Diecast #142: Firewatch, Deadpool, Mailbag

By Shamus
on Feb 22, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

127 comments

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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster, Mumbles.
Episode edited by Rachel.

Show notes:

00:01:31: Firewatch

Spoilers. Again. Sorry, it’s just impossible to say much about this game without spoiling the end.

00:23:35: Deadpool Movie

00:29:58: Distance


Link (YouTube)

00:35:21: MAILTIME!

The conversation began when my daughter Rachel (who edits this show) announced her wedding plans, which resulted in this Twitter exchange:

And here is the resulting question:

That tweet about Shamus nit-picking ME1 in a speech at Rachel’s wedding really got me thinking – could you start a wedding toast with “In Mass Effect 1…” and make it sound decent? Would Shamus or Rutskarn like to take a crack at it?

David

00:38:42: Do bad games make good games better?

Dear Diecast,

So I have actually kinda cathartically enjoyed a couple different critiques on Bethesda’s Fallout 4. Its a really fun problem to have, since the issues Bethesda has introduced seem to be based on huge misunderstanding of the franchise. But in a way it also does shine a light on the games that did understand its franchise right, and thats what I wanted to know about. Do franchises benefit from having a few bad apples, in order to make the other works feel more special. Is that why we cherish New Vegas as a return to form? Are there any other franchises that have benefitted from having bad works? I think Star Wars could be one.

Questionably,
James

00:49:02: Extemporaneous self-insert surprise question!

Dear Diecast,

Can you think of any games that broke from their old style and were just as good (or better for it) after being re-invented.

You have the best podcast ever,
Shamus

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!207There are 127 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The big question about deadpool is:
    What do the couples who have seen it together plan to do for the next 8th march?

  2. Nidokoenig says:

    The joking about Shamus dying in a National Park makes me wonder, how bad would bear dander affect him? They’re related to dogs, so it might be at the low end(relatively), but I remember him mentioning that horse dander is especially lethal, so iunno, maybe wild things are more of a problem. I think dumb and creepy things occasionally.

    As far as good reinventions, Mario, Zelda and Metroid did pretty well when they went 3D. I’ll also argue Sonic transitioned well enough, Adventure 1 and 2 were fair to good, it was Heroes onward when it went to shit.

    • Vermander says:

      Like Shamus, I have pretty severe animal allergies (dogs, cats, horses, etc.), though I’m more allergic to the animal’s saliva and the oils in their skin (or at least that’s my understanding). If I’m allergic to both dogs and horses, which have very little in common besides both being domesticated mammals, I don’t see why I wouldn’t be allergic to most large furry things.

      I’ve occasionally visited big cat rescue centers that take in tigers, lions, and bears that people foolishly tried to keep as pets. I remember experiencing some slight symptoms once when I got near a large grizzly bear (not close enough to touch or be in any danger fortunately), though admittedly it could have been any or all of the other animals there that were giving me problems.

    • SL128 says:

      Forests are open enough spaces that dander would have essentially no effect (unless your bear is living in the tower with you). Any pollen or mold allergies, however, would be awful.

  3. Borislav Mihaylov says:

    Deadpool’s eyes are CG addons. They did another shoot where Ryan did the same lines and they captured his expressions, then they used those as a base. I learned this from a podcast with the writers ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUVC2iCDpvI ). It’s pretty cool that they let them do their thing and didn’t try to censor them – in my opinion this is what made the movie feel so heartfelt.

  4. kunedog says:

    I don’t think a bad installment helps a game series, because we only seem to say that about series that recover. X-Com recovered, so of course the long string of bad sequels don’t hurt me as much anymore.

    Conversely, I don’t think a bad Half Life would improve my perception of the series as a whole.

    And series whose latest installment is a disappointment, like Duke Nukem and Saint’s Row and (IMO) Diablo and Mass Effect, don’t benefit at all from it.

    • Decius says:

      I’m happy that Interceptor and Enforcer and The Bureau were made, and the franchise is richer for them existing. Not having them would have been worse than having them done badly, and the option “Have them done well” was not on the table.

  5. MichaelGC says:

    games that broke from their old style and were just as good

    I’ve not played any of them myself but from the sounds of it Tom Braider would be a candidate.

  6. Da Mage says:

    One thing you didn’t mention is that a bad entry in a franchises can sink the series and even the company, preventing any more good games. Happens less now, but in the late 90’s, early 2000’s I can remember many game series that disappeared after just one bad game.

    Just look at the Heroes of Might and Magic series, 4 was a shambles and put the company under, even though 3 was their highest point.Hell, that series never recovered.

    EDIT:
    On XCOM 2 @ Shamus’ complaints. The aim problems have been mostly fixed, what you’ve seen is a fresh rookie standing opposite an alien behind full cover and the animations have it poking out (even though mechanically it is in cover). They have improved the point blank aiming, once you have a promotion or two on the soldier, those percentages get up into the 90% range (and after a few more any close shot will be really high regardless of cover). The only time I’ve had the ‘why is the aim so low’ is in the first few missions when you have nothing but untrained rookies.

    And if you miss the bullets to carry on and destroy other cover or set things alight. In the late game it is not uncommon to missing a target, blow up a car behind them and do damage to other enemies. There are also way more skills which are guaranteed damage, which allows you to get those final hits when needed, and lots of items and skills for controlling crowds. Stun the dangerous guy for 2 turns, while you handle the weaker guys for example.

    All the character classes are now more balanced, a sniper is no longer OP, you need a wide range of classes in order to have an effective team now.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Just look at the Heroes of Might and Magic series, 4 was a shambles and put the company under, even though 3 was their highest point.

      Actually 4 was in shambles because they were going under.

      5 was somewhat a return to form,at least after the expansion.It is the only good ubisoft heroes game,though not nearly as good as the previous ones.Not helped by the fact that 1c released their kings bounty at about the same time,which is clearly superior.

      • djw says:

        I actually liked Heroes 4. It wasn’t as good as Heroes 3, but so far that is true about Heroes 5 through 7 as well.

        Heroes 4 at least tried to do something new and interesting. If 3D0 hadn’t gone bankrupt they probably would have iterated the formula of H4 through a few sequels and built something just as good as H3.

        Heroes 5 was okay, and heroes 6 was dull. I am not going to purchase heroes 7. King’s Bounty really is better in every way.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          H4 is my favorite.But the fact is that the state it was released in,and the state it finally came to be are pretty weak.Not only was it awfully buggy,but ai remains poor and the game is way unbalanced.And if you put in the expansions for it,its clear to see that all of this was because they were running out of money.

    • Kylroy says:

      Ah yes, Heroes of Might and Advanced Earth Magic. I think my mom kept playing that one until compatibility issues made the decade-old game unable to function on her computer.

    • John says:

      Okay, I have to get this out of my brain and onto the internet or I’m never going to get anything done today.

      Given what Shamus said about XCOM 2, it sounds to me that the problem may not be with the gameplay but with the game’s art design and graphical choices. I don’t presume to speak for Shamus, but I think that fewer people would be upset with the gameplay abstractions if the graphical presentation resembled, say, a board game rather than than a realistic-ish 3D environment filled with realistic-ish creatures. When we see realistic-looking people in a game–or people who most of the time seem to move and act realistically–we expect them to be able to do all the things that an actual person could do, the classic example being “climb over a waist-high fence”. But turn-based games are necessarily un-realistic and their graphics need to reflect that. That’s something that at least some of the people at Firaxis seem to understand, based on what I’ve seen of the Ace Patrol series.

      • Christopher says:

        I was thinking about this, too. It reflects problems I’ve had with Dragon Age Origins where I have hit an enemy or leaned a tank cannon barrel on their face and fired, and the game still has to throw dice to see what hits(I have no problems with say, Fire Emblem or FFTA, which do look like board games to a certain extent). But Shamus has that problem, too. He’s talked about disliking that kinda stuff in the past. So when he didn’t bring up any comparison to games like that, I thought there was something different with XCOM.

      • Hermocrates says:

        As a side you, you also just pinpointed why Morrowind’s combat system is so awful.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Another way they could fix it – have a animations that match the hit-percentage, or outcome of the dice roll. Like if your soldier is at point-blank, but only has 60% chance to hit because they’re a rookie, have them shaking their gun around, like their nervous, or out of breath. If your dude had a 90% chance to hit, but missed, have them slip on a banana peel or something. (Maybe something less comical.) Then there would be less dissonance between what’s shown on screen, and what actually happened.

        • Decius says:

          That would be great- now figure out the logic for determining which animation set to use, based on whatever factors you want to consider.

          Then guess the cost of making all of those animation sets, and how that will impact the release date and box cost.

    • Merlin says:

      And on top of a bad entry being financial poison for the franchise, there’s also the possibility that it can retroactively taint the perspective on prior, well-received entries. Star Wars got a strong taste of this with the prequels; while the OT ultimately survive, their reputation suffered and it’s hard to divorce it from knowledge of the prequel. Indiana Jones got a bit of “it was always dumb” backlash when Crystal Skull came out, though that seems to have dissipated. (Outside of Temple of Doom, but consensus was already against ToD.) And I won’t go too in depth on it since I have before, but I found Bioshock: Infinite so terrible that I retracted all the benefit of the doubt I afforded the original and saw it forever diminished as a result. I won’t kid myself that it’s a popular opinion, but everybody’s got their own little bugbears like that.

    • ehlijen says:

      If we’re talking about the same XCOM2 screenshot, then I think you’re wrong. I’m pretty sure there is only one ‘visible enemy’ icon above the info box and it’s yellow, indicating no cover. I’m suspecting this is also at the higher difficulty levels? I could have sworn simply not being in cover should grant a better crit chance than 40%
      http://i.imgur.com/nMvhw5y.jpg

      That said, if this was a more realistic game, I’d expect an aim penalty if I tried to shove my rifle into parrying range of the enemy.
      (Aside: Starfleet Command 3 actually modeled range and accuracy interestingly: Both angular velocity and range contributed to to hit%. The result was that you wanted to be nice and close to hit hard, but the closer you were the higher angular speeds would be unless you were on a collision course; two ships rushing past each other at pointblank range meant tracking was nearly impossible for the gunners.)

      The shots destroying cover now and then are a far cry from the original game though (let alone XCOM:Apocalypse) where every bullet’s path was tracked to the end and friendly fire was a danger you had to keep in mind when deploying your troops or they’d shoot each other in the back.
      Throw in that the newer XCOMs are all about soldier abilities and power combos, and you get a very different experience. I like these new games very much, but they are not the same. None of the official XCOM games have been (even UFO:EU and XCOM:TFTD had quite different atmosphere thanks to music and map design), but these new ones are, I dare say, a different subgenre. It’s more Magic the Gathering than the original was Advanced Squad Leader.

      And lastly, I don’t think the classes are that balanced. Grenadiers seem quite OP/important this time around. AoE (which still autohits), shredding and destroying cover (in a game where you don’t have to horde weapon fragments) are three key elements the class offers in one package. I run 2 grens, 2 hacker/medics, a sniper (out of habit) and whoever else is healthy at the time.

      • Sheer_falacy says:

        That screenshot seems wrong to me, and I bet that whoever took it intentionally didn’t pull out the aim panel so we could see what went into that. Even a rookie has 90% or so chance to hit at that range with no cover in the way. Maybe the soldier is disoriented or something.

        My guess as to why Shamus thinks the game is so random is that he’s shooting at enemies in cover. You don’t have a 60% chance to hit unless the enemy is in cover or has defense. The solution is to not shoot enemies in cover – flank them or destroy the cover. Alternatively he means the 65% chance a rookie has to hit an alone in the open, in which case, yep, rookies suck. A rookie’s greatest value is the grenade they carry, so use it.

        Honestly most of the Xcom segment had me shouting at them but they never answer when I do that.

        • ehlijen says:

          That is possible. That is a sectoid, the alien type most likely to throw around psi-debuffs like disorient and stun.

          Still, the point somewhat stands regardless of the numbers. If that picture is how the game chooses to portray the situation (muzzle to eye with no apparent parry attempt), the hit chance should be 100%.
          That the game insists on binary hit or miss on one target is a change from the original where bullets could hit anything in the cone of fire, friend or foe, as is the lack of autofire on most weapons (ie the ability to trade accuracy and action speed for more damage in the right situation). You didn’t need to be a ranger with rapid fire, you just needed an assault rifle.

          The new XCOMs are not bad games. In fact, I think they’re pretty good. But they are different and not everyone is going to like this differences.

  7. Christopher says:

    I can think of a lot of examples for that last one. If a game series got sort of stale and then did something completely different, or if the early games just belonged to a niche I don’t like, then it’s easy to think later games are just as good or better. Like, I never was a big PC gamer. I tried playing Fallout 2. I couldn’t stand Fallout 2. I tried playing Fallout New Vegas instead and enjoyed that a thousand times more. Similarly I hated the corridors, colors and combat system of Dragon Age 1 and vastly preferred Dragon Age Inquisition. I think ME2 is much more fun than ME1. I have never played the old Heroes of Might and Magic games, but I loved the DS puzzle RPG-spinoff, Clash of Heroes. Mario has its traditional 2d platformers and its 3d platformers, and I love both of those. The old Tomb Raider games have control schemes I don’t comprehend and I vastly prefer the new games, both the gritty reboot and the co-op action/puzzle Lara Croft games. MGSV completely changed its structure from story-focused linear areas to open world hijinks and was a great experience in a different way. I would never try to play Street Fighter 1. I don’t care at all about Witcher 1 as an ugly PC RPG, but I’m really looking forward to playing open world prettyboy dad Witcher 3 on my PS4.

  8. Nidokoenig says:

    My system for save scumming in X-Com and TFtD was that I would save before a mission and reload in the event of a total party wipe. Saving during a mission is forbidden, if you have a medical emergency, fuck it, start the mission over when you get back. Simple, unambiguous rule. If you have to start a mission over a few times you probably need to restart the campaign, like all your grenadiers have single digit psi strength and you have a cruise ship full of psychic lizards to kill.

    I think part of the problem with the full-on boardgamey hit chances is that, from what I understand, you’re severely limited in the trump card from X-Com, high explosives, which was admittedly nerfed quite harshly in TFtD through enemy armour. You almost always have to take that dodgy shot instead of putting some boom in X-Ray’s general vicinity because you’re so constrained in supply, so taking a dodgy shot and missing is too high on the list of possibilities, or even at the top, you feel like you’re being pressed into the bad situation by the design rather than tactics. Hell, if you could shoot in X-Com, you could try running, you don’t necessarily have that in XCOM. If every problem has to be solved one way with few alternatives, it’s less satisfying to take a risky shot and win so it doesn’t emotionally compensate as well for all the misses.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its not the explosives that are the problem.Its the whole combination of small squads with one action per person.In original,you were much weaker when compared to the aliens than here,but you had the option to use just one person to scout,then have everyone else shoot 3 times(sometimes with multiple shots even)at the targets.A single miss was not a big deal.Especially since you didnt have to aim at the target specifically,so you could shoot through walls and stuff like that.Plus,if you missed,you could still get lucky and hit the enemy behind the intended one.But overall,it didnt feel like all or nothing as in the remakes,where a single miss can cost you your whole team.You could afford a miss or half a dozen of them.

      • ehlijen says:

        At least the EU remake didn’t feel like that, either, to me. Sure, misses hurt, but good cover deployment usually meant one miss (ie one more enemy alive) would rarely cost you the mission or team. Often not even a soldier, just a long hospital stay. Things got even easier with EW (ghost grenades are a great panic button).

        But yes, very different games, very different experiences.

      • Ysen says:

        This makes me wonder if some of the problems people have with RNG could be reduced by having automatic weapons make several attack rolls when you make a single normal attack. On the other hand, maybe that would just make people rage even harder when every shot missed.

        • Nidokoenig says:

          This is about what happened in the original, and the burst fire mode of the laser pistols was how I’d get anything done that I couldn’t use boom for until I had some serious tech. Though in that, you could have fourteen soldiers, three rounds of burst fire of three shots each for a maximum of eighty four shots. If there were few enough enemies visible to not use boom(which usually meant ‘none’ for me), you could probably deal with the target, or get people into position to suppress it with reaction fire. The original also produced a shot and followed its trajectory, which makes it easier to swallow because the game shows its working.

          There’s a huge difference between probably losing two to four soldiers of fourteen and two to four soldiers of six, too. With random chance being such a factor, you need to be able to draw from a bigger stack of chips to feel like you’re not being fleeced by the house.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          That would mitigate the problems,not solve them.The problem isnt with the rng,but in how binary it is.You either hit an alien for half its health,or not at all.Rarely does your miss do anything more than just disappear.But if your shots were to be traced,your misses could hit another enemy.Or your guy standing in the way.And your hits would be grazes or crits not based on an arbitrary roll of the dice,but on the actual trajectory of your bullet.You aimed at its head,but instead the bullet veered slightly and you hit its arm.Or the other way around.

          And before anyone says how having every shot be in free aim would slow the game down too much,let me counter that with a simple solution:Have the automatic shot be the default,and youd aim them manually only in the situations when its really important to line it differently.So you would not slow the game down,only give the player more options in tough situations,which is definitely not a bad thing.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      My rule for save scumming (unless I’m playing iron man or trying to play a no casualties run) is that I’ll accept 2 casualties before reloading (on the grounds that losing 50-75% of the team is usually darn close to unrecoverable for me -certainly not worth the time of trying to pull it off). Also, I’ll reload after really bizarre turns -recent example: set an ambush and had all 6 shots miss even though there was nothing less than 50% hit chance. I realize that can happen, but it’s just so unsatisfying to set up the ambush and have the RNG steal my thunder.

  9. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    Games that were better when reinvented.

    Morrowind was a step up from its previous installments if Rutskarn is anything to go by.

    Grand Theft Auto which started as a top down. (Edit: Ah, Chris got this one)

    Probably many fans would say that Ocarina of Time was an improvement (though I’m still most fond of Link to the Past and Link Between Worlds).

    I personally like the 3D semi-isometric Mario’s better than classic 2D (though I personally didn’t enjoy Mario 64 as much as prior marios).

    Though I couldn’t personally point to the turning point, I’ll bet most fans think Metal Gear improved at some point between its original 8 bit installments and the present.

    I like Pac Man Championship Edition DX better than original Pac Man. Its more forgiving so a plebe like myself can play longer but it rewards skilled play so that those who want a hardcore PacMan experience can actually pursue a higher skill ceiling than the original allowed. You have bullet time and bombs to give you more chances to avoid bombs, the game slows back down a bit if you die so less skilled player keep playing while more skilled players play faster and faster for higher scores. And I like the improved aesthetics, pleasing reward visuals and sounds. I feel like if this had been possible back in Pac Man’s heyday, they would have designed something similar for arcades (maybe not the bullet time and extra lives but definitely the visuals, sound and other gameplay like chaining ghosts for mega-chomping)

    Ultima if Spoony’s reviews are anything to go by. At least for the first seven or so installments it looked like most of them were improvements over their predecessors, perhaps with special mention to 4 which introduced a complex morality system followed by 5 which brutally subverted the virtues.

    Probably any series that has been around since the 8 bit era and is still viable had an improvement at some point.

    • Syal says:

      Tetris Attack was a huge break from both Tetris and Super Mario, and it was awesome.

      OgreBattle and Tactics Ogre.

      Does Total War count? They moved from Risk-style movement to Civilization-style movement in Rome 1. Likewise, Final Fantasy and other RPGs may or may not count depending on how big a change constitutes a “break”.

      …PokemonSnapwasthebestPokemon.

      • meyerkev248 says:

        If we’re going to do Total War, we also need to talk about the shift between Medieval 2 and Empire.

        Big cities with one build queue getting replaced with lots of small towns in a province and that new tax system.

      • Felblood says:

        Two words: Gambit System.

        I loved the idea of being able to automate trash mobs, but I know people who quit the series over it.

    • Dt3r says:

      Metroid Prime is another good example of a successful 2D-3D jump. It’s still considered one of the best Gamecube games.

      • Came here looking for this exact comment and was not disappointed.

        Metroid Prime is an excellent example of a company taking the core tenets of a franchise and expertly adapting them to a radically different style of interaction while introducing their own unique and now iconic elements to the new design. It’s a great pity that more developer apparently haven’t learned much from that trilogy…

    • Metal Gear Solid radically changed how the series played, and since that’s the name the franchise is now best known by and the one game the rest of the series most directly links back to it’s safe to say that was the major reconstructive turning point.

      Similarly, Castlevania was drastically changed after the extensive alterations made to Symphony of the Night. Most future installments, be they 2D or 3D, would follow the game’s formula until the series was rebooted with Lords of Shadow. Not only did it heavily impact it’s own franchise, it was the game that put the “-vania” in “Metroidvania.”

  10. Muspel says:

    Congratulations to Rachel!

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Humans are really…silly.To put it mildly.If your heart or kidneys fail,you ask for the doctors to treat you,to put you on a machine that will do the thing,you dont ask your loved ones to be your pacemaker,or to take care of you when your organs fail only some of the time.But when your brain fails,then its ok for untrained people to care for you,why should you ask for professional help and constant observation?It boggles the mind.

    • ? says:

      People want to believe that their mind and conciousness is somehow above that silly lump of flesh between their ears. I know diabetics who refuse to believe that their blood sugar can seriously affect their emotions, because mind over matter. Vast majority of people is certain that depression can be cured by not being sad. Oh, and “I’m too smart to be manipulated by marketing and media”!

  12. Jnosh says:

    So Mumbles’ reaction to Firewatch made me think of this.

  13. John says:

    Speaking as a some-time Star Trek fan, I can confidently assert that the bad movies did not help the franchise. What they did do, at least in my case, was instill a tremendous sense of relief whenever one of the good ones rolled around. Too many bad movies, however, can kill a franchise. I more or less gave up on Star Trek after Nemesis. I watched the first reboot film much against my better judgement and hated it. I still like TOS and TNG and love, love, love DS9, but I’m not going anywhere near new Star Trek unless critical opinion is overwhelmingly positive.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “In mass effect 1,you can have a lesbian relationship with a blue skinned alien.So imagine how relieved I was to learn that my daughter picked a partner who is not just of the opposite sex,but was human as well.”

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The less we beat it into the ground…

    Umm,didnt we pretty thoroughly beat the whole mass effect series into the ground years before you started your magnum opus?And yet that opus is still the place that consistently gets the most comments on your blog.

    What Im saying is that you shouldnt be afraid of saying too much about a game now,because if a game deserves to have lots said about it,youll never run out of material.

  16. wswordsmen says:

    I want to know given the intro to XCom 2 (when playing the tutorial) if Rutskarn regrets not doing his Iron Man XCom write up, because the joke of an incompetent commander being a total badass who the resistance risks everything to rescue 20 years later.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Jiggle physics

    I dont know if its a good thing that there are people who are willing to add jiggle physics to males,or a bad thing that only modders would do that,while the developers care only dare to touch female jiggling.

    • Neil D says:

      Those two things are not mutually exclusive. It’s both.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      It’s complicated, mostly by the fact that breasts can visibly jiggle at relatively low resolutions, but also by the fact that the flaccid penis or dangling balls aren’t exactly a headline act for most people, bone and muscle structure are generally far more important than fat and meat for people who like men, so it’s lower priority. Speaking as a boypussy enthusiast, flexing physics for muscles, deformation under pressure for tight shirts and grasping, and better armpits would be higher priority, and they can be generalised. Though that last one may just be me.

      Though this is complicated by masculine sexuality being very immediate and visual, whereas feminine is more tactile, emotional and slow-burning, so showing off ladies is easier to do without turning off people who prefer cock, but properly sexualising men requires a fair bit more focus than straight men and lesbians are generally comfortable with, and it’s honestly just easier to get us off with written erotica.

      Not to mention, gaming PCs and consoles that can display jiggle well have historically had lower attach rates for women. Women don’t get dumb videogames because they’re not stupidly shelling out a few hundred on a silly toy for the TV. Maybe that’ll change as phone and tablet specs continue climbing.

  18. Kylroy says:

    I watched two separate LPs of Firewatch, and enjoyed both. I just don’t think there’s anything I’d get out of actually playing the game myself at this point.

  19. IFS says:

    Having beaten Xcom 2 last night (normal difficulty, not ironman) I will say that personally I think its a complete improvement over EU/EW, expanding the gameplay both in depth and variety. As for the problems you mentioned I feel like they have been addressed in a number of ways.

    Hit chance: On normal or commander difficulty the game actually does fudge things in your favor, secretly increasing your actual hit chance if you have a series of misses for example (and doing the reverse for the enemy). In addition the scope is now a weapon upgrade rather than a utility item, so you can easily get one for every soldier via the black market if you really want better aim, without having to give up a grenade or medkit. Speaking of grenades you are not penalized nearly as much now for using them (it only penalizes you if the enemy you killed happened to be carrying loot), this is good because it gives you an easy source of guaranteed damage; in fact the game has loads of guaranteed sources of damage you can get, the earliest being a low level specialist perk. In my opinion this really helps give you options to make up for runs of bad luck. Also while that screenshot is ridiculous I can guarantee it doesn’t happen if you send in a ranger with a shotgun, it’s quite easy to get a 100% hit chance that way.

    Nest Snipers: technically any sniper can be a nest sniper now since they all get squadsight by default, however this approach won’t be the most viable on every mission due both to level layouts and to mission timers. Not every mission will have a timer but for those that do if you leave your sniper hanging back too much you risk them getting left behind (you can get the option to rescue soldiers who are left behind later, which makes for cool stories). In my opinion the more mobile sniper built around the pistol skills is actually better than the nest sniper in Xcom2 anyways, in part because if you have them carry ammo it applies to the pistol as well (bluescreen rounds to fanfire down sectopods, faceoff + incendiary to set every enemy on fire are two examples), but also because they get to be more versatile, able to fight better up close while still being a threat from far away.

    Anyways those are my thoughts on how Xcom 2 handles those particular issues, personally I think it does a great job though I understand that they do still exist in some measure and that can be a turn off.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Kill zone trumps any pistol build 100% of the time.Just pimp your rifle to have tons of bullets(and maybe even an autoloader),and youll do massive damage to any enemy that dares to cross through those scopes.Especially great for missions where you start concealed.Also,because your sniper wont face things close to them,you can equip them with more bullets or crit boosting items.

      As for pimping weapons,one downside is that while you can automatically unequip all armor and pocket items not in your current squad,you have to manually unequip weapons,which is a pain in the ass.

      • Falterfire says:

        As always, there’s a mod for that. I’m not sure which one it is, but ONE of the many mods I have installed adds a “unequip unused weapons” button next to the ones for freeing up armor and utility items.

      • IFS says:

        Kill Zone is good but ideally I have all the enemies I’ve alerted dead before I give them a chance to move and trigger my overwatch fire (which admittedly may be harder to pull off on higher difficulties than the one I played on). As for ambushes I’d rather have a soldier who is more versatile than be able to set up one really good ambush a mission. I forget what is opposite Kill Zone but nothing is stopping you from taking it on something that is otherwise a pistol build (though you might need to pick up the perk that lets squadsight apply to overwatch, I’m not sure). Other sniper perks tend to be way too prone to failure imo, deadshot gives a massive debuff to hit chance for only a few points of damage, and while Serial can let you chain kills together one miss (or one low damage roll) brings the whole thing to an end (though if you luck into a ranger getting Serial you are in for a treat).

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Kill zones work on attacks(all actions?),not just movement.You can literally win a mission with a single kill zone(happened to me once,and once I had just a single survivor after it).

          Death from above is also a great perk.Especially if you get a spider suit(grappling is a free action).

          • IFS says:

            Huh really? I’ve only ever had it trigger on movement, but then I didn’t find too many opportunities to use it, might have to look for more opportunities when I get around to commander difficulty.

            Death from above is good but situational, and since it doesn’t give you enough actions to take another sniper shot all it lets you do is go on pistol overwatch, take a pistol shot (weak since its not on a pistol build, and your sniper might be too far from the action to be useful), use an item, or reposition (which you might not even want to do since you’re clearly already in an advantageous position).

    • modus0 says:

      Yeah, it is fairly easy to get a good hit chance heading into mid-game.

      Heck, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve decided to use Rapid Fire on a Ranger, and am both close enough, and positioned right, so that despite the -15 aim penalty, I’m still looking at a 93% chance to hit.

      For snipers, I go with one long range focused, and one pistol focused. Use the latter on missions that will require evac: VIP and ADVENT Blacksite missions.

  20. Falterfire says:

    Listening to Shamus’s comments on XCOM2 was somewhat maddening because it sounds like he hasn’t seen much XCOM 2 beyond rookies. The game gives you plenty of ways to manage cover and improve your shot chances or just outright get guaranteed damage, and it does scale aim based on distance from enemy, height advantage, and whether you’re flanking them.

    He keeps going on and on about how much he hates having people die because you screwed up a bunch of rolls, but there are grenades, psychic abilities, gremlin abilities, stocks, tracer rounds, along with things like poison, flashbangs, and good old full cover to make it hard for the aliens to hit you.

    Yes, every death will be to bad dice rolls, because the enemy has to roll to hit on most attacks, but I’m not sure how you could fix that without severely warping the game. To remove dice rolls being the make or break you have to give enemies guaranteed damage whenever they can do damage, and that would be even less satisfying. In effect, it would mean before you ended your turn you’d know that the enemy would hit you for X damage, and that ruins almost all of the point of the exercise.

    Changing it so that Advent Lancers always do 6 damage per shot on a flank, 2 damage per shot if you’re in half cover, and no damage per shot if you’re in full cover every shot all the time seems worse than giving them a hit chance. Some turns will be good. Some turns will be bad. But the sheer number of rolls over the course of the game means that things will tend much closer to the average than an extreme.

    Will there be turns where you miss four 60% chance shots in a row? Yes, about 2.5% of the time. But the game gives you so many ways to either guarantee damage or increase that chance that there should be very few turns where your best option is to take four 60% shots. (Admittedly XCOM 2 does a very bad job of telling the player everything they need to know to play effectively, so I’m not sure how obvious the good lines are if you don’t already know the mechanics inside and out)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      but there are grenades,

      Which are extremely limited(just one per character who isnt a grenadier) AND dont do nearly as much damage as weapons.

      psychic abilities,

      Which are even more limited,both because of special training,but because of cooldowns as well,and also not as deadly as the weapons until you buff them up much later in the game.Also,effective only against organics.

      gremlin abilities,

      Same as above,but mechanics.

      stocks, tracer rounds,

      Which are a chance thing.

      along with things like poison,

      Dont do much damage,plus a chance thing,plus only effective against some enemies.

      flashbangs,

      Grenades,so limited,plus you have to choose between them and damage dealing grenades.

      and good old full cover to make it hard for the aliens to hit you.

      Cover is much more easily destructible now than in the previous game.Also,the enemies can use cover as well as you.

      but I’m not sure how you could fix that without severely warping the game.

      The original fixed it decades ago.And really,you dont need to change much in the remakes to fix the problem.A few simple changes would do it.Heck,this one change would improve the things significantly:Instead of a single hit/miss roll,have a path roll for every bullet like in the original.Meaning when you pick a target,draw a bunch of trajectories in a cone around the line that connects your gun with the target,and pick one of those at random.Then,even if the bullet misses the target,it will be able to hit another enemy behind it.Or a civilian,Or your guy.Or anything else.

      Other changes that would fix the hit/miss thing would be free aim for every gun instead of squadsight for just one class and free aim for just grenades;Movement after shooting for every guy,not just as a late skill for some classes;Bigger squads(heck,the long wars 6-8 already improves the fights significantly);Compartmentalized movement(meaning that if you have 8 squares of movement,you wont lose the remaining 2 if you move just 6),which would also improve some of the pathfinding issues.

      • Da Mage says:

        If you are trying to kill things with grenades, you aren’t using them properly. Grenades are mainly used to destroy enemy cover so the rest of the squad can have flanking shots, or to mop up a damaged enemy that is hiding behind full cover.

        You point out the psychic only effects organics, and gremlin abilities only effect mechanic (which is false, they are stronger against mechanics, but most still work on organics). The point is that neither skills effects everyone, which is why you need a balanced squad and don’t get a OP class like in the previous XCOM.

        I personally don’t use flashbangs as mimic beacons have a similar effect (stopping enemies firing at you), but effect more enemies. These items are all about crowd management, which is super important to stop your guys getting hurt. Being able to disable the biggest threat for a few turns while you deal with the others is how you win fight cleanly.

        Missed shots cannot hit other units, but they can destory cover and bow up cars (which can deal damage to enemies). This was in the previous XCOM, but is even more prevalent in XCOM 2.

        I always find it strange how people want more soldiers for their squad. It already takes up to a minute or more for me to have a turn with 6, 8 or 10 would just make the game too slow. It’s one of the big reasons I cannot play the other games, too many choice each turn just makes them a slog. As long as you aren’t triggering all the enemies in one big fight, you shouldn’t be getting overwhelmed with 6 guys (single a single group is never more than 3 enemies).

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          If you get the mods that reduce all the pointless waiting and central chiming in every 5 seconds to tell you the obvious,then your turns go really fast.Also,hitting tab while your guy is moving will switch to the next one so you can initiate that movement as well.

          Grenades are mainly used to destroy enemy cover so the rest of the squad can have flanking shots, or to mop up a damaged enemy that is hiding behind full cover.

          Shredding armor is actually more beneficial.

          But when I say low damage,I dont mean they arent useful for other stuff,Im saying that instead of using one guy to kill one alien,you have to use at least two guys.Which is ok for strong stuff,like sectopods or andromedons.But with grenades,you have to use two guys for even the weak stuff.

          Though I admit that ambushing stuff inside a kill zone with a grenade is spectacular.

          but most still work on organics

          Pitifully.

          I personally don’t use flashbangs as mimic beacons have a similar effect

          Mimics are also limited as much as all grenades.As for which one is more useful…ehh,depends on what you are against.

          Missed shots cannot hit other units, but they can destory cover and bow up cars (which can deal damage to enemies). This was in the previous XCOM, but is even more prevalent in XCOM 2.

          But not nearly as much,or as effective as in the original,which was my point about this.

          • Da Mage says:

            Mimics are the most unbalanced part of XCOM 2. If you chuck a mimic down, EVERY enemy that can see it (from their starting position) will attack it. They won’t use any area of effect attack or psyonic abilities until that mimic is dead. I normally have two or three in my squad and if I get into a situation where I cannot kill all the aliens in one turn I chuck on out behind some high cover. I rarely get any injuries on my squad as the only thing every shot at is a mimic.

            Your other troops can stand in the open in a group and the aliens will only attack the mimic.

            I didn’t use them either in my first playthrough, then I saw a comment about them I tried them out in them y second game. They are the single best item/ability for when you draw too many enemies or get into a bad spot.

            EDIT:
            When I’m talking about time I mean all the decisions I have to make about where everyone will move, who will shoot or do other thing etc. And the more choices you get the longer that starts to take. 6 is about the limit I’ll tolerate, any more and it starts to drag.

          • Ranneko says:

            Yes, but if you use grenades, you do a bit of damage, you shred some armour and make the rest of the shots much easier for your squad.
            Guaranteed damage, and guaranteed covered destruction is really really powerful, especially if you are using your squad as group.
            You use up a grenade to damage and clear cover then the rest of the group to mop up the now exposed enemy force.

            This is especially great with a grenadier, who with the right gear and qualities will have 4 explosive/cover destroying weapons per mission AND be able to use one and fire in the same turn.

        • IFS says:

          Mimic beacons have a secret downside though: they can be reanimated by sectoids as zombies. Ok not so much a downside as a hilarious bug, but still do you really want to be the person responsible for forcing your soldiers into killing their own cyber-zombie?

      • Ranneko says:

        Tow of the powerful psionic attacks Null Lance and Void Rift work on both organic and Robotic targets, and they bypass armour.

    • Echo Tango says:

      So, yes, there are abilities and items to counter bad dice rolls. However, I think the real underlying problem is, that the game is not balanced around ironman mode; It’s balanced as if you’re going to reload after somebody dies.

      I’ve played every XCOM game*, so I figured I’d play XCOM 2 on ironman, on the third difficulty**. After about two hours of slowly grinding down to an unwinnable world, I restarted on normal. Then I restarted again on easy. I was barely winning each mission, until the point when the game ran out of upgrades for the types of enemy soldiers I was facing. Then it became trivially easy. I’m currently playing a non-ironman difficulty-3 game, and it’s actually pretty winnable.

      * Proper XCOM games. The kind with turns, and squads.
      ** Out of four. The one after ‘normal’; Can’t remember the name.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        My impression is the exact opposite. I’d say the game is very much balanced around you taking losses and still rolling on with it. That’s why the wounded penalties are so high, it’s to encourage you to cycle through selections of teams in case you something terrible happens to your best and brightest. If you save and reload after taking any losses, than your soldiers start advancing to higher levels much more quickly, and then the difficulty drops significantly from the mid-game onwards, because you’ve amassed so much power with no setbacks.

        The game takes a little getting used too, even if you’re familiar with Enemy Unknown, because the underlying strategic philosophy has shifted slightly. Whereas Enemy Unknown encouraged and rewarded you for being slow, cautious, and defensive, the turn timers and fragility of your soldiers in XCOM 2 demand that you be more aggressive. The key seems to be to kill or disable all the enemies in an encounter before they can use their crazy powers against you, even if it means throwing your troops into dangerous positions and crossing your fingers.

        • ehlijen says:

          Indeed. Between more crazy powers for enemies, seemingly higher accuracy in their attacks on average and injury times being both lolrandom and based on any damage including armour bonus health, there is a much bigger push to first turn wipe any enemy pod you find. And with a mid to high level grenadier or two (and maybe some specialty grenades), that’s often very easy. And with mimic beacons, you often have two turns before you face any danger.

          I actually find it a bit disappointing how bad an idea and thus rare extended engagements are :(

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I’d say the game is very much balanced around you taking losses and still rolling on with it.

          This would be true if squads were bigger.Losing 1 guy out of 8(to 12) is much less problematic than losing 1 guy out of 4(to 6).

          In the original,the aliens were much tougher than you,but you had the sheer numbers,so it was ok.In the remakes,the aliens are still much tougher than you,but you cant compensate it with numbers.You have to make your guys consistently get tougher as you progress,or you will fall too much behind to have a chance to do anything.

          • ehlijen says:

            Loss rates of 1/8 were pretty good for the original, without save scumming. You could take worse than that and still win.

            In the newer games you have powerful abilities (even at low to mid levels), much more flexibility in tactics (seriously, compare throwing a grenade in UFO:EU to XCOM 2, let alone switching from firing HE grenades to minigun bursts), better soldier survivability (it’s much more likely to end up with wounded, rather than dead soldiers after even one hit and even at low tech levels, where in the original death from plasma was almost certain until good armour was deployed) and the whole ‘pod activation’ mechanic to make things easier.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              much more flexibility in tactics

              Thats not true.Yes your guys get various powers that distinguish them a lot,and those synergize well with each other,but the originals had plethora of weapons,many with varying ammunition,and most with varying shooting modes,and at any time you could carry any combination of these and switch between them.So you had plenty of flexibility.The main difference between the original and the remakes is that in the remakes you start with very limited set of actions(move,shoot or throw a grenade),and slowly expand as the game progresses,while in the original you would start with this plethora of weapons and ammo to choose from,and slowly whittle that down to just one viable weapon,one grenade and one armor for practically everyone(ok,psionics and launchers were still a thing,but still a rarity).

              The perfect balance,I think,was achieved in the ufo afterlight,where your guys would level up,but also get various new toys as well.So it avoided both the late game homogenization of the original,and the early restriction of the remake.

              Also,one interesting thing that Ive noticed in the latest one:when a mission appears,you get to either do it,or not do it,while in the originals you also had to choose when to do it(preferably during the day).

              better soldier survivability

              Eeehhh…Maybe in the beginning,due to cover.But later on,definitely not.The armor you had,coupled with flying and squad sight for everyone meant that most of the time you only risked a single person,and even then the risk wasnt that great(unless you ran against sectoids,that is).But the original mitigated it by allowing you to bring a bunch of guys to a mission,so loses werent that significant,not even later on.Losing that high level guy was a big deal,but not even close as big as losing your max leveled guy now is.

              the whole ‘pod activation’ mechanic to make things easier.

              Thats actually a bad thing.You arent fighting the enemy any more,you are exploiting the system in order to make it more balanced.

              • ehlijen says:

                Have you tried swapping ammo types in mission or throwing grenades in the original?
                It took so many time units that you were almost always better off just shooting a few times and killing the aliens that way.
                In the remake you can move and throw a grenade in one turn.
                In the original you had to pull it from your belt (small TU cost), prime it for the correct turn (big TU cost), and then actually throw it (moderate TU cost). Add moving in close enough and this usually had to be spread over two turns. The remake is a lot more flexible in how to use grenades.
                Ammo types: in the original it was usually easier just to not bring the HE cannon guy into the UFO and make him wait outside, than to make him switch to AP ammo. In the remake your heavy just has a MG and Rocket, for you to use whenever.

                Soldier suitability is higher in the remakes because every step around a corner could bring heavy plasma (or blaster) reaction fire and soldier facing was a thing. Even flying armour crumpled before heavy plasma in the side or back during UFO clearing, while in the remakes you can be reasonably sure of surving at least one hit from carapace armour onwards (maybe not skeleton) for your somewhat leveled troopers.
                Pre-flying armour, a wounded soldier in the original was the exception, instant kills being more likely. In the remakes, wounds are far more likely than deaths unless you are under prolongued fire.

                Pod activation: I wasn’t making any comment as to better or worse, just pointing out differences. I think pod activation is worse, but I won’t deny that it turns the game into something else that, in its own way, is also fun to play.

        • krellen says:

          Thank you for verifying that XCOM 2 is not a thing I would enjoy. Slow and methodical is what XCOM is supposed to be.

          • Destrustor says:

            There’s always the mod to disable the mission timers.
            Then you can take all the time you want.

            • ehlijen says:

              That’s only half the problem. The other is that not rush-smashing the enemies you find leaves them alive long enough to rush-smash you back. Compared to EU or EW, the tempo of the fights is a lot more win big or die big.

      • Falterfire says:

        I don’t think it’s balanced around ironman OR extreme save-scumming. I think it’s balanced closer to the middle, where you reload missions that go extremely bad (So if you lose an entire squad or even just several members of your A-team) but you don’t reload just because one or two of your guys die.

        If you super-save-scum and reload any time anybody dies, the late game becomes trivial. If you iron-man you risk having a functionally dead but still running campaign if you get a squad wipe instead of just losing a guy or two.

  21. SlothfulCobra says:

    The only way that bad entries into a series really strengthen the series as a whole, is that they shut down the hype train and will make everything good about the next entry seem like it’s fresh and new and a total improvement, even if it’s just a repetition of the one before the bad one. I feel like hype can do a lot towards poisoning people’s opinions toward a game by making expectations too high.

    There is a thing with the Marvel movies where all the opinions of them that I hear have sort of melded in my head into a generic slurry of “Well, it’s pretty good,” but I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing?

  22. Paul Spooner says:

    Not to impart undue gravity, but Firewatch hit close to my home.

    My grandpa is in his 80s, and my grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s a couple weeks ago. They were married when they were 18. The onset was slow enough that everyone could see it coming, even him. She became mean and obstinate; He tried to take care of her for years, and it wore him down. Eventually he didn’t have enough energy left over to do it, and he put her in a care home, which made both of them a lot happier. He would visit her every day. Sometimes she wouldn’t recognize him, but she was still happy that the handsome gentleman was visiting her. It was crushing when she finally passed away.

    All that to say, it’s easy to joke about “Oh, just put me away and forget about me.” but it’s often impossible in real life, especially when you’ve been together for decades.

    Okay! Back to butt jokes!

    • Cinebeast says:

      Sorry to hear about your grandparents. My grandmother passed from cancer, but it had a similar effect, degrading her memory and empathy. Grandpa couldn’t take care of her by himself, so my mom and I flew down to help him in her final months.

    • Da Mage says:

      Similar thing in my family. My grandmother passed away 2 year ago after years of Alzheimers, and it hit my father badly as in the last few years she didn’t even know who he was. It is a really cruel disease that I hope they find a prevention for one day.

  23. Tektotherriggen says:

    During the Skyrim discussion, I heard, “…and let your dog hang out.” And I thought, “How sweet, a cute hound to journey through the wilderness with you, and sleep by your fire each night.” It took a few minutes for me to realise my mistake…

  24. Dragmire says:

    So, Shamus, will your speech at Rachel’s wedding be details first or drama first?

  25. Dragmire says:

    A sequel benefiting from a previous bad entry to a series sounds like the audience lowering their standards.

    “Yeah, the new one isn’t great but at least it’s not as bad as the last one”.
    “It’s not as good as the first one but it’s a huge improvement over the second”.

    I’ve read people say things like this about franchises like Bioshock and Deus Ex.

  26. Joe says:

    I’m interested in Primal. Why? I haven’t played any other Far Cry games, but this setting looks interesting.

    Also, I haven’t played X-Com either, but I’ve played the Shadowrun games, which have a similar combat mechanism. From those I learned that you need the right gun for the right range. Sniper rifle at point blank range? 50% to hit. Sniper rifle half way across the map? 995%. It was a happy day when Eiger got a mid-range gun to go with her long and short-range weapons.

    On a side note, I think Shamus might like the Shadowrun games. Good stories. Outside one or two cutscenes in Hong Kong, there is no voice acting. It’s all text communication. Also, the music is instrumental electronica.

    • ehlijen says:

      Dragonfall and Hong Kong are pretty good games, yeah. Deadman switch is…I felt like reading mary sue fanfic half the time :/

      I wouldn’t say the combat systems are very XCOM like, though. Sure, they use the 2AP/person system, but that’s already not what XCOM does:
      XCOM is a lot closer to DnD 3.x move+ standard action system, where Shadowrun is a real 2 (3 at high level) actions system.

      In fact, I didn’t fully grog XCOM:EU’s cover system until I started thinking of it in terms of DnD 3.5 (in that the shooter can ‘lean out’ of their square and cover was binary, only ignored if the shot came at an angle greater than 90 to the cover). It’s very much a dungeon crawler TT-RPG combat system.

      • Ranneko says:

        Apparently the XCOM tactical layer was prototyped as a boardgame, which is probably why the tabletop metaphor worked so well for you.

        While obviously a computer can let much more complicated or at least detailed calculations take place, we are still dealing with humans and human comprehension. XCOM 1 & 2 do a really good job of showing you where your soldiers can move and what they can do without being too detailed.

        • ehlijen says:

          That would explain some things, yes.

          I still think they could have added a little more complexity without ruining the approach (for examples I never play without ‘Aiming Angles’ anymore).

          That said, it was a well crafted game (at least in the tactical layer, the others were a bit shallow). For a terrifying hint of what could have been had they not cared, try the Falling Skies game that uses the same formula with no clue as to how to apply it.

  27. Archguru says:

    “I’m Shamus Young and this is my favorite wedding on the Citadel.”

  28. dan says:

    henry didn’t seem like he was in bad shape at all, he looked strong af

    • Neil D says:

      He looked beefy to me, but out of shape. I was expecting to see a slimmer version of him by the end of the game, after spending 3 months hiking, climbing and living on whatever supplies he had, which probably didn’t include a lot of Big Macs.

  29. Seirou says:

    I’m still eternally amazed at how many people can discuss the Firaxis X-Com games and talk about how much they’d like them more if they played like the originals… and never, ever mention Xenonauts. That game is exactly what everybody says they want, yet I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually plays it.

    Come on, guys, check it out. :)

    I’d recommend stuffing the Community Edition in as well, since it’s basically like an early peek at what they’re going to integrate into the game in the next version anyway.

    • Ranneko says:

      I am playing it, it is kind of inconsistent.

      Loadout is faster, but you have to remember to double check your squad before you send out the dropship. Given that it doesn’t automatically refill the dropship to handle injured and killed soldiers this can leave you needlessly taking reduced numbers on a mission.

      You can pick up and use enemy weapons (at least after you have plasma weapons), they work perfectly well for your soldiers, and yet you automatically sell all that sweet alien tech at the end of most missions for a pittance.

      The game encourages you to spread out and make bases, but doesn’t really give you guidelines as to how quickly you can spread so it is pretty easy to overextend and just run out of cash. Oh and they removed the ability to make money from manufacturing so you are basically screwed if that happens.

      Cover is even less consistent than XCOM, it is surprisingly easy to get 100% cover from quite a generous number of angles, and often that cover is one way. This is more to your enemies benefit than yours though since most of the time you are the one that needs to advance and leave cover.

      Finally I really like that conventional weapons and ammo are unlimited, but what seems strange is the way that some items simply get unlocked via research and others have to be manufactured individually. You have to pay a ton of money and time building your laser and plasma weaponry, but your vehicles and base defenses just have the option unlocked when the research completes. I never have to actually manufacture gas or electric grenades, but I do have to research them.

    • Decius says:

      I actually prefer the game UFO:After[light|shock|math]. Mostly because it actually provides true information about your chance to hit.

    • ehlijen says:

      Xenonauts is certainly a good game, but I wouldn’t say it’s exactly what people who like the original UFO more than the remakes want.

      It certainly combines the UI upgrades and some of the gamplay smoothing of the remakes with most of the simulation aspects of the original and a few cool ideas of its own, but it still doesn’t really end up with a lot of emergent gameplay (that I remembered).
      It feels neither as deep as the original, to me, nor as action packed as the remakes, but rather a somewhat blander compromise. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the other games.

      But it is worth checking out, I agree with that. Also worth it:
      UFO: Alien Invasion (Ironman only, even crunchier than the original)
      http://ufoai.org/wiki/News

      The UFO After-* series (my fav is -shock, all three are pausable realtime, though)

      XCOM: Apocalypse (a truly ambitious attempt to reinvent the formula, albeit mildly flawed. Pyromanic’s/demolitionist’s wet dream. Written for DOS/95)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Xenonauts is…problematic.Personally,I think its about as different from the original xcom as the firaxis remakes.Only instead of being different in a mechanical sense,its different in the atmosphere sense.I finished the game,yet at no point did it really grab me as much as the remake,and especially not as much as the original.

      • Seirou says:

        Ah, well, as I’d never really had much any contact with other people who had played it, perhaps I projected my own preferences too much over others. It seems that it just so happens that Xenonauts works well for me, but obviously this is not the case for everyone!

        Well, at least now I know I’m not the only one who’s tried it. :)

  30. Mersadeon says:

    Man Mumbles sounds so unfamiliar now. I really needed a moment to even get it was her!

  31. Mersadeon says:

    Okay, I do have to say the XCOM2 criticisms aren’t really well informed. Bullets that miss absolutely don’t disappear into the aether: even in XCOM:EU bullets already had first a hitchance and then after missing a spreadpattern (and if the miss hits the alien, it still counts as a hit, so technically your chance to hit is always a tiny bit higher than displayed). When a shot misses, it hits something else – it can hit other enemies (unlikely but happens) or destroy cover and objects (however it still has to be capable of destroying it, so bullet weapons normally don’t do this).

    So that absolutely already happens.

    Then the “muzzle pressed to the alien’s body thing” – I get that frustration, but it’s unfortunately vital to the balance. Otherwise, “shotgun tactics” of running up to dudes to get a 100% shot would become way too powerful.

    EDIT: Also, the XCOM2 engine does way things in favour of the player a little bit to make it less random: successive misses increase your hitchances, successive hits by enemies increase your hitchance, too.

    MORE EDIT: I guess they could have solved the “muzzle pressed to alien” problem better. Maybe make it so that units get a free overwatch shot if you move within 2 tiles of them except for meelee units?

    • Decius says:

      I disbelieve: can you show me a single video of a miss hitting another alien.?

      • Mersadeon says:

        I only know that it is theoretically possible because of the way the system works, but I’ve never seen it myself. The chances for it are astronomical, which is the problem.

        EDIT: Actually, I have seen that once. Let me see if I can find the video. It’s one of the million Northernlion LP videos.

        • ehlijen says:

          I’d be very interested in seeing that because I’ve not ever encountered it. In fact I’ve seen the opposite (clustered chrysalids being immune to the bullets spraying past their targeted friend).

          Shots can absolutely hit cover, but as far as I’ve seen in 17 playthroughs since EW, they cannot hit other actors.
          What can happen is that shots hit cars, blow them up and thus indirectly damage other actors, or that clustered enemies are confusing enough so that it appears that something other than the original target was hit, when really you just didn’t target what you thought you targeted.

          How do you know how the system works, by the way? Were you a programmer? Did you see the source code?

          And I disagree that shotgun tactics need to be discouraged in this way. For one, shotguns are in the game and allow this tactic. For two, if it wasn’t for the pod-activation mechanic, shotgun rushes would be way too risky unless you’re certain you’re down to the last lot of enemies (which you’re not ever supposed to be but the game makes kind of easy figuring out). The simply knowledge that there could be an unrevealed enemy on overwatch out there is scary enough to discourage heroics, mostly.

          • Ranneko says:

            You actually CAN check the source code in XCOM2, the hit/miss code is all available in the dev tools.

            That said I also have never seen a miss hit anything other than terrain. I have seen destroy the objective missions won in XCOM2 because of missed shots though.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      “Otherwise, “shotgun tactics” of running up to dudes to get a 100% shot would become way too powerful.”

      I generally feel that if you have the skill or luck to get right up in somebody’s business in a game with plasma rifles, you deserve perfect accuracy, better crit rate, and something from the higher end of the crit table if the game has that. You’re either coming from an unobserved angle or attacking an enemy that’s exhausted its movement points and can’t reaction fire. There’s enough disincentive for kamikaze tactics to let anyone who actually can get in position enjoy it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      So that absolutely already happens.

      No,it doesnt.A miss can hit cover,but it can never hit another xcom guy,alien or a civilian.I think you are confusing a rocket with bullets.

      Then the “muzzle pressed to the alien’s body thing” – I get that frustration, but it’s unfortunately vital to the balance. Otherwise, “shotgun tactics” of running up to dudes to get a 100% shot would become way too powerful.

      Thats not true.The original gave you greater accuracy for close shots,and aliens were still much more powerful,because getting up in their face was insanely difficult.So its definitely not vital to the balance.

  32. BitFever says:

    The level creation kit built into distance mixed with a really active community and a good system of getting the best new tracks to the for front has really kept the game alive for me actually. I regularly come back to it because of high quality user generated content.

  33. Dave says:

    On the topic of Shamus’ question about games that have been reinvented or have broken off from their old style while still being better for it (in this particular case), my first thought was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. While not the first 3D Prince of Persia game in the series, it was a reboot of the franchise as a whole and turned a fairly standard platformer (I see PoP3D as more in the vein of early Tomb Raider titles when it comes to platforming) into the free-running time-warping game franchise the younger folk are familiar with. Then of course came Prince of Persia (2014) which was, in my mind, just as good as Sands of Time, just different in a lot of ways with no loss-state from platforming and a slightly reimagined story based on old Zoroastrian lore.

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