Humans Invade You
Last year, XCOM kinda blew up the video game charts by being an unrepentantly brutal, relentlessly intense, well-crafted alien-fighting and/or alien-getting-exploded by simulator. Even I thought it was something special, and I don’t play many strategies games and difficulty scares me.
It didn’t have a very good story, though. Really, the story was pretty much just “aliens are attacking, fight them and probably die trying to fight them”. Even so, the issue is less that the writing was bad and more that they realized that no one was going to play XCOM for the story. And, as far as I know, no one did. Also, there’s the fact that the whole alien invasion schtick was being done to death since at least the 50s. Again, that’s not necessarily a criticism against XCOM so much as merely a statement of fact. Even the best-written alien invasion story is a story that’s been told a thousand times before.
Which brings me to my next point: how awesome it would be if someone ran with what made XCOM great, but shook up the circumstances of the plot. What I propose is a video game with the same hopeless-fight-against-overwhelming-odds theme of XCOM, but put the whole thing in reverse. That is to say, an XCOM where you’re the aliens desperately trying to fend off an invasion of ruthless humans.
If aliens invading Earth is such a tired story, why not tell a story of Earth invading the aliens?
Set the game in the future, establish that humans have 1) developed space travel 2) are ruthlessly expansionistic in regards to said space travel and 3) kind of bastards about it. Taking the XCOM approach of gameplay over story, the plot pretty much writes itself: humans are invading your star system, fight them.
Of course, people don’t usually think of the aliens as technologically inferior to humans, but you could do that easily enough. Make the aliens non-miltaristic, peace-lovers who solve their problems with diplomacy, have them cross paths with the expansionistic, probably xenophobic shoot-at-first-sight humans and go from there. To maintain XCOM’s coalition of different kinds of aliens, just make the aliens some kind of pacifistic multi-ethnic space-republic or something.
Obviously, this is a pretty rough, off-the-cuff remarks that would need refining to actually work in an actual game. But seriously, someone needs to make a human invasion video game.