Sid Meier Talks XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Alien Breeds: The Evolution Of XCOM’s Enemies.
The Unsettling Music Of XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
'The PC Difference - XCOM obviously has deep PC roots and a hardcore fanbase with strong feelings about strategy franchises moving to consoles. It's natural for them to worry about a game like XCOM being dumbed down during the transition from keyboard to gamepad. Everything that Firaxis has shown so far indicates that any 'dumbing down' is limited solely to removing over-designed rules. For example, the original's Time Units have been removed for a simple move+action (or double move) for each unit. The idea is to let players still make the same decisions - move here, shoot that - without having to precisely calculate steps taken and type of shots fired in order to optimize that final five percent of combat effciency. And fear not, PC players - Firaxis is planning to take advantage of the platform's unique capabilities to provide an enhanced interface. Lead designer Jake Solomon uses DA:O as an example of what he wants to happen with XCOM. He suggested a zoomed-out full-map view of the tactical map as the kind of feature that PC players can expect that might not make it into the console versions. Finally, if you're an XCOM devotee from the old days, take comfort in the fact that the hardest difficulty is simply called Classic Mode.'
Other notable gameplay changes mentioned: no more Aimed/Snap/Auto shots, but there are two special abilities you can choose between at each level up that add more actions (the example is a choice the sniper gets: 'Squad Sight which lets him fire at any enemy a squadmate can see, or Snap Shot which lets him take a quick shot after moving, an ability normally restricted from sniper rifles).
Oh yeah, there are classes; the ones mentioned are sniper, support, and heavy. Rookies don't come with their class identified, you have to level them up to find out which they are. Weapon clips are gone but you still need to reload, it doesn't say if there are infinite reloads but you no longer manufacture or load clips onto the Skyranger.
The 16 individual countries will each have demands and assign missions - the article mentions Japan requesting a shipment of laser rifles as a reaction to XCOM not protecting their territory, and Africa as being a poor continent but rich in raw materials needed for manufacturing (each continent will have a bonus). The missions are mostly procedurally generated, but there are specific "tentpole scenarios that take place at certain points in the narrative. These come in several forms, from in-game cinematics showing the growing alien threat through the lens of human newscasts to setpiece tactical battles. Firaxis hopes to use these moments to create some semblance of overarching narrative despite the strategic layer being completely player-driven... Firaxis insists that its tactical AI as well as the unique capabilities and squad compositions each player will bring to them will maintain the game's integrity."
When a soldier is killed by a destructive enough weapon, "his equipment is so badly damaged that it can't be salvaged." Environments are destructible, and suppressive fire is in the game - the example is a heavy pinning down a Sectoid, denying it a turn during the aliens' turn. There are pictures of Sectoids, Mutons, and Cyberdiscs, which are fairly faithful to the originals, although cyberdiscs also come in spiderlike forms. Sectoids can use their psionic abilities to link up with each other to increase their effectiveness, but killing one will kill any others it is linked with. Mutons have Blood Call, "a battle cry that excites surrounding Mutons into a kind of animalistic fury.
Finally, the suit guys are called Thin Men. "The Thin Man is strikingly similar to the Slender Man myths. It may be that some morphogenic race has been secretly studying humanity, and has sent these human facsimiles to Earth as spies. Unnaturally tall and slender, Thin Men are not perfect replicas.... Once engaged in battle, a Thin Man will perform acrobatic maneuvers unlike any human. Thin Men are capable of covering large swaths of ground in a single bound. Snipers should be wary of their ability to jump up several stories in a single leap. Once engaged in close quarters, the Thin Man unhinges its jaw and vomits forth a spray of corrosive putrescence... upon expiration, a Thin Man will explode in an acid shower damaging nearby equipment and field personel."
I have no idea why they chose to feature the Thin Men in the first released screenshots - there are about 30 and those are easily the worst. The tactical view is moveable from a bird's eye 70 degree view to ground level behind/to the side of the soldier. The picture of the geoscape is incomplete, it only shows the globe. The base screens seem similar - the example is a research screen, with a list of topics and a scientist presumably moving in the background. Soldiers are indeed clad in Gears of War style armor, but both soldiers and aliens are drawn in a very clean comic style reminiscent of the animated cinematics of the original (or the Firaxis house style circa Civ V).
The Art of XCOM:
Screens & video at link above.
The Art of XCOM (video + few more screens)
Originally Posted by zoner
I've got my digital copy. But I don't think there's any way to directly copy and quote the text.
There's apparently a 'Heavy Armed Mobile Cover Platform that serves as a powerful rock on which to anchor any tactical advantage' and you can directly customize the heavy troops armor and weapons individually.
Though they mention there's some story based missions that are not randomly generated and involve in-game cinematics of some kind
Originally Posted by Gameinformer
THE VAST MAJORITY OF XCOM'S CONTENT COMES IN THE FORM OF PROCEDURUALLY GENERATED MISSIONS AND ENCOUNTERS, MEANING THAT EVERY PLAYTHROUGH UNFOLDS DIFFERENTLY
What I've read is
•randomly generated missions, terrain. Developer says you'll never play the exact same mission twice outside of a few story missions which feature in-game cinematics
•fog of war is confirmed. area starts off with darkness everywhere, and the average soldier can't see shit
•enemy spawns are randomized
•mobile platform called SHIV; customizable for new chasis
•Sectoids and Mutons confirmed
•The base's screenshot is accurate. It is now a side shot instead of top down. You can also upgrade your base, like the satellite, with alien technology
•There was an example in one scenario where Japan had the laser rifle already developed before the invasion because they felt threatened, so that seems random.
•You have 16 countries in the funding council you need to keep happy. Some provide more money, but others, like Africa, provide more raw resources
•The sniper units have a grappling hook ability to get on top of buildings
•Gunners have a suppressing fire
•you can equip your xcom guys with all kinds of different guns. customization looks like a big deal
•Apparently there's some sort of cinematic view when your guys get killed. They didn't cite VATS or anything, so I doubt it's too in depth
•Unexperienced agents can panic, freak out, etc if something bad happens
•Firaxis designer states that the PC version will have an enhanced interface. He cites Dragon Age: Origins on PC and console as a big inspiration
This is like the first half of the article
•In the scenario they showed, one member died. Because of this the other squadmates didn't get an experience bonus
•Without the bonus, the sniper leveled up still. He was able to choose from two abilities. Either Squad Sight(which means he can shoot anything a squadmate can see) and Snap Shot(which lets him shoot after moving. Something snipers aren't normally allowed to do)
•You can't recruit specific classes. You can only recruit rookies and then level them up to become specific classes
•The guys in suits in the screenshots are 'Thin Man' aliens. They're able to leap long distances
•Challenge is stressed a lot
•same quick save/load system though they are considering an iron man type mode where you can't load previous saves
•Firaxis states that they're not rebooting it, they're re imagining it. Using the same core gameplay with modern technology, weapons, audiovisuals, etc.
That's the stuff I saw that was worth noting
Originally Posted by peakish
Some more, from this thread on 2k forums. Quite a bit of streamlining, I don't mind most of it (in fact I like some of it, like getting rid of ammo, it was an automatic action anyway), except not being able to move-shoot-move, hmm. Anyway, hype!
•No action points. The game uses a move-and-shoot (or move-and-move) dynamic. They don't want people piddling around counting individual action points. Some will call this a concession to consolitis; others will call it useful streamlining.
•Soldiers can still panic, but not to the point of wiping the squad. Likewise, you'll never get plasma-bombed right out of the carrier. They want to make the game more fair, and those were specifically mentioned.
•The strategic layer is extremely robust. You still need to choose which countries to send missions to, which offers of aid (in exchange for more protection) you'll accept from which countries, which alien technologies you'll research, etc. The back-and-forth between tactical and strategic play remains at the heart of the game.
•Overwatch, duck-and-cover, etc. are all still very much present, tactically.
•You can research vehicles, which take the place of a squaddie. They don't gain XP and when they are destroyed they are lost for good, but they provide serious cover and firepower. One example given is a mobile heavy weapons platform that serves as a good overwatcher for a tactical advance.
•Sectoids and Mutons are in. Cyberdiscs and Thin Men are also mentioned. Evidently psionics are also in.
•Aliens have their own special perk-like abilities as well.
Overall it looks really ☺☺☺☺ing fantastic and I am now DAY ONE.
The article specifically cites a sniper spending their entire turn to take an aimed shot for Massive Damage. Perhaps it's more accurate to think of the game as having only two action points per turn, for Move-Shoot, or Move-Move, or Aim-Shoot, etc.
Gus, like I said, overwatch is in the game. In, in, in the game. You definitely can set up squaddies who haven't used all their actions in a turn, such that they can do overwatch and shoot the instant something comes into view.
Reloading costs an action, so it is a tactical consideration. Ducking into cover is the main positioning mechanic they mention. They also mention supppressive fire as another mechanic -- your heavy weapons guy can lay down a barrage that can paralyze pinned units (e.g. remove their actions). Grenades are in, wounding is in. Generally it doesn't sound like there are fewer tactical options, but rather that the bookkeeping is simplified.
(This part was by the author of the GI article)
Apologies if the article was unclear, but the deal is that sniper rifles are unusual in that they take a full turn to shoot. You can unlock a move-shoot perk for snipers at some experience level, but your basic sniper rifle takes a full turn to fire.
Ammo is abstracted. You're assumed to be carrying enough clips to reload as much as you want, but it takes a turn to do so. Suppressive fire is crazy awesome, for instance, but it burns through ammo like a mofo so you're borrowing turns down the road to kick ass now.
Body positions - AIUI you are assumed to be kneeling behind partial cover etc. They didn't go into a ton of detail here. Personally that's a level of control granularity that I'm not concerned about preserving, so long as I have other awesome ☺☺☺☺ that I can do and creative tactics to explore. Which from what I've seen will not be lacking.
So yeah, you only have one base. Building different bases has been removed, but you still buy satellite coverage (the new radar) and build hangars for interception in different countries. Your single base is like way more crazy awesome than any base from the original, though, and presents lots of opportunities for more decision-making in terms of digging deeper as well as what kind of expansion facilities you add on (see the screenshot of the "ant farm" that we put online Monday).
Oh hey they now have some screenshots and a new article that answers some questions about the game: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/featur...y-unknown.aspx
Originally Posted by Game Informer
Wasn't there another XCOM game?
Yes, 2K Marin is developing a previously announced first-person shooter, simply called XCOM. That game was originally scheduled to come out last year, but has since been delayed out of 2011.
How do those games relate to each other?
The shooter takes place earlier in the fiction, chronicling the aliens' first attacks in the United States. The strategy game we're talking about here deals with the global response to the later full-blown alien invasion of Earth.
So this is some kind of RTS?
No, not in the way the term "RTS" typically applies to games like StarCraft. The real-time element of XCOM is confined to the global view, where the player keeps track of known UFOs and abductions going on around the world. Managing research and development at the XCOM organization's secret base can be done at the player's leisure, and all combat is completely turn-based.
You switch between real-time and turn-based?
Yes. When your aerial transport lands at an abduction site, the game switches to a tactical view and you command your squad of personalized soldiers in battle against an unknown alien threat.
So what do you do in the real-time global view?
On the strategic layer, players direct research into alien technology, give their engineers and foundries fabrication requests, interact with the nations of the world (who have to be mollified to secure funding for XCOM), intercept airborne UFOs with jet fighters, level up their soldiers and recruit new ones, and dispatch the Skyranger transport to engage alien incursions on the ground.
Is this a remake of the original?
Kind of. Re-imagining is probably a better term. Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown doesn't directly copy the underlying game systems – for instance, soldiers have different stats than they did in the 1994 original – but the concepts are still here. Players still have to manage multiple resources and threats on a global scale in a seemingly hopeless war against extraterrestrial forces with far better technology and capabilities.
Is this going to be dumbed down for the "wider console audience"?
Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I've seen I wouldn't call it "dumbing down" the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics. Soldiers still die permanently, fog of war and line of sight are hugely important in combat, and you absolutely can lose the game if you screw up too badly.
Does it look awesome?
I came away from our visit to Firaxis' studio extremely impressed by XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The project is far from done, but I am personally thrilled at the prospect of playing the final game.