Ok, it looks like some of the information we got from people who read the Game Informer article was wrong. Apparently those people didn't read it right or something. Anyway, here are some clarifications from the author of the article:
1. Not sure if the GAF poster was reading the mag upside down or something, but no. Countries don't research stuff, XCOM does. Countries will give you missions with tradeoffs (send us 4 laser rifles and we'll give you 10 engineers etc).
2. Grappling hook is an armor ability, not a class thing. The sniper in the example was equipped with an armor suit that has a grapple ability.
3. The cinimatic view is purely presentation, just some eye candy for big moments in combat.
4. You start out with only 4 soldiers and then upgrade your limit from there.
Sorry if this is unorganized, it is pulled from a bunch of different sources:
•In the scenario they showed, one member died. Because of this the other squadmates didn't get an experience bonus
•Without the bonus, the sniper leveled up still. He was able to choose from two abilities. Either Squad Sight(which means he can shoot anything a squadmate can see) and Snap Shot(which lets him shoot after moving. Something snipers aren't normally allowed to do)
•You can't recruit specific classes. You can only recruit rookies and then level them up to become specific classes
•The guys in suits in the screenshots are 'Thin Man' aliens. They're able to leap long distances
•Challenge is stressed a lot
•same quick save/load system though they are considering an iron man type mode where you can't load previous saves
•Firaxis states that they're not rebooting it, they're re imagining it. Using the same core gameplay with modern technology, weapons, audiovisuals, etc.
There's apparently a 'Heavy Armed Mobile Cover Platform that serves as a powerful rock on which to anchor any tactical advantage' and you can directly customize the heavy troops armor and weapons individually.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF XCOM'S CONTENT COMES IN THE FORM OF PROCEDURUALLY GENERATED MISSIONS AND ENCOUNTERS, MEANING THAT EVERY PLAYTHROUGH UNFOLDS DIFFERENTLY. (Sorry for the caps, just quoting here.)
•randomly generated missions, terrain. Developer says you'll never play the exact same mission twice outside of a few story missions which feature in-game cinematics
•fog of war is confirmed. area starts off with darkness everywhere, and the average soldier can't see ☺☺☺☺
•enemy spawns are randomized
•mobile platform called SHIV; customizable for new chasis
•Sectoids and Mutons confirmed
•The base's screenshot is accurate. It is now a side shot instead of top down. You can also upgrade your base, like the satellite, with alien technology
•There was an example in one scenario where Japan had the laser rifle already developed before the invasion because they felt threatened, so that seems random.
•You have 16 countries in the funding council you need to keep happy. Some provide more money, but others, like Africa, provide more raw resources
•The sniper units have a grappling hook ability to get on top of buildings
•Gunners have a suppressing fire
•you can equip your xcom guys with all kinds of different guns. customization looks like a big deal
•Apparently there's some sort of cinematic view when your guys get killed. They didn't cite VATS or anything, so I doubt it's too in depth
•Unexperienced agents can panic, freak out, etc if something bad happens
•Firaxis designer states that the PC version will have an enhanced interface. He cites Dragon Age: Origins on PC and console as a big inspiration
•No black blobs in Firaxis's XCOM. The guys in suits are called "Thin Men" and they can use weapons, jump large distances, and puke disgusting goo.
•No action points. The game uses a move-and-shoot (or move-and-move) dynamic. They don't want people piddling around counting individual action points. Some will call this a concession to consolitis; others will call it useful streamlining.
•Soldiers gain perk-like abilities when leveling up; some examples given are, for a sniper, Snap Shot (move-then-shoot, not normally a sniper option) or Squad Sight (shoot any enemy anyone on your squad can see -- not sure of the rationale there....).
•Environments are destructible, as we would wish.
•Soldiers can still panic, but not to the point of wiping the squad. Likewise, you'll never get plasma-bombed right out of the carrier. They want to make the game more fair, and those were specifically mentioned.
•The strategic layer is extremely robust. You still need to choose which countries to send missions to, which offers of aid (in exchange for more protection) you'll accept from which countries, which alien technologies you'll research, etc. The back-and-forth between tactical and strategic play remains at the heart of the game.
•Overwatch, duck-and-cover, etc. are all still very much present, tactically.
•You can research vehicles, which take the place of a squaddie. They don't gain XP and when they are destroyed they are lost for good, but they provide serious cover and firepower. One example given is a mobile heavy weapons platform that serves as a good overwatcher for a tactical advance.
•Sectoids and Mutons are in. Cyberdiscs and Thin Men are also mentioned. Evidently psionics are also in.
•Aliens have their own special perk-like abilities as well.
Overall it looks really ☺☺☺☺ing fantastic and I am now DAY ONE.
The article specifically cites a sniper spending their entire turn to take an aimed shot for Massive Damage. Perhaps it's more accurate to think of the game as having only two action points per turn, for Move-Shoot, or Move-Move, or Aim-Shoot, etc.
Gus, like I said, overwatch is in the game. In, in, in the game. You definitely can set up squaddies who haven't used all their actions in a turn, such that they can do overwatch and shoot the instant something comes into view.
Reloading costs an action, so it is a tactical consideration. Ducking into cover is the main positioning mechanic they mention. They also mention supppressive fire as another mechanic -- your heavy weapons guy can lay down a barrage that can paralyze pinned units (e.g. remove their actions). Grenades are in, wounding is in. Generally it doesn't sound like there are fewer tactical options, but rather that the bookkeeping is simplified.
(This part was by the author of the GI article)
Apologies if the article was unclear, but the deal is that sniper rifles are unusual in that they take a full turn to shoot. You can unlock a move-shoot perk for snipers at some experience level, but your basic sniper rifle takes a full turn to fire.
Ammo is abstracted. You're assumed to be carrying enough clips to reload as much as you want, but it takes a turn to do so. Suppressive fire is crazy awesome, for instance, but it burns through ammo like a mofo so you're borrowing turns down the road to kick ass now.
Body positions - AIUI you are assumed to be kneeling behind partial cover etc. They didn't go into a ton of detail here. Personally that's a level of control granularity that I'm not concerned about preserving, so long as I have other awesome ☺☺☺☺ that I can do and creative tactics to explore. Which from what I've seen will not be lacking.
So yeah, you only have one base. Building different bases has been removed, but you still buy satellite coverage (the new radar) and build hangars for interception in different countries. Your single base is like way more crazy awesome than any base from the original, though, and presents lots of opportunities for more decision-making in terms of digging deeper as well as what kind of expansion facilities you add on (see the screenshot of the "ant farm" that we put online Monday).
Without a doubt, this game looks FANTASTIC! I'm worried about them saying they want to make the game more "fair" and toning down soldiers going berserk and whatnot, but still even with that this looks like it is going to be a great successor to the original!