E3 2015 – XCOM 2: built for the losers

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XCOM 2 is coming to PC only and it’s based on a whole new premise. Beyond seeing some cool pre-recorded demo gameplay at E3, I got to chat to Greg Foerstch about the game and he managed to answer your questions and concerns that you conveniently left for me to mine in our previous posts about the game.

First up, the E3 demo. It was gorgeous. The game is looking incredibly slick and beautiful. The art style is stunning and I was absolutely blown away by the aesthetic – the color palette looks a bit different to previous XCOM games and the whole thing just looks a whole lot more polished.

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The premise for the game is all new. In it, we lost against the aliens. The game takes place on the 20th anniversary of their dominance. XCom is now an underground resistance movement and the demo I watched was a sabotage mission. Agents were tasked with blowing up a commemorative statue to score a victory for morale and showed off some new skills while encountering some new enemies. For example, the specialist has a drone – I’m going to bet that this can be upgraded to give different kinds of attacks as the game progresses. The Viper enemy looks absolutely vicious and I’m going to play the game utterly terrified of bumping into one.

I asked Greg Foerstch, Art Director on the project, what made them choose to change the premise so radically. He explained that so many people who play XCOM for the first time, lose the game. Rather than getting discouraged or hating the experience, they almost universally restarted and played again. It got the team thinking that maybe they should acknowledge this alternate reality where we lose and what would happen next. I like this way of thinking for the new game and it certainly opens up some new opportunities.

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What I found really interesting when I watched the demo was that the gameplay flow was incredibly smooth. The mixture between gameplay movement and cut scenes, as well as the way cut scenes were integrated into combat was incredibly slick and added such immersion to the game. When I asked Foerstch about it, he explained that the emotional experience is heightened in those moments.

When you watch a character run across the map, worried if she’ll die while getting shot at, that’s when you really care about your squad’s survival; it simply doesn’t have the same effect if viewed from above. While the speed of how things happened in the demo might be a bit accelerated, the feelings are intended to stay. The close up moments are also intended to showcase your unique squad that you’ve built – if you tinted your characters’ hair or added a hood or baseball cap, you’ll be able to see those characteristic in the moment and feel that added connection to your unique cast of characters.

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Considering that XCOM 2 will be coming to PC only, I had to ask what drove that decision. Foerstch explained that as they went around the room when initially discussing the game, they all had different lists of what they wanted.

As we went “what do we want” everyone was like “procedural levels”! And that was the first thing we wanted. And that was followed and very tied to modding. As we looked at that and the landscape of what modding is and where that base is and what we wanted to do, it’s clearly proven in PC. […] That’s where our roots are, it’s who we are as a studio.

You can watch the full interview here:

Procedural levels, a flying base/mother ship, and giving fans what they’ve been asking for? What more could we ask for? The game truly is looking incredible, and with all these added elements the gameplay is looking even more immersive and impressive. While we haven’t had the opportunity to go hands on with the game yet, so all we’ve seen are scripted trailers and demos, the game is looking like the exact sequel (well, that might not be the right word considering the plot…) that everyone has been asking for.

Last Updated: June 23, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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