We have rounded up a couple of recent previews for Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a multiplatform "re-imagining" of X-COM: UFO Defense with quite a lot of mechanical changes when compared to the original, but that still promises to keep the same turn-based combat and challenge that characterized it.
A month of game time has passed, and the international Funding Council summons me to an ominous teleconference where they grade XCOM’s performance. I haven’t lost a mission yet, and the Council “couldn’t be more pleased” with the results. That said, Australia has reached panic level three (at five the country pulls out of the XCOM project, permanently taking its funding, engineers, and scientists with it). XCOM is broke, and our best soldiers are laid up in sickbay with nasty wounds. The influx of cash the Council sends our way is immediately dumped into building out the efficiency-boosting workshops I had previously excavated space for – all the best equipment needs extraterrestrial alloys to create, and the workshops will stretch our dwindling supplies further.
The timed bomb defusal scenario in the next -randomly generated mission presents a new look. I only have three rounds to get across an alien-infested Russian train platform and power down the bomb, but switching off alien power cells scattered across the map buys extra turns. Prioritizing those side objectives gives me plenty of time to get to the bomb, but spreading out to do so gets second-string squadmember Reiner killed. My second-best soldier gets herself killed in an ill-fated attempt to capture the last sectoid on the map, but another squaddie takes it alive and we are victorious once again.
Capturing aliens is relatively easy for now, with the stun gun’s success rate based on hit points. Sectoids only have three HP to start with, which gives a 70 percent chance. Any more health drastically reduces the odds. As painful as losing Sgt. Wallace was, her sacrifice didn’t just complete a -priority objective – interrogating the sectoid gives our scientists new insights that permanently double the speed of all beam weapon research. Each alien species holds the secrets of a branch of the tech tree, so capturing one of each should be a top -priority for any XCOM commander.
Every 30 days the shadowy council gives you an update on your progress and rewards you with your monthly budget, but you’ll need to take missions with monetary rewards and keep as much of the globe as calm as possible so they don’t leave and take their funding with them. The longer I dug in, the more I realized there was an honest to goodness economy at play here, and keeping your funds and projects managed.
Money and personnel are only two aspects of your juggling act however, as time also plays a part. A soldier is removed from active duty if he takes damage that isn’t healed before the end of each mission, and different research projects take different amounts of time. Do you want to finish something sooner in order to take a new weapon into the next battle, or do you tie up your labs for two weeks in order to play with something a little more powerful?
Scanning the world for missions passes the majority of your time, but the passage of time pauses whenever a soldier is returned to active duty or a research project finishes, allowing you to adjust where your resources are going. The council will also pop in every now and again to ask for your help, and you’re free to turn down those missions… but you’ll miss out on the rewards as well.