How XCOM 2’s new premise changes weapons, levels and design

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XCOM has changed quite a bit with the new installment. Rather than featuring a fight against invading aliens, the aliens have won. This changes how weapons and the base are upgraded, as well as the aesthetic of the game. Even maps are based on a whole new approach this time around. You have questions? We got answers!

XCOM 2 Berserker

First up, weapon and base upgrades are really important to any XCOM fan. So, I asked Garth DeAngelis, Lead Producer on XCOM 2 about how being part of an underdog resistance as changed this aspect of gameplay.

Improvements to the strategy layer and a progression of weapons are key to what make an XCOM game, so they’re present in XCOM 2 with some cool new changes. XCOM as an organization will still upgrade their weapons technology through the course of the game, to match the alien invaders in strength. As a resistance group, XCOM must use other tricks, like cobbling together weapon upgrades and boosts on a per weapon basis, something brand new to XCOM 2. We’re excited to show you more with the Avenger, your mobile base, soon.

XCOM 2 Specialist

Avenger? Mobile Base? You have my attention. But the game itself looks so different this time around, with slick cities contrasted with a ragtag XCOM squad. It’s all part of showing how alien control has changed the world.

We wanted to have a contrast between the gritty, worn down look of XCOM as a resistance group, and the gleaming and faintly sinister alien city centers. That’s what you’ve seen in our announcement trailer and our E3 demo. But there are other parts of the world as well, places where the alien technology and control aren’t firmly in place, and the world is a bit more beaten up around the edges. We definitely wanted to make sure that players knew that the aliens had significant control of the world, and that XCOM was now the underdog.

Even the units have changed. We noticed in the new reveals that the Snakemen are back in the game after missing the reboot. Why?

The aliens feel more confident now that they’ve got control of the Earth, and they’re much more open about their appearance. Did you notice the Thin Men are gone now, since the aliens don’t need an infiltration unit anymore?

Okay, so units have changed, weapon upgrades are revamped and even the world has gone through a redesign. That’s not all, though. Part of why XCOM 2 is PC only is because of a decision to use procedural generation, and here’s a bit more insight into how that actually works.

XCOM 2 Advent Mec

“More maps” was the single biggest feature that fans wanted after Enemy Unknown. We knew if we could solve the procedural map challenges, we’d have a system for creating almost limitless map configurations. So in XCOM 2 our maps are generated from parcels, and each parcel can have specific kind of map features within it- you may play through a congested City Center with sprawling buildings one mission, and then a more open configuration of boulevards and parks, or maybe something in between. We can also add procedurally-generated secondary objectives within each mission for even more variety. So we get the best of hand-designed levels (avoiding huge kill zones and adding some fantastic-looking buildings and elements), and we get the advantage of procedural generation, where each new map is a unique experience for each player. We’re really proud of that as a team.

As well they should be – to have a city map feel so different depending on congestion or parks adds such replay value. Players will need to change up their strategies and can’t just rely on walkthroughs or YouTube videos to get through; the experience will be uniquely their own, with a customized squad and distinct experience. Everyone will get to tell their own XCOM 2 story.

Last Updated: July 15, 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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