XCOM 2’s Mod Support Sounds Grand

Sword 'im!

The announcement of XCOM 2 [official site] talked about “a much deeper level of modding support”, which sounds grand but what does it mean? A lot more than I’d expected, really.

Either alongside or shortly after the turn-based strategy sequel’s launch in November, Firaxis plan to release tools they used to make the game, sharing the gameplay source, the editor, and the assets. It’ll have Steam Workshop support too. Expect grand mods.

“Games that are systems-based, games that people can replay again and again – like Skyrim and GTA – they’re rooted in systems. And when people can replay a game again and again, then they want the ability to change the way it plays. And that’s why mods are huge on all of those. Obviously, games like Civ and XCOM are rooted in systems,” creative director Jake Solomon said in an interview with IGN.

Asked about what kind of mods he expects to see, Solomon predicts free-aiming will be one “one of the first mods”, and speculates that someone will bring back time units from dear old X-COM to expand options in turns.

Solomon also talks up the XCOM mod Long War, which Alec has taken a crack at, saying “We’re basically a 20-hour tutorial for The Long War, and that’s okay.” Roll on, Long War 2!

IGN also have a few words from XCOM 2 art direct Greg Foertsch on the freedom of the level editor: “If you want to make a completely static level, you can. If you want to make a basically completely procedural level – which is basically what our levels are in the game right now, that’s 100% doable … There’s really no limit – you can do whatever you want. You could literally make an Enemy Unknown map.” I’m sure someone will.

The full interview has more info over here.

77 Comments

  1. phelix says:

    Oh my. This is starting to sound more and more like a game I want to buy.

    • Jobbie says:

      I’m starting to get wobbly desk syndrome from the mere mention of XCome2.

  2. The Dark One says:

    Too bad IGN didn’t sneak in a question about paid mods. Just because it failed in Skyrim doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. Could it work if implemented in a game from the start? With a more equitable pay structure? Would Firaxis want to deal with supporting mods they were profiting on but that might interfere with each other?

    • BTAxis says:

      For my part I sure hope it’s gone forever, but I suspect not.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        As they were implemented, so do I, but there are other ways it’d work much better.
        A) A donate button, giving the modder 97% of the money, and steam 3% (which is about what Paypal would take)
        B) Mods are taken in by the developer, and released as DLC, meaning that they’re full supported. Mod and Dev work out the split.

        • Baines says:

          A 97%/3% split would never happen. Publishers don’t want developers cutting them out of the equation, and that is what paid mods would allow.

        • Silva Shadow says:

          Why do you consumers keep thinking that Steam or valve should even take a cut of the game? Just because Valve owns the platform doesn’t mean everyone should be paying tribute to Caesar, or that it has to be a nickel and dime service. Mods already exist outside of Steam, modders bring more fans and attention to games and add value to a product the developers no longer support. By letting Valve or the original developers be able to take a cut from what modders do, you’re endorsing slave work and rent seeking. The modders are creating content that people are buying the game for, the developer and Valve already take a cut from the sale of the game, and now they’re getting a cut of the work done by modders for free.

          This money grubbing culture you young folks are growing up with is ridiculously entitled. Everyone thinks they’re a business man whose interests are being attacked, when in reality they’re just consumers being fanboys.

          The day these modders start incorporating bitcoin to donate to them is when I’ll whip my phone out, scan a code on their site and send the money directly. Other than that, they’re letting banks and paypal rentseek on a bunch of numbers that cost nothing.

          • pepperfez says:

            Everyone thinks they’re a business man whose interests are being attacked
            Welcome to the new neoliberal economy. Hustle or starve.

    • Cross says:

      If Valve plans to bring back apid mods 8and they do), XCOM 2 sure seems a prime game for it. I doubt Valve can get their fingers out and ready up a new system in such short order, though.

      • Xzi says:

        It’s not so much that they couldn’t, but that they’ve already publicly admitted it was a bad idea to begin with. It’s also worth mentioning that Bethesda had a big hand in trying to launch paid mods and also had to backtrack…I don’t think Firaxis want the negative attention that would come with reviving a system that everyone hated and that Steam/Bethesda had to apologize for.

      • pepperfez says:

        Well, it’s not like it has to be functional, so I’m sure they can get it together in time.

    • DwarfJuggler says:

      I doubt paid mods will ever really take off. Mods and modding community thrive on the open access and use of it’s followers. If people have to go around a pay wall to access mods people probably won’t be as inclined to actually use the mod in the first place.

  3. strummer11 says:

    I bought XCom:EW just to play the Long War mod. Never bothered playing the vanilla game; LW transforms it into a such a completely different, deeper, more complex game that it’s barely recognizable. If that’s an example of what the community can come up with when modding is as hard as possible, I shudder to imagine what we’ll get when it’s easy.

    • FuriKuri says:

      Never bothered playing the vanilla game; LW transforms it into a such a completely different, deeper, more complex game that it’s barely recognizable.

      Hate to point out the obvious, but if you’ve not played the vanilla game how would you know? I know LW gets a mountain of love in these parts but calling it “barely recognizable” to the base game is a bit over the top, and frankly I feel it breaks as much as it fixes… Certainly, I admire many of the strategic level changes but the more I’ve gone into the game the less I’ve enjoyed the tactical ones.

      I’ve certainly had a lot of fun with it, and many of its achievements are commendable… But there’s plenty of stuff in it I don’t feel quite works; the fatigue system, the pointless variations of each rifle type, too many useless inventory items and the extra “classes” essentially limiting choice in the long term rather than extending them…

      • strummer11 says:

        Never played vanilla EW, obviously had plenty of time with original base game, And yes, LW is barely recognizable if complexity and the idea of managing a large organization is what you’re after. It’s a completely different game. All of the things you list as negatives – fatigue, extra classes, extra weapons, etc, are fantastic additions. If you don’t like those things, then the original game is more to your taste- it goes without saying.

        I’d say LW is as close to the original X-Com “experience” as you could ask for given the engine. In my book, it captures enough of the original that my copy of Xenonauts has lingered, unplayed, since it’s beta days (not a slam, I’ll get back to it one of these days).

      • Merlin the tuna says:

        In. This. Base.

  4. Cockles says:

    Hot diggity damn!

  5. Tomhai says:

    He said “time units”.
    Mmmm… time… units

  6. XhomeB says:

    Time Units mod, eh? So… they do not intend to do anything with that awful, extremely limiting “2 actions per turn” system? Come on, it wasn’t good, led to a rather shallow, repetitive experience and even they know it.

    • Asurmen says:

      They do? I’m not aware of them saying so. It could do with some greater flexibility such as being able to fire and move or fire twice but otherwise it worked for that game.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Boris can move ten paces in the fraction of time represented in this turn before firing.
        You move Boris eight paces into what you think is a good firing position.
        Due to the garbage LoS calculations, it turns out Boris can’t actually line up a shot from here.

        Time units or other action point system:
        Boris takes another step, now moving nine out of his ten. He can fire now, and does so. The sectoid that was flanking Jeff drops.

        Firaxcom boardgame-style two-action system:
        Tough luck. Boris can’t move again. He can’t fire either since he has no target. Apparently he spent the leftover time picking his nose. The sectoid that was flanking Jeff gives him a wedgie.

        • Asurmen says:

          So that’s a problem with the LoS system and not the movement system. At least get your complaints correct.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Oh right, it’s the guy who likes to be needlessly obtuse.

            Have fun arguing on your own, then.

          • Asurmen says:

            If your argument that a system is flawed requires another system to not work properly, then you haven’t successfully shown an argument that the system is flawed. Don’t call me obtuse just because you can’t construct an argument worth a damn.

        • lordcooper says:

          Pretty sure firing a weapon took more than one TU…

          Boris takes another step, now moving nine out of his ten. He can fire now, and does so. The sectoid that was flanking Jeff drops. Tough luck, it takes two TU to fire. He can’t fire either since he has one TU. Apparently he spent the leftover time picking his nose. The sectoid that was flanking Jeff gives him a wedgie.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Boris can move ten paces in the fraction of time represented in this turn before firing.

            Jesus Christ, at least read the first sentence. Reserving time units for a shot was there in the very first game.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Pretty sure you’re not reading the post you’re replying to properly.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Thank god I’m not the only one who feels this way. The “move-action” system sucks. Why can they move 15 squares in one go then shoot, but not 2 squares, shoot, 13 more squares?

      • Shadow says:

        I love the originals and can recognize the remake’s flaws. However, I don’t think the action system is necessarily one of them. Let’s be honest: in the old games you very seldom did more than two things per turn per soldier, not including inventory juggling. Meaningful actions generally took half your TUs or more.

        Some people might argue TUs offer more flexibility or whatever, but the truth is it was an imprecise, cumbersome system in practice. The only actual restriction the two-action system presents is the arbitrary blocking of moving if you choose to fire first. That’s the only weakness i can recognize, and may or may not change in XCOM 2.

        • Merlin the tuna says:

          That kind of action interchangeability also lends itself to a brute force approach that kind of nukes the “strategy” aspect of things. If a unit can either [move and shoot] or [shoot twice], you’re almost always better off rolling the RNG twice than running around trying to flank, especially if it takes more than one movement to do so. You risk turning the entire game into a trench warfare simulator.

          Granular turns aren’t impossible to get right, but there’s a reason why move+act is the genre standard. And games like Front Mission 3 (and presumably some of the others in the franchise) find a neat middle ground by using both AP and a strict one-move-one-action limit, though it’s built on the idea of units trading blows a few times before dropping. Not exactly XCOM-friendly.

        • NotToBeLiked says:

          One of the biggest problems in XCOM was the completely broken Line of Sight calculation. Many times I moved a soldier to a position where they would have a *very* clear shot at an enemy based on what you could see, only to find out the game didn’t see it that way. And when you are moving a soldier away from a compromised location to a more secure location (because you would almost certainly be able to kill the enemy right in front of you), it’s pretty annoying to find out you can not kill the enemy in front of you, and you can not move back to your original position, and the soldier will most likely get hit badly because the alien right next to him will just have to move slightly to get the good LoS. If moving would just cost time units, you would be able to just take one extra step yourself to get a correct hit chance. Granted, this bug would also be circumvented by allowing an Undo Move option so you can try positioning again. Now people had to resort to just reloading a save each time the game fucked up its LoS.

          Of course, fixing that part would be preferable, since getting shot by an enemy through 2 obvious walls is also pretty damn annoying.

          • Shadow says:

            The LoS issues could also be fixed providing realtime feedback when you’re moving the cursor around looking for a place to move. Depending on the location you’re hovering over, the game could paint viable targets, flanked targets and those which would flank the soldier in question in that position. Some smart colour-coding and icon placement would go a long way.

          • Michael Fogg says:

            @Shadow
            I’d love that kind of system, even if I find the opinions about LoS problems to be mostly overblown (and I have played through the games several times each).

          • PikaBot says:

            LOS isn’t as broken as you think it is. There are a few places in the game where LOS is genuinely buggy, but mostly it behaves in a fairly consistent manner. The problem is, that consistent manner is governed by fairly obscure and not-very-intuitive rules. This can make LOS seem broken to even fairly experienced players when it’s actually working as intended.

    • AngusPrune says:

      Yes, this reveal does inadvertently say a lot about what they’ve designed for the base game.

      Without action points, there probably can’t be custom loadouts, equipment weight, fatigue, variable weapon speed, different weapon fire modes, swapping equipment in field or picking up equipment from dead comrades/enemies.

      I had thought that making this PC-only was a recognition of who the audience interested in XCOM was, people who don’t mind, or rather actually relish more complexity in their games. Apparently not.

      Still, if the modding is as good as they say, who cares what they’ve designed. We can fix it.

      • Asurmen says:

        Not sure how many of those are actually needed though, and if they’re not needed TUs by extension aren’t needed to drive those actions.

        • AngusPrune says:

          Not sure what you’re getting at. None of what XCOM is is “needed”, it’s a game.

          Just pointing out that if Laser Squad, a game you played by moving the cursor about the grid with the keyboard, gave me the option of giving one man a rocket launcher and another man the ammunition for it, then incentivised me to do that by making both the rocket launcher and its ammunition heavy then perhaps it isn’t beyond the ken of modern video game designers to do the same.

          Having interesting choices to make at every phase of the game is what makes the game fun.

          • Asurmen says:

            Needed as in make any interesting changes to the game. Fatigue didn’t. It rarely made any difference and the few times it did didn’t actually serve to do anything interesting other than making them stop to rest and repeatedly end turn. As fatigue is pointless so is weapon weight. Changing weapons mid fight rarely happened (Stun launcher and Mind Probe are the only reasons I can think of. Occasional grenade but you were generally better off just auto shooting unless they were clustered due to their inaccuracy, relative short range and heavy TU cost in using them).

            Having to move to do a different screen to reload is pointless when in a modern game you can just shortcut it, and having to reload any weapon other than stun launcher or blaster bomb happened maybe once a map unless you were super trigger happy, so scavenging in turn really happened, except maybe to pick up that stun launcher.

            Different weapon modes is the only interesting tactical thing you mentioned, and even then a game can be designed without them.

  7. Havalynii says:

    Somebody PLEASE make a Star Wars Republic Commando mod for this when it comes out. Maybe one where you’re serving order 66?

  8. adamacuo says:

    Has there been any word on whether this will natively support controllers? A day one buy for me either way, but I prefer the couch to the desk. Steam Controller support?

    • Shadow says:

      Let’s hope controllers are their last priority when designing the new control scheme.

      • Asurmen says:

        Er, based on the post obviously not.

      • Shadow says:

        Official information on the primary subject:

        “We’ll also see more tactical information (such as detailed explanations of why your chance to hit is increased or decreased) displayed on the tactical interface, since Firaxis can now count on players sitting closer to their PC monitors and being able to read smaller text. And though Firaxis plans to add it in the future, the current plan is to launch without gamepad support.”

        Source:
        link to ign.com

    • Marblecake says:

      I really don’t mean to insult you or anything. Really. But…uh…are you trolling or are you being serious? If you’re being serious…why are you on this site?

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        Possibly because they like PC games, and like that PC gaming can accommodate a whole load of different ways to play games.

        • Marblecake says:

          Granted, mine was a knee-jerk (and possibly just jerk) reaction. Not without reason, though, given that if a game these days supports controllers it is often heavily geared towards them and “classic” PC inputs keyboard and mouse suffer.

          And it still baffles me how one could prefer to play XCOM with a controller. To me, that would be akin to wanting to play an FPS with a steering wheel.

          Not judging, everyone deserves to play as they like, but the fear of having to suffer because accommodations are made for an input method that is not exactly made for that kind of game is still there.

          Regarding Steam Controller support: since it has a track pad, I don’t think there would be any issues.

          • Merlin the tuna says:

            XCOM 2012 actually controlled a little better with the controller than with the mouse, at least in the tactical layer. Most of the time it was a wash, but the mouse UI often had trouble determining what elevation-plane you wanted to move to, whereas the more discrete controller input didn’t. I’d encourage you to give it a shot if you already have a decent controller.

          • Marblecake says:

            Okay, confession time: the reason why I find preferring a controller baffling is because I can’t use them outside Tekken or Foot-to-ball games. Shootouts in Red Dead Redemption usually involved me peppering the sky with bullets while the bad uns rode off into the sunset (cackling, no doubt). My thumbs simply do not afford me the precision I need. So…yeah, m+kb ftw because without there’d be no w for me.

      • airmikee says:

        lol

        If you’re serious, bravo. Psychological projection at its finest.

      • Shadow says:

        No need to be that harsh, but it is true turn-based strategy is not something people would commonly want to play with a controller, and more importantly, it takes a lot of work to make the UI and navigation bearable with one. And that kind of effort has come in the past with a noticeable compromise in mouse support, which ought to be absolutely complete.

        Personally, I wouldn’t like to see the devs making any kind of sacrifice catering for a small minority.

        • Marblecake says:

          Yeah, I was a bit…uh…unfriendly.

        • Merlin the tuna says:

          but it is true turn-based strategy is not something people would commonly want to play with a controller
          Uh….

          link to en.wikipedia.org
          link to en.wikipedia.org
          link to en.wikipedia.org
          link to en.wikipedia.org
          link to en.wikipedia.org

          • ffordesoon says:

            Heh, I was just thinking that. It’s so weird that Japanese SRPGs go wholly unrecognized by people who bang on about a lack of good turn-based strategy games. And when you do bring them up, someone inevitably goes, “Yeah, but I meant real TBS games.”

            They say beggars can’t be choosers, but it’s funny how many beggars act like choosers anyway.*

            * – Please infer from the context clues that I am saying this in a purely metaphorical sense, not looking down on actual beggars.

          • Shadow says:

            Heh. You must think that’s some kind of checkmate. I’m not even going to say anything about how “true” any given TBS is, console or PC. For starters, you misconstrued I was trying to say something along the lines of “there are no good console TBS titles”, which I didn’t. Those are all great games and I’ve enjoyed most of them.

            However, the ineludible truth is that they’re often a mess of nested menus and submenus, interface-wise, and it only gets worse the more complex the game is. Believe me, I’ve played Romance of the Three Kingdoms VI on the PSX and Pacific Theater of Operations 2 on the SNES. Inevitably hellish interface, because of the restrictive hardware.

            They’re played with controllers not because it’s desirable but rather because there’s no other choice. Don’t doubt for a second they’d be far more navigable and enjoyable with a mouse. Especially if the UI were designed with such peripherals in mind. Even something as relatively simple as Fire Emblem or SRW would benefit greatly from proper mouse support.

        • Vandelay says:

          The biggest draw back a controller has is the longer reaction time, hence it’s poor use for fast paced FPS games and Starcraft like RTSs. A turn based game can be taken as slow as you want.

          The other drawback is the limited number of inputs, which could make something with lots of keyboard shortcuts frustrating, but not impossible, as long as icons are provided and easy way to cycle through them.

          Judging by the original, I see no reason for the sequel to demand the use of a keyboard and mouse. I expect it would be the preferred control scheme, but not limited to it.

    • dangerlift says:

      Playing with controllers could actually be quite fun! It would give me more reason to use mine, anyhow.

  9. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Oh man, that screenshot.

    10 yards away, enemy not in any cover or even aware of your presence, broad daylight… 75% chance to hit.

    It’s X-Com alright.

    • Shadow says:

      Yeah, XCOM’s short engagement ranges make many hit chances feel specially forced and arbitrary.

      That screenshot is likely evidence the sequel doesn’t mean to change that, but let’s hope they think it through better before release comes…

      • Goldeneye says:

        Well, the screenshot shows what we can definitely assume to be a rookie with starting equipment, and like any rookie he’s not going to have the best Aim stats (even though he has higher aim than EW’s starting rookies already, having 71% instead of the standard 60% if you’re not using Not Created Equal). And of course, he’s using a shotgun, so of course the engagement range will be short.

        I actually like that they now show you the factors that go into the shot upfront, instead of needing to open up another menu to do so.

    • Sandepande says:

      Maybe he’s doing a snap-shot.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      75% seems a bit too high, it’s clearly CASUAL AND DUMBED DOWN!!! :P
      UFO/TFTD don’t use distance or light conditions in the hit formula. It’s calculated from soldier stats, shot type and standing/kneeling.
      That’s why you miss autoshots two squares away as often as enemies hit with snapshots from pitch black darkness half a map away in the oldies (although it’s a little more complex than that since a miss can still hit other enemies/friendlies/explosives depending on fail-trajectory. Also of note that OpenXcom has an option for rolling with distance).

  10. AriochRN says:

    If I could have one mod for this:

    X-Com Apocalypse was inspired by Dredd’s MegaCities – I’d love to control a run-down Sector House, deploying teams of Street/ Tech/ Psi Judges to deal with incidents, something in the vein of the Sector 301 “The Pit” story line.

    Oi, Rebellion, what are you doing with the 2000AD licence?

  11. NotToBeLiked says:

    So instead of Firaxis’ usual strategy of releasing incomplete games and making customers buy a couple of expansions to get *some* of the features from previous game back; now they’re making a barebones game and will take the money from modders who make the game worthwhile? Because I’m pretty damn sure XCOM2 will have paid mods.

    • Sandepande says:

      Beyond Earth and (and to some extent Civ V) might have these issues, but I didn’t think XCOM:EU was lacking at all. Unless you wanted the original UFO:EU with fancier graphics and presentation…

    • Asurmen says:

      I wish I was this miserable.

    • dangerlift says:

      Making games can be very difficult. Who knew?

  12. mtomto says:

    You guys should ask what’s going on with Civ6. For the previous iterations there has been 4-5 years between each new iteration. This fall it has been 5 years, and I am really hoping for some good news soon.

    • AngusPrune says:

      Did you forget about Beyond Earth already? It was only last year.

      I’m afraid you’ve got another 4 years to wait.

      • mtomto says:

        Did you forget about Colonization? Firaxis did the exact same thing with civ4 back then. Beyond Earth was a clusterfuck of epic proportions – just like the colonization reskin of civ4.

  13. Raoul Duke says:

    I find it very odd that they clearly understand perfectly well what people want (free aiming, time units, etc) and yet they are wilfully not including those things themselves.

    Their pitch here seems to be “yeah, we’re perversely denying you those things, but don’t worry, you can do the work yourselves to fix our game so it’s actually what you want!”

    • dangerlift says:

      I thought it was a bit of a weird statement as well. Reading the full interview however it sounds like their priorities are on getting a finished product based on working systems rather than trying to please every thin man and his dog. Giving us the means to implement new features afterward is just icing on an already delicious cake.

    • Asurmen says:

      Plenty of people bought the game as it was and we’re happy with the mechanics. Don’t conflate what you want from the game with such statements as what the ‘people’ want.

    • PikaBot says:

      No, they understand that some people will want to change the mechanics of the game they made to better suit their personal tastes, and are giving them the ability to do so if they have the wherewithal.

      I think you’ll find that the people who want the pointless fussiness of time units back are soundly in the minority, and most playing OpenXCOM or Xenonauts instead.