The XCOM Classic Ironman Challenge

4 10 2012

Gank (of the blog of licious repute) has thrown down a kind gauntlet here on my blog…a gauntlet throw which stubbed my toe so hard I felt driven to not only accept, but to further extend this challenge to the rest of you. Here’s the deal.

XCOM drops on Tuesday and my plan – since I realized it was possible – is to play from the get-go in Classic (hard mode) Ironman (one save, it’s automatic, you cannot choose to restore a state from before you screwed up) mode. When Gank spelled that out for me, I knew it was destiny. The goal is to make it as far as we can on our first play through in this unforgiving mode of play.

It’s going to be nasty. I’ve watched a lot of footage and I’ve come to appreciate differences between the different game modes.

  • In Easy mode, aliens are cool hanging out next to burning cars, which will inevitably explode and kill them. They do seem to take cover.
  • In Normal mode, they usually (but not always) take cover, and tend to bunch up. They definitely shy away from burning cars.
  • In Impossible mode, they are more numerous, always take cover, and spread out, like a god damned SWAT team with superior numbers and fire power. They hate you and they are motivated and intelligent.

When one of your soldiers die, that soldier is gone, taking their experience (and possibly some of their equipment…that’s not year clear to me) with them. Ironman mode means I can’t just reload and replay the level in an effort to save them. They die…they’re gone.

“That’s XCOM, baby.”

Full disclosure:Β I have never played an XCOM title before. Many of you (including Gank, managed to beat Terror from the Deep) have. My only real deep experience with a high-stress, tactical, squad-based game is the Left 4 Dead series. There are some fundamental differences here that I’d like to enumerate:

  • Zombies do not have guns.
  • Zombies do not have grenades.
  • Zombies do not use tactics.

So, to prepare myself, I have watched every single video on Youtube connected to the game. No, really. If I search for “xcom enemy unknown” on youtube now, they’re all purple; the links all be clicked. That’s easily ten hours worth of game play I’ve seen. Probably more. I have also spent some time reading through this SWAT tactics manual. I skipped to the movement part, which is an interesting read. I feel that I’ve reached a new, undiscovered level of nerddom.

Here’s how it’s going to work.

I am going to report, as regularly as I am able, how my team is doing. I have gone so far as to take a personal day on Wednesday – the day after release – so I can play it for the entire day. Assuming I can break my XCOM trance, I’ll post little bits about how my team is doing.

I actually don’t recall seeing how time is measured in the game insofar as the player sees it; I see the event log and each event with a count-down (in days) next to it…but I haven’t yet seen a “This many days elapsed” readout. It’s got to be somewhere. I’ll report that number when my team meets its fate…whatever that may be.

The beauty here is that we all win, because we’re playing freaking XCOM.

Let me know how your team is doing. πŸ™‚ May we all do very well, and save our respective human populaces from total annihilation.

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7 responses

6 10 2012
Gank

I’ve watched a few You Tube playthroughs now and I’m not hopeful my human population will be safe from annihilation in the Classic Ironman challenge. Good thing it’s only a game and we can play again, and again, and again until we beat those alien scum!

7 10 2012
thade

Yea, I feel the same way; but it will be my embarrassing in my case because “I read a manual”. πŸ˜‰

I’m going to report on my soldiers, how they get their names, and how they die, which will invariably be my fault, no matter what I say. That’s the plan. πŸ™‚ I’ll throw up the in-game time stamps and it’ll give me at least a few days of embarrassing content.

Bonus will be if any of our non-XCOM readers see this stuff and pick it up. I want this game to be successful. I want more strategy games on the market.

8 10 2012
Goopa

I have faith in both of you. Thade at least will have me to commiserate with as we discuss while playing.

9 10 2012
Drew

I was able to get the game fully installed overnight and get as far as selecting “Classic – Ironman” this morning before coming into work. I cannot wait to give it a go. I’ll try to keep a running tab on my blog of what happens to my ill-fated soldiers. Having not ever played the original, nor watching any YouTube videos – Earth is probably screwed. πŸ˜€

9 10 2012
thade

I have no doubts, haha. I’m so excited though. I’m both itching for a strategy game and a really tough challenge. I think this may be it.

10 10 2012
Cole

I played ironman normal, and my god, I was not prepared. The chryssalids, man, the chryssalids. I was doing fine until they showed up. Then suddenly 4 of my team members are dead, It took 3 rockets to kill six of them, and all that’s left is my sniper fleeing for my life. Goddamn chryssalids.

13 10 2012
justice

When the game ends, it at least tells you how many days you survived. I just got completely wiped on day 232. A squad of 6 mostly max level troopers got completely wiped by an overwhelming enemy force that came out of nowhere. Classic ironman mode, of course.
Didn’t lose any troops for about 5-10 mission before that one, so I got pretty surprised. Couldn’t recover from that loss.

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