Tobold's Blog
Sunday, May 14, 2017
XCOM 2 mods

I am now at 185 hours played of XCOM 2. Part of that was when the game came out, but probably more than half of this was played in the last weeks. Normally I would have become bored of playing through a game several times, but with XCOM 2 it is the mods that make the repeats interesting again.

I do love having lots of choices. That is frequently a bit of a problem with difficulty levels in computer games: The harder you make the game, the less you can stray from the one perfect strategy and still succeed. But with mods I can manage to add more choices and still crank up the difficulty. Basically I increase the difficulty setting, and then use mods to modify the parts of the game that would become too frustrating or restrictive at high difficulty. Mods like "Total Plotonic Reversal", which slows down the avatar project, or "Less Gravely Wounded", which reduces the time soldiers are out of action after being hit. I also use "Rulers Take Normal Turns", because the original rulers just were too annoying at high difficulty. "Starting Staff" lets you start with an engineer and scientist, so you don't auto-lose the game if you don't follow the optimal build and research path.

Other mods I use directly increase choice: "Scanning Sites Plus" gives you more choice between different scanning sites; it also gives you more "lesser" missions to run through to level up a reserve of soldiers. "Tactical Force" adds 4 new character classes to the game. In fact I fiddled around with a bunch of mods that added new character classes, but not all of them are really interesting. Another mod I use is "Tactical Rigging: Ammo and Grenades", which adds more slots for utility items to your soldier. More items means more choice in tactical battles, means more fun.

As those mods also make the game somewhat easier, I am now playing at "Commander" difficulty. Which means enemy have more hit points, which also makes for a more interesting tactical game. And by playing games with different sets of mods, gameplay is more varied between one campaign and the next. The Steam Workshop has over 2,700 mods for XCOM 2, and all that added content is a great boon to the game. I will have to remember that if I get bored with another game, I should check if there is a big workshop full of mods to breathe new life into the game.

Certain games (Elder Scrolls and Total War for example) are so mod friendly that you regularly see posts asking "Which mods should I install before I start?". I prefer to avoid mods on my first playthrough of a game. Partly because I don't want to miss out on the experience as the developers intended but also because you don't really know what needs fixing until you have played the game without mods.
I mostly install mods only in old games where the community recommends them strongly. What I do like to download are scenarios.
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