From 2010 To Today: How 2K Marin Reinvented The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

From 2010 To Today: How 2K Marin Reinvented The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Few were in love with the idea of an XCOM first-person shooter, least of all Julian Gollop, the franchise’s creator. The game’s recent re-jigging as a tactical third-person shooter was a massive step in the right direction — but what led to developer 2K Marin’s decision to overhaul the design in the first place, other than fan discontent?

This video from IGN, which contains interviews with the folks from 2K Marin, goes a long way to answering that question. In it, the 2010 and current version of the game are compared, along with an explanation from creative director Morgan Gray on how the team figured out what sort of game it wanted (even needed) to make:

The goals in 2010 with the shooter expression of our XCOM game aren’t too dissimilar from where we are today, but at the highest level it was trying to find the tenets of the classic XCOM recipe and put it to a different mix for modern gamers.

After exploring the core of what XCOM is about, it became clear that it wasn’t sticking true to the franchise:

[One of] the biggest things that [was] lacking was a sense of team. XCOM is a game that is generally about a unit — a squad of people out on the battlefield working together. Although there were two AI companions your control over them, your interaction with them from a gameplay / mechanical standpoint was pretty limited, they were mostly like autonomous turret AI buddies — not really something you could command and control.

It was also trying to be a little more visceral on the action front — the FPS perspective, the weapon set was much more of a mixture of cerebral investigation with quick moments of panic and tension.

The result wasn’t a bad game, just not one 2K Marin could honestly whack the “XCOM” brand onto with complete confidence. Gray mentions it had more in common with survival horror, “like a Silent Hill sort of game, where it’s sort of the cerebral horror versus the run and gun horror game”. He admits terror is an important component of XCOM, but “not at the forefront” of the series.

While it remains to be seen if The Bureau will hit the right notes, it’s refreshing to know there are developers out there with the flexibility and desire to make radical changes when needed. I can imagine most publishers just flushing the whole thing down the toilet, or releasing something undercooked to recoup costs.

The Evolution of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified [IGN]


  • I am actually looking forward to giving this a go now. The first time i seen it back in 2010 I wasn’t impressed, but now it looks kinda cool.

  • To be honest, I thought the 2010 game looked AWESOME. Im the complete opposite to the above poster.
    It looked like an awesome game that really shouldnt have been under the XCOM name.
    Now however the game looks more like an XCOM game, a game to make the old school fans happy. But now the game looks like its just pandering to them and to what XCOM is supposed to be. I just wish the old 2010 game was released with a different name.
    I wont be purchasing this XCOM game. Just like i havent purchased any of the other XCOM games, because ive never liked third person team based strategy games.
    For those that do like those games. Enjoy, i think youll be happy. 🙂

    • Have to agree.

      I really loved the investigative/research/survival as a primary experience, then tactical kick-assery as a secondary experience that the 2010 version was going to be. This one just seems to be half Enemy Unknown, half Mass Effect.

      I’ll be giving this a pass.

    • I thought the 2010 FPS looked like a good game, I just didn’t think it looked like an X-Com game.

    • +1 internet points for declaring it is possible that others might like a genre you do not, and not going on declaring said others to be ‘n00bs’ or ‘not true gamers’.
      These points are not refundable, nor redeemable. Enjoy!

  • I’m getting this it looks like the exact game I want (I liked the demo for Enemy Unknown but turn based stuff just doesn’t click with me -ts more difficult for me to see the cause and effect with a turn based game

  • It’s definitely a lot more appealing now than in its original incarnation. I’m glad the team took some cues from the ME series and expanded upon it, and why wouldn’t they? The ME trilogy had some really innovative rpg shooter combat. This is just taking what Bioware started and kicking it up a notch (and from the looks of it, a very big notch) which can only be a good thing for the genre.

    The original ‘XCOM’ game really had little going for it imo, while the investigation component looked alright, rest of the game felt fairly uninspired in terms of game play.

  • You lot who sit there and say they would have prefered the 2010 version of this game are the whole reason the game industry went to shit this generation.
    The 2010 version looked like a cheap, cod wannabe version of xcom.
    As some of you may know, CoD single handley destroyed innovation for this gen of console.

    You can complain all u want about this new version, but its simple, you are the generic gamers that play it safe and spend the $90 on a new cod game every year, when u should only be spending $30. That is how bloody stupid u are, u keep buying the same game every year, giving Activision Billions a year, when there are so many innovative, fun and engaging game developers out there making fantastic games but arent given a chance cause all u stupid sheep want is cod, While people like me dont want anything to do with cod or its generic gameplay, just like Halo.

    For proof on how gamers are ruining the industry and not the publishers is that Black Ops 2 is the highest selling cod game, yet it has less features, map designs are designed perfectly for campers, less guns and perks.
    But Battlefield 3 didnt do as well as cod, still sold 15 million copies and reviewed well but that game shoulda done better, it had innovative multiplayer with a great Game Engine, Maps were huge and the fireights felt like real firefights in iraq.

    And whats funnier is that you generic bunch think CoD Ghost will Innovate the Cod games. Sorry to give u bad news but using a new game engine is not innovative and if you think they are gonna change anything else then ur dellusional. CoD is so popular cause of its formula, if its changed then you loose 80% of ur gamers, and thats the campers.

    This new redesigned Xcom will rock, it will innovate and give Xcom fans what they want and newcomers to the series will experience an amazing series re-invented to be fun and playable by everyone.

    I kknow That was long but this is the first time EVER that I have been able to express my feelings for CoD clones like that…. And it felt gooood.

    If u agree with me I would love to hear ur opinion, if u dont agree with me then Ur opinion is still welcomed.
    Everyone has a right to enjoy a game, but not when CoD is ruining games for people like me and potentially cause the Industry to collapse again.

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