Jarenth Plays XCOM: Enemy Unknown — Episode 28: Final Countdown

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays XCOM, I diverted another alien terror attack and successfully captured a living Ethereal. I also started work on the Gollop Chamber, a facility that should allow me to make full use of the alien ‘Psi-Link’; while not spoken out loud, the doctors’ implication — that this device might be our last, best and only way to beat back the truly massive UFO now in orbit — is clear. Hopefully, the Ethereal we hold locked up in our alien containment facility right now will be able — and willing — to provide us with more information.

The day starts well, with the Psi Armor research project being all but finished when I reactivate my command console.

“When’s the new armor finished?” “In zero days.” “Okaaaaay…”

It turns out the Psi Armor is a lightweight suit of armor — space leather? — that should, and I quote, “provide a boost to our soldiers [sic] psionic abilities”. That sounds fancy in theory; in practice, it just boils down to boosting the wearer’s Will by a significant amount. That does enhance the effectiveness of their psionic powers, though, so in that sense there’s truth in advertising here.

More important than the power boost, though, is the suit’s secondary effect: according to Dr. Vahlen, the Psi Armor could prove an instrumental link in allowing a human operative to interface with the Psi-Link. I’m tempted to make a ‘plot armor’ joke, but think better of it.

Also, the Psi Armor has a very particular look, as Krellen — the only psionic soldier left in the squad, and therefore the only person capable of wearing this armor — demonstrates here:


With that done, let’s move on to the final item on my research list: interrogating the captured Ethereal! As expected, this interrogation tests our alien containment facility to the limit… but only to the limit.

It’s quite amazing that this facility was designed to withstand the unknown powers of aliens we hadn’t even begun to conceive at that point, if you think about it.

And what, do you ask, is my reward, for this highly challenging and difficult task?

A bonus to all research, ever.

That’s… okay, I guess that’s… good? I mean, it sounds really cool. It’s just that…

…I don’t really have anything *left* to research.

Well, that’s kind of an anti-climax. I was really invested in this whole idea, and it just fizzles like a cheap balloon. If only I had some way of relieving all this left-over hype in some useful, constructive way.

Me and my big mouth.

I guess that’ll do.

Giddy up, fellows.

You might notice that, for the first time in ten or so episodes, Colonel Krellen is not front and center in the squad screen. I actually made a conscious decision to let him sit this one out. It’s really simple: it’s clear to me now that some permutation of Psionic Soldier + Psi Armor + Gollop Chamber is going to be needed in order to breach that massive ship. The Gollop Chamber is being constructed as we speak, and Psi Armors are a dime a dozen with adequate funding, but Krellen is still my only psionic operative. I’ve already hired some more rookies to put through the Psi-lab’s paces, but I’d still prefer not to put Krellen in any more risk than he absolutely needs to be. And this mission doesn’t look all that difficult to begin with.

We’ll just say he’s still getting used to that new suit of armor. Thing looks hella uncomfortable.

One flight to Mexico later…

Huh. Come to think of it, this is probably it, isn’t it? This might very well be the last Abduction mission I ever do in this Let’s Play. Possibly even the last regular mission, period. One final chance to make my soldiers die in poor, ill-conceived strategies probably involving exploding cars.

Yeah, it’s going to be one of *those* missions.

No need to rush just yet, though. Let’s just have Ghost-Wever check out the liquor store first.

Ghost-Wever is always useful, under every circumstance.

Ghost-Wever doesn’t actually find anything, but Regular Wulf manages to catch sight of a few Mutons. I’m almost glad it’s Mutons: it feels… familiar, somehow.

The reason Ghost-Wever didn’t catch them is because he was too busy looking at all these wine bottles.

Which is not to say I should stop paying attention, of course.


But neither should they.

“Did you hear the one about the Muton Berserker who got hit in the head by a high-powered bolt of plasma?”

Hey, liquor store owner!

Cleanup on isle EVERYTHING!

This image included by special request.

No comment. Guesses are welcome.

And of course, no mission would be complete without a guest appearance by some Thin Men.

They’re like the Fonzies of the alien world.

Dramatic camera pose!

“To protect the world from devastation…”

Okay, but for real: as flippantly as I’m treating this mission, I went from ‘all clear’ to ‘four Muton Elites on the field’ in the space of a single turn. Plus Thin Men, who are still not entirely harmless for people not wearing Titan Armor. And with all the explosive fighting going on inside, there’s barely any cover left… which means I’ll have to get my cover outside.

From cars.

Cars, man.

Also, my accuracy is quite bad today.

The Muton Elite Major Wulf is targeting is five feet away from her. She will miss it.

But probably my biggest mistake here is this image:

See if you can spot it.

Yes, that’s Captain Paradox next to a burning car. Yes, his turn is already done. Yes, that’s bad. What makes it even worse is that the car wasn’t burning when I put him there.

Little flashback here…

So why is it burning now? Well, you may remember my main complaint about cars: you use them as cover, aliens shoot you, the car acts as cover and takes some of the hits, and that’s what causes it to catch on fire. I’m used to this by now, and I’ve been working around that pretty efficiently.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that this works the other way around as well. Which is to say, I shot at an alien using that car for cover after parking Captain Paradox next to it, and the car acted as cover for the alien.

Cars take two turns to explode. Normally, this means they catch on fire in the alien turn, you have a chance to run away in your turn, then at the start of the next alien turn it’s *boom*. But this car caught on fire in my turn…

…you know what, let’s just skip ahead to the inevitable conclusion. You knew what was coming when I first mentioned cars.

Damn you, cars. Will your bloodlust never be sated?

In fairness, it’s not the exploding car that killed Captain Pyradox: two Muton Elites hitting him through full cover made sure of that. The exploding car just kind of seals the deal, and acts as a fitting capstone to my long line of XCOM achievements. Which is to say, getting all my Support soldiers killed.

Okay, well, not all of them: Major Wever is still alive! He’s made of sterner stuff, isn’t he? I even pull a Krellen Rocket Gambit on him.

You can’t *see* that it’s Wever in the top left, but just trust me on this.

The rest of the mission goes pretty much as-expected: the Muton Elites fall quickly to concentrated fire, and the Thin Men just kind of hang around and bother me for no reason. Cars explode, particles effect, and Wever gets the last kill. As it should be.

Last round of promotions, team. This is what it’ll be like from here on out.

And after one final Council report…

Could be better.

…which I spin into some much-needed Foundry upgrades…

What’s an Improved Medkit? I don’t even know.

…it turns out my earlier suspicion re: final mission was right on, as a cutscene heralds the completion of the nigh-mystical Gollop Chamber.

I don’t know why there’s water on the floor either. Dramatic effect?

The Chamber is done, the Armor is worn, and the Soldier is prepped and ready.

Check, double-check, triple-check.

Time to end this.

Next episode: Colonel Komrade ‘Devil Dog’ Krellen activates the Psi-Link. Things do not go as expected.


  1. Worst thing about exploding cars? They can kill disabled, but alive characters. I don’t mean just our characters in critical condition. I once spent QUITE a bit of time and attention and took some serious damage to capture a Muton just to have the car right next to him explode and kill him anyways…

    God damned cars…

  2. See this is why I toss a grenade INTO the cars before I head to them for cover.

    Damned things are the second most dangerous creature in the game right behind a Sectopod.

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