XCOM 2’s Weird Caps Lock Load Time Trick Explained

We've got to stop letting Buster Bluth name missions.

One of the weirder performance-improving tips you may have heard for XCOM 2 [official site] is speeding up load times by hitting the Caps Lock key. It sounded unlikely, but it has worked for me. Others found it made them wait even longer, as XCOM 2 would crash and they’d need to relaunch it and reload and probably say some rude words on top I bet. What even is this trick? How does it work? Why don’t developers Firaxis make XCOM 2 automatically do… whatever this is? They’ve now explained.

Firaxis told the big secret of Caps Lock to Eurogamer:

“Hitting the key, through a Rube-Goldberg-esque series of events, forces all outstanding load requests to be filled immediately in a single frame. This causes a massive hitch, and potentially could crash the game. If you don’t care about those adverse effects the synchronous load is faster.”

I always knew it was the right decision to replace my keyboard with a series of dominoes which, when pushed, knock down a chain of increasingly large dominoes which then strike a lighter to set off a firework which whizzes across the room to hit a wooden spoon which sets an egg rolling down a spiral slide and smashing into a knife then the egggoop oozes out and drips down onto balance scales to raise a pin in the other weighing pan to pop a balloon to startle a hamster which runs inside its ball and knocks over a glass of water into a kettle which boils the water to steam to moisten a paper towel until it tears and drops a battery into a special slot on my computer telling it I’ve pressed a key. Typing anything takes ages, with a lot of painstaking resetting, but sometimes I save a few seconds loading a video game level and it’s all worth it.

If waiting makes you sweary, you might also be interested in this mod removing a lot of small pauses in combat.

Anyway, speaking of loading, why aren’t more people talking about how great XCOM 2’s billboard loading screens (not those Skyranger scenes) are?

For more on XCOM 2, visit our XCOM 2 guide hub.

55 Comments

  1. DrollRemark says:

    Oh man, they really are, aren’t they? Some proper lovely, early-to-mid Soviet-style propaganda art. I feel like they all say things like “FORWARD TOGETHER” or “BETTER LIVING WITH ADVENT”, just out of shot.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      It’s like they put a manga artist to draw Soviet/Chinese posters, and he/she had a Judge Dredd comic nearby. It’s great stuff, so I hope they make some art for Resistance propaganda, too. I can imagine it being completely contrary to that style: dark, fantastical, individualizing.

      Hell, imagine if you could have a Resistance Comms upgrade section dedicated to combating propaganda, and you had to design some posters, and this is way off from XCOM I guess…

  2. int says:

    B+Down for a higher chance of catching that Pokemon you really want.

    • Abndn says:

      But only if you do it right as the ball hits.

    • 0positivo says:

      Nonono, you see, B is for reducing the damage you receive. Timing A to the beats of the ball, now that’s how you make your capture chances higher

    • SaintAn says:

      After all these years I still do that right as the Pokeball closes. Been doing it since I first played Pokemon Red back when it first came out and with every game since.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      That trick only works after you use strength on the truck near the St.Anne.

  3. Sorbicol says:

    I also like the wanted posters that appear across the maps with you squad mugshots on them when you have city based missions. It’s a little over done but it’s a great touch.

    • colw00t says:

      If you have a soldier take cover under their own wanted poster, sometimes they will make a comment about it, too.

  4. Beefenstein says:

    All games need to force load requests to fulfil in a single frame, especially open-world games. I love floating as a semi-textured wireframe mesh in a universe barely touched even by elementary physical rules, let alone the complex interlocking systems of cause and effect which make up our world.

  5. Zallgrin says:

    There is something addicting about pressing Caps Lock during the XCOM loading times. Sure, now I know it could crash the game… but there is something so cool about being a magician that magically ends the loading times with a tap of a button.

    What can I say, I’m a woman of simple pleasures.

    • crazyd says:

      Only reason it’s addicting to me is because the load is so goddamned stupidly long otherwise, even on SSDs. I’ve yet to have it cause a crash, but it’s saved a ton of time.

  6. LexW1 says:

    The billboard loading screens are one of the best things ever seen in a game, they really are. They’re just so atmospheric and spot-on.

    The visual design in general in XCOM 2 is pretty much leaps and bounds ahead of Firaxis’ usual “nice-but-dull” vibe (only the staggering ugliness of the “standard” T2 armour really stands against this – but the Exosuit looks awesome to make up for that).

    • Sorbicol says:

      Actually in context of the game I think the armour and weapons of that mid tier work really well – it’s a organisation existing in a repurposed alien craft scraping/scavenging and stealing whatever it can get its hands on to fight a vastly superior force which is constantly hunting it down. Being functional should trump looking pretty every single time.

      It’s a shame the game completely does away with that when you get to the high tier stuff. It really doesn’t look right at all.

      • colw00t says:

        I actually really like how slapdash the Spider suit looks. It’s just got a big ol’ rope that looks like it was stolen from a boat.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, the art design cannot be praised enough. How startlingly alien the aliens are, the mechanics and ‘physical’ design mirroring each other and creating powerful and unique identities. They seem properly terrifying and incomprehensible.

  7. Pantalaimon says:

    I assume this will be patched out since it’s a crash bug and probably has other unintended consequences. It’s nice of them to be honest and actually admit it’s a thing and explain it, though as a developer the idea of accidentally leaving in dev hacks in a release keeps me up at night.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Wait, pressing Caps Lock to speed up loading times actually works? I thought that was a joke I didn’t fully understand – “If loading takes to long, press a random button to amuse yourself” or something. Huh.

  9. Sleepery says:

    If you team is taking too long to get to the objective, press caps lock to kill them all instantly.

    I’m not bitter.

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    Stompywitch says:

    I remember hearing someone ask “can’t I just press a button to skip the loading screens”, back in the PS1 days.

    I never thought a developer would implement it though.

    • Abndn says:

      Discovering the terrible conspiracy: loading screens were always optional. Developers leave out the skip hotkey to artificially extend games.

  11. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    is it Alice first on the right side of choppa?

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      Qazinsky says:

      It looks like it and based on the names on the right side of the scoreboard I guess this is a screenshot from Alice’s game, rather than just cribbing one from Alec diary where Alice also exist as a charatcer, thus we can conclude that Alice can exist on at least two places at the same time.

      Maybe this is a sign that we should all have an Alice character in our games?

  12. aircool says:

    There is so much to love about this game.

  13. Chem says:

    So when waiting for something to load or an enemy turn I always start jamming on my caps lock. Turns out it’s the reason I haven’t felt XCOM2 had overly long load times. Neato!

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    Lars Westergren says:

    On the off chance someone from Firaxis reads this and don’t already know about the bug: Sectoids often reanimate mimic holograms the aliens have “killed”.

    • Horg says:

      Bradford also screams that you are abandoning your troops if you evac after throwing out a mimic during a certain defense mission. It’s so OP it even has XCOM fooled.

      • Beefenstein says:

        It’s not Bradford… it’s a holo-mimic of him!!!

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        Lars Westergren says:

        Oooh, so that’s why. Yeah I had that one too.

      • Xocrates says:

        This reminds me of the time the end mission screen said I lost a soldier even though everyone was alive.

        I realized later it was probably counting a mind-controlled sectoid that had died.

  15. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I love the loading screens reminds me of early 90s cartoon, lik transformers and GI Joe for some reason.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, there is one with XCOM soldiers silhouetted against the Skyranger and the Avenger, and it looks like some sort of awesome manga from the 80s that never existed. Then you realise that it does exist and you are playing it. :D

  16. apa says:

    Alice, you just described how a piece of software usually works under the hood. When an error happens the feedback dev/support gets is “I pushed a domino, now my pants are wet. Please fix.”

  17. FLoJ says:

    It doesn’t sound very safe to leave you kettle permanently on and just awaiting the addition of water.

  18. JFS says:

    Didn’t capslockcrash for me so far. From that I guess my machine would be more than capable of running this game with most every option on, if only Firaxis had invested in a little optimization.

    But yeah, those loading screens are very nice. Makes looking at the polygons-only starting screen much nicer :) I’m exaggerating, of course. The textures onky take five seconds or so to load. Negligible.

  19. SuicideKing says:

    It’s never crashed for me – although the game does tend to get stcuk (irrespective of how the loading progresses – synchronously or asynchronously) AFTER the loading screen and before the cutscene showing the dropship returning to the base. It shows a half done render of the base, with the background forests and butterflies moving around. Only way to get out is to load the last autosave and pray it works, or restart the game.

  20. csbear says:

    This game is just too good. It’s becoming one of my all-time favorites, glitches and all. Never have I screamed at the screen so much, cursing the developers, and then after many hours of save scumming, proclaiming my love for them.

    And those propaganda billboards are just awesome… Looks kind of North Korea Eternal Beloved Father Leader-ish.

  21. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Game is horribly broken and shouldn’t be recommended and over-hyped in good faith to players for various reasons.
    I’m sure it would be even better entertainment in half a year when price has dropped, performance is fixed and certain questionable design decisions are made optional and no, just third-party fixing is not ok.

    • SuicideKing says:

      It’s not “horribly broken”, but yeah, should be in much better condition during the steam summer sale.

    • Coming Second says:

      It’s not horribly broken. I played it through, thoroughly enjoyed it and met not a single serious bug the entire time. Now I’ve installed a few mods it’s even better. Could see this being a feature of my installed Steam games for a long, long while.

    • Philopoemen says:

      60+ hours down, max-settings, capslocking like a crazy person, and not one crash. I’ve had one bug in total, and that was when I told my troops to go to some higher ground in a city, and then they literally ran the entire way across the map, passed non-activated enemies, and then reached their destination. Was on one map, repeatable, but was worth a chuckle, and didn’t impact on the game itself.

      If you;re talking about the mechanics, that’s a different thing, but they seem more design decisions rather than broken.

  22. Eddy9000 says:

    Headline should have been “Shorten loading times with this one weird trick”

  23. caff says:

    It seems a bit odd that they haven’t fixed this so it’s stable. I hope they can so it improves the overall experience of the game. Maybe they had to take a few shortcuts before release so they could get it out on time.

  24. carewolf says:

    So they are loading files one at a time with processing in between if you don’t hit it?? No wonder it is so slow especially without an SSD. You need multi-threaded I/O to fully utilize a harddrive!

  25. Yglorba says:

    My guess would be (given by the fact that it was accidentally left in) that they were trying to figure out a way to make it work without crashes right up until release, but couldn’t manage it, and decided it wasn’t worth delaying the release for given that, for the better or worse, nasty loading times like these are pretty standard across the industry. It would have been something nice to get working, but it wasn’t a show-stopper when they couldn’t, so they gave up on it.

  26. Raoul Duke says:

    So the insane love-fest for this game now extends to horrible bugs which should not be present in student level computer software being described as a charming quirk? Interesting.

    Goes nicely with the lovely, warming glow of your GPU melting, I suppose.