It’s been 5 years since XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, and for fans of the turn-based strategy game, it seems like an eternity. In that time there has not been even a shadow of news about any hypothetical third chapter of the famous Firaxis series, except for some speculation and interviews that have left a glimmer of hope to the turn-based strategy legend’s many fans.
Let’s take a look at everything we know so far about a hypothetical XCOM 3, taken from leaks, developer statements, and a healthy dose of speculation.
What is XCOM?
I know, if you’re reading a site called Turn Based Lovers it is a bit unlikely that you will not know XCOM and all that it represents for lovers of the genre. In any case, out of an abundance of zeal, I’ll explain what it is. The current XCOM series is the remake of Julian Gollop’s 1993 title, X-COM: UFO Defense where a semi-secret organization must face an alien threat by carrying out research, building bases, and fighting battles in the air and on land. At the time, X-COM: UFO Defense revolutionized the strategy genre by mixing strategic and managerial elements with tactical ones.
In 2012, 2k Games acquired the rights of X-COM and, thanks to the skilled team at Firaxis, published XCOM: Enemy Unknown, effectively rebooting the 1993 title. XCOM earned widespread acclaim, hailed as 2012’s game of the year, and became an inspirational pillar for all turn-based tactics games for years to come.
X-COM & XCOM Release Timeline
The X-COM series saw many titles even before the 2012 reboot. Some remained faithful to the mechanics of the original UFO Defense, while others reimagined the world of X-COM with mixed results. This is the timeline of the official titles:
- UFO: Enemy Unknown – 1993
- X-COM Terror from the Deep – 1995
- X-COM: Apocalypse – 1997
- X-COM: Interceptor – 1998
- X-COM: First Alien Invasion – 1999
- X-COM: Enforcer – 2001
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown – 2012
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – 2013
- XCOM: Enemy Within – 2013
- XCOM 2 – 2016
- XCOM 2: War of the Chosen – 2017
- XCOM: Chimera Squad – 2020
In addition to the official titles, there is the openXcom project that expands the world of UFO: Enemy Unknown in an incredible way, thanks to the community and the mods available. In a past article, we talked in detail about the X-Piratez mod. The fanbase is alive and active, so no doubt official word of a third entry to the series would be enthusiastically welcomed. With that in mind, let’s get down to brass tacks; here is everything we know so far about a potential XCOM 3.
XCOM 3 Leaks and speculations
The guys from Firaxis, as you all know, are currently working on Marvel’s Midnight Suns, a tactical RPG with the use of cards set in the Marvel universe. The most recent news on that front is that Midnight Suns was postponed until Q1 of 2023. As a lover of Marvel superheroes, I’m naturally very excited for this game, even though I’m not a fan of card mechanics. When Midnight Suns was first announced, I immediately thought, “Beautiful, very beautiful, but it’s not XCOM 3.” I’m sure my sentiments were shared by many of you as well.
Sure, we had Chimera Squad to hold us over, but that was two years ago – instead of appetizers, we’re hungry for the main course! That said, I’ve gathered everything we know today about a likely third installment.
Let’s start where we last left off – that is, from the XCOM 2 ending. I don’t want to spoil it but it seems to recall Terror From the Deep, game developed by MicroPose in 1995 where the X-COM organization is facing a threat from the depths of the sea.
The connection is soon made, but to make this path less obvious, there are the statements of the Firaxis Creative Director, Jake Solomon, who in the distant past of 2013 said he did not particularly love the submarine X-COM with the following statement;
“I think Civ always benefited from the fact that it’s based in history and so people can automatically be like ‘Oh the wheel, I know about the wheel,’ or gunpowder. XCOM has a little of that, where the maps are gas stations. I think that stuff matters quite a bit, that you’re on Earth and you’re fighting in gas stations. Terror from the Deep to me always felt very weird, I didn’t feel as strong an emotional connection to things like the underwater levels, it all really looked alien, so the aliens didn’t seem all that out of place to me.”
Obviously, it’s been almost ten years since Solomon made that statement, so it’s entirely possible that he and the team at Firaxis have since changed their minds! Then again, maybe they haven’t…
Another element to consider is the announcement by Firaxis, in 2019, that it was looking for people to take the world of XCOM “to the next level”, but this could have been related to Chimera Squad, which released the following year.
The last element to take into consideration is the leak that came out in September 2021, where some users were able to access the database of Nvidia GeForce Now‘s upcoming titles and XCOM 3 appeared among those. In the following hours, however, Nvidia immediately distanced itself. with the following declaration:
“NVIDIA is aware of an unauthorized published game list, with both released and/or speculative titles, used only for internal tracking and testing. Inclusion on the list is neither confirmation nor an announcement of any game. NVIDIA took immediate action to remove access to the list. No confidential game builds or personal information were exposed.”
It’s hard to draw any real conclusions from this; on the one hand, it’s plausible that NVIDIA would have used speculative future titles for internal testing. On the other, this is exactly the sort of statement that they have to make to protect themselves from liability after such an embarrassing leak. There is simply no way for the public to know how much information NVIDIA did or did not have at the time.
XCOM 3 Probable Release date
Jack Solomon, speaking to VGC has stated that the XCOM series will be back. As long as he and Firaxis are alive, XCOM will stay alive too. His words have reassured players from all over the world but at this time nothing resembling a release date for XCOM 3.
It’s reasonable to expect that Firaxis is now fully committed to the upcoming release of Marvel’s Midnight Suns, especially after this most recent delay. After that, their attention will most likely turn to Civilization VII during the arc of 2023. This assumption comes from a job advertisement by Firaxis from November 2021, which stated that the company was looking for a Narrative Lead and that this position required knowledge and passion for world history. That certainly fits the bill for Firaxis’ flagship series!
Based on these factors, even the most optimistic gamer shouldn’t expect XCOM 3 any earlier than 2024. Miracles do happen, of course, but an XCOM 3 release any earlier than that would be one of the biggest – and most welcome – gaming surprises in quite a long time.
In the meantime, you can take a look at my list with some PC games like X-Com.