Back in June, a man on the internet asked, "Why isn't there an XCOM tabletop game?" There is, as it turns out. But now there's a new kid on the XCOM board game block, and while I haven't played its predecessor and thus can't make any hard-and-fast judgments about which one is better, Fantasy Flight's upcoming XCOM: The Board Game sounds awfully promising.
Some PC Gamer readers may recognize Julian Gollop's name from our previous interviews with the developer. If you don't, his PC game development credentials should impress you: he designed 1997's X-COM Apocalypse and directed 1994's X-COM: UFO Defense, aka UFO: Enemy Unknown, aka the original X-COM. In 1985 he also made a turn-based tactics game for Games Workshop called Chaos: The Battle Wizards, which he now wants to remake with your help on Kickstarter.
Youtuber Antti Kokkonen, who uploads Let's Plays to Youtube under the username Zemalf, is one of the best XCOM players in the world. On January 11, he finished a 50 hour run of XCOM: Enemy Within on Impossible Ironman difficulty without losing a single country. Or Interceptor. Or mission. Or soldier.
It was a perfect run on the game's hardest difficulty (and his first time through the game). On Ironman, XCOM is limited to a single save file. No do-overs. Beating the game on Impossible Ironman is a rare feat, but beating it without losing a single soldier? That really does sound impossible. But Zemalf did it, and he recorded it all across 58 Let's Play videos.
"I consider myself an okay player, but the run did go really well," he told PC Gamer. With Zemalf's help, we've broken down this achievement in XCOM mastery, dissecting his 58 part series into the key moments that defined the run.
You better watch your back. Since we first heard about XCOM: Enemy Within's disruptive new faction Exalt, the quest to save Earth has been looking a bit more complicated. As we learn in a new dev blog from the DLC's lead designer Ananda Gupta, the "insular and self-serving" Exalt has its own agenda entirely.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of our favorite games last year, but the brilliant turn-based strategy game lacks the modding support we hope for in big PC games. In a new interview, XCOM designer Garth DeAngelis says that modding tools aren’t “on the table currently,” but that doesn’t mean they’re never coming.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified underwent a tumultuous, prolonged development, so it’s understandable that some of its pieces are polished but so few of them fit together. The resulting puzzle-piece jumble is best forgotten in favor of last year’s far-superior XCOM: Enemy Unknown or other recent third-person action games like Mass Effect 3 or Saints Row IV.
A new video from The Bureau: XCOM Declassified puts a goofy spin on self-sacrifice and permadeath in the upcoming third-person shooter. It's obvious that when you're repelling an alien invasion—and with Cold-War era technology, no less—you may have to make some tough decisions. Bu no matter how unhinged you are as a squad leader, the new trailer gently reminds us, "you only live once."
The Bureau is a game about an alien invasion, and not a sort of chest of drawers, so it makes sense that this fresh load of gameplay footage would focus on killing aliens and ordering teammates about, rather than storing stuff in a convenient yet pricey piece of furniture. There are nine-and-a-bit minutes of killy, sprinty, 60sy action below, taken (courtesy of VG247) from the opening mission of the game.
A new live action trailer for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified shows Agent Ennis Cole struggling to write a report on an alien attack. While we do get some insight on his motivations, the trailer is really about getting the fan community involved by voting for the ending.
Xenonauts begins quietly. Very quietly. In the pre-release build there is no objective stated and no opening cinematic, just a map of our pale blue marble half in darkness. Manipulating the time controls, I advance time until klaxons sound and a UFO appears over Ireland.
Here's a trailer for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified's 'Battle Focus' feature. From the footage included, it appears a more suitable name would be the "turn it into XCOM: Enemy Unknown" mode. It lets you intersperse your third person shooting with tactical planning, skill deployment, and that shield UI that tells you when you're in cover. It's probably the most like 'XCOM' the game ever looked.
This is seriously sloppy redacting on behalf of the recently uncovered The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Oh sure, they wipe the key nouns out of the text screens, but then they intersperse it with cuts of game footage showing everything. Characters, locations, enemies... It's like they actively want people to know about their upcoming game.
Julian Gollop interview: on X-Coms old and new, the Ghost Recon strategy game that never was, AI, auteurs and "Fork My Fruit"
Julian Gollop is a 27+ year veteran of the industry. He can list classics like Chaos, Laser Squad and, of course, X-Com, on his long career resume. As Firaxis successfully reboot X-Com for modern audiences with Enemy Uknown, Gollop has donned indie threads to pursue a current remake of his multiplayer wizard-duelling game, fittingly named Chaos Returns. I caught up with him for an affable chat about his work on the original X-Com, progress on the new Chaos game, and his thoughts on how the great machine of modern development compares to the tiny teams in operation during the turn-based-strategy boom.
As Julian Gollop told us yesterday, now that his most famous creation - XCOM - has been remade, his obsession with replicating it has gone. Instead, he's flashing back even further to a game so old very few readers will remember it; one of the missing links of gaming, Chaos. Gollop's Chaos Reborn will be out some time in 2014. At GDC we talked with him about the game's origins, the changed mechanics and the new meta-game he's introducing.
2K Marin's XCOM shooter went dark soon after the release of Firaxis' successful XCOM reboot. But was it missing? Dead? Captured by overzealous strategy fans? Actually, it was all a ruse. The game has now resurfaced under the new legend The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. And it's almost ready to blow the whistle on the eerie underbelly of 60s suburbia, with a release date of August 20th. A live action trailer has also appeared. Don't be fooled; it's clearly a diversionary tactic.
X-Com creator Julian Gollop on how he would have designed Enemy Unknown differently, and why it would have failed
It’s well-recognised that PC Gamer favourite XCOM was lost in rights-hell for years until Firaxis rescued it last year. In a charmingly open interview at GDC, UFO: Enemy Unknown / X-COM co-creator Julian Gollop revealed how he felt about the new game, how he would have changed it - and why it would have failed.
“I would have designed it differently, for sure.” says Gollop, of the new game. “Would it have been as successful as the new XCOM? Probably not. No, I'm afraid.”
In 2000, six years after its release, X-Com: UFO Defense had sold 470,000 games and made the Gollop brothers just over £1 million in royalties. But, according to Julian Gollop at his GDC post-mortem of the game - it nearly didn't happen. Twice in the project's development it faced cancellation and, for a brief while, it was officially dead. Sure, had it not been revived we'd have been spared from Enforcer. But at what cost?
In preparation for our not-too-distant subjugation by skull-faced machine-men, I thought I'd bone up on the latest advances in electro-brain design and stop by this year's GDC AI summit. Kicking off the summit was a trimuvirate of talks about the AI behind PCG-fave XCOM, stabby sequel Assassin's Creed 3 and the super-shiny “space ninjas with machine guns” shooter Warframe. The talks showed a fascinating variety of uses for AI: XCOM's combat AI was the most immediately familiar, but supremely clever in insinuating the personality of enemy types - and a far cry from the use of AI to determine Connor's foot placement in AC3. Warframe, meanwhile, deploys AI as a dungeonmaster, cobbling together levels from pre-built components to fit the needs of its players. It's smart stuff. Perhaps... too smart? Read on to unpick alien plans, parkour and player-centric dungeon design.
Brace yourself for an influx of exciting Firaxis news from PAX East. Are you braced? Good good. In addition to revealing the release date for the recently announced Civilization V expansion Brave New World - it's July 9th in the US, and July 12th elsewhere - the team also teased a distinctly XCOM-like new project (thanks, Kotaku), which Firaxis are describing as a "big" release. The only clues lie in a leaked teaser trailer - oh and the very XCOM-like font displayed at the end.
Worried that the download copies of BioShock Infinite will sell out, when it lands on the 26th of March? You might want to sit and think about that for a moment, or alternatively you could pre-order the game from Steam - you know, before you know whether it's any good or not. Your wallet may or may not thank you in the long run, but at least you'll get a bunch of free stuff, including the spin-off Industrial Revolution puzzle game, some in-game tat, and a copy of the original BioShock. If an unspecified number of other people put their money down as well, you'll also get a copy of XCOM and several TF2 items, but I don't see how anyone would be interested in those.