XCOM: Enemy Unknown Preview
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: Strategy
For multiple years, 2K Games has been busy showing us an entire reboot of the XCOM series as a First Person Shooter. Each year, we return and the concept and content have been reworked. This year, the long anticipated shooter has been indefinitely shelved as they continue to retool the troubled project and begin to look for a release possibly by 2014. In its place, 2K is teaming up with Firaxis Games to bring an updated strategy version of XCOM.
For the uninformed, Firaxis games is led by legendary game designer Sid Meier. They have created the popular Civilization franchise, Pirates, and Alpha Centauri just to name a few. Probably the biggest reason for the delay in the First Person Shooter XCOM title is the outcry from fans in the genre switching. XCOM has always been a strategy game and Firaxis is ready to make sure the title lives up to the expectations by longtime fans of the series.
As players go through battles and reach predetermined spots on the map, cinematic sequences will occur. In any other genre, we wouldn't think twice about seeing a cinematic sequence. In a strategy game, it just really hasn't been done much. But watching this is a great way for the story to flow.
As the first group of soldiers gets run over by the invading alien army, the big guns are brought in led by none other than a digital Sid Meier himself. While we really doubt that Sid will make it in the final game, perhaps he will be unlockable? We can at least hope.
As this is a strategy title, strategically placing your units to counter the enemies is a key portion of the game. Taking cover behind objects is key in protecting yourself. But unlike in other strategy games, don't feel very comfortable behind that structure. If you can hide behind it, the enemy will most likely be able to destroy it.
To keep things fresh, Firaxis is promising to mix in randomly generated maps. This not only includes the level layout, items and structures, but also the drop in locations for enemies and allies both. This ensures you to have a unique time through XCOM as you play through it again and again. All of these levels will take place in a variety of locations across the world. These aliens are going the attack and the battles will be brutal.
The demo we were shown was very brief with just a few elements shown. We are promised that your characters will continue to grow in experience and that you will be able to research new skills, weapons, and armor. Abilities we did see included hovering high in the air and raining down fire below, psychic abilities from both enemy and player side, one hit kills, and cover kills when enemies come within your range when hiding behind structures.
The most fun element had to be the psychic abilities. When used, either you or an enemy can be controlled by the player. You can use them to carry out an attack but the real fun is when you have them to drop a grenade at their feet and blow themselves up.
For a game that is coming in October 9, 2012, it seems a bit early with very little shown in our demo sessions. Perhaps more is done that they aren't ready to show? Either way, for strategy fans, having Firaxis work on this is a wet dream for you! We are expecting great things from XCOM: Enemy Unknown