Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more..
Previously on XCOM 2 War Diaries..
I sustained a few casualties in the last session so I decide I need to bolster my forces before attempting to take on the final mission. I’ve no idea what the final stretch will look like and if it’s the kind of multiple-mission resources stretching affair I imagine it’ll be I could find myself in trouble. In particular I could do with that second string Grenadier I’ve been wanting for the whole game – and as it happens as soon as I start I’m offered a mission with the promise of a new heavy for my troubles. I can’t believe my luck as a saunter into..
OPERATION: DEAD MAN’S DREAM
Kenzo Kelly – Ranger
Bluntshooter – Sharpshooter
Elvis – Specialist
Zule Hansen – Ranger
Villaroel – Grenadier
Dirty Sergei – Sharpshooter
“So who the hell is Villaroel?!” I hear you ask. Well, it might have been good timing being offered a new grenadier at this point but it wasn’t great timing. Great timing would have been offered one before I roped in a rookie and forced him to take up Grenadiering for a living. But since that’s what happened I thought I’d give him an outing before the new guy puts him out of a job.
The one mission Villaroel was assigned for – a proper old school XCOM investigation of a downed UFO – turned out to be quite the trial. At first it all runs smoothly – a Zulu sword frenzy does for the first pod of grunts outside the ship, and while the first set of resistance inside (2 Snakefiends and a Big Daddy) give Elvis a bit of a roughing up a quick toss of a mimic beacon distracts them long enough for him to retreat and the rest of the gang to clean up. But then it gets a little hairy, with a Deathball, 2 Shield Bearers, another Big Daddy and a Taserdude all waiting in a fairly effective ambush formation at the heart of the ship.
Things get worse as the Big Daddy throws an acid grenade which catches pretty much everyone in the bottleneck the squad had all filtered into. Thus follows a hectic 2 turns of mimic beacons and everything we have being thrown at the Deathball before it can do too much damage. Then a flashbang and acid grenade combo has the remaining bad guys stunned and poisoned, which makes them all easy to finish off.
Curiously the mission didn’t end at this point. It’s a ‘kill everyone’ mission so I assume something must have escaped my attention and split my team in two and send them looking for the final enemy. It happens to be the new kid who stumbles upon a lone Crysallid, who poisons the new guy and makes a break for it, running to the far corner of the level. It’s out of firing range, even for my snipers, so I send everyone charging in it’s direction. The new guy has 2 turns before he’s dead and I’m nowhere near after the first. It looks like the new guy is toast.
But then I send Dirty Sergei up to high ground where he gets one hail mary Deadeye shot at the cowardly bastard. It does the trick, felling it in one and saves Villaroel’s life.
One mission and he’s nearly a gonner. I immediately decide never to use him again.
Back home I have the grenadier I wanted all along. I decide it’s time to finally finish this thing and queue up The End Game. After some very glitchy cut scene action I’m headed into..
OPERATION: STAR FORT
Elvis – Specialist
Guile – Sharpshooter
Thumper Aziz – Grenadier
In the first part of the final mission I’m only allowed to take in 3 soldiers. I presume they won’t be coming back from this so take a risk – I send in only second stringers, including the completely untested new guy. I remember the last mission on the first game being a complete hellbastard and choose to reserve all my A-team for the final test.
Up on some narrow rooftop walkways Guile hangs back to snipe it up while Thumper and Elvis head up the first walkway. The first piece of resistance comes from an Archon and a Snakefiend, who we see before we’ve broken cover. I decide to get the jump on them straight away and have the new guy send a grenade to wound both of them and leave them exposed without cover. Then Guile activates his Serial skill, which allows him a free turn after each kill. First he downs the Archon, then the Snake, then heads forward. Bam.
Then in a small building along the way we meet a Codex and a Big Daddy. Elvis heads into the building to hit the Codex with a critical and down it one. The Big Daddy poses more of a problem, waltzing up to hit Elvis with a revenge slap upside the head. The nearby Thumper takes it down in one and then everyone retreats as it’s acid spewing resurrected form lumbers into life. It trundles up and takes a swing and a miss at Guile, leaving all 3 to combine to put it to rest a second time.
Another walkway and a turret form our next challenge. Elvis makes a pitiful attempt at hacking the turret, leaving Thumper and Guile to focus their efforts on making us not regret it. We move closer to the building with the Plot Stuff held within and reveal an Archon and 2 Snakefiends on the roof. Elvis fires a rocket from his exosuit at the 2 Snakes, which blows up the floor and leaves them both to plummet to their doom.
I’d really like to say I’d planned that.
That only leaves the Archon, who heads to the skies for his easily avoided Death From Above attack. Elvis executes him for the hat trick – and that’s it in terms of resistance. We shuffle into the building to take a the win. Easy – and yes, I would go so far as to say peasy.
Some more incredibly glitchy cut scene action ensues, in which I’m unable to make out anything that’s happening. Then we’re suddenly sent into The Final Battle in the form of..
Our noble drunk Commander – Avatar
Kenzo Kelly – Ranger
Two Tap Ryan – Sharpshooter
Zulu Hansen – Ranger
Dirty Sergei – Sharpshooter
Bandanaface Taylor – Grenadier
Lightning Ramirez – Specialist
It would appear I have my own avatar in the field, bolstering my squad to 7 strong. There’s constant Plot Chatter on this mission, which is both distracting and pointless, so I try to ignore it and get to the killing. Our first victims appear in the form of 2 Mutons and an Archon. The latter of which is killed in 1 by my avatar’s rather swanky rupture ability. I like me.
2 Tap pops one of the Mutons with a one shot kill too, leaving the last one to be wounded by Sergei. Upset it retreats into the fog, where it hides behind the next wave – a Deathball and 2 Big Daddies. I immediately set 2 tap and Bandanaface on the orb before realising that my avatar has the ability to mind control anything. So I take control of the Deathball for myself. This seems somewhat overpowered, but I decide I really like me.
Dirty Sergei does for 1 Muton and the first life of 1 Big Daddy with his Cone of Death attack. My two rangers finish off it’s second life, while my shiny new orb wounds the other Big Daddy with it’s gateway attack. My avatar continues to look ridiculously powerful by killing my Deathball and very nearly doing for the Big Daddy too. Frustrated it charges towards Lightning Ramirez but can’t quite make it to her to do any damage. Instead it just gets butchered.
Feeling pretty cocky we strut onwards and come up against 4 Big Robots. 1 of them goes down from an overwatch attack as soon as they’re spotted, and another is badly wounded and picked off by 2 Tap shortly after. Ramirez takes control of another one – an action which is rendered pointless by a dimensional rift which takes down all 3. The enemy is being cut down with embarrassing ease at this point.
Undeterred Advent throw 2 Archons and 4 Codices at me. At one point this would have been an utterly terrifying and probably overwhelming occurence – with my A-team on top form in accordance with my unreasonably destructive self it’s barely enough to give me pause. The first Codex is demolished by a Deadeye from Sergei. 2 Tap injures an Archon while my avatar mind controls the other. A hail of bullets from Bandanaface nearly finishes the first one, and on it’s turn it runs right into Ramirez’s overwatch and perishes.
They do at least inconvenience me, doing their weapon disable attack and 3 of my guys. But they’re too interesting in wailing on the mind controlled Archon to do any damage to my guys. On my turn I make a small error, splitting one Codex with a grazed shot from 2 Tap and then another with a shot from my friendly Archon. Suddenly there are glitchy gold bastards everywhere. Zulu steps forward to take down one with a slash attack, only to alert 2 further Archon’s to proceedings.
This is where it gets confusing.
Between my squad and my Archon (which is largely an elusive focus for all enemy attacks) we eventually whittle down the enemy forces to none without taking any damage to my squad members. Then once that mess is mopped up we nudge a tiny way forwards past some weird human playpen and into a large trench filled with 2 Sectopods.
Again, this should be terrifying. Actually, it is terrifying. But whilst they’re distracted by a mimic beacon we hit them both on overwatch, and on our turn Zulu finishes one with a big critical whilst Kenzo rapid fires the other to death.
I didn’t even mention the Big Robots. They put up so little resistance it wasn’t worth the effort.
Then, a few sectoids later, the final act unveils itself. It’s a battle that involves killing 3 Avatars, one after the other, while on each turn a pod of enemies materialises and wades into the fight. I hang back at the start of this stage and aim to fire whatever I can at the Avatars and pick them off while hopefully surviving whatever else makes it’s way to me. To go blow by blow through this hectic firefight would take more words than anyone could be bothered reading on another man’s gaming session, but it primarily involves winging the Avatar whenever it’s far away – thus forcing it to teleport closer – and then blasting it with whatever does the most damage when it’s in range. The first wave of sectoids pose almost no threat while I do this, with only the Avatar’s mind controlling of Ramirez posing an issue. She’s in it’s control long enough to take a shot at Bandanaface but my own Avatars rift attack followed by a shot from Kenzo takes down Avatar 1 and puts her back in my control.
There are Archons flying about forcing my guys to move with their Death From Above antics and faceless marching towards us. Most of my team are hit when I don’t get quite out of range of the falling rockets, forcing Ramirez to spend time healing everyone. Big Daddy’s join the fight – I take one of them with my mind control, focusing some of the alien’s attention on it’s two health bars.
Surrounded by faceless I’m struggling to pit down I throw out a mimic beacon to catch a breather. The dimensional rift attack thins the herd a little while the snipers keep holding back the tide with overwatch attacks. Avatar 2 shows up in a spot I’d need to risk sending someone running deep into enemy territory to hit – if I didn’t have a Big Daddy to do the job for me. It moves close enough for Zulu to finish it off, leaving me one more to kill for the win.
The Faceless are through and swinging at my guys. Kenzo chins one as Avatar 3 shows up with some Muton and Archon back up. A Big Daddy throws an acid grenade into the mix, poisoning Bandanaface and Ramirez, who uses her exhausts her remaining healing skills keeping people alive. It looks like we’re about to be overwhelmed when 2 Tap pulls out a serial skill and kills a sectoid, a Big Daddy and then the resurrected Big Daddy before being forced to reload. I love that woman.
Zulu manages to hit the Avatar big on a 30% distance shot. It retreats to a really awkward spot with a single health blob remaining. I make the assumption that once it’s gone it’s game over and send my own avatar in after it. If my Avatar falls its game over, so it’s a fairly needless risk with my whole team still just about standing. I take the final shot and it goes down, and thankfully I’m right. It’s end sequence time.
Only for me the glitchy cut scenes reach new lows once I’ve finished the game. Instead of a nice piece of closure I get my no.2, Space Ryan Giggs, stuck in this pose:
For about 5 minutes. Then, as an extra special treat, he switches to this expression:
From shock to stern acceptance. I’m not entirely sure it was worth it.
But I presume the world is saved, unless there’s a bad ending for incompetent drunks like me. Kenzo Kelly has led her team of strange misfits to victory. And just less than a year after I started I have completed XCOM 2. As the world rejoices I realise that I’ve ran out of beer and so slink, quietly triumphant, to bed.