The Gollop Chamber
October 17, 2015 5:10 PM   Subscribe

The making of X-Com, Julian Gollop's squad based tactical game. Many subsequent games have taken the XCOM name, often of dubious qaulity, to the point when an XCOM FPS almost had Gollop crowdsourcing his own remake. Fortunately Firaxis did a "very very good" job with it's XCOM: Enemy Unknown" , though Gollop would have done a few things differently. A sequel, XCOM 2, is on the way, and will show "what happens when you lose Enemy Unknown.

Want to keep to true to the spirit of the original? Then the mod community has your back with The Long War. XCOM 2 looks like it will be providing even more mod support.
posted by Artw (57 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
If anyone is curious as to what Gollop is doing now. I haven't played it but it looks neat!
posted by selfnoise at 5:16 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


A super cool Previously from only yesterday - what happens when people play X-COM in real life.
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on October 17, 2015


Going back to the original X-com games is like an illustrated lesson in how terrible 90s video game UI was.

"We'll have nine million functions, nothing is context sensitive, no tooltips, and we'll do it all with mouse input!"
posted by Ferreous at 5:21 PM on October 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'd take it over the awful UIs that come out of dumping a console controller onto a machine with a mouse, which was the terribleness of 00s video game UI. And TBH though you could do a lot and had a lot to fiddle with it all quite worked quite well. It's not quite Dwarf Fortress but there's a lot going on.

Now, a thing that has amazed me UI-wise is how well the Firaxis UI works with touch, even on a small screen like the iPhone 6. It almost feels like the natural medium for it.
posted by Artw at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


That's real good because I've lost "Enemy Unknown" a hell of a lot.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:29 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't have told Art I was going to make an XCOM FPP. Foiled!

There are some really fun streamers out there. BeagleRush is the most popular. Link to his latest season first video, that is now finished.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 5:32 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm on my second playthrough of Enemy Within at the moment , on Classsic difficulty, and that is just brutal, though weirdly it's the budgeting and satelite coverage metagame that is the biggest source of difficulty there - once you claw your way up to lasers the actual combat isn't much harder. I'm making much more use of the Meld and Foundry this time as well, which may be skewing things on the battlefield.
posted by Artw at 5:34 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I lost that warm X-COM nostalgia after I had to micromanage my soldier's rifle magazines for the *fifth time* when the game decides that my point guy should always have the heaviest and slowest potato gun.
posted by meowzilla at 5:37 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you're playing vanilla Enemy Within you must download the Long War mod. I can't go back to the base game now. It's that good. It's so good in fact that the lead designer for Enemy Within at Firaxis has said that the base game is now just a 20 hour tutorial for Long War "and that's okay".

What I like best is that it makes the game hard by tweaking the enemies you face and the strategic layer rather than simply by giving the aliens massive buffs to their aim which render anything but cheese tactics non-viable. You can actually stay in cover and not get one shot by a sectoid in Long War.

Of course you're probably not fighting a sectoid, you're probably fighting a giant Hive Queen with 50 hp who will eat your entire squad but the point remains.
posted by Justinian at 5:41 PM on October 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Noooooooo.
posted by Justinian at 5:43 PM on October 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I lost that warm X-COM nostalgia after I had to micromanage my soldier's rifle magazines for the *fifth time* when the game decides that my point guy should always have the heaviest and slowest potato gun.

Forgetting to give them the stupid glow light things for night missions is the other greta way to get your guys killed... that and misjudging a movement click and having your guy expend AP walking around in a little circle or climbing a damn ladder or something insted of going to the location you wanted.

Mostly the new game has eliminated that sort of thing, mostly. I think it could have done with a little more fiddly inventory management TBH, but that might just be my own weird fetish.
posted by Artw at 5:44 PM on October 17, 2015


Noooooooo.

Oh fuck no.
posted by Artw at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2015


Artw: I feel like the Long War mod was made for you. Personally. For you.
posted by Justinian at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Polygon also has a good interview with the lead designer of XCOM and discusses where they tried to make it fun and not just a remake:

The Making of XCOM's Jake Solomon
posted by meowzilla at 5:46 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Artw: I feel like the Long War mod was made for you. Personally. For you.

I just need to figure out a way to play it on the bus.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on October 17, 2015


Long War is the greatest thing. It took a wonderful game that had a suuuuuuuuper awesome expansion and just went balls out best game ever.

But it is also hard.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 5:53 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


It did have a bit of a learning curve. Particularly to come to grips with the fact that your air force is both very important and absolute garbage at first.
posted by Justinian at 5:55 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Jake Solomon interview:

But perhaps what would eventually cause the most drama and confusion over the next few years was the one thing Solomon wanted in the game more than anything else: random maps.

"If you can imagine the image of me out there marching forward alone, nobody behind me, for a long time, until I had to turn around ... I wanted random maps in the game," he says.

Solomon carried that flag for a long time. He wanted the game's levels to be procedurally generated, so that players could play the game forever, essentially, and never once see the same map. The programmers told him it couldn't be done. There was tension.


Lack of random maps is one of the games biggets flaws, apparently that's being addressed in the sequel.
posted by Artw at 6:06 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I played a little of the Firaxis update on the iPad, and it wasn't bad, but it seemed to take too long to do things between missions (probably because of the iPad not having enough oomph) and I never stuck with it. My roommate was playing a lot of X-COM when he dropped out of college, and I'm not sure what it means to drop out of life, so I probably want to be careful.

It also didn't have that wonderfully gloomy feel with the clunky DOS graphics and creepy FM synthesis music. But it's not like I have the patience anymore for the original (aforementioned inscrutable UI, and tedious air combat segments)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:25 PM on October 17, 2015


Now if only someone would make a good Jagged Alliance 2 sequel. It's been tried many times, and failed miserably each time. I liked XCOM but didn't like how generic the soldiers were. They all had the exact same voices. That was one of the things I loved most about Jagged Alliance 2 - even though everyone was a generic 2d sprite, the zany voices and personality conflicts and individual soldier perks made each character special.
posted by pravit at 6:41 PM on October 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I lost that warm X-COM nostalgia after I had to micromanage my soldier's rifle magazines for the *fifth time* when the game decides that my point guy should always have the heaviest and slowest potato gun.

This is why the original X-COM should not be played without the excellent XcomUtil tool, which has an option to remember your soldiers's weapon loadouts from previous missions so you don't have to constantly re-equip all the time.

It also has other neat features, such as the ability to sort your soldiers in the Skyranger/Avenger with the most inexperienced soldiers out the door first, so that you don't end up with just a few soldiers getting all the experience and stats improvements and the rest of the squad hardly firing a shot.

There's more exotic features too, like an option to randomly generate the floorplans of the UFOs before each mission. (Honestly the results from the algorithm used are not great, but it is interesting to play around with.)
posted by jcreigh at 6:44 PM on October 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Back in the day I was a big fan of the original DOS XCOM game. I still remember the first time I tried to invade an enemy base. Of course I had no idea what I'd find.

It still amazes me that a turn-based game can generate so much adrenaline.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:11 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Never experienced the Classic game. I did experience an iPad mission where Soldier 1 got blown up, which caused Soldier 2 to panic and fire wildly, which hit Soldier 3 who fired back and killed S2, so I moved him away...and into a line of fire. Oh, hey, my squad just wiped itself out and we hadn't even got to the downed ship yet. S4 ran for the evac.
posted by Mogur at 7:13 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


You have a link to where they said that about the base game being a tutorial for the long war Justinian?
posted by Carillon at 7:22 PM on October 17, 2015


so that you don't end up with just a few soldiers getting all the experience and stats improvements and the rest of the squad hardly firing a shot.

Oh, yes! Of course, that's also why I wanted the rookies out the door first. For experience! It's unfortunate that they were also usually the ones that died first, though that is a kind of experience as well.
posted by FJT at 7:32 PM on October 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Am I a bad person because I have x-com on the PC but never play it there? I basically only play it on the ipad. And I have to say IT IS AMAZING. No Long War, but that's probably for the best for me.

X-Com 2 plus the new Steam box/Steam Link may be a terrible, terrible combination for me...
posted by GuyZero at 7:32 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's from an IGN article on promised support for future modding:
The proof of the potential is in The Long War mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. Even without official modding tools from Firaxis, a team of modders took XCOM to a new level by revamping the balance, doubling the number of classes, adding new equipment, and of course lengthening the campaign. At least a good chunk of the longevity Enemy Unknown has enjoyed on Steam (it still has thousands of daily players) is thanks to those determined modders, and the XCOM dev team is in legitimate awe.

“It's unbelievable what they did,” said DeAngelis. “The Long War was my go-to recommendation when our hardcore fans would come up to us at shows and would say, ‘I beat Impossible Iron Man three times. I want more.’ There's absolutely an awesome challenge there for you.”

We're basically a 20-hour tutorial for The Long War, and that's okay,” admitted Solomon. [...]
IGN: XCOM 2's Exciting Modding Potential
posted by tychotesla at 7:49 PM on October 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


X-COM and its expansion were great, really loving the fact that the sequel comes out with what was the average of most initial playthroughs.

Might just put this 1-hour version of the squad select music on for a while. (Might have to try this Josh Sawyer tip sometime, though I do not work on Pillars of Eternity like he does...)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


There were a few things that never made sense to me. Most important was this: why doesn't the transport have windows? It never made sense to me that you couldn't see out to the side of the transport before you began to unload troops.

(The second game, the one placed in the oceans, was drastically more stupid. By far the most idiotic thing was that "zero buoyancy" (i.e. underwater flight) was an alien technology you had to capture.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2015


Terror from the Deep is blatantly just a reskin of the original, so zero buoyancy would have been the flying armour originally.
posted by Artw at 8:15 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry Carillon, I left for a bit but I see tychotesla posted the quote from IGN.
posted by Justinian at 8:20 PM on October 17, 2015


The only three redeeming factors on TFTD were aliens panicking, melee weapons and two-stage missions. The game is a mess otherwise. I mean. Throwing grenades. Underwater.

I never bothered with Firaxis' X-Com for a reason: It's been over 15 years imagining how a spiritual sequel of the first would be like, to the point I have a long-ish document with the basics of said game, which probably reads like a very strange UFO conspiracy geocities page (I mean, it even has a part on detect shapeshifting aliens infiltrated in politics, and taking them out).
But the more I've read about it, the more it looked a well-polished story-based turn-based game, but lacking on a lot of places. Even a friend of mine that is a massive fan of the game told me to not try it because I'd be very disappointed.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:22 PM on October 17, 2015


So fun fact about Terror from the Deep... and actually that was my first introduction to the series at like age 11-12. This is probably why I am the way I am..

...anyway, fun fact: the original game had a bug where no matter the difficulty it set the game to VERY EASY. Impossible? VERY EASY. So people complained that X-Com was not hard enough! And the developer said fine fuck you! And they made Terror from the Deep as balls out hard as possible.

Shudder. Twitch.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:06 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


If they did a dumb aquatic reskin of XCOM I'd probably buy and play that as well, TBH.
posted by Artw at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2015


Yes, we are their slaves. But they were merciful and we get a full sequel. It even got delayed which implies it won't be rushed. Praise be.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:42 PM on October 17, 2015


Long War is an absolute tour de force of PC modding, if XCOM 2 embraces the mod community to the extent they're promising I cannot wait for Long War 2.

And if you want to feel really inferior about your XCOM abilities, just check out youtuber Marbozir beating Long War on Impossible.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:55 PM on October 17, 2015


Beagle did ironman impossible! Just watching one single episode of his stream upped my game immensely.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:06 PM on October 17, 2015


Classic X-Com is fantastic.
The new Firaxis version is a dumbed down shiny travesty
posted by Bwithh at 10:07 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


One thing I've wished had carried over from the original was the ability to tell your agents directly where to shoot. There were so many times in Enemy Unknown where I would have liked to shoot out a wall or intentionally destroy some cover.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:07 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


While I disagree pretty strongly about the new version of XCOM with Bwithh I will say that nobody could possibly accuse the Long War mod of being in any way dumbed down. But I will not keep evangelizing for it. Just check it out if you liked the base game at all. And dont need to play on a bus.
posted by Justinian at 10:20 PM on October 17, 2015


I think the Firaxis game with the Enemy Within expansion is better than the original. The only really important thing its missing is random maps (not that the original had a HUGE amount of variation anyway, but having even some dynamic map generation allowed it to do cool things like actually use actual base layout when aliens invaded your base) and even there it pretty well avoids being repetitive by not overstaying its welcome (unless you play on marathon, but well... why would you).

I have mixed feelings about The Long War. On one hand its a brave effort, but on the other it tends to focus on the wrong things in trying to be ~true to the original~. The modifications made to the air campaign are a perfect example: it tries to fix something that did not need fixing, resulting in just more busywork for the player.

I'll also point out that Xenonauts is a thing that exists. Its useful if one wants to see how just taking the original game and expanding on that leads into something that has a lot of potential but is just bad because the developers had no idea what parts of the original X-Com were the good ones.
posted by Soi-hah at 11:20 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


You liked the air campaign in vanilla Enemy Unknown? I thought it was a slapped-on afterthought...
posted by Justinian at 11:58 PM on October 17, 2015


Much as I enjoyed X-COM2 and its streamlined interface, there's a lot of things I much preferred in the original... this is going to turn into a long rant, isn't it...

1) Enemy movement was modelled even when “offscreen”. This means the enemies were actively moving around the map even when you hadn’t encountered them yet – in the current XCOM2 you need to “trigger them to life” before they enter the map, so you could never be flanked if you just advanced carefully. This was true even of the UFOs that flew around the world, you had to build bases and then radar facilities to track them – you could build “listening posts” that consisted of a mostly empty base with one big radar (commonly built in Hawaii), and you could also send interceptors with their own radar coverage out to loiter or set up a picket fence (this is common when a UFO flew into “blind spots” in your radar coverage between bases, you could send interceptors out to patrol with their own small radar coverage). Also, every UFO had a specific mission and behaviour, and it was sometimes more useful to “tail” them and then capture them intact when they landed, rather than shooting them down. Also, most UFOs moved faster than your initial interceptors when they didn’t want to be caught, they would only slow them down approaching their landing zone. And you had to decided if you were going to send multiple interceptors after the same UFO because you were outgunned, resulting in a multi aircraft battle.

2) Actually logical ranks for your soldiers… for example, vaguely from memory, one sergeant for every 5 soldiers, 1 captain for every 10, one commander for every 30. They got “promoted” based on seniority, kills, and capability. If your captain died, someone else would be promoted into his place. What nonsense is this in the new XCOM2, where your squad would consist of 6 Colonels at the end…. the rank system in XCOM is more like their XP bar rather than indication of command structure.

3) Proper modelling of overwatch… every soldier had a “reaction” statistic, when you stepped into range of an enemy with spare time units reserved for overwatch, the game would compare the reaction stat of your soldier versus the alien, if your soldier had better reactions you could fire first, if the alien had better reaction, he could take the overwatch shot. So you're send your best reaction soldiers as your point men, as they could "beat" the enemy overwatch and fire first.

4) Proper modelling of player statistics and classes… there were about 10 different statistics for the soldiers, and they levelled up based on how much they got used in combat. This means that “classes” arose organically rather than being forced. For example, the guy with best accuracy got given the long-rifle and put in the back, and he got to take all the aimed shots from a distance whenever you encountered aliens… his accuracy would go up, and he would eventually be known as a squad sniper. The guy with high strength would be given the heavy weapons (because he could carry it with less fatigue). The guy with a lot of time units given the medikit, the guy with high reaction time becoming the point man. More organic gameplay, less forced synergies.

5) The aliens are actually more powerful than you, which made the game feel more realistic. You needed an entire squad of 14 men to safely kill the injured alien survivors of a small UFO which had only 2-3 aliens, because their plasma weapons are THAT much stronger than your rifles. In the current XCOM, even your starting rifles are a match for the alien plasma weapons, there really is no advantage to the aliens in terms of health and damage done, and you fight mostly on a 1v1 basis with no numerical advantage, and even later on, your squad of 6 takes on an entire base of aliens. Your interceptors were really weak and you needed to research and build newer aircraft based on alien technology to match their speed, firepower and armor. Elerium and weapon plasma clips were a valuable resource – even when you had plasma weapons, you couldn’t really manufacture the clips or refuel your newly designed aircraft without scavenging enemy resources, so you had to be sparing in their use – you wouldn’t just equip everyone with plasma and bust out your super UFO killer every time, you had to also keep more sustainable laser weapons and older interceptors around. I just don't think it really makes sense that humans are technologically on par with the aliens.

6) Proper modelling of cover and geometry – none of this abstraction of no cover/ light cover / heavy cover. All firing solutions were line of sight based exactly like an FPS game, which means that misses actually would hit targets nearby, even your own men, and cover worked a lot more intuitively than it does now. Also proper modelling of smoke and fire – smoke properly reduces line of sight, so you could smokescreen the front of a building to approach it safely, smoke inhalation also causes unconsciousness (you could smoke bomb a building with aliens inside and wait for them to choke and go unconscious – live alien capture)… also you could just burn the building down if it was too dangerous to enter – swap your weapons to incendiary rounds and fire a few rounds into it, it would eventually burn down, and the aliens would either burn to death, choke to unconsciousness, or come running out into your overwatched men. Also, night missions, your sight range got cut in half due to the darkness (while aliens can see the full distance) so you had to use flares / incendiary weapons to light the place up. It was prudent to sometimes delay the mission until daylight because of this, get your Skyranger to loiter above the UFO until the dawn and then begin the mission.
posted by xdvesper at 12:19 AM on October 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


...anyway, fun fact: the original game had a bug where no matter the difficulty it set the game to VERY EASY. Impossible? VERY EASY.

I forgot to mention: XcomUtil, which I praised upthread, fixes this bug. (In fact I think this was its original purpose.)
posted by jcreigh at 12:59 AM on October 18, 2015


Justinian, I cannot particulary say I liked it, I'm just saying it didn't need fixing. It was a perfectly adequate way of resolving the "do I have enough research to take X ufo down or not" question. The stuff The Long War adds on amounts to just extra fiddling about you need to do. It doesn't make it BETTER, only more complex.

The Firaxis game streamlines (and often just outright removes) a lot of the geoscape fluff you needed to do in the original and while I do think there were interesting things there such as the radar coverage and air superiority stuff xdvesper mentioned, I think the end result makes for a better game. There's this very comfortable beat of ground combat-research/build-next decision in it that just makes it enjoyable to play.
posted by Soi-hah at 1:01 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Classic X-Com is fantastic. The new Firaxis version is a dumbed down shiny travesty.

I think what the Firaxis X-COM does well is reproduce most of the feelings of the original X-COM with less of the micromanagement. Like, you still end up situations where you're like, "oh shit, I can't lose this soldier, but they're up shit creek unless I can pull off three miracles before the end of the turn" and then you somehow make it happen through your daring and brilliance. Or else you don't, and you lose them forever. But you don't have to worry about ordering new clips and grenades all the time.

But yes, something is lost. There are some interesting situations that the complexity of the original created that are not present in the remake. (Example: "okay, I need to get a grenade over there, but the guy that's close doesn't have enough TUs to arm *and* throw...hmm, what I have this other guy over here arm it, throw it to the first guy, who will then pick it up and throw it around the corner? Jesus, I hope the throw is accurate, otherwise he might not have time to pick it up and it'll kill him at the end of the turn...") And the smaller squad size reduces the sense of scale somewhat. I have fond memories of packing a Skyranger full of 14 fresh faced rookies, and losing 7 or 8 of them in a grinding bloodbath of an early-game terror site, but still somehow coming out on top.

Overall, though, I think the new X-COM is really solid game that's worth playing, even though it is, of course, not the original.
posted by jcreigh at 1:12 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Now I'm wondering if it qualifies for Roguelike status.
posted by Artw at 3:07 AM on October 18, 2015


(Or at least RoguelikeLike)
posted by Artw at 3:07 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I just remembered that I also wished the new XCOM had the old inventory systems. I really appreciated those -- you could bring as much as the transport could carry and taking things from the battlefield required someone with enough carrying space picking them up and carry them back to the ship. This system made it worthwhile sometimes in the old game to bail on a mission and just make off with whatever you can (if I remember correctly, anyway -- now that I've typed this out, my memory's a little fuzzy as to whether or not it actually let you keep things from an unsuccessful mission).
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2015


Gollop's quote from the PC Gamer article sums it up for me: "I guess my original game was a bit more simulation-ny and the new game is a bit more board game-y". The new game feels like those board games where you play against a dice generated opponent. The old game has enough going on under the hood that it feels more like playing against an opponent.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:03 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Great Big Mulp: Yeah, it did. I remember my first psi-capture being an Ethereal that I tazed, and dragged back to the ship under heavy fire in someone's backpack. I had no chance of finishing the mission, and lost half my squad, but got the research project :)
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:06 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


and carrying a live alien and the fucker wakes up midway back? (pro-tip: you see a chrysalis, you don't get cute)

Once I was bored with the game, I decided to give me unlimited money and elerium, and decided to fuck things up. One time, I had three incredibly abled Psi troopers (one of them had attack and skill well past the scale), and by virtue of not dying until midway through the game and wasting most APs on every turn, had something like 80 APs which meant I could Mind Control 9 aliens at ease on every turn. I made the most bizarre alien parades using that strategy AND got a lot of heavy plasma clips, too.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:17 PM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's because I wasn't doing much PC gaming during the 90s, but to this day I think inventory management is one of the worst elements of any game. There's nothing more fun in a game than spending 5 minutes rearranging items and determining value vs weight stats. Throws me right out of any game that has it.

The new X-com seemed to get the balance right in my mind in terms of "You are forced to make severe choices that affect gameplay" using a simply implemented system without bogging down into "okay, I need 20 clips..."
posted by Ferreous at 8:18 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Getting in late (I was busy the other night playing Crystal Chronicles with my wife and a couple other mefites, if you want to talk about amazing-and-yet-clunky older games) but goddam I love X-Com, and I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up liking XCOM as well despite wishing some bits hadn't been streamlined away in the otherwise very thoughtful and cohesive design work Solomon et al pulled off. So I'm stoked for XCOM 2, to see where they go with it, to play some more newness. One upside of the streamlining they did with XCOM is they have some room to move and grow, and I'm convinced and then some by this point that they're doing so with the right attitude.

I definitely miss inventory management, but I'm an inventory fiddler; I definitely don't miss the specific implementation of the unmodded original and so can understand just choosing to bin that from a design perspective. Something a little more in between would be great; there is a fun sense of flexibility and on-the-fly planning, per what jcreigh mentioned above, that comes with having it all be much more concretely "stuff you put on your guys and in your ship" rather than a stripped down loadout-as-identity feel.

I'll also point out that Xenonauts is a thing that exists. Its useful if one wants to see how just taking the original game and expanding on that leads into something that has a lot of potential but is just bad because the developers had no idea what parts of the original X-Com were the good ones.

Fie! Fie! Xenonauts is very nice as exactly what it's meant to be, which is a doting, near-literal spiritual remake of the original X-Com. To the extent that it has problems they mostly come down to (a) keeping things that were a problem in the original game and for which the accuracy of "problem" as a label depends a lot on player preferences, and (b) not being the original game and having it's goofy wonderful newness.

If I feel like playing old-school X-Com at this point, I'm more inclined to launch Xenonauts than the actual game because the experience of running and playing it is way, way less annoying and scratches the same mechanical itch. If I want to play something that's inspired by but not doting about X-Com, I'll play XCOM. Both have great charms.
posted by cortex at 11:08 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, this is sort of a tangential move because it's very much not X-Com or XCOM or trying to be at all, but I cannot recommend heartily enough that folks who like tactical turn-based tense-as-hell gameplay involving force asymmetry and super interesting emergent "how the fuck am I gonna get out of this" situations go out and buy a copy of Invisible, Inc.

Despite being thematically and structurally very different, it has that magic, that leaning-in worry about what's around the corner, that every-loss-is-heartbreaking sense of investment, that "I'm fucked, I'm fucked, there's no way I could...wait, what if I...this just miiiiiiiight work...HOLY SHIT IT WORKED" brainstorming freedom. It's really, really great.
posted by cortex at 11:11 AM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


You have a link to where they said that about the base game being a tutorial for the long war Justinian?

It's from this article.

A lot of people have speculated that the entire reason that XCOM2 was green-lighted was because of Long War, or at least pushed up in the queue. The focus on mod support is definitely because Long War has basically kept sales going for XCOM:EW.
posted by mayonnaises at 1:26 PM on October 19, 2015


I bounced off Long War two or three times before deciding it wasn't for me. The battles got pretty long and excessive for my taste, and I didn't like the way they complicated/split the classes up. Which is too bad, because the overhaul of the strategy layer was really nice; no more needing to rush satellites and deal with the weird implementation of panic, which are the main complaints I have about XCOM. In the end, I didn't want Long War to be the only thing I played, ever, and it seemed that's how long it would take to finish a game.

Having gone through Long War, though, I have a feeling my ideal version of XCOM somehow has less actual battles. Maybe something like the Total War series where I can auto-run a battle and just live with the results? I'm okay with 30- or 60-minute fights but I only want a dozen of those total. Maybe part of the strategic layer has soldiers out fighting skirmishes (auto-battles) at regular intervals, and every now and then it drops you into "The Battle of Podunk" for some hands-on fighting with a larger group of soldiers. I don't think I'd want it to be a set piece per se, just something with more significance than "Filler Battle #43: you're still researching that new weapon, so this one's going to be a slog".

Enjoyed both Firaxis iterations so far, and will be picking up XCOM 2 whenever it hits.
posted by curious nu at 3:46 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


« Older Choose Something Like a Star: The Return of...   |   "I'm taking comfort in the ghosts of my past... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments