Grocery list strategy
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 October 2012, 3:32 am
Riftstalker posted a build order for XCOM. It tells you what you need to build at what time to beat the strategy part of the game at high difficulty levels. The list isn't complete yet, but I don't doubt it is correct. I just wonder why I would want to play a game that has such a list. In the case of XCOM I found a way around, cheating the strategy part to enable me to concentrate on the tactical part. But that isn't always possible. That is why I would like to see that sort of grocery list strategy gone from gaming.

Compare XCOM with Civilization: In Civilization the choices you make what technologies to research depend on your strategy. If you want a quick land grab expansion your best choice is different from if you want a military strategy, or a strategy concentrating on a few high-tech cities. In XCOM you are presented with an illusion of choice: There are no different strategies. And at higher difficulty level you either make the right choice, or you lose the game. Which then leads to a grocery list of choices to make like the one Riftstalker posted. There is only one best strategy, and it is always the same. In a world without communication you might have to play through several times until you learn what the right choices are. But in this day and age of the internet, somebody has that grocery list strategy already perfected and posted on his blog. All you need to do is tick the boxes in the right order and you win the game. Basically the strategy part of XCOM ceases to exist once you have that grocery list, reducing the strategy part of the game to a chore to do to get to the tactical part.

I find that sort of strategy far too limited. In a game that combines a strategy part with a tactical part I would like there to be several equally valid strategies, which each end up in tactical battles that play differently. Having just the choice between "the strategy that works" and "all the strategies that don't work" is not a choice at all, and thus ultimately boring. Not on the first play-through maybe, but it does kill replayability. I wish XCOM had an "advisor" mode where you can just switch off the strategy part, and the game just goes through that same grocery list automatically.
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