The timeline of XCOM 2 assumes that your XCOM: Enemy Unknown playthrough didn't go well. After all, the odds on chances are that it didn't. I mean, who'd have thought satellites would be so essential to the continued survival of the human race? Not me, it turns out.
There's a secondary effect of that fail-state assumption. "It's funny, because we talk about lore in Firaxis games, and the narrative isn't exactly what compels us forwards," XCOM 2 senior producer Garth DeAngelis tells PC Gamer. "But when we do talk about this timeline, again, it's like Enemy Within never happened. Because you lost. You lost within the first third of the game."
Mechs? Genetically modified super-soldiers? Nope. In this world, the XCOM unit didn't reach any of that. "We wanted a clean slate with that," DeAngelis says, "and just build off of. If XCOM had to go underground pretty early in the Enemy Unknown game, how would that be handled?"
Despite this, some of the design philosophies of Enemy Within will be carried across. "We really liked how meld worked in Enemy Within," DeAngelis says. "We thought that was a cool wrinkle. Narratively it doesn't make sense to have meld in XCOM 2 because the scientists haven't advanced to that stage, nor have they found the resource. But, we liked that mechanic a lot.
"We have a whole new weapon upgrade mechanic in XCOM 2, and there's looting," DeAngelis says. "You can now pick up loot from fallen enemies. Weapon fragments self-destructed after a certain time, so we're building off the meld mechanic—you have X number of turns to get there, where you can pick up a specific item from a fallen Advent captain for instance. It might be a laser sight or a stock or something for your gun, but it'll self-destruct if you don't get there within a certain amount of time. If you get it, it's an optional thing, you can bring it back to base and do some cool things with it."
XCOM 2 is out this November. For more details, look out for the next issue of PC Gamer magazine.