The Bureau’s 23 August release date is rushing up on us awful fast. With work on the game largely wrapped up the 2K Marin took to Reddit to answer questions about the game’s development and where they’d like to take the action next. Think deeper, darker, and wetter places.
For a long while it looked as though work on The Bureau had been canned. 2K Marin have been working on the game since 2006 and when it was announced in 2010 it was first-person shooter. It was delayed and missing from press events for years afterwards. It even had its website pulled. Eventually resurfacing in its rebranded form in April this year. Now it was a third-person, squad-based shooter.
Creative director Morgan Gray explained that “Third person gave us a lot in terms of gameplay benefits. With the focus on tactical combat third person let’s you see yourself, your team, the enemy, and grok the battlefield all in a single eye scan. But it was a hard change, the chief difficulties came from work done on cover mechanics, and player animations. There is lot more to create when you are moving away from disembodied hands holding guns! The other major benefit, is it let us put our main character, William Carter, front in center all the time, which helped cement him as a proper character in the game world and in the narrative.”
It was a massive shift for development but it did put it closer to the XCOM we’ve come to know. A first-person perspective essentially dropped what makes XCOM XCOM. It moved away from squads and taking stock of your battlefield, leaning towards straight up twitch action.
Another redditor asked how many familiar faces we’d be seeing in the game. “We have a number of classic XCOM enemies in the game because we felt they were core to the franchise experience,” replied narrative designer Erik Caponi. “However, our main enemies are new to the franchise and original to The Bureau. They certainly have surprises of their own. The trick was tying the appearance of the classic enemies alongside the Zudjari together in a way that made sense for both our story and for the XCOM franchise.”
“In tying the menagerie of XCOM species together, we had to have a reason for them to be fighting side by side,” Caponi continued, answering a later question. “In this case, the Zudjari are a conquering species, searching for a new planet to settle on. They have failed so far, and have bounced from world to world, conquering and stripping planets of their resources before moving on. In some cases, they were able to enslave a number of species and conscript them in the their forces. This is the case with the Sectoids and Mutons. The bridge we built there was to drop hints of what happens to those species after the events of our game to the point where they show up in later XCOM titles.
“In addition to that, some of the technology from 60+ years later shows up in an early form in our game. We’ve shown the Sectopod, which is effectively a prototype of the more powerful one we see in Enemy Unknown. Looking at the redesigns of those enemies and imagining what earlier and less advanced versions would look like was fun and challenging.
“For me, it was important to add detail to the setting and fill in blanks, but also ask new questions and make the overall setting a bigger and more interesting place.”
Finally, while he wasn’t too specific, Gray hinted at where they will take the game in its next iteration. “it would be fun to expand on the team tactical control, larger teams, more options, etc. I’d be interested in us finding ways to bring aspects of base management and research, that worked well with our focus on “squad leader”, perhaps this would be some sort of battlefield forensics mechanics or actual cyberwar options (combat hackers ala Shadowrun), building field outposts, etc. But these are just early musings I’ve had. As Erik as said…there is something about going under the sea…I mean..we’ve been there before…but without Lobstermen.”
I’m becoming cautiously optimistic for The Bureau.