XCOM: Enemy Within developer Firaxis is going to make your life pretty difficult, thanks to the new EXALT faction. Their goal is to make XCOM's attempts to calm down the population and drive back the alien menace something of a struggle.
In this blog post, Firaxis member Ananda Gupta explained that EXALT is a secret organisation that has its own interests in mind, rather than the salvation of humankind. They want to capture alien tech to boost their own capability, so that they can rule the weakened planet once the aliens have been defeated. Cheers guys.
You can watch the EXALT reveal trailer here to see the buggers in action.
In Enemy Within, EXALT will plant secret cell operations in territories around the world. If left for too long, their agents will spread propaganda to increase panic levels, steal XCOM's funding and hack your research, which effectively cancels it.
XCOM can respond in kind by using Intel Scans, which reveal the location of EXALT bases. You can then plant one of your soldiers as a spy to pose as one of their kind, and over time they will need a hand in bringing the cell down in the form of a mission. The more EXALT cells you destroy, the further you will be to locating the organisation's HQ and only then can you stop their plans for good.
Gupta said of the new EXALT mission types, "Covert ops missions take one of two forms: Covert Data Recovery, in which the player must protect a tactical asset from EXALT’s attempts to hack it (a bit like King of the Hill), and Covert Extraction, which works like a VIP mission except the VIP is the soldier on covert ops duty, and must hack two EXALT comm arrays before leaving the map. Our level design team did an amazing job getting both of these to work on many different maps – originally I had thought we might get eight covert ops missions of only a single type, and when we ended up with ten of each, I was overjoyed."
What do you think of the new EXALT faction?