Friday 11 June 2021

Love live the...Humans?: XCOM 2 Blogger Succession Game - Mission 7

Regular readers of the Leaflocker may be wondering what is happening in the communal game of Civilization VI that I've been reporting on every couple of months since May 2020. If that's you, then I'm glad to announce to you the almost two-month-old headline that Her Majesty's English Empire has successfully completed a cultural domination of the world. Yes, everyone is now wearing our blue cardigans and drinking our tea. You can catch up on a summary of the whole endeavour over at the blog of our fearless leader Naithin.

Having learnt absolutely nothing from our year-long attempt to complete a game many folks would have finished in a day or so, no sooner had the dust settled on that the company resolved to set out together on a communal game of infamous unfinished savefile producer XCOM 2, and given my own long history with the series, there was no way that I could sit out, so we all made alien-hunting super-soldier versions of ourselves and some of our buddies and set out to save the world from the aliens. 

Well, the other players made themselves super-soldiers, my own avatar was a bit of a bumbling buffoon who got himself blown up when a nearby truck exploded on his second day-trip out of the cosy home base. Some of us are just not made for the soldiering life, I suppose. If you'd like to catch up on all the good stuff so far (something I heartily recommend rather than just diving in blind like I did this time around!), a summary of the game so far and links to all the other blogs can be found here.

I recorded my game (stuttering graphics card at all), so those of you who prefer the live experience can check out the video above as long as you can deal with a low frame rate, high pixellation, bad audio and all the usual traps that come from a very inexpert streamer just pressing 'record' on their installation of OBS and hoping, but I'll also try to summarise the events here for those who prefer their video game experiences in text and distilled into the medium of the traditional After Action Report. I'm afraid the screenshots aren't much chop either, but at least my computer managed to make it through the mission without overheating and shutting down, which is a better result than last time I tried to play X-COM 2, so as far as I'm concerned we're calling it a win.

I began my stint as the Commander trying to find my feet by assigning a promotion to a newly acquired soldier and distributing weapon modifications, but quickly realised that with our first weapon upgrade just around the corner, using up all the cool loot on our base-level weaponry might not be the best plan and it might be more sensible to save the good stuff to strap onto the bigger guns.

Make sure you get my good side for the screenshot.

The mission, codenamed Gasping Shroud, saw the fireteam dropped into enemy-occupied downtown Chicago to abduct an alien collaborator from their place of business, which if you ask me seems like a questionable call when we're in a battle for the hearts and minds of humanity, but when the council gives an order, it's up the grunts to get the job done. Given that the enemy presence was expected to be light, I elected to blood a couple of new recruits in while keeping a backbone of what is already becoming the core squad.

It's just like shooting snakes in a barrel.

The team quickly met and snuck up on the first pod of enemies, an ADVENT trooper and what my X-COM brain will forever call a Snakeman, which feels like a bit of a misnomer given that the XCOM 2 version, in what seems like an unusual design decision given how reptiles usually work, has prominent breasts. Positioning our sniper Endalia in a position on top of a two-story building with a good overview of the battlefield and guarding the rookie's flanks, the team prepared and then triggered a crossfire. Despite a good first hit by Endalia, the aliens were able to duck immediately behind cover in relative safety when the shooting started, so SilentDeath was forced to resort to a grenade to destroy their position. XCOM 2. Aliens 0.

This wasn't part of the plan.

Perhaps feeling a little overconfident after that first encounter, rookie "Bookah" Nerk extended a little too far by moving to the window of the target's office building, triggering a second pod consisting of an enemy stun trooper and a scary-looking mech. Though the rest of the team tried to provide covering fire and the team's other recruit "Naithin" Nihilin succeeded in landing a heavy shot on the mech, the choice to send in the team without a unit carrying a medkit was beginning to look like a serious mistake when Bookahnerk took a stun lance to the gut. Thankfully the damage wasn't critical, leaving the team's Grenadier Ramblin' Red to take out the trooper and the rest of the team to set up the defensive positions while giving the previously unspied Autoturret on the roof a wide berth. 

After the mech exploded in a crossfire from Bookah's rifle and Endalia's pistol, and the turret came face-to-face with SilentDeath's shotgun, the rest of the team looked out for any incoming Advent while Naithin entered the building and introduced the target to the butt of his rifle. XCOM 5. Aliens 0.5. Enemy reinforcements were slow to arrive, however, so when they finally landed they were met with a veritable hailstorm of munitions. The poor guys never had a chance. War is hell for alien-human hybrid creatures too, I suppose. The team extracted, Naithin lugging the VIP all the way, leaving Chicago behind them they took to the skies once again, leaving only six alien corpses and two piles of mechanical rubble in their wake as proof that they'd ever been there at all.

Ten days medical leave for a near-electrocution seems pretty reasonable, honestly.

Back at the Avenger, while engineers began excavating another room and SilentDeath rushed the newly appointed Specialist Bookahnerk to the sickbay with a grievous wound that is likely to put them out of action for ten days or so, the rest of the team were busy training their newly acquired skills: Naithin joined the Ranger corps, Ramblin' Red learned Supression, and Endalia, encouraged by that headshot on the mech earlier, became even more deadly with pistols. I spent our hard-earned supplies from the mission on a few Guerilla Training School projects, and then immediately regretted it when our scientists finished their current research project and demanded a bit pile of cash in order to equip our soldiers with their newly-developed Magnetic Weapons, so I set the Avenger to collecting up a few supplies from various sources around our communications network, but only managed to scrounge up enough to equip the squad with Magnetic Rifles before the alarm was sounded for the team to scramble to their next mission.

Humanity's last hope? Or an Auton all along?

That's my cue to sign off, so I'll leave the Avenger to the command of Naithin and will look forward to seeing how those new guns do in his capable hands. The save file is here. Good luck, Commander.