A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “XCOM Enemy Unknown

My Let’s Plays

I’ve really been enjoying my Let’s Play videos. It’s a fundamental nature of who I am though. I love to share my experiences, either by showing people what I’m doing or by relating the story of what happened.

With my Let’s Plays, I get to let the game speak for itself. You get to experience things with me as I’m experiencing them (more or less). My reactions are absolutely genuine.

Thus far I’ve done several Let’s Play series. Let’s have a look:

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Bounty Hunter Story-Only: This 84-part series is my entire experience playing as the Chiss Bounty Hunter Saya’fida in Star Wars: The Old Republic. From beginning to end, every Bounty Hunter specific story mission and all the companion conversations. I made a real bond with this character and the experience of making these videos is something I really enjoyed. Sometimes I like to sit and play through a few videos now and then. The memories in video form are something that I treasure.

Star Wars: Republic Commando: This 38-part series is an entire run through of Republic Commando, one of my most favorite squad-based first person shooters. The story is wonderful, the combat straight-forward, and the characters are my brothers in arms. I even got to express my gratitude to Raphael Sbarge at PAX East 2013 for his portrayal of “Scorch” in the game and got his signature.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition: A 25-part series of the classic introduction to the Monkey Island series by beloved LucasArts, I didn’t provide much commentary because I genuinely believe that the game speaks for itself. A real favorite of mine.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge: A 23-part series of the sequel to The Secret of Monkey Island, I had a bit more fun with this one as I couldn’t entirely remember it like I did the previous installment. Also, I used a walkthrough. I’m not sorry.

Currently I’m doing a Let’s Play of XCOM Enemy Unknown, the 2012 update to the 1994 classic that helped define my gaming experience growing up. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself and to date I’ve uploaded 39 episodes. They’re not in playlist form yet, but as soon as I’m done with this playthrough, I’ll be making a playlist and sharing. For fun, here’s the traumatic Episode One.

I’m still contemplating what to do a Let’s Play of when I’m done with XCOM. I have a couple of horrible ideas (I don’t think anyone wants to sit through a Let’s Play of Civilization IV or Sins of a Solar Empire) and a couple of ideas that might work out (Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, another story-only of Star Wars: The Old Republic).

I truly enjoy doing Let’s Plays and I wish I could make that a full time job or something. Alas, I don’t think I’m interesting enough to swing a Rooster Teeth style experience. If you have any recommendations for a Let’s Play that you think I might enjoy or something, leave a comment and I’ll consider it!

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.” – Spider Robinson


Whacking Things With A Stick – Satisfaction In Gameplay

There are days where I just want to hit stuff with a stick. Seeing as that’s not entirely socially acceptable, I poke through my catalog of games to find the experience that fulfills that desire best. Sometimes I come up with a winner, sometimes I don’t. Here’s a short list of games that I find give me that great “hitting someone” satisfaction in order of most to least satisfaction.

Mass Effect 3 multiplayer – Seeing as I’ve finished the single player game, the multiplayer component provides replayability and a pile of stuff that I still need to improve upon. Oh, and my favorite weapon, the M-37 Falcon, is a micro-grenade launcher. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Lord of the Rings Online – My captain has a variety of abilities that just FEEL good. He screams and does damage, he swings his halberd and you hear the slicing, cracking, crunching of contact. Yeah, it gets tedious, but by then, my thirst for whacking things with a stick has been sated for at least a couple of hours.

Diablo III – On my Wizard, it’s just satisfying to voip people. Yes, that’s the sound things make when you just erase them from existence. That said, it’s more satisfying to do this during the earlier difficulties as Inferno has a habit of pissing me off repeatedly in a 30-minute period.

Awesomenauts – It’s starting to get up there, but there’s something eminently satisfying about playing Leon and popping out of stealth to land a killing blow on some unsuspecting ‘naut. I mostly enjoy playing Raelynn though. Sniping has never been this fun for me. It’s a bit of work and sometimes I cry out in frustration.

XCOM Enemy Unknown – The satisfaction of crushing an alien squad is quite palpable. Delicious even. That said, XCOM games are pretty cerebral and I always feel a little removed from the “satisfaction zone”, so these games (new and old) are fun, but less viscerally satisfying. Strategy games on the whole share that same removal sense, so that’s nothing new.

Star Trek Online – I don’t know what’s wrong with me these days, but I just have no drive to play this right now. I don’t know if it’s the high end grinding that’s in the game or anything, but I just haven’t been in the mood to command the Iowa lately. Thus, the satisfaction of playing has dropped. There is something to be said for lots of torpedoes, but that’s a bit of a gimmicky approach and isn’t practical in the long run (says the guy who has a character with a Caitian carrier that has nothing but torpedoes up front and turrets in the back; verdict: hilariously fun, but gimmicky as all hell).

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Right now it’s not super satisfying to play, but I’m building up a good craving and waiting until it turns into an out-and-out need to play the game. I’m thinking I’ll play a Knight soon because I love hitting things with Lightsabers, but also because the day I got the game I made a Knight and turned to my Mom and went, “Mom, I’m a Jedi Knight!” So, yeah. It’s not satisfying NOW, but it will be.

This list is forever in flux and I’ve left a few games off to help keep it short. Games will go up and down the list as my whims dictate. This is just a snapshot of my current thoughts.

Right now though, it’s the deciding which stick to whack on what target that’s the tough part.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Enough is as good as a feast.” – Joshua Sylvester

A Seeming Lull in Game Development

Is it just me or does it seem like we don’t have much to look forward to in the near future regarding AAA game titles?

It’s certainly understandable… this year saw the wrapping up of the  Mass Effect trilogy AND Assassin’s Creed “trilogy” with their penultimate installments. Further, Star Wars: The Old Republic has just finished its first year (bumps and all), XCOM Enemy Unknown finally launched and became PC Game of the Year, and the next “super game” isn’t going to drop until 2014 at the earliest (Star Citizen).

I know we’re to look out for more in the Mass Effect franchise (a fourth installment has been announced) and I’m thinking it’s a safe bet that Assassin’s Creed isn’t entirely done yet. For me though, the near future is kind of empty on the game release front.

I’m looking forward to more SWTOR updates and I’ve already pre-ordered the expansion that’s set to drop in Spring 2013 dealing with the Hutt Cartel and adding 5 more levels to the cap and more storyline for every class. Star Trek Online has a story heavy Season 8 coming up with apparently 9 new ships ready to go by February (some are fleet variants though, so that number is probably 5 actual NEW ships).

I haven’t heard anything about the next DLC for Mass Effect 3 or XCOM Enemy Unknown, but I know they’re on the way. Further, I haven’t heard much about the game Neverwinter, I just know I’ve got beta access eventually thanks to my lifetime STO account.

It feels… quiet on the gaming front. Too quiet. I suppose every company is taking a bit of a break after they finally dropped their big titles and everything’s running kind of smoothly. Maybe.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “The future will soon be a thing of the past.” – George Carlin

Gaming Cravings

I’ve had this hankering to play certain games but I hold off for some reason or other.

I want to play XCOM again, but I’m waiting for the new DLC which will only be playable through a new game (feels a little short sighted, but okay). So I’m holding off on starting a new game until Slingshot comes out, but they haven’t announced a release date and it’s been a month since they announced the DLC at all. No details or communication from the studio does not make me a happy camper and makes me think they aren’t paying attention to the fans. I don’t like thinking that way.

Also, whenever I sit down to play Star Wars: The Old Republic, I feel compelled to play my Bounty Hunter, Saya’fida. She’s the one I’m recording the story missions with for my Let’s Play series on YouTube. Lately I’ve only wanted to play her and when I do, I have to make sure things are set up so that I can record just in case. I have things set up in my room so I can do it in a quiet environment, but sometimes I just don’t feel like playing in my room. It’s a gamble, recording in the living room, but it’s brighter, I can keep an eye on the dogs, and it’s more comfortable. Sometimes I just stare at the SWTOR icon longingly, wanting to play, but holding off because I feel compelled to record. It’s not a bad thing though as it motivates me to push through the game faster than I usually would. I’m LOVING the Bounty Hunter storyline and the videos I’m posting are more for me than anything else because I’m really enjoying watching my own Let’s Play videos.

I caved to a craving the other day though. I started a game from scratch in Mass Effect 3. I typically don’t like that as the “default” story makes some decisions I’m not okay with… typically optional stuff. In this, they let the crew of the Normandy die, the Citadel Council died, I never did any of the DLCs like Lair of the Shadow Broker or Arrival, and so on. There’s a lot of people that just aren’t there that I’m used to seeing and it was a little difficult to push on. I’m doing this playthrough just for fun though. I wanted to play some missions and shoot some bad guys and it’s rather difficult to do so by yourself in multiplayer (I can, but it takes as much luck as skill and so forth).

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the new Omega DLC coming out for ME3 tomorrow. I really do like Aria T’Loak.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.” – Ambrose Bierce

Looking Forward-ish

In recent months I’ve typically had a game release to look forward to. A year ago I was looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3, and XCOM Enemy Unknown. Now, all those games have been released and I’m looking around and wondering what to look forward to next.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 13th), Star Trek Online’s Season 7 comes out with a new sector block, a new mechanic (the reputation system), and a new holding for fleets.

In a couple of days (Thursday, November 15th), Star Wars: The Old Republic goes Free-to-Play. Included in this transition is the release of the Cartel Store and I’m going to get a pretty big pile of Cartel Coins.

On November 27th, there’s a new single-player DLC for Mass Effect 3 that handles the Cerberus takeover of Omega from Aria T’Loak. I’m guessing I’m going to help her get it back… which I have absolutely no problems with.

In the near future, XCOM is going to get a DLC called Slingshot which includes a short series of scripted missions and allows for earlier gain of the Blaster Launcher (an upgrade to the Heavy’s rocket launcher). They’ve also announced a second DLC along the same lines but no details have come forth.

Also, there’s the incredible Star Citizen game by legendary Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts that I’m looking forward to see through its development cycle. I would’ve contributed to its fundraising if I could have. Honestly, I would’ve thrown $10,000 at it if I had that kind of disposable funds. I’m probably going to have to get a new computer for this one, so I’m happy to wait for it.

So, there ARE things to look forward to on the gaming front, but nothing very long term. I’m pretty happy with the games I have now. I’m logging into STO pretty regularly for Duty Officer stuff, I play Mass Effect 3 to get some headway on the challenges (I finished Assault Rifle Mastery last night and I’m pretty thrilled with that), I’m doing a Story-Only Let’s Play video series on SWTOR as a Bounty Hunter, and I’m holding off on starting a new XCOM game until Slingshot comes out.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” – Act IV, scene 1, line 123 of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

Gaming Catchup

With Hurricane Sandy in the neighborhood, I thought I’d just talk about some of the things I’ve been doing in the games on my desktop. It’s an elite crowd: Lord of the Rings Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Trek Online, Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3, and XCOM Enemy Unknown. There’s Civilization IV, Champions Online, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but I haven’t touched those in a while.

The other day I beat XCOM Enemy Unknown and since then I’ve been yearning to play more. I haven’t because I’m waiting for the new downloadable content that is supposed to be coming sometime soon. I’m slightly aggravated because they haven’t said specifically WHEN they’re releasing it but also because you can’t take advantage of the new DLC without starting a new game. Kind of sucks, right? Oh well. It’s just, I know what mistakes I made during the game and I’d like to remedy that.

I haven’t really touched Diablo 3 since 1.05 dropped. I have updated it, but I’ve been called by other games more.

I also haven’t really touched Lord of the Rings Online since XCOM came out. That one’s obvious though.

Last night I participated in the weekend event for Mass Effect 3. They’ve shifted from the big community wide events to more individual-scale events. This past weekend’s event rewarded me with a chance of getting a different N7 weapon in all future commendation packs. I didn’t feel this was a bad thing and it was easy enough to achieve, so no problem there. I spent several maps gleefully shooting things with my N7 Valiant sniper rifle and, I’d like to think, a little better with it. I’m still a pretty horrid shot, but I’m getting pretty good at killing enemies with shots to the lower extremities.  With the introduction of the challenge system, I’m interested in playing more.

Star Trek Online has been my go-to game of recent months. With the new Season 7 just around the corner, I’m excited. The new reputation system will remove the silly random loot drop system for the end-game equipment. Also, there will be an embassy holding added to the holdings system for our fleet. Speaking of our holdings: I’m about ready to say “screw it” regarding the special projects. They cost 200k dilithium and they don’t contributed enough now. I’m tired of grinding day after day to make nearly no progress on our starbase, so I’m thinking I’ll start pushing for people to contribute to the standard projects and to hell with the fish tank.

I’ve been playing a consular in Star Wars: The Old Republic lately and I really enjoy it. I’m getting ready to do a story-only let’s play video series of one of the classes. Someone requested that I play the bounty hunter and, as it’s the only request thus far, I’m bouncing around ideas of what to do. I already know I’m going Mercenary for my advanced class, but do I play a female? Do I play a Chiss or a cyborg? Do I go light side? Dark side? Something in between? Yesterday I was messing around and I made a female Chiss bounty hunter and I think I might do that.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately in my games. I’m looking forward to Season 7 for STO, 1.5 for SWTOR, and the Slingshot DLC for XCOM. Also, they’re currently developing new DLC for Mass Effect 3 that’s scheduled to come out in late November (27th I think) and I’m always interested in that.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Multitasking? I can’t do two things at once. I can’t even do one thing at once.” – Helena Bonham Carter

Beating Back Alien Invaders – XCOM Enemy Unknown Impression

This game is brilliant. If you read nothing else of what’s written here today, just know that XCOM Enemy Unknown is an amazing game and I think it’s brilliant. Allow me to expand upon that though…

My first game is still a work in progress. I’m in October 2015 and I’ve just recently taken down an alien battleship. My best soldiers minus one are on the hot team (what I call the guys who are ready to go). That one other soldier? Oh, he’s in Psi Training. Who is he? He’s the guy who survived the tutorial, Colonel Emilio “Road Block” Garcia, my main Heavy. His suppression skill gets plenty of use and his rocket launcher has come in handy more often that I’d like to admit. It was a tough decision to leave him behind to determine his psionic capabilities, but I’d already tested a few other soldiers and the other Heavy, Major Klaus “Kong” Meyer, needed to stretch his psionic capabilities a bit.

Let me give you a breakdown of my hot team (I’d give you a screenshot of them, but they’re a little too busy currently for a group photo):

Heavy Col. Emilio “Road Block” Garcia, 35 Missions, 55 Kills

Sniper Col. Esperanza “Lady Grey” Martinez, 34 Missions, 94 Kills

Assault Col. Maria “Wildchild” Smirnova, 34 Missions, 46 Kills

Support Col. Karen “Angel” Barnes, 32 Missions, 38 Kills

Assault Col. Fergus “Spitfire” Stewart, 25 Missions, 25 Kills

Support Col. Remy “Freud” Andre, 20 Missions, 34 Kills

I have other soldiers, but I just keep using this amazing team since they keep performing so well. During missions, I find myself actually talking to them. I left their default names and callsigns because I like for them to be their own people. These soldiers are my people and I will ensure they come out of every mission none the worse for wear. Unfortunately the alien invasion doesn’t allow for vacations, so I can only hope that when this is over, the team can stick together at least for a trip to Disney World or something.

As this is my first game, I was restricted in my base placement to either the United States or Europe. I picked the US (sorry, but I preferred the Air & Space bonus over the Expert Knowledge one, at least for my first play through). It took me until September to have complete coverage of satellites, but I managed it. Before that happened though, several nations had flirted with leaving the XCOM project, such as Argentina, the United States, and Egypt nearly did so until I assaulted an alien base in Siberia and reduced the world panic levels by two notches. Mind, Egypt did leave in some sort of parallel dimension because I reloaded and assaulted the base right then, praying it would keep them in… never have I been so glad to be proven right.

The game has gotten fairly difficult, even on the easiest setting. Elite Mutons and Sectopods are some of the most dangerous enemies I’ve faced to date and Thin Men have been reduced to some kind of vacation from the tougher creatures the aliens can field. I’ve encountered and slain two Ethereals thus far. I didn’t want to give them the chance to mind control any of my soldiers or make them panic, so I chose my soldiers over a new interrogation. I have no regrets.

The first Ethereal I encountered, I was terrified of pushing forward until something snapped inside me. At this point, I’d been keeping my soldiers outside of this “overseer” UFO, waiting to see the Sectopod that I knew was pounding around just out of sight in the woods while I knew there was at least three aliens remaining inside the ship and I was expecting all three of them to be Ethereals (based on my experiences with the original game). I finally moved my soldiers into the UFO through an opening on the right side of the door, slowly moving forward, Assaults leading, Supports backing them up, Sniper covering and keeping an eye out for the elusive Sectopod, and the Heavy minding the exit. Eventually Wildchild opened the central chamber door and saw two Elite Mutons and the dreaded Ethereal. The two guards scampered to the far side of the room and covered against the wall while the Ethereal just stood there, menacing. We quickly determined that this new alien had to die. Wildchild moved up, taking cover against a wall that blocked her view of the Mutons but not the mind bending Ethereal. She fired a rapid shot from her newly minted Alloy Cannon up the ramp, shredding away the Ethereal’s abundant health. I followed up with Spitfire nailing the slender creature with a Flush, finishing it off. That left the two Elite Mutons. Freud moved up to the side of the doorway into the inner chamber, but he couldn’t see the Mutons. Remembering where they were, he tossed an alien grenade, nailing both of them and blowing out the wall they were hunched against. Angel was a very short distance away from the blast, so she lobbed her alien grenade onto the armored aliens, further injuring them. Road Block rolled up then and sprayed them with suppression fire, leaving them with very little health and a significant penalty. If one of them moved, it was probably dead, and thus, they were stuck with a conundrum. Neither of them moved and Road Block sprayed another blast of suppression fire over them, finishing them off.

Sitting back, taking a deep breath, I sent my brave soldiers looking for that errant Sectopod.

Now, aside from the experience, there’s this whole thing about mechanics I like to talk about from time to time. The game runs pretty smoothly since the patch they released right after the game dropped. I’m experiencing a couple of issues though:

1) When a Berserker is shot, it runs a few tiles toward whoever shot it. When this happens, the game seems to chop a bit. It’s very noticeable.

2) When attempting to move soldiers inside an Abductor UFO (I think that’s what it’s called), I was having serious difficulties selecting the right place to move my soldiers. It would keep moving the target to the other side of a wall or a level down. That was really frustrating, but I managed to find some work-arounds (the genius was in the rotating camera).

3) Another navigating the UFO issue is the randomly appearing roof. I understand that I can move my soldiers onto the top of the UFO, but it’s really annoying to have it show up when all my soldiers are INSIDE the UFO. It forces me to drop the camera down a step and then makes it kind of annoying to move them around. It doesn’t seem to happen so much in the Supply Ship and I don’t think the Battleship has much of a roof (seeing as we landed IN the thing I think).

Anyway, that’s it for issues. The game as a whole is an incredible masterpiece that has recreated the feelings I gained from the original. I am proud of my soldiers now, just like I was then. I am scared for their safety now, just like I was then. I am struggling to keep ahead of the alien menace now, just like I was then. All while it looks fantastic and plays smoothly. I’m enjoying myself, even though my adrenaline is surging and I’m nervous most of the time. I think this has entered into my “must keep available to play at all times” category like the original game.

Thanks Firaxis. You made something incredible. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. Thanks to Lead Designer Jake Solomon, I’m forever thinking “That’s XCOM, baby!” whenever my sniper misses an 85% shot.