The Art of XCOM 2: Loading Screens

April 20 2016
EN - The Art of XCOM 2: Loading Screen

When playing XCOM 2, you may have noticed the loading screen art changes based on your progress throughout the campaign. In this Community Q&A, Greg Foertsch, Art Director on XCOM 2, tells us how the idea came about and what inspired the look of these loading screen images.

Can you speak a bit about how the loading screens change as you progress in the campaign?

When the game first starts, the load screens reflect the state of the world. Players will see ADVENT propaganda on their way to missions. As the game progresses, XCOM images start cycling into rotation. As the state of the game world begins to turn over in XCOM’s favor, more and more Resistance propaganda is added to the mix.

Who initially had this idea?

The initial request from design was to have the load screens be illustrations featuring ADVENT propaganda. We, the art team, wanted to add more context and flavor to the world of 2035 after the alien invasion. As we approached this from an art perspective, the idea of static images really didn’t seem to fit with the futuristic look we were going for. The problem that needed to be solved was what might this imagery look like in the future? 

Our inspiration for the ADVENT propaganda was predominantly from Russian Constructivist posters and North Korean propaganda. The dynamic compositions and graphic nature of the Russian imagery was something we wanted to pull from. With the North Korean posters, we were very influenced by their color palettes that focused on bright colors that conveyed an almost happy and serene feel despite the content of the image. 

The first image created was an eye watching over a cityscape, seen here. Thematically this image was a bit too intimidating to serve as propaganda and didn’t make it into the shipped game, but it started us down the correct path. The two-dimensional nature of the image was the key. From here we realized that we wanted to give the images depth, parallax and movement. We set out to make images that were created by using multiple layers and used just enough motion to show off the parallax. At this point they were starting to feel unique and more like something that would fit in our world, but something was still missing. 

On top of wanting these images to serve as load screens, we really wanted to have them permeate the game by populating the environments. We already had plans for a lot of holographic kiosks on our maps. We pulled the holographic ideas for the kiosks into the images giving them a more pixelated, digital and projected feel. We had ultimately created something that looked like a holographic illustration. 

The XCOM propaganda images came much later in development, but their inspiration was pulled more directly from World War I and II propaganda from The United States and Great Britain. Reflecting the player progress through the XCOM load screens was a subtle touch that we decided to add near the end of development on the game. As we were doing finishing passes on the environments, we added a lot of XCOM propaganda in small towns and slums. Most of the XCOM imagery for the load screens came from the deco posters in the world.

Anything else you want to add about the overall group of images?

Ultimately I feel like these images were really successful. We were able create a unique visual look that adds to the context and overall narrative of the game on top of being beautiful pieces of art.

Click here for all XCOM 2 Loading Images

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