XCOM: Enemy Unknown draws on a couple familiar cultural touchstones in its quest to deliver unique but recognisable aliens.
Speaking to Killscreen, Enemy Unknown lead designer Jake Solomon said Enemy Unknown’s general alien design began with a classic “grey” template and built from there.
“The first UFOs are disc-shaped, because we wanted it to start in the same place where the original game did, which came from a very campy sense of UFO mythology – The X-Files was very popular when the first games were made,” he said.
“One of the new aliens we’ve shown off is this tall, slender man in a suit. He’s really bizarre – he’s incredibly flexible, he can leap really high – it’s a very creepy thing to see the human form extended and twisted. That came from the same place of UFO mythology – we looked at Men in Black, the infiltrator in a black suit. Again it’s not necessarily campy, or campy in a bad way, but the player already has a back-story about aliens in their minds, so we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Interestingly, the designer said the sectoid foes used to be much more human, but where altered at the request of Civilization designer Sid Meier.
“Our first version of the sectoid was much more upright – right now he’s feral and animalistic and sounds very bird-like. Before, he almost looked like a kid with this high-pitched voice,” Solomon explained.
“Sid was playing the game – this is a true story – and he just said, ‘You have got to change this. This feels like you’re shooting innocent children.'”
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October. Steam pre-orders will help unlock a series of bonuses.