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XCOM Enemy Within is upon us! I can't wait for my local deliveryperson to bring my copy. As mentioned in the WAYPRN thread I'll send Gamecritics staff and volunteering users into the fray and intend to update here how that goes. Since I'm planning on classic ironman and enemy within has allegedly plenty of new toys and enemies that definitely screw over existing strategies, that can result in a glorious disaster.
GC saves the world roster and intended role:
Chi Kong Lui - MEC
Brad Gallaway - Sniper
Mike Bracken - Assault
Daniel Weissenberger - Support
Tera Kirk - Sniper
Richard Naik - Heavy
Sparky Clarkson - Heavy
Brandon Bales - Support
Kristin Taylor - Assault
Tim 'Too Human' Spaeth - Genetically modified
Zanbatou - ?
Pedro 'Chopper' McManus - ?
Further volunteers are very welcome, the world needs YOU soldier!
I just finished my first game of Enemy Within. And by finished, I mean I completely lost the game after the second month. I killed two aliens for every soldier I lost (48 to 24), but apparently that's nowhere near good enough to save the world.
So my first attempt ends because of a misplaced rightclick :-/ somehow XCOM misinterpreted me accidentally clicking right with me wanting to do no abduction mission at all, which resulted in an entire continent to go to panic plus seriously raised levels across the board two days before a council report :-/
That said, Pedro McManus actually survived until the end of it, with being the lone survivor in a couple of occasions. Everybody else died.
Actually not true, Richard Naik was also there at the end, I overlooked him since he was one of the 'volunteers' for genetic modification...
Two missions went really bad in rapid succession. It looked pretty good at the beginning of Operation Lone Vanguard.
With new toys like MEC suits I thought I should have a fighting chance. I was wrong. One lone Thin Man on a rooftop did most of the work. I just couldn't hiit him, he killed Zanbatou with one shot and brought Chi to the brink of destruction.
The following Operation Glass Hydra with my B-Team went even worse. A council mission I don't screenshot in order to not spoil anything wiped out my squad consisting of Tera Kirk, Brandon Bales, Kristin Taylor and a fresh recruit. All fell to thin men.
In the following mission Daniel Weissenberger was shot by a thin man, with Pedro being the last man standing. He tracked down and killed the last alien and it looked pretty grim just before the end of the month, when the mis-click happened and the entirety of South America panicked, along with France and I only had one satellite ready to deploy.
Hence I started anew, this time with two second wave options:
Aiming Angles: Units receive aim bonus the closer to flanking an enemy they are, and
Training Roulette: Each soldier's training tree will be mostly randomly generated. Does not apply to MEC Troopers.
My new game is now roughly at the same time as the first attempt. Pedro is still most times in the infirmary (hehe), but unlike the first game I'm not rushing for MEC and only grab Meld if it's in opportune range. I'm back to the same council mission that resulted in a squad wipe last time, thanks to extremely well shooting thin men. Could it be that thin men in Enemy Within are better at shooting than in the original?
In any case, since Pedro is in the infirmary again, Zanbatou will lead the charge, supported by Dan Weissenberger, Kristin Taylor and Richard Naik.
Training Roulette is actually quite fun, even though it makes the game less predictable, it also delivers more unique characters. Pedro for example has now next to his usual rockets (regular and shredder) also the ability flush, to shoot people out of cover. I find this ability much more useful on a heavy than on an assault. The sniper Zanbatou on the other hand has squadsight and HEAT ammo, which makes him a killer versus robotic enemies. I haven't given 'Chopper' his appropriate nickname yet, since the automatically assigned one is 'Papa Bear', which I find quite funny, don't know why
General thoughts so far:
- the first months are quite a clusterfuck, I get the feeling money is more scarce than in vanilla but there are more options to go for early on, other than "rush for satellites" (which is still important)
- more people in the infirmary, at all times - it's not just my elaborate playstyle, but thanks to e.g. certain new enemy types and abilities it's even rarer than in the old days to come back with a unscathed squad; this in addition to forced timeouts due to stuff like genemods and MEC-anization of troops makes it impracticable to stick to a core squad as it was the norm (at least for me) in classic
- aliens react different: it seems there have been some changes to the enemy AI, it's now more likely that a random patrol runs into your squad rather than 'triggering' them piece by piece; also, I get the feeling that some fights tend to escalate with more aliens piling in, not quite sure yet if that's due to different enemy placement or more of the aforementioned patrols rather than static enemy packs
- MEC are not overpowered, as I found out the hard way yesterday, their inability to use cover is a severe limitation and I'm not sure yet if it wouldn't be just better to invest all meld in genemods instead
- what's happening the first months seems more random; in vanilla there was a certain rhytm to how the first couple of months play out, more random this time
Mission report: Operation Red Savior
Location: Durban, South Africa
Strike Team Alpha consisting of Lt. Daniel Weissenberger, Sgt. Pedro McManus, Cpl. Simon Miller and Cpl. Kristin Taylor went down in Skyranger 01 where local authorities reported the most intense fighting. Immediately Alpha encountered a new alien type, codenamed Chrysalid, which ignored the squad in favor of killing a number of civilians. Sgt. McManus and Cpl. Taylor managed to take down two Crysalids while Lt. Weissenberger and Cpl. Miller evacuated civilians. When another new alien species arrived the scene, codename 'Floater'*, a frantic firefight ensued in which Lt. Weissenberger and Cpl. Taylor got injured, three Floaters neutralized and three innocent bystanders killed**. Realizing the Floaters were utilizing higher ground to their advantage, Lt. Weissenberger instructed his squad to take positions on the rooftops of nearby buildings. Further exchange of hostilities resulted in two more dead Floaters, one more dead civilian and substantial collateral damage. Moving north from their initial position the squad encountered a final group of Floaters assaulting civilians. Sgt. McManus and Cpl. Miller eliminated two more Floaters, saving a number of civilians in the process. Lt. Weissenberger decided to scout ahead when a lone Floater shot past, evading shots by Lt. Weissenberger and Cpl. Taylor, aimed directly at Sgt. McManus, killing Sgt. McManus with a light plasma rifle. Why the alien would ignore two soldiers to go directly after a third is still a puzzle for our analysists. Cpl. Miller charged the Floater and killed the alien with extreme prejudice. The attending medic Lt. Weissenberger was not able to save Sgt. McManus***.
* I will not comment on the naming conventions of the rank & file, however, I want to stress that the alien threat is too serious to crack jokes with the designations.
** We should instruct governments to start educating the general populations in how to react in case of an alien terror attack. I am aware that the Durban incident the first of it's kind was, but that does not explain why civilians would actively run from XCOM personnel and towards alien attackers just to get slain in plasma fire.
*** I understand that the most recent XCOM specific military decoration was named after Sgt. McManus.
I lost Australia. Richard Naik was killed by Thin Men in a council mission and in the last Exalt mission Brad Gallaway was taken down in the crossfire. Apart from that I'm loosing quite a lot of rookies. One or two casualties per mission are still quite common, due to the sheer number of enemies that sometimes turn up. The worst being the Exalt, which resort to Zerg-rushes and grenade-spam.
Originally Posted by Zanbatou
It's funny, because I had this idea in my mind left over from the last time I played that thin men were the easiest enemy in the game, free xp for new recruits. Now they're my most feared opponent.
Same here, in E:U the Thin Men were a joke and just cannon fodder. Now they suddenly wipe out entire squads. Seems like quite a buff to me. Also, it seems to me that my soldiers are more likely to just get killed outright, rather than critically wounded as it was usually the case in E:U. That makes the whole reviving-part of the medkit a bit pointless
I think the difficulty for the expansion went up quite a bit. Normally I'd breeze through the first months on classic, but currently I'm struggling the same way I'd struggle with Impossible in E:U. Don't even want to know how Impossible in E:W is...
I am aware that following the MEC program was seen as highest priority* after the Melbourne incident**, but there are growing concerns regarding the mental state of our 'volunteer'. Albeit saving Australia on the brink of loosing down under from the council, this incident showed that we were simply outgunned by the aliens. The subsequent search for volunteers might have not been performed with the adequate care, as shown by the surprising lack of psychological data on Cpl. Lui prior to the treatment. Analysts raised concerns regarding the mental health of our volunteer, considering how Cpl. Lui reacted with a flight reflex in two subsequent operations when facing the aliens called Mutons. It is ironic to see this hulking fusion of human and machine curling up like a ball as soon as one of those interstellar gorillas shakes their fist in rude fashion. I don't think I need to remind you how close we were to disaster in operation Lone Vengeance***. It is understandable when our troops don't feel as comfortable around our MEC as they should. This war is already stressful enough for them, without having to worry if our own MEC will turn against ourselves. I would therefore strongly advice looking for a new volunteer for the MEC program. I am aware that our soldiers are somewhat reluctant to volunteer for either the MEC or the Gene-program****, but the future of our planet depends on our commitment.
* which is a nice euphemism for being rushed
** the Melbourne incident was the first encounter of the alien robot dubbed Cyberdisc, with no less than four of them attacking at once.
*** OP Lone Vengeance saw Cpl. Lui flee from a single remaining muton, resulting in the rest of the squad facing a Mechtoid, a Cyberdisc and supporting drones without the firepower provided by the MECs raingun, resulting with half the squad landing in the infirmary.
**** with the notable exception of Tim 'Too Human' Spaeth, who has at this point gene mods in most of his body.
Somehow I got Australia from the brink, but India dropped out from the council instead.
Maj. Kristin 'Bullseye' Taylor (Assault)
Maj. Daniel 'Angel' Weissenberger (Support)
Maj. Roland 'Godfather' Zanbatou (Sniper)
Maj. Amelie 'Sunny' Drummond (Heavy)
Cpt. Tim 'Too Human' Spaeth (Heavy)
Cpt. Simon 'Duke' Miller (Assault)
Sgt. Chris 'Twitch' Bratts (Assault)
Sgt. Matt 'Voodoo' Lees (Support)
Cpl. Chi Kong Lui (MEC Trooper)
Cpl. Naomi Slaytanic (Heavy)
+8 squaddies (including Brandon Bales who still can't hit a barn from 2 meters distance)
Sgt. Pedro 'Chopper' McManus (Heavy)
Sq. Brad Gallaway (Sniper)
Sq. Richard Naik (Heavy)
Sq. Mike Bracken (Assault)
The unexpected demise of field operative Miller could be a sign that Exalt is getting aware of our operations. After the last field OP against Exalt in , Maj. Miller suffered sudden trauma on the way back onboard the Skyranger. The attending medic Col. Weissenberger couldn't stabilize Maj. Miller, who was DOA when arriving at Alpha. In light of this event field operatives need to proceed with more caution and I urged the commander to not repeatedly send the same agent to an Exalt cell. I am aware that it is not easy to find volunteers for this kind of work, but for safety reason we perhaps need to 'volunteer' more people for field OPs.
== Internal Memo == MEC program ==
It seems the measured worked, since the field performance of Lt. Lui improved considerably. Even though we now have a second volunteer and backup (Cpl. Bramwell), Lt. Lui can remain in active duty for the time being. We have a lot to learn and we have to do so quickly in regards to the MEC program. Trust from the troops has at least been reinstated for the time being.
== Internal Memo == MEC program ==
As successful the alien base raid was, Lt. Lui raised again concern for our analysts, after Lt. Lui's mental breakdown in the final stages of the raid. Luckily Sgt. Bramwell could bear the brunt of the alien counterattack, even though it brought him in the infirmary/workshop. I would suggest to take Sgt. Bramwell on field operations and send Lt. Lui only as a last resort until the psychiatrist gives the green light. The body might have healed, the mind is not always that fortunate.
== Internal Memo == Col. Tim "Too Human" Spaeth ==
From: Administrative office
To whom it may concern,
We have noticed that Col. Tim "Too Human" Spaeth is due to return to active service in 3 days time. This is to double check if there has not been a mix-up, since the most recent mission report from France indicates Col. Spaeth has been gravely wounded. According to the report he lost most of his left arm, one eye, half his lung and suffered fractures in his heart as a result of direct hits from plasma cannons mounted on a Mechtoid. I find it difficult to believe that someone could recover from such injuries that quickly.
== Internal Memo == Col. Tim Spaeth ==
To: Administrative office
All what you mentioned is true, including the fractures to his secondary heart, but he still had his primary heart functioning and as a matter of fact his arm had regrown by the time the squad boarded the Skyranger back from the crumbling hydroelectric dam. He already beat most of the staff in arm wrestling and bores the nurses with his lengthy talks about his favourite video games. They say the chitinous plating he wears he skinned of a Cryssalid which tried to bite him. Col. Spaeth bit back and the Crysalid exploded. Some also say his twin daugthers don't enjoy playing hide and seek with him anymore, since he can sense beings through walls. Some also say a Sectoid Commander tried to mind control him for 5 minutes and all that happened was that he got a migraine. We cannot wait for him to return to active duty, if you wish you can reduce the time to 2 days!
Nurse Walther Bremer
I just went throght the base defense! Holy crap, that was tense good thing is that even on ironman it's possible to replay this mission. Good thing for two reasons: first of all the mission was bugged the first time I started, there were simply no aliens coming and nothing happened. So I had to suicide all my people, after which the 'replay mission' option came. Looks like even in ironman there is the possibility to replay certain key missions, which include: base defense, alien base assault and the very first mission. Phew...
Second of all it selects quasi-randomly which troopers come along with you (high ranks first i guess), but that meant I didn't have my strongest units with me (the MEC troopers) at first and some of them were equipped with standard assault rifles since the plasma rifles etc. were with my current A-team... quite tense fending off the base assault like that. When I saw 4 cyberdiscs approaching I thought this was over... but Chris 'Twitch' Bratts killed half of them, Zanbatou the other.
Psi labs are open, hyperwave decoder is being built, just need some more research done for better armor (still run around with carapace armor!) and it shouldn't take too long until the showdown...
Consecutive operations without fatal incident: 2 (it looked so well until the base defense...)