I’ve played virtually all of the XCOM games, going back to a “lost weekend” in the early 90’s playing the original DOS version.  The new XCOM 2 better re-creates the urgency and “just one more mission” crack-addict feeling better than any installment since the original, with just one small difference:  this one is freakin’ hard.

I consider myself a reasonably good player, but they really could have called this one “Tom Cruise: Live. Die. Repeat: The Game.”  Even on just the “veteran” level, one up from “Rookie”, I’ve found myself having to play many missions out exactly as the movie unfolded:  Tom takes a turn.  Dies horribly.  Reloads.  Takes a slightly different turn.  Dies horribly.  Reload.  Repeat… until finally I’m able to just barely survive an encounter without half my squad being rendered unconscious or dying in the process, at which point I save again and edge forward to the next encounter.  Maybe several hours later, I can finally complete the mission in a reasonably successful manner after countless reloads.

Furthermore, the game heavily penalizes “mostly succeeding” in a mission, because it enforces lengthy game-clock delays to heal gravely wounded soldiers back to usable status for future missions.  Combined with the high “supplies” (currency) cost to add new soldiers to your roster, the penalty for allowing yourself to complete missions with wounded, killed,  or captured soldiers is very steep.  The overall result is that allowing soldiers to be killed or captured is a recipe for having to take on increasingly difficult missions with an understrength squad, and you dig yourself into an unretrievable deficit in the overall campaign.

I’m enjoying the game, but overall I just feel that the balance is tipped a smidge too far in favor of true diehard players – I honestly can’t imagine trying to play this game in the higher difficulty levels or in IronMan where there are no restores allowed.  I know there are 22 year olds who must laugh at my pain, but I think Firaxis missed the mark here.  #LoveHateRelationship

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