Legendary Roots

Watching industry goings-on can be (and often is) exciting and unpredictable. I remember seeing 2K Marin's reinvention of the XCOM franchise at E3 a couple of years ago and hearing cries of "Blasphemy!" from friends and colleagues. Personally, I thought the game looked pretty damned cool, but I understand fan reticence when it comes to such fundamental changes. So imagine everyone's surprise: not only is a return to form announced, but it's going to hit store shelves before the first-person shooter AND be developed by the legendary Sid Meier's Firaxis Games. For hardcore followers of the franchise, XCOM: Enemy Unknown will sound very much like the first installment, UFO: Enemy Unknown. That's fair, as this new game is touting itself as more than just a remake. Suffice it to say, fans have a lot to look forward to.

Not much is known about Enemy Unknown's story, or if it will even be an integral part of the game. All you need to know at this point is that a race of technologically advanced extraterrestrials have invaded, and it's up to you as the commander of XCOM to repel them.

If you're unfamiliar with this long-running series, you may have been confused when I mentioned that Enemy Unknown will be a return to form. The earlier games in the series are well-regarded real-time strategy games that gave you control of things on both the micro and the macro levels. Sure, you'll be managing your units on the ground (and in the air), but you're the XCOM commander; you'll be in charge of a great deal of resources. Where they go is entirely up to you, and the choices you make here have impact on the micro level. In Enemy Unknown, you'll have a base at your disposal, but you'll have to conduct larger-scale operations through the Geoscape, an interface that allows you to monitor goings-on throughout the world.

When it's time to engage the enemy on the ground, you'll do so in a turn-based fashion that hearkens back to the good old days of fog-of-war and line-of-sight. Your operatives are customizable and can operate with specialized classes, but if they bite the dust in the field, that's it for them. This will presumably result in an engaging and unique combat system that gets you attached to your team members and delivers satisfying rewards for complete success.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown will invade North American store shelves on October 9. For now, check out the trailer.