Over the past 48 hours I’ve been playing a lot of XCOM 2, and considering I’m new to the series, I’ve been absolutely blown away by how brutal it is. XCOM puts you in control of a commander fighting the “government” after a succesful alien invasion. To do so you control soldiers that take on various roles and level up as you progress. If they get blown to bits during a mission they permanently die and unless you can extract their bodies, you lose all their gear. I can safely say this is the most brutal strategy game I’ve ever played.
Let me talk you through one vital mission my squad undertook. The objective was simple, retrieve a vial from an alien research lab and extract it back to base, hopefully with no casualties. Well that second part didn’t even slightly happen, and here’s why.
Once my team hit the dirt and started working their way through the enemy base it became pretty clear that this was a heavily fortified outpost. Turrets were positioned along the roof and several patrols moved around the perimeter. My team’s sniper Stacy, and ranger Helen climbed onto the roof and positioned themselves to cover the rest of the team, they darted in the shadows avoiding the turret positioned close by. The remaining members of the squad, a medic Maria and a grenadier Svein started moving towards the objective, careful to not get in the way of a patrol.
It was pretty clear the team would have to fight sooner or later, so they positioned themselves in an ambush formation, ready to take out the patrol on the far side of the building that Stacy and Helen were perched upon. Which is when a second patrol they hadn’t yet spotted saw the team on the ground and preceded to shoot at then. Svein took one hit, which wasn’t too bad considering there were four guys taking shots at him. In the next turn Svein and Maria darted to cover themselves from the new attackers and returned fire. Both missed…
Stacy took out one of the first patrol as planned, and the Helen took out the remaining two with a grenade. Now their turn was up they had to hope that Svein and Maria would survive the next round of attacks from the small army of aliens bearing upon them. As the aliens made their move the turret on the roof jumped to life and took a shot at Stacy, it somehow missed.
Back on the ground a reptialian spat poison at Maria and Svein, this hurt Maria badly and made her panic, she bolted away from Svein, leaving his flank uncovered. An alien rushed in and hit Svein with a stun baton, he was electrocuted and now unable to move on his next go.
Back on the roof Stacy ducked behind cover and took a shot at the turret. It didn’t completely destroy it, this meant she wouldn’t be able to help relieve pressure off the others for at least one more turn. Helen sprang from the roof and ran towards where the others were pinned, she blasted one alien with her shotgun, instantly killing it. As she looked up towards the injured Svein, Maria began to panic and threw a grenade at the alien standing over Svein, which failed to kill the alien, but the blast took Svein down to one bar of health.
As the aliens began to move a beam of energy took Svein’s head clean off and propelled his body several feet away, it landed next to Helen in a heap. Another alien pushed forward, following the body. It hit Helen with a stun, it took her down to two bars of health, one more of those and she would be joining the grenadier.
A reptilian took a shot at Maria, but fortunately missed. On the roof the turret jumped to life again, but was unable to penetrate Stacy’s cover. During the squad’s next turn Stacy instantly took out the turret, now she was ready to get back into the fight. Down below Maria sent out her gremlin robot to cover Helen and boost her defence, this way she had a chance of surviving another stun baton hit. Maria then took a shot at the reptilian, hitting it but not damaging it enough for a kill. Helen fired her shotgun point blank into the alien that had hit her, it blew him away, leaving only one reptilian left to take out.
The reptilian slithered closer to Maria, flanking her, it fired its beam rifle and sent her lifeless body into a stack of boxes.
The two remaining squad members now had one reptilian to take out, Helen only had a 20 per cent chance of hitting from her position, fortunately Stacy on the roof had it covered, she fired down onto the reptilian and killed it in one. Now the fight was over they could carry out their objective. As the survivors entered the building containing the vial a giant robot and two aliens crashed through the roof, catching them unprepared. Stacy fired a rifle shot at the robot, damaging it, and Helen finished it off with her shotgun. The two aliens retreated back to the vial room and took shots at the Helen, both missing.
Helen took out one of the aliens and Stacy the other. Then Helen grabbed the vial, now they had to extract with this piece of alien tech. As they neared the extraction site Helen was ahead of Stacy. A dropship landed nearby with three aliens aboard, they hid in the trees around the exit zone, ready to pounce.
Helen made it into the zone and extracted with the vial, Stacy didn’t have enough moves to make it in and extract, if she made it in the extraction zone she would have no cover and be open to three direct shots. She went into overwatch and hoped to draw out each alien and and kill them so she could get home. Two of the aliens ran up to her, either side, she fired her pistol at one, wounding it. They both hit her with stun batons, taking her health down one bar. She retreated to a better position and fired, killing one of her attackers. The second followed her, delivering a killing blow.
Mission successful flashed up on my screen, it certainly didn’t feel that way. My hands were sweaty and I felt like crying. I’d lost the best soldier I had and two others who barely had a chance to shine. Helen made it, but was wounded and won’t be able to fight for some time. Was all this worth it for one vial? I don’t know what to think anymore.