E3 2011: Eyes on with XCOM

Last year at E3 2010, developer 2K Marin (BioShock 2) and publisher 2K Games showed off XCOM. It was a first person shooter revival of the X-Com sci-fi turn based strategy series set in the early1960s. X-Com loyalists were not happy with this new game with the "XCOM" name that only had superficial links with the original in that it had a team fighting off an alien invasion and had a little strategy in that players could choose what missions to take on.

Since E3 2010, 2K Marin has been pretty silent about the game's development. This week at E3 2011, we got a chance to check out a new live demo for XCOM. It's still a first person shooter but it looks like the team is revealing more tactical and RPG elements this time which makes the game a little closer to the original X-Com series. As with the last E3 demo your character is part of a secret organization that is fighting off aliens and also taking their technology to use against them (kind of like the Torchwood TV series).

The demo started with a home movie that was recorded by an unfortunate person who was caught up in an alien attack in a suburban area. Your character is watching this movie as a reference point and decides to check the area out. You can pick agents to join you, each with their own special abilities. You will be able to upgrade both your character and your teammates with better skills and abilities during the game. Once at the alien invasion site your and your agents have to take care of business as the mysterious foes do their thing. You can order your agents to move and use their special abilities (lasers, personal shield, etc). Again this is different than what we saw last year where it was more of a pure first person shooter.

Not only do you have to kill aliens but you have to take their technology. Once you are in the field you can actually use the alien tech you have obtained during the mission against them if you want. The catch? That alien tech is no longer available to take back to base to be researched. Once again there are some strategy elements around.

The demo ended with your agent apparently entering an alien portal and seeing something, well, weird. All we have to say is that XCOM, despite still being a first person shooter on the surface, definitely has more elements of the original X-Com games than E3 2010's demo. XCOM is now due out for March 2012.

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8 Comments

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I really do not have high hopes for this. I wish we could get a modern day reboot like the classic XCom that actually lives up to its name.

briangw said,
I really do not have high hopes for this. I wish we could get a modern day reboot like the classic XCom that actually lives up to its name.

For that, you'll need to look to the indie field and not the main software publishers, who are more interested in trying to net as many sales as they can. I also love the XCom series and don't care for an action oriented version of it; what made it so good was it's slow, suspenseful nature and utter deadliness.

Being a developer myself, I've been putting together a game that uses an isometric battle engine (inspired by XCom, of course), crossed with a space trading sim. Kind of like Elite + XCom... buy some trade goods, hire some soldiers, fly to a station after fighting off pirates, sell some goods and send out the troops to take part in tactical missions. If you're interested, let me know.

kingius said,

For that, you'll need to look to the indie field and not the main software publishers, who are more interested in trying to net as many sales as they can. I also love the XCom series and don't care for an action oriented version of it; what made it so good was it's slow, suspenseful nature and utter deadliness.

Being a developer myself, I've been putting together a game that uses an isometric battle engine (inspired by XCom, of course), crossed with a space trading sim. Kind of like Elite + XCom... buy some trade goods, hire some soldiers, fly to a station after fighting off pirates, sell some goods and send out the troops to take part in tactical missions. If you're interested, let me know.

Your game sounds interesting. I would like to know more about it.

briangw said,

Same here!

It's actually the combination of two older game engines that I'm working on and bringing up to date. I haven't got a web site for the project yet nor any screen shots because I need to bring the main user interface into the project: the space flight section is very high tech in its look but the tactical battle engine is a bit more rugged so there's some work to do on making it look more consistant throughout. The item system in the tactical engine is a random generation system: weapons have a quality level and can have upgrades on them; for example, a Semiauto Pistol is not as accurate as one with a laser sight. The tactical engine is a pure turn based affair with full line of sight on terrain (like XCom) and is powered by a random level generator. It works in a completely different way to how XCom did it so the resulting level layouts are much less predictable. Not to knock the first two XCom games there but you do start to figure things out about the level layouts once you've been in a few of them.

If any of you would like to be testers for the game it would be much appreciated. You can reach me via my web site on my profile and contact me there. The project is in its early stages as a game (although a lot is in place, such as space flight, trading and the full tactical engine, there is much balancing to be done) but could be in an alpha state in about a month.