XCOM 2 Mod Tools Will Result in "Fantastic" Creations: Jake Solomon
"Improved support for modding was one of the pillars of the design of XCOM 2."
XCOM 2 is wearing its PC pride on its sleeve. The upcoming strategy game is a confirmed PC exclusive, with creative director Jake Solomon previously stating that the game couldn't have been made in the same way on the current generation of consoles. We recently spoke to Solomon about why PC was the natural home for XCOM 2, as well as finding out more about how developer Firaxis is planning to support mods and the modding community.
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GameSpot: You've previously stated that XCOM 2 is a PC exclusive because it was the only platform that could help you realise your goals for the game. Can you give us more detail on what those goals are, and in what ways consoles couldn't achieve them?
Jake Solomon: Our first goal is to make a great XCOM game. A game about loss and overcoming obstacles, with intense combat and a strategic component that feeds cleanly into that. We looked at what people were asking for in terms of making XCOM: Enemy Unknown more replayable along with the new elements we wanted, including procedural levels, new skills, new enemies, more customization and modding. When we saw what it meant to implement all of these elements into the game, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Our studio has its most experience building strategy games on PC, and we needed to take advantage of that core expertise and focus on making the very best XCOM we could on the platform we knew the best.
How early in the development process did you realise PC-only was the way to go?
We came to that realization early in development. It’s something we feel strongly about and have stuck with since
Having said that, what are the chances that we see XCOM 2 on Xbox One and PS4 someday, perhaps in a modified form? Or even mobile platforms?
Right now we’re really focused on the PC version. We’re enthusiastic about the possibility of other platform versions, but making the best XCOM for PC is what we’re working on right now.
Given that maps are procedurally generated, how is XCOM 2 telling its story? Will "story missions" have their own pre-made maps? What kind of events can we expect to encounter that will escalate that story?
We do have some story beats within the game, in that you have milestones to guide your progress. Some of those story moments have specific level assets, but they can appear within the context of a procedurally-generated level, which means you’re never going to see the same key items in the same map from game to game. We’ll have more to say about the story; I just don’t want to be the spoiler, yet.
We saw the concept of personal, physical sacrifice for mechanical or genetic upgrades in Enemy Within. Will that carry over into XCOM 2 at all? Perhaps in the option to upgrade soldiers with the DNA and genes of your alien oppressors to create hybrids?
In our story, the XCOM project never really got off the ground, and never so much as slowed the alien invasion. This is true for most people’s games of XCOM: Enemy Unknown--they resulted in a loss, especially the first time around. Narratively, this lets us have players start out as the ultimate underdog. But it also means XCOM never got around to messing with genes and giving people mechanical limbs.
How is Firaxis planning to support the game post release? Does it plan to support the community and promote mods to highlight the better creation?
Improved support for modding was one of the pillars of the design of XCOM 2. And a lot of the changes we’ve made to the game are designed to open up more systems to modders. We also plan to offer modding tools and Steam workshop support.
Civilization has benefited immensely from a talented and long-standing mod community, and the Long War mod team has done incredible things with our game despite it not being super mod-friendly. I’m confident giving the community proper modding tools is going to result in some fantastic mods.
If we do release content after launch, I hope players would be interested in what we were offering.
Is there a worry that the availability of mods may impact any DLC plans?
I don’t think that mods or post-release content are an either-or proposition. If we do release content after launch, I hope players would be interested in what we were offering. Again, Civilization has had both mods and DLC, and players seem happy with those options.
Will the more popular tweaks and changes made by community be rolled back into the main experience, if they're deemed as beneficial?
When we make changes to our game, we generally look at it in the context of the unmodified game. It’s possible that we’d come across the same solution as a modder, but we usually don’t start with a mod and then look at how we would incorporate that into the game.
Valve allows mods to be monetised, and this is an area publishers and developers are exploring. Are there any plans to allow people to sell mods?
Like I mentioned above, modding is a big pillar for XCOM 2 and we’re excited to be supporting Steam Workshop and offering more tools, but we can’t confirm any plans for paid mods at this time.