X-com like games that are not stupid hard

Budo wrote:

The fact that Frank Stallone is on this list gave me pause.

Why? He's got 3 Platinum albums. I think there's a performance gene in that family. I know a first cousin of theirs who is a well-known shanty, folk and filk performer on the Atlantic seaboard. He has also written some music that is regularly performed in that community.

SallyNasty wrote:

What about Phoenix Point?

I have something like 600 hours in Phoenix Point across both Steam and Epic. Obviously, it scratches that "XCOM" itch for me (still my most played games of the modern era) and it's a game I very much enjoy. It's combat system is different - different enough that if you try to play like the modern XCOM games, you'll fail. I've often said that I think this is one of the main reason a lot of people struggle with it - they try to play it the same way and get a spanking.....

However, it is, still to this day, a flawed game in many areas. Some of the design decisions often make no sense at all, some of the features basically worthless (vehicles for example) and it depends a little on optimal builds towards the end of the game to be able to counter and beat late game enemies. Some of the those builds however are so overpowered they make it a cakewalk. It's also very long if you go through the DLC (more of which later) and attempt to do everything the game can offer - 80 hour campaigns are not unusual.

As for that DLC, it's a mixed bag of mostly bad things. Only a handful of the DLCs give you "useful" additions to the game - The living Weapons back, the Blood & Titanium DLC for example. Legacy of the Ancients gives you the best weapons in the game, locked behind an absolute boatload of busy work that is a slog to get through and can play havoc with your economy if you don't know how to handle it. However, I do think it's worth the effort once you work it out, and how to beat the enemies in the DLC. It also fills in some of the backstory to the game as well.

Kaos engines attempts to address the pointlessness of vehicles and doesn't really achieve that. They are still pretty pointless. It does give access to some useful weapons early doors, but they are limited use items - eventually they'll blow up through overuse.

The others though add nothing to game - Festering Skies looks cool but is pointless - you get very limited advantages at the very end of the game if you can play it well, and are at the mercy of the in-game RNG as to how well you can do it, and how well it might hamstring you mid game if it occurs on the opposite side of the world to where you are.

The worst by far is corrupted horizons which adds a supremely annoying negative mechanic to the game which persists almost until the end of the campaign and gives no reward for resolving it. The thing it does give you - mutant warriors effectively - have some great skills but are mostly rendered pointless because you can't heal them in the field, and the resource you need to heal them is expensive and hard to get (and far more useful for other things) It just makes it not worth your while to develop them.

The last campaign I did play (to check out the Kaos Engine DLC and the Better Classes Mod) I turned off Corrupted Horizons and Festering Skies and didn't bother.

But, however negative that sounds, like I said I have over 600 hours in the game and I just wouldn't do that - or replay it multiple times - if it wasn't deeply scratching that XCOM itch. I'm really looking forward to see what modders can do with it to be honest, now that support for the Steam Workshop is coming. It's definitely worth the investment for me - again, obviously - but yeah, I can fully understand why not everyone enjoys it.

Looks like Phoenix Point got it's final update, for those interested in it

NathanialG wrote:

Looks like Phoenix Point got it's final update, for those interested in it

There’s a complete edition that includes all the DLC and cosmetic unlocks, plus a few new things besides. And a demo on steam.

Oh, and it's added modding - on Steam anyway.

Hard West is $2 on Steam. Don't know then I'd play it, but tempting...

Finished King Arthur: Knight's Tale over the weekend. It's good but not at the current price. It's not a very dynamic experience, the story is agonizingly serious and GrimDark, and it's kind of just dark and ugly. The actual tactics are pretty solid and evolve throughout the game. There's a large amount of enemy variety and skills so it's not a completely empty experience.

Stele wrote:

Wildermyth is the best.

60 in game hours later...

Yeah I'm still recommending this one!

I saw Expeditions: Rome is coming to gamepass in August. Anyone have experience or impressions?

Oh, thank you for reminding me! Started that back before I got my new system and have not reinstalled it. Fixing that now.

The Expeditions games are very good tactical games with, well, strategy expeditions in between fights. Think old Microprose play styles. They also have strongly researched portrayals of cultures and that shows especially well in the Roman one.

Two thumbs up from me based on my time with the earlier games.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Daemonhunter—or whatever it is called—is pretty good.

Vector, I almost bought King Arthur instead. Thank you for sharing your impressions.

Yes, Expeditions: Rome is excellent

I'm near the end of the first act. This is hands down my favourite Expeditions game:
- Atmospheric writing/art (the series's traditional strength)
- Engaging tactical combat
- Fun companions

My main complaint is that it doesn't present information very well (e.g. no way to see enemy abilities, or which tiles are in range of enemies) - which is particularly noticeable after coming from Triangle Strategy this year.

Well worth checking out if you like turn-based tactical combat and/or the period.

Expeditions: Vikings and the other one are still on my pile of shame list. Played both for a couple of hours - but it somehow didn't scratch my Bannner Saga itch. I absolutely loved that series to bits and played it through several times with different outcomes.


Banner Saga is imho ene of the few games that is Bold Enough to add the Snake Plissken 'shut down the earth' option and roll it out

Just remembered that Transformers: Battlegrounds might fit the bill for an easy X-Com lite experience and my quick skim didn't see it mentioned here. It's on Game Pass. I only played a single level, and maybe the voices might not work out so great, but the mechanics appear to be there. As for Transformers series, it appears to most closely fit into Transformers: Cyberverse.

Definitely don't apply the BTA3062 mod to Battletech. It extrudes complexity icing onto an already complex cake.

Highly recommended though if you want more nard in your grognard.

But Tomato is right about Transformers fitting the bill for simpler XCOM.

Sort of along these lines over the past couple of weeks I've been playing Jagged Alliance 2 along with the 1.13 mod This does a lot to amp up what's already a great game like adding Sniper spotting, spying gameplay (disguises, infiltration), and really just too much else that's good and tasty. Revisiting this after so long I was surprised at how good it still is from a gameplay perspective.

However after about 12 new hours of play I got frustrated with the difficulty and have probably abandoned it. What really makes JA2 is the layers of gameplay. You have a map to take over, teams of mercenaries and recruits and militias to move around, equipment and equipment maintenance to manage, mines producing income, SAM sites controlling airspace, prisons with useful captives to free and unlocking new functions like taking prisoners, and then of course just the great tactical gameplay.

All this with some decidedly annoying archaic designs, like keyboard shortcuts splayed all over the place, few context sensitive controls, arrow key map navigation (rather than WASD) and some enforced early frustration as a bunch of mercs with sh*tty pistols struggle to hit baddies 10 squares away over and over and over again for the first 5-10 battles before skills and equipment ramp up a bit.

I'd still recommend it for a fun tactical time if you have some patience for both setup and learning the ropes. Expect to restart and save-scum to get comfortable. I'd probably put it right behind modern Xcom for deep tactical games.

JA2 has always had a tough early game in my experience. It's worth it to spend a little extra up front for a merc who comes with a rifle of some sort.

1.13 fan patch is amazing, but the game still shows its age.

I would definitely not recommend JA2 to someone looking for something similar in complexity to the XCOM games. It has aged slightly ungracefully and its gameplay and systems increase in complexity with the 1.13 mod. The jump from JA2 vanilla to 1.13 is similar to the jump from vanilla BATTLETECH to Roguetech or the other massive fan mods.

That said, JA2 (modded to 1.13) is incredible to play once you get past the first town or 2. The "problem" is that the chance to hit system was modified in contemplation of players eventually adding all sorts of attachments to increasingly better rifles/ARs (so many different scopes, sights, grips, lasers, bipods etc) to the point that "beyond visual range" engagements adopting spotters with binoculars is a real possibility once you get the gear to pull it off. In practice, that means that the early game involves shooting with abysmal chance to hit and running out of ammo until you order a shipment once you've captured the airfield.

Mind you, vanilla JA2 is more than playable of its own - it just has less mercs (still a lot of choices), less guns, and less sophisticated enemy AI.

A couple of other entries in the genre worth keeping an eye on:

Hard West 2, seemingly a sci-fi western type game, just released with somewhat mixed reviews. If anyone plays it, I'd be keen to know how it plays out. I think it was RPS that described it closer in style to the recent WH40K Daemonhunters or Gears Tactics game (no overwatch I believe). Both of those are excellent games in the genre.

Then there's a re-release of Tactics Ogre coming. The original Tactics Ogre preceded FF Tactics but shares very similar menu/job style systems. From memory, it had some of those "annoying" things such as secret events / hidden treasure on certain squares in certain maps (which nobody would have known except by random chance or reading a guide). Apparently the art style is modernised although I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing.

I understand Jagged Alliance 3 is under development?

Robear wrote:

I understand Jagged Alliance 3 is under development?

In the same way Half-Life 3 is under development.

I hope not. I want to spend all those MercBucks I've been hoarding from... never mind...

Robear wrote:

I understand Jagged Alliance 3 is under development?

From the devs that made Tropico. No news has been released since being announced late 2021 so it's likely to be deep in development and nowhere near alpha.