XCOM from aliens' perspective would be complicated, says Firaxis

By Steve Watts, Sep 30, 2013 8:15am PDT

With XCOM: Enemy Unknown having done well for itself last year and the upcoming Enemy Within expansion, the XCOM series has plumbed the depths of a human fight and even incorporated some alien tech. The next logical step would seem to be showing us the war from the alien point-of-view, but Firaxis' Anada Gupta says it's much more complicated than it seems. Mainly, that's because he wouldn't want to simply replace human components with alien ones.

"Like, who's the alien equivalent of central command? I actually think StarCraft fell victim to this a little with Heart of the Swarm," Gupta told Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "You have this English-speaking British-accented tentacle woman who talks to you about stuff. The Zerg didn't seem all that implacable anymore. They don't seem like this giant inexorable force so much as a commander and a ship and a computer. They're a lot like us. They just have a bunch of pets."

He admits that they broke this rule themselves, by having aliens speak to the player in the final mission. But he says to really be an accurate representation of an alien hive-mind, they'd have to rethink the underlying game systems from the start. He cites the FPS Alien versus Predator 2 as a good example of communicating the goals in a more "alien" manner. "What Aliens vs Predator 2 managed is very hard to do, and it's highly aesthetic-dependent," he said. "So I don't think we have as good of a path for that."

Gupta did note that the alien perspective would allow one underused riff: the idea that from an outsider perspective, humans are downright scary. "It's like, 'Humans can lose a limb and not die!' All these things we take for granted, but aliens might not," he said. "So I think the idea of an alien campaign is a really good one, but it would have to be pretty different from the systems we have in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Within. Like, it would definitely be a whole new game with a very different approach."

All that means that an XCOM game starring the aliens is still a long way off, if it ever comes at all.

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