While the original XCOM: UFO Defense and its sequels have a cult following, the series garnered widespread popularity with 2012's XCOM: Enemy Unknown, developed by Firaxis and published by 2K. The game, which tasks players with the leadership of a clandestine organization formed to protect Earth from an alien invasion, is perhaps now one of the gems of the turned-based strategy genre.
Its sequel, XCOM 2, expanded on much of what was great about XCOM while shifting the focus more to stealth and infiltration.
Given the games' focus on training elite soldiers for special missions against a powerful enemy, there were always those who thought the concept would work well with superheroes. There are literally hundreds of mods available for XCOM 2 that allow commanders to outfit their troops in outfits from both DC and Marvel properties.
Thanks to a new apparent leak from 2K, there may finally be an official XCOM-style Marvel title in the works.
MARVEL XCOM-STYLE GAME IN PRODUCTION
From Twitter, industry expert Jason Schreier claims the leak from XCOM publisher 2K "is real" but notes that he's "not sure all of it is going to be at E3."
"Can't wait for Marvel XCOM though," he finishes, driving home that the long dreamed of title could very well be a reality.
TRAIN A TEAM OF MARVEL HEROES
With so little to go on, it's hard to know exactly what this title will look like, but it's likely it will pull heavily from the XCOM titles that preceded it. In fact, the most recent game in the series, a spin-off titled XCOM: Chimaera Squad, focused on a set team of characters with special abilities, rather than the randomly generated soldiers of the mainline titles. Studios often demo new concepts in spin-offs like Chimaera Squad, and it's very possible that the title was a test run for the Marvel game.
So, looking to Chimaera Squad as an example, what could be in store for players of a "Marvel XCOM?" The game featured characters with their own unique skills and special moves, and the ability to combo special skills together. Many Marvel titles, like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3, have a similar feature, and it would work fantastically to get the team up moves straight from the comics and movies into the game.
The title also departed from the traditional XCOM turn structure that had the player moving all their units with the enemy following after, replacing it with an initiative system that put the player's agents in between the enemies for a more fast-paced and reactive combat style. Here's another change that would fit excellently in a Marvel title, allowing the combat to really feel like a back and forth between the heroes and villains.
Like other XCOM games, Chimaera Squad maintained a "strategy layer" separate from the turn-based "tactical layer" where commanders would respond to threats and choose what team members to send on missions. In a Marvel title, it's possible the strategy layer returns to an expanded style similar to that seen in XCOM 2, where a flying alien ship reminiscent of a SHIELD Helicarrier travels the globe to respond to threats and recruit new allies.
The XCOM formula is perfect for a Marvel game, and it's incredible that the prospect exists of it being developed by the very studio that created that same formula. While it remains a rumor until confirmed by Firaxis or 2K, fans should be cautiously optimistic about the possibility of this match made in heaven coming to their gaming platforms of choice.