XCOM: Diary Of A Wimpy Squad #1 – Meet The Team

Hah, ‘meet the team’ he says. Most of these guys won’t live long enough to realise they’re in a team. There is every chance they won’t even survive the first mission. Never mind, their sacrifice will not be in vain. It will be stupid, it will be embarrassing and it will be horrible, but it will not be in vain. Fighting for the future of humanity is a brave, terrified group of RPS writers past and present. Who, if any, will survive? I will be playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Classic difficulty and in Iron Man mode – so no mistakes can be rectified. Death is forever.

Are you sitting uncomfortably? Then let us begin.

Important note: there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance that this diary can be ‘finished’. The nature and length of an XCOM campaign means this would be a fifty million part series that prevented me from writing any other posts for the next decade, were I to go the full distance. So I have a number of pre-determined stopping points in my head. The first of these is if/when I run out RPS writers to name them after; the second is complete, dismal failure of the game (i.e. if too many nations withdraw funding from my useless project); others I will make clear if and when they happen. OK? OK!

Less important note: this begins on the second mission of the game rather than the first, purely because you can’t rename your squad until that point.


Jim Rossignol, squaddie, Heavy.

Jim’s favourite colour is green, so he gets green armour.

John Walker, squaddie, Support.

John’s favourite colour is black, so he is a black woman. John is our main healer. John is a rubbish healer.

Kieron Gillen, rookie, class TBA.

Kieron is currently away selling comicbooks in America so I can’t ask him what his favourite colour is, but I’m pretty sure it’s hot pink.

Alec Meer, squaddie, Sniper.

Alec is wounded for six days as the game begins, probably because he’s a vegetarian with almost no immune system. He doesn’t really have a favourite colour so picked sky blue at random.

More will join as others die.

Our base is on the African continent, which grants us a 30% funding boost. We’re going to need that. Following our initial contact with the aliens – a pack of six Sectoids – research into Xeno-biology has begun. A satellite is busily being constructed to help expand our UFO detection, and we’ve built a Medkit to equip our useless healer with.

So that’s our starting hand, and I’ll be back soon with a report on how the first mission went. Pray for us.


  1. Duffin says:

    This is NOT helping my wait till Friday.

    • Lacessit says:

      Yeah, same here. I’m going to spend the time till then sitting here, just staring at that useless XCOM icon on my desktop, imagining all the fun people are having…

      • FullMetalMonkey says:

        FlyVPN is your friend, my friend. Just use a trial account and you can log in 3 times a day for 15minutes which is more than enough time to log back into Steam, launch X-Com and have many fun, tense hours like I have.

        Just don’t purchase any games from the US Steam Store because Valve/Steam can fuck you in the arse for that.

        • Ginga121 says:

          Never mind the fact that using a VPN to activate a game before your regional release date can also get your account locked…

          Posted yesterday and replied to by a Valve employee…
          link to forums.steampowered.com

          Risk it if you must but I like being able to use my steam account. While waiting is annoying, and RPS posting about the game being played is more annoying, I’m not going to risk my steam accounts usability for the sake of impatience.

          • Rivosyke says:

            This is the actual verbage from the EULA:

            “You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, we may terminate your access to your Account.”

            This means that if you are at a hotel or any other open WiFi hotspot, you can’t use a VPN to secure yourself if you want to use Steam content. That’s a needless, blanket caveat.

          • Manco says:

            Which rather sucks for those of us who actually use VPNs for their work or academic remote access.

          • unangbangkay says:

            Eek! Boy, am I glad I read this. I was using Spotflux to play the game before Friday (which would be Saturday my time if Valve ends up being a dick about it), and I was lucky enough that my router went down and forced Steam into offline mode for the last couple of days, which basically kept it unlocked (and me happily playing).

            I guess I’ll just boot up Dishonored, Carrier Command, War of the Roses, and the other games I blew the last week’s pay on for the next couple of days.

          • D3xter says:

            I’d just like to add that this was added with the last SSA update that people were so ready to accept a few months back.

          • DrStrangeLug says:

            Wonder what will happen if steam ever bans someone for this who takes then to court in the EU? The EU consumer law is very much a case of “if it looks like a sale and acts like a sale then we say it is a sale.”, look at the resale of digital good ruling recently and several other UK cases. It woudn’t suprise me if they found an EU judge telling them they could not block access to someone’s content when they have previously paid for it, whether they call it a license or not.

            See :
            link to bit-tech.net

            “Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period”

            UNLIMITED PERIOD. They cannot legally block access to content you have paid for.

          • Kasper says:

            But what if you’re on vacation in the US and you just happen to have your gaming laptop with you? Surely they wouldn’t ban you for unlocking the game earlier in that situation, and surely they’re not going to look into whether the IP origins from a VPN or whether it’s from your American friend’s house or your American hotel?

          • zaphod42 says:


            LOL, No. Using Steam and VPN will ONLY get you banned IF you specifically set your DNS such that the attempt to validate a game redirects back to you so you can authorize it.

            AKA you can only get in trouble by ABUSING VPN TO HACK STEAM, not just by happening to have some VPN software or having a VPN connection.

          • x1501 says:

            So, to clarify, if I only use VPN software for setting up LAN-type matches for games that have troubles seeing Internet-type connections from another continent, I have nothing to worry about? I was just to about install Tunngle for this very purpose, and all this talk of account bans got me slightly worried.

    • Palodin says:

      It may or may not be against the Steam TOS (I don’t think its explicitly mentioned, seems to be a grey area at best) but you could get an American VPN and play now. I’ve done it in the past for other games and it works well enough but I can’t guarantee nothing will happen to your account, though I’ve never heard of anyone being punished for it.

      • 2lab says:

        Valve,the publishers and developers have nothing to gain and much to lose by enforcing the TOS on VPN unlocks.

        Money + VPN or torrent, the results are pretty much the same.

        People who jump through hoops to pay for your product when it’d be easier to get it for free are the people you want.

        • melnificent says:

          I have to agree customers that buy content locally and then VPN to unlock it are the customers you want.
          They have the technical know-how to bypass silly timing restrictions but the want to pay their way fairly.

          The past few big releases (borderlands 2, xcom, dishonoured) have been arbitrarily locked, which for digital is just plain daft. It’s almost like they are asking for tech-illiterate people to pirate to get the full, on time experience.

          Is this a case of retail screaming and threatening if digital arrives earlier? Which in the case of PC is just pathetic as they don’t want to stock our platform anyway.

          • PyromaticTabby says:

            Hear, Hear!

            However it could also be a case of other digital distribution platforms getting narky as well, Pretty sure release dates on retail sites like gamersgate and D2D can’t be shifted with VPNs.

          • codename_bloodfist says:

            It’s idiotic. We’ll ban you from Steam and take away your ability to access that several thousand worth account? Ok, no problem, I’ll just get it from [insert any pirate site] instead. *slow clap*

    • cspkg says:

      I might be In the minority of not having any time before Saturday to play a game but having pockets of time to read brilliant RPS articles. Keep these coming!

      • killuminati says:

        I love this type of article. keep’em coming. Looking for some time this WE to play my XCOM game.

        I’m still thinking on how to name my squad, if all ot conservative for identification sake (i.e Japan soldier with japanese names, Mexican with mexican names and so on) or go all out with friends/cats/celebrity-I-hate and wil be killed in the worst possible way..

        • cspkg says:

          I was going to use Olympians’ names, but following this article, will probably go the RPS writer route. I’ll also probably have a running gag of naming rookies after celebrities I’m not fond of, and sending them in to prod aliens with the electric baton thinggy. Any outcome should be a win-win!

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I don’t have much time until sat that is not taken up with sleep and stuff.
        I stayed up until 4am playing it instead.

        so bloody tired right now :(

        Totally worth it though :)

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Don’t worry. I played the game yesterday and it’s rubbish.

    • Lacero says:

      Yeah, twist that knife harder Alec. A Dishonoured diary based on ghosting should do it.

      • cspkg says:

        *This*. But I’d be really welcoming of a Dishonoured diary. Perhaps one that doesn’t allow Corvo anything but the use of Blink? And one in which he cannot reload.

    • BreadBitten says:


  2. Brun says:

    With more kills than any other member of the squad it’s no wonder John is such a bad healer.

    • Max Ursa says:

      hes a preventative healer, kills the sources of potential damage before the squaddies get hurt

  3. philbot says:

    I’d put money on Jim dying first.

  4. lordcooper says:

    John dies at the end.

  5. VA1N says:

    Introducing the characters is a novel idea, but you’re going to have to do it a lot. They die…frequently…in XCOM.

  6. MuscleHorse says:

    You can skip the first mission and thus gain the ability to rename your squad by disabling the tutorial in the options, Alec.

    Also Duffin and all ye others who are preloaded, just use a VPN-thing. This is about the seventh game I’ve skipped the release date on a Steam release and there’s no danger of Valve coming down on you – it hasn’t happened to anyone. They only get shirty if you use the method to get around their pricing.

    • Reefpirate says:

      I don’t think you can skip that mission… Even with the tutorial disabled I was thrown in to a mission with a pre-made un-customizable squad. I think it kind of simulates the first tutorial mission where you get a promotion normally…

    • melnificent says:

      VPN is definitely the best unlocking method…. Provided you pay in your actual region before unlocking in the other one :-D

  7. chiroho says:

    I’m pretty sure I read somewhere in the past that Kieron’s favourite colour was pink, so that’s a great choice for him!

    Definitely looking forward to this series, though being in the US I’m already into my own campaign – though not quite game enough for Classic mode with Iron Man yet.

  8. DrScuttles says:

    Currently playing (thanks to Spotflux) on classic / ironman. Don’t think I’ve managed to get a soldier promoted more than twice. They keep dying and I’m a terrible commander and it’s all rather stressful and I think we’re going to lose.
    It’s great.

    • obie191970 says:

      Not sure how but I managed to get 3 squaddies up to Colonel. Then the roof caved in and I lost 7 guys at Lt. or above in 2 rounds.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I have lost a lot of captains and Lieutenants, but my main guy has been max level for a long time and only came close to dying twice. I have yet to have a single guy “critically wounded” even with that upgrade, so I must be unlucky.

  9. Hirmetrium says:

    Sectoid Snape kills Captain Dumbledore.

    Sorry guys. Spoiled the whole game right there. But don’t worry, Harry avenges him. Pity hes only a Squaddie.

  10. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Godspeed gentlemen, you’re our last line of defense, and our only hope. The world is counting on you.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get measured for a coffin.

  11. AmateurScience says:

    ‘I just want to wish you both good luck, we’re all counting on you.’

    • MajorManiac says:

      “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking. “

      • acheron says:

        “Headquarters? What is it?”

        “It’s a big building where generals meet, but that’s not important right now.”

    • Asurmen says:

      “Surely you can’t be serious?!”

    • Skabooga says:

      “Listen Betty, don’t start up with your white zone shit again.”

  12. Deathmonkey says:

    My guys die so fast I have to name them by generation – i.e. “Deathmonkey the third”

  13. Lambchops says:

    Does XCOM have any iron for Quinns to fail to acquire?

  14. obie191970 says:

    How were you able to pick Africa to start? The only options to me were Europe and NA. I’m guessing it’s after you complete the game once? I’m playing Ironman Classic as well, and man, that extra funding would be helpful.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Turn off tutorial in advanced game options (where you turned iron man on) when you start a new game

      • obie191970 says:

        Thanks – Kind of odd that the tutorial would put on that type of restriction. I’ll definitely be turning it off for the next go through. I initially figured it was just like the demo but it actually lasted quite it bit longer and really put some restrictions on what you could do. Was more of a handicap than a help.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I think there’s a really tiny chance that if you don’t choose one of those two, you can end up either losing a country before the tutorial is over which wouldn’t be great!

          • obie191970 says:

            I still did. Australia was gone because I couldn’t build a satellite and they gave no other way to lower the panic level.

          • Jackablade says:

            Don’t feel too bad. We’re a panicky lot.

    • Screamer says:

      Being an African myself, I’d say don’t bank on the extra “30%” funding!

  15. Joshua Northey says:

    Two of my good friends, including my second best soldier, my best friend, and my wife! have all died. :(

    It is great. The game is not everything I wish it to be, but it is really really really fun, and they made so many right decisions I am willing to overlook the wrong ones.

    I would suggest playing on Iron man, it is a lot of fun.

    Spolier alert:

    On one mission I was surrounded by a cyber-disc group and two muton groups and my whole squad got wounded. So next mission I send out my one remaining experience guy with a group of fresh squaddies, and of course he dies making sure they get through a pretty easy encounter. That is the XCOM I love!


    I would prioritize getting armor ASAP. My casualty rate was steadily increasing as the game progressed: (say 1 month 1, 2 month 2, 3 month 3, and then when I got armor suddenly almost no one was dying. Now that things are really hard a guy stills dies no and again, but people aren’t getting killed by single shot criticals anymore.

    • obie191970 says:

      I have found that anything that improves survivablility is critical – Be it armor, skills or research.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      I have to disagree, I have found that the ability to kill faster more important. The Laser rifles have better damage, and a longer range than the starting assault rifle. Once i got those, sectoids, thinmen, an floaters all drop in 1 shot. Which i can do from a longer range because of the laser rifle.

      nanoweave doesnt hurt to get either, But nothing save your guys from a crit sadly. So I find that killing them before they can get a lucky shot in better.

      I’m sure either way is effective.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        ??? Really ??? Your experienced soldiers area a lot more valuable than some extra speed, and I was specifically talking about the higher armors, not the nano-weave, because they do in fact protect you from criticals.

        Also I don’t have any problem with those lower aliens at all really, floaters are the first thing I encountered that killed anyone.

        • Filden says:

          On Classic difficulty, if you’re taking fire at all, you’re probably dying, so I agree that better offense is the best defense. Not that armor is unimportant. Good armor can sometimes let you survive a mistake. But ideally, you should be aiming for not taking any hits at all, and eliminating enemies before they get their guns on you.

    • Filden says:

      reply fail.

  16. King in Winter says:

    We are doomed…
    and it’s going to be FUN!

  17. McDan says:

    I’ve been waiting for this diary ever since this game was announced, my hopes is that it will be a historic diary. With everyone’s favourite RPS tropes appearing, like we all know John will fail to heal anyone.

  18. Kaider says:

    Having also started a game on classic/ironman, I can say this is going to be good.

  19. Stellar Duck says:

    What is this XCOM game and where is it out?

  20. Arathain says:

    Some of us are doing RPS themed playthroughs in the forum, here. If you have any good stories about the heroic successes and doomed failures come and tell us about them.

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Sorry Alec, you’re dead on mission 3. My first casualty.

  21. Tom OBedlam says:

    Ironman mode? Summon Quinns!

  22. Bootsy81 says:

    Here’s some mood music for reading this diary, or indeed playing the game when we finally can…..

    Remember to play it loud.

  23. Tuckey says:

    All aboard the PR hype train.

    I have obtained the game, it’s terribly dull, and the mouse is still laggy and jerky despite turning off vsync.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Looks like someone got off the hype train when it pulled into the whinge station.

    • Stromko says:

      The interface stumbles in a lot of ways, and it’s quite clear that many of its failings are due to being mappable to a controller. I’ve still really enjoyed the 17 hours I’ve spent with it so far, though.

      I think the console market will still be confused as to where this game fits, it doesn’t actually feel, look, or play like a console game despite the changes. It’s a PC-to-console port, where they decided to make one universal interface that works* instead of two separate ones, and what we got is infinitely preferable to a console-to-PC port in my opinion.

      *mostly. I often have to press Enter instead of clicking confirm, because the mouse clicks don’t register, and any kind of height change is fraught with difficulty, be it the cursor’s inability to decide whether you want to stand on that ledge or jump in front of it, to the camera just being screwy in any number of ways when certain roofs are involved.

  24. MrMud says:

    The more I play this, the more I hate it.
    Loosing squad members in X-COM was fine because you had 14 of them on your skyranger. Here you have 4 and you loose them because the controls dont work and they move into out of cover despite you specifically placing them in cover (just lost one of my vets because he decided he should go down a ladder instead of taking up the cover point on top). Then you loose several more because the game is random as fuck about when you should be trying to flank the enemies. Sometimes you have to flank them because if you dont you will invariably loose the shootout. Sometimes you cant flank because the map is so small and they will shoot you dead from overwatch when you try.
    Dead if you do, dead if you dont.

    I hate this game.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If you’re still at a limit of 4, try to hang in there until you get 5 and then 6 squad members. That makes flanking a little easier, especially if you can use supressing fire to pin the “flankee” down. Or use a smoke grenade from your Support unit to cover a flanking move.

      I agree that the small maps and their invisible walls are sometimes the limiting factor in ability to flank. And that’s annoying as hell.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    This one is going to be wonderful.

  26. running fungus says:

    I’m getting eviscerated on Normal, so no Classic for me yet.

    • running fungus says:

      Mind you, I also don’t play from saves, so it’s “Ironman” by default for me. May as well make it official on next playthrough.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Yeah, classic felt like a roguelike to me, normal gives me a the feeling that losses are due to my own tactical errors. I think I will learn the tactical thinking required to play on classic one day but the strategic side of the game stumps me even on normal, though this is the case in most strategic games for me!

      • MrMud says:

        Playing at classic this is the one of the things that bothers me the most.
        90% of the deaths I don’t feel like I have learned why I died. Its either due to bad luck, bad controls or random bullshit that the game throws out (such as enemies that spawn on your flanks).

        When I play FTL and die, I feel like I learned something. When I play XCOM and loose an entire squad I just feel like the game took a dump on me.

        • Reefpirate says:

          I don’t know why you would blame the controls in a turn-based game. I am really liking the balance on Classic so far. Yes, there is a lot of chance in the game… But the whole fun is in trying to minimize the chances you will get killed. I’ve wiped a few squads, but usually I just take a few injuries or lose 1 or 2 soldiers and learn something new.

      • Filden says:

        I’ve found that you don’t actually learn how to play the game until you start playing on Classic. Not that there aren’t challenges to be found on Normal, but it is too forgiving of sub-optimal decisions.

        I played half the game on Normal, and Classic mode immediately illustrated my lazy habits, like moving up the middle attracting the attention of foes on all sides of the map at once. The sort of thing that might cause my hardened Classic mode survivors to arrange an accident for their rookie commanding officer, if he were to suggest it.

        • running fungus says:

          I can see that (too forgiving of sub-optimal decisions). That being said, not very forgiving. Add in ironman, and you can’t get lazy on any mission, ever. I just had a multi-hour playthrough on Normal/ironman, and did better than I’ve ever done, but still had to be extremely careful and methodical. I can imagine the same effect with Classic/non-ironman, except I never, ever, want to replay levels. I just hate to do it. (kills immersion, plus I bore easily)

          • Filden says:

            Classic/Ironman is definitely not for a first playthrough, IMO. That’s just too frustrating until you learn how to play the game. That said, if you really want to learn how to play in preparation for a Classic/Ironman playthrough, Classic difficulty with mission restarts when neccessary until you figure out what is happening, is a far better teacher.

            I clued into things about positioning, movement, and cover almost immediately in Classic difficulty that Normal difficulty didn’t force me to learn, because for the most part, it’s not a big deal to shrug off incidental fire behind soft cover in Normal mode. In Classic, it’s usually lethal, and even if it isn’t, the healing time is so prohibitive that Classic forces you to rapidly learn how not to take fire at all.

            Normal also doesn’t force you to to use grenades and rockets to survive. It’s perfectly easy to shoot your way through for maximum loot in Normal, but in classic, you learn quickly to use them to survive and especially to get levels for raw recruits, since you’ll be training them more often than your godly nicknamed super squad in Normal mode needs to do.

            Not that Normal isn’t challenging at all for a new player…it definitely can be. But there’s a point in infrastructure and squad power that once you pass, any real challenge evaporates, and it doesn’t force you to learn the really tough lessons to be competitive. I found that it didn’t prepare me well for my Classic run, but after the first 6 missions or so on Classic, I could sleepwalk through Normal/Ironman.

            This is only my own experience, of course.

          • MrMud says:

            I agree with filden. I was getting crushed on Classic/Ironman (average casualty rate per mission of 2 soldiers, KIA not wounded). So I tried switching to normal/ironman and it is way, way to easy.

            I think the importance of leveling up and the skills you gain are a big game design problem because constantly dying creates a negative feedback loop that is impossible to get out of and never dying creates a positive feedback loop as well.

          • running fungus says:

            Ha. Ok, I get it. Having played some Classic now, I see the main differences as:
            i) nearly any error is a fatal error (as are some blameless misses)
            ii) the human effort is a struggle. You can’t keep up with everything, as evidenced by the trouble my interceptor had with the very first light scout UFO.

            as a consequence,

            iii) heroism really feels like heroism.

            That guy with one bar of health that I sent in despite alien overwatch? I expected him to die. It was a given. That the alien somehow missed, and thus became flanked, was *its* “a miss means I’m dead”. That’s pretty fricking cool.

          • Filden says:

            In Classic, a fatality from a “blameless miss” is still generally because of an error on your part. Optimal strategy would not put you in a position to live or die based on single miss, although there are occasionally runs of phenomenally bad luck with a series of high % misses.

            My tips for classic:

            1)The only reliable cover is Line of Sight. In Normal, you can run forward, hide in soft cover, and survive firefights. In classic, this will cause a squad wipe. Optimize your strategy to not take fire at all, if you can help it, which means a good offense is the best defense.

            2) With the exception of bomb disposal missions, there is generally no time limit. Take your time. Don’t move unless everyone is reloaded and overwatched, and then leapfrog slowly, working around the edge of a map, rather than the center, to avoid unnecessary aggro. If you expect an ambush, like in Civilian rescue missions, your first move on the map should be overwatch, not moving to cover which will trigger the ambush.

            3)Grenades and rockets. Use them, love them, loot be damned. Survival and leveling up is more important than gun fragments. Grenades are how your first squad of newbies gets the kills they need to level up and survive their first missions. Smoke grenades are wonderful. More smoke grenades are more wonderful.

            If you play through 5 missions on classic difficulty, and restart them until you figure out why your squad got wiped, and how to move to eliminate targets without taking fire, you’ll be ready for Ironman Classic. Ironman Classic is tense, but easily survivable if you know how to play. It’s just not the best way to jump into the game before you have learned.

          • running fungus says:

            Overwatch made the difference. I started treating missions like SWAT team raids and everything changed. No more getting flanked. Now I pin down enemies and flank, myself, and am now almost as late in the game on Classic as I was on Normal before, but with less casualties (almost none). I am also not using rockets or grenades, though I suspect that will have to change. But on my latest playthrough, first five missions were completely clean. Suddenly a different game.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      This is what I like to hear, not you getting eviscerated per se you poor thing but all the reports I’ve heard have suggested a good amount of challenge.

  27. JoeGuy says:

    Does anyone have that Walking Dead vibe where everything can go to hell and you aren’t quite sure who’ll be alive when you get to the next epsiode/article?

  28. Kamikaze_Tutor says:

    I’m on the 360 and I can’t find the option to change colours.

    • iucounu says:

      It’s a preorder bonus, amazingly.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Soldier customisation was a pre-order bonus, and may have been PC exclusive. I would bet money that it will come out in a month or so as DLC, hopefully for a reasonable price.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      Preorder bonus?? That…. That can’t possibly be.

      • Gormongous says:

        It’s also bundled with physical copies of the game, along with an art book, an ugly poster, and a pretty cool patch. Anyone interested in those? I’ll pay shipping.

  29. Artist says:

    Im sad that RPS jumped so heavily on the XCOM hypewagon. Its a good game, it has modern features, yes, but relatated to what it tried to remake (X-Com from 1993) its rather a dumped down remake featur-wise.

    While it has a nice shiny surface most of the tactical meta-gaming has been ripped out without replacement. The combat, while shiny too, has been reduced to small small-scale skirmishes with reduced tactical versantility (cover hopping instead of the previous tactical placement and advancing).

    While its a good game it follows Firaxis’ new credo (that was showcased with the weak Civ4) to dump down gameplay complexity for the shallow gameplay demands of the console market and spoon-feeding positive experiences – just as Sid Meier announced 2 years ago.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Did you mean civ v, I thought civ 4 was a sublime highlight of the series while civ v felt hollow in comparison.

      • Artist says:

        Holy shit, youre right! That is a painful typo without an edit function. They started their gameplay downward spiral with Civ V not 4, ofc! (ha, tricked the keyboard)

    • Artist says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that they invited to guy who made the random number generator for Civ4 to make the one for XCOM, too. Just save-scam a point and watch the magic of “static random numbers” again and again. Like in Civ4…

      • Sheng-ji says:

        In all fairness, since civ II, when starting a game you can choose to keep the same random number seed or generate a new one each reload – i.e. you choose whether you want things to be exactly the same or randomly different on reload.

        I know there is no such option in xcom through the menus, but I wonder if it exists in an ini file?

        • Artist says:

          Indeed, and that was a nice feature, but I rather meant a handful of 69%-chance rolls that all fail. Can happen, but happens way too often to give me a feel of “randomness”.
          I have not yet found a setting to keep or refresh the random seed. Seems it defaults to keeping.

    • JoeGuy says:

      Are you looking to be fed negative comments? Because if you are happy to throw around lazy terms like ‘cover hopping’ ‘spoon-feeding’ ‘shiny’ and ‘dumbed down’ all day long you’ll find very little energy being put into disagreeing with you. Would you terribly mind giving a proper example? and I’ll be happy to check back and retort in kind.

      • Artist says:

        Sorry, but your passive-aggressive stance does not make you part of my audience. Try again after youve registered!

        • JoeGuy says:

          I’m quite happy to be part of the adult demographic myself, you can keep your audience, no need to register. That was a very nice way to dodge the question by acting like you weren’t being completely ridiculous and hating btw.

          I can assume you think someone responding to very vague and hating comments and asking them to back-up said comments in any meaningful way means they are being passive aggressive? As apposed to challenging someone to actually explain themselves when they insist something is bad?

    • Ashbery76 says:

      Yep another troll who has not even played it.

    • Hypocee says:

      ‘…dumped down…dump down…’

      Luvvin’ the irony.

  30. Mccloud says:

    A black woman named John Walker, from northern Scandinavia.
    Seems legit.

  31. Neurotic says:

    Meer you glorious bastard, you’re doing it again! I just hope you can craft an epic here as good as your FTL diary. ;)

  32. Strangerator says:

    Report from North America:

    The one thing that you absolutely must do, before you start a game, is find the option to turn off the tutorial. The tutorial is horrendously oppressive, and locks up many options for a good 1-2 hours of the beginning of the game. I was under the false impression that you had to endure it on the first playthrough, then it would go away in future games (and also thought it was just as short as the demo tutorial).

    If you’re new to things like reading, common sense, and video games, then by all means play through the tutorial. It feels a lot more like watching someone incompetent play the game, than actually playing it yourself. The game is straightforward enough that you can learn it by playing, just know that right-clicking moves and left clicking selects (or tab). Double tap numbers to select your actions. Base management is intuitive, you can just click through to see what everything does. There’s your tutorial, now you’re ready!

    Once you actually gain control of the game, it is a lot of fun. The first few missions are pretty simple, and my full squad came back (save for the tutorial mission). Difficulty will suddenly spike at times, and it’s great. Someone gets killed, rookies panic and spray gunfire, and there is a lot of tension.

    This one scores a 2:15 on my rating scale. That is, it kept me up till 2:15 AM this morning. Excellent so far.

    • Filden says:

      The people with negative opinions on the game here seem to be the same names that were being negative about the game before it was even released. Conversely, I love the game, but was enthusiastic about it before I even played it. I wonder if the reality of the game actually matters at all in our opinions.

      In any event, I’m loving the game for what it is. There are some interface quibbles, and it bothers me that the class of your soldiers seems to be random (I have an abundance of heavies and snipers, but only one precious support), but the core gameplay is really solid, and I hated things about the original XCOM as well.

      Frankly, while it may not have the breadth in features as the original XCOM, I think the tactical strategic core is actually slightly superior. The game is really distilled into a series of truly meaningful choices. Every action has impact and consequence. The choice whether to fire from light cover this turn, sprint to heavy cover to fire next turn, or fire a high % shot out in the open will have consequence. Contrasted with the first game, where it felt like I could just solve some problems by simply throwing more soldiers at it, this one I have to make the right decisions, every turn. I find the game tense and viscerally thrilling, which is remarkable for a turn based game.

      I agree with people who say to skip the tutorial. Normal difficulty can be challenging early on, but there is a “hump” in infrastructure and squad potency, that once you get over, the game rapidly loses challenge. You might try getting your feet wet on Normal to see how the game plays out, then restarting on Classic.

      • MrMud says:

        I don’t think thats all that suprising. We knew quite a bit about the game before the release and the people who were not bothered about the changes we knew about are of course more likely to enjoy the game than those who thought the new design decisions were dumb.

    • age says:

      I like your scoring system!

      However personally I’m a fan of the x/5 system, with x being the number of sick days I’ve called this working week.

  33. alphaxion says:

    This reminds me of my old Terror From The Deep diary which I had to give up on after the gamesave shit itself :(

    link to alphaxion.com

    Good luck on this one, I have my pre-order paid for and waiting to go live!

  34. Kefren says:

    This made me laugh, thanks! Especially the comments about Alec (I’m veggie too, and did laugh out loud at that one).

  35. tnankie says:

    Does anyone else find Dr Vahlen a bit creepy? As pointed out earlier I am glad she is not a bimbo….but some of the ways she looks at you and moves + head neck position. I keep thinking of the first resident evil film. I’d been keeping an eye on her if I was in game, and keeping a weapon to hand.
    As for the game, it isn’t X-com and it certainly isn’t Apocalypse (which I prefer to X-com) it is F’ing awesome though.
    I has made me laugh, scream, swear and walk away from the computer.
    Best moment so far (in terms of emotional response) was a mission with 2 rookies an assault and a sniper. I push forward and take cover with my assault move rest up, end turn. My assault gets wasted, my rookies panic and off my sniper. All this on a mission labeled “moderate” on the geoscape.
    It is very impressive how fast things can go south.

    • Strangerator says:

      Dr. Vahlen is pretty creepy, but one of the other scientists in one of the cutscenes really takes the cake. Whenever you start research on a live alien, look for this guy. You expect it to be this tense cutscene where scientists come face to face with a raging, captive alien. You expect dour or stoic faces all around, as they confront the alien menace, separated by a glass containment chamber.

      This one scientist has this awesome shit-eating grin on his face. He’s not scared, he’s positively ecstatic about the interrogation that’s about to begin. Makes me laugh every damn time. I guess it’s great to have someone so enthusiastic about his job!

  36. HalfDane1975 says:

    You guys should make this a let’s play on youtube :D . I need something to watch while I wait for XCOM to unlock.

    • silgidorn says:

      you might want to try Malkasphia let’s play, he is quite entertaining and has also done a xcomathon (ufo defense, terror from the deep, apocalypse) AND also a let’s play of the first one modded to be ultra-hard, he is quite used to dying soldiers but still seems to know what he’s doing. It’s quite entertaining.

      just search on youtube: malkasphia
      The name of the channel is Mal- The tactical endgame.

  37. Lokik says:

    I really can’t afford to pre-order the game, but I’d want to be able to customize the colour of my operatives’ armour and give them helmets when I finally buy the game. Does anyone know if I can buy this pre-order DLC later as normal DLC?

  38. budgybottom says:

    god damn it!! its 1:13am on the 12th!!!! WHY WONT YOU LET ME PLAY!!!!!!

  39. wodin says:

    I had the chance to play a few missions today.

    Honestly I came away from it feeling alittle flat. Oh I’m very happy turn based game has been made as a AAA title, however after all the hype it didn’t really do alot for me.

    It’s obvious it’s been streamlined for the modern gamer and has been aimed and designed for the console. This is the issue I had. For my own personnel taste I’d rather they had expanded on the original XCom and added more detail and depth. I’m not talking about AP points and all that here though, more the game felt restrictive and I really miss the management side of things, the side that apparently bored many. I’d like to have seen that expanded again. I’d like to have had bigger maps. Id like to have had different stances and I certainly preferred the old XCom way of sorting out your squad and and issuing equipment based on how much weight they can carry. All these things I missed and all these things I’d like to have seen improved and expanded rather than streamlined or cutback.

    There is something else aswell I just can’t put my finger on. It just feels lacking, again in detail and depth.

    I haven’t got that one more turn feel at all.

    Someone said it felt like a turn based cover shooter..and thats exactly what it did feel like.

    Good fun yes. A classic? For me no, nowhere near.

    • Tyrain says:

      Huh, I’m having the exact opposite reaction. I’m staying up way too late each night thanks to that one-more-turn siren’s call.

      I find the new choices, even when they are binary, to be compelling. They involve me on a deeper level than most choices in the original. The tension is palatable. My attachment to my units is stronger.

      The combat is probably better than the original (in my opinion of course). Since I’m not missing time units for the most part, and I love the depth and fresh dynamics that classes and abilities bring to each encounter.

      This game is easily the best I’ve played in years. While it won’t dethrone the original as my favorite game of all time, it’s an incredibly worthy successor. I get a little giddy just imagining what DLC might come out for this. Firaxis may as well be co-signer on my bank account now.

      I’m not sure what regard you feel the game is lacking detail or depth, but I am loving the visual details. When I blew up a soda machine, cans were scattered about. The way troops move across the battlefield is dramatic and full of impact. Whomever is responsible for the pathing logic and animations should really be proud of themselves. Surprisingly to me, the glam cam has been great and drawn me more into the conflict.

      I think the game brings great depth to the table in every aspect other than shooting down UFOs. I can see how one might associate depth and detail with tasks like counting TUs, managing ammunition reserves, and restocking the skyranger. That kind of micromanaging feels to me like shallow depth compared to the way decisions matter in the new XCOM. I don’t miss them and I hope others come around as well. Now… I must get back to playing!

      • wodin says:

        Don’t you think the tactical depth is due to the game restricting you rather than through new and indepth mechanics? For instance only being able to carry a grenade or a medkit. The game restricts you or limits you to give you decisions to make, rather than give you lots of options and try and choose the right ones for the job.

        I don’t miss the old system of time units either. Some things they have improved, no doubt about it. Just other things I think they cut or streamlined to much. I think I would like something abit more complex.

        I just miss the apparent boring bits from XCom.

        I’d have rather the game have looked like it does now but have mechanics similar to say JA2 1.13. (I have no problem at all with the way it looks, though I’d have liked to be able to customise faces abit more, though thats a minor point)

        Anyway as I say it is a really good game. I just wish it had more…

        • Tyrain says:

          Hmm, that’s a good question. I would say there are new and in-depth mechanics in how you build your team based upon combining classes and abilities in regards to the foes and mission you are facing. I do agree that there is more restriction going on and that eliminates one significant type of depth. To me, the original is more akin to a sandbox design where there’s a minimal rule set and it’s up to you to come up with the actions and direction the war will go.

          I see the new XCOM as a more focused game. The rules are a bit blunt in that ‘you must choose from these’. That arbitrary choice has alienated some players. I, however, love the choices it provides. The game systems are more forcibly present, and your path to victory is fairly dictated. So perhaps the global strategy depth is lacking and that would certainly be a turn off for many people who ate that part up. I am one of those players who did. I would appreciate a game that offers more strategic depth, but I don’t miss it in this new game at all.

          Long story short, I think I would define the original X-COM as more like an invasion simulator and the new XCOM as an invasion game. Both are awesome – almost equally so to me. If the new one didn’t have choices I enjoy (and often suffer through deciding), I would have missed the old ways much more.

          Totally agree on the face customization. I’d also love many more helmets to choose from, as well. As for wishing it had more. Oh yeah. Even so, I am completely sated and thrilled this game was made. I think DLC will add more, and I hope they go for adding good mod support. I’m not sure we’ll get the kind of depth you are craving, but I am pretty confident there’ll be some fantastic additions to the game, either from Firaxis or the fans.

  40. ancient_scars says:

    John is also, apparently, a Norwegian black woman. Interesting how that makes my patriotic heart swell with pride.

  41. captainfailsauce says:

    I couldn’t wait. Sorry.

  42. zeekthegeek says:

    Well Kieron did write the best Batroc the Leaper comic in history, it is very likely he does love Pink.

  43. cspkg says:

    Gods dammit RPS. Where be the next XCOM diaries please? I’m twitching to read it. Yes. Twitching.

    • tigerfort says:

      Sadly, the XCOM base was invaded and destroyed by aliens before the second installment could be transmitted; all employees including the commander/diary-keeper are missing believed dead.