Quantcast
Bringing XCOM: Enemy Unknown to a modern console audience - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist



XCOM: Enemy Unknown  



Bringing XCOM: Enemy Unknown to a modern console audience


1:30 PM on 03.06.2012
Bringing XCOM: Enemy Unknown to a modern console audience photo



X-COM: UFO Defense is almost 20 years old, and gaming has changed immeasurably since its release on the PC in 1994. With XCOM: Enemy Unknown, its re-imagining of that strategy title, Firaxis Games has the unenviable task of building a modern version of the beloved classic for consoles and computers -- while remaining true to the original.

I discussed the challenges that Firaxis faced, and the changes they're making, with Enemy Unknown's lead designer, Jake Solomon, last week. From our chat, I got the sense that Firaxis has a clear reverence for the source material, and that the studio is confident in its modern interpretation of X-COM.

[images courtesy of Game Informer]

1

"The cool thing about X-COM," Solomon told me, "is that the original game actually wasn't that complicated. It had complex interactions, but it wasn't a complicated game." X-COM's user interface may have been intimidating, but the gameplay boiled down to moving soldiers around and taking shots with them. "That's actually a very easy thing to make accessible to people," said Solomon. Firaxis didn't have a tough time translating that experience to a controller -- in fact, XCOM doesn't even use all of the buttons on an Xbox 360 gamepad or a DualShock 3.

Neither the console nor PC version of Enemy Unknown is a port of the other, since Firaxis knows that playing with a controller differs vastly from using a mouse and keyboard. "One is steering and selecting between options, and one is clicking on points of interest. The UI has to be different," Solomon explained. But there's feature parity between the PC and console versions -- you can even play with a controller on the PC -- and Solomon wouldn't call either of them the definitive one.

Firaxis isn't making any compromises to bring XCOM to consoles; comparing it to Civilization Revolution doesn't make sense. "When we set out to make that game, we [...] said, 'Alright, we're going to condense Civ down to, like, a three-hour experience,' which is a major shift from what those PC Civs were," Solomon told me. In this case, Firaxis is aiming to deliver the full, unadulterated XCOM experience to console owners as well as PC players.

2

Many fans of the original X-COM praised it for its sense of discovery -- it let players figure out elements like the fog of war and line of sight by themselves -- and that's not lost on Firaxis. But games today have to do a better job of easing players into the experience, with helpful explanations along the way. How do you balance those competing design goals?

XCOM is a game that lets players do all kinds of different things, Solomon said. And with that kind of game, he asserted, designers "have a responsibility to at least show [players] what kinds of things they can do, and then [ensure] -- as new elements get introduced, as they gain new abilities -- that they have the right tools to continue to grow with the game." To that end, Enemy Unknown features an extensive tutorial that spans a few missions. Solomon acknowledged that hardcore PC players will likely want to bypass the basics and "drink from the fire hose," so the setup phase is completely optional.

Ultimately, XCOM's designers want longtime fans and new players to be able to enjoy the game equally. "Discovery is actually a big part of games like [X-COM]," Solomon noted. "And so it is kind of a fine line: you basically want to show the player how to explore [...] and then turn them loose."

Firaxis Games' XCOM: Enemy Unknown is set for release on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 this fall.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.





timeline following:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown



3:00 AM on 10.11.2013
XCOM for iOS gets multiplayer, on sale for $9.99

XCOM: Enemy Unknown on iOS has received a new update that brings in asynchronous multiplayer. Additionally the update brings in iOS7 optimization and a newly implemented leaderboard. The game usually goes for $19.99, but it's on sale for $9.99. Check out our review to see why the mobile version is worth picking up. more



11:00 PM on 06.29.2013
Critical Hit! XCOM: Enemy Unknown finally out for Macs

Seems like a fair bit of critically acclaimed titles are finally making their long-awaited hop over to the Mac gaming universe. Last week we had Rockstar's take on a modern noir story in Max Payne 3, and this week we have Fir...more



2:00 PM on 06.20.2013
Review: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (iOS)

I was pretty blown away by Firaxis Games' re-imagining of the X-COM universe last year in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. So blown away in fact that it was my second choice for Game of the Year -- and this is coming from a fan of the '9...more



3:45 PM on 06.11.2013
Massive sale on PSN keeps good times rolling for Sony

Sony came out of their E3 press conference smelling like roses. Capitalizing on the miscues of their competitors, the platform-holder seems poised for a resurgence this winter with the PlayStation 4. In the meantime, Jack Tre...more



3:30 PM on 04.09.2013
XCOM: EU for iOS won't go overboard with in-app purchases

Considering the game's unforgiving difficulty and meaningful character losses, it's all too easy to imagine a mobile version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown that runs wild with microtransactions in a hugely successful way. Thankf...more



12:15 PM on 04.02.2013
XCOM reboot director and original creator hug it out

Adam Sessler and Rev3 Games brings two noteworthy turn-based designers together in the same room to chat and hug it out. On one end is X-COM (1994) creator Julian Gollop; the other is occupied by 2012 XCOM reboot designer Ja...more



8:30 PM on 03.23.2013
PAX: 'Full port' of XCOM comes to iOS this summer

Series reboot and turn-based strategy crossover hit XCOM: Enemy Unknown will come to iPad and iPhone this summer, Polygon reports. Jake Solomon, lead developer of the title at Firaxis Games, calls it a "full port," in line wi...more



8:00 PM on 02.26.2013
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is coming to Mac soon

Last year's awesome "save Earth from evil aliens" simulator, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, will be finding its way onto Macs very soon. The port is being handled by Feral Interactive, who has ported a lot of good titles like Bat...more



1:30 PM on 02.20.2013
Green Man Gaming has XCOM: EU for $16 right now

Green Man Gaming is doing that thing it does again where it heavily discounts a worthwhile PC title that's redeemable on Steam and also offers a coupon code (GMG20-P4DLK-FKYRS) for an even greater deal. In this case, the game...more



10:00 AM on 01.08.2013
Download XCOM: Enemy Unknown's Second Wave DLC now

Go load up XCOM: Enemy Unknown today and grab your free title update. Titled "Second Wave," this new DLC adds a heap of modifiers to the campaign, including anything from weapon buffs, to guaranteed crits. It's the second pie...more




2K Games

10:00 AM on 04.09.2014
Why Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is sticking to last-gen

The industry is currently trying to support two generations of consoles at once, which means game publishers have to decide what the safest bet is for their next projects. Some companies are creating the the same content for ...more



7:00 AM on 04.09.2014
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes the shooter looter to the moon

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is official. The latest entry in Gearbox's shooter looter takes place between the original Borderlands and Borderlands 2, hence the Pre-Sequel moniker. The new game is based on the Borderlands 2 en...more



2:30 PM on 04.04.2014
2K is bringing Borderlands 2 for PS Vita, Evolve to PAX East

Evolve. Now there's a game I've been hoping to try out for a while now. PAX East attendees will be able to get their hands on the Turtle Rock Studios-developed multiplayer game next weekend as well as Borderlands 2 for PlaySt...more



View all 2K Games






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more