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XCOM 2 by Firaxis – First Look

June 3, 2015

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A sequel to Firaxis’s reboot of the franchise was announced recently. The game seems to follow a divergent timeline from the original games.

XCOM Timeline

In the original xcom games released by microprose the games followed the “win” condition of the previous game.

  1. XCOM: UFO Defense – (1998) – The Aliens appear for the first time attacking humanity. XCOM is tasked with eliminating the threat. Eventually tracking them down on Mars and defeating them.
    1. XCOM: Enforcer – (1999) – An Enforcer program is started that attempts to create the perfect robot warrior to combat the emerging threat. Though the program was discontinued by the primary XCOM project, it continued in secret by a scientist who refuses to give up on its potential.
  2. XCOM: Terror from the Deep – (2040) – Following their defeat on mars the aliens activate their earthbound ocean base to continue their assault on earth.
  3. XCOM: Interceptor – (2067) – Though the aliens are defeated earth is finding it increasingly difficult to find the resources we need and so, using its space travel capabilities we set forth to gather resources from space. Our enemy however wants those resources for themselves and so the inevitable conflict commences.
  4. XCOM: Apocalypse – (2090) – Humans have been forced to live in domed cities as the surface of the earth has become inhospitable to life. The XCOM project is now little more than a non-profit organization. The aliens return via portals and you are forced to fight them back and save the primary domed city.

The original series took some interesting twists but it seems that firaxis is taking a different approach. The reboot timeline is as follows:

  1. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – (1962) – Aliens show up with a plot to abduct people and terraform the earth to suit their needs. The US creates a branch called XCOM to deal with the threat discretely. The aliens are defeated and the events are hidden from the general public.
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown – (2012) – The aliens have returned and cannot be ignored as they are openly attacking cities and gaining major media coverage. XCOM is established again but as a national organization.
    1. XCOM: Enemy Within – (2012) – XCOM pursues radical methods such as genetic manipulation and cybernetics to combat the alien threat.
  3. (2015) – In the end, XCOM is unable to deal with the threat and the nations of the earth are forced to unconditionally surrender. The XCOM project is dismantled and scattered. The aliens build new cities that they operate to deal with the survivors of the conflict. This becomes known as unification
  4. XCOM 2 – (2035) – Survivors of the XCOM project have banded together on the edges of society to try to fight back against the alien incursion and reclaim the earth for humanity.

So basically things went down like this

Gameplay

Though we only have the following still image to go by

01_x2_screens_media

It looks to be similar to Enemy unknown and a return to the turn based strategic combat the game is known for. It looks like we will be seeing melee weapons in this game. This is something we’ve not seen in an XCOM game since terror from the deep and UFO defense. Though it looks like we’ll be getting a bit more verity than what was  featured in those games. At the very least we’ll be getting swords instead of stun rods and vibro blades (which were just glorified drills).

New Robot units

We see in the trailer what appears to be a robotic unit fighting alongside the XCOM group. It has a similar appearance to the flying drones in Enemy Unknown. What we can tell from the trailer:

  • It flies. Yeah ok, this is obvious but mechanical flying units friendly to XCOM were pretty non-existent in Enemy Unknown. it’s nice to see a return of this type of unit as even UFO defense had flying heavy weapon platforms(later called SHIVs in Enemy Unknown) that could be built.
  • It some sort of energy effect around it suggesting it has some level of shielding
  • It fires an electrical attack reminiscent of the arc throwers in Enemy Unknown and the foe hit by it simply crumples to the ground without any other sign of damage, this suggests that the drone either is or can be equipped with an arc thrower that can stun opponents. However, the alien drones in Enemy Unknown had a lethal electrical attack so it may just be this.

Return of the Snakemen

Snakeman

This was also nice to see. In the trailer one of the guards standing outside the genetic processing center is a snakeman. Snakemen were a normal enemy in UFO Defense. The thinmen in enemy unknown were suggested as being genetically altered snakemen who had been made to look human.

These new snakemen look like they have a constriction attack similar to the strangulation attacks the seekers had in Enemy Within. Though they probably can also poison like the thinmen did.

Muton Streakers I mean Secoids

This is just a theory but we see these guys in the trailer

02_x2_screens_media

When I first saw these guys I thought maybe it was a human/secoid hybrid. But apparently these are secoids? This seems like a weird change since they have always been short naked aliens. Making them taller like this to me just makes them look like Mutons who have been neglecting their steroids and have decided to run around without any clothes on for some reason. Even in the trailer we see these guys creeping around in the dark alley ways of the city. This seems really bizarre since the city is controlled and run by the aliens, maybe these really are just muton streakers and they’re trying to not get busted by the cops.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am excited about this game. I was a little bit confused when I first saw the trailer as I didn’t have any context for it and was beginning to wonder if XCOM was being turned into some kind of weird syndicate game. Since I saw XCOM solders running around in populated city with civilians going about their daily lives, whilst ignoring the heavily armed solders. it looks like they might be going the same direction half-life went. I just hope they aren’t. Not because half-life is a bad game, but because the XCOM games have always been best when they’ve only tried to be themselves. Games like Interceptor, Enforcer and even The Bureau all tried to copy other popular games and they were worse for it.

I’m hoping this game is actually XCOM and not just a half-life wanna be.


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