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Yet another first impressions thread.

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First allow me some disclaimers. I've been playing the game only for about a week. This means I've not completed it yet, nor tested end game or advanced options. I'm not playing the latest versions, and I some things that I'm posing as problems might actually be in the game or solved, in which case you should read it as “the game's interface is obscure enough for an average user not to be aware of this”.

Finally I've been perusing the forums for a while and I'm aware that some of the horses I'm about to flog have been dead for a long time, and comparisons with X-COM 2012 will be inevitable. In any case, if I'm making your eyes roll too much now, I suggest you leave the thread.

Overall I found the game reasonably fun and addictive. I see potential in it as long as the main issues I found are resolved. In no particular order:

- Repetitive maps

- Overly mechanical and artificial combat

- Unintuitive strategic combat and too much emphasis in air battles.

I'm sure the issue of repetitive maps have been adressed, so I won't comment much more on it. Only that a game of this kind absolutely need randomized maps or at least maps with random elements that potentially make each battle different. It's underestandable that x-com 2012 had a small number of maps, since the amount of eye candy and 3d modelling was perhaps too high for random maps, or the game isn't deigned to have so many missions that maps start repeating themselves, or is not meant to have that much replayability. Those factors don't apply here, so random maps are a must.

About the second point, there's the factor where xenonauts is meant to clone the original game as much as possible. I admit that if that's the intent my complaint doesn't make much sense, but certain elements simply lead to weird gameplay.

I'll elaborate. I started running the squad as I'm used to do in other strategic games, in fire teams that use cover. This lead immediately to disaster, as fire teams didn't have enough firepower (or I should say accuracy) to reliably kill aliens quickly enough, and aliens always could usually shoot first having superior sight ranges.

So I remembered how I did in the original game, using one scout with just a pistol and grenades to discover enemies, and the rest of the squad to kill it, rinse and repeat. As far as military operations go, it's quite hilarious o see one heavily armored guy in front running froward and backwards like an overly excitable dog, and a ball of guys with heavy weapons and snipers (quickly replaced with just snipers, as they were the most effective) advancing slowly behind.

The point is, I liked he original game because it had the right blend or strategic and tactical turn based combat, but that doesn't mean I liked some particular examples of how that combat was developed. Copying those accidents and mechanics because they were there, just for the sake of nostalgia, is IMHO a mistake. If you're not introducing bugs like being able to throw grenades through ceilings, I don't see the need to copy the least interesting aspect of the original game's mechanic. It leads to repetitive and uninteresting gameplay; either you repeat the same sequence of actions every turn, or you lose soldiers. Plus the hit rates are so poor, even using leveled soldiers that you absolutely need the whole squad to kill just one alien. More than strategy, it's an exercise of patience where tactics that intuitively you think should be used like flanking, positioning and using a variety of weapons for specialized roles lead to worse results than repeating a sequence of actions; advance with your scout, discover alien, everyone shoots, move the scout back, preferably behind opaque cover.

I should add, if doing this during daylight can become boring quickly, night missions are an absolute pain that I just refuse to take part in. It's more or less the same, with the added task of the god forsaken throwable infinite lights. I let cities to be nuked rather than fighting at night.

Continuing with the issue of supposedly realistic mechanics leading to unrealistic behavior. I quickly learned that in order to increase strength you have to carry a big load in battle, so every soldier goes with as much useless stuff as they can, I make them run in circles to make sure they get their TUs and spend a couple turns shooting at aliens with their most inaccurate shots, so they train accuracy. That's just one example of many.

About the geoscape, I found it mostly ok, but for the life of me I can't figure what strategy to follow. No matter what I do, I always hit the same wall: lack of money. The thing is, most of your money comes from selling stuff you get on missions. To get missions, you need to down UFOs for raiding, as they either rarely land or they take off way before the chinook arrives, and terror missions are comparatively rare. To down UFOs you need expensive planes equipped with expensive stuff that need expensive hangars to house.

This means that losing air battles halts progression immediately. Even if you don't lose the crafts, or if you lose them you have enough cash to replace them, you're not getting the needed cash and tech from the UFOs not downed, plus you get reduced funding and the game enters a death spiral where your lack of tech and money leads to not getting tech and money. I understand that measures are being taken about this, like reducing the cost or planes or increasing their survivability, but I'd suggest just making more land missions that not require you to down an UFO first.

Compounding with this, air battles are plainly not really good. They rarely hit the sweet spot where the fight is interesting: either it's a sure win (boring) or a sure loss (frustrating) depending on what planes you have and the strategy. Right now, as far I've discovered, is “as many foxtrots as you can have in the air, with missiles or torpedos depending on craft size, reduce speed to minimum and fire them in the right sequence, then flee”. If you don't win with this tactic, the you don't have enough tech and therefore you lose the game because you are never going to have the required tech.

The point is, the aerial battles have to improve a lot before launching to justify having it rather than a simplified version like in the original game. It also needs a smoother transition between "1 condor can kill anything" to "the whole squadron is wiped out". Some transition where your planes are damaged or you start struggling with keeping them alive, encouraging research into better aircraft. Why should I bother improving my fleet when I'm doing so well? Part of the strategy is economic management: using your resources where they are most needed. If the game punishes you so harshly for doing well, in a realistic sense, but bad in a metagamish "I know from past playthroughs that, in X days medium sized UFOs are going to appear, so I have to hurry with those hugely expensive hangars and planes" way, then it's not a very good game.

I'm also finding base strategy hard to grasp. If I concentrate my attention in one base, then I barely have enough money to keep up with alien tech in terms of armor, weapons and planes, but quickly lose funding in unatended regions and lose them. If I try to build even a second base, then I don't have the money for the planes in them or build more laboratories/workshops. I find myself in a lose/lose proposition no matter what I do, which leads again to a new game.

I might seem overly critical, but don't forget I said first I liked the game. I think it has potential, as long as some outstanding problems are solved.

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