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XCOM: Enemy Unknown art director Greg Foertsch of developer Firaxis games wants you to be afraid. In recalling the original entry in the revered strategy series, X-Com: UFO Defense, Foertsch said, “The sheer terror that you felt when you’d send your guys out into the darkness and have them die — and quickly, I learned that was actually my friend. Permadeath was good. And I still to this day can remember the very first time I encountered a Sectoid and how creepy that was.”
This isn’t the first time that a developer diary from Firaxis has highlighted the horror aspects from the original. Jake Solomon, lead designer of Enemy Unknown, spoke about this in terms of the challenge UFO Defense provided for players. He describes one of the “core elements” of the game as “the real, high-stakes combat where your soldiers can actually die…that create[s] a feeling of real success.”
In the video, Foertsch further states that one of the goals of his vision “is to try and really maintain that mood and that tension and that feel.” He continues, “And I think a lot of that falls on the art.”
XCOM: Enemy Unknown marks the series’ first foray into 3D for the strategy installments. The aforementioned UFO Defense and sequels X-Com: Terror from the Deep and X-Com: Apocalypse all feature an overhead, isometric point of view for the turn-based, tactical combat half of the game. This new technical direction, according to X-Com creator Julian Gollop, introduces additional challenges for Firaxis, a topic that GamesBeat explored with Solomon in an interview last March.
Watch the entire developer diary, “XCOM: Enemy Unknown Community Video 2 — The Art of XCOM,” below.