RPS Exclusive: XCOM – The First Interview

Around four months ago, I flew to San Francisco to see XCOM, 2K Marin/Australia’s remake of my favourite-ever videogame. Where once it was a turn-based strategy game, now it’s a first-person shooter. This upset one or two people. All that time, I’ve had to be quiet, despite my previews appearing in PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine UK – games publishers, I love you, but your print/online emargo split is just dark-ages idiocy.

Now, at frigging last, I can talk about it. There’s a preview over on Eurogamer as of right now, though I do advise picking up the PCG issue for more details still. Read at least one of previews first, then come back here, because I’m afraid I don’t have time today to re-describe the game in this post (but will definitely unfurl my thoughts about what I saw tomorrow). Back? Well, okay then. Below is a long interview from that showing in March, never before published, with three members of 2K Australia – Creative Director Jonathan Pelling, Art Director Andrew James, and Studio General Manager Anthony Lawrence. We talk about why it’s a shooter, why set it in the 50s, how it references the original, how it’s going to escalate and, yes, the possible fan reaction.

It’s a strange interview. Illuminating, guarded, amusing, awkward and out-and-out frustrating by turns. This is what happens when developers are forbidden from straying from the marketing line, and I’m really not convinced that anyone benefits from that sort of gag order. Plenty of detail and reasoning does emerge, however – plus they’re nice, smart guys, clearly passionate, and clearly dying to talk about their game even though their hands were often tied.

Important context: this interview was conducted back in March, mere seconds after I saw XCOM for the first time.

RPS: It’s fascinating waiting back there and hearing the conversations. “Oh my god it’s not turn-based, it’s a first-person shooter…” While it’s sad that it isn’t the same genre, I’m amazed anyone expected it to be. So – was it always going to be a shooter?

Jonathan Pelling, Creative Director: Absolutely. One of the great things about 2K is that we’re really good at making first-person shooters. We’ve got a lot of experience doing that and I think that provides a unique opportunity to present X-COM and everything that’s great about X-COM in a much more immersive and intimate environment. I think it’s going to create a new experience around the X-COM ethos.

We want to make first-person shooters, and coming off Bioshock we got a lot of momentum going. I think putting X-COM into the first person shooter is going to blow it up a little bit.

RPS: Is it the same engine as Bioshock, that Unreal 3 hybrid?

We’re using Unreal 3, it’s related but it’s not exactly the same engine.

RPS: So you’ve gone for the 50s setting – why’s that? Was that something that occurred naturally once you’d broken with the game’s past to a certain degree?

Yeah, the choice of the 50s was not about putting it into a specific time period. We don’t have a set date for when the events of the game occurred. It’s more that we wanted to create a beautiful, idealised world for players to explore, and to create a canvas to pain these strange creatures on. Creating this contrast between the horror of these beings and what is at stake. The 50s just lent themselves very well.

RPS: It’s hard not to see a bit of Bioshock in that.

I guess for us it’s more like the 50s of American advertising. Everything is pristine and beautiful, this is what life could or should be, whereas the infiltration of the aliens essentially destroys that. You’re invited into the immersive atmosphere of that, that beautiful era, and seeing the juxtapositions of these aliens, who are just making it not like it should be.

RPS: So, it’s a parable of the corruption of the American Dream? Or something.

You could put it like that.

RPS: Are you going for a conscious B-movie feel – the demo seemed to reference both the Blob and 2001. Not that 2001’s a b-movie, of course. But will the monsters generally be referencing Cold War/Red Terror films?

One of the things that we wanted to move away from was the kitsch or the expected with these creatures. We didn’t want to make a game about grey aliens, because part of the impact of seeing these aliens is that they’re not bipedal things walking around. It’s something completely different. Really you want to look at them, study them and explore them.

We want to create a genuine mystery that players are compelled to find more about. By creating a set of enemies loaded with preconceptions, that really undermines that. So these are just two examples of enemies in the game, and we’ve got a ride range of very original, innovative enemies to fight.

RPS: Are they quite thematically linked in terms of visuals, or will they be a loose collective of different species, as in the first game?

We can’t talk too much about the specifics of each one, but the overall approach, yes, we want to have consistency.

RPS: In terms of referencing the original X-COM, are you are going to leave most of the story stuff behind. I saw there were a few little references like the car was called the Interceptor, and stuff like that, but will we expect to see returning enemies or anything like that?

We’re forging a new mythology, but what we’re retaining is the core elements that made X-COM X-COM; the strategy, the base, the research, agents, all of those things being in charge, and dealing with this problem as you see fit. You are the one that’s driving the investigation, those elements remain but we want to create a new world with a new set of enemies that’s genuinely compelling for players to learn more about.

RPS: It’s definitely not a prequel?


RPS: What degree of control do you have over the other agents?

We can’t reveal too much at this stage, We’re real proud of the game. It’s really important to us that you feel strongly about the agents as you’re playing the game. But we can’t talk about that yet.

RPS: What are your influences for XCOM, outside of other games?

For us it’s all about capturing the feeling of the advertising of the period, it’s all about what the world could be. Our Art Director…more to the art influences and so on, I think we’re looking at J. C. Leyendecker and (oh, I’ve forgotten their names)…

RPS: Norman Rockwell?

Yes that’s the name that I was looking for. I think the Team Fortress guys are on to that as well…

RPS: Right, that much more stylised look rather than brown pseudo-photo-real.

Those guys have really influenced our style, the rich pallet, the simple shapes and broad sheets of light and the design of the characters as well. Very influenced by ?. So yeah, we’re just looking at aspects of the 50s as they were portrayed, the world as it should be. We’re trying to make people feel there was.

A world where people feel comfortable and everything is optimistic, feel that there is a great future ahead.

Hey, we were just talking about Rockwell and Leyendecker? [Waves over Andrew James, Art Director]

Andrew James: I guess when we were looking at creating the art style for the game, we looked at the American masters of the period, and a lot of 50s advertising and illustration, and we had people like J. C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell, and we were trying to create a similar world to what they create in their artwork, inspiration for innocent world of 50s Americana.

RPS: Did you ever toy with a fully stylised look, or did it always have to be believable despite those sort of elements?

We definitely did a lot of exploring with how far we could push that stylisation, but I guess we’re making a first person shooter, and there’s a certain kind of level of frugality that that genre requires.

RPS: Team Fortress 2 does something similar, but I guess you’re not going to capture creeping horror if you’ve got these cubist cartoon characters…

I think tension was one of the high level goals of the game, so our style had to support that tension, so couldn’t be too stylised or cartoony.

RPS: And how much are you going to push the sci fi element of the armour and weaponry? The oil bomb looked very homemade there.

The more you research the aliens, and the more we uncover about how they work and what their abilities are, then the more parts of those aliens will take on in the weaponry you use. At the start of the game it’s mostly human technology, just harnessing little parts of the alien abilities, but then as you do more and more research that weaponry advances and the things you can use to throw back against them improve…

Pelling: We want to try and maintain a very connected… maintain a juxtaposition in the weapons themselves, and that’s why you’ve got your human and period elements in the weapons, as well as the more exotic alien things.

RPS: I guess you’ll say you can’t talk about this yet, but in terms of people, are we going to see live humans and populated areas? It’s only been corpses so far, but obviously one of the extra factors to bear in mind in the original game was trying to complete the mission with minimal human casualties.

We can’t talk about that, unfortunately.

RPS: Well, it’s always good to at least not get a no. Similarly, and with the same expected response, will we progress beyond human environments at any point?

[Rueful laughter, then silence.]

RPS: Okay then. [Everyone is a bit flustered by this point.] In terms of mission structure, without going into detail if you can’t, will most of them follow similar beats to what you’ve shown today, or will we see plenty of diversity and varied challenges? I mean, is it random – will there be ones where almost nothing happens, others where it’s a wall-to-wall firefight?

Yeah. We want, um, a nice varied experience for the player but the er, the the the core of the experience is in the escalations of the encounters, when you get out in the field. As you saw in the demo, there’s quiet period where you get to investigate the scene a little bit, but then it starts to ramp up and you’ve got a few peaks and troughs and then it sort of gets more and more as you stay in there. Because that’s the dynamic that you try… you can leave a mission at any time, but the longer you stay, the more stuff you can obtain like research and other findings, but the stakes are also increasing so you’re faced with this filling one bucket with stuff and emptying the other bucket of health and ammo and everything else and the foes are getting stronger and eventually you have to evacuate.

Anthony Lawrence, Studio General Manager: One of the great things about putting it together is it’s all unpredictable. You don’t what’s going to turn up, how things are going to turn out. It could be different every single time, you don’t know where things are going to be coming from.

Pelling: That’s one of the core parts of the experience. The white-knuckle tension that you experience while you’re out in the field.

RPS: How is that escalation managed? Is each mission pretty much scripted, or because you’re picking those missions yourself and they can expire and disappear, is it procedurally generated each time?

There is a sort of dynamic level element. Can’t go into too many details right now, but the game is generally fairly unscripted. You’ll not be able to expect where these enemies are coming from or what you’ll encounter on any given scenario.

James: No two playthroughs are ever the same.

RPS: But presumably you’re doing some degree of management, so you don’t end up with those situations in the original X-COM where there’s just one little bastard hiding somewhere and it takes you hours of schlepping around to find him?

Oh, God, yeah. There was always something hiding in the corner of the barn behind the hay bales… That’s definitely not the experience we’re aiming for.

RPS: Will it escalate on a broader level, as the technology and the evidence mounts, the missions are going to be higher stakes?

We can speculate about that. Look at the demo there – we had an enemy that we could kill versus one that we couldn’t. Somewhere in between that, you know, there’s going to be stuff around…

RPS: Presumably you can kill that obelisk thing at some point?

Presumably. [Laughs].

RPS: That’s just the end of the game, isn’t it? X-COM is only 20 minutes long: exclusive! What about the destructibility of the environments – it’s another sacred cow for fans of the first game, and an element which very few of the unofficial remakes have pulled off. I noticed a lot of stuff was getting trashed in the demo, but was that purely aesthetic?

Pelling: Well. Can’t talk about too much [mutual sad laughter]. We do want the world to reflect the impact of your actions, and the actions of the creatures, so… Yeah, we can’t really talk about that too much.

James: One of the reasons behind the art style having not a lot of fine detail on some things, flat surfaces and flat colours, is so that when you do go in and the battles are off, you really transform things. Like that living room is absolutely trashed, and things get smashed, and everything goes to hell. So, yeah, we want to try and push the player’s impact on the world, and get the results of those battles as much as we can.

RPS: That map we saw in the demo – you said we saw maybe a third of it before the player had to run away?

Pelling: The environments in the game are quite expansive, and it’s up to you on any given field operation how much of the world you want to and can explore before you feel like you have to leave. But it’s very open-ended in terms of environment.

RPS: Are you generally going to hit a point where you absolutely have to leave, rather than just that you’ve seen or killed everything?

Well, you saw the dynamic we were setting up there. Can’t really talk about other examples. But…

Lawrence: It’ll be up to the player to choose, yeah, depending on what their goals are.

RPS: Just trying to think of questions that won’t get a Can’t Really Talk About That… Er.

James: [Laughs]. I do feel kinda bad about answering every question like that.

RPS: Are we going to get a period soundtrack? That seems to be the big thing for all these retro-set games, and especially 2K ones at the moment…

Pelling: We certainly want to reflect the era. Building a good sense of the 50s, certainly, we’re going to do a lot to make the player feel part of that world, so…

RPS: The car – is that purely a tool that loads the next level, or does it ever come into play more?

Er. Can’t really talk about it. [Laughs]

RPS: Aaargh. What can you talk about?

Anything in the demo.

RPS: Right. You can’t possibly no-comment this one. Can the other agents hats be shot off?

Currently they…. well… possibly. We can’t…

RPS: Oh God.

[Laughs] There’s a lot of things with the agents that we’re working on, but we can’t talk about that yet. We’re pretty excited about where we’re going with those guys.

RPS: Hats have to be shot off. That’s the best thing in any game, ever. Well, let’s talk about interactibility, which is a made up word but never mind. What can you do in those big environments apart from shoot aliens? There’s a lot of visual detail in there, after all – like the cakes on the side in the kitchen.

We can’t really… Um. Can’t really talk about that I suppose. [No laughs this time. From anyone.] Y’know, we’re trying to set up an experience where the player is under pressure at all times, so even when you’re not fighting you’re under pressure. I guess a thing to say is you wouldn’t want to create too much distraction outside of that core experience. Which is not to say that you won’t have it or whether we will, but we’re trying to create a really tense experience where the player is sweating at all times. So we don’t want to rip them out of that.

James: We’re trying to get that tension you had moving your guys around in the original game, we don’t want you to lose attention.

RPS: Going back to the base, I wasn’t sure how much you were doing as opposed to just watching. When you’re wandering around labs and the engineering, are you doing much there, or is it just seeing the progress of the NPCs?

Pelling: Those areas were closed off just because we don’t want to show them yet, but you are in command of this area, this whole base. We really want to make sure that you feel like that, so we’re doing whatever we can to make the player feel like he isn’t just a casual observer, and that he’s actually giving orders, setting directions, all these people are there to work for him. They’re all there to carry out his orders. That’s the experience that we’re trying to create. There’s going to be a lot to look at in the base. You’re at the top of the org chart, I suppose. You’ve got people like Dr Goldberg and Mal, who are your like seconds, you’ll be interacting with them, they’ll be interacting with their staff and all of the stuff will unfold.

RPS: What are you expecting the fan reaction will be? I realise a new audience is probably the main priority, but when this hits the internet people are going to have something to say – and a lot of them may be negative on principle.

I hope that it’s very positive. The series has been sort of fallow for a long time now, and I think what we want to do is pick up those key elements that defined the original X-COM as something that is remembered and we want to take those great things and present them in a new take. We want to push those elements into the first-person genre and get people excited about being on the ground during this invasion. I think, I hope the reaction is positive. I think it will be once people start to see the kinds of things that we’re doing. I look forward to hearing what the fans have to say.

RPS: They may just be glad that it’s not Enforcer 2.

That’s why we are really trying to capture the essence, returning to the source, because those were the things that were cool. Diverging off that path I think would be a mistake. And it was a mistake. Y’know. Arguably.

RPS: Have you worked at all with the Gollop brothers, the original creators of X-COM?

[Pelling shakes head. Serious looks all round.]

RPS: So this is billed as 2K Marin game but you guys are from 2K Australia? So whose game is this?

Lawrence: 2K Marin is essentially the studio name. So there is two studios called 2K Marin, one of them happens to be in Canberra. We’ve worked closely together through Bioshock 2, so it’s not exactly a new establishment, the two studios being apart but working as one.

RPS: Are 2K China involved at all?

Lawrence: Yeah. We work with a lot of 2K studios. 2K China is just one of those studios.

RPS: Thanks for your time.


  1. Dood says:

    And here we go again.

    • Baka says:

      I, for one, will read the article before commenting.

    • Dood says:


    • Unaco says:

      I actually skipped the whole article and came to the comments. I need a laugh after the day I’ve had.

    • Rocket Baby Dolls says:

      So… It’s set 50 years before the first game and isn’t a prequel. They’re completely ignoring the original mythology and making their own up…

      Why is this classed as a UFO series game then if it has nothing at all to do with the original series apart from having aliens in it?

  2. Choca says:

    Putting the word EXCLUSIVE everywhere only makes you sound untrustworthy when you put “this looks awesome” next to an XCOM trailer.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Its used once.

    • Alec Meer says:

      He’s right. Being excited about something and running an interview on it is a clear sign of corruption. Millions, they paid us.

    • bhlaab says:

      Well it is suspicious that you put that next to a trailer that was totally not awesome at all.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I tell you what actually *is* awesome: How rich I am from all this corruption. It’s incredible. I can barely move for all the money.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Jim: can you spare some? I’d like to buy Napoleon and Warband, but I’m broke. :(

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Too busy shopping for islands, sorry.

    • Dood says:

      You could buy Sealand and make it into RPSland.

    • ShaunCG says:

      I find I struggle to trust what people say when they are saying mind-bogglingly stupid things.

      A frustrating interview, anyway – interesting, but very sparse.

    • Nick says:

      Its probably the solid gold cowboy boots, Jim, heavy stuff.

    • Bret says:

      So, what are the standard bribary rates, anyway?

      Lets say I want, oh, John to say I’m an alright chap. How much would that cost, relative to having Kieron say the same thing?

    • Gritz says:

      Maybe instead of snarky comments about bribery RPS writers can actually tell us why they think this game is awesome.

      When you post an interview that’s just straight PR and express unexplained enthusiasm for a trailer that pretty much everyone else thought was boilerplate mediocrity then people are going to be suspicious. Gamers have been burned by bad journalism over and over again, and I suspect fatigue over shady journalism is why a lot of people have turned to RPS instead of the big sites.

      Please justify this game to us, or at least your enthusiasm for it.

    • jalf says:

      Maybe instead of snarky comments about bribery RPS writers can actually tell us why they think this game is awesome.

      link to eurogamer.net

      Of course there was the GamesRadar article by Alec too, which mysteriously disappeared. But it existed, and some of us read it. And the PC Gamer feature. I’m sure you can find scans/copies of both if you look.

      It’s not like Alec just said “hey, this is going to be awesome” without ever saying another word about the game. He’s actually written quite a bit about it. Perhaps you should read it if you want to know why he’s excited.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      You know, Jim, maybe if you removed one of your solid gold diamond encrusted hats from your head that you bought with your meeeelliion dollars, you would find it easier to get up.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Alec’s PC Gamer feature is now up officially on the web: link to pcgamer.com

    • Choca says:

      “He’s right. Being excited about something and running an interview on it is a clear sign of corruption. Millions, they paid us.”

      Tell me they didn’t ask you to keep that shiny “2K Marin explains XCOM” header for a certain amount of time on top of your website to justify this “exclusivity” and I’ll show you someone lying.

    • Alec Meer says:

      They didn’t ask us to keep that shiny “2K Marin explains XCOM” header for a certain amount of time on top of our website to justify this “exclusivity.”

      Websites display their biggest content prominently in order to get hits. Websites need hits to live. There’s your conspiracy.

    • Vinraith says:

      How great would it be if they DID pay RPS millions to run an interview in which they dodged more than half the questions? I mean, really? Millions buys a lot of obscure game coverage.

    • jalf says:

      Websites display their biggest content prominently in order to get hits. Websites need hits to live. There’s your conspiracy.

      Gasp! He admitted it! There’s a conspiracy!

      You should be ashamed, conspiritating like that.

    • Jimbo says:

      Of course if you were going to sell out for an interview it would definitely be this one. This is like the Frost / Nixon of video game interviews.

    • lhzr says:

      This conspiracy sounds wonky.

  3. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    I always thought Rock Paper Shotgun was a blog onto itself.
    Instead, we have to go buy source material to study, or their partner site to get the information.

    Cop on. :P

    • Alec Meer says:

      I simply don’t have time to type another 1500 word article today. My hands are like tiny broken twigs.

    • DXN says:

      @Peter Radiator Full Pig:

      Yeah, Alec’s preview already complements (exceeds, actually) the interview perfectly well so I don’t think more is needed just for the sake of extra RPSivity. It seems like 2K are forcing us to pretty much rely only on the information in that demo/preview anyway so there’s not much more to be said.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Well, then, will RPS no longer review a game because it was done somewhere else?
      Will they only have breaking news, as long as they are the first to break it?

      I hope they wont, I want RPS to do RPS stuff, regardless of what other people are doing, have done, or plan to do.

      As for the linked article, prehaps i read it wrong, but to me it read like a text version of the trailer.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I do not have time to write another preview today. That is all.

    • Clovis says:

      @PFRP: What are you talking about? The site has always worked this way. If RPS have written an article somewhere they point to it. Why is that a problem? Sometimes they’ll add more special RPS only material because, you know, those proper sites wouldn’t allow such nonsense.

    • Doug F says:

      PRFP, are you new here or simply looking really hard for something to complain about? The RPS writers linking to work they’ve done for other sites is in no way new or unprecedented.

  4. Zyrxil says:

    “We can’t talk about it” seems to be the theme there. Pardon me if that doesn’t mollify my complaints of Black Goo as a major enemy. Yeah, that really has personality. Don’t get me started about the Bioshock Camera type “research”. Rossignoollllllll! /Kirck

    • Zyrxil says:

      Gdamnit, I can’t believe we’re back to no edit button land.

    • Bret says:

      Well, research also seems to involve handing loot over to sciency types and prioritizing, like in classic X-Com. So, that could be nice.

    • Ed says:

      I would reply, but I can’t talk about it right now.

    • Tacroy says:

      Yeah I totally hated how those stupid worms and headcrabs were the primary enemy in X-Com: Apocalypse, and the “primary enemy” never changed at all!

  5. Daniel Rivas says:

    We can’t talk about this right now.

  6. Arsewisely says:

    Marketing. Sigh.

  7. CMaster says:

    I’m reading most of the “we can’t talk about that yet” as “we haven’t decided how/don’t know if we can do it yet”.
    I like the idea that base management isn’t done via a menu, but by actual going and giving orders to people etc. Could be quite fun if it’s done well.
    I really, really can’t foresee good destructible scenery in a UE3 game.

    We shall see. They’ve got the idea of a good game there, yeah. But neither this interview or the trailer has convinced me that these guys actually can pull it off.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      To be honest, I’d rather they do not talk about things that aren’t final yet instead of getting another Spore.
      Instead of being hyped for this game, I’m looking forward to it – and that’s all I need.

    • CMaster says:

      Well, I think the agent control this particularly is one that they can’t talk about because they don’t really know yet. That’s fine, NPC control in a helpful way is difficult and a problem that is likely best solved through a lot of iteration. I wasn’t complaining as much as observing (and pointing out that to an extent “we can’t tell you” is a way of making themselves look clever and further through the process than they actually are).

      My concern is that I don’t think a UE3 shooter built on a Bioshocky base (and the trailer looked really quite Bioshock like, especially when the PC throws the fire bombs around) is going to produce a particularly good tactical game. I think sadly the “run or shoot” might be as deep as it gets. (Maybe some kind of elemental weakness thing as well?)

  8. RJ says:

    AKA, we don’t want to keep any of the original games, but can’t get away with saying that. It’s not even X-COM in name only. Why don’t they just bill it as an X-files prequel and be done with it?

  9. robrob says:

    Alec, now that you’re free to talk about the game, can you say what you’ve seen that makes you hopeful about it? The interview references a demo – can you say what happened in the demo? I am guessing it has more than the trailer since the interview mentions the base, the car and research.

  10. bhlaab says:

    “A parable of the corruption of the American Dream”

    How pedestrian can you get?

    • bhlaab says:

      What we want to do is to go back and look at all the things that made X-Com cool to begin with, and then ignore them. The gameplay? Check. The setting? Gone. The basic idea of a global network of player-built bases fighting off alien forces? Who needs it. What we’re really doing is boiling the series down to its essence– an essence that was there from the very beginning, when we came up with it a couple months ago. I mean, everybody played X-Com for the story and character interactions. And that’s what we’re doing.

    • jalf says:

      I don’t know, to me, the “global network of bases” wasn’t exactly the key concept of X-COM. It was part of the games, yes, but it was hardly the core mechanic, was it? I mean, first, it made no difference gameplay-wise whether you had 1 or 5 bases (apart from having more space to build structures in, and having better radar coverage), and second, you played a significant chunk of the game with just one base.

      Which just means that as far as I’m concerned, your idea of X-COM is just as far away from the original games as XCOM is. The difference, they’ve got a trailer to show for their vision. ;)

    • Nick says:

      I only ever had one base and completed both UFO and got verrrrrry close with TFTD multiple times..

    • Bret says:

      My most recent game had two bases. One in the US full of badasses in power armor with more luck than anyone expects from X-Com, and a European base that had everyone dying all the time when taking on tiny scouts.

      It was almost an act of mercy when the Mutons exploded it.

      So, yeah. Global’s there, but not the most central thing.

    • bhlaab says:

      My point with the global thing is that this game is very specifically local and American-specific which clashes with a fundamental idea of the original.

  11. Suprore says:

    I feel mutual embarrassment and discomfort for you guys after reading all of those ‘can’t comment’ and flat or disappointing answers to questions.

    Also needs more flying suits.

  12. teo says:

    Sorry I can’t comment on this article right now

  13. Gritz says:

    Nothing new here.

  14. Tei says:

    I am going to play this game, roleplaying as inspector Columbo. I know is not from the 50s, but I like the timming he put on things.

    The best thing from the interview, is that the maps seems unscripted. Hell.. I would hate to lose this thing from X-Com, and get a very small set of scripted mission. I am happy XCOM is not that.

    • BonusWavePilot says:

      @Tei: “Well, I think that’ll be all, Mr Vexorg the Destroyer… Oh, one more thing…” (Turns and whips a BFG from under his dishevelled raincoat).

    • Bret says:

      I’m probably calling my lead agent Mansley, even if you can’t rename him.

      Paranoia, blaming it all on Soviets, arrogance, and hatred of the Iron Giant will be the rule of the day!

  15. Shon says:

    It is a strange interview when the only thing that can really confirm is that yes, you will be shooting blobs.
    I really want to like this. I get that t has to be a FPS. I am delighted that it is set in the 50’s. But man, they are not building up any trust with these answers.

  16. Taillefer says:

    What did they have for breakfast?

    I’m pleased that we don’t know everything about how we’re treating the agents. As it sounded like they just followed you around and got in the way, previously. Also, did you witness any spreading fire? Setting things on fire is fun.

  17. Dominic White says:

    This interview pretty much tells us as little as the trailer did, which is sad. There’s almost no real info to go on, so, again, unable to pass judgement (unlike the clairvoyants who apparently make up 95% of the internet). The one thing I did pick out of that is that the level that was demoed was large and non-linear, and they only got to see a small portion of it before being forced to retreat.

    That’s a good sign.

    • Dood says:

      That’s pretty much the most promising thing for me. Fighting against an unknown and overwhelming enemy againt all odds really captures the spirit of the earlier X-COM games. Let’s just hope it stays that way throughout the game.

  18. Skusey says:

    Usually I like to think of interviews of being fun gossipy chats but that reads like it was a miserable PR thing.

  19. Alexander Norris says:

    There is a sort of dynamic level element. Can’t go into too many details right now, but the game is generally fairly unscripted. You’ll not be able to expect where these enemies are coming from or what you’ll encounter on any given scenario.

    James: No two playthroughs are ever the same.

    So it’s officially a new X-Com game, and hopefully all the obsessive nay-sayers can shut up and at least wait until the press gets previews before slagging it off for trying something differ-

    Ah, who am I kidding? They’re just going to spawn another 300+ post comment thread bitching about how it isn’t an exact remake of Enemy Unknown.

  20. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Press release disguised as a interview. The amount of details they cant release is insane.

    This is a gem, though:

    “We want to […] get people excited about being on the ground during this invasion”

    What previous X-Com game were they playing where they werent excited to be on the ground?

    Remember the classic ‘What if there are chrysalid on this level?’
    ‘How many are behind the alien door?’

    Or how about sending in your Ensign Ricky with a cattle prod trying to stun someone in the game, great times. Or when you turn to look around with some spare AP to see an alien in the corner, and be unable to react.

    I was excited to be on the ground in X-Com. So its not a new take.

    This press release, and their answers to some questions make it just seem like they are cashing in on the title.

    Which says nothing about the quality of the game, its just annoying. Like the fact that the new Star Wars films dont really make the old ones worse, except that they do.

    • Uhm says:

      “Remember the classic […] Ensign Ricky with a cattle prod[…], great times. […] I was excited to be on the ground.”

  21. Pew says:

    I only needed to hear about the bases and research again. Not that I ever played the old games without money cheats as a kid…. (the shame!).

    Put me in the “this helps me forget the trailer a bit” camp.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Shame indeed.
      Money cheats are next to useless, when you consider how much money you make from just constantly producing laser rifles.
      As in, a basic base would be hangars, radar, place for men, LASER PRODUCTION!.

    • Pew says:

      What can I say? It was “that IDDQD phase” is my only, pathetic, defense.

    • Bret says:

      Money cheats?


      Money glitches to save millions are fine, though.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      You can make 3 times more money manufacturing Motion Scanners instead of Laser Rifles. They sell for 5k less per unit but they build in almost half the time.

      Laser Cannons are the most profitable human-tech manufacturable item (13k more per unit than Laser Rifles & 25% faster build time) but if you’ve got Alien Alloys to spare as most people inevitably do, build Fusion Ball Launchers instead (same build time as Laser Rifles but 23k more per unit) once you’ve researched the tech.

      As far as early game research limitations go (as in you’ve researched some stuff but not others) the best human-tech items to manufacture for cash are in descending order:

      Fusion Ball Launchers > Laser Cannons > Laser Tanks > Motion Scanners > Medikits > Laser Rifles > Laser Pistols.

  22. DarthBenedict says:

    Kind of sad that this game had to get a completely unrelated license attached. Bioshock did well enough without being called Commander Keen.

    • Dood says:

      Bioshock is the sequel to System Shock, a Sci-Fi-RPG which had extensive charakter customisation and a full inventory, while Bioshock was a shooter with some simple RPG elements. See the similarity?

  23. geldonyetich says:

    Well, at did at least pick up a sliver of new knowledge in terms of base operations.

    It’s going to be a long wait until the 2011 release.

    • Gritz says:

      That “sliver of knowledge” we got implies that base functions are handled by talking to a handful of NPC’s. “The feeling of being the one in control” is not the same as actually controlling.

  24. talon03 says:

    I’d like to tell you what I make of this preview, but unfortunately, I can’t talk about it right now.

  25. WiPa says:

    I can’t talk about this.

  26. Jimbo says:

    Was this really at a press event?

    *Raises Eyebrow of Skepticism*

  27. FunkyBadger says:

    Mad Men meets, well, crazy aliens?

    Does that work?

    • George says:

      more like Mad Men meets the Blob and the 2001 monolith. It might work, I like all those things, but I have doubts…this game seems to be too well protected by PR bullshit. The whole “We can’t talk too much about the specifics” and “Can’t really talk about it.” really smells like a game made by commitee, with every design decision still in the approval stage of said commitee.

  28. Captain Bland says:

    Wow. It would be great if you could meet up again with these guys a few months from release and ask these questions again. It must have been incredibly frustrating to be on either side of this interview. It’s sad that the publisher wants to keep the team tied up like this, most of the fun of these interviews is seeing everyone involved get excited about the project and wander off the beaten track.

  29. pilouuuu says:

    I’m quite glad that they didn’t give us too much information because maybe it’s a hint that the game has plenty of good surprises. Would you like that someone revealed all the info about Bioshock before playing it? That or maybe they still have no idea how to make the game, so that fans of the original don’t chase them with torches full of rage.

  30. Psychopomp says:

    Still not a turn-based strategy game?

    Still annoyed.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      You’re terrible at being a human being, Ian.

    • Psychopomp says:

      It’s not a matter of this game being good or not. I will readily admit it may be fantastic.

      It’s a matter of the X-Com I know and love is now dead. X-Com is now another fucking shooter. There will never be another X-Com like the originals. The closest we will get is fan-remakes, and fan-sequels. Odds are, they’ll be awful, or will never be finished.

      So, why does X-Com need to be a shooter? Believe it or not, there is a constantly starving turn based strategy market out there. There’s roughly two good TBS a year, and all the popular ones play so different, that the label “TBS” is never a sufficient explanation. This genre has a fanbase full of people constantly willing to try something new.

      You just don’t pump millions and millions of dollars into making one. No, then you have to get the fratboys, and the kids. You put them on a handheld. A good TBS, with a semi-decent amount of advertising is nearly guaranteed to do well on a handheld. Why? We are fucking starving. 90% of the genre is pure crap, and unlike your precious shooters, that doesn’t leave two or three a month that are good.

      So, with that said, anyone who thinks expecting a new X-Com to be a TBS was silly has no clue what they’re talking about.

    • CMaster says:

      I seem to remember Brad Wardell saying something to that effect a while ago.
      That everybody has got so obsessed with chasing and fighting for the mainstream, they’ve forgotten there are dozens of niches out there, some of which are quite big and almost all of which have lower piracy rates and less competition. But as in most elements of human endeavour, the majority of developers end up going along with whatever everybody else is doing.

    • Vinraith says:


      I can only agree. This notion that there’s no money to be made from a turn based strategy game is very strange to me, especially in light of the upcoming releases of Civ 5 and Elemental. Ultimately, though, it’s a fact of the industry we’re just going to have to accept: most AAA developers don’t want money from non-shooter fans. There are, at least, some smaller (more sensible) houses out there building X-Com like games, even if they can’t afford the name.

    • Jesse says:

      This type of reaction from the “fanbase” is doing more to sully the idea of X-Com in my mind than anything a remake or sequel could do.

    • Lacero says:


      You’ve obviously not played enforcer

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Psychopomp: buy a DS – or even a PSP. You’re right, tere are plenty of games there – or go the indie route. I despair of ever seeing another big-budget PC, or XBox game that isn’t a man-with-gun shooter, a racing game or as sports sim.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      CMaster: it’s not even really a question of niche. How many units have the various flavours of Pokemon shifted?

    • Sobric says:

      I’ve heard the “when was it ever not going to be a shooter” line a few times from various sources and I’ll freely admit that it’s just about the only thing I find uncomfortable about this whole x-com “fiasco”.

      I’m a huge FPS fan. In fact it’s my genre of choice. The fact that x-com will be a shooter doesn’t bother me. Doesn’t excite me a whole lot (other things do however) either. It’s the assumption that it wasn’t going to be anything but a shooter that really gets me down, because it really highlights how unadventurous mainstream developers are increasingly becoming.

      I’m not going to mention “consoles” or “dumbing down” because I don’t believe those arguments hold water; I do think that the FPS, as a genre, is stagnating. We’ve reached a certain nadir in terms of graphics, and smaller peaks in terms of gunplay, storytelling, physics, multi-player etc but I feel that nothing is really pushing the genre yet.

      There are some (Brink’s approach to multiplayer for example; Portal’s mad puzzles) that show promise, but the FPS has lost a certain amount of edginess over the last decade. Now, X-com might address that, we can’t really guess at that yet, but there’s not much on the horizon that I feel will really push the envelope (part of the reason I think HL3/Ep3 has been delayed – not enough innovation for Valve to be happy with).

      To conclude: 2k’s, and other developers’ default move towards the FPS genre, not only makes their games less exciting (to me) from an initial hype/marketing standpoint, but also stagnates the overall development of the FPS genre, as too many mechanics become “the norm” and nothing adventurous/unprofitable is attempted.

      *fishes out 2 pence and throws it on the table*

    • Psychopomp says:

      The problem, Badger, is that nothing else plays quite like X-Com, just like nothing else plays like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, or Disgaea.

  31. Corporate Dog says:

    Sounds like there MIGHT still be some squad-control elements. Certainly there sounds like some sort of base-building element.

    And while I think I’m one of the more flexible fanboys, “We didn’t want to make a game about grey aliens.” makes me shout for the 500 zillionth time, “Then why did you tackle the X-Com license?!?”

    • Gritz says:

      I didn’t get any impression that there was a base building aspect to this game. There is apparently “base management”, but their description of it makes it sound like it’s handled through conversations with NPC subordinates.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Possibly. Could be a base-management mini-game abstracted into a Burger Time clone for all we know, based on all the very useful information they revealed.

  32. Alec Meer says:

    FYI: really unpleasant comments in this thread will be wiped without mercy on sight. Intelligently criticise the game/interview all you like, but don’t be a sweary mindless rage-horror about it. Debate, not screaming, please.

    • CMaster says:

      Question – do you feel, Alec, that to some extent the debate on RPS has taken the course it has, specifically because you broke the news to us with an excited “X-COM is back!” post, followed by a post describing just how important UFO:Enemy Unknown was to you and as a gaming milestone? Especially as you would appear to have known what was being produced was something quite different even at the time?
      Jim for example was extolling in one thread to separate the fact that the game may be interesting from the “branding exercise”, yet so much of the RPS coverage has seemed tied to the very same “branding exercise”.

    • Alec Meer says:

      No. It’s taken the path it has because XCOM is a first-person shooter. I’d prefer it was TBS too, but not to the extent that I violently can’t abide its existence or that I’m immune to excitement about what it might to do to at least partially revisit something I love.

    • CMaster says:

      I won’t disagree with you that lots of people were going to react badly to the very idea. (Personally for the record, I like the idea – I thought X-COM:Alliance sounded brilliant. I’m not so sure this game will work). But you don’t think that going “LOOK EVERYBODY NEW X-COM!” and then showing them something that doesn’t look anything like X-COM beyond the jump is encouraging a bigger backlash? Because it looks an awful lot to me like it would.

      (Not that I’m trying to tell you what to post or how. And I do love RPS as it is generally. Just that some of the sneering at anything branded “AIM” gets a bit tiresome).

    • Alec Meer says:

      So we shouldn’t report about interesting new games? Or is that we should only do it whilst wailing and gnashing teeth, regardless of whether we happen to be genuinely intrigued?

      No sneering or mention of AIMs here – just deletion of absurdly rude comments, so we have a community rather than a bearpit.

    • Eightball says:

      Let’s see more coverage of Xenonauts then. They’ll probably give better interviews, too.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Oh, there will be. No question about that.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, right now we know even less about Xenonauts than XCom. There’s been some rough design concepts put forward, and some concept art, but apparently the developers won’t be showing any screenshots/footage for another month or two.

      It’s not hypocritical to not have reams of coverage on it, because there’s nothing to cover yet. At the moment, there are abandoned ModDB projects with more public resources to go over.

      I’m very interested in it, though.

    • CMaster says:

      Wasn’t saying anything about the deletion of comments – I jumped in here as it seemed a sensible point to do so. Moderation of these comment threads isn’t something I have any opinion on. If they’re going “2K eat babies and deserve to die” then delete away.

      What I was saying is when articles like this seem to declare “X-COM is returning in a ray of light from the heavens” followed by showing something which seems to be a radical departure from what made the original so great to a lot of people is only going to feel a lot like getting set up just to be knocking back down again, to breed resentment where there might naturally have been less. “2K making an intriguing tweak to the FPS genre, XCOM name attached” might be a way to see different reactions,
      Of course, maybe I’m completely wrong, and the legions of ultra-conservative gamers would crop up with the same comment time and time again regardless.

      And as I said before, far be it for me to tell you what to post on the UK’s biggest PC gaming site. I’ll happily defer to the experience of actual games journalists there. I was asking a question rather than presuming to tell you what to do.

      Erm, I’m really not looking for a fight, just saying.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Time for point/counterpoint on XCOM, by the black zombie from Land of the Dead and Ed from Shawn of the Dead.

      Good afternoon, gentlemen. Now first off, what did you think of the trailer, black zombie?
      I see. And Ed?
      (Repeat Ad Nauseum)

    • Bret says:

      I dunno. Ed has a point.

  33. PleasingFungus says:

    RPS: Right. You can’t possibly no-comment this one. Can the other agents hats be shot off?
    Currently they…. well… possibly. We can’t…
    RPS: Oh God.

    Best of all possible interviews?

    (I’m really looking forward to this game. For the record.)

  34. pkt-zer0 says:

    I am amazed anyone expected Civilization 5 to be a turn-based strategy game. Starcraft 2 being an RTS is also one of the more unexpected things to happen.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Personally, I thought Starcraft 2 was going to be a Facebook game featuring farming.

    • Eightball says:

      Both Civ 5 and SC2 will probably fail because they aren’t FPSs and you know non-FPS games don’t sell.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Direct sequel ≠ reboot of dead franchise for new audience.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      So, Street Fighter 4, then? Also not an FPS.

      I’m not sure how reboot implies a new audience, either.

    • Alec Meer says:

      There have been endless Street Fighter games – it’s been niche, but it’s never been dead. Additionally, X-COM, before its long slumber, repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) tried to change genre to win a new audience. It’s always been about shooting monsters, too.

      Again – I’d have loved it to have been a TBS. Hurts less when you accept it was never going to be, trust me.

    • bhlaab says:

      Why reboot a dead franchise for a new audience? If you want to reboot a dead franchise why would you want a new audience? If you want a new audience why reboot a dead franchise?

    • Aegeri says:

      I have to agree entirely with CMaster. When I saw headlines that said “The return of X-Com” what popped into my head wasn’t an FPS game that seems to have utterly nothing to do with X-Com whatsoever. The immense disappointment that caused in me probably set everything afterwards that I’ve argued.

    • Nick says:

      That’s always been the sticking point with me too, I mean surely the value of an old franchise is in its existing fanbase.. isn’t that the safety net? A built in audience? Maybe I just don’t understand business.

    • Vinraith says:


      I have to assume we both don’t understand something about the industry, because I’m with you. What is the point of a remake that appears to be specifically designed to put off old fans of the game? I mean, they seem to sell fine, but I don’t understand the naming logic at all.

    • Uhm says:

      Well if they hadn’t called it XCOM, everybody would be describing it as an FPS crossed with XCOM.
      (Yes, yes, except you)

    • Muzman says:

      Re: the originality discussion. It’s also easier to sell a concept to investors if its not entirely original. “Why will this work?” ” Because its elements have worked before, Plus! We’re making it new and exciting for today”
      No investment pitch is ever answering “How unique and experimental and original is this sinkhole for our millions?”
      I would imagine it’s also easier to get your creative team excited and focussed for reworking a classic than it is being R&D for disparate novel concepts or merely recreating something as accurately as possible.
      Very few companies are Valve-like.

    • Anonymousity says:

      The people who should have this ip in their hands, the people who made sins of a solar empire and the like, are off making interesting new ips. The people that should really be making an interesting new ip are making a “reboot” of an old one. Why does every game have to be re-imagined as an fps, if your game is compelling enough just use elements from the old game next time.

  35. Kid A says:

    They seem to largely be saying “Eh, dunno” a lot, which is worrying if they’re really pushing for an early 2011 release (correct me if I’m wrong on that). Also, the fact that when asked about doing anything other than shooting blobs would appear, they basically said “uhm… ah… well… we want to keep tension…” doesn’t sound great. But hey, maybe they’re just trying to keep their cards close to their chest. If this veil of “uhm, ah, maybe, can’t say yet” is still being maintained in 6 months time? Then I’ll worry. Until then, I’m happy to give them the benefit of the doubt, and that corporate paymasters are forcing them to STFU.

  36. erik says:

    Seems very strange to me that this development team was chosen. Of course 2K Marin would make a FPS, that’s what they do — but why would anyone tap them to revive a franchise like X-COM? I know this is a dead horse, but it’s just a mismatch of talent and source material. Since this game is riding the same wave that Mad Men is at the crest of, let’s imagine Matthew Weiner and his creative staff got fired before the fourth season. How would people react if you brought on Michael Bay and his team to revive that show?

    I’m concerned about the developer’s focus on having these aliens be ALIEN, foreign and threatening. That mindset says to me they’re focusing on that first playthrough, when I felt the old X-COMs strength was replayability. Research is only exciting when you’re studying the unknown — by the time we’re on our 3rd playthrough, these tar slick enemies will be just as familiar as a sectoid, which Pelling spurns in an answer.

    Also, isn’t it a little troubling that the game’s creative director couldn’t recall Norman Rockwell’s name?

    • BeamSplashX says:

      It might’ve just been a temporary lapse in memory that’s long enough for someone else to jump in and finish the thought. The interview was pretty flowing, so it’s not impossible. Alec certainly doesn’t need to time the pauses; the interview was awkward enough as it is.

      I once forgot the name of my favorite New Order song for a few seconds. Am I a bad man?!

  37. Helm says:

    “Yeah. We want, um, a nice varied experience for the player but the er, the the the core of the experience is in the escalations of the encounters, when you get out in the field. As you saw in the demo, there’s quiet period where you get to investigate the scene a little bit, but then it starts to ramp up and you’ve got a few peaks and troughs and then it sort of gets more and more as you stay in there. Because that’s the dynamic that you try… you can leave a mission at any time, but the longer you stay, the more stuff you can obtain like research and other findings, but the stakes are also increasing so you’re faced with this filling one bucket with stuff and emptying the other bucket of health and ammo and everything else and the foes are getting stronger and eventually you have to evacuate.”

    This is a potential disaster. Artificially linear escalation is contrary to the spirit of X-com, really.

    In X-com, you chose when you had to bail although you knew there were finite numbers of aliens in the map. It didn’t make things any less stressful, in fact, more because you knew the stakes and risks and had to make INFORMED DECISIONS. What they’re suggesting above is constant threat scaling related to how much time you spend on the map. You can’t make informed decisions because you cannot calculate the odds and read the signs about alien activity. As much as they like to make fun of the ‘one alien hidden in the haystack’ (more an AI problem than anything, and one easily amended even without AI changes, just by making the map default win when there’s only one alien left or 10% of the aliens left or whatever) at least in X-com when you took a couple of turns and nobody attacked you/hidden movement was fast, you knew you were nearing the end of the map. What could be left could be an Etherial or a Cryssalid, but you could make INFORMED DECISIONS based on the feedback of the in-game actos *and* the UI.

    Way to take something that works amazingly and making it broken by ‘fixing’ it.

    • Tei says:

      I don’t know how it will run. But I can imagine two progress bar [====Science====] and [===Strees===] (I am just making things up)… stress can get high, killing blobs, accidentally killing civilians, the more stress, the stronger enemies. You need to kill some blobs to get data. Science is how much data you collect, by examining and killing things. Your mission is to get as much science as possible, with as less stress as possible. A big stress level, lots of people dead, and you almost don’t get money from the mission. It can work like that, or something similar, so even if is not The original XCom balance, It can be A balance.

    • Stijn says:

      I just love how many different descriptions of “the spirit of X-COM” I’ve seen so far in the RPS comment threads.

    • Helm says:

      Risk/reward analysis, squad tactics, bigger picture world strategy, management of resources, research and development. These are broad strokes of the X-com experience. Risk/reward worked as I explained it, you can put a different system of risk/reward in an X-com game and still have it be identifiably X-com, but the other X-com parts much complement it. The timer limit is like taking an RPG and making all enemies auto-level with you (remember Oblivion?) You’re negating the essence of stat progression.

      Not to speak of the psychological effect of never letting (until the end of the game where they have the best tech, I presume) ‘win’ a ground encounter since they always have to bail while more enemies are pouring in. X-com was bleak and you had to cut your losses sometimes, but usually you lost a lot of troops and carried the flag home at the end of the day. Here’s the reverse from what we’ve seen, few squaddies and artificially dictated ‘you can not win’ encounters.

    • Psychopomp says:

      People need to stop talking about “squad tactics,” Jim’s original article months back explicitly states there’s no squad control. They are nothing but CPU controlled redshirts.

  38. Eightball says:


  39. Turin Turambar says:

    Useless interview.

    Only decent part: “but the game is generally fairly unscripted.”

  40. jeremypeel says:

    I appreciate this must have been a pretty frustrating experience on both sides; all involved seem enthusiastic about what they’re doing but clearly there was a malevolent unseen publishing presence in the room. On the whole, I’m excited about what we’ve heard of the game, and most of the We Can’t Talk About That silences actually seem to point towards the existence of elements that will please the hardcore, including myself: non-linearity, lack of scripting, tension, focus on research… Maybe those elements simply aren’t decided on yet and I’d rather hear nothing than hear speculation as truth, but it does seem like 2K’s press people are shooting themselves in the foot here. Kudos to Alec, making the best of what could only ever be a stunted conversation with great questions.

  41. Vandelay says:

    “RPS: It’s hard not to see a bit of Bioshock in that.”

    I disagree. Bioshock may have been set in the 50s, but its art style was from the 30s. In fact, that is even spelled out in the plot, as it was an ideal vision of the world when Rapture was created. So, X-COM doesn’t really look like Bioshock at all.

    It looks great though.

    I don’t agree with their comment about being good at shooters though. Bioshock did many things right, but the shooting was not one of them.

    When I was watching the trailer for this a few days ago, I was enjoying it right up until I saw the rather dull looking combat. I was hoping this game would be keeping combat down to the absolute minimum and focusing on your characters being weak against the aliens. Obviously, the humans would have to get progressively stronger, but the trailer showed a lot of blasting.

    Still, I’m hopeful for this. Never played X-COM and don’t really have much interest in trying it, so I have no problem with them stealing the name. They appear to be trying to make something different and I think the majority of us will be applauding them for doing so.

    • CMaster says:

      Maybe it will change.
      In the original, early encounters (such as the trailer seems to show) involved piling numerous soldiers into one room and all unloading shot after shot into the aliens (and the walls, due to your incompetent troops). Later operations would be a lot more precise and military, as you had the gear and experienced troops to pull it off.
      That said, Bioschocky combat doesn’t seem like it would inspire tactical military-esque action, but we shall see.

  42. toni says:

    so how is this interview gonna win me over with its “we cant, we haven’t, we don’t, we think” ? mediocre. not the game, mind you, haven’t seen anything yet besides some shooting – which looks pretty retarded. but I reserve my final judgement.

  43. Aegeri says:

    I’m pretty disappointed overall in what I’ve read about the game. I can’t understand why they need to use the X-Com name for this at all, they could have made an entirely original IP and it would be just the same.

    The interview itself is actually really bad as well because it didn’t answer anything that hadn’t already been gone over at length. It’s disappointing that we constantly get important questions about the game deflected, like what extent base “management” is in the game, environmental destructibility and if we can at least give orders to the mooks that follow. It seems like such a wasted opportunity.

  44. Jesse says:

    RPS: I like you guys and it’s been fun, but between XCOM, the new Deus Ex, and the Hey Baby debacle, which darkened a whole day of my life, I have to try to stop reading these comments for reasons of my mental health. Some are so funny, and yet to some the only rational answer is punching – which, of course, cannot be done. I don’t know how you deal with it. If it were my job, I would run. Thanks Kieron, Alec, Quentin, etc. It’s really fun to be able to put words on a page you’ve written on.

    • Frosty says:


      I’m not sure if I should be disheartened or gladdened that I am not the only one thinking like this.

  45. Flakfizer says:

    I realise RPS needs to cover this and 2K need to get their spin on things but didn’t everyone involved in this “interview” feel *dirty* about just regurgitating PR copy like that?

  46. Mister Adequate says:

    This interview filled with genuine questions and people who clearly wanted to give answers. That reassures me; I don’t doubt that these chaps are making a game they honestly believe is and should be as good as they can make it. And I’m increasingly of the opinion that this game, like Fallout 3, will be a very good time, even if it is X-Com (Or Fallout) in name only. But I have to say, it seems like the marketing people have got their claws in deep, and it just leads to a nonsensical situation where questions that should be answered with “Yes”, “No”, or “If we can find a way, we’d love to” become “We can’t talk about that.”

    Christ alive, you’re making a game, not keeping state secrets from the Russians. If it’s in the game, hype it. If it isn’t, admit it. If you’re not yet sure, say so. Being unable to answer these questions to the people who, ultimately, are the ones who will hype and convince others to buy your game just seems completely counterproductive. (Note that I’m not accusing anyone of corruption here, just saying, RPS coverage convinced me to buy Men of War, and has created various levels of interest in other games – if media coverage didn’t have influence, they wouldn’t waste their time and money flying folks out to see new games)

    • jalf says:

      Christ alive, you’re making a game, not keeping state secrets from the Russians

      That’s what you think.

      But if you were keeping state secrets from the Russians, wouldn’t you pretend that it was just a game you were being secretive about? Eh? It all makes sense now!

      The game is just a front! It’s the only logical conclusion. 2K is really a division of the CIA.

    • Tei says:

      *removes mask*

      And I am a alien. And I read RPS to get information about this XCOM new secret service created to fight us.

    • CMaster says:

      Erm, I’m not quite sure how to say this.
      We’ve known for years. Sorry.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yeah, we just haven’t said or done anything because we’re pretty much sure you’re the equivalent of Invader Zim.

  47. james says:

    why is everyone so angry?!? there is ONE teaser trailer for this game which showcases the game’s aesthetic and a bit of shooting 1 low level enemy. it isn’t coming out for another year. what do we expect 2k to reveal? one of x-com’s great strengths is atmospheric tension, the unknown, blah blah blah.

    this could turn out to be a great game, like the original xcom. it could turn out to be an average game with high production values and a few unique mechanics that attempt to separate it from other average fps games, like bioshock, or it could be completely garbage… but these writers who we read everyday and know their stuff have said they’ve seen some gameplay and it doesn’t look worthless. it looks like it could be cool. what more do you want?!

    • Gritz says:

      Even if we trust the RPS staff, that doesn’t mean we should accept that a mediocre looking game is good just because they say it is without explaining why.

    • jalf says:

      Doesn’t it? Isn’t that basically what trust means?

    • Auspex says:

      “Trust is blindly believing what people you like say.”

      Think I saw that on a Hallmark card once…

    • Sobric says:

      @ Gritz

      You don’t have to accept it. Many people haven’t. The problem that I and numerous other RPS readers have is that “not accepting” doesn’t mean going fucking ballistic about it in the comments thread (obviously you’re not going ballistic about it; but others have).

      Anyway, a post is made on RPS which expresses an opinion – you then are free you express your own opinion. I don’t see why you’re so hung up on getting Alec/Jim to explain why they’re so excited. Alec, at least, has done previews that suggest why even if he doesn’t explicitly state which frame of the video caused his heart to beat the most.

      Finally, let’s all hold on until more info is shown. We really don’t know that much yet due to embargoes but:

      “but will definitely unfurl my thoughts about what I saw tomorrow”

      That’s from the 2nd paragraph. We’ll see what we’ll see.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, are we arguing the semantics of the word ‘trust’ now? Because I don’t think it’s possible to trust someone without… y’know.. being inclined to believe that they’re telling you the truth.

  48. DarthBenedict says:

    I’ve figured it out – this game is called xcom so that 2k will get free press from angry internet men. Seeing 4000 comments every time anyone writes about it will make it look really popular to anyone who doesn’t actually read them.

    • jalf says:

      Yep, the impotent raging of fossilized fanboys isn’t going to scare away newcomers. It just gets the word out. It’s free publicity.

    • Eightball says:

      Then you should be celebrating us AIMs, not deriding us.

    • jalf says:

      Why? It’s not like I get royalties for every sale.

      I’m just making an observation that they’re getting a lot of free publicity by using the X-COM brand, even with the negative reaction from some people.

    • Vinraith says:


      What’s truly worrying to me is that yours really is the best explanation I’ve seen as to why this game is called “X-Com.” Are game publishers really that cynical?

    • Phydaux says:

      @DarthBenedict. I was going to post something similar. I also imagine that many of the angry posters will be secretly loving that xcom is back, and can’t wait to try it for themselves. Just like all the “boycotts” that have been around recently.

  49. Aegeri says:

    You know I couldn’t help but chuckle at this:

    “That’s why we are really trying to capture the essence, returning to the source, because those were the things that were cool. Diverging off that path I think would be a mistake. And it was a mistake. Y’know. Arguably.”

    To be honest I don’t think they succeeded at capturing the essence of anything to do with X-Com personally. What I do find funny is the general irony of that statement given the reaction to the game.

    I really have to wonder what an interview done with them today would be like.