Jake Solomon, the leader of the Firaxis team working on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, says that he was surprised by how popular the Iron Man mode, which only allows for saves to be created when quitting, was and how attached players were to the results of their campaigns.
Speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the developer says, “From a post mortem angle, the Iron Man mode was never something that we considered to be a big deal internally, and it has become a very, very big deal now that the game is out.”
He adds, “That was something that went in post-alpha, and I don’t know that we considered it to be that big of a deal, it was just sort of like ‘oh yeah, this is a feature we think we should offer people’.”
Firaxis crated XCOM: Enemy Unknown in the manner of a board or card game, allowing the player to basically select a hand of cards that he can use in any situation and then asking him to test them in order to decide which best suits his play style.
Because of the popularity of Iron Man, which makes most game choices permanent and lends extra importance to keeping soldiers alive, Solomon believes that more variety would have been interesting.
He refers to Torchlight and its weapon enchantment system that included the risk of curses as one of the mechanics that might have made Iron Mode more interesting.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a revival of the classic ‘90’s title and Firaxis has managed the complex task of updating the mechanics and the game world while keeping the core feelings around which it was built: fear and uncertainty.
XCOM was available on both home consoles and the PC and the team has plans to support it with DLC in the long run.