Posts posted by Sorbicol
Thread Necromancy 101.....
a friend bought me this in the steam sales over Christmas, and it’s been my first proper attempt at a Total War game.
I find it to be both deeply engrossing and really quite frustrating pretty much in equal measure. There’s a lot to enjoy for sure, and the strategic layer is quite well thought out and presented. The battles are fun but chaotic and the game is terrible at presenting useful information in the heat of battle. I’ve watched so many YouTube channels to get my head around it all and I still get too times when what happens on screen doesn’t make any sense to me at all - or is pretty much the opposite of what I was expecting.
That has has been my main source of frustration with the game to be honest. It’s starting position is very much that it expects you to know how to play a TW game, and doesn’t really feel like it wants to teach you. It made me think quite a lot about tutorials in strategy games and how much responsibility a game has, not only to teach you how to play it, but also to play it with some level of competency. I know that a lot of people would say ‘well, it’s up to you to get good’ and that it’s part of the fun, but sometimes I find this whole process in a video game to mostly be the equivalent of self flagilation, with deeply frustrating and obscure mechanics seemingly put in the game by developers just to torture you, and what explanations the do provide to be limited or lacking in important details.
I admit I find YouTube videos now to be an important entry point for many of the games I play these days - I would never have coped with getting to grips with Stellaris (for example) if I hadn’t watched all the ‘All Hail Blorg’ videos realeased by Paradox in the run up to release.
Im not sure if that’s just me - I don’t remember having so many issues back in the days pre-internet and YouTube. It feels a little like developers are lazy these days and expect YouTubers and the like to pick up the slack. Or maybe I’m just turning into a miserable old codger.
I get the impression I’m the only person to have played this other than the panel.....
This game quite unexpectedly ended up as my personal Game of the Year for last year, although given how few games I play that’s probably not saying a lot. I enjoyed the panel discussion and I have to say that I broadly agree with pretty much everything that was said about the combat, as well as the setting and atmosphere which pretty much make the game. Studios like BioWare and Bethesda should be chewing their own arms to make central characters as engaging and charming as Bormin, Dux and the rest. That said I wasn’t too sure about Farrow’s cockney accent. It was a little too much Dick Van Dyke if I’m honest.
The combat model with the real time stealth moving into TBS worked really surprisingly well, and it was really quite tense setting up a decent ambush before attempting the silent takedown for lone ghouls or robots, so that they couldn’t call in reinforcements. It made each location into a sort of turn based battle puzzle in the end - scouting the objectives, working out the patrol routes and then executing a dance of silent assassinations prior to hitting the final (usually central) objective.
Of course that that is also the games Achilles heel - alongside the lack of variety in abilities. Once you’d figured out how to clear a location, well that was it more or less. The patrol routes don’t vary, nor do the numbers and types of enemies that stay the same each playthrough, so once you’ve solved it once it sort of stays solved no matter how many times you replay the game. After completing it originally I went back and attempted several ‘Iron Mutant’ runs at the hardest difficulty. While that made you a little over reliant on critical hits landing (especially early game) it also was absolutely unforgiving. A single mistake allowing either the target to call for backup, or you making too much noise and activating or alerting another enemy and it was game over. There’s no mechanic that I could find that allowed you to retreat and regroup - the enemy would hunt you down and destroy you very quickly, with numbers almost always being very much against you.
It gives the game almost zero replayability which is really a shame, it deserves to played again and again. I’m very much looking forward to what they do next though I have to say. Fingers crossed for a new adventure, hopefully with a little more variety in it and some way to escape when you accidentally mess it up.
I have seen so many people rate Into The Breach on their own personal list of the year it’s a game I think I should be looking into.
I thought 2018 was a solid if not spectacular year for strategy gaming. It certainly started well with Battletech being a hell of a lot stronger than I was expecting, while still having some very odd design choices in (do you still have to go through 500 different cut scenes every time you jump from one planet to another?)
i enjoyed surviving Mars as a competent city builder as well. The survival mechanics were well thought through and added to the game, and they have done a lot to fix its limitation since release. It’s still screaming for a proper tourism and transportation system (MONORAIL!) but all in all it’s made some good development over the year since release.
I’d also love to hear what the guys make of Mutant Year Zero; The Road to Eden. It somehow became my game of the year, probably because of the charm of its characters and how well it built its world rather than anything else, but it’s core combat was deeply satisfying - at least until you’d figured it out for each location.
21 hours ago, Michael said:
Glad you liked the show!
I’ll shoulder most of the blame for the decreased output over the last few months. Real Life Stuff was happening for most of the main players that plan the show, myself especially. The good news is that, as of last week or so, that’s mostly behind us.
We’ve been getting our planning together for what to do after this Thanksgiving week, and I’m pretty excited for what we have coming up. We have some good Winter of Wargaming content planned, several new and interesting games to cover, and something NEW to Three Moves Ahead that I believe will be well received.
Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience!
That sounds great thanks. I’ve been listening to 3MA for years but for the last couple of months it’s felt more like a chore than something I genuinely enjoy. The Valkyria Chronicles episode representing something of a nadir I’m afraid. I’m not invalidating the legitimacy of the discussion that episode I must say, it’s just not why I listen to 3MA.
I really enjoyed this episode and it felt like an episode from 3MAs golden period 5 or 6 years back. A really knowledgable and interesting guest podcaster, a solid topic that went beyond just the game and some real proper insights. Can we please have more episodes like this again? I know Rob is busy with a myriad of other things and 3MA is becoming a forgotten part of his output, but there is no reason it can’t return to form.
On 11/06/2018 at 6:49 PM, Argonaut said:
I played and enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin. But I couldn't finish it. I got partway into Act 2 and lost the plot. The music, art, and combat was good.. but there was no real story and the characters (both yours and the shallow NPCs) had no personality at all. Contrast that with Infinity Engine games, where I'm driven forward because of the story and the cool characters. That's really what an RPG is about. Minsc is a legend. And despite Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny's shortcomings I could finish them easily.
Maybe someday I'll get back to Divinity: Original Sin, or its sequel when it receives a deep discount or is bundled. From what I've seen, perhaps there's some more personality in the Original Sin 2 characters.. the Red Prince and the Undead dude look pretty cool.
The Enhanced Edition did a lot for me to make Divinity: Original Sin (the first game) more enjoyable. It clarified it's mission structure (in terms of - go to this area first and then this area etc) made significant improvements to the combat system and inventory system (which is not the game's moment of crowing glory to be sure) and also generally improved the story as well. to be sure that first game was a little limited in charisma/characterisation for the two source hunters, but a lot of the NPCs were fun and really weren't anything too far off the types of characters that Black Isle / Obsidian came up with for PoE or earlier games.
Original Sin 2 made massive in roads of that though by having 6 very distinct characters to play all with conflicting aims, opinions and goals that play out as the game goes on. They will fight you if you stray too far from what they want, and during one of the lynchpin moments of the game you have to actively persuade them to stick with you - previous events and treatment of your party will count for or against you. Fane (the undead guy), The Red Prince (exiled Lizard royalty who assumes everyone is his slave) and Loshe (possessed songstress) are all brilliant characters who can stand side by side with the likes of Minsc, Durance and anyone else you might care to mention from Baldur's Gate/PoE. The combat is a little more messy I think (they take the concept of blessed and cursed environmental effects way too far) while at the same time delivering some fantastic set piece battles that need some serious tactical decision making to get through. They also have a co-operative system that nothing Black Isle/Obsidian have ever done have come close to matching.
In the framework of this podcast I just found it disappointing that they weren't discussed. It's combat system is superior to the Baldur's gate and PoE games, and is something that deserved to discussed.
I'm astonished you got through that entire podcast moaning about the Infinity Engine combat system and not once - not once - mentioned Larian's Divinity: Original Sin series. It's got turn based combat. It's got lots of massive areas chock full of stories and interactions and choices and decisions - that matter to the overarching story all the while. Sure, they have their short comings, but they address just about everything commented on the limitations of the Infinity/Unity clone engine and then some. I'd thoroughly recommend everyone in the discussion goes and plays them and comes back to this conversation afterwards, because clearly none of you ever have. I'd hope that Obsidian take a great long look at those games before PoE3 rolls around and thinks a lot harder about how they might want to shake their approach up even more.
I also feel the podcast failed to really address why Pillars of Eternity was the way it was - it was kickstarted by a legion of misty eyed, middle aged men (admittedly I presume ) longing with rose tinted glasses to the games of their youth. certainly did it for me! PoE was consciously designed to be exactly what it was, down to all those hand painted backing screens. Sure it did and does have it problems, only partially addressed by PoE2 - which to me so far is an better mechanical game, but one that feels like it's lost it soul - but it was exactly what it was kickstarted to be, and did it very well indeed.
Great discussion though - there is a lot to be said for the tactical RPG area that sometimes I feel 3MA shies away from. A discussion on the tactical combat system of the Divinity: Original Sin series could probably fill a show by itself.
I've sunk the best part of 50 hours into this now and, for the most part I've been thoroughly enjoying myself. There is an absolute solid core to the game, and HBS's slavish (understandably so) respect and subservience to Battletech's history and origins shines through everything this game does - it's as clear as day and other than playing a little Mechwarrior 2 on the PSone back in the day, is nothing I have any prior knowledge or experience of at all.
The tactical engine is really really good - It works superbly well for a TBS game, where the tactical decisions you make, and positioning, and heat management, and Mech loadouts all clearly have a direct baring on just how well you'll do in a mission - In having to address the elephant in the room these days when it comes to TBS games, what this game does not do is expose the player to it's RNG in anything like the way firaxis's XCOM reboots do. Sure, you can get a lucky headshot on occasion, and yes it's astonishing just how often one of your mechwarriors ends up in the med bay for months because they somehow take 3 successive headshot injuries in a row, but beyond that it's an engine that relies on the skill of the player to process in combat rather than occasionally just leaving it up to a "dice roll".
All the mechs have their roles on the battlefield, and outfitting them properly has a real impact on your mission - the maps are really good, with proper topography and terrain to deal with, all with meaingful tactical positioning and effects to consider when maneuvering your oversized robots around. The writing is excellent, I love the characters and the story is compelling enough to make me look forward to seeing how it ends.
Where it lets itself down in the very uneven difficultly spikes - some deliberate, some seemingly a consequence of the game's coding quirks - and a failure to explain itself very well to the player when it's doing so. Unfortunately on the storyline missions HBS's tendency to through you into very difficult situations with little explanation of exactly what they are expecting of you leads to some very frustrating experiences. It's just bad design at times, and something that really wasn't necessary.
Yes, it does have a lot of silly little animations and chase cam cinematics and things which slow things down a lot (I am sick of seeing my spaceship travel from one system to another for example. it looks lovely, I just don't need to see it for 3 minutes every other mission or so) but they are all fixable and nothing too much to get your knickers in a twist over. I wish missions could be a little shorter at times and they really need to vary mission types and maintain the viability of all the different mech types throughout the campaign (Light Mechs go into storage or get sold not that long into proceedings) but all in all I'm deeply impressed with this game. It's a definite Game of the Year contender for me.
I think you are right about the ship building - to be honest I ignore what the game gives me for the most part and I just build my own. Stellaris does make ship design very simple though, so this isn't a massive burden. A quick update when a good tech is researched, a click of the upgrade button on the fleet list and hey presto, you are done.
As for waging war, yeah Paradox's war system is all over the place to be honest. It's certainly something that needs a lot of work. I find it more a source of frustration that I do anything else I would have to agree.
As for the empires - if you go back to my original comment about the game being as much an emergent storytelling engine as a strategy game, well I think it makes a lot more sense. I don't exactly "role play" my empires, but I do make some sub optimal choices at times because I think It fits my empire better that want might be more advantageous at that time. Sometimes that's not a big deal and other times I admit it sucks. The traditions stuff is a great idea but a lot of it doesn't work - yet - and still needs patching. Vassilisation & tributaries should make a militarist empire much stronger, but the points system makes actually vassilising them really difficult, so you just tend to end up much better off conquering them and then giving them their planets back afterwards. Eliminates a lot of residual resentment too.
On 26/03/2018 at 5:04 PM, ilitarist said:
Meanwhile the ship designer part itself is greatly reduced in 2.0. The game actively hated when I tried to make design of my own, I couldn't figure out how to upgrade other ships to that design.
You make an interesting point. It's similar indeed. And just like with ship designer I'll be damned if I notice any differences between slapping various versions of tier 3 weapons (I do see those in Endless Space 2 though). Perhaps people are indeed happy to see that some of their decisions give them a unique event or research sometimes even if it affects nothing in a grand scheme of things.
Still it doesn't explain EU4 or CK2 popularity. Here factions are both predefined and have no personality. Of course, gameplay varies much more: European Horde is more different from European Trade Republic than any 2 spacefaring civilizations in Stellaris. But they're much more faceless than Cravers or any other faction, those German duchies or some Finnish craven greedy count are random noise.
I also remembered a good example of how Stellaris fails to add any alternative strategic problems to a mix. When you play as a normal civilization you have to balance food production so that you don't have starvation and energy production so that buildings do not get turned off (in theory there's also mineral balance but it's rarely goes into red). Then you can play as robots, totally different gameplay! Except no. Robots are built with minerals and they eat energy. For normal people to multiply you have to produce farms from time to time which eat energy. The difference is the amount of micromanagement, exact balance of spent energy and minerals, plus you have an easier time colonizing. Meanwhile see Endless Space 2 robot faction. You have a single build queue so while other factions build and grow at the same time you have to choose. They also colonize planets in an unique way giving them an edge in later colonization efforts. Different strategic consideration, different problems to solve, not just slightly different balance of resources.
You upgrade other ships to your designs in the fleet manager. It's fairly straight forward.
Actually what you have done there is highlight another of Stellaris's oddities - that the weapon rock/paper/scissors mechanics don't really work when paired up with the different ship classes. There are some very definite optimal builds (the torpedo corvette being the primary suspect) that the AI just can't counter, and other that are practically useless because the way the AI builds it fleets. The ship designer in Stellaris is functional and understandable but until you reach the endgame crisis/war in heaven, those optimal builds will see you through anything. After that you need to specialise (and get rid of any destroyers & cruisers) when you are up against the FEs and end game crises.
As to your other point - well, yes, but Stellaris doesn't really variate it's empires based on the game economic mechanics, it does so on the traits and civics you give you empire. That impacts how you play your empire a very great deal, and I think you are being a bit disingenuous to imply that it doesn't make any difference. Playing a Federation building xenophile empire is totally different to playing an driven assimilator machine empire. Or fanatical spiritualist. Or pacifist empire. Your interactions with other empires and FEs are going to be completely different. You wouldn't necessarily expect the base mechanics of the economy there to be any different, except for those specific circumstances where, for example, machine empires don't need any food (but sure as hell need to maximise their energy/mineral production). How that works makes complete sense following Stellaris's own internal logic.
I love Stellaris - boy oh boy it has it's flaws, but over all there's nothing else like it in the Space 4x genre. If you treat it more as an emergent story telling engine for your fledgling space empire then you get so much more out of it. In 250+ hours of this game I have never reached any of the victory conditions (although I came mighty close with a League of non-aligned worlds once) and you know what? It really doesn't matter. Stellaris's simple, flexible system for building pretty much whatever space empire it is you want to be is an absolute marvel and the entire bedrock that makes the rest of the game what it is.
2.0 both provides considerable more focus to the game on a strategic layer, while at the same time really providing a whole new set of frustrations. It's other issue - the one that I have no idea how they are going to solve, and has been repeated noted above - is that one you get to the mid stage period of the game, your only option to make something happen is to go and declare war on someone. It doesn't matter if you are a Federation building egalitarian United Nations or a slavering despotic race of barbarians, if you don't then you are going to sit there for a very long time (depending on how you have set your sliders) waiting for the War in Heaven and the end game crisis. Paradox's war system does everything it can to make waging war something both remarkably simple and brain flummoxingly difficult (seriously, even if I take over an Empire's every star system and occupy their every planet I still don't win?) but at least with Apocalypse you get some shiny new toys to do so with. It really needs to do something a lot more interesting with systems that don't have planets in them - seriously, for all the importance of space stations your only real options are to turn them into Shipyards, commercial hubs or anchorages to provide fleet capacity. Turning them into defensive fortresses only works for about half the game and any hope of making them refineries or research stations is limited to one sub-module for each dependent on being in a nebula or in orbit over a black hole - neither option of which will provide more resource that decent planet tile - and is something more they need to look at.
I do think that Stellaris is now the space 4x everything should be measured by - it is a genuine work of greatness within the genre - but that doesn't mean that it's still quite flawed. I wish that it could take a little more inspiration from Sword of the Stars (probably the great unrecognised game in the genre) especially with "outside context problems" - other than the wraiths everything else stays put (Seriously, it makes no sense the stellarite devourer wouldn't move from system to system once in a while) and maybe a little more work on the end game crisis having an pre-invasion stage. That could do quite a bit to pep up the mid stages of the game, while also making those end game crises have a little more context.
well, I must confess I approached this episode with some trepidation after the original XCOM 2 podcast, after which I was fairly certain I'd been playing a completely different game to everyone else on that show. 550 hours later (give or take) including several successful Commander Ironman runs, several failed (some slightly more progressed than others) Legend Ironman runs and one save scummed to the hilt Long War 2 campaign later I got to War of the Chosen thinking there wasn't much more the game could teach me.
And, to some extent, I think I was right. I do like WofC, and it does add a lot to the game - but it's chocolate sauce and multi-coloured sprinkles at the end of day, rather than several new scoops of delicious ice cream. Fundamentally the core game is the same and despite adding the new Factions, the Chosen and the Lost, WotC doesn't really deviate from what made XCOM2 my favourite game. (Not the best game I've ever played to be sure, but certainly the one I've had most enjoyment out of in the modern era).
There were a couple of things I disagreed with however, one of which being Rob's complaints that the strategic layer is a mess. It's not, it just doesn't explain itself terribly way. XCOM:EU biggest problem was it's strategic progress. That progress was a strictly linear gated path from which any deviation was result in a failed campaign. Quite simply the aim of the game was to get to the Alien Base assault mission and win it before global panic overwhelmed you. It helped to have at least predator armour or laser weapons unlocked before you did (although not essential, both would be nice, but once you were through that landmark you'd win the game unless you really really messed things up. Not even XCOM:EW solved that although it did give you a lot more things to do in the meantime. XCOM 2 solves that by basically giving you a lot more options on the strategic level, either by unlocking regions to find blacksites, or concentrating on the "golden path" missions to keep the avatar timer in check. Spending Intel and managing resources contributed to that as much as completing tactical missions, and it countered that main issue I think XCOM:EU had with it's optimal path.
By adding faction missions, WotC gives you yet more options to manage that avatar timer which you need to deal with the chosen, but it makes the strategic layer of the game much less focused, and a hell of a lot easier. My first WotC campaign (Commander difficulty) I tripped the avatar countdown at the beginning of November as the game did one of those "screw you" moments and added 5 pips to the timer seemingly out of nowhere. 3 missions and 1 faction missions later, I had completely zeroed it. 2 Blacksites (one with 4 pips), 1 "golden path" mission (the forge) and 1 faction "Decrease avatar timer" completely wiped out all my pips and reset the campaign for me. After that point the game was a doodle to be honest, especially as I then went on to take out the Assassin as my first chosen to defeat (also the hardest battle I had in that campaign by some distance) and obtained her weapons, which made things very easy indeed. What WotC does to XCOM is add a lot more character to the game, with a lot more distractions while you are playing it. It also really exacerbates one of XCOM 2's main issues, which is it's reverse difficultly curve - that the game is so much harder at the start than it is towards the end. By allowing each of your soldiers specialise in both paths of their skill trees (Seriously, is there no-one who plays WotC who doesn't take both the hacking perk and medical gremlin perk for their specialists?!?) it further reduces the games difficulty at the mid to late game, which you need to be able to deal with the chosen, but leaves the final stages of the game somewhat boring afterwards. If you have the alien hunters DLC pack with their armour and weapons as well, then the final battle is trivially easy. Apologies if you disagree with that seriously, that final mission is really dull with all the chosen weapons and the Alien ruler armour. Just target the avatars and you are done.
I also find it slightly bemusing that for this podcast the Random Number Generator (RNG) really didn't get a mention. XCOM 2 is built on it's relationship with its RNG, and it's something that Long War 2 does address either. Ultimately both of Firaxis's XCOM games are about managing numbers and probability. At the lower difficulty levels the game gives you enough mulligans to get through when the RNG is being a dick (seriously, at times in XCOM it's Nuffle's older and angrier brother) but on Legend level difficulty progress in the game has nothing to do with your skill at the game, but entirely down to whatever number it is the RNG throws at you at critical stages. To be sure, the aim of playing XCOM well is being in a position at all times to ensure that when the RNG did roll consecutive "ones" (all those +95% shots missing for example) you could deal with the fallout, but on legend the fallout would inevitably be a total squad wipe and a finished campaign, it was, despite being able to complete Commander ironman campaigns more often than not something I have never learned to cope with on Legend difficulty levels, save scumming or not. I still want to get a Legend Ironman campaign completed one day, but it's still in the future for now. WotC adds so much to the game that it feels like you are juggling a lot more balls in the air now on Legend, with those early scripted missions coming to thick and fast to be able to deal with for now.
As for Long War 2 - well it's a mod I admire a very great deal, but towards the end of the campaign of LW2 I completed it felt much more like an endurance campaign rather than something I was actively enjoying. At this point I should say that I never completed an Long War campaign for XCOM:EU despite 4 or 5 attempts. Each of those campaigns lasted about 20-30 hours, as it was about that time I would realise that I had screwed up so badly 15 hours previously I'd left the game unwinnable. That's LWs issue, and it's not one that LW2 rectifies. The war long, brutal and it doesn't like telling you when you've failed until it's far too late. It's fair to say that I would never have completed by LW 2 campaign without watching xWynns youtube campaign of the version I played (LW2 version 1.2)
(I'm going to finish this later, placeholder here so I don't lose this as I have to go and do something else now)
Riad and I have been playing this side by side the last couple of weeks. The campaign is lovely - I’m not usually a ‘pure’ RTS sort of person- Starcraft leaves me cold and I really didn’t get on with DoW3 when I tried the free weekend on steam a week or two back.
But it this game seems to be considered enough that you can group your different vehicle types, use their special abilities without too many problems and get time to set yourself before wngaging in battle. Sure, the AI just can’t deal with the ‘massed Charge’ approach to combat once you are ready but it can hit you hard if you aren’t playing attention and all in all it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours. I’d recommend wholeheartedly.
The Good Place is a fine comedy and I’ve really enjoyed watching it. However, it’s not a patch on Father Ted. That was required viewing when I was at university, the house would stop dead on a Friday evening until the show was finished (I’m from the UK) ‘Would you like another cup
of tea father? ah go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on go on’
On 21/06/2017 at 6:38 PM, cornchip said:
I think my playstyle of new X-Com could be described as RPG-like. I've only played on Classic Ironman and I've never won the game. Furthermore, I know I will not win; I just want to see how far I can get. Since a losing game spirals out of control and I've already seen the defeat cutscenes, I typically quit when I get to where I am likely to lose the rest of the missions. This means I'm only playing as long as my squad has some attachment to my original four, and so the game can't help but become about this plucky crew and their doomed defense of earth. If I were better, I'd have more built-up soldiers and lose more due to the increased game length and success, so wouldn't care as much about the individual ones.
X-Com is more of a strategy game for people who win it, and more of an RPG for people who don't win it.
I find that idea really interesting - I think there is quite a lot in what you say too. The story in XCOM to me is fairly ephemeral - it doesn't touch on how I play the game much except where I need to get through the 'golden path' gates so that I don't lose the game.
I hadnt really considered it like that. Might need to rethink a little!
I think a lot of people - myself included - expected something much more inline with XCOM:EU than we got with XCOM2 on release. I know my criticisms of how information was disseminated in XCOM2 at launch matched those of Rob and Rowan, (especially for the strategic layer); however one (aborted) campaign later it was pretty clear to me what the differences were and what the change in approach should be.
One of the issues with Firaxis reboot is that it is polished and balanced to the nth degree - most people used this to accuse the series of "dumbing down" on the original series. It really wasn't. While that's great, it does create the problem that having a 'bad' RNG roll could disproportionally impact your ability not only to complete that mission but also your campaign, as the consequences of failure were so much more dramatic than in the original X-COM series which treated your squaddies as cannon fodder, except for the lucky few to survive.
XCOM:EU's counter to that - overwatch creep - led to a lot of (not without merit) accusations of dull gameplay. XCOM2's solution to that problem was just to add timers everywhere, which was fine but did occasionally leave your campaign progress entirely at the mercy of the RNG, and nothing at all to do with your tactical or strategic acumen at playing the game.
Anyway i I digress a little, but there are so many levels of 'meta' (mostly obscure) to XCOM2 that aren't really apparent until you really think about. What I would say is that Firaxis's XCOM series is a series you to learn how to play on the easier difficulty levels before you can feel ready for the Classic or Commander/Ironman difficulty, which so clearly is the level the game is designed to be played at. Of course, that's a significant time investment to a lot of players, so I'm not surprised so many people walked away from it early on.
I really enjoyed this episode - although I do find 3MA's relationship with Firaxis's XCOM series simultaneous enraging, amusing, irritating and thought provoking - I clearly do not see this game in the same terms as both Rob and Rowan do. I am constantly bemused by the assertion that XCOM is in any way an RPG - it really isn't. It's like saying that because you have to chose what cards you want to use in Star Wars: Battlefront (Something that you do need to think about a little depending on what map you are playing - but only a little) that Battlefront is some sort of Strategic FPS. Again, it isn't, it's just a fairly relaxed online shooter.
The interplay in XCOM - especially XCOM2 - between the strategic and tactical layer is something that seems to get either misunderstood a lot - it's there very much, either in unlocking global areas so that you can reach blacksites, completing a tactical mission to slow down the Avatar timer, through to getting the right resource (something very much under explained when the game was first released to be sure) so that you are able to do the right things at the right time - these are things that are there clear as daylight. Once you've played the game beyond a couple of hours, well it's pretty evident how it all balances and how the strategic decisions you make in the global map should inform what missions you do or don't take. That "Meta" is the driver for the game - being good at it (or not) will inform your success just as much as how good you are at the tactical game.
Calling the development of soldiers by unlocking abilities as they survive "RPG" shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what's happening at that layer - at least it does to me. Those abilities are necessary at the later stages of the game to be able to both counter some of the late game aliens (the HEAT ammo for heavy weapons springs to mind) and also be able to deal with the increased number of aliens you encounter. It's not a great leap from there to realise that not only do you need to be developing those skills, you need to be maintaining a big enough roster so that you can cope with the odd death and maintain your campaign should things go a little pear shaped. I know Rob sort of touched on that with your 2nd and 3rd string Snipers, but really, like Fraser says "you aren't playing it very well" if that's killing you off. There should be a cost to losing your top sniper, but it's one that you should be able to manage.
Giving Soldiers names, and being able to customise them - yeah, that's RPG (sort of) but it's only really there for flavour given how much permadeath means to XCOM and it's inherent difficultly. If you lose that Colonel Heavy who's the only one you can soften up the Gatekeeper or Sectopod enough for everyone else to kill them, and not have someone to replace him - well, that's your fault for not considering your strategy enough.
Yeah, there's a lot in XCOM 2 that isn't perfect (it's far too easy to leave the Avatar timer redundant later in the game) and some of the classes are much more powerful than others - Magus level Psi-Troopers are massively overpowered - but a lot of it is addressed in Long War 2 (a mod a 3MA discussion is long overdue for!) which both teases the game out at the Meta level, and also adds even more strategic and tactical decision making when you are developing your soldiers. I really like the look of War of the Chosen - they quite clearly have taken a lot of cues from Long War 2 and other games, ranging from Fire Embalm and Darkest Dungeon, all the way through to the Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor. Having flame throwers etc in XCOM isn't just there for RPG flavour - setting fire to alien in XCOM has real tactical advantage - it leaves them unable to attack anything unless it's meelee, makes them panic and prevents them from throwing grenades or launching rockets - using abilities you really don't want them to be using- and deals damage over time. It is a crowd control mechanism as much as anything else. Flash bangs, posion and smoke grenades all have similar buff and debuff impacts at the tactical level - they are vital components in Long War 2, and it's great that Firaxis are bringing that to the vanilla game in their new expansion. It's not them being more "RPG"!!!!!!!
Sorry this have now turned into a rant about XCOM. I really did enjoy this episode but I'm really not sure that you quite have XCOM right.....................
I put something like 60 hours into Expeditions: Conquistadors, which I have to say I really enjoyed, limitations and all.
However from this podcast I'm actually a little disappointed about Vikings. It sounds like it's basically the same game with almost the same structure - it doesn't sound like there is a lot of innovation going on. There was a massive "prologue" section in Conquistadors too - you spent the first 10-15 hours or so messing around on Cuba (where a corrupt local governor impounds your ship) before you get to head to South America. Mind you calling it a "prologue" is something of a disservice if I'm honest, it was essentially a game that had two settings - one section in Cuba, the other in Latin America & the Aztec Empire.
I have to say though it does sound like there hasn't been much development of the Vikings over Conquistadors - the same balancing of you merry band of fellow travelers and their (either) outright capitalist racism slavery values, or their remarkably visionary views of liberal democracy and equality (given the times these games are set in) It's not that that really matters I guess, but many of the choices in Conquistadors were entirely arbitrary - you were going to upset someone no matter what you did. In the end you ended up sometimes being a nice, generous invader - helping the locals and treating them as equals, or other times being the raping pillaging invader so that you didn't lose that star hunter / musketeer, the only person in your expedition who could hit anything from range but was unfortunately a racist idiot. It took any immediacy from your decision making and ended up being more like a moral game of tetris - trying to act just to balance the different views of your expedition so nobody left, rather than role play who you wanted to be (after all, why compromise your expedition members if it leaves you materially worse off in game and left at a distinct disadvantage?)
The combat in the game was always one of it's strongest point though - solid TBS although there were some scenarios I could never figure out how to beat in Conquistadors (I remember an ambush in a city - it was impossible to cover your retreat without being forced to split you forces, which just lead to you being over run, and others that were comically easy - even those camp ambushes happened with depressing regularity, on the same map, with the same enemies and an optimal strategy to defeat your attackers (once you'd figured it out) They even spawned in the same places each time............
Not sure what I think about Vikings now - probably a humble bundle purchase if I'm honest then.
9 hours ago, DocRandal said:
Fdev have also mentioned that they're going to do an overhaul of mining and exploration to make them more interesting, but there's no set timetable for that. Obviously 2.4-TBA (Aliens?) may be some of that but I'm glad to see them state that they're planning an iterative pass.
Improvements to exploration can't come soon enough. The patience of those looking for the outposts in the Formadine Rift, Conflux and Hawking's Gap deserves from real praise. Or a call to the men in white coats...................
It takes me 20 minutes to find anything on a planetary surface, and that's even when I know where it is.
Not that I think anyone else is interested, but on the official forums Michael Brooks (FDev Executive Producer) has admitted that the Ram Tah mission to scan the obelisks at the Ancient Ruins site is broken. Although in Open/Private group instances, not Solo like everyone thought it was.
The upshot of that is that there are definitely other alien ruins out there (admittedly long suspected but now essentially confirmed), and at the moment people are getting far more scans out the ruins we know about than they should be. Leaving aside the fact that messing up something that important in game is really really poor quality control on FDev's part, it'll be interesting to see how else they handle it. Reset the mission? Whatever "clues" there are in game to working out the locations of the other ruins, nobody has hit upon it yet. And people have been analysing the Ruins since they were found. Mostly the canonn thread on the official forums is full of people grasping at straws. So if you do come across anything a little odd in game that talks about Guardians, rogue alien AI's or weird ruins with lots of geometric shapes in them or anything else, please flag it up!!!!
Also the latest Alien Hyperdiction happened only 160Ly from Sol. That's inside the human bubble.
War, War is coming........................
7 hours ago, sclpls said:
The Long War 2 mod is out! Haven't played it yet, but it looks great.
Also the timing is kind of funny because I started up a game of Civ 6 last night in the first time like since the first two weeks of that game's release, but it looks like that will be on hold...
Just started a new campaign and I've already borked the first mission not really understanding what it is I'm meant to be doing (i.e if you achieve your goal and need to get out then call that skyranger, because otherwise Advent will not play fair)
Got some very interesting concepts in it, but you worry it's going to be a lot of busy work on the strategic screen later in the game.
Some of the actions to unlock the engineers are a little obtuse however. For example, Felicity Farseer asks for 1 unit of meta-alloys. They come from barnacles, so in order to get some you have to know where to look for barnacles, fly to the planet they are in, work out how to find the location on the planet, fly there, land, and hope that it's not already been harvested as they take a couple of weeks to regenerate. Don't forget to take an SRV either. None of the planets are in the bubble (although the Pleiades isn't that far away)
Alternately you can fly to Darnelle's Progress in Maia and buy some, the only location in the game I'm aware that you can do so. Cost is about 120,000Cr per tonne. Just as well she only wanted the one.
So so as you can see, the route to unlocking some of the engineers is a little convoluted. Also, most engineers only unlock when you become friendly enough with those you've already unlocked. Before then, you don't even know they exist.
Find a system in civil war (currently favourite is 17 Draconis) and stack massacre missions with one of the factions - each kill counts to each mission and, stacked, can earn you a lot of money very quickly indeed.
It is really an exploit of how the game work at the moment, and you do have to go to conflict zones and pick a fight, so a very capable combat ship and knowledge of how to fly it are essential. On the other hand, you don't lose the missions if you do die, so it's not quite the end of the world. Assuming you can afford the rebuy costs of course. The knack to it is staying on the outskirts of the combat zone and only engaging against ships you know you can beat, or are too busy shooting at other NPC ships to fire back at you.
The alien ruins mission from Ram Tah is bugged at the moment, so that's not the best option for 'quick' money. Plus it would seem there are more ruins out there to be found, and as yet nobody has figured out how to find them or where they might be.
7 hours ago, Cordeos said:
I got over my initial annoyances with having to manually land and fast travel, those systems seem mostly fine, if totally unnecessary. (except for being unable to land at a station because a ship was blocking the pad but whatever.)
So what the hell do I do to get my feet off the ground? I did one courier mission, can't do the other one because its out of my range and can't mine because I don't have the equipment. How do I start making space money?
When I started playing the game - slowly
i think I was stuck with the starting sidewinder for about the first 20 hours or so first time I played the game, but that was near release.
Now however the missions system is probably the place to start - start doing those to build reputation with local factions and you'll get offered better and better missions with better rewards. It can be a little frustrating, but it's your best option at the moment. It doesn't really matter if you support all the factions rather than just one or two. The data delivery missions are probably your best option as they don't require any cargo capacity.
That should get get you enough to get started, as soon as you can afford a cobra the game will open up enormously.
Three Moves Ahead 533: Old World
in Three Moves Ahead Episodes
OK so this isn’t the advertised episode for me, it’s a replay of Rob Daviau’s interview about the design process for Risk: Legacy.
can you please upload the right episode?! Thanks!