Top Ten Tuesday 38

My Top Ten Moments From My XCOM Live Stream

Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists but this one is mine, if you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.

Pre-List Notes

Time for a very topical and personal Top Ten list! I recently wrapped up the latest game for Rogue's Adventures - my social group for playing through my backlog of games and cataloging my experience through screenshots and recaps. Beginning with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, however, I began to use to live stream part of my experience. To further add a level of social fun to the game, I customized all my soldiers after friends and followers! I wrote an in-depth recap of the whole campaign in my Final Thoughts, but also wanted to share my Top Ten Moments from a game that's known for creating dramatic moments from its awesome emergent gameplay with its emphasis on permanent death and randomized battles. Anything can happen, and on Ironman mode you must suffer the consequences! Enjoy my Top Ten Moments with links to all the video highlights on!


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Top Ten XCOM Moments



10) The Alien Base - The Exemplary

Video Highlight: The Exemplary (from XCOM Part 7)

By far the longest mission XCOM embarked on, Assaulting the Alien Base is no joke with over twenty of the toughest aliens we'd fought thus far, including Chrysalids, Cyberdiscs and Mutons, as well as the new threat of the Sectoid Commander and a massive map to traverse. Somehow we made it out almost perfectly despite some worrisome moments near the end where I revealed a pair of Cyberdiscs followed quickly by the Commander. Still holds the record for most aliens killed in a mission (22).



9) The Near Death, then Death experience - The Mistake

Video Highlight: The Mistake (from XCOM Epilogue)

Oftentimes aliens might miss a shot but still destroy the precious cover that your soldiers are using, opening them up to devastating followup attacks. Sometimes, however, your own soldiers can miss a shot and do the same damn thing, and I experienced just that in the late game on Operation Enduring Breath. Chris would miss a shot and destroy the wall that two soldiers were hiding behind. Nicole would absorb shots from both Muton Elites and go down. In my haste I quickly revived her before taking down the last Muton, and he immediately exposed my error by putting her down for good. A lesson that one bad call can cost a soldier their life.


Note: Technically I didn't livestream this particular mission, but we talked about it during the epilogue (complete with screenshot slideshow) so that's the highlight you get!



8) Mind Controlled - The Lucky

Video Highlight: The Lucky (from XCOM Part 8)

One of the few large UFOs that we actually had to battle through (most had 90% of the alien crew right at the entrance) was a slog through Mutons, Berserkers, Floaters, and those annoying Sectoid Commanders. Using Col. Raymond "Lone Savior" Teoh to flank and kill one of them, the other would mind control him and I was unable to respond. Everyone held their breath as my best soldier took aim at my fully exposed senior sniper - but luck was on our side as the shot missed. The next turn, somehow the sniper was able to locate the mastermind and take him down, freeing our captive hero and saving another from bleeding out nearby.



7) The Final Kill - The End

Video Highlight: The End (from XCOM Part 12)

The entire layout of the final mothership is the exact same every time, which makes subsequent playthroughs much easier. I took advantage of the power of foresight to take up perfect positioning for the final room, in the hopes to take out the final boss Ethereal as quickly as possible. The sniper got his Double Tap shots but was unable to finish him off. Next came the Heavy with her Holo-targeting to make it easier for others to make the shot. Well she decided it needed to end here and now and she got the kill on a 34% shot! I was equal parts surprised and impressed. Game over!



6) Lone Savior - The Hero

Video Highlight: The Hero (from XCOM Part 1)

After a harrowing first mission (see below), XCOM desperately need a rookie to step up and lead another potentially disastrous mission named Operation Lone Savior. Rookie Raymond Teoh did just that as I played him super Kamikaze style, running right up to aliens as if he already had a shotgun. Cool enough I was rewarded by Raymond earning his Assault class designation after this mission, and soon after when he earned his nickname there was only one callsign that came to mind - Lone Savior. Teoh would go on to become one of my most seasoned soldiers, and one of the few to never die during the entire campaign.



5) First Mission - The Beginning

Video Highlight: The Beginning (from XCOM Part 1)

XCOM is brutal. XCOM on Classic difficulty is cruel, and Ironman mode makes you live with all of the brutal cruetly that the game throws at you. From the very first live stream mission XCOM proved that it was for real as I would lose half my starting soldiers to the basic Sectoids in an awful train station mission. Both rookies were in full cover but the aliens didn't seem to care. It was terrifying, awful, sobering, and very very memorable.



4) Makeshift Fortress - The Bus

Video Highlight: The Bus (from XCOM Part 2)

Thin Men are deceptively powerful and easily underestimated. Despite the low health those light plasma rifles are no joke, and they often come in large, overwhelming numbers. One of my earliest encounters with both greys and Thin Men almost ended with a full party wipe as my medkit holding Support went down early and slowly bled out while the rest panicked and whimpered. I had everyone take cover in a nearby bus on the side of the map, and used that as a fortress while I used the Assault to move out and draw aliens out of cover. The Heavy and Sniper sat in the bus and dealt swift justice to anyone that popped their head out. It was so effective that it earned my Sniper the nickname "Bus Driver" as he sat right next to the driver seat while killing foes.



3) Zombie Wife - The Infected

Video Highlight: The Infected (from XCOM Part 3)

Terror missions have earned a fearsome reputation amongst XCOM Commanders as some of the most difficult missions in the game, particularly the first one as your soldiers are under powered, under equipped, and probably healing up in the med bay. Ours was certainly one of the most memorable missions as we'd miss several critical overwatch shots, watch my wife Assault get brutally murdered by a chrysalid, and then while my attentions were turned to taking down the fearsome beasts, watch her rise again as a zombie and immediately murder the nearest soldier. It was the kind of dramatic craziness that only XCOM can provide. When my wife Heather rejoined XCOM in a future incarnation, she earned the nickname "Zombie Wife" from then on.



2) Brutal Future - The Warning

Video Highlight: The Warning (from XCOM Part 4)

Playing with Iroman mode enabled means no saving and no reloading...except it's obviously easy to create a backup of your save directory and copy paste to reload your progress. I was able to avoid cheating or scumming my way through this playthrough for the most part with the major exception to one early council mission. It began with a simple escort mission and ended in absolute disaster; although the mission was technically successful the end result was so costly (three deaths, two being my most seasoned soldiers) that we openly discussed the prospects of a "rewind," use a backup save, and try the whole damn mission again. Thankfully I ended up with the exact same map and mission again, but this time with the knowledge of the foes I would face and their location. Even armed with this foresight I still took my time crawling along the rooftop toward the extraction point. Later we joked that the whole previous mission was a Final Destination type premonition brought on by one of our soldiers (and I would later nickname her "Nightmare") and acted as a fateful warning of the dangers to come.


Fun Fact: The Final Destination analogy proved frighteningly apt as both of the seasoned soldiers would later fall in our number one most memorable moment. You can't cheat death...



1) Supply Barge of Doom - The Impossible

Video Highlight: The Impossible (from XCOM Part 10)

In all the missions I've played in all my games of XCOM, I've never been up against the ridiculous odds thrown at us when we attemtpted to raid the aliens' supply barge. Caught right at the entrance by a pair of mind controlling Sectoid Commanders, I ran into the first room to be greeted by a pair of Muton Elites, four Heavy Floaters, two Cyberdiscs, a Sectopod, and a handful of drones. Ho Lee Crap. Despite my best and most seasoned squad and my most desperate efforts, many lives were lost before I had to make the emotionally draining decision to abandon the entire mission and evacuate. Leaving a soldier bleeding out at the entrance of the ship made for some fantastic live drama and story telling, and proof that XCOM has to be one of the most entertaining games to live stream and by far the most memorable moment in our game.



Wrap Up

It's no surprise that the most memorable moments are when terrible things happened. It might make for a frustrating experience at times but thanks to the social play through aspect and the live streaming, it also made for some truly exciting and dramatic sessions. Even on my fourth playthrough XCOM can surprise me, and few things could've prepared me for some of the missions I faced (especially the top three on this list). Hopefully this list serves as a Best Of for my entire live steam campaign. If you enjoyed it, subscribe to my twitch channel, follow @RoguesAdventure on twitter, and continue to keep up with my blog. Stay tuned for my Final Thoughts on XCOM (and a proper recap) later this week. Thanks you!