Part 6: Operation Dread Wail
Operation Dread Wail
In today's video a lot of stuff breaks behind the scenes. This is the first video recorded entirely in OBS and there was a very noticeable 0.12 second audio desync, which doesn't sound noticeable, but it really really is when it's misaligning the sound and visual of gunfire or explosions. Lunethex is helping me get used to Sony Vegas and MeGUI which is a bit of an experience, but it's going well and I'm getting the hang of it so a big thread thank you to Lune for his efforts. And lastly all of my workshop mods break for this video and the next one. Again Lune helped me solve that one and hopefully there won't be any lingering effects.
For the actual video itself the geoscape gets really busy. Scan sites keep popping up and now there is no shortage of things that I need to be doing all at once. I find myself short on supplies and engineers, and a ton of other shit to do and not enough time to get it all done but at least some of the building projects in the Avenger are moving along and offering some benefits.
Let's talk about the Guerrilla Training School, or the GTS. It's version 2.0 of the Officer Training School from the first game and has all of the original functionality you may know and expect if you played the first game. This is where we go to spend supplies on battlescape benefits such as unlocking large squad sizes, gaining a bonus to the concealment phase, getting extra loot from the ADVENT drops, increased exp per kill, and so on. There are a lot of beneficial abilities to purchase in the GTS and you want them all. That said, you are not likely to be able to afford them all. Supplies are always in short supply so I would consider it a pretty big luxury to be able to purchase everything out of the GTS. The obvious first picks are the squad size upgrades. Perhaps none obvious is Vulture, the upgrade that increases the amount of loot gained from ADVENT drops. It's a long term investment that pays more the sooner you buy it and all the extra weapon mods and PCS's you will gain from it will easily pay back the purchase cost of Vulture. Integrated Warfare boosts the bonuses of the PCS's you plug into your soldiers skulls and may be nice if you have a lot of PCS's, but is very optional in my opinion. There are also skills that will affect an entire class, one for each soldier class. These offer a bonus specific to the class type and can vary in power. Purchase of them would be largely based on the player and play style. My opinion being the Ranger and Specialist upgrades being the strongest but that is because they benefit my preferred playstyle the most.
A great new feature to the GTS is the ability to train rookies into a desired soldier class. One soldier at a time may be trained from a rookie into a soldier class type of your choosing over the course of 5 days. This is a huge quality of life addition to the game and praise be unto Jake for fixing his game in this respect. This solves a common problem of having a lack of a particular soldier type and having to rely solely on random rookie promotions, such was the case in the first game. A secondary benefit is also just being able to avoid having to deal with complete rookies that have zero skills and are largely useless. With the GTS you can at least give a soldier one promotion before they have to face the aliens, giving them a little stat boost and the starter class skill. Overall this is a wonderful addition to the GTS and makes managing your soldiers much easier and less stressful.
Guerrilla Missions are the new take on abduction missions for the second game. Where before abduction missions meant managing panic across the locations they were happening in Guerrilla Missions allow Dark Events to be countered, as well as offering a supply or personnel reward for the mission. Talking about guerrilla missions really means talking about the dark events because they are so interconnected. Every month ADVENT pushes forward these dark events that benefit their side of things. These effects can vary from denying XCom supplies, making XCom spend extra resources to accomplish things on the geoscape, giving ADVENT troops additional armor, placing Faceless into missions there otherwise wouldn't normally be Faceless, or outright advancing the Avatar Project progress bar. There are a lot of dark events and choosing which one you want to prevent from happening is going to play the larger part in deciding which guerrilla mission you choose to take. As a general rule I would always recommend preventing the Avatar Project advancements. Besides those events it becomes hard to write a strict rule of priorities, there are a lot of events and the kind of situation you are in when they come up can vary greatly. Taking your time to consider and weigh the significance of each event is the key here, but there are at least a few events I can mention as low priorities. Vigilance increases the alien spotting range during the concealment phase, and while that might be a pain in the ass, it's a very small and niche pain in the ass. ADVENT Midnight Raids increases the cost of recruits by 100%, again potentially being a pain in the ass but unless you are hurting for manpower it shouldn't be a factor. Dark events also take a while to go into effect after you have to pick which one to disrupt so if midnight raids are going to be a problem you may be able to get around it by hiring rookies right away, before the event triggers.
The guerrilla mission and dark event system is a lot more in depth and varied than the abduction missions of the first game. It's not hard to see the similarities in them, you're given three options and can only respond to one of them, but the added element of the dark events add a layer of complexity over that of the homogeneous abduction mechanics and panic board of the first game. Guerrilla missions are also now rewards, or counters, to changes in gameplay rather than being than being the direct thing that will make you lose the game like in Enemy Within, ie. the thing that panics counties until they pull out and you lose. In the first game abductions lead to panic, panic leads to countries pulling out, which leads to game over. In XCom2 the Avatar project ticks along a timeline and can be influenced by the guerrilla missions, but isn't determined by them. It's a good design change and improvement over the first game.
Lastly, I haven't been as in depth in the posts about soldier skill choices as I was last thread. i can certainly fix this if it is something that is being missed. There aren't a lot of choices that warrant a lot of debate and Guava and I have just been covering skills as soldier promote. Let me know if the thread needs more skill analysis. For this video I'll at least talk about the relevant choice of Blast Padding versus Shredder. But both of those skills involve armor, so I better explain the new mechanics behind armor first!
Armor is a new mechanic in XCom 2. "But wait...?" I hear you saying, armor was always a thing, even in the first game. Well sort of. Armor as equipment isn't anything new, but previously all armor did was add to a soldiers HP. New to XCom 2 is the armor mechanic. Now armor refers to a damage mitigation provided to the wearer. For a quick example, let's say a soldier with 2 points of armor is shot by a 6 damage laser. The soldiers armor will mitigate 2 points of damage and the soldier will receive only 4 damage. This effect will apply to every shot the soldier takes, and doesn't go away after the first hit. Very simple mechanic and very easy to see just how valuable armor can be in this game. Armor can prevent a significant amount of damage to your troops. Or the enemy, as they will have armor too as the game progresses.
So how do you deal with armor? That is where the 'shred' mechanic comes in. Certain attacks, most commonly explosives, will destroy the armor points of whatever they hit. Let's say we throw a regular grenade at an alien with 2 armor points. The grenade will deal 1 point of 'shred' which destroys one point of armor, 1 damage will be blocked by the second point of armor, and 1 or two points of damage will be dealt to the alien. From then on the alien will only have 1 point of armor left. Shredding still requires you to deal with the enemy armor, but only once instead of leaving it there to mitigate damage on every successive shot. It's a very good idea to prioritize your attack order when dealing with armored foes. Start with the attacks that will shred first and then follow up with regular attacks to deal the most damage.
Right, hope that clears things up about armor. So back to the skill choices.
Blast Padding is a nice skill. It grants the soldier an extra armor point and reduces damage taken from explosives by 66%. These are nice things to have. Every soldier could benefit from having blast padding. But that's not why blast padding is going to lose every time. While that extra point of armor is nice, it realistically isn't going to do a whole lot on a given mission. It will mitigate 1 point of damage per hit, assuming it doesn't get shredded. A soldier shouldn't be taking very many hits on a given mission so the effect of that point of armor is going to be small. Somewhere in the range of 0-3 hp saved a mission, which isn't bad but it's not really that amazing either. A nanofiber vest gives you about the same effect. The explosion damage resistance is also nice when you get hit with something, but will be fairly rare to come into play. All in all it is a nice skill to have, but it's not particularly strong.
Shredder lets a soldiers main weapon damage armor. I say 'main weapon' and not 'grenadiers machine gun' because other classes can get Shredder through the AWC. One point per attack for ballistic, 2 for magnetic, and 3 for plasma. Early game this may not seem so important, we have not even seen an enemy with armor yet. However it will become very important as the game progresses and dealing with enemies that have multiple points of armor become the norm. Having a resource free way of shredding armor makes a lot of fights much easier. Being able to peel armor off hard targets like mutons or mechs with out having to expend grenades every time is a big deal.
So at the end of it all, Blast Padding is nice, but the amount of time it's going to be useful is very minor. Whereas Shredder is going to end up being useful a lot of the time and it's going to have a very strong effect on the situations it affects.