Author Topic: My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run  (Read 1801 times)

Offline Jaedar

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My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run
« on: January 18, 2024, 01:49:44 pm »
So I got to the end of Xpiratez (started on N5.2.1, finished on N6.0.7). Below is my full opinion, in somewhat long, rambling and frank fashion. Regardless of the complaints below, I'm grateful to dioxine for making it and to everyone who contributed to openXcom.


My playthrough lasted 3 months of real time (and 4 years in game time), and I don't know how many hours of playtime but probably too many to want to put to paper. At times I was fully absorbed in it. I woke up an hour before the alarm rang and went "great I can play a bit before work" rather than go back to sleep. I played until I needed to sleep and then I skipped some sleep to play more. X-com is just a damned good framework, and earlygame xpiratez works so well: there's always more stuff to research, more enemies, more factions, more loot, more mysteries, more lore. It feels almost roguelite in how many paths through it there are, and how you get different things depending on rng+decisions you make. The balance is tight enough that you'll feel every mistake, but forgiving enough that you won't feel the need to restart 20 times to get a good run.


There are some issues even early on: getting a base destroyed 3 days after founding it feels bad. There's too many weapons that serve the same purpose (does there really need to be 4 awful 1 tile sized ranged weapons? Do you really need pipes, handles, ball bats and fistycuffs? Not to mention shivs daggers, cutlass, etc...).
But overall it's great.


But by end it wasn't nearly as good. Part of it is just fatigue, but the mid/lategame is also plagued by a lot of issues. Things that aren't done. Things that aren't balanced. So many dangling threads. So much grinding and gambling to get the final techs and ships. I kinda ran out of meaningful research halfway through year 3, and entirely end of year 3 (sure takes a while to research all 50 vehicle variants). Then I started savescumming a bit to hasten events and save editing to give me some of the key items the game was refusing to grant (and it still took me a year to finish up all the loose ends). I also save edited to get to final mission, because the cost to manufacture it properly is just ridiculous. I suspect there is an issue with the RNG; failing a 33% roll 10+ times in a row is low enough odds that it is highly suspicious.


The total makes it kinda hard to recommend or unrecommend the game. On the one hand: some of the best gaming I ever had. On the other hand: it all becomes kinda shite. And it's been under development for so long that the issues are probably due to Dioxines personal disposition, and so unlikely to change. The stuff that isn't finished is likely to remain so, possibly forever.


I want to say it is an easy recommend to start, but I can't tell you when you should stop, only that it's not really worth finishing.


Actual specific complaints below, in spoilers. First some light/generic spoilers, and then a nested super lategame spoiler stuff. If you're interested in the mod, play it before reading.

Spoiler:

The tech tree has some issues. For a lot of it there's many ways to progress, or there's many ways to get the core techs that let you progress. But some stuff like captive bugeye or the shadow lamp* can just never show up and keep you from unlock large and important branches of the tech tree for more than a year. It's especially an issue for all the various story missions, where bad rng can keep you from a tech for a few months, then bad rng can keep a mission from spawning for a few months, and then when you finally do go the design of the mission is ruined by the fact that you've progressed enough in tech to trivialize the enemies. It's also kinda frustrating when your story progress just stops for more than a dozen game hours and there's nothing you can do about it.


The variety in mission and gear restrictions can be pretty cool, but it can also feel a bit sadistic at times. You'll just not be allowed to bring any good armor, or vehicles, or strong troop types, but the enemies will still use their normal high tier troops (I guess their carapace armor is just naturally vacuum rated, while my power armor isn't).

Spoiler:
The strong enemy factions also tend to have spotter/sniper on every unit, which removes all consideration of smoke, light, camo, invis and sanity from the equation. You either kill everything in one turn, or you make sure there's a solid wall between all of your troops and the rest of the map, because the alternative is every enemy on the map shooting at you, even though it was 2 turns since anything saw you. You learn to take all missions in daylight, just because at least then everyone sees everything all the time.


The biggest "to be continued" kick in the balls was the technocracy line for me. The palace mission is cool (at least the first 2 parts, the final one is shit), but then the reward is -3k score for killing govt troops and a "lul, the princess is in another TBD castle". And so it feels like a huge waste of time and effort. The champion gudrun story also felt a bit like this, but at least that one rewarded some cool weapons, even if it ultimately went nowhere. I'm also a bit upset I got an unfinished red mage line due to my choice of gudrun, with absolutely 0 justification for why.


The shadowrealms are really cool in theory, but the balance is completely out of whack. The necropolis mission is one of the hardest in the game, but isn't actually more rewarding than the 2nd fear land mission, which has like a third as many enemies and no strong ones. I had the gray spellbook, so I didn't have much issues with nightosphere land, but I imagine it to be pure torture for every other codex. Huge map with low visibility and flying enemies who like to fly so high you need to stand almost exactly under them to spot, and super limited ammo and weapon counts. But also, the first shadowlands mission with the fear prisons is really easy and I was never in danger of even landing someone in sickbay for a long time, let alone die.



Midgame armor choices all felt bad to me. Just piles of odious tradeoffs (no inventory, no running, crippling weaknesses, crippling freshness drain...) for marginal gains in other areas. I went straight from plate and gravboots to assault and blitz. I think I also accidentally broke the intended research progress speed at some point (80 brainers was just too much apparently), as I just ran out of meaningful techs in the middle of the third year, and the whole 4th year my brainers spent 90% of the time idling while waiting for more rare captives to come in.
Spoiler:
needing to interrogate 2 dozen live star gods who only ever spawn in ones or twos on missions sure was an idea.


The gnomedisc (and therefore also the hovertank) was a lot of fun, but all the non flying vehicles felt kinda shit by comparison. Not sure why you'd field a XEC over a hovertank.


The cost to build the final transport and reach cydonia is kinda ridiculous. There's an alternate way (titor), but it's just as bad if not worse. 12500 hellerium and 142 engineer years is just 10 times more than it needed to be. The craft requirements for all the different mission types can also get a bit crazy: When you need a 1 seater, a <6 seater, a <13 seater, ipl, sub, mun and primitive it starts to feel very ridiculous, even if you can combine some of those categories.


I'm a bit annoyed that factions stop using faction specific weaponry for some missions. Mercs doing base assaults with plasma isn't the worst thing, but spartans wielding heavy plasma is stupid.


* I still have no idea how you're supposed to get this. I wound up hacking it in to my save, because the ufo it spawns on just refused to appear. And during like the 4th year, when they did start spawning in decent numbers (because of stuff locked behind already having it), I couldn't manage to not explode them even when using the weakest craft weapons I still had. I could have used
Spoiler:
tractor beams
I suppose, but when you're considering using endgame tech to unlock a mission that wouldn't even be particularly challenging 12 months in there's something seriously wrong.


Offline Dioxine

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Re: My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2024, 10:16:46 pm »
I find the issue of lack of Shadwolamp hard to believe. Chances of it not appearing in the game until the end of 2602 are 1:100, nevermind how much time is needed to research tractor beams. Either you were blowing up the demons with high powered weapons, didn't have any radar coverage to speak of, or neglected interceptions.

Offline Jaedar

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Re: My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2024, 05:45:52 pm »
I find the issue of lack of Shadwolamp hard to believe. Chances of it not appearing in the game until the end of 2602 are 1:100, nevermind how much time is needed to research tractor beams. Either you were blowing up the demons with high powered weapons, didn't have any radar coverage to speak of, or neglected interceptions.
Maybe my radar coverage progression was slow? Jan 2062 I only had 3 bases, and 2 of those had only outpost radars. By july 2062 I had overcharged radars covering pretty much all of earth's landmass though (7 bases, with not a lot of overlap).

I saw one bogeyman swarms at some point early on, but at that time I did not have sufficient interception capabilities to deal with it. Iirc it was in south america, but I couldn't kill it with just an aircar.

Offline John___Doe

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Re: My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2024, 02:40:38 am »
Maybe my radar coverage progression was slow? Jan 2062 I only had 3 bases, and 2 of those had only outpost radars. By july 2062 I had overcharged radars covering pretty much all of earth's landmass though (7 bases, with not a lot of overlap).

I saw one bogeyman swarms at some point early on, but at that time I did not have sufficient interception capabilities to deal with it. Iirc it was in south america, but I couldn't kill it with just an aircar.

Sounds like you were extremely slow with both your aircraft and radar coverage if you were trying to intercept bogeymen with an aircar, and being so slow in that area would certainly set you back otherwise.

Offline Dioxine

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Re: My rambling opinions on xpiratez after finishing a run
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2024, 10:52:25 am »
Radar coverage is meaningless unless you never built OC radars and they were flying out of your radar range (especially if you tend to build bases near the edges of continents). The swarms ALWAYS target the region with your base in it, I believe I said that before.

Possibility: many of your bases lacked radars, and these were the ones targeted.