It is over, it is finally over. Xenonauts diverges pretty significantly from X-COM at the end. The aliens were just playing with us, as interstellar empire the resources they have at their disposal far outweigh what feeble resistance we can muster. Even if we did manage to beat their small fleet they had a backup plan that had to be countered to claim victory. I love their backup plan; it is as simple as it is diabolical. Just use the Reapers a vast numbers, initiate a fast zombie apocalypse on humanity and pick through the wreckage. Fortunately the Ranonauts were able to stop them, but at what cost?
This is by far the longest longest series I have done but the end here caught me a little off guard. I have a tendency in these games to reach an equilibrium and then just try to keep going building up a nice strong team for the end of the game but I couldn’t really do that here, not just because it would stretch and already long series but because I am not sure I would ultimately have gotten anywhere.
Despite a pretty clear technological advantage over my foes I was losing high level soldiers about as fast as I was generating them. It was a pretty frustrating and demoralising experience. In retrospect some of my problems likely stemmed from poor tactical decisions, I think I completely missed the tactical value of smoke grenades. In X-COM (and thus I suspect in Xenonauts) smoke is able to break line of sight and enemies don’t shoot what they cannot see, I assumed that it was just an accuracy debuff so I prioritised attempting to kill or disable the enemy instead, which was much more likely to get a soldier killed when I screwed up.
The other major weakness on the tactical level was psionics. I just could not find a good counter to psionics. It is tough to handle because psionics:
- Doesn’t require line of sight so you cannot sneak your way around it
- Is defended by a stat, which is only raised if the soldier is attacked by psionics
- There is no anti-psionic gear
- Has a range, but you have to assault ships that force you to zigzag your way up, giving the aliens plenty of opportunity to ruin your day
The obvious answer was to just try to avoid all Ceasans, meaning that story and base missions where they are unavoidable were extra dangerous (because none of my troops had practice against psionics) and then attempt to slowly grind and savescum my way past any psionic enemies. Even Sebillions ultimately gain a psychic presence as the fight becomes important enough to get Preators involved, but at least there the psionic attacks are limited to one a turn (beyond the passive TU sapping Dread ability).
I am really looking forward to seeing how they mix things up in Xenonauts 2, I know they have say that it will not continue this storyline and will instead be set on an alternate earth with a different alien invasion which helps to move them further from the XCOM series. I hope that they will feel more free to diverge from the X-COM mold and we have a more diverse group of aliens perhaps ones that are less reliant on psychic attacks and are alien in completely different and unexpected ways.
As tempting as it is to chain straight into XCOM 2, tune in next week for a newer, much shorter series.