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XCOM Expansion Grudgingly Acknowledges Save Scummers

I was away when body-horror XCOM expansion Enemy Within was announced, so that means you’ve tragically been denied my thoughts on it. Clearly, I am outraged that Firaxis are going to pervert their beautiful and unique snowflake with CHANGES and I beseech you to sign my online petition demanding that they cancel months of work immediately and develop a 100% faithful remake of Terror From The Deep instead.

Nah, there isn’t a game I’m more looking forward to right now. I can’t wait to play it. I’m especially enamoured of the idea that now is when they truly make XCOM their own game instead of beholden to its noble origins, and the new soldier-modding stuff sounds fascinating. A smaller added feature is that they’re offering the option to deactivate what’s something of a Firaxis house rule – pre-determined outcomes, regardless of how many times you reload the game.

Speaking to PCGamesN, lead designer Anand Gupta (assuming the mantle for this expansion from Jake Solomon) explained how a feature that’s thwarted attempts to gain a perfect result through repetition in a series of Firaxis titles (including Civ V) will now be toggleable to off for those who desire an easy ride. “It’s called Save Scum, in honour of what Jake Solomon likes to call players who do this. It resets the random number seed whenever the game is loaded. For people who really want to keep shooting until that 80% shot hits.”

If you are prone to reloading the game in the event one of your soldiers consumes an unwanted plasma buffet, you’ll probably have noticed that you’ll get the same result every time. I.e. the game has decided whether or not a given a shot will hit its target before the gun is fired, rather than rolling a dice every time the trigger is pulled. With the Save Scum option on, you’ll get a different result every time. While I experience some discomfort about using savegames this way – much as I am occasionally prone to it – what I do like about this new option is that it keeps everything random. I don’t much like the idea of a fixed destiny in a non-narrative game like this, if you see what I mean.

Of course this is going to be irrelevant to anyone who Iron Man-modes it, as I surely will.

Also being added for lily-livered players is a ‘bad streak breaker’ on Easy and Normal difficulty settings. “On Easy, if you miss three times in a row you’re not going to miss your fourth shot. It can be a 1% chance to hit and you’re not going to miss that shot.” This effect will lessen on normal, and be absent for Classic and above.

Won’t affect me, though I am convinced that something’s been done to ensure an inflated number of misses on shots with 90% and above chances – I’d miss on 95% shots far more often than I would on 60 or 70 percenters. Perhaps I’m just paranoid. Or perhaps slowly eroding the moral of veteran X-COM players is just stage one of the Sectoids who’ve infiltrated Firaxis’s masterplan.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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