The Let's Play Archive


by Jade Star

Part 15: Operation Regal Beast

Operation Regal Beast

Let's talk about some skill choices so you don't see what's written down there until you've watched the video!

Ranger Captain Rank
Implacable vs Bladestorm

Bladestorm is kind of like close combat specialist from the first game, but with swords. Any enemy that tries to move through a tile adjacent to the ranger is going to get sworded. Much like close combat specialist this mostly useful against things like chrysalids and other melee oriented enemies. Somewhat unexpectedly though, Bladestorm will trigger after a viper tongue pulls you, and before the constrict attack, making it a handy potential save from being bound by the snakes. You can also put a Bladestorm ranger on top of an ADVENT reinforcement flare to sword the reinforcements, but it will only trigger one so there is some potential fun there, but not as much as could be otherwise.
Implacable is a neat mobility skill. It grants the ranger a free single move after scoring a kill. This sounds pretty mundane at first, but it can be super handy to have. The easiest example I can give is to simply run and gun, sprint behind an enemies cover, even if that leave your ranger out in the open and exposed, blast the enemy to death and then use the Implacable movement to get back to safety. It really doesn't sound extraordinary but it can be used to such advantage or to simply back a ranger away to safety after securing a kill that might otherwise leave it over extended and vulnerable.

Winner: Implacable. But not by a landslide, I wouldn't balk at Bladestorm.

Grenadier Lieutenant Rank
Heavy Ordnance vs Holo-Targeting

Heavy Ordnance allows the soldier to use the grenade item in their grenadier only extra grenade slot a second time. This seems rather mundane, but it can be very powerful when you have the right explosives. Or the frost bomb! Being able to use your best consumable explosive twice on a mission really does help ease any Giant Robotic Crab Syndrome related stress you may have on a mission.
Holo-Targeting is back again, and nothing has changed with it. Well it's not up against Bullet Swarm this time so that is a plus! The fact that it's up against Heavy Ordnance means Holo-Targeting is a viable choice now. It synergies well with other skills like suppression and demolition but the main reason I feel it doesn't suck is because of Shredder. There are plenty of armored targets out there in the game and that means you want to shoot them first with things that do shred damage, like your grenadiers! So while you're using your grenadiers at the start of your turn, you may as well also make that big bad heavily armored target easier to hit while you're already shooting it to peel it's armor off.
Neither are truly spectacular, but both are very nice to have.

Winner: A tie. Maybe a little more toward Heavy Ordnance though. At least always have one Heavy Ordnance grenadier.

Support Captain Rank
Covering Fire vs Threat Assessment

Covering Fire is back from the first game too. It allows overwatch shots to trigger on any enemy action, not just movement. Same as before, still very lackluster. Pass.
Threat Assessment adds an overwatch trigger to Aid Protocol, and increases the cooldown timer on Aid Protocol by 1. The overwatch granted by Threat Assessment even comes with the Covering Fire benefit for the soldier benefiting from the Aid Protocol.
Neither of these are super cool like some other skill choices. However I am of the opinion that Covering Fire is next to useless. However, giving someone else a defensive boost and giving them a free overwatch action is actually pretty cool. It's probably a bit rare to make use of it to the full extent, but it is still a nice skill to have in a pinch to protect a soldier that might be left vulnerable.

Winner: Threat Assessment.

Alright, watched the video by now? Good.

Welcome to the Alien Hunter's DLC! This mission normally follows after salvaging the experimental weapons from Big Sky's crashed Skyranger. Its a tough one and can be wise to put off for a while. Despite the large number of enemies in the mission there are really only two fights of any significance on the map, most of the map is really there to listen to Vahlen tell her story. The most numerous enemy on the map are the Neonate Vipers which are little baby white snakes that only have two HP, and little baby bolt casters that hit for three damage. They are not much to worry about but there are a lot of them. Their pitifully low maximum HP means they are extremely vulnerable to any soldier coming into the map with an advanced stock, or better. Advanced stocks will give you 100% chance to kill any Neonate Viper at any time, making them a breeze. Bradford already comes with one so if you bring another you can pretty reliably clean up a pod of baby snakes with little to no effort. The first real fight of the map comes at the halfway point where two pods of snakes will slither forward in an ambush attempt. Making this attack have some real potential is the sheer number of baby snakes it throws at you at once and that there are two regular Vipers in the hoard of babies. At first glance looking at anywhere from 8 to 12 snakes is terrifying. The normal mantra of the game is to fight more like 6 vs 3 in your favor. However this fight is set up pretty much to show off what Bradford can do. Reaper is the key to the whole situation here, allowing Bradford to kill four or five baby snakes with no problem and then end his turn with a rifle shot for another kill. Its a big scary thing seeing 10 or so alien health bars coming at you from out of the darkness but a little time to think it over will show you the way through and it's no so difficult.

The second part is of course the Viper King and the new mechanics it brings to the table. The big deal here is the Ruler Reaction mechanic which works to give the ruler one action for every action X-Com takes. The Snake King doesn't get a normal turn, meaning if you hit end turn it doesn't take the normal two actions all other aliens get. This is a really strange mechanic and turns combat kind of funny. You can't really execute multi action plans anymore because if you for example plan to move and then make a flanking attack the ruler gets to move after you do and before you get to make that shot. Ruler combat kind of turns into a battle of action economy and a damage output race. Rulers tend to flee when they get to half HP if they were fresh, or low HP if they showed up wounded. This means a good way of surviving them is to simply dump every high damage attack on them you can as fast as you can. The ruler reaction mechanism means you want to do that in as few actions as possible; IE moving a solder from point a to point b with a normal movement action suddenly becomes the worst thing you can do because it doesn't hurt the ruler and gives them an action to move or attack with. Typically if lines of sight are not a problem you want everyone to be some what spread out, stay where they are, and shoot the hell out of the alien ruler. Attacks that do not use actions such as Lightning Hands and the Axe Throw are great against rulers. Naturally one of the best ways to deal a lot of damage to a ruler while being safe about it is to bring the freeze bomb. Always bring the freeze bomb. Get the ruler somewhere that 3 people can shoot it with out moving, freeze the ruler, and then pummel the hell out of it. The bolt caster has a stun chance, and while that is really nice, it only has one shot. That means once you fire it you have to take an action to reload it, and that action to reload will allow the ruler to take a turn. Reloading when up against a ruler is just about the worst thing you can do, unless you have an auto loader weapon mod. Lastly, because of the ruler reaction mechanic things that do damage over time to aliens like fire or poison will do their damage super quickly to rulers. Every reaction action the ruler takes will activate the damage over time effect. That means poisoning and setting a ruler on fire can add a lot of damage to the fight a lot faster than you'd normally expect.

In this mission I knew where the snake king was going to be and could set up my best attempt at an overwatch wall for when it spawned in. In the future that will never be the case again. Rulers will show up when ever and where every they like. They will patrol the shroud during normal missions and behave just like regular enemy pods until you have the misfortune of stumbling upon them. Rulers are at the absolute worst when you cant deal with them alone. Spending time to kill regular aliens give the ruler actions to murder you with. Leaving the regular aliens alive means they get their normal turns after your turn of dealing with the ruler and unhindered they will of course flank you or mess you up as much as they possibly can. Dealing with rulers in the field with normal aliens is the worst. I would say freeze bomb it, shoot the hell out of it, and if necessary freeze bomb it again and keep shooting. If you don't have the ruler isolated and don't feel confident in your situation than just shoot it enough to make it want to retreat. Let it open the portal and escape and then you can get back to mopping up the regular aliens who are waiting to wreck your team when it's their turn.