In November X-Com tracked 23 contacts. The problem with world wide coverage is that you can see everything, and have to respond accordingly. At the beginning of the campaign X-Com only had one satellite, and thus could conduct their operations in blissful ignorance of what was happening to the rest of the world. This peace was only interrupted by UFO activity over the nation where you began, and by abductions and terror attacks popping up on occasion. With global satellite coverage you can see the UFOs going about their business. You can see abductors heading to land, and terror ships moving towards their targets. Raiders and destroyers occasionally bomb nations, and supply barges usually show the potential location of a new enemy base. The one thing I have yet to see in this campaign is a very large target moving in towards the X-Com base. That would be the prelude to a base invasion.
|X-Com continue to complete their missions, but lost 13 soldiers this month.|
X-Com shot down or destroyed 15 of the 23 contacts, a glowing testament to the new found efficacy of our air force. We were still fielding terrestrial fighter jets, but these jets had been tremendously augmented by alien tech. Our jets were armoured and heavily armed - in addition to laser cannons or phoenix cannons, the jets carried wingtip missiles and UFO countermeasures. Our air force had every possible upgrade short of creating the Firestorm, and it showed in this month's tally.
|Russia was liberated from the aliens this month, leaving only the nations of Asia under the yoke of the enemy.|
On the ground X-Com conducted 16 missions, out of which one was aborted. X-Com conducted five abduction missions, two terror missions, one EXALT mission, one base assault in Russia, five UFO assaults, one UFO recovery and the final mission in the Portent DLC arc. In keeping with my resolution to be more conservative with my soldier's lives I aborted a UFO assault when too many pods were aggroed. I also opted not to undertake crash recoveries of four downed UFOs. Up to this point I had taken every mission on offer, but now our new protocol was to only take a recovery or assault mission if doing so still left a functional squad in reserve for unexpected events.
|Five berserkers, plus a cadre of mind controlling sectoids behind. No thanks - time to bug out.|
Casualty wise blood continued to flow unabated, however. 13 dead this month. 9 in September, 11 in October, now 13 in November. The numbers were getting worse, but I bolstered task force numbers by hiring a large number of rookies. We'd also been getting Corporal level soldiers (level 3) as rewards for completing Council requests for samples and the like, so the experience loss wasn't all one way. Nonetheless, this was the third month in a row of large losses, and my roster was becoming dangerously brittle, filled at the top by a small number of experienced veterans with the remainder being rookies.
Successfully completing the Furies mission (rescuing Annette Durand's companions) gave us three more psykers, but the month still ended with a net loss in overall experience. The Furies mission marked the end of all the remaining DLC content, meaning that we would no longer need to keep a squad in reserve in case these lucrative missions popped up. The Furies mission is also the hardest mission of the game in my opinion, because of the time limit and the number of enemies present. Luckily since I've played this mission about a gazillion times already I knew that using a camouflaged scout and running her down the left flank to deactivate the kill switch while the rest of the squad kept the aliens busy at the entrance was the best way to complete it. That's the strength of X-Com 2 over X-Com - partially randomized maps means you don't get map fatigue.
|X-Com facilities are all but complete - the only thing we need is the hyperwave relay. And a Gollop chamber.|
November also marked the auspicious debut of the chryssalid hive queen. I've seen this monstrosity in other playthroughs, but it still doesn't quell the queasy feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I see this creature. I'm going to let the pictures tell the tale:
|"Wait - what the hell is that?"|
|"It just jumped onto that building!"|
|"Retreat! Everyone fall back now!"|
|"Everything you've got! NOW!"|
This thing is ridiculous. The worst part about it is that it fits through open doorways and windows like a normal soldier. I found this out the hard way in another campaign - I ran one of my soldiers into a house trying to avoid it, thinking that there's no way that thing is going to be able to squeeze in through the door. In an amazing feat of contortionism the monster leapt through the window and killed and impregnated my luckless soldier. On top of this miraculous ability it has the speed and agility of a regular chryssalid, meaning that it can MOVE, and it can jump onto buildings in a single bound. The best defense against this hulking creature is to run, shoot, and pray. Oddly enough flashbangs still suffice to slow them down, so having soldiers equipped with these weapons can make the difference between having enough time to take one down, or having an embryo forced down your gullet.
The problem is that they usually don't come alone. They're usually accompanied by a cohort of smaller but no less deadly broodlings, and if you are fighting another pod or aggro another one while fighting them it is game over man, game over. Time to bug out (excuse the pun hehe). Luckily for us the queen aggroed early with no other pods in sight, and so our response was to slow the pack down with a flashbang and pull back to the edges of the map all the while blasting apart its little escorts. Once all the smaller chryssalids are down we then focus the queen, and hope we kill it before it rips apart our squad. Despite our best efforts it was still able to catch up to and impregnate Werner before finally collapsing at the feet of a terrified Annette Durand. If you look at the final picture above you can see the zombified remains of Werner standing next to the right leg of the queen, while Durand is standing underneath the left leg. If we hadn't killed that creature on that turn Durand would now also be a chryssalid zombie. Luckily "Coreus" Shearer was on hand to cause ridiculous amounts of damage with his alloy shotgun.
|X-Com was very busy in November.|
The game is definitely getting harder. Unlike vanilla X-Com the game doesn't get easier as your tech improves - the aliens keep pace with you through upgraded minions, and if you let them have too many bases they will overtake you in upgrades and then just overwhelm you with better troops. The strategic situation impacts the tactical. I'm gambling tech-wise and will skip T4 pulse weapons to acquire T5 plasma ASAP, but it means there will be a couple of months where I'll have to rely on T3 gauss weapons against tough opposition. This month we were able to equip our troops with Aegis armour, which is the last stop before Titan armour - hopefully this will be enough to see the troops through the rough patch. This is also another reason why we've been capturing so many aliens whenever possible - we need their weapons to construct our own plasma variants.