Author Topic: Hardmode Expansion Mod. Superhuman, Ironman, Zero Offensive Psionics. Victory!  (Read 1680 times)

Offline The Voice

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I've been playing X-COM for 26+ years. Played on Superhuman ever since I found OpenXcom and have completed countless campaigns. Have done "First 8" runs, Human Weapon only runs, 12 Elerium runs, you name it, I've tried it and done it, most on Ironman. But this campaign was by far the hardest fought victory I've ever had in classic XCOM. The Hardmode Expansion Mod by Hellrazor truly lives up to it's name. It stays so close to classic UFO Defense that the name "Expansion" is fitting, because to me, it feels like it could be an official expansion to an already incredible game. Beyond that, IT. IS. HARD. The aliens are tougher, faster, far more aggressive, far more dangerous and come in far greater numbers. The revamp to the research tree means you have to complete very dangerous missions to capture live aliens to unlock any real gear progression. No just picking up a Heavy Plasma in the first mission and rolling to the end game. It's a war of attrition, and a brutal one at that.

Our final fight was brutal from the get go. Turn 1, action 1, drone edges out and dies on the ramp. An ominous start. We begin to clear some of the threats, see that we are close to the elevator down and decide to move in fast.

A moment later, we eat 3 blaster bombs. Our Walker Tank is a $1.6m heap, our other drone is dead, and 2 soldiers are a barely recognizable mass of pulpy flesh. Many more are wounded. We patch them up and "escape" into the interior. Only now our excess gear is left sitting on the deck of the AVENGER.
A brutal, dangerous, ominous and tense mission follows in an alien fortress 3/4x's bigger than an alien base on earth. Crammed full of ~70 aliens, including the most deadly and dangerous terror units. 6 hours later, 3 brave souls emerged, having survived the massacre and prevailed to wipe out the alien brain!

Superhuman. Pure Ironman, Zero offensive psionics, all streamed live. #THATSXCOMBABY

One of the single hardest and most satisfying runs I've ever done in gaming at all, let alone just in XCOM! I WILL come back to this mod in the future, better prepared, more knowledgeable, and ready for the challenge again. If you enjoy really difficult runs in classic XCOM, I recommend this one for sure. But know that it is only balanced around Superhuman, and playing on lower difficulties can actually make it harder because of the lack of income from fewer UFOs/Aliens.

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Offline Xilmi

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I just wanted to ask of whether you are aware that I'm working on a source-Mod with a new advanced-option called "Brutal-AI".
It sounds like you might enjoy it. And I might enjoy watching you play with it. ;)

It is based on OXCE and should theoretically also be compatible with Mods such as the Hardmode one.

My hope is that it makes any self-restriction unnecessary.

So far I've lost 4 attempts with it in the otherwise vanilla game on Superhuman. But I'm also not particularly experienced, so I'd really like to see how a more experienced player deals with it.

The core feature is that all enemy-units share their knowledge and since recently even coordinate their move-order to maximize efficiency.

What happens usually is that when an alien spots any of your units, it doesn't just shoot at them. It tells their friends and waits for them to act first. So the friends try to kill what the spotter sees from afar and then the spotter moves on to reveal even more units.

Another important difference is that I'm using path-finding in a much better way. With vanilla AI the aliens couldn't plan ahead for anything outside of what they can reach within one turn. So they either find a good position within that range or they semi-randomly patrol between fixed map-nodes.
My AI can make long-term plans to get from anywhere on the map to anywhere else. Usually to where "the action" is taking place.
Due to some feedback I also figured out that in this case it's best to allow them to go without saving any TUs. This has some weakness too but overall being able to join the action quickly is what puts more pressure on the player.

They also detect deadly choke-points and set up camp on the other side.

When it comes to AI-cheating I'm using two different approaches based on context. They are allowed to cheat in the context of "where to move". But they are not allowed to cheat in the context of what to attack. In a sense it's more fair than the base-AI, which will know the exact position of spotted units even if they move and launch blasters or use psi against them.
But on the other hand it uses this kind of knowledge for positioning as a means to emulate experience. (You can't really be ignorant of the Skyranger and act as if it was like any other place on the map until someone steps out)

For me missions against smaller amounts of aliens usually go reasonably well. But the threat increases exponentially with every additional opponent. The most hilarious thing happened yesterday. Crash site of a medium scout, I think no more than 4 aliens. I had mowed down 3 of them on my 2nd turn and was hunting for the 4th.
However, 2 of the 3 that I "killed" before were only unconscious and woke up at the same time. One of them was standing right next to my blob of units so the smoke-grenade didn't help. The other was then killing 5 of my soldiers with 2 Auto-Shots from the off. After that my soldiers panicked and I couldn't even evacuate anymore.