Here's Why the New XCOM is Nothing Like the Old X-COM

XCOM is no X-Com.

That is to say, don't expect the upcoming first-person shooter XCOM from 2K Marin to be a new version of turn-based strategy classic X-Com.



In this video, the developers talk us through some of their reasoning, all while walking us through the game's back-story, technology and gameplay.


The idea, they tell us, is that this game is meant to be an origin story. The developers want to make you feel what it's like to be one of the squad members in the game, and not the top-down commander.

Fair enough, but I'd still love a new version of that strategy game. Could you make that one next please?

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I've been thinking about this topic a lot recently (and got into it yesterday over Diablo III) but it seems more and more that lots of genres once staples of the gaming world have been relegated if you will to the second or third tier of gaming.

There used to be only one tier. Retail release. All 2600 games cost $30 (or whatever it was in 1979 dollars). All SNES era games cost the same.

Now we have three tiers. At tier one, we have boxed retail games which costs $60 - $40. At tier two we have two levels of arcade game ($15 and $10) and at tier three we have smartphone prices ($5-$1).

Many many genre of game no longer get the AAA treatment. The list is surprisingly long actually. I was playing the demo to that new XBLA sky racing game Sky Drift. That was a AAA game at the beginning of this gen. No more apparently. It would seem after the failure of Blur that the arcade racer is on it's last legs as a AAA title. Same with Arcade Sports games. The granddaddy of them all (NBA Jam) is going to the second tier.

Same with Schmups. Soon it will be fighting games. Adventure games. Puzzle games have fallen all the way down to tier 3. (honestly, when was the last time someone paid $50 for a straight up puzzle game?).

Rail shooters are increasingly released only on XBL and PSN.

Even pure multiplayer shooters (i.e. Counterstrike and Monday Night Combat) are going to tier 2.

So what's left at AAA?

Sandbox games

Big RPGs

Big Action games (God of War, Tomb Raider) and Action RPGs.

Big shooters with both multiplayer and single player

RTS (though this is probably the next to go)

Sim Racing Games

Annualized Sports Games

I don't mind this, mind you. I like getting NBA Jam for $15. That's what it's worth. And I like buying puzzle games for a buck or two. But tactical turn based games like the original X-Com simply are no longer tier one games.