So first thing first geez game has improved after release(my first playthrough that I never finished was 1.0) :'D Like game still has late game “gah so many haven missions at same time, when do I have time to do other things” thing, but factions go to war later and in general there is bit more variance to missions rather than just haven/base/pandoran base/scavenging/story mission. Back then haven defense missions didn’t even have friendly faction units!
But yeah, did Synedrion co existence ending on this playthrough, would have actually researched all four end game mission projects but as it turns out researching another one just replaces final mission with other one rather than giving access all four of which to pick from. I’d assume all versions of final mission are same except for item you are using, but could be wrong about that. The faction missions did have nice variance, was nice to have Exalted playable for one mission and seeing Tobias West on the fortress map (kinda wondering if either of them had died in battle if it affected story, but then again I think if you kill Scylla and then all soldiers die the pandoran citadel isn’t destroyed? Didn’t happen on this playthrough so I dunno if that was changed) Either way, really liked all the research where you combine equipment from different factions to other stuff. Was kinda surprised how there was at least some variance to story missions, like refusing mission from Synod of Learning to kill Synedrion civilians results on another guy being like “Yeah no Exalted doesn’t want that, how about you do this instead?” and how Synedrion has two different political factions you can support. With four or five endings dunno what they would do if they ever did sequel, but I do think game works well as standalone.
But yeah Synedrion’s paralyzing equipment and other status effect inflicting stuff was cool. Only fought them in one diplomatic mission though(Oh yeah, I never took hostile missions vs factions outside of story missions on this playthrough, so didn’t see stealing aircraft or sabotage or raid missions) and got impression of them being pretty easy to deal with, but that was relatively early game and they didn’t have vehicles with them.(I did see New Jericho once use armadillo so I assume other two factions might be able to use their vehicle(or mutant dog) as well?)
With Disciples of Anu, their equipment and stuff was more situational, but I did have fun with high level berserker demolishing everything in melee and i did think mutations were fun even if situational or weird looking in certain armor combos Though not sure how they work as enemy, only time I fought them was on neutral haven mission to “rescue” that one guy from market and in that one I high tailed out of there without engaging them. Though I assume they are similar to Forsaken so basically not too hard to deal with as long you don’t get surrounded by large numbers I assume?
New Jericho though I fought lot more since they were only one of factions attacking Havens who was capable of defeating the defenders :‘D So what I learned is that while they are mostly easy to deal with, besides turrets being deadly as always you can sometimes get unlucky and have four heavies move to shoot you with fury missiles one after another to single target. Besides that though I think I used all three factions equipment pretty evenly, but I did have lot of fun with fire grenades and phoenix’ points flamethrower. There also was that interesting sidequest missions related to Project Vulture that was nice change of space and had nice reward (I assume different reward if I had chosen other person as being right?)
With Forsaken I kinda felt that since they only exist on rare haven defense missions or ambush missions that they felt kinda underdeveloped since there are no events or story missions related to them. I also never saw forsaken unit using “ultimate mutation” research’s mutation options, so that felt odd.
With pandorans I think the new mutation system helps to make different types of pandorans feel like distinct units since missions don’t just use single variant of same creature all the time, but I do still feel like there should either be one more pandoran unit or each unit should have one more distinct mutation to give them different combat rule. Like Chirons are good example, worm abdomen, goo ones and bomber ones have very different looks and different combat rules. Arthons only have either melee or gun arm and then shield or grenade launcher arms, rest of their body parts are just more or less armor and whether they can spit poison. Tritons really feel same regardless of their body composition and same with sirens. Scylla do have nice amount of variation though you see them rarest since in this version they don’t seem to attack havens anymore? Either way, it does feel like pandorans could use more support units or more direct “tank” unit rather than chiron’s artillery.
Regarding diplomacy, haven attitude felt kinda hard to notice if it had any effects. Like I do like that game tracks haven opinions on your separate from faction, but dunno what it actually did. With neutral havens its even more ambiguous since neutral havens are never attacked so after you do (or don’t do) their story mission(btw saw three of them, was that all of them? The seed vault one, the separatist cultist one and mutant haven whose leader wants their brother retrieved) they don’t really play any role in game at all. I did like havens having their own distinct buildings and that factions kept building them over course of campaign though.
There could be more mission types or map appearance variance though. Like could be either different terrains or snow or something, even rain would be nice. Either way I did like that there were missions to escape with vehicle from pandorans and rescue soldiers and sometimes you could get ambushed by bandits…
…Oh yeah almost forgot to talk about bandit gear: I’m kinda weirded out how they have unique gear that you can only obtain if you get luck enough to get “rescue soldier” missions. Its… Just kinda weird since you can never manufacture them or get more ammo if you run out of bandit equipment ammo?
On vehicles: Liked all of them though should have dared to use aspida more since healing was really useful ability. Heck would have made final mission easier, my only hearling where one virophage kit per soldier and technician, in the end after final boss was dead I had four soldier out of 9 remaining(only one of them died before final boss, one of them died due to being surprised by arthon jumping out of infinite spawning hole and rest of them died to final boss’ automatic damage). Mutogs were really cool though I did end up using scarab and armadillo the most.
Regarding aircraft, besides durability being obvious placeholder until festering skies is out(the only event that does aircraft damage is ambulance in the swamp one as far as I can figure out?) I did try out all aircraft and did notice they all do have their own niche just with the speed and space alone. Tiamat being slow as hell does kinda make them useless for quick response haven missions, but helios does good job with that.
But yeah, I do find it amusing that -1 seems to be best opinion factions can have of each other I do love it that this is xcom type game with finally politics involved and balancing opinions on three factions and trying to delay them going to war with each other. I loved XCOM Apocalypse and always wanted to see game that did stuff Apocalypse cut out, this isn’t as eloborate but its much better than XCOM 2’s war of chosen three factions which basically just exist to give you stuff and don’t really “do” anything.
Heck that is kinda my problem with reboot xcom: Ai kinda feels like boardgame ai where you just take cards from deck. While behind the scenes ai might do similar things here, the presentation wise it feels like tehy are doing things on their own agenda. I really like how different pandoran bases produce different units you see on haven defense missions and such.
One more ramble I remembered: I’m kinda sad about ODI being removed mostly because I liked the flavor events that came when doomsday clock was reaching the highest point. The HPC is more clear on how to avoid it but doesn’t come with fun flavor, kinda wish that ODI flavor was somehow recycled elsewhere(or I had transcripts of them somewhere where I could read them myself…)
But yeah I’ll end rambling here, I probably forgot something that I really wanted to comment about, but maybe I remember it when I’ll play steam version after its out and I do playthrough with the dlc