XCOM Long War Modders Working On Standalone Strategy Game

XCOM’s Long War mod [official site] is, to many, the definitive version of Firaxis’ reboot of the alien-repelling strategy classic. As the title suggests, it extends the length of the campaign, making the fight against the invaders into a gruelling conflict rather than a streamlined series of missions. The campaign structure isn’t the only thing the mod changes – it’s like the biggest and most delicious expansion imaginable – and you can find all the details here, as well as download links.

Now, the team behind the mod have formed a studio and begun work on “a grand strategy game in which the player leads the defense of Earth during an alien invasion”.

Typical behaviour, I say. XCOM: Enemy Unknown wasn’t designed to be particularly mod-friendly and the clever Long War folks still managed to make one of the best mods of all time, and now that XCOM 2 has been designed from the ground-up with “a much deeper level of modding support”, they’re making an entirely new game instead of plumping for The Long War 2. I guess they enjoy a challenge.

The game goes by the name Terra Invicta and it’s currently in “pre-Kickstarter development”, though there’s no word on a launch date for the crowdfunding campaign just yet. The designation “grand strategy” suggests this might be an even longer war and perhaps the tactical battles will be missing entirely? Going off the description on the official site, it sounds almost like a game of diplomacy rather than war:

An alien force has arrived in the far reaches of Solar System and begun probing Earth’s defenses and building an invasion fleet. The player must assemble a council of scientists, politicians, military leaders and operatives who can unite Earth’s squabbling nations with the ultimate goal of taking the fight to the aliens in the high ground of outer space.

With this and Stellaris on the horizon, grand strategy might be leaving history in the past and entering the space age. I’d like that, as long as I can still hop in my time machine from time to time and see how my crusader kings are faring, and whether the heart of iron still beats.

XCOM 2 is arriving in the very near future as well, of course. With its extravagantly expanded strategic game it might be able to fight a long war of its own this time around. It’s looking fantastic.

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  1. dethtoll says:


    • Uninspired Cup says:

      Cool beans, I hope it an run on modest hardware though, like Underrail. Be happy to throw some money his way.

  2. anHorse says:

    This’ll be interesting.

    Long War was very impressive as a mod and they can’t get enough credit for creating such a big mod for a game that wasn’t designed to be modded. However a lot of the actual design choices made on it were really silly with some changes feeling like they’d been made just to have a change (the airgame, the changes to rank names which made no sense)

    So I’m skeptical at best that they’ll make a good game since the best parts of Long War were just tweaks of the original game’s balance rather than the new features

    • wcq says:

      I think they changed the rank names because in the original game the later ranks were just too high. In the end game, you’d have majors and colonels as field operatives, which was pretty absurd.

    • hjarg says:

      Ranks made much more sense in Long War then in XCOM. The highest rank in XCOM was coloniel. In real life, colonel is usually (varies by country) leading a bridage of few thousand soldiers. In XCOM, a colonel and five other colonels were happily trolloping around in the battlefield in power armor, killing aliens left and right.
      Making most soldiers NCOs and few select officers made much more sense…

      Otherwise, YAY! Let’s see how it works out.

      • Serenegoose says:

        Depends really on your perspective. For people who don’t actually know how a military works and want to shoot sectoids with a fairly intuitive structure for knowing what level their troops are, going from rookie to colonel makes a lot of sense. Remembering at a glance whether your tech sgt, gunnery sgt, master sgt, sgt sgt, or sgt major was the one who was more levelled up is a LOT more opaque, even if it’s more ‘realistic’ – which is probably not high on the list of priorities for someone who plays a game where you shoot things called floaters.

        • Jericho says:

          But I don’t really think that’s ever an issue in Long War as there’s several UI visual clues to indicate increased rank rather than just the name. For example, the soldier roster is always sorted from highest to lowest rank and the rank icons are (by default) designed to look more impressive the higher the rank is. You may not remember that a Technical Sergeant is lower in rank than a Master Sergeant, but it doesn’t matter because the game has numerous other ways of indicating that the MSGT has more experience (including literally showing their XP total on the roster list!).

          But beyond that, the actual rank names are cosmetic and can be easily changed in a text file included with the mod, so not playing or liking the mod because of the names of the ranks is just silly!

          Anyhow, I’m a long-time fan of Long War who’s finished the mod’s campaign several times now, so maybe I’m not the best judge of these things. However, even I will admit that despite enjoying the mod I have taken a hammer and pliers to the game’s configurable settings to tweek the AI and tactical gameplay to my liking. It just kind of bugs me when people’s listed complaints about the mod are things that they have easy control over to change to their liking. Even the air game is completely customizable as of the final release version, so if people find it too hard or tedious they can remove that difficulty and just focus on the base management or tactical game.

          To each their own! :)

          • Ich Will says:

            I think they are less complaining about Long War and more countering a complaint against Vanilla.

      • Shadow says:

        To be frank, having several high-ranking NCOs running around in a single field team isn’t significantly less ridiculous than the vanilla XCOM alternative.

      • jonahcutter says:

        There are also a couple of gameplay elements involved in Long War’s officer system.

        The officer system in LW is the medal system from EW repurposed. Essentially a renaming, but with different buffs. A key difference though is officers in Long War cannot become psi or mech troopers (or vice versa), so it’s another consideration to balance in your choices over soldier/squad builds.

        Officers in LW also get the Command ability, which allows them to grant a single extra non-combat move to a unit (and the officer gets another “charge” of the ability at each new rank). This can help immensely in dealing with unintentional activations, by giving a chance for the exposed trooper to get to cover. Or in the EXALT missions, in helping the covert op get to transmitters.

        The ranks also only allow a decreasing amount of troops. Eventually, you can have only one, top-ranked “Field Commander” and three Colonels.

        So in general, you end up with a few higher ranked officers “commanding” the NCOs, Specs, Recruits, and the lower-ranked officers. You won’t end up with a team full of Colonels getting commanded by another Colonel.

  3. Vacuity729 says:

    My only major complaint about Long War was the grind for soldier XP and resources, especially meld. And the thing about grind is that by the time you realise it’s a problem, you’ve *already been grinding* for too long, and your will to continue, even with significantly adjusted settings has already largely faded away.

    This combines with my minor complaint that although they did sterling work to add replayability to the maps by switching up deployment zones, there is still a limit to how many times I can play the same downed small UFO map, with the same 1 cyberdisc+2 drones, 3 mutons, & command pod opponents. Every. Single. Time.
    After time.
    After time.
    After time.
    Ad tedium.

    The aliens aren’t progressing at any speed, my roster of soldiers isn’t levelling to new perks at any speed, and I’m not getting enough resources to build any new equipment any time soon, so it’s nearly the exact same battle over and over with minor changes in my force composition (2 engineers this time round? Wow!).

    I fully acknowledge the amazing effort put into the mod though, and feel like a bit of a churl for criticising it when I played it for so long and genuinely did get a lot of engagement out of it.

    My suggestion to anyone trying it out is to use the Dynamic War setting set to something like half the campaign length on their first try; the original length gets very dull long before you’re anywhere close to finishing.

    • Vacuity729 says:

      Err, and good on the team for their new project; I wish them the very best!

    • FeloniousMonk says:

      That’s a significant complaint, given that the most central tweak of the Long War is a huge extension of game length. I love Long War, but I feel you on this. I tend to treat Long War a bit like Crusader Kings – I’ll play it until it gets boring, leave for a month, come back and pick it back up. The Long War is a great palette cleanser for an hour or two a week but I’ve never had the stuff to marathon it.

      Probably goes without saying that I’ve never actually finished a long war….

    • animal says:

      Yeah, I liked the higher difficulty, but the problem with that is that if you crank it up too high it becomes a puzzle game, instead of strategy/tactics. When you’re confronted by a limited number of choices you have to e.g. select the 1 correct answer…which was the main problem with Long War for me (on earlier versions at least, before it let you assist yourself on squad size/game length etc).

  4. geldonyetich says:

    I hope they can get some permission from 2K Games to do this. Ambitious mod projects are often regarded with fear and suspicion by developers and publishers because it’s pretty much cracking into their hard work and repurposing it for a potential competing project. Even if you never plan to sell it, they will oft err on the side of caution. But sometimes developers get actively involved in supporting mod communities and cool things happen.

    • EvaUnit02 says:

      Erm, they’re making an original IP game, not a mod for XCOM. I dunno why you think they’d need “permission from 2K” to do that.

  5. Chaotic Entropy says:

    If you want a full, involved XCOM experience then play Xenonauts, it’s good stuff.

  6. EhexT says:

    Well no reason to buy XCOM 2 on anything but a huge discount then. Long War 2 was the only reason to get it since Firaxis sure as hell aren’t going to fix their awful design decisions themselves (the fact they’re still in XCOM 2 is proof of that).