X-Com is widely considered a classic and there was great rejoicing when UFO: Aftermath was announced a while back as an unofficial sequel/spiritual successor. When it was released it didn’t live up to the high expectations of die hard fans of the series but it did do well enough to spawn a sequel of its own, the upcoming UFO: Aftershock. Developer Altar Interactive is bringing us more tactical/strategy gameplay against the little gray men that made the series so popular to begin with. PR manager Jiri Rydl answers Gamershell’s questions about this upcoming iteration in the ongoing fight against alien domination.

GH: What are the different types of soldiers will there be in the game?

Jiri Rydl: There are Humans, Cultists, Psionics and Cyborgs in UFO: Aftershock.

GH: For those that may not have played UFO: Aftermath, can you describe the SAS system and how it affects gameplay?

Jiri Rydl: Both UFO: Aftermath and UFO: Aftershock use our system, which takes the best from both turn based and real time. This so called Simultaneous Action System (SAS) works like this: you issue orders to your soldiers in a pause mode and then watch the implementation of these orders in real time. When something unexpected occurs, the game will pause, allowing you to revise your orders and react to the new situation. This pause setting is configurable to keep the game play as smooth as the player wants it. The player can pause the game any time to change or review orders, however the implementation of those orders will only occur once the game is unpaused, where everyone, both soldiers and enemies will move simultaneously.

GH: How important are the RPG aspects? Can you describe them and how they affect gameplay?

Jiri Rydl: As your troops are fighting, they will earn experience points that will enable them to go up in levels. When they gain a level, they will get one attribute point they can allocate, improving their skills according to your choice. These statistics are: Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Willpower, Intelligence, and Perception. Raising Willpower should for example make the soldier more resistant to PSI influence, raising his Strength will make him able to carry more, etc.

GH: What kind of links will there be to UFO: Aftermath and the X-Com games preceding it?

Jiri Rydl: UFO: Aftermath offered several different endings, the one where you accepted alien offer is the start for UFO: Aftershock. There is no connection to X-COM games.

GH: Can you describe some of the changes/improvements to the combat system from the last game in the series?

Jiri Rydl: We offer to the player more tactical options in UFO: Aftershock. Soldiers can kneel or prone, can hear enemies. We added also fog of war and one of the biggest changes is ability to enter buildings. It has nothing to do with combat system, but it will enhance tactical opportunities.

GH: Are there still no plans to support multiplayer? If not, can you explain why?

Jiri Rydl: No, there are no plans for multiplayer. We are focused on the single player experience, we want to tell story through research and last but not least reason is our SAS system. There is a small chance we will have some multiplayer add-on after releasing the game, but UFO: Aftershock is mainly interactive sci-fi story for one player.

GH: Without revealing too much, can you tell us about a few of the exciting toys we'll get to play with in the game?

Jiri Rydl: There are several types of weapons and equipment in UFO: Aftershock, for instance melee or psi weapons, several types of armors or scanners like motion detector for instance.

GH: How do the big picture strategy gameplay decisions affect the lower level tactical action?

Jiri Rydl: If you decide to capture new territory, there could be some unfriendly inhabitants, which you have to deal with. If they are intelligent you can use diplomacy skills, but if they are creatures or they don’t want to join your forces, battle is the last way to reach the resources in the selected territory. What weapons you can use during the tactical mission depends on your level of research. What recruits you can choose from depends on a number and kinds of already engaged territories.

GH: What is the estimated amount of gameplay time for the single player campaign??

Jiri Rydl: The estimated time for finishing UFO: Aftershock varies according to chosen level of difficulty and to player’s decisions. It could take between 20 to 80 hours, but the average time will be around 30-40 hours.

GH: What is the development team's favorite thing about UFO:AS that they want to share with the world?

Jiri Rydl: We add so many new features that I am unable to name just one. But I suppose the most important thing for us is that we are carefully listening to the fans. We are going our way with UFO: Aftershock, but we are happy to listen to any ideas of Aftermath players and implement them into Aftershock.

Thank you very much for your time. I know our readers and the rest of the staff appreciate you answering our questions.