Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 29, 2012
Messing with the aliens

I've been playing through XCOM: Enemy Unknown several times. There aren't many games I'm willing to play more than once these days, so this is a sign of quality. But when you play the game repeatedly, there are inevitably parts you like less and others you like more. The part I like the most is the tactical battles on various maps. The urban maps are varied and well done. The rural maps not so much, there is basically just one map with different colors but the same elevation and tree features. Different UFOs landing make a bit of a difference, but there aren't all that many types of those either. But in general the tactical combat is why I play XCOM.

That leaves the strategic / story part of the game as the weaker part. The story is strictly linear and always the same, but as you can skip the cut scenes, I can ignore that. What I can't ignore is the structure of the strategic game in which you start with a severe lack of resources. If you lose XCOM on higher difficulty levels it is almost certainly on the strategic level, where a certain randomness means you can't be sure whether your attribution of limited resources is the right one.

So I decided to mess with that part. Using a program called ArtMoney I cheated to get a few thousand dollars at the start, instead of a few hundred. That doesn't turn XCOM into an insta-win game, but it removes a lot of risk from the strategic part of the game. Basically I'm making the strategic part of the game easier, so as to enable me to play the tactical part of the game at a higher difficulty level, against more and cleverer aliens.

That is working out fine for now, so I'm currently considering how I can mess with the game structure some more. I am deliberately *not* doing story missions, so that I can see what happens if I'm not ending the game by beating the aliens. I really don't like the Temple Ship ending anyway. I wonder if I can somehow turn the game into an endless series of tactical battles, or whether something is built into the game which prevents that.

Playing a game is fun. Messing with a game can be even more fun, as long as it is a single-player game.

After beating Normal/Ironman I decided to try some mods from nexus. Second wave has the marathon which makes it last linger pulse there are some other good ones like Warspace Extension designed to make it more tactical that I liking so far. I agree that more funding and satellites would be nice at the beginning as playing Classic/Ironman it just takes one mistake to ruin it for me.
What a coincidence (not really)!

I've been playing XCOM for the last few "days". I finished it quickly on Normal, then finished it on Classic (technically, I didn't because I didn't do the last story mission).

I wanted to play on Impossible and see the "horror" firsthand. After a few retries, I'm now in June with almost complete sat coverage and a catching up on research (just got plasma sniper).

A more detailed build order posted at my blog.
@Goom You need a checklist for buildings:

In March:

March 3: you need to start your workshop. You’ll also need to select Engineers whenever you have an abduction mission.

March 11: you need to have 4 sats building. Build them individually (so you can cancel 2 if you fail the build order).
There will be a small UFO around March 7th. Ignore it and shoot down the medium one they’ll send after it.

March 17: you need to start your satellite link building(s), which means you needed to place your power plant on March 11/12.
From what I've gleaned by reading the discussion threads in 2k Games's Xcom forum, it seems that you can delay assaulting the final alien site (the Temple Ship? I've not yet made it that far)and only do the random missions that's generated.

If the devs would be so kind as to put in an Endless mode once we've completed the storyline campaign, much like Civ's "Just... one... more... turn...", I'd be content.
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