XCOM: Enemy Unknown Preview

PC Gamer is offering a multiplayer-focused hands-on preview for Firaxis' strategy/RPG "re-imagining" XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which is slated for a release on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 this October. Without further ado, here's an excerpt:
If you want to work out how tough enemies are in the single-player, looking at their multiplayer cost isn't a bad idea. A cyberdisc costs 4500. A thin man cost 1400; a floater 1300. A sectoid commander is expensive, as is a Muton Berserker. Other aliens are in between. A human costs 800. But that's a rookie, with a shitty standard weapon and no armour. Upgraded to a minimally safe degree, a human is 1600+.

Then it's a matter of choosing your troops, choosing your battle location (there were five or six in the demo we played) and giving it a go. You're playing each turn under a time limit it's not huge, between 90 and 180 seconds from my experience, but it's enough to occasionally hurry you with a quick siren noise when the time's running out. (You will not get outclicked) says Solomon, referring to the APM-driven competition of action-RTSes like Starcraft. Most games of X-Com multiplayer, he says, take around 20 minutes. It feels a little like turn-based indie Frozen Synapse but, of course, this looks better, as long as you count (Gears-of-War-done-by-the-Civilization-artists) as better. (A lot of games are going to have soldiers with big guns,) says Solomon. (but nothing like this.)

And your troops die. Easily. Like X-Com, two shots is normally enough to take down one of your non-elite units your elite units might take one or two more, but that's it. My CyberDisc died after two hits (one lucky critical, admittedly.) Every Chrysalid I encounter died after one. Interestingly, the top-end human enemies, with their larger health bars, smaller profiles and tougher armour, are the biggest threat.