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 XCOM 2 First Impressions

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Carabas
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PostSubject: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Sat Sep 03, 2016 9:40 am

I've just started playing this week and I've logged in ten hours so I've barely scratched the surface.

I had misgivings considering what has been said about the abysmal performance of the game but I believe that in the state it's in now it's rather playable. Don't get me wrong I had to dial down a few settings to maintain a decent frame rate with some settings on high and although the game is pretty it should perform a lot better than it does (which is the understatement of the year).

My first reaction was that I won't ever play XCOM Enemy Unknown ever again simply because of all the incredible amount of customisation in the game (so if you're considering getting XCOM 2 going through EU one last time may not be a bad idea).

My second reaction was to look for a mod that tweaks the timer for missions. I'm aware that not being on a timer is cheesy but considering that there are two things I hate in strategy games and those are turtling and save scumming I think I should be fine.

I totally get that the timed missions are in there to keep us on our toes and to force us to make difficult choices but it feels so arbitrary. I don't mind some timed objectives (or bonuses like meld canisters in the previous game) but I want to be able to think and play a turn based game like XCOM without worrying about some silly counter that takes out the tactical element and turns the game into a rush for the flag kind of game.

With that out of the picture I must say that the game still has enough time sensitive objectives for me to contend with and that's a good thing.

They've tried to turn things around to break the routine that the previous game encouraged us to dig into and that's refreshing. The change in playable classes makes the tactical element feel a lot richer since (at least for me) the skills I should pick are not so obvious as in the previous game. I can no longer rely on Assaults guys and gals rushing the enemy to get a shotgun blast in at close range like I used to do with the previous game. It feels less cheesy and that's a good thing.

The destructible environment is more relevant than ever and that's another great thing.

I haven't played enough to really comment on maps but variety seems to have increased an awful lot. Not playing the same maps over and over again should really help counter the repetitiveness of the game in the long run.

Last but not least it's really possible to make the characters stand out and more importantly they don't have to look like random grunts (which for someone like me who doesn't really care for uniforms and the military is definitely a plus). You can have a bunch of Mad Max rejects, fashion victims and resistance fighters that do not necessarily look like LARPers trying to get into paintball (although you could if you wanted to). The whole thing may seem a bit silly but having a character with enough quirkiness to be memorable is a game changer because it means that when he or she is going to kick the bucket it will be more meaningful than losing just another level X grunt.

I'm also using a little mod that keeps track of all the stats and achievements of my squad members so I know how well they've performed on the field and how many notches they have on their guns. It's a nice addition.

All in all the game feels more difficult (I'm playing on normal difficulty for now) so much so that I can't see myself relying on just an A team to do the heavy lifting. Considering how long it takes for a wounded squad member to recuperate and how easy it is to lose one on the field it's a necessity to have substitutes who can step in and save the day or die trying.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Sat Sep 03, 2016 2:27 pm

A friend of mine is a big fan of XCOM 2 and he convinced me to buy it. I'm just waiting for the price to go down (80$ is a bit pricey for me).

Could you link those mods? Whenever I get the game, I'm certainly going to get those. I also hate clocks very much.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:36 pm

I've tagged the mods as my favourite mods in the steam workshop so when you'll get the game you should be able to find them.

There was a flash sale on green man gaming last week (almost 60% off) which unfortunately I've missed so I picked my key from Amazon.fr which cost me a little over 32 euros which may not be that great but is not a bad price for the deluxe edition.

I can't find any good offer at the moment. The best deal seems to be 25% off and it would seem that the Amazon deal is over. You could check out isthereanydeal.com to find out when a new sale is coming up.

The timer thing is a real deal breaker for me. In the previous XCOM it was bearable because they didn't use it too much but they really overdid it on this one. I understand that they want to take the player out of his or her comfort zone but this is taking things too far.

Sure, taking it away probably makes the game much easier but it's hard enough to be challenging even without having to contend with a timer that forces you to rush through the map blindly with the hope that the aliens will miss and not mow down your entire squad...

I'd rather play without timers if the alternative would lead me to reload saves or start over a whole map in order to avoid losing a tactical encounter (with all the consequences that it entails).

By the way if you're itching for an XCOM game but don't feel like replaying EU you should have a look at Hard West. It's not just an XCOM reskin and although it's a much less ambitious game it is fun. It may also be a title that your friend would enjoy. Last but not least it's on sale at the WinGameStore for ten bucks.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:01 am

Here is a great review of XCOM 2 in French:

http://www.wargamer.fr/xcom-2-2035-apres-la-chute-de-la-terre/#1

It's very detailed and gives a fair idea of what to expect from the game.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:38 am

Oh and I'm having some great fun with the Aien Hunters DLC but fair warning it is pretty steep (and I love it so far). Smile

I guess it's possible to delay this content by postponing the related quest and it would have been much less painful if I did that but despite the unfairness of this DLC I have to say it's shaken things a bit (which is good).

I'll report back when I'll have a new trophy added to my collection -hopefully considering I lost my highest ranking squad member last night because of those aliens, we will avenge you Analucia!

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:04 pm

Here are my first impressions :

- I thought it was just me having issues with graphics and lagging, but re-reading your first post tells me you need a good machine to run it on high. The important parts of the game runs fine, it's just the ship taking off and returning cutscenes that runs to a crawl (and slow loading time). I know I need more RAM (I'm having issues with this in Fallout 4, as I can't visit downtown cities for HUGE lagging problems), but since I don't really care about the cutscenes and I have my Fallout 4 waiting tool (a crosswords puzzle book I keep near the computer Laughing ), I'll keep the graphics on high so to keep the graphic detail in the gameplay.

- I didn't know the setting at all and I think the guerilla-tactic, underground-resistance angle works very well with the gameplay. I also like how they bridged the gap between the games by having the player "character" being in stasis for that time. It makes for a smooth introduction to the new enemies and game mechanics. The rescue mission also worked quite well as a tutorial. I really love it when games actually care about tutorial and try to integrate them into the game, as opposed to a "here, try the control on paperdolls for a bit and then start your game". It breaks immersion for me.

- I like how the game offers you many options and lets you prioritize. However, I would like more information on the geomap. I took me a while to figure out some stuff that could have easily been covered. And I'm having trouble figuring out what is time sensitive and what is not. I had a message about a possible mission in which the reward was rookies. I was like "alright", let me just finish up my stuff over here and I'll be right over". I never found that mission again on my map. Sad

- I love the battles. They really nailed the battlefield atmosphere, with the debris, semi cover and full cover, but can be destroyed with explosives. I'm really on my toes when walking around, since I can lose my team in no time.

- I love how the enemy reacts to what you do. You whack a lot of their soldiers? Fine, they'll just upgrade their armor. Love it! Smile

- While this may be not as important for most people, the dealmaker for me was the customization options for the soldiers. They have names, nicknames (which is rather cool they have to be earned in blood. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out you couldn't add a nickname on rookies), different hair and appearance options. I actually care about my soldiers, which doubles the stress in a battlefield. I had a couple of close calls where I was like "NOOO, NOOO, GET OUT OF THERE!". It also raises the replay value, as you can have fun going at it again with new random soldiers.

So far, after 13 hours playing the game (in 1 day and a half... Laughing) I want to give the game 4 stars out of 5. There a still a couple of things that irk me (Viper tongue that passes through several sturdy walls to grab soldiers hiding behind complete cover and carry them half way across the battlefield, I'm looking at you!) and that could have improved the game (why can't we choose a rookie's class when first leveling up?), but I know that was money well spent! I was waiting to play the actual game before bothering with mods, but I will definitely see what I can find to add to the game and I will go buy the DLCs that are also on sale at the moment.

It's also pretty neat you can create soldiers and place them in the character pool, which is included in the potential recruits in game. I created a soldier after myself and he was part of the first 8 soldiers of my team, without me having to recruit him!

I admit I'm having a bit of problems on the battlefield. I keep forgetting to use abilities or items, so I often (always?) return with injured soldiers. Though I didn't lose anyone yet, I know it's going to get more hairy as I go along. The good thing of constantly having soldiers in the infirmary, though, is that the experience really goes around. I'm at 12 soldiers and 2 are lieutenants (including my Triactus character, no less... Razz) , 8 are sergeants, 1 is a squaddie and 1 is a rookie (my latest two recruits are catching up).

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:23 pm

Glad you're having fun. Smile

By the way there is an upgrade that allows you to train a rookie so you can pick his or her class.

I currently have a full roster and only three fighters fit for duty. I love how you can't rely on just your A team to get the job done.

You should be able to see the mods I'm using in the Steam Workshop since they're listed as my favourites. There is nothing game breaking in there except the timer thing but frankly I hate turtling so I tend to play rather quickly it's just a relief not to be forced into rushing through the map no matter what.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:24 am

How do I see your favourite mods? I've tried to look it up, but I can only see mine.

Ah, fair enough about the upgrade. That's why I try to refrain from criticising the game too much, since I haven't encountered or maxed out everything. And how much is the full roster?

I just had an interesting battle. It was a very even fight around an abandoned garage against a muton, a sectoid, three advent soldiers and a codex. They weren't all at once, of course, but all the small battles followed each other so closely I didn't have time to reposition my soldiers. I was always jumping from the frying pan into the fire. And it was a timed mission  to destroy a relay so I had lieutenant Triactus rushing to the objective while the rest of the team held their ground. He managed to destroy the thing in the garage in the final round (!!), but the codex and sectoid just popped up in the garage with him. D'oh! But he managed to run through a window and take cover without a scratch! Very Happy    

Later on, a clone codex jumped on my rookie crouching behind a truck and missed with it's point blank shot. I used nearby sergeant Globutev's "lightning hands" ability (he's a sniper) to pistol kill the clone attacking my rookie and then used his rifle to headshot the original codex attacking my other two soldiers. It was quite exhilarating.

I came back with just one healthy soldier out of four, the rookie, but since she killed five enemies in that mission, it's all good!

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:15 am

I'll have a look about the mods

When I say full roster I mean my barracks contain more than 20 fighters. I don't have the exact figure. Money is tight as always.

Stories like that make the game. I've had my share of tough spots, times when you know that no matter what everyone is not going to make it.

EDIT:

Here is the list of the mods I've been using, apart from the timer thing they are mostly cosmetic.

Better Tactical Zoom Out
XCom International Voices Pack
More Random Backstories
Nicknames Extended
More Nations Mod
Disable Timers
Lifetime Stats
After Action Days Wounded
Free the Hood
Ink and Paint
Full Character Customization From Start
Custom Face Paints
More Maps Pack
Capnbubs Accessories Pack

The thing that drives me crazy is how they can't be bothered adding languages for other nationalities in the game. Civ does have so many options they could have come up with some Chinese and Arabic voices for the game.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:25 am

Cool, thanks for the mod names. I got most of them. I agree that they could have done more with recorded languages. It's not like there's a million spoken lines. I would even have settled for accents. I don't get why Italian is in the game, but Arabic, Mandarin or Hindi isn't. Still, it's better than most games, where it's american English period.

I also picked up two more mods. Squad cohesion, where, depending on the action between soldiers in a mission, they get cohesion points. If a soldier carries a wounded one to safety, the "relationship" between the two takes a big jump. The cohesion between soldiers is added before they launch on a mission and the higher the cohesion is, the better they perform together. I also nabbed Potentials, a mod that gives random bonus abilities to soldiers, that helps characterisation (like the small town ability : the character comes from a small town, so he is more confident in those regions. He gets a boost to some stats when they fight in rural areas.). There is also negative "abilities", like the "Rebellious rookie" one, where rookie takes a hit on some stats when he's in a team with majority higher ranking soldiers. I think it adds a special spice to the customisation of the soldiers.

Speaking of that, one thing I think is missing is more in depth stats. I know the makers of the game want to keep it really simple, but apart from looks, the soldiers are so much alike. I would have like to have a speed, stamina, strenght, dext, etc. stats, so it would force you to mix and match your soldiers on missions and adapt your strategies to who you have on hand. It would also increase your attachments to your soldiers, as they would stand out more from each other.

Small question : do you know if the medkits affect the character permanently or just on missions? I had a soldier with just two health bars left so I used a medkit so he had just 1 bar missing. When we got back from the mission, he was still gravely injured, out for 25 days... :/

I just had my first casualty. Sergeant Angela Gasparatto, we shall miss you!! Sad She was kneeing behind an open car door. She got hit good by a muton, so I moved her backward behind a tree (full cover), next to a teammate, but the muton still (fatally) hit her on his next shot. :/ Lieutenant Triactus came back from this mission "shaken". Maybe he had a thing going with Angela... Laughing


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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:55 am

I think you answered your own question. The way I see it medkits are field medicine, it's about patching up a fighter to keep him or her in the fight and not long term healing.

The mods you've added remind me of other games like Valkyria Chronicles. Smile

There are many options that can be unlocked for another run and allow to mix things a little and there are mods that go far deeper. I've stayed away from mods that change the gameplay too much but the game can be whatever you want it to be.

I wouldn't mind accents either. The reason Italian is included is because the game is localized in this language anyway so it comes at no extra cost whatsoever. I can't bring myself to make my Chinese fighters speak Italian. Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:42 pm

How do you manage your supplies? Do you trade a lot, either at the HQ or blackmarket? As everything has a value, I tend to hoard stuff for my own use, but it seems I'm always missing something. I haven't yet understood the point of "buying" a soldier, as it's so costly in the short term (either in supplies at HQ or in intel on the black market). I tried it out once and bought a lieutenant ranger at the HQ. First mission out, she was killed. -_-

I had a flawless mission last night Cool . I was doing a mission to blow up an Avatar factory. There were 8 or 9 enemy troops, but all were either elite or heavy versions of regular troops, or strong enemy classes (like archons and andromedons). With my six soldiers, I was able to kill all enemy groups before they could fire a shot, with two exceptions. A heavy turret fired at one of my soldiers but missed, and an animated andromedon suit charged a soldier hiding behind cover... who happened to be a ranger... who happened to have the bladestorm ability (immediate sword attack on enemies that enter melee range). The sword attack ended its turn and allowed the rest of the team to blow it to hell. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:23 pm

Well done Tri!

Truth be told I'm always missing some thing or another too. I think the game is designed that way. As far as rewards I usually go for specialists instead of soldiers because they are so terribly expensive.

I haven't played much lately and I blame a few other games for that but when I play this game I find it hard to do just one mission... I find it's just not the kind of game I can pick up and play for 30 minutes or 1 hour.

The last mission I played I didn't have any Rangers (definitely my favourite class) so I had to rely on the other fighter types and going through an entire mission with Snipers and Heavy Weapons specialists did make things interesting. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:31 pm

I just finished the game. I'm starting another run since I bought the DLCs halfway during my first play through but didn't enable the new content in fear it would screw up the balance in the game.

I have to say the biggest criticism I have for the game came at the end. As I finished the last mission, my only thought was : "Wait, that's it?". I thought the campaign was really, really too short. I was left at the end with the ship half furnished, still working on my soldiers. I could have used double the campaign time. And unlike games like Heroes of might and magic, where you have sandbox modes, if you want to play XCOM 2 again, you have to redo the campaign. It was kind of a downer for me.

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:27 pm

Haven't finished it myself but maybe you should look for mods to get some sandbox experience.

The DLC have some pretty unfair fights but I absolutely love them! You're in for a treat my friend. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:06 pm

How unfair? I don't know if I like unfair. Laughing

I just started a second campaign, but I lost a soldier in the first mission. I was so used to having badass soldiers with badass abilities, I got carless. "Two Advent troopers? Bah, rabble. They're shooting at me? It will just be a flesh wound- ... oops.". I reajusted and the next two missions were flawless. Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: XCOM 2 First Impressions   Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:55 pm

Classic! Very Happy

Unfair in the sense that it will take everything you have and you will probably lose a few guys anyway. Wink

I absolutely love the Alien Hunters DLC because it's meant to be a challenge. Some people don't like the rewards that are unlocked, others are complaining that the fights are rigged against you. I can relate to the people who say the new gear is a bit too powerful but the challenge is the point of the DLC.

I won't spoil it for you (and I strongly suggest to avoid spoilers regarding the content), I'm sure you will rage a little but you may enjoy your victory even more after the initial moment of surprise. Razz

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