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Default XCOM: Enemy Within - Best SP Game @ PC Gamer

December 31st, 2013, 06:45
XCOM: Enemy Within has been awarded Best Singleplayer of the Year by PC Gamer.

2013's expansion, Enemy Within, has only deepened Enemy Unknown's excellent campaign. XCOM's narrative arc remains unchanged, but between the necessary story missions there's great scope for expression in the management of your band of battle brothers and sisters. The bonds you form with your troops - and the shock when they meet a messy end - form the highs and lows of a player-authored narrative worthy of our game of the year award for Best Singleplayer.
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December 31st, 2013, 06:45
I tried and tried to get into this game. But I cant.
There are just too many too stupid game mechanics for my taste, including a screwed up aiming system and lots of systems enforcing RNG, resulting in a lot of frustration.

For me XCom EU was one of my biggest disaspointments. Hoped it got better with Enemy Within, but even though you now have an "Aiming Angles" Second Wave option, the system is still screwed.
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December 31st, 2013, 08:15
What was screwed up about the aiming exactly? I didn't have any problems with it.

I enjoyed EU a lot, and I'm looking forward to replaying with EW installed.

That said, I find it odd that they would give such an award to an add-in expansion - especially since they rated Bioshock Infinite higher.
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December 31st, 2013, 10:36
This is a surprise, but can't say I'm not happy. Titanic will get most of oscars, but at least this one went elsewhere.

Toka Koka
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December 31st, 2013, 17:06
I've spent entirely too much time playing this…
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December 31st, 2013, 17:37
The aiming system in Xcom works like if you mix a board game and realistic calculations together to give it a realistic flair but in a way where it doesn’t make much sense. In result it is neither simple nor realistic.

As long as you see the enemy and you do not use a short range weapon like a shotgun, the distance is completely irrelevant for the chance to hit. If the enemy is only 3 meters away or 30 - doesn't matter. Like with a board game mechanic: Is in Line of Sight? Yes/No. As Easy as possible.
And the only cover counting is the one next to your target (or next to you if you are shot at). So as long as you have a car next to you (and somehwat between you and your opponent) you are in cover. The other 5 cars between you and your opponent do not matter at all. (Like in a board game, you want to have as few modificators as possible to keep calculations easy). The whole thing is then expressed in a percentage value, which might be slightly modified by other circumstances but which also somewhat implies to be realistic.

That results in:
Lets say you have two opponents, the one is 30 meters away, and there are 7 cars in between you and him, but he is not directly next to a car, you can basically perfectly hit him. Because the cars in between don't count and distance is irrelevant.
The other opponent is 3 meters away. But he has a car infront of him. You will hardly be able to hit him.

Not only that, because the first opponent has no cover, it is not only very easy to hit him, you will also very likely hit him critically.
And on top of that, due to missing information about how far your guys can see and what is in their Line of Sight, the targets you can hit best, are the hardest you as a player can determine as valid targets, which together with the two step movement system, which does not allow any corrections, leads to wrong assumptions ending in death, especially if you are the potential target.

All game systems in XCom are done in a way to make every little step matter as much as possible. So it is extremely important to move exactly to the right tile. Moving to the wrong one, might either result in not being able to shoot at the target, or resulting in certain death. But the game does not provide much information to help you with that (no line of sight indicator until it is too late).

In the common "best case" you have an 75%-80% chance to hit an enemy. Which sounds pretty good. But there is still a 20%-25% chance to miss. And if you miss, this might result in death of your character. Same goes for the case where you are in perfect cover. A chance of 25% to get hit anyways is still very high. Due to the high damage (especially with crit chances) and low hitpoints these probabilities then might cause a chain reaction. First resulting in panic where your soldiers might shoot each other, leading to death of your squad, failing the mission, upward spiraling into putting the whole campaign into the trash.

And I haven't even mentioned the problem of occupying multiple tiles if hiding behind a wall (enabling you to shoot around corners), lack of info for overwatch, lack of overview due to graphics and especially heights, that aliens always get an extra move once they are discovered countering careful advancement (Solders, which did their move can't react anymore, if you set them on overwatch before, they might not be able to do anything even if aliens are discovered, and if aliens are discovered from a bad angle the double movement can lead to flanking and therefore instant death) and providing a playing field where both players play with different rulesets.

I don't have a problem with hard games. Actually I love nuts which are hard to crack. But if I lose that should be because I made a mistake. In XCom you either lose because of bad luck (you roll a 6, you die), or because the information the game provided was insuficcient. In comparison to that there is hardly anything you learn for the next time.

That said, the staging of the game is great. And the combat was never a real strong point in the previous games. It was more about "Now I got this technology, let's see how it works in combat". So if you are seeing it like that, the situation isn't too bad but of course it also doesn't offer a big sandbox as they previous games did.

Personally I'd have loved to have it work in Ironman mode. But the game (like the previous Games, just in a different way) just isn't made for this.

This was one of the latest "downfalls" in one of my rather short lived campaigns. And it's rather typical for how XCom plays:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6Q8IUg4TAI
->A shot which looks like a good hit only has a 50% chance and fails. Well it looks like a good shot for XCom mechanics. In reality I am shooting through a wall.
->The Thinman doesn't shoot back as expected but runs directly next to my people just to shoot someone in the back who is very far away and could not have been saved in any case. Of course it is a crit resulting in an instant kill
->Upon mpoving to the thinman I pass a position which is apprently visible by the alien on overwatch (which can't really be determined by the player at all)
->And of course upon attacking the thinman my soldier does the least amount of damage

What you don't see here is that the thinman also dies and the poison goes upwards and kills the guy with 1 remaining hitpoint. I might have guessed that one beforehand though, but doesn't really matter. Mission and campaign was lost on the first death anyways.
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December 31st, 2013, 18:44
I agree with the cover stuff, I wish it took more objects into account for cover. A LoS indicator would be nice too. While I agree the alien double movement is incredibly annoying, the fact that it exists means you shouldn't enter overwatch with anyone until everyone has moved to prevent the issue you pointed out of making them useless.

Granted, I haven't messed with Impossible or Ironman but, I've never really had issues with aliens on overwatch, unless I had no idea where the alien was prior to running into their overwatch. If I don't have someone with Lightening Reflexes, I don't move people who could be within their cone. I've never found it super difficult to judge but I also err on the side of extreme caution. That's why the Holo-Targeting trait and snipers, especially with Double Tap and Squadsight, are so valuable. And the addition of Mech troopers in the expansion makes for tanky, hard hitting troops with great distance AoE grenades/land mines (which can be proced by a grenade for 8+5 AoE damage).

Distance isn't completely irrelevant. Shotguns are less accurate at distance (very easy to see as there are times simply switching to the pistol increases hit chance by 10-20%), and I think snipers are less accurate in close.
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December 31st, 2013, 19:01
Yeah, you get a lot of different tools to play around with once they reach a higher level, but so increases the alien strength. And even a guy with rank 3 or 4 with some improvements dies almost as fast as a rookie. But the game doesn't really allow you to play safe. There is always a chance based on luck to die horribly.

You are right about the shotgun, but that's why I excluded it by "low range weapons"
But this is really the exception.

Give it a try and play classic Ironman. I guess you don't need more than a couple of hours to be "done" with it, or at least reach a point where it makes no sense anymore to go on (naturally the first wipe). Especially bad your chances are if you get a bomb-map on the first council request. First you are forced to rush and then when you turn off the bomb, it rains thinmen at random spots, so that you are directly flanked. They instantly go on overwatch and will then probably kill you. Without lots of luck (like hitting them on your overwatch already because you know "of course" that this will happen), this is the end already.
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December 31st, 2013, 19:07
Speaking of which…

Enemy Within is back on sale for 50% off on Steam ($15)
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January 1st, 2014, 21:11
You are wrong about distance not mattering. After a point, you get bonuses to aim the closer you are to an alien. I won’t pretend there isn’t aiming bugs in Xcom, but I think that from a purely game play perspective the cover system makes a lot sense. It forces you to think about where you move your soldiers, do you stay in cover and take the 50/50 shot or do you move out of cover for that sweet flanking shot.

A LoS indicator is nice sure, but it really just a matter of playing the game enough. Ones you played though the game ones, you should have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t.

The difficulty curve of Xcom is pretty steep and it might seems like a lot is determent by luck at first, but the more you play the game, the more you learn minimise the chances you have to take during a mission. There is plenty of tactics you can use to win without taking risks, a very common one would be to find a piece of indestructible high cover, then leave a spotter for you squad sight sniper behind it and have him hunker down after the sniper have shot each turn. It gives the spotter 80 defense, enough to reduce any early game alien’s aim to 1 and the sniper is out of range for the aliens.

First time I played Xcom was on classic Ironman and I got my butt handed to me. Now I can pretty much guaranty a win on Ironman impossible if I make it past the first two months. It’s all about playing the game and learning the different tactics.
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January 1st, 2014, 21:57
Playing through Xcom:EW now, I can confirm that distance definitely does make a difference in accuracy. Moving closer to enemies I've definitely seen noticeable increases in my firing accuracy even with non close ranged weapons (and without changing flanking). In fact it can be a quite important strategy at times.

I'm less confident about it, but I still feel fairly certain that objects in the way effect your accuracy beyond determining cover/flanking as well. I feel like I have seen my accuracy increase after vaporizing mid field objects with stray shots. I haven't had the chance to methodically test this in the same way I have range though.
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January 1st, 2014, 23:08
Objects in the way definitely don't change accuracy.
Range however changes accuracy but only to a small degree in relation to cover bonuses.
You can see an opponent on ~17 tiles distance.
If you are closer than 10 tiles you start get distance bonuses. With 1% at 9 tiles, 11% at 7 tiles, 19% at 5 tiles, so it gets much higher if the distance is extremely short.
But compared to that:

Half Cover decreases hit chance by flat 20%
Full Cover decreases hit chance by flat 40%
Flanking bonus increases crit chance by flat 50%

The problem is also that the game only uses addition for calculations, no multiplication, which again is an unrealistic board game mechanic.

So between being flanked and having half cover are 20% to hit and 50% crit.
Which in the game looks like this:
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January 1st, 2014, 23:11
It makes sense to me that cover would affect accuracy more than distance. It works fine in-game. You're over-analyzing things here.
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January 1st, 2014, 23:19
I am just analyzing "why I don't like it" instead of just saying "the game is shit"
I know that it is very successful and even hardcore strategy players love it.

I made this example on another site: XCom uses it's completely own logic, which you can learn of course. But it is like learning to play a racing game where you have to use the handbreak each time, you want to go on fullspeed. It just feels completely wrong to me. Especially compared to games with more realistic models like Jagged Alliance. But actually there is hardly a game with a less realistic system. Even the one from Shadowrun Returns is more realistic (though the balancing totally failed). And I feel like once I got used to it I crippled myself for other games.


At least they let you turn in Aiming Angles now…
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January 1st, 2014, 23:47
So I may have been wrong about objects in the way, doesn't seem like it's such a big deal though in most cases though. In the pictures you link it actually makes perfect sense that the alien is much more exposed in the first picture, where he's standing out in the open and clearly visible through the car window. But I'm sure sillier cases exist.

It's worth noting though that Enemy Within has a range of options you can turn on, and one of them adds more complexity to the cover system by making it no longer all or nothing, but to give varying degrees depending on your angle.

Originally Posted by Kordanor View Post
Objects in the way definitely don't change accuracy.
Range however changes accuracy but only to a small degree in relation to cover bonuses.
You can see an opponent on ~17 tiles distance.
If you are closer than 10 tiles you start get distance bonuses. With 1% at 9 tiles, 11% at 7 tiles, 19% at 5 tiles, so it gets much higher if the distance is extremely short.
But compared to that:

Half Cover decreases hit chance by flat 20%
Full Cover decreases hit chance by flat 40%
Flanking bonus increases crit chance by flat 50%

The problem is also that the game only uses addition for calculations, no multiplication, which again is an unrealistic board game mechanic.

So between being flanked and having half cover are 20% to hit and 50% crit.
Which in the game looks like this:
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January 2nd, 2014, 04:37
One of the new second wave options in the expansion is called Aiming angles and give you bonuses the closer you are to flanking an alien. It was added as a result of complains like this. It’s one of reasons that Xcom is should a nice game. The developers are whiling to listen to people and add options that let the players play the game the way the want to, not just the way it was intended by the developers.

I personally don’t use it because I like the strategy of the cover system, but if you don’t like the way it works. You can turn on aiming angles and the game will change to add bonuses for near flanks.
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January 2nd, 2014, 06:39
Yep, that's what I meant with my comment below my second screenshot.
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