I was poking around in the archives yesterday and noticed that there was a comment from earlier this year regarding XCOM and its lack of replayability. I agree that the game has a serious replayability problem, and I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard much about this. Would you care to elaborate? Also, since Firaxis have been hinting at it, what would you like to see in an expansion?
I found myself cranking through yet another game of Civilization V the other day and a thought crystallised in my brain that’s been niggling me ever since I started playing it back in 2010: for a game that is based so much around cities and the civilizations built from them, a city in Civ V is a staggeringly two-dimensional entity. Open up the city screen for your capital and all you’ll see is a big list of numbers, symbols and building names. Open up the city screen for your newest colony and you’ll see exactly the same thing; the numbers might be smaller and the lists shorter, but there’s nothing to really differentiate the two as entities apart from the name. Cities in Civ V exist purely as resource gathering and production nodes, and while this is certainly how they are supposed to function mechanically I feel that the game loses something for not having them feel like places.
This is it. This is the game I have been waiting for ever since it was announced at the start of the year, and for a good decade before that. Watching literally every single attempt to “update” XCOM for the modern generation over the last ten years has been a painful experience, and I was more than a little aghast when it seemed like the official update would be a first-person shooter with lots of conveniently-placed waist-high cover. Then Firaxis said they were making a proper tactical squad-based TBS, and everyone rejoiced. Then Firaxis mentioned the things they were going to change – no time units, only one base, unlimited reloads on the guns, to mention just a few of them – and everyone said “Er.” Or at least I did. The lead designer on XCOM, Jake Solomon, did an excellent job of explaining the reasoning behind Firaxis’s tinkering and at least left open the possibility that it might not be a total disaster, so while I wasn’t all that hopeful for the game I decided to reserve judgement until I actually played it.
Oh hey, that was serendipitous. After spending most of yesterday afternoon writing an excellent science article (oh, you are going to like this science article) I found myself at something of a loss for what to put in Wednesday’s slot. Usually I go on a nostalgia-filled ramble through my gaming past, but while I have several candidate ideas for things to write about they need a little bit of time to ferment while I clear the mists of blarney from my head. I was a bit stuck, so I did what I usually do in this situation: I said “Screw it” and went off to play a game instead. I went off to play Civilization V.