XCOM: Enemy Unknown embraces gaming's 'renaissance of difficulty'

By Jeff Mattas, Apr 10, 2012 11:45am PDT

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a re-imagining of the turn-based tactics and RPG elements found in the original X-Com: UFO Defense. Enemy Unknown producer Garth DeAngelis recently talked about the game that core fans of the series have been waiting for, and the focus on accessibility while keeping challenges in-tact.

"We look at games like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls and Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress, and we think there's a little bit of a renaissance of difficulty in games. Gamers are buying those experiences, clearly, and they're not easy games," DeAngelis said. "They're challenging. You can lose. You can fail. And failure is part of games. So we wanted to bring it back, and we thought, you know, it's a pillar of X-Com."

As a nod to core-fans, an optional "Iron Man" mode is being implemented which will only save the game in-between missions. "This is a testament to the original where you get one save game," DeAngelis told 1UP. "So if you lose some veteran that you've grown very attached to, you're not going to be able to reload in the middle of that mode. If you do, then Iron Man is off and you don't get that special achievement."

"This is a love letter to X-Com fans, but we also want to include love for people who don't know the original X-Com," DeAngelis explained. As such, the game must still be accessible for newcomers. A tutorial system will educate players, but won't necessarily hand-hold players. "We didn't want to make the game more accessible from a challenge perspective, necessarily," he said. "The challenge is still there, and it's going to be a very difficult game, but we wanted it to be easier to drive."

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