XCOM: Enemy Within Lead Designer Talks MELD

Joshua Vanderwall | 19 Sep 2013 14:30
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Genetics Lab

With all that out of the way, we were also curious about the impact of the new enemies on expected player tactics. The Mechtoid you may have heard about. It's just a Sectoid in power armor. I use the term "just" loosely here, since it's seriously a force to be reckoned with. The Seeker is the most recently announced new enemy, which sticks to the shadows, and tries to pick off lone squaddies. With the Seeker stalking the shadows and targeting stragglers, keeping a Sniper with Squad Sight all alone in the back might not be the best approach anymore. I suppose that means my Sniper will no longer get 50% or more of all kills, but it should spice up the gameplay a bit, at least. "The Seeker appears early in the campaign; its role is to provide a more assassin-style, hit and run alien with a scary main ability (Strangle)," said Gupta, "The Seeker's tactical impact takes the form of player paranoia - since Seekers can use stealth, and prefer to attack isolated targets while the rest of the squad is occupied with other enemies, they can really throw a wrench into the player's tactical routine." Now humans just adopted MELD for their own purposes, remember? The aliens have been using it for a while and have already adapted mech armor for their foot soldiers. "Mechtoids introduce an interesting combination with Sectoids, since the Mind Merge ability grants a Mechtoid a Psi Shield," Gupta explained, "Killing a Mechtoid with an intact Psi Shield is pretty difficult, and Mechtoids can dish out a lot of damage." Having played the demo at PAX this year, I can attest to this fact. It is supremely difficult to take out a shielded Mechtoid, as they have a ton of health already, and the shield is sizeable. Taking out the Sectoid performing the Mind Merge, however, can be a devastating blow to the recipient. Like the Sectoid on Sectoid Merge, taking out the alien performing the Mind Merge will deal a good chunk of damage to the receiver. Just be careful not to put yourself in harm's way in the process. Mechtoids hit hard.

It's hard to look at MEC Troopers and not think of the SHIV units from Enemy Unknown. They're both mechanical in nature, act like a tank for your party, and can even, in some circumstances, offer mobile cover for your troops. It turns out, however, that MEC Troopers are not meant to be a more heavily utilized replacement for SHIVs. "SHIVs certainly have a role to play, and are great if you find yourself in a situation where you're suddenly forced to put a lot of rookies out in the field," Gupta explained, "Many of the new Foundry projects in [Enemy Within] that benefit MECs also benefit SHIVs." He describes MEC Troopers as an "all-in approach," since they're so costly to create. If you want to max out a whole squad of MEC troopers, you're going to be in it for the long haul. "while it is possible to get multiple high-level MEC Troopers, it's very expensive and time consuming," he said, "If you want to broadly distribute the benefits of Meld around your squad, then Genemods are the way to go." This suggests that you're most likely going to want to focus on one or two MEC Troopers for your squad, and go with genetic modification for the rest of your soldiers. If you find yourself low on MELD and high on Rookies for your next mission, SHIVs might still be the way to go.

Finally, we discussed multiplayer. I wasn't personally that fond of the Enemy Unknown multiplayer component, but it was a fun enough diversion for a battle or two. "All our Meld-related gameplay elements are available in multiplayer. Since multiplayer is essentially a tactical sandbox, you're free to combine Genemod soldiers with Mechtoids on a team if you would like," Gupta mentioned, "We have a whole collection of MEC suit templates to use in multiplayer, and MEC Troopers of varying rank and skill sets to wear them."

Keep an eye out for our review of XCOM: Enemy Within around its November 12 launch!

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