The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview

The infamous XCOM shooter has received an extensive makeover.

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Even if they brought back the aliens from the original game, it makes no sense from a prequel perspective.

All X-COM games built on what came before.

Lasers wasn't discovered and lost. It only skipped the sequel because lasers and water don't mix. It became standard fare in apocalypse.

Its like trying to make the game fit, but can't. The timeline doesn't add up. Its like having advanced technology but the modern era somehow became primitive. A modern era that somehow lost the carbon copy items like the med kit from the first one in 1962.

But if you stick to regular guns, it creates a disparity as to why the aliens from 1962 are weaker than the 20xx versions. Which require plasma, which is estimated to be twice the heat as magma, to die.

The team behind the Bureau should have put more thought into their game from the start. Revision after revision isn't a way to develop a game, nor grabbing the name of a franchise the game had no previous connection to while still trying to piggyback on the innovations of other games, as they claimed in previous interviews.

I'm really excited about the prospect of this game going out, I have been looking forward to it since it was first announced.
Hopefully, it will pay off and be a decent tactical shooter. Something we haven't seen in a while.

Heh, it's clearly one of those games that looks better and better with time. One of the points I loved in the original X-COM was the "future" design straight out of pulp scifi for most if not all the illustrations, which gave a really good feel. If they play the 60s vibe correctly and the make the gameplay enjoyable for a X-COM game, we could actually have a winner here.

Take note, publishers: this is how one manages to salvage an awful first impression.

Just to clarify, are the "Outsiders" found in the preview build actually Ethereal replacements, or are they in fact the Outsiders found in Enemy Unknown?

Well, I'm intruiged. Looks like I'll be playing this one after all.

Joshimodo:
Just to clarify, are the "Outsiders" found in the preview build actually Ethereal replacements, or are they in fact the Outsiders found in Enemy Unknown?

As far as I could tell, they were a whole new breed. They seemed to be the ones in charge, as the Sectoids had collars that look like they're probably the mind control devices, but it was a small slice of the game, so I can't say for sure whether the Ethereals will make their presence known. The only familiar faces I saw were the Sectoids and Mutons. I'm still holding out hope for Cyberdisks and Chryssalids.

Joshimodo:
Just to clarify, are the "Outsiders" found in the preview build actually Ethereal replacements, or are they in fact the Outsiders found in Enemy Unknown?

They seem to look alot like the Outsiders we saw in Enemy Unknown. But they're "Ethereal replacements", in the sense that the Outsiders are apparently the ones who are in charge of this invasion.

^At least that's what they said about them in the old build of the game. That might've changed.

Also, for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, here's a developer interview with some extra gameplay bits.

OT:

The game still plays like a third person shooter, so if you're an elite killer in Gears of War, you'll probably be able to get through many of the encounters without bothering with squad commands, but the availability of the tactical options really helps it feel like an XCOM game.

I find that... bothersome. But it might simply be a symptom of the game not being played at a harder difficulty.

Basically, I want the game to actually emphasize a necessity of using your squad. If you can still shoot your way through the game on harder difficulties without touching your squad, then... fuck that.

Additionally, the AI still takes cover, shoots bad guys, and on occasion even flanks enemies when you're not issuing orders, so if you're terrible at micromanagement, you'll still be able to hold your own for the most part.

AI Partners behaving on their own is synonymous with "AI Partners getting themselves killed.", which in a game with perma-death could be a massive problem.

But I expect these devs to be able to work around this issue without much trouble. Such as giving us an option to disable the squad from acting independently.

I'm still skeptical about this game. But overall, I'd say my impressions of this reinvention are positive. I do want to see more of it.

You know, when Spoony first shouted BETRAYAL, I was angry about this game. But then Enemy Unknown came out.

Who cares whether Declassified is first-person or squad-based? We already got the REAL game!

Game is starting to look pretty good, but I agree that it looks so different from the original iterations that I can't help but to note how wasteful of a development process this is.

As for the "storyline doesn't work as a prequel" complaint, then yeah, it's almost impossible to do a game that's supposed to be a serious prequel for Enemy Unknown. I mean, it's kinda clear that both the original and the reboot is about a modern-ish Earth that's dealing with an Alien invasion for the very first time. At no point are people making any sort of a reference to the 60's invasion so we'd have to assume that the Bureau was so successful at fending of the aliens and keeping it a secret, at the same time, that not even the modern day covert organizations dealing with the second invasion is aware about the previous one; there are no surviving records about the enemy, their technology, weaknesses or the techniques that were used to defeat them. That's a pretty big suspension of disbelief required, right there.

Instead, you kinda have to think about this as an alternative timeline story, where Earth had to deal with an alternative invasion that takes place at an earlier time.

What I'm mostly curious about now is whether or not they've ditched the shape shifting cube skinned aliens from the original preview, because their existence seemed to heavily suggest that this was more of an invasion from another dimension, rather then a traditional extraterrestrial invasion. Introducing the traditional xcom enemies that we've all come to know and love seems to suggest that they've ditched that concept.

Ultratwinkie:
The team behind the Bureau should have put more thought into their game from the start. Revision after revision isn't a way to develop a game, nor grabbing the name of a franchise the game had no previous connection to while still trying to piggyback on the innovations of other games, as they claimed in previous interviews.

Well, it worked for Myst... (The constant revisions, not the franchise-grabbing.)

OT: It does look very interesting.I'll still wait for a full review set, though.

The 'pick up and go' idea for guns could be interesting. Every time you pick up a new alien gun for the first time you get a little animation of Carter turning it over in his hands trying to work out how it fires before cracking it and then you can start shooting. Then in the first mission you a) suck at shooting, the controls sway like when you look down the sniper scope in games like CoD, and b) you can't reload - once the gun runs out of ammo you have to ditch it because you just don't know how to reload.

After you return to base you can hand it off to the techs and they'll work it out, allowing you to reload in future missions and your ability with it would either improve immediately or be a skill set that gets better between missions as you'd be practising with it at HQ.

If you don't use any alien tech in the first missions you could have the techs research captured weapons so you don't have those issues but it would mean sacrificing a research slot (for every individual weapon) that means you lose out on advancing your own tech as quickly - the idea being that the scientists are too busy trying to learn how the damn thing works to learn anything useful from it.

Obviously at this late stage they probably won't be adding this if they haven't already but it could be an interesting mechanic for a game like this.

I've always wanted to actually be one of the XCOM soldiers, or at least see what it's like from their perspective up against this unknown entity. I've always felt that a turn based game doesn't do the franchise the right 'credit' from an immersion perspective as the games become more mechanics based than actual tactics based.

This is going to be a game I will buy. It looks like Brothers in Arms but with XCOM instead of World War II - and I loved Brothers in Arms.

Abomination:
I've always wanted to actually be one of the XCOM soldiers, or at least see what it's like from their perspective up against this unknown entity. I've always felt that a turn based game doesn't do the franchise the right 'credit' from an immersion perspective as the games become more mechanics based than actual tactics based.

This is going to be a game I will buy. It looks like Brothers in Arms but with XCOM instead of World War II - and I loved Brothers in Arms.

I always imagined it would play out like "aliens", but then the aliens have plasma guns and mind control abilities.
in a not-sucky game. >.>

Combustion Kevin:

Abomination:
I've always wanted to actually be one of the XCOM soldiers, or at least see what it's like from their perspective up against this unknown entity. I've always felt that a turn based game doesn't do the franchise the right 'credit' from an immersion perspective as the games become more mechanics based than actual tactics based.

This is going to be a game I will buy. It looks like Brothers in Arms but with XCOM instead of World War II - and I loved Brothers in Arms.

I always imagined it would play out like "aliens", but then the aliens have plasma guns and mind control abilities.
in a not-sucky game. >.>

Have you played Aliens vs. Predator 2? Best Aliens game ever. It's a shame nobody plays the multiplayer anymore either.

You know, I was -really- excited for the original idea. A game where you could go on a mission, not find anything, and learn that you slipped up -- that's a genuine XCOM game. A game where your choices matter and you have to work against all odds to keep yourself and your allies alive -- that's a genuine XCOM game. Yes, it was an FPS too, but frankly XCOM "hardcore fans" who couldn't stand it not playing like some half-logical chess game: http://i.imgur.com/3ChS9Cx.gif

Oh, and by the way, just another thing. That supposedly "FANTASTIC" strategy game by Firaxis? Buggiest. PC port. I've. Ever. Played.

Not that I'm the slightest bit bitter that because of fans complaints I don't get my management sim/squad tactical/adventure game hybrid that literally had me nearly jump out of my seat with excitement. But no, we couldn't dare allow that or consider what other people might want, so we got XCOM:EU, a questionably designed game with horrible bugs even post launch (it even stopped letting me save my progress -- on two different computers!) and immersion breaking game logic.

WarpZone:
You know, when Spoony first shouted BETRAYAL, I was angry about this game. But then Enemy Unknown came out.

Who cares whether Declassified is first-person or squad-based? We already got the REAL game!

Thanks for giving me a perfect example of what I'm referring to.

Parakeettheprawn:
Not that I'm the slightest bit bitter that because of fans complaints I don't get my management sim/squad tactical/adventure game hybrid that literally had me nearly jump out of my seat with excitement. But no, we couldn't dare allow that or consider what other people might want, so we got XCOM:EU, a questionably designed game with horrible bugs even post launch (it even stopped letting me save my progress -- on two different computers!) and immersion breaking game logic.

May I point you to a game called "Syndicate" which was "FPS-reboot of an old Strategy-game"? Guess what that did? It bombed. BADLY.
That is pretty much one of the reasons why they shouldn't just make any game an FPS now, especially XCOM.
The other is that XCOM is NOT "just run around and shoot aliens". That is more Halo, not XCOM. Yes, being a turn-based strategy game where you manage a small squad is ALSO part of XCOM you can't just take out - yet that was exactly what they originally planned.

Bindal:

Parakeettheprawn:
Not that I'm the slightest bit bitter that because of fans complaints I don't get my management sim/squad tactical/adventure game hybrid that literally had me nearly jump out of my seat with excitement. But no, we couldn't dare allow that or consider what other people might want, so we got XCOM:EU, a questionably designed game with horrible bugs even post launch (it even stopped letting me save my progress -- on two different computers!) and immersion breaking game logic.

May I point you to a game called "Syndicate" which was "FPS-reboot of an old Strategy-game"? Guess what that did? It bombed. BADLY.
That is pretty much one of the reasons why they shouldn't just make any game an FPS now, especially XCOM.
The other is that XCOM is NOT "just run around and shoot aliens". That is more Halo, not XCOM. Yes, being a turn-based strategy game where you manage a small squad is ALSO part of XCOM you can't just take out - yet that was exactly what they originally planned.

Oh, Syndicate. Yes, what perfect example of fans overreacting and missing what it actually does different in the new genre its in. It was my bloody FPS GOTY in 2012 http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/paradigmthefallen_blog/archive/2012/12/07/why-starbreeze-39-s-syndicate-is-my-fps-goty.aspx and I'm not alone in this sentiment. There is a cult following that bloody well loved the game. You know most of the people who didn't? People upset because it wasn't isometric perspective. I'm sorry if the change in camera perspective and only managing one agent was so hard for you, now excuse me while I enjoy the closest hybrid available of Bioshock and Mirror's Edge. In fact, there's an even better summary of what made the game work than I wrote way back in 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6LgIr1gqnk

Also, when did the XCOM FPS just become "run around and shoot aliens" let alone the fact that there'd even be investigation missions where you might not even find any aliens? If anything, -this- version is more like that than the original concept 2K Marin had. And no, they did a demo in 2011 (if memory serves right) that featured squad commands, investigation, base management, -and- shooting all combined. These cases of selective memory are starting to get a little ridiculous.

I'm not asking for XCOM to be made Halo, but it's pretty clear you're assuming I am. And you know what, no, turn-based was one of the modes. XCOM is technically both management sim and turn-based, and most of the mechanics would work in real time, FPS, RPG, hell a JRPG version would only cut out the middle man. This idea that every game must remain in the genre it started in is just downright idiotic. I'm actually looking forward to the Dead Space flight sim because that's a universe with a really great set up for all sorts of space-based operations -- we could finally explore that older war that was hinted to in Dead Space 3 -- maybe add some ship boarding combat/planet exploration with early Tau Volantis necromorphs.

Everyone is so afraid and upset the second any game franchise tries something outside the norm, yet complain when a sequel is exactly the same. You can't have it both ways. Either you end up with Halo 3 or Halo Wars. Both are options worth investigating, but most studios/publishers can't do both. Hell Arkham City is being transformed into a board game and it apparently actually is quite fun and works well.

And how exactly was XCOM:EU less Halo-like? I seem to remember the game rewarding me for playing it more or less like a generic TPS just simply done in turns and by grinding. Even when my PC copy wasn't refusing to save my game or crashing mid-mission for no reason across two PCs, nothing about it genuinely felt that rewarding, engaging, or even unique. As far as turn-based strategy goes, even older games like Civilization 3 are far better offerings than what Firaxis had, and I think 2K saw that, but fans clamoring for a turn-based title made them jump for the sure thing. Ironically enough, that basically that means this is the exact same scenario as XCOM fans tried to make the shooter game to be, but it's actually a full 180 degree flip. Now instead of trying to do its own thing, XCOM is just chasing the coattails of a questionable game.

What makes it "tactical"? Isn't issuing squad commands just Mass Effect?

RedmistSM:
What makes it "tactical"? Isn't issuing squad commands just Mass Effect?

So was Republic commando and that was the best Tactical shooter hands down.

I have never in my life ever played a "tactical" TPS or FPS in which you couldn't replace all the tactics with "ignore squad, shoot enemies"

Parakeettheprawn:
Oh, Syndicate. Yes, what perfect example of fans overreacting and missing what it actually does different in the new genre its in. It was my bloody FPS GOTY in 2012 http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/paradigmthefallen_blog/archive/2012/12/07/why-starbreeze-39-s-syndicate-is-my-fps-goty.aspx and I'm not alone in this sentiment. There is a cult following that bloody well loved the game. You know most of the people who didn't? People upset because it wasn't isometric perspective. I'm sorry if the change in camera perspective and only managing one agent was so hard for you, now excuse me while I enjoy the closest hybrid available of Bioshock and Mirror's Edge. In fact, there's an even better summary of what made the game work than I wrote way back in 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6LgIr1gqnk

Never been fan of the original (in fact, I never played it) and Syndicate still sucked a lot in my oppinion. And that had less to do with "change of genre" (even that was quite obviously a factor) and more with "was shitty idea". I think, Yathzee put it best in that case:
Those, that don't remember or know the original can't be lured in with the brand-recognition.
Those, that do, don't want a different genre because the genre is part of the reason they liked the original game.
But apparently, you just want "moar guuunz" in every game, so why should I even care about your opinion? Bet you would like if FPS would be the ONLY genre out there.

Parakeettheprawn:

Also, when did the XCOM FPS just become "run around and shoot aliens" let alone the fact that there'd even be investigation missions where you might not even find any aliens? If anything, -this- version is more like that than the original concept 2K Marin had. And no, they did a demo in 2011 (if memory serves right) that featured squad commands, investigation, base management, -and- shooting all combined. These cases of selective memory are starting to get a little ridiculous.

Sorry, Memory serves you wrong to some degree - the original concept was "one guy shooting aliens". The shown demo was already when they decided to go to this game.

Bindal:

Never been fan of the original (in fact, I never played it) and Syndicate still sucked a lot in my oppinion. And that had less to do with "change of genre" (even that was quite obviously a factor) and more with "was shitty idea". I think, Yathzee put it best in that case:
Those, that don't remember or know the original can't be lured in with the brand-recognition.
Those, that do, don't want a different genre because the genre is part of the reason they liked the original game.
But apparently, you just want "moar guuunz" in every game, so why should I even care about your opinion? Bet you would like if FPS would be the ONLY genre out there.

First -- I came because of the slick, consistently nice style, the smooth controls that CoD wishes it has, some of the most enjoyable sound design and combat this side of Dead Space, and because I like cyber-punk. Hell they even managed to make me like a dubstep remix of the original theme, and I generally detest dubstep. It doesn't matter if it's an FPS to me so long as it's actually promising looking -- AND IT WAS, therefore I happily bought it, on PC no less, and put up with Origin just to play it. Does that get it into your skull just how much I actually was intrigued by the game, why I put 30+ hours into it? ORIGIN is on my PC!

Oh yes, because throw insults if you can't get your way. I guess I really must be a big hypocrite then considering I love: Persona 2, Aether, Culmination, Super Meat Boy, The Force Unleashed, DmC, Heavenly Sword, every taste I can get of Injustice: Gods Among Us, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories , X-Wing Alliance, Tiny & Big: Grandpa's Leftovers, LEGO Rock Raiders, Blur, inFamous, KotOR 2, Vindictus, every taste I can get of Gravity Rush, and the Walking Dead. Some of these have no weapons at all, I must be going crazy!

Lets compare that list with the list of shooters I love: Killzone 3, Homefront, darkSector) Saboteur, Syndicate, Metro 2033, Warframe, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect 2, Jedi Knight 1-2, Dead Space 1-3, Bioshock 1-3, Spec Ops: The Line, Dark Void.

Most of those are either have added RPG/Survival mechanics (Dead Space 1-3, Bioshock 1-3, Metro 2033, Deus Ex: Human Revolution) or have tweaks or entirely new wrinkles to the combat or the way the game modes work (Dark Void, darkSector, Saboteur, Dead Space, Homefront, Syndicate, Mass Effect 2, Jedi Knight 1-2, Spec Ops: The Line) Sorry, no CoD or Battlefield for you to further try to stereotype me since you clearly can't actually argue in a civilized manner.

Bindal:
Sorry, Memory serves you wrong to some degree - the original concept was "one guy shooting aliens". The shown demo was already when they decided to go to this game.

Well shit, you better tell PC Gamer right now cause that guy's saying *gasp* the exact same thing! -- http://www.pcgamer.com/previews/the-bureau-xcom-declassified-preview-why-this-isnt-the-xcom-i-wanted/2/

But of course, I imagine next you're either going to dismiss it or state that one person's other recollections don't matter. Okay then -- http://kotaku.com/5569585/xcom-by-any-other-name-could-be-great even a previewer who outright got up in the issue of the name and classification found the developers were trying their damnedest to please fans even though they themselves knew they what they were trying to make. But everyone assumed they knew better, and 2K unfortunately tried to listened to the fans (something most publishers/devs are criticized for nto doing) even though they were actually trying to give 2K Marin the kind of freedom they gave Yager with Spec Ops: The Line. Yeah. THAT kind of freedom. Not just "make us an XCOM game, meet these goals we have set" like you'd expect from say, EA. They were giving them genuine creative freedom. And the only reason that got taken away, was because 2K got worried due to fans.

You can't seriously tell me there isn't even a possibility that it's majorly the fandom's harsh reaction that's caused us to end up with The Bureau. People went ten years complaining about Paralax in Green Lantern rather than just moving on with their lives, so it's not a hard stretch of the imagination. I've been watching this thing from the sidelines since it was first announced, and was one of its earliest supporters. I don't care if it's an FPS -- I'd take it as a Persona clone if that somehow worked (it actually in theory really could, a number of XCOM's ideas work in that sort of set up) -- I just want something other than "XCOM:EU, but as a TPS". That doesn't interest me. I hated XCOM:EU due to the horrible writing, questionable balancing (and I'm not bitching about losing either, I'm talking about balance in general), and downright awful PC port that crashed my game and deleted my saves, and even when it did work right, it wasn't some high concept strategy game. It was a consolification of XCOM, the exact thing almost any other fan base seems to complain about.

But every XCOM "Hardcore" fan doesn't dare touch those "guuuunz" because there isn't possibly (Ghost Recon) in any way (Rainbow Six) that they could even potentially (Warframe) offer them strategy (Almost every tactical shooter on ModDB!). I love this sheer level of 180 degree hypocritical thinking. It's fine if you want it to be an isometric turn-based chess game, but if I want it to test my reflexes and observation skills and management skills, well then that's just wrong because games that involving shooting are popular. Are you seriously prioritizing maintaining a genre even if the quality of said genre is sub-par in comparison to its progeny?

There's a reason 2K passed over the original XCOM:EU demo and wanted to go with XCOM the FPS, beyond just the "FPS games sell more" mentality. The fact they've pushed out games like Spec Ops, Bioshock, and Mafia II should make it rather clear that they have faith enough in games that developers want to make instead of just number games. Yager's still making -yet another- game for the PS4 and I bet you 2K is publishing it even though Spec Ops didn't sell well because they -know- it was a good game. It had it's flaws, but it was a good game. Similarly, even though they at first decided to not release anything but multiplayer DLC for the PC version of Bioshock 2, they actually went the extra mile, talked to fans, and not only gave them one piece of SP DLC for free, but gave us a full, non-buggy port of Minerva's Den. Their community managers even provided assets from the DLC back when it was still a console exclusive to the fan wikis so that they could properly provide images and icons on the wikipages.

These guys are the anti-EA in so many ways (I'm not saying their Valve but they certainly are not EA), but you can't trust them on their opinion on whether a hybrid game that might involve some first person shooting as well is going to be good? Then what's the point of them even trying? Most of the complaints only have resulted in the game getting further and further towards Enemy Unknown as a TPS, less like a real, authentic feeling XCOM game.

Perma-death and variables don't make a game XCOM, what makes a game XCOM is tension, the unknown, a feeling like every win only puts off the inevitable, and painful decision making. All of those could be done in plenty of genres beyond turn-based squad combat. It doesn't even need to be an FPS, it just needs to be something different. Because if we don't ever try anything different, all we end up with is the sequel-athon that Yahtzee and many others groan about.

I'm sorry if it doesn't fit your every wish and whim, but please kindly get over yourself and realize we all have wishes and wants, and I've silently let a lot of things go that I could have certainly bitched about. You want to see me get started on Lucas Arts? Or Dragon Age: Origins? Or hell, even that Avengers game that was going to be a first person brawler/platformer/shooter co-op hybrid? No, and I don't have the time to. I just want a bloody XCOM game that isn't old as dirt and requires a user manual to figure out how to control the main squad, and I don't want one that crashes at random and refuses to save my games that everyone keeps telling me is their "strategy game of the year" when all I see is a hot mess that I wasted 29 hours trying to find something good to say about in my user review. But even despite everything, you got what you claim you wanted, there's even an old-school Syndicate style indie game in development that PC Gamer was talking about a while back -- so stop making hell for people like me who want something else. If you don't like it, just don't buy it. No one's demanding you support it, but we sure are tired of your moaning.

Not that I'm at all tired of hearing it...

 

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