XCOM: UFF Defence

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XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

I'm going to be playing through XCOM: Enemy Within on a UFF run. I'm going to be taking screenshots at various moments and playing the game using players from this forum. I did this once before but I did it without really advertising it, so I'm going to properly document the happenings. I'll take some suggestions on what decisions to make (such as characters and upgrades and so on) but it's going to mostly be my LP of the game.

I shan't be streaming this because my laptop is shit, but I'll be posting screenshots of major events or highlights of the games I do play. I'll try to post one mission per post, with HQ shenanigans in between.

As before, my laptop is shit; the graphics are therefore at the lowest settings. While it is capable of running it in full screen at full resolution (1366x768), I'm running it at 1024x768 windowed to make it easier for me to get screencaps.

Without any further ado, let's play!
So far, so good. I'll be playing this at Classic difficulty, meaning the game will try to emulate the difficulty of the original XCOM games which were known for their ruthless and unforgiving nature as strategy games.
I've played this game a few times before, so I'm going to be using some Second Wave settings. SW settings are optional mods for the game that change various features such as the starting stats of soldiers or the rewards you get from missions. This improves the replay value of the game by a massive amount.

I'm going to be using Not Created Equally and Hidden Potential for my run; the former randomises starting stats and the latter makes the increases in stats as they rank up random. This adds a huge level of individuality to the soldiers you get and makes each one a proper character.
These are additional playthrough options available to players starting new campaigns.

Operations Slingshot and Progeny are DLC mission packs that result in a number of unique missions that eventually (if you're successful) yield unique soldiers. However, they also result in a lot of loot, which is why I'm going to be doing them.

I'm also going to be running the game in Ironman mode, meaning every decision I make is permanent, every victory is set in stone and every mistake will haunt the rest of the game.

Reduce Beginner VO limits the amount the game tells me what to do, mostly just for my comfort when playing and shutting the fucking game up.

Well, I think that's about it. Here we go.
Buckminster Fuller was an incredible man. Fond of coming up with ideas for practical but inexpensive designs to maximise their availability to the poor. Amongst his many strokes of genius was the geodesic dome, a spherical construct made from triangular components to minimise the structural strain on the whole. (As a side note, the Buckminster Fullerene famous in astrochemistry was named for its similarity to the structure.)

He also kept a diary almost religiously, documenting every important thought or idea that popped into his head. This was one of the many things that he wrote.

Anyway, back to the game.

somebody's watchin' meeee
Shit's getting serious, son.
Today, we fight, within and without.

The first step in the game is to decide where the base is. Each continent has its own bonuses:

THE UNITED STATES OF North MURICA America lets you maintain more EAGLES OF FREEDOM aircraft by reducing their monthly upkeep; Europe allows you to maintain workshops and laboratories for production and research more cheaply; South America lets you threaten aliens so hard they give you what you want from them instantly; Asia GIVES YOU MECHA let you improve on current designs more cheaply by reducing their cost in the Foundry (which will turn up later on); Africa somehow gives you more money every month. I'll go with that; income is very important early game and will let me get a hold of the benefits of the rest of the continents much faster.
At this point, the first mission begins. We don't actually have any choice in what the soldiers we start with are like, but we'll soon be able to fix that.
A lot of natural blondes... I suppose it's Seff Effrickah so it's slightly understandable. Note how in the mission objectives, we're already told that there are "Meld containers". This is a substance not actually "discovered" yet, so it's a bit of an oversight that it's already named.

Also that mission name, wow. I've had some cracking mission names in the past, we'll see how this run fares.
Roll out!
Let's take a look at the screen. In the centre of the screen you can see our squad. You start with four soldiers, a decent strike team. All of them are rookies; chances are they're not literally rookies, they're rookies in the context of the XCOM game. All of them start with an assault rifle, a pistol and a frag grenade and wear standard Kevlar body armour. The little bars next to each of them are HP and moves; the top signifies health bars remaining and the big ones below are the moves. These signify the number of actions they can perform, like moving position or firing a weapon or using some sort of special ability or skill. Each soldier can make up to two moves per turn unless some other action takes precedence...
... like dashing. Dashing lets a soldier move a long distance at the cost of the rest of their turn. The upshot is that they have a slight bonus to evasion, the idea being that they're sprinting and harder to hit. Soldiers can move up to the blue outline that you can see faintly on the ground at the cost of one move, or to a further yellow line not quite visible in this picture at the cost of two. This can either be through dashing, as above, or two separate moves.

Other actions a soldier can perform are shown at the bottom of the screen, marked with their respective hotkeys 1, 2, 3. More actions mean more hotkeys, as you'd expect. Anyway, the options available to a soldier in the open are:

1) Fire: fires the weapon they're currently wielding (shown in bottom right by name and box around the weapon)
2) Overwatch: stand sentry until the end of the opposition's turn and fire at any enemy in your line of sight and within your firing range. There's a slight aim penalty of about 10% for this, but it's a very useful ability.
3) Grenade: Throw a frag grenade. The little x1 shows the number of consumables you have for the ability. Once you've used up that number, that's that.

Alright, let's make a move.
Notice the soldier is crouched behind that bench. It offers half or partial cover: a bonus of 20% to their defence. While not preferable to full cover, which reduces the chance of an enemy shot hitting the soldier by 40%, it's better than standing out in the open.

Notice there is another ability available to the soldier at 4. It's called Hunker Down, and it doubles the defence bonus of your cover(s) and reduces your sight radius to a couple of squares. I don't find I use Hunker Down very often, but it can often save your soldiers' lives. There are other such abilities, the most prominent of which is Reload. I won't patronise you by explaining that.

Time to take a look at our crew. Remember we've not been able to change their names and appearances yet, so they'll have some normal(ish) names.

The stats for a soldier are determined through different methods. Their four stats are HP, Will, Aim and Defence. HP is a function of the difficulty you're playing and the armour a soldier is using. Standard body armour adds one health to a soldier's default, and at Classic difficulty all soldiers start with 4 HP without armour, so they have 5 in total at the start of the game. Will is a trait that affects some later abilities and properties including their ability to resist psychic attacks such as mind control attempts, as well as their resistance to feeling panicky when allies are killed or some enemy uses an ability that can frighten a soldier. This is tied to the soldier, and is affected by the Not Created Equally setting. Aim is similarly affected by NCE and is again tied to the soldier. Aim is a flat number from which all enemy defensive bonuses or aim buffs/debuffs are considered. Defence is a number not usually associated with a soldier, but is affected by a number of things, the most prominent of which is cover, as discussed above.

Our first soldier is Aleksandr Solovyov.
Just for reference, a standard soldier starting at Classic has the following stats:

HP: 5
Will: 40
Aim: 65
Defence: 0

Remember that partial cover acts as a +20, so our Alex is doing pretty well for himself.

Next is Laura Hunt.
Oooh. Not so great, Laura. An average aim and a lower than average will. We'll have to keep an eye on you.
Marcel Nowak, you are an interesting specimen. A very high will but a low aim; going to be hard to get you to kill anything.
And finally, Molly Green, and my, my, Molly's got plenty! A higher than average will and a higher than average aim. A pleasant surprise.

Let's get to work. We've got Alex near one benchside, let's move Molly, our other sharper-shooter, to the other bench, far side.
"It just got hot in here!"
Enemy sighted!

These are the first alien type we meet, regardless of difficulty or map. These are the Sectoids, and they're not too hard to kill off in the first instance, but can be a hassle to deal with.
Their usual action upon being sighted is to move to better cover. Note that in the first image with them in, one had a yellow shield next to it. This means it was flanked. Flanked units have huge penalties to their defence and shots against them taken from flanking positions have a higher chance of landing critical hits and damaging the unit by up to 150% their normal damage.

All three have taken cover but one's moved just out of sight range. You can see in the bottom right hand corner there are two alien heads. These are enemies in sight; the Fire action is no longer greyed out and can now be used against these targets. Let's move everyone else into better positions before getting too hasty.
Oh, man. Molly Green might not have a brilliant shot at them, but Laura's got a great line of sight to one of them, and she's behind a big statue of a lion giving her full cover to boot. Sitting pretty there. Time to move Marcel.
Marcel's sighted a canister of Meld. These contain small amounts of Meld substance that can be used for special upgrades later. More on that anon. Take note that there's a number on it; that's a turn counter, I have that many turns to get a soldier over there and capture the Meld otherwise it's lost to me forever. There is another container on the map, but I don't yet know how long I have to capture it. Typically it's about twice as many turns.

Let's get some rounds on target. Laura takes aim at the flanked alien.
65%... not bad for someone with average aim. Note that this means a flanked unit has 0 defence. Also note the critical chance. Usual chances for an enemy in defence with an assault rifle are between 10% and 25%, so 60% is a great boost. Taking it!
A miss! Fuck me. Welcome to the fucking meat grinder that is XCOM. I've had 99% shots fail consecutively before. Missing a flanking shot is a massive disappointment. Better luck next time, I suppose.
Molly's shot at the same opponent isn't as happy a shot, but it's a 50/50, not as good as Laura's shot. Damn you, Laura. Her aim at the other is similar, so it doesn't matter what she does at this point.
Neither Alex nor Marcel can see the aliens from where they are, so it's probably a wise idea to move them to somewhere safe closer to the action or put them on Overwatch. I'll do that with both of them and Molly can take a shot at the one Laura failed to kill... only for the shot to miss.
On the aliens' turn, one moved towards the fountain in the middle, moving into the line of sight of both Alex and Marcel. Marcel's shot missed, but Alex's shot found its mark.
However, things aren't great on the girls' side. Laura, behind the statue, was hit for three by an alien's plasma pistol, but was saved by another missing her.
Take a look at the alien in the centre. It's surrounded by some funky lights and shit that lead into the dark bit beyond our sight range. That's a Mind Merge; Sectoids can psychically buff their allies for one more health and a 25% higher critical chance. If you can kill the supplier of the Mind Merge, you kill both aliens involved in the process, which makes the other sectoid a very valuable target. This lasts until the end of your turn, so you have this turn to kill two probably-just-birds with one assault rifle.

And just before the end of their turn, three new aliens have joined us on the boys' side of the map!
Well, shit. Outnumbered, and... possibly outgunned, and we've barely started. Let's see if this is salvageable.
Alex flanks one and takes full cover.
Laura moves up and sees the Mind Merger and the other Meld canister! It has three turns on it, so it's not likely we'll get that on foot... maybe we could finish the mission in three turns instead? Laura's also within range to throw a grenade for an instant kill on two aliens, which is good news.

Molly moves up to Laura's last position and has the same chances.

Laura, toss that nade.
Fucking hell, Charlie_Fox, you're throwing off my groove. But at least the aliens are dead now.

Molly takes the shot at the alien behind the fountain and...
... typically misses.

In the next turn, the aliens take a shot at Alex and hit him for 2 damage, move around the fountain a little and get out of flanked territory.

In the turn afterwards, Laura dodges an Overwatch and shoots an alien practically point-blank in the face, Alex literally shoots an alien point-blank in the face, and Molly runs back towards the spawn point to reload and reposition safely.
Marcel's Overwatch misses again but the alien is basically out of options by this point and can't find any cover not flanked. The result?
Alex takes the last kill of the day.
Finished the mission before the Meld canisters' timers expired! Means we got them both, which is great news.

Well, I'll finish this post here and next time we can look into customising our troops into the UFF members properly. Future missions won't be nearly as intensely reported, but this is just to show people what the game's like. I took a lot of risks in this mission, risks that I hope to be able to avoid in the future. Should be good!

"Remember: we will be watching."
Last edited by ShadowSpectre on Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

Bonjour! This post will be all about the creation of the UFF. I'm going to be customising the soldiers we have an making them into the users we know and love.

We left off the last entry by finishing up the mission.
Standard loading base screen here, nothing fancy.

However, upon arrival and after a short speech from the operations officer, we get to see the summary of the operation.
Some pretty standard leaves of absence for Alex and Laura, but more important, we note the three promotions! This means we are on our way to fielding a team of elite troops.

Now, before we go any further, I'm going to be changing up appearances and names of the soldiers we have to better suit their roles and usernames only upon their promotion to Squaddie. This means that we'll have a lot of rookies in the field for the first few games, but not to worry! We have three commanding officers to help light their way.

First, let's look at Aleksandr. He's a support class, a class dedicated to being exactly where they're needed and making everyone around them better, so we'll have to find a suitable user for the role.

... I guess in the absence of any such user, we'll go with PureQuestion.
The second character is Laura Hunt, a... sniper. You'll remember that her aim was the worst of the players we had, which is annoying, but maybe she'll have some Hidden Potential.

So, who do we have that's good at sniping? AlexMdle, SnipeHeart and Flan all spring to mind, so we'll go with the lattermost. But I have a few ideas about what to give the character to most fit Flan's personality.
"oh my god, are you French?"

Our last candidate is Marcel. Marcel happens to be Polish, so there's one person who fits this bill perfectly already!
Alright, with those sorted, let's take a look at the Research labs.
Dr Vahlen is your typical German scientist hell bent on science for science's sake at the cost of... quite a lot, as it turns out. Spoilers, she heads a team working on the Genetic Modifications sector in XCOM.

That's... the GERMAN scientist working on effectively transhumanism. Every Nazi alarm bell should be ringing right this moment. God dammit, stereotypes.

With that done, I'm going to start some research going. These tend to take somewhere in the region of a few in-game days. I'm going to start with a route towards getting some better weapons. Better weapons leads to better accuracy, and the best alien is a dead one.

Let's visit engineering.
This is Dr Shen, the Chief Engineer at XCOM. A Chinese engineer with decades of experience, presumably building ALL of Beijing (his credentials are legion), he is perhaps the least annoying of the base personnel. A man who questions the morality of the technology he uses and the wellbeing of the people involved, he contrasts Dr Vahlen's overpowering interest in the technologies and biologies the aliens have.

Anyway, let's get back to the task at hand. Engineering lets us build facilities as well as equipment, as long as we have the resources available to us. What's the state of the base?
Hey, this isn't so bad. There's not much that's already open for us, but at least we have some sensible locations of steam. Steam is used in thermo generators that provide power using geothermal energy at a better rate than standard power generators. With steam so close to the surface, that's a pretty happy point of entry for us, but first, we need to build some access lifts to get there. I've also started excavating on the surface to provide some more room to grow.
Time to head back to Mission Control, there's nothing more we can do at the moment.
You can see the events log on the right hand side of the screen. That tells me how long it'll take for stuff to happen that's under my control. However, The important feature is the scan for activity button. This fast forwards time and causes events to occur, including...
... abductions! These are the primary missions in the game. You're given a choice between countries and the places you don't help get a little more panicky. This can become a problem later on as council members start leaving if they don't feel confident in the XCOM project, which is really annoying for funding. However, these are early steps yet.
These are our choices; the USA and Argentina are both at two panic bars out of five. At five, they have a chance to leave the Council forever. The UK's only on one bar, so that's not as much of a problem. However, there's an additional incentive to think about. At the moment, I'm going to focus on engineers, since they return some funds each time they build something as a function of the number of engineers I have available working for me.

So, Argentina, here we come!
Notice neither Flan nor PQ are with us yet. They haven't recovered from their injuries. This means we're likely to get some more promotions- and more UFF members!
And away we go.
Operation Hot Dawn. Okay.
The map is a long street that's been flooded by overflowing drains. Linear, this would have been perfect for a sniper if we had one. Ah, well. Let's get to work.

A couple of turns in, we spot our first aliens and they run into cover beyond our lines of sight. Time to set up an ambush, I think.
But upon dashing Garo forwards, I noted that his position flanked one alien! Moving Molly up to take a shot from his position killed it dead.
"Dead and gone."

A few movements around and the other alien managed to retreat, but dashing Garo forwards again activates two more squads of aliens!
Another turn, one dead alien and two fresh squads of aliens activated later, Garo lucks out big-time.
Get the hell out of there...

... or don't.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Mission accomplished merely two turns later.
Two heavies? Jesus. Let's see, who could they be...
This is the standard debrief screen at the end of every mission henceforth. Notice the panic increases. I'll give you general summaries as time goes on, but back to the users.
I eventually settled on changing up the identities of the users. Flan's become the British Heavy, rather than the Sniper. I can funnel someone else into that role, like Kin.
John Thomas, the other heavy, is now Spriterkid, though at his request, he has a less conventional surname.
Ed Balls
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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

Hallo! To kick off this post, we have good news!
Dr Vahlen's finished research into weapon fragments from the aliens, meaning we should be able to start looking into building our own soon. Also, notice in the bottom left hand corner in tiny orange text: Sq. Wiz Kin has returned to active duty. Our sniper is back online!

If we head down to Research...
... we get a summary of the research (not shown, boring) and a notification (shown, not boring) of a new item we can produce in Engineering! I personally love the SCOPE, especially early game. It boosts offence by 10, but only one can be equipped per soldier. Very useful for snipers. Pretty cheap, too.

The next thing on the list is Meld Recombination; as soon as that's ready, we can start rolling out the biggest guns we've got: MECs. Within a few days, it's ready.
This is Meld. It's a suspension of nanomachines capable of building structures and fixing organic material in place incredibly efficiently.

Actual nanomachines are very primitive, but it's a pretty decent bet that if humanity was given access to good nanomachines that did work, we'd be able to reverse engineer it very quickly. Certainly, the indications of how Meld works is similar to current nanotechnology; the nanites join onto each other at hardpoints and form chains, much like crystal structures in nature. This is a surprisingly accurate view of how we think nanomachines would work, so someone there made the right phone calls into the nanotechnology engineering industry.

What can Meld do for us? Well, we can build cybersuits that interface with the human body, for one. This is Dr Shen's area of expertise; he would head teams that would effectively be building GIANT MECHAAAAAAA

Meanwhile, Dr Vahlen would be dredging old rubbish and stoking old fires to start up a genetic modification laboratory and take tips from our fallen enemies and improve soldiers that were humanity's "best of the best". Wow, that sends a chill down my spine.
Between them, they add two more companies to XCOM's one.
Holy fuck, those are mottos to live by. Both are latin: Mutare Ad Custodiam means Change To Protect, which has a brilliant look on paper, but Bellator In Machina rolls off the tongue like a motherfucker, meaning Warriors In Machines. One step away from Deus fucking Ex.

Okay, these need their own facilities, but those won't be possible to build for a few weeks yet; we'll have to excavate more out of the base underground and then plan where things will go. The access lift is operational now, so we're moving at a rate of knots, but it's still slow going. Let's see how we get on otherwise.
Aha, our power generator is online! Very good. Still, a long way to go yet.
A UFO! However, we're not going to engage it. This is metagaming in a pinch, but we have a unique luxury in that we can afford to let this one go. This won't affect anything except the end-of-the-month report, where I'll get a slightly lowered grade, but I suffer no losses letting this fish free.
Within a few days, the second UFO reaches us. It's bigger than the last, but the fighters we have should be able to fight it off without trouble.
Pew pew! Pew!
There we go.
Ooh... still in one piece, eh? Time for a raid!
Taking two rookies out with us on today's outing, we need some more capable troops. We also have Kin with us because need snipers promoted as fast as possible as high as possible.
This map mostly takes place around a destroyed building. The UFO is just beyond it, but there's a lot of fighting in the ruins of the block.
Our order of the day is to promote Kin at least one level and the two rookies to squaddies. Snipers at squaddie rank aren't that great, but they gain power exponentially as they get promoted.
HOLY SHIT SCHMIDT hey that's got a nice ring to it
This is going incredibly well. :D
... almost too well.
Ooh, new alien type! This is the Outsider; they're a weird dimension-shifting alien made from energy that deal with the navigation of spacecraft.
Ooh, another sniper! Ah, Barrett's an Assault. Shame, would have been nice to have a third sniper, but I suppose having a soldier used to Blitzkrieg isn't bad either.
Moreau's becoming AlexMdle. Despite his French origins, we can just assume that he was from a bit near Germany; there are so many German speakers in the area there anyway that it makes not a jot of difference.

That means Barrett has to become someone else. And I have just the person in mind.

Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

It's about time we move the story forward a little bit. I've been running the Xenobiology research project in the labs, and we're about to see what happens...
Well, then. Time to get cracking.

This bit of the story requires a couple of aliens in particular; first, the Outsider, and the second can be any other alien we come across. The sooner, the better, really, because each interrogation actually yields us a lot of new technology.

The riskiest business about this is that it involves attempts to capture at close range. This is hazardous at the best of times; range bonuses are often incredibly lucrative.

For this reason, I'm going to be assigning the task to Heavies and Support classes; the former generally tend to tank hits better than other classes and the latter are medics and can fix themselves up if they get hit. The only real concern is when it comes to critical hits; death is not a temporary setback.

I'm going to hold off on building the Alien containment for a few days until a Thermo Generator has been built on the steam in level two.
Why put a power generator there? Installations of the same type often gain bonuses from proximity. Satellite Uplinks next to each other can be more efficient and allow one additional satellite's capacity, power generators produce a little more power, so on and so forth. This is the major reason we're restricted in terms of what we can build; if you don't plan ahead, you can shoot yourself in the foot by having to demolish later on.

To that end, I can't actually build a decent Cybernetics labs juuuust yet. In my mind, the Foundry, the engineering department's R&D, is more important because it improves the survivability of the rest of the team. MECs are great but without support, they're useless because they don't use cover; all they've got is the fact that they're incredibly armoured.

I can, however, look into building a Genetics Lab. I'm going to do what I normally do and partition left and right into labs and workshops; left will be labs, right will be workshops. I tend to find that blocks of four for Satellite Uplinks (and later, Satellite Nexus installations) and power generators outputs enough for the entire game, so those two blocks will have to be taken into account. Also important is that it costs more money to build further down. That's a pretty neat idea, if you ask me.

For now, let's plop down a few things and speed up time.
Excellent; the thermo generator is online. Thermo generators additionally output more power than standard generators; a useful property.

Let's now look at our options for building.
I took the liberty of starting to excavate a little more and build another satellite uplink to try and start reaping some benefits. Satellites allow us to reduce panic in countries and give us our vital funding. It's usually a good idea to have a handful up by the end of the month to give us some breathing room. They also stall abductions dead, meaning there will be less to worry about. However, this does also mean that there will eventually be more UFO battles, all of which are dangerous because we'd be fighting aliens on turf they know better and against troops they can choose. This sounds a little odd, but abductions are generally attacks of opportunity- the highest ranking aliens rarely go out to steal people.

Time for another mission, I think.
We'll deploy in Russia, looking for more money as a reward; we can look into launching some satellites over other countries eventually to reduce their panic.
Since this mission's "easy", we can afford to take a couple of rookies with us. Again, we'll look to rank up snipers.
mo' liek bleeding bellend amirite

pls get doctr

This map takes place around two buildings; a butcher's with an associated storage garage and a cold-storage warehouse.
Looks like our rookies will shape up well.
Here is where it went pear-shaped. Alex misses a shot against an alien...
... who then moves round and slots Amanda Powell from a flanking position. There was nothing I could do about it. :/
As it turns out, that was the last bastard on the map. With a heavy heart, I consign Amanda Powell to our memorial, the first of our dead.
In the meantime, we'll reassign Kelly. An assault-class with exceptionally high aim, I've made him into Aquamancia. Why the appearance? I'm sure you can find a Link to his interests.
More importantly, we now have access to laser weaponry! Our luck's about to improve dramatically... if we have the money. See you next post.
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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

To kick off this post, we'll look at the Situation Room.
This room is dedicated to the observation and long-term monitoring of all of XCOM's operations. From here we can launch satellites, sell off unwanted alien bits and bobs and, later on, run covert operations.
You can also see what countries have satellite coverage; at the moment, only the one, but we'll have more satellites in about three weeks.
We're going to sell off some stuff in the Gray Market because I spent all our cash on satellites for later. The most lucrative deals are on damaged goods like flight computers and power sources from downed UFOs.

Just before we leave for Engineering, let's take a look at XCOM's finances.
Running XCOM has maintenance costs associated with it. Cash flow is extremely important; when we run out of money, stuff starts to go wrong. Council members start grumbling and some stuff stops working. I've never had it happen to me, so I'm not actually sure what does happen if you go into the red, but I'd rather avoid it.
Rifles! These will be very handy. Also note the laser pistols; I'll think about giving those to our snipers to keep them prepared.
And now the Foundry's online! The Foundry allows us to undertake engineering projects to improve the effectiveness of what we already have. The biggest boons will be out of projects like pistol improvements, but there are loads of options, if you have the funds.
Which we currently don't. Oh, well, council report in a few days!
We can also start work on some precision lasers, giving us laser sniper rifles. After that, we'll look into armour.
The council report has finally arrived. At the end of each month, outgoings and incomings are totted up and we're assessed on how well we do. It's an important aspect of XCOM, and not one to be sniffed at. It's very difficult to please these guys. Take note, the UFO we missed was that first one; the only thing that's happened is that the grade's gone down.

Anyway, bottom line, more money!
Ooer, why have we not got the £227 promised to us? Well, a lot was taken out for expenses as we saw in Finance. We get a sum of £78 out of the end of that, and I sold a couple of corpses. Time to get working on pistols, I think!
Our satellite uplink is ready!
And more excitingly, so are our precision lasers! A scatter laser is the laser shotgun; there is a slight increase in aim and the damage done is greater. It means that Garo and his colleagues will be a bit more certain stuff will stay dead.

We can't actually build anything else at the moment because we don't have enough alloys. Alien alloys are acquired primarily from UFOs, so we have to hope one turns up soon.
What are the odds?

Take note: this is a landing. Landings are generally seen as more dangerous because they're usually with a full complement of crew. This means we should only send experienced troops. We'll have to send our squaddies on their first full UFF outing!
A full complement of classes. Let's rock and roll.
Nobody wants to sit next to MAN JACKSON.

These are seekers: they're the equivalent of Squiddies from the Matrix, except these guys can turn invisible and they single out mostly people who are on their own. The best counter is to bunch up and fucking overwatch EVERYONE.
They appear out of nowhere and are horrible to think about. Pure hits this one, but it's still wriggling.

A quick response from Alex saves her. She's still out of breath, but importantly, she's free.
They're pretty harsh penalties, but it soon subsides.
Somehow, despite this, Flan still takes down a sectoid as it crawls out of the UFO. Badass.
Jesus fuck, Dabir looks atrocious.
Flan saves him. Never again.

/single tear
And just as they enter, a floater, a new type of enemy, a cyborg torso with arms and jetpacks, gets shot in the face by Alex.
He also takes out another one going straight for the BRIGHT PINK AND CYAN BEACON
We're done two sectoids and an outsider later. Good work, team.
And we have a new Corporal! Flan's been promoted, meaning she can now take another ability. But look at those off-duty times! Shit, son. Better get that armour soon. Still no promotion for Alex, which is irritating, but I'm sure he'll manage eventually with that killer aim.
Giving Flan Holo-Targeting. I prefer this ability because it's a decent support if the heavy in question has a decent aim, which Flan apparently does.

We also now have enough to buy two laser sniper rifles and a scatter laser! I think the UFF will have more outings in the future.

Well, I think it's time to curtail this entry here. Good job all round.
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

Oh, boy! Another update? I fucking love XCOM.

Fucking LOVE IT.

All important and campaign-worthy and shit
Fuck. This mission is hard. Get to the end point, retrieve soft civilian, get him to safety without getting him killed. Shit's pretty tough.

Also Lazy Paramour.
This is the Thin Man. Used for alien special operations where they take and hold within human populations or areas.

Upon being killed, they explode into poisonous clouds, and they can also spit clouds of the stuff as well.
News: the convoy we've been sent to find has been apparently hijacked. Also Alex got a promotion, woohoo!
This is the guy we're now going to try to save. Notice the proximity to an alien. This will be interesting.
Death comes in brightly coloured bursts.

Still, he does what we say because we're rough men with big guns.
Alex is really taking care of business today.
Garo's also defying fate; turns out every new thin man past this point starts on overwatch.
But Garo's a pretty good shot, sometimes.
And has a good throwing arm! Man, Garo's all over it. You go, Garo Coco.
In other news, SK can't hit jack shit.
One rocket launch later, the mission is over.
Promotions! :D :D :D Everyone who deserved one got one.
Being an assault class soldier means running up and shooting the shit out of anything you can sprint to. You're in the thick of it, but it's unusual that there's only one alien firing at anyone time. I'm giving both Garo and Dabir Tactical Sense, meaning they should be a little more resilient.
Alex, on the other hand, I'm going to give Squadsight. Squadsight is typically one of the most annoying things for someone used to commanding people to move around, but it means that we can get started on it pretty fast.


Also a Genetics lab. Hopefully we'll have fully equipped troops soon enough that'll give us an edge we desperately need.
But before either of those are ready, we have another mission to deal with. Stay frosty.
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

We're starting this "Difficult" mission with one rookie. I want as many members as possible, but I'm going to focus on promotions generally, now. Rookies aren't as important, we have about eight of them.
This map is based in an urban setting, but I'm going to show you what difference a Squadsight sniper makes.
Notice Alex's position. He doesn't have to be anywhere near the action to be able to take part, now, and his aim is still awesome.
Here's something both amusing and amazing; these Seekers have been spotted by someone but they haven't gone cloaky. This means we get one free shot at them before they spook. Man, if only we'd brought a heavy with a rocket launcher.
Holy shit! Fuck him up!
"Aww, my friend fell through the floor :("
Putting Dabir on the roof activates two Floaters who can SEE HIM FROM A MILE AWAY
This is the beauty of squadsight. Enemies can't see you because you're so far away, so they don't think about the possibility of being flanked. It means occasionally, shots like these present themselves and they're beautiful.
oh my fucking god
The second Seeker emerges to rape our rookie! But Dabir is on hand to save the day.
Some sectoids have turned up to flank us, but we'll be alright, I think.
Our rookie's doing well for himself!
After another turn, this is the situation now. Alex is in a position to finish this up once and for all.
Without a doubt.
Exciting news! We can now build an Officer Training School! This is just what we needed. But additionally, Alex, Garo and our Rookie all got promoted!
Alex gains a choice between extra pistol damage and a boost to aim and defence. Survivability is my focus, so I'm giving him the latter.



And Garo is Cowboy. Oh my God.
BECAUSE YES (credit to MMX for snap-wittery)

Giving him Lightning Reflexes, making Garo our top word on wasting opponent Overwatches.
Our rookie was a heavy, and I was torn between TBD and Dr Thunderous for this one. However, since TBD has been with us longer (by merely six months), I'll make this into his character. I will get round to DrT soon! Others on the list include Rumia and MMX, but I'm looking for some specifics on those.

I'll call it a day there, I think, a good game all round, but before we go...

Look what I found in the XCOM base.
Alex and Pure at the bar, chatting away like the pals they are...
...Kin and SK doing dem miles on the treadmills...
... and Aqua chatting up the female rookies over snooker. Part legend, part devil... all man.
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

Before we begin, take a look at the time and date in-game at the bottom, there. Go look up what day that would be. Go on. I'll wait.

Anyway, we're building a training school and it'll take eight days, so we should get Genetics, Cybernetics and Officer training within the same 24 hours. Shit's gonna be hot.
As a chemistry student, I'd just like to draw your attention to this entry by Dr Vahlen and provide the following remark:

This is total bullshit.

Element 115 is ununpentium, a synthetic heavy metal too big to naturally exist. It's in an "island of stability" where the payoffs for being a single nucleus are higher than the strong nuclear forces trying to push it apart. It's been detected and synthesised, there's no doubt about that, but in less than a second, it decays to element 113, Ununtrium, or eka-thallium. (Eka-, by the by, is a prefix used in chemistry to denote something below the element to which it is attached in the periodic table. Mendeleev predicted properties of elements like "eka-silicon", now known as Germanium, that had not yet been discovered.)

In short, Elerium cannot be 115. The only reason it is dates back to the 1980s when a man called Bob Lazar claimed to be working for the US government in a compound known as S4, southwest of Area 51, where he worked on extraterrestrial technology, including details of gravity-based propulsion where element 115 was in fact the main component. It's interesting to note that S4 was mentioned in a document regarding Majestic 12 which the FBI declared to be fake. However, that is what they'd want us to think...

Various physicists have actually studied the idea Lazar claimed was being used by aliens and declared his work false and completely in opposition to the current dogma in physics. Element 115 was purported by Lazar to be so heavy it had its own tangible gravitational field, and that under particle bombardment, these atoms would produce antimatter particles (detectable and plausible) and gravitons (currently literally just a theory). Interestingly, I'm not the only person to have done some research into Lazar; both the developers of XCOM and GuavaMoment of SomethingAwful have investigated the claims Lazar made and have subsequently used them as suggestions for in-game theory, the former using Element 115 and the latter with a reference to Zeta Reticuli, a star system from which Lazar claims that the Little Grey aliens originated. Additionally, the famed Zeta Reticuli incident, presumably where Lazar's fanciful idea comes from, involved the little greys. The story is quite compelling, it makes for delightful creepypasta.

Elerium itself would be an element. Let me make something clear: jelly is not a phase of matter. Not even water has a phase that's like jelly, and water has like 40 phases.

Anyway, I've started research into better armour. Let's see how this goes.
Armour! It'll cost a lot of alloys to make, so I hope the aliens turn up soon.
Wahoo! Finally something to make Spriter less shit. Can't afford it yet, but it'll get there.
And a railgun for MECs! This'll be a good boost before we've even started.
And moments before our labs are ready, we get a UFO contact! It's unlikely we'll be able to shoot it down with just one fighter, but luckily we have two.
One down, one to go. Thinking about it, I should have aborted when I had the chance, but whatever, it's not a great loss at the moment.
And it's down. UFO damage translates between fights if it hasn't left and come back.
This is the team I'm going to field in the mission. I hope to promote Kin up by at least one level and make her a Snap Shot sniper to complement Alex's Squadsight. Together, they should make waves.
I'm going to leave this entry at that; We'll have more action next time.
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

So we barely start the map and already Alex is taking out enemies that practically can't even see. Fuck.
The map we're on is a desert-type map where a UFO has crashed. Cover's pretty sparse, but that's the price you pay.
We've activated a couple of seekers but I don't know where they've gone :s

He's soon saved by Flan, who seems to take the task of rescue anyone else being tentacle raped very seriously. We honour her commitment.
Everyone turned around and dicked the second seeker, and we're clear to move out!
Alex getting another well deserved promotion, there. And Dabir's our next sergeant!

BULL. Wow, that's amazingly appropriate.
I'm giving Alex the ability to disable enemy weapons. This becomes invaluable later on. Dabir gets Lightning reflexes, same as Garo.

Now, it's time for ALL THE CONSTRUCTIONS

This is the most helpful part of the three constructions completed today. Officer Training allows us to start growing our forces at an exponential rate. Squad Size upgrades up the squad sizes to 5 and 6; New Guy automatically promotes all Rookies to Squaddie immediately; Rapid Recovery allows us to minimise the time soldiers spent off duty thanks to injury; Lead By Example replaces the will of all soldiers with the will of the commanding or highest ranked soldier on the team; Wet Work increases experience gained from kills; and Iron Will improves the bonus to Willpower every time someone's promoted. All exemplary upgrades, I think you'll agree. For the moment, I'm going to implement Lead By Example, clearly the most important of the upgrades. I'll think about Squad Size later when more taxing mission types start appearing.
This is the Cybernetics interface. Here, we can select troops to be made into MEC troopers. It takes a few days to complete, so I'm unsure I'll commit anyone yet.
Genetics has a similar interface to Cybernetics, but it's got a shorter waiting time of about three days per modification. As a result, I'm tempted to start these sooner, but I'm going to wait until we have some more funds, because...
... we have a financial problem. Luckily, as you can see in the bottom right, we have some satellites coming very soon.
Selling off damaged UFO parts gives us enough money for some Foundry projects. Tactical Rigging is perhaps one of the most important upgrades we can give to our soldiers. It means that everyone can carry something in addition to the items they already had; a worthy investment, I think you'll agree. It'll take a week, but we can wait.
Now, note the number of satellites available compared to the maximum capacity. That's the boon of building uplinks. It's currently not as efficient, but it'll soon pay off.

Different Council members give different rewards for sending satellites overhead. I'm tempted to go for some of the more profitable nations like the USA and Russia, but I could cover South America in order to get the bonus of being able to complete autopsies and interrogations instantly. This will speed up research massively.

Wherever I put them, I'll need to send some fighters to defend them. UFOs turn up mostly in the regions where satellites exist because satellites can pick them up. Therefore we need to be ready to take down anything that exists in those areas. Interceptors cost a lot to maintain, but North America's bonus of halving the maintenance sounds very pleasant.

I'm going to settle with American nations to start with. I'll send a couple of interceptors over as soon as I can.
Notice the now massive stream of income I'm due to receive. For now, let's get back to missions.
Ah, a council request. Occasionally, members of the council will ask for items from you in exchange for various rewards. Sometimes they're profitable and possible, other times they lack something to them. We'll receive another satellite in 15 days, and it'll cost a lot less than £200, so I'm going to take them up on it when I get round to having satellites I can give up.
Excellent! The start of the second set of DLC missions, from Operation Slingshot.

This yields us a new soldier, a Heavy, with incredible aim. The mission is pretty difficult, but it's worth the risk.
I'm going to purchase a Squad Size upgrade for this mission. We'll need another set of eyes ready when the time comes. This is a mission for experienced troops, so we'll be sending the top five in our barracks.
This is Zhang. A member of the Triad, he's offering us a lot of help in return for safety.
He carries a device of some value that he won't give up until we get him out. We'll face a number of aliens including one potentially new one.
The map is reasonably straightforward. Get through a graveyard and into the Skyranger. Except we don't know where enemies are; they drop down from the sky and immediately enter Overwatch. This is where our Sergeant Assault troops will be invaluable.
Wow, well.
That didn't take long.
Meanwhile, Alex is WINNING.
This is the new type of contact: a Muton. The common mid-to-late game ground unit, they carry a very powerful plasma weapon and have the ability Intimidate which activates upon being hit. This forces a will check against all troops in range and can make them panic.
Dabir's Lightning Reflexes helping him survive, but his cover is gone. It's up to everyone else to cover him until he can move next turn.
Garo runs and guns the Muton for a whopping 9 damage, but the Muton's Intimidate activates.
Garo panics, making him take a second shot, missing, but destroying one section of wall. He will miss his next turn.
Meanwhile, Flan casually kills everything.
Dabir's again being the shock trooper of the minute.
Alex finishing in style. That's game!
What a mission!
Incredibly well deserved promotions for Dabir and Flan. Oh, man, that nickname, Flan.
I'm giving Dabir the ability to fire twice in a turn. It won't matter that much, I'm going to be making him a MEC trooper soon, but it should be useful in at least one mission.
Flan is also likely to be made into a MEC trooper, but the ability I'm choosing is Suppression, an invaluable ability that will doubtless get selected for future Heavies reaching this rank.
Zhang is one such soldier! We can't customise him to be a member of the UFF, unfortunately, his name and face are very much locked down (I believe his nickname is Chinese for "Mountain Dragon"), but he can be promoted all the way up to Lieutenant! A very valuable addition to the force. I'm giving him Holo-Targeting and Suppression to mimic Flan, but for the last two abilities, I will be giving him HEAT Ammo, something that will become very necessary when fighting the enemies' robotic forces.

Well, that's the end of this two mission special, I hope you've enjoyed it. For now, this is Commander ShadowSpectre signing off...
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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Re: XCOM: UFF Defence

Post by ShadowSpectre »

I'm doing this now because I know that soon I will have to start a Terror Mission. Terror Missions are the hardest mission type that you can come across, but they reduce panic like crazy. Failing the mission, however, causes that council state to leave XCOM. I hope Dabir is ready by the time the Terror Mission starts.
I've just built a level one MEC and given it a Kinetic Strike Module- known to you and me as a POWER FIST.
A MEC trooper has an entirely new ability tree. Their rank is the same, but their ability points are reset and you choose from them. The soldier they used to be is still there in the form of a bonus ability. Dabir used to be an assault, so he gets Shock Absorbent Armour. A Heavy would get a Distortion Field, so on and so forth. They're all abilities similar to the role they would have played as a normal human.

All MECs start with the ability Collateral Damage. This spends two uses of ammunition to destroy a small area of cover. It's very good for blowing up cars and vehicles. The other abilities are normally choices between offence and defence. Corporal Rank gives you the choice between Advanced Fire Control, as you see above, and Automated Threat Assessment, which increases the MEC's defence in Overwatch. Sergeants get either Vital Point Targeting, which confers bonus damage against targets that have been autopsied, or Damage Control, which reduces all damage taken for the next two turns by two points.

The Lieutenant Rank contains what I think are the most useful upgrades: One For All, which makes the MEC a high cover element unless it moves or shoots, or a Jetboot Module, allowing it to traverse tall objects. Clearly the latter is most important for mobility.

Dabir as an Assault type MEC would need to be just as mobile as he was in Assault while still being very good at doling out damage. I've given him Advanced Fire Control, Damage Control and Jetboots to make him a mobile hammer with his weapons.

"But oh," I hear you cry, "What weapons?"

These weapons.

And we now have armour! Finally, we can actually have some level of extra defence against these aliens. And just in the nick of time, too...
... because we have an Abduction mission just about to start. Time to baptise our MEC in fire.
Carapace Armour has the highest number of different styles. This means we can afford to properly customise the look of the troops.
I'm giving Alex the Nightmare armour look as best as I can because fucking hell I love that nickname.
Flan's going commando pro with a combat knife on her shoulder.
And Pure's getting the armoured tank look. We're trying to promote him today so he's more effective at his job.
heeheeheehee look at Dabir sitting in the Skyranger with the rest of them, it's so awkward
This map's a large construction yard that has a lot of high cover that's explosive. There's a lot of height advantage as well, so that's something to think about exploiting with Alex.
Thin men!
... can you just imagine the chatter in the alien base?

"B'ob just got wasted."
"Fuck, how?"
"... he got shot by a giant pink robot."
"Yeah, I can't believe it either."
"Send S'Tev to check it out."
"You're fucking shitting me."
Flan is still kicking ass, fuck me.
Alex is shooting over peoples' fucking shoulders.
And Alex and Pure get a lonely seeker to finish the mission!
Wahoo! Promotions!
Captain AlexMdle now gets to choose between getting stupidly high aim on weakened targets or eliminating aim penalties on Overwatch. The latter is more important, in my opinion.
With a ridiculously high aim and hit rate, Flan definitely gets Rapid Reaction. It'll be useful in the few missions Flan has before being upgraded.
Pure gets a choice between a more effective Overwatch, activating when opponents take shots as well as move, or moving more. I'm giving him the latter because a more mobile gun is a very valuable asset.
Garo's getting the same treatment as Dabir did; I find that rapid fire finishes off big and terrifying enemies really quickly.
With Alex's promotion to Captain, we've unlocked another Squad Size upgrade.

We'll let that one mull over. In the meantime, we'll take another break from the world of XCOM. Ta ta!
Out for lunch. Return uncertain.

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