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XCOM 2's difficulty ramped up 'very late' in development

"The difficulty is actually one of those things that can be traced to a particular conversation pretty late – very late, actually – in development."

Chris Kerr

February 24, 2016

2 Min Read

"The difficulty is actually one of those things that can be traced to a particular conversation pretty late – very late, actually – in development."

- XCOM 2 creative director Jake Solomon speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun.

In a recent interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, XCOM 2's creative director, Jake Solomon, spoke about how the studio's willingness to make the sequel more accessible almost resulted in disaster.

According to Solomon, the team chose to change tact "very late" in development after realizing that the version of XCOM 2 they had at that point was easy - so easy, in fact, it made a lot of the game's systems completely redundant. 

"The difficulty is actually one of those things that can be traced to a particular conversation pretty late – very late, actually – in development," explained Solomon.

“I had been pushing the mantra for a long time that we need to make Normal or Veteran difficulty basically an ‘I want to see the cinematics’ mode, an ‘I want to see the story’ mode, and the player can get through it and it shouldn’t be that difficult. 

"But then on the other hand I thought ‘if we don’t make the game hard, a lot of the design systems don’t engage.’"

The need to re-balance, to give the game a new lease of life and drive that engagement factor, made for a hectic final dash, but Solomon says the finished product proves the team made the right call in making the sequel even harder.

Still, XCOM 2's steep learning curve has its fair share of critics, although Solomon is urging struggling players to rethink their approach before they dial back the difficulty.

 “Of course it triggered a fairly mad rush to balance things out, but I think when the game got more difficult then you started to see people engaging, you felt that spark of life," he continues.

“Some [players] think that the right way to play is to beat the mission without losing anybody. That’s fine […] but that I think has led to some frustration in people if they view XCOM as a puzzle.

"XCOM is not actually a puzzle, it has all these much more unpredictable elements to it. There are cases where it’s difficult to imagine getting through a mission without somebody dying.”

Head on over to Rock Paper Shotgun for the full story.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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