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Simon J McDonnell

Creating cool stuff

I am Ironman

Screenshot 2015-06-08 20.11.25

XCOM 2 was announced last week and since then I have just been super excited about it. I loved the remake so much, and the new direction they were taking it in seemed really really cool. The world reimagined as if the aliens won, and you as the commander of a guerilla force fighting back against their sinister motives. Ahh, it just looks great. Oh, and there are going to be swords! Oh man I was so excited when I saw that. Even if it’s kind of dumb as guns would clearly always be better, I have a childlike love of swords that can’t be overcome by my desire for realism.

That's Colonel Sniper guy to you

That’s Colonel Sniper guy to you

A side effect of this enthusiasm is my renewed interest in it’s prequel, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with it’s expansion pack, Enemy Within. I’ve completed a Classic run through of the original campaign, utilising save scumming to it’s utmost to ensure victory. However I never did complete the full Enemy Within campaign. I’ve also never completed an Ironman attempt. So I decided to do both!

This resolution quickly led to me dying over and over again. Usually this was on the same mission, Portent, where you have to escort the lone survivor of a raid to safety. Thin Men abound in this mission and I would constantly outmanoeuvred and fucked up by their crazy-accurate light plasma rifles.

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My repeated deaths and restarts caused to become super crazy cautious, to the point where I just completely ignored any Meld on the battlefield. Meld is the new resource for giving your soldiers gene mods or cybernetic augmentations by the by. It comes in handy canisters on the battlefield which expire after a set number of turns. I figured that as I wasn’t actually going to have any of the facilities for doing these augmentations for at least the first few months then there really wasn’t much point in risking my incredibly fragile low ranked soldiers on a resource I couldn’t use.

This paid good dividends, as this approach led to me actually progressing in the game. I now have a slew of high ranked soldiers with laser equipment and armour, only one member has left the council (fucking Mexico), and I have a couple of continent bonuses. I’m doing really well and the game has become a lot more fun as a result. It’s nice to actually feel like you have a fighting chance of winning, as opposed to the raw fear and hope for good luck that comes with the first few missions.

I have in fact come to the point where I need to worry about Meld again! I’ve finally done the research and am on track for building the Gene Lab some time this month or the next. I’m going for Gene Mods because while I like mechs, I just find the idea of super soldiers a whole lot cooler. I will probably pick up a mech eventually, but it’s definitely not my first priority.

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I’m quite enjoying playing on Ironman now that I’m to the point where my guys aren’t just dying all the time. In fact only two soldiers have died on my entire play through. BOTH of which were due to sneaky thin men not triggering any of the 3+ overwatchs surrounding them and critting for a full health to dead shot. ugh, god they felt so fucking cheap. Luckily I now have carapace armour, so that can’t happen anymore. But now I’ve begun encountering tougher enemies! Ugh, it’s a nightmare.

That worry and anxiety over my soldiers is part of what make XCOM, and Ironman in particular – so great. I agonise over decisions, over which missions to take, over who to send where. I hold my face and say fuck over and over again any time there’s an enemy turn when they’re actually revealed and active. I get so angry when a surprise shot takes out my only backup sniper in one go. BUT, but, without these lows, without this anxiety, the highs that I get from the game wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. Because every mission could end in failure, because every encounter is a big risk, every time I get to that mission complete screen with no soldier deaths…it just feels awesome.

So yeah, I’m thoroughly loving XCOM right now. It helps that my current playthrough is actually going okay. So I guess what I’m saying is that you can look forward to a post soon that details the exact ways in which all my soldiers died horrible deaths.

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