Weekly Roundup 10/21/2012

I started off the week by finishing my first game of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I talked a lot about XCOM last week, and covered most of the broad strokes. If you couldn’t tell from that, I really, really like XCOM, and am excited to play another game soon. I played my first game on normal, but I think my next go will be on ironman classic. That seems like the best way to play once you learn the ropes; I’m expecting things to get pretty gnarly.

Gotta get them satellites up.

Anyway, to wrap up some miscellaneous thoughts about how my first game actually went, I did extremely well on the tactical side of things and reasonably well with all the base management. By far my biggest misstep, which I thought was going to cost me more than it did, was that I didn’t get enough engineers and satellites up early on. This lead to two countries (India and Nigeria) withdrawing, which seemed pretty dire at the time. I scrambled to get more satellites up to help keep panic down, but it turns out there’s a lot of things you need to do to make satellites, all of which require more engineers than I had at the time. Eventually I got it worked out though, and from there I was able to stay more or less on top of panic, research and production. I didn’t build any S.H.I.V.s or fiddle with psychic stuff though (until I had to); I played it pretty straight. Still, I found the basic progression of weapons, armor, equipment and soldier upgrades to be pretty fascinating. Some of those late game armors in particular are awesome, like the ghost armor and archangel armor. Being able to have cloaked shotgun wielding assaults and a hovering sniper is incredible.

Assaults are probably my favorite class right now.

While all of this was going on I was more or less nailing the actual missions themselves. I don’t consider myself some sort of tactical genius, but I have played a decent number of “tactics” style games, so I know my way around. I also don’t think normal is that punishing, and I definitely got lucky a few times. I had three different soldiers go down during the game, and all simply became “critically wounded” rather than dead, which was very fortunate. My typical squad consisted of two assaults, two supports, one heavy and a sniper. That felt like a good balance to me, and each class felt like they served a necessary role very well. My best assaults made liberal use of Run & Gun and Rapid Fire to mow down the front line, my supports were master medics and were great on overwatch to hold a steady line, while my heavy was great at blowing stuff up in a jam. My best sniper (who received the nickname ‘Godfather’) was probably my MVP though. The Squadsight ability combined with Double Tap seems completely insane to me. He could usually kill two enemies a turn, and once I threw archangel armor on him he could float above the battlefield and have a clear shot at absolutely everything. It felt kind of broken.

I should also mention that, as much as I love XCOM, there are a few things I think could be better. The main gameplay tweak would be to let the player choose what class rookies become. For a while I wanted a second sniper, but all my rookies became supports, even though I had about five supports and only one sniper at the time. So that’s pretty annoying. I also think there should be a better interface for swapping items around among your troops. Otherwise the game can be a little buggy. Most of that is wonky visual things that don’t affect actual gameplay, such as clipping textures. I did have a cyberdisc move through a wall once though, which was bad. That stuff was very rare, but the game could be definitely be cleaner from a technical standpoint. Anyway, that stuff aside, XCOM is fantastic. I had an absolute blast with my first game, and I’m really eager to see how ironman classic will go.

Some neat new characters don't get used to their full potential.

After finishing my game of XCOM I played Episode 4 of The Walking Dead. No surprises here, but that game continues to be great. I personally don’t think I like Episode 4 as much as the previous ones, but that in no way means I don’t like it. For a game that’s been so consistently enjoyable, a small dip here and there doesn’t mean that much. Still, Episode 4 feels like it has a little more filler to me, at least in the context of the greater overall plot threads. More of the tasks you end up doing feel like minor distractions, and the way they introduce some cool new characters, only to have them leave before really developing them seems like kind of a waste. It basically feels like they could have omitted Episode 4 (minus the final five minutes or so), and we wouldn't be any the wiser. That said, I do think Episode 4 has one of the single best decision points in the entire game so far. In retrospect I think the entire episode was meant as a side story created for the purpose of this single, gut wrenching choice. I’ve contemplated the implications of that decision more than any other so far, though not in terms of what it means for the game going forward. It’s more of a separate, isolated moral quandary, and it’s great to see that video games are capable of presenting such questions in a way that involves the player.

I also think the final minutes of the episode set up the fifth and final episode very well; Episode 5 should definitely hit the ground running. There are a lot of story threads to wrap up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all goes down. On another note, I had a bug where the game couldn’t load in my choices from Episode 3 (playing on Steam), which was a bummer. Choices from the first two episodes were kept in tact, but I had to randomize the ones from Episode 3. It didn’t seem to make a huge difference, but it still sucks, and makes me even more wary of the episodic format. Playing a game piecemeal has been weird already, but when the pieces don’t connect like they should it’s even worse. I think next time I try this format I’ll probably just wait until it’s all out and do it all at once.

So long Diablo III... for now.

Other odds and ends: we finally beat Diablo III on Inferno. A new patch came out which made the game easier yet again, which finally lowered it enough that we could basically beat the game without any extra grinding. You know, beating it without making it feel like work. Each patch has lowered the difficulty a little at a time, and we’ve made a little more progress with each one. It turns out 1.0.5 was the final one we needed, and it actually made it kind of easy. So beating Diablo himself was a little anti-climatic, but oh well. It’s kind of nice to actually finish that one off in whatever way we can. Finally, I basically blitzed through Dishonored this weekend. I’m going to save my thoughts on that for next week for a few reasons. First, this blog has gone on long enough already. Second, having played most of the game in the past 48 hours, I think I need some time to formulate my thoughts more clearly. I will go ahead and say upfront that I did not enjoy the game that much, but I’ll get into that more next week.

This coming week will likely be an assortment of stuff. We’ll probably try and play Borderlands 2’s first DLC, Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty, and I also might start that ironman classic game in XCOM. I’m also interested in Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, which comes out on Tuesday. I liked Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors quite a bit, so hopefully the follow up will be neat. That’s going to do it for now though, until next time!

Currently playing: Maybe XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Maybe Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty?

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Posted by MajorMitch

I started off the week by finishing my first game of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I talked a lot about XCOM last week, and covered most of the broad strokes. If you couldn’t tell from that, I really, really like XCOM, and am excited to play another game soon. I played my first game on normal, but I think my next go will be on ironman classic. That seems like the best way to play once you learn the ropes; I’m expecting things to get pretty gnarly.

Gotta get them satellites up.

Anyway, to wrap up some miscellaneous thoughts about how my first game actually went, I did extremely well on the tactical side of things and reasonably well with all the base management. By far my biggest misstep, which I thought was going to cost me more than it did, was that I didn’t get enough engineers and satellites up early on. This lead to two countries (India and Nigeria) withdrawing, which seemed pretty dire at the time. I scrambled to get more satellites up to help keep panic down, but it turns out there’s a lot of things you need to do to make satellites, all of which require more engineers than I had at the time. Eventually I got it worked out though, and from there I was able to stay more or less on top of panic, research and production. I didn’t build any S.H.I.V.s or fiddle with psychic stuff though (until I had to); I played it pretty straight. Still, I found the basic progression of weapons, armor, equipment and soldier upgrades to be pretty fascinating. Some of those late game armors in particular are awesome, like the ghost armor and archangel armor. Being able to have cloaked shotgun wielding assaults and a hovering sniper is incredible.

Assaults are probably my favorite class right now.

While all of this was going on I was more or less nailing the actual missions themselves. I don’t consider myself some sort of tactical genius, but I have played a decent number of “tactics” style games, so I know my way around. I also don’t think normal is that punishing, and I definitely got lucky a few times. I had three different soldiers go down during the game, and all simply became “critically wounded” rather than dead, which was very fortunate. My typical squad consisted of two assaults, two supports, one heavy and a sniper. That felt like a good balance to me, and each class felt like they served a necessary role very well. My best assaults made liberal use of Run & Gun and Rapid Fire to mow down the front line, my supports were master medics and were great on overwatch to hold a steady line, while my heavy was great at blowing stuff up in a jam. My best sniper (who received the nickname ‘Godfather’) was probably my MVP though. The Squadsight ability combined with Double Tap seems completely insane to me. He could usually kill two enemies a turn, and once I threw archangel armor on him he could float above the battlefield and have a clear shot at absolutely everything. It felt kind of broken.

I should also mention that, as much as I love XCOM, there are a few things I think could be better. The main gameplay tweak would be to let the player choose what class rookies become. For a while I wanted a second sniper, but all my rookies became supports, even though I had about five supports and only one sniper at the time. So that’s pretty annoying. I also think there should be a better interface for swapping items around among your troops. Otherwise the game can be a little buggy. Most of that is wonky visual things that don’t affect actual gameplay, such as clipping textures. I did have a cyberdisc move through a wall once though, which was bad. That stuff was very rare, but the game could be definitely be cleaner from a technical standpoint. Anyway, that stuff aside, XCOM is fantastic. I had an absolute blast with my first game, and I’m really eager to see how ironman classic will go.

Some neat new characters don't get used to their full potential.

After finishing my game of XCOM I played Episode 4 of The Walking Dead. No surprises here, but that game continues to be great. I personally don’t think I like Episode 4 as much as the previous ones, but that in no way means I don’t like it. For a game that’s been so consistently enjoyable, a small dip here and there doesn’t mean that much. Still, Episode 4 feels like it has a little more filler to me, at least in the context of the greater overall plot threads. More of the tasks you end up doing feel like minor distractions, and the way they introduce some cool new characters, only to have them leave before really developing them seems like kind of a waste. It basically feels like they could have omitted Episode 4 (minus the final five minutes or so), and we wouldn't be any the wiser. That said, I do think Episode 4 has one of the single best decision points in the entire game so far. In retrospect I think the entire episode was meant as a side story created for the purpose of this single, gut wrenching choice. I’ve contemplated the implications of that decision more than any other so far, though not in terms of what it means for the game going forward. It’s more of a separate, isolated moral quandary, and it’s great to see that video games are capable of presenting such questions in a way that involves the player.

I also think the final minutes of the episode set up the fifth and final episode very well; Episode 5 should definitely hit the ground running. There are a lot of story threads to wrap up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all goes down. On another note, I had a bug where the game couldn’t load in my choices from Episode 3 (playing on Steam), which was a bummer. Choices from the first two episodes were kept in tact, but I had to randomize the ones from Episode 3. It didn’t seem to make a huge difference, but it still sucks, and makes me even more wary of the episodic format. Playing a game piecemeal has been weird already, but when the pieces don’t connect like they should it’s even worse. I think next time I try this format I’ll probably just wait until it’s all out and do it all at once.

So long Diablo III... for now.

Other odds and ends: we finally beat Diablo III on Inferno. A new patch came out which made the game easier yet again, which finally lowered it enough that we could basically beat the game without any extra grinding. You know, beating it without making it feel like work. Each patch has lowered the difficulty a little at a time, and we’ve made a little more progress with each one. It turns out 1.0.5 was the final one we needed, and it actually made it kind of easy. So beating Diablo himself was a little anti-climatic, but oh well. It’s kind of nice to actually finish that one off in whatever way we can. Finally, I basically blitzed through Dishonored this weekend. I’m going to save my thoughts on that for next week for a few reasons. First, this blog has gone on long enough already. Second, having played most of the game in the past 48 hours, I think I need some time to formulate my thoughts more clearly. I will go ahead and say upfront that I did not enjoy the game that much, but I’ll get into that more next week.

This coming week will likely be an assortment of stuff. We’ll probably try and play Borderlands 2’s first DLC, Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty, and I also might start that ironman classic game in XCOM. I’m also interested in Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, which comes out on Tuesday. I liked Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors quite a bit, so hopefully the follow up will be neat. That’s going to do it for now though, until next time!

Currently playing: Maybe XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Maybe Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty?