Wot are you playing (video games)

You could lower the difficulty?

That said, if you learn how the game works it is actually heavily biased in your favour on any difficulty other than legendary. There are limits on the number of aliens active, hidden reduced chances for aliens to hit consecutive shots, hidden bonuses to hit 50%+ shots after each miss, if you drop below 4 active soldiers, and simply for all shots on veteran and below…

The game really wants to you win, without making it obvious how much hidden help you are getting. You just can’t try to play it like laser squad or other granular AP squad games.

XCOM musings

Xcom teaches you to set up an ambush, where everyone is in overwatch and one person takes the shot that sends the aliens scurrying for cover. The problems are the overwatch penalty to hit, and the fact you only get to do this once. You also don’t appear to get the “flanking” bonus for these overwatch shots.

So, ideally, you don’t have everyone in overwatch, but instead have them move to flank all the aliens that ran for cover and shoot them without penalty and with a flanking bonus.

Of course, not always possible, and there’s a risk of uncovering more aliens whenever you move to flank and expose new terrain.

It’s this last point that makes post-ambush exploration so weird. You probably end up having just one person move to high cover and see more of the map, and if they don’t trigger a pod, you have to make sure no-one else sees anything new. This can mean the best approach is to have everyone huddle behind that first guy in a way that is totally counter to everything you know about squad tactics.

This is less important on lower difficulties, where there is a hard cap of 5 aliens active at any given time, but it still makes a huge difference having everyone in range and with both activations available whenever a pod is uncovered.


X com musings.

Prioritise squad size over everything else.

Specialist ammo is great.

Blue screen rounds +5 to robotics enemies (and there’s a lot of them)

Always try and use guaranteed damage weapons. Think grenades and combat protocols.

Only target one group of enemies at a time.

Ideally you attack your first group of enemies with an attack that also destroys their cover, that makes your overwatch shots when they scatter much more effective.


Oh man, I don’t have the time to be going back to XCom now. But I really want to … I think I played on a very low difficulty mode. I don’t remember but I still have my squad somewhere, all named and with a history each …


I’ve been eyeing midnight suns but the between mission friendship building is putting me off it. It just seems a bit mass effect lite and I think it’s an integral part of the upgrade system so can’t be skipped.

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I read that 31% of players who finished the X-COM 2 campaign did it on easy difficulty. That’s a very high percentage to choose easy mode!


If you like the concept of XCOM but not the difficulty, I just picked up Troubleshooter off of Steam for 50% off which has a lot of XCOM features but in a more dystopian crime fighting way rather than alien invasion. It’s made by an indie Korean developer and is pretty fun so far with a lot of cool systems. JRPG-esque character design (so it’s a little anime-ish but I don’t mind)

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My god, I love Laser Squad! I don’t suppose you remember Rebelstar do you? I played hours and hours of that one.


Inspired by @SteveB_uk

I’ve reinstalled X-Com 2.

Went for an explosive focussed team. It was going well…

Failed the first proper mission which meant I didn’t have the engineer I needed for the first two weeks. Put development back.

Blundered into the viper king, but dinged them up pretty badly by setting them on fire. Took a few casualties.

Than a flawless assassination. (Standing in the evac zone when the target was killed.)

And then a standard supply raid where the viper king appeared again. Lost four of five soldiers including all my grenadier but put the Viper king down permanently.

Then an immediate raid on a civilian outpost, another casualty.

So it’s going well. Secured the whole of North America. But I’ve only got 5 soldiers left.

Sure it will be fine…


One other note to new players.

The black site mission is basically a newb trap. The game make it looks like it’s really urgent, but it’s not. It’s just a gated story mission.

Waiting for powered armour and mag weapons before I even look at it.


otoh, with no timer, you can just sloooowly move along the map, taking out one pod at a time.

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Literally one day later….


There was a bit of a clue in the mission title though.


Death Stranding was fun. Free to keep from Epic for a day over Christmas. Properly creepy opening and world-building, and the ending didn’t disappoint either.

About 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through, the servers crashed and stayed down, and I think that was the best possible timing - the offline half of the game was much more immersive and interesting for me, and I appreciated it all the more after having experienced the flood of shared structures and signs of the online mode.

Spoilers for like, the first 10 minutes, for someone who might be interested in playing the game, but doesn't want anything you learn later to be spoiled

You are a “porter”, someone who carries things overland from shelter to shelter, which we understand to be a dangerous profession. Rain seems to be dangerous, animals and you flee it, and you might think it’s acidic or toxic, but it’s more interesting than that. There are invisible "BT"s that seem to stalk living things, leaving human-but-clawed handprints on surfaces nearby. Being very quiet and holding your breath seems to make them unable to detect you. You yourself avoid human contact - skin on skin seems to burn you.

After completing the tail-end of your first delivery, you are tasked with transporting the corpse of someone who committed suicide and whose body remained undetected for some time to an incinerator outside of town. Apparently this is a very serious and desperate situation, and although you suggest burning the body on the spot, you go along with the plan to truck the body out before it “necrotises”. Bad shit happens and things get weird.

I’m kind of torn between singing the praises of the world-building and not wanting to spoil anything, so I’ve hit this awkward middle ground of not doing it justice. I hope people play it unspoiled though, I think it’s worth it.


I have been gleefully playing Shadowrun: Hong Kong Extended Edition. Gosh I love cyberpunk (the genre, the show, and the game, actually).

It’s starting to show its age, certainly, and there are some clunky issues (a lot of which hinge on needing specific stats or violence erupts, and violence can be very difficult on the Normal mode). But the characters are neat, the classes are neat… it’s just a lot of fun, although not without bugs (the Magic Store kept glitching to the same two conversations, even though one of the endings requires you to move past that point). Also, lack of a mini-map is a bewildering choice.

Ah well.

Tried Stacklands. It’s… not for me, but I’m glad I tried it. I don’t like building efficiency systems, and the “living” cards moving around all the time was awful (they nudge all the other cards on the board). Still, I got it cheap, and I can understand the appeal.

I bought Death Stranding when it came out and liked it but at a certain point it just felt pretty repetitive. So I stopped even though I enjoyed it. The story was not interesting enough to me to carry me through the gameplay.

But I always saw myself possibly going back to it.


Been playing Powerwash Simulator with the kids. It’s basically a job, but goodness me it’s very satisfying sluicing gunk off a plastic dinosaur.

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Have also been playing Vampire Survivors. I was avoiding it because it looks like a dumb 90s schmup. It turns out to be a perfectly executed, surprisingly relaxing and mesmerising jangle of fun pops. Recommended.


I think it’s possible for it to feel repetitive if you try and do side deliveries a lot. As I played it, I was always doing something new, always figuring out a way to circumvent the challenges presented to me. I suppose it helped that I felt like the core gameplay was much more interesting and satisfying than a typical action RPG or shooter. The BTs never stopped being scary, and the environment was a challenge.

The only exception for me was the boss fights, which felt kind of disconnected from everything else. I played on hard, but took it down to normal for any boss fight I lost.

Contrast this with, say, Cyberpunk 2077, where the core gameplay just fell apart when I found myself able to solve every situation by simply shooting everyone in the face. That gets repetitive fast, and yet it’s also the fastest way to progress, so it’s poor game design.

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Been playing a lot of Elite Dangerous. I bought it when it first came out (2014?) and it’s much improved since then - not least a solo mode, where your peaceful mining ship is not likely to get shot by bored other players for no reason / trolling.

It’s a ridiculously complex and difficult game (just landing a ship manually has so many buttons and sliders involved) which might be why it’s getting addictive.


Aww man, I love Elite Dangerous, but I don’t have the time to devote to it. And I hated the casual MMO elements of it.

I found a really solid trade loop (Get “Stuff A” at Place X, go to Place Y and sell A, buy Stuff B and go to Place Z, sell B and Buy C, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, Place X really wants Stuff C…), enough to get my Sidewinder well equipped and then to upgrade to a better ship or two. I did a few AI-Bounties, and was on the precipice of getting an even better ship when my partner casually remarked “Wow, that sounds a lot like work.”

I haven’t been able to go back since. But if I had the time… gosh is it ever a great game.

EDIT: I will say that the one time I ran out of gas, there was an extremely helpful group of volunteers that came and saved my butt, and gave me all sorts of useful advice. That was cool… but it shouldn’t be necessary. It only happened because the game does such an exceptionally poor job of explaining things to you.

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