Jarenth Plays XCOM: Enemy Unknown — Episode 24: How To Make Friends

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM, the game basically handed a me a freebie. The ‘Terror Mission’ I spent so much time worrying was hilarious: it was exclusively staffed by Mutons, who are somewhat less than dangerous at this point in time, and Berserkers, who could have been scary had it not been for the long, open corridors this map was made up of. I left the mission with six completely uninjured soldiers, twelve saved civilians, and a head full of confusion. Did XCOM just take pity on me?

Back at ye olde base, I… don’t really have much to do right now. Building some satellites, letting a request for something-or-other — Weapon Fragments, I think — time out, and waiting the the next Council Meeting in eleven days.

Nothing bad’s gonna happen today.

With a little luck, this should be an uneventful two weeks.

Yeah, I’m not even surprised.

Let’s see… I can get Engineers from a four-Panic India, a Captain Heavy from one-Panic Canada, or §200 from five-Panic France. The money seems like the most useful option, but ignoring India will put that country at five Panic. Hmm…

Does doing Abduction missions reduce Panic in its constituent country or not? I can’t remember. If it doesn’t, I should probably go to India. If it does, I could trade full Panic in India for reduced Panic in France.

Ah, fuck it. I’ll just buy more satellites if push comes to shove. To Paris!

Does this squad look familiar to you?

We touch down in the banlieues. There’s a record store nearby, that I can see into for no apparent reason. I have everyone queue up outside the door: it’s a midnight launch of the new Alien Invaders album, and supplies are limited.

By which I mean… fuck if I know. That there’s not infinity aliens here?

It’s been a little while since we’ve seen any new alien types, hasn’t it? But in keeping with the theme, it seems like this new album fronts some remixed old classics: no sooner do I kick the door open than I’m confronted with something that looks like a heavily upgraded Floater.

Wearing a kickass samurai hat.

While they lose points for unimaginative naming, these ‘Heavy Floaters’ pretty much seem like the quality upgrade regular Floaters were long due for: a badass new look, regular Plasma Rifles instead of Light ones, and triple the health. Those health totals would actually be scary if, you know, all my current squad members weren’t sporting at least as much health. The Titan-armored Krellen leads the tally at 24, making him as vigorous as two Heavy Floaters taped together.

But hey, these guys are still pretty cool. Am I going to try and capture one? The answer is yes.

DeCamp and Wever provide fire from the door opening, while Krellen charges in directly. He and Tovik swiftly take down the first Heavy Floater.

Blammo.

Now safe from flanking attacks, Devlin goes in and weighs his options. Snap-shoot a regular shot? 57% Mind Control? Use a pistol? 57% Mind Control? Mind Fray? 57% Mind Control?

As if that was even a fair choice.

I am now the Heavy Floater.

RIP SMASH KILL TEAR WOOSH GNASH BURN FLY STAB BREAK RUSH FLANK BLEED CHOKE RAGE

Wow, wow, okay. I am no longer the Heavy Floater. Their minds are scary places.

With one Heavy Floater down and one under my control, and no safe place for Jonely to stand, I wait to see what the last Heavy Floater does. Fly over? Shoot at me? Retreat?

It turns out that like Mutons, Heavy Floaters carry alien grenades.

Ouch.

Okay. On the one hand, ouch. On the other hand, the me-controlled Heavy Floater didn’t die! This gives me a unique look at its action bar, and assorted capabilities. Let’s see… It carries just the regular Plasma Rifle, no pistol. It can fire, Overwatch, and Hunker Down like us. It has a Suppression ability, interesting. There’s that alien grenade. It can also Fly, which doesn’t surprise me, and do that weird relocating Launch thing I’ve seen Floaters do, where they sacrifice their entire turn to cross the map in a single leap. Good in theory, but in practice it puts them close enough to my soldiers that I can just kill them immediately.

Here, have a look.

Now fight, Heavy Floaters. Fight for my amusement!

DANCE FOR ME, MINIONS

Krellen actually finishes that second Heavy Floater off. I could’ve tried capturing it, but why would I? I have a perfectly valid mind-controlled Heavy Floater right here.

Let’s see. Can I… I don’t know, disable this Mind Control somehow? No? No, I can’t: it lasts for three turns, and exactly three turns. And I can’t attempt to capture it right now, either, because it’s counted as a friendly. And friends don’t zap friends with an Arc Thrower.

To recap: right now, my squad is six humans and one Heavy Floater. I know that the Mind Control binding this Floater to Captain Devlin’s will is going to run out in two turns, at which point the creature will likely resume its attempts to murder us. I can’t release it from this Mind Control early, but as long as it’s Mind-Controlled, I can’t attempt to capture it. This… this situation is just great.

Devlin and Floater, Best Friends Forever!

I attempt to resolve the situation by healing everyone up, then surrounding the Heavy Floater to block off its possible escape. I don’t know whether or not the creature will get a full turn of actions on the turn it’s released from Mind Control, and I don’t feel like chasing it down the entire map again.

It turns out that the Heavy Floater does get at least one action. I can’t tell if it’d be two, because it uses its first action to nearly murder Sergeant Wever. But hey, key word nearly: Wever does survive, and between Krellen and Devlin, the Heavy Floater goes down in a storm of lightning.

Wever’s living on the edge, *whether he wants to or not*.

With the record store clear, I venture out into the streets, where alien noises can be heard. The warehouse across the street houses two Mutons and a Berserker, apparently lost on their way to Benin City.

“We were going to meet one of your wealthy Earth Princesses.”

It’s Devlin’s turn to nearly bite it.

The edge is a busy place today.

Fire of both the rocket and plasma varieties takes the regular Mutons down quickly, though. Krellen attempts to Psi Panic the Berserker, but fails — aren’t Berserkers almost literally just seething masses of rage and adrenaline, anyway? — so I go for the second best option: drawing it in with repeated fire, then stunning it in the face.

About damn time, too.

What follows is about ten turns of hide-and-seek. Another Berserker and a few Mutons pop up inside the store, somehow, then disappear. The Berserker is easily found, but one of the Mutons reappears after two turns — on the other side of the store. Tactical flanking maneuver, or the game completely losing track of where its Mutons are supposed to be? Either way, I take it out without further casualties.

And still more aliens, Jesus. Two more Mutons are found hanging out in the laundromat across the street.

You wouldn’t believe how filthy that armor can get.

I take one down in a single shot…

“That’s what you get for hogging all the driers!”

…and in contemplating what to do with the other one, I decide to Mind Control it.

Just because.

I am now the Muton.

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blood

Aaand back to me.

What happens next is a little disappointing: I don’t win. Two turns of waiting make it clear that this Muton was the last living alien on the field; I’d hoped, somehow, that Mind Controlling it would reward me with victory. We could have taken this Muton home, maybe? But no, that’s not how it works: we can’t leave until this Muton is as dead as the others. And the only way that’s going to happen is if I wait for it to turn evil, and take its free shot at me.

Or is it?

Sometimes, ‘friendly fire’ *is*.

Fun fact: killing this Muton this way counts as ‘dealing damage to a friendly’, and prompted the very same ‘are you sure you wish to do this’ prompt that I’d get from trying to rocket an actual ally. And I’m pretty sure my soldiers have incurred Will penalties from ‘seeing an ally die’.

Not that it matters, because I was right: that Muton was the last one, and I’ve won.

A little more difficult than last time, I’ll grant you.

Revive for Lieutenant Wever, rocket-area-boosting Danger Zone for Captain Jonely. The psychically max-powered Krellen receives the defensive Telekinetic Field ability, once again reasoning that Devlin didn’t. It’s difficult for me to not select Mind Control by default, but I do it anyway.

For science, you monster.

Japan panics, but France calms down: completing this mission does actually reduce Panic by 3. So while it was a classic ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenario, I like to think I came out ahead.

Given that the Council meeting is soon, though, it might be time to launch some of my satellites. I have five of them lying around, and five Uplink spaces. Where to go, where to go…

” ‘Bout that time, ey chaps?”

Well, three of them are easy: Great Britain, Japan and India are all no-brainers. The satellites reduce their Panic levels to a much more manageable three. The final two satellites go over South Africa, the only country with Four panic that I don’t already have a satellite over, and Australia, last un-satellited country in the Asia region: the latter confirms that you get the continent’s assorted bonus upon fully covering it.

And truly, it is a bonus of sweetness.

With the two-hundred Parisian credits I received, I quickly build another Satellite Uplink and requisition another suit of Titan Armor. I should probably also build some more satellites, but that can wait until the next Council meeting. It’s still only a week out, remember?

I’m reminded that my Research department hasn’t done any work for a few days, on account of serious Weapon Fragment shortages. In short order, I have them interrogate the Berserker, then interrogate and autopsy the alive and dead Heavy Floater. The Heavy Floater autopsy unlocks some advanced repair project in the Foundry; the Berserker and Heavy Floater interrogations reward me with, respectively, a research credit for advanced armor studies and a research credit for flight studies.

*And* a brand new alpha male for my Floater zoo.

The advanced armor credit would probably have been useful earlier — you know, when I was researching Titan Armor and Ghost Armor — but the flight technology credit is actually really useful: it applies to my research into a new fighter craft, cutting its time down to four days. So expect to see one of those things soon, I guess.

Finally, the long-awaited money bags Council meeting arrives. I wonder what pointless grade they’ll give me this time?

WHAT

Oh come on, that’s not fair! Docking me performance points just because I haven’t caught the completely harmless, literally uncatchable Overseer UFO?

Well fine then. Maybe I’ll ignore it even harder next time. See how you like that!

Next episode: I ignore the Overseer UFO even harder. C’mon, it’s not like it’s doing anything!

7 comments

  1. I’m rather annoyed.

    First you captured the Heavy Floater. I was hoping that would fail so I would mock and laugh (from beyond the grave).

    But the main reason I’m annoyed is… Mind Controlled creatures don’t count for mission ending, and you can’t capture them? That is BAD, very BAD game design. It’s so bad that it is BAD.

    1. Yeah, the only ways to get rid of MC’ed xenos is to either send them on a suicidal charge against their former brethren, or use grenades and rockets, since friendly fire is a-OK with those. Go figure.

  2. Build more engineering bays. MOAR ENG’NEARS! (’cause they cut down on necessary supplies)

      1. I always try to end up with a 2×3 array of Workshops; it’s an ample supply of engineers and offers a nice rebate on most projects.

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