Fans of old school strategy games were somewhat disappointed last year, and for good reason. The RTS classic XCOM would be making many dreams come true by returning to modern consoles, but only in the form of a re-imagined shooter. Firaxis Games managed to play the role of hero last week when they announced that XCOM: Enemy Unknown wouldn't just be providing another entry in the suddenly revived series, but that it would be much closer to the real-time-strategy roots that fans had hoped for.
Now, screenshots and additional details have arrived on what players can expect from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and what the developers are changing.
While the decision to take the series into the realm of a FPS is an understandable one - just look at Fallout 3 - the outrage from XCOM fans was understandable. The risk of losing what made the science fiction franchise special was the main concern, and the repeated delays and complete re-focusing of the shooter certainly did little to earn credibility. While XCOM is looking better and better, there's no question that loyal fans will be looking to Enemy Unknown to scratch their nostalgic RTS itch.
With a brand new story and dedicated development team, Enemy Unknown's announcement was a welcome surprise, but until now we've known very little about the actual game. Now Game Informer has continued their exclusive coverage with a sampling of screenshots and artwork showing the human side of this struggle, and a single glimpse at what the actual gameplay will look like.
If you've been thinking that the game will be built around simple turn-based combat, it seems the developers have a much more varied experience in store. Much like the shooter reboot, players will be able to research new technology and weaponry and keep an eye on the global conflict between human and aliens. This will be accessed through the game's 'global view' and is essentially turn-based:
"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."
When troops are dropped into a battle the player is taken closer into the action, leading their soldiers against alien opponents. From their time with the game, GI seems to believe it's more fitting to call Enemy Unknown a re-imagining than a remake, since the exact systems and mechanics aren't taken directly from the original game. Where the shooter chronicles the first contact between Earth and their alien visitors, Enemy Unknown apparently takes place once the battle has reached all-out war, so players are in for one heck of a fight.
Apparently the game isn't being completely nerfed to appeal to a wider audience, which we can't say we're surprised to hear. After the shooter shook fan support, releasing an RTS that completely abandoned the XCOM formula would just be sabotaging the series right off the bat. But until we get a better look at the gameplay itself, or how it will and will not differ from the original RTS it's impossible to pass judgement.
What do you think of the changes being planned? Are you optimistic that XCOM still has legs in today's industry, or are you putting your money on the alien side of this conflict? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be released in Fall 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
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Source: Game Informer