Every writer for this website could easily hand you a list of a dozen or more subjects that he or she geeks out on. I won’t list all of mine here (but you can click on my name above and scan through all my previous posts for a pretty solid idea) but I am going to list one of them… X-COM. or XCOM. The first (with the hyphen) is for the old-school game (and sequels) released back in 1994 as UFO: Enemy Unknown and the second (no hyphen) is for the updated version that was released back in 2012 (and it got 2012 Game of the Year by Kotaku and a few other game review sites).
Either way, X-COM/XCOM has continued to win me over with its squad-based tactical play, the research trees, the management of bases and equipment and staff, and, of course, the super-sneaky alien races that have declared war on the human race time after time. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and its add-ons/sequels) was an amazing reboot of the UFO: Enemy Unknown game that started it all.
The sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown is about to drop on February 5th, 2016, and it’s simply called XCOM2. It’s set twenty years after the events of XCOM1, and in this future the XCOM program was dismantled after enough countries left the Council (which provided funding) and the world surrendered to the aliens. This might seem a bit strange to those players of XCOM1 who played their hearts out and defeated the aliens, but just hear me out — in this alternate timeline, players are going to get to take control of an actual alien ship that can fly around (versus a land-locked base in XCOM2) and you’ll be researching alien tech both on the ship and recovered from missions. This time, however, the enemy isn’t unknown and often hidden… this time it’s called the ADVENT, and this is an in-your-face enemy who does the aliens’ bidding and attempts to keep the citizens of Earth under control. Good luck with that, ADVENT!
I’m usually one who doesn’t like spoilers, but when Insight Editions offered up an advance look at their new The Art of XCOM2, I couldn’t say no. I’ve already watched enough teaser videos from Firaxis Games and read enough of the backstory to know about a handful of the aliens and some of the tech involved… so I figured I wouldn’t be ruining too much for myself. That said, I’m going to share some samples of the artwork from the book below, so if you’re wanting to avoid any close looks at the game’s content… stop now.
The Art of XCOM2
First off, this is a large, oversized coffee table style book. Just take a look at that cover! Not my wife’s idea of a coffee table book, but she did agree to marry me for better or for worse. Therefore, that’s exactly where it’s been sitting as I’ve enjoyed perusing all 192 pages of full-color art, sketches, concept drawings, screen captures, logos and signage, quotes from artists, interviews with key developers, and more.
The level of detail in the weaponry and armor in the images contained in the book will make any cosplayer’s day — some of the images are so lifelike it’s hard to believe that the Sniper Rifle, for example (page 179) isn’t something you could actually hold and fire.
And I absolutely love seeing the development of many of the alien races, from simple line sketches to computer renderings for the final game. One of the most terrifying enemies, the Muton, is back and when you see the new and improved version (page 111) you’re going to whimper a little when you realize you’re eventually going to have to face that guy at some point in the game. Probably multiples.
The book also provides some amazing shots of the various territories you’ll be exploring, including the cities and the shanty towns. It turns out that those citizens who are okay with alien rule get all their needs fulfilled inside the cities while those who resist are left out in the countryside… including resistance fighters who tend to make great recruits for the new XCOM.
I’ve read through the entire book and have skimmed it again and again as I wait for XCOM2 to release. Just a few more weeks! If you’re in need of an XCOM fix, grab a copy and hopefully what you’ll find inside will hold you over until you’ve got the game in your hands. If you do grab a copy, turn to page 101 and just ponder facing that big fella sometime soon… hopefully we’ll have some solid alien tech researched and ready to use before that time comes.
The Art of XCOM2 is out now from Insight Editions, with an Introduction by Greg Foertsch, the XCOM2 Project Art Director.