Your Daily McMaster: earning your name in XCOM

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Having played a good bit of XCom when it was released, I had moved on to whatever else came out that month and set it aside with a promise to return. Since that time, though, the game has changed a bit for the better. You can now change basic options like having your units automatically pick a class type instead of you having complete control or making the weapons do a dice roll for damage instead of static damage every time.

After the jump, I am ironman

I check every new option and pick ironman, my favorite game mode. In ironman you’re only allowed one save file and whenever you quit it saves over your old files, not allowing for a reload to save your favorite character or avoid a terrible outcome on a mission. I’m quite fond of this mode as otherwise I’m a perfectionist and reload my games over and over again to get the best possible outcome. This way I have no choice in the matter and it makes each of your characters much more precious to your cause.

The first mission, unless you disable it, is always a tutorial in a small town. The aliens have taken over some local troops and quickly all hell breaks loose. I have one survivor – Osvaldo Perez from Argentina. He upgrades into a Heavy, a trooper that uses light machine guns and rocket launchers, and I set him immediately back to work.

As my game continued, Osvaldo gained the nickname of Hulk. I think I know why. We receive notice of a low flying UFO over Mexico so we scramble the interceptors and prepare for work. I rouse the troops, including Hulk, and gear them out. The interceptor does its job and now it’s time for us to do ours. The patch of woods we’re headed to is on fire and surely holds enough little green men to keep us hopping.

We fan out towards the crash site, staying in cover and enabling overwatch as we move forward. Hulk is in the middle with the rest of the squad moving up on his flank. Right as the craft comes into sight, all hell breaks loose. We spot multiple enemies inside and outside of the ship. Before we can do anything, one takes a shot and hits Perez. My guys open fire and wing the offending sectoid. I pull Hulk back and drop him into cover as the rest of the group creates a smoking crater where our lucky little friend had been. Now it’s the alien’s turn.

A couple of the aliens that resemble humans, known as Thin Men, appeared from the ship and opened fire once more on Perez. Both enemies, as improbable as it is, hit Osvaldo from his place in hiding, bringing him down to only two hit points. I’m beginning to panic. As I see it, I have two choices: run or fight. I can probably live through this if I run. On the other hand, I have a rocket launcher. I now know what I must do. I stand up and fire a rocket straight into the gathering of thin men, making them considerably thinner. This prompts another group of sectoids to open fire from another, previously undisclosed location. All of the shots are aimed at my wounded soldier… and all of them miss. The remainder of the alien force drops into overwatch and it once again becomes my turn.

Seeing my chance, I select Perez and start running him back towards the ship. Like a shot, though a wounded one, he takes off back towards safety. Only a few steps remain before my highest level trooper reaches the relative safety of his destination. Just then, a sectoid opens fire from overwatch and strikes our hero. Miraculously he only took one damage, thanks to the random damage option I clicked at the start of the game. It only took two more turns to wipe out the alien force and return home.

When the experience screen popped up, Osvaldo Perez was still there and, with the exception of needing a few weeks to recover, was just fine. He gained a level from participating in that mission, earning the rank of Lieutenant, and receiving a nickname. The men call him “Hulk.”