PC version of XCOM remake draws battlefield grid

Plus, why Interception only lasts 10 seconds. New screenshots inside.

The PC version of the XCOM remake draws a grid on the battlefield, developer Firaxis has revealed.

The Civilization developer is yet to showcase the PC version's unique user interface, but it did provide Eurogamer with a few additional details on the design.

The PC version, unlike the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version, draws a grid on the battlefield, allowing the player to see in detail how movement is affected by the terrain.

Additionally, the camera perspective is different. On PC players are able to zoom out to a greater degree than they are on console, providing a wider, sweeping view of the battlefield.

"It's interesting," lead designer Jake Solomon said. "Playing mouse and keyboard is a different experience. From just the way it looks when you start, the UI is different. The grid gets drawn in the PC version and we have a little extra help when you hold down the mouse button. Small things like that. Obviously we have to add a lot of new buttons and things like that. It feels good on mouse and keyboard, which it should. It's XCOM."

Solomon said that while PC is "incredibly important" to Firaxis, which has a long history with the platform, the developer was forced to invest in a redesigned UI because the gamepad control system it had designed didn't work with a mouse and keyboard.

"There's a lot of value to keeping as much similar as you can, just because of the fact the more different it gets the more bugs it creates," he said. "That deviation creates a lot of work, which is what we've experienced. So it's nice to keep things similar in a lot of respects. But, it would be nice to say we're completely altruistic PC champions. And we are. At Firaxis PC is incredibly important to us.

"But, to be honest, a lot of it comes from the fact we just can't take what we've done with the gamepad and make it work with the mouse. It just doesn't work. You're pushing a cursor around the map. So it just doesn't map to the mouse and keyboard. And it's a good thing, but because of that we were forced to come up with a new interface."

Meanwhile, Firaxis has lifted the lid on the Interception portion of the game, so far kept under wraps.

Interception sees players engage invading UFOs in and attempt to shoot them out of the sky in a short, Risk-style mini-game experience. If players have not built enough ships, upgraded them appropriately and stationed them properly around the globe, UFOs can slip away.

"People have asked, why isn't it this big, air combat game?" Solomon said. "The reason is, truly, that XCOM is already two games. You already have the strategy game. You already have the tactical game. They're really fully fledged experiences. I didn't want to add a third game over the top of that because at some point it becomes too much.

"Also, Interception only takes five to 10 seconds. I don't want five to 10 seconds of gameplay to ruin hours and hours of strategic planning."

As for aircraft, players begin with the Interceptor, the best conventional military can come up with. This unit struggles against the more advanced technology of the aliens, but it can be upgraded with improved weaponry and boosted with consumables. And the ship itself can be improved with alien technology gathered during the game as research progresses. The Firestorm, much-loved from the original XCOM, returns.

"One of the fun things about XCOM is the AI works on its own schedule," Solomon said. "The aliens don't care what the player is doing. They are invading the world. They are playing their own game. They don't care where the player is in their research progression.

"You have to make sure you're keeping on track. You have to make sure you get Firestorms in the air because soon, big ships will appear that will not respond to little Interceptors. If you miss the boat on that then you'll find yourself behind the eight ball."

New screenshots of the Interception mode are below.

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