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The makers of popular XCOM mod The Long War (you can read Chris' take on that here) have formed a development studio. It's named, pretty cannily, Long War Studios, and its first game is a strategy title where you have to defend Earth during an alien invasion.
It's not called YCOM, ZCOM, or even XCO.UK; Long War's game is titled Terra Invicta, and it'll be more of a "grand strategy" than Firaxis' smaller-scale operation. Here is everything we know about it so far (there are no images yet), before Terra Invicta heads to Kickstarter sometime in the future:
"Terra Invicta is a grand strategy game in which the player leads the defense of Earth during an alien invasion.
"An alien force has arrived in the far reaches of Solar System and begun probing Earth's defenses and building an invasion fleet. The player must assemble a council of scientists, politicians, military leaders and operatives who can unite Earth's squabbling nations with the ultimate goal of taking the fight to the aliens in the high ground of outer space."
It sounds like a more strategic, less fighty XCOM, and if it's even slightly like Europa Universalis but with space aliens, I think we would all be happy with that, right? (Thanks, NeoGAF.)
It’s the RPS Horacetide lunch and beverage session today, which is why the entire site smells like eggnog and reheated turkey twizzlers. Here’s an early pressie in the form of a video showing the XCOM 2 [official site] character customisation suite in action. This is taken from my recent hands-on session – I’d made the rather fabulous lady above and she’d survived one outing. I decided to give her a new gun, and ended up giving her a new face and outfit as well.
Procedural maps, randomised weapons and chain-smoking soldiers. In XCOM 2 [official site], the rules have changed. One seemingly minor addition to the tactical combat might have the greatest impact of all though. In our recent hands-on, we had a chance to test out the new concealment mechanic. It removes one of XCOM’s few frustrations and creates an entirely new scouting phase as each mission begins.
With XCOM 2 [official site], Firaxis are not resting on their laurels. The studio’s reboot of the license had a great deal to prove primarily, it had to satisfactorily answer the question as to why the much-loved series needed to be revived at all.
That obstacle overcome, the sequel is on safer ground and it might have been enough to reskin and reshape ever so slightly. A new setting, a new gang of aliens, and a few new weapons and hairstyles for the defenders of the Earth. Instead, there’s a degree of role-reversal, with the player now attempting to take the planet back from an occupying force rather than protecting it from invaders. There’s a new approach to the strategic side of the game, the return of randomised maps and an in-depth suite of soldier customisation tools.
After a couple of hours with the sequel, I’m more excited about XCOM than I’ve been since the announcement of the reboot.>
An XCOM fan on Reddit has created a rather robust version of XCOM that is played using the spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel. Dubbed EXLCOM, this reimagining of the science fiction turn-based strategy game is far from complete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sink a few hours enjoying the fact that the program you use to budget your weekly spending allowance can be used to build a fully functional video game. I spoke to its creator about the hows and whys.
When a Redditor by the name of Crruzi decided that he wanted to take his newly-acquired Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) skills out for a spin, he did what any of us would do: He created EXLCOM, a follow-up to XCOM: Enemy Unknown that runs in Microsoft Excel.
Yes, that's Excel as in the famous spreadsheet software created by Microsoft, and no, it's not at all actually something most people would do. But Crruzi is a big fan of XCOM, and this struck him as a natural way to indulge that fandom while simultaneously increasing his familiarity with VBA.
"Two months ago I couldn't write a single line of code either—just keep at it," he encouraged another Redditor who's in the midst of learning VBA. "I feel like excel is a great (but also often times infuriating) environment to learn to create simple programs in, because you can use it quite easily for a wide range of real-world issues, and it is often more powerful than one might expect."
EXLCOM is set between the events of Enemy Within and the upcoming XCOM 2, which you might say is a bit narratively iffy (if you want to be that way about it) since Firaxis has previously explained that the two games don't share the same timeline. However you want to describe it, EXLCOM is neither a remake of the previous game nor a representation of the upcoming one—or, more accurately, will be neither, since at this point only the tactical portion of the game is actually operational.
Recreating the combat element of XCOM in a spreadsheet would be enough of an accomplishment to keep me satisfied for a month, but Crruzi is continuing to work on the project in order to incorporate the strategic layer as well. (For now, character stats and weapons are randomly assigned.) It's obviously not as pretty as the more recent XCOMs, or even the originals, but according to PCGamesN, "it functions pretty much identically" to the Firaxis games.
And it runs in a spreadsheet! That alone is worth the price of admission, which by the way is free: Crruzi warned that "it will definitely not be a polished experience" right now, but if you don't mind dealing with some bugs and balance issues, you can snag a copy of EXLCOM to try for yourself here.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
Spec Ops: The Line [official site] is a pretty fun third-person cover shooter about shooting people in their faces, then sometimes feeling a bit bad or confused about killing them. I think BioShock made folks a bit excited about shooting games where shooting people was sometimes a bad thing, so reactions to Spec Ops were over-enthusiastic, but it’s still pretty decent as face-shooters go. Its sandstorm-swept Dubai is a heck of a sight too.
One day I’ll write a Desert Island Discs about the games I’d keep with me until the end of days, given a choice of ten. It’ll no doubt be a Desert Island Digital Downloads given the absence of physical media in my life. I live with the ghosts of entertainment.
Rather than compiling the list of games I’d take to the Vault with me though, today I’m aiming to put together a collection, one from each genre, that I’d use to introduce those genres to a PC gaming newcomer, or a lapsed gamer. A friend inspired this particular bundle of joy, someone who grew up with an Amiga but developed other interests and hasn’t touched a game for more than a few minutes at a time, either console or PC, for over fifteen years. A recent illness has left him unable to engage in his usual outdoor hobbies and games have filled the gap.>
Oh, Civilization: Beyond Earth [official site], how sad you make me. You work so very hard to make me love you but… well, maybe you’re fundamentally unlovable. The Rising Tide expansion, that was a good try. You became more alien, less like your dad trying to wear a spacesuit, but gosh, you made a pig’s ear of Diplomacy, didn’t you? Bugs and bonkers design decisions queered the pitch.
But maybe it’s not too late. I hear there’s a big new patch intended to address one of your biggest problems; what flowers are you bringing to my door this time?