The long development journey of the XCOM first-person shooter has plenty of up’s and down’s. It seems like 2K Marin has finally steered the ship right for their upcoming game in the series – The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
Here’s everything you need to know about the game’s original concept, its changes and what you can expect to play in this new version.
1. This Version of The Game Was A First-Person Shooter at First
At first, XCOM was branded as a first-person shooter. Around May 2006, Irrational Games made an initial announcement that they were hiring game designers for a sequel to the long-running strategy RPG. Once February 2007 rolled around, rumors circulated that the game that Irrational Games was working on was indeed a sequel in the XCOM series.
The game was finally revealed at E3 2010; the new developers behind the game was 2K Australia/Marin, a new team that was split from Irrational Games. This version of the game was designed as a first-person shooter that included elements of survival horror. In 2012, the game then changed into a first-person shooter that featured a brand of new tactical elements.
2. The Negative Reaction to the Initial FPS Game Led to Its New Look
When long time fans of the XCOM franchise saw the FPS reboot of the series, they were none too pleased. Most gamers were upset over the fact that XCOM’s strategy RPG roots were abandoned in favor of a first-person shooter. Destructoid even labeled the game as “the first-person shooter that the Internet loves to hate.” This XCOM FPS was announced before XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which was the actual strategy RPG game that gamers really wanted to play.
3. The Game Was Rebranded In April 2013
In April 2013, the official website for the game took a hiatus from the Internet. Evidence also suggested that the 2K Games’ official YouTube channel took down the link for the website as well.
Around March 2013, 2K Games registered the Internet domains for four separate sites (thebureau-game.com, thebureau-game.net, whathappenedin62.com and whathappenedin62.net), which led to several rumors about the XCOM FPS being re-branded as a new game. The viral teaser video seen also also pointed to the rumors about the new approach to the game’s initial beginnings.
2K Games went and made an offical announcement about its future plans for the 2K franchise:
The XCOM universe is expanding. In the coming days the world will get a fresh look at the long-awaited squad-based tactical shooter in development at 2K Marin. Announced back in 2010, the game has undergone an evolution since we last showed it to you at E3 2011. Firaxis’ critically acclaimed turn-based strategy title, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, has reignited the classic franchise and we feel that the time is right to deliver a new experience within the world of XCOM. The creative development of this game has been a collaborative process of discovery and iteration. 2K’s culture allows our studios the freedom to refine their visions, to explore new ideas, and to deliver the best possible experiences for players. Through this exploration, 2K Marin has refined their vision, and as a result the game has evolved into a high-stakes narrative experience imbued with core XCOM concepts. The wait is nearly over and we can’t wait to share more details with you about the game in only a matter of days.
Later on during the month of May 2013, gamers got a glimpse at the new look and gameplay concept of the XCOM FPS – The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
4. The Game is Set in 1962
The game’s plot takes place in the year of 1962. The Cold War tensions between the US and Russia leads to the creation of a top-secret government unit that’s prepared for any foreign threat. However, after the arrival of a planetary threat, this new unit (The Bureau) was forced to change their tactics and adapt to America’s new alien threat. Gamers take control of one of the special agents of the unit, William Carter, and his team of fellow operatives.
5. The Game is A Third-Person Shooter That Contains Squad-Based Elements
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has been redesigned as a third-person shooter that includes squad-based gameplay. Polygon gave a preview of the game’s gameplay elements:
The game plays from a third-person perspective, with players controlling their own character, William Carter, and issuing commands to two nearby agents. It feels a bit like a slicker version of 2004’s Full Spectrum Warrior. When a player wishes to issue a command they drop into battle focus mode, which slows time to a crawl, giving them a bit more time to issue commands using a circular hub broken into three sections, one each for your character and the two agents. While time is slowed, it’s certainly not stopped; pausing to reflect too long can result in downed agents or missed strategic opportunities. Tapping on the D-pad can order agents to a position quickly or call them back to your side.
6. Squad Members Can Be Customized and Trained
Gamers will get to control William Carter and get to order around/customize four separate agents. Each agent represents a different class that features different abilities – commander, recon, engineer and support. The official website for the game provided some official details for the game’s squad member customization content:
Customization That Counts – Train each of your squad mates into unique specializations, allowing for a dynamic combination of skills to compliment your play style.
Game Informer provided more information on the leveling up of in-game squad members and William Carter:
Each ally can rank up five times, with skill choices at levels two through five. Just as in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, these are binary choices and cannot be undone, allowing players to create multiple builds in each class. Teammates can be customized in name and basic appearance, with each class having distinctive attire. Carter will max out at level ten, with improvements to his healing and levitation abilities, the option to bring in a combat drone, or even summon a friendly silicoid (an adhesive and voracious alien).
7. Dead Squad Members Will Stay Dead
The offical website for the game provided a warning to players who like to head into harrowing situations with reckless abandon:
No Second Chances – Pay the price for mistakes – permadeath will make you value your squad mates more than ever, and make losing one of them all the more painful.
8. It Will Include Multiple Endings
During an interview with Game Informer, lead narrative Designer Erik Caponi confirmed that the game will have more than one ending. Caponi had this to say about the game’s campaign and narrative:
People are going to miss stuff and want to go back and see stuff again. I think it’s important to this game that we wanted to make as pure and good an experience for the single-player, and have the value be in that experience.
9. The Developers of This Game Have Been Working with the Team Behind XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Alyssa Finley, the producer of the game, spoke about the game’s development. 2K Marin also worked with Firaxis to make sure the game was faithful to the original strategy RPG elements of XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
Over the course of development, we have been talking with Firaxis. One of the great things about working for 2K is all the development teams do have access to each other. We can do things like share builds and have conversations, so that’s absolutely been happening. Both teams have had ideas that have resonated and influenced the other.
10. Its Coming Out as Full Retail Release in August 2013
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified will arrive in stores a full-retail game for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC gaming platforms on August 20, 2013 (US). PAL regions will get the game on August 23, 2013.