I enjoyed getting my hands on XCOM: Enemy Unknown last month. I even liked the multiplayer. One omission, though, kept leaping out to me: there I sat, playing a remake of one of the most widely beloved PC games I could think of, and I had only seen the Xbox 360 version.
Well, no more. Firaxis has sent along a bunch of screenshots showing off how the PC interface looks, to go along with their announcement that PC digital pre-orders are now available. $49.99 gets you the game and the "Elite Soldier Pack," which includes a modern recreation of the default soldier from the original game, soldier armor kits, and armor dyes. The $59.99 physical special edition, for PC, also includes an art book, a fold-out poster, an insignia patch, and various digital bonuses like the soundtrack and desktop wallpapers.
The major difference in look between the PC and console versions is that the PC version has a grid overlay on the world. Lead designer Jake Solomon explained, "It was surprising to us how much the interfaces ended up diverging. It feels different, one of the funny things is that... on the PC, we actually ended up going back and adding a grid on top of the world because in the PC version it was just so irritating not to have the grid in a tactics game." Solomon also reiterated how carefully Firaxis had worked on both the PC and console versions of XCOM natively from the start, rather than creating a port from one to the other at the end. Players will also be able to plug in a controller and switch easily between interface types should they wish.
PC versions of XCOM will indeed connect through Steam and support Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud support, and other Steamworks features. At the moment, players can't mod XCOM but Solomon mentioned that the team would like to be able to make that happen in the future if possible, through they have not yet explored the options.
While discussing Steam achievements, Solomon also gleefully described himself as patient zero for the "Bubonic" achievement that will be transmitted through multiplayer play, tracing the complex world of who has played with whom through a model of contagion. For XCOM, being a plague on players will apparently be a good thing.