It's hard to update one of the most popular strategy titles to ever come out on the PC. Various attempts have been made, some decent, some poor, but as far as I know, none have reached the level of popularity that the original had. The developers of the newly-rebooted X-COM have decided to sidestep this minefield, and instead created a pseudo-strategic first-person shooter, instead of a duplicate of the original.
The year is 1962, a peculiar time in American history, and behind some closed doors we were shown what exactly it would mean if there was an alien invasion. It's a reimagined tale, one where William Carter, new recruit to X-COM, must lead the anti-invasion force by recruiting agents, leading defense missions, and figure out how to get the most out of what they're given.
The game is divided into planning and mission parts. The planning parts involve figuring out what agents you want with you when fighting; each agent has their own specialties and abilities, and choosing who to come with you will make quite a difference. In the base you can also figure out what you want to research, to help you out for future missions.
Once you pick a mission, it's time to go into the field. Here, we were shown a level in which the invaders, known simply as "Outsiders" showed many forms, including an shapeshifting infiiltrator, a number of regular troops, and a flying lightning-tossing ship called a Titan. Here, the mission was to find a doctor, and along the way, we learned about using abilities: at any point, you can consume Time Units (sound familiar?) to use special abilities that your agents have, like using 'Diversion' to have enemies take a sudden interest in your partner, for flanking movements.
You can also capture alien technology, a technique that many fans of the previous game might find familiar. Almost any enemy (an enemy turret was given as an example) can be captured, if you manage to disable it. From there, you're given a choice: you can either deploy the tech at any point within the mission, sacrificing its long-term benefit in order to give yourself a significant advantage, or save it. From there, you can research it and grow your own technological storehouse.
There was a massive battle against a Titan soon after this, a hovering orb of destruction that lay waste to the surroundings. After disabling it, then taking it, the demoer deployed the Titan on our side, destroying any other enemy reinforcements that arrived. From there, we ran into a building in search of the doctor, found a portal instead, and dived through, only for Agent Carter to find himself in a very, very alien environment. Then the demo ended.
X-COM is certainly different. From the backlash that was present at last year's E3, the developers have definitely gone back to change various elements of the game, to try to add more elements from the classic series, while still keeping a very fresh game. So far, things look promising, though we weren't shown much of the strategic side of the game. Still, while it may not please the purists in the audience, the new X-COM may be something to keep an eye out for.