One absolutely, perfectly ridiculous turn in XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen

xvid

I had a whale of a time with XCOM 2: War of the Chosen [official site] (out today), despite finding its tonal ping-ponging between gritty resistance saga and preposterous superheroics a little jarring.

Speaking of the latter, here’s a video I made showing just how off-the-chain crazy the various new abilities, weapons and features can be. In the space of a single turn (the first turn of a mission), one soldier covers almost the entire length of the map, ‘wakes’ pretty much every enemy on it, kills around 15 of them, winds up at the main mission objective and then proceeds to take zero damage on the alien turn. Meanwhile, most of his team never even leave their starting position. All in one turn. It’s bonkers. This is War Of The Chosen.

If you’re an XCOM or XCOM 2 player, you’ll know that usual state of affairs is something like 1-4 kills per turn, inching across only a fraction of the map each turn and very rarely having anything happen during the first turn. Each soldier broadly gets to move once and shoot once per turn, and that’s it. This is… different. What we have here is a very high-level soldier, backed up by a veteran team of various classes and abilities (the net result of 40 hours put into the campaign), able to use a wide and wild range of skills both new and old to achieve what, before today, was simply impossible in XCOM-land.

Two things to note before you watch this. Firstly, this isn’t even as well as it could have gone. I made a couple of minor errors of judgement that denied me a couple more kills, and there are two gunshots that missed despite good odds. Doesn’t make much difference to the lie of the land at the end of turn one really, but I’d have loved a perfect run.

wotc11

Secondly, you’ll notice that our mass-murderin’ hero Ranger, Graham ‘Bandit’ Smith, begins the turn standing on top of a bus shelter, a few squares away from the rest of his team. This is because, just before I thought to start recording, I decided to use his Snake Suit’s grappling hook to have a ‘free’ move to higher ground, but like an idiot moved in the wrong direction. Again, no biggie, but if I hadn’t done that I might have been able to move even further forward than I did in the initial sprint, and thus possibly have used one of the action points for another kill or two. C’est la vie.

Right, here we go. I’ve added narration to try and explain what’s happening and how the hell it is happening at all, but that stuff isn’t my usual ballpark so please go easy on my muttering:

(FWIW, this mission was wrapped up without any fatalities on my team three turns later).

36 Comments

  1. JarinArenos says:

    It’s nice to see a variety of abilities get more focus, rather than just technological superiority. Vanilla seemed to only have two strategies: overwhelming plasma firepower, or psionic godhood.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      When I hear things like this I wonder how people are playing the game so differently than I am. I found that victory came from carefully thinking through my tactical options and using my special abilities to their full potential. I only had one psi-op and she wasn’t even in my top 5.

    • Goldeneye says:

      Abilities have always played a crucial role in XCOM 2 – hell, there are achievements that discourage you from getting more advanced weapons, and it’s still possible to complete the game using pure tactical thinking and ability use. Claiming that the vanilla game was purely about technological development is rather erroneous. XCOM 2 has always been about seeing what abilities and options your soldiers have available to them, and knowing when and how to use said abilities in a single turn to form the basis of your tactics.

  2. geldonyetich says:

    Amazing turn. In all fairness to XCOM2:WotC’s balance, having that hair trigger go off (a 5% chance?), and the spacing of those AP-restoring Lost headshots, was quite the stroke of luck.

  3. Pilgore says:

    As someone who has never played an XCOM game, where’s the best place to start?

    • geldonyetich says:

      Well, you could just get XCOM2:WotC, it might seem a bit complicated at first but you’ll adapt readily enough in time.

      But if you want a more gradual learning curve, I’d recommend the first XCOM:Enemy Unknown, before XCOM2. Not the original from decades past, it doesn’t play a thing like it, and honestly all that inventory fiddling is a bit of a chore even if I did appreciate the depth. If you start with this XCOM reboot by Firaxis, you get the core of the same version everybody’s playing now, a two-turn core system, with all the fiddling streamlined out.

      • Sin Vega says:

        UFO (ie: the 90s one) is a very different game to XCOM (ie: Firaxis), to the extent that I utterly hated the latter. I respect it a lot, and it’s certainly not because it’s bad (it’s clearly a great game). But it is basically a board game where UFO was a simulation, and I found some of its major elements restrictive and infuriatingly arbitrary.

        Which isn’t reason not to give it a go, of course, but I think presenting it as a streamlined version of UFO isn’t fair. There are people who will love both, and people who will get on much better with one or the other. Neither of them are wrong, but if you give the Firaxes ones a go and don’t like them, it might still be worth looking up the old Microprose one.

        And there’s also xenonauts if you want something more like the 90s ones but with most of the creaky UI and general quality-of-life issues fixed. And if you get on really well with the original, consider x-piratez for something… well, just consider it.

        • waltC says:

          OpenXcom Extended is, imo, the only way to play the first and second original UFO games today, bar none…;) It’s fantastic, allows you to play the games on Win10x64 (not Dosbox)@ your native res –whatever it is, while remaining true to the original games. I play at 2560×1440. It’s the *perfect* mod for both UFO and Tftd…! Word of advice–use the latest nightly build of OpenXcom–*don’t* use the 1.0 build–the nightlies are rock solid and way, way better than 1.0 which, imo, is very flaky! RIght now the “nightlies” look to be getting fresh versions at the rate of 1-2 a *month*, so it’s not really “nightly”–current version is so good I have no idea why it isn’t listed instead of 1.0–which is definitely far inferior. Setup and play of the mod is painless and easy-peasy!

          I bought one of the later “sequels” to the original UFO games–the “After”-xxx–I got Aftershock at a GOG sale a while back in a package for about $1–don’t waste your time. Only way to play “UFO” today is with the original games in OpenXcom (I use the “Extended” mod for it)–fantastic! Solid as a rock–great resolutions–flawless game play! Go get ’em…;)

        • Premium User Badge

          Waltorious says:

          Board game vs. simulation is exactly right. I didn’t hate Firaxis’ XCOM, but I did find it disappointing compared to the original. All the decisions in Firaxis’ XCOM are such clearly spelled out tradeoffs, with the consequences understood perfectly, and all the underlying rules obvious. There’s no mystery to it. Even when new alien enemies are revealed, they ruin it by having a cutscene with other characters chattering about it.

          In the original, a new alien would just show up. Instead of a voice on the radio saying “what IS that!?”, you, the player said it, because some freaky unknown thing has just joined your fight. The first time I met a Chrysallid, it ran into view, looked at my squad for a moment, and then ran back out of sight again. And that was far more terrifying than anything in Firaxis’ XCOM. I had no idea what it was, how dangerous it was, what it was going to do.

          The original game really goes all in on that “unknown”. You don’t know what you’ll get when you research things — it might be a critical breakthrough, or it might be a waste of time. You don’t know where the aliens are, and what missions they might be attempting elsewhere in the world. You don’t know where you should be deploying your forces, or if they’re equipped well enough to handle the opposition, or even what your opposition is capable of.

          Firaxis’ game is still fun, but none of those are really unknowns anymore. With everything spelled out and following clear rules, you just make the obvious moves until you’ve reached the end. It didn’t inspire me to get XCOM 2, so I haven’t tried that, but I’m guessing it keeps the same core design philosophy.

        • Raoul Duke says:

          Great way of putting it. I was also profoundly disappointed by the reboots, which are really just taking the brand name and theme of the original game at the most general level and then making a totally different game.

          It sums it up for me that in the original, when your soldiers fire the game simulates the shot actually travelling through the level. In the reboots, when your soldiers fire the game runs an RNG on the spot, decides if it’s a hit or not, and then animates what it has already determined will happen.

          • Asurmen says:

            Other than cover in the original not being a buff, the two methods are identical. They’re both just calculations to see whether you hit or not. As soon as you start the shot, the end result is pre determined.

          • emptyfile says:

            Um, what?

          • Raoul Duke says:

            No they aren’t, in at least this important respect: actually simulating it in-world is vastly more intuitive for the player.

            In the original UFO/XCOM, part of the skill is looking at the lay of the land and assessing what’s between you and the target/threat. You can also use the likelihood that you’ll hit some intervening object to your advantage (e.g. shooting a hole in a wall with a plasma rifle, using something behind an alien as a nice big target for your inaccurate rocket launcher to hit).

            Whereas in the reboot, the environment only matters in the sense that it is one of the variables which goes into the pre-determined magic number which is then used to artificially animate what the computer has already decided is going to happen. This leads to all sorts of stupidity – getting shot through objects being a bit one, but also completely counter-intuitive hit chances despite the physical location of the player/target. The game engine is also broken/crippled in that there’s no free aim (because it’s only built to calculate % chance of hitting pre-determined targets) and so the player is robbed of a lot of agency and it is, as the GP said, more like a board game where you are forced to pick from one of a very limited number of moves.

            More generally, games that actually model things in-engine are a completely different proposition to games that model things statistically and then represent it via an animation. Imagine how Quake would play if your shots weren’t actually tested via modelled collisions in the game but just each time you pulled the trigger the game decided what your chances of hitting the target were and rolled a dice, so to speak.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          People say that the originals involved too much fiddling with the inventory, but that was one of the great things about them.

          I remember a mission where one of my guys had an alley locked down with overwatch and an alien came out. The overwatch fire missed and left him with an empty rifle. The new XComs force you to either reload (and get hit in the alien turn) or run away and hope for the best.

          In the old game, I just had another trooper throw a fully loaded gun to my overwatcher and he got the kill.

          Often, what people call fiddly is really a whole load of unexplored options they haven’t tried yet.

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Yeah, one of my many complaints with the new games is that you apparently need special hands in order to operate particular guns. E.g. why can’t my assault guy pick up a sniper rifle if he wants to?

    • Premium User Badge

      fegbarr says:

      Another vote for the first of the reboots. The core game alone is many many hours of fun before you feel like you’ve mastered it, and then the Enemy Within DLC starts it all over again. People talk about how XCOM2 fixes (or fails to fix, depending on opinion) certain flaws, but they won’t be obvious or irritating for a long ol’ time.

      Also in its favour is the fact that it’s dirt cheap a lot of the time on Steam, wait for a sale and you’ll pick it up for a couple of quid.

    • johnny5 says:

      I’d start with XCOM2. It’s 60% off on Steam right now. I like Enemy Unknown (2012) better in a lot of ways, but eventually fighting on the same maps over and over again drove me bonkers. Maps are procedurally generated in XCOM2. I’ve never played the original (1994).

    • Kasjer says:

      I have started with the series relatively recently (Enemy Within on Android tablet) as friend of mine recommended it. I trust his judgement (he is total maniac of turn based strategy games) and picked up first game simply because it is less complicated. That doesn’t mean it is easy… my first attempts were disasters, my economy was starving and I had casualities in almost every mission. That is because game tutorial doesn’t actually make a very good job of explaining base management layer – it was only after I discovered grey market things started to get rolling. Of course, choices needs to be made regarding which advancements to pursuit, but I’m about halfway through the game and there was nothing I couldn’t really handle so far. My advice – read some guides, play a tutorial and tinker with game systems – then start a fresh game without tutorial.

  4. Metalfish says:

    That suicide run that sets the whole thing up went against my old commmander’s instincts somewhat. A lot of fun.

    (Maybe up the audio levels on your mic in future as your lovely soft mumblings required dangerous levels of amplification).

  5. Stromko says:

    I really felt like regular XCOM 2 had become too complicated for me to get comfortable with, the expansion just seems to dial that complexity up further.

    You could say X-Com games have always been quite complex and difficult, but with the original and the XCOM reboot I felt what I had to do was fairly comprehensible. So long as I wasn’t losing countries and I was accomplishing missions with acceptable losses, I didn’t feel too stressed.

    I got about six hours into XCOM 2, and was just left with the sensation that I’d painted myself into a corner. Worse, I didn’t really feel like I’d learned anything that would make a new start more viable. One of these days I’ll probably dive back in with the help of a Wiki or a guide, but I feel like my experience suggests the game may be a bit more muddled and poorly explained compared to previous outings.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That describes my feelings about the two games. I enjoyed the first one, and had trouble relating to XCOM2. I got about halfway through the missions and didn’t finish it.

      It was partly the addition of mission timers, which I eventually fixed with a mod. But I think it was also just the new premise of being guerrilla fighters instead of an elite military. I don’t like the shiny-chrome city maps either. I liked the more lived-in, current day settings of the first game. It just felt like a better setting for alien invasion.

      At this point, I feel more like revisiting the first XCOM reboot with the Enemy Within DLC. Maybe I’ll do that. I still have XCOM2 in the Steam library, so I can always come back to it.

  6. Chappers says:

    I just wondered if you are using any mods obviously outside of the official expansion/DLC?

      • monstermagnet says:

        How you somehow remain so calm through that shit storm is beyond me. I know you’ve spent a lot of time playing XCOM, but even so…..I’d have had a stroke.

  7. Synesthesia says:

    Can’t wait to make an unstopabble Bob Ross, followed by his insufferable psychic sidekick, chandler bing.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    That’s awesome. I’d be interested to know if you do figure out which of your characters is causing that “Tactical Analysis” debuff on the enemies.

    • TehK says:

      It’s not one of the characters.

      “Tactical Analysis” is one of the “Resistance Orders”. Those are basically “cards” granted by the factions. At the end of a month you can choose which cards are active for the next month. It kind of reminds me of how you’d put together your government in Civ VI.

  9. wombat191 says:

    That was absolutely mad haha

  10. barelyhomosapien says:

    Hopefully you see this, Alec! If you have a Nintendo Switch in your household, get Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle for it.

    It’s brilliant!

  11. stringerdell says:

    God I love this expansion so much.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Big Dunc says:

    Watching this has removed any doubts that I may have had about purchasing the expansion this week.

  13. Cederic says:

    RPS demonstrating again why it’s a cut above the competition.

    No excruciatingly incompetent Doom footage here, just a lovely moment of gaming excellence (and a bit of luck) from someone very clearly enjoying their game.

  14. heretic says:

    Great vid Alec, thanks for sharing!

  15. Tony Heugh says:

    Has anyone tried this game with the steam controller? I’d quite like to play this a turn at a time while doing other stuff.

  16. Josh W says:

    The muttering is excellent by the way, I’ve grown very bored of youtube eeh-nun-ciation and endless bridging phrases. Normal talking is a step up.