Try Before You Try: XCOM’s Interactive Trailer

No, everyone, it's cool! I'm pretty sure he's one of us. Also, I forgot to put in my contacts today. But again, I'm almost 100 percent sure there's no danger here.

Riddle me this: when is a trailer no longer a trailer? The answer, as it turns out, is not now. If you want to get up-close-and-personal with XCOM: Enemy Unknown‘s extraterrestrial antics, the demo’s still (mostly) your best bet. But if, for some reason, you can’t play it (say, because you find it intimidating, don’t currently have a functional gaming PC, or recently became a horse), this is probably the next best thing. It’s basically a “choose your own tutorial,” but it does a solid, easily understandable job of breaking down the basics. Click some buttons and watch things happen after the break.

So yeah, nothing revolutionary, but it certainly keeps you involved in the process. And actually, the more I consider it, the more I think this is what a standard videogame trailer should be. For one, it’s not CG or animated or live-action or a live lobster affixing itself to your eyelids. Instead, it’s pure gameplay, but presented in a very clear, deliberate fashion, so as to explain how a genre that may normally scare players off actually operates. Glitz and glamour have their place, but this trailer actually makes a shocking amount of sense.

Right then. XCOM. It’s going to be pretty great – maybe even amazing. We’ve written so much about it that we’re now 23 world governments’ foremost source for tactical intel on aliens. You know, if they were to ever invade. Which is not to say there are. Right now. Just outside your door. About to eat your cat and probe everything you’ve ever loved. And everyone. While forcing you to watch.

Because they’re not. That’d just be silly.


  1. yogibbear says:

    That was fun. :)

  2. ZIGS says:

    Call me crazy but… couldn’t they have done this, you know… through the freaking demo?

    • sebmojo says:

      It takes a bit of fiddling, but you can tweak the demo to jump to the second level, up the difficulty, and have any combination of troops, weapons and aliens.

      Or you can wait till the game comes out, which is what I’m going to do.

      Edit: I agree it was a pretty crappy demo for the enthusiast, but I think it was targeted at the total newbie. And the fact it can be fixed with some tweaking removes 90% of my problems with it.

      • saginatio says:

        Thanks for the link!!

        I’ve turned on classic difficulty together with mutons and the game has started to be interesting:) The AI is more aggressive, constantly moving around, flanking and destroying your cover.

        Now, with better opponents, even this small narrow map presents a lot of tactical choices.

    • Armante says:

      Yeah, but not everyone can or will download 6gig of data. This way I could get a taste of what it’s like, and use barely any bandwidth.

      Not a bad idea, I thought. Well done, and I hope it sells truckloads

    • tetracycloide says:

      No, they couldn’t have done this through the demo. They could have had you run through this level in the demo but that would be an entirely different thing. Unless you mean embedding a video in the demo with interactive features that lets you look at just the broad strokes like this does in which case yeah, they could have done that. There’d be no reason not to put it on youtube like this either way though.

  3. Sheng-ji says:

    This actually seems to reveal more about the game and how it will play, at least the tactical battles anyway, than the demo!

  4. KaptainKarnage says:

    XCOM:Enemy Unknown. NOW ON THE SEGA CD!!!

  5. Trithne says:

    While it certainly is very Sega CD, it’s still better than the Demo.

  6. yurusei says:

    I propose a new name for this phenomenon.

    First Person Trailer.

  7. Drake Sigar says:

    You could always write more. There’s still almost 2 weeks to go and I’m bored as fuck.

  8. subedii says:

    IIRC Frozen Synapse did something similar with its trailers as well.

    I guess Turn Based Strategy games are suited to this sort of thing.

  9. PleasingFungus says:

    The first game I remember doing this (in trailers) is Just Cause 2. RPS even posted about them!

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Orcs must die has one of these as well. Which I also found through RPS if I recall.

  10. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    To have just two options between which you pick? What kind of console bullshit is this? We’ve all heard the rumours about streamlining, BUT FIRAXIS, THIS IS ONE STEP TOO FAR.

    • JoeGuy says:

      I cannot tell 100% if you are being sarcastic? I’d say so, but encase, I’d hate for anyone to assume the exact opposite of things.

      “This interactive demo illustrates the important choices you will make in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. In the actual game, you will control your XCOM operatives DIRECTLY”

      • Trithne says:

        That was clearly sarcasm.

        • JoeGuy says:

          Its a bit rude of sarcasm though, that’s what has me wondering.

          • DarkFenix says:

            Really? Seemed like ordinary, tame, garden-variety sarcasm to me. Maybe I’m just a massive bastard though.

          • JoeGuy says:

            lol… I guess people overreacting to the demo has me wondering if people could overreact to the interactive trailer too. I thought it was sarcasm, but calling it ‘Bullshit’ and throwing on the CAPS always makes me wonder.

  11. Zenicetus says:

    Well it’s good to see how the stun works, I was wondering about that.

    I still find the constant swinging of camera POV to be very distracting. I know the glam cam for kills can be turned off, but it looks like we’re going to be constantly swinging into the VATS-alike view to judge chance-to-hit and alien HP remaining. I hope this game comes with a free bottle of Dramamine for motion sickness.

    It would have been nice to have the option to stay in overhead view and get all that info. I guess that wasn’t “cinematic” enough to sell the game.

    • Trithne says:

      I too would rather target from on high. The VATS-alike just makes it clear how often you draw line of sight through walls.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      actually, you can turn all that stuff off.

      Also i am pretty sure that you can simply mouse over the aliens to see hit chance.

      • Zenicetus says:

        It didn’t work like that in the demo (mousing over to see hit chance, HP, etc.), unless I missed something.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          did you mouse over the red alien heads?

          I think it showed when you do that, but i deleted the demo and cant try it again.

          • Ephaelon says:

            That’s right, mousing over the red alien heads pans the camera to said alien (while still in isometric view, dyi) and gives you a % chance as well. Just a shame it doesn’t show the estimated damage and crit chance.

          • Maritz says:

            I’m sure I saw all the chance to hit, critical, and enemy HP info in the demo without mousing over the red heads. In fact I never even tried that. And this was with both action cam and third person view turned off.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Drat, I deleted the demo too, so I can’t try mousing over the red alien heads, but it sounds like that still forces a POV change.

            I think the larger point here is that the developers obviously intend the game to be played with all that swinging POV stuff, because that’s what they’re showing in this trailer and the previous gameplay trailers. I haven’t seen a trailer where the game is played strictly from a traditional TBS overhead view, and that worries me.

            If the game can be played from the overhead view alone, without any compromise in the tactical information available, then that’s cool. Otherwise, I dunno. The change of POV just seems needlessly showy and distracting for this type of game. I have the option to “go cinematic” with recent Total War games, zooming in close to see what’s going on, or even going 3rd person. And I do that once in a while. But it’s not a requirement to get the information I need to control the battle.I just hope that’s not the case here.

          • JackShandy says:

            I turned off all third-person stuff and played entirely in the overhead view for the demo. That’s not a big section of the game, of course, so it’s hard to tell if that’ll work in the main game.

  12. AmateurScience says:

    I hope they can do something about shots clipping through cover and some of the desynched animations. Saying that I am ridiculously stoked about this. It looks fantastic!

    • Ephaelon says:

      I may have been too giddy with excitement when watching the PAX hourlong (as well as, those MP matches), but I didn’t notice the bad clipping nor the shooting through walls et al as much as I did when playing the demo.

      Could have been something as simple as coincidence, or, hopefully, maybe the demo is slightly older code than the preview build?

      In any case, like you, still stoked regardless.

      • KaptainKarnage says:

        I think Jake Solomon said somewhere that those problems had been corrected, I’m not sure if thats just my memory showing off how terrible it is though.

        And yes, I’m stoked for this too.

    • mckertis says:

      “I hope they can do something about shots clipping through cover”

      That wont change the game, though. Unlike actual squad-based tactical games, in this board game variety XCOM, cover just gives aliens penalty to hit. They wont stop shooting just because you _think_ you are “in cover”.

      • Alexandros says:

        That’s the hardest pill to swallow with this game, it may be a total deal-breaker for me.

  13. empyrion says:

    Oh no! You just made me realize horses are unable to play games. That is so sad. I hope I can stay human for a while longer…

    • Sheng-ji says:


      Back to the stable with you, where you will have the use of only a dance mat, a wii fitness board and a kinect.

  14. JR says:

    Is it just me or does Bradford sound like Rod Serling? I have to say, I do approve of this.

  15. agitated_android says:

    Trailer did it’s job. Until now I’d only been mildly aware of the game not having played the original. Now, I’m at least downloading the demo.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Same. If I wasn’t broke right now, and didn’t already have a huge backlog of games, I would be totally buy this right now. I guess I’ll just have to continue to slog through Dark Souls, Mirror’s Edge, Dead Island, and Fallout: New Vegas. Not that having to do so is, by any means, a bad thing.

  16. Danopian says:

    They were smart to let me lose the mission as well as win; anyone else reach that scenario?

  17. stupid_mcgee says:

    That certainly would be silly.

    *screams while being probed and is suddenly transformed into a horse*

    Oh no! Now I’m a horse!

    *ponders being turned into glue*

    • Infernal_Dalek says:

      Now you must race other ex humans in Noah’s animal races. (YouTube it for laughs)

  18. wodin says:

    Not sure what happened then….but I killed them all and lost 1 soldier as well as blowing up every car in the street…

  19. Hug_dealer says:

    Everyone should look at this, if you dont mind something somewhat spoilerish.

    Once you beat the game you unlock the ability to change lots of variables that further increase difficulty.

    link to

    So for all the people that claim the game is going to be to easy, simply have to enabled 1 or 2 of these and prepare to get hammered.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Once you beat the game? Most of these switches seem to be fundamental, how could be they OFF by default?

  20. regault says:

    Unfortunately the video focuses on the tactical combat, when its the strategic side of things I’m worried about.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I agree, we need to see more strategic parts. Also, the tactical side seems too much Incubation, too little UFO to me. It’s like puzzle game, with less complexity and less freedom than I expected from UFO descendant. I don’t know how to compare it, maybe like colourful checkers made of precious stones to chess game played with plastic pieces?

      The UFO resemblance is superficial mostly, sometimes in grotesque way (strangely limited camera work for instance, the original UFO was isometrical and presented a fixed view only because of technical limitations of the era, not to make it better or more enjoyable).

      • Vexing Vision says:

        I am sorry, Sir or Madame, but there is no such thing as “too much Incubation”. With the possible exception of the singing.

  21. deralex says:

    Anyone knows where i can purchase, as a european, the us version to get the release and play two days earlier?

    • sebmojo says:

      Your only option is to get a VPN that makes your computer look like it is in the US. It’s risky for yourSteam account, but apparently Valve don’t normally mind that kind of embargo jumping.

      Hotspot Shield is decent and free.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I used to do this, but valve have found ways to make this REALLY difficult. They also made a pretty strong statement about it in their recent T&C update – it wasn’t mentioned in the last one, so make sure you understand what you are doing and understand ALL of valves methods of protecting and detecting this before taking the risk and make sure you understand what you can gain and what the consequences can be.

        Remember the laws around this exist to help prevent money laundering. It’s a bit bigger than local taxation or brick and mortar stores applying pressure.

        • deralex says:

          ok i just pruchased the game from
          will i have problems to activate it via steam?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Your best bet is to try it on the US release day. If it works, you’ll be fine, however if it still reporting that the game is not yet released in your region, you’ll have to brave the world of trying to get the game to think it’s an American version installed on a machine situated in the states. Just remember that using VPN’s is now explicitly against the T&C’s, if they know you did it, they MAY decide that they are judge, jury and executioner and delete your account. Of course they may ignore it or not even detect it in the first place, that’s the risk you will be running, so please do your homework first!

    • Trithne says:

      You won’t be able to, since it’s a steamworks game and thus even buying a ‘US Copy’ steam wouldn’t let you hit the little play button until the allotted time for your region.

      No Oceans, right?

  22. Slinkyboy says:

    OpenXcom. Nuffsed.jpg

  23. running fungus says:

    This was really good, though as far as it becoming the standard for videogame trailers, clearly this method works particularly well for turn-based games.

    I’ve already registered my disappointment with the demo so I’ll just note that here’s my current problem: I must own 30 games on Steam and I want to play NONE OF THEM. Hurry up and get here, xcom.

  24. MeestaNob says:

    I wish this game would come out NOW.

  25. RegisteredUser says:

    “..probe everything you’ve ever loved. And everyone. While forcing you to watch.”

    You say it like its a bad thing.