The Let's Play Archive

X-Com: Enemy Within

by Jade Star

Part 23: Operation Burning Pain

Operation Burning Pain

Given a little time between missions it's a wonder what X-Com can do. Heavy laser research means better guns for heavys and MEC soldiers. The Gene lab is finally built about a month behind schedule. It's been a crazy start up. And to keep strengthening my soldier pool, I pull in a new rookie to see how he fits into the team.

Rio Delgado Will 51 Aim 75

Exceptionally high will power for our first french recruit. And as luck would have it, he will be sent undercover into his homeland on a very important mission.


I make one or two big claims in this video, one of which Guava did not support at all, but was too lazy to rerecord commentary to voice his objection to. That was about the importance of the soldier you send as an undercover operative. I am fairly sure my opinion that the soldier you send undercover doesn't really matter at all will be controversial. Many people like to pick out an assault or sniper for their agent and skill them in a particular way so that they are most effective at being undercover. This usually revolves around low profile, mimetic skin, and a gun slinger sniper, or a rapid firing assault. The idea being that you make the operative either impossible to spot and thus kill, and/or you make your operative able to shoot back for a significant amount of damage. Neither of these plans are bad, however I feel they are far over rated on how necessary they are. Operatives don't play a large role in how the mission goes, or more accurately the skill choices they have do not. The only two things an operative needs to do is not die, and touch the transmitters. Designating a particular soldier build for the job is unnecessary, and I think I demonstrate this point with a rookie operative on the mission. If you have a soldier to spare and really want a covert operative build, go for it, they are useful. But I wouldn't call it a necessary or anything more than a lowest priority expenditure for the meld to get mimetic skin. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree.

The other big thing is the change in my play style for this mission. I will outright say it, I have no regard for EXALT. I do not worry a tiny bit about missions with them. They are not a hard opponent and I haven't lost a soldier to them yet. So what happens is that it turns into a bit of an exhibition for me. Time to show off the MECs and the new weapons, and have fun on the mission with out worrying about it. Even when things go kind of wrong, it doesn't really set me back very much. Exalt missions are fun missions, because you can play around with them, and there is just something fun about shooting them that you don't feel with aliens. I can't really express it so well, but man, it's just fun shooting Exalt.

So whats the deal with EXALT?

Remember that dick from the Portent mission? Well even if you avoid or fail that mission EXALT show up to be huge dicks to X-Com. Usually once a month they'll pop up and screw with a funding country. They will do things like increase panic levels, delay your research times, or steal money from X-Com. When they do this, a 'cell' will be made vulnerable. X-Com deploys an operative and about a week later you scoop him up on an extraction mission. Recover the agent and you shut down the cell and recover a clue about where the EXALT HQ is.

The HQ is randomly in one country and once you have a clue or two you can search a country for the HQ. If you guess the wrong country and search a country that isn't housing the EXALT HQ then they get pissed and leave the X-Com council, so it's usually always better to wait until you're absolutely sure you know where they are. If you take out the HQ then no more EXALT and no more cell activity screwing with your funding nations.

EXALT themselves are set up to be a bit of a mirror to the players own soldiers. They get ballistic weapons that will be upgraded to lasers after a while, the EXALT soldiers can be snipers, heavies, or supports and will even mirror skill choices your own soldiers can choose from. They'll even develop their own versions of carapace armor and gene modifications. They become a very interesting and fun enemy, even if they do always seem to be a little out paced by X-Com. They feel like a bit of a mini-game inside X-Com. A fun diversion from the real problem. A colorful new enemy to distract you and be different from the aliens you'll see through the entire rest of the game.