13 Nov 2013

XCOM: Enemy Within

Thank you GT for that insightful video preview of what to expect.

So folks XCOM 1.2 is coming out, what do I think?

1. New Maps

The one issue with XCOM that stands out in the experience is the lack of map variety. When you hit those story missions the maps get crazy but most of the maps are pretty much the same. All of the alien ship maps are pretty similar and for once I want the ship to crash in a small town, ala Man of Steel. Or maybe in a highrise office building with your team landing on the roof and having to move through the ruins to get to the wreck that has almost fused with the building.

When playing multiplayer the limited number of maps was shameful. It was the only time in my XCOM:EU experience that made me feel taken for granted. Obviously the multiplayer was not the prime effort else we would have seen far more maps to play on. It was a real shock the first time I turned on the multiplayer and wow it was a kick to the teeth.

2. Classes

I like the four basic classes - Assault, Sniper, Support and Heavy. I like the semi two tier upgrade system. For a first game it was awesome and just enough. As the game progressed I was hoping for a few more options. All my Colonels were maxed out and other than the PSI Chamber and the odd new kit I had nothing else to give those veteran members of my team.

The Support had two really good tiers. Combat Flanker with gas grenades and Combat Medic. The Support class really felt like I was able to make two truly different troopers or any mix between the two as needed. The Sniper was only a bit worse, the Longshot version or the Recon close up pistol master. Both were handy but the pistol was always a crap shot until I get a better pistol and by then, what was the point? The Heavy and the Assault tiers lacked that dual system that I felt with the Support class. They have great abilities but the builds were less specific and that was ok... but if it was to be changed I'd be even happier.

With the new Mech/Cyborg class I see the 5th spot in my team really become part of a debate. Do I run a full five troop team with a drone for the 6th position? If I have no drones on which class gets the double up. I like to take two Support, two Assault, one Heavy and one Sniper as my basic team. I've mucked about with other builds when playing Ironman but I've never been able to finish Ironman... yet.

I like the gene mods as well, they are almost a class buff. The ability to further customize your troopers to their mission rolls is a thing I like to do. I'll make sure to bring the specialist who does the following on certain missions while leaving them at home for others. The alien abduction missions are very different than the crash missions and so I like to bring different trained and equipped folks. This will really let me pick a perfect team.

3. Equipment

Gear in XCOM is limited and very simple. Above all else get lasers and upgrade once more to plasma. That's it. The basic weapon type of the game is a lame duck and almost worthless. Once you fire you first laser weapon you realise how behind you were damage wise in the game. Getting plasma weapons seemed crazy. Damage was above the curve and enemies had to watch out unless they were a Muton or a Cyberdisk. Nothing could take a team loaded with plasma weapons.

Outside of the arms race into energy weapons. The rest is designed to focus on your play style. Ghost armour to cloak or Archangel armour that can fly? Heavy armour with another underlay of armour or bomb around with a grenade? Up to you and your style of game play. Make better structures for your base or build better gear for your planes?

If you really tried to explore the list of items and tech being offered in the game, you may find it to be a bit sparse. I hope the range of equipment increases and shows off some more player choices. I love testing gear combos and picking the best toys for the best missions. I always want more toys.

This will be my last game of the season and maybe for this generation of console. I will get this and I will enjoy it. I like the idea of new mission maps, the extra in mission objectives, the extra strategic layer and all the extra toys and troops... see why I kept the list to three above?