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XCOM Remake: Screens, Details, Worries

Maybe I should close the comments thread?

OK, here we go. Brace for impact. Barricade yourself in your home. An American magazine has just put the first screenshots of the XCOM remake ‘reimaginging’, some teasy details, plus the vital answers to to whether it’s linked to the XCOM shooter and if it’s been… altered for consoles.

Good news! Well, ish.

Two key things to stuff in your head first:

1) “The shooter takes place earlier in the fiction, chronicling the aliens’ first attacks in the United States. The strategy game we’re talking about here deals with the global response to the later full-blown alien invasion of Earth.”

Which is why the aliens on show look like lanky G-Men rather than trad. X-COM baddies, I guess. (Pure speculation here, but I bet that hints at some kind of multiplayer, with an even humans vs human-likes playing field).

2) “Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t call it “dumbing down” the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics.”

Uh. Um. Aaargh. I’ll reserve judgement until that’s clarified, but “tedium and uninteresting mechanics?” What tedium and uninteresting mechanics? You don’t throw that kind of vague insult at such a revered game unless you’re fully prepared for angry consequences from the internet or you just have no idea what kind of fire you’re playing with. That’s the magazine writer summarising the game as he sees it rather than the devs’ line, so hopefully they’d explain things less dismissively and in detail rather than generalisations. Yeah, there’s a fair bit of annoying/outdated interface stuff in the original but that sounds like features being thrown out wholesale. I am okay with that in theory – Firaxis are seasoned strategy devs, after all – but I want to know what and why rather than be left to worry what “streamlining” means.

By way of reassurance, there’s “Soldiers still die permanently, fog of war and line of sight are hugely important in combat, and you absolutely can lose the game if you screw up too badly”, but, well, the micromanagement was always a big part of X-COM. I want to micromanage! I like micromanaging! Micromanagement is my middle name! (Or I wish it was, anyway. My real middle names are far more embarrassing. Yes, ‘names.’ Sigh).

Also confirmed: global management view, soldier levelling, interceptions, managing R&D, chasing funding, more. So the major ingredients are there – it’s a matter of which minor ones have been thrown out in order to make XUO gamepad-friendly, I guess. Worried! Also, hopeful. But worried. Worriedly hopeful.

The screens I just find confusing. They don’t much evoke X-COM in either aesthetic or interface, but then I didn’t want a straight retread anyway. The use of 3D terrain (terrain! This is like 2002 all over again) and cover is promising on a tactical level, I like the bulky body armour look, and there’s a reasonable amount of info scattered around the screen without taking up too much real estate. The base appears to be a full-fat base but in 3D, which I like – I want to explore my home as well as build it. There’s a lot to be excited about in there, but on the whole. I just don’t know what to make of it yet: I need more screens and a video. And a lie down.

More details and full-size versions of the screens at the magazine’s website.

No matter what, at least it’s not a shooter – this new XCOM really is a turn-based strategy game with a real-time management view. We didn’t think that was ever going to happen.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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