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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview

Before setting off you can configure the two AI partners that you’ll bring along. They fall into four types, Engineer, Commando, Support and Recon, each having class-specific abilities. Much like in Enemy Unknown they’re customisable in their appearance. Each class has a specific kind of dress-code like overalls for the Engineers or Camo for the Commando, but you’ve control over the palette (i.e colouring everyone a dapper pink).

Commando units are able to use an ability called Pulse Wave which knocks enemies out of cover. They’re also able to Taunt in order to get heavily entrenched aliens to charge toward them exposing themselves to greater fire.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview
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Engineers are able to lay down mines and call out turrets. Interestingly a lot of these abilities can be used in conjunction with each other. An Engineer could throw out a mine and the Commando could have an alien walk into the blast radius. Even your character has abilities above managing the positioning of units. You’re able to lift things into the air, which could mean aliens, or it could mean lifting the Engineer’s turret in order to give it a higher vantage point to fire from.

If you’re getting tired with your current make-up of units mid-mission, there are a variety of resupply stations dotted around, but there’s not really much of any indication ahead of time what you’ll be facing so it’s difficult to tell if you’d be better off suited to the team you already have. Seemingly the only reason you might want to switch out is that the permanent death mechanic of Enemy Unknown still remains here, though it’s slightly more forgiving in that units will go into a downed state and you’ve freer ability to run toward them with a revival spray. If you don’t manage this, though, that’s the end for them and you’ll have to start using characters that are less prepared.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview
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For as gorgeous as the environment and the character work are, there’s a real issue with the UI design that dominates the screen: it's totally at odds with everything else you can see and conveys too much information to you at once, resulting in relevant content being drowned out. You’ll see in the screenshot above that it’s just covered in health bars at the bottom. That’s something you should be aware of, but there needs to be a more elegant way to convey that you need to manage your team’s health.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Preview
Click to enlarge

Overall, our experience with The Bureau: Xcom Declassified was great. It seems as if it’ll surpass any tempered expectation we had at the announcement and shows the developer’s willingness to work with the successes of the other games rather than against them. It’s a different game from Enemy Unknown, but it doesn’t seem like a worse one.

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