Tobold's Blog
Sunday, November 11, 2012
 
Running XCOM in endless mode

By default XCOM: Enemy Unknown is running in a story mode, where you doing the main missions is driving the story and the alien invasion forwards. That has two major disadvantages: The story is always the same. And the story isn't actually that great, especially the end being weak. So some people would prefer to run XCOM in endless mode, just fighting back alien attack after alien attack.

Fortunately doing so is surprisingly easy: Story progress is scripted and depends on your actions, not just the timeline. I checked by simply not doing the alien base assault. You probably will get the possibility to assault the alien base relatively early, before you have seen the stronger aliens. So with time at first you will notice that you encounter stronger and stronger aliens in the attacks. But the good news is that this levels off: If you don't take the alien base, you will never meet the kind of aliens with psi powers, like ethereals.

I've been running XCOM for over a game year without assaulting the alien base, and there is simply nothing bad that happens. I can just endless shoot down one UFO after another or do other missions endlessly. I meet the strongest kind of mutons and nasty enemies like sectopods, but I never get mind-controlled. Of course by now I have tons of all sorts of materials, and the very best armor and weapons available. And I can train lots of soldiers to the highest ranks.

Of course I could also do a similar endless mode, just with psi powers on both sides. I would just have to assault the alien base, and then stop the story at a later point. There appear to be several points in the game where you can reasonably switch from story mode to endless mode with no ill effect. So if you just want to do tactical battles without finishing the story, the choice is yours.

Comments:
What would also be ideal is if they put a "skirmish" mode in - which may already be under the multiplayer setting, I haven't looked.
 
This will also allow some meta-gaming, tricking the story to win at hardest levels. I mean now that you have all these materials and gear, you could probably faceroll the rest of the story.


 
Yep, I finished the game on Normal, then ran it in "endless" mode on Classic, without ever assaulting the alien base. You really don't need the -2 panic reduction the base gives you, if you have enough sat coverage.

I think the worst thing about endless mode is research. I never build labs and yet I run out of research in 5-6 months. The foundry upgrades require some parts, so at least they last a little longer.

In Master of Orion, you had future techs (as in CIV), so you never run out of research.

The other issue that I have is that I love zapping aliens with the arc thrower and judging by the forums, I'm not alone. So why not extend their interrogations a bit as well. Add some random but powerful enhancements that require 10,20,30 interrogations.

It's a nice touch that you can use the bodies for enhancements like dodging or aiming during UFO intercept missions.
 
I don't think I'd enjoy endless mode that much because the maps would get repetitive quickly. The Alien spawn points don't seem to be that varied. Also the difficulty drops off significantly once you get a couple Colonel snipers.

What I would like is more maps (although I get irritated by the annoying experience of multi-level indoor maps), and less predictable Aliens.


 
I think there's too few weapons, equipment and alien types to sustain the game longer than for one regular playthrough: things just get stale, even if you get to play on a new map.

By the way, thanks for the advice to play for the first time on normal ironman. It was awesome.
 
All these XCOM posts make me want to get the game. ARrrrrrgggh! ;D
 
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