XCOM is a roller coaster. It all starts out very fun, a little daunting, but once you get the hang of things, it seems like it will be a smooth ride. Then, things take a turn. The difficulty jumps up to a degree you didn’t anticipate and suddenly every alien turn is a stress-fest as you wipe your sweaty palms on your shirt while you pray to whatever deity you believe in for the aliens to miss their shot or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LEAVE MY HIGH-RANKING SNIPER ALONE, YOU BIG BULLIES!
But then, with patience, careful movement of your soldiers and a hell of a lot of research and resources, things level off again. Suddenly, that sniper who struggled to finish off a Thin Man is double-tapping (attacking twice in a single turn) her way to victory, seemingly all by her lonesome. Your assault soldier’s useful shotgun is a now an Alloy Cannon of death and you almost feel bad for that Berserker that is about to get shot directly in his ugly face. Almost. This has been my XCOM experience.
Few games are like this in the modern age. Most games have a steady difficulty level that ratchets up only towards the end, but XCOM isn’t a smooth ride, but a nosedive full of peaks and valleys. One moment you are contemplating quitting and the next you are imitating Emperor Palpatine while lining up a 95% shot from your sniper: “No…no, no, YOU will die!”. Just a few days ago, I was sweating bullets every battle and now I am the picture of arrogance as my Psionic Heavy Mitch Harker (@mi7ch on Twitter) literally blows minds. I don’t know if I prefer this kind of experience over the traditional difficulty spikes, but it has been an amazing ride thus far.
Have you guys experienced anything similar with XCOM? What about another game that alternatively gave you fits of anguish and then joy? Or do you prefer the easier games of today? Hit the comments!