The issue of Game Informer with the preview of Firaxis’s X-COM remake has hit the streets. I don’t have a copy, but helpful people are culling the salient details and posting them on various forums. The major eyebrow raising changes are below.
Only one “main” base. It’s apparently still possible to build outposts which provide radar coverage and hangars to reduce travel time to a UFO crash site, but all other functions are consolidated into a single base which handles research, manufacture, training, living space etc. This could be a good thing since managing three bases’ worth of scientists was a massive pain in the original, but I do wonder what it’ll do to base attacks. If they only give you one base, then having the possibility of outright losing the game by failing a base attack mission seems a little bit harsh.
There’s no ammo any more. Or rather there is, but only as an abstract concept. Soldiers still have to reload their guns but are assumed to have enough ammo for said guns that they’ll never run out. This makes a broad amount of sense (I certainly can never remember a time when I ran out of heavy plasma ammo what with those generous 35-round clip sizes) but it’s going to have knock on effects. There’s not going to be a weapon with the comedy value of the blaster bomb launcher in the game, for example, and it also raises significant questions over weapons which use different ammunition types like the autocannon. If they don’t include the ability to spray incendiary rounds absolutely everywhere then it’s not X-COM, as far as I’m concerned.
Soldiers no longer improve organically. There was little chance of this making it into the remake intact, but I was kind of hoping Firaxis wouldn’t be so gosh-darned predictable in implementing a perk-based levelling up system. It means the soldiers will lose much of their individuality; losing a grunt will be far less painful when there’s two more just like him with the exact same skillset.
And finally, the biggie: There are no more turn units in the game. Soldiers now have two actions per turn instead which can be used for moving, shooting, reloading etc. It’s this more than anything else which is going to make or break the game, and I fear it’s going to wind up breaking it because right there you’re removing a lot of the options players of the old game had at their fingertips that could be dealt with using the TU system. Crouching, for example: is that going to make it into the game? How would it be implemented – as a free action? What about priming grenades without throwing them? Opening doors without going inside a building? The proposed system can certainly work and I’ll wait for clarification before condemning the remake based on it, but it’s one which changes the entire flow of the game and simplifies things a little too much for my liking.
There’s a whole bunch of other changes that I broadly approve of, but these last three are the ones which have the potential to make the game recognizably Not X-COM. It’ll be something different. Not necessarily something bad, but definitely something in the vein of Railroads! or Pirates! rather than the detailed tactical shooter I was hoping for.