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Old 02-01-2016, 04:58 AM   #101
I won't go 'til it's over
kirant's Avatar
Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Campaign - Prepare Activation of the Ethereal Device
Spoiler: show
More fighters over South America. Same story.

I'll let you take a look at the remaining soldiers I have non-fatigued. This should let you know why I want to end the game as soon as possible. Nobody's ready for battle anymore and it's getting difficult to launch missions. Even with two readily available crash sites, I let them both go.

The research into the Ethereal Device reveals it's a communication array for the Ethereals. It taps into a hive mind. A pair of young scientists, thin references to the creators of the original XCOM, propose the development of a "Gollop Chamber", again named after these creators. This will story the device and an appropriately trained soldier will access it.

So to make this happen fast, I sell the farm. Everything must go.

Then comes the two week test.

Here's a look at my final "anthill". It's a mess but it works I guess.

The aliens continue their attack on South America to no avail.

They then try to attack…very slightly north in Mexico. It was clear at this point that I'm fighting a slowly losing battle. Even the best soldiers I can afford to use aren't up for the task and take occasional serious hits. It's getting to the point where an injury cycle will certainly result in death. I need to end the war quick.

What I'm too dumb to have realized at this time was that I needed to research the technology "Mind and Machine". That is needed for creating the final piece of armour. So instead, I researched better mobile MECs.

A really light ship crashes and I send some lower troops to claim some easy items. Which wasn't as easy as I thought. Aliens continue to use their superior stat lines to hit through cover.

Though on the upside, it let Merumi hit his final rank. I gave him Close Combat Secialist so that anything looking to punch him will get a shot in the face first.

Also on the upside, the 16th and final satellite comes online, meaning the XCOM project is aware of any and all UFO activity.

Research finishes and allows access to the MK-6 Vanguard I had for whatever reason. It's a nice 3rd generation MEC with Jet Packs and a good set of HP boost.

The Gollop Chamber comes alive. It's within this pool that the war will reach its endgame. Hard to believe we've come this far.

June wraps up as I sit around in confusion.

It's at this point that I realize that I needed a set of armour to utilize the Gollop Chamber. So that's the next hasty move.

That completes as I start giving up on attacking alien crash sites. Honestly, I don't want any injuries to anybody so I hold all soldiers back. You've seen how horrible the last few battles are. Oh, I shot most of them down…but attacking the downed site? Those days are done.

Soon enough, Vahlen comes back with plans for Vortex Armour, used to access the Ethereal Device.

And, after selling the farm once again, Shen get to work on a set.

Campaign - Reach Endgame
Spoiler: show
Holding out for the Vortex Armour is…getting bad. UFOs have gotten way better and interceptors are going down. I can't even shoot down alien craft again.

It's a matter of about a week but a week too long.

It's a crazy piece of amour though…

And I see the words I finally want to see.

This is it though. The final step in XCOM. At this point, nothing in the regular game occurs anymore and the final mission is all you can do.

As before, Flor is the soldier specifically trained for this. I never actually intended for one of my first soldiers to go this way, but she had amazing willpower, making psionic training a breeze.

Vahlen then gives us a summary of all her findings as a pair of guards escort Flor to the Gollop Chamber.

Every major battle has resulted in seeing increasingly dangerous foes.

The aliens began losing regular battles. They responded with bombarding the cities and a campaign of terror took hold. They then stepped it up with a Sectoid Commander, a creature of immense psionic skill beyond that of the Sectoid.

Then the Hyperwave Relay captured pointed to the existence of the cloaked Overseer. It housed the Ethereal and the Ethereal Device, even more powerful than the Sectoid Commander.

Now, having seen that and captured the Ethereal Device that they so closely guarded, an even bigger ship has appeared. Logic dictates that what lies beyond this is even more powerful.

Getting to this point has already driven human evolution incredibly far. Even Vahlen, the most gung ho scientist for developing technology, fears where we go after this.

But they've left us no choice. We need this weapon.

Flor takes hold of the Ethereal Device and accesses it.

It reacts and gains incredible information within an instant. I wish I got screen captures of it, but it shows exactly what the autopsy reports have suggested for ages: the Ethereals are invaders, forcibly capturing and evolving species. The Sectoids, long ago enslaved. The Floaters, forcibly adjusted to have metal attached. And humans, strapped to the table for testing.

The images get more recent. Attacks over Earth. Then a ship approaching the planet.

And a voice.

At long last, you have succeeded where we have failed.

The answer is clear. It, the creature above, wants us.

And we will. We will play into its hand. And we will show it what a mistake it was to target humanity.

Thus the final mission comes free: attack the Temple Ship.

As mentioned before, this makes it impossible to do anything else. All production, all research, all alien activity halts. Time cannot pass unless you choose to launch this final mission.

One last thing I will list before the final mission is a list of the soldiers killed throughout this game. The base game often makes it a tragedy to lose 10+ soldiers. Here, 10 is low. By my count, I got to 26. Which is pretty low (I've seen 40+) but still a mess of a war for such a small squad.

Next time: Means to an end.

Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:23 AM   #102
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
I promise, I'm done after this.

Random fact of the day: the voice of the Honest Trailers videos, Jon Bailey, is the voice of the Council in XCOM.

Operation Avenger, Part 1 - Final Loadout (Custom Characters: Armenta, Destruction, Tahimik)
Spoiler: show
There are no more options. It's simply time to end this war.

The Temple Base Assault, with all upgrades to the Skyranger, allows for 12 soldiers to go on the trip.

Unlike previous descriptions, I'll describe in detail the equipment for each character and their role. Recent Foundry projects allow each soldier to carry 3 miscellaneous items on top of their weapons and armour.

Armenta is the single shot sniper. He is more positional and able to take shots better than the other sniper on hand (who has In The Zone). The Carapace medium armour will protect him from some serious harm. The Laser Sniper Rifle will make it viable for him to strike as his accuracy isn't ideal for his job. Ideally, he'll fit in the back of any formation but should do fine in the middle of the fray. He also has a Battle Scanner to prevent flanks (though this final mission is pretty lenient in this regard).

Tannen is designated to end lives. She is the only soldier here with the incredible In The Zone ability, which lets her continue her turn as long as she gets kills on flanked or exposed targets. She's lightly armoured and focuses on damage output. She carries an emergency medikit.

Destruction…well…he's been the mainstay Rocketeer for a long time. He has one of the most accurate launches in the game. He carries 4 rockets: 3 explosive and 1 shredder. The medium armour will get him through a fight but he's got a limited capacity once the rockets empty. As always, the role of a Rocketeer is to simply change the flow of battle. An explosion here or there can drastically swing events.

Instead of a standard Rocket Launcher, Shen built him a Recoilless Rifle. It's an improved Rocket Launcher with better damage and armour penetration.

If Destruction is a mad bomber, Pearse is the more calculated version. Loaded with 9 Alien Grenades, she'll provide excellent terrain denial. It's pinpoint throwing and 7-8 damage attacks. She can also provide a minor Psionic element to things. Much like Destruction though, her rifle isn't great and will be limited to chipping in minor damage.

Tomo is the light scout. A skirmisher with Lightning Reflexes, she can spot enemy, hit them a little, and dodge out of fire. The Chameleon Suit further improves Lightning Reflexes while the Alloy Rifle can punch through thick armour with reasonable ease. The primary job will be to make things safe for others to move forward by putting the attention on herself. Then she'll paint targets with Holo-Targeting and let all hell break loose.

Sondra, with a heavy specialized Squad Assault Weapon (loaded with gauss bullets to penetrate thick armour) and extremely heavy armour, provides a rock for which to launch attacks. She can spray bullets, suppress targets, weaken enemies, and tank hits. It's a supporting role. The prototype Titan Armour furthers this more, increasing her natural damage resistance and making her immune to most non-direct damage (such as gun shots).

The entire campaign, Paige has represented one thing and one thing well: consistency. Everything she has allows her to deploy to any scenario and deal with it. Not always the best but always has a tool in hand. I expect nothing but the same here. Medium armour, a Gauss rifle to break through tough targets, a machine pistol sidearm, and a grenade are standard order. But also in the mix is a new brand: Combat stims. This lets her take the bonus EXALT had of Adrenaline Rush (bonus accuracy and critical) should she get hit. Further, she takes much less damage for a short period of time. I expect she'll find herself in many different spots and I will likely lean heavily on the jack-of-all-trades aspect to keep others in their comfort zone.

Tahimik is very much an improved and heavy Pearse/Destruction. Three grenades while acting as a mobile piece of terrain is extremely impressive. He also serves as effective anti-robot weapons as he has both HEAT Ammunition and HEAT Warheads. Past that, the slightly crazy soldier has the best weapon for MECs that we had on hand: Pulse Lasers. He has the Type 1 armour. It's outdated at this point but he should not expect to see many hits compared to the other two.

Neale, the best damage dealer the XCOM project has, got the randomly appearing Type 6 armour. It's 3rd generation (best possible) and make her extremely mobile. Gauss Weaponry, multiple shots a turn, and HEAT ammunition make her a horror for any alien mechanized unit. Past that, she has her own stockpile of grenades and the flamethrower. Though the railgun, functioning similar to gauss weaponry, is her bread and butter for this battle.

On the other end of the scale is Merumi, the human tank. The Type 2 Defender armour is a little less on HP boosting but allows him to take solid hits with ease. Unlike Neale, he's focused purely on taking hits or activating his secondary weapons. He has the weakest weapon on hand of the MECs, the Laser Lance, and little in the way of improving its damage. However, he doesn't need them as much as he can go punching them in the face with the Kinetic Strike Module. The essence of subtly is lost here as grenades, fists, and what would be shoulder mounted laser cannons on humans keep the attacks flexible but loud.

Leading the squad is Hildebrant. She distinguished herself though several battles as an apt leader and that allows her to keep the entire squad focused in the face of terrors (that is, allies in range of her will use her willpower against fear checks). She doesn't carry much in the way of weaponry as she's a Medic but her presence increases accuracy, defence, and critical evasion. Not to mention she's got a lot of support items with her Packmaster perk, allowing her to bring 6 Medikits and 2 Smoke Grenades (which further improve defence and critical rates).

And finally there's our Volunteer. XCOM designates that Flor cannot change out of the heavy Vortex armour. She is typically outfitted with very little and nothing changes here. She has a laser SMG, easily the lightest primary weapon of all these soldiers, and 9 Medikits. Her offence primarily comes from psionic attacks at this point and her purpose is more keeping everyone alive than it is killing…anything really.

All the soldiers are sent off to the Skyranger. This is it. It's all or nothing from here on out. There are no second chances to make this happen as the XCOM project has sunk all their money and time on the Gollop Chamber and the Vortex Armour. All the best soldiers are aboard and it's not like the Ethereals will give a second chance.

Let's go.

Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:25 AM   #103
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 2 - Origin of Species
Spoiler: show
It's clear on landing who holds all the cards here. The same raspy voice which reached out to Flor in the Gollop Chamber once again speaks to her.

You hear our voice, New One, now listen well…long have we watched…and waited. So many promising subjects, so many failed efforts. And now, after untold trials, the New One emerges to face the rigors of our collective…an enduring physical form, paired with an equally adept mental capacity – the rarest of traits, finally within our grasp.

The whole war. Everything. All the millions of lives wasted…and all for this…evolution? To merge physical prowess with this psionic skill. They imply they've worked with humans to make this happen which leads to the only conclusion that this is all an experiment to them.

It's unfathomable to waste so much in the name of progress.

Much as the voice suggests, this battle is primarily a long series of "trials". It's a linear mission set but pits you, at least in Long War, against the most powerful aliens possible. They are sized up for intimidation but have stats to match.

Of note at this point is that Flor has gained Rift, the same attack area of effect attack that I fear so much from the Ethereals.

The initial room simply splits into three hallways, each going to the next chamber.

A support squad, Flor, Tannen, Tahimik, and Tannen, go to the furthest left.

Pretty much the entire centre is made of heavy troops while support troops (Hildebrant, Pearse, Armenta) go through the right door.

Tomo rushes into the breach first and spots a Sectoid Commander. A durable Sectoid Commander.

She and Tahimik tag-team it into the ground.

The voice calls again amidst the chaos.

New One faces the earliest effort of the Ethereal Ones, the first…failure. Though possessed of a certain…brilliance…they are marred by their cowardice and frailty…which made them cruel…and ultimately useless.

This callousness for their own soldiers is incredible. They treat them as nothing but failures, sent off to fight and die.

The Sectoids that are in the area are fairly tough. They are designated Sectoid Masters in game. Their 21 HP is quite respectable.

Still though, there are Sectoids. They're weak and fragile. Pearse and fine movement deprive them of any defence boosts and without it, their HP melts.

One goes down in a hail of bullets.

The other gets worked over by Merumi and Neale.

Then, another message:

Another attempt, this one inspired. Two subjects, each with a glaring weakness – brought together in the hopes of a symbiotic strength. And yet, this newfound power left them devoid of higher thought. Lacking in comprehension. Another…useless effort.

It speaks of Cyberdisks and their Drones.

It's clear now: this is a gauntlet. A fight through every species. This time, it's 3 Drones and 2 Cyberdisks.

Instead of approaching them, everybody hangs back. Both are thick skinned and it will take all the effort in the world to break it.

So the Drones come in first. One gets shredded.

The other, merely hurt.

And this gives the Cyberdisks room to approach. So the task is now to fight Cyberdisks before they can do any more damage than the chipping they do with their grenades.

Operation Avenger, Part 3 - Showdown vs Gunstars
Spoiler: show
So the Cyberdisks here are Gunstars (the Drones being Battle Drones). Big, tough, and pretty much armored where lasers can't hurt it.

Even HEAT Warheads barely scratch it.

The only weapons which work really well are mounted onto MECs.

The Gunstar on the left side of the map goes down here, but the right side needs some more time. Even Sondra's heavy weapons barely penetrate it when it's in attack form.

Merumi's Laser Lance does respectable damage but still not enough to kill.

Then a tactical order…rocket it and it alone. A "Godzilla threshold" type of situation but it needs to die before it can attack.

It barely limps around and meets its end to a second grenade.

That leaves only the Battle Drones. But they are tough to crack as well. It takes 4 attacks to bring one of them down.

There is one left: the one on the left. It takes some big hits. The effectiveness of gauss penetration is evident here as Tomo deals similar damage as the better pulse weapons.

The Battle Drone opens up hell and fires on Tahimik, dealing 12 (half HP).

So one Drone remains…it again shows its resiliency by succumbing only after 4 different attacks.

Things seem fine.


Neale takes a shot head on from a Sectoid. Turns out a couple fled the earlier battle.

Merumi gives chase and spots two and a guest.

The New One faces a great foe, and an equally great…disappointment. When their organic form failed to evolve…it was given the strength of a machine, creating this…merciless, fearless, killer…a fate worse than death.

Another callous description of another life form…this time, it's the Great Reavers…the Floaters. What horrible existences they live. Born to serve the Ethereals, subjected to horrible modification, and for what?


Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:25 AM   #104
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 4 - A Different Approach
Spoiler: show
The first objective here is to clear numbers. The flanked Sectoid is easy.

The other one receives a lot of pressure.

I've opted to move everyone through a single door, the right hand side, this time in an attempt to change up my tactics and see if it has better results.

The Floater and Sectoid attempt shots to no avail.

So basically, it's these two aliens which are preventing progression to then next room. Everybody is closing in but there's little cover to take advantage of.

The distance makes longer ranged weapons quite valuable. Armenta has a near perfect shot despite the full cover of the Floater.

It's a very similar process for having Tomo kill the final Sectoid.

Dealing with the Floater will be quite a bit of trouble. It's got a nice hiding spot which makes a brute force assault difficult.

This long fight will make restoring HP important. So this is a good point to heal up Tahimik.

The Floater digs in. It has Covering Fire, meaning it can use overwatch on anything. Thankfully, it misses with the overwatch.

The decision is basically siege warfare initially. Pearse drops a grenade in. With disappointing damage.

So the tactic changes and Flor Mind Controls it.

The aliens react in an incredibly strange manner. A Heavy Floater proceeds to kill the controlled Floater.

In other words, there's nothing stopping progression to the next room.

This would make an excellent time to heal up all injuries. Who knows what lies beyond that door.

Interestingly, the voice comments on the death of the Floater.

Were we…mistaken? Could this be another failure in the face of such promise? How can the New Ones' pack fall to these…lesser beings…

It's obviously a bug in the game and designed for when humans die...but makes an interesting notion about how little this voice cares about the invaders.

Merumi soon decides to take point and charges straight towards the adjacent room. He spots the Heavy Floater, this time a Warmaster.

It decides to fire back, but misses.

This is another point where Flor's psionic talents become incredibly useful. Her skill, Psychokinetic Strike, can destroy all cover in an area.

This makes the Heavy Floater an easy target as the exposed alien succumbs to repeated shots from Neale and something of a cherry tap from Pearse.

The next room is a series of empty hallways and a massive structure in the centre. Everyone came in one area and the limited cover is a major concern for me.

So the plan, while not ideal, is to launch an attack on this room by using the MEC's One for All ability to provide full cover.

Operation Avenger, Part 5 - Curious Endeavours
Spoiler: show
This slow and methodical approach continues far into the room.

It slowly pays off as two more Floaters appear. It seems the game wanted me to take the centre pathway, the high road, and this different approach wasn't expected.

At any rate, it's key to take the Floaters out quickly before they get to use their height advantage to land hits. Tomo and Paige virtually kill one.

Then comes an interesting thought: let's try out Rift.

The results are instant, but so are the commendations.

It is as we hoped…the New One has surpassed all that have come before…and with such great confidence…so skilled with the Gift.

Rift is a skill which has two major effects. The first is instant damage. The second is a second attack at the end of its opponent's turn, dealing similar damage. You can see that the Floater, in its terror, went into overwatch and took another round of hits. Rift is basically a two attack rocket on 5 turn cooldown. It turns out that this can also be found by mind controlling and Ethereal and training a psionic soldier…but that sounds near impossible.

Regardless, the fight continues and Tomo ends the Floater.

Chryssalids drop from the ceiling. Large ones. Accompanied by some pretty strange commentary.

A curious endeavor…the search for the Gift in the most…unsavory of beings. They were little more than insects when their uplift began…and in their failure, became the most dangerous of predators…incapable of direction, understanding, they were deemed fit only to breed and die.

These monstrosities are Hive Queens, leaders of the Chryssalids.

They are big and tough. It takes most of the squad to finish the two immediate threats.

This is really a dangerous situation and the Snipers use their Precision Shots as I roll the dice in hopes of critical hits. Luckily, they land.

I know another one exists and the turns halt until it appears. The third Chryssalid comes in from the other side of the centre structure, weaving through most attacks on the way over.

Once it halts for the turn, it becomes a target for focus fire.

Now onto the third room with this one quiet. This time, the armoured soldiers all move through the right door while I send a support team through the high centre door. This should give them a height advantage in the upcoming fight.


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Old 02-03-2016, 08:25 AM   #105
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 6 - Valiant Efforts
Spoiler: show
The support team going through the centre…meet another Floater.

It strikes Tannen quite hard with its single shot, inflicting a near lethal hit.

The retribution from the attack comes quickly and effectively.

The voice once again comments on the battle.

Long was our search…and now…with success so close at hand, we witness the fruits of our endeavour…

Regardless of their intentions, we must press forward. The support team moves upon next door.

Tannen gets her wounds healed up once there.

The next room hosts Thin Men at the front. And another descriptor.

A valiant effort…a being of intelligence and exceptional loyalty, easily adapted to serve our needs. Still, despite such great hopes…they were unable to embrace the Gift… another wasted example.

The opponents are Thin Men Snipers. As suspected, they'd have Squadsight and can easily send one to scout while the rest fire from afar.

To be honest, I was hoping to Mind Control one…the odds weren't working out though and it failed. So Pearse just gets the closest one to panic.

One Thin Man makes a run for it.

As far as I'm aware, there are three Thin Men. Two were on the right and one in the centre. One of the two on the right fled into the darkness.

Merumi and the other MECs charge straight through the door and open fire on the Thin Man with a little support from the other foot soldiers.

Basically, the MECs broke through the line and are in this third room. The other soldiers have yet to enter. This is to let the MECs tank shots. Though the aliens had other plans, landing one on Sondra. The Titan armour lives up to the name and absorbs a great deal of it.

In the scramble, the centre Thin Man vanishes into unseen territory.

The last usage of Psychokinetic Strike worked, so Flor sets it up again, this time not only exposing cover but revealing the location of the other Thin Man.

Sondra extracts a little revenge on the far Thin Man and the turn ends with two seriously wounded aliens.

The close Thin Man (right) moves to new cover and strikes Tahimik while the one near centre slinks into the fog again.

With no obvious threats for the centre support team now, they move in to provide cover fire and hopefully a few flank shots.

What they spot instead are Mutons.

Now…the New One confronts a greater threat - a rare strength, found in an easily controlled breed. And yet, they are incapable of brilliance, of independence…they will never be more than primitive warriors…serving only to fight, and die, as did those who came before them.

Operation Avenger, Part 7 - Human Limitations
Spoiler: show
The Muton is a Muton Centurion.

The Berserker here got renamed to a Juggernaut.

There are a tonne of aliens in the area…that makes Rift a very powerful option.

A similar notion leads to use of Alien Grenades. This kills the Thin Man and leads to poisoning the nearby Muton.

A focus fire on the Berserker leads to the beast's death.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team on the right side still hasn't approached and keep their distance, damaging the acidified Muton a bit.

The aliens use their Thin Man Sniper to attack and try to free up space to get their Mutons out of trouble.

The Mutons did not count on Merumi having Close Combat Specialist. This kills one of the fleeing brutes.

The Muton is in a lot of trouble and the Thin Man is really easy pickings for the incoming support team. Meanwhile, this should give a gap for the non-MEC soldiers on the right hand side an entry point.

The Muton and Thin Man go down easy.

The movement triggers two more Mutons to activate. Neale charges in and opens fire on them.

The Mutons strike back. The first shot reveals to me something I knew before: MECs are human. Neale, in face of all these inhuman things, panics and warns of imminent system shutdown.

The injured Muton moves in for the kill but can't get the job done.

So as you can see, I've managed to move most of the forces into this third room by this point. However, it's now a practice in getting Neale out alive.

Paige (Rifle) and Merumi (Grenade) get to work, killing the closest one.

Further effort goes to rescuing Neale. She gets an emergency medikit used on her, smoke goes up, and everybody moves in.

The Muton changes tactics and fires at Armenta.

The New One's kin falls, and our fear grows, as we question the worthiness of our selection…

Ruri's Law: The vast majority of people are idiots (including myself)
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Old 02-03-2016, 08:26 AM   #106
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 8 - War Machines
Spoiler: show
Worst part is, that isn't the end of the alien's turn. They decide to go after Neale again.

There's no difficulty in stopping Armenta from bleeding out, though that's two more Medikits down.

Neale gets further healing for safe measure too.

Then it's time for a little payback.

Which Merumi finishes by punching the Muton through the barrier behind it.

This finally gives the squad time to analyze what's around them. And what's around them is a giant atrium with a hallway on the perimeter of it. So, as I guess should be expect, the squad splits in approximately equal quality to go down each side. Paige, Tahimik, Armenta, Tomo, Hildebrant, and Sondra down the right side, the remainder on the left.

At least, that was the theory.

An artificial warrior…created to supplement the limitations of the many…failures. Crafted with a singular purpose…it ultimately contributes little to our cause. Still, there is hope, as the New One approaches…

Two massive and heavy Sectopods sit on the floor. They apparently don't get a unique name designation (there is one, Reaper, but I guess the aliens didn't get far enough on their research scale to deploy one).

Everybody hunkers down and the MECs go into defensive shells. Honestly, one is hard enough to deal with. Two is intensely scary and I don't want anybody but Tomo risking shots.

One fires, missing. The other is preparing an area of effect shot on the right side of the screen.

So, everyone can cause havoc now…but half of them need to flee their position.

Tomo draws the fire of each of the Sectopods, removing the overwatch. She fits behind some full cover in the atrium.

Meanwhile, every AoE attack possible goes out.

First is a grenade. It's really weak despite the HEAT Warheads perk.

Then comes Rift.

Tomo takes a couple shots but to minimal effect.

Everyone else repositions to get out of impact radius. I leave the MECs out of visual range.

The Sectopods fire their area attack, mostly hitting the roof somehow but also destroying all terrain in the area.

I admit that this wasn't the plan but decide to go for broke. Neale marches into the open and uses the heavy weaponry (Railgun) to punch through that tough Sectopod armour. Merumi stands in the same spot and hails shots.

To which the Sectopods respond by critically wounding Neale and nearly killing Merumi.

Weakness…we did not expect this…weakness…another of the new breed fails to pass…

The objective now is to get Neale back up before she bleeds to death and to bring the critical meat shields back into working order. Tomo once again acts as the distraction.

I figure at this point that it's best to soften up the Sectopods as much as possible. They have Reactive Sensors, causing them to fire a free shot against the first to hit it directly each turn (if it can see them. It retains this ability until it spots something it can target). So Destruction throws his second rocket in.

While Tomo shoots purely to attract the attention of Reactive Sensors.

This gives Flor enough space to get in and revive Neale.

Which simply leaves the task of defeating the Sectopods.

Operation Avenger, Part 9 - The Worthy Path
Spoiler: show
It's time to open fire on the Sectopods. There's enough in position to make this happen.

Tannen starts off the counter attack.

Paige chips away, though it doesn't do much. Even Gauss weapons, designed to penetrate armour, can't break the Sectopod.

Armenta deals just enough to it to kill the first Sectopod, which in turn explodes to injure the other one.

This means all lights are green for beating the last one. The MECs get some shots in.

Which is slightly less than expected. Which means the Sectopod returns fire. It strikes Tahimik with authority before turning its eyes on Merumi, who's at close range and 4 HP.

And completely wiffs.

Tomo pulls the overwatch off the Sectopod once more.

Then Merumi does something I guess I should have expected. He punches him.

Well, it's more than that. First came a two-handed overhead smash, sending the Sectopod reeling.

He then rips the panel of the Sectopod open, exposing its weaponry. The Sectopod panics and prepares one last desperation attack: a point blank cannon shot.

Merumi responds to this by charging the Kinetic Strike Module and going for the kill.

When all the smoke clears, only one remains.

The New One continues to surge…to prove that this was the worthy path, that we were justified in our efforts. This will bring about our redemption, and usher in our future…

So this is all a tale of redemption, huh? I guess we'll be the judge of that soon enough. The quote means that the final door is ready. And all that we have to do is get past two Muton Elites.

The objective is easy enough so this time becomes a moment of recollection. Healing extra HP, so forth.

The Muton Elites have other plans though and the vanguard, Paige in specific, opens fire on the oncoming troops.

The Muton Elites have a unique designation, Praetorian, and are the highest designation of Muton Elite around. The only disadvantage they have is that they walked into really dumb positions. One flanked, one in the open.

The flanked Muton Elite gets crushed in an instant.


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Old 02-03-2016, 08:26 AM   #107
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 10 - Ascendancy
Spoiler: show
The exposed Muton Elite is pretty easy to remove and gives time for healing.

It takes two shots to finish off the Muton Elite.

Everyone moves to the final room. The journey takes several turns through the atrium. In the meantime, the soldiers consume all remaining Medikits. What lines ahead is the final room. There will be no need for anything after this.

All the soldiers cram in front of the final door. I'd like to think they are mentally preparing for this engagement.

For unknown reasons, Neale charges in. The music becomes quiet. Almost non-existent. Groans of the ship in flight become painfully evident.

One by one, the rest of the squad file in.

In front of them stands a single alien. An Ethereal.

Behold the greatest failure… of the Ethereal Ones…

We who failed to ascend as they thought we would.

We who were cast out. We who were doomed to feed on the Gift of lesser beings…

as we sought to uplift them…to prepare them…for what lies ahead.

And it becomes clear in an instant. The genetic engineering. The angelic decor of this room. The constant talk of redemption. Vahlen's radiocarbon dating of the Ethereals as thousands of years old. This war was never about capture. It was the death throes of an aging species…one so focused on psionic talent that they wasted away physically. Now they seek a new species. One to "bring" to their level. To show that their trials, their adversities…it all mattered.

Further aid appears for the Ethereal.

This is the final stage. An all out attack on this boss, designated the "Uber Ethereal". It's very much an improved Ethereal. It is the head of this army and by far the most badass. It regenerates HP at an alarming rate (I clocked it in past 14 HP in this game), has better HP, better defence, better damage output, and close range skills to die for.

And so the curtain rises.

The first objective, clearly, is removing the Muton Elites. They are open, exposed.

And with his last explosive rocket, Destruction proves just how tough the Uber Ethereal is. It takes virtually nothing from the rocket.

Flor jumps into the battle as well, using Rift to bring the Muton Elites down to killable HP.

Which the two snipers graciously clean up.

And now the battle comes down to two species. One old, regretful, looking for meaning to life. The other…young, defending themselves…looking for sanctuary and quiet.

Operation Avenger, Part 11 - The Path We Choose
Spoiler: show
Neale opens fire in this final act, landing both shots.

The Ethereals retaliate with the tactic of knocking down the MEC troopers as fast as possible. They all take a psionic lance…one they will not survive if a second connects.

The only survival mechanism is pure, raw, strength of will to dodge.

A quick look at the map reveals XCOM's plan: blitz the flanking Ethereals with authority. Merumi and Neale come after the leftmost Ethereal while Tahimik the right. Foot soldiers provide distance fire. There is nothing clever…nothing special about any of this. It's just pure, raw talent of troops now.

I figure though that any chance an increased survival is worth the risk. So Sondra attempts to suppress the Uber Ethereal's psionic lance…to no avail.

Neale goes all in on this. Two quick shots on the left Ethereal and it fails to deflect either, bringing it to critical HP.

Tomo also gets a shot in. The light armouring of the Ethereal allows for severe damage from all sources.

This sets the stage for a kill shot.

And Tannen makes no mistake.

This is not your path! Not your purpose! You need our guidance to hone this power… without us, what are you?

What are we? We're humanity. Power or not, our path is nobody's but our own. We'll stand in unity against such oppression. No matter what the cost, we will see to our own destiny. Nobody will control us.

And you will find this out the hard way.

Meanwhile, this becomes an incredibly opportunity to utilize the combat stims. Anything to get another turn of life on any soldier becomes critical here.

With psionic attacks worthless against the Ethereals, everyone including Flor, use conventional weaponry.

The aliens get a retaliation turn. The right Ethereal focuses on Tahimik.

And it's over in an instant.

And the same cruel taunt.

The New One's kin falls, and our fear grows, as we question the worthiness of our selection…

And the Uber Ethereal, with Merumi safely moved out of sight, focuses on Neale.

Now there is no defence. A strike for anybody now is in lethal territory.

But Tahimik's charge was not in vain. The distracted Ethereal is open to a wide variety of attacks. With the two snipers parked at the back of the room, it is open to shots. From Paige, it is open to shots. Tahimik's final act was to buy time. And he did it.

Pearse looks down. One grenade left. Time to make it count.

Tannen, watching it all down her scope, waits until the Ethereal lurches.

This means that only the Uber Ethereal remains.

Tomo tries a shot on it. It deals negligible damage. And that's likely it for her. The ammo in her strike rifle gone and it's clear that all the deflected bullets are doing a number to her, with what looks like multiple hits near the stomach.

And that's probably an apt description of this squad. Tiring, injured, drained. But still going.

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Old 02-03-2016, 08:27 AM   #108
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Part 12 - And The World…
Spoiler: show
Neale meets with Merumi in the same hiding position. It's a terrific spot to hide at the moment.

Paige, as she always does, tries to support with some damage. Some of it works.

Everybody closes in. They know this it the last push. So the Uber Ethereal turns its mind towards the figure head. The source of morale.

Hildebrant falls. There is no recourse. The only way she survives is via victory and a quick escape. Even then…the layers of ship that they'd have to carry her through…

The hunt draws to a close. It was not a vain undertaking…but a necessity, as our physical form has grown…ineffective. Our search for a perfect specimen was driven by our own crippling limitation, and now, at long last…

The Ethereals are worse than I previously thought. They aren't only zealous, but only focused on themselves. On survival. They fear the spectre of death and commit these atrocities to extend their own lives.

It's enough waiting around. The soldiers, without hesitation, launch an all out attack.

Sondra, the Titan Armour starting to break through as gauss bullets fly back at her, unleashes an endless stream on the now fully recovered Uber Ethereal. Some make it through.

At the same time, Merumi turns to Neale and asks a simple question: Do you want to something really, really stupid? They both charge the Uber Ethereal, knowing that death is very possible at this range. But anything now is better than waiting for death. So it's a simple notion and unvoiced agreement.

Paige and Tannen continue to hit as hard as possible.

And quietly biding his time is Armenta. Waiting for the perfect time, the perfect shot.

When suddenly

The entire ship lurches. Soldiers and the Uber Ethereal pause to ensure their footing. A pained scream echoes, followed by silence.

Merumi, flanked by Neale, uses the opportunity to strike.

Flor isn't idle either. The laser gun is weak but still operates. It's as simple as that.

Pearse once again looks down. No grenades. This leaves but one option.

Operation Avenger, Epilogue 1 - The Temple Ship
Spoiler: show
It's clear from the start that the ship wasn't happy. No pilot meant it returned to old subroutines. And that meant collecting mass amounts of psionic energy.

Entire area of water move unnaturally, collecting to the now automated ship.

To the soldiers of XCOM, they don't need to be told twice. It's time to get out.

Merumi moves to grab the body of his dead MEC pilot.

In the chaos, one soldier stopped. Flor.

A simple vision but its intent clear. Her mind inevitably changed. A decision she'd never live to regret.

The remaining soldiers stopped. They turned and stared. Why stop now? The answer came plain and simple.


A surge. Brute force threw them out. Intentional for sure. Only one individual alive had that capability. And now she as the only living thing in the room.

Outside, the remaining gathered their wits. Paige futilely threw herself at the door to go back. Their commander was still in there. Their volunteer was still in there. They need them both back. The others fled. There wasn't time left to retrieve them.

Sondra, second in command for the mission, turned. Retreat was a direct order. Paige watched the door one last time before running.

Meanwhile, the XCOM base fell into chaos. Earthquakes forced the evacuation of all but the highest in command and a skeleton crew. Entire pieces of the ceiling began collapsing under the stress.

Bradford demanded explanation. What the hell is happening?

Vahlen interprets the readings of the Temple Ship. It's behaving like a dying star. Becoming a black hole.

The defeated nature in her voice told it all. Earth was in the crosshairs of an attack it could not stop. The Ethereals kept their trump card in waiting. If they couldn't have humans, they'd destroy the whole planet and the species along with it.

The Temple Ship continues its destructive path, drawing water ever closer.

The ship's bridge held one. It held one command centre.

The answer was obvious.

I'm sure there was no hesitation in her decision. Calm strides carried her to the centre. There was only one person who could use it and that person happened to be in the room.

The alternative is far, far worse.

A single transmission came from Strike-1.

"Central, I'm bugging out. The package is not on board…I waited as long as I could, sir."

Few staff stayed in the facility. Most got out to avoid being crushed. Most likely gave up hope.

The one that stayed back…found a strange reading.

The alien craft was moving.

Bradford, shocked, asked for a direction. He couldn't get a clear answer and ran to look himself.

The response came as a huge surprise to everyone. Up.

The maelstrom rips through the Temple Ship, its structure collapsing. Its pilot controlling it with as much strength as possible.

Alone in this cathedral which worshipped some form of ascension. Saving humanity. Ending this threat of alien invasion once and for all.

It isn't such a bad way, is it?

A flash fills the cockpit as the ship hits the edge of Earth's gravity well.


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Old 02-03-2016, 08:27 AM   #109
I won't go 'til it's over
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Location : Wars World, Black Hole HQ
Operation Avenger, Epilogue 2 - The Second Era
Spoiler: show
People worldwide stopped. An incredible sight filled the sky.

Debris filled the atmosphere. Debris of a now defeated alien species. And it rained back down, a final statement on triumph.

It's almost beautiful. Pieces filled the horizon and reflected the now fading presence of the planet's foe.

And amidst the debris came a familiar sight. A VTOL transport ship with a pentagon emblem. Three stars, two diagonal lines and one familiar phrase: Vigilo, Confido.

I am vigilant. I am relied upon.

Final Summary
Spoiler: show
The game greets you with an uplifting version of the main XCOM theme upon mission's end as well as a summary of your achievements.

I'm not sure if it was because it was Long War or if I had to use console commands to restart some missions (bombs placed in places I couldn't reach, meaning I had 0 chance of winning the mission…or the game bugging out and being unable to disarm the bomb).

Simply put, I do not give up missions. I would see them through to the bitter end. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But defeat was an impossibility as I made casualties acceptable in the name of victory.

I note that the game qualified 28 losses. That would mean they counted either Flor or Hildebrant as another.

As noted by my use of 3D combat tactics, I ended up with a lot of flanking attacks. The % hit is quite high for that reason.

I…might have overdone the scientists. I would accept them as payment even late game.

Finally, a list of resources spend and acquired.

And the credits.

Hitting back takes you to the main screen. Game is over.

Spoiler: show
The ship was dead quiet on the way back. No soldier aboard knew exactly what happened beyond the reports from the Skyranger pilot. They would find out eventually that Flor saved the planet but the first moments were confusion.

Tannen worried. She knew Flor extremely well and the two were close. I can't imagine how many thoughts went through her mind. Those of worry, fear, sadness…all of the above likely. It was the end of a war but the recovery would have to start.

Neale and Merumi didn't let go of the last few moments. They lost their brother-in-arms. They served revenge but it just didn't feel complete. Merumi's days in the military were over after this. He swore to advocate and represent all those who fought in this war. To never let go of the memory. Neale would never move on. She would move up in rank as far as her skills would let her, taking high ranking positions in every defence project possible, ready to lead the charge once again should the earth come under attack.

Destruction studied the events on the Temple Ship hard. It was a slow process but eventually made peace with it. He spent his days bringing the world to what it once was. The old world existed. A world without fear and ruin. He wanted to see it get there. Passion the order of the day, his actions and recovery support throughout the planer were known more as forces of nature then human activity.

Armenta paused. To him, the war ended as they left the ship and it was time to move on. Time to help recover the earth stand up again. Maybe a career in entertainment to finally "uplift" humans? It would be the final twist of words. A final insult to the Ethereals.

Sondra wrapped herself in self-doubt. Was that right? Who knows. She was thrust into the spotlight in the dying minutes. This doubt forced her to return to her previous life where…well…she never really fit in with regular society. Her status as a hero of earth prevented too many serious charges but her defence of every person she met put her in more trouble than others. Her determined defence treaded a thin line against the law. Two forces meeting, both wanting the best for humanity at large.

Pearse's mind, initially full of confusion, eventually settled and agreed with Flor's choices. She would eventually end up representing both herself and Flor as the world sweetheart for killing the Uber Ethereal and ending the war. Times moving on, she eventually calmed down from the person she was before and learned to mix her own desires and interests with her position as a figure of legend.

Tomo kind of vanished from public sight after. The occasional donation appeared under her name…but no appearances and the like. Word is that she found solace in this peace. Word is that the loss of comrades made it too difficult to ever go out in public for fear or recognition. The known truth is that nothing concrete ever pops up.

Paige…she stared at the three empty seats in the Skyranger for the entire flight. Outwardly the calmest, she probably suffered the most mentally. The war never ends for Paige. She would transition to different military organizations, all functioning as part of the ground forces. Every mission performed with extreme precision, every soldier accounted for, as impossible to stop as a blade dancing in the night.

Word of god, that is creative designer Jake Solomon, is that the Volunteer does not die on the last mission. They just couldn't tell the story well enough for it to get through.

I'd love for that to be true. I'd love to think that somewhere, she managed to get herself and the two other soldiers left aboard the Temple Ship out of danger and somehow brought Tahimik back to life as well as healed Hildebrant. It would make my day.

However, the evidence seems to point to the contrary. A frame by frame look at the final seconds in the Temple Ship show the Volunteer still at the helm at the time of explosion. I can't see idea being true. I would assume Tahimik, Hildebrant, and Flor made the final sacrifice.

The grand unification of earth led to the XCOM project as a permanent fixture. A response team to any threats to the planet. Its role became less prevalent but more public and represented the good humanity can achieve as one.

I think back to the quote of Buckminster Fuller.

He was right. The Ethereals toyed with psionic energy. They then continued to overstep their boundaries until they became the villains of the world. I guess where humanity goes with the same skills is anybody's guess. But we must ensure we're not the next Ethereals…destroying planets for the sake of vanity…to not pick up the devil's fight.

In the end, this is where the story of the Long War ends. I had a great deal of fun with this type of project and it encouraged me to finally complete a Let's Play. Thanks you to all…0(?) of you which managed to read my ramblings to the end.

From here, I'd be willing to do short epilogues for each reasonably important character if you'd like to hear them. I think about that stuff anyways.

Beyond that, I'll probably spend a bit of time with XCOM2. But I'd love to do another one of these in the future. A what if scenario with likely a returning cast and a whole different perspective.

Until then…we…will be watching.

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