this is out.

    -But goodness me, do I want Xenonauts to come out soon.
    Enemy Unknown is a fine enough game in its own right, but it’s not really what I want from an X-com, and in fact runs directly opposite to it in fundamental ways that aren’t changed with a DLC.

    • GuillaumeJ says:

      Just pre-order Xenonauts if you want to play it.
      I’m not sure about the settings, and I dislike the art direction for the tactical graphics, but UI/gameplay-wise, it seems to be a better x-com (1994) ( I did not play it long).

  34. Zogtee says:

    Meh, fix the fucking bugs and release the mod tools, then we’ll talk.

  35. huldu says:

    Meh… only so much you can do with a console title. It just lacks the proper depth it would have had as a full PC title. Just another linear, hand-holding story that tries to sell you that it’s all that and yet fails to deliver anything… *cough* XCOM Declassified *cough*

  36. dmastri says:

    Boring game gets boring xpac. Do yourself a favor and get xenonauts instead.

  37. ScorpionWasp says:

    None of the really important questions were asked:

    1 – Is it possible I’m the only freaking person alive who thinks the tactical game is completely and utterly broken on a fundamental level???? You always get the upper hand on the aliens, because regardless of which side stumbles on which, the aliens never get to do anything aggressive when they first meet you (bonus points if it was them who chanced upon your entire squad on overwatch, just to then have to endure your full turn of ass whooping afterwards). As a necessary logical consequence of that, you are encouraged to only move one soldier per turn and leave everyone on overwatch until you meet aliens, because that maximizes the amount of free headstart firepower you get on them. The problem is such “tactics” feel downright exploitative, cheesy and boring as hell. It’s an idiosyncratic mechanic that makes you feel dirty, like you’re making use of a bug. It makes the game pointless.

    How can we fix that? There are many ways, but the simplest, I reckon, would be to to set “stalemate resolution” mechanics to all missions. Both sides aren’t allowed to just camp and wait for the other to come at them so they can get the defender’s advantage. One side loses by default if the timer runs out. Terror missions already have that in that each turn you procrastinate, more civies die, and if too many die, you’re fucked. ALL missions should have similar mechanics. And before someone points to this new meld thing, no that won’t do. It’s optional. We need something to really FORCE mission resolution.

    2 – The AI can’t freaking deal with overwatch. Really, as it stands, they should call the ability “paralyze all non-melee units in place”, because that’s what it does. I’ve had 3 mutons endure a car explosion, because they were too terrified to run away from the flaming thing with my rookie and his basic assault rifle ready to open fire on one of them. When you blow aliens’ covers then set someone on overwatch, they just stand there doing nothing in the middle of nowhere (peculiarly enough, they don’t even fire back in this case, which makes me think this is a downright bug). Fix that bullshit.

    3 – After a certain point in the strategic game, it reaches a balance such that you can no longer lose. It becomes a matter of grinding until your inevitable victory. I never actually finished the game, because when I realized what was happening, it was pointless for me. Victory was a foregone conclusion, so why bother? That needs fixing too. You should be able to lose the game all the way to its bitter conclusion.

    I would appreciate if a non-casual, non sycophantic interviewer would ask about these issues next time.

    • Zogtee says:

      “I would appreciate if a non-casual, non sycophantic interviewer would ask about these issues next time.”

      This.

      I recently gave Iron Man another try and was put off by the number of glitches. Aliens spawning inside walls/doors, aliens glitching through walls, aliens spawning out of thin air right in front of you, etc.

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  39. Nim says:

    I’ll stay my judgement until I see the differences they have made to the strategic layer and the inceptions.