There's good reason why you want to ensure your squad gets out of each mission alive. Every member of the XCOM can earn experience points and level up. At the start of the game, you'll be able to set up your HQ at a locale of your choice. For example, do you station yourself in America where research might be faster? Or do you station yourself in Russia where aircraft might be cheaper? Once you set up your home, you'll be able to develop your soldiers, change their loadouts, and tweak their abilities. Some of the later abilities will prove to be quite useful--for example, "In the Zone" will allow you to shoot twice in a turn. So, keeping your soldiers alive is quite helpful. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. There are flying aliens, berserkers that can break through walls, and there are psychic aliens that can take control of one of your soldiers and have them commit suicide via grenade. Even worse are the aliens that can turn humans into new aliens. The chess analog doesn't work so well when dealing with encounters like this. Excitingly, you'll eventually be able to turn the tables against the aliens using their own technology--and your squad will be able to replicate many of these abilities for their own use. Unfortunately, my hands-on time only covered the beginning of the game, so I wasn't able to get a feel for it myself--but given how much fun the beginning of the game is, I'm eager to see how these additional tactics play. BOOM video 12831 Whereas many games this E3 will try to wow gamers by showing off bleeding-edge tech, Enemy Unknown is a game that rests solely on its gameplay. Yes, even on PC, the game isn't particularly attractive to look at. But given how riveted I was by every turn that passed, the game clearly doesn't need bump-mapped, tessellated graphics. XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be available this October on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
You will die if you're not in cover
Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.