XCOM: Enemy Within Preview - PAX Prime 2013
Promises much more than just the new units and new abilities
The 2K Games booth at PAX was a hubbub of gamers trying out the latest Borderlands 2 content and a special mini-theater devoted to screening a video demo of XCOM: Enemy Within, the upcoming expansion pack for XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Although the Enemy Within demo was limited strictly to a video of a level playthrough, it was still a pleasure to watch simply because it distilled the entire game to quickly and effectively show off the new additions that we can expect in our continuing battle against the alien invasion. First on the list was the new dam level, which focused the gameplay on an obstacle course of enemies lined right up against the topside of the dam. The space here is so tight you’re practically rubbing elbows with your alien foes, but thankfully there’s a handy new unit being added to your personal army: the Mech Trooper. Finally, some serious exoskeleton coolness to add maximum firepower and tanking ability to the XCOM family.
It was especially nice to see the new additions be so focused on tactical and positional gameplay, rather than simply new ways of dealing damage. Take the Muscular Density trait, for example, which grants snipers the ability to jump great heights to find that perfectly cozy foxhole. Another highly tactical ability is the Collateral Damage ability, used by the new Mech Trooper units. Collateral Damage looks like it might not be able to deal any damage to enemy units at all, but it will still make their commander proud: it can remove cover by destroying environmental objects. Finally, it’s possible to directly blast that obnoxious pile of rubble to bits, letting your normal troops wipe out those cowards behind it.
Then there’s Neural Feedback, which serves as a particularly nasty ‘shield of vengeance’ against psionic attacks: if an enemy Sectoid Commander tries to mind-control a protected unit, it will resist the attack and send some damage back to the alien to teach it a lesson.
The demo video for Enemy Within ended with a build-up to the reveal that your friendly XCOM units aren’t the only ones protected by new armor: the aliens get their own version of the Mech Trooper. What fresh new terror this means for XCOM Commanders will have to be revealed at a later date, as we never got to see the new alien unit in action, but I’m sure we can expect the nail-biting to run high and fast.
Enemy Within promises much more than just the new units and new abilities that we got to see, and with the revelation from 2K Games that this new content will be bundled with the original XCOM at a lower price than the original game sold for, it might just be the perfect time for newcomers to enter the fray as well. Here’s hoping we get even juicier spoilers about the game in the months to come!