When I was a teen, I got a promotional copy of X-COM: Terror From The Deep for our PC somehow. I think it was because my step-father worked at Circuit City at the time? I'm a little fuzzy on this memory. Anyway, the game combined an ocean setting and aliens - two things that are awesome. See Also: The Abyss. The game was also brutally difficult to make sense of if you didn't have a manual. But it set up my future love and intrigue for turn based strategy games which would continue on in my life through Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and so on.
The original reboot of XCOM (which dropped the dash and added the "Enemy Unknown" subtitle) blew me away. Between Xbox 360 and PC I put in like 200 hours on Enemy Unknown and its expansion, Enemy Within. But nothing could prepare me for the followup, XCOM 2, which somehow upped everything that I already thought was perfection.
Yes, when XCOM 2 launched my wife said "I'll see you in a few months," only half-jokingly. Of course we didn't have a child at the time, so I could easily plug away at the game via late (LATE) nights. And I did. I played through the main campaign and its expansion, War Of The Chosen - again, I think between PC and Xbox One this time.
When War Of The Chosen was originally released, I remember thinking that I really wished it was on my new Switch. I felt like XCOM would be perfect for playing on a portable. But alas, I instead had to settle for Mario + Rabbids there. At least for a while.
But XCOM 2 was finally brought to Switch in 2020. I admit, I was a little bummed that Enemy Unknown wasn't included in the package as 2K's other compilations released at the same time (Bioshock and Borderlands) included three games each. But what can you do? Truth be told, XCOM 2 is a way better game, so I can't really be that upset. Though I would still re-buy Enemy Unknown yet again if it came to Switch.
Anyway, for my - I don't know - fourth (?) replay of XCOM 2, I'm enabling all the extra stuff. It really makes it a whole new game. You've got "The Lost," which is a swarm of alien zombie things. You've got The Chosen, who are unique "boss" enemies. You've got new rebel allies. It's just a crazy game with all these bells and whistles enabled.
I'll admit, the framerate chugs at times on Switch. I mean, Xbox One had trouble keeping up with the horde of Lost at times, too. But I don't care. I'll take what I can get if it means portable XCOM. I am having a total blast here. This is one of my favorite games EVER. And I'm thrilled to jump back in again.
Oh the agony and drama of XCOM!
I was cruising along, making good progress. We went on a mission to collect some info on The Chosen. Now, I hadn't unlocked the perk to bring a fifth soldier on the mission, and so I should have probably slowed down. But I got cocky. This wasn't my first rodeo.
So we attempt to do the mission with four soldiers and things are going well enough. We're reaching the goal of the level, and I'm being pretty strategic. I set up two soldiers - one on each side of a closed door, and then marched the other two in another door into the building. I figured I'd have the first two outside, and out of sight ready to ambush.
That's one when one of those big Robocop-style ED-209 things shows up and fires a barrage of missiles at the closed door, bringing down the whole wall and letting Elena - my best solders! - bleed out. Ugh.
Things moved from bad to worse pretty rapidly from there. Two alien soldiers accompanied the 209, and THEN another two soldiers and a mind-crolling alien showed up behind us. We were outnumbered, and taking a beaten. Which means this would be the PERFECT time for The Chosen to show up and wreak even more havoc.
It was a suicide mission. I lost all four of my squad, and failed the mission. Things are not looking good for the XCOM project at the moment, but I need to march forward. There's no save-scumming, friends. You take the hand you're dealt and hope you can somehow learn from your mistakes.
I lied. I ended up restarting a new campaign after a few more major losses. I just wasn't feeling this playthrough and needed to start fresh. But that's the thing about XCOM, even if I sink multiple hours in, I don't mind restarting. That's very different from how I feel about most games. But XCOM... XCOM is special.
Imagine if you will a chess game but with lots of aliens. That's sort of the simple version, but it's ultimately what I love so much about these games. And yes, I'm a big fan of turn based strategy games in general. I've played tons of them including dumb ones like Falling Skies. And while the Fire Emblem series comes really close - XCOM is most definitely my favorite. So I don't care that I lost hours and then started all over again. I don't care that I've already seen XCOM 2 through the end multiple times now. This game always feels fresh and exciting to me.
I was too cocky. I felt like I've played enough XCOM that I could just blow right through this campaign - hitting up all the required missions. But after failing the Advent Blacksite mission TWICE, I decided to slow things down.
I've been focusing on building facilities, recruiting soldiers, sending rookies out on covert ops to gain some experience and rewards, and just generally managing the XCOM project instead of just going in too fast. Having now regrouped a bit, I feel like I have more control over what's going on and can get back to the story missions.
I love XCOM 2. I do. But it's always the ones you love that can hurt you the most. And hours in to my 2nd attempted campaign, I'm feeling completely beat down. The Avatar Project is only a couple of clicks away from complete domination. My ranks are whittled down. I keep failing at major missions.
I don't actually remember XCOM being this hard. But then again, I haven't played these games in nearly three years now. I guess I'm rusty.
I think diving straight back into the War Of The Chosen expansion was my mistake. I just felt so sure of myself. But wow, The Chosen are jerks. They show up at the worst times and they just wreak total havoc on an already heavy situation.
It pains me to say, but I think I'm going to have to start a new third campaign - this time just plain ol' vanilla XCOM 2 so I can get my sea legs back. But I might have to take a break and switch to something else to refresh my brain in the meantime. I've been hitting XCOM 2 for nearly two weeks now.