Escapist Podcast: 209: Is XCOM 2 Better Than XCOM: Enemy Unknown?

209: Is XCOM 2 Better Than XCOM: Enemy Unknown?

The Escapist staff shares some initial thoughts on XCOM 2.

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On the Independence day Wi-Fi reference, even today we have pretty shitty security on a lot of things. But the only reason we need it is because other people can't be trusted not to abuse the access. However in a race of telepaths that are all united on a single goal of conquering worlds there wouldn't be need for security.

As for the United Alien vs the Divided Earth. The more likely reason for this is that because one militaristic faction took over all opposing factions on their world. The notion that any race that survives long enough to travel to other planets it would have to be peaceful enough not to have wiped itself out has a major flaw. It assumes two opposing military forces with the power two destroy the world would arise.

On Earth we got into the Cold War stand off due in large part to geography. In WWII if Germany was not cut off from Britain by the channel and didn't have to deal with the harsh winter in Russia then odds are they would have conquered Europe and Asia to the point that a D-Day style invasion would have been impossible. The US got most of it's Anti-Sub tech from the British so if the Britain fell fast and didn't have time to get the tech to the US odds are the US would have likely struggled to keep the Eastern Seaboard safe for commercial shipping. A lot of factors played into how the war turned out and a few key factors help turn the tied in the Allies favor. So it's not to hard to see how on another world things could play out differently, and once the militaristic group takes over they commit genocide on all the undesirables thus leaving a single united faction on their world.

The other issue is the atomic weapon. Because of the cold war people speculated a similar situation would like arise on other worlds and thus if they couldn't over come their tendency for war they would destroy themselves with Nuclear weapons. However again if it is a more militaristic nation that develops the bomb first they could likely use it to conquer other countries fairly quickly. After all you don't need to nuke the whole landscape, just a couple cities like the US did to Japan to show them your serious. Then with a large enough ground force to back up the threat with an occupying force and I'm sure plenty of nations would fall in line after having nuked a few of the less compliant ones.

So there are plenty of ways a planet could become united under a single aggressive mind set and not wipe itself out. Such a race would then be free to turn it's attention to space exploration and continue their single minded conquest to the stars. So odds are it's folly to think that just because aliens didn't wipe themselves out they would have over come their aggressive nature and be peaceful. Which makes sense for an aggressive invading species as is the common plot in most Sci-Fi.

An alien species that was more divided into factions like we are on Earth would more likely be commerce based with a side of military to protect it's holdings. As such they would more like use Diplomacy, Trade, subterfuge, as a means of getting what they wanted because these are the means they are use to when dealing with others already rather than straight out warfare.

Of course the problem with this is the Sci-Fi universe this takes place in then has to invite some reason why Earth is special or has some rare resource not found else where. Even though there is pretty much nothing on Earth that is rare except life it self. And even then you can harvest all the components to get a farm going from lots of places in the solar system seems the elements are very common. After that you grow food to raise live stock and grow your population. Short of a quick labor source, which poses the question why such an advanced race doesn't have automation since even we are getting more and more automated, there is nothing on Earth that would really be worth something to a race only 1,000 years more advance than use let along 10s of thousands of years more advance... Well besides the unique forms of life that have evolved here and could go nicely in their Alien Zoo.

I haven't been able to download any of these past several episodes of the podcast on my phone, and I don't think this is a me problem cuz all my other podcasts have been downloading just fine

I'm much more frustrated with this XCOM. The interface is a little stilted. Interruptions feel more frequent to the point of me not even wanting to scan. And I don't know if this is some kind of bug, but every time an event happens for me, it resets my scans.

I had two days to finish my Lab. I found out that I left supplies at my Retaliation victory. I went back and tried to Scan. I received an interruption from the Counsel. Fine. Go back to Scanning. Before day 3 is up, I got another interruption. Fine. Great. Research done. Let me go back to.. And it's still at a full three days even though it was almost done before. Hit scan again for those stupid supplies, and somehow my lab's done. Wonderful. Go back to scanning for supplies, it's still a full three days! I try to scan for it again, and then I get an interruption about a Hacker and info she downloaded. I can't get anything done with the level of interruptions. At all.

Also, what is the purpose of freaking concealment if every enemy is just going to instinctively walk to where ever I am. Every enemy combatant is at the middle of the map for this Hacker Mission. I've moved to the top right of my map, bypassing the enemy outpost that a Soldier and a Sectoid is stationed. There's a roving Red and black soldier that's covering the store I need to get into.

And once I get my entire squad into position... Both the pair at the outpost in the middle of the map and the roving guards just walk top right to my position. For no reason. Other than I'm there. If the AI senses where I am and just moves there because, Concealment is a freaking joke. I might as well just go loud all the time if there's no real point to try to stick to the shadows just to get boxed in and fight in a horrible position.

Spyre2k:
Of course the problem with this is the Sci-Fi universe this takes place in then has to invite some reason why Earth is special or has some rare resource not found else where. Even though there is pretty much nothing on Earth that is rare except life it self. And even then you can harvest all the components to get a farm going from lots of places in the solar system seems the elements are very common. After that you grow food to raise live stock and grow your population. Short of a quick labor source, which poses the question why such an advanced race doesn't have automation since even we are getting more and more automated, there is nothing on Earth that would really be worth something to a race only 1,000 years more advance than use let along 10s of thousands of years more advance... Well besides the unique forms of life that have evolved here and could go nicely in their Alien Zoo.

I think the answer to that lies in the Sectoid of Xcom 1 and the Sectoid of Xcom 2. Largely, the first sectoid was just a fun bullet sponge that you didn't think twice about shooting.

With the human spliced Sectoid, they are literally more than twice as Durable (3 hitpoints to 8 hp), their psionic powers seem to affect humans more... they are basically more of a threat.

I look at the Aliens as a Borg-style alien. Trying to get the best of our DNA to discard us later. Then it makes sense. We had nothing but our DNA to give.

ObsidianJones:
Also, what is the purpose of freaking concealment if every enemy is just going to instinctively walk to where ever I am. Every enemy combatant is at the middle of the map for this Hacker Mission. I've moved to the top right of my map, bypassing the enemy outpost that a Soldier and a Sectoid is stationed. There's a roving Red and black soldier that's covering the store I need to get into.

And once I get my entire squad into position... Both the pair at the outpost in the middle of the map and the roving guards just walk top right to my position. For no reason. Other than I'm there. If the AI senses where I am and just moves there because, Concealment is a freaking joke. I might as well just go loud all the time if there's no real point to try to stick to the shadows just to get boxed in and fight in a horrible position.

The purpose of Concealment is to allow you to move more or less freely in the initial turns, to spare you the drudgery of having to inch slowly all the time. Secondly, it's there to let you scout out the enemy positions, determine who's where and decide who you want to fight (stealth-specced Rangers are great for this). Also, it's there to give you the opening shot - a well prepared ambush will wipe or severely weaken a single pod of enemies. It is NOT intended as means to let you stealth through a mission. While some missions will allow you to extract without killing all the enemies, for the most part you'll have to wipe them out.

As for the enemies breaking your Concealment, that means you're positioning your troops poorly. Aside from going loud there are three ways to break Concealment:
1. Walking into a visible square. Regardless of cover, moving into or through a red-marked square during your turn will break concealment.
2. Ending your turn while in a visible square. This is mostly tied to enemies getting close to you. When they walk up to your troops, they won't spot them if they are hidden; but if you end your turn while in their vision, they'll figure it out and trigger.
3. Getting flanked by the enemy during their turn. This means that you picked your cover poorly and the enemy managed to get into a flanking position while patrolling and therefore spotted your soldiers.

And you generally want the enemy groups to walk towards you while you're in concealment - it brings them into range helps your ambush go off better.

Jandau:

The purpose of Concealment is to allow you to move more or less freely in the initial turns, to spare you the drudgery of having to inch slowly all the time. Secondly, it's there to let you scout out the enemy positions, determine who's where and decide who you want to fight (stealth-specced Rangers are great for this). Also, it's there to give you the opening shot - a well prepared ambush will wipe or severely weaken a single pod of enemies. It is NOT intended as means to let you stealth through a mission. While some missions will allow you to extract without killing all the enemies, for the most part you'll have to wipe them out.

As for the enemies breaking your Concealment, that means you're positioning your troops poorly. Aside from going loud there are three ways to break Concealment:
1. Walking into a visible square. Regardless of cover, moving into or through a red-marked square during your turn will break concealment.
2. Ending your turn while in a visible square. This is mostly tied to enemies getting close to you. When they walk up to your troops, they won't spot them if they are hidden; but if you end your turn while in their vision, they'll figure it out and trigger.
3. Getting flanked by the enemy during their turn. This means that you picked your cover poorly and the enemy managed to get into a flanking position while patrolling and therefore spotted your soldiers.

And you generally want the enemy groups to walk towards you while you're in concealment - it brings them into range helps your ambush go off better.

This is one of those times I wish I were a streamer. I could point you to my youtube page to show exactly what I'm talking about.

The short of this. I tried the map again, not wanting to let my disgust defeat me. About 5 turns in, I saved after I moved my squad to the only clear way to move and sat my damage dealers in a bottleneck position. I moved my specialist to flank from the shadows as they went loud so I could sneak her in while the rest of the enemies focused on my DPS. My specialist was behind a fence at the edge of the map, granting full cover.

And the enemy started to walk towards her.

The disgust came again, because an enemy that always knows where I am is no different than cheating, so I decided to do a test. Like I said, I already saved beforehand, so I reloaded and I didn't move my squad in full concealment for three turns. The AI never moved from it's position.

I reloaded and moved my specialist behind the same cover again, full concealment at the edge of the map. The first AI stationed at the entry point to where the data was being held moved towards my specialist once again. And not only that, a new Sectoid and Trooper came out of no where walking towards my Specialist again.

ObsidianJones:

Jandau:

The purpose of Concealment is to allow you to move more or less freely in the initial turns, to spare you the drudgery of having to inch slowly all the time. Secondly, it's there to let you scout out the enemy positions, determine who's where and decide who you want to fight (stealth-specced Rangers are great for this). Also, it's there to give you the opening shot - a well prepared ambush will wipe or severely weaken a single pod of enemies. It is NOT intended as means to let you stealth through a mission. While some missions will allow you to extract without killing all the enemies, for the most part you'll have to wipe them out.

As for the enemies breaking your Concealment, that means you're positioning your troops poorly. Aside from going loud there are three ways to break Concealment:
1. Walking into a visible square. Regardless of cover, moving into or through a red-marked square during your turn will break concealment.
2. Ending your turn while in a visible square. This is mostly tied to enemies getting close to you. When they walk up to your troops, they won't spot them if they are hidden; but if you end your turn while in their vision, they'll figure it out and trigger.
3. Getting flanked by the enemy during their turn. This means that you picked your cover poorly and the enemy managed to get into a flanking position while patrolling and therefore spotted your soldiers.

And you generally want the enemy groups to walk towards you while you're in concealment - it brings them into range helps your ambush go off better.

This is one of those times I wish I were a streamer. I could point you to my youtube page to show exactly what I'm talking about.

The short of this. I tried the map again, not wanting to let my disgust defeat me. About 5 turns in, I saved after I moved my squad to the only clear way to move and sat my damage dealers in a bottleneck position. I moved my specialist to flank from the shadows as they went loud so I could sneak her in while the rest of the enemies focused on my DPS. My specialist was behind a fence at the edge of the map, granting full cover.

And the enemy started to walk towards her.

The disgust came again, because an enemy that always knows where I am is no different than cheating, so I decided to do a test. Like I said, I already saved beforehand, so I reloaded and I didn't move my squad in full concealment for three turns. The AI never moved from it's position.

I reloaded and moved my specialist behind the same cover again, full concealment at the edge of the map. The first AI stationed at the entry point to where the data was being held moved towards my specialist once again. And not only that, a new Sectoid and Trooper came out of no where walking towards my Specialist again.

Then I honestly don't know what to tell you. Sure, I've had patrols move towards me. I've also had them move away from me just as I was getting into ambush position, forcing me to waste a turn repositioning, which directly contradicts what you are telling me. Also, I've had situations where I'd sit in concealment, waiting for two groups to go their separate ways so I don't pop two of them at once. This shouldn't be possible if they simply move towards you. Recently I had an extraction mission where my concealed Ranger scouted a nasty pod (Archon and two Codices, ugh) and the rest of my squad went around it to the extraction point, avoiding the patrol entirely.

I'll grant that you may have been a victim of some bad luck, and/or that some patrols might seek you out more than others, but it's not nearly as bad as you're making it out to be.

Jandau:
Then I honestly don't know what to tell you. Sure, I've had patrols move towards me. I've also had them move away from me just as I was getting into ambush position, forcing me to waste a turn repositioning, which directly contradicts what you are telling me. Also, I've had situations where I'd sit in concealment, waiting for two groups to go their separate ways so I don't pop two of them at once. This shouldn't be possible if they simply move towards you. Recently I had an extraction mission where my concealed Ranger scouted a nasty pod (Archon and two Codices, ugh) and the rest of my squad went around it to the extraction point, avoiding the patrol entirely.

I'll grant that you may have been a victim of some bad luck, and/or that some patrols might seek you out more than others, but it's not nearly as bad as you're making it out to be.

Without flippancy, I believe further conversation about this is fruitless. You're telling me my personal experience is something it's not. I replicated such an incident three times in different maps. There's no further understanding to be had, so let's just end it like gentlemen.

Wanted to jump in here and ask what difficulty you're both playing on. So, which?

Unrevealed pod behavior is different on every single one of them, it turns out. That could be the difference of opinion.

 

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