You Only Live Once In XCOM. No, Really. You Only Live Once.

Video game permadeath is not a concept unique to XCOM but it has, perhaps, its most visceral application in that series. Like its predecessors, if one of your men die in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, that is it. He is gone for good. This can be a tragedy. Or, in the case of this video, a comedy.

After a brooding and morose live-action series that wrapped up this week, The Bureau takes a lighter-hearted approach to repelling an alien invasion with 1960s technology and apparel. Thanks to this video, I now know what the hell a proximity mine looks like in the game and not to go run up to it. Mutons also look twice as dreadful as they do in Enemy Unknown. (I assume that is a muton auctioning off an agent’s remains from the courthouse steps.)

I’m looking forward to The Bureau but I confess, the game’s got me a little panicky. When you’re sending a squaddie charging, undefended, on an enemy from an isometric view in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, where you yourself are not assumed to be a participant in the engagement, it all looks a little chess-like and antiseptic. Personalizing the order — and the stupidity of its outcome — makes me even more risk averse and neurotic, if possible.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified arrives on August 20.


    • I seriously doubt it, I’m guessing it was dubbed over the trailer for laughs. A lot of their talking doesn’t match up with their mouth movements.

  • Most visceral? Hmm, I don’t know, it’s tied for the lead with Fire Embelm and FTL.

    FTL is really disheartening because when you lose crew, it puts you back so, so much. You and all your other crew members have to readjust, literally, and when you’re dealing with small pixel men, your imagination really runs wild with figuring out what sort of characters you’re dealing with.

    Fire Embelm is super terrible for the opposite reason, in that your units are fully developed characters with tons of dialogue and art. Losing one of them forever is like genuinely losing a friend. Oh god.

    XCOM is definitely a contender with these two though. All three of these games are just brilliant, probably for the same reason they are terribly, terribly depressing and awful. Seriously though, permadeath, along with survival metres, are the greatest game mechanics of all time, so any game that employs them recieves like, a 20% bonus to their immersion stat, and I mean REAL immersion, immersion dictated by adrenaline inspiring and emotionally fetching game design, not just an “indepth world” and pretty landscapes. Looking at you, Skyrim.

    • Have to agree. FTL was just *brutal* when you lose a member. It would sometimes literally cause you to say ‘Oh F this. Game restart.’

    • Rename your characters in xcom to the names of your friends. Sending them into battle and knowing that I was sending a particular person into that situation was really stressful. Bonus points for posting about missions on twitter so the person knows you just got them killed.
      I was going to use your username in that example but I thought “Sending Captain Ballsack into the situation” lost some of it’s poignancy

      • Same here. Did that for Organ Trail. Was really tense when my best friend’s wife got grabbed by a bandit and killed. When someone else got grabbed by a Bandit later, took so long to line up that shot.

        Was also kinda fitting that the widower somehow broke a leg and got shot by ‘a stray bullet’ while inside a moving car during the trip. Poor guy must have been depressed 🙁

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