'XCOM' for PC will be a familiar experience for fans of the original game

The PC version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be a familiar game to those who played the original back in the 90s, the developer promises.

The PC version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be a familiar game to those who played the original back in the 90s, the developer promises.

"The PC version for us is a big deal," said Firaxis game designer Jake Solomon. "With a shooter or an action game you may be able to fall into the dangerous trap of porting the UI, but for us that was never an option."

The team was so concerned about how their remake of the original 1994 turn-based strategy PC game would play on the computer that they split the user interface design team in two from the get go.

"We've had two separate teams working the whole time on the UI, one on PC and one on console," Solomon said. "We're pretty excited that they look very different and feel very different."

While the console version looks a bit more like an action game, with much of the data and tactical interface of the original title stripped away, the PC version drops a lot of that back in to the look of the game.

The most noticeable difference between the two is the ability to bring the original game's chessboard like grid back into play.

"We don't have a grid in the console version, it's all free movement," Solomon said. "But on the PC version it was such a pain in the ass to not have a grid that we went back and added it."

That grid isn't always present, but holding down the right mouse button can pop it up. Mousing over an enemy alien's head brings back a lot of that missing data, like hit percentage. And the game's "phone box," the glowing transparent box marking which grid coordinate is currently selected in the game, is back as well.

The PC team also went back in and added some more details and increased the game's maximum resolution, all amplified by the ability to zoom the game's view in and out more than you can on console.

A lot of the additional touches and polish coming to the PC happened in the tail end of the game's development thanks to the console's longer certification process, which gave the entire team a couple of months to mess around with the PC build.

Solomon said the entire team is very aware that expectations for the PC version of the game are very high, driven by the fact that this is beloved PC franchise for a shrinking genre developed by the team behind some of PC game's biggest strategy titles.

This morning the team officially announced Steam support for the game. That means it will be sold through Steam and get all of the Steam benefits, including achievements, auto-updating, multiplayer matchmaking and cloud support.

The team hasn't yet decided if the game will include Steam Workshop support, which allows for user-created content, like maps.

The Steam version of the game includes an Elite Soldier Pack, which allows players to customize their troops. The pack comes with the iconic blond, flattop soldier from the original game and a couple of aesthetically different armor kits.

Solomon said that the PC version will also come with a unique achievement called "bubonic." Currently only Solomon has the achievement, but anyone who plays him will get the achievement as well, and then anyone who plays them receives.

"It's a disease," he said. "I'm going to go out and start playing people and see how it spreads through multiplayer. I'll be patient zero."


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