PAX Prime 2013: XCOM: Enemy Within
Last year’s excellent XCom: Enemy Unknown provides a solid foundation to build upon. Firaxis make finished videogames and so there’s nothing to expand on apart from the base experience itself. With XCom: Enemy Within, they’ve taken a complete product and sharpened the edges, implementing concepts that expand on the core strategies.
Our Firaxis-led demo found a couple of soldiers entering the combat zone from the drop ship. “As anyone who’s played XCom knows, always send in your red-shirted rookies first”, said a developer. They took up cover and were quickly shot down by more powerful enemy units. The screen went to black. “Thanks for coming. That was XCom: Enemy Within.”
Then the door of the drop ship popped open, with a brand new mech unit and improved sniper hoping out. The unusually rowdy crowd (for a turn based strategy audience) cheered. It highlighted a major addition to the battlefield. He took up point only for the enemy to reveal an armored enemy equivalent. “If we’re giving you armor, you know we’re going to give the enemies the same.”
They showed how the mech could be used as an additional piece of maneuverable cover with the sniper taking up cover behind him while it sent a cover-demolishing rocket, taking down two enemies at once. The sniper moved up, the enemies progressed further along the bridge. Next turn, the mech was out of ammunition and so stepped in, punching an alien off the bridge. The sniper ran towards a high point and used new bioengineered powers to leap onto the ledge, no longer requiring ladders. Then he popped off a round, taking down the final enemy and ending the demo to further applause.
XCom: Enemy Within looks to follow the standard set by Firaxis’ previous add-on content. It’s not a new experience but more ways to play with one we already love. It’s looking to provide formidable new techniques and strategy into a game with plenty of built in depth and going by the audience response throughout, there’s an enthusiasm for what’s being added. This expansion to last year’s critically acclaimed strategy revival is set for redeployment this November.