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Post 08 Apr 2016, 1:23 pm

Is anybody else playing this ? I have to say it's probably the best and most addictive computer game I've ever played by a wide margin. I remember playing the original XCOM games back in the mid 90s (UFO:Enemy Unknown and Terror From the Deep) but I somehow missed the reboot that happened a couple of years back. The original games were absolute classics. Incredibly difficult games which were totally absorbing and tense throughout, but obviously the graphics are now very dated. The current game has taken all of the elements that everybody loved about the original concept and modernised it into a game that you just can't stop playing.

The basic concept of the original game (and the first reboot) was that an alien invasion of earth is taking place and you start out as commander of an organisation that has to investigate alien incursion sites, sending in teams of troops to explore the areas, take on the aliens etc. That's the tactical element. there's a also a strategic element where you have to choose different tech to research, gather resources and prioritise all your many different operations, build facilities etc. XCOM 2 works in the same way, but it starts from the premise that humanity lost (not at all an unlikely scenario given how insanely difficult the game is) and projects it forward 20 years to a world in which the aliens are the overlords and you're running the resistance movement.

I have to say it's brilliant. The beauty of the game is that at every stage you're presented with a constant stream of difficult choices that you have to make. There isn't necessarily a right or a wrong way to approach things, but everything you choose has consequences that you won't necessarily appreciate at the time. This works on both the strategic and the tactical level. The examples are far too numerous to list in full, but for example, on the tactical level you start out with a small number of rookie troops. As they complete missions they gain in experience and add new abilities which are crucial once you get past the first couple of easy missions. The temptation is VERY strong to always send in your best troops every time you go on a mission. This is partly because the more missions they go on the more badass they become, and they need to be because the difficulty level of the missions scales up extremely quickly, but also because your chances of success drop off sharply if you're not using your best guys. However, if you do that then you never manage to develop your lower ranking troops, which can be catastrophic if a couple of your key players get killed or severely wounded on a mission and you're then plunged into a really difficult mission with inferior troops. It's a constant balancing act and you can never be entirely sure you're doing the right thing. Even within the missions themselves you're constantly faced with difficult decisions to make. Many of them are time limited. You have a certain number of turns to travel across the map, rescue somebody from a cell or hack a terminal in a particular location or abduct an enemy VIP and then move further to an agreed extraction point and get everybody out of there. Speed is of the essence, but speed entails much greater risks. Moving slowly and incrementally from one covered position to the next is by far the safest way to proceed over the terrain and keep your guys alive, but you can't afford to be too careful because the clock is ticking and if you wait too long you'll find yourself in a desperate race against time where you have to abandon all discipline to get to the extraction point, leaving yourself open to getting crushed by enemy fire.

The strategic level is even more complicated. Resources are highly limited. Everything you build or research is advantageous in some way and there are various different approaches you can take, all of which have their merits or drawbacks. The thing is though, these are not always immediately obvious, so you can take a particular decision over how to spend your resources, partake in a few missions where everything appears to be going great, and then all of a sudden find that you desperately need some particular item or line of research to be completed that you could have had ages ago if you'd gone down a different path but which now it's far too late to acquire. The beauty of it is that this never gets any easier. The difficulty of the missions keeps on ramping up, so you're always racing against the clock to try and keep pace and your strategic decisions are always important ones. It adds a real edge to the game.

The other really compelling aspect to the game is that you inevitably develop an emotional attachment to your troops. they're fully customisable, so you can name them, give them nicknames, edit their gender, race, appearance, dress, props, voice, attitude etc. I naturally created a squad full of various friends and acquaintances and a lot of them ended up being spookily realistic. You then send them into these very tense missions where they perform heroics and get even more attached to them. And then they die, usually in horrific circumstances...

Did I mention that this is a brilliant game ? It's awesome, you should all go buy it.
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Post 09 Apr 2016, 6:36 am

I got the first one, and it's really good but so immersing I don't get to play it often.

But yeah, a very steep difficulty curve, just like the original. But much better graphics and more varied missions.

Have you seen the board game?
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Post 09 Apr 2016, 7:04 am

No. I've heard it's pretty good but never played it. What's it like ?
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Post 09 Apr 2016, 12:25 pm

Sassenach wrote:No. I've heard it's pretty good but never played it. What's it like ?

Well, played an early edition without the app. Like the PC game, it escalates quickly. It is a co-op but is far from light and fluffy.

We lost. Horribly. :grin: