XCOM: Chimera Squad aka XCOPS

Yeah, you read that right: XCOM: Chimera Squad makes you play as cops :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting:

Specifically, the XCOPS of City 31, a city five years after the end of XCOM 2 that is to be the model of unification between what’s left of the human uprising and the aliens that have now found themselves stranded on Earth after the fall of ADVENT. To ensure City 31 doesn’t erupt in unrest, you play as Chimera Squad: a militarized police squad made up of eleven humans and aliens.

Chimera Squad is more of a stand-alone expansion for XCOM 2 than an entirely new game, but that does mean that it comes with a budget price tag ($15 CAD on pre-order on Steam right now). And that doesn’t mean there won’t be gameplay differences:

  • Characters are not randomized. You have eleven named characters with distinct personalities… and species when it comes to alien members.
  • Yes, that does mean you have a viper lady on your team. And a sectoid, skirmisher, and… I think that’s a muton or a berserker? I don’t know. All of the species have been changed in appearance to not be so… hostile.
  • There are no classes. Each character has their own unique skills and weapons.
  • Unless there is an iron man mode that changes this, characters do not die. If they go to zero hp, they get knocked unconscious and start bleeding out. If you stabilize them, then they’re just knocked out for the rest of the mission. If they bleed out, you have to do the mission again.
  • A new Breach mode changes how you start missions, giving you a variety of entrant points and bonuses/disadvantages based on how each of your squad members enter. Some can only be entered by certain squad members (ex. the Viper going through a vent)
  • There appears to be no base management, but you still have to manage the unrest level in each area of the city, the city’s total unrest, work on builds for each of your XCOPS. and assemble/buy/black market their equipment.

XCOPS will be out on April 24th on PC and will retail at a reduced price.

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I will put up with playing as cops if it means I get more XCOM and I expect the community to mod it out in a few months TBH.

Something like super heroes might be cool given the premise?

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Being the cops aside, I am super excited for a game set in the aftermath of XCOM 2, because that game leaves off in such an interesting place as far as the future of the world. It’s unfortunate (if understandable) that the gameplay of the XCOM series lends itself to seeing what that future society might look like through the lens of being the cops, but the question of “can humans and the various alien species left behind on earth coexist and form a new society” is what I wanted going forward with XCOM.

I really wish that the doom tracker was named something aside from “anarchy” for sure, that’s the thing that’s got me the most worried tbh.

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A single player XCOM-like that’s focused on stories and bespoke characters coming out at the end of April. I too cannot wait for Gears Tactics. :upside_down_face:

But seriously, this looks cool!

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I just remembered there was a mod that did similar turn order mechanics for 2 for anyone interested https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=685702241

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There is a lot of cool mechanical stuff being shown off in the tactical layer in the trailer but I am worried they are going to miss the mark on the strategic layer (I will be blunt and say miss the mark again as XCOM2 is weakest in the strategy layer)

The map of the city with “unrest” meters looks an awful lot like the satellites map from the first Firaxis reboot. What I’m worried about is two things: first is that from a mechanics perspective putting out fires like deploying satellites was not great so I hope there is something more interesting.

Second, and more to the point about XCOPS, from a thematic perspective there HAS to be some kind of repercussions to “kinetic” actions that quell unrest, and ideally non-kinetic options that provide for an interesting dilemma*. To me this is like really basic stuff that the GMT COIN games and other tabletop models of insurgency/counter insurgency explore (I know from lurking in the tabletop channel of the Discord that some folks in the Waypoint community are skeptical of Volko Ruhnke which I appreciate given his background at the CIA, but my experience is that the COIN games and designers like VR and Brian Train have a fairly nuanced view of counter insurgency and asymmetric conflict in game design)

I sort of feel like it’s okay to play around with resistance/guerilla war themes like in XCOM2 where it is obviously pitting you against a fascist occupation, but once you switch sides and represent a counter insurgency actor you need to be more nuanced. I’m not super optimistic they will pull it off, because Firaxis has employed folks with deep connections in the tabletop wargame world (Ananda Gupta) but XCOM2 strategic layer was missing a deep engagement in the insurgency themes.

I’ll probably still play it but… XCOM/COIN is like my personal gaming missed opportunity dream project and maybe I should just do the work to make a fan hack (credit to this poster on BGG for the original inspiration)

* to be fair the trailer does make it seem like there are some other options like non military side actions to lower unrest, but I’m really looking for the double edged sword of COIN where taking a strong handed military approach has side effects in civilian sentiment

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They got a snake lady in this so I’ll play it. Here’s hoping for more alien babes too

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Honestly this looks dope. Very excited to play a more pared-down XCOM 2 with some cool twists. I like replacing the initial stealth sequence with breach mode. The stealth bit always felt very fiddly and kinda weird, whereas this will provide you with some (hopefully!) interesting initial decision that gets you straight into the tactics.

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oh no

and by that i mean, oh yes

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Yeah honestly just seeing everyone’s favorite trans snake lady being a player character is an insta-sale for me too

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I mean, I can’t really think of many other ways to learn about COIN strategies. You kinda can’t just go and join the Conflict Resolution or Terrorism and Non-Proliferation Studies programs at MIIS. Believe me, I tried.

The fact that you only ever got to commit arguably 0-1 terrorist acts is a grand disappointment on so many levels. Yes, I’m completely serious about that. That from the jump it just falls right into normal XCOM where your force is growing stronger and more varied to the point where you can much too soon go toe to… snake tail against the aliens obliterates any sense of tone, urgency, or theme.

Isn’t a big part of COIN ops breaking the supply chain of an insurgency? And yet here’s XCOM in their infinite fuel spaceship instantly getting supplies each month from everyone they ever raised an antenna for to use on their impenetrable armored suits with the pearlescent metallic finish of a gaudy early F&F Mazda. Everything falls apart the moment you realize that XCOM 2 XCOM is still stupid powerful.

And I doubt Firaxis can get it right from the other side but $10 is exactly the price to get me to make an impulse preorder.

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well I guess the other way is to just read a book but I totally agree that conflict sims teach a visceral and hands on lesson unavailable to most punters. I think some people (myself included!) are a little uncomfortable with the idea of playing a game for fun which is set in a real world conflict, designed by someone who was employed by an organization implicated in war crimes committed in that conflict, especially when the conflict is so recent (as is the case with Volko Ruhnke and A Distant Plain). You have to put in some hard work to come to terms with that, which might mean sitting down and playing the game a lot to understand it’s not a whitewash, but for some people it won’t ever sit right, and I’m okay with that. I always just try to make a point of acknowledging this perspective when bringing up the COIN games in polite company (and especially in progressive company) because so much other coverage of those games tend towards a kinda breathless “wow cool CIA game designer” vibe.

To be fair, the COIN games don’t really model insurgency supply lines with crunchy operational wargame rules either and I think keeping that simple is part of their success with the Euro board gamer crowd. (interestingly enough VR’s latest game Nevsky is an excellent medieval operational game which is ALL about supply) The power curve in XCOM 2 is definitely not a model of insurgency though.

What I’m really looking for on the XCOM strategic map is just ONE extra dimension of “hearts and minds”, which I think the COIN games excel at integrating into what are otherwise basically area control games. The new map looks like it has a single dimension of “unrest” but obviously maybe there is more and maybe there is some push/pull to the way you interact with it.

Yeahhh this is basically where I end up too. $10 to try out some new mechanics that they might be playing around with for XCOM 3 is a pretty good deal. I just wish those mechanics were at a different scale. But from reading the thread on the XCOM subreddit, it’s very clear I’m in the minority here and Firaxis knows the audience for these games better than I do.

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I really wish someone would get the insurgency angle of XCOM 2 right as well. And before anyone mentions The Long War 2, let me say again: I really wish someone would get the insurgency angle of XCOM 2 right.

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What would you change just curious? I’m not educated enough on the subject TBH but would love to hear some ideas from someone who is.

I’m hardly well educated about this, but I think the essential element that is missing from XCOM 2 is civilian sentiment, in other words, “hearts and minds”.

In a different kind of game, I could see XCOM as an organization being more invested in civilian attitude towards the ADVENT regime and towards the resistance, but in the actual game the civilian populace exist only as minor tactical obstacles (save them in retaliation missions, avoid being spotted by them other times), and not as long term strategic elements. Actions by XCOM (and by ADVENT) would have repercussions and side effects. In game mechanics, you might accomplish your main objective from a tactical mission but because you blew up a building along the way, civilian sympathy for XCOM degrades and you have to work to get it back. I’m not a game designer, so I recognize this would be a huge design challenge!

From a story perspective, I think it’s a bit too glib to write the entire population off as collaborators and accomplices to the occupation, but the game kind of assumes they are all brainwashed. That’s fine for the purposes of serving the “golden path” of the campaign, but it’s not a great model of insurgency.

I’m obviously a big fan of XCOM, but that’s also the reason I’ve thought about it so much, because I see such an interesting potential here. And I think the real problems start to come up when you switch sides and tell a story not from the insurgent perspective but from the counter insurgent/government/COIN perspective, since historically they are usually the side with more power.

Anyway I’ll stop hijacking this thread…

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Just before you stop hijacking the thread, I’d like to note that I think the same complications would also make any XCOM game better. [I *think* that this is something War of the Chosen tries to do a bit with the other rebel factions and your relationships with them; and something Phoenix Point tries to do similarly - but they’re both missing a “public sentiment” meter in general; just as XCOM missed any real consequences from those side offers like selling alien tech to a given country.] The same public sentiment meters that model insurgency also can be used to reflect the popularity and influence of any movement - including an extra-governmental military force like XCOM in the first game [and all of the original pre-Firaxis games].

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New videos went up with short character bios




So at least 2 of them were just straight up cops prior to the invasion :neutral_face: also who wants their call sign to be Blueblood?? That’s like asking to be called by the trope you represent. Kinda hope you can customize nicknames to an extent even if it’s just a premade list

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Yeah these make me feel like we aren’t going to get much in the way of real interrogation of the XCOPS theme but I will say the comic book style art is a nice change of pace. I loved the XCOM 2 loading screens but this style is more grounded in a way that makes me hopeful Firaxis wants to tell stories about what the invasion, occupation, resistance was like from a broader range than they have so far.

I’m always a little wary to venture into places like gaming subreddits and Steam forums but I was looking around for some threads about what kind of modding support there will be at launch and stumbled onto a vocal group of the usual gamer suspects (a vocal minority presumably but I have no idea as I’m not about to do some kind of survey) nerd raging about Chimera Squad’s apparent theme of a diverse team working to integrate humans & aliens. Some of what I read was predictably but dissappointly filled with truly vile ideas… made me very grateful to have a community like Waypoint to hang out in

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the tone in XCOM is really interesting to me. i honestly still get kinda spooked on nighttime crashed UFO missions, or any time chryssalids show up, in a way very few non-horror games do to me. and it swings from that into just the goofiest sci-fi tropey stuff very quickly, like… just look at the Thin Men. its obv not the first game to do the mix of cartoony/pulpy visuals with punishing difficulty and violence, but i always think back on it as more intense/serious than it actually is.

which is maybe why i know i probably shouldn’t be too put off by the idea of XCOPS as a concept being handled poorly, but kinda still am. i dunno. all that said, i’m still optimistic! i love EU/EW a ton and hope this is good.

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I’ll edit if they add any others today.

Redeeming of the ADVENT clones was a great part of War of the Chosen and good to see it continues.

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