XCOM 2 was only announced three weeks ago, with the revelation that the canon storyline saw Earth submit to the will of the invasive alien force. Twenty years later, humans are more-or-less brainwashed into thanking their alien rulers as benevolent benefactors, and celebrations for ‘Unification Day’ are underway in the beginning of the game.
Firaxis Games showed a 10 minute long gameplay demonstration at E3 2015, which showed a guerrilla force of XCOM operatives embark on a sabotage mission. The full video has now been made public for all to see, and without the previously included live commentaries, allows for gamers to focus on the new features like turret hacking, stealth movements and dynamic skyranger drops. Whilst most of these elements were already revealed by XCOM developers, there were a few notable surprises and confirmations in the above video.
The man giving the ceremonial speech in the beginning cinematic could potentially be an evolution of the Thin Men from the first game. As he gives his speech he gives a clear view of his neck, which has the same telltale skin markings from the uncanny-alley humanoid thin men. Like them, he also uses glasses to mask his eyes, so we wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this character – who may play an important role as the face of a puppet human faction – is actually an evolved Thin Man.
The video shows the first look at the actual process of hacking within the game, and it wasn’t just on a random terminal – it looks like stationary turrets will be a constant threat to XCOM, but much like the Drones of the first game, they can be hacked to fight for your side instead. The system looks like it will pit your Specialist’s skillset against that of the hackable object, and if successful, players can either disable the turret, control the turret, or even control the turret whilst granting it increased aim and critical hit chances. In the case of the above video, the latter won out, which also revealed that turrets have the ability to take more than one shot per turn.
The largest change to gameplay is the huge improvement to the Overwatch ability, which previously saw every soldier unload on the same target if they saw it at once. The new system is sequential, meaning soldiers fired upon different targets in a more logical manner, allowing for much more effective ambushes which spread the damage across multiple targets. It’s likely that units will fire upon the enemies closest to them, though the actual logic behind the new overwatch system hasn’t been confirmed by Firaxis Games.
The environment also interacted with XCOM soldiers, as digital displays adopted a 3D image of one of the soldiers who happened to run beside it, activating a holographic version of a wanted poster. Members of the squad also appeared to have special voiced moments which were activated as they traversed sections of the map, like when one squadmate mentioned that the statue target ‘looked bigger on television’. It’s a nice touch that should add to the immersion to the game, especially with the improved accents that the squad demonstrated.
The video also confirmed that the Viper’s melee grab attack has an impressive range, but to counterattack this, the XCOM Ranger was also able to melee attack at great distance. It was also revealed that the infamous ‘Central’ command is indeed Office Bradford, who led the battle from home base in the first game. His scarred appearances shows that the last twenty years haven’t been easy on him, though his new voice is due only to a recasting of the voice actor.
The mission looked great, though it was more scripted than we would’ve liked – especially given the procedural generation abilities of the game engine which will be the backbone of the game when it comes out. Still, the mission demonstrated a good look at the new combat system, which is set to take XCOM on a more smash-and-grab approach than ever before.
XCOM 2 will release this November, exclusively for PC.