The game wasn’t planned to have turn-based gameplay. Instead, it was meant to have a real-time strategy.
2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown wasn’t bad (without that, Firaxis wouldn’t have received a chance to develop a sequel), but it could have been entirely different. Jake Solomon, a designer, shared a document on Twitter that reveals the original concept of rebooting X-Com!
We have to emphasize the fact that he had quite different ideas in 2005, as the alien strategy game wasn’t planned to be brought back as XCOM but as X-Com. It was dubbed as a legacy IP with over one million sales in the series up to that point (remember: the gaming industry wasn’t as big as today), with a rabid global fan base, providing a tremendous opportunity. This new X-Com was planned to be designed for a new generation of gamers.
The game was planned to have action and role-playing elements, a streamlined design, and easy-to-use controls and interface, with incredible graphics and sound that would have provided tension, excitement, and endless playing opportunities. UFO abductions are verified, providing terrifying facts, but they aren’t admitted officially, increasing the world panic. However, some nations are secretly aiding the aliens, and us, leading an experimental combat team, the X-Com, would have had to expose this conspiracy, destroying the alien base.
By building bases in strategic global locales, choosing the most critical missions, conducting research on the alien specimens, and discovering the human conspirators, the game would have had suspenseful, squad-based, tactical combat in real-time (!), and on 3D battlefields (!!!) (the game never ended up with either of these!), with randomly generated missions, and destructible terrain and structure. There were plans to customize the squads, and upgrading weapons, vehicles would also have been possible.
Most of the description depicts XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but its development started in 2008, meaning Solomon needed three years to successfully submit a pitch. X-Com’s reboot would have been entirely different if it was in real-time, and in 3D…