November can’t get here soon enough for fans of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with the core mechanics, enemies, and map types of the base game set to receive a serious upgrade. The improvements and additions come in the form of XCOM: Enemy Within, a sizable expansion once thought to be a sequel in hiding.
We’ve already gotten a handful of details on Enemy Within‘s changes, but a new mission walkthrough video from the developers at Firaxis Games points out how each new soldier will make their presence felt on the battlefield. Some fans may have doubted that an expansion would bring a significant refinement and new feature set, but this video has us thinking the expansion will do the trick.
It goes without saying that fans of Enemy Unknown wouldn’t need much of a reason to return to the sci-fi action/turn-based strategy game for hours on end, since it was one of the best releases of last year (read our review). Still, it’s nice to see that the developers are bringing enough new characters and systems to make the return worth the trip. The team is still holding off on the exact narrative that will be driving Enemy Within, but from a gameplay standpoint, there’s no shortage of potentially game-changing tweaks inbound.
With the alien invaders stepping up their game, humanity will be doing its best to keep up – mainly, by handing out cybernetic upgrades and genetic modifications to XCOM’s most gifted soldiers. What that means in gameplay terms is a streamlined approach to upgrading specific combat classes. As the video demonstrates, Snipers will be granted the ability to leap greater vertical distances, possibly removing the need for grappling hooks to gain a height advantage on enemies.
Similarly, the Psionic Feedback attack allowing players to turn a Sectoid Commander’s mental powers back at the source (with devastating effects) looks to be a passive ability. It’s still not clear just how restricted these genetic modifications will be to soldier class or experience, but the potential for a cleaner, more immediately rewarding skill tree is certainly present.
Of course, all the genetic modifications in the world don’t come close to the stopping power of the Mech Trooper – the star of Enemy Within’s marketing to this point, including the most recent ‘War Machines’ trailer, presented below:
All cinematic action and top-notch narration aside, we’re most encouraged by the fact that Firaxis seems to know exactly what their game needed. Instead of reinventing the wheel with a core gameplay system and mission design that was nearly flawless, they’ve turned their attention to giving players even more of a chance to balance risk and reward, range attacks and melee, and individual abilities.
The new additions also show promise in generating new story lines and narratives; any fan of Enemy Unknown knows that half the fun of taking seasoned operatives into the game’s final act was the stories crafted along the way. With the trailer above calling genetic modifications and the Mech Trooper’s upgrade as ‘sacrifices,’ the seeds of some truly rewarding stories are in place (there definitely isn’t room in that mech suit for legs, as far as we can see).
What do you think after seeing Enemy Within in action? Is this the kind of gameplay tweaking and additions you were hoping for, or would you be signing up to play the expansion regardless?
XCOM: Enemy Within releases November 12, 2013 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
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