XCOM Beyond Earth: Shock Tactics on thebesplayers

XCOM Beyond Earth: Shock Tactics on thebesplayers

Wearing its influences proudly on its sleeve, like impressive military insignia, Shock Tactics [official site] takes turn-based tactical combat to the new frontier.

Shock Tactics is a single player turn-based sci-fi strategy game with tactical combat, exploration, squad management and base building. It is inspired by the space western style of Firefly and tactic games like Jagged Alliance and X-COM.

While each playthrough will take place on a procedurally generated planet, your adversaries aren’t aliens (though they may well be present), you’ll be sticking it to The Man. The Imperial Consortium is the name The Man goes by in this particular future and as a space pioneer, you’ll be fighting against mercenaries to wrest control of the planet and its ancient secrets.

And, yes, it all looks a bit like XCOM, doesn’t it? I’m hoping that the randomisation of the map and the way in which you interact with that map, moving across it as a squad rather than operating from a central base, will lead to something a little different. Not that I’d mind more XCOM in my life but I’m still feasting on XCOM 2 when time allows, and I’d like my diet to be at least a little varied. It might be burgers all the way down, but let’s vary the sauce.

Shock Tactics’ sauce makes several attempts to create a new taste sensation. It’s an exploratory game, in which you’ll hunt for alien artifacts to enhance your squad’s abilities, and the base-building appears to take place on the map itself rather than in a discrete location. It seems you’ll also have named soldiers with specific upgrade trees rather than hordes of new recruits who fall into classes as they earn promotions. That ties in with the Firefly influence, I guess, providing the player with a gang of characters who have their own built-in backgrounds and relationships.

One such is Mavuto ‘Bunker’ Burwin, a frontline bruiser with an AI ‘guardian’ character who assists him in battle. I’ll quote from the devblog at length to give an example of how the characters work, as it seems like a key point of differentiation from XCOM (and perhaps a link back to Jagged Alliance, one of the other stated influences):

The guardian is bound to Bunker in every aspect of the tactical gameplay. He is not under your direct control and follows Bunker wherever he goes. When you give move orders to Bunker, you get a preview where his guardian will move. He will automatically try to find a good defensive cover position in close proximity to Bunker. Since the guardian is rather squishy, forcing him to follow Bunker far out into open spaces is dangerous. Bunker himself can step right into the heat of the battle, as long as his guardian can find cover somewhere nearby. In spite of being an easy kill himself, the guardian supports Bunker when things get rough, making Bunker a fearless warmachine. The only thing that can bring down this calm, massive tank is his guardian friend getting downed. Then Bunker goes completely mad, forgets about mission objectives and only defends his guardian both as a meatshield and an angry artillery until his guardian is back on his feet. The guardian makes Bunker extremely hard to kill, but also gives him a distinct weakness.

Shock Tactics is due late 2016.

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