After years of silence, the XCOM FPS has resurfaced as a tactical cover-based third-person shooter known as The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Yet, in spite of a new perspective and a new title, 2K Games insists that their re-revealed game is not a reboot. Instead, it's simply an "evolution" of the long-in-development game.
"The game has not restarted over and over again," 2K Marin VP Alyssa Finley told Shacknews in an interview. "If you look back at the game we showed in 2010, you'll see some of the same enemies, you can see some of the same teammates. This really is an evolution."
Finley said that the move to third-person already began more than two years ago. "If you remember in 2011, we had already introduced the Battle Focus mode. At the time, we called it Tag Mode, a fully third-person mode where you were pulling back from the battlefield. You would stop time, survey the field, look at your team and enemies, and plan and execute. We've been evolving that idea ever since."
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So, what is Battle Focus? It's what makes The Bureau a tactical shooter, and not just a run 'n gun. "You're familiar with cover-based shooters. The player has that core set of abilities, but we layer on another element which is bringing agents onto the field. And on top of that is the on-the-fly execution command and placement of your units on the field through Battle Focus," 2K senior producer Nico Bihary said. "Essentially, it's a UI element that you can bring up on the fly, while there's still pressure on the battlefield from the aliens, while bullets are buzzing by you, where you can take strategic flanking positions, high ground, or activate special abilities from your agents on the field to either offensively attack the aliens or pull defensive maneuvers to open up lines of fire, outflank your enemy, and ultimately success in the high-stakes battlefield."
Essentially, while Tag Mode stopped time, Battle Focus keeps the action going.
One of the odd things about 2K's announcement was how much it emphasized the game's connection to last year's critically acclaimed Enemy Unknown. According to 2K Marin, The Bureau is still unquestionably an XCOM game. "Both Enemy Unknown and our game absolutely live in the same universe," Finley told us. "You'll see some of the same weapons, same enemies. But we are origin story. We're happening way before the events of that game."
But did developer Firaxis have any involvement with The Bureau? 2K seemed to suggest so, without actually stating it outright. "As part of the 2K umbrella, all of our studios reach out to each other," Bihary said. "We all reach out to each other for feedback, on every product. That's indicative of the close communication between our studios."
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified will be out this August.