The Bureau: XCOM Declassified arrives in August

XCOM first-person shooter repurposed as full-priced third-person tactical game for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

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After numerous delays and years of silence, 2K has finally announced its intentions for the mysterious XCOM first-person shooter that was originally announced in 2010. The game has evolved into a third-person tactical shooter called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, a $60 Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC game due out on August 20.

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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified--in development at BioShock 2 studio 2K Marin--is set in 1962 America at the end of the Cold War. John F. Kennedy is president and the U.S. public at large is afraid of a nuclear war with Russia. At the same time, the US government is establishing a secret organization to combat this threat. As it turns out, it's not the Russians who invade, it's the aliens.

"And so the same organization has to switch gears to combat the aliens. So not only are you combating the aliens for the public physically, but you also have to keep it secret so you're not creating mass hysteria and panic in the streets," explained associate producer Andrew Dutra. "This is where the origin story comes in. The Bureau is one of these organizations and it's the start of how the hero becomes the XCOM organization."

Gamers play as agent William Carter, an intelligence operative with a determined resolve. He'll stop at nothing to get the job done "no matter what," 2K explained.

Described as a third-person tactical squad-based combat game, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified borrows from the praised XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Specifically, the new game will adopt the pillars of the strategy series--Team, Tactics, Tools, Technology, and Terror--and introduce them to players in a new way.

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Creative director Morgan Gray explained that being tactical is a key component of The Bureau. He said players will only succeed if they work together. "The team and tactics aspect is at the forefront of our gameplay experience," he said.

Though the Bureau will be respectful of the tone and atmosphere of the classic strategy game series, the new game--designed for hardcore gamers--puts players on the ground and in the boots of a soldier. This makes for a compelling and novel experience, Gray argues.

"When we say tactical third-person squad-based combat game, that has a huge T on that tactical; it should be underlined and printed in bold. Because we're basically trying to get a game that puts you away from the turn-based, God's eye view of the action, and puts you in the boots of the squad leader in the battlefield where the bullets are flying," he said. "You have real-time control of your squad."

In terms of strategy and tactics, The Bureau will allow players to flank, perform leap frog procedures, cover and fire, and prioritize targets within their squad. In addition, gamers will be able to unleash powers to squadmates that are unlocked through experience points amassed over the course of the campaign.

"This is basically putting you in the heat of battle and asking you to use both your brains and bullets to win," Gray said.

The stakes are especially high in The Bureau, Gray explained, because when a squadmate dies, there is no coming back. Permadeath for companions is in place for the game, and Gray believes this is a revolutionary feature for the title.

"When they're dead, they're dead for good. Now, this is obviously part of the XCOM DNA, but in the third-person space, this is like a revolution," Gray said. "The concept of 'What? My squadmates are dead and they're gone forever?' Yes. And now you still have a lot of game to go and the clock's ticking. Our plotline is always moving forward. The consequences of that loss are immediate and there's no way to hide from them. The war will not stop for you."

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified will arrive in the wake of the well-received XCOM: Enemy Uknown, a turn-based strategy game for consoles and PC. Though The Bureau and Enemy Unknown are dissimilar in genre, Gray said he does not believe this will stretch the brand too far or dilute it in any way.

"I figure good games are good games," Gray said. "I don't think myself or 2K is too worried about diluting the brand as much as our goal is…we have a brand, let's find an expression that can bring more people to the table and give more people a chance to experience it in different ways."

Overall, the goal of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is to "expand and open up the franchise" to gamers who may have been turned off by past entries in the series, while also preserving the pillars of the classic strategy franchise, Gray explained.

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Avatar image for rmiller365

this could be good

Avatar image for ReiShingami1

Anyone else thinks that agent on second screenshot looks like Vita Scaletta?

Avatar image for The__Kraken

Yuck... Third-person. I don't like that aspect of this game's evolution.

Avatar image for Vambran

I don't like live action trailers unless they are funny like the black ops dlc one. As for this game , i think ill give it a pass and wait for Xcom EU2.

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD

Yay, there are NOT enough Third Person Shooters on the market AT ALL...

This FPS phase gamers are going through is crap, third person shooters have been, are, and always will be, better than any other shooter.

The tactical part sounds interesting I guess, but I am just happy to see more TPS instead of FPS.

TPS report.

Had to say it.

Avatar image for RAGEofSTUNTS

L.A. Noire, turn-based edition.

Avatar image for F4lloutShock

@RAGEofSTUNTS it's real-time, and did LA Noire have aliens in the game? i forget.

Avatar image for urtin3

@F4lloutShock @RAGEofSTUNTS Star Trek: Noire Generation

Avatar image for Adavanter

No but I would play a 3rd person or FPS game about Star Craft.

Avatar image for jubeio

@Adavanter You mean starcraft ghost that theyve spoke about since PS2? xD

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun

I would be really happy if it is actually a tactical shooter. I forgot the last time I played a true tactical shooter, some of the games I enjoyed: Rainbow Six: Raven Shield, Ghost Recon AWF 1 and 2 (PC version, console version was completely different and hardly tactical)

Avatar image for Razorlight6

Sounds like Ghost Recon.

Avatar image for Simplythebest12

More like the Commandos game ( but fighting aliens instead of Nazis

Avatar image for Razorlight6

@Simplythebest12 Ah yeah, Commandos. I only played the demo way back when, and it was definitely fun.

Avatar image for Attvck01

I was really looking forward to this, so needless to say it was a dissapointment when they announced they would scrap it / put it on hold / whatever. I didnt follow it enough but it definitely just wiped off the gaming scene. The gameplay trailer looked sick but i like that they're taking a third person perspective although in my opinion i think FPS would have been more immersive as it comes across as quite a slow story line. Glad they're finally pulling through with it - but let's hope the game is polished, original and most of all released THIS YEAR!

Avatar image for rene9ade520

I'll check this out when it comes out, but I'm still pissed about them changing directions with this. I was really looking forward to it when I saw the original trailers and it was FPS. And before you all rag on me saying FPS is shallow and mainstream and blah blah blah, I love all game types. It just so happens that this was looking like an EXCELLENT FPS and only looks like a mediocre Third Person Shooter (tactical...).

Avatar image for Xx_Kares_xX

@rene9ade520 Because we really need ANOTHER generic fps in the current market...

But of course it looks like a bad 3rd person tactical game, and it WILL be a bad 3rd person tactical game because they changed it mid development. It's going to be a cheap, lazy cash in on the successful reboot made by maxis. As a long time fan of the X-com series... this truly hurts me... the industry REALLY needs to crash... I can't wait for it to happen, and I think it's right around the corner when both the PS4 and Xbox 720 fail to sell, and all the morons in their development booths won't be able to figure out why...

Avatar image for Xx_Kares_xX

x.x sorry, firaxis.. not maxis... it bothers me that I got them confused

Avatar image for eddieham13

@Xx_Kares_xX If they made it an fps they would be the same, it's their fault that SimCity is as shit as it is, for once it's not 100% EA.

Avatar image for raduaerosx

I played all Xcom Games and personaly i really Love Xcom Franchise,it was so sad to see such great game fade into darkness until the Firaxis revived the Franchise with Xcom:Enemy Unknown,i like and play most of FPS RTS RPG games but i really like Xcom and every new game is like a shining star in the skyes for me because i really wanted to see the Franchise again in the market so we could enjoy it,and trust me if it succeed it will give the publishers the reason to Support more of this Franchise,and more support it gets more Xcom games we can play,it doesent matter that the Bureau:Xcom Declasiffied is and FPS with RTS integration because if Xcom Succeeds, more Xcom Games including original RTS Xcom will be made available,so just Support it,i understand if you don't like this XcomFPS but your support and i mean maybe you won't buy it because you love Original RTS System but there are people who will give it a try and your Support will help Publishers to realize that this Franchise is wanted and more RTS Xcom will have the Clear go to be created, there are different people who enjoy different Genres but there is so few games Like Xcom so just support it because our support make the Difference,to Continue Xcom Franchise or to fade again and this time it may dissapear for ever.

P.s Besides that i Trust in the 2K they made Bioshock 2 and personally i enjoyed all Bioshock from 1,2,to Bioshock: Infinite.

Avatar image for Coolspot18

There is a real phone number in the trailer! If you call the number at 1:50, you'll get the theme music. 415-507-7616. Neat.

Avatar image for Attvck01

@Coolspot18 you have way to much time on your hands, stranger

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@Attvck01 @Coolspot18 Can't have too much more time than we have, what with us replying to comments like this. XD

Avatar image for Coolspot18

@Derejin @Attvck01 @Coolspot18 Ha Ha, I guess the question is... did you call the #? :D

Avatar image for CorsosNine

I read many comments here and some of you seem to be a little confused. XCOM throughout the years, has evolved over and over again into different types of gameplay. This game seems that it will touch base with the XCOM universe, but by no means be the same gameplay as the recently released XCOM: Enemy Unknown. We tend to expect that from a game franchise. XCOM is known to expand.

To me, the game looks interesting, XCOM or not. Whats really in a name besides what you come to expect? XCOM, although most known for turn based gameplay, will not give you what you expect. Instead, you will have a whole new idea to explore. Enjoy it if you wish.

Avatar image for PodXCOM


(Oy vey!) Let's get the facts straight:

1. The first 3 games were all Turn-Based Strategy (UFO Defense, TFTD, Apocalypse.)

2. X-COM: Interceptor, the space shooter, was very unpopular with X-COM fans, and it only sold 30,000 copies. Same goes for X-COM Enforcer: no one liked it.

3. X-COM: Alliance was canceled.

So everytime they tryed to 'expand' X-COM, it sucked and only hurt the X-COM name. So that's why we don't want this game; it's just another Enforcer. It doesn't even want to be an X-COM game, or even try anything new.

Avatar image for Alexcmuller

mafia 2 with aliens?

Avatar image for thuglove2005

very nice cant wait

Avatar image for Zakk1010

"Overall, the goal of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is to "expand and open up the franchise" to gamers who may have been turned off by past entries in the series"

You don't like it? Just don't buy it! This is for people who doesn't like the old XCOM and may wanna try out new ways of playing XCOM. All the hate over this makes no sense... IMO

Avatar image for PodXCOM

@Zakk1010 It's because they were lying before, saying that this was an X-COM game. They even said once that they were working on it *before* they had to slap the X-COM name to it, so it wasn't an X-COM game to start with.

And what will make this an X-COM game? Will it use the setting, story, or characters from the other X-COM game? No. Will it use gameplay from X-COM? No, because if they did, they wouldn't be talking about the X-COM gameplay in such an ambiguous way.

Avatar image for urtin3

I don't know if I should buy this game or stay away from it.

I mean it's no longer turn based but this game could be like Fallout series which transforms from turn-based into fps or could be worse.

Avatar image for PodXCOM

@urtin3 It will be worse. It'll play like a poor man's Mass Effect. And everything that makes up an X-COM game isn't going to be in this game.

Avatar image for WiiMan21

@PodXCOM @urtin3

Glad you were able to identify that off of the little info we have. Thanks man, you're a money saver.

Avatar image for PodXCOM


Also, look at what Simplythebest12 says below:

"New technology can also be salvaged and equipped between missions, but research is handled more like an RPG than it was in XCOM: Enemy Unknown."

Weasel words. What they mean by that is: Instead of taking new alien tech to the base and waiting couple of days to research them, you'll be now using it as money to unlock new weapons. Like a RPG. They showed this before in the 20 minutes walkthrough.

Avatar image for PodXCOM

@WiiMan21 @urtin3 You can tell what they do and don't have in the game, just by the way they talk about certain things. Like where is the Research, Manufacturing, Base Building, Agent Control, or Strategy? It's because they don't have them, so they don't talk about it.

This is the third time they changed the game, and they still don't want us to know about the good parts. They keep just saying 'this is what makes an X-COM game', or 'we're keeping the core of X-COM', just like before. They even had a 20 minutes walkthrough, and they still didn't show anything new.

And what does he mean by Tactical? Tactical is not Strategy.

Avatar image for meatz666

I'm actually doing something that I hate. Criticizing a game that I never played and don't know much about. Let us wait the release... THEN we gang bang it.

Avatar image for meatz666

People love to criticize Nintendo for stapling the Mario name on everything.

This is basically stapling the XCOM name on a different game.

What we should expect next? Assassins Creed Party? Kratos Fit? Alan Wake Dance Revolution?

Avatar image for The-Neon-Seal

@meatz666 Assassins Creed has already gone down the pan so they can for all I care.

Avatar image for meatz666

@The-Neon-Seal @meatz666 You can't however accuse them of displeasing fans of the gameplay.

Avatar image for meatz666

@stev69 @meatz666 My first Platinum... I just loved that game. I really felt like Batman.

Avatar image for stev69

@meatz666 Couldnt agree with you more on Arkham City great game.

Avatar image for meatz666

@stev69 @The-Neon-Seal I totally understand. Sometimes a great game is the combination of a great setting with great gameplay. IMO, Batman AC is this. I love the gameplay, but if it wasn't batman, I don't know if I would care.

Now, if the creators of XCOM did a Turn Based game about Mutants, I would be a lot happier, than a XCOM theme in in a 3rd person tactical shenanigans...

Avatar image for stev69

@The-Neon-Seal The gameplay in AC hasn't changed a great deal over time, if you didn't like it in the beginning fair enough but you can't really say its gotten worse.

You might say the setting and story sucked which I thought it did personally.

Avatar image for The-Neon-Seal

@meatz666 @The-Neon-Seal I think they already did. My firned is a big Assassin Creed fan and didn't like 3. He said something lalong the lines of 'it's like they went, 'it's assassin creed and it will do.'' I must admite I liked three until running through the woods got old. But the battles were rubbish and the story virtually had NO ending. It was like 'is that it?!'

Avatar image for The-Neon-Seal

SOLD! Sounds like Valkyria Chronicals meets Stargate.

Avatar image for vivalatour

as always , guys not giving the game a chance G they should drop everything and make a game especially for you ! Saints Row went into a weird direction I did not care for , but , I did not buy it or play it ! that's the way to settle things you crybabies , I don't care if you dislike this comment because you won't hear me crying if you do !

Avatar image for Simplythebest12

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Detailed And Described

The game still takes place during the height of the cold war during John F. Kennedy's presidency. Americans are braced for war, but with a nuclear Soviet Union, not an alien incursion. The titular Bureau was founded (in secret) to be the first line of defense. As William Carter, you'll have to fulfill your mission to protect the populace from physical threat and mass panic, but not in any way the American government could have foreseen.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is not a game of obvious chest-high walls. Much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, battles play out as a struggle for tactical advantage. High ground, choke points, and terrain are crucial to defeat an enemy that Gray calls "a superior force technically and in numbers."

Thankfully, each of Carter's squadmates (who are just as fragile as their XCOM: Enemy Unknown counterparts) can earn experience and learn new skills. Techniques can only be acquired after agents experience them on the battlefield. New technology can also be salvaged and equipped between missions, but research is handled more like an RPG than it was in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

"The war is constantly moving," Gray told us. "There's no time to sit and wait for days for something to come online. The Bureau has its back against the wall, and America is about to be punched in the throat."

The progress of the story, which details the founding of the XCOM initiative and how it was put in moth balls after accomplishing its first goal (so as to keep the events secret from the American people), is non-linear. Players choose missions from a map of the United States, and as real time goes by, so progresses the overarching narrative.

Once on the ground, missions do play out from point A to point B, though the tactical nature and constant threat of permanent death for seasoned agents forces smarter play. Along the way there are secondary objectives that will also broaden the missions. "It plays out like a combat puzzle," Gray explained.

Along those lines, Gray told us that they used titles like Rainbow Six and Full Spectrum Warrior as their inspiration for a more measured, cerebral approach. "It's about how smart you are," Gray clarified. "It's about how you use your tools and the landscape. There are consequences, which is unique in the third-person space."

When asked about whether The Bureau: XCOM Declassified would offer multiplayer, Gray offered a refreshing answer. "We wanted to focus on the single-player without distracting ourselves with multiplayer," he said. "We didn't want to screw over single-player by distracting ourselves, so we went all in. Hopefully the days of tacked-on, bullet-point multiplayer are over for the industry."

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified used to be the game no one wanted. Now, we want to believe...