X-COM is a well known science fiction video game franchise. The latest game from a series is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It is a well-rounded RPG with a great game design. You can literally get every aspect of the game design and analyze why this thing works so smoothly. I will discuss a squad team members progression here.
In this game you are in charge of a small squad of soldiers from different countries. Most of them arrive to a base as rookies. A rookie is a soldier without any class assigned, no specific abilities whatsoever. As soon as a rookie gets some kills he receives a random promotion to the one of 4 in game classes: Assault, Heavy, Support or Sniper. Each class basically determines the way you play with the character. During the course of the game all your soldiers gain promotions. Each promotion usually gives you 2 class specific perks to choose.
In general the text above describes the big picture behind the team progression. Let’s dig deeper and figure out why XCOM team members progression is so great, shall we?
Rookie is effective
The basic type of soldier, even without any experience and class assigned, might be useful in a mid/late game. The reason is weapon and armor. No mater what level your soldier is, you can always give him the best rifle and protection you have. It is a basic functionality and any soldier can shoot and hold a fort for a bit.
Skills are meaningful
The meat of the progression system is skills. All classes have their own skills tree. After each soldier promotion you receive two skills to choose from. You can choose only one of them. The main idea: all of them are meaningful and interesting! Almost all skills change the way you play with this soldier. Each new skill changes the logic behind your decisions on a battlefield. Some of the skills are active. It means absolutely new ability for your soldier. Isn’t it great?
There is a mystery behind the skill tree
On each promotion you receive only two skills at choice. No one shows you the whole skill tree. Only 2 peace of information at a time. You can get the last ultimate ability from the skill tree only when your soldier is an absolute pro. Curiosity aye?
You soldiers are your most valuable asset
Once the soldier dies, there is no way back. You should hire new rookie and start growing him again. That lead to the conclusion – you soldiers are the most valuable asset. If you are a bad tactician, you will never beat alien invasion. If you are not a save scum of course. You know what I mean.
Experience to gain a new level is non linear
It is common sense that the more mature you soldier becomes, the easier he can get a kill. So to balance the progression a bit, you always need more kills to gain a next level. Also it is worth noting that the game doesn’t show you XP bar for each soldier at all. You can guess it only with a kills’ count. Why do games even put XP bars for progression? Try to think about it.
Each soldier has a unique personality. It includes gender, country, name, appearance and voice. You can easily customize the last three characteristics. But there are only visible attributes for your squad members. There is also Aim parameter – the chance of hit, Will parameter – mental power of your soldier, and hidden “Run power” parameter – how far the soldier can run for a turn. With some game options you can even vary your squad distribution tremendously.
When you trooper reaches Sergeant rank, the game attaches an interesting nickname to this trooper. It’s a little thing, but it is freaking powerful. Now this member of your team is valuable to you. He has robust personality and some history behind his actions. Don’t let him die.
I am sure that this list is only the tip of iceberg. The logic behind the team progression in XCOM: Enemy Unknown is much more complicated for sure. But even with such a short list you can get the idea why this system works. If you want to include characters progression in your game, you should definitely try XCOM: Enemy Unknown.