Firaxis Games and 2K Games hit on a magical formula with the 2012 release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. They took a title that had sat around, waiting for a new release since the ill-fated XCOM: Apocalypse title in 1997, and went back to its roots from the original release in 1993. It was tactical, turn based squad combat against a somewhat superior force found in the alien invaders. With time, research and a little perseverance, one found they could take on the enemy and stop them in their tracks at the end of both XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its expansion, XCOM: Enemy Within. Of course, nothing is ever what it seems and with the announcement of XCOM 2, you found out that not only was your fight not as successful as you thought, but you were soundly defeated and the aliens have now colonized Earth and rule it with an iron fist.
That cannot stand.
Taking that backstory in hand, I had a chance to watch a guided demo of XCOM 2, which is under development once again by Firaxis Games and is coming to PC only this fall. Now the XCOM force stands as a resistance movement, working from the shadows with the goal of overthrowing the alien occupiers and standing humanity at the top of the ruling class on Earth. In a nice touch, the team has recreated the feel of what would happen with an occupying force, as a good part of humanity has capitulated to the new rule, with newscasters now fueling propaganda that feels like it is written straight from the alien’s handbook. The resistance are evil and took up arms against a force that was only coming to make peace with a new civilization. They wanted no harm. It was XCOM that caused all the chaos and their resistance is considered the only thing in way of the aliens promoting a new level of prosperity.
Of course, those that fought the alien incursion in XCOM: Enemy Unknown know better and they continue to put up the good fight to show that humanity has been duped by these invaders and the truth will be told with the actions of the XCOM Resistance.
So the mission tasked to our team was taking out a new statue built in commemoration of the anniversary of the alien occupation. Combat is similar to the previous XCOM title. Players can defend, move a select amount of units, go into overwatch or just plain attack the enemy. One thing of note is that there seems to be more small cutscenes detailing movement or activities performed by units. They also banter back and forth far more than the units did in the past.
Our presentation brought us a new stealth mechanic where the screen turns a slight blue hue along the edges, letting us know that the enemies cannot see any of our troops. We also got to see two new enemy types, including one that was very reminiscent of an enemy type from the original XCOM title. The first enemy was a snake-like alien that can slither at high speeds and constrict your soldiers to death. The other enemy type was something I had never seen in any XCOM game. It was a cross between a gorilla and a guard dog. It moved fast and caused a lot of damage. Don’t worry though, as the XCOM resistance has a couple of tricks up their sleeves as well. You can now have a unit that carries a device that can hack into machines, turrets and other devices, using the enemies own tech against them whenever possible. You can also carry out wounded troopers with you to an extraction point, which can now be place anywhere that is considered a safe zone and has room for the Skyranger to land.
At this stage, XCOM 2 looks to be a near finished product. They did let us know that it was not final code as of yet and there was still work to be done, but Firaxis is working quickly to get the game ready for its release in November of 2015. XCOM 2 is being developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games.