XCOM 2 is What Happens When You Lose Enemy Unknown

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XCOM 2 is What Happens When You Lose Enemy Unknown

At the XCOM 2 Firaxicon panel, one of my burning questions about XCOM 2's premise was finally answered, and quite masterfully at that.

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I was never under the impression that the game was set in a world where we failed to fend off the invaders, the trailers coupled with the plot of Enemy Unknown/Within seems more in line with the idea that we did win, but whatever the Etherials where running away from and preparing us to fight was what took over (a lot of people don't seem to understand what happened at the end of the game).

I'm absolutely baffled by the fact that some people have been taking umbrage with how XCOM 2 is handling things. We're nerds. we're into science-fiction, and science fiction deals heavily in alternate and parallel timelines, whether it be due to time travel or a wormhole or what have you. Comic books are probably the most notorious culprit, thanks in part to continuity from hundreds of comics at a time. Videogames have been doing this for a generation now, as we've had games with alternative win-state endings going back into the early 90s, perhaps earlier. I really just cannot comprehend how the sequel being based on an alternative timeline "retcons your wins" since, well, you won. No amount of parallel timelines or time travel retcons can take that away. The Terminator 3 and Terminator Genisis canonically undid Terminator 2, but does that take away the feelings you had when you watched it? Does it take those tears you shed when you got to its heart-wrenching conclusion? Does using a parallel timeline for a videogame sequel take away the strategy victory you clawed out for yourself against a merciless foe? Does the feeling of victory in a multiplayer game you fought tooth-and-nail and were proud of your performance evaporate instantly because, well, multiplayer? Do your victories in a sport become meaningless because the card gets reset to zero in the next season?

MarsAtlas:
Snip

To put it simply it makes people feel like their effort was pointless because canonically they lose anyway, and it feels futile to play the previous game again or for anyone that picks the game up in the future. To go with one of your analogies it would be like if every football season you won every game but next season every time everybody claimed you lost badly instead, at some point you'd feel like not bothering to try anymore and those victories wouldn't seem so great anymore. I'm not saying it's particularly rational, but that's how some players will feel. They should have just gone with something like Zontar's suggestion and have new aliens or reinforcements move in instead, it would have made more sense and kept everybody happy and it would have felt like an actual continuation instead of a retcon as it seems like now.

Personally, I got the same sort of feeling when I played the Fatal Frame games because despite having multiple endings each and every successive game in the series went with the bad one. I mean, why bother working my butt off to get any other ending when it's not even going to carry into the next game?

Other than that, I'm interested in this concealment mechanic. I'm guessing this means that we will no longer have aliens strike the same old dramatic poses when a soldier gets a good look at them over and over again like we did with Enemy Unknown.

immortalfrieza:
To go with one of your analogies it would be like if every football season you won every game but next season every time everybody claimed you lost badly instead, at some point you'd feel like not bothering to try anymore and those victories wouldn't seem so great anymore. I'm not saying it's particularly rational, but that's how some players will feel.

What does it matter what they claim though? Its an irrelevant claim that has no effect on what occurred. For lack of a better word, you can simply ignore it. I've learned to ignore, say, the Star Wars prequels even though those shat all over the original trilogy. No matter how bad the prequels are their existence does nothing to effect the original trilogy, they do nothing to alter the original trilogy. I loathed Man of Steel but no matter how many times Zack Snyder's Superman 9/11's a city without remorse it can never take away the joy I got from Christopher Reeve tearing open his shirt. No matter what direction XCOM 2 goes it cannot override my achievement in XCOM:EU and EW.

Besides, sequels to games that aren't entirely linear are particularly fickle anyways. I mean, lets say they went with a straight progression, Terror From The Deep style. What if I never completed EU/EW without plasma weapons? What if I never genetically or cybernetically enhanced anybody yet they presumed to have occured by the developers and are canon? What if I did play EW with all it had to offer and Firaxis decides to make the EQ additions non-canon due to the fact that it was an expansion pack and didn't ship with the base game? Anybody who has ever played videogames extensively, which I would presume would be 100% of Firaxis' audience with XCOM because duh, should be able to easily recognize it. I've been seeing nothing short of outright tantrums over what Firaxis has done and I'm reminded of people acting like spoiled brats when they see somebody else's Commander Shepherd in Mass Effect because apparently seeing Shepherd with a different haircut ruins every single moment one has experienced in the franchise. I'd say its not just irrational but that its a juvenile and even self-centered way of viewing the world, that a person's personal experiences are invalidated because somebody experienced the same thing a different way. I understand the gut feeling but its something that a person can't let control them.

[quote]Other than that, I'm interested in this concealment mechanic. I'm guessing this means that we will no longer have aliens strike the same old dramatic poses when a soldier gets a good look at them over and over again like we did with Enemy Unknown.

I suspect that this is part of why invisibility and the bioelectric gene mod were added into Enemy Within, simply so that a person could view enemy positions before moving too far ahead. It was easy to get swarmed by pods because of this, especially in the late game when the enemy got really powerful. I remember activating every enemy on the map in late-game with one single move one time.

MarsAtlas:
Snip

"Something in the past can't be ruined by something in the present or future" is a claim I've heard by people just looking to dismiss the claims of others that have had just that happen as irrelevant, childish, whatever, and every time it is false. The fact is it can be and has happened to everyone, including you, whether you remember it or not, just because you have a high tolerance for this kind of thing doesn't mean it doesn't happen to you. New things making someone think differently of what they have seen and done happens all the time, and if that makes them think negatively then it is "ruined", even more so if it keeps other people that haven't yet experienced those things from doing so. Everybody has something they once enjoyed and activities they once loved that they no longer like for whatever reason, or something stupid they once did that they liked doing at the time but realize was stupid and thus don't look back on it fondly anymore, that's what "ruined" is. You might love potato chips for instance but eat a bad batch of potato chips and get sick badly enough for a while and you'll probably involuntarily feel a little sick whenever you think of potato chips for a long while if not for the rest of your life even if you get past it and eat them anyway, that's the way the human mind works.

This is what the direction that XCOM 2 is taking is doing, it's making some people feel like they shouldn't have bothered to save the world last time because that's not what the end result for future games was, and this has tainted their memories of playing the previous game and will probably color what they think of XCOM 2 whether they are consciously aware of it or not. It's even worse because doing that was completely unnecessary and thus "ruining" could have been avoided.

Maybe I missed it, but what reason was given for the sequel assuming you failed the first game? All I saw was a bunch of stuff about level design.

008Zulu:
Maybe I missed it, but what reason was given for the sequel assuming you failed the first game? All I saw was a bunch of stuff about level design.

Most people lost there first games and most games are lost in comparison to people winning the war so they used that as a way to play on the next game.

I wont my first game but im not really bothered by it. Alt world where my forces failed in the final battle is fine by me xD

Veldie:

008Zulu:
Maybe I missed it, but what reason was given for the sequel assuming you failed the first game? All I saw was a bunch of stuff about level design.

Most people lost there first games and most games are lost in comparison to people winning the war so they used that as a way to play on the next game.

I wont my first game but im not really bothered by it. Alt world where my forces failed in the final battle is fine by me xD

Until told otherwise I will continue to assume my theory stated above that the occupation in XCOM 2 is by the malevolent forces the Etherials where running away from and the reason we where being turned into their living weapons, and that canonically we still won the war and that it's a Half Life like situation where we won the initial conflict, but the one right after was so overwhelming we lost it.

I honestly don't care about the premise being predicated on losing the first X-COM game and I frankly don't get the minds of people who seem to care about this. It's not like you're bringing anything material forward between games, just your imagination - so like, use it and have fun.

Veldie:
Most people lost there first games and most games are lost in comparison to people winning the war so they used that as a way to play on the next game.

I wont my first game but im not really bothered by it. Alt world where my forces failed in the final battle is fine by me xD

I am bothered by it. On the same level I was bothered by the ending for the Mass Effect series; What's the point of putting the time and effort in to getting the best gear, getting the squad up to their maximum if in the end, none of it matters?

immortalfrieza:

MarsAtlas:
Snip

To put it simply it makes people feel like their effort was pointless because canonically they lose anyway, and it feels futile to play the previous game again or for anyone that picks the game up in the future. To go with one of your analogies it would be like if every football season you won every game but next season every time everybody claimed you lost badly instead, at some point you'd feel like not bothering to try anymore and those victories wouldn't seem so great anymore. I'm not saying it's particularly rational, but that's how some players will feel. They should have just gone with something like Zontar's suggestion and have new aliens or reinforcements move in instead, it would have made more sense and kept everybody happy and it would have felt like an actual continuation instead of a retcon as it seems like now.

Personally, I got the same sort of feeling when I played the Fatal Frame games because despite having multiple endings each and every successive game in the series went with the bad one. I mean, why bother working my butt off to get any other ending when it's not even going to carry into the next game?

Other than that, I'm interested in this concealment mechanic. I'm guessing this means that we will no longer have aliens strike the same old dramatic poses when a soldier gets a good look at them over and over again like we did with Enemy Unknown.

... this logic makes me weep for all of fiction, be it video-games or literature.

Zontar:
I was never under the impression that the game was set in a world where we failed to fend off the invaders, the trailers coupled with the plot of Enemy Unknown/Within seems more in line with the idea that we did win, but whatever the Etherials where running away from and preparing us to fight was what took over (a lot of people don't seem to understand what happened at the end of the game).

It's been explained multiple times by the devs in various previous interviews that you can think of XCOM 2's as going off your losses rather than your wins, which is even mentioned in the article: If you won, and defeated the Temple Ship, then congratulations, that's the end of that story. If you lost XCOM Enemy Unknown however, then the story continues into XCOM 2.

008Zulu:
[quote="Veldie" post="6.883399.22281557"]
I am bothered by it. On the same level I was bothered by the ending for the Mass Effect series; What's the point of putting the time and effort in to getting the best gear, getting the squad up to their maximum if in the end, none of it matters?

The selling point of the Mass Effect series was that choices from one game would explicitly affect the next one (well, right up until ME3's ending anyway, hence why it was seen as a betrayal). The XCOM franchise makes no such claims, and in fact it's not the first time it's happened: X-COM Apocalypse makes the assumption that something bad happens after Terror From The Deep that makes the Earth into a wasteland, and thus makes the effort from the former game to save Earth null and void.

(It should be noted that if you play Mass Effect 2 and 3 without using carry-over saves, the games actually assume that you made the "worst" choices in the game, and plays out according).

The thing about XCOM though is that unlike with other games, it can actually get away with this kind of decision because as a game, XCOM's greatest strength is never its overarching plot narrative. Yes, having one makes the game better, but unlike games like Mass Effect or The Witcher series, XCOM only uses the narrative as a framing device for the game, instead of being the bread and butter of it. I doubt there are people who can wholeheartedly claim that XCOM has a "great" story, and at best it's actually rather cliché and average for a sci-fi alien invasion story. Yet people play it because the gameplay is good, and that's all that matters.

Uliana:

It's been explained multiple times by the devs in various previous interviews that you can think of XCOM 2's as going off your losses rather than your wins, which is even mentioned in the article: If you won, and defeated the Temple Ship, then congratulations, that's the end of that story. If you lost XCOM Enemy Unknown however, then the story continues into XCOM 2.

One should also keep in mind that the "suggested" way to play Enemy Unknown was on Classic Iron Man, a difficulty level that meant some bad RNG in one mission could cost you the entire campaign. I've won a few Classic Iron Man campaign and I bet most hardcore players have, but I also know that I have at least a dozen abandoned games where I realized that I wouldn't be able to win, no matter what I did and started over. Statistically, this holds true for pretty much everyone but the absolute most hard of the hardcore crowd. As such, XCOM 2 simply runs with one of your many, many failed attempts as the canon, instead of one of your victories, which is statistically the minority.

Uliana:
- snip-

So why would they have us save the world in the first game if what we did, never actually matters? It doesn't make sense.

008Zulu:

Uliana:
- snip-

So why would they have us save the world in the first game if what we did, never actually matters? It doesn't make sense.

You didn't save the world, the vast majority of your playthroughs ended in failure. Every reload = failure, every abandoned save = failure, playing on anything other than Classic Ironman = failure (deal with it!). Your few victories are insignificant compared to your many failures and XCOM 2 just reflects that.

I was super interested before, but I'm sold now. Just put that overwatch fix in the forefront of the ads and watch the money come busting through your comp. XD I'm not worried about the game being based on you failing, I mean I have yet to play Enemy Within but so what if you won? You think an alien race would just give up if one invasion force was routed? No, you send in thousands for every one you lost and stomp your enemies into the ground.

Cartographer:
You didn't save the world, the vast majority of your playthroughs ended in failure. Every reload = failure, every abandoned save = failure, playing on anything other than Classic Ironman = failure (deal with it!). Your few victories are insignificant compared to your many failures and XCOM 2 just reflects that.

You're wrong. If that were the case, there would only be one difficulty setting, the game would end on any one failure and the option to reload wouldn't be there.

008Zulu:

Cartographer:
You didn't save the world, the vast majority of your playthroughs ended in failure. Every reload = failure, every abandoned save = failure, playing on anything other than Classic Ironman = failure (deal with it!). Your few victories are insignificant compared to your many failures and XCOM 2 just reflects that.

You're wrong. If that were the case, there would only be one difficulty setting, the game would end on any one failure and the option to reload wouldn't be there.

And yet, the Dev's have spoken and made the game as if it were so.
What you believe doesn't matter in the slightest, if you don't want to play the game, feel free not to. If you can't handle being told your achievements in a game's fictional universe were all for naught, well, that speaks of some fundamental issues I would suggest you need to seek help for.

Capcha: None of them are "math" as "math" isn't a thing. Perhaps you mean "mathematics" or "maths"?

It's like this Xcom2 is an alternate time line from the victory condition of Xcom Enemy****.

This means if you saved the world congratulations however there are numerous alternate timelines that were also saved and others that failed So XCom2 goes with n alternate timeline from "your" victory and continues the alien attack into defeat the Xcom forces before they can even advance there weaponry. The key issue I think a lot of us are having here is the shrouded idea that this isn't our victory play through. The main issue being this kind of storyline shift isn't common in games Comics and Movies have room to explain beforehand that the following events are not the "true" timeline or "Original" but to me?

This just means I can save another Earth!.

I think of it this way, on the "we lost" thing.

The larger number of people who attempted I/I (Ironman Impossible) Lost very quickly. This is the timeline they're going with. XCOM had a lot going for it, and an amazing commander... But, sometimes... You're just beat. The aliens hat FTL travel. Aliens had UFO's that could withstand massive impact and powerful missiles, and still be in one freaking piece! They had Battleships, and Chryssalids. If we funded XCOM IRL, it's just not feasible that we'd win. We lost, and we lost when we were barely on the cusp of laser weapons. We lost around the time EXALT was formed. We were shut down, and torn apart quickly before going into hiding. Some of us got lucky, and squirreled away. But not all of us.

However, those who won any difficulty, and remembered the Temple Ship... You've got a leg up. You already know what the aliens want to do to us. Why they're here, and why we're so special. Consider it an easter egg or a leg-up. I won't spoil what was said. But bear in mind, that in XCOM 2, we never saw the temple Ship. We never saw the Gollup device, or hyperwave beacon, and we never saw the Sectoid Commanders outside of that one glimpse in the tutorial. And we might have seen an outsider once or twice, but never managed to capture one.

Now, 20 years later, after the world said, "We embrace out new alien overlords." some people see things differently. And those people are you. We don't want no goddamn Alien overlords. We want people overlords back! We don't want aliens running a unified world if they're still abducting and genemodding people!! We want to wear our flags on our shoulders and serve our people!! We have a job to do, and that's taking our planet back!!

My concerns at this point? Fuck me, the Archon's ugly as all hell. I'm hoping for a mod that brings back the heavy floater skin/model.

I am just a little disappointed that they didn't remake terror from the deep - only better this time. With harpoons and weapons specialized for submerged combat. I don't care about the fail state starting point. I want a better version of Terror from the Deep.

008Zulu:

Uliana:
- snip-

So why would they have us save the world in the first game if what we did, never actually matters? It doesn't make sense.

Here's an idea, if you think you won, then there is no continuation of the story since there's no more threat involved and thus there is no reason for you to ever play XCOM 2 because your timeline is the only true canon and therefore needs no sequel since the threat of invasion by aliens has been ended. There's no conflict post-winning scenario, thus making playing a sequel based off said scenario worthless.

Personally I want to play this timeline, because it gives a different type of scenario to play through. Just because the "canon" of the sequel may not match up with a winning scenario from the first game doesn't mean its automagically worthless and trashes all expectations. It just means a different style of game and tactics to employ. I like the idea of being a resistance movement rather than the original scenario, makes me feel like the dev's aren't copy-pasting the previous game with a new set of even more bastard enemies, which would make me really feel like the last game's effort was worthless. Its kind of how I felt playing Terror From the Deep, as it was set after the first game with no mention of the previous game's technological advances, and no usage of said advantages.

Imperioratorex Caprae:

008Zulu:

Uliana:
- snip-

So why would they have us save the world in the first game if what we did, never actually matters? It doesn't make sense.

Here's an idea, if you think you won, then there is no continuation of the story since there's no more threat involved and thus there is no reason for you to ever play XCOM 2 because your timeline is the only true canon and therefore needs no sequel since the threat of invasion by aliens has been ended. There's no conflict post-winning scenario, thus making playing a sequel based off said scenario worthless.

Personally I want to play this timeline, because it gives a different type of scenario to play through. Just because the "canon" of the sequel may not match up with a winning scenario from the first game doesn't mean its automagically worthless and trashes all expectations. It just means a different style of game and tactics to employ. I like the idea of being a resistance movement rather than the original scenario, makes me feel like the dev's aren't copy-pasting the previous game with a new set of even more bastard enemies, which would make me really feel like the last game's effort was worthless. Its kind of how I felt playing Terror From the Deep, as it was set after the first game with no mention of the previous game's technological advances, and no usage of said advantages.

Yeah and plus the whole 'leading a resistance against the alien fascist state' is seriously cool and I wouldn't even have cared if they said "The first game was all a fantasy in your head while you hid under your blanket and cried while the aliens took over."

XCOM didn't need a sequel. XCOM rounded off quite neatly. If you don't want to include the second game in your canon, nobody's gonna force it. It's not like beating XCOM ended with a cutscene in which all your soldiers turned out to be sleeper agents anyway. This is sequels done right.

There's something really odd about the logic behind people being annoyed by the setting of XCOM2.

Admit it pretty much everyone lost XCOM at least once (if you were doing ironman anyway) and this means that you have a chance to rectify that failure so you've saved the world even in the games where you lost.

The alternative would be that success was meaningless because the aliens come back again anyway (unless we're going to play an "Everything-is-fine-simulator").

It's kind of odd that so many people seem to be more satisfied with the "either you won but it's happening again or you lost and everything went to shit" scenario compared to the "either you won and everything is fine or you lost but here's another chance to make things right" scenario.

People are honestly bothered by a "you lost the previous game" story?

I..just don't understand what the big deal is. Like at all. But then I've already been through this with the UFO series.
I suppose I can get that people just wanted the same thing all over again, like a TFTD, but there's only so many times you can pull off that trick and gave BS reasons why all your tech and soldiers from your previously (won) game ain't there or are ineffective/unavailable when the next batch of aliens arrive to do the same thing the previous ones did.

People are upset because they see an opportunity cost of XCOM going offensive and letting them keep progress from previous playthroughs.

But I think this setting is more interesting.

edit- also this is counter to standard empowerment fantasies

Gorgeous pictures there. The graphics in this game are on a wehole other level. It sounds like an improvement in every other way I can think of, too.

Veldie:

008Zulu:
Maybe I missed it, but what reason was given for the sequel assuming you failed the first game? All I saw was a bunch of stuff about level design.

Most people lost there first games and most games are lost in comparison to people winning the war so they used that as a way to play on the next game.

I wont my first game but im not really bothered by it. Alt world where my forces failed in the final battle is fine by me xD

Actually Firaxis have stated that in this alternate timeline XCOM lost the war before they even got to develop laser weaponry.

008Zulu:

Uliana:
- snip-

So why would they have us save the world in the first game if what we did, never actually matters? It doesn't make sense.

I always though tthat challenge strategic gameplay was the entire point of the series, not the story. After all, thats why people were disappointed with The Bureau but ate up XCOM: EU and EW.

Frankly if you get a Firaxis game looking forward to the story, well, you're gonna be disappointed. Its like looking forward to a Bioware game for the multiplayer or a The Legend of Zelda game for graphical fidelity. Its overlooking the core reason why people love it in the first place, and I actually think Firaxis made a good decision with this because if they went the route of Terror From The Deep it'd be more of the same, or at least, more similar than XCOM 2's path is. It gives us a much greater diversity of gameplay by changing more of the game at its core. Their entire army management side of things was changed drastically with this route whereas if they went Terror From The Deep with it the management side to the game would be nearly identical. More of the same isn't necessarily bad, but that was already achieved with Enemy Within and The Long War. I only wish Firaxis did something like this with Beyond Earth, that game was terribly disappointing bbecause it was almost identical to Civilization V when it would've benefitted from branching out.

I can understand why some people aren't too keen on this setting, but I think the "resistance movement fighting against the oppressive super-power that's taken over the world" is an awesome set up, and I actually think it lends itself much better to how X-Com actually plays compared to EU and EW.

For example:
-It now makes sense why you can only send small groups of Soldiers on missions, since it's risky to send a bunch of people, plus higher chance of arousing suspicion. Never made sense to me in EU or EW that even if I had 70 Soldiers sitting in the barracks, I could only send six on a mission. Also never made sense that I could only respond to one abduction taking place, even though I had tons of soldiers and more than enough money to afford more troop transports.
-It makes much more sense now that funding and resources are so limited. In EU, everyone on the planet knew an alien invasion was happening, yet you still had to beg to get funding from countries.
-Now it actually makes sense that you're outnumbered on missions.
-The idea of hitting strategic targets and slowly turning the populace against the aliens is just a great set-up, and I think will lend itself to way more interesting hard resource decisions that don't feel as forced as X-Com had (in other words, instead of "well you can only respond to one abduction mission because we say so", it's "is it worth possibly losing Soldiers to knock out this propaganda center just to hopefully get the populace a little more on our side?").

Anyway, totally psyched for the game and fingers crossed that it ends up being as good as it sounds.

Is it just me or is the question "Why are you making a game that assumes i lost even thought i won most often?" somewhat... erm.. makes no sense?

They made a game based on the premise xcom lost because they wanted to make a game based on the premise xcom lost... why did they had to come up with some timy lime whimy explanation about paralel universes and crap?

The premise that xcom lost against the aliens is simply more interesting then rehashing terror from the deep... or making an expansion out of it.

MarsAtlas:

Actually Firaxis have stated that in this alternate timeline XCOM lost the war before they even got to develop laser weaponry.

Meh, sounds like they wrote themselves in to a corner by letting you save the world in the first place.

I fail to see how the story saying you lose makes what you did in the previous game irrelevant. It shouldn't erase the fun we had going on missions and beating the invasion back. It doesn't for me. I understand that it does for some people but not why.

008Zulu:

MarsAtlas:

Actually Firaxis have stated that in this alternate timeline XCOM lost the war before they even got to develop laser weaponry.

Meh, sounds like they wrote themselves in to a corner by letting you save the world in the first place.

What corner? Why is there this assumption that just because there's a 2 on the front of the box, the game has to be a direct, linear continuation of the plot? X-Com: Enemy Unknown/Within is a single, self contained story. That's it. That's all there is to it.

The setup for X-Com 2 is just 'what if we took the premise of the first game, the same aliens with (presumably) the same objective but they succeeded in taking over Earth early on?'

There is as much story continuation between these two games as there is between, say, a couple of Warhammer 40k games you might play against a bunch of different people. Same setting, same basic units, different outcomes.

If they had called the game 'X-Com: Alternate' would it still have people complaining?

I'm genuinely asking as I like the new concept, but am wondering if those of you who don't like it would feel better about it if they basically came out and said 'wining x-com is cannon, this is an alternate universe'?

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