XCOM 2 is ‘going all-out with modding’

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How do you make a game more appealing to a particularly rabid fanbase? By allowing those particular fans to properly sink their teeth into the product and remake it in their own image. Modding isn’t something that is often officially supported by games these days. Some developers like to keep their assets properly locked up, while others will hunt down any such alterations to their product. But when it comes to XCOM 2, that game isn’t only open to the idea of being tinkered with, it’s looking forward to it.

“We’re going all-out with modding on XCOM 2,” Creative Director Jake Solomon told IGN, as he expressed a certain regret alongside Lead Producer Garth DeAngelis over the fact that XCOM: Enemy Unknown happened to have a significant lack of mod support. In the PC gaming market, that’s one hell of a missed opportunity to keep fans around. And that’s something that won;t be repeated, as XCOM 2 will launch with a full suite of modding tools in the form of the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) in November. “It’s yours now; do with it what you want”, Solomon said.

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People will see the gameplay source, all the scripting. This is the code that makes the game what the game is. Here’s the editor and all the assets that went into this game.

Solomon reckons that having gamers mod XCOM 2, tie into their belief of actually valuing players as more than just walking meatsacks with disposable income. “Because we’re a Firaxis game, we’re committed to this idea of player value,” Solomon said.

We want our players to play our games forever, and so we want to have this sort of vibrant community around the game. We want people to talk, to communicate with us, and for our games to have this really long life cycle, because that increases the value of our games.

And I’m all for that. Modding doesn’t just keep a game alive beyond launch week. It’s a crucible for future talent and ideas, a playground that gave birth to the likes of DOTA and Counter-Strike. Such work needs to be encouraged, not shunned. And as Solomon explained, XCOM is a perfect fit for that scene:

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Games that are systems-based, games that people can replay again and again – like Skyrim and GTA – they’re rooted in systems. And when people can replay a game again and again, then they want the ability to change the way it plays. And that’s why mods are huge on all of those. Obviously, games like Civ and XCOM are rooted in systems.

“The whole modding component is very exciting to me,” DeAngelis added.

After you feel like you’ve exhausted what we’ve designed what we’ve built for you, you’re going to see a lot more from the community now.

As for the kind of mods that the team is banking on seeing in XCOM 2? They’ve got a few thoughts. “We don’t have free-aiming. That will be one of the first mods, and that certainly will be fine,” Solomon said. “Maybe somebody will bring back time units,” he mused. “I’d be fine with that.” Art director Greg Foertsch also had some advice for potential map-makers:

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If you want to make a completely static level, you can. If you want to make a basically completely procedural level – which is basically what our levels are in the game right now, that’s 100% doable. It could be narrow; it could be square. It could be super big. And, again, it’s super flexible. There’s really no limit – you can do whatever you want. You could literally make an Enemy Unknown map.

There’s a reason why XCOM fans are particulary devoted to that franchise. And reading those comments above about Firaxis valuing their players, makes me realise why.

Last Updated: June 9, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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