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XCOM: Enemy Unknown “Casualties of War” Trailer and Gameplay Session with the Devs

By on August 28th, 2012 7:45 am

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

2K has published another one of those “are you still with us?” XCOM: Enemy Unknown trailers, and as usual it looks good. The trailer shows only action sequences, but from what I’ve seen from other trailers I think many of these sequences are actually embedded on the gameplay itself. The video gives us a close look on the aliens and on the amount of firepower, special moves and equipment involved.

It’s interesting to realize that when the original X-COM was released (X-COM: UFO Defense aka UFO: Enemy Unknown) this video could only be part of the game intro at best, and even there quite unlikely. Now, 18 years from then, we have actual gameplay sequences, cutscenes no doubt but many of them embedded on the gameplay itself. PC gaming surely has come a long way in terms of graphics.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is targeted for release on October 9th, 2012 for the PC, XBox 360, PS3.

\Edit (29/08/2012): 2K had a >1h live stream gameplay session with Jake Soloman (lead designer) and Casey O’Toole (lead programmer). Really worth it! Thanks to blog reader SQW for the tip.

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  1. Keith Turner says:

    After playing a bit of Jagged Alliance Back in Action a few weeks back, I’m even more excited for a sci-fi turn based squad game like this. I really hope they get this right.

    • Adam Solo says:

      How did you like Jagged Alliance Back in Action? I heard it was not that good. I loved Jagged Alliance 2. One of my favorite games of all time.

      • Keith Turner says:

        I heard a lot of bad things about Jagged Alliance Back in Action on release. From what I’ve heard and read, it was released without critical features like fog of war. Without fog of war and line of sight requirements, I would have to agree it was probably quite underwhelming.

        I didn’t pick it up until this past summer sale, and got what I consider to be quite a good deal on it. With the benefit of the reduced price and the patches that introduced critical aspects like fog of war, and reduced time wasting activities with features such as sector inventory (ability to pickup items in a cleared sector from one menu without manually having to walk and pick up each and every item), I found the game to be quite enjoyable. I didn’t play Jagged Alliance 2, but my understanding is that the RPG elements and some of the features in JA2 are still superior to this remake. I asked a coworker who played and loved JA2, and who is also playing JA:BIA, and he said Back in Action was enjoyable and seems to have a lot of promise, but the developers failed to include some features from JA2 and in the end BIA did not meet its full potential.

        I’ve spent 36 hours in the game and have not beaten it yet, and my coworker has over 40 in it, so I have to give them credit for designing a rather lengthy game. It’s not one I’d likely play again, but as a tactical squad based game I’ve found it to be quite an enjoyable experience. I prefer science fiction and fantasy to modern day, so my instinct is telling me I am going to really love playing XCOM based on my time with JA:BIA.

        • TimmY says:

          JA:BIA is not a bad game but you can’t compare it with JA2. Anyway JA: Crossfire, first stand-alone expansion is much better and gives you a JA2 flavor.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Thanks for your thoughts on JA:BIA Keith. Looks enjoyable but not up to JA2 expectations, as I suspected. Better wait for XCOM:EU then.

  2. SQW says:

    2K did a 1hr live stream showcasing the tactical combat across two in-game combat missions. The youtube link is below for those of you interested.

    On a completely separate note, Adam, does indie devs approach you to pre-view their games or do you simply blog as a consumer?

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks for the link showcasing the game. I’m watching it as I write this comment.

      About your question. Yes, devs approach me from time to time to have a look at their games. In other cases it’s the other way around, I blog about their games and then they contact me or vice versa.

  3. Ashbery76 says:

    That stream was superb.Day1 buy without question.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yea, I loved it too. Makes you want to try it out and play. I wish this would become the “de facto” way to promote games before release in the future and not just through teaser trailers.

  4. SQW says:

    Very polished…as far as combat mission is concerned. The lack of Time Unit works surprisingly well too!

    Of course, it took more than just tense tactical combat to elevate the original to such rarefied heights so I’m still going to wait for a overall review before jumping in. Never let your guard down in the face of a AAA studio hype machine lest we forget what they did (or rather didn’t do) with Civ V.

    • Adam Solo says:

      At least we have a gameplay full session before release. It’s just a glimpse but I think works quite well since XCOM:EU is not as complex as Civ games, and so it doesn’t suffer so much from balancing issues. Although the AI is always a hard one to crack. It really takes time to know how good a game really is, and that’s why reviews are always key.

  5. Hypnotron says:

    Game looks really good. The only concern I have is the cartoon scale of the maps makes the environement seem squished and compact.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Maybe it’s something we can get used quickly? I also felt a bit unease at first when I started watching the gameplay session (that I added to the post today). But, after a while things seem to start working. The gameplay footage helps but there’s nothing like playing for yourself to be sure.

  6. Jeff P says:

    Anyone know what the PC requirements will be for the game? I haven’t seen them posted on the XCOM site or in the forums.

    • Jeff P says:

      Answered my own question: according to the new youtube video SQW linked (dated August 27) 2K hasn’t released PC requirements yet. After viewing the video, I’d bet the requirements will be pretty stiff (unfortunately for me.)

      • Adam Solo says:

        I still don’t get how are pre-orders possible without system requirements being published, for how rough or draft they may be. I’ve been noticing that this happens quite a lot. I don’t get pre-orders these days, particularly for digital download games where stocks are not a factor anymore. But that’s a story for another time.

  7. Kurrick says:

    Truly hope they get this right! Trying not to let myself get to excited over this after the flops of earlyer this year…..

  8. Towerbooks3192 says:

    If it is the same as the original (turn-based one) and not the one I read from an xbox magazine a year ago or something which was a squad based FPS then its insta-buy……or just like all the other PC games of today, wait for the reviews and the the “all-clear” sign before buying.

    Its hard to invest money on AAA devs when they usually release an alpha version of the game and we have to suffer while we wait for them to patch the game to how it should be on release

    • Adam Solo says:

      It’s the same as the original X-COM. Squad-based sci-fi turn-based strategy and turn-based tactical maps.

      Yes, the market is abusing the consumer’s patience at the moment in my opinion. As far as I can remember this “release-and-evolve-with-community-feedback-model” started with Stardock’s Galactic Civilization games back in 2003. At least in what concerns sci-fi strategy games.

      This model worked really well for Galactic Civilizations games because they were already very polished at release. With time Stardock improved the game further through free patches with the community’s feedback. They really listened and were generous and I think that was one of the major reason why Stardock did so well back then.

      This is also what Sid does at Firaxis with Civ games. Civ vanilla games are never great (Civ 3, Civ 4, Civ 5) but they are already fully playable and polished. With time free patches help fix and balance issues (not complete), and expansions come to improve (again not complete) the original games. This is one way you can look at things.

      What we cannot tolerate are companies releasing unfinished low-quality products and requiring consumer’s feedback and patience while they struggle to finish their games. Imagine this on other industries like Auto, Computers, or others, it doesn’t matter. “Here is your car. We’ll be sending you the final tires, ABS and AC in a few months but you pay full price now.” or “Here is your PC. It only works up to Windows XP at the moment but we’ll fix that, eventually. Oh, and you can’t go to the internet yet but we promise you will in a few months”.

  9. Hypnotron says:

    Does anyone else have an opinion about the look/feel of the aliens in XCOM:Enemy Uknown?

    When you see the grey aliens crawling around it makes them look more primitive than humans when you would think they’d be more advanced. Why then do they look so animal like? I suspect the developers are playing it a bit too safe here. Intelligent scifi fans can stand more than just black & white good guys vs evil guys.

    The alternative explanation is if they look too intelligent, then it makes the gameplay itself look somewhat base and primitive. (the stupid moles pop up and you shoot them before they shoot you). I think there’s still room for a niche xcom style game that focuses on more intelligent playing missions that feel more like chess and less like checkers.

    • Hypnotron says:

      to clarify a poorly words thought, i mean that if the aliens look smart, then it begs the question of “why are they acting so stupid?” So if the AI is not up to par and the mission maps are condensed and forcing early confrontations and making it difficult to hide (you can take cover but you can’t really hide) then it helps all around if the look/feel of the aliens (and humans for that matter) is of big brutes vs dumb animals.

      • Ahbery76 says:

        To be fair the original did not have much A.I at all and relied on 1 hit kills and gimmicks like hitting you while leaving the transport.The zoombie maker seemed to understand his role by making zombies and moving back into FOW.The video showed the A.I work in teams and he was playing on normal.Classic mode and iron man is the settings I will use.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Some aliens do look and move a bit like animals, at least the ones featured in the lengthy gameplay video. Cyberdisks turn into spider-looking aliens, Chrysalid, the zombie makers are also kinda spider looking, Mutons seem to move like giant apes. But, there are cyborgs like the Floater also or the anthropomorphic “Thin man”, Drone robots and probably others we haven’t seen yet. So, there seems to be a lot of variety. Do they look less advanced than Humans? Why are we always classifying aliens by our own standards here on Earth? If they move like apes do they need to be automatically more primitive than Humans? And if they are maybe those are just foot soldiers, they don’t need to be ultra smart, they just need to get the job done.

        About the AI or how smart the aliens are, or look, I agree with Ahbery76’s zombie maker observation. Their behavior did look smart at places. And remember that they were playing in normal difficulty which for many of us X-COM veterans will be piece of cake. And the guy did lost one trooper each mission. But again, it did look too easy. There seems to be plenty of difficulty levels available though. Impossible, Ironman. That should keep us busy.

        About the maps feeling too condensed and forcing early confrontation I do agree that both scenarios on that gameplay session did look too rapid for my taste. But they needed to get the job done. They could not do a 3h video with very big and long lasting maps. One of the things I loved with the original X-COM games was the size of maps and the level of detail and amount of places one could hide. Sometimes it took a long time to find out those last surviving aliens. That constant doubt, the uncertainty and tension build up was what made the series superb in my view. Yes, these 2 missions were too fast and too easy but I hope there will be bigger and lengthier maps as well. We’ll see.

  10. Ray says:

    While Firaxis haven’t always released a top game in the past, they have an excellent customer track record. I have already ordered UFO Enemy unknown and am heartened to see the the youtube presentation link here… It looks damn fine!!

  11. SQW says:

    I’m not sure how many of you remember the old X-Com interception mechanic but the new one left me scratching my head. I think Firaxis streamlined it a bit TOO much in this incidence.

    • Smight says:

      the whole game is “streamlined” too much.

      • Jeff P says:

        All the demos of the gameplay seem to be on the XBox. I suspect the game was developed for game consoles and has been ported to the PC. Although I’m very impressed with Xcom-EU, and would buy it if my comp will handle it, console-to-PC ports rarely work out well.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Yes, it seems so. At the end of the gameplay session video they talk about showing off the “PC UI” at PAX, to happen in a couple of days. If it was a direct port from consoles to PC or not I don’t know but at least the UI seems to be different.

        • Wodzu says:

          As far as I understand from this over one hour stream it had been played on the PC. They only used a pad which could deceive you.

          My main concern is: will this game will be graphically as good on a console as on a PC?

  12. Keith Turner says:

    I’m interested to see the differences in the PC UI. Jake made them sound rather substantial in some interviews he’s done in the past.

    I finally got to watch the entire live stream video instead of just bits and pieces tonight. I’m impressed. It’s going to be a definite buy for me.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I saw the PC UI presentation yesterday in a live feed from PAX, and … I can’t say to have spotted major differences from what I’ve seen in the 1h gameplay video, that I think is the XBox UI. But I missed part of the presentation so I may have missed the explanation part.

      By the way, and this is for everybody, the XCOM devs are giving a presentation today entitled “XCOM: Enemy Unknown – A Thousand Stupid Ideas on the Road to Glory” where they are going to talk about the XCOM:EU development process. Sounds like an interesting watch, especially for devs. Saturday 1st Sept – 2:30pm PDT.

      • Wodzu says:

        One hour gameplay has been played on a PC but with the usage of pad.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Yes but at the end of the gameplay video they talk about showing off the PC UI in PAX in response to the question “When are you going to show the PC UI?”. So, I assumed the gameplay session was not on the PC.

        • Adam Solo says:

          My bad. Jake says at 8:08m “we should say this. You’re actually playing with the gamepad on the PC VERSION”. So, the gameplay video IS the PC version.

  13. Wodzu says:

    Yeah, this thing about PC UI is confusing…

    I hope they not oversimplified the game to catch the wider audience. For example I do not like the scale of damage, is like about 1-10 points. There is not much room for variety here. Even someone from the chat during the session asked question about it and the lead designer could not give a satisfied answer…

    • Adam Solo says:

      I was also surprised about that. They didn’t go very far with how much damage variety there is but I remember seeing only 1-10 in the gameplay demo. Doesn’t seem much.

  14. Keith Turner says:

    Anyone who wants to see the game played using the mouse & keyboard UI can do so by going to 2K’s archived feed from yesterday. The PC UI section starts around 3h 48m into the 8/31 feed from PAX.

    From what I saw and heards them mention, the differences primarily consist of:

    A square rectangle appears when you move the mouse around that shows you the height and some of the adjacent tiles.
    Holding down the right mouse button shows the map with a tile grid. This grid shows you how far you can move with or without dashing (dashing prevents you from being able to fire that soldier after moving).
    You can zoom out farther than you can with the console UI.

    Hope this helps some of you guys. Also, they had some additional gameplay shown on today’s feed including some multiplayer on a larger map. I know some of you mentioned the maps feeling a bit cramped. You may want to check out today’s feed once they archive it and take a look at the larger map.

  15. JohnR says:

    Yes Adam, I’m a big Sid Meier fan, so this one is definitely on my radar scope and will probably take a chance and buy it the day it is released.

    Speaking of which, have you are anyone in the forum played UFO: Afterlight? I did a few years ago and thought it was one of the most different games I’d ever played. The RPG elements and Mars Colony management made it rather addicting, though I found the late-game over-the-top difficult. It was also interesting how, in a reversal of what you see in the total war series, the strategic aspect of the game was realtime and the tactical battles were turn-based. Anyway, I think I’m going to give this game another go as soon as I finish Star Wolves 3.

  16. Jeff P says:

    Steam finally listed XCOM-EU on their coming soon tab, complete with system specs.


    OS:Windows Vista
    Processor:2 GHz Dual Core
    Memory:2 GB RAM
    Graphics:NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT / ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or greater
    Hard Drive:20 GB HD space
    Sound:DirectX Compatible
    Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection
    Additional:Initial installation requires one-time internet connection for Steam authentication; software installations required (included with the game) include Steam Client, Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable, DirectX and Microsoft .NET 4.

    I refuse to buy a new computer or commit to an expensive major upgrade just to play a game. Perhaps when my current machine finally dies and I’m forced to build a new one, I’ll buy the game on sale.

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