XCOM 2 is going to be a game we all will be playing for a very long time.
We’ve covered the game’s procedural generation already, which already factors into this game’s longevity, but the modding support will boost in by magnitudes. As both Creative Director Jake Solomon and Lead Producer Garth DeAngelis have said that XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s lack of proper mod support (not that this stopped the modding community) is something they both regret. The result of this is that they intend to release dedicated modding tools for XCOM 2 on launch, or very soon after.
“We’re going all-out with modding on XCOM 2. It’s yours now; do with it what you want.”
The XCOM 2 modding suite will entail an Unreal Development Kit (UDK) and the same editor that was used by the team at Firaxis.
“People will see the gameplay source, all the scripting. This is the code that makes the game what the game is. Here’s the editor and all the assets that went into this game.”
With the game being supported by Steam Workshop, finding the mods you like, and getting them running will be a piece of cake. The guys over at Firaxis see the benefits that mod support can have for both them as the developers, and the gamers playing their game.
“Because we’re a Firaxis game, we’re committed to this idea of player value. We want our players to play our games forever, and so we want to have this sort of vibrant community around the game. We want people to talk, to communicate with us, and for our games to have this really long life cycle, because that increases the value of our games.”
Taking a look at the Steam charts, filtering out F2P titles and eSports phenomena, what we’re left with at the top of the list are games with a thriving modding community. These games are legendary, played by thousands daily years after release, and all because of the modders keeping things new and fresh. Would people still be dumping hours upon hours in Skyrim without mods? Would we still hear of GTA V in gaming news practically every day if it weren’t for news outlets reporting on extremely popular or unique community content? Probably not. Firaxis is gunning to have XCOM 2 join their other game, Civilization 5 on the top of that list.
“Games that are systems-based, games that people can replay again and again – like Skyrim and GTA – they’re rooted in systems. And when people can replay a game again and again, then they want the ability to change the way it plays. And that’s why mods are huge on all of those. Obviously, games like Civ and XCOM are rooted in systems.”
DeAngelis also chipped in.
“The whole modding component is very exciting to me. After you feel like you’ve exhausted what we’ve designed what we’ve built for you, you’re going to see a lot more from the community now.”
Those of you who have played XCOM:EU/EW are probably familiar with the Long War Mod, which adds a ludicrous amount of content, and is the main reason EU/EW is still played today by thousands.
“It’s unbelievable what they did,” said DeAngelis. “The Long War was my go-to recommendation when our hardcore fans would come up to us at shows and would say, ‘I beat Impossible Iron Man three times. I want more.’ There’s absolutely an awesome challenge there for you.”
Solomon goes as far as to say that the mod outperformed the base game in scope. “We’re basically a 20-hour tutorial for The Long War, and that’s okay. I think Long War was cool, because I think that there is – especially in strategy games – there’s always this desire to see more. They did this awesome job of adding a lot more. People will be sharing stories of XCOM and I’ll be like ‘I don’t even know what they’re talking about, this game has changed so much!’ And that, to me, is cool.”
“And that’s like, the ultimate mutual respect,” added DeAngelis. “Again, we missed that on Enemy Unknown. It was the most rewarding thing to hear from the community how much they liked it, and for us to now say we respect that and appreciate that so much, here: go and do something we can love and play in return, and you guys can share with each other. I just think it’s a really valuable relationship that we have.”
The modding potential for XCOM 2 will be massive, and the team already has some ideas what the players can add to the game first. The reason these aren’t in the base game isn’t that the team is lazy, but these are features that just aren’t part of what XCOM is, but some players might enjoy. Plus, the small dev team has their plate full as is.
“We don’t have free-aiming. That will be one of the first mods, and that certainly will be fine,” said Solomon. “Maybe somebody will bring back time units,” he mused. “I’d be fine with that.”
Creating new maps will undoubtedly be the backbone of XCOM 2’s modding scene according to Art Director Greg Foertsch.
“If you want to make a completely static level, you can. If you want to make a basically completely procedural level – which is basically what our levels are in the game right now, that’s 100% doable. It could be narrow; it could be square. It could be super big. And, again, it’s super flexible. There’s really no limit – you can do whatever you want. You could literally make an Enemy Unknown map.”
What kind of mods do you hope to see for XCOM 2? Warhammer 40K and Mass Effect total conversion mods are the obvious ones, so let’s hear some ideas that are more out there!