Hey, all, Matt back from the grave again, and I’m here to let you know what’s going on with the new reboot of the classic strategy game UFO: Enemy Unknown, also known as X-COM: UFO Defense. This iteration is being developed by Firaxis Games, to be published by 2K. This reboot is not to be confused with the first-person shooter game being developed by 2k Marin, this is a pure strategy title that really takes the series back to its roots.
As a late-comer to the XCOM franchise, I never really got very good at the games, and they admittedly show their age, and sort of turn off newcomers to the series. It’s a real shame, because beneath the aged exterior lies one of the deepest and most fun strategy games I have ever had the good fortune to play. Luckily, Firaxis games seems to be doing an incredible job bringing back the parts I loved about the original game (I never got a chance to play any of the sequels), and doing away with the parts I found frustrating.
For those of you who are going to be entirely new to the series, I suppose a little introduction is in order. Basically speaking, you play as the commander of an international task force designed to repel an alien invasion. You build a base, control your units and squads across a global map in real time, and as far as combat is concerned, it’s all turn-based, taking place on a 3d map, and it has the classic fog of war, and has added a few more modern features, such as cover and highly destructible environments. In the demo I saw, the player shot a rocket at an alien in front of a building, which destroyed the entire front of the building, opening the aliens inside of the building up to sniper fire. It adds a whole new layer to the tactical situation. In the developer’s own words, “No cover is safe”, and this goes both ways. Player characters hiding behind cover can fall victim to the same exact tactics by the aliens. From what I could see, the AI is very sophisticated, using tactical maneuvers to try and outsmart the player.
For players who are familiar with the classic game, there are a few features that have been tweaked. First, gone are the days of having several bases to manage around the globe. You have one central hub base, and can build radar stations and landing pads around the world. This eliminate the problem of having a lot of different bases to manage. Similarly, there is a limit of six squad members in any given map. Basically this means that you can have six characters to control during an engagement. This is a radical departure from how it was before, when it wouldn’t be unusual later in the game to see upwards of 15 squad members in one battle. It got kind of hard to keep track of and it became quite tedious. Reducing the squad size like this makes each squad member that much more integral to your overall strategy, and almost forces the player to be more careful with them.
The developer only showed off the single-player campaign mode, but they strongly hinted at the possibility of a multiplayer mode, and the return of other classic features like terror sites. From what I can see, this is looking to be an incredibly faithful re-imagining of a classic strategy game, and I can honestly say that I don’t think that fans of the original will be disappointed. If you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer based on what I saw today. If I don’t have an answer for you, maybe I can get one over the next couple days of pax. Keep your eyes open for new information coming out every hour!