The XCOM series has earned a dedicated following of strategy game fans with its tense turn-based tactical combat and high-stakes global defense campaign. After the huge success of 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its epic sequel XCOM 2 in 2016, fans have been eagerly awaiting news on the development of XCOM 3. While still shrouded in mystery, some intriguing details about the next chapter in the revered franchise have emerged recently.
XCOM Series Background
Original X-COM Games
The X-COM series originally launched in 1994 with UFO: Enemy Unknown, pioneering the template for isometric turn-based tactics against alien invaders. The original game and its sequels gathered cult status among strategy purists for their punishing difficulty and globe-spanning resource management.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2
The franchise was rebooted in 2012 by Firaxis Games with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, bringing the combat into full 3D and streamlining the campaign. XCOM 2 2016 took the defense effort to an occupied earth, raising the stakes. Both refreshed classics earned acclaim for intelligent design and challenge.
XCOM 3 Announcement
XCOM 3 was first teased with a brief clip during a PlayStation showcase in September 2022. While light on details, the cinematic trailer showed familiar squad combat against menacing alien threats. Firaxis later posted a blog stating the next game is deep in development.
Hardcore XCOM fans celebrated across forums at getting the first glimpse of XCOM 3. A new chapter in the revered tactical series has been anticipated since the conclusion of XCOM 2’s expansions in 2016. Expectations are understandably high.
What We Know So Far About XCOM 3
Some preliminary details have leaked from insider sources. XCOM 3 will reportedly feature larger procedural maps with more gameplay variety. The soldier creator will be upgraded with greater customization options as well.
NVIDIA Database Leak
The biggest Intel drop came from a 2020 NVIDIA database leak, which included an XCOM 3 listing indicating the use of the company’s advanced graphics API for better visuals, particle effects, and performance.
Rumors and Speculation
Story details are still mostly speculation, but fans expect XCOM 3 to feature a post-invasion global setting based on the trailer visuals. New alien types, soldier classes, and a refined strategy layer atop the tactical combat could be in store as well.
Possible Setting and Story
Continuation After XCOM 2
The most likely scenario is XCOM 3 picking up after the events of the last game, with humans now on the offensive against the alien occupiers. Retaking the planet could provide a globe-spanning map for strategic play.
New Alien Threats
New alien races seem certain to threaten human rebuilding efforts. The quick glimpse of a hulking robotic alien in the trailer hints at dangerous new ground enemies to counter with tactical ingenuity.
New Soldier Abilities
New recruits with fresh capabilities will likely augment XCOM’s few surviving veterans. Psionic powers, robotic implants, and other sci-fi upgrades could factor into new soldier builds.
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Gameplay Features and Changes
Larger procedural maps would provide more tactical playspace for multi-squad engagements and give battles added environmental variety. Maps with multiple pathways and complex alien architecture could test strategic thinking.
More Soldier Customization
Personalized squaddies are essential to XCOM’s risk/reward drama. An upgraded soldier customizer seems probable, perhaps allowing visual tweaks like armor colors and gear appearance. Additional skill trees could also be in store.
New Enemies and Missions
The alien menagerie is sure to grow, providing fresh challenges. Larger maps could also allow for multi-objective missions, requiring difficult tactical decisions.
Possible 2022 Reveal
Some analysts speculate a full reveal could land in late 2022, showing extensive gameplay and story details. However, the studio has yet to confirm any timeline.
2023 Launch Window
A 2023 release window seems most likely based on typical XCOM dev cycles. The three-year gap since XCOM 2 aligns with the production time needed to leverage new hardware capabilities.
Unreal Engine 5
The leaked NVIDIA data indicated XCOM 3 will use Unreal Engine 5, allowing enhanced graphics and physics. The new tools could facilitate larger maps with destructible environments.
XCOM 3 appears to have been built from the ground up for the next-generation PlayStation and Xbox Series X/S consoles. The powerful new hardware should provide visuals unmatched by previous series entries.
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Overall Tone and Visuals
The brief cinematic trailer sets a dark, dire tone while showing ruined city environments. This hints at XCOM now taking the fight to the alien occupiers on Earth. Stormy skies reflect the challenge.
A holographic map of planet Earth suggests a global view of the resistance effort. The marquee shot of the Capitol building could signal the retaking of human civilization’s iconic institutions.
New Enemies Teased
The aforementioned giant mechanized alien presents a new threat. We also see alien ships descending en masse, promising large-scale battles ahead. Multiple alien types working in coordination will likely challenge strategies.
Official XCOM 2 Launch Trailer
The official XCOM 2 trailer has been released, and you can watch it here.
A co-op version of the strategic campaign could be incredible, allowing two players to divide responsibilities between base building and battle tactics. Managing resources together introduces fun friction.
Head-to-head multiplayer pits one tactician against another. Competing in one-off customized missions or a linked campaign could bring interesting metaplay and require mastery of human and alien capabilities.
What Fans Want to See
Deeper Strategy Layer
While the tactical battles get the most attention, fans crave improvements to the global strategy layer. More complex diplomatic, research, and resource systems would provide greater long-term decision space.
More Soldier Bonding
The bonds between squadmates added great drama in XCOM 2. Expanding the soldier relationship system with more dialogue, skill unlocks, and combined abilities could make losing your veterans even more heartbreaking.
Base Building Improvements
Managing the human resistance bases is ripe for upgrades. Letting players design bases inside and out via construction, defenses, and structural reinforcements would be enormously engaging.
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Excitement Levels High
Anticipation for XCOM 3 has never been higher. After years without updates, human civilization’s devoted defenders are ready to carry the torch forward in the war against the extraterrestrial threat.
Long Wait Almost Over
While official details are still scarce, it seems the long wait for the next chapter in this elite strategy series is nearing its end. All signs point to a sequel that will live up to the pedigree.
XCOM 3 Shaping Up Well
Early glimpses already show a darker, more serious tone and an evolution of the addictive tactical combat fans love. When it deploys, XCOM 3 looks primed to deliver a deep, grueling, and unforgettable fight to determine humanity’s future.
Q: Is there an official release date for XCOM 3 yet?
A: No, Firaxis and 2K have not announced a specific release date yet beyond a vague 2023 window. Many expect a full reveal later in 2022.
Q: What platforms will XCOM 3 be available on?
A: So far, the game is confirmed for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Previous entries were on PS4/Xbox One, but no last-gen release has been confirmed yet.
Q: Will XCOM 3 have multiplayer?
A: Nothing official yet, but co-op campaign and competitive multiplayer modes seem likely based on job listings referencing multiplayer development. Previous XCOM games did not have multiplayer.
Q: How can I get updates on XCOM 3?
A: Follow the official XCOM channels on social media, sign up for email updates at XCOM.com, and keep watching for announcements from publishers 2K and Take Two. Gaming news sites will also share updates.
Q: Will XCOM 3 conclude the series?
A: Unknown, but the developers could leave the story open-ended. As one of 2K’s most acclaimed franchises, the XCOM series likely has an extensive future ahead. But XCOM 3 could mark the end of one particular story arc.