Diecast #144: Games for Windows 10, Xcom 2, Stardew Valley, E3

By Shamus
on Mar 7, 2016
Filed under:
Diecast

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Podcast RSS feed.

Hosts: Josh, Shamus, Campster.
Episode edited by Issac.

Trivia: My daughter Rachel went out and got herself a full-time job, and doesn’t have time to edit the show. So my son Issac took over. So audio may be a little wobbly for the next few weeks until he learns the ropes. We’ll see how it goes.

Show notes:
00:01:00 Microsoft and Windows 10 Store Shenanigans

Here is Tim Sweeny, literally calling on people to fight the Microsoft initiative. If there’s one critique I have for Sweeny, it’s that I think bringing up the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit is a mistake in this context. That case was really complex and doesn’t come off as the scathing condemnation he intends it to. If you’re trying to persuade an undecided audience to join your cause, doing so under a controversial banner only limits your reach. If you’re arguing tax policy, don’t try to bolster your argument with arguments that require the reader agree with you on (say) abortion. You’re just going to thread-jack your own argument, and people will debate the controversial thing instead of examining the new thing you’re trying to get them to care about.

For example, now that I’ve mentioned the antitrust suit, people are going to be tempted to bring it up here, so I need to head them off with this: This is not about the [lack of?] merit of the antitrust lawsuit and if you try to argue about it here you are the debate equivalent of a cat chasing a laser pointer. Let’s keep the conversation focused on Microsoft’s shenanigans in 2016.

I think you can make a really good case against UWP on simple practical grounds as a consumer, and that doesn’t require agreement on the antitrust case, which was a debate that took thousands of different viewpoints and tried to shove them into simple boxes labeled “for” and “against”.

Also, since we mentioned Jill of the Jungle, I have to link to this. I fell in love with this game back in the day, despite the fact that I don’t really enjoy 2D sidescrolling platformers. This game won me over with presentation and soundtrack. (Mostly soundtrack.)


Link (YouTube)

00:22:00 Stardew Valley


Link (YouTube)

00:26:30 Switchcars

00:29:30 Xcom 2

00:43:25 No Man’s Sky


Link (YouTube)

00:51:30 Both EA and Activision are skipping E3 this year.

“Skipping” in this case means no standalone booth; they’ll likely have representation at the console booths, etc.

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From the Archives:

  1. Stormkitten says:

    I am amused that Diecasting is now the family business.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Forgive me for asking Shamus if he spelled the name correctly but, well, is it really spelled “Issac”. I’m just double checking.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        I know you know how to spell his name, I’m just saying that “A” and “S” are right next to each other on the keyboard.

      • Shamus says:

        Yes. I know the double-a spelling is more common but both are used, and… I guess I liked this spelling better?

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          Thats cool. Its not like it was written in english originally anyway. I’m sure both spellings are valid renderings of the name. He must get tired of being asked though.

          Fun fact to throw myself under the bus. For the longest time I was uncertain about two letters in my first name because its spelled both ways and I always use my middle name (because “And” appears higher on alphabetical lists). I’d ask and then forget.

        • “Alternate” spellings are all the rage now anyhow.

          I often joke that if we ever have a girl, I’m going to name her, say, “Jessica”, spelled “Yyyyyyy”, what with the way “y”s are getting around lately in kid’s names.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Joke all you want,but you cant beat reality.Ladies and gentlemen:Shithead.

            • Zak McKracken says:

              Sorry to ruin the joke but that story has existed in countless versions for many decades, and it’s completely invented.

              It’s also a thing used (a lot) to poke fun at either racially or socially “inferior” culture:
              http://www.snopes.com/racial/language/names.asp

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Dont know any shitheads,but I do know that one guy who worked with my father has a surname Pičkin,which translates into english as “of a cunt”.So yeah,sweary names do exist,and arent just a property of english.

                • Sleeping Dragon says:

                  At the risk of being another spoilsport. Bear in mind that in nearly all cases the name did not originate as a “swear name”. Some of the things that could happen are:
                  -phonetic corruption of the name, visibly more likely if the name has skipped languages;
                  -the name simply sounding like a swear in another language;
                  -the word the name originated from descending into vulgarity over time;
                  -semantic corruption of the name, very common in case of names derived from place names or words no longer in common use, often followed by phonetic corruption when people try to adjust the name to some familiar word;

                  I’m also going to point out that this generally only happens to family names, not given names, as those are likely to be preserved over time despite changes in meaning. In fact a lot of countries have explicit laws against either giving or changing the name (family or otherwise) to a word that’s considered offensive or otherwise a swear.

                • Zak McKracken says:

                  Yeah, that’s a thing in German, too. The important bit here is that that’s with last names, so parents don’t usually get to pick them. And at least in Germany, there’s some history to it:

                  Many of the German family names were introduced under French occupation (Napoleon and all that), because the French insisted that everyone must have a family name. So most people picked their occupation (Smith, Miller, Carpenter, that sort of thing), some picked the place they were from, but some tried to subvert the process and picked something way more punk. That’s why there are some reasonably fancy family names around. That and of course the gradual shift of both meaning and pronunciation/spelling of words over the centuries…

                  That of course has nothing to do with parents giving stupid names to their children, the original point of my objection.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Some parents will definitely name their child something stupid because it sounds cool.Case in point:Khaleesi.

                    • Zak McKracken says:

                      Well, there are some old and genuinely German names that I’d find outright silly these days but well…
                      I mean: Yeah, you’re right, some people give weird names to their children, but that’s the law of big numbers. I just became aware yesterday what names Frank Zappa gave his children… but then you probably couldn’t expect a creative genius to call his son “Bob”, so there you go.

                      The part I’d be careful about is phrasing it as if “underclass” (racial, social, political…) people were too stupid to name their children, because that’s how it’s too often displayed. Hollywood stars, though… go ahead, make fun of them they’re all bonkers. And if not, they’re at least rich enough not to care :)

          • SL128 says:

            This better result in Shamus lobbying for his first grandson to be named Ysyc.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Someone needs to make a picture of Shamus as a don.

  2. Darren says:

    Stardew Valley is really good! I got deep into Rune Factory for the Wii years ago and dropped it when I realized the true horror of the fairy-ecosystem timesink, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that contemptuous of the player’s time here. It knows how to create long and short-term goals that allow the player to always feel like they’re making progress rather than running on a treadmill.

  3. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    This whole thing with the integrated platform, I’ve always assumed this is a big part of the reason Windows 10 is free for now. That and Windows Store.

    They want to make their money on the store but the want to leverage their dominance of the desktop OS market to give people that much more reason to buy their other devices while they’re still somewhat relevant.

  4. Abnaxis says:

    @22:00, “What if you couldn’t play a game you like anymore?”

    Did they ever get GFWL properly patched out of Dark Souls?

  5. Falterfire says:

    Steam’s transition from “Unnecessary digital add-on” to “Pre-eminent digital storefront” is largely thanks to people forgetting that when it started, people saw it as just as unnecessary as Origin and uPlay are seen now.

    Steam isn’t different from uPlay or Origin because it’s better or more open, it’s different because it got there first and got enough people on the system that we all view the others as being the upstart pointless stores despite them doing basically the same thing just for different companies.

    Sure, I can’t play Plants VS Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 on Steam, but I can’t play Half-Life 2 on Origin either.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I’ve always been in the weird position of liking everything Valve does, while at the same time realizing that my situation is extremely unique and nobody else should ever agree with me.

      I like Steam because it’s super easy to move games around from machine to machine with their backup feature, because they’re a major force that is moving to get games ported toward Linux, and because I freaking love the Steamtroller.

      These pluses in my mind are all for weird-ass reasons that I can’t imagine applying to all that many people. For example, I gamed for years with a trackball mouse while I was in college; the Steamtroller is a basically a souped-up, streamlined version of my old interface setup. At the same time, however, I have to point out that my preferences for Steam have nothing to do with the relative newness of Origin or UPlay

      • utzel says:

        Moving games around is actually easier without the backup function, just copy the folder and the appmanifest_123456.acf file. Replace the number with the appid of the game.
        Always did it this way, because you only need to copy it once and steam (and all online distribution) sucks with a 1 mbit/s connection.

        Uplay works since some time, if the game is in the new format. Did it with Far Cry 4, already forgot what to do exactly. No idea about Origin.

        • Christopher Kerr says:

          Origin you can just copy the game folders around and it will cope, more or less. It might redownload a bit, but that’s a lot less painful than re-downloading all 60GB of BF4 + DLC.

          That’s about the only thing I like about Origin, though, it bugs out in stupid ways that require a restart way too often for my liking.

    • Alex says:

      “Sure, I can’t play Plants VS Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 on Steam, but I can’t play Half-Life 2 on Origin either.”

      But there is a significant difference there: I actually give a damn whether or not I can play Half Life 2, because Half Life 2 is not crap. Steam, Uplay and Origin all have their hostages that I will never get to play if I don’t give in to their demands, but Steam’s hostages are games I actually care about. If Uplay has a gun to Assassin Creed’s head, I’m going to tell them to pull the trigger.

      • Squirly says:

        Ain’t that the truth. The biggest problem with Origin and Uplay is that they mostly only have EA and Ubisoft games, respectively. At least, that was the case last time I looked at the Origin and Uplay storefront. I have them installed, I just haven’t bothered to start them any time recently because Steam and GOG do everything I need and have everything I want to play.

        I get that there are many that want to play the latest Battlefield, or the Division, but none of those games can get me to start up either Origin or Uplay. Mind you, that’s me.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Remember the days when it didnt matter what store sold you a game,you could run it anyway?

    • Xeorm says:

      It also helps that Steam has been pretty good about offering extras over what other stores could give, and by being first they could be allowed some leeway in getting things properly programmed. Back when installing PC games was a royal pain and digital downloads were still relatively new, I could accept some problems with it and the annoyance of having to use this platform to get what I wanted.

      New upstarts just don’t have that same leeway, and so I’ll expect them to have everything I like about Steam or else face less traffic. If the only thing you have to go against Steam is holding games I’ve bought or am looking to buy hostage, then don’t expect me to happy about your service. It’s just not the experience I’m looking for when I’m purchasing your products.

      Origin’s “on the house” bit is at least somewhat interesting, but uPlay is pure crap. I’ve seen zero reason to use it, besides holding games hostage. It strikes me as something suits think is required to have, and that any traffic is good, but really, all it does is make me want to use the thing less. You want to make me use your program? Don’t make me use it, but offer goodies if I use it.

    • Echo Tango says:

      This is why I buy games on GoG every chance I get. It’s a competitor to Steam that’s better than Steam, Origin, Uplay, etc, largely because the company took a strong stance on not having DRM in their games after you’ve bought and downloaded them. They treat you like an honest customer first, and not guilty until proven innocent. :)

      • Humanoid says:

        Quite fond of GOG, aside from the few times they’ve really slacked on validating a patch submitted by the developers. Obviously there are various pros and cons associated with validating and packaging said patches, but it does create some discontent when people have to wait a few days to get a patch that was available immediately on Steam.

        I wonder if it’s even possible for a developer to just release a standalone patcher for their own game outside GOG’s vetting process. If that’s not possible, at least a “beta patch” sort of program that bypassed those hoops would help ease perceptions of them just sitting on their hands.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Another great thing about gog is their new “games in development” program,which even in its early stages is light years ahead of steams greenlight.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          I thought it was more an answer to Steam’s “Early Access” than it was to Greenlight? But yeah, so far it seems better thanks to increased curation.

    • Ysen says:

      I disagree that Steam isn’t better than uPlay. uPlay is a mess which frequently prevents you playing games you bought and lacks many of the features which Valve uses to add value to its client.

      Also, Steam is known for having frequent sales with steep discounts. This goes some way towards offsetting the perceived reduction in value – having to run Steam means the product is worth less, so they sell it for less.

    • Phill says:

      Steam is better than uPlay, and I say that as someone who doesn’t like Steam. I refused to buy civ 5 for many years because there was no steam-free version (I eventually caved in and bought the complete edition for £5 during a sale). I object to Steam, but it is at least tolerable and relatively unobtrusive

      uPlay on the other hand was bad enough that I uninstalled the free Assassin’s Creed III game I had because starting up uPlay to try and play the game was just so obnoxious and so much more intrusive than being lumped with Steam to play civ 5.

  6. Retsam says:

    *Sees “Stardew Valley” in Title*

    This episode is not going to do wonders for my ability to resist buying that game, I suspect.

    • lurkey says:

      Bought it. Day 1: had my dude chop wood/bash stones around a bit, he got exhausted. Crawled to town speedily as an overloaded Morrowind character with zero points in speed. Town hall was closed and there was nothing else that would even remotely pass for a pub; some lady trolled me by entering her house when I tried to talk to her and going back outside as soon as I was too far away to attempt to strike conversation. Found a hobo, he said “Hi” and that was it. By then, it was night already and I couldn’t be arsed to drag the slow-mo guy all the way back to his stupid farmhouse so I parked him in the nearest swamp, where he’d still be if I bothered to google how to bloody save this game.

      Clearly I’m too much of a concrete and car exhaust kid to enjoy the countryside idyll.

      • nerdpride says:

        I might like it. I liked the original Harvest Moon anyway, no idea where that series went since then.

        It looks like they tried to put in skill upgrades for a feeling of progression but that sounds frustrating. If I could just learn about farming instead of some artificial numbers increasing, I think that’d be really neat and feel less like grinding. Not that Harvest Moon on the SNES didn’t feel grindy.

        One of my friends studied farming in school. Maybe I should sometime ask what a “modern-homestead” sort of what the game tries to show would look like.

  7. Robyrt says:

    Man, Epic Megagames had some killer soundtracks. Jill of the Jungle, Xargon, Jazz Jackrabbit, Tyrian, One Must Fall – all the early ’90s stuff is awesome. (Not that I am endorsing anyone actually play Xargon…)

    • John says:

      GOG gave me a free copy of Tyrian 2000 when I made my first purchase. As it turns out, it’s one of the few games that will run on my aged netbook. Tyrian is a fun little time-waster, but I think I’ve gotten more use and enjoyment from the soundtrack. It works wonders when I’m doing something worthwhile but dull like jogging or washing dishes.

  8. Alex says:

    I also liked Jill of the Jungle. …I’m not going to go into more detail than that.

    Re: XCOM2
    Everything about XCOM2 makes me want to shove Firaxis out of the way to do it myself. The lore, the new aliens, the classes*, the lack of UFO combat, everything. Modular maps and mod support is good, but if I ever buy the game, it will be when it’s cheap enough that I’m willing to rewrite it.

    * In my half-mental, half-written rewrite, each of your soldiers gets a 7 level primary class (Assault, Heavy Weapons, Marksman, Support, Psionic Operative) and can take an additional 3 level secondary class. So you could have Psionic Operative/Infiltrator who gains a “Jedi Mind Trick” passive power so weak-willed enemies don’t think he’s worth raising the alarm over, or an Assault/Psionic Operative who is basically a Vanguard from Mass Effect.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      I think a good way to solve the kill animation overabundance is to restrict it to critical hits. (do they have those in X-COM?) That way they would appear less often and actually be a treat because the second it starts you know your soldier is about to kick ass.

      • Aspeon says:

        XCOM2 has crits, so that’d be a start. I think the lamest part is when it goes into cinematic mode for a long string of Overwatch shots that don’t do anything, so maybe it could do those when they’re going to lead to a kill.

        You could also argue that making Overwatch animations long and slow is just another one of the ways they nerfed Overwatch in this game. :)

        • Humanoid says:

          Well if I had my way, crits would never happen outside of flanking/exposed shots, or via perks. Hate hate hate the notion of having a small base chance to crit for absolutely no raisin.

          Fortunately I could pretty easily have my way by just zeroing out all the crit values in the plaintext game files. But I don’t see myself going back to the game anytime soon (having finished it just this past weekend), so it’s something to do post-expansion or whatever.

          • sheer_falacy says:

            You have 0 base chance to crit. Some weapons and abilities give you increased chance to hit, but an assault rifle shooting into cover has 0 chance to crit by default.

            • Humanoid says:

              I’ll dive into some of the ini files when I get home I guess. I assume aliens will have some base chance, hadn’t really paid attention to my own soldiers, I assumed it was 10% like in EU.

              • Humanoid says:

                Yeah, looks like 0 crit chance is attached to assault rifles, pistols and LMGs. Sniper rifles get 10% base, shotguns and swords have an increased bonus based on tier. Aliens have separate crit entries for each difficulty, typically set to 10%, sometimes 20%. Personally I’d zero them out to both sides but perhaps increase the chance while flanking. I do, after all, like to play with Absolutely Critical on Long War.

          • Alex says:

            “Hate hate hate the notion of having a small base chance to crit for absolutely no raisin.”

            Not having criticals is unrealistic. If you fire a gun at someone, there should be a chance that you get lucky and hit him in just the right spot and do a whole lot more damage than you would otherwise.

            • Humanoid says:

              Then simulate that chance, like how Jagged Alliance 2 allowed targetting specific locations. Lower chance to hit but more damage when it lands. For a regular shot, the regular damage range of 3-5 damage is enough variability as it stands without having to factor in crits.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Unrealistic?In a game where your soldiers can stand near an exploding plasma grenade and survive?Cant have that!

              Look,the whole game is an abstraction*,and whether its “realistic” or not is unimportant.Whether its fun** is whats important.

              *Every game is an abstraction ultimately,and youll never have realism in them.Sacrificing stuff on the altar of realism is bad.
              **Or to use a better term:engaging.

    • Grimwear says:

      Having watched some Xcom 2 gameplay without having actually played it I found the fact you got cinematic mode for every. single. shot. really annoying. In Xcom 1 it only happened on a guaranteed kill so it was a bit of a treat to watch knowing they were going to die. Now it’s just a time waster but worse than that since I’ll constantly forget and be like “O that guy’s dead it went cinematic!…nevermind miss.” Also overwatch always went for cinematic slowdown even Xcom 1 so I’ll forgive it but making it only do that for kills would also be a good plan.

      As for the constant delays and thinking about the action you just chose I find it funny that one of the first mods was called Stop Wasting My Time and decreases those delays.

    • Echo Tango says:

      My top things to re-do in XCOM2:
      – Make all of the menu animations shorter than a quarter second.
      – Make the menu animations interruptible by player action.
      – Make the slow-motion battle cam stuff interruptible by the player.
      – Put in check-marks to entirely disable menu animations, floating heads, slo-mo cams, etc.
      – Get rid of the buttons to unequip stuff from guys not in combat, and just replace it with what should have been in there in the first place. i.e. Dudes not in combat don’t have their gear allocated to them, and when they come back they get it auto-allocated to them again. If two dudes are both fighting over the same “Deathreaper IV” shotgun, pop up a dialog box to inform the player so they can resolve it.
      – Make soldiers gained from the black market and missions a random, lower rank, and put them at lower prices and in more mission rewards. Then you have a chance at a comeback if you lose too many dudes and are short on cash. Right now, it just seems like a way for an already-winning player to get more soldiers they don’t need.
      – Re-model the snake boobs to be not snake boobs.
      – When you rename a gun, solder, etc, you get a list of other guns’ and soldiers’ names, so you can avoid making a duplicate.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    My daughter Rachel went out and got herself a full-time job, and doesn’t have time to edit the show. So my son Issac took over. So audio may be a little wobbly for the next few weeks until he learns the ropes. We’ll see how it goes.

    So you are saying that this podcast depends on the timing of Issac?

  10. Paul Spooner says:

    I was really excited about No Man’s Sky when it first hit the scene, but since then it doesn’t seem to be developing or going in directions that interest me. Why must we turn everything into an FPS?

    • Ringwraith says:

      Supposedly ground shooting isn’t the focus?
      Mostly just exploring stuff. Then forgetting to place a marker where you landed your ship, and thus aimlessly trying to find where you parked it as you don’t have a recall function yet.

      Space shooting is also an option though.

    • Christopher says:

      The recent preview content just makes it appear to be a survival game(that is, I think the very first line in Giant Bomb’s coverage is “No Man’s Sky is a survival game.”). Gathering resources and all that. Like they said about Stardew Valley, I leave it up to you to decide if you think that sounds very exciting or incredibly dull.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I never thought of myself as a photosensitive person, but this is brutal. Either this game is really harsh, or this is age-related.

    Its the constant tilting.Lights alone dont bother me,but combined with those tilts,it was pretty hard to look at.

  12. IFS says:

    Man Josh and Shamus being so down on Xcom2 makes me a bit sad because I really enjoyed it and even feel it’s by and large an improvement over EU/EW. That said I am probably more forgiving of bugs/slowdown than Josh since I’m running it on my laptop as opposed to his monster of a PC. Other than loading screens and enemy turns taking a bit too long the only bugs I saw were Josh’s jumping-viper bug and the final boss room turning into a rave.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      See,I disagree.Xcom 2 is better than vanilla 1,but enemy within is superior to 2.Long war beats all three by a huge margin however.

      The performance of 2 however is worse than vanilla 1.Especially if you dont get the mods to stop the game from wasting your time and just shutting the hell up.

      • ehlijen says:

        Long war has a lot of neat ideas (more guns, freedom to equip, satellites not win buttons etc), but several of the changes utterly frustrate me.

        The soldier cycle-through enforced by fatigue is utterly at odds with the increased skill customisation. The game makes you treat soldiers as interchangeable by forcing you to take different ones on each successive mission, but at the same time throws more diversification tools at you. What does the game want from me? To make them redundant or unique?
        And the side effect of having to reequip the entire squad for each mission is a not insignificant hassle as well (you’ll never be able to afford enough gear to avoid that).

        The mission density compared to progress speed in the strategic layer is far too high. If you’re super in love with the combat system, sure, but all sense of progress gets lost if it takes 5+ missions to research a new gun and then 5+ more to actually build it.

        And air combat, oh god the air combat. I get their tools were limited, but making the only instance of consumable items in the game (which are also dependent on ground mission success for resources) vital to successful air combat was not a move I liked. Nor did I enjoy interceptors essentially being useless for the first few months (they can only tackle small ufos and even then will be out for weeks for repairs, meaning even small ufos will often succeed at their missions).

        I eventually got it semi working in a fashion I enjoyed, but it’s definitely a true mod:
        A drastic change to the game by someone with a specific idea of what they liked about the game and little regard as to who shares that view. Fantastic if you fall into that group, frustrating if you don’t.

        • Humanoid says:

          Fatigue for me is the one best thing about Long War. Technically it’s not the fatigue as such, but its consequences in terms of roster management: assembling the squad in the first place and intelligently selecting squads for each mission. And having a roster of 50+ Twenty-siders feels awesome.

          Not to say it doesn’t have holes. Perhaps most important is that the heavy incentivisation of training up rookies ASAP makes the first month extremely boring to the extent that I’d recommend anyone playing just make a backup of their save at the end of the first month and start any subsequent campaigns from there.

          Long War is a long way from being perfect – indeed I’d go so far as to say that johnnylump’s design philosophy is often diametrically opposite to mine – but the best part of it is that in almost every case where I disagree with said design, I can easily find the relevant rule in the game files in plain text and set them to whatever I like. The remaining things are simply engine limitations, like the loadout UI only supporting 6 soldiers onscreen, or the equipment submenu only being able to display four item slots at a time. Air combat still sucks of course, and if I were starting a new game I’d definitely mod it heavily to make it more deterministic (perhaps guaranteed hits at all times but proportionally lowered damage per shot).

          Fortunately XCOM 2 has followed this approach and is similarly customisable, which is a massive boon after the experience of having to do hex-editing to make even the smallest change to EU/EW.

          (For the record, I agree with DL’s assertion that EU < XCOM2 < EW < LW)

          • ehlijen says:

            I’m not saying I hate fatigue. I’m just saying I don’t think forced turnover and deep rosters fits the same theme as high customization and individualism in the soldiers.
            Take for example leveling: it happens after each mission. Then the soldier will be out for the next 2-4 missions. By then, are you really still excited about the new skill they learned?

            • Humanoid says:

              Usually it’s more 1-2 missions, but sure, mission pile-ups happen. I don’t really notice it though, partly maybe because I often don’t bother selecting a perk until they’re ready to go out again, or otherwise I can double mission them if that perk is really important for whatever reason for the next mission.

              Typically there’s only a couple of builds I use for each class anyway so there’s not much of the individualism theme that I see. I’ll have HEAT gunners and Bullet Wizard gunners, typically three of each in the roster, and XP aside they’d be fully interchangeable. Indeed for a fair few of them I roll with just the one build – Rocketeers and pre-Archangel Snipers for example.

        • Echo Tango says:

          The game makes you treat soldiers as interchangeable by forcing you to take different ones on each successive mission

          I actually experienced it as being forced to switch up tactics on any given mission, rather than treat my guys as interchangeable. This is kind of the same feeling I got from playing XCOM2 with wounded soldiers.

          • ehlijen says:

            For me, it encouraged never experimenting with the skill options and just leveling everyone in the same class the same so I’d have an easier time keeping track of which abilities I had in a mission and which I didn’t.

            Maybe with training roulette it would have been different, but then it might also simply have crashed my brain trying to remember 40+ soldiers abilities and possibly made squad selection for each mission an endless fiddly nightmare…

            • Humanoid says:

              The customisation is more in terms of squad selection versus anticipated map type, and I think that’s all the depth I need in that regard. Training Roulette was an interesting change-up to the shallow vanilla perk choices, but I haven’t had the slightest temptation to run it in Long War. Once MECs come online the options open up a little and you start having alternate options for each role, which is interesting without being overwhelming.

              Don’t get me wrong, in a perfect world all the soldiers would be distinct individuals instead of a few cookie-cutter builds, but I think in a game of 16 classes it’d just be overwhelming when you take up to eight (and sometimes more) at a time.

              The level of customisation is there, but I think in practice it’s working to allow different people to develop their preferred playstyle using their 1-2 builds they feel works best for them and which may be completely different to the 1-2 builds used by a different person, rather than one person having 4+ different builds.

              To raise a previous example, some people absolutely swear by concealment scouts, others like to use them as in-close finishers with ITZ shotgunning. I’ve discovered neither of those fit my playstyle and instead have found them most effective as a makeshift second-sniper, using a Marksman rifle and scope to open engagements at squad-sight range using Hit and Run. All my rocketeers are fully dedicated to their rockets despite their potential as an accurate overwatcher, where on the other end of the spectrum I’ll always build my medics around utility instead of healing – having a secondary suppression source is indispensable.

            • Echo Tango says:

              so I’d have an easier time keeping track of which abilities I had in a mission

              On my second game, I just used the nickname of each soldier for this.
              John “Mentlegen” Smith allowed me to know easily that John’s a stealth-based ranger instead of a sword-based ranger, and was still a nick-namey fun thing. In the cases where I had two dudes of the same role, I’d use two different nicknames that both evoke the same image in my brain. i.e. “Fish-Bat” and “Conan” are both sword-based rangers.

    • sheer_falacy says:

      It didn’t make me feel sad, mostly just annoyed. Some of their concerns are correct (game sitting there for no reason sometimes, though not nearly as often for me as for Josh), some are subjective and/or can be turned off in the menu anyway (cinematic camera when you take a shot), and some are just wrong (70% chance to hit with a good squad and good weapons – if you’re shooting a gatekeeper or something in high cover, then sure). I shouted at my car’s speakers a lot during that discussion.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I, too, have been enjoying XCOM 2 far more than Josh apparently. Of course, I’m a big fan of V, so perhaps “XCOM as a guerilla operation” is actually pretty appealing to me. I haven’t seen as many of the bugs, and I like the overwatch cam. Once you get used the fact that the cam doesn’t mean “instant kill,” it’s just as exciting (actually a bit more for me) as the old system.

        Likewise, I like the idea of managing time. Do I go on this mission and risk the Avatar Project advancing, or do I let that mission go -possibly forever -to assault one of the story bases. I agree, sometimes a retaliation or guerilla mission comes up at an inopportune time, but that feels appropriate to the set-up.

        I also like that, rather than having some aliens disappear after a certain point (Thin Men and Sectoids in the first game) they are replaced by “elite” versions, thus keeping the difficulty curve ramping up, but also meaning you don’t have to stockpile corpses for future research.

        • Humanoid says:

          I wish they did something more visually interesting with them though. I don’t mind upgraded versions of early-game aliens, after all, Heavy Floaters, Muton Elites and Sectoid Commanders were a thing. I’d be totally fine just giving them corpses generic to their base type, but please just make them distinctive beyond their HP bars.

          I don’t mind the idea of what they’ve done with the Avenger gameplay, but in practice it rarely matters. When I have the choice of scanning multiple sites, it never really feels like I’ve changed my strategic position in any real way. The doom ticker never felt particularly threatening, at least on Commander difficulty, though I guess if I didn’t already know that them completing the ticker meant nothing I may have gotten worried a couple of times. I let it tick up to 10/12, but I always had the knowledge I had a couple of plot missions I could undertake any time I liked to knock it back down, it didn’t feel like a threat at all.

          It’s still an improvement over EU/EW’s strategic layer, so I can’t complain too much I guess. It’s a shame in the end it rarely if ever felt any different to just hitting the “Scan for activity” button, but that’s an issue that can be solved by tweaking around the edges instead of needing a complete overhaul.

          P.S. I do note that of all the people I’ve talked with, only one has ever had a mission to raid a UFO, so they’re probably a bit too rare. When a major complaint about the game is the sameyness of missions, it seems weird to withhold some mission types to a few special snowflakes.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            P.S. I do note that of all the people I’ve talked with, only one has ever had a mission to raid a UFO,

            Really?Ive had 5 ufo raids in 3 playthroughs myself.They arent what Id call rare.

            • Humanoid says:

              None whatsoever. Only found out they existed when I saw Beagle tackling such a mission. Also know two people who didn’t have a Base Defense either, not sure how that works because I got one that seemed to happen randomly, no Dark Event, and no UFO even remotely near me.

          • Phobian says:

            I’ve been loving XCom2, hopefully they will eventually solve the performance issues. I do long for the whole concept of ‘each class is two subclasses’ thing from Long War, but OTOH most of the classes actually have two viable builds that change how the soldier gets used (Long range/gunslinger sharpshooter, Healer/dedicated hacker specialist) – though after having played through the game I think grenadiers and rangers have one build using both sides of the tree that I would ever use, but that might be due to my own preferences.

            Whilst the percentages are down, there’s also less penalty to the liberal use of explosives in this game which helps, and various abilities and gun upgrades really help to counter the more RNG-heavy shooting.

            I’ve never seen a UFO land and I’m about 80% through my second playthrough. I also talked with a friend who had an Avenger defense quite early on, so there’s definitely some randomness there.

            I’m looking forward to the DLC they have coming.

            Oh, and in case anyone is interested in mods – the EVAC All, Overwatch All/Others and Show Enemies on Mission mods are essential for me (that last one doesn’t give you cheat information, it’s an interface rearrangement)

  13. AR+ says:

    If you’re talking about portability, you might want to check out the exciting things happening with asm.js.

    tl;dr: A C/C++ to Javascript transcompiler that uses a strongly-typed subset of JS that can be optimized at runtime by the browser to run at about half native speed of compiled C. Combine with WebGL and you can even have GPU acceleration.

    Demo game

    Work is ongoing, but Firefox and Chrome are already on board with asm.js based optimization.

    • Da Mage says:

      If you know what you are doing with JavaScript it is plenty fast enough to do a game. With WebGL taking the brunt of graphics processing (which is the most expensive part), there is no reason you cannot write your game in raw JavaScript and still have it run at an acceptable speed.

      I should know, I based my Honours thesis on performance critical JavaScript code.

  14. utzel says:

    @12:00
    Not very long, Quantum Break will only be available on PC on the Windows Store.

  15. Phrozenflame500 says:

    You know, I really love XCOM2 (it’s way better then Within IMO), but the performance problems are really completely indefensible. There are mods that reduce the “cinematic” lag, speeds up the game in general, and removes some of the more egregious poor UI decisions. But even with those mods there are so many underlying bugs that in some cases do affect gameplay that really need to be patched ASAP. It really shouldn’t have been shipped in such a state.

    Anyways, I disagree with many of Josh’s gameplay complaints. A lot of the accuracy rebalances are there to emphasize weapon mods (which give guaranteed damage/more accuracy), encourage the use of the more varied abilities as well as to encourage flanking. I found Within tended to devolve into “trench-warfare” cover use where you had to use explosives to get an advantage while XCOM2’s more sporadic cover means you can flank more reliably (and be flanked more often).

    All that being said, enemy dodging is some hot fucking bullshit.

    • Humanoid says:

      Explosives are way better in XCOM 2 and absolutely form the dominant strategy, especially given the prevalence of timed missions where the expedience of explosives further inflates their value. It’s crazy to me that it’s hard to get any abilities that allow multiple shots, but that Salvo, the perk that allows multiple uses of explosives per turn, is easily obtainable with minimal opportunity cost.

      Shooting is further disincentivised by perks that allowed for intelligent gunplay being made more difficult to access, if not removed altogether. Close Combat Specialist and Close Encounters have been replaced by significantly weaker analogues (the former being melee-range only and the latter only allowing a move action after shooting, and that’s only if the shot was a kill). Chain Shot has the aim debuff and hit requirement, things absent from Double Tap, Bullet Swarm/Light ’em Up, and adds a longer cooldown to boot. Serial is debateable as it’s like In The Zone without the no-cover restriction, but it has a long cooldown and kills are less obtainable given the bullet-spongey nature of most XCOM 2 enemies.

      Even if Demolition didn’t hopelessly suck (what was wrong with EW/LW Collateral Damage?), it’s still completely redundant when Grenadiers can carry four uses of cover destruction each with the perk and the heavy armour. By and large, there are the same number of pods/aliens on each map in the new game as there were in the old, so even more liberal use of explosives is encouraged.

      Point is, there was a very much intentional reduction in firepower for your troops, and that’s totally fine in terms of balancing the game on its own merits, but the increased power of explosives totally undermines any such notion of balancing. And that’s before even mentioning Dodge – an ability I think that might actually serve best if completely removed against bullets but applied for explosives.

      And if guns weren’t comparatively weak enough, they also went ahead and drastically reduced the close range (CLOSE RANGE?!) aim bonuses such that point blank shots are no longer even close to guaranteed hits so you absolutely must grenade that last hp on that trooper or else risk a 15% “screw you rookie” death. That’s idiotic design. (The close range bonus caps out at +20% at point blank in XCOM2, vs 37% previously, when added to base rookie aim of 65, it means 85% in XCOM 2, 100%+ in EU/EW)

      • Echo Tango says:

        they also went ahead and drastically reduced the close range (CLOSE RANGE?!) aim bonuses such that point blank shots

        Actually, they’ve even put in some too-close range penalties in the game now. I think they only apply to sniper rifles, so it doesn’t really feel bad to me. :)

        • Humanoid says:

          Well yeah, that’s always existed, if anything it’s a bit milder now? Also the aim penalties for long range shotgun shots have been relaxed quite a bit as well. That, and shotguns are way, way cheaper to upgrade than any other weapon type (cheaper than some secondary weapon types even). So grenades and shotguns, all you’ll ever need to beat XCOM 2.

          I miss my Marksman Rifles. :(

      • Phrozenflame500 says:

        Mulling it over I think I agree. When I was going through the late-game in my campaign (Veteran, so this might change in higher difficulties), I found that shooting was very much a “last-resort” option of sorts for my troops if they couldn’t use an ability that cause guaranteed damage such as a grenade or psionics. I guess the thing the really engendered me to XCOM2’s combat was the prevalence of the more powerful abilities that made the game play a lot faster compared with EU where overwatch turtling was the dominant strategy. And how things like concealment scouting made moving forward a lot less of a gamble.

        I might go back and play some more EW since it’s been a while since I’ve played it and I might think differently after a refresher.

        • Humanoid says:

          None of the major story missions have a timer, so the optimal strategy is to engage one pod, throw all you powerful psi abilities like they were going out of fashion, then just wait 5 turns for all of them to recharge, rinse-repeat. Some people might say that’s an argument for more timed missions, but eh, I’d say it’s an argument against the design of Psi abilities as they stand. (And also an argument against stupidly drawn-out final missions which are completely irrelevant except for the final room)

          Concealment scouting is totally a thing in Long War, by the way, but I prefer my scouts to be damage sources instead so it’s not a tactic I ever really used.

          • Phrozenflame500 says:

            I haven’t actually played Long War, I’ve heard good things about it and I know XCOM2 took a bunch of things from it so I might try it out to see how it compares.

            I remember when XCOM2 first came out and people were constantly complaining about timed-missions, but really the game is horribly unbalanced without it (especially that final mission, which as you said is basically just cooldown abuse incarnate). It’s definitely a design issue, and I’m not entirely sure how to solve it without nerfing the power of the psi/cooldown abilities in general.

            • Humanoid says:

              Optional objectives would be a decent starting point, I mean EW had meld and that was often incentive enough to take risky moves. I’m very much Meld-starved in my on-hold Long War game at the moment, and no timers there.

          • Gruhunchously says:

            Firaxis has made no secret of the fact that they used Long War as an inspiration for some of the design features in XCOM 2, and balanced others around the dominant strategies used by veteran EU/EW/LW streamers. And, perhaps not coincidentally, the loudest complaints I hear about the game come from both Long War buffs who say that it’s too binary and simple, and mainstream players who say that it’s too punishing and complex. Maybe, in an honest attempt to court both crowds, they ended up settling on an uncomfortable middle ground between complexity and accessibility that satisfied very few.

            For the record, I’ve been enjoying XCOM 2 a great deal.

            • Humanoid says:

              Individual features yeah, but as a whole it plays almost like a diametric opposite of Long War, really. Not sure how intentional that is, maybe it’s just a side-effect of the insanely aggressive AI, but any attempt to play it like Long War would end in complete disaster.

              There’s literally an ini setting that controls the tendency for the AI to move just for the hell of it. Weird.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Firaxis has said they weren’t aware of the performance issues before release, and many reviewers have said the pre-release build ran far better than the official release’s does.
      So I’m liable to believe them.

  16. John says:

    Josh’s tale of disappearing-reappearing enemies in XCOM 2 reminds me of similar (but less severe) problems in another Firaxis game, Civilization IV. In Civ IV, most units are normally represented graphically as a group of three soldiers. So it’s odd to watch what should be a group of three swordsmen storming an enemy city be represented as two swordsmen and their invisible friend. It’s odder still when the two visible swordsmen die in the assault leaving the invisible friend to kill all remaining enemies. Other times, the game will decide that, say, half the soldiers in a unit are standing not with their friends but on the other side of the screen and they have to run to catch up when the unit moves. Thankfully, the glitches seem to be solely graphical in nature and things generally return to sanity at the beginning of the next turn.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      So the really funny thing about this -I had not encountered the bug.

      And then Josh started talking about it and an Andromedan up and disappeared.

      And I had not had the “everyone misses except the one grazing hit” event (I’ve had some where everyone missed, but it was never a full 6 person squad). And then Josh started talking and boom -all 6 squad members missed, except the Heavy who dot a “dodged graze” for 2.

      I think it’s just the Curse of Josh.

  17. Ninety-Three says:

    Because no one else has mentioned it, I’ll chime in to confirm: Yes, the Steam tax is 30%.

  18. Dragmire says:

    No Man’s Sky seems like an indie game that got a AAAish marketing budget/push. Without the marketing it got, I doubt they would have had confidence in a $60 price tag.

    hearsay

    I’ve heard the way Xcom calculates hit chance is weird. Something like the chance isn’t calculated each time you fire but before you even started the mission. Regardless of displayed % chance if a shot is going to miss, it will miss. Using another soldier to take the missing shot so the one you need to hit actually does is apparently a way around this. The reason this exists is to help thwart action by action save scumming.

    Snake boobs are apparently venom sacks that use the pectoral muscles to help project the venom at greater distances. This venom shooting feature is not part of gameplay.

    /hearsay

    For farming RPGs, I think my favorite is Rune Factory. I like farming but prefer it to stay beside combat focused gameplay.

    • Aspeon says:

      The hit chance does factor into the calculation, it’s just the random numbers that are predetermined. Think of as the computer rolling a bunch of d100s: 77, 36, 29… (The technical term for this is “seeding” the random number generator: a computer can’t really generate random numbers, so it picks a number as the seed and plugs it into an algorithm that generates a series of random-looking numbers.)

      When you attack, it takes the next roll off the list and compares it to the shot’s hit chance: if you take a 70% shot first, 70 is less than 77, and the shot misses. If you make another shot with another soldier to “use up” that 77, your next shot will get the 36 instead and hit. However, if you had an 80% shot in the first place, it would’ve hit.

      What XCOM 2 does do to mess with with hit chance is that, if you’re playing on any difficulty other than Legendary, the real hit chance may actually be higher than the hit chance displayed. Basically, there’s a flat multiplier on the easier difficulties, and every time you miss you get an accuracy bonus with future shots until you hit. (See this Reddit post for the gory details.)

      • Dragmire says:

        I suppose it just feels weird to me to have the roll take place before the action. Imagine playing DnD where the DM does a bunch of rolls for your actions and lists them a paper only they can see. The numbers are all legit rolls, done with the appropriate dice. As you play, the DM tells you how you succeeded based on going down the list of numbers.

        It just feels off to me.

        • Humanoid says:

          Calculating the rolls before the action is fine. XCOM 2 really blurs the boundaries though when it applies the results in non-sequential order. The net effect may only be seen through animation while ending up with the correct result, but it can be very distracting.

          Proximity Mines are an obvious example: I might mine a pod standing by a car for example, then shoot with a sniper to activate them. The pod scatters first into safe positions, then they take damage, then the car explodes. Uh-huh.

          Fall damage is another. I shoot a grenade at an unsuspecting Muton on a rooftop. First thing that happens is that he just slumps against the wall as if knocked out. A few seconds later the explosion happens and he falls through. Then a few more seconds later he gets up and takes more damage from the fall. The result is correct in the end, but it’s immersion-shattering and it’s a massive contributor to how unpolished the game feels in general.

          • Echo Tango says:

            The falling damage feels especially wrong to me with the turrets. I mean, I get that if a turret did fall through a floor, it would probably be sideways, bent, and have all its power cables ripped. But that just makes it all the more head-scratchy, when the aliens didn’t reinforce that section of floor. Especially, when turrets are (almost?) always on a corner of a building, where there should already be some strong I-beams and stuff. :S

        • Taellosse says:

          I’ve known GMs that do exactly that. Not with player character rolls, but for the ones the GM would be doing, for situational events and NPCs. Saves time, and is another method of throwing the players off (they never hear the roll of dice before something outside their control happens).

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Firaxis did this in some of their other games, I know it’s toggable for at least some of the Civ series, (under an option called “randomized seed” or something). As a factor meant to limit savescumming I think it’s meant to appeal to strategy purists.

  19. Silfir says:

    There’s no question that the XCOM 2 bugs and glitches are indefensible. How long it’ll take for Firaxis to fix everything, I can’t say.

    On the accuracy – XCOM 2 has a lot more different types of explosives, grenades, abilities and other ways to mitigate the lack of accuracy. There’s a lot more variety in general, in enemy types, weapon types, equipment… I think the combat in XCOM 2 is a lot more fun than in XCOM 1 and I don’t think I would go back. Though that’s mostly down to XCOM 2 getting rid of the big, big glaring weakness of XCOM 1: the lack of procedural map generation. You simply don’t fall into a routine of “I know this map, I know where the spans are, yawn yawn” anymore.

    Where I honestly feel Josh really doesn’t give XCOM 2 a fair shake is the strategic map gameplay. It’s crucial to point out Enemy Within didn’t *have* strategic map gameplay; you just hit “Scan” over and over and waited for stuff to happen. XCOM 2’s strategic map is a constant string of meaningful choices put in front of you. There are radio relays to build, resistance cells to contact, rare scanning bonuses to take advantage of – and occasionally unexpected things happen that require your immediate attention. Everything you do makes a difference. I get that it’s an unfamiliar feeling if you came into the game used to the predecessor, but worse? I don’t think so.

    Thematically – I think the “resistance fighter” fits the gameplay of XCOM, especially the reboot, much better than the “paramilitary task force” thing ever did. There was always a bit of a suspension of disbelief thing going on with that – can the nations of the world really not provide more than one base, one skyranger, more than a handful of rookies to work with? Why does Earth’s defense against the alien invasion consist of squad-based tactical operations guns blazing, rather than combined warfare? There was a lot of handwaving going around that XCOM 2 doesn’t have to bother with; all the limitations are now explained.

    If only the damn thing wasn’t bug-ridden to the brim and beyond… XCOM 2 would be a triumph of a sequel.

    • Humanoid says:

      I loved the procedural map generation at first. But by the end of my one and only finished campaign, it seemed more a mildly interesting footnote, as it doesn’t really matter if each city block is randomly placed when they’re all architecturally cut from the same cloth. It’s not a complaint about the procedural generation as such, but rather the lack of art assets being used in said generation: every single city could pass for any other, every suburb map may as well have been in the same neighbourhood, that Siberian tundra looks like like ….that Saharan tundra.

      I’m not saying I’d back a return to the pre-generated, hand-designed maps of EU, but in its current state I think there’s not enough variety in the new maps to have justified the change. It’s great that they’ve got the tech working to produce balanced procedurally generated maps, but they haven’t yet really taken advantage of its potential. In the meantime, it’s stripped away a lot of the personality of the old maps and I’m not sure it’s been a worthwhile tradeoff.

      Ah, personality. If I had to distill XCOM 2’s shortcomings in terms of a single word, that would be it.

      • Humanoid says:

        To expand on this a bit, the other major aspect in which personality seems to have been stripped clean is enemy design. I get that it makes sense thematically, but when half the enemies are just Advent subtypes. Some wear black. Some wear red. Some wear white. Some wear black and have a stick. And if that wasn’t enough, the remaining aliens also tended to lean towards more humanoid forms than the previous game. The Mechs are much more humanoid than Mechtoids were previously. Pectoids? Naked humans. Codices? Orange translucent humans. Final boss? Spiky haired human

        Then they go out of their way to have berserkers look different to regular Mutons, only to have them show up for maybe 2-3 missions in a typical campaign, then make a new alien type that shows up in every late-game mission look pretty much like a Muton, despite being an entirely new species.

        • Echo Tango says:

          The worst part of the enemy blandness, is that half of the enemies are just more-hitpoint versions of earlier enemies. Stuff like “Advanced Turret” or “Hardened Soldier”, or whatever they actually are. Just feels like a lazy way to increase the difficulty of the game, when all the rest of the enemies are unique and interesting. Hell, I think they aren’t even pallette-swaps either; They literally just have a different name text, and hitpoints. :S

          • ehlijen says:

            Another problem for me: because of the game’s push to finish encounters quickly and decisively (virtually no inhibitions against explosive use, ambush, plenty of AoE effects even for non-grenadiers etc), I never even got a feel for what the different aliens could or couldn’t do.

            I took my second campaign to learn that the archon’s can actually shoot with their staves and have a rocket barrage ability, because I finally failed to kill one the turn it appeared.

            I still haven’t seen an ‘open’ gatekeeper (I’m told they can open), either, and I’ve deliberately left one alive (and fed it mimics) for a few turns instead of EMPing it to death just to get a look. Nothing.

            • Humanoid says:

              That’s what mind control is for I guess. In my completed campaign I’ve seen a Gatekeeper open exactly once. It was ….unimpressive as it did a psi attack for 6 damage and I thought to myself “that’s it?”. Seems less threatening then the times I regularly see them hit my Meme Beacons with regular closed shots. I’ve seen Sectopods shoot a grand total of twice, and an Andromedon just the once.

              The way hitpoints are balanced in XCOM 2 is reponsible for a lot of this, as things went beyond the threshold of “scary but survivable” to outright “ha ha, you’re dead”. Unfortunately it’s pervasive to even the start of the game, where your rookies are in easy one-shot HP range of any enemy, while a number of them are nowhere near that range to your own shots: a total inversion of the previous game. Pectoids and officers are big offenders and if not for the idiot-ball AI of the former and liberal use of explosives for the latter, the early game would be harder than EU Impossible settings.

              I note that the very first non-tutorial mission is a particularly big offender because of the statue plinths being indestructible. With a team of rookies this often means survival is just dumb luck rather than any controllable tactics.

              • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                As noted up-thread, I actually liked the upgraded versions of the regular units, both for research and manufacturing, but also because it doesn’t make sense for most missions that you’d be attacking more alien units the way successive waves made sense in XCOM:EU. Until the very end, you really should be hitting the same enemies.

                Also, an open gatekeeper scared me to death the first time it happened. Sure, 6 psychic damage. It also revived a half dozen enemy forces that had half my forces flanked, and set off a gas tank. And the thing has so many hitpoints, that it was a near run thing blowing it up before my squad was overwhelmed.

                • Humanoid says:

                  It was weird to me that there were no upgraded Sectoids or Mutons (I guess if you squint, Adromedons are), but three levels of Advent. My feeling would be that as we got closer and closer to the end-game, it’d have made more sense to drop the facade and go all-in with the funky looking aliens, but instead they got irrelevant very quickly indeed. Having Advent in the final alien base didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but then again it barely made sense that Stun Lancers ended up more threatening than Chryssalids and Berserkers in the first place.

                • Gruhunchously says:

                  First time I saw a Gatekeeper, I spectacularly failed to kill it during my turn. It ambled up to one of my rangers, opened up, and slashed at him with it’s tentacles, taking away most of his heath and restoring most of it’s own. What followed was a prolonged destructo-melee with the scattered dead being raised and felled, and most of the map being leveled with explosive and incendiary attacks. No joke, I had a nightmare afterwards about what that thing looked like.

                  After that first encounter, they became a lot more manageable.

                  One day, as an act of revenge, I’m going to find a mod to make it talk like the Space Core.

                  • IFS says:

                    Something interesting about gatekeepers, if you mind control one that has raised a bunch of zombies those zombies become yours. On veteran difficulty its not even especially hard to mind control a gatekeeper (though there will be lower odds of success than with other enemy units) once you get a good psi-amp and a willpower PCS.

    • Alex says:

      “Thematically – I think the “resistance fighter” fits the gameplay of XCOM, especially the reboot, much better than the “paramilitary task force” thing ever did. There was always a bit of a suspension of disbelief thing going on with that – can the nations of the world really not provide more than one base, one skyranger, more than a handful of rookies to work with? Why does Earth’s defense against the alien invasion consist of squad-based tactical operations guns blazing, rather than combined warfare? There was a lot of handwaving going around that XCOM 2 doesn’t have to bother with; all the limitations are now explained.”

      Personally, my handwave was that XCOM were the scalpel to the other militaries’ sledgehammers. If America’s infantry divisions are out of position and an airstrike would cause too much damage to their own city, they ask you to send in your special forces team to resolve the problem swiftly and neatly.

    • Ranneko says:

      I agree, I think the strategic gameplay in XCOM2 is definitely better, but it involves constant interruptions which I find really annoying. A mod I would really like to make would be the ability to drop soldiers off to secure objectives in your own territory, making them completely unavailable until the task completes. I would probably need to make those tasks take much longer by default, then have the number and rank of soldiers affect completion time. But it would allow me to pay a price to not have those tasks interrupted and still would fit the flavour in my mind.

  20. crispytato says:

    At around the 49:45 mark, I first heard of this interesting new game, “John Blows The Witness” – when do y’all think it’ll end up getting released? :P

    It honestly took me a couple of minutes to figure out what this smutty game ya’ll had just started talking about out of the blue was all about! …I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed …

    But in all seriousness now, I felt should make a post on here, just to let you know it was a total crack up, but also, more importantly, I love your show a heap and find it to be really top-notch. Between you guys and Bunnyhop George you keep my faith in the quality of gaming related content online.

    All in all, Keep up the great work guys, it’s truly appreciated :)

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The main problem I have with xcom 2 is the same problem I had with xcom 1,only more pronounced:The bullets arent being tracked.When you shoot at someone,the game just rolls dice and decides if its a hit or not.And if theres some cover directly adjacent,another roll decides if something of that gets destroyed.Thats it.You dont have to worry about people being adjacent to who youre shooting,you cant hope to hit more than one enemy with a single shot,no fancy stuff like that.Just a binary pass or fail.Its pretty disappointing.

    Basically its the same reason why I hate hitscan weapons in shooters.

    • Humanoid says:

      Sadly there is an exception. You might know the bug that persisted throughout EU through to LW where a soldier on overwatch goes to take a shot and then time just kind of freezes for 30-60 seconds before they just go back into cover and no shot is taken. Well, that apparently happens because the engine can’t calculate a path for the bullets so the engine just freaks out and does nothing. LW lead programmer Amineri identified the cause of the bug but sadly there’s no possible solution that was remotely within the realistic ability of the modders.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So a 2 decade old game was able to calculate the bullet paths for its weapons,but a modern one cant?Thats one messed up engine.Not to mention all the fan remakes that also trace their bullets.

        • Humanoid says:

          I mean it’s trying to calculate the animation from the overwatching soldier to the moving alien, but for some reason it wigs out and outright fails. I’d have hoped that it’d be coded such that the damage happens regardless, but nope, apparently no animation = no damage for you!

        • ehlijen says:

          Isn’t the remake based on an engine written for an FPS? Shot tracing should be a basic included function.

          The reason it wasn’t included in the game was deliberate choice. XCOM:EU et al are not the same game as the originals. They were clearly going for more of a tabletop RPG/wargame adaptation, not a realistic simulation (including other elements such as move+standard action vs time units, abilities/cooldowns and leveling up).

    • Ranneko says:

      Not entirely true, terrain damage is determined by projectiles. This can win/lose missions since there are terrain based objectives and effects.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes,but said terrain damage only works for adjacent stuff.You will never demolish a wall 20 meters behind your target.Or a wall somewhere in between you and the target.Only the stuff thats adjacent to it.Even in 2,where you can have stuff like buildings collapsing due to fire and enemies falling down from them(which looks pretty iffy,I might add),regular shots can still only destroy cover adjacent to your target.Not to mention how linear said destruction is(high cover can only be reduced to low cover,low cover can be demolished completely).

      • Humanoid says:

        Incidentally, someone managed to win the Avenger Defense mission on the second turn. Apparently a Sectopod cleverly decided to step on the beacon on the aliens’ first move and that was that.

  22. Thanatos Crows says:

    Ever played a game from the Atelier series, Chris? Some of them have a save the world plot while most of them center around an alchemist’s daily life for a couple of years. The gameplay mainly consists of crafting and venturing out to the wild to gather materials – and battle monsters – so you can continue making cool stuff and trying to figure out how to improve the bombs and pies you can make. Good stuff.

  23. Taellosse says:

    No Man’s Sky looked really, really interesting when it was announced. The lack of detail about what sort of game mechanics it has have left me cautious, though. I want to just buy it, but I want to know what kind of game it is first, and what sort of gamer(s) it actually appeals to.

  24. RTBones says:

    Microsoft will first have to convince me upgrading to Windows 10 is a good idea, but that is another story. As you discussed, the Windows Store is just…well, horrible. Add to that, games from the store dont support exclusive full screen, vsync, multi-video card setups, or mods. App discovery is also a problem for the store, according to developers.

    Windows 10 App Discovery Issue

    Windows Store Game Issues

  25. Artur CalDazar says:

    Ugh the free move on discovery remains the worst thing ever. You are encouraged to both move into overwatch before moving forward and to not move forward toward the end of a turn, but there are turn limits so if you are too careful you fail anyway.

    You can skip most of the in-combat animations by tapping escape to bring up and then close the menu, I don’t know if I’m glitching it and this doesn’t work for everyone but it gives me consistent results. Those animations are actually not long, unlike the team messages or the building base stuff that has no solution.

    Still love the game but Josh is spot on with his issues.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Do you have any reason to ever overwatch unit A, then move unit B? Since overwatch shots are taken at a penalty, it seems that’s only worthwhile if B triggers a spawn which moves into A’s sight (triggering A’s overwatch) then moves out of A’s sight again (if they stayed in sight, A would be better off taking an unpenalized standard shot).

      Time pressure vs caution makes sense as an interesting tactical choice, but the problem was that they used the stick (mission failure) instead of the carrot (meld canisters) which resulted in a lot more feel-bad moments. There’s also the issue that since the penalty is total mission failure, you feel a lot more like you have a fixed caution-budget to distribute amongst your turns, rather than meld where you could respond to what’s going on in the mission and decide whether or not to attempt to get zero, one, or both canisters.

  26. Narkis says:

    For some reason this diecast autoplays on firefox, and I can find no way to stop it. Pressing play on the controls starts a second, overlapping audio stream. And it happens both here, and on the main blog.

  27. Bropocalypse says:

    I wonder if EA’s and Activision’s choice to not have monolithic booths at E3 has something to do with the less-than-warm reception each of their presentations received last year?

  28. Zak McKracken says:

    Haven’t actually played any XCOM games (yet) but with each complaint I hear from you guys I think someone should recommend Shadowrun:Dragonfall to you. More precisely: Shadowrun:Dragonfall, Director’s cut. That’s what I’m playing right now, and man is this good!

    It’s got round-based RPG-y combat with guns and grenades and magic spells and whatnots, which works very nicely for me. It’s also got a story and some side missions and stuff, and everything out of combat feels like what Bioware RPGs was always supposed to be: Interesting characters, but also interesting character arcs, a way to influence the story by behaving in different ways, different ways of solving problems, based on both player preference and character abilities, and even most of the flavour NPC dialogue makes complete sense, is interesting to read and adds to the universe, with just very few exceptions.

    The graphics and stuff are not at AAA standard but my goodness, what did you expect? (Neverwinternights-style perspective, mostly hand-drawn scenery, 3D characters). The music is not bad at all but I guess that would depend on taste.
    Oh, and it’s DRM-free at GOG.

  29. Galad says:

    Re: XCOM 2 (I’m so bad at listening the diecasts on time >.<)

    I played it on launch and enjoyed it quite a bit despite the occasional bug, and the slowdowns (at the time there was no Stop Wasting My Time mod), that is UNTIL the final mission. Sure, I was savescumming a fair bit, and playing on commander, but the final mission felt like it pulled the rug out of me and broke the game's seemingly set in stone, unwritten combat rules.

    Avatars are the best enemy units, high HP, high damage, and they teleport in an, as far as I can tell, random direction, when hit. At the end of the final mission you have to fight THREE avatars that come in one after another, AS WELL AS infinite waves of regular enemy squads, rolling in one by one every turn

    If you don’t have specific skills, like serial on your sniper, you are oh so screwed, and you have to go back a good 2 hours back for the start of this mission, plus one hour more for the start of the previous mission.

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