X-Com: I know my enemycomments powered by Disqus
Posted on Friday, August 23 2013 @ 13:00:00 Eastern
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Well I was going to do a really nice piece last week on the “GaymerX” Convention and had all types of insightful responses to BTS and yet something went terribly awry…or amazing. I received my $14 used copy of X-Com: Enemy Unknown (“EU”) in the mail. It truly wooed me over the next several days. Much like my days working on a farm, I named not my soldiers for fear they may have ended up alien meat at some point in the not-so-distant future. I had read Daniel’s review of the game and general praise the game garnered from the community and after my first hour, I understood.
Now this is a blog entry, not a game review, so I won’t go into the pros and cons etc…but rather focus on how they could have expanded on the ideas and concepts in that game. As I played through the tutorial all I could think about was Fallout Tactics for PC released in 2001. I spent many an hour playing that game and specing out my ideal squad. So many fond memories brought back to the surface by EU…but that’s the point! Maybe it’s time to revisit some of the older gaming models that were once considered stale…turn-based strategy games still have a significant following and you now have a more widely spread vehicle to reach your audience: the "home console".
I was skeptical of how the transition would work from mouse/keyboard -> PS3 controller but was pleasantly surprised and felt quite comfortable with the configuration with the exception that the camera could definitely be tweaked a bit with regard to panning/zoom controls.
EU’s developers released a DLC called “Slingshot” which was to extend the single-player campaign but got meh-reviews…come on, guys, you have gold here don’t give me crap DLC. This is what I would have easily paid $10+ for; take a note from Borderlands 2 and Mass Effect 3 and build out your character classes, enemy types, and rebalance accordingly adding new environments and maybe environmental conditions. Add new quest types. This is only the first $10 worth of DLC and yet there is so much more potential.
Think of Red Dead Redemption’s zombie nightmare campaign and you could have used the X-Com assets to set up all types of different story arcs…give me a pirate version, give me raiders and Mad Max, give me ninjas. Basically use some of the storylines from our most cherished franchises and adapt them to a turn-based strategy. You could be the “Lego” of turn-based strategy. I look at EU and instantly felt like the single player is great but you are not going to get the micro-transactions of an online heavy ME3 but you could get them from $1.99 additional character classes for single player, new story arcs $2.99 - $4.99, and maybe even selling uniquely speced characters (since the focus is on single player it doesn’t create an unfair advantage and also doesn’t negate Trophies/Achievements).
As I start to think about the games that could benefit from this formula, I also think of how awesome a “Walking Dead” game could be based on this structure. I understand you don’t have the IP rights to many of these ideas, but much like Saints Row IV, call a damn rose by another name and pump out the homage to receive the cash.
I also understand you have a new project releasing shortly and that it looks to play more like KoToR than EU, but please for the love of God, revisit what makes EU great…the simple…some would call archaic (Square Enix) formula of a solid turn-based strategy game. Bottom line, you could have and can still make a lot more money on EU if you take it in the right direction and for the right price point. I could also see based on the models described above basically using a Magic the Gathering: Planeswalker business model, pumping out variations on a story arc with minor tweaks to gameplay annually with a $20 price point.
Finally, if you are able to do it, you can also pair your releases with “AAA” releases such as a pirate version release around Black Flag or a zombie version released around the season start of The Walking Dead…with so much potential I simply hope it does not go to waste.
Thanks for sucking up my time but please give me more of what I like, not just what you still owe bills on.
For fans of Fallout Tactics and as Daniel already stated in his review of EU, "Try this game." Lots of friggin fun!!
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