That you can rename soldiers is essential to XCOM's charm. It's what makes it an engine for great stories. I don't care if your top sniper, Rando McNobody, has been shot to death by alien jerks. I do care if I'm told—with no small amount of relish—that I've been shot to death by our production editor, Tony. Firaxis, of course, know this all too well. For XCOM 2, they've actually pushed character customisation further.
"We've actually pushed character customisation further," says senior producer Garth DeAngelis. "You have to be able to name your characters, that's personally one of my favourite parts. You've got to create your own stories, and character customisation has been pushed. We've doubled down on character customisation. There's so much more you can do with it, there's so many more knobs you can turn now that feed into the resistance theme."
According to DeAngelis, players will also be able to set the gender and nationality of their soldiers. "All of that stuff that you couldn't do in Enemy Unknown gives even more agency to the player—it gives them exactly what they want."
XCOM 2 will also do more to recognise the nationality of troops. "You heard accented voices," DeAngelis says after a demo, "which I think helps sell it as well. There's actually an English accent in there—and we want to have more English accents in there. We love our English friends!
"We obviously won't have voices for every single nationality, but we'll have a system that will tag—when we have the voices to support it—it will line up with that voice that says, 'oh, he should sound like this.' You can still change it if you want, on your own, but it will be set up like that."
For more from DeAngelis, look out for the next issue of PC Gamer magazine.