Alternative title: Will I actually keep at it this time?
So, once again I’m venturing into the breach. If you’re not interested in the setup/mechanics at play here, just skip past the italics to the actual Shit That Is Happening. For everyone else, with the drop of XCOM 2’s expansion happening today, I thought it was worth diving back in. And for a combination of fun, interest, and making myself write, I’m once again going to record how the game goes.
The setup is as follows: I will be playing XCOM 2 with all DLCs and expansions active. I will also have several cosmetic mods as and when they get updated for the expansion (because funsies). I will be playing on standard difficulty (which is to say ‘still really hard’) and most tellingly, Ironmode will be on. This means there are no takesy-backsies. Every action is permanant, good and bad. I can’t save-scum. And as before, my starting squad (and several other recruits) will be named and modelled after real life friends and allies. Why yes, I am going to project, thankyou for asking.
Lastly, this is my first playthrough with any of the new expanded content. Which, based on Fireaxis’ past record, will shake things up a lot. So, that’ll be fun to deal with.
If you want the backstory on how my previous efforts went, click relevantly:
Attempt number 1 – which ended because I realized I was too depressed and fragile to watch simulated versions of my friends die.
Attempt number 2 – part 1, part 2, part 3 – which started with me playing actually drunk for realsies, ended because I got so involved in describing what is a huge fucking game that I realised I’d have to write a frickin brickthick novel to capture the whole thing. Hopefully I will get *slightly* less involved this time. Or something.
Like the clown says, here we are again. The first strike back. Our squad, picked at random from a pool of 13, is Erin Donovan, Aimee Toshney, Alex Greenwood, and Laurence Kirkby. That’s who we’ve been dealt. Let’s hope we all shape up.
Erin takes the first steps, scouting out ahead. They quickly find us a squad of ADVENT that have us at a height disadvantage. Erin hunkers down while the rest of us loop around, climbing up to the same level as our targets.
Ah shit. Alex gets excited and takes an early potshot (read: I missclicked). She blows our cover, but immediately takes down the target. The updated Command UI lets me know she’s already earned a promotion, for this. I’m not quite sure I agree, but what do I know, I’ve been unconcious for 20 years and have only just been rescued.
Aimee seizes the moment and follows up, taking squaddie number 2 out. That just leaves one, who has run down towards Erin. I leverage my height advantage (like usual), but before I can capitalise on it, Erin runs headlong into the open and fires point blank range. I mean, it works, so there’s that. And everyone has earned a promotion except me. Not that I’m jealous.
Not knowing who else is out there, we set up a cautious ambush. This time it’s me who ventures ahead. Our plan works – I discover some ADVENT and they scatter, only for Aimee to take one of them out. On the other hand, I’m now dangerously forward from my team, and the ADVENT officer marks me, AND everyone is shooting exlusively at me. I cower behind a pillar, and somehow don’t die. I refuse to be the rookie redshirt!
Jaysus. Erin is our resident mutherfucker, as they run out front to flank not once, but twice more. The asshole officer shoots at me again, and once again my pillar is my friend.
With small aplomb we plant our explosives, and run away (but, heroically). A PR operative pulls us to one side as we leave. Apparently this is a new war, and it’s won with propaganda. We pause for a photo op.
It also becomes apparent that Aimee and Erin look creepily similar. Let’s hope I don’t get them confused at a critical juncture. Oh, it’s promotion time! Erin becomes our first heavy gunner, with grenade launcher and minigun. I am promoted to specialist – I get a drone friend. Alex is given a sniper rifle and a frickin desert eagle or something. Which means Aimee is our ranger – shotgun and machete.
We fly back to base, to start the day.
I get started on admin and y’know, running everything. Everyone else kicks back. This base needs a lot of work. I mean, it’s kind of sad really. We are in a literal flying fortress, with literal world-class scientists and engineers, and that’s…basically playing with Duplo, by comparison to what we need. We get started on searching for anything we can use – putting the word out for recruits, supplies, whatever. We get wind of an engineer who can help us out, and we are there like a shot. We need the workers.
Operation Knife Mask
AI still hasn’t mastered the art of naming things. Nice to see some thing haven’t changed. But our squad is ready.
We’re underground for this one. We need to hunt down and eliminate the ADVENT field commander, disrupting their organisation and getting our engineer out. It’s a new way of fighting. Everything is enclosed, lots of small vantages and box rooms. It’s claustraphobic. And despite our shiny new toys, we’re all painfully aware of how wet behind the ears we are. We play it cautious, always cautious.
We spot a patrol. Should we engage? If we do, we’ll have less foe to deal with, but they’ll know something’s up. Either way could fuck things up for us. Shit. I have to make the call.
We go in. I plant my drone on Aimee for protection and take the first shot. Between us we take the two of them out no problem, but as we feared – it’s raised the alarm. An evac is incoming, and between us we have to seek out the commander before he (she, it, they?) get a chance to escape.
Fuck. He’s running. Erin spotted him and managed to fire a grenade, but it didn’t slow him down. We persued. Flanking again, Erin maintained an overwatch, pinning the commander down. It’s a good move. But – fuck – a lowly trooper comes to help, and Erin twitchily focuses their gun on it (taking it out, which is something). But the commander is free to run. We run right after. A sectoid comes to help. Oh shit. We have to take it out before it fucks with us, but we can’t afford to not chase the commander either. We’re gonna have to split our attention. It’s rapidly decided. I (and my drone) protect Aimee while she gives chase – running directly into the commander’s overwatch, anything to keep it in our sights. Meanwhile Alex and Erin will focus on the sectoid. And I’ll go where I’m needed.
Fuck YES. It pays off. Aimee gives the line of sight needed for Alex to make a helluva shot – through the crumbled gap in a wall – and kills the commander in a single shot. We’ve still got the sectoid (and possibly others) to deal with, but it’s a huge pressure off us. Our team has some good cohesion.
It all goes manic. Another sectoid and trooper show up, flanking us. Some ballsy machete action takes out the original sectoid, and stops it’s recently reanimated corpse pupptert. But the second sectoid has us. It tries to take control of my mind. It tries to take control of my mind! And I lose my shit. I panic. I run, hide, take a potshot at the sectoid and in a fit of karma, critically wound it. But it’s not enough, the lowly trooper comes in from the side, and Aimee is the first of us to take fire. She’s still standing. But she’s hurt. We’ve still got this, but it’s a reminder that we can never breathe easy. Okay, the sectoid is down now, thanks to Alex. I heal Aimee up. But fuck, that trooper. It dodges another overwatch, and Erin takes shots as well. This guy. This guy.
We take him out, and we’re gone.
It was a tougher mission, and we all know it’s early days. Aimee and Erin are on bedrest for 6 days each. Alex is getting worn out, she’ll need a break too. I seem to be faring better – quite probably because I’ve just been doing less fighting. Still, it’s not all bad. We’re bonding, as a team. Me and Aimee in particular seem to get along, and our (slightly creepy) AI has established that we have ‘high compatability’. Uhm. Moving on, in recognition of the work they’ve been doing, Alex, Erin and Aimee all earn themselves another promotion. I do not.
And it’s back to base. Until next log entry, goodnight.