Some Things You Should Know About The XCOM Demo

The XCOM demo arrived yesterday, and immediately, violently divided opinion. This game could only ever divide opinion, of course, being as it is a remake of one of the most revered PC games of all time, but in this instance I think it’s dividing opinion for the wrong reasons. For various reasons, mostly due to its very minute amount of content (one entirely scripted mission, one on-rails tour of the base and one more too short, too-easy mission), it gives an impression of the game that isn’t altogether accurate. As a result of this, comments about the demo are a warzone of disappointment. In some ways – both good and bad – the demo does tell a true story. In others, it’s suggesting a much smaller and far more shallow game than the preview code we’ve been engrossed in, and for that reason I think it may have been a bit of a gaffe. Let me explain, in the form of a list.

1) It’s tiny. Not filesize tiny, seeing as it’s six bloody gig, but content-tiny. It’s just the tutorial, which introduces the initial concepts of the game while offering a scripted, cutscene-littered half-hour that isn’t an accurate reflection of the game to come.

2) Going on from that, you won’t see many more cutscenes. That first mission is very heavy on them, from the talking military types to the horror movie-aping cinematic sequences and whatnot. That’s basically just an extended intro movie, and doesn’t carry on through to the game proper. Those cutscenes that you will encounter tend to involve the research and engineering heads explaining their findings when you’re back at base – in terms of in-mission or even pre-mission stuff, there’s almost nothing after the scripted, scene-setting stuff in the tutorial missions. In preview code, anyway: I’d guess at there being more when major events occur in the storyline. But my point is, no your turn-based strategising is not going to be constantly interrupted by cutscenes. Promise.

3) In a similar vein, the ‘glamcam’ – that third-person or cinematic view that occasionally kicks in for random shots or actions – can be turned off in options if you don’t like it. I’m torn between which I prefer – some sequences do repeat a little too often, but there’s a singular horror to suddenly being shown, say, three capering Thin Men arriving on the scene just when you think you’re in the control of the situation. Soldiers’ barks can also be turned off if you find ’em too Action Movie.

4) Yes, squads of 4 soldiers feel too small. But it doesn’t take long to increase it to six (bought with cash at the Officer Training School), which feels a lot more like it – you can control the battlefield and you feel like you have a range of tactical options. I think, ideally, I’d like squads to go up to 8, but 6 doesn’t feel too small – XCOM is designed to have faster missions than X-COM, and that’s part of the overall design rather than 4/6 soldiers being a singular, pointless hobbling.

5) Yes, cover is basically mandatory for survival. At least until you get the flying suits. It is a cover game in a way that X-COM was not. If you can’t stomach the need to have everyone in cover, and that combat depends on being able to shoot ostensibly around corners once in cover, then you’re and this game aren’t going to be friends: it’s a big change and one of the major factors in this being a different take on XCOM rather than a remake. It’s about the tactical challenge of soldier positioning rather than being Gears of War. With each soldier unutterably precious, part of the puzzle of each mission is how to get close enough to the enemy to take them down effectively without getting killed first. And if a soldier ends their turn out of cover, don’t bank on them being alive come next turn.

6) Do not worry about linearity. This demo will barely let you breathe because it’s only the tutorial and some bonus cutscenes, and for that reason I think it might have been a huge mistake. It’s giving out the wrong impression entirely, and it doesn’t reflect the ongoing tension of the constant decision-making the game involves.

7) The keyboard and mouse interface. Yes, it doesn’t feel quite right, does it? The main issue for me is the need to confirm each action, thus meaning two-clicks is required whenever I want to take a shot, reload, suppress or whatever, which can be pretty annoying and mess up flow. But I developed some muscle memory actions pretty quick, learning which skills/actions my soldiers had on which number keys, so I’d hit the relevant numeral then press enter and it’d all happen pretty much immediately. That’s something that’ll come over time – and it will – but it’s impossible for it to happen in this miniscule demo. I’ve essentially been playing it on keyboard alone, with the mouse used purely to select a destination and target. Other than that confirm thing, I’m quite happy with that and have felt zero need to move to gamepad. But yeah, the PC UI is a slightly awkward hybrid of console and PC, and I really wish they’d pushed it further towards the latter.

8) That bland commander guy who speaks and apparently gives orders a) is not you, but some advisor figure and b) fades into the background once the tutorial’s stuff done, from thereon in largely just existing to give mission briefings on loading screens. I was really worried about him too to start with, but he’s just a crutch to introduce initial concepts and, later, to tremble as some alien concepts are introduced. The only characters you’ll hear much from in the game proper are the science and engineering heads, and the shadowy global council in your monthly performance/funding debriefs.

9) You might have noticed that the aliens’ weapons explode if they’re killed. That’s why it rapidly becomes important to take some enemies home alive, in almost every mission (both for extra gear and so you have stuff to sell for hard-to-come-by cash). It’s an entire extra layer of strategy that isn’t apparent from the blast ’em and get outta there demo/tutorial levels. Similarly, explosives trash everything, so they become something to avoid using unless necessary rather than blow stuff up willy-nilly. This is even more of an issue when assaulting a UFO, whether crashed or landed, because every time the hull or the contents are damaged, by aliens or XCOM members, that’s more cash down the drain.

10) I agree the mission locations aren’t as memorable or characterful as the bright cornfields and sinister grocery stores of X-COM, and that isn’t something that changes in the full game. There’s a reasonable variety of them, and the outdoor ones especially look pretty gripping when they also house a crashed UFO, but I can’t say they strongly conveyed a real sense of place. (Adam, however, thinks they do convey a real sense of place, although the tutorial ones are far from the best.)

11) Abilities. They’re crucial to the game, but not as crucial as shooting aliens is: this is not a game of gimmicky, Warcraft-style powers but of using a small, focused set of actions to support that fundamental activity. Also, bear in mind that you get a choice of abilities whenever each of your soldiers ranks up, so you end up with a squad tailored to your needs (as you see them) rather than a pre-fab one. On Classic difficulty, a couple of hours in you’ll undoubtedly find yourself fielding a squad mostly, if not entirely, made up of rookies without abilities. Everyone else will be dead or injured, so you will have to cope without abilities as well as mastering them. There’s also the psychic stuff still to come, but I didn’t manage to reach that in the preview code.

Here’s what I think, a silly old theory of mine: if you weren’t already cynical towards this remake there’s a good chance the small amount of stuff that’s in the demo would have had you excited about the possibilites the full game might hold. If you’ve been bitterly expecting failure, the fact this demo is, quite frankly, a stinker that’s far too superficial and does a poor job of representing the obsessed, tense experience of the wider game is going to confirm your fears about it. It’s lovely, so lovely to see a pre-release demo of a big game, but that doesn’t mean this was the right demo. It needed to be bigger, and it needed to contain a good hour or two of playtime, but I guess that was deemed giving too much away. They should have given more. Maybe they will yet.

For a far more representative look at the game, this hour of in-game footage is a much better bet, even if it be a passive rather than active way to experience it. If you don’t like what you see there, fair enough.


  1. MaxMcG says:

    I hated the UI/controls – but I do believe that will get sorted out in time. Still, though, it’s a disappointment when consolitis infects something you hold dear.

    Aside from that, I thought the actual game itself played brilliantly and control gripes won’t stop me pouring hours into this.

    The overreaction on the other thread is hilarious.

    • MrLebanon says:

      I’m surprised there’s a problem with the PC UI considering that they had 2 entirely different teams working on 2 entirely different UIs (PC and console) and have had it this way since day 1

      • Tuckey says:

        So they said anyway (I smell bullshit tbh)

        • MrLebanon says:

          I’m interested to see the xbox 360 demo to see if its any different

        • regault says:

          2k also said the same “2 separate UI teams” thing with Borderlands 2. And then went forward with changing weapons by left clicking an item and pressing E. And decided M would open your map but wouldn’t close it.

          Like I said in the other article, the interface in Xcom:EU is Fallout 3 bad. But probably the worst thing in the demo was getting presented with the option of two “different” missions instead of actually getting to shoot down a UFO by myself.

          If the final product is actually good and not just another nightmarish “streamlined” “reimagining”, then whoever decided that this is the demo they’d release should be canned.

          • Slinkyboy says:

            Same here. I was hoping for a random mission in the middle of a normal game. No tuts, no cut-scenes. I hate the cut-scene they showed after the Sid game-play in E3. It’s like a shitty movie for kids.

          • kanavbs45 says:

            At one point, I just wanted to shoot a hole in a building to open up a line of sight, but it seems that if you can’t “see” an alien, you aren’t allowed to shoot terrain at all?

          • Kingcole225 says:

            You still shoot down UFOs. It’s just that now you have missions as well. Kinda like terror missions.

          • Sian says:

            In Borderlands 2, I change my weapons out by clicking on one, then clicking on the desired slot. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s also not as bad as you describe it.

          • Ragnar says:

            “whoever decided that this is the demo they’d release should be canned.”
            This reminds me of trying The Longest Journey demo.

            For the demo, they decided to use a section plucked out of the middle of the game, because it was the shortest section with the fewest locations and a self-contained puzzle. The result was akin to reading 5 pages out of the middle of A Game of Thrones. Not surprisingly, I disliked the demo.

            I’m glad that popular opinion convinced me to get The Longest Journey despite the disappointing demo, as I absolutely loved the game. Hopefully that’ll be the same case for XCOM.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        i did not notice any problems with the UI.

        The click to confirm is truely needed in a game like this, where an accidentaly click will kill off your favorite character.

        its simply becomes a double tap instead of a single tap. tap 1 twice to attack.

        It works great, i just dont think people realize that its designed in a way that works best as a keyboard focused play rather than all mouse clicking.

        • Chris D says:

          If you’re reflexively double tapping doesn’t that negate its value as a confirmation. I agree it’s definitely a keyboard focused design but I’m not sure why that should be other than it has more similarities to a controller set up.

          It doesn’t particularly spoil the game or anything, it’s not like you need great reflexes or precision, but it just feels clunkier and less intuitive than it really should.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            umm. a double tap is an active action, you dont accidentally double tap.

            You accidentally press once.

          • Chris D says:

            Oh, you mean if your finger slips or something, rather than going through with an action then realising you’d selected the wrong target. Fair enough, it would work in those cases.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          While the UI wasn’t to my taste, it’s certainly not a disaster. I completely agree that the double click is a nice trade-off between accidently giving the wrong order and irritating the player with “are you sure” mechanics. How many times have you clicked and frozen with the mouse button down, having just done the wrong thing!

          • Synesthesia says:

            well, my survival buddy took an accidental full pellet round to its chest while we were sitting around a barn, waiting to storm krasnostav, so it happens, yep. He should know about it.

            Also, on a separate note: RPS, why do i get dumped to the main page after i login to comment? Would you kindly put me back into the thread i was originally looking at? Thanks!

        • Trithne says:

          Needing to confirm is nice and makes sense, but the implementation for shooting at a target is bad.

          Also there’s no click-to-confirm for moving. I once moved instead of opening a door because same button, miniscule difference in positioning.

          • hjarg says:

            You can open the doors when you press the V button.
            And i quite liked the select position with left button, click right button to move. As hug-dealer said, it prevents accidentally sending your best solider to a place where death is certain.

          • Mandabar says:

            Also, you click the left mouse button to show movement path or to open doors (v works… Sometimes).

            Right mouse button moves your soldiers. So its impossible to open a door and accidentally move a solider, unless your fingers have dyslexia.

      • Low Life says:

        The PC version of the game was played with a 360 pad in the Giant Bomb quicklook here: link to

        Seems to be the exact same UI, and also reassures the feeling that the UI is like that because it’s designed for a controller. It would be silly to have a fully gamepad-supported UI for the PC version, and then have a completely different gamepad-supported UI for consoles.

      • Gummi says:

        Maybe that was actually the problem. One team designing the controls/interface for the console, then they just handed it over to the “PC team” and said “deal with it”. But clearly the focus was on consoles first, whether it be because it makes more money or because maybe it’s easier to design a control system for a controller and then adapt that to the PC rather than vice-versa.

        The controls are not terrible, but a bit awkward and take some getting used to like said in the article. Not very intuitive.

      • MaxMcG says:

        The controls are just so clunky.

        Why have Q and E pan the camera 45 degrees instead of say allowing you to freely rotate the view with the mouse by pressing ALT?

        Why must I hold down the scroll wheel button to zoom in. The mouse wheel works better. That’s why all games use it for zooming. The lovely ant farm is just so cumbersome to examine, I’ll just be clicking the buttons at the top.

        There are so many established controls that keep getting replicated in PC games because they just work well with mouse and keyboard. Instead they just shove the console UI into the PC. It’s not a natural fit.

        I have to say I love the game itself, just from the demo but for them to say they had a PC team working on UI etc. was probably not true. Surely it would be easy to do and would have prevented all the complaining – and before the game is even out.

    • Smashbox says:

      It might sound crazy, but I’m actually looking forward to testing out the Steam Big Picture mode and the controller support for this. If it’s not ass, it might be fun to backseat drive your roommate’s squad from the couch.

      • desolateshroud says:

        I’m with you on that. I really enjoyed the demo and am looking forward to playing this from the couch.

        I played the demo with a keyboard and mouse for the record, and once I figured out the hotkeys there wasn’t a problem.

    • jalf says:

      Sorted out? When was the last time that happened?

      No, the controls will almost certainly stay as they are. We’ll just have to live with that.

      • Optimaximal says:

        Firaxis are pretty much a PC-first company – they’re not going to walk away from the game if its not in a state good enough for its core audience.

        • MrMud says:

          yes they will, there is no way in hell that they will be redesigning the ui

        • Stromko says:

          Hey this is the same company that added Hot-Seat multiplayer to Civ 5, when it became apparent that the netcode was an absolute mess. We might not get the UI we want, but I think there’s a good chance that there’ll be ample after-release support.

          (Not something I would actually bet on, of course, but I think at release it’ll be worth getting and I’ll probably do that. Got nothing else to play in October.)

        • MaXimillion says:

          Civ V’s UI is still as terrible as it was when the game launched, so I wouldn’t trust Firaxis to fix it.

    • Coder2012 says:

      I actually liked the PC UI. The classic mouse scroll in the window borders feels slugish and poorly responsive. But after a while I think the new control scheme makes the gameplay faster and pleasant: WASD for camera panning, Q and E for rotation, TAB for unit selection, number keys for the abilities (and direct access to the “tactial mode”) and the space bar for activation (don’t need to use Enter). Everything under the control of your left hand.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Yeah, I didn’t really have an issue with the UI either.

        For all the “It’s a console UI!” comments, I think it’d be harder to navigate with a gamepad….

      • lcy says:

        It’s a lifesaver for mouse-less laptops. I’ve been playing the original X-Com recently, and the number of times that an accidental brush of the touch-pad had led to a key squad member walking into the wrong place. This means that I’ll be able to play XCOM in front of the TV on a subsequent play-through, without trying to balance a mouse on the arm of a chair.

        As for the abilities, you can just press the number key twice. The only slight wrinkle is that the same abilities (overwatch, for example) might have different numbers for different squad members, but you can always quickly look at the screen if you want. Overall, I really like the UI – it allows you to plan your moves before you commit them. If I want button = awesome, I can always purchase a fresh copy of Dragon Age 2…

      • Ragnar says:

        Sounds like the problem with the UI controls is not that they weren’t designed for PC, but rather that they were designed for keyboard with a bit of mouse mouse, while we expect most games to be designed for mouse with a bit of keyboard.

    • Dan Puzey says:

      It’s definitely worth noting that you can use Space to confirm an action instead of enter, and that shift toggles in/out of tactical view too. That’s a lot more one-hand-friendly than using Enter. I’ve been using mouse and my default WASD-position left hand quite comfortably.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        Yes. I loved the demo (seeing past the fact that it was intentionally tightly scripted for the demonstration purposes) and I’m looking forward to play the game.

    • Unfettered says:

      The UI could use some love but it’s not a disaster. I wish it showed the status off all the soldiers in the UI ( ala Jagged Alllance or any other modern party based game).

      It’s the default controls and the camera that are driving me nuts. Controls are just weird and counter-intuitive. And the camera has a life of it’s own and I don’t feel like I’m in control of it (even with some options turned off ). Hopefully being able to remap the keys in the full version is flushed out enough to be useful (doubt it).

      Still I loved it and it was a great taste to wet my appetite. I pre-ordered it and am very happy I did so after trying the demo.

  2. ffordesoon says:

    Thanks for this, Alec. Hopefully it’ll convince some of the haters people.

    • subedii says:

      A lot of them were deliberately obtuse when it came to the question of linearity in the demo. To be honest I suspect they won’t budge even come the full game release and should it show the complete converse.

      • Lemming says:

        The great thing is, because of how Steam works you’ll probably see these people logging in playtime of the full game anyway.

        • subedii says:

          Now that you’ve said it, I’m half tempted to set up a “BOYCOT XCOM!!!” group just to see what happens.

        • MrMud says:

          Well, I already bought it based on the positively gushing previews where none of the issues apparent in the demo were ever mentioned.
          Since I will already have the game there is no reason not to at least play some of it even if it turns out to be no where near as good as we had all hoped it would be.

          • Loyal_Viggo says:

            You know you can cancel Steam pre-orders for a full refund, it would make business sense for other digital distribution to do the same.

            I know Amazon and Gamestop physical orders can be cancelled for refunds too as I’ve done that.

    • ffordesoon says:


      Who, to be clear, have some valid points. I’m not trying to speak Fox News here; this wasn’t the best demo, for sure.

      But I suspect it will convince the people who don’t know anything about the game and just want to blast some aliens. Which is, much as RPS commenters might wish to deny it, the smart strategy.

      • President Weasel says:

        I don’t need the demo and indeed haven’t bothered with it. I am going to give Firaxis my money, because they have made an X-COM game that isn’t some generic FPS with X-COM decals shoddily glued to it.
        Grumble mutter mumble get the hell off my damn lawn, 2K Marin.
        I’m really confused though: Firaxis and 2K Marin are both part of 2K, so by giving the money to the company who are making the rather-X-COM-like XCOM game, I am also sort of giving money to the people who are doing some sort of Gears of War cut-and-shut job and spray-painting X-COM on the side of it.

        Anyway, haters gonna hate, as the saying goes. Hopefully when the reviews come out the X-COM purists will be persuaded to give this game a try, although it is quite easy for one’s views on a game to fossilise and become very hard to change.

        • mckertis says:

          “I am going to give Firaxis my money, because they have made an X-COM game that isn’t some generic FPS”

          “Eat shit or starve” isnt that great of a credo to have towards entertainment.

        • lcy says:

          To be fair, I’m fairly sure that the XCom third person shooter was never actually meant to be an ‘Xcom’ game originally, as opposed to a new IP. I rather suspect that pasting the originals name over the game was another ‘bright idea’ from some stuffed suit in marketing or something.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      One thing that apparently helps with the demo is to increase the difficulty setting in the config files. The demo by default is fixed to Easy difficulty (in a callback to the original?), and on classic difficulty it’s a lot more challenging and interesting.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Naw, in the original you could still get 1-shot on your very first movement at the start of a mission, even on the easiest difficulty level.

        • Arctem says:

          The callback he’s talking about is that the original had a bug where, no matter what difficulty setting you chose, the game was ACTUALLY running on a set diffculty (I can’t remember if it was hardest or easiest. Probably hard).

          • dhiltonp says:

            Yeah, difficulty was set to beginner after the first combat or upon reload (Dos versions only, I think).

      • Milky1985 says:

        Don’t think its a callback, more if you have a hard demo some people get angry and think “screw this”. They always set things like this to easy, think they do it for press demos as well so the reviewer can be sure to get to the end of the game.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Calling people who are unhappy with the direction of a game haters is gonna do wonders for the discourse.

      • ffordesoon says:

        Yeah, I hesitated to use that term, but it was the only one I could think of. Thus my addendum.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Detractors? Pessimists? Doubter? Cynics? Skeptics?

          • ffordesoon says:

            I didn’t say I couldn’t think of one after I posted.

            To clarify, I posted my post without thinking, then posted the addendum when I realized my mistake.

            I apologize. The error is now corrected.

  3. subedii says:

    Here’s what I think, a silly old theory of mine: if you weren’t already cynical towards this remake there’s a good chance the small amount of stuff that’s in the demo would have had you excited about the possibilites the full game might hold. If you’ve been bitterly expecting failure, the fact this demo is, quite frankly, a stinker that’s far too superficial and does a poor job of representing the obsessed, tense experience of the wider game is going to confirm your fears about it.

    That would be me in the former camp.

    • gulag says:

      I think you are in nail-on-the-head territory there. I downloaded the demo and deliberately didn’t go into it looking for confirmation of my worst nightmares/most ecstatic dreams, as some seem to have assumed was safe/reasonable to do.

      I treated it as a very small taste of what should by rights be a big involving game, and only a sample of one part of it (tactical combat missions) at that. Apart from some minor fiddliness with KBM I’d say it demonstrated that Firaxis have done a good job of tapping into a lot of the things that made the original so unique.

      It’s a demo. It won’t make Internet Jesus love you, or set your dog on fire and eat your homework. Nor should anyone not hunting to advance an agenda expect it to.

    • DuddBudda says:

      I thought XCOM was gonna be amazing.

      After playing the demo my buds thought I was depressed, that I must be ill.

      Oh and RPS, you missed some things

      Nonexistent facing – overwatch 360 degrees for the win
      This strikes me as very weird. They seem to want to transition the game from being about facing to being about cover. I’m not sure I like the change.

      The move towards cover and % chance to hit as the basis of combat rather than concealment and % chance to fire accurately. In the original X-COM, if you were behind something, you were safe until that thing was blown up, and you were doubly safe because nobody could see you. In this new game, bullets will break the fabric of reality to hit their target as long as you roll a “hit.” Cover doesn’t actually block anything, even being behind a corner doesn’t protect you from being seen or being shot – cover or a corner just add to the % chance that the bullets miss.

      Is it possible to hit an alien that wasn’t your intended target, or do bullets that miss just disappear in midair?

      • atticus says:

        An interesting question that – I quite fondly remember “accidental” headshots from the original XCOM where my rookie missed an alien two feet away from him only to kill another further down the corridor.

        Anyways, I had an impression of this shiny new XCOM from the gameplay vids, and the demo confirmed this for me – this is not the XCOM reboot I expected when it was first announced. In fact, apart from names given to different parts of the game, I don’t find very much similarity with this and the original. As far as I’m concerned, it’s more of a action-focused spinoff than a reboot.

        But that’s perfectly fine! Despite not quite being the game I was expecting and longing for, it seems to be a game that I will thoroughly enjoy for a long time.

        My preorder still stands and I’m really looking forward to playing the full game come October 11th.

        • JiminyJickers says:

          No, it doesn’t look like that can happen anymore. Not with bullet anyway, you may mess up a rocket or grenade, but I’m not sure how much variation there is on where it hits.

      • spleendamage says:

        At one point, I just wanted to shoot a hole in a building to open up a line of sight, but it seems that if you can’t “see” an alien, you aren’t allowed to shoot terrain at all?

        • TCM says:

          You can free-aim explosive weapons, but regular XCOM rifles are not going to be blowing gaping holes in walls anytime soon. I prefer it that way, personally — you should need SOMETHING heavy to take out a wall.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            How about plasma cannons? They took out walls. Can you free aim them or are you also locked into the fairly terrible snap aim system there?

          • TCM says:

            Near as I’ve heard, plasma cannons aren’t even usable weapons for the preview build — they are _really big_ on avoiding spoilers, to the point where the inside of UFO hasn’t properly been seen in any previews, to my recollection.

            I am sure I’ve seen Sectoid fire take out cover in the demo or a preview. Pretty sure, at least.

          • hudders says:

            The GameSpot preview released two days ago shows the inside of a UFO.

          • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

            When I played the demo, the thin men blew a gigantic hole in a wall when they missed one of my troops. So certainly they can destroy cover accidentally at least.

      • ynamite says:

        That is so true.

        I’ve played through the demo a few more times and I actually like it better now than I did at first. But it’s some of the things you mention that, to me, makes XCOM what it is. The cover based system seems alright, but it feels like something else imo.

        I’m curious whether sneaking up on an alien is an option. I attempted this once, but since the alien had already seen some of my squad (but not all, so in theory it should’ve worked) it didn’t for some reason. Maybe it’s enough for an alien to see one of your squad to immediately know the exact position of all the others, which would be kind of silly imo.

        To elaborate, I was trying to flank an enemy with a squad member it couldn’t have seen up to that point (the guy was on the opposite side of the map), but when I moved him into position to line up a shot (its back facing him), it simply turned around the next turn and shot him instead, telepathically knowing he was there.

        There should be a way to sneak up on an enemy if there isn’t already, would only make sense, even if that wasn’t part of the original per se. The line of sight and fog of war sometimes allowed you to sneak in some manner (well, kinda).

        Oh well, I think I was expecting something different and was a little miffed at first, but I’m still very much looking forward to it, the preorder still stands. We’ll see how it holds up to extended play.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          This has already been touched on. The AI plays by the same rules you do. It does not magically know where you are, but it will remember based on the location it last saw you, it will also have a chance to hear you moving, and react based on that. So sneaking with a heavy support probably isnt the best idea.

          Aliens also communicate with each other, so they do share information with others, and if i remember correctly that is also based on the race, so chrysalids do not pay attention to stuff like that.

          • ynamite says:

            Oh yeah, I remember reading something like that … but, if that’s really the case, how do you sneak? Can only snipers sneak? Genuine question.

          • Hug_dealer says:

            I havent read exactly how, but my guess is probably has alot to do with armor choices.

            There is so much of this game still under wraps. They havent let the public see in an alien craft yet, we dont know what some of the new mission types are, and we dont know the entire tech trees and other things. People digging around in the demo files have found lots of unknown alien types and other things.

  4. Easy says:

    I was a bit underwhelmed, especially for 5+ gigs of download! And also surprised at the lag, it seemed that my not-too-shabby pc is struggling even at low settings (but full native rez). But hey, still excited about getting my hands on the full game :D

    ps: great hour length vid here that showcases a lot of awesomeness link to

    • Dark Nexus says:

      Really? I got a bit of jitter in the loading screen animations, and I don’t exactly have the latest and greatest hardware…

    • Ranger33 says:

      My desktop PC ran it flawlessly, and even my non-gaming laptop could run it fine with everything on low. You might have some kind of issue. Agree that for 5 GB it wasn’t much of a demo.

    • JoeGuy says:

      I have left that video on in the background twice while I was grinding in Demon’s Souls.

    • realityflaw says:

      I hear that starting the game windowed (as it defaults) and subsequently fullscreening can cause issues. Try starting it again after having set it to fullscreen and see if that helps.

  5. Trithne says:

    That’s pretty much what I took away from it. That tutorial was heinous and limiting the player to two very linear missions and a guided tour of the base was the worst design for a demo ever. At least I now know with absolute certainty that I can skip the tutorial and go straight to Classic on release.

    It really needed to be more like the Civ V demo: Time or progress-limited. Moreso than your preview code I guess, but enough to actually let people play the game proper and not just the tutorial.

  6. MrLebanon says:

    You should let us all try your prerelease copy

  7. Hoaxfish says:

    I’m hoping they have an expanded demo later.

    Given the “poor reception” of this demo, and defense by people who’ve played other parts of the game, it seems like a case of little information being worse than knowing nothing.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Yeah, just one skirmish map with enemies randomly spawning afresh each time so you could mess about with tactics and exploration would do nicely. Not a heavily advised march down a linear corrider with scripted alien reveals. Sigh.

      Bad demo, but still very excited about this game. Come on the 12th!

  8. eldwl says:

    People were disappointed? What were they expecting for a demo, half the game?! I, for one, am grateful for the demo. They’ve managed to make XCOM feel like the SpaceHulk boardgame (to me, at least). I was sitting on the fence before I played the demo, but I’m really excited now. From everything you’ve written, Alex, I can sort of see how the game opens up after these first few levels.

    I’ll be buying it shortly after launch.

    • Chris D says:

      I would have liked to have seen another mission. One where they stop hand-holding and let you get a feel for how the game will actually play. Also a chance to actually see some of your soldiers develop a little and a chance to see how decisions you make at the base actually change the game.

      As it is the demo may have worked for someone who doesn’t know anything about the game but it didn’t really answer any of the questions the rest of us had about depth or difficulty while it did confirm that the interface wasn’t really what we were hoping for.

      A demo doesn’t need to be half the game but it does need to be enough to get me involved. Leave me feeling “I have to play more of this now” not feeling “Is that it.”

      I’m still intending to pick this up on release but I’d have to agree that the demo was a misstep.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      there should have been atleast 2 missions where they didnt hold hands.

      I think everyones complaint was it is to short, and people are then forced to make a decision on whether they like it based on that. Which is bad.

    • hjarg says:

      Well, i would have expected more freedom. Say, it let’s you play the game for month or two weeks. For example- until the first council report that says, “Oh, you did do hell of a job, commander, and if you want to keep it up, buy full game”.
      2 weeks should be just fine- you’ll get to see research, manufacture, base-building, budget management, perhaps shoot down UFO and have 2-3 totally free unscripted missions, where you can get your squad killed (and let us choose difficulty!). Or perhaps we can capture that live sectoid, or even get some laser weapons or… Now, the demo was too tiny.

    • jalf says:

      Presumably, they were expecting a *better* (or at least different) game. Just guessing…

      • mouton says:

        Surprise could only apply if someone haven’t read RPS for a year.

    • Baines says:

      Some other games would give you a tutorial mission, and then a mission from a bit later in the game, where you have more freedom and abilities and the game asks more of you.

    • lcy says:

      I’m grateful for the demo as well, for no other reason than being able to check that my system could handle it, and that it wasn’t a buggy mess. The length didn’t bother me at all, since I really don’t want to get invested in a squad before I can play the full game. Increasing the difficulty will be nice though…

  9. Tuckey says:

    4,7 and 11 are deal breakers for me. I was willing to accept the small squad size, but the failure of the UI as well as the weird 60fps/laggy mouse (despite running it windowed on a 120hz monitor) really killed my interest in it. And the hand-holding demo didn’t help one bit of course.

    • Cooper says:

      Turn off Vsync (it’s on by default).

      The engine it runs on is notorious for mouse lag when Vsynch is on.

    • OpT1mUs says:

      Jesus fucking christ, and you people call your self “pc gamers”, not knowing some basic shit like this is just sad.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Easy there Mr. Chicken….

        If a potential President of the USA does not understand WHY YOU CAN’T OPEN WINDOWS ON A PLANE, then I think Tuckey can be forgiven.

        link to

  10. Dark Nexus says:

    Yeah, that sounds about right. Too short, too limited in what you get to do. Too shallow.

    I might be concerned for the full game if I hadn’t been reading about experiences with the preview code, but I have been so I no such concerns from me.

  11. Elmar Bijlsma says:

    Anything to say on the strategic side of things? How representative is the whole “save Shanghai or New York” choice for the strategic part?
    Will I still get to coordinate intercepts and troop insertions from the Geoscape at my leisure?

    Still think the tactical combat felt a bit “meh” with the whole move-shoot sequence. They polished it till it was so bland and univolving. TUs had character, the extra “work”drew you in and immersed you. You could do with them as you pleased.
    Such as giving a useless rookie a pistol and grenade, arm the grenade and send him in a room full of aliens. Failure to survive the shootout would thus still take out the aliens. And you could do all that in a single turn! Oh, how many poorly armed rookies I culled. How very few survived and improved enough to get given armour and it was FUN doing it.
    All those possibilities seemed to have been trimmed like so much fat.

    Even taking this RPS advisory on the demo aboard, all this demo did was make me want to know how Xenonauts is coming along.
    How is Xenonauts coming along?

    • Trithne says:

      To me, the loss of tactics like that goes with the smaller squad size to make what is possibly the biggest issue: It doesn’t feel like a desperate defense of earth. It was said in the other thread: There’s no sense of dread. The aliens outnumber you, so you feel like you’re the side with the advantages.

      Difficulty may play into that though – certainly in the demo code aliens died to a stiff breeze while X-COM took plasma hits in stride. Maybe if the tables are turned it’ll bring some of that feeling back, but as long as the aliens outnumber the player having that sort of damage spread is infeasible.

      • Goldeneye says:

        There are already lines you can modify in the demo code to increase the game’s difficulty level. Check it out here.

        link to

        Setting the difficulty to Classic or Impossible turns the demo into the true XCOM experience: soldiers dying in one hit with enemies taking two. The first time I jacked up the difficulty, only one soldier out of four survived the 2nd mission, whereas on my first playthrough I got away with nary a scratch.

      • DogKiller says:

        That feeling of nail biting tension and utter dread when sweeping a town or corn field free of aliens is the first feeling I get when ever somebody mentions X-Com. It has stayed with me for so many years now.

    • MrLebanon says:

      Xenonauts is pretty cool… don’t ask me though I’m horrible at it and rage quit from my iron man game after one too many accidental friendly fire incidents… (deciding to switch characters by clicking on them while in firemode = BAD IDEA)

    • JFS says:

      Xenonauts is coming along very nicely. They are one step away from a feature-complete Beta version, which will probably roll out somewhere around the mid or end of October. I certainly expect there will be a load of bugs to squash in Beta, but they are making steady progress. Major issues like AI coding and level design have been tackled, from what I can tell, so I guess we’ll have a great game in Q1 2013.

    • mouton says:

      I played the Xenonauts demo and it made realize once again that I do prefer some evolution in my games. I already played the first UFO a lot, thank you very much.

    • MyBrainIsMelting says:

      Preordered Xenonauts after the XCOM demo ;)

  12. Drake Sigar says:

    I just hope overall the demo did more to help than hurt it. There’s an art to the perfect demo which has been somewhat lost these past years.

    • ffordesoon says:

      The original BioShock demo is probably the crowning achievement of the form. I don’t know who could have played that thing and not wanted to see the final game. After playing it, you felt like there were a lot of surprises still in store, but at the same time, it gave you enough content that you felt like you had a handle on what the game was going to be.

      That’s the ideal, I think. A good demo is like the first issue of a comic book or the pilot of a TV show; you have to get a sense of the game as a whole, but it also needs to be a good short game in its own right, and it needs to hook you into wanting to see more. I’m not surprised a game like XCOM doesn’t do well under those conditions.

      • Ted D. Bear says:

        I played that demo and didn’t care about the full game. All I took from it was that this is indeed System Shock lite, now with 100% more vaseline look. Powered by UE3.

  13. Metalfish says:

    12) It doesn’t work on xp. This makes crusty out of date people like me sad -especially if said crusties were after a laptop game. We should probably just upgrade or something.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      Well yeah, XP is almost 11 years old, and mainstream support was officially terminated by MS over 3 years ago….

      Edit: And to be fair, the XCOM system requirements are well above the system requirements for Win7. So if you’re on XP due to the hardware, you wouldn’t be able to run XCOM anyways.

      • MrLebanon says:

        13) It doesn’t work on Windows 95… how dare the devs turn their back on me!

      • mckertis says:

        “Well yeah, XP is almost 11 years old, and mainstream support was officially terminated by MS over 3 years ago….”

        Yet every single game you can think of still works on XP, except some stupid marketing gimmicks like Halo2…or XCOM.
        And its still supported.

        • Optimaximal says:

          …and Shattered Horizon…
          …and Just Cause 2…
          …and Battlefield 3…
          …and F1 2012…
          …and Need for Speed: The Run…
          …and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (the new one)…
          …and Sleeping Dogs…
          …and DiRT Showdown…
          …and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier…
          …and Hitman: Absolution…
          …and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2…
          …and MoH: FIGHTER OF WARS…
          …and Assassins Creed 3…
          …and Batman: Arkham City (ok, not that one)…

          Basically, you’re not thinking hard enough.

          • jmtd says:

            Not just mainstream games, either. There was a recent space-suited combat game “Shattered Horizon” that I learned was not compatible with XP on RPS of all places.

        • Dark Nexus says:

          Extended support, not mainstream. The support for it from MS is limited at this point.

          And yes, the overwhelming majority of games still support XP. But not all. And some that do don’t fully support XP. People running XP will get a “lesser” version of the game, due to being stuck on DX9. The list of devs unwilling to be shackled to an 8 year old API is growing, as it should be.

          For XCOM, why put in significantly more work to support an OS that is only used by less than 14% of your available market? Take out the people who don’t meet your hardware minimums, and that’s definitely into the single-digit percentages of your available market. Not worth the time and effort required.

          • lcy says:

            It’s not likely that that 14% even buy many PC games anyway. And please, no one start on the tiresome conspiracy mutterings – if M$ were going to pay Firaxis, this would be a Windows 8 exclusive. It’s not.

          • Dark Nexus says:

            I suspect they do buy PC games, as that’s the Steam stats, not overall XP market penetration numbers.

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          The reason DX9 is so prevalent is due to the fact that the consoles cannot take advantage of DX10 or DX11 features. New consoles certainly will, so be prepared to switch sooner or later.

        • jalf says:

          But that won’t always be true. A number of years ago, every game worked on DOS. Then, one day, a few Win95-only games appeared, and gradually, that turned into a trickle of Win95-only games, and then it turned into the norm, until one day, DOS support was unheard of.

          The same happened when XP replaced Win9x.

          And yes, the same is happening with Vista/Win7 replacing XP here and now. Today, only a handful of games have dropped XP support, but more are coming. It’s happening. It sucks for those who are still using XP, but it’s kind of absurd to complain about it. XP is ancient, and in a month there’ll be *three* newer OSes that will be supported instead.

          It costs dev resources to support older OS’es. It means additional testing, it means you can’t use newer tools and libraries, and at some point, it’s just not worth it any more.

          We’re fast approaching that point. You can complain if you like, but it won’t change anything. If you want to keep playing PC games, you’re going to have to upgrade soon, as annoying as it is.

    • Lemming says:

      Don’t be scared of Windows 7. It’s the ‘new’ XP.

      • mckertis says:

        ” It’s the ‘new’ XP.”

        Except it takes about 30 times as much disk space.

        • Optimaximal says:

          A vanilla XP installation with rudimentary software is ~5-6 GB (Home & MCE might be a *tad* larger with the added cruft they ship with). A vanilla Windows 7 installation takes between 15 & 20GB.

          If you’re using the installation size as a measure of which operating system is better, despite the fact that cavernous disk drives have been readily available BEFORE WINDOWS XP WAS RELEASED, you’re grasping at tiny, insignificant straws.

          • jmtd says:

            “how much space” as a measure of which OS is better is stupid, in BOTH directions.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Disk space is more than 30 times cheaper than it was 12 years ago ;)

          • TCM says:

            Wait, hang on. Slow the frig down.

            Somebody who claims to be a PC gamer.

            Actually complained about disc space.

            In Two-Thousand and frigging Twelve?

            I can get a USB drive with enough space to install Windows 7 and like ten games for…maybe 30 bucks on a good day? And that’s a frigging thumb drive.

          • lcy says:

            Quite. These kind of comments will make us sound like the kind of people who spend all night queuing for a new phone, and defend the fact that we aren’t trusted with root control of our own computing devices…

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Yeah, I’m afraid the ‘XP4life!’ train departed a long time ago when it comes to PC/DX9 gaming. It’s time to move on.

    • Harlander says:

      I was annoyed by this as well. Not so much by it requiring a newer OS – as the man said, XP is super old by now – but the lack of a well-signposted indication of that.

      I thought Steam knew what OS I was running, and would flag up if my ancient tech wasn’t up to scratch.

      Oh well. Upgrade comin’ soon

      • Dark Nexus says:

        No, it’s still “buyer beware” on Steam when it comes to minimum requirements.

  14. squareking says:

    It’s much less stylish than I thought it would be.

    Maybe I’m jaded after the Dead Spaces and Silent Hills, but I wasn’t terrified at any point in the demo, really. X-COM terrified me from the beginning. Perhaps it’s the narrative style, the bland music (that I heard in DE:HR already), the uninspired iconography (yes, really!) or the beeg hulking soldiers that takes me out of it. But it feels narrow and bland. It’s a demo, I understand, but it’s not pushing a few key buttons.

    It also reminds me that I hate the Unreal engine, functionally and aesthetically. Getting shot while very obviously hidden from a grey’s LOS sucks. I’m not talking about a laser bolt clipping the edge of a crate; I mean a bolt going through a wall, through a crate and hitting my dude. My precious immersion. ; _ ;

    • Hug_dealer says:

      The original games were not horror games.

      Neither is this game. The feeling of horror from xcom is when you realize that your troops are about to get horribly mangled because of something stupid you did.

      • lcy says:

        This. It never really concerned me in the original when I lost a rookie near the start of the game – just buy an new one. It was later on, when my veterans were out in the field, that I started to bite my nails – even, dare I say it, holding back with my favourites.

        Horror in the new game will likewise come from high difficulty, with iron-man switched on. You know, the kind of game where you actually take a medkit along, rather than just reloading.

  15. pkt-zer0 says:

    So, since all the cutscenes and autopsy vids were left in the demo: are there any other alien types than those? Which is to say, nothing other than what has already been shown in previews, with one exception (which was kind of obvious anyway)?

  16. Jorum says:

    Haven’t had time to try demo yet, but still not regretting my preorder and and am gonna trust Alec’s judgement for now.
    Have booked the day off-work for release date so will hopefully have time to get into it properly.
    Well, after the “server is too busy” messages and then god knows how many gb download…

    Actually – how big was the preview code Alec?
    Am I gonna spend my day off downloading rather than playing?

  17. Jerakal says:

    This is a great article, and I agree wholeheartedly, whoever was in charge of this demo needs to be sacked. It’s like instead of giving people a taste of what’s to come, their prime directive was to give us as little as possible, as well as fuel the fires of the nitpickers.

    The demo does an extremely poor job of showing exactly how crazy the fights can get, and no, I don’t think the scripted first encounter does a good job of that, being that it’s y’know, scripted.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Yes, some people you do not know and will never meet in person MUST lose their jobs because a small demo was delivered that wasn’t up to the expected level of a few entitleds.

      It’s a bad demo, lets let them learn from it, not pitchfork them.

      • Graerth says:

        I don’t know why everyone hated it so much, i considered the “oh these guys come at me pretty easy now” to be quite expected when it’s the first mission where you can actually choose commands on the guys.

        Yes, i would have wanted to test more. Yes i would have liked to see some of the progress choices. There was a “Labs built next to each other gain bonus” or something that i think i saw in the demo, yet i never saw the construction menu. Even if only the heavy dude who got upgrades? let me see the latter ranks “What do you choose from”. It lets you build towards something, or give a target to aim for instead of a “oh you’ll see once you get to it” to see what kind of stuff a Major Asskicker can have as his abilities.

        Still, as long as missed bullets can hit other shit (and i “think” i’ve heard from some video of this game they could but got no sauce on that), i’m expecting this title quite much now. Can’t afford it at full price now but first discount? I’ll propably buy it (or if i get a job or something).

    • MyBrainIsMelting says:

      Yes, the demo is too limited, but presales of XCOM actually accelerated after it’s release. This observation is based on the progress to the next unlock on Steam, which I have watched for several days.

  18. Hunam says:

    My two thoughts were;

    This is way too flashy. You could remove a ton of the jazz on top (big huge cutscenes, action cams, alien intro etc) and end up with the same tactical game with the same graphics at half the budget.

    Secondly, the rotating camera is all sorts of wrong. Just let me free rotate it. It’s a full 3D engine, knocking it to 4 different points is kinda silly.

    • lcy says:

      I’d agree with this, if half the budget meant half the price. I suspect that half the budget would have meant the exact same price, with more profit. So jazz away, Firaxis!

  19. Lokai says:

    Thanks for writing this Alec. I’ve been following all of your previews here and the demo felt so very wrong compared to what I knew the actual game was, which made me immediately worried about people getting the wrong impression, but I’m so glad you covered all of that and I hope a lot of people read it.

  20. Blackcompany says:

    Had the luxury of never playing the original. So, no comparing. I lived the demo, and am looking forwRd to the full game.

    Going into the demo with zero expectation, left it thrilled at the prospects the game offers.

  21. DogKiller says:

    I was super excited for this, but now I’m erring on the side of caution. I haven’t really got the bandwidth to get the demo at the moment, so I’m just reading other people’s thoughts. A lot of the issues people are raising are the sort of issues that would really bug me if I were playing it myself, so it’s put a seed of doubt in my mind. Money is tight, which means I’m going to put this on the wait and see list. I’ll stick with 1994 goodness if it turns out they’ve strayed too far from what I like.

    Also, 4\6 man squads = sad face.

  22. ttcfcl says:

    I felt this demo was not for fans of the game who are probably already a buy-in. I felt the hand-holdy-ness and ease was to get purchases from newcomers to the series.

    I used a controller and liked it, though the “move here” cursor felt kinda laggy. I got used to it eventually. I wish there were an easier way of getting to the “Fire” commands after holding down RT, rather than having to arrow over everytime. I’m a caution guy, and will abuse the heck out of the Overwatch command, and having to arrow over every time was getting tedious. Also I noticed it wasn’t too consistent in where Overwatch was in that list. Sometimes it was the 2nd one over, sometimes it was the 3rd.

  23. Zenicetus says:

    “But yeah, the PC UI is a slightly awkward hybrid of console and PC, and I really wish they’d pushed it further towards the latter.”

    I’m not sure hybrid is even the best description. “Lazy programming” is more like it. There should be a special circle of Dev Hell for UI designers who put control icons on the screen for a PC release, and then don’t let you click on them with the mouse. And an inner circle inside that one, for UI designers who let you click on some icons, but not others.

    Here we have a turn-based strategy game, where you can’t actually click on the “Next Turn” button. I would have thought this might have been mentioned in some of the RPS previews?

    Anyway, I’m in the camp of people who were eagerly awaiting this game and not looking to criticize it unnecessarily. There are lots of things in the demo that I like, and it’s easy to understand why the demo is limited and linear. That doesn’t bother me. But holy cow, is the UI a mess, and so obviously a result of designing the game around a console release, with the PC as an afterthought. That’s worth complaining about, I think. Especially on this particular gaming site.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      nothing after thought about it.

      It took me 3 turns to really get the jist of it and do everything very quickly with the keyboard short cuts.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I think you’re missing a point here. If there is a keyboard command for Next Turn (and there is), then why is there also an icon on the screen that looks like I should be able to click on it with a mouse? Especially when I can click on other icons, like the ones for swapping guns? What is the functionality of that icon and the ones next to it for squad selection — which I also can’t click on — that makes it worth hogging screen real estate?

        This may just be a glitch in a rushed demo, and the final game will allow more interactivity with the screen controls. I’m assuming that’s probably the case. It’s just the idea that they would release a demo where you couldn’t click on a “Next Turn” button in this type of classic PC game, that’s mind-blowing to me.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          quite possibly disabled for the missions.

          You should never just click next turn. Any units that havent performed actions should atleast hunker down. Perhaps that choose not to let us click on it for those reasons.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            Ah, of course. “All the good bits were disabled for the demo.” A classic approach to demo production.

          • Zenicetus says:

            It’s not disabled, because you can still force the Next Turn by hitting backspace. Also, what if you want to leave a unit hunkered down for more than one turn? How would you burn off the action points if there isn’t a Next Turn button?

            Games like this have always had Next Turn buttons for situations like that, because otherwise you have to do crazy things like move a unit out of position and then back to the same position, just to advance the game. It’s also useful for things like fast recon, where hitting Next Turn is quicker than cycling through all your guys to issue individual hunker-down or other orders, and you just want to keep everyone moving.

        • Clone42 says:

          Agreed. This interface is an abomination. I was really excited for the game, having loved both UFO Defense and Terror from the Deep, and I was excited by what I saw in gameplay videos, but the demo turned me off completely. I no longer care.

          • lcy says:

            Unfortunately, I have been playing the original recently. UI design has come a very long way since then. The new version is a vast improvement.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Um, if you double click on the icons, the action will be performed. Did nobody test that out?

      • Zenicetus says:

        Really? You can double-click on “Next Turn” or the squad member select arrows and that works? Well, that’s better than not being able to click at all.

        On the other hand, it violates some user expectations for this type of interface on a PC. I clicked on the button, and nothing happened. Clicked again, nothing happened. It’s wildly inconsistent UI design, because just a single click works to swap guns on the icons at the lower-right, or to select squad members on the 3D screen.

  24. derbefrier says:

    I enjoyed the demo. I’ll be honest and say i haven’t really followed the game at all and had no idea what to expect and its been so long since i played the original xcom games i barely even remember them. Thanks for setting us straight though this pretty much wiped away any doubt i had for this game. The demo got me interested in its potential and this article sealed the deal.

  25. Jesus H. Christ says:

    so they released a demo that isnt representative of the game in order to do what? Drive down sales? If that is true, these people are incompetent which I find hard to believe.

    No they released the demo because they think that will drive sales. So what elements of the demo are the hoping will drive sales? The game is easy, there are cutscenes (people like those, no shit), and it is made for a controler. end of story.

    Now, once the game is actually released, some or all of those may change if there is the ability to mod this thing. But until then, I’m gonna let the hype train pass me by.

    I might pick it up xmas of 2013 for 5 bucks though.

    • Faldrath says:

      They released the demo for people who do not know what X-Com is and, most likely, have never played a TBS before.

      For us who do know what X-Com is, the demo is a way to check out graphics and interface, pretty much, and then some of the issues are valid.

      But had they released, say, an actual midgame mission, with just that tutorial it would probably be far more damaging for those newbies who know nothing about TBS than that early mission they actually released should be for us who do know what the game is about.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      a relatively small portion of the gaming community pc/xbox/ps3 has ever played an xcom game.

      This is likely their introduction to this type of game.

      You can let the hype train pass you by. We could care less. What you should care about is not purchasing a great game.

      If sales dont do well enough, we wont see another sequel. I’m sure thats what you want.

      Be as cynical as you want, but you are just another shmuck that is killing PC gaming.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        You know, your arguments would be much more persuasive if you weren’t rabidly attacking every single post that didn’t like the demo.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          if the people who didnt like the demo actually made realistic points, other than the demo sucked, so the entire game sucks, its has no depth.

          When we have a fucking guy who has played the real game, and we have over an hour of the devs playing the game , the real game and letting us watch the unedited footage.

          We know exactly the game we are getting. The demo doesnt represent it, which is a valid complaint.

        • subedii says:

          Dude, you said the game plays like an action game, that it’s like Splinter Cell(?), and even Company of Heroes (and I already went into that one specifically). And I’m afraid I still can’t see any of those, but you keep reiterating them as if they’re plainly evident.

          They really aren’t, unless we start talking in some extremely vague terms regarding the game having soldiers and having a glam cam option.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            The demo is much like Splinter Cell in terms of the mostly linear maps in the missions which clearly revolve around designer-designated “CHOKE POINT HERE” and “click here to activate action cutscene of soldier busting down door.” It is further like Splinter Cell because of the incessant intrusion of the AI advisers.

            It is similar to Company of Heroes in that the “squad” is entirely a set of class-based characters with pre-defined weapons loadouts and specific unlockable skills. You are limited to a small number of controllable units on any map (which, again are all pre-defined and non-random). Company of Heroes, like most Relic games, also features annoying AI voice-over intrusions and units grunting on commands.

            Further, it is similar to both games in that all male soldiers are hugely over-buffed linebacker types (yet, inexplicably, do not wear helmets).

          • lcy says:

            My word, that’s poorly thought through criticism. Splinter Cell? Really?

          • subedii says:

            Well let’s see here:

            – You still can’t explain why this is supposed to be an “action game” now.

            – I’ve already addressed character stereotypes because frankly, the original X-Com was far, FAR worse in that regard, and you’re choosing to ignore that.

            – The remaining points are, again, statements on it being a set of tutorial missions, something which you, AGAIN (because this came up in the last thread too), refuse to acknowledge as being the reason for the linearity and scripting, even when Alec writes an entire article on to the contrary.

            Other than that, comparisons go into aforesaid “so vague it’s meaningless” territory.

  26. karthink says:

    The thing about this I don’t get is what they were thinking when releasing a demo where the player has no freedom. Who did they think would appreciate it, especially knowing it’s supposed to be X-COM?

  27. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It’s true, it was a terrible demo. Not really sure what the hell they were thinking tbh.

    But, I’m still buying the game.

  28. Captain Joyless says:

    Everything Alec says might be completely true but the demo, and the game it represents, still feel entirely awful to me.

    What we are being presented with is a cinematic game. Not a real complex game the way the original was, where you’re actually managing an organization and conducting free-form missions, but a game informed by contemporary gaming sensibilities. A game where you’re shown an eviscerated soldier in a bus stop, intermittently illuminated by a light.

    And that, right there, is what summed up the difference for me. It’s a Hitchcock original versus a James Wan reimagining. LOOK GUYS BE SCARED ITS A REALLY GROSS THING.

    Horror in the original X-Com was about a giant screen that said HIDDEN MOVEMENT. Not about flashes of light under a bus stop and a graphic eviscerated corpse.

    This tells me that not only have the devs not done a good job re-imaginging X-Com, it tells me that they were never capable of doing it in the first place. They simply don’t understand what made the first game compelling: competent management in the face of a horrifying unknown. Now we have an action game with lots of fancy bright lights and gore… and turn-based movement.

    Sorry guys, but you failed.

    • derbefrier says:

      that’s makes no sense first you start off saying it “might” (as if hes trying to mislead you or something?)be true then go on to completely ignore that and bash the demo like this article didn’t even exist. I think this just proves some people don’t want to give this game a chance at all and are so hung up on a tutorial mission the choose to ignore the rest of it. It sounds like there are some interesting gameplay choices but untill we play the full game proclaiming it a failure is just buthurt fanboy talk.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Ah, the old “buthurt fanboy” accusation. And I was finding your whole response so erudite until then.

    • subedii says:

      As others have pointed out (and that you’ve fairly deliberately ignored), Hidden movement is in the game. And the tutorial missions aren’t meant to be scary, they’re meant to be tutorial missions.

      For that matter, X-Com wasn’t scary or horror, it was about tension. And in X-Com that came primarily from the prospect of losing your soldiers, from losing the overall meta-game through your choices, not through the aliens themselves. And it’s not something that can be judged from a scripted two level demo that’s meant to show off the general concept of the game for the uninitiated.

      Hitchcock it most certainly wasn’t, nor was it ever designed to be. The aliens were all camp, 90’s day-glo sci-fi. If anything, the rendition here is closer to being a more “intimidating” appearance than anything that ever showed up in the original X-Com. I mean Sectoids looked cute if anything.

      Heck, if we’re going to talk the marines as well for a second, that was pretty evidently 90’s sci-fi pastiche stuff as well, they basically cribbed everything from comic book ideas on what looked cool. Guile hair didn’t come about by accident. They made that choice, and if we’re honest, it’s hardly the most intelligent or atmospheric thing to behold when you’ve got those guys fighting Mutons. And that’s before we get to the nutty armour designs that followed.

      The original X-Com’s tension came in-spite of those things, and largely to do with the prospect of losing or failing in one way or another. But for horror… man Cmdr Guile fighting purple muscle dudes in green spandex isn’t scary, except in the numbers and statistics at work.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        From some of his comments, I don’t believe Captain Joyless has actually played the original as an adult, or in the last decade.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          According to steam I last played X-COM (TFTD, actually) on 1/29/12.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Then why are you likening it to Hitchcock in terms of its horror content? The techniques he pioneered for building suspense are exactly the techniques used by the modern game and not by the old game.

            I seriously think you are lying.

          • lcy says:

            Indeed. X-com is not Hitchcock, not even close. It’s the long running tension, and the gradual accumulation of attrition that dominates the game, not the ‘jumping out of darkness’ aspect.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        You’re right – what’s scary was not the graphics. Things weren’t so much sci-fi pastiche as comic book-oriented. Which was fine in the actual missions – you rarely saw your soldiers that up close. I think we can both agree that graphics have achieved a prominence in the last 20 years. Graphical choice matters a lot more now than it did then. In fact, it’s fair to say you could barely discern a graphical style from X-com just in-mission.

        What’s scary is the sound, the ambience, the fear of what’s going to happen when you hit “end turn”. In other words, implied horror. Not blasting us with in-mission shots of gore.

        And sure, there is “hidden movement” now. Good job on including a screen. What you’re not realizing is the impact that something like 360 degree overwatch has now. Facing no longer matters. You’ll never get snuck on from behind in any relevant sense, because you can see everything around your soldiers. Did you even notice that in the demo? There is no facing. Your 4 soldiers see fine in 360 degrees at the same time. Maybe this is yet another sacrifice made to balance the 4 soldiers thing.

        Showing us psi control on the very first tutorial mission? Are you kidding? Where’s the successive revelation? The first time I came under psi attack I was terrified. Now you’re explicitly shown it in a goddamn tutorial (and the alien “channeling” is pretty meh).

        No, scary is having the actual possibility of your entire squad being wiped out. The entire issue of 4-squad soldiers means that “soldier loss is never going to happen once you’re any good at the game.” Yes, Alec says it’s very punishing when it happens. That means that it will be totally avoidable through competent play. One of the entire reasons you have a huge squad is so that you can have significant losses without crippling the player.

        • subedii says:

          Your constant complaints are again, being sourced from this issue: Scripting. Which is what tutorial missions are supposed to be. And to be frank, is something that the original X-Com sorely needed.

          So let’s look at the rest:

          – Yes there’s 360 view, yes I did “notice that”, the difference being that I don’t have an issue with it. You don’t need to manually TURN your units in order to view your surroundings. It’s one less aspect of micromanagement, and it makes more sense with TU’s no longer being implemented. This does not in any way negate hidden movement. That happens behind cover and obstacles, as opposed to because your soldier apparently cannot look over their shoulder and be aware of their immediate surroundings.

          I mean, the complaint can’t be one of realism, because manual turning is already inherrently more unrealistic, and sight-lines are ludicrously limited in both games.

          – You’re complaining about Psi control being shown when we already know about it. I know you most certainly do. The flipside is not showing it and then having the converse comment coming from you about how they “obviously left out” Psi control. We’re not going to re-discover things like Chrysalids and Psionics, we already know about those. Those things are no longer a spoiler when let’s face it, the game is nearly two decades old. In the meantime, there are still other enemy types that the devs deliberately haven’t expanded on, and have said as much.

          – Aaaand the final paragraph is just more unwillingness to accept the converse on your part, neither from the previews, or the devs, or anyone else. Already pumping up the difficulty level (which was set to easy), just the tutorial missions, I can easily see the scope for complete squad wipes. But let’s leave all that aside for a second. Rather than acknowledge that possibility, you can only constantly parrot the line about how the game’s inevitably going to be easy because of smaller squad sizes, instead of acknowledging the possibility that you do not actually know anything about the difficulty of the game beyond scripted introductory sequences.

          Like I said, if that’s what you want to believe, fine by me. But let’s not pretend that anything you’ve said here actually backs it up. It really, really doesn’t.

  29. hosndosn says:

    RPS, I love you and all, but you’ve done this before with Brink and other games…

    You hype the SHIT out of a game in previews and interviews, for a while, becoming a direct PR channel for a company. Then the actual game comes out and it’s the exact disappointment everyone feared it would be, despite all your claims of that not being the case. People are already (pre)purchasing this game based on the hype, it seems to sell on hype (don’t tell me 2K gives a shit about this past the launch weeks and maybe when some future DLC comes out).

    Now even the frickin demo, the one chance of Friaxis to sell us on all the promises comes out, it’s mush and you’re still trying to tell us that “everything’s fine, nothing to worry here!” Excuse me while not trusting you guys any more. :(

    Plenty of games out there getting hype and bringing up the previews and video demos to back it up. Dishonored being on the top of my personal list.

    But XCOM looks (and now plays) exactly like the dumbed down, superficial, uninspired console remake of a game everyone was afraid it would turn out to be. No new ideas (beyond: “Let’s add more camera swings and turn every fine tuning into an and/or decision!”). It doesn’t even look that great.

    This all really feels like Alec’s cousin is working at Friaxis or something. Bleh.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      did you watch the hour long gameplay they released of the game.

      It shows what the game truly is. which is entirely the opposite of what you just posted.

      Haters gonna hate though.

      • dmbelenk says:

        Agreed! They have tons of videos (from PAX, on Gamespot) where they just play the game, and it looks much better than the demo. The multiplayer also looked good. In fact, I think I enjoy watching those videos more than I enjoyed playing the demo, which produced in me the same “Wait, what? This isn’t XCOM”response that I see in these comments.

        I think the videos give a much better sense of the game. That said, they do point out many ways in which it will not be following the original, which could still be upsetting (have to reserve judgement till I play it through). But I’m still very excited for this game.

        • brotherthree says:

          Although XCOM is probably one of my top 3 games of all time (and that is saying something, i game a LOT) i am ashamed to admit i havent been following this release as closely as i should….

          What is the multiplayer portion? How does it work?

          • TormDK says:

            It’s 1vs1, you buy humans and alien units for pre-determined points (You can choose how many points worth).

            It’s sort of like a free for all Warhammer 40K tabletop version. It didn’t seem that bad from the videoes we’ve seen.

      • hosndosn says:

        I did watch the hour long gameplay video. Constantly thinking: “Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if you could… hmm, seems like you can’t.” Plus the video seemed to carefully select the three kinds of things you can do in the game, i.e. the “best of” moments of the original X-COM with more drama-cam, but whenever there was a hint of depth, you quickly saw “Oh, it’s just a static stat point, now”.

        Remember when you actually had to layout your bases with choke points in front of the hangars so your stationed ground units could better counter an eventual attack? Remember when X-Com Apocalypse added a working real-time mode(!) to the game (that never made me look back to turn-based, btw)? Remember when every mission created a new procedural map based on the environment the UFO was shot down over? Remember when you could actually have enough units to split them into 3 or more squads? I do.

        I mean, it’s nice you now have Starbucks look at her fallen comrades in that ant-colony’s mourning chamber thingy or your soldier doing a backflip while the camera swings around him when you order him to walk up the stairs. But where’s over 15 years worth of opportunities to come up with actual new game mechanics and strategic depth? I can tell you were. Over at Paradox Interactive.

        The new XCOM is a tacky plastic version of the original for 15 year old kids on XBoxes who never even heard of the original. Which is fine for them. But not for fans of the original. Don’t fall for the cheapest excuse in games PR: That you’re “afraid of change.” The truth is that AAA game mechanics haven’t changed in over a decade which is fuckin sad. Marketing has, though.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          are you serious? Are you?

          You seriously are trying to say that nothing has been added. We have plenty of new alien types, we have an added multiplayer mode.

          Biggest of all we have much more character customization based on selecting new abilities. Now i’m not saying that nothing has been removed or changed, but they have added plenty of new things to the game also.

          The game also doesnt even have time units.

          You talk all this shit about how the game hasnt change, and hasnt added anything, and by gods they have changed and added plenty.

          • hosndosn says:

            I admitted marketing got better. We have simplifications. We have gimmicks. We have check box features nobody really asked for. To quote the Spec Ops: The Line lead designer Cory Davis:

            “The multiplayer mode of Spec Ops: The Line was never a focus of the development,” Davis said, “but the publisher was determined to have it anyway. It was literally a check box that the financial predictions said we needed, and 2K was relentless in making sure that it happened — even at the detriment of the overall project and the perception of the game.”

            We don’t have anything deep. Most of those new “perks” are just a CoD-ified version of things that naturally grew out of gameplay with the more detailed character stats and item customization in the original. The lack of time units just removes fine grain from managing your unit’s stamina. Etc, etc.

            And I’ve seen this whole hype/reality gap theater before, here on RPS, with Brink. I just don’t fall for it anymore.

            Have fun enjoying a game that’s maybe okay but a skeleton of its possibilities. It’s not impolite not to like it.

          • Sheng-ji says:


            “The new XCOM is a tacky plastic version of the original for 15 year old kids on XBoxes who never even heard of the original”

            It is impolite to insult those who do like it, so before telling other people to be more polite, take a careful look at how rude you are.

        • Loyal_Viggo says:


    • Droopy The Dog says:

      God, I almost forgot the impeccably glowing previews they had for Brink. *shudder*

      I guess they just really love games with lots of cinematics…

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      I agree with you completely, and am appalled at this *cough* remake *cough*, but you know all you are doing is feeding the trolls and lost fanbois…

      So many things wrong with this game…

      Help me Xenonauts… you’re my only hope…

  30. Stellar Duck says:

    Can we shoot aliens around corners in the full game as well? And the other way round. That seemed bad to me.

    I just didn’t like that the demo made me feel like middle management with the NPC dude presenting me with whatever choices he saw fit. I want to do that myself. By what I mean: an NPC telling me that I can either get +4 scientists or 200 dollars for 2 missions is not choice. That’s just an arbitrary restriction.

    A harrowing choice is if I’m going to do a terror site and then ignore the mothership I shot down or the other way round. Or chance the ship with a ship of rookies. That’s not a situation presented by an NPC but a situation presented by gameplay as it happens. And this demo sure did nothing to persuade me that it’ll be to my liking.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      “8) That bland commander guy who speaks and apparently gives orders a) is not you, but some advisor figure and b) fades into the background once the tutorial’s stuff done, from thereon in largely just existing to give mission briefings on loading screens. I was really worried about him too to start with, but he’s just a crutch to introduce initial concepts and, later, to tremble as some alien concepts are introduced. The only characters you’ll hear much from in the game proper are the science and engineering heads, and the shadowy global council in your monthly performance/funding debriefs.”

      I assume you didn’t bother to read the article before commenting, so I took the time to copy and paste the relevant paragraph here for you so you don’t have to strain your poor little brain searching for “point 8”

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Try reading his actual comments instead of blindly citing them to support your argument:

        ” from thereon in largely just existing to give mission briefings on loading screens.”

        As in, doesn’t go away, you see him before every single mission, and apparently does other things too even if he “largely” exists for this briefing purpose.

        WORDS: having meanings since 10,000 BC or earlier

        • Sheng-ji says:

          “I just didn’t like that the demo made me feel like middle management with the NPC dude presenting me with whatever choices he saw fit.”

          ” fades into the background once the tutorial’s stuff done,”
          “he’s just a crutch to introduce initial concepts and, later, to tremble as some alien concepts are introduced”
          “The only characters you’ll hear much from in the game proper are”[list of characters who are not the NPC Dude (sic) being discussed]

          Words – being misunderstood by Captain Joyless since the day of his birth in, I assume 2000.

      • Tick says:

        I think you misunderstood Stellar Duck’s point. What he was getting at is that “options” should not be choices presented to you by the game. It should not be a simple X or Y every so often. The options presented to a player should be created by a player and in some way affected by a players previous choices.

        The choice between +4 scientists or +$200 in no way takes a player’s previous choices into account (unless of course you let a continent get taken away and it therefore no longer shows up as an “option”).

        Point 8 simply states that the NPC’s will not be as in-your-face later in the game as they appear to be in the demo.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I don’t particularly care that NPCs exist. I care that the choices he presented me with were just arbitrary restrictions, just as I wrote. And I did preface it with ‘I just didn’t like that the demo[…]’.

        But my point was and is, that based on the demo, the game forces you to choose between whatever scenarios the designer wants me to do and hands me briefing packets. I felt like that scene in the Simpsons movie where Arnold is presented with a stack of briefing handouts.

        It’s not about Captain McGruffington in his olive sweater. It’s about the game forcing me to do stuff just because. I’m leading an international task force. Why can I only save Chicago or a Chinese city? Is it a matter of resources? In the original it mostly is, but those lack of resources/logistics are of my own making, not because the game forces me into it.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          “Why can I only save Chicago or a Chinese city?”

          Because that’s where the aliens have landed. Right? I mean even the original game wouldn’t let you troop over to Delhi if there were no aliens there and launch a mission. What would be the point.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Good grief! Considering you started by accusing me of not reading the post you seem remarkably reluctant to do so yourself.

            Right after I ask why it’s Chicago or Chinese City I qualify the question. I ask why the arbitrary choice. The crux of the question is the specific cities. The crux is the or. Why can’t I save both? Why does an international task force only have enough for one mission? In the original I knew precisely why I sometimes had to choose between Delhi and Montevideo. Because the organization I had built lacked the resources. That was my doing and it was obvious. Here I just get handed a selection of arbitrary city names with some resources attached and forced to make a choice. That’s my issue. It’s a more shallow and narrow approach and it limits freedom in a big way.

            Aside from that I could perfectly well send out a ship in a patrol pattern in the original to scout and intercept enemy activities. I might be able to do that here but the demo is refusing to actually show me what the game is like.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            So, your problem isn’t with the NPC guy then? Your problem is with the decision that you only get one squad. A design limitation I assume to make sure you follow the tutorial properly. And because you only have one of those nifty planes which can cross the planet quickly enough and land in a hostile combat zone safely. (Let’s be honest, in real life, local forces would be used and X-Com made the arbitrary design decision to ignore that in the name of fun. Also if the invasion was really happening, most countries would not tell you and shoot you down the second you entered their airspace. But again the original ingored that in the name of fun. All games have arbitrary design decisions, to make them more fun. I don’t see how you can have a problem with this one but manage to overlook numerous other massive game design decisions which deviate from what you would do or be able to do in real life or in your own imagination.)

            Which wasn’t what you said, and if that’s what you were trying to say, boy do you need to think before you type.

            Don’t buy the game, that’s my advise to you, your sale won’t be missed and you will never be disappointed. Maybe you could buy xenonauts, get your hopes up that they will be making the exact game you want, then bitch and moan about their design decisions. I believe they are changing how interception works, you should be able to get pissy enough about that about that, but you could phrase it that you hate the design of the radar screen, only clarifying later that it’s because of arbitrary decisions the game designers made. Or something.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Who died and made you Space Emperor over what I can bitch and moan about?

            I didn’t force you to reply to my comment and frankly I think you’ve been pretty hostile over a discussion about a video game.

            And yes, I may buy Xenonauts and probably will. Depends on how it shapes up. But I wanted both games to be good.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Seeing as you seemingly edited your post I’ll answer some of the stuff you mention:

            ” Your problem is with the decision that you only get one squad.”

            My problem is the they chose to limit the scope of the game and remove the organic feel of the original and replace it with a mission select screen/briefing packet from an NPC. It moves me from being the commander to just being, as I said in my original comment, middle management, doing what I’m told.

            ” Also if the invasion was really happening, most countries would not tell you and shoot you down the second you entered their airspace.”

            Which runs counter to the intro telling me that a council of nations authorized the project. Seems dumb to say go for the project and then shoot them down. But that’s just back story fluff which I don’t really care about. I don’t play for the story.

            ” I don’t see how you can have a problem with this one but manage to overlook numerous other massive game design decisions which deviate from what you would do or be able to do in real life or in your own imagination.)”

            I never said that I don’t have other issues, but they’re secondary to this one.

            “Which wasn’t what you said, and if that’s what you were trying to say, boy do you need to think before you type.”

            I do believe that I said from the start that I dislike the choice to limit the player to middle management and slave to whatever missions the game chooses to dole out. That was my point. It was you who continually insisted on claiming that it was something else. But I’ll refrain from commenting on your reading comprehension.
            I used the NPC as a visual stand in as it’s the NPC who is the face of the design choice. I really can’t help if you’re reading what I wrote that literal that you can’t abstract the NPC from the design choice. Tick even pointed out that you got it wrong. But you chose to barge ahead and, I’ll say, get very confrontational and insulting.

            “[…] that’s my advise[…]”

            It’s advice. If you’re going to insult my reading comprehension and tell me to think before I type then please, do the same.

            “I believe they are changing how interception works, you should be able to get pissy enough about that about that, but you could phrase it that you hate the design of the radar screen, only clarifying later that it’s because of arbitrary decisions the game designers made.”

            If they indeed change the interception so it’s not to my taste I will be disappointed. And again, I can’t help if you don’t understand what I wrote. I did try to clarify but that only made you more hostile.

            What I wrote was: “I just didn’t like that the demo made me feel like middle management with the NPC dude presenting me with whatever choices he saw fit. I want to do that myself. By what I mean: an NPC telling me that I can either get +4 scientists or 200 dollars for 2 missions is not choice. That’s just an arbitrary restriction.”

            That’s not a complaint that an NPC exists. But he’s the person in the game that stands in for a design choice I don’t agree with so I anthropomorphized him. If he had just been a telex on the screen I would have written:

            “I just didn’t like that the demo made me feel like middle management with the telex presenting me with whatever choices he saw fit. I want to do that myself. By what I mean: a telex telling me that I can either get +4 scientists or 200 dollars for 2 missions is not choice. That’s just an arbitrary restriction.”

            It’s the same. Only I suspect you would have harped on about the telex instead telling me that I’m a dolt for not liking a telex.

            You’re not really a nice person.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “Who died and made you Space Emperor over what I can bitch and moan about?”

            I guess the same person who died and made you King who is immune to being criticised. As our respective positions cancel each other out, we may as well dispense with the red tape.

            “I didn’t force you to reply to my comment ”


            “and frankly I think you’ve been pretty hostile over a discussion about a video game”

            I’m straightforward. I’m very genuinely sorry if you mistake me using direct language as hostility, I’ll try to be fluffier towards you so you don’t misinterpret my intentions.

            ” If you’re going to insult my reading comprehension and tell me to think before I type then please, do the same”

            I made a typo. You said “I don’t like the NPC” Which wasn’t what you meant. You understood what I was saying. I couldn’t understand what you were saying because your ramblings made no sense.

            “Which runs counter to the intro telling me that a council of nations authorized the project. ”

            It was an arbitrary design decision to suit the game. You know that in real life, such a council would not happen in such a short space of time, thus the game designers had to make that decision in the name of fun. The design decision dramatically simplifies the political aspects of the game, basically condensing it into a “keep happiness above this level to get reward x” But you strangely don’t have a problem with that one.

            “I do believe that I said from the start that I dislike the choice to limit the player to middle management and slave to whatever missions the game chooses to dole out. That was my point. It was you who continually insisted on claiming that it was something else. But I’ll refrain from commenting on your reading comprehension.”

            I shall continue to point out that what you wrote was directed at the NPC, who in game is clearly not your superior – so how that makes you middle management is anyone’s guess – which muddied your point until it was entirely incomprehensible.

            “Tick even pointed out that you got it wrong. But you chose to barge ahead and, I’ll say, get very confrontational and insulting.”

            I’ve blocked tick. I can’t for the life of me remember why, my usual reasons are for insulting other peoples race/religion/sex et al. I have blocked a hell of a lot of people, who I wouldn’t have expected to based on their previous behaviour after the sexism in gaming debates. Some people really showed their true colours. Once again, I’m sorry you misinterpreted my directness as insults or confrontation. Obviously any debate has an element of confrontation, but I understand that your misinterpretation of this is my problem and something I promise I will work on.

            “You’re not really a nice person.”

            If you were sat next to me as I wrote any of my responses and could look into how I was thinking and feeling, I don’t think you would believe that. I have already accepted twice now, so I will reiterate a third time, I understand my tone has been wrong and I will try my hardest to change that.

            Back to the debate proper. Now I understand what you are saying, I can’t disagree with you, primarily because it is a matter of opinion and who am I to tell you what to like. I can offer advice (See, I’m learning) which may help you to make the design decision palatable. Lets pretend for a second that this state of affairs isn’t limited to the tutorial, (despite what those who have played the press build are reporting, even in the above article) and it really is just a mission tree structure through the game. One presumes that the base screen is nothing more than a glorified options menu which you can use to “level up through the tech tree” and customise and choose your soldiers and select which mission you go on next, intercept alien ships etc. Is that what you think this game will be?

          • JiminyJickers says:

            Sheng-ji mate, you misinterpreted his initial statement and then flew off on your holy crusade. How about you take some time and read the comments and actually see what he said.

            His complaint was that you are given a choice of missions and can only choose one. I agree with him.

            In the original, you can complete both missions if you had two dropships and two squads. Being forced to choose a mission in a “choose your own adventure” style system, takes away from the game.

            It still looks like a good game and I’m looking forward to it being released, but his criticism is valid.

  31. Infinitron says:

    Bottom line: Firaxis lied to PC gamers about the UI.

    I hope this game fails horribly on consoles (which in AAA terms means it would fail horribly, period)

    • ffordesoon says:

      They said they were making a separate PC UI. They made a separate PC UI.

      That’s a lie just because you don’t like the UI they made? Because I don’t remember anyone from Firaxis promising that the UI would be flawless and beloved by PC players the world over, or whatever – and if someone did, they were stupid to make that promise, because there’s no fulfilling it. But I’ve only seen them promise a separate UI, and they delivered – shock of shocks! – a separate UI.

      And before you say it’s not really a separate UI because you can play it on the controller too, remember that there’s an entirely separate cursor that moves on a grid. The controller doesn’t do that. There are plenty of other features the console version doesn’t have, like zooming functions. Also, it works on a mouse and keyboard. If that isn’t a separate PC UI, then what is?

      Christ. Don’t be stupid.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I watched the much fabled one hour of footage last night. The X-box UI is identical. I don’t see how that is a separate UI.

        • ffordesoon says:

          It’s not, though. I already listed several features that are different. It looks very similar, but I don’t see what that has to do with functionality.

          How separate do you want it to be? A whole new game? It is a user interface tailored to keyboard and mouse. That is a PC UI. Not a flawless one, but a PC UI nonetheless. Neither consoles nor PC are going to get some sort of vastly different version, because that requires changing the core game design. There are some nice optional bells and whistles for PC players, but there’s not some sort of classic X-Com mode with Time Units and multiple bases, or something.

          • jalf says:

            How is it tailored towards keyboard and mouse? You can’t use the mouse for half the things you would expect to use the mouse for.

            I’m not really sure what your point is. Yes, technically, they made a slightly different UI for the PC version than for the console version, so technically they were not lying.

            But what they *implied* when they said this was that they were making a PC UI that *worked well* for the PC, which was tailored for the PC.

            And it most certainly is not.

            How separate do we want it to be? Separate enough to feel like a PC UI. Separate enough that I can use my mouse the way I expect a mouse to work. Separate enough that I can click on icons on the screen. Separate enough that I can click on a room in my base to go to that room. Separate enough that I can click on an alien to switch to that target.

            You seem to be doing some kind of weird “yes, but it doesn’t matter that the PC UI sucks, as long as Firaxis upheld their promise to make it a *separate* UI from the console version”, which is a completely absurd statement to make, and I honestly don’t see where you’re going with it.

          • Milky1985 says:

            What can’t you use the mouse for that you wuold expect to, only thing i can think of is choosing what to shoot (where you use tab)?

            Honest question cause a few people here don’t know about the left click to open doors etc :P

        • lcy says:

          Thankfully, I’m not snobby enough to look down on owning an Xbox. If the UI works (and it does) then I don’t care that the Xbox version is the same.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I’m not really sure where I said that there is anything wrong with owning an Xbox? I do so myself and a PS3 to boot.

            I was commenting on the UI, which on the PC is the same in most every detail. Aside from that I just think it’s a messy UI (on all platforms) that looks bad and presents information badly. Also not hover tool tips. That’s just stupid.

    • lcy says:

      The UI’s better than the original – get a grip.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        So we’re judging a UI on the fact that at least it’s not as shitty as one made 20 years ago in 320×240?

      • JiminyJickers says:

        The UI is also better than Dwarf Fortress, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that it is not a good one.

        They said they had a whole team working on it, but all they did was map some keys to the and a few select mouse clicks to the console system. Not quite what they claimed.

        The game is playable, but it looks like it will work better with a controller.

  32. Alexandros says:

    Alec I need to know if the xcom soldiers and aliens can still shoot through full cover in the full version, even when having no line of sight to the enemy. If that is not some kind of demo bug, then Xcom fails as a tactical game.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      full cover does not mean that you are completely safe. Full cover simply means you have lots of cover. Think of it like how bullets can penetrate objects.

      You know that alien is next to that window, what do you do? shoot where you think he is. Which you have a % chance to hit based on that.

      If you want to be completely protected, you dont stand next to the window, you move another spot over and then they cant even shoot, or you use Hunker down which basically means its impossible to hit when you have full cover along with it.

      Perhaps it would be better called Heavy cover instead.

    • JoeGuy says:

      That was confirmed as fixed during the GameSpot livestream. Just a bug.

  33. Vinraith says:

    I’m not sure it was intended to, but this article reads to me as “wait for Xenonauts.”

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      My thoughts exactly. Everything I read about XCOM makes me think that I’ll prefer Xenonauts. I expect I’ll give XCOM a shot a couple of years down the line though.

    • hosndosn says:

      The article starts as reaffirmation but ends up mostly apologizing, which makes me wonder what the point is, really.

    • Jerubbaal says:

      Just bought it today after playing the XCOM demo yesterday. Not that XCOM doesn’t look like fun from the gameplay videos I’ve seen, but I’ve been having doubts for a while and the demo more or less confirmed them for me. I was going to wait for them to roll out the (vastly) improved AI in Xenonauts before buying (it’s scheduled to be updated on October 9th) but I figured why the hell not now.

      EDIT: I’ll definitely pick up XCOM at some point, probably in the next summer sale when it’s between $15 and $25

  34. Optimaximal says:

    Rearrange these four words…

    Demo, Hitman, Money, Blood.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Demoman hit blood money?

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Ahaha. I learned this firsthand. Played the Blood Money demo and thought it was a safe “pass”, not terrible but kind of mediocre.

      Then I go online and I am educated that the full game is much more satisfying.

  35. El_MUERkO says:

    My creaking connection meant leaving the computer running for 20 hours to download the demo.

    Honestly. 6gb for that?!

    I know there’s a good game to come because I’ve watched the streams and read the previews etc…

    But to the curious?

    A 6gb waste of time.

    That demo lost them sales, who ever signed off on it should be sacked.

    Why do I care?

    Because I want sequels and expansions… hell I’ll settle for DLC.

    To do that this game needs to sell and that demo does not sell the game.

    It’d be easy to do as well.

    Just add one more mission from later in the game, like the one they played on the stream that showed off the PC UI, allow people to see the less linear and more varied aspects of the game.

    But no. An annoyingly slow tutorial and one small, largely linear, mission.

    RAGE POO!!!!

  36. dirtrobot says:

    Yeah it’s short. But it’s fun! The interface is crap until you figure out the shortcuts (which are super easy).

    I like that I don’t have to adjust the angle of each of my soldier’s limbs like in Jagged Alliance. Yes, I’m exaggerating. The streamlining works! The graphics are pretty average! The tension is still there and that’s all that matters to me. I got nervous enough to put my guys on constant overwatch.

    Plus there’s a Canadian soldier! Yessss!!!

  37. JCJensen says:

    “The keyboard and mouse interface. Yes, it doesn’t feel quite right, does it? But yeah, the PC UI is a slightly awkward hybrid of console and PC, and I really wish they’d pushed it further towards the latter.”

    All those glowing previews, not a single single word, which is baffling for a PC oriented gaming site, and when gamers played the game for themselves, found about clunky consoley controlls/interface, RPS comes up with this?! This, ladies and gentleman, is how gaming journalism works. In order to get interviews from developers (and RPS had some big time with Jake Solomon), you need to keep your mouth shut! Hiding issues under a carpet will only hurt the actual game, and will help sales in a short turn..

    • mckertis says:

      “All those glowing previews, not a single single word”

      They couldnt really talk about something which in all likelihood didnt even exist, could they ? It seems rather obvious that Firaxis only started working on their glorious “We Love PC – interface” in the last month.

    • MrMud says:

      Yea, it is a bit disgusting…

    • Clone42 says:

      Sad but true.

    • hosndosn says:

      This is really the most disappointing aspect of RPS. They have great coverage, give attention to a lot of interesting indie games that are barely mentioned on other major sites, fight the good fight against DRM… but they suck at previews. I just can’t trust them.

      I mean, there’s got to be one guy at RPS to be as obsessive about 90s PC strategy gaming as me, heck, I’m not even that big of an X-Com nut. It’s just baffling things like that aren’t front and center in every preview. Are they seriously falling for the PR person’s “we’ll fix it for release” line? Because game design issues never get fixed by release. Or are they just afraid 2K won’t invite them to those “event” demos anymore?

      It’s really a low point for RPS and they’re not even realizing it.

      Heck, fuck my X-Com fanboyism. Maybe the new one is the best game in the world! But basically apologizing throughout half an article while starting it with “it’s dividing opinion for the wrong reasons” is just… it’s baffling.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Every preview up until RPS got preview code has been played with an Xbox controller in a controlled environment.

      As for after they got the preview code, maybe none of them were all that bothered by it, because they got used to it within a minute, because it is, at worst, a slightly quirky interface? They probably felt it wasn’t worth mentioning. Yes, there are PC gamers who don’t immediately grab their pitchforks and torches when confronted with a slightly new and different control scheme.

      (Although I have never, ever seen a PC game that’s multiplatform come out without several loud and angry PC gamers declaring the interface the worst they’ve ever seen, worse even than Oblivion/Fallout 3/Skyrim/whatever recent game’s UI it is popular to bash. And then they long for an older title’s UI that wasn’t actually very good either, and was in fact notably worse, but it was only on PC so it was better. And then everyone plays the game they hate so much.)

      And even the quoted paragraph says, essentially, “Yeah, it’s a tad console-y, but it hasn’t bothered me much.” And given the way people are obsessively dissecting every scrap of XCOM info posted on this site, maybe mentioning the dreaded C-word that we’re all supposed to be scared of for some dumb reason in vague connection with the letters U and I might (read: would) have resulted in a massive shitstorm with people screaming for Jake Solomon’s blood. Even though none of the Hivemind found the controls much of an issue.

      Also, Alec mentioned that he was slightly unhappy with the base interface. Which then resulted in hundreds comments, many of them anguished.

      Can we maybe have some middle ground between BEST THING EVER and WORST THING EVER when it comes to user interfaces, guys? Especially when it’s based on a crappy five-minute tutorial with a two minute actual gameplay demo locked on Easy difficulty attached?

      Imagine decinding the original X-Com was the WORST THING EVER because you watched the intro and fiddled with the Geoscape for a couple of minutes.

      • jalf says:

        Imagine decinding the original X-Com was the WORST THING EVER because you watched the intro and fiddled with the Geoscape for a couple of minutes.

        This is for you, my friend

        I was going to actually respond to your comment, but why bother? Everything about the controls has already been said, and the criticism of RPS’ previews in this case is entirely warranted.

        But you’re not interested in any of that, are you? It’s much more fun to make absurd strawman arguments, flawed analogies to “what if” regarding the original game, and blindly defend whatever “the filthy masses” are unhappy with.

        I guess it make you feel superior, somehow? Well, good for you.

        • lcy says:

          If you don’t trust previews – here’s a thought – don’t pre-order!

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      It is pretty shocking, but not surprising considering what else they’ve done to this ‘remake’.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I’m pretty sure all the journalists were forced to play it with a controller. Even in the 1 hour video, the devs weren’t willing to show off the PC interface. Most likely since it hasn’t been completed (if you can call it that).

  38. Ashbery76 says:

    The demo is just couple of on rails tutorial missions,geez.

    We need some perspective people as many videos are on the internets showing a very open,tactical game.

  39. Jim9137 says:

    The doodlios and the thingamajibs aside, it just didn’t feel like the X-COM that took my lunch money and left me in the gutter.

  40. Robin says:

    The worst thing is the class restricted weapons (and items). Together with the lack of inventory, makes your units seem pre-built. For example all the rookies have identical stats and loadout (assault rifle + frag grenade): they’re fundamentally Stormtroopers. My ability to meddle with the loadout was among the things that differentiated X-COM from the others TBS games, even the good ones.

    Overall the demo felt to me like X-COM Lite. The team evidently put a lot of work behind it, it is not “Cinematic Game #7”. Kudos (sincerely). But definitively it isn’t the “new fix of X-COM” that I’m waiting since Apocalypse (1997).

    As these remakes/spiritual successors came out, I’m more and more convinced that the only one who gets X-COM and can improve it with the right philosophy design-wise (even if the final result isn’t perfectly on par with the progenitor), is the original creator.
    Please Julian make another X-COM game for us desperate, diehard fanboys; small budget with 2D graphics is fine.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      I think the best comparison is Civilization: Revolutions.

      Does anyone else not get the drift? Brian Reynolds works for Zynga. Sid Meier makes “action” remakes (read: console) of old games like Civ and Pirates and Railroad Tycooon. We could even get into Bioware and Westwood and all that jazz, but why bother?

      Stop expecting the old generation to remake awesome old games. They have all “sold out” (yawn, to the extent we want to get ‘punk rock’) and are not going to produce good products any more. If you want good games you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      this is where you really need to watch things with developer commentary.

      There are lots of reason why they did alot of these things, and the reasons do make sense.

      Its hard for me to point you to a single link but they basically explain all the things you listed and more at some point or another.

      • Jerubbaal says:

        Just because a developer has reasons doesn’t mean those reasons are good, though you seem determined to defend this game against any and every criticism leveled against it. When they explained why they don’t want to do base invasions it showed me that while they certainly do have a coherent design philosophy, it isn’t necessarily a good one. And in the case of base invasions, that philosophy is “It punishes the player for doing well! We can only have positive reinforcement in our game.” That’s a philosophy I and many others on RPS strongly detest, and are detested by lots of others if the increasing popularity of roguelike-inspired games like DayZ and FTL are any indication.

        Or, let’s say, the removal of the ability to go rogue, to operate without any more nations backing you. Why not? Name a single damn good reason for removing that feature. To encourage us to keep the trust of the nations isn’t enough, we have the fact that we lose funding and a lot more to encourage that already.

        In the end, though, I like what I’ve seen of XCOM (apart from the demo), but I won’t be buying it until a big Steam Sale rolls around. Xenonauts has my cash.

      • jalf says:

        Of course they had reasons. It’s not like they decided to make a bunch of changes just for the heck of it.

        They made changes because they thought it’d make for a better/more popular game.

        But that doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with those changes. If someone feels the game is worse for not having some feature that the original X-COM had, then they have a right to feel that way.

      • Robin says:

        I watched and read EVERYTHING. And played the demo.

        And this still feels like X-COM Lite. I don’t care WHY they removed that stuff; but I care about its absence.

        I’d have more things to say, but overall this design seems lacking and incredibly worse than the original. They said the original was “over-designed” (lol), but this game is full of rules and limits compared to the original, it feels SO CONTRIEVED. This isn’t right, in my opinion.

        Mr. Gollop please make a new X-COM game.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      If only Julian would make another XCOM game!

      I’d be all over that like a man with no arms.

      • Robin says:

        I don’t even know what he’s doing right now. I mean he did Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, a nice portable TBS game for 3DS, but since then silence.

        ALL the games he made are little gems, when they’re not simply masterpieces (especially during the Mythos Games era… damn Mythos Games should be resurrected RIGHT NOW).

        Someone please tell him that there is still LOVE on the PC. LOOOOOOVEEEEEE.

        If he want to focus on portables, fine, but at least make muliplatform tablets-PCs titles, he can’t stay confined on 3DS. It’s a crime.

  41. thecaptain says:

    I will say that I found the interface less awkward playing with a controller on a projector/couch setup than with mouse and keyboard, and I’m normally a keyboard and mouse die hard.

    It’s possible that the interface would improve with changed keybindings by mucking about in the config (Some of the key choices and the confirmations are downright odd).

    Spoilers ahoy: You can wring a bit more enjoyment out of the demo by kicking it up from easy to impossible difficulty here: link to or modding the enemies / friendlies to be more interesting here: link to
    It’s slightly more enjoyable when you have a few additional abilities, and when the enemies actually shoot back and use their own abilities.

  42. kud13 says:

    demo crashes after the last splash screen. not sure if this is because my win 7 install recently caught the dreaded “Windows Installer bug” or any other reason.

  43. Kaje says:

    Any news on the accent issues? I.E all American?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yeah the accents or lack thereof are rather disappointing. If they aren’t able to afford accents don’t have them say anything.

      • TCM says:

        Or they could give them accents, and be quickly decried for having stereotyping.

        Or they could have them speak their native language, and quickly be decried for getting pronunciation details wrong. (Or alternatively pay an obscene amount to get native language speakers to say the exact same thing an english actor would say, ONLY FOREIGN~)

        Or they could have them not speak (is, in fact, an option in the options panel!) and be criticized for not having a proper soundscape to match the graphics (even in original X-com, soldiers screamed on death).

        This is one of those ‘no way to win’ scenarios. Generic voice with option to turn it off is as good as it gets.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Or they could give them accents, and be quickly decried for having stereotyping.
          1) This almost never happens. Lots of games have accents, no one cares.

          Or they could have them speak their native language, and quickly be decried for getting pronunciation details wrong. (Or alternatively pay an obscene amount to get native language speakers to say the exact same thing an english actor would say, ONLY FOREIGN~)
          2) Civ 5, this studios VERY LAST GAME had native language speakers for much harder to find languages, and it went fine.

          Or they could have them not speak (is, in fact, an option in the options panel!) and be criticized for not having a proper soundscape to match the graphics (even in original X-com, soldiers screamed on death).
          3 Fair enough.

          This is one of those ‘no way to win’ scenarios. Generic voice with option to turn it off is as good as it gets.

          It is not “no way to win” 1 or 2 are vastly preferable to three, common in games of this profile, and 2 was done in this studios last game.

          My conclusion, you are being argumentative/defensive rather than actually serious.

          • TCM says:

            Civ V was the successor game to a long, profitable, cash cow brand name.

            X-COM is a niche series reboot.

            I am thinking maybe there is a slight budget difference!

            (yeah I am not being entirely serious, but I honestly can’t think of a game I have played that used english w/ accents for characters of various nationalities that WASN’T decried at some point, either by the gaming press or forums)

  44. Joshua Northey says:

    Some constructive thoughts from someone who has loved XCOM (it was my first ever PC game purchase), and played it as recently as 2 years ago, and who has played nearly every rip-off, and the demo:

    A) A hate hate hate the prevailing Hypermasculine art style, with giant towering men who are bigger than the worlds biggest body builders, with ridiculous looking weapons. It always looks childish, insecure and silly, attempting to appeal to bros and wanna-be bros. It also goes against one of the main feelings of the game, your tiny under-gunned squaddies vs the menacing aliens. Slowly developing into a force worth using.

    Your guys don’t look like they are afraid of anything, or could be. World class soldiers weigh 200 lbs and are just above 6′ +/-, not 450 and 7′.

    B) The UI is a mess and is frankly horrible, but honestly the first one’s UI wasn’t great either. Of course that does have the excuse of being 20 years ago. Why not just have normal free camera control and buttons? That system is only 10 years old and works great…

    C) The gameplay was ok, but the loss of facing and reliance on cover were a little troubling. Worse yet it wasn’t always clear the cover actually worked like you might expect. If someone is behind me am I in cover? How about 45% in front of me? The old game’s modeling of a real environment (if you miss you might hit something else) left you with an intuitive grasp of the environment. here it is more abstract and hard to understand.

    All that said it still seems like a good game I will get my money’s worth out of, but it doesn’t seem nearly as good as I was hoping.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      If you ask me, they nailed the art style.

      the original game was comic book style just watch.

      It seemed pretty hyper masculine to me. After all that guy jumped out of the ship and was shooting while falling. TOTAL BADASS.

      Also the Aliens to not mess around(Playstation version)

      If you watch those, its pretty obvious that if the technology were up to it, there would a have been a much more cinematic style during gameplay. Otherwise we would not have these style of cinematic intros and outros for the game also.

      Following a naturaly progression, the latest xcom has the capability to bring the cinematics up a notch from what the previous titles did.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Yes, in the intro video, which, frankly, is wildly inconsistent with the actual game.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          if they would have had better technology, i guarantee the actually gameplay would look much more comic book style and animated.

          • Jerubbaal says:

            Whoah! We got a time-traveling psychic here! He can guarantee it, he clearly must have read the developer’s mind way back in the 90’s! (Maybe he’s a psychic alien)

      • hosndosn says:

        Yup, very disappointed with the new game, but the art style, frankly, is, ironically, the maybe most faithful aspect to the original. X-Com had horribly cheesy comic book drawings. It just was less apparent because, at lower resolutions, the individual characters had to be more simplistic and stylized, almost becoming abstract chess pieces on the playfield. I was always happy to not have to see their awkward haircuts in fully animated detail, now I kinda have to.

        But who cares about graphics…

        • Captain Joyless says:

          This is essentially my reaction as well. Graphics were far more abstract 20 years ago. And the graphics we have now aren’t even kistch: it’s pretty much Gears of War.

        • Emeraude says:

          I keep thinking the biggest challenge for this gen of designers is re-learning all the things we used to do right by sheer lack-of-resources-induced pressure – whether it is from an artistic or game design standpoint.

    • lcy says:

      I like the art style and the macho stuff. It brings to mind the trash-talking marines in Aliens, or the first Predator, right before they got dropped into the meat-grinder, and found out just how outclassed they really were…

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      Joshua old boy, sounds to me like you need to check out Xenonauts.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I gave $200 to their kickstarter (the only project I have funded), so yeah I will probably check it out ;)

        I was still hoping to love XCOM as well, as it is I am worried I will only “really like it”, which for most games is enough, but this seemed so close to being more.

  45. sophof says:

    I am afraid I don’t fall in any of your two categories. After reading all the interviews and stuff here and seeing the gameplay videos, I was positively excited and actively defending design decisions. After this half hour with the game though, I simply could tell that this will be no classic :(

    • Vander says:

      Yeah, same here. I just don’t get the x-com vibe. Its too streamlined, its too polished, its too bland.

      But well, RPS dropped the ball on that one. They raised my interest with very good previews, but didn’t mention some obvious flaws.

      I am still not sure if i will get it or not tough, this type of game is too rare…

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I’m in the same boat. I only read the initial interview and info about XCOM and thought everythign was great. I even defended a lot of the initial design decisions and was very much looking forward to release. I didn’t bother reading any more articles about it because I knew I was going to buy it. But the demo left me completely underwhelmed.

      Don’t get me wrong, the game still looks decent and I will be buying it as soon as it is out, but it just doesn’t look like it will have the fun and longevity of the originals.

  46. mwoody says:

    So is morale totally gone, out of curiosity? Will aliens ever panic?

    What about tanks? Player-used mind control?

    • Hug_dealer says:

      Morale is still in, and your troops can still panic and do stupid stuff. Aliens i dont think we know if they have morale or not.

      Shivs are in the game, and they teased psionices, so i think its safe to assume we can do mind control.

  47. Haphaz77 says:

    Nice article Alec. I suspected the demo was a bit duff, but good to have your view. I suspect the demo is the equivalent of G4S messing up before a brilliant olympics – everyone will forget the demo after Oct 11 (12th, whatever – Steam thinks Thursday, so yay!)

  48. JiminyJickers says:

    I was super excitied for this game and was going to pre-order right after playing the demo. Unfortunately, it did leave me completely underwhelmed.

    I will still get the game most likely, but not pre-ordering anymore, will wait for some more reviews.

    I don’t like the fact that you only seem to have one team, one base, and non-random mission maps, linear choices in missions. Also, no facing, it seems my people have eyes in the back of their heads. I don’t think I can be sneaked up to, or sneak up to aliens, therfore, the exploration part may not be very good as the original.

    Hopefully the game will turn into a gem, but for the moment I’m gutted that it doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look bad, but not good.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      After watching that 1 hour video, the combat looks a lot better than what I experienced in the demo. It also looks to play better with a controller.

      I’m still a bit worried about some of the other elements, but I will be buying the game again. I guess there is not many of these types of games out there. Maybe a bit too much nostalgia on my part wanting it to live up to how much fun I had with the original back in the day.

  49. Caiman says:

    This was arguably the most important demo to be released in 2012. The weight of expectation was immense. So why in the holy numbnuts did they put so little apparent thought into it? Yeah ok, I get we need to play the tutorial, this key does this, that key does that. Ok, but now SHOW US WHAT YOU’VE GOT! Don’t piffle around with another crappy, limited level where you keep even basic base functionality away from us. Why can’t we zoom in on the base? Er, you can in the full game! Ok, WHY KEEP THAT FROM US? I really, really don’t get it, unless the dev team had a gun to their head and were forced to compile the demo in under 30 minutes. “Quick, just shove in the first two levels or Jake gets it!”

    Really guys.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Regarding the base, you can zoom in, you have to hold the middle mouse button and then move the mouse. Why on earth they didn’t at least have scroll wheel zoom on the base, who knows.

  50. Kestrel says:

    Is it really that hard to see the great potential this game has? Sheesh.

    • Slinkyboy says:

      I do and I haven’t canceled my pre-order. Though If the game sucks, I’m giving my steam account to a pal. I’m quitting video games 100% if this game fails for me because I think I’m losing the gamer in me. Nothing good for me this year, wtf. Last year, I would of played the shit outta Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2, but not this year, I feel the change and I’m not even an old grandpa from the board games, I’m 21.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I can see the potential, but I’ve also seen great ideas with potential that were crippled by the need to design the UI around the limitations of a console controller.

      For example: Skyrim. I bought it, and the inventory management was so crippled for mouse users, and so obviously a lazy console port (in spite of the stunning graphics on PC), that I just shelved the game for months until modders came up with a better inventory management system.. I regretted buying it early, before waiting to see how it worked on PC. Because that’s my gaming platform. I don’t own a console, I’m a PC gamer. I want to reward developers who respect the platform, and don’t do lazy console ports.

    • MyBrainIsMelting says:

      It’s much more obvious that it has less potential than the original due to all the simplification (less man, less character stats, less equipement, less bases, less maps, less choices of action, …)

      • lcy says:

        The original was no less limiting. You couldn’t roast the earth with nukes to put off the alien invaders. You couldn’t follow the tech tree all the way to a tech singularity. You couldn’t use your 3d hardware.

        Really, the original had much less freedom than a C++ compiler gives you.

        • JiminyJickers says:

          Oh come on, what are you even getting at? The original also didn’t cook your dinner or clean your house. It is obviously just as limited as the remake. How is what you said even relevant to the discussion?