While your soldiers have been trying to eradicate ADVENT, you may have noticed the lively, vibrant graffiti art painted on buildings around the globe. We wanted to get more info on these pieces, and there’s no one better to turn to than XCOM 2’s very own Art Director, Greg Foertsch! Read on below to find out how these many great compositions found their way into the game!

There are several schools of thought when it comes to Graffiti – but it’s existed as artistic and political commentary for ages. What were the primary thoughts before the first “pieces” were created?

Greg Foertsch: Graffiti is often a way for people to express their opinions about the political and social environment they live in. It is raw and emotional. For us the graffiti we created was in direct response to the propaganda that drives the narrative. The ADVENT propaganda is very slick and clean with hard lines and has a rather sophisticated look. The graffiti needed to live in a completely different space.  Initially, we started with some very simple posters and spray painted imagery in our resistance themed buildings. It added a crude, yet very human look that provided a contrast between the resistance and the ADVENT. This theme carried into our small town environment, but on a smaller scale since the people that live in this area exist in a space somewhere between complacent and discontent. The images that I’m the most happy with honestly didn’t come on line until late in the project. The last environment that we created was slums. This was the perfect place to push the resistance fueled graffiti. It’s a place where humanity feels the presence of the ADVENT the most. These people are trapped and have realized that the promises of life in the city are not to be believed.    

Was there a particular style, method or time period you asked the art team to look at?

Greg Foertsch: Stylistically we really just wanted to push as far away from the slick style of the city centers as possible. The challenge I gave our Senior Environment Artist, Andrew Griffin, was just that. We had a great feel for the game at this point with both the art direction and the narrative and I wanted him to have some fun. We wanted it to feel a bit primitive and very political so we looked at a lot of different stuff, from random urban graffiti (especially images from places with political unrest like Cuba) to the work of popular graffiti artists. The other challenge was that we wanted a variety in images and messages so it looks like the graffiti came from the people as a whole, not just one person. Each image needed to tell a different story about humanity’s suffering. This wasn’t an easy assignment and Andrew delivered what was asked for and more. These are some of my favorite images in the game.


Were there particular artists that you wanted to emulate and why?

Greg Foertsch:There wasn’t really a particular artist that we were focused on. We wanted a range of looks, with nothing that looked too polished. These are the kinds of assignments that a lot of game artists love. I didn’t want to be too restrictive. Artists have to spend so much time matching the look of all the other artists in the game so they always jump at an opportunity that gives them some freedom to work.

How much influence did real world graffiti artists really have on the team?

Greg Foertsch: There are a lot of really great artists out there. I personally respond more to the more raw stuff that has less polish to it. The imagery that comes out of urban areas with political unrest is so emotionally charged. I find that work to be the stuff that resonates with me the most.

Did you consult with any graffiti artists at all on this? Or are there graffiti artists on your team?

Greg Foertsch: We didn’t consult with any specific graffiti artists on this. The best part of being a game artist is that you get the opportunity to really explore some very specific topics for periods of time. You get to throw yourself into something like World War 2 air craft, little grey aliens or even graffiti. You get to immerse yourself in a topic completely.