Vigilo Confido: XCOM Mega-Mod Long War Is Finished(Ish)

There's much more to it than guady new armour colours, promise

XCOM 2 [official site] looms, but despite its many enticing changes it seems unlikely it’ll take Firaxis’ X-COM reboot much closer to the Golloptastic source material. As such, complicated, hardcore and remarkably extensive mod Long War is, I suspect, going to remain your best bet for a game which furthers the uncompromising, unsympathetic spirit of the original games. It expands so many elements, introduces many more, remixes almost everything, makes an XCOM campaign ten times longer and, if you so wish, repeatedly bloodies your nose in the process. And now, several years and 15 major releases later, it is more-or-less finished. Next, its makers will turn their hands to their own “grand strategy alien invasion game.”

The team behind it are now “winding down developing Long War and [will] start setting up to develop our own original games”, writes the projects’ Johnny Lump on Reddit. Over on the mod’s forum, he expands that
“Finally, the mod is done. It’s still a Beta while we make sure we didn’t miss any critical bugs or have balance way out of wack. While we appreciate thoughtful and even-handed feedback and ideas, no more major work on the mod is planned. (We do have three or four voicepacks still in the pipeline.)”

He also reveals that the working title for their next game is Terra Invictus, and that “it is probably best described as a grand strategy alien invasion game.” XCOM on a much larger scale, perhaps? There’ll be Kickstarter for it at some point, and apparently you can email them if you want to be first to hear when that happens.

As for version 15f of The Long War, here are the major changes and additions:

Dutch Male voicepack (Euro 2) by Benjamin Smit
Resp implant confers +1 hp
All suppression-based reaction fire will get the opportunist bonus (not just LMG/SAW-series) and ignore cover
Improved Fusion Core council request rewards
Rework Jaeger tree to make ITZ spec perk, Squadsight to TSGT, VPT to MSGT, Remove LEU and replace with LnL at MSGT.
Rework of Goliath tree. Welcome Covering Fire, Rapid Fire, and Extra Conditioning. Farewell Platform Stability, Bring ‘Em On and Ready for Anything.
Rework of Shogun tree
Alloy Carbide Plating now grants flat +4 hit points
Attempted to set autopause before a mission expires one hour earlier
The seven special soldiers will have 0 defense rather than random value
Smoke will now help against reaction fire
Aliens will stack terror and infiltration missions on the same country less often in non-DW games

There are also a whole bunch of bugfixes, naturally. I haven’t played The Long War since something like version 9, so many of those names and terms don’t mean much to me, other than that oh boy, I really must make time to go back to it while I count the days and hours until XCOM 2’s November release. Though I do have concerns that it tilted too far into hardcore, what I’ve experienced of it so far clearly proved that the mod is a monumental undertaking and in many ways a triumphant reworking of a game which (disappointingly) wasn’t intended to be reworked in the first place. The persistence and dedication is remarkable, and by all accounts it paid off. Go see.

35 Comments

  1. Jericho says:

    I’m so excited that JL and his team managed to actually bring this mod around to full release. I’ve been following the development for nearly a year now and it’s been both entertaining and enlightening to have helped in the beta testing.

    For those fearing Long War’s notorious difficulty, take some comfort in knowing that a lot of effort has gone into balancing the difficulty and making the game as fair as possible over the last few months. Furthermore, the difficulty settings are very broad and players can scale the difficulty by extreme degrees if they wish. Many new difficulty options were added in the last several beta releases to make certain aspects of the game easier for new players that might not want to have to deal with some of the new mechanics added (item repairs, the challenging air strategy game, EXALT, etc.).

    Of course, the difficulty scaling also goes in the other direction if people want to create a hair-tearing challenge. It’s called “Impossible” difficulty for a reason. Similar to Civilization, If you crank up the settings past 11 the game will become unfairly difficult as the Aliens will be given many more advantages that the player never gets. It’s a single-player game, so find and enjoy the difficulty that you find the most appropriate for your tastes!

    Also, check out the XCOM Nexus for other Long War-compatible mods that add fun stuff like new UI and player textures and new voice packs. Voice packs have been made modular, so you can create your own voice pack for soldiers if you have the time and gumption to do so. Instructions should be in the installer, but you can check the Long War forums or Reddit for more detailed instructions and guides.

    Good luck and don’t let Van Doorn have all the fun!

    • Reapy says:

      I’ve been meaning to check this out, but I never got around to getting the expansion, and I had some difficulty trying to install it (had to roll a patch back or something on the original) and never got it working, this was a while ago though. I kept waiting for the expansion to drop in price and then try this out but now with xcom 2 around the corner probably going to hold out.

      Pretty excited they may try their hand at doing their own alien invasion game though and look forward to seeing what comes of that.

      • Jericho says:

        Yeah, the only downside to installing the mod is that it requires the Enemy Within expansion AND all of the DLC packs in order to function. Thankfully the installer for the mod has made the installation/uninstallation very simple, but you still have to have all of the DLC for the mod to work. Multiplayer also still does not function with the mod in place, but that’s a limitation put in place by Firaxis to prevent people from cheating during online play.

        • Banyan says:

          I do not have the Slingshot DLC and Long War 15e has been running fine. The EW mod is apparently much more extensive than the EU mod, which was “completed” some time ago, but no DLC required.

      • AriochRN says:

        I’ve never bought the expansion either, not really interested in the extra gumph. All I really wanted was for my troops to sound like they came from their home countries, not all from America. I think this got sorted in the expansion, obviously too difficult to patch into the base game though, harrumph

      • alms says:

        Though it’s not written in stone, EW is usually more expensive than the complete pack. It’s a choice between biting the bullet and get that, or vote with your wallet against that pricing policy that is greater cuts for complete/ultimate/GOTY/etc editions than individual pieces of DLC.

        FTR I’m playing my first campaign of the base game and even though it’s a nifty story generator, I’m not so madly in love that I have to get EW, if I get to miss Long War, so be it, I have enough unplayed games in my backlog anyway.

  2. geisler says:

    When i comes to mimicking the original XCOM games, Xenonauts still is a better game. Love The Long War mod as well though.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah was about to mention Xenonauts as well.

    • MattM says:

      I really want to try Xenonauts soon. I loved nu XCOM and Long War, but when I tried original X-COM it was just too dated and I bounced off in the first hour. Hopefully Xenonauts really is all that its fans say.

  3. LongStrider says:

    There are several ‘second wave’ options that mitigate a few of the ways that LW radically increased the difficulty. There’s one for bonus aim for your interceptors, another for bonus aim for your soldiers, you can turn off needing to repair items worn by soldiers that take large amounts of damage, etc as well as the big one which is Dynamic War which greatly shortens it (but still leaves it longer than EW). This leaves all of the strategic complexity intact but reduces the reliance on RNG luck. I’d like to see a similar SW option for arc throwers, which are capped at 54% chance even on a 1hp alien, which is STUPIDLY frustrating, but you can modify the .ini file yourself to change that.

  4. Banyan says:

    I finally got around checking out the mod at 15e, and it’s been kicking me down elevator shafts. The bastard modders located drops on the Portent map so that your standard overwatch locations are now immediately flanked by overwatching aliens. I’ve had missions where three pods walk right into me within two turns of starting. I’ve had to specialize even rookies for certain roles using the ridiculous number of new standard items. I’ve started watching YouTubers playing Long War on Impossible Ironman just so I have a sense of how to deal with Normal difficulty. This is all to say that Long War is utterly brilliant and I wish the modders every success in the future.

    And the game automatically assigns rookies to the color red and each of the 8 classes its own color upon promotion. That’s worthy of sainthood, or at least beatitude.

    • Jericho says:

      Yeah, I was surprised that one of my favorite features of Long War is the ability to customize how the Rookies start off looking and how they look after being promoted to a class. The default settings are handy and fun, but I love that you can assign different hats for different classes upon promotion.

      • tehfish says:

        Ooh, i’ve not played LW, but that does sound like a handy feature that should have been added to the base game.

        The first thing i always do when a rookie gets assigned a class is colour code their armour tint. Always thought it should be an option to be automated. :)

    • jonahcutter says:

      The mod itself has a pretty healthy submod community if you find it too daunting. There are many already existing submods for common requests or tweaks, many toning down the difficulty or streamlining particular elements.

      I would heartily recommend the alien sight radius submod, the dev console submod and the sleeve genie submod. Dev console is particularly excellent, as it lets you add and take away perks from your troops. So if you feel the need to respec any of your soldier builds, it’s possible. Sleeve genie is for proper looking early armors. And alien sight radius will save your bacon more times than you’ll be able to count, and much much reduce time spent counting tiles.

      It’s brilliant and well worth checking out. Now’s a perfect time, as with XCOM 2 due in November you might have a chance of actually finishing a playthrough by then.

  5. FireStorm1010 says:

    Im not often kickstarting games, but these games get my money on the first day of the crowdfunding. Long war had given me so much fun, and im really excited that they will create their own game. Go guys:)

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      Cant find edit option, so what i meant above is:

      Im not often kickstarting games, but these guys get my money on the first day of the crowdfunding. Long war had given me so much fun, and im really excited that they will create their own game. Go guys:)

  6. neoncat says:

    Does the Long War manage to fix any underlying game engine bugs, like teleporting enemy groups or un-selectable movement squares? Sadly, those engine glitches will keep me from going back to anything based on XCOM:EU, even though LW has always looked awesome.

    • Horg says:

      Sort of. Long War incorporated another mod that made the aliens patrol normally (mostly) and randomised their spawn locations so you didn’t get the same predictable fights every map. Some pods (mostly Cyberdisk pods) still sometimes exhibit a teleport movement but it’s fairly rare. The movement over haul isn’t quite perfect, sometimes the pods get split up and activate awkwardly for example, but it’s far better than the pods randomly teleporting around. You can actually scout effectively and set up ambushes in Long War that you couldn’t make work in the base game. Maps were a problem for the mod team though as the code was largely inaccessible to them. A few map specific problems got fixed but some will always remain broken, like the UFO door on the barn yard crash site map.

    • unimural says:

      Yes and no. There’s a list of bugs that have been deemed unsolvable. Teleporting can still happen, but for the most part it’s not an issue, because in Long War the pods move around the map normally even before they have been activated. I don’t remember the un-selectable tiles bug from vanilla, but I haven’t encountered it myself in LW at least. Long War probably does add a fair number of bugs of its own. However, I’ve been very happy with how solid it is. But if you’re very sensitive to bugs, there certainly are some.

      The things that do annoy me are the unfixable map issues. The farmyard ufo door that doesn’t block line of sight and tiles that don’t have cover even though they look like the should have.

      link to ufopaedia.org

    • tehfish says:

      Can’t say i’ve experienced those bugs at all.

      Not to say they don’t exist, but this has been one of the most bug-free games i’ve experienced at my end :O

      • neoncat says:

        Heh, the first time I played through the XCOM:EU campaign, there was about a 50% chance of it crashing to desktop during any battle. I soldiered through, all the way to the final room of the final map, where the game hung on a glitched spawn script, requiring me to force quit the application. I swore for a good 10 minutes and then uninstalled the game.

        I went back to it more recently, after completely overhauling my rig. It was slightly more stable, only crashing to desktop twice during a complete campaign, but classic ironman was made even more masochistic by all the engine bugs. >_<

        It's good to hear that at least a handful of them are dealt with. I might as well give it a go.

  7. Haphaz77 says:

    It is somewhat hardcore, and finishing a beta 15 game almost broke me, but it is a stunning achievement of a mod.

  8. kaal says:

    Such a great mod, effectively adds a whole another game mode to a already great game. The only problem i have with the mod is by adding so many characters to every mission, and adding so many missions (which both are big parts of the core ideas of the mod) you end up spending soooo much time watching animations you cant skip. Which kinda fucks up the pacing/flow of the game in my opinion.

    • liance says:

      Hitting Alt-F9 in Long War will set the animation speed to 1.5, which helps speed things up immeasurably!

  9. malkav11 says:

    Everything I’ve heard about this mod sounds fantastic. Except for the part where it dramatically lengthens the campaign. I already have a hard enough time finishing games (I’ve never gotten anywhere near finishing the base Enemy Unknown campaign, for example). I don’t need them made any longer. There any provision for adding all the mechanical refinement/new stuff/etc without lengthening the game, or at least minimizing the amount it’s prolonged?

    • EhexT says:

      There’s a toggle to shorten campaign and speed up progression, so you don’t have to play the incredibly long default LW campaign.

    • jonahcutter says:

      “Dynamic War” is the second wave setting EhexT is referring to.

      There’s also a new one setting called “Quick and Dirty” which lowers the amount of aliens you face per mission.

  10. amateurviking says:

    Mods as apprentice pieces. Looking forward to their masterwork given that LW is an incredible achievement.

    You know you’ve nailed it when the Jake Solomon describes EU as a ’20 hour tutorial for Long War’.

  11. Vacuity729 says:

    It’s an amazing mod and no mistake, but I soured on it eventually due to the grind. You’ll play the same maps, with the same equipment, against roughly the same foes again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And you’ll gradually get enough meld, or alloys, or whatever to build a slightly better or more useful piece of equipment, or which allows you to do something slightly different with your troops (though a wall of overwatch is almost always the optimal choice).

    It’s an impressive piece of work, but even with all the extra content they added, the grind is ridiculous. And yes, I could use the dynamic war to make a (new) shorter campaign, but at this point, I really cannot face doing the early game again. It’s just unbearable to play through the low-tech stages yet another time.

  12. Crimson says:

    I’m sorry, but LW is a mess. Its almost entirely RNG based, most of the ‘difficult’ mechanics in the game you have almost no control over, and its not even remotely balanced. Sure there are tons of new items, but most are useless. Likewise there are new classes (8 instead of 5), but they bring nothing new to the table, just a reworking of what was already there. Mecs are terrible and rarely if ever used. The new ‘air war’ is a complete and utter disaster; I’ve repeatedly had an entire continents of satellites wiped out when you encounter 20+ UFOs in less than 5 days. But probably most annoying of all is that far all the cool new gadgets and items, nothing new tactics-wise occurs in game. Every single encounter is your men hunkering behind high cover hoping the RNG rolls in your favor. A map that might take 20 turns in the OG will easily take 100+ in LW. It made the game so utterly boring and tedious its unbelievable. On top of this, no one is actually winning the game outside of modding the .ini, playing on easy mode/super easy second wave options, or scum saving. Watch any of the ‘top players’ on youtube/twitch (if you can stomach watching hours of some of the most boring gameplay online) and none of them are winning without cheating.

    I am truly baffled at the praise this mod gets.

    • PikaBot says:

      Well, it doesn’t in any way resemble what you just described, so I imagine why you find the praise baffling.

  13. Soopah says:

    This mod felt like torture sometimes. The feeling of hopelessness sometimes was so strong I actually felt depressed. It’s a wonder mod but really amps up my stress levels.

  14. lagiacrux says:

    i just recently started playing long war on normal and never managed to get beyond july. but i LOVE it. its one of those games where you have the odds stacked against you, but you still can manage through strategy and tactics.

    several times i came upon some BS where i was like “F*** YOU XCOM, did you really have to patrol another pod into me, when im already under so much pressure?”. but i soldiered on. and managed. and eventually overcame the odds. and if felt FANTASTIC!