19 Observations About The XCOM 2 Trailer

I should have been there. I should have been there. But I wasn’t. I was busy toddler-wrangling when XCOM 2 was announced yesterday, so only now can I say my piece about the follow-up to my most-played game of the last decade (at least). I’ve watched the trailer several times over, and I have these things to say about it, in a vaguely shot-by-shot breakdown sort of way.

0:18 I will be 56 in 2035. Never mind the alien invasion, Oh dear lord what will I be doing for a living then?

0:22 I hope we get this sort of view in the game proper – like X-COM Apocalypse by way of Syndicate

0:31 Civilians going about their business, rather than hiding and getting murdered. If we get that, that’s an X-COM first, right? Also: I wonder if we’ll be made to feel about disrupting their ostensibly peaceful lives? XCOM 1 had a few gentle nods towards moral dilemmas as your advisors quibbled about the best course of action, though there wasn’t much of a pay-off.

0:40 (See header image) So the alien takeover was successful because one of them helped a man who was stuck in a large bucket?

0:54 The cars have glowy wheels, because The Future

1:00 Short Circuit 3, coming to theatres in 2035

1:06 Tcch, half-cover. Amateurs.

1:20 Cold-blooded murder seems a bit OTT, given the only bad thing we’ve seen the aliens doing is security scans. Though I guess I’d get a bit crazy too if my every day was like boarding an aeroplane. In any case – looks like there’ll be more human-fighting, as in the Enemy Within expansion. (Though I notice there are no mech or mutation upgrades on show here). I wonder if Within is considered canon, now the timeline is officially that the aliens won?

1:21 Snakemen are back at last omigod omigod! … Wait. Even better. Snakewoman. And in Commander Shepherd cosplay too. So much cooler than Thin Men.

1:36 Johnny Five got game.

1:40 More alien melee attacks should be interesting. It was a bit odd that the original Snakemen just waved around pistols, given their bodies were made of pure muscle.

1:48 I call this one Dave BigSectoid.

1:53 Oho, so we get to dabble in melee combat too. This is going to change things up quite a bit. Wonder if it’s going to be a (new) class-specific thing or an option for everyone?

2:05 This is actually the most exciting implication of the whole thing for me: one of the soldiers is carrying another’s prone form over his shoulder. Trying to get critically wounded units back to the Skyranger was one of the tensest and strangest aspects of the original XCOM: carrying your downed teammates around in your backpack, like a sack of bleeding potatoes. If this is more than irrelevant CGI posturing, it’s going to introduce a whole new layer of strategy to wounding and exfiltration.

2:12 Mad Max Fury Road mod asap, please

2:26 Yes that is an impressively enormous helicarrier, but I’m still far more excited about carrying wounded people on my shoulders.

2:39 Just for a second I thought that was Peter ‘ Optimus Prime’ Cullen saying ‘welcome back commander, and absolutely lost my shit. Then I remembered that they’ve used a soundalike before. Still, a geek can dream.


2:48 Looks like PC (and Mac & Linux) only. I feel sorry for our console kin, but that is a very, very good thing as far as I’m concerned – potentially more options, better mouse/keyboard controls, maybe more modding? Welcome back, commander of my heart.


  1. Michael Fogg says:

    The ‘human civilisation flourishes thanks to the Benefactors’ reminds of HL2, except less obviously dystopian.

  2. voodoo child says:

    How many hours will it take my Emma Watson look-a-like to get critically wounded by a snake woman only to get rescued by Abraham Lincoln, but have to sit out the rest of the month, leading to a string of avoidable rookie deaths?

  3. LionsPhil says:

    See also for comments.

  4. Rizlar says:

    Yes, carrying wounded and VIPs is a thing, it says so on the website. Yes! Short Circuit was great. No, that isn’t hard cover. D:

    • jonfitt says:

      I remember Short Circuit being great at the time, but what passed over my head was the actor who was basically in Indian blackface doing a terrible accent:

      • Rizlar says:

        Well damn, I didn’t remember that guy either. But clearly the writers of The Big Bang Theory did, hm?

      • Babymech says:

        To be fair, those other actors are doing terrible white people voices.

      • gibb3h says:

        Ben is by far the best character in either film, chill out

  5. Artist says:

    Would be naive to belive that Firaxis wouldnt bring this to consoles, too. Also, Im sure this is just another of their franchise-milking spin-offs like BE was.

    • Cross says:

      That is an incredibly cynical viewpoint to have. Beyond Earth suffered because it was revealed to be too conservative for its own good. XCOM 2 has already unveiled that it is flipping the tables quite significantly.

    • Xzi says:

      “Franchise-milking spinoff?” In other words, a sequel? There sure are a lot of franchise-milking spinoffs these days…and all the days that gaming has existed.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      How is a sequel to a game a franchise milking spinoff?

      That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all day, and I have already copious idiotic remarks in the last 8 hours.

  6. mattevansc3 says:

    Looking at the trailer I’m guessing the PR blurb is more from the point of the XCOM soldiers than an impartial onlooker.

    The alien saviour motifs, aliens a part of normal life and humans going about their normal day is more in keeping with V or Earth: Final Conflict than Battlefield Earth. That suggests the take over was much more peaceful than the PR blurb suggests.

    Also we didn’t see any aliens from XCOM in that trailer. The sectoid is clearly bigger and more muscular so we could be looking at a different faction than those that invaded in the last game. This would also play into the peaceful takeover as there were far too many terror missions in the last game for the people of Earth to live in harmony with the aliens.

    Of course the second wave could just be using global size mind control/pacification.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Hard to say whether the motifs and “unification” media coverage indicate the aliens arrived peacefully or if these are simply part of a propaganda machine for the alien-controlled state. I’d assumed the later, particularly given the heavy armed police presence and apparently routine stop and search stuff going on. Doesn’t seem like a society where the humans are allowed to go about their business particularly freely.

      As for the alien, I’d guess it’s a Sectoid/Human hybrid. The invaders from the first game were pretty big on genetic experimentation.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Well in relation to their world XCOM would be considered a terrorist organisation. To draw parallels with our own in the wake of 9/11 and the London Bus Bombings we had much tighter controls. Labour started setting up an ID card scheme with a fine for not having it on you if a police officer requested to see it. The Tories are pushing ahead with their snoopers charter.

        Its shocking what freedoms we give up for security so its not outside the realm of possibility for the humans in XCOM2 to accept checkpointing in the face of continued “terrorist” attacks from XCOM.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Could be mind control (they’re big on psionics, yeah?). But it could also just be an offer to cure cancer and double the human lifespan. Give me another 70-80 years to live, and I might forget about all that terror stuff.

      It will be interesting to see what the motivation of XCOM will be, if that’s the scenario. Probably something like the underlying plot being a “To Serve Man” or “”V” scenario. Maybe we just taste really good when laser BBQ’d…

      • mattevansc3 says:

        There’s also a plot from an episode of StarGate: SG1 whereby an alien race likes to play the long game. They come with a cure to all diseases and can double their lifetime to earn their trust. What they don’t tell the other species (in this instance us humans) is that it also slowly makes them infertile. They then wait until that race dies out before stealing their planet.

    • Goldeneye says:

      You actually see an Ethereal from Enemy Unknown in a light poster in the trailer, in the scene showing off the alien & human statue.

  7. XhomeB says:

    Have I already mentioned that I utterly despise that utterly bland and soulless art direction? I think I did.
    Sorry, just can’t get over it. Firaxis seems to suffer in this department – XCOM, Beyond Earth and Starships were just… ugh.

    Not sure how to feel about that ninja-melee combat sword/katana thing, feels a bit out of place…

  8. Robert Post's Child says:

    It’s not so much that they’re murdering a random security checkpoint, as it is that they’re doing it while the guards are surrounded by civilians. In-game, I’m sure it’s not an issue because hey, you shoot, your turn ends, all the civvies leave, whatever. But as a supposedly pro-human group, putting them directly in the line of fire seems a very… odd choice.

    Other than that, yay for XCOM 2: Days of Future XCOM!

    • LionsPhil says:

      They were alien sympathisers; species traitors. There may be collateral damage; that is just the price we have to pay for freedom.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      It’s just like The Matrix.

      The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

      I thought of not including of not including those last two sentences, but you know what? It kind of fits. Maybe.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        Oh, and just like The Matrix, I seem to have suffered a Deja Vu and wrote some things twice for some reason. Boy I sure miss having an edit button, why’d they ever do away with that anyways?

      • Rizlar says:

        It totally fits! Also I love this.

    • Boosterh says:

      XCOM is now an insurgency. The local populace is cover and concealment for an insurgency. XCOM the organisation is as likely to engage away from the civilian populace as individual XCOM soldiers are to engage in the open. The effects on the local civilians are likely to be comparable to the effects a firefight has on the physical cover, as well.

    • nil says:

      Left the “From The Deep”, kept the “Terror”.

  9. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:


    4 player co-op campaign OH GOD PLEASE
    Alien/Human hybrid units, a step past the enhancements in EW
    Better balancing for MEC units
    Stealth that is less “invisible mode” and more “Invisible Inc.”
    An RNG that isn’t complete bullshit, or at least better tooltips
    3-4 options at level up instead of just 2
    Special combination moves that involve 2 or more units (like grenadier throws bomb in the air > sniper shoots it > shrapnel ignores cover)
    Opportunity attacks/stickiness for melee tanking characters

    • mattevansc3 says:

      You do realise this is a sci-fi game and not Kung Fury?

      The combination attack is a good idea but lets ground it in reality a bit. Have mid turn overwatch/covering fire. Target covering fire on a friendly unit so if an enemy unit breaks cover to use overwatch to shoot at the friendly unit your covering unit will fire first, no cover penalty and a chance to cause suppression which could cancel out their overwatch.

      Instead of targeting a friendly unit target an enemy unit behind cover then use another unit to flush them out with a flashbang grenade or an arrow to the knee. The overwatching unit shoots straight away but with similar bonuses to their attack.

      Combine door opening and window smashing with a grenade throw to supress those on the other side. Now that we have melee attacks have one unit grapple and hold an adjacent enemy so a friendly unit can deal a critical blow with their melee weapon.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        Yeah let’s not go crazy in a game where a guy fights an alien with a sword while another guy shoots grenades at a giant man-snake.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Still more realistic than shooting a grenade in mid air to cause it to fragment. Just use a timer.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Aren’t most those things already in the first game? Overwatch combined with another using flush and combining with supressive fire. I don’t remember if grenade throws break windows though.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          I don’t recall ever coming across that during my play through.

          • D3ltaWh1sky says:

            If you’re still interested

            XCOM: EU/EW
            – You can throw battlescanners/grenades through windows
            – You can blow up the room with a trickshot rocket through the door/window
            – If you use Suppresive Fire on an enemy that activated overwatch, that enemy can no longer use his opportunity attack
            – If you throw a flashbang at an overwatching enemy he will be disoriented and lose overwatch too
            – You can set a nearby soldier to overwatch and use the Assault Class Flush ability to flush an enemy from cover, triggering overwatch
            – If you skill the Support Class ability “Covering Fire” the supporter will also fire on enemys that are shooting and not only on ones that are running in overwatch (although that skill is crappy because the enemy gets his shot off anyway and only then is he getting shot at in return)

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      One more big item for the wishlist:

      -Enemy units that don’t move as a group and don’t get a free movement turn when discovered.

      • ItalianPodge says:

        I just hope that there is an option to respond to multiple missions if you have the manpower available. The whole having to choose a mission and letting another go when I had people ready to do both really got to me.

  10. SuicideKing says:

    1:53 = XCOM: Assassin’s Creed?

  11. jomala says:

    Just as I thought I’d kicked the XCOM habit I discovered “Long War” and I’m loving it (and losing nights of sleep to it) all over again. How about bringing the “Long War” team in to produce an official long game mode for XCOM 2?

  12. Wolfcoyote_J says:

    XCOM EU and EW were major time-drainers (over 100 hours), yet I haven’t completed the game. While I was entertained with this series, my console-playing friends were into Dark Souls and the Uncharted or Assassins Creed series despite both of them also having PCs. It was months before we held meaningful conversations because XCOM consumed me while console gaming consumed them. Now that XCOM 2 has been announced (and I have the hardware to run it flawlessly this time), it looks like I’ll be friendless so several more months.

    BTW: that large Sectiod-like alien during the melee portion of the video: is that a modern version of an alien from the classic XCOM series, or do you think that humans are being somewhat assimilated by splicing Sectiod and human DNA, much like some of the humans in Half Life 2 had been assimilated into the Combine?

    • Haplo says:

      It’s a human/sectoid hybrid (bigger mouth, smaller eyes, five fingers over four). Confirmed here.

  13. tanstaafl says:

    “0:18 I will be 56 in 2035. Never mind the alien invasion, Oh dear lord what will I be doing for a living then?”

    Bah, I’m 56 now. Not doing the same thing I was in 1995 but I’m still getting along…

  14. lucillehopkins566 says:


  15. yonsito says:

    You don’t envision yourself writing about video games at 56, Mr. Meer? I’d be happy if you did.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      Well given how much the internet has changed over the last 20 years, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder whether this kind of work will even exist in another 20 years.

  16. Hunchback says:

    I am really liking this. We need more proper sci-fi, and this is borderline cyber-punk, which is kinda sci-fi++ …

    But let’s wait and see some actual gameplay, i guess.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    (oh baby… yeah, oh yeah)

    Spy on ’em, baby, use satellites
    Infrared to see ’em move through the night
    Intercept and fire, splash ’em right
    Then move in for the turn-based fight

    (I love a turn-based fight!)

    Research the secret tech they use
    Then blow away those ugly brutes
    And hoard 119 tonight ’cause only Elerium can make you fly

    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    Leaping to your duty when those Sectoids come along
    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    And baby you END TURN me on

    Greys don’t leave your home, ’cause I’m in the zone
    The sniper’s a squadsighter and she’ll shoot you far
    This flashbang’s alright, come and help me ignite
    They’ll be dumbstruck by the lights

    Well the Cyberdiscs explode baby, dontcha know
    Supress’ em though, and they got nowhere to go
    And Chrysalids are wack, don’t get too close
    Or you’ll be in the zombie pack

    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    You can help secure me when I’m mired with a Muton
    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    And baby you END TURN me on

    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    I can be your Gollop if you’ll be my Solomon
    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    And baby you END TURN me on

    Downin’ more and more, racking up the score
    Autopsies turning them all inside out
    That skeleton suit feel is the real deal (uh-huh!)
    And I can boot you up at any time because you’re mine


    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    You can turn things ’round when China says their funding’s gone
    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    And baby you END TURN me on

    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    Rolling out the rookies ’cause your squaddies are all gone
    XCOM, XCOM, you’re my XCOM
    And baby you END TURN me on
    And baby you END TURN me on
    And baby you END TURN me on

  18. jonahcutter says:

    Long War made half-cover a viable choice, which is great as it opens up the maps for more creative play. Hopefully Firaxis has learned from this.

  19. frymaster says:

    “Welcome back commander” still brings back echoes of the original Command and Conquer, which had the best installation program ever

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      The fact the windows version lacked that installer was a travesty. It’s a shame nobody ever really does that anymore, it was surprisingly good for immersion/mood setting.

    • Dreforian says:

      Coulda sworn “Welcome Back Commander” wasn’t until the Tiberian Sun installer. I nearly flipped my shit because I thought the game had detected my previous installation of C&C Gold. Still felt awesome. Glad someone else remembered it!

      Also dramatic voice over guy could be the same from Honest Trailers on youtube.

  20. WJonathan says:

    NOTHING is cooler than Thin Ments!

  21. jonfitt says:

    Interesting choice to bring back Snakemen. I thought I remember reading the reasoning behind Thin Men was something along the lines of “Giant snake men are silly so we reimagined them”.

    Also, what if the plot is that you *did* win EU/EW but this happened anyway for reasons. I mean they were warning you through the whole game that you’re basically shedding your humanity and letting a genie out of the bottle when you mod people and research this tech. It’s an uplift-type situation. What if humanity is grateful to the aliens for the enhancements and makes peace when the subsequent alien fleet arrives?

    • jonfitt says:

      That statue is basically symbolizing the alien lifting up man. Perhaps Elirium generators and biomods cure many of the world’s ills? BUT AT WHAT COST DUN-DUN-DUN!

      • Doomstar says:

        If the cost is that you have to fly around hiding in your giant customisable ship-base winning over populations to support you and blowing the crap out of alien bases and taking down the EXALT-run governments o the world then that is a cost I’m willing to pay.

  22. RProxyOnly says:

    I ABSOLUTELY loved the new X-com, it’s one of only a VERY few games (I can count them one one hand) I’ve replayed more than once and finished each time (actually if I put it like that then it’s only one or two games). HOWEVER, as much as I’m looking forwards to this, and I am, I’m not sure they’ve gone the right way with the story.

    First, you have to expect that those who played it, beat the game, and winning means unequivocally saving the earth, but the new storyline is that you lost and is the aftermath of that loss.. I’m not keen on this.. I don’t see why it couldn’t have stayed the case that we won, and by winning were noticed by the larger galactic community to which we were then invited to join and through mixing with the new races were then subsumed by a societal upheaval on a scale that we were unprepared for, with that event exposing our weaknesses and eventually leading to our being taken over… Just to scrub the first game’s only outcome of having finished it is a tad disingenuous and renders the first game moot..

    This game isn’t so much a sequel as another reboot and that makes me sad.. I still want the game, but I could have wanted it more.

    • kikito says:

      I am interpreting it as “you won that battle, but the war still goes on”. Remember that there were supposed to be hundreds of ships coming to Earth (the little ones coming first because the atmosphere or some other plot device). In a regular campaign you take over maybe 10 or 20, but definitively not hundreds.

      I am sure the outcome of this new game will be you winning again (at least another battle).

  23. Jungle Rhino says:

    Security vs Extremism is all a matter of perspective – I’ll let Mitchell & Webb explain :)

  24. Tuhalu says:

    I’m pretty excited by this, but one thing in the this trailer/teaser had me laughing… You’re doing stealth infiltration missions, because the bad guys took over the world, but you come home to a giant flying hellicarrier thing. Not exactly the stealthiest home base is it?

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Even the stealthiest base can be found by looking at all the points of attack and calculating the point of origin. A large helicarrier acting as a mobile base would be harder to find as the point of origin keeps moving.

  25. Aetylus says:

    I’m not sure if I’m happy they have announced this or sad that 2K will charge me double everyone else for being in Australasia.
    First world problems are soooooo hard.

    • Continuity says:

      Well, they do have to pay for shipping all those electrons from America all the way over to Australia, the transportation costs must be massive!

  26. cpt_freakout says:

    Incredibly late to the announcement, and all I can say is I can’t wait for November.

  27. Ryuuga says:

    Snake women! Woo hoo! I hope they have entirely illogical snake tits. Reptile tits, screwing up your silly biology logic!

    • PhilBowles says:

      Love the new snakeman design, but it looks too much like – indeed – a snake. Even the pixellated originals looked somewhat alien. Given XCOM’s move away from UFO’s animal-form aliens (no Reaper, no Snakemen, less ape-like Mutons and complete redesign of the Chrysalids to remove the ‘anthropomorphic beetle’ look), I hope they plan an in-game explanation for this.

  28. Continuity says:

    What I need from XCOM 2 is not a trailer, but a list if features they’re adding back in that were taken out in its predecessor compared to the original UFO enemy unknown.

    Playing XCOM mostly just reminded me how much more I enjoyed the original, the original wasn’t perfect, it had some bugs and rough edges, like not having your soldiers remember their equipment loadout between missions, or having a smoke grenades start fires (I presume there was no distinction in the game engine from fire smoke and smoke grenade smoke). Rough edges aside however it was a much better game, more sophisticated and detailed in so many ways.

  29. April March says:

    I will be 56 in 2035. Never mind the alien invasion, Oh dear lord what will I be doing for a living then?

    You’ll be writing about vidyagayms if you know what’s good for you.