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Game Design Inspirations: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen’s Design by Assimilation

Splicing an alien mechanic into a game is dangerous and might create a grotesque monstrosity of systems —  Firaxis though assimilate them cleanly onto the XCOM universe to make a great game even better.

Hello and welcome to Game Design Inspirations! GDI is a weekly bite-sized nugget of brilliant game design, taken from the games that I play “for research purposes”.

XCOM 2’s antagonists are the ADVENT, the alien menace that has successfully taken over the world. As the game begins, we see that XCOM has fallen. Humanity has lost, and the aliens have already won. They did it through superior technology, insidious propaganda, and a menagerie of other assimilated alien civilizations.

The game’s new expansion, War of the Chosen, takes this assimilation to the next level and breaks past the 4th wall! Not only are the alien races assimilated, the expansion’s new features have been assimilated from other games as well!

The Chosen, the expansion’s new boss enemies, use a similar mechanic of strengths and weaknesses found in Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System.

Another new enemy type, the Lost, seems to take inspiration from the overwhelming rush of Infected found in Left 4 Dead.

As soldiers fight together, they form bonds with their teammates, increasing their effectiveness when deployed together. This system can also be found in the Fire Emblem series.

Finally, when a soldier is wounded in battle, he/she can gain a negative trait that activates in certain situations. Darkest Dungeon does this as well, and it’s just as stressful!

Splicing an alien mechanic into a game is dangerous and might create a grotesque monstrosity of systems — I’m reminded of some games that force collectible card game (CCG) mechanics into incompatible genres, for example. Firaxis though have largely avoided this. They were able to take inspiration from other games, identify certain mechanics in these games that worked well, and assimilate them cleanly onto the XCOM universe to make a great game even better.

Now that I’ve typed assimilate at least seven times, i’m getting hit by a wave of semantic satiation.

Today’s Moment of Zen:

“It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”
 — Jean-Luc Godard

Thank you for reading! Follow Game Design Inspirations on Medium for weekly and past GDIs.

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