In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM, I was all like “Haha, I’ve got this war thing down forever now! Those aliens can’t do anything to scare me!“. And then the aliens were like “Oh, really?” and proceeded to throw a Terror Mission at Benin City, Nigeria. And then I was all like “Oh, damnit!“, completely forgoing to opportunity to make my hilarious 419 Scam jokes, because I remember the last time I did a Terror Mission and it wasn’t pretty. And then the aliens were like “Haha, chump! Bet you’re scared now!”.
And I was like, “Totally“.
Okay, game face time, I might personally be terrified out of my pug-shaped slippers — if Terror Mission 1 was zero kills, and Terror Mission 2 was three kills, Terror Mission 3… — but professionally, I still have to front XCOM. And I made a boast at the end of that last semi-successful Terror Mission: that whenever and wherever the aliens were to strike, XCOM would be there.
Time to gear up.
There is absolutely no room for error here, so I check, double-check and even triple-check to see that everyone has their proper gear. All heavy weapons and advanced armors used? All four of my Plasma Pistols holstered? Everyone is carrying useful items, meaning no Arc Throwers? Plenty of medkits?
We arrive in Nigeria, finding ourselves at… a tank depot? Is that right? I thought the goal of these Terror Attacks was to kill civilians. I mean, I might be nitpicking here, but the aliens destroying tanks and killing armed soldiers isn’t really a terror attack per se, is it? It’s just… warface.
Then again, I don’t know everything. It might have been Take A Random Civilian To Work Day. I don’t know the manifold and undoubtedly proud customs of the people of Benin City. All I know is this: there’s aliens here, and unarmed people, and I’m to prevent the former from turning the latter into either zombies or cinders.
My very first plan, to have Devlin throw a Battle Scanner over the wall, is thwarted by the sudden occurrence of Silly Physics.
Which means it’s time for plan B: slowly, carefully approaching the opening in the wall, using staggered Overwatch to keep everyone relatively safe. Luckily, Silly Physics decides to stay out of this.
The entrance to the tank depot is abandoned, save for a few lost-looking civilians. A lot of the tanks are burning, and both they and the ground display the glowing green signs of a recent plasma bombardment. I suppose the aliens’ plan could have been to demonstrate the relative inferiority of our Earth military in the face of their celestial battleships. It certainly makes an impression on me.
Moves are made, perimeters are formed, civilians are rescued, civilians are killed off-screen. Well, ‘civilian‘ in both cases. In the first two turns, the aliens remain nothing more than a hypothetical death-presence beyond the fog of war. I think I rather like it that way.
Start of the third turn, I receive an alien audio signal; the game’s way of saying ‘they’re over here, dumbass‘. It doesn’t sound like the characteristic chittering of Chryssalids, though… nor is it the alien wooshing of the Cyberdisc. In fact, those angry grunts sound suspiciously like…
O…okay. Not what I was expecting, but I guess it’s not all that weird. There were Floaters way back in the first Terror Mission, too. And hey, that Berserker is a melee-only unit too! That totally counts, right?
In all seriousness, I basically consider this a gift of Free Kills. The Berserker goes down in half a turn: Krellen hits it, it charges up (like I knew it would) into Krellen’s Death Zone and gets hit again, then Devlin snipes its face off.
As for the regular Muton… it runs away initially, then runs back into full view of four Overwatch’d soldiers. Somehow all four of them miss. The Muton uses this extraordinary stroke of luck to run away again.
Let me recap this: the Muton ran away with its free move, then used its actual turn to run at me, then away. It… is everything alright, buddy?
Chasing it triggers another Muton/Berserker group, plus one additional Muton. That’s five Mutons and two Berserkers, for those of you keeping score. This is starting to weird me out a little. Is there a reason for all these Mutons? Are the aliens holding something terrifying in reserve, to crush my will when I least expect it? Am I walking into another easily avoidable death-trap, live on air?
Right, let’s not worry over invisible aliens, shall we? Not when there’s nearly half a dozen clearly visible ones to properly worry about. The second Berserker goes down like an even sadder sack of bricks than the first one, in no small part due to Colonel Tovik being really good at his job…
…and the normal Muton from the first group quickly falls to Wever’s Light Plasma prowess.
Hey, look, what’s that in the mist?
No, for real: seriously?
Though I guess these Mutons at least remember they’re supposed to be in a Terror Mission.
Third verse, same as the first: the third Berserker dies in much the same way as its dim-witted colleagues. I try mind-controlling it for fun, but ironically the Berserker is so dull-witted that Devlin only gets a 27% to do it right. But that’s okay: regular ol’ Mind Fray still works perfectly fine on regular ol’ Mutons.
Devlin’s not the only one who can do this, remember?
And given that cars are basically massive metal land mines in this universe, how do you suppose tanks would react to a rocket to the shell?
Over the course of two turns, I take out the remaining four regular Mutons.
I have yet to be hit be a single attack.
There’s two more enemies hiding in the warehouse to the north, killing some civilians in there in the turns it takes me to (carefully) move up, but let me just spoil the surprise for you: it’s yet another Muton/Berserker superstar teamup.
In fact, let me just spoil the entire ending of this mission as well: I win hardcore.
I… I don’t understand what happened here. This wasn’t a Terror Mission. This was barely even a regular mission. I guess six regular Mutons and four Berserkers could have been scary, under the right circumstances, maybe? But on this map, with an abundance of covers to duck behind, heavy cover and long distances, the Berserkers were basically jokes. And the normal Mutons are just weaker than me, at this point. I mean they’re still dangerous, but less in that ineffably alien hulk way and more in the way that an angry rottweiler is dangerous. They still have a bite, but my bark’s just far outpaced theirs.
The rewards are plentiful, as expected. Sergeant ‘Atlas’ Wever finally gains his triple medkit, while Colonel Krellen gains a second psionic rank: I give him Psi Panic, the power Devlin didn’t pick, just to see what it does. The Council showers me with praise, too: Nigeria drops from five panic down to two, and all of Africa follows lesser suit. I’ve just gone from four countries on the brink of collapse to two.
And nobody got hit even once.
I save the game, turn my PC off, and sit on the couch in quiet confusion for a few minutes.