Another lifeboat for me reach out to in the endless sea of E3 hype is Firaxis' XCOM 2 [official site]. Clearly it's hardly a dead cert they'll get it right, especially given that Civ Beyond Earth eroded some faith that the studio is willing to go outside its comfort zone, but there's no game in vidyaland that I'm more excited about right now. Even though all we've been given so far is context. That's just changed: here's footage there's footage footage now hooray footage
This comes via IGN, chatting to Firaxis producer Garth DeAngelis in their super-studio, and bundling five minutes of in-game alien-bothering too. It looks more XCOMy than I'd somehow expected, which I think is because the lazy and fearful part of my brain immediately went NO TOO MUCH CHANGE I COULD NEVER LIKE IT upon hearing about the switched-up 'the aliens won the war' setting. There's been a sort of inversion of the core tactics, and it's that rather than any plot stuff or new aliens which most has me thinking "yeah, this is going to swallow months of my life again, isn't it?"
In case you don't want to sit through the whole thing or work in a place which fires you should your computer ever makes a noise, I took a few scribbled notes on perhaps the most salient points we (by which I mean 'I') didn't already know:
- The Advent Speaker, apparent leader of the Humans, looks suspiciously like a Thin Man to me.
- XCOM not just a diminished force, but actively treated as dissidents, hated by the populace.
- Starker look aesthetically, a bit like Brink.
- Zoom in past that to get a similar essential feel - the run-crouch to cover.
- "You are now the invader. You're the good invader." This isn't just a theme thing: in battles, you're the faction which creeps and darts around sowing destruction and setting up ambushes. It's a very different dynamic to the slow lawnmowing of XCOM.
- Your own soldiers appear on wanted billboards
- There are cutsceney bits mid-mission, showing how the city works, how and where enemies move around so you have some sense of what to expect as you move forwards and setup traps.
- "Double overwatch ambush." A tactical trap - lure an unaware enemy out, then have them plough straight into your watching soldiers when they respond. You're a much more active force now, trying to bring about conflict rather than clean up after it.
- Though active, it's about hiding, getting into position unseen and surprising the enemy, not just sheltering to mitigate damge.
- Sound of crowd screaming as XCOM's mission kicks off - it sounds like you're doing something monstrous. Interested to see how this is reconciled and if there will be consequences to 'noisy' missions.
- Completely procedural maps - both their geometry and their objectives. Hopefully no more Defuse The Bomb tedium?
- Cover shatters much more, and more impressively.
- Floors and ceilings and rooftops can be taken out
- Snakewoman: she's called the Viper, and as well as the choke move we saw in the first trailer she has a Scorpion-style harpoon grab, but with her tongue. Terrifying - as well as damage, it hauls your soldier a long way away from their colleagues.
- Seems like aliens are deadlier, and for cannon fodder you now get human/Advent soldiers
- Ranger - a new XCOM class, who carries a big old sword - apparently because XCOM's resources are scarce, so they've gone more lo-tech.
- However, there'll be several new new grenades types, including acid and fire
- There's a bit of a Combine vibe to Advent tech, its carriers and turrets, isn't there? It is playing with similar concepts, after all.
- The enemies can call reinforcements at any time, so timely exfiltration is super-important.
- Another new class, the Specialist - has a pet robot drone called Gremlin, can hack, take control of enemy turrets, amongst other powers.
- Evolved Beserker, who looks a bit like a giant, uncooked steak. Noticeably, and cutely, DeAngelis uses "Her" when talking about, well, her.
- Advent field Mechs, who are very reminiscent of War Within mech soldiers. Guess that's not entirely being overlooked, then.
- As suggested previously, your units can carrying critically wounded and dead soldiers. If you don't get them to the evacuation zone, you'll lose any kit they were carrying too. I like the idea - if they pull it off - that missions will be messier, not simply win or lose. Might be more of a focus of making the best of a bad situation.
- There's no encumbrance for carrying a body, so you can sprint as well as ever. This strikes me as being one of the first things someone will mod.
- Sectoids, not seen here, are going to far more lethal rather than basic grunts. One of their new powers is Psi-reanimate- they can resurrect a dead alien or XCOM soldier to fight for them. Erk.
That's out in November, and PC only. I am excite.