As I'm sure you all know by now, Firaxis has a new X-Com game in the works. That has gotten me in the mood to fight against overwhelming odds to defeat an alien invasion. But I won't be playing X-Com. @Fanda
already has a SUPERB X-Com let's play going on over here, and you should all check that out because it is great.
I'm hoping that I can be at least one tenth as entertaining with my after-action reports.
Instead, I'm going to be playing a relative newcomer to the X-com family. Xenonauts.What is Xenonauts?
Xenonauts is a turn-based strategy game released by Goldhawk Interactive in 2014. While not part of the X-Com franchise, it is a spiritual successor to the series and borrows many of its fundamental mechanics from classic X-Com. In many ways, Xenonauts is closer to the source material than Firaxis' recent reboot of the X-Com franchise.
The Xenonauts are a clandestine organization that was jointly founded by NATO and the USSR in 1958 following the “Iceland Incident” to protect humanity from extraterrestrial threats. (The Iceland Incident was where a single alien vessel kicked so much arse that NATO and the USSR decided that maybe they should work together. But we can't have the public panicking about aliens, so let's pretend the six nuclear detonations and all the dead men are the result of something less panic inducing like a failed Soviet invasion of Iceland).
Fast forward a few decades of no further alien activity, and humanity as a whole has turned their attentions back to their own political squabbles. Both NATO and the USSR have cut your funding to the bone, reduced you to a skeleton crew, and all around just don't trust you because you're just too closely tied to the other guy...at least until October 1st 1979. Funny how the wheels get greased when a few thousand alien vessels show up in orbit overnight.What is the gameplay like?
Like X-Com, the game is played from two perspectives. The first perspective is the Geoscape view. From here you view the globe, build bases, view a news ticker of reported UFO sightings and anomalies, track radar contacts, manage flights of interceptors, plan your research and development of new technologies, queue the construction of new equipment, an equip your soldiers for the fight ahead.
Did I say equip your soldiers? Yes I did. The game grants you many options when it comes to customizing your soldiers. You can equip them with awesome things like assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, high explosive charges, riot shields, rocket launchers. The list goes on.
Also, you're not limited to just choosing ONE weapon for your soldier. Do you want to equip your soldier with a sniper rifle for long range work, a shotgun for up close work, and a rocket launcher for when something needs to go BOOM? You can! For that man's sake, I hope he's swole. That's a lot of weight to be lugging around the battlefield. A wiser move would be to avoid overburdening your soldiers so that that can maneuver effectively on the battlefield. Alternatively, if he survives long enough, that soldier just may eventually become strong enough to run and gun with an LMG like Rambo.
When you detect an alien incursion into your airspace, the first order of business is launch interceptors to stop it from completing its mission unopposed. Upon arrival, an air-combat mini-game lets you choreograph the actions of your interceptor squadron to engage the hostile forces.
Once the alien vessel is on the ground (whether it landed under its own power or your forced it down), then you can deploy your away team. At this point the game swaps over to its second mode of play. The tactical combat view. From this view you maneuver your soldiers throughout the battlefield in turn based combat. The look and feel of the combat is similar to other titles such as the Jagged Alliance franchise. Each soldier has an allotment of “Time Units” that you can spend to perform any other action such as moving, firing, crouching, and managing their inventory. You can perform any combination of actions (including repeating actions) as long as your soldier has sufficient TU's. This allows for a level of control that is far finer that the “two-action” system some of you may be familiar with from the Firaxis X-Com reboot. Just like in classic X-Com, combat is brutal. If you're unfortunate enough to get hit, it is common for you to be either dead or alive. Alive but wounded is a comparatively rare outcome, but still frequent enough to make it worth bringing first aid kits to the battlefield.
That pretty much sums of the basics of Xenonauts. In the spirit of previous X-Com let's plays, I'm going to try and use feedback from the community to influence my actions within the game. Anyone who wants a soldier named after them can have one. I will do my best to outfit the soldier with your preferred weapons loadout. However as the game progresses, the man-hours of my engineers becomes an extremely valuable commodity. It can be hard keeping a squad equipped with the latest tech from the research labs.Rules of Engagement
1: I intend to play the game on “Veteran” difficulty. While this isn't the hardest difficulty (it is the second highest), I fear that playing on the highest setting will require “gamey” tactics to emerge victorious. The more manageable Veteran difficulty should allow more leeway for letting each soldier be equipped with their namesake patron's preferred loadout and make for a more entertaining after-action report.
2: I'm going to iron-man this. Too long have I save scummed games like this as I played by myself. This time I'm committing to my strategic and tactical decisions. Defeat is a real possibility. The one caveat is that I'm going to utilize a lot of map-mods to spice up the combat environments a bit. I haven't used these mods before and I can't speak for their quality. I will save prior to each engagement. In the event that I encounter a map bug that prevents me from completing the mission, then I will abort the mission and air-strike the site instead.
3: We will fight with the sun at our backs. The aliens have a lot of advantages, and it doesn't make sense to grant them extra ones by willingly fighting them at night. Airstrikes will destroy the grounded craft after the sun goes down. The exception to this rule is Terror Missions. Away teams will be immediately dispatched to terror sites no matter the hour.
4: As long as the skyranger has a ready away team, we will attempt to engage at least one alien craft from each wave on the ground. If conditions look good, we may go after a second or third. I can't engage every UFO on the ground simply due to time constraints (both in-game and in real life). Remaining UFOs will be destroyed by airstrikes.
5: I will be keeping all of my starting soldiers regardless of their stats. They will get good or die trying. Replacement soldiers will be hired primarily based on their bravery because bravery is an extremely valuable stat for defending against psionic attacks and it is a very difficult stat to train up over time.
6: Mods. I will be playing with the following mods enabled.
*Skitso's Map pack
*Random Map Pack Arctic Collection
*Random Map Pack Desert Style
*Random Map Pack Farm Edition
As you can see, the mods are mostly map packs. Saracen Reborn re-uses cut assets to add the Saracen back into the game. The Saracen was an advanced fighter craft that was cut from the game prior to launch because the devs couldn't find a niche for it. The mod re-utilizies the assets that are still in game and has configured the fighter as an upgrade to the Foxtrot. The ship is fast, has long range, good radar coverage, and is equipped with 2 light missile hardpoints and 2 heavy missile hardpoints. Like the Foxtrot, the Saracen is incapable of performing the evasive combat roll maneuver. It is available prior to the Marauder but after the Corsair. I'm not sure what impact this will have on the air war, but I'm the one playing this campaign and I want to play with this toy.
I think that's about it. I welcome anyone who wants to join me in fighting off the alien menace.
This war will be lost before it even begins if we can't maintain control of the sky. We want to get coverage of as much of the globe as we can. By the end of this war, we will have at least three bases if not more. As soon as the game begins, we will begin research towards a new high speed interceptor to better hunt down alien craft.
We have enough funds to upgrade our current base with expanded living quarters for additional staff, build new hangars for additional interceptors, and upgrade our research facilities with enough funds leftover to begin breaking ground on a second base. I suggest we start construction of a secondary base immediately.
Oh. You folks probably care how much each geographic region is currently pledging to our cause. Organized roughly by geographic location:
So please, join me in my defense of the planet. Provide your advice for where we should place our initial two bases and what we should name them. If you're willing, !signup to have a rookie named after you.
I'm going to wait a few days until sometime this weekend to give people time to respond. Then the war begins.
In terms of total funding, EURAFME (incl. Eastern Europe) provides more funding than North America, so put our first base in the old world and our second base in the new.
Steam: Elvenshae // PSN: Elvenshae // WotC: Elvenshae
Wilds of Aladrion: [https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/comment/43159014/#Comment_43159014]Ellandryn[/url]
First off are the infantry firearms:
Pistol: This weapon is lightweight, has an improved modifier for making reaction shots, can fire off several shots in rapid succession, and only requires one hand to wield. That allows you to keep your free hand open for other equipment such as an explosive charge, grenade, stun baton, medkit, or riot shield.
Its downside is that it has relatively short range and does comparatively low damage.
Shotgun: A close range weapon. Like the pistol, it has an improved modifier for reaction shots. Each trigger pull fires a cluster of projectiles at the enemy. It is a beast up close. Its downsides is that it is poor at medium to long ranges and has trouble penetrating heavy armor.
Assault rifle: A jack of all trades weapon. This weapon can perform admirably at both close and long ranges. It can make accurate aimed shots at long range, and swap over to a burst fire mode for dishing out damage up close or suppressing enemy targets. Its only downside is that it doesn't particularly excel at any job.
Sniper rifle: A long range weapon. This weapon allows a soldier to invest large quantities of action points into a very high accuracy shot. The projectile doesn't do appreciably more damage than other firearms, but it does have a tendency to circumvent the damage mitigation of enemy armor. This weapon is poor in close quarters and has a negative modifier that makes it poor at reaction shots.
Light Machine Gun: This weapon spits out a hailstorm of high powered bullets. Its primary purpose is to suppress enemies so that you teammates can get into better firing positions to go for the kill shot. However it is very capable of killing even the toughest of enemies outright if your shots connect. The downside of this weapon is that it is very heavy, so you won't be able to carry much else. Also, firing the weapon consumes a huge number of time units. If you want to move and shoot, you can only move a few spaces. Bounding overwatch tactics are recommended.
Rocket launcher: This weapon fires a rocket down range. At this moment, we only have fragmentation rockets. However we can develop new ones in the future. It does what you'd expect. It makes things go boom. Aliens killed by the explosion will be gibbed into a sticky goo. While effective, we won't be able to salvage any alien artifacts for our cause from aliens killed in the blast. It is also a very heavy weapon. It can make sense to deploy a squad member to carry additional ammo for the rocket man and provide up close defense. It is particularly effective at clearing away cover or making new doorways in walls and other barriers.
At present, we have three varieties of grenades.
Fragmentation grenades go boom and kill enemies within a small radius. Like the rocket launcher, enemies killed with the explosion won't leave any loot behind.
Smoke grenades provide concealment that can protect our squad. It can save a soldier's life in a pinch and make it easier to exit the skyranger. However some aliens have advanced optics or specially evolved eyes and won't be fooled by the smoke.
Flashbangs emit a loud bang and a blinding flash. It can suppress enemies and make it easier for soldiers to advance on alien positions. Very useful in the tight confines of UFOs (especially when storming the bridge).
We will develop more grenades in the future.
Finally we have a variety of miscellaneous equipment.
The first is a high explosive charge. You set the timer, throw it, and GTFO. The weapon inflicts incendiary damage. What that means is that it is less effective against aliens but super effective against terrain. It is exceptional for breaching walls or destroying cover. Again, any aliens killed in the blast won't give you loot.
Medkits are self explanatory. If a teammate gets shot and miraculously survives, you can patch him up so he can keep fighting and hopefully survive the rest of the mission.
Finally the riot shield. This shield provides extra defense and alien attacks. It uses up one of your arms, so you can't use it simultaneously with a larger weapon. However you can utilize other kit like medkits, pistols, explosives, and stun batons (we don't have stun batons yet). Also, before you ask. Yes. You can equip TWO SHIELDS. (edit: Oh, I missed the memo where they patched that out. ) You won't be able to do much beyond throw grenades with a penalty, but you will be comparatively safe from enemy fire and capable of scouting for your teammates.
For the air force, we currently have access to the F-17 condor. A close cousin of of the F-16 Fighting Falcon that has been modified to better fight UFOs.
It is armed with two sidewinder missiles and an autocannon. It can also perform an evasive roll maneuver in combat. Its advantages are that it is cheap, well rounded, and can be bought from the market. Its downsides are that it is slow, has a short operational range, and lacks the firepower necessary to take down larger UFOs.
We'll be able to field some new aircraft soon, but this is all we have for now.
I'll take a shotgun for breaching downed UFO's, a medkit for support, and some frag grenades in case I need someone to WITNESS ME!
Praise the sun!
Are you sure about that? I just loaded up my game just to double-check and it only lets me put shields into the off-hand slot. I know you used to be able to have two shields, and also keep spares in your backpack, which lead to all sorts of silliness.
I was actually planning on doing a Xenonauts LP myself at some point, but between laziness and an inability to write fiction to save my life I just never got around to it. Of course its quite possible I never would have gotten around to it, so maybe its for the best that the fate of humanity is in the hands of someone less prone to procrastination. I did start playing a test run on Insane difficulty to see if I'd be able to manage, and the answer was a resounding "probably not without some minor save-scumming". The real problem with Insane difficulty is that it gives certain aliens a longer sight range than your soldiers, which leads to a lot of unavoidable deaths, so Veteran is probably a good choice.
As an aside, may I strongly, strongly recommend the Lore+ mod? It doesn't change the gameplay any, but adds a few extra "flavor" pop-ups that are triggered on certain events like spotting a new species or capturing a UFO that was on a previously unseen mission type. For example (minor spoilers):
I would prefer a role as a medic with a basic rifleman kit (w/ frag/stun nades galore) so I may Kill the Xeno and Purge the Unclean while saving the lives of my comrades.
I would set the base somewhere around Turkey. Europe and Russia is too good money to miss and with the radar upgrades you can decently cover Asia and Africa. Then you could put a second base on Cuba or around the Yucatan in Mexico on Cuba to cover the Americas. Though if you choose to only do two bases you might lose out on Oceania which is also decent money.
Xenonauts is great. I have never finished it, mostly because I keep trying out mods that have a few features I really like like xenophobia where there are more options like xenomorphs and weapons/aircraft. My favorite thing is probably the better point usage for MG. Then these mods crash the game all the time but I can't stand to go back to the base game.
I don't like equipping my dudes with MGs in the base game until you get the power armor, because they take too many points to effectively fire and move for their effectiveness and you can try to use it in a defensive role but except for Terror Missions there's not enough situations where you're getting actively attacked to try to use it defensively.
Hmm, it appears you're correct. I guess at some point goldhawk decided that they hated fun and removed the ability to equip two shields. Also, I took your advice and grabbed the lore+ mod.
I see that a base covering Europe, the ME, and northern africa is popular. So is a base covering the Americas. Anyone have any ideas for catchy names?
I also see that there is a lot of love for LMGs.
YES. Aliens can come get some.
I don't know how many strong soldiers I'll have to start with. But I'm sure I can give some guys some LMGs and they can get STRONG.
Hand me a riot shield and whatever else goes with!
I'd like to join the glorious chair force and fly the F-17!
I am going in on the first wave. Means more bugs to kill.
I'll take any role that's needed.
Riot Shield and Pistol/Grenadier please!
If we get over using riot shields, transition into basic rifleman style setup with medic kits/grenades
A body bag, typically.
Basically that scene from Predator. All the time.
We just need some base names to get things started. It seems we want our main base to cover Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. There was also desire to have the secondary base cover the Americas. We'll eventually have more bases later, but we won't have the funds for that for awhile.
The fixation on muscles made me think of the "Aztec Gods of Fitness", some I'm tempted to place the secondary base near Mexico City and naming it Tenochtitlan. To keep with the gods theme, I'm inclined to place the primary base in Greece and name it Olympus. I also like how Greece fits in with the Fitness Theme due to their history as the originator of the Olympic Games.
Barring someone providing better names in the next few hours, that's what I'm going to do.
Our initial dropship is the CH-48 Charlie. It is capable of carrying 8 men or 6 men and a combat support vehicle.
Our current troop roster is as follows. Bolded individuals are those who will be assigned to the away team, unbolded are those who will be in reserve at the base (Seating on the away team is being granted on a first-come-first served basis with total disregard to force composition). I'll update this with character stats once I actually start the game in a few hours.
Our airforce will consist of two F-17 condors at the start. I plan to purchase a third. We should quickly gain access to a new type of interceptor and the engineers will begin producing that once it is available.
So far the only named pilot is JusticeForPluto, and I'll be taking the liberty of assigning him the call-sign Hades.
I call my bases in Mexico Tenochitlan too.
Are you not supposed to set up more than one base in the beginning?
At the beginning of every game I usually do Cuba/Mexico, Turkey/Crete/Greece (I like calling them Basileus), and sometimes the Phillipines (MacArthur) as a third. I then do radar and three hangar bays to fill with planes to shoot UFOs. Then I airstrike the bastards or leave the important sites (terror, bigger ships with possible officer) to my main ground team in Europe.
...Though that might be why my expenses and world budget keep overlapping.
How was inflation in 1979?
On veteran difficulty we start with 1.5 mil in the bank. It costs 500k to start construction of a new base, then we need to build stuff like hangars, radar arrays, and interceptors.
I usually like to invest my starting funds into breaking ground on a second base, expanding my research team, and expanding my air force. The funds we get from clearing the skies over our two bases and impressing those countries can bankroll the third base.
If you need something else on the field (or my stats lean heavily towards a different way of delivering death, dismemberment and/or dismay to the aliens) then give me whatever goodies you need.
Yep, that's the way. Where "rush satellites" is the One True Strat in XCOM 2012, in Xenonauts its "rush fighters and radar coverage". If you fall behind in the ground war you can always do "training missions" on scouts while your tech catches up, but if you fall behind in the air war you can end up in a horrible death spiral pretty quickly. For those who haven't played Xenonauts before, this is because the Xenonauts council doesn't give a fuck about your research, or how well you did on ground missions, its all about the UFOs. You gain funding by shooting down UFOs, and you lose it by letting the aliens do alieny things. The only time ground combat counts towards end-of-month funding is terror missions.
Well, less "fighters and radar coverage" and more "fighters and build a base in the Middle East and Mexico immediately". Being able to place bases anywhere just means there's only one right answer to the question of "where should I build my base?"
Anyway, GAME START. (Edit: I just noticed the game is September 1 instead of October 1. I pulled the October 1 date from the background page on Goldhawk's website. I guess they moved the date at some point).
Tecnochtitlan is a bit too far east, but that's as close as the game would let me place it to Mexico City.
For the primary base I've begun construction of an additional two hangars, living quarters for additional staff, a second research lab, and a medical center to help get injured soldiers back on their feet faster.
We are currently performing general research on the alien invasion, which is the only available research project. Additional science staff have been hired but have not yet arrived.
Here is our current batch of soldiers. Fortune smiled on us and gave us a batch of soldiers with high strength.
(@See317 I've hired a soldier for you with 60 TUs, 46 hp, 48 STR, 42 ACC, 61 RFL, and 53 BRV)
I forgot to take screenshots of everyone's loadouts before launching the dropship. I'll take pictures when you all get back from your mission. Two UFOs were detected and we shot them both down over the middle east.
If everything goes perfectly the away team will be able to hit both sites...but let's take this one step at a time.
Hopefully I don't eat it straight away assaulting into a face full of alien reflex fire...
What makes it worse is that in Xenonauts, the Aliens do UFOs in large waves of 4-8 UFOs at a time, a few times a month. Even once the bases are up, it takes constant production of aircraft to keep up with Alien Craft; The starting interceptors are slower than all the later alien craft and aren't cost effective as the game goes on(though due to weapon upgrades they can still be useful, but it's tricky). It takes a sizable fleet(about 4 per base) of the top-tier interceptor in the late game to put a meaningful dent in the air game, but it's expensive and time consuming to get there.
Yeah, this entirely.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you've only shot down 1 UFO so far. The second was killed by your peer, the NPC Condor-2.
Pardon the image quality. I forgot I that had shadowplay set to lower quality settings. I'll improve that next time and crop the images to cut out VLC.
We touch down on the edge of a small middle-eastern town. Riot shield in hand, @Phoenix-D checks out the cover of the nearby buildings.
We start advancing from the dropship and get a better look of the area, but no sign of the enemy yet. However there is the interior of the building is unknown. As one of our only men with a lighter weapon, @Kadoken goes to check it out.
Everything looks clear so far, but lets check the rest of the structure.
NOPE! *slams door closed again*
Ok. That was a mistake. Let's just pull kadoken back and someone with some TU's left can come forward and cover the door.
Let's just see who's left...
*the realization sinks in that everybody has an LMG and can only take 2 steps if they want to have enough TU's left over to shoot*
Ok. We can handle this. Everybody get into position to waste the x-ray next turn. @Kristmas Kthulhu , get into cover by that window. It'll probably take a potshot at you through it, but you should be safe in the cover. Then you can blast it.
@Docken sprints in and avenges Kadoken. We check Kadoken's vitals, but he's gone.
We continue advancing forward. Now that we have some more breathing room, we can leapfrog more properly and the LMG's are more useful. Phoenix-D advances along the western flank and notices that some doors have been left open in the next building. We're on high alert.
!!! An alien is taking a shot at @Mr Ray !!!
He's hit, but he's alive! Just stay calm. We'll get a medic to you quick.
Don't abandon your weapon!!! YOU NEED THAT.
If this was 40k you'd be so blammed right.
@Kristmas Kthulhu takes a step forward and unloads ten rounds into the alien through the window.
Mr. Ray comes to his senses and limps over to Docken to get patched up. The rest of the building was cleared without incident and we start advancing to the north east.
A barrage of fire from off-screen suppresses @MegaMek
@Elvenshae advances forward and takes cover behind some old tires. He has a clear line of sigh on the alien, but doesn't have enough time to make a shot.
Megamek withdraws out of the line of fire so that Kristmas Kthulu can take a shot, but the whole burst goes wide.
Rather than get into a head-to-head shooting match against four LMGs, the alien sprints across the road to try and get to cover.
Despite being in cover, Elvenshae is able to get a solid burst on target to kill the alien.
While this has been happening, Phoenix-D, Megamek, and Docken clear some of the buildings and then advance forward to the alien craft. Mr ray moves around and gets into cover next to where the alien died to get a clear line of sight towards the alien's blast door.
Megamek abandons his rocket launcher in favor of his sidearm pistol. This is the first UFO of this class that we've encountered, and we can't afford to destroy any of equipment inside.
Phoenix-D opens the door and sees one alien staring back, but a quick flashbang stuns the alien. Mr Ray has a decent shot on the alien, but Phoenix-D is too close to the line of fire for comfort and doesn't have enough TU's to get clear.
Megamek charges in next and but is only able to wing the alien with a non-lethal pistol shot.
That doesn't matter though because Docken is able to sprint up adjacent to the dazed alien and put it out of its misery execution style.
Overall the mission was a success. We acquired several new artifacts that we sent to the eggheads for research. Also, everyone who survived made some sweet gains and is stronger now. However Kadoken's death proves that all it takes is one mistake for it to be all over.
Mr. Ray's condition has stabilized and should be good as new in 17 days. (A little less once the medical wing finishes construction back at base).
With one soldier dead and another wounded, we aren't in a good condition to attempt to take the second UFO. We also won't be able to return to base for more soldiers before the sun sets. With that in mind, and airstrike is called in on the second downed UFO.
In light of today's events. We will be changing up our gear a bit. Some of the excess ammo of the LMG teams will be replaced with an assortment of grenades. This will grant the heavy weapons soldiers some additional options so that they can still attack when they've moved too far to utilize their LMGs.
Some body armor would be nice too. You may have noticed that our current standard issue is literally a cotton shirt. Unfortunately what we've seen of alien weaponry from the Iceland Incident has shown that our current body armor would be worthless against alien weaponry. Consequently Command has made the decision that our soldiers might as well be comfortable and able to move freely on the battlefield. However these alien alloys we've recovered exhibit some amazing properties. Maybe we'll be able to utilize them to fashion a new breed of combat armor?
I'm still getting used to this LP stuff. I'll try and get some action shot gifs of some of the weapons exchanges in the future, but I'm not sure how well they'll come out. I also forgot to snag the video of JusticeForPluto shooting down the UFO. I'll grab that next time.
By yeah, these cotton shirts aren't ballistic rated are they? Well kadoken's certainly wasn't... So anything you can do about that will be appreciated.
The F-17 condor works in a pinch, but we need a faster interceptor capable of carrying more firepower. I've tasked the research division to solve that problem. Look at that guy, he's the head of research. I think he secretly wishes he was Gaius Baltar.
Beyond that, we have several avenues of research to explore:
1: We can study their exotic plasma weaponry to figure out what makes it tick. We might be able to use that knowledge to advance our own weapons technology.
2: We can take a closer look at the alien alloys that we've recovered. We might be able to use that technology to develop new body armor.
3: We can design a small armored car that can be deployed via our dropships. It will be faster, more heavily armed, and more heavily armored than our soldiers. It can take point, scout ahead, and draw fire from our troops. We should be able to outfit it with either a heavy machinegun turret or a rocket battery. Considering how many machineguns are presently within our force, I'm personally leaning towards the rocket battery for flattening opposition and clearing away cover.
So everyone, what do you think we should research next?
Hobo with a shtogun/stunrod if possible!