Tuesday, October 4, 2016

XCOM 2 AAR - The Commander's Return

The XCOM project. A multinational organization setup in 1993 to hopefully counter any extraterrestrial threats the world might face. At first it was little more than a set of agreements between countries and a small organization whose primary duty was to maintain a database of potential personnel to fill the project, should it ever be activated in full. In 2015, the appearance of UFOs in the star system that were clearly under their own power lead to the activation of XCOM. You were brought in to serve as commander, using your tactical genius to hopefully lead humanity to victory. With you were Central Officer Bradford, your second in command and the one to take on the organizational duties of the project, Dr. Vahlen as head scientist, and Dr. Shen as chief engineer. Together, you had done a fair job against the alien's initial efforts.

While initially XCOM had proved successful against the aliens, that success was not to last. Following a successful raid on the alien's hidden Earth base, the aliens had retaliated with their own successful attack on XCOM's base. The aliens had resources to spare after losing their base, and their leaders were well defended somewhere in their fleet. XCOM, however, had only the singular base and a set of governments unwilling to devote resources towards the shared goal of defending Earth, preferring instead to focus their efforts within their own internal structures. Soon after the collapse of XCOM, the Earth's governments signed a peace treaty with the aliens. In return for peace, the aliens would so graciously offer their advanced technology to uplift the humans. What they would receive in return was still a mystery.

For the people in XCOM, things were hardly so rosy. You, the commander, were captured. Vahlen, Shen, and Bradford all managed to escape, with Shen and Bradford continuing their resistance against the aliens. Vahlen's whereabouts are currently unknown.

That was the past. Now, 20 years later, things are quite different. The aliens have setup an organization to maintain order and advance their (presumed) nefarious goals: ADVENT. Bolstered by ample propaganda, the government maintains a secure grasp on power. Resistance movements all across the globe exist, but are woefully underequipped and understaffed to provide a real counter to ADVENT. The future looks bleak.

But something is about to change. The resistance under C.O. Bradford have uncovered information on the location of something that could decisively change the outcome of this long war.

You. Held in stasis for these 20 long years, you could make the difference. Will you be able to take the resistance and lead them to save Humanity? Or will you fail them, as you failed them so long ago?

Welcome to XCOM, Commander.

What is this? XCOM 2 is a videogame released in early 2016 that I will be playing and writing an AAR (After Action Report) here. If you're unfamiliar with the format, it involves me playing the game, writing about what happened and providing a narrative, and using cool pictures to spice it up. As well, if anyone is interested, I heartily recommend that you sign up as one of the XCOM soldiers. The heart of the game revolves around tactical, turn-based squad combat. Each mission in the game has me leading 4-6 soldiers against the aliens, followed up by a more long-term strategic section of the game where research is done and fun gadgets and weaponry are developed for future missions.

By default, the game generates soldiers for you and does some randomization on their appearances and such to create varied squads. They do, however, allow you a great many options to customize their appearance and to change their details, including their name, gender, and nationalities. Playing with random soldiers is enjoyable, but naming them after people you know can be quite enjoyable.

Thus, for you dear reader, I offer you the chance to customize your own soldier. Name it after yourself, or use a pseudonym. Then watch as your soldier makes that clutch shot...or misses and dooms the world. First come, first served. If you're interested in all the possibilities available for customization, feel free to send me a message.

I'll start the campaign once I have an initial pool of soldiers (4). I'll be playing on normal difficulty and non-ironman in case of glitches or severe misunderstanding of the rules. I've only played a small amount into the game so far, enough to get a feel for it.

I'm hoping for this to be both fun to write, and fun for you to read.We shall see how it turns out.

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