XCOM 2 Announcement Trailer: Alien Vs. Swordman

The snakerozzers put the squeeze on.

In all our excitement about the announcement of XCOM 2 [official site] yesterday, we missed the cinematic trailer showing XCOM rebels battling snakecops in a futurecity. Perhaps it was for the best: Adam’s happy little dance might’ve gone on so long he ground his legs to stumps had he seen that too. Me, I’m too achy to dance today, so I can safely post about the trailer.

Are you okay to watch it? I accept no liability for any stumpings that may occur.

XCOM 2 goes down 20 years after humanity surrenders to the alien menace (presumably they came back with a bigger fleet after Enemy Unknown, or something) and XCOM disbands, leaving Earth run by alien overlords who want everyone in nice happy megacities. Now a plucky young group of rebels are fighting back, skulking around the globe trying to build support and take down the invaders and their sinister plans. It’s a lot like the plot to StreetDance 2 really.

It’ll bring new classes, randomised maps, more enemy types including those Snakemen returning from dear old X-COM, and better modding support. That all sounds great.

Delightfully, we don’t have that long to wait, as it’s slated for release in November. Feral Interactive will be handling Mac and Linux versions.

90 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Um. the Trailer came out at the same time as the announcement. So why not just post this in here:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty clear in the post that the vid came out yesterday. If I bosh it into that old post, fewer people will see it, and I think people might like to see it, so I wrote a post explaining that we missed it but people might like to see it.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Here’s a new story trailer link to youtube.com

  3. Infinitron says:

    Still no mention of “PC exclusive”. PC gaming has won a battle here, hello

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I didn’t realise there was a war.

      • JimboDeany says:

        In the future there is only war

      • Infinitron says:

        Historically, strategy games have been the last bastion of PC-exclusivity after the rise of Xbox. The first XCOM represented the encroachment of consoles on the genre, but now it looks like that encroachment has been halted.

        Even if you’re not militant about the whole thing (and I’m not really that militant about it myself – I just find that these warlike terms come naturally for describing the situation), it’s something that demands investigating as a PC gaming site.

        • Premium User Badge

          RaveTurned says:

          Surely it only matters if games are exclusive to *other* platforms, isn’t it? I mean, if we know we can play a game, why should we be happy that other people can’t?

          • Premium User Badge

            RaveTurned says:

            *doesn’t it – damn my lack of proofreading and the lack of an edit function.

          • Infinitron says:

            That’d be true if console compatibility didn’t have implications with regard to UI design and such.

            Plus, it’s interesting purely from an academic perspective. Why the change? I bet that the teams at inXile and Larian who are busy porting their PC-exclusive RPGs to console, based in part on XCOM’s success on consoles, are now wondering what Firaxis know that they don’t.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            It’s nothing else but “Nyah nyah I can have this. You can’t”.
            You can look at the early life cycle of any given console generation, people loose their shit if one of their chosen console’s early launch titles (the selling points of the particular system) later gets ported to other formats. And the PC Master Racers doing the same thing when throwing around “dumbed down for console” at every corner of the internet.
            I think people should be glad when others gets more choice (as long as it’s a good porting job) and it goes both ways, when the “other side” get the same treatment to one of their exclusives.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            *lose their shit
            But I guess “loose” works as well >_>

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            Well, since there will be a Linux version, this means it can be played on these yet-to-be-released Steam Machines – so at least one “console” will have it.

          • Kitsunin says:

            To be fair even a game such as Skyrim, example of PC triumph as it is, would still be a better game had it been PC exclusive…because its UI would have been less garbage.

            I mean, I could honestly care less since SkyUI exists, but my point is that it’s true you often see developers make decisions which aren’t perfect for PC, therefore lowering the quality of the PC version, when it is cross-platform. By no means do I approve of considering PC-only a “triumph over consoles!”, since they could just…you know…not make those mistakes. Still, I at least I understand why it’s something PC folks can be happy about, since it means such niggles are less likely to be seen.

          • wengart says:

            A game being on console and PC is necessarily bad. However, they both have very different design considerations when it comes to how the player interacts with the game, and some technical limitations.

            A PC exclusive game is better for PC players just because the time doesn’t need to be split between designing for the two different systems.

        • jalf says:

          What could be MORE important than mentioning the BITTER DEFEAT that OUR ENEMY has been dealt?

          We’ve DENIED them access to vital STRATEGIC RESOURCES.

          It is only a matter of time before the HATED ENEMY is forced to SURRENDER!

          Seriously?

          Who gives a shit.
          The game is coming to PC. That’s what matters, isn’t it?

          • EhexT says:

            Good UIs and design matter. Console games on PC are compromised in both departments. PC only isn’t a guarantee of good design and UI, but it sure as hell means there’s a chance, unlike the alternative.

    • gbrading says:

      IGN definitely mentioned “exclusive to PC” in their announcement reveal.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      If war is the answer then we are asking the wrong question………………..Quote: My milkman this morning.

    • manny says:

      Should be ‘mouse and keyboard gaming’ cause both the xbox and ps3 are basically pcs with gamepads. Future consoles will probably be running linux.

  4. bleeters says:

    …But I had titan armour and alloy cannons. Earth could hold off the four horsemen of the apocalypse themselves with titan armour and alloy cannons.

  5. Detocroix says:

    Kinda shame they are still not planning on actually making the game’s atmosphere more scary and agonizing like the original UFO: Enemy Unknown was. I don’t personally like the toyish appearance of Firaxis XCOM and they don’t seem to go off rails with this one either, at least not based on the trailer(s) thus far.

    Some things, including the very atmosphere, was genuinely horrorful in UFO and occasionally just made me stop play the game because it was so intense (even todays, not just nostalgia talking, the same effect comes at points in Xenonauts) that I needed to stop and do something else to ease myself. It was great. The Firaxis XCOM, while a good game and I definitely did put loads of hours in to it, has surprisingly little character to it. It’s simple to look at, it doesn’t really invoke any feelings in you (no desperation for XCOM situation, no sadness to state of earth, no anger to countries that decide to switch sides, no joys to capturing particularly difficult alien commander in situation that is horribly anguishing to begin with, no horrible fears of seeing alien poopgrenade thrown at you and knowing everyone you loved is gone, etc), and the aliens continue to be so unalien that they are not scary at all!

    Still I’ll buy this game and thank whatever game gods there are that they went to X-COM: Apocalypse instead of Terror from the Deep.

    • LexW1 says:

      The trailer does at least make this game look more interesting than the description and screenshots did.

      But yeah, I really miss the feeling of creeping horror present in the original X-Com (and TFTD, and Apocalypse – in fact perhaps heightened there), which wasn’t really just to do with the physical threats the aliens presented (XCOM can match the original, perhaps even exceed it, there), but rather with the general presentation and

      Indeed, the expansion makes the problem worse – there are hints of body horror, even stuff that should be wild body horror, but somehow Firaxis leaden writing and bright, breezy presentation of absolutely everything manages to dispel the horror inherent in having one’s arms and legs sawn off, and the general stuff it adds almost makes the aliens seem like a lesser threat, and the real threat be vague transhumanism. I get where they wanted to go with it, but to call it ham-fisted would be overgenerous.

      They really need someone there to say “GO CRAZY!” or “Try harder” or, god help us but they do “Why not make that a little less safe?”.

      TLDR: They really bloody need to hire some decent writers and a different art director. Whoever they have now is definitely not the man for the job (for literally any game they’ve released other than Civ V – the art direction is sub-par and actively anti-atmospheric in every single release since then).

      • Detocroix says:

        I think the art director does a good job keeping things consistent, as such, but someone has told them “Don’t make grimy stuff, kids don’t like it” or whatever and that’s the big issue with the destroyed atmosphere. Aliens need to be scary (in games like this), weird and scary, not campy Mars Attacks stuff… the kid version of Mars Attack because even the brain aliens were spookier than anything in Firaxis XCOM.

      • Phier says:

        I still remember the first time I found out aliens would invade YOUR base in xcom appoc and my cute little science base and recruit base had to fight them off with green troops with basic rifles. It was messy….

        And those bouncing homing grenades….

        I still play Appoc from time to time, I think it was the best squad based real time combat game made in a lot of ways.

    • cakeisalie says:

      Yeah, I enjoyed the remake, but it just didn’t satisfy me in the same way the original did. I looved the dark oppressive mood and the noirish graphical novel-style art direction of the original game, but the remake feels too cartoonish, colourful and friendly. And I feel that Firaxis oversimplified some of the mechanics. It also annoyed me that during the normal missions, you “trigger” the aliens only when one of your units gets close enough; until that moment they seem to do nothing and make no attempt to hunt you down or flank you.

      • Detocroix says:

        Yup, the alien groups or pods or whatever people call them just wander around and if they happen to the trigger range, they act like they did nothing on the turn so far… basically getting free moves etc even though they should have spent an action doing it.

        It does “smell” of the same weird design decisions where you are limited to one ship (because for some reason they can build fighter planes, but can’t build troop carriers) and hence forth the “three abduction sites” are forcefully made dramatic because you can only pick one… because of stupid limitations they themselves made that neither have no logic nor make any sense. Same case with terror site civilians that are randomly killed in locations where aliens can’t possibly be because the next turn you find that last lone group from completely different area.

        • atticus says:

          Totally agree. Both the aesthetics and most of the gameplay just constantly reminded you that you were “playing a game with soldiers and aliens” rather than “running a secret military organization”.

          Whether or not you like the way the aliens look and behave, and the general art design, can be a matter of preference I guess, but some of the choices they made towards gameplay is just lazy and lacking creativity. It feels like they needed to make the game more challenging somehow, but couldn’t find any solution other than making these “choose 1 of 3” types of dilemmas, which effectively takes the immersion straight out of the it.

          • Alien says:

            Yes, the difference is:

            The old X-Com “feels” like a simulation.
            The new XCOM feels like a game (a board game).

    • Cockles says:

      I shall be the sole contrarian here and say that I think the art design of XCOM is great – not just the way things look but also the sound design/music and general atmosphere. I think that firstly, Firaxis wanted to distinguish the design from the original and, secondly, they weren’t primarily focusing on an oppressive/scary atmosphere but more of a “heroic last hope”. The consequences of failure are pretty high in XCOM already and I think the marriage between that and the Hollywood-ish last stand theme come together perfectly (something the soundtrack conveys incredibly well and the mechanics are designed to heighten that heroic desperation).

      To have the art, sound and general themes of the game to focus on the scariness would make it a completely different game. It would probably need to take itself a lot more “seriously” than it does, even moreso than the original X-Com , which would probably mean redesigning almost everything around that, not to mention changing the player’s perception of failure that you will inevitably be crushed with at some point. Plus there seems to be a huge boardgame-type influence on XCOM which fits the art design well.

      I love it.

      • jonahcutter says:

        You’re not the only one. I think the design of the XCOM EU/EW is excellent. It’s like some Silver Age comic art, in its use of shape, form and silhouette. Great visual compositions can be had form just about any angle. And it’s filled with energy and motion, even in its static images. It’s “simple” and “cartoonish” the way some great comic art is.

        The actual animations are excellent as well. Fluid and evocative.

        It’s a full, well-realized design. People may not like it because it’s “cartoonish”, but I find that adds to its ability to create great overall compositions from a multitude of perspectives.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      Pretty much agreed, altough my negative feelings were a bit milder. XCOM EU was nicely spooky at times , thanks to music , mostly in ufos, but it was to little.

      I have hoped for a more darker art style, maybe a bit more reailistic so you could be more scared and spooked.
      Still its a small one, i loveded XCOM EU and love that they are trying a new twist here instead of some paint job a la terror from the deep

  6. theapeofnaples says:

    Those ‘snakecops’ look reeeally shoddy :/

  7. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    I take it that cobra snakemen and swords means that you’re are only a lightning strike away from the ultimate melee power.

  8. nofare says:

    The trailer doesn’t make the case for attacking those alien-controlled cities. Sure, the aliens look like very skinny people (the horror!) and snakes with guns (sssssilly), but the cities look good (although too clean) and peaceful (although in a dead, shopping mall sort of way). In other words, I still need to be convinced that I’m just not some a-hole with a gun running around terrorizing kids and grannies.

    Moreover, how can we believe that the rebels can control such a huge ship (the one we see fly off at the end) when the whole of the world is under alien control? I sure don’t. Could it be that underground factions within the alien force allow the human rebels to operate? Could it be that the rebels are in fact doing those factions’ dirty work? Could it now?

    • montorsi says:

      Not to worry, I’m sure there will be a few people playing the game who can spoil literally everything about what happens to allay your fears wrt how credible the rebellion is in this alien invasion game.

      • LexW1 says:

        More likely, given it’s Firaxis, and it’s 50/50 if they:

        A) Fail to justify it and don’t realize that they even needed to.

        or

        B) Succeed in justifying it intellectually, but totally fail to emotionally.

        There’s basically no chance they’ll succeed in justifying it both emotionally and intellectually, based on all games post-Civ-V.

    • marach says:

      Well the audio hints at forced “gene therapy” and there’s the whole Orwellian state thing going on…

      • Dilapinated says:

        Sounds like Britain to me, then?

        • marach says:

          Really? I thought it sounded a lot less oppressive than here right now.

          • Dilapinated says:

            Touché.

          • LexW1 says:

            Well, you jest, but honestly, this whole thing sounds right up the current Tory (and indeed old New Labour) leadership’s alley!

            I mean, forced gene therapy? Sounds like a great way to cut down on NHS costs and benefit cronies in the private sector!

            Let’s not even get started on Orwellian insanity “for our own good”.

    • Jerkzilla says:

      Oh I see the problem: you expect people to understand the general implications of asymmetric conflict.

    • PikaBot says:

      Yes, XCOM should keep their hands off of those nice clean cities built and controlled by an alien occupying force.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I want to see one about defending the alien homeworlds from human invasion.

  9. Wulfram says:

    Why do people keep putting swords in my science fiction? And not even laser swords.

    • Firkragg says:

      We need laser bow and arrows that can be upgraded to plasma.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Yeah, I do hope it’s some kind of special “vibranium” blade or some such sci-fi hocus-pocus.

      It’s a response to some of the earlier player calls for a melee ability, I think. Which is a decent idea. If I’m out of ammo I wouldn’t hesitate to bash a sectoid’s skull in with the butt of my rifle. And it would be highly entertaining to boot, hearing them “skreee!” as I baseball bat them through a diner window. I dunno if running into a battle between flying drones and plasma weapons with a sharpened steel bar wouldn’t become a bit too silly though.

      But, it’s not without precedent either. Snow Crash and Shadowrun managed to somehow make wielding swords not seem out of place in sci-fi.

  10. Alien says:

    I am always complaining about dumbed down gameplay mechanics, but one thing is really great nowadays: CGI cinematics look breathtaking!

  11. SaintAn says:

    Oh shit, it looks like the next Xcom will have us fighting Primal Rage’s aliens/old gods!

  12. Earl-Grey says:

    I don’t get the lukewarm snark here.
    More XCOM = Yay.
    And going from defender to attacker seems like a fun twist.

    As for the whole “PC exclusive, no consolederps allowed, brah!” attitude:
    hold that sumbitch sideways, lube it up good and ram it straight up yo’ candy ass!

    • Sandepande says:

      Hear hear. Nobody else is doing any X-COM games, so I’m all for it.

      As for simulationism, XCOM:EU/EW looks like it was very heavily influenced by modern board games – the choices you have to make at every turn (choose 1 of 3 missions, choose 1 of 2 perks, choose to fire, or move and then fire, etc.). I don’t think they planned on doing a simulation at all.

      And I liked that board game aspect. While it didn’t seem realistic, the whole concept of turn-based combat isn’t exactly an authentic representation of real life…

      Though I wouldn’t mind having some emergent gameplay in the strategic part, going from plot point to plot point felt a bit silly at times.

      • Detocroix says:

        “Nobody else is doing any X-COM games, so I’m all for it.” I assume you have played Xenonauts, because that’s the only “X-COM” game out there even if it doesn’t bear the same wording.

        • Sandepande says:

          I did, quite a bit. In the end I went back to the original and XCOM:EU. Worthy attempt, but if I want more of the same, I’ll just play OpenXcom.

          But currently this new XCOM 2 here is the only one that is being made, that I know of.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          The main problem I had with Xenonauts is that it tries too hard to be X-COM and not its own game. As much as I was disappointed with XCOM it at least tried to fix some of the flaws of X-COM. Automatic snap to cover is hands down one of the best additions to the series yet Xenonauts was more than happy to penalise you for forgetting/run out of points to crouch before shooting.

    • Wolfcoyote_J says:

      Thank you! THANK YOU! The sense of entitlement that oozed from that post above raging about XCOM 2 being possibly ported to other platforms almost got a response from me that would have been much nastier than what you posted. Feral Interactive’s work doesn’t have anything to do with what Fireaxis/2K does for Windows users, so perhaps the interface design is the developer’s decision and NOT the translation team working on the Mac/Linux port.

      Instead of USING his/her head, the complainer had to while and be a jerk. And FOR WHAT? Because s/he’s upset that a franchise won’t stay exclusive to Windows? Is this guy/girl freaking KIDDING me?

      When are we going to be over this Coke vs. Pepsi vs. Dr. Pepper attitude? Just be happy that EVERYONE will eventually be able to play a nice, new XCOM game and CHILL OUT. You have a Windows machine? Fine! You’ll get to play first! You’ll get you’re timed exclusivity until the Mac and Linux version is released. But word to the wise: PC means PERSONAL COMPUTER and not just the generalization of PC = Windows last time I checked (thank you world for generalizing the term PC btw).

  13. jezcentral says:

    I’d kind-of like to see a “stump” tag for this sort of thing, to indicate particularly high levels of RPS joy at announcements.

    (Although I think that they would probably abuse it wrt lo-fi Indie games. :) )

    • Likethiss says:

      Is “wrt” some thing I’m not aware of, or a lucky typo that got twice into this articles comments?

  14. aircool says:

    Snakemen?

    Sold!

  15. dangermouse76 says:

    Xcom is still ( I just re-installed it ) a bit buggy with illogical camera angles when they fire, and units that just won’t move. I really hope they release a much more stable game this time round. It was quite frustrating on release last time.

    But the trailer has definitely pushed a few of my tactical buttons.

  16. Anthile says:

    So you get to fight millenials? Neat.

  17. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    So here’s a thing I hadn’t known about:
    link to twitter.com
    Wonder if it’s relevant to the plot of this one?

  18. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    There are only two things about this that I don’t like:

    1) I really liked the Gollum-like design of sectoids in the first game–they were obviously just Evil E.T., complete with glowing heart–and these new, tall sectoids just aren’t as endearing. I’ll also miss the thin men, but given the change in scenario I’ll happily accept the somewhat wacky but personality-filled snake men.

    2) Mech suits probably won’t be back, since they aren’t going to fit well with the idea of a stealthy rebellion. Hopefully genetic modification will return, though.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Re: MECs – I could imagine them making an appearance. While they certainly don’t fit the traditional stealth profile, I could imagine a MEC-supported squad being hot-dropped in from a Skyranger for hit-and run missions on ADVENT facilities. The trick would be getting in and out before re-enforcements arrive.

      I guess the resistance forces would need to get hold of the requisite tech and parts to field them though.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I was wondering about MEC Troopers in the other thread here. I suppose they could be reserved for a heavy assault role, when tackling an alien base and not urban ops like the trailer. But you wouldn’t have much chance to develop and upgrade if they can’t go on every mission.

      So maybe they’re just downsized as Deus Ex-type cyborgs, that can blend in better alongside gene mod soldiers. And that had better be a gene mod going up against the snakeman with just a wimpy sword.

  19. OmNomNom says:

    So excited for this.

    Please don’t dumb down for consoles.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Great news – Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux only. Perhaps it will still be dumbed down for those SteamBox Consoles and Apple Activity Toys. ;)

      • Likethiss says:

        Ugh, it’s getting the Microsoft Windows treatment? I like my games text based on unix.

  20. Michael Fogg says:

    I’m a little concerned about the randomized maps. The strong sense of location and detail is something I really enjoyed about the previous ones – e.g. a grocery store complete with muzak, realistic truck stops and fast food joints. Such locations can’t probably be the product of procedural gen, unless they go for more of a modular system. I really hope we won’t end up with swathes of non-descript urbanscapes decoratet with the same bunch of assets!

  21. kdz says:

    I loved the 16-or-so hours of Enemy Unknown that I played at release, but somehow never finished it. If I wanted to do so now should I play vanilla first or go all in and get Enemy Within?

    • MrRoivas says:

      Go with Enemy Within. It adds a lot and fills in some gameplay gaps of the original.

    • Cockles says:

      Yeah, I would say go straight for enemy within, it adds a couple of new mechanics and soldier types. Despite being a great expansion in my opinion, if I was coming to the game fresh it would probably be best to go all out because there’s not a huge amount of difference. Plus once you’re done there’s always the Long War mod…

    • Zenicetus says:

      Enemy Within adds more maps, and rotates some of the original maps so there is at least a little less feeling of repetition in the missions.

      Also, the new “meld” mechanic — where there is a timer on being able to find and acquire it — adds tension, and discourages too much cautious creeping overwatch tactics. Sometimes you’ll want to rush a soldier to grab meld, and hope you can get away with it. It helps shake up the missions.

      My only complaint with Enemy Within is that the MEC troops and gene mods feel like they happen too early in the game. That early period when your soldiers feel outclassed by the aliens, and you’re losing some on every mission, isn’t very long. It sort of goes against the whole idea of the original game. But I’d still recommend it over the base game.

    • EhexT says:

      Get enemy within and go straight for Long War mod. The base game’s strategic layer is complete balls and the tactical layer is very shallow. Long War fixes both and un-inverts the difficulty curve (non-mod XCOM goes from Hard -> Easy).

      • kdz says:

        My plan was to go EU -> EW -> Long War or EW -> Long War. I want to see what the original game’s designers did first and then play the mod.

        Thanks for the input everyone, adding Enemy Within to my Steam basket now, as it’s on sale! :) Will dive into the game when summer comes and I’m done with exams and stuff.

  22. jezcentral says:

    Still no love for the mighty Celatid?

    Anyone? Anyone….?

    • jezcentral says:

      O woe is the edit button.

      Snakemen look like a replacement for the not-a-Tentaculat-honest Seekers, possibly with a bit more all-round combat capability.

  23. solidsquid says:

    Ok, I like the design of the snake guys, but… why is the one clearly earth-based creature they chose one they would have to alter to the point they had to add extra limbs? Why not go with bears or something, which are able to move bipedally and would have a much greater level of brute force? At least the original game the snakemen were described as and could be believed to be an alien species which happened to have a serpentine lower body, but these are clearly based on a merging of a cobra and diamond back (or some snake with similar pattern to the diamondback and cobra crest). It just seems really out of place compared to the very obviously alien invaders

    • jonahcutter says:

      During the Thin Man autopsy in EW/EU, I think Vahlen says something about them being genetically built off of lizards. Perhaps the more primitive brains are easier to replicate.

      Or the aliens just have a reptile fetish.

  24. saber-rider says:

    Wait, a 6ft tall Sectoid with no pants on? A Snakewoman, with boobs no less? Reptiles don’t have boobs!
    Worst game EVER! 0/10!

    No, just kidding, I’m totally pre-ordering this. Hope they give out Steam pre-order rewards like last time, got a free copy of Civ V from it.

  25. Josh W says:

    Snake? Snake? Snaaaaake!