Pixels or Death Saves The World (In XCOM)
It’s true that, on many occasions, Pixels or Death has saved the internet. You didn’t know that? That’s because we succeeded. However, despite numerous attempts, this merry band of ladies and gents has yet to really get out there and save humanity from any extraterrestrial threat. This is mainly due to the government ignoring and declining our countless requests for the $3 trillion funds required for our paramilitary (Commies!), but hopefully people will pay more attention to our Kickstarter. Anyway, I decided to do the next best thing and assemble the POD-Squad on XCOM:Enemy Unknown and see our dreams realized.
This was an Ironman playthrough, so death was something to avoid like the plague, especially since it was my workmates’ brains I’d have to watch get spread over the floor. At first, it went surprisingly well; and despite XCOM clearly being a nasty game that loves nothing more than killing everyone you love and making you feel like the most hopeless commander the Earth’s ever seen, my previous experience with the game won the PODlings through the early rounds with hardly a scratch between them. Particular credit must be given to Mike Barrett, Sean McGeady and Caitlin Blank (Sniper, Assault, and Support respectively) who proved themselves to be more than worthy on the field. They can be seen in the screenshots below.
It wasn’t until about an hour and a half had passed before disaster struck. It was a particular mission ordered by the Council themselves, rather than a run-of-the-mill abduction – one of the ‘infection’ attacks by those nasty Antlion lookalikes which turn all corpses into insanely tough zombies. It was dumb of me to not take this mission extremely seriously, forgetting just how punishing they can be, but even dumber to use it as a training exercise for some Rookie PODlings I wanted to level up. Operation Final Hydra it was called, in Manaus, Brazil. After setting up a horizontal ‘firing squad’ formation and completely underestimating how tough the scuttling alien bastards were, it wasn’t long before Timothy Tsu got eaten up. And then Editor and PODcast Host Joshua Dennison. Dave Sadd nearly made it out but got thumped by the undead corpse of Tsu. I facepalmed threefold, and decided to pull some last-resort tactics and start backing towards the deployment area to make some room. It was only Adam Harshberger, a Sergeant in the Support class, and Emily Payton, just a Rookie at the time.
As I predicted, this was bound to fail, and two of the infectors ran right up to Adam and speared him. After pathetically attempting a final stand with Emily, just down to a pistol, I decided to just cut the losses and try to forget this ever happened. She was evacuated with a promotion, but Brazil was lost.
There was a lull, after that. It acted as a stark reminder to play conservative as hell, lest I had to make any more grovelling apologies on Twitter to those I’d sent to a grisly end. We defended a bunch of cities, built up the base, and spent our money carefully on researching to make sure we had an edge. It wasn’t until a mission named Operation Morbid Hawk that things went wrong again. I hadn’t expected trouble; it was just an investigation of a small (note, small) UFO I’d shot down over Nigeria. It wasn’t any high ranking enemies, either, so I anticipated a cakewalk.
My vision of cakes and walking vanished when Lt. Sean McGeady, now an experienced vanguard, made an aggressive move forwards only for the three Floaters to literally fall out of the sky two meters from him (they have a knack for that, don’t they?). In what I thought was impossible, their measly laser weapon hit a 9-point critical, and took him out in one. It must have shaken me badly, because everything went from bad to worse, as I made stupid flanking errors, and overly audacious moves with Rookies Mike Potts and Nolan McBride, who were popped by the ship’s Outsider alien. Soon it was just Emily left, who seemed to have a penchant for last stands. Only, this time, it was doomed to fail; and she was shot in the back of the head by the Floaters as she made for a retreat. Why, oh why, was it on THIS mission that Barrett and Caitlin were healing up in the infirmary?
Anyway, after botched mission number two, I decided to give it a rest for now. Editors Tom Auxier and Patrick Lindsey, and Zoe Quinn have yet to be recruited, so check back next week when the final results of the campaign are revealed!