XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a superb video game in almost all departments, but it’s clear that the development team at Firaxis, who has previously created the Civilization series, has little experience when it comes to creating a proper narrative structure.
It’s easy to see the points where the world of XCOM seems a little undercooked and, while it doesn’t detract from the quality of the game for me, there are some fans of the original X-COM who see it as a core failing of the modern game.
As far as I am concerned, the biggest problem is the lack of a clear image about what the world is doing while the events of XCOM take place.
The worst manifestation of writers’ inexperience is that there’s just one point of interaction between the residents of the underground base, the moment when the scientist, engineer and operations officer watch a transmission of one of the initial terror attacks.
We don’t get any other news reports, we don’t know anything more about how France or the United States are dealing with the invasion, other than their terror level and the funding for XCOM itself.
The developers have missed an opportunity here: that to add a connection to the wider world to the emotion that gamers already have when it comes to their own team during the fights.
Somehow the first fight against the aliens seems disconnected from the population and the stakes are lowered in an unnatural way.
Another grating aspect is the lack of explanation for how stingy the biggest countries in the world are when it comes to funding the war against the aliens.
It would have made sense for them to hold resources back if we saw them fighting back on their own or if we saw them handling massive refugee camps but we never do and that cheapens XCOM: Enemy Unknown to some extent.