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New Steam review from X-Com veteran and Military Veteran


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Just a bit of background from me, I am a veteran of the US Military, and have detailed knowledge of the weapons we use and used. I really enjoyed the original X-Com, though I played Terror From the Deep first, and my favorite was X-Com Apocalypse even though it ended abruptly. I had a lot of hype for XCom: Enemy Unknown when it came out, but was turned off when patching rendered tactics void due to new bugs introduced but never addressed.

Here's a link to my review:

http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197992540547/recommended/223830/

On the downsides, I list the interface, but that can be further improved with patching. I also list font size, which I hear is a common complaint. A little interface improvement would be nice there.

One thing that I'm sure wouldn't be so easy a fix is the anachronisms introduced by the starting weaponry, and lack of certain developments that would have been available at the time. In particular the major issues I have are: Machine guns should have more ammo. Blind firing at an unseen target is a staple of what a machine gun is for. You suppress the enemy, while you advance on his flank. Having to carry ten 30 round magazines for a weapon that is belt fed is ridiculous.

Also Bazookas, the infantry RPG of choice in the time period, were not field reloadable. The ignition charge was not part of the rocket and not easily replaced. Instead a bazooka was carried by select riflemen, not machine gunners who already had to carry heavy ammo drums. The bazooka was also destroyed and discarded after use. Reloadable Rocket Launchers were available at the time, but only as mounted varieties. This actually carries through to today's military.

Finally, night vision scopes were at their infancy during this time. A scope on a M16E1 could have night vision for a sniper, but head mounted night vision would still be in development. Furthermore to this day common night vision has drawbacks of poor peripheral vision and depth perception. This is why modern soldiers use a single lens night vision device that can be flipped up, attached to the helmet. Giving the player the option to make rudimentary night vision would be a nice touch, as necessity is the mother of invention. However drawbacks can include reduced accuracy while activated, and narrower field of view. Removing it would also cost one his night vision for the turn, keeping the penalty till next turn.

Other than that, give the main infantry rifle full auto and burst option, as it's firing modes were single and auto, not single and burst. The M16A2 would not have come out for a few more years. Then correct the graphics and ammo capacity of the sniper rifle to match the M16E1 that it should have been using.

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Just a bit of background from me, I am a veteran of the US Military, and have detailed knowledge of the weapons we use and used. I really enjoyed the original X-Com, though I played Terror From the Deep first, and my favorite was X-Com Apocalypse even though it ended abruptly. I had a lot of hype for XCom: Enemy Unknown when it came out, but was turned off when patching rendered tactics void due to new bugs introduced but never addressed.

Here's a link to my review:

http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197992540547/recommended/223830/

On the downsides, I list the interface, but that can be further improved with patching. I also list font size, which I hear is a common complaint. A little interface improvement would be nice there.

One thing that I'm sure wouldn't be so easy a fix is the anachronisms introduced by the starting weaponry, and lack of certain developments that would have been available at the time. In particular the major issues I have are: Machine guns should have more ammo. Blind firing at an unseen target is a staple of what a machine gun is for. You suppress the enemy, while you advance on his flank. Having to carry ten 30 round magazines for a weapon that is belt fed is ridiculous.

Also Bazookas, the infantry RPG of choice in the time period, were not field reloadable. The ignition charge was not part of the rocket and not easily replaced. Instead a bazooka was carried by select riflemen, not machine gunners who already had to carry heavy ammo drums. The bazooka was also destroyed and discarded after use. Reloadable Rocket Launchers were available at the time, but only as mounted varieties. This actually carries through to today's military.

Finally, night vision scopes were at their infancy during this time. A scope on a M16E1 could have night vision for a sniper, but head mounted night vision would still be in development. Furthermore to this day common night vision has drawbacks of poor peripheral vision and depth perception. This is why modern soldiers use a single lens night vision device that can be flipped up, attached to the helmet. Giving the player the option to make rudimentary night vision would be a nice touch, as necessity is the mother of invention. However drawbacks can include reduced accuracy while activated, and narrower field of view. Removing it would also cost one his night vision for the turn, keeping the penalty till next turn.

Other than that, give the main infantry rifle full auto and burst option, as it's firing modes were single and auto, not single and burst. The M16A2 would not have come out for a few more years. Then correct the graphics and ammo capacity of the sniper rifle to match the M16E1 that it should have been using.

While your points about the various weapons are factual nearly everything you don't like was simply changed for balancing purposes. There was a time when the Chinook had close to the proper range which proved to be unworkable, the Xenonauts had a T-72, etc... and various MG ammo loads, etc... were tried. The problem always came back to the balance. You either had outrageously powerful aliens to contend with starting Xenonaut ballistic weapons or such wimpy Xenonaut heavy weapons that they were ridiculous. Coupled with that was the economic balance. That's why we have recoverable fighters instead of 20 million dollar non-recoverable F-16s. As an example, if you assume the assault rifle is an M-16 and you actually change the LMG to have the same firepower as a real M-60 or even a SAW it completely dominates the battlefield. I tried it once. You don't need any other weapons upgraded or no. The grenade range was also reduced at one point to be fairly close to real life compared the range of assault rifle, but everyone complained about "how unrealistic it was that I can only throw a grenade four or five tiles!" You just have to remember that this is game not simulation. Too much realism actually makes it less fun. There are also severe technical limits on size of maps, etc... that force some things to just be wrong or scaled way down. Finally, Xenonauts, is actually quite a bit more "realistic" in ground combat than the original game IMO, so some progress was made on that front. GH added suppression, has a far better miss scatter system, a better AI, etc...

The interface complaints are valid IMO.

One other small point with your review: You don't "stream" the strategic map, your computer "renders" or simply "displays" it unless you've got some kind of weird remote connection to the game.

Edited by StellarRat
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yeah, I know, but it just bothers me. Is there a reason why residential houses and their hedges are highly resistant to plasma grenades but bullets bust them down just fine? Was on a terror mission, and I tossed a few grenades to remove certain pieces of cover the aliens used, but it barely scratched it.

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Hmm ... the game indeed could be made realistic ... but then I can't imagine anyone who'd be willing to play a game that'd be lost the moment it started. It's a game, see? The reason for machine guns not having more ammo is the same like for aliens not completely obliterating all your forces at a whim.

As for the reasonable problems, one that caught my attention was about the difficulty of finding out about troop positioning in the transport. Where exactly would you place that button?

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I would possibly merge it with a better method of assigning soldiers to the transport honestly. The current dropdown system is a bit hit and miss and doesn't always work right.

Maybe a separate menu with a list of troops on the left, a list of drop ships on the right, you drag and assign them to the drops ship and a position in one quick move. You can also change their starting facing with a right click (something that is missing), and basic gear setup as well from your predefined roles.

Basically, it's a single place to set up your squads, but if you want more detail about stats and health status you go to the soldier panel, if you want to customize their load out, you go to the load out menu, and if you want to know the status of your drop ship, you go to the planes menu.

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One other small point with your review: You don't "stream" the strategic map, your computer "renders" or simply "displays" it unless you've got some kind of weird remote connection to the game.

Just noticed this comment part, and felt I should clarify. I stream my play through of various games on twitch.tv a game streaming site. I meant it in that fashion.

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Re: machine guns. They can have normal size belts without being overpowered. The overpoweredness comes from the accuracy.

For example, the ballistic machine gun fires 10 bullets at 30 accuracy. Chances are that 3 are gonna hit, causing between 45 and 135 damage. Anywhere from around 60 upwards and it will kill any early alien, making it a kill-a-turn weapon.

In M'nauts, I give the gpmg's the belt they deserve (either 100 or 250 rounds, depending on the gun). But their accuracy, only 15. At close range, it's a killer. At mid range, a lucky shot might kill, but will most likely just suppress. At long range, just suppression...sometimes not even that.

When I play vanilla, the MG's always give me the most kills, by far. In M'nauts, they blend in with the rest of the weapons - fitting a role as oppose to dominating at all ranges. It's the accuracy, I tells ya!

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I do think some kind of rudimentary night vision would have been cool. They had clear drawbacks and advantages back then. It might be moddable though. Armors at least have alterable vision cones.

I also think that having single-shot missiles at the start of the game would have been neat wit the reloadable rocket launcher being a bit later development. The single shot rockets for infantrymen make sense in a world where you aren't shooting tank-armored humanoid robots. If 20 minutes into the future the world's militaries would be concerned about Androns and not human tanks I'd bet we'd see a single-person reloadable rocket launcher rolled out ASAP. I liked how you only got a single shot (or two) out of rocket launcher in Firaxis' X-Com. I don't know if there were any "videogame rocket" (ie. high explosive) single shot RPG around back in 1979 though. I know the US had the Flash rocket launcher at some point and Soviet came out with that thermobaric rocket but I don't remember when they came out.

Machine guns would be really difficult to balance in a game of this scope.

Edited by MKDELTA
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Re: machine guns. They can have normal size belts without being overpowered. The overpoweredness comes from the accuracy.

For example, the ballistic machine gun fires 10 bullets at 30 accuracy. Chances are that 3 are gonna hit, causing between 45 and 135 damage. Anywhere from around 60 upwards and it will kill any early alien, making it a kill-a-turn weapon.

In M'nauts, I give the gpmg's the belt they deserve (either 100 or 250 rounds, depending on the gun). But their accuracy, only 15. At close range, it's a killer. At mid range, a lucky shot might kill, but will most likely just suppress. At long range, just suppression...sometimes not even that.

When I play vanilla, the MG's always give me the most kills, by far. In M'nauts, they blend in with the rest of the weapons - fitting a role as oppose to dominating at all ranges. It's the accuracy, I tells ya!

That's precisely my point with machine guns. Having qualified and deployed with an M249 I know that they are mostly for suppression of a target. They want you to be able to hit a target with a burst if possible, but the threat is what keeps your squad mates safe to advance. I also find it odd that machine guns are often the best way to take out tougher targets with good armor, rather than well placed rifle shots from bullet, laser, or otherwise.

Technically lasers wouldn't have rifling at all, and plasmas neither. Rifling refers to the grooves in the barrel designed to make a bullet spin and thus take a flatter trajectory. However for some reason "Laser Rifle" and the like has taken the minds of scifi nuts everywhere, though it makes no sense. I've never seen a spinning laser to this day. ;)

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Re: machine guns. They can have normal size belts without being overpowered. The overpoweredness comes from the accuracy.
Yeah, but "real" machineguns are very accurate weapons. They have bipods at a minimum. More accurate than assault rifles and have up to TWICE the effective range. They've already been reduced in hitting power, range and accuracy in the game. Making them less accurate so they can carry more ammo seems counter-productive. The M-60 qualifying requires hits at 700 yards! They wouldn't be much of threat unless they could kill you. Edited by StellarRat
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Yeah, but "real" machineguns are very accurate weapons. More accurate than assault rifles and have up to TWICE the effective range. They've already been reduced in hitting power, range and accuracy in the game. Making them less accurate so they can carry more ammo seems counter-productive.

They are accurate... until you fire more than 2-3 rounds, and when you're expected to do 7-10 round bursts, accuracy goes out the window. The idea is the first couple rounds might hit, the rest is just to scare.

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While the majority of the alien fleet cannot attack immediately, buying you some time to prepare, their progress is at least in part based on your success. If you are doing well, expect to see harder UFOs and aliens sooner than you otherwise might.

This is actually inaccurate, the invasion advances at a fixed rate regardless of your actions. You actually used to be able to slow down the invasion by being super-effective in air combat but that led to the game being harder for people that were already struggling. Like others have said, it's well known a lot of features aren't realistic but they work fairly well to make a balanced game.

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I do think some kind of rudimentary night vision would have been cool. They had clear drawbacks and advantages back then. It might be moddable though. Armors at least have alterable vision cones.

I also think that having single-shot missiles at the start of the game would have been neat wit the reloadable rocket launcher being a bit later development. The single shot rockets for infantrymen make sense in a world where you aren't shooting tank-armored humanoid robots. If 20 minutes into the future the world's militaries would be concerned about Androns and not human tanks I'd bet we'd see a single-person reloadable rocket launcher rolled out ASAP. I liked how you only got a single shot (or two) out of rocket launcher in Firaxis' X-Com. I don't know if there were any "videogame rocket" (ie. high explosive) single shot RPG around back in 1979 though. I know the US had the Flash rocket launcher at some point and Soviet came out with that thermobaric rocket but I don't remember when they came out.

Machine guns would be really difficult to balance in a game of this scope.

The M20A1/A1B1 "Super Bazooka" would be the one that I would expect at this point. It was produced in 1952. Length 60 inches (carried in 2x30 inch tubes, assembled before firing with ammo separate), 90mm barrel, warhead is M28A2 HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) or T127E3/M30 WP (Wide Penetration for less armored targets) Effective range is 270m (though you'd have to adjust that for balance) Crew 2, operator and loader (though the same can be said for a Machine gun, let's gloss over this fact ;) )

It would be interesting on military bases if there were fixed M25 "Three Shot Bazookas" in key locations, though inside your own base? not so much, who'd want to destroy their own stuff? This was produced in 1955. It was a mounted weapon.

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This is actually inaccurate, the invasion advances at a fixed rate regardless of your actions. You actually used to be able to slow down the invasion by being super-effective in air combat but that led to the game being harder for people that were already struggling. Like others have said, it's well known a lot of features aren't realistic but they work fairly well to make a balanced game.

I swear the game feels like it uses the same hidden score mechanic from the original, where everything you do is scored positively or negatively behind the scenes, and the better you do, the harder the aliens will hit you, unlocking larger UFOs and harder alien types sooner if you do well.

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They are accurate... until you fire more than 2-3 rounds, and when you're expected to do 7-10 round bursts, accuracy goes out the window. The idea is the first couple rounds might hit, the rest is just to scare.
Yeah, but you rarely get more than a couple/three hits with them at range in Xenonauts so I think that works out about right.
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I swear the game feels like it uses the same hidden score mechanic from the original, where everything you do is scored positively or negatively behind the scenes, and the better you do, the harder the aliens will hit you, unlocking larger UFOs and harder alien types sooner if you do well.
I don't think it has those kind of triggers like the old game. As far as I know it's all based on the time counter.
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I swear the game feels like it uses the same hidden score mechanic from the original, where everything you do is scored positively or negatively behind the scenes, and the better you do, the harder the aliens will hit you, unlocking larger UFOs and harder alien types sooner if you do well.

Maybe it feels that way because the game gives you enough time to get comfortable with handling a given UFO/threat just before the next shows up? There was discussion about using a negative feedback system (game advanced slower if you were less effective), but I don't think it ever get implemented even in a test build.

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I played 2 starts in the game first. In my first I didn't encounter sebilians at all till the middle of the third month. I was also losing soldiers all over and only had one base by the end of the first month operational. I missed so many UFOs as well.

My second start on cast, I shot down 4 UFOs and first one had sebilians. Either I was very lucky the first game or something is in place to that effect. I could lean either way due to my small data set, I just assumed it was similar to the original.

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Yeah, but "real" machineguns are very accurate weapons. They have bipods at a minimum. More accurate than assault rifles and have up to TWICE the effective range. They've already been reduced in hitting power, range and accuracy in the game. Making them less accurate so they can carry more ammo seems counter-productive. The M-60 qualifying requires hits at 700 yards! They wouldn't be much of threat unless they could kill you.

I've not made them less accurate in order to carry more ammo, far from it. That would be daft. They carry more ammo because that's what gpmg's have - more ammo. I've made them less accurate as they're not firing in ones-and-two's, they're firing in ten round bursts...

They are accurate... until you fire more than 2-3 rounds, and when you're expected to do 7-10 round bursts, accuracy goes out the window. The idea is the first couple rounds might hit, the rest is just to scare.
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I've not made them less accurate in order to carry more ammo, far from it. That would be daft. They carry more ammo because that's what gpmg's have - more ammo. I've made them less accurate as they're not firing in ones-and-two's, they're firing in ten round bursts...
All I'm saying is that the seem to hit with the correct amount of rounds right now even with 10 round bursts. It's rare to get more than 3 hits out of 10 at range at least in my games. So, you have in fact made them less accurate for balancing.
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I played 2 starts in the game first. In my first I didn't encounter sebilians at all till the middle of the third month. I was also losing soldiers all over and only had one base by the end of the first month operational. I missed so many UFOs as well.

My second start on cast, I shot down 4 UFOs and first one had sebilians. Either I was very lucky the first game or something is in place to that effect. I could lean either way due to my small data set, I just assumed it was similar to the original.

There is a randomness factor in what shows up as the ticker advances.
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All I'm saying is that the seem to hit with the correct amount of rounds right now even with 10 round bursts. It's rare to get more than 3 hits out of 10 at range at least in my games. So, you have in fact made them less accurate for balancing.

It'd be more accurate if the first few rounds have greater accuracy than later rounds in the burst. Perhaps normal accuracy for first -2, -5, -10, -15, -20, -25, -30, -35, -40. Of course the same mechanic where the lesser of your str or accuracy stats still applies.

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All I'm saying is that the seem to hit with the correct amount of rounds right now even with 10 round bursts. It's rare to get more than 3 hits out of 10 at range at least in my games. So, you have in fact made them less accurate for balancing.

That's right: I've made them less accurate for balancing - not so that they can carry more ammo.

3 hits out of ten is still a killer at any range for each tier of vanilla mg's - it's the only weapon that can reliably do this on nearly every turn, which is what makes it overpowered. Shotguns can get off 3 shots per turn, but that's only effective up close. Ar's can shoot up to 4 per turn (using burst and snap, both 35% accuracy...not going to hit much unless it's real close) at low accuracy and damage, with no mitigation. Snipers/precisions can only do a max of two bullets per turn, with better accuracy (apart from close range, where they don't get the close range hit bonus) and mitigation. The mg's have the ability to reliably land more shots per turn than all the other weapons; the only gun that can reliably kill at all ranges every turn. Turn its accuracy down a bit, and it fits in better.

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