XCOM 2 Devs Address Mod Support, Procedural Levels

Shacknews talks with XCOM 2 creative director Jake Solomon and art director Greg Foertsch about the future of mod support, how its procedural generation works, and alien win conditions.

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This weekend at Firaxicon, Shacknews spoke with XCOM 2 creative director Jake Solomon and art director Greg Foertsch. We already heard their insights on the new enemies, but they had much more to say regarding Firaxis' approach to mod support, their new procedurally-generated stages, and more.

The Mod Scene 

Mods are one standout feature of XCOM 2, and one major reason it's a PC exclusive. The studio plans to release the Unreal editor it used to build the game, along with 50 GB of art and design assets. With the designers opening up so much of its work to the mod community, I wondered if it would follow suit if any downloadable content was released. While the team was careful to note it couldn't confirm any DLC coming, it did suggest it would be just as open in that eventuality.

"We would do it that way, if we could authenticate it," Solomon said. "You bought the DLC so you can use mods that use the DLC." 

It's worth noting, though, that the question had stumped the team at first, with Solomon even saying he wasn't sure, so an authentication model could still have technical hurdles to overcome. 

All You Can Eat

One new feature promises increased longevity even without DLC: procedurally-generated maps. They come as a direct response to feedback from Enemy Unknown, by frontloading a much more difficult technical task to give players more content longterm.

"The feedback from EU was 'I want more maps,' and it was like, well, we killed ourselves making this many hand-crafted maps, and we still didn't have enough,"  Foertsch said. "We had a really nice handcrafted feel and we didn't want to step backwards from that, but procedural presents the potential to step backwards from that. There are a lot of little rules under the hood but I feel like we've come away with something that feels a lot like what we had in EU, but in a more dynamic way."

Those procedural maps will be filled with enemies using its own algorithm, but Solomon noted that even that will evolve over the course of time. 

"The way our system works it's basically based on calendar time," he said. "We try to distribute that fairly evenly, so we try not to repeat certain aliens. At a certain point there's this idea that aliens are leaders so you're going to see a Sectoid right at the beginning of the game and it's going to be really hard. But then, two months in you see a Muton with two Sectoid followers, so alright, now they're showing up in multiples behind a tougher alien in front."

Alien Victory

And just as the player is trying to complete the game, the aliens are too. XCOM 2 introduces alien win conditions, which can go so far as to end the game with a loss. However, the human and alien win conditions aren't always mutually exclusive.

"The player has a win condition and the aliens have a win condition, and they're not at odds," Solomon said. "You can push forward towards victory and not pull the aliens back from theirs. It's a race, which doesn't mean the player doesn't have ways to say 'wait, they're getting way too far ahead, we've got to go after them.' There is that element to it, but there is definitely the sense of a race for the player. And the aliens have ways to pull you back as well."

XCOM 2 is set to deploy on February 6, 2016.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 5, 2015 9:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, XCOM 2 Devs Address Mod Support, Procedural Levels

    • reply
      October 5, 2015 3:32 PM

      Yesss moar xcom!

    • reply
      October 5, 2015 3:43 PM

      And just as the player is trying to complete the game, the aliens are too. XCOM 2 introduces alien win conditions, which can go so far as to end the game with a loss. However, the human and alien win conditions aren't always mutually exclusive.


      \m/

      • reply
        October 5, 2015 4:26 PM

        Sounds like they learned a little from Civ