Almost 10 years ago, 2K Games released a remastered version of the 1994 game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Just yesterday, Jake Solomon, designer of XCOM and XCOM 2, posted a picture of a document from 2005 which lists some of the features he originally pitched for XCOM, including some that did not appear on the final version.
XCOM is a turn-based tactical game set in an alternative reality in 2015 where the world faces a global alien invasion. Strategy is a big element of the game, as the player needs to direct the military forces’ behavior only during their turn, which means the player needs to foresee the enemy’s upcoming actions to accomplish the missions.
Although XCOM did keep most of Solomon’s original XCOM ideas, there are some interesting features that were not included in the final version of the game. The document posted on Twitter does describe the game’s final version in general, but there are some notable changes. For instance, “Real-time 3-D battlefields” were evidently not included, as the game is turn-based instead of real-time, and one could argue that the “build bases in strategic global locales” was more of a feature of the second installment of the game.
Another interesting point on the original pitch is the “esprit de corps” feature listed under “roleplaying.” This suggests that wounded soldiers could have affected the overall trust in the missions. Jake Solomon tweeted that it is unsurprising that this feature did not make it to the final version of XCOM.
For many, including the lead designer of XCOM, it is better that these ideas did not make it to the final game. Part of what makes XCOM so entertaining is the turn-based system which makes the player feel more immersed and adds suspense to the story. For most fans of this franchise, the game would not have been as enjoyable had it included real-time battles, as it would have sacrificed the characteristic suspense of the game.
Even though the game works perfectly as is, there is definitely something interesting about having the team’s morale affected by soldiers who are fatally wounded. In a way, this could have added to the story by leaning on the supernatural nature of the sci-fi events. In any case, the XCOM franchise seems to have benefited from not including these points and it is likely that it owes some of its success to that. However, for the most part, most of the features on Solomon’s list made it to XCOM as fans know it today.
XCOM is currently available for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.