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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified dev diary talks the impact of permadeath

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In a new dev diary, members of the The Bureau: XCOM Declassified team discuss the game's setting and what it means to kill off squad members for good.

Previous XCOM games had always been set in the near future, so the developers wanted to change things up with an origin story for the organization. The early 1960s were ultimately chosen as the time period in part because it was right after the stability of the 1950s, and the loss of that stability was a fear for many at the time. What, then, could be more destabilizing than an alien invasion?

As the commander of an outnumbered and outgunned anti-alien squad, your decisions can lead to the death of your teammates, and they won't be coming back. Designing a game that has permadeath impacts all other design decisions, say the developers, because you never want a player to feel like they lost a character for good because the game itself was being unfair.

But "not unfair" doesn't mean "not difficult," say the developers. The game is designed to task players' tactical mindsets as well as their twitch-gaming skills, and that tactical demand is one of the series' hallmarks.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified hits Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC in August.