2K Games is in the midst of what might be one of its busiest ever periods.
The team is currently in the throws of launching seven games in six weeks, which began earlier in the month with the chart-topping BioShock: The Collection and will conclude at the end of October with Carnival Games VR.
This week’s launch, however, might be the easiest release of them all. XCOM 2 is coming to consoles after already dominating the charts back in February on PC and winning plenty of critical plaudits in the process (it remains one of the highest rated PC titles of the year, with a Metacritic of 88).
We couldn’t be happier with how XCOM 2 turned out,” leader producer Garth DeAngelis says.
It’s a true sequel that expands on the original and delivers new features we had been wanting to add since XCOM: Enemy Unknown. We still see fans posting their soldier line-ups and talking about missions that went wrong for them. I’m honoured I got to help create this experience that encourages people to tell their stories.”
XCOM is a strategy game, which is a genre that has historically struggled on console, partly due to the control scheme (mouse and keyboard is typically more suited to the genre than a gamepad).
Yet XCOM has always enjoyed success on consoles, dating right back to 1995’s PlayStation port of the very first game in the series.
XCOM has deep gameplay that takes dozens of hours to master, but it’s also an experience that’s simple to control. The turn-based nature helps in this regard.
With each turn, the player has so many decisions to make, but all the time in the world to select their next action. This also means we can communicate more through the user interface since the player has the time to go through each option. If XCOM were an RTS, all the options and decisions at one given moment could be crippling.”
He continues: The biggest change to the console version is the controller input. It took a long time to get a control scheme that felt right. We played around with a load of ideas before we finalised the setup. What we landed on should feel comfortable and familiar to fans who played XCOM: Enemy Unknown with a controller.”
"XCOM 2 would not be the same game
it is now had we developed PC, PS4 and Xbox One
versions at the same time."
Garth DeAngelis, Firaxis
Considering XCOM’s history with consoles – including the successful PS3 and Xbox 360 launch of XCOM: Enemy Unknown in 2012 – how come it took so long to bring XCOM 2 to the platforms?
After finishing up XCOM: Enemy Unknown, there were substantial improvements to the game we wanted to make,” DeAngelis says.
We wanted to bring back procedural gameplay. This was something X-Com: UFO Defence had, but XCOM: Enemy Unknown didn’t. Getting that tech back was going to take time. Developing the game exclusively for PC first also meant we didn’t lose mindshare trying to develop for three systems all at once. XCOM 2 would not be the same game it is now had we developed PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions at the same time.”
Going forwards the team at Firaxis is going to be implementing what it has learnt during the making of the console ports of XCOM 2 into the PC version.
We’re working on improving XCOM 2 as a whole and we’re learning new things every day. There are definitely fixes made for the console version that we’re interested in bringing to the PC edition.”