Chris

Thoughts & Lessons from X-COM: Enemy Unknown (by Firaxis)

298 posts in this topic

Some of you may have noticed that Firaxis released a game called X-COM: Enemy Unknown recently (others of you may have been hiding under rocks in a cave somewhere and missed it). This is kind of a big deal for the genre and for us, and I've been playing the game extensively. I thought it'd be a good idea to share my thoughts on the game and what I think we can learn from it.

THE GOOD:

1) Appeal & Financial Success: They've done a great job at producing a game that caters to both new fans and old ones. What I mean is that the game looks good enough and has been streamlined enough that it can appeal to people who would not normally play turn-based strategy games at all. I've seen numerous comments from people saying "I don't usually play turn-based strategy games, but I really enjoyed X-Com". That's really nice to see.

They've also catered to the hardcore fans, like me. I've exclusively been playing Classic Iron Man and it's a difficult game that I'm yet to beat. Admittedly some of that is because of the flaws in the game, but I'll cover those later. The important thing is that the game can be challenging if you want it to, and you can turn off all the cinematic crap if you want to as well.

The wide appeal of the game is something that I admire and envy a little. Xenonauts is never going to have that broad appeal. We'll appeal to the hardcore fans but not so much the people who wouldn't normally play strategy games. It's not a problem, but it's good to see a turn-based strategy game prove that you can appeal to a large number of people and therefore recoup the investment spent on an expensive AAA title even if you are a turn-based strategy.

2) Successful Simplification: A lot of the streamlining works really well. Missions are much faster, the cover system is easy to understand and use, I think their reloading system is a good one too. The health system is clear and easy to understand, and is better than the numerical value that we're using in Xenonauts. They've made a fast, slick game from a game that was anything but, without compromising the tactical element too much.

3) UI: Somewhat tied into the above, the UI is great. Really slick and easy to use, presenting the information you need and looking great at the same time. This impressed me a lot, I never found myself fighting the interface. The camera perhaps, but that's a bit different. It might be this is something you notice more when you've been developing games for a bit, but it really stood out for me.

4) Level Design: Having spent quite a lot of time trying to work out how to put together convincing maps that are full of objects that can only ever be either full-tile height or half-tile height, I know how difficult it can be do to it. Firaxis make it look easy. You can look at one of their maps and it looks incredibly natural, but at the same time you can instantly see what is cover and what blocks LOS etc. Trust me, they've done a great job with that. The number of times I've looked at a prop and thought "that's a perfect piece of waist high cover" is untrue. It's actually even harder for them than it us for us, as their maps are very tight and constricted (unlike ours).

5) Destructability: Fighting in these maps is a pleasure. Your soldiers smashing windows and shooting through them, or just leaping through them, is great. Seeing walls and props destroyed by weapon fire is great, and explosives feel weighty and flatten the terrain just as you'd expect. Explosive tiles like the gas pumps or the exploding cars add a lot to the battlefield too. I think they've done a great job with the destructibility (even if the lack of free fire means you can't use it in the way you might want); you get a great feeling of power when you flatten half a building with a rocket. That's old school X-COM all over.

THE LESS GOOD (THAT WE CAN LEARN FROM):

1) Restrictive Strategy Layer: the strategy layer is a shadow of its former self. It has some elements present and correct, but plenty of things that make perfect sense within the context of the new game but seem arbitrarily restrictive compared to the previous games. Why can't I just hire scientists or engineers? Why can't I buy a second Skyranger and attack more than one abduction site each turn? Why can't the aliens attack my base? Why does ignoring an abduction site in a country raise panic in the entire continent, but completing one only reduces panic in that particular country? Why can't I sell manufactured goods at all (or captured plasma weapons)?

The game obviously funnels you down some pre-set paths, and one of the wonderful things about X-COM was your freedom to approach the game any way you liked. The genuinely emergent gameplay. This game feels more like a series of pre-set single-player missions, using the research / resource management to lock you out of the later missions unless you stay on top of it. Sure, it's a better strategic layer than the vast majority of games will manage - but it's not quite X-Com, and if you put that name on the game you'll always be compared to the original.

2) Alien "Discovery" & Free Movement: This really annoys me. If you've played the game, you'll know what I mean - when aliens are sighted (even if during your turn), the aliens will get a free move. This is understandable to an extent, as the game is extremely cover-based and if aliens did not do it they'd be annihilated in the turn they're discovered because they'd be out of cover.

That said, they shouldn't be able to use the free move to move towards your troops, PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE CHRYSSALIDS. If they are revealed towards the end of the turn (this can happen through no fault of the player, like a stray shot knocking down a wall) I've had them close most of the distance towards my unit with the free move and then immediately take their turn and murder a couple of my squad. You're basically toast at that point...not much fun on Classic Iron Man.

The way that aliens will lurk in one spot is also annoying, because the game is obviously balanced that you are only fighting one group of tough aliens at a time on the harder game settings. I guess it's like in MMOs where it's important to pull single-mobs in dungeons rather than getting large groups of them. The only difference being that it is often semi-random as to what you encounter, so there's no skill in it.

Worse, it actually encourages bad play. The game mechanics encourage you to flank the enemy and kill them, but doing that in-game often results in you activating a second or third group of aliens and turning a manageable situation into a bloodbath. This leads to a more boring playstyle where it is more optimal to snipe the aliens from further away. Not good.

The amount of cover at the start of missions also causes issues sometimes, because you can find yourself pinned in the start zone by a couple of groups of powerful aliens, unable to really move forwards and flank and outgunned by the superior numbers of the enemy. It's just annoying when you get powerful aliens clustered near the spawn zones.

There's also a lot of artificial behavior allowed by the system. Once you've killed all visible aliens, you're almost certainly able to keep all your troops stationary for a few turns to reload and heal up - more enemies won't "activate" until you move further forwards in most cases. It just doesn't seem very organic.

Xenonauts is going to be balanced around the entire alien force in a mission working together to attack and flank you. This means there's never any "safe" moments and there's also no cheating done by the AI if you reveal a lot of the map early on. It's a fair fight. Of course, the disadvantage is we can't have as many aliens in each map (as you might well be fighting them all at once) and the system is less cinematic. I think we can live with that though.

3) 4-6 Soldiers: The most soldiers you can have at once is 6. By the time you reach the max cap, you're starting to feel like you've got a decent team going, but I think having at least 8 would be better. I think that the massive teams of 20 soldiers or whatever you could end up with in the original were far too big, but there are a lot of benefits to a squad in the 8-12 size rather than 4-6.

The most obvious example is the zerg effect, where you send a massive group of men to kill a few aliens. Why does this matter? It matters because in that situation, the aliens are more powerful than the humans are. In every mission I've played in the new X-COM, there have been more aliens than there have been humans. Instead of the aliens who have turned up in this massive invasion fleet being individually fearsome, they're reduced to trying to zerg us. What? The role reversal seems to go against everything in the setting.

In practical terms, too you can have larger maps and larger battles. The X-COM maps are smaller and more confined, and sometimes feel claustrophobic. The ones that ARE bigger just feel too big because you have so few troops to explore them with.

It also means that casualties can be more common. In a new X-COM battle, losing two troops is a disaster even if you have a full squad of 6. If you're playing Classic Iron Man and you do it a couple of missions in a row, your game is pretty much over. One of the defining things about the original X-Com is the fact that your soldiers will often miss an easy shot or a pantless sectoid with a crappy gun will drop your best soldier with a single shot from across the map. To their credit, Firaxis kept this in the game, even though it's annoying - it's X-COM as it should be. But you can't absorb that bad luck as easily with a smaller squad, so it stops being annoying and can end your game.

I had two Thin Men score two critical hits on my best soldiers from miles away on the same turn in a mission earlier, killing my two best soldiers (wearing their new carapace armour) instantly despite them being on full health and behind cover. It's very classic X-COM, but the mission was pretty much over at that point, mostly because the remainder of my team decided it was a good idea to run away screaming or shoot each other. There's always going to be spikes of random luck in the game but larger teams make them less severe.

I'm not actually saying that the new X-COM should have had bigger teams in their game, mostly because the interface wouldn't scale up so well and the game clearly wasn't balanced around large-scale engagements. But I am glad that Xenonauts will have much larger teams.

4) Not Enough Maps: Much as I love the level design work, they really didn't produce enough maps for the game given how many you have to play in each campaign and they don't seem to be randomised. Plus the escort missions are horrible. I find it pretty surprising their first DLC is three new Council Missions, as if they weren't literally the worst type of mission you get given. If the DLC was a $5 pack to double the number of maps in the game, I'd buy it, even if they weren't new tilesets.

5) BUGS! - I'm not claiming that Xenonauts will be bug free on release, because I'm not that naive. Nevertheless, there's too many bugs in new X-COM to be acceptable for a AAA release. These are magnified massively because a lot of veterans will be playing on Iron Man difficulty, so if their game is ruined by a bug then they're going to be absolutely furious about it (I certainly was).

The most annoying ones at the moment are the way the camera can't see through the roof when you're inside the Abductor ship, the dubious clipping for shot LOS (and occasionally with aliens strolling through walls), cars with no obvious flames emerging from them exploding for no valid reason, and the annoying bugs that don't let you select soldiers for missions. Also, if my soldiers only get to make one move per turn, why do they path through the poison cloud left by Thin Men?

All I can take away from this one is a newfound appreciation about how annoying bugs are if you're playing in Iron Man mode. We'll do our best to get Xenonauts as bug-free as possible because I was genuinely livid when I lost a Classic Iron Man game to a bug.

THE CONCLUSION:

Overall, though, I have to say I've really enjoyed the new X-COM. Perhaps it's not quite the second coming that it was made out to be when it was first announced, but it's a damn good game and I'm glad to see it do well because I think it's good for the genre. They've indirectly raised the interest in our project too, which is also nice.

Is their game perfect? No. Can we learn lessons from what it does well and what it does right? Definitely, yes. But do I think they've done a good job remaking the original XCOM and would I recommend it to a friend? Yes, I would.

I'm still really glad that they didn't do a straight remake though :)

EDIT - having now completed the game on Clasic Iron Man (this is the only way I played the game), my only additional comment is that the difficulty curve appears to be inverted.

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I find myself agreeing with you on almost every points. I also found the interception to be a real snorefest. They actually managed to make it worse than the original, which is quite the feat :P

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The post was a little hard to understand, what referred to which game. Just to be clear on the terms, the classic game is X-COM or UFO or UD, the new game is XCOM or EU. I think UD and EU are the terms most players have come to use.

Personal feelings:

UI-wise, it beats UD in terms of usability (not functionality), but I did find myself fighting it. Of particular annoyance is the game's need to confirm things like overwatch and hunker down, which should be automatic at the end of turn. There's also breaking with traditional tactical controls, in that you can't attack as easily as move.

The game's cover system, while working in a boardgame fashion, lacks realism and turns it into a cover-based shooter. I think the worst example of cover-shooters was [m]ass effect 2, where you could hide behind some wooden planks forming the side of a truck, full of holes and less than inch of softwood thick, and be completely immune to the attacks of the strongest enemy unit in the game.

It's a bit less outrageous in EU, but still, things like car doors don't stop bullets and certainly not plasma blasts. There is a small reduction in lethality, and there should be a loss of accuracy, but that's concealment, not cover.

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I've updated my post a bit. What does UD stand for? Yes, confirming overwatch is annoying.

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I find myself agreeing with you on almost every points. I also found the interception to be a real snorefest. They actually managed to make it worse than the original, which is quite the feat :P

I second your words, Chris was very spot on, and interception is really horrible, way worse than the original like you said. Im glad interception in Xenonauts will be much better.

I've updated my post a bit. What does UD stand for? Yes, confirming overwatch is annoying.

Ufo Defense.

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I'm suprised you haven't picked up on the lack of "free aim" either outside of grenades or rocket launchers, meaning you can no longer just blast walls down as and when you feel like it to make other entry points/take out people from behind walls.

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After all the posts in this forum and other forums that just dismiss the complete game for not being a carbon copy of the original or other issues, I found this thread refreshing. I enjoyed X-COM a lot and I'll recommend it to both fans of the original and people not experienced with turn-based games.

It's not all perfect though; I agree with most of the good and bad points that Chris mentioned. After finishing it I was satisfied because it is a great game by itself, but since X-COM never pretended to be similar to the old game I also found myself looking forward for Xenonauts even more.

Keep up the good work :)

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Regarding free movement and melee, I never really found that to be bothersome. Chryssalids haven't been a threat of any kind on my Classic runs (both Ironman and not), they have what, 8 health. I suppose they would be a problem if they did appear just as you did your last move, but that seems really, really unlucky.

With the system they have, you should never, ever uncover new ground after you've already moved most of your guys. This definitely can happen by shooting walls and whatnot but it's exceedingly rare, atleast I've never stumbled into it myself.

The difficulty overall seems to seriously drop after first 2-3 months, once you have everyone in Carapace armor and plasma weapons of some sort, lot of the problems go away (not to mention having a Colonel Sniper with Double Tap). By the endgame when you get Ghost Armor, it becomes trivial. Did your scout stumble into something you can't handle? Make it invisible! Make all your other guys invisible too, and dash into position and devastate them next turn.

I'm suprised you haven't picked up on the lack of "free aim" either outside of grenades or rocket launchers, meaning you can no longer just blast walls down as and when you feel like it to make other entry points/take out people from behind walls.

Being able to shoot cover with all weapons would be really bad game design (in regards to how combat in XCOM works). Shoot the cover on one guy, and the next guy has 90% accuracy and 60% crit chance. It would make things way too easy. The map design is such that it doesn't really require creating entry points either, buildings have plenty of doors and windows to enter through, and all UFOs have multiple ways in.

Of particular annoyance is the game's need to confirm things like overwatch and hunker down, which should be automatic at the end of turn. There's also breaking with traditional tactical controls, in that you can't attack as easily as move.

Press Y. It'll Overwatch the selected soldier without any further confirmation. I end my turns most of the time with just TAB-Y-TAB-Y-TAB-Y-TAB-Y. Attacking is pretty easy as well, IMO, 1, TAB to select target, 1 again. Or 1, click on target.

Not that I wouldn't appreciate "Overwatch all and end turn"-buttom, but with hotkeys this can be done pretty fast as it currently is.

Edited by Kaguya

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Regarding free movement and melee, I never really found that to be bothersome.

It might be because you didn't play on impossible. It's the only difficulty where the game actually gains an entertainment layer.

That makes it a little less of a cakewalk, but if you want a more serious challenge, also activate all second wave options, setting SW_MARATHON=1.99f (instead of 2.0f, that's broken).

Press Y. It'll Overwatch the selected soldier without any further confirmation.

I know, but it's very inconvenient. I have to lean forward, move my hand off the mouse, move it up to the keyboard, put it on the keyboard to find "Y", press it, lean back.

99% of the game is mouse controlled, having to do things with keyboard is just a big interface flaw. Any game that can be controlled entirely with one device should strive to be usable and used with that one device only.

Edited by HWP

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Well said on all parts.

Gives me great confidence to see that you know Firaxis' games shortcomings and even greater confidence that you won't sell out to the masses.

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I disliked how the numbered hotkeys change for every unit. Overwatch would be on 2 on my heavy, but on 4 on my sniper. There was no consistency in them which was kinda bad.

The weapon tech tree was also limited in the sense that it was a linear progression. bullets < lasers < plasma. No reason to use lasers for long or to even buy more than 2 - 3 of anything. The armor tree was better thought out as towards the end each had their benefit. Titan for tanking, archangel for movement and increased mobility (though I used the flying ability maybe once), ghost for sneaky snipers/assaults and psi for increased psi-power.

The interception bit was also rather lackluster in regard to tech upgrades.

Avalanche < phoenix cannon < laser cannon < plasma cannon < emp cannon < fusion lance.

Once you get the the 1up, there's no use for the previous weapon. The game ramps up UFO difficulty a bit faster than you can level however, and at some point you're stuck to just abort interceptions until you get the firestorm. And then it's easy mode for a while again until the bigger baddies show up.

I like the game, but it could've been a bit deeper.

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Well said on all parts.

Gives me great confidence to see that you know Firaxis' games shortcomings and even greater confidence that you won't sell out to the masses.

Word.

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...won't sell out to the masses.

If only Chris were that lucky. :P Maybe then he could afford that golden yacht.

Edited by Jean-Luc

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I could agree on most of your observations Chris. But i admit the reason i loved playing the new one, was that i early on accepted the fact it was gonna have very little to do with OG.

Doing that i appreciated the game standing on its own feet, a really entertaining game! Although admittingly it suffers from some really shitty bugs. I also abandoned a Iron man Classic, to a couple of fat Mutons stuck mating or whatever behind a railway cart in the fog of war. some 10 hours of game play. I actually did close my eyes visualizing Jake Solomon saying "Thats X-com baby!" Then strangling him with my bare hands in my apartment. Then i restarted a campaign and forgave the man.

But the biggest issue i had except strategical layer was the lack of art! Which make the story incredibly dull. Now i am just around the corner of finishing the game, but i honestly don't care one bit why they are here. Now that's a horrible mistake in my book.

I mean art in X-com games should be and are a really important factor for giving life and credibility to this alien invasion.

Basically all discoveries are walls of text with a boring little shitty picture of an object in some lame blueprints?!

I mean, i saw their concept art? Have anyone of you ever checked the archives but ones?

Edit..

I actually meant asking you a question with this also. Answering it as a game maker.

It feels like the mechanics are what they focused the most on. Not the story. Its obvious in the inconsistencies you pointed out in the strategy layer at least.

So, isn't story, immersion and lore just as important as the mechanics?

Edited by Voidfoam

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Nice review from your side Chris (I concur I think on all points; biggest single annoyance for me is almost complete lack (?) of patrolling aliens), I was hoping to see such an examination from the 'competition' as such.

I could agree on most of your observations Chris. But i admit the reason i loved playing the new one, was that i early on accepted the fact it was gonna have very little to do with OG.

Exactly; I never had any thought it would resemble the OG in anything other than spirit, and so I am still enjoying it, albeit with the Warspace Extension mod, which has actually made Classic Ironman much more fun and the firefights much more dynamic affairs, rather than forcing the dreaded 'bait and creep' solution. http://xcom.nexusmods.com/mods/18/. The mod has also balanced the Research and Manufacturing components up much nicer; you really now have to think about which basket to put your eggs in.

Though the weapon balancing in this mod is still contentious.... Ballistics are now of more value through most of the game, lasers are more accurate but reduced crit chance, plasmas do massive damage but fairly inaccurate. I think this is similar to a thread discussion somewhere here in Xenonauts, that is attempting to do away with the simple hierarchical weapon model that totally invalidates the previous tier). If this discussion (whether EU or Xeno applicable) interests you have a look at the Warspace mods thread in the above link.

I'm simply considering it (XCOM EU) an XCOM-esque filler while I await Chris's beta....., and at AUS$37.50, quite happy. Though the DLC pricing, content and approach simply blows....

Edit: Additionally, I nevertheless think Firaxis have done a great (if a little flawed) job at exposing a TBS (or is it TBT?) game to the mass market. I think that's an awesome thing, and I think it will hopefully inspire some other AAA studios to jump on the band wagon, and produce some (better?) offerings that learn from Firaxis mistakes. Whether their offerings are of interest to this forums lurkers is a different question. Personally, I am most disinterested in the FPS and RTS genres.

Edited by gnarly

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From XCom Nexus:

In a recent talk with Joystiq about the upcoming XCOM DLC Firaxis are still being annoyingly tight-lipped and non committal on modding support for XCOM.

QUOTE

As for the future of XCOM, Firaxis is open to the possibilities. Regarding the potential for mods and user-created content, DeAngelis notes that "it wasn't one of our core pillars when we started the project," but the team understands how important it is to the community. "It's something that we'd like to resolve going forward, but we still have quite a few things on our plate that have been planned for a while."

If you're cynical, like me, that reads as "we'll maybe talk about mods after we've milked the DLC for all their worth". Not that you can hold it against Firaxis. After all, they're a business. But for people who care more about mods than they do about lacklustre DLC it's a blow.

In other modding news, modders have been making inroads in to modding the UPK files for XCOM. While there's little progress on being able to repack the UPK files themselves, advanced modders have been able to mod the UPK files and get them to load in their games. Unfortunately the process is relatively complex and there's no easy way to distribute these mods to the masses. Yet. Work is underway to change that, however, and with Firaxis being less than helpful on the modding front for XCOM thus far this is going to be our best bet at modding the game at least for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned.

Pretty huge for me. Mods, IMO, are what keep a game going far beyond what would have normally been it's lifespan. Mods keep a game relevant, the community involved and bring additioinal players to the genre/franchise. Games like Rome: Total war, Vampire: The Masquerade and Close Combat are ass old, but mods keep the forums bustling and the community alive; and, often lead to major enthusiasm when part II is announced.

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Heh, I thought the ending felt very Baldur's Gate. And yes, boring as gameplay, neat as lore.

Overall I felt it was worth the money for me (largely for the challenge presented by beating impossible), though I'm not sure I would have actually paid for it if I'd known better what I was getting into.

I did like the posted idea for the built in color coding for movement. As it is, Xenonauts shows a different color for your selected snap shot, but a general toggleable "rainbow road" that delineates where each type of reserve would end for the currently equipped weapon (and maybe kneeling?) would be nice.

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Great write up Chris. Perhaps the release of the new XCOM:EU has turned out to be a boon for Xenonauts. I'll be picking up the new XCOM on a sale at some point. I played the demo and it feels too consolized (not just the interface but the mechanics themselves) to pay full price.

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Agree Chris, as a player of the original, I was mostly yawning towards the end. But my question here is... WHAT WERE YOU DOING PLAYING A GAME! YOU SHOULD BE FINISHING YOURS! :)

Just kidding mate, appreciate the fact that sometimes a little time away from a loved one can make all the difference.

Keep up the great work!

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Hi Chris, thanks for your review.

I've bought into this game long time ago. Like 30 bucks over one year ago to something which looked like "a good idea". Before Kickstarter and all.

Like you I was "Concerned" when Firaxis announced their XCom remake. How would the world accept two Xcom games in the same time frame? Like you I later decided this was good, because it would throw stardust on this loved and extremely specific game genre. A game genre which is kind of orthodox liturgy, do it wrong and the community will cry "Sacrilege!". So Firaxis take on it is refreshing, and yet old timer, bearded guys like me can't help but long for the old X-com experience. The many paths, the zerg'em feeling (that was a well put description of one those hard-to-define problems I have with Xcom EU.)

I agree with you on your assesment of the new Xcom. Entirely :) But I must warn you that now my expectations to what Xenonauts will turn into is markedly higher. Reading your review and criticism of Xcom EU also reveals a lot about the thoughts behind your own project, its perhaps much easier when you see what someone else did, you are inspired by their innovations and shaking your head at their perceived mistakes.

I must still say that the 2 moves + a shooty action is a wonderful simplification, it's super gamey but it is very charming and easy to cope with. The small maps, the small squads, the few-vs-many decision, agree. wrong.

So this made me even more I anticipate how you will cover those weak spots that EU has. I hope you can, I think you can. I still feel that those 30 bucks were paid out well.

Edited by pistolhamster

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I gotta say though, I feel that the new system in X-Com (2012) was clear and easy to understand, but sometimes I wanted more :)

I really like the way the original X-Com had a lot of buttons to press and such, I also hope that you will not streamline Xenonauts like the Firaxis X-Com was. I played the KickstarterDemo and I liked it, a lot. The only thing stopping me was basically some bugs and the state of the game, that it wasn't finished. Overall Xenonauts looks like it's on the right path so far. Keep up the good work!

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There's also a lot of artificial behavior allowed by the system. Once you've killed all visible aliens, you're almost certainly able to keep all your troops stationary for a few turns to reload and heal up - more enemies won't "activate" until you move further forwards in most cases. It just doesn't seem very organic.

I'm very confused by people coming up with the whole "alien spawns don't move" thing... I must be playing a different game because I seem to run into alien patrols all the time on classic. :confused: Maybe I'm just good at picking the patrol node locations to setup recoop and ambush spots...

re alien free move in general: have you unlocked the Sniper's Battle Scanner yet? it's very handy to see how alien patrols actually work. (we'll skip over the fact that the games shows you this despite you being able to see the non activated aliens is likely a bug...)

The game doesn't path them at all, they just "teleport" from one location to the next (hence the patrol teleporting into the middle of the xcom squad bug on a couple of maps :( it's missing the intersect of the patrol route and the player's view).

The teleport solves quite a few AI issues or at least stops hidden aliens working out what cover to use each turn chewing up processing resources and slowing down their turn needlessly; but as you say, it leaves them "open" a fair amount of the time (it looks like the units are just "dropped" around a patrol node). Having the aliens react with their generic AI (ie floaters and chrysallids charge in) when detected is problematic, an across the board "run for the nearest cover" might work... but then does it make sense for a patrolling chrysallid to wander into view, run to some cover, then charge out into the open (they don't use cover anyway)?

Xenonauts is going to be balanced around the entire alien force in a mission working together to attack and flank you.

try a game on impossible... the aliens do pretty much this, the first spawn you see will "call in" the nearest spawns. You're fighting every alien on the map in next to no time unless it's one of the larger ones. Last attempt I made saw my last 4 rookies fighting 15 sectoids through the bar map by the end of turn 3 (last one got nailed dashing for the skyranger... may they rest in peace the world fell soon after).

Edited by LeftyRighty

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try a game on impossible... the aliens do pretty much this, the first spawn you see will "call in" the nearest spawns. You're fighting every alien on the map in next to no time unless it's one of the larger ones. Last attempt I made saw my last 4 rookies fighting 15 sectoids through the bar map by the end of turn 3 (last one got nailed dashing for the skyranger... may they rest in peace the world fell soon after).

Impossible rigs the hit chances in the aliens favor. Aliens don't do that In EU, all they do is spawn in your butthole. The only way they can "flank" you is that if you dash in while the aliens are randomly scattered around the place. But that isn't aliens tactically outmanuevering you, that's you putting yourself in a dangerous situation and the inept AI barely stringed together with gimmicks.

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I'm very confused by people coming up with the whole "alien spawns don't move" thing... I must be playing a different game because I seem to run into alien patrols all the time on classic. Maybe I'm just good at picking the patrol node locations to setup recoop and ambush spots...

re alien free move in general: have you unlocked the Sniper's Battle Scanner yet? it's very handy to see how alien patrols actually work. (we'll skip over the fact that the games shows you this despite you being able to see the non activated aliens is likely a bug...)

Not really a patrol. The AI just barely herp-a-derps around the map not going from cover to cover, or going on overwatch before they spot you.(They do that like once every hundred moves). Not a lot of effort was put into the tactics of the AI, so they made the free move decision to cheaply conpensate for the "derp" nature of the AI outside of immediate combat.

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Very nice review Chris - it sums up not only what I've been thinking, but what a lot of other people have found about the game.

I totally agree about the DLC they've announced. My heart sank when I read about it as what the game needs is expanding the existing stuff - more and bigger maps, more localisation of the troops and their voices, different mission types rather than some three mission mini-campaign which would fit more into a Call of Duty or Gears of War type title than a turn-based strategy game like XCOM.

I'm liking it at the moment, but if they don't provide decent support to sort out the bugs and obvious game play deficiencies and open up mod support, then my likelihood of buying another Firaxis title will plummet.

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