XCOM: Enemy Within
This afternoon, members of the XCOM: Enemy Within team gathered to reveal more about the development of the upcoming XCOM expansion. The most important thing to know about Firaxis is that its expansions touch every part of the core experience. Enemy Within introduces new enemies, new solider abilities, new maps, and a flamethrower. Yes, the flamethrower matters.
The panel consisted of Ananda Gupta, lead designer on Enemy Within; Steve Ogden, Firaxis art director; and Garth DeAngelis, senior producer on both XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. The hour-long event was moderated by Rev3 executive producer Adam Sessler, who is also a fan of the game.
The trio reiterated some of what we already know about Enemy Within before leading into the big announcements. The single-player map count has been bolstered by 60 percent. Eight new multiplayer maps join the five from Enemy Within. Soldiers can be augmented with either cybernetics or genetic modifications.
All of that is great on paper, but when you see a 20-hit point MEC soldier punch the everloving crud out of an opposing Mechtoid, it all comes together. We got to see that more than once, and the crowd was cheering for more each time it happened during the live play-through.
We also got to see some of the MEC weapons in action. Each soldier starts with a minigun, but after lasers are researched, rail guns can be researched and implemented. Flamethrowers damage all organic enemies in a cone in front of the soldier. Unfortunately, MECs are invulnerable to fire.
Gene mods are equally important, as some can allow soldiers to jump to vantage points, improve hit chance on a second shot after missing, or sense enemies through their skin. The latter will be crucial as players encounter the new Seeker enemies.
Described as flying shark spiders, they are typically found in groups, but their AI is designed differently than other aliens. They will work to pick off lone soldiers by strangling them. Not only does this make incapacitate your team member, but even after being freed by an ally, they must spend a turn catching their breath. A battle scanner will also work to alert troops to the presence of Seekers.
Another change to the battle system is the impact of being "close and personal." Within four spaces of an enemy, the first standard shot refunds the action. This is useful if a Mechtoid should get support from a Sectoid's mind-meld. Instead of just boosting hitpoints, the buffed Mechtoid gets a psionic shield. Killing the supporting alien won't cause fatal feedback either. Mechtoids are serious threats, rivaling Cyberdiscs, Chrysalids, and Mutons.
If you've never played a Firaxis game's expansion, you're in for a treat when it arrives on November 12, 2013. On PC, it will be a digital upgrade for $30. For consoles, it will only be available at retail for $40, complete with Enemy Unknown, all the previously released DLC, and the new content.