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What We Want From XCOM: Enemy Unknown DLC

by Adam Biessener on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Now that we've all had a chance to sink our teeth into Firaxis' excellent XCOM remake, it's time to think about what's next for the franchise. Between the tactical and strategic layers, there are countless opportunities to expand XCOM aside from offering more soldier hairstyles.

Creative Weaponry

Adapting alien tech to XCOM's uses is all well and good, but how about adding more interesting branches to the tech tree for weapons with more creative uses? Incendiary weapons were a great tool in the original game; Firaxis could bring those back to allow players to temporarily block off approaches or punish aliens trying to hunker down behind heavy cover. Psionic feedback grenades could break psi abilities and penalize psionically sensitive aliens (and squaddies). Full-auto LMGs could hit everything in a cone and do heavier structural damage. The sky is the limit here. As long as the new stuff is put in appropriate places in the tech tree and reasonably well balanced with research times and costs, adding weapons and items could easily be done without changing the structure of the campaign.

Service Records

We already create stories for our soldiers out of the action onscreen. Having the game itself recognize more of that would be awesome. How cool would it be to have a Heavy get an after-battle commendation for his suppressive fire making an alien miss a wounded squadmate they would've otherwise killed – and maybe even get an additional 5 percent Aim penalty on anyone he suppresses? Stack up a couple of commendations on a soldier and you'll be even more heartbroken when she dies.

An upgraded memorial wall would go hand-in-hand with soldier commendations. With the commendation system already in place, the memorial could easily give a list of their career highlights alongside more detailed stats from their run. Maybe that assault really did deserve to die with an abysmal 22 percent hit rate. How are you going to replace the support captain who had 31 medkit uses and six revives?

New Classes

The existing balance between the assault, support, heavy, and sniper classes is exquisite. There isn't much room for another class to carve out a combat niche for itself, especially since each of the current four have multiple specializations. Nonetheless, the one phase of tactical combat that doesn't get much love is scouting. How about a recon class that can sometimes avoid being seen when it uncovers a new alien group, for example, and has a better defensive action that maintains line of sight while giving evasion bonuses? I could definitely find room in my Skyranger for that guy.  

[Next up: New stories, more variety, and something completely different.]

Randomized Priorities

The existing priority objective system works well as a way to inject some authored narrative into a relatively free-form strategy game. That said, having some randomization in those objectives would be a great boon to replayability. We're not talking about just switching up the placement of aliens in the existing missions, either – if this is paid DLC, it should include entirely new missions and research needs that take the place of the linear progression in the base game. This would also give some needed variety to the player's base-building, research, and engineering strategies. 

More Maps, Aliens, and Missions

This one is the most obvious, but also the easiest: XCOM would benefit greatly from having more cards in its deck to deal out to the player over the course of a game. The council missions are the worst offenders here – while the bomb defusals and VIP escorts are great at getting players out of their tactical boxes, there just aren't that many of them.

Let Us Invade

As long as we're just throwing junk at the wall here, why not shoot for the moon? How awesome would it be to turn the tables and play as the nefarious aliens trying to [spoiler redacted]? Instead of a full-blown triple-A experience here, which would almost certainly exceed the scope of DLC, an asynchronous multiplayer mode would be a great fit.

Imagine being able to log into your game and see an alien's eye view of someone else's existing single-player campaign. From there, you could schedule abduction, terror, and other missions to try and fulfill your objectives. Maybe successfully abducting a certain number of humans would accelerate the deployment of advanced alien types, or panicking certain countries let you set up additional defenses and traps for the XCOM squad to run into while they're out trying to thwart your master plan. Maybe you could invest your spoils in alien heroes that are even nastier than your typical muton. There's no reason you couldn't tap into this kind of asynchronous multiplayer experience from a browser or smartphone, either.

On the other side of things, victory would be that much sweeter by overcoming an intelligent adversary rather than a series of preset algorithms.

That's what we came up with for additions that we'd like to see. What kind of goodies would convince you to shell out a couple more bucks?