Firaxis’ Greg Foertsch: XCOM 2’s procedurally generated levels are better than XCOM’s handcrafted ones

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XCOM 2 Art Director Greg Foertsch recently explained why he believes the procedurally generated levels of XCOM 2 far surpass the handcrafted ones of XCOM: Enemy Within and Enemy Unknown.

“The levels, you know, they’re procedural, so one of the things you worry about it losing that handcrafted feel,” he admitted to Stevivor in Sydney last week. “I really think we’ve succeeded in retaining that. In fact, I think they’re even better than some of the levels we made in XCOM.

“There a lot of little nuance things in the game; little touches like that that we feel are hugely important to immersion. We’ve tried to load the game with things like that as much as we can. People mightn’t even notice – not that they should – but as a developer, you still hope that heightens the experience.”

Foertsch said his daughters helped to attain that handcrafted feel with work of their own.

“My youngest, she draws these princesses, and they remind me of Chryssalids.” he said laughing. “She draws these horns, but they look like tiaras. Even daddy has them. They look really creepy.

“The funny thing is, you can’t ask an artist to draw like a five-year-old. They’ll try so hard to make it authentic, that it’s not authentic. I realized I had drawings at home that were sufficiently creepy.”

Foertsch brought the drawings in — equal numbers from each of his two daughters, of course — and had them scanned in for inclusion into XCOM 2.

“You go into a small town and go into one of the bedrooms, and you’ll see the drawings,” he said. “If you get a shot camera, they could give you a real close-up view; they could be front and centre.”

XCOM 2 will be available on Windows PC from 5 February 2016.

Stevivor was flown to Sydney last week by 2K to preview XCOM 2 and interview Firaxis’ Greg Foertsch.