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The Bureau is 'an evolution,' not reboot of XCOM

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...


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."

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.

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 26, 2013 12:01 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, The Bureau is 'an evolution,' not reboot of XCOM.

    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...

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      April 26, 2013 12:13 AM

      Does tactical mean I have to take cover behind barricades and press X to saw aliens in half?

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        April 26, 2013 4:17 AM

        I only skimmed the video, but I was not impressed by "tactical play" at the end of the video which includes regenerating health and ablility to near instantly revive teammate as in most recent FPS.

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      April 26, 2013 12:46 AM

      Sounds surprisingly cool on paper, hopefully the execution is up to snuff

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      April 26, 2013 2:52 AM

      sounds like they immediately hired the XCOM team and are using their ideas!

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      April 26, 2013 5:09 AM

      I've always wanted a game that combines X-com and Full Spectrum Warrior.

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        April 26, 2013 6:34 AM

        Full Spectrum Warrior was an excellent game - I've been missing that type of tactical shooter, plus I love any 50's-type G-Man scenarios, so honestly, this is my type of game, XCOM or no XCOM branding.

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      April 26, 2013 5:10 AM

      So Gears?

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      April 26, 2013 5:27 AM

      So reusing assets from a project that crashed and burned, and had most of its talent run for the exits is considered an "evolution"?

      Look at those who left: Steve Gaynor (who spearheaded Minerva's Den),, JP LeBreton (one of the best level designers of the original BioShock, designer of Arcadia), and most recently, Zak McClendon .

      Also, you look at the history of news articles: ("WHY?! Make the strategy game instead!! This just looks like Bioshock with aliens and squad elements!!") ("Oh, I guess 2K Australia isn't working on the XCom shooter?") ("It got delayed AGAIN; is it ever coming out?") ("It's a third-person shooter now? This project is way off the rails!")

      That's quite a rocky road for an "evolution". I imagine there's a far more interesting story from employees who can't tell us stuff until many years after the release of this title. I guess it's good that it's moving forward, but 2K Marin right now isn't the 2K Marin of 2010, not by a long shot.

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        April 26, 2013 6:49 AM

        You cite 3 people who left and call that "most of its talent"?

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          April 26, 2013 7:03 AM

          You are assuming that the entirety of people hired to make a game are -talent-, I'm supposing. In reality, most of them are just dreks and lackeys who do absolutely no thinking and just a lot of assembling. The -talent- crew of even a big-budget game is usually fairly small.

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          April 26, 2013 7:34 AM

          Those 3 are only part of the devs who left 2K Marin between mid-2010 and now.

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      April 26, 2013 7:55 PM

      I know theres a lot of hate for this game but one thing I cant deny, the art direction is pretty fucking cool.

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      April 27, 2013 7:15 PM

      i like the art and graphic style. i think the attitudes and personalities of the agents in combat are way too similar to a gung-ho gears of war jarhead marine type, and would be far better served with personalities like those seen in la noire or mad men or something (though i havent seen that show). capturing a giant alien titan thing with the relatively simple push of a button seems pretty silly.

      all in all, this feels like a ghost busters game mashed with gears of war personality and mechanics.

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        April 27, 2013 7:20 PM

        continuing on those thoughts... i think men in black 3 had the style of a sixties agency pretty well down (i dont mean the comical part of it). i especially think that MiB 3's old tech de-neuralyzer was cool and was a great feel for how 60's alien tech should be. it should take a lot more time and effort to capture that alien turret, and especially the titan, not only for gameplay reasons, but also because i think it would fit with the world fiction better.

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