Last week was a low point. A dark and cramped place which I was sure sunlight would never embrace again. Warmth and comfort were simply memories. The only end, if it ever came, would come from the cold and merciless eyes of an alien overlord.

The bleakness has passed. It was the fire that has finally tempered me into an alien killing monstrosity, as hated by those who I am trying to save as those I am seeking to destroy.  I strike from the darkness, leaving nothing but bodies, burning buildings, shell casings. Where I choose to walk, aliens, and their collaborators swiftly perish. They hunt me. They hunt me to prevent themselves from being the prey. It is to late.

I don’t expect this feeling to last past this evening.

(There will be spoilers)

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It is truer each Monday that it was the prior.

XCOM is hard.

Now, though, It has settled into my bones and I have become weary. Not of the game itself, but of the endless repetition of starting over, of each tortured revolution back to whence it came in order to slam down with its full and awesome might upon my battered and broken soul, screaming in anguish that I once again have to suffer the lessons of introduction.

Yet I continuously fail, the fault of which lies at no ones feat but my own. Where I should learn, instead, i continue to make mistakes, so many of which send the game into an inevitable spiral that reaches its terminus not at a final destination, but at the beginning, where I start uphill again.

Be warned, there are spoilers. 

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On the top of the attributes that makes XCOM the pinnacle of my gaming joy, is its unforgiving, relentless, mercilessness. Those who have been reading a bit will get this as a simple truism about how my gaming career went, but games like Megaman, Dark Souls, and XCOM are exactly where I like the punishment scale to lie – maybe a little rough. I say that as I head into starting my seventh C/I Game in XCOM2, still playing a month after purchase, give or take a few days. I have yet to see the end of the game and it has been glorious!

And I am learning, becoming more deadly and more confident each time. Each game I start and play to the end I absorb a little more, I see more cracks appear in the alien infrastructure. It may not be this day, It may not be this week, but the aliens, their days are numbered.

Warning – Extremely Likely Spoiler Content

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Its not often that I feel like the game is starting to favor me, and each time It does, I get gently smashed into bits for my arrogance. Its starting to come back to me, though, and I can only guess the retribution that will be laid upon me. I’ve made it into May. My operatives have new weapons, new armors, and powerful technology. I have a core of experienced soldiers who are gritty, dirty and veterans of a half dozen or more combats.The Avenger is becoming a flying fortress, equipped with the strongest facilities that enable a lively resistance.

As I said before, though, I fear it will not be enough.

As always: Likely spoilers ahead, though I am not far into the story, there are many game play options explored. 

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It is not roses and rainbows as we fight against our alien overlords. I’ve lost many of my favorite solider, but Xcom2 has not broken my spirit. It has bent it, and I am not taking it kindly. My resolve has doubled, and am committed to defeating the alien menace, Even if there are no people left on the planet to enjoy their new found freedom because I keep getting them all killed. But we will soldier on and I will continue to write those tragic letters home.

Remember, Beyond here, Spoilers may be had. Ye be warned!

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of playing XCOM, at least for me, is the punishing difficulty levels. Unlike my initial fears, this game is turning out to be at least as challenging as its predecessor, and will quite likely outstrip it as either Retaliation/Second Wave or Expansion packs come out for it. What I initially took for soft is, instead the plush outer coating of a grenade wrapped in velvet, and once you’ve cut off the skin, there is no going back.

What happened to my second game is testament to this concept, and one of the key reasons I keep coming back to this and Enemy within. Amusingly enough I keep having the voice of Illidan run through my head.

You are not prepared.

Be forewarned. There may be light spoilers ahead, but mostly about gameplay, less about story.

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This second go-round in XCOM 2 is progressing remarkably better.  I have no faith that I will be able to beat my second run, because the game can’t be that easy, but during this session I am making better choices, building a better Avenger than last go round and taking down enemies more efficiently in missions.  More than anything, though, I am learning how the game actually functions and how to set op the game for the results I need, especially with the Tactical Missions.

Remember – Gamplay and a few story spoilers beyond the break

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The Last Stand of the Avenger


It is done. The first Timeline of the XCOM universe also ends in disaster. Though they fought a valiant campaign, the war was not to be won. Following two successive completely failed mission, resulting in the loss of 8 of the 10 combined soldiers, the Avenger was shot down. All the soldiers remaining aboard rushed to defend the entrance of the ship. Sadly, that last line of defense consisted of Warrior, Hunter and a Rookie. Three against an army.

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I’ve not talked about it much, but there is another massive drain on my free time. on that has been the boogyman to my Fallout gameplay, my hobby time and my sleep for a long while now. Its also going to be one of the few games I ever break my rules with.

Because its XCOM, and there is little like it in the world of video games.

*there are possible Story and Mechanic spoilers. You are warned. I will not mention it again this article* 

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The war is over. The Marathon complete. Earth, is saved.

Marathon mode was by far the most fun I’ve had playing the game. I had high hopes going in, and the game didn’t fail me. There were, however, a number of expectations and experiences that I was sure wouldn’t make a difference, yet changed in significant ways from the start of the play through to the end. One of my favorites, is how the games Marathon moniker makes sense, but not in the way you really feel it should.

Be Forwarned. This Article about Video games contains spoilers… duh! 

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