The authentic X-COM: UFO Defense, which got here out in 1994, has a fairly easy narrative: Aliens drop in from orbit and start terrorizing the planet. It’s as much as you and your little group of troopers to kill them or die attempting.
The fashionable incarnation of the XCOM franchise from Firaxis Games, alternatively, is extra sophisticated. Over the years there’s been a number of items of downloadable content material, a number of growth packs, and even a full-fledged remake of a earlier sport. The launch of XCOM: Chimera Squad, a stand-alone title with a finances value, solely makes issues extra complicated.
To set the report straight, I bought Chimera Squad lead designer Mark Nauta on the cellphone. Where does the fashionable XCOM story even start? What modules and bits of downloadable content material are thought of canon? And how does that set the stage for Chimera Squad and, probably, the following core sport within the franchise?
Nauta defined that the start line of the fashionable XCOM universe is XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which got here out in 2012. That story canonically begins within the spring of 2015 with a sequence of extraterrestrial incursions on the planet Earth. It contains plenty of totally different alien races — the basic sectoids, mutons, and extra — all being managed by a puppet grasp behind the scenes. They’re all greater than a match for the perfect know-how that Earth can muster, however give that title about 50 hours of your life and you’ll reliably beat again the invasion.
Canonically issues aren’t so easy. In the lore of the XCOM franchise, humanity truly fell to the alien invaders.
That means XCOM: Enemy Within — the 2013 growth to XCOM: Enemy Unknown — by no means actually occurred. That sport’s narrative, which focuses on a concoction of nanomachines known as Meld to discover problems with transhumanism, is a totally alternate XCOM universe. It’s a separate department, Nauta defined, one which doesn’t even occur within the occasions main as much as XCOM 2.
Hardcore followers of the plucky extraterrestrial fight drive will as an alternative want to choose up the novel by Greg Keyes titled XCOM: Resurrection to be taught the circumstances round which humanity falls to the the alien menace. After that, the very subsequent canonical sport is XCOM 2.
XCOM 2 was successfully rebooted in 2017 with an alternate storyline of its personal. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen provides three new factions to the sport. They embody the stealthy human hunters referred to as the Reapers, the hybrid human and alien warriors referred to as the Skirmishers, and the highly effective psionic warriors referred to as Templars. But the general storyline stays the identical. The puppet masters controlling the opposite alien races, identified merely because the Elders, are destroyed. Without them pulling the strings Earth is efficiently liberated.
But, as XCOM: Chimera Squad explores intimately, our planet is modified perpetually by the battle in opposition to the Elders. In the yr 2040, when the sport takes place, it’s house to a number of, full-blooded alien species in addition to unusual human and alien hybrids. Powerful weapons and harmful psionic warriors are nonetheless hiding out among the many inhabitants, and XCOM itself has needed to combine all of those totally different species into its ranks to battle in opposition to them.
Nauta defined that it’s the reboot, War of the Chosen, that leads immediately into XCOM: Chimera Squad. That’s why a number of of its named characters play like members of the Reaper, Skirmisher, and Templar factions that had been first launched within the growth. Chimera Squad equally builds on the extra elaborate writing in War of the Chosen by including greater than a dozen new characters to the lore.
So, in the event you’ve bought your pencils and your scorecard prepared, know that the canonical XCOM online game universe now contains XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, and XCOM: Chimera Squad.
When are we getting a correct XCOM 3? I pushed Nauta on the subject, however all he would say is that followers shouldn’t see the brand new gameplay modifications in Chimera Squad — which emphasize small-scale fight in inside areas — as indicative of the place the franchise is headed. Instead, it’s extra of a “test bed” for gameplay concepts. But, if previous is precedent, followers ought to anticipate the following numbered sport within the fashionable XCOM sequence to have extra narrative depth than ever earlier than.
XCOM: Chimera Squad is on sale now for Windows PC.
This formally licensed novel connects Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the unique XCOM 2, telling the canonical story of how the nice guys misplaced the primary alien battle and fell beneath the management of Advent.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought through affiliate hyperlinks. For extra data, see our ethics coverage.