When I first caught a glimpse of Eurogamer’s article this morning about multiplayer being added to the X-Com remake I have to admit, I cringed a little. Firaxis has spent months talking about how they are fans of the original and how they’ve done their best to stay true to it, but now they’re adding multiplayer, something that definitely wasn’t in the original. However, after reading about how they’re implementing it and their mindset behind it, my cynicism and negativity turned into curiosity with a dash of excitement. I know it wasn’t in the original, but the idea of a kind of X-Com themed battle arena is one I’m eager to try.
The idea of adding multiplayer to X-Com didn’t come completely out of the blue. The UFO2000 tactical multiplayer game is based off of the original X-Com, so there’s already a market for it. There’s also the sense that for many who played the original, playing as the alien’s was always kind of on everyone’s wish list. Toward the end of X-Com players were able to mind control aliens, giving them limited access to the alien forces, but it was always just enough to keep you wanting more.
The concept is rather simple; two players are given some form of currency to spend on a small tactical unit made up of either humans or aliens. You can spend these points on lots of cheap units or a few expensive ones. Diversity is critical to success as it seems there is more of a class system in this version of the game, too many beefy units may not give you enough damage, but not enough could leave you with a fragile team. Also, there will be a timer, limiting the amount of time they will have to plan, something the development team hopes will keep the action moving as it does in the single player campaign.
As the piece in Eurogamer points out, fans may be wary of the addition of multiplayer to the X-Com reboot as “… the addition of multiplayer has diverted resources away from the single-player.” While this may be true, the team at Firaxis feels that the addition of multiplayer will add to the game’s longevity in a way that even the most robust single player experience can’t.
I can see their point, but part of me remains skeptical. Of course any team that adds a feature like this to a traditionally single player franchise will say it’s for the fans, but the reality is that most games these days come with some form of multiplayer, meaning there must be enormous pressure on developers to add it.
Still if it doesn’t take away from the single player aspect of the game then who cares really? As long as the single player functions, then the multiplayer is just an added bonus. I was looking forward to this game before, and even though my cynical side is worried, the rest of me is cautiously optimistic.