XCom "Deep Dive" Reveals Deep Tactics and Snazzy Eye-Candy

XCom "Deep Dive" Reveals Deep Tactics and Snazzy Eye-Candy

The first XCom: Enemy Unknown dev diary video takes a look at how the game will be different - and better - than the original strategy classic.

It always feels a bit dodgy when some upcoming upstart announces that it's going to do things even better than the game that inspired it, particular when that original game is a masterpiece like X-Com: UFO Defense. The worry among strategy fans is that "better" means "accessible," and "accessible" means "worse." But the first "deep dive" video to come out of XCom: Enemy Unknown studio Firaxis goes a long way toward putting those fears to rest, showing off a game that's sexy and cinematic but still looks deep enough to keep fans satisfied.

"The core principles from the original that we wanted to build on was basically... everything," said Lead Designer Jake Solomon.

The game has clearly evolved to appeal to a more modern audience, with the addition of a cinematic "glam cam" and the elimination of the "time units" that were used to determine what a soldier could do in his or her turn. But that doesn't mean that Enemy Unknown will be a frantic, real-time clickfest; instead, units have a fixed number of moves they can perform per turn, a similar but simplified system that still forces players to make tough choices.

"They can choose to move, they can choose to move and shoot, they can choose to move really far, and then based on different abilities their soldiers have, maybe they can use those abilities to do different things," Solomon explained. "It still has that great risk-reward mechanic - 'I need to run really far this time' - but when you do that, you're always taking the cost that you're not going to be able to shoot, and then you're going to find yourself in a difficult tactical position."

And it looks so good! Have I mentioned yet that I'm very excited about this game? Because I am very excited about this game. XCom: Enemy Unknown is currently expected to come out in the fall of 2012 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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I have to say the base looks pretty nice, and as long as the enemies are also kept to reacting only when it's their turn, then this should work nicely.

Seen it earlier on Kotaku, loved most of what I saw. I like the look, the feel, the aesthetic. The gameplay looks solid and I think the dramatic camera shots when something cool happens are a nice touch. All in all, I'm liking how this is coming along and I can only pray they don't screw it up...

My god...

I think they actually "GET" it...

I feel like crying. THEY'VE ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD IT!!!! THEY SEEM TO KNOW!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG WE'VE WAITED?!!!!11111!!!!!

Please don't change it now. PLEASE.

Sounds better then the stuff we got shown before. MUCH better in fact. Looking forward to seeing some of the alien designs they came up with - it looks a bit cartoonish, but with a dark twist to it at the moment.

I thought they were turning the next XCOM into a FPS? Where the hell did this come from and why am I just now hearing about it? Is this the same game or are two new XCOMs being made?

Ok that is god damned awesome.

They listened to me. My own rather muted screaming bitching moaning "why are you doing this to xcom? did you even play xcom?" and they heard it and they did what I wanted and now they've delayed the FPS now that they've realized how god damned awesome this looks compared to the stupid 50s james bond with aleinz game.

A slight niggle, there was cover in the original-- not built in per se, but you could crouch behind a wall and that wall would provide a measure of protection against an alien attack, and from explosives, actually. The wall would vanish when hit, of course, but thats a side issue.

I'm buying this on release, most likely, as a special reward to developers for listening to me, personally.

They really seem to get what made the original so great-- personal connections to troopers, customization of squads and the base, and the mesh of grand strategy and tactics.

Glory to the hypnotoad.

mikey7339:
I thought they were turning the next XCOM into a FPS? Where the hell did this come from and why am I just now hearing about it? Is this the same game or are two new XCOMs being made?

They were! They delayed the FPS and announced this a couple months back, maybe even more recently than that. Its now my most anticipated game for 2012.

Looks cool. Been meaning to try out the series but... well, it hasn't aged well, especially if you're a total newcomer. This looks like a much better place to try it out.

Keeping an eye on this.

Got to admit, this looks interesting... and good. I didnt hear too much to put me off and the base design with the little touches of the soldiers moving around the base adds a bit of that Evil Genius vibe.
Loved the way you could seemingly click on a base structure to bring up that structures activity menu ( clicking on the globe in the command room brough up the global command interface ).

Wondering if attacks on your base ( bases ? Can you make multiple bases ? )are possible with that layout, get really tiresome hunting out some lone sectoid in a huge multi layered base... you dont want to scatter your forces, but want to find the little bugger this year preferably...arrgh.

short ver. Looks good, I am interested.

HORY CRAW. SO. MUCH. WAAAAAAAAANT.

My only concern is the line "The soldiers you've gotten attached to"... does this mean that there won't be a 9001% turnover in military staff this time around? (Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing.)

Looks really interesting, but I'm confused over the article itself. The title says "Deep Dive", but the bold text says "The first XCom: Enemy Unknown dev diary video takes a look at "... I'm guessing the Enemy Unknown part is a typo meant to say Deep Dive?

Not getting my hopes up too high based on some of the base building stuff (what if aliens invade your base, how will combat and camera work in the cramped environment?), but definitely something I'll buy if it comes out bug-free(ish).

Looks damn cool, I just hope the pc version isn't a quick dirty console port.

lacktheknack:
HORY CRAW. SO. MUCH. WAAAAAAAAANT.

My only concern is the line "The soldiers you've gotten attached to"... does this mean that there won't be a 9001% turnover in military staff this time around? (Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing.)

There never was in the first one... sure rookies die en masse (i never even bothered armoring them til they made squaddie) but losing a cap or higher was a pretty big hit.

Of course, I treated my soldiers like they were something very precious.

thiosk:

lacktheknack:
HORY CRAW. SO. MUCH. WAAAAAAAAANT.

My only concern is the line "The soldiers you've gotten attached to"... does this mean that there won't be a 9001% turnover in military staff this time around? (Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing.)

There never was in the first one... sure rookies die en masse (i never even bothered armoring them til they made squaddie) but losing a cap or higher was a pretty big hit.

Of course, I treated my soldiers like they were something very precious.

I think I just suck. I never got anyone above Sergeant.

lacktheknack:

I think I just suck. I never got anyone above Sergeant.

I think one of the best things about XCom was the way emergent squad based behavior would grow out of the gameplay. Theres nothing in the basic game that made 3-4 man fireteams a requirement to move from place to place, however, if you desire to keep your men alive, you need 3-4 man teams to effectively scout territory, hold strategic positions, and project force on the ALEINSZZZ.

Some games demand that your soldiers stay in tightly knit squads, take cover, etcetera. I call it Dawn of War II, and even though it has tyranids and sonic marines, its not nearly as cool-- or as interesting from a squad combat tactics standpoint-- as the emergent gameplay in xcom.

If you died a lot, I'm guessing you would have done things like this:

image

Theres a lot of things wrong in this picture. That guy in the ship is dead. D-E-D dead. He might manage to take one of the alien soldiers with him, but that gun, with no backup, him and his buddy are in trouble.

The guy who breached should have knelt by the door until the buddy came up, then with fresh time units push in, autoshoot the alien facing him. He can then withdraw, and his buddy can shoot the alien with his back to the door. Much more effective way to breach, and that strategy can be reused on basically every alien ship.

In every xcom mission, you have to establish a beachhead, launch a search and destroy, and in most cases you will breach a fortified alien stronghold. To get away with minimum casualties, I usually found breaking my forces into 3-4 man squads, moving two forward with the others able to support with either high explosives or extra firepower. Once you train up some soldiers and start rigidly applying the practice, your casualty rate plummets. Except on those damned terror missions (especially those involving ethereals). The psionic aspect of the game is its weakest point and is the one most in need of extensive iteration.

Looks like the new X-Com may have realized that overalls are not suitable armour for halting an alien invasion.
On the other hand, it looks like their basic infantry still can't shoot.

thiosk:

lacktheknack:

I think I just suck. I never got anyone above Sergeant.

I think one of the best things about XCom was the way emergent squad based behavior would grow out of the gameplay. Theres nothing in the basic game that made 3-4 man fireteams a requirement to move from place to place, however, if you desire to keep your men alive, you need 3-4 man teams to effectively scout territory, hold strategic positions, and project force on the ALEINSZZZ.

Some games demand that your soldiers stay in tightly knit squads, take cover, etcetera. I call it Dawn of War II, and even though it has tyranids and sonic marines, its not nearly as cool-- or as interesting from a squad combat tactics standpoint-- as the emergent gameplay in xcom.

If you died a lot, I'm guessing you would have done things like this:

image

Theres a lot of things wrong in this picture. That guy in the ship is dead. D-E-D dead. He might manage to take one of the alien soldiers with him, but that gun, with no backup, him and his buddy are in trouble.

The guy who breached should have knelt by the door until the buddy came up, then with fresh time units push in, autoshoot the alien facing him. He can then withdraw, and his buddy can shoot the alien with his back to the door. Much more effective way to breach, and that strategy can be reused on basically every alien ship.

In every xcom mission, you have to establish a beachhead, launch a search and destroy, and in most cases you will breach a fortified alien stronghold. To get away with minimum casualties, I usually found breaking my forces into 3-4 man squads, moving two forward with the others able to support with either high explosives or extra firepower. Once you train up some soldiers and start rigidly applying the practice, your casualty rate plummets. Except on those damned terror missions (especially those involving ethereals). The psionic aspect of the game is its weakest point and is the one most in need of extensive iteration.

Actually, I did play it tactically and with "emergent squad mechanics" in mind, as suggested.

It's more a thing of "Oh cool! All five of my squaddies here auto'd on that alien, a total of fifteen shots, and they ALL MISSED! Glorious! And the alien hit and killed two of them in one turn! Wonderful. Oh look, a Chryssalid. <dies>" RNGs just hate me, I guess.

I may have squealed like a giddy school girl watching this. How they're handling Base building and glam cam are pretty clever ways of reinvigorating and adding more style to the turn based genre. Though just wait for the people to cry out about time units being simplified or it coming on consoles as well.

All in all, I can't wait for it to come out. I'd play the original game on steam to pass the time till it comes but I can't figure out why the colours are all freaky and 5 seconds time whizz by so quickly

-Edit-
Damn it Captcha! first you don't show up so I couldn't type the captcha. then you make me re enter the captcha even though I got it right. Then you make me double post.

I am dissapoint. By

M0rp43vs:
I may have squealed like a giddy school girl watching this. How they're handling Base building and glam cam are pretty clever ways of reinvigorating and adding more style to the turn based genre. Though just wait for the people to cry out about time units being simplified or it coming on consoles as well.

All in all, I can't wait for it to come out. I'd play the original game on steam to pass the time till it comes but I can't figure out why the colours are all freaky and 5 seconds time whizz by so quickly

What people forget or ignore, is the fact that the first game was available for consoles and it was pretty much identical to it's PC version brother (judging from screenshots and videos anyways).

I'm a newcomer to the series, I bought the first two games in a Steam sale many moons ago and I just can't get into them, I'll eventually will, but as it is, it's an overwhelming amount of information one needs to know to just start playing the game.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for complexity for video games, I love the Civilization series, because Civ 4 had a great tutorial and I can play Civ 3 without much trouble, also Civ 5 is very noob friendly. I'm very confident that Firaxis will get this game right for both the newcomers and veterans alike.

SupahGamuh:
I'm very confident that Firaxis will get this game right for both the newcomers and veterans alike.

Yeah, it's the Firaxis part of that line that has me pumped. I'd be pretty skeptical were it most other dev houses in this day and age. But this type of game with that type of studio pretty much puts this in must-buy territory for me.

Now that...
THAT IS FUCKING X-COM.

I so rarely say this, but I am genuinely impressed at how clean and clear everything looks and works in that video. It looks like X-COM, it looks like it PLAYS like X-COM, and the "Ant-Farm" base is a pretty smart way to balance menus and base layout while keeping the atmosphere.

Great mechanical design, clean visuals, tactical environmental interaction...that is what I've been missing. Definitely better than another quick cash-in shooter with an old name.

SupahGamuh:

M0rp43vs:
I may have squealed like a giddy school girl watching this. How they're handling Base building and glam cam are pretty clever ways of reinvigorating and adding more style to the turn based genre. Though just wait for the people to cry out about time units being simplified or it coming on consoles as well.

All in all, I can't wait for it to come out. I'd play the original game on steam to pass the time till it comes but I can't figure out why the colours are all freaky and 5 seconds time whizz by so quickly

What people forget or ignore, is the fact that the first game was available for consoles and it was pretty much identical to it's PC version brother (judging from screenshots and videos anyways).

I'm a newcomer to the series, I bought the first two games in a Steam sale many moons ago and I just can't get into them, I'll eventually will, but as it is, it's an overwhelming amount of information one needs to know to just start playing the game.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for complexity for video games, I love the Civilization series, because Civ 4 had a great tutorial and I can play Civ 3 without much trouble, also Civ 5 is very noob friendly. I'm very confident that Firaxis will get this game right for both the newcomers and veterans alike.

Yes, enemy unknown was released on the PSX, but only after TFTD was released for IBM compatible PCs. Which means it is this thing called a port. Also, as someone who has played both versions, the PSX did NOT play nearly as well as it did on PC, mostly due to control issues, and an ability to fill a memory card with a single save half way through the game.

Looks... so... cool...

I don't think one should underestimate the graphical overhaul. It can add a lot to the feeling of suspense, and I really like the style they are going for.

I'm still a bit worried about the AI. It's typically what makes or breaks a tactical game. Apocalypse and Aftershock/Aftermath could have been great remakes but ended up meh because of the AI.

The_root_of_all_evil:
My god...

I think they actually "GET" it...

I feel like crying. THEY'VE ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD IT!!!! THEY SEEM TO KNOW!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG WE'VE WAITED?!!!!11111!!!!!

Please don't change it now. PLEASE.

Yeah I got this feeling.

This feeling in places.

I need to try and calm myself down.

These guys were so humble in that video? They didn't do much hyping.

It was all me, I was watching it and was like "YESSSSSSSSS" but they were so relaxed and just talking about it.

Goddamnit...don't SPORE me...please don't.

Pariahwulfen:

SupahGamuh:

M0rp43vs:
I may have squealed like a giddy school girl watching this. How they're handling Base building and glam cam are pretty clever ways of reinvigorating and adding more style to the turn based genre. Though just wait for the people to cry out about time units being simplified or it coming on consoles as well.

All in all, I can't wait for it to come out. I'd play the original game on steam to pass the time till it comes but I can't figure out why the colours are all freaky and 5 seconds time whizz by so quickly

What people forget or ignore, is the fact that the first game was available for consoles and it was pretty much identical to it's PC version brother (judging from screenshots and videos anyways).

I'm a newcomer to the series, I bought the first two games in a Steam sale many moons ago and I just can't get into them, I'll eventually will, but as it is, it's an overwhelming amount of information one needs to know to just start playing the game.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for complexity for video games, I love the Civilization series, because Civ 4 had a great tutorial and I can play Civ 3 without much trouble, also Civ 5 is very noob friendly. I'm very confident that Firaxis will get this game right for both the newcomers and veterans alike.

Yes, enemy unknown was released on the PSX, but only after TFTD was released for IBM compatible PCs. Which means it is this thing called a port. Also, as someone who has played both versions, the PSX did NOT play nearly as well as it did on PC, mostly due to control issues, and an ability to fill a memory card with a single save half way through the game.

Except they talking about releasing a mod kit, meaning PC gamers can fix and add to the game. That way Console gamers are happy, and the PC gamers get whatever they can make from the mod kit.

There is nothing to worry about. They said the unreal 3 engine should make it easy to mod the game.

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/02/29/everything-you-need-to-know-about-xcom-enemy-unknown/

I want this game so much... I bet the glam cam gets on my nerves after a while though :P

Bostur:

I'm still a bit worried about the AI. It's typically what makes or breaks a tactical game. Apocalypse and Aftershock/Aftermath could have been great remakes but ended up meh because of the AI.

And the bugs, don't forget the bugs.

SupahGamuh:
snip

I know that. I found that out a while back.It's just you get whiners who complain about consoles ruining PC exclusives any time a game on PC also has a console release.

I'm also a relative newcomer to the series too. Before I decided to play I watched let's plays off on youtube(Kickosia's[sic] LP is a personal fav. He doesn't care if he makes mistakes or not and doesn't reload after them. A bit like watching a normal player play. Only watch if you have a tolerance for really bad moves or a taste for schadenfreude.)

Also, I'm having trouble getting into the series because my steam version makes time in the game go so fast.("Oh look a terror mission- Oh wait it's ove- Hey a UFO scou- oh nevermind, it's go-Is that a Battleship?") I have got to fix that some how

i somehow feel sad for the xcom fps devs.
now there is almost no way in hell they can top this.

M0rp43vs:

SupahGamuh:
snip

I know that. I found that out a while back.It's just you get whiners who complain about consoles ruining PC exclusives any time a game on PC also has a console release.

I'm also a relative newcomer to the series too. Before I decided to play I watched let's plays off on youtube(Kickosia's[sic] LP is a personal fav. He doesn't care if he makes mistakes or not and doesn't reload after them. A bit like watching a normal player play. Only watch if you have a tolerance for really bad moves or a taste for schadenfreude.)

Also, I'm having trouble getting into the series because my steam version makes time in the game go so fast.("Oh look a terror mission- Oh wait it's ove- Hey a UFO scou- oh nevermind, it's go-Is that a Battleship?") I have got to fix that some how

This is because games were designed to run very differently than they do now-- they're pegged to the clock speed of the processor. A program called DosBox can be installed to remove 90%+ of the cycles per second, slowing the game down enough to actually play. I didn't realize the steam version had this problem. I do not know if the steam version can be run inside dosbox.

When you shoot your guns in the battle map, i bet the animation happens faster than actual bullets ;)

 

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