Let me start by saying I like the random selection, it’s the way I personally would choose to play. But I would argue for more customization, because I can see where those people are coming from. What made me back this game EA is that the devs really seem to “get” that a fair degree of customization and potential for role-playing is what made games like X-Com so loved. For a lot of people, it’s not just a tactical combat game, it’s about building a story with a set of characters. Things as simple as being able to choose your banner, name your mercs, etc., all contribute to that role-playing experience.
So what are the arguments against starting character customization?
1. Too difficult or time-consuming to implement.
I can respect that. You need priorities. But I think there are some easy compromises that shouldn’t be hard to do (below).
2. Choice over starting characters would make the game easier.
There are already different difficulty settings, and nobody (sane) has a problem with that. Choosing an easier starting group is just another way of choosing an easier difficulty level. So no, not everyone would choose to do that, for the same reason not everyone plays every game on the easiest difficulty. But if someone wants to play the game on “easy” mode, why should anyone care?
3. Devs have a vision of how the game should be played.
Again, I respect that, but keep a sense of what people will actually enjoy. If it doesn’t significantly affect the quality of game play (noting my point about difficulty above), why not let them play the game how they want to play the game? As someone noted, we all know that some people are going to restart until they get a starting group that they like. Why not make this easier with a “restart” button at the beginning screen. Or better yet, start by displaying the backgrounds of your starting mercs, with a restart button on the screen so people can “re-roll” to their hearts content. If that would increase the enjoyment of a significant minority, why not?
I hope modding does get implemented. It would make this game an absolute classic.