(Don’t) Panic

I had a panic attack yesterday. The third in a month. Starting a job is always stressful, but there’s something drastically different about starting a new job with bipolar depression. Or any depression, for that matter.

Panic attacks aren’t logical. Nothing about them makes sense at all.

Customer service, as a whole, is naturally a very menial and sometimes frustrating job choice. But when you imagine every next call being that one customer that will explode at you with frustration… It’s akin to walking through a minefield. You never know which step is going to be your last. No matter steady my breathing, I couldn’t stop my heart from racing. I had to run or I had to fight, neither of which is polite practice in a call center.

That’s not logical. The customer at the other end of the phone isn’t going to jump out of the headset and strangle you. The worst you’ll get is an earful of complaints, right?

But all that isn’t what caused my panic. Those were just the rocks in the backpack as I climbed the metaphorical hill. What really caused me to drop on my knees and emotionally lash out at the world was the waiting. The incessant waiting. Waiting to go to work, to step through the mental minefield again. Waiting to go to school where I could fail my classes and waste good time and money doing so. Waiting to go to church where, in my own mind, I’m not worthy enough to even pray.

So I break down. I hyperventilate. I pound on my bed, hitting it again and again as if to pound out the broken part of my brain. I shout out loud that I just want all this to stop. I want my mind to stop. I want to burn out the part of my brain responsible for the dark feelings, find a surgeon to laser it off, cut it out of me like a tumor. You know the biblical ‘weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth’? I never knew what that meant until I had a panic attack.

Misery doesn’t attempt to describe it. It’s too static a word. Misery describes circumstances beyond your control. But when a panic attack starts, you feel nothing but guilt. I caused this, somehow. I deserve this. I don’t get to be happy and comfortable, because that’s for other people to enjoy. I belong in the dark, I don’t deserve a job. I shouldn’t be allowed to find self-reliance. How can I, when I drive myself into such madness? I should be institutionalized. Something is fundamentally wrong with me.

The panic attack stops, sure. But it’s like a burning in the back of my mind. A battery that just needs more stress to recharge. A bomb that just needs a fuse. How much of this can I take before I break? How many times can I skip work because of the mental strain before I lose it? Heaven help me if I ever have a nervous breakdown at work, at school, or at church. I can hardly endure them in the comfort of my own home.

It’s so much more than words can describe.

In the midst of all this pain and anguish, I can feel me, the real me, standing somewhere else, watching all this happen. Letting it all happen. Maybe that’s my spirit, knowing it isn’t in control of my body, stepping aside and letting the natural process follow along to its conclusion. I sure wish my spirit would step in and stop all this from happening.

But it’s not to be – I AM my body. My mind is my own. What am I, but my squishy brain and the broken body I live in?

So here I am, writing about the most painful moments in my life, waiting for another one to happen. Waiting to step through another minefield tomorrow. And the next day.

I don’t know what I can do to stop this, besides taking my meds and trying to shut my eyes and calm down. I can’t fight this monster; the only solution I have is to run and hide from it. Deep down, I know it’s not enough. I have to face it, own it. Acknowledge that I have limitations, and try my damnedest to work around them. Like a river trying to cut through a mountain. Like a tree standing despite the tornado forming right beside it.

I feel every minute of my life.

And I’m not yet sure if I’m grateful for them. Maybe someday, when I can feel peace again.

This is the most difficult trial I’ve yet experienced in my life. I’m afraid it will swallow me. That I’ll never have dreams again. That I’ll forever look at the future with horror. That I’ll look back at the past and see nothing but failure.

I had a panic attack yesterday.

But I didn’t have one today. And maybe that’s all I can ask for.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Explode

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Original Escape Velocity Title Card

Oh my gosh, one of my favorite Macintosh games when I was growing up was Escape Velocity. For me, this was the definition of a space opera. And with only subtitles instead of well-designed cutscenes and voice acting, the story of the Escape Velocity universe kept me searching for additional plot hooks and side quests for hours at a time. I’m not sure if the story or the gameplay kept me around for so long. When I learned one fateful day that the original Escape Velocity had several sequels, including the incredible Escape Velocity Nova, I knew I had to jump into it. I think I was high school when I first picked up Nova, and I played it on the very first computer I’d ever owned.

According to the wiki, “Escape Velocity is a single-player role-playing space trading and ev3-5combat video game series first introduced in 1996 by Ambrosia Software for the Apple Macintosh. Two other similar games based on the original, EV Override and EV Nova, followed in 1998 and 2002 respectively, the latter of which is also available on Microsoft Windows.” On the surface, Escape Velocity might seem like a dated game, and in some respects to the UI, it might be. But if you give it a chance, you’ll find it’s a rich space adventure game with many different ways to play.

You begin as a know-nothing captain of a small shuttlecraft, picking up and trading small stores of cargo or passengers to pay the fuel and operating costs of your vehicle. Then, by chance (or on purpose, if you know what you’re doing), you’ll run into the various quest lines that lead you into owning bigger and better ships, running with or against the various governments and factions, and in some storylines, discovering who or what you truly are. You’ll pilot everything from small shuttlecraft and cargo vessels to enormous battleships and everything in between, with each faction offering their unique ships to you as you progress.

Once you’re powerful enough, you can even demand planets surrender themselves to the might of your fleet, and after a spectacular space battle, will pay you tribute every day. It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish in the game, but you can eventually bend the entire galaxy to your will.

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One aspect I love about Escape Velocity is the ability of its storylines to reach into so many aspects of sci-fi and futuristic speculation.

One storyline introduces you to the Vell-os, a group of telepaths that can materialize their ships around them (with the more powerful telepaths creating sleek battleship-sized vessels) and take the fight to much larger spacecraft. And somewhere in the galaxy, there exists an immense, ancient intelligence that even they fear…

history03Another group, the Polaris, are a group of isolationists who left Earth in the early days of space colonization, and developed a powerful nation with equally powerful sentient biomechanical ships as the backbone of their military and economy (one of the first ships you’re able to pilot in their storyline is described as a fighter-sized craft with the intelligence of a smart dog).
There are the Aurorans, another colonization group from the early days, that turned into a warrior and honor-centric society. They own the most territory in the galaxy as well as the largest population, to the point that their most populous planets are city-worlds in which billions and billions live a tightly-packed existence.

And there’s the rebellion, a militant group dedicated to the freedom of humanity from the tight grip of the Federation based on Earth. Then the Federation itself, of course, determined to set humanity on the right course (as they determine it, of course). And a whole smattering of pirate factions, all determined to steal your money, your ship, and anything else they can shoot out of the sky.

Each of these civilizations have different goals and many of them clash with the others, especially the different groups looking to get out from under the thumb of the Federation. While choosing a particular faction locks out access to the others, you can always restart the game aiming for one of the others.

But trust me, once you pick up a Raven from the Polaris faction, you’ll never go back. 😀

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Another fascinating aspect of this game is the ability to edit and mod the game through its various files. Want access to a different type of ship, or want to make a completely original ship yourself? You can totally do that. Think it’d be fun to create your own mini-faction and collection of owned worlds? Edit the galaxy map and add in a few planets with their own flavor text and set of programmed missions. You can even give your pilot a million-billion space bucks, and never have to fly another escort mission again (though where’s the fun in that).

The original Escape Velocity was one of the first games I ever played where I realized I could play the game any way I wanted to. “Modding a game is a THING?!” Where today a game mod is just a click away online, this blew my eight-year old mind.

Endless Sky

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While the modding scene around Escape Velocity Nova has died down in the recent years, I’ve recently discovered a spiritual successor to this most esteemed game. Endless Sky is a game created by Michael Zahniser. Seriously, this game plays almost identical to Escape Velocity complete with updated graphics, an incredible amount of ships and weapons, and a few long storylines so far, with more planned to be released as the game continues in development. And (the best part) it’s TOTALLY free.

The game includes a full-fledged editor capable of the same kinds of fun upgrades and mods that Escape Velocity Nova had — with the right combination of time, graphics, and sounds, you could add anything from star systems to powerful ships. Even complete conversions are possible, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had a Star Wars-themed mod in the works right now.

So whether you’re looking to experience Escape Velocity Nova for $30 or a more modern version still in the works (for TOTALLY FREE), I would totally recommend it. They’re games that you can play at your own pace, and feature a large galaxy beneath fairly-simple top-down gameplay. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Random Yet Awesome

I love art. Especially when I have no idea how I would ever design/draw/color them. I’ve put some of my work on DeviantArt, but it pales in comparison to some of my favorite online artists. I thought I’d share some of my favorites; they might seem like a random smattering, and they are. 😀

I urge you to check out each artist’s page and give them a like – if they’re anything like me, each piece of artwork is like putting your soul on a canvas. It’s always an awesome feeling to have people visit and give feedback.

Sandara

I’ve actually been following Sandara’s work since I was in high school – I’m honestly not even sure how, since she didn’t have a DeviantArt at the time (at least, not that I know of). Her incredible use of color and texture has always amazed me.

ErikShoemaker

Cinematic images with tight detail and wide-range atmospheric perspective blow my mind. And this is one artist that knows how to do both really, really well.

Arvalis

Ever wanted to know what a Pokémon would look like in the real world? This is the artist to search for. It amazes me how detailed each one is, and how each Pokémon has more connection to actual animals than you might think at first.

Finally…

I’d love to hear of other excellent artists, whether on DeviantArt or professionals with websites of their own. Feel free to post some in the comments down below!

 

Conceal Thyself

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The Phantom of the Opera is there… Inside your mind.

There’s something haunting about masks. And about the person that wears one, of course. And while I usually talk about the metaphysical masks we all wear to hide who we really are, I’m talking about the real deal. From revolutionaries and assassins to theater actors and even in video games, masks come in all sorts of colors and designs. And whether outright horrifying or delightfully entertaining, each has a story to tell. I’d have a mask collection if I had enough wall space — except I kind of do… I’ll explain.

Tiki Masks

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By Josh Agle (AKA Shag), an AWESOME artist

Nothing says tropical like an angry tiki! And though their designs can wildly vary, you always know a tiki mask when you see one.

Honestly, I don’t know much about them apart from the pop culture replacement of real Polynesian meaning. According to To-Hawaii.com (a solid source of reliable information?):

Tiki statues were carved to represent the image of a certain god and as an embodiment of that specific god’s mana, or power. With well-formed tikis, perhaps the people could attain protection from harm, strengthen their power in times of war and be blessed with successful crops…

The ancient Hawaiians kept their gods close using many creative forms of communication. Tikis were created as a medium of connection or interaction. Through continued communication with these all-powerful deities, the Hawaiian people were sure to follow the right path to appeasement.

Whether for religious communication or decoration in a seedy 1980’s style tiki bar in Honolulu, tiki masks have become a universal symbol of life on white beaches and calm ocean waves.

And I’m totally into that.

Ritual Masks

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From JustinBowen on deviantArt of a store wall in Nairobi, Africa

From the wiki on Traditional African masks:

In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his or her human identity and turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself.[3] This transformation of the mask wearer into a spirit usually relies on other practices, such as specific types of music and dance, or ritual costumes that contribute to conceal the mask-wearer’s human identity. The mask wearer thus becomes a sort of medium that allows for a dialogue between the community and the spirits (usually those of the dead or nature-related spirits).

There’s definitely a connection to tiki masks here. It’s exactly what a mask is made to be: a way to hide the identity and create or manifest a new one based upon the mask itself. I have yet to experience a traditional African or Native American ceremony, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.

And on the video game side of things, there’s one ritual mask that definitely went to the dark side…

And ones you might recognize from the tombs of Skyrim:

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Hanging on my wall!

Killer Masks

Because a killer in a mask is always more frightening than one without:

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‘Heroes’ wear masks to do their dirty work:

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And some masks can even heal… or kill, depending on who’s inside:

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Finally…

So, all I’m trying to say is, masks are cool. S’true. Some are used for good, some for evil, and if fiction and myth would have us believe anything, it’s that even the masks themselves can turn into powerful symbols or dark incarnations of evil.

For some reason, I don’t like wearing masks. The physical ones, I mean. And it isn’t because I don’t like hiding myself — oh no, I like that part. It’s just that in modern American society, masks are frowned upon. Like your elementary school teacher reminding you that you couldn’t wear masks for Halloween. Or if you were walking down a street at night and you saw a man walking towards you wearing a mask, you’d probably make a hard turn without a second thought.

Masks differ in meaning from one society to another, and from one time period to another. And maybe there’s no good way to understand the story each mask portrays. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth searching for.

Dem Games are Steamy

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Oh Steam. Oh, you sultry minx. How I’ve tried to resist your siren call. How I’ve failed to do so miserably, throwing away wads of cash attempting to find the gemstones buried beneath waves of terrible, terrible games. Your game reviews have held back my wallet more than once. But the need to experience even the most awful titles has taught me many lessons about video game design, and how to appreciate those precious mechanics when I find them.

But every now and then, whether indie developed or built by AAA companies, I’ve been absorbed the by graphics, gameplay, story, sound design, and even UI of some fantastic games.

Now it’s time to be positive. I’ll be grumpy and negative with the worst games I’ve ever purchased another time.

Here are some of my absolute favorite Steam games, and a rough estimate of how much time I’ve spent in each. Yes, I’m admitting just how much time I’ve spent. Everyone should, it’s a healthy practice and brings perspective on the type of gamer you are.

Even though it’s painful. 😀

1. Skyrim – (830 Hours)

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Yup. I’ve traveled from Riften to Markarth to Solitude and everywhere in between. There are few sights in Skyrim that aren’t absolutely gorgeous, even though it’s been a few years now since its release (though mods have continued to improve everything from environmental sounds to volumetric lighting). The combat is way too fun, though I admit I have modded the Destruction tree of magic to be a bit more powerful than the vanilla game, and increased the speed arrows fly — my two favorite ways to bring the pain.

And dragons, man. DRAGONS. (And curved swords… CURVED SWORDS.)

What’s brought me back so many times is the sheer amount of territory to explore, resources to gather, questlines to experience, and excellent downloadable content. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Solstheim. Being a vampire or a werewolf is an incredible way to wreck faces. The many armor types are gorgeous, and I’ve even crafted the dragon priest masks in real life; they’re hanging above my computer as I type this!

Yes, 830 hours. Yes, that’s over a month of playtime. In my defense, you never know how much time I had the game paused. You just don’t know!

Heh. Heh heh.

2. Mount and Blade: Warband (260 Hours)

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So I have a fondness of vikings. I done learned a thingy about myself!

This is a game in which you control a noble or a warlord (or both in one package!), and recruit armies to fight for you, while you in turn serve under a lord or independently fight to become king of the country yourself. There’s nothing simple about either of these objectives, but you gain experience from every single encounter, and become more proficient in personal combat, trading supplies, training new recruits, pathfinding for higher marching speed… It’s amazing the kinds of possibilities for character builds.

If your army loses to another? You never die, but you can be captured and ransomed. Or you can flee your captors, and begin your army recruitment again with more experience and skills under your belt!

First of all, the mechanics of controlling your character are nothing I’ve experienced in any other game. The direction of the camera while you swing your weapon determines which direction it will stab/swing/fire/smash — this may sound disorienting, but it becomes second nature in a hurry, and makes for very dynamic combat. But besides the gameplay, the overworld is absolutely monsterous, and feathers a myriad of nations from which to recruit your growing army. I can’t recommend this game enough — it’s like real-time Risk, Total War, and Final Fantasy all rolled into one.

3. Just Cause 2 (118 Hours)

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Because EXPLOSIONS.

Yeah, the story isn’t much worth spitting over. But give me a jet and a bajillion targets, and you know you’re in for a good time. Add in mods to increase the shot distance of your grappling hook, give you multiple grappling hooks you can use like Spider-Man, and even one that makes you fly like Superman, and that’s it — you sold me.

Did I mention EXPLOSIONS. I think I did. In case I didn’t, EXPLOSIONS.

4. Starbound (103 Hours)

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Ever wanted to play Minecraft or Terraria… IN SPACE? Starbound is a killer game by Chucklefish Games (which is adorable), and you basically go from planet to planet exploring an entire galaxy of worlds in search of… anything, really!

Establish a home planet on which to build a massive complex? Check. Explore the vast caverns beneath a lava planet in search of rare ores and gems? Check. Board a sky-pirate ship and trade for a massive energy gun capable of blasting monsters into goo? Also check! You can even customize your own starship as a mobile storage base as you travel from world to world, and visit intricately designed space stations, forest villages, ancient dungeons, mysterious and hazard-filled science facilities, and medieval-style castles managed entirely by robots. Even the gravity can vary from one world to the other, making combat tricky and fun. And all the while, you can fight with guns or swords, spears or grenade launchers, and even axes or rocket launchers.

IN SPACE!!

Whether you love to build or love to explore, this game is fantastic. And as far as I know, this game has moved out of early access, but still continues to be updated regularly. Definitely one to pick up.

5. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (85 Hours)

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Hot dang, if ever there was a game that deserves a sequel but will never get one, it’s this game (thanks to the poor developer shutting down). I feel like THIS game is what Fable fans wanted Fable to be, what an open world hack-and-slash game ought to be. As the main character, you are the only being alive in the world that can change your fate and that of those around you, and it makes for a fantastic mechanic and story hook for a role-playing game.

There’s a decent story in Kingdoms of Amalur, though it attempts to be a little too deep in some parts (especially with all the magic elven poetry stones and drawn-out questlines). But the main draw for me was the leveling and combat system. There are an amazing assortment of weapon types, from broadswords and great swords to chakrams and faeblades (think Illidan from Warcraft). The myriad magic and abilities you can choose from are awesome, especially since you can customize your class between three categories: pure magic, martial might, or sneaky stealth. The many enemy types mix up combat pretty well, though there are some that can annoy you if you don’t have the proper ability as a counter.

While the overworld is pretty enormous, it sometimes feels devoid of detail, almost feeling like an MMORPG as you being the only person on the server. This feeling is increased with the large assortment of fetch quests and kill-this-many missions.

But all this makes it sound like this isn’t an awesome game to play. And it totally is! Through all of its flaws, there’s a reason it kept me playing for so long — I wanted to experience all the many ways I could fight and grow. It’s more than worth a couple playthroughs, believe me.

And there’s more…

Oh, so much more. But I’ll get to those laterz.

Difficulty Over Fun – XCOM 2

XCOM-2

Release Date: February 2016

System: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux (Steam)

Don’t get me wrong – XCOM 2 is a killer game. I mean, REALLY killer. As in, you will die playing this game. Many, many times. I mean, those aliens really love slaughter!

From the very ‘tutorial’ level of the game, you realize the aliens who revealed themselves in XCOM: Enemy Unknown are officially in control. Not only did they finish invading our planet decades ago, they’ve set their image as benevolent ambassadors from the stars, acting as a worldwide government and enforcing peace with their technology and strict laws. The stakes are high for the organization known as XCOM. Once a reasonably strong resistance force fighting against the mysterious and frightening alien menace 20 years ago (supported by the many governments around the world, in fact), they’ve come to be regarded as nothing more than terrorists. Not only do you start your experience in XCOM 2 incredibly outnumbered by the alien authority, you begin severely behind technologically, just as you were in the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

I love what story I’ve been able to see — our heroes, enduring insurmountable odds, fighting to bring freedom to the oppressed. The turn-based strategy of XCOM 2 is, for the most part, a joy to play with. The developers even improved the aiming mechanics to the point that your snipers can’t shoot through three homes and two car engine blocks at 100% accuracy. The return of the base-building mechanic in your massive flying airship is absolutely welcome (did I mention your base is a massive flying airship?) And the fact that said airship can be forced down by UFO interceptors is a really neat mechanic, leading your soldiers to defend the ship until it can be repaired. The many class specialties have changed a bit since the first game, mixing up the possibilities; while there are the traditional snipers and heavy-weapons-guys, you also get machete-wielding rangers for close combat and techie specialists equipped with awesome hover drones for hacking computers and healing the wounded. Finally, the many researched upgrades, armors, and weapons make the strategist in me grin madly. Ever played Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare or that one sci-fi movie with Matt Damon? Yeah, you get that kind of modern heavy-duty power armor. With missile launchers attached. Oh yeah, and the myriad types of enemies you’ll encounter will make your eyes bulge out of your head and make you immediately wonder “how the hell am I going to take that thing down?” Can you say Sectopod?

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Okay, all the good stuff, great. No, really — everything that made Enemy Unknown excellent is all there and much more.

But you know what really kills the game for me?

The game’s difficulty.

XCOM 2 has many difficulty modes, ranging from rookie to legend. When I played the very first time, I selected rookie. I wanted to see the story before the challenge, see what enemies I would be facing in higher difficulties, which tactics and upgrades would be best to pick as the game went along.

A few battles in, and I’d lost all of my most experienced soldiers (three rookies dying immediately in the first fight), and the aliens were halfway to developing their ultimate weapon. That ultimate weapon (called the AVATAR project) doesn’t immediately herald an automatic game over once completed (it gives you a 20-day limit once it finishes), but it does make the game feel like a frantic sprint to an unknown finish line instead of the progressive tactical experience I expected and experienced in the first game.

You see, the missions required to delay that the AVATAR project would often spawn too far away from my current world position — to travel to different sections of the globe, you need to have the necessary amount of communication stations in your base to contact the resistance factions in each area. Not only is it very difficult to find the resources necessary to construct these comm stations, it became even more so with the demands of R&D research into improved weapons and armor. Resources and supplies feel too little and too far between, especially with the amount of time required to ‘pick them up’, while in Enemy Unknown, you’d get a monthly paycheck of sorts you could use right away.

But oops, don’t research those weapons and armors too quickly, though — the aliens will quickly advance above you, ensuring the upgrades don’t feel half as effective as they should. Obtain gauss weaponry instead of traditional firearms? Alien HP bars double. Obtain power armor? Alien weapons will tear through it with ease. I know similar progression existed in Enemy Unknown, but the upgrades still felt like upgrades… Not gateways into a more painful experience.

You’re going to lose men and women. Repeatedly, and sometimes randomly, no matter their experience. So what’s the use of upgrading a soldier when the chance of losing them before they become interesting is so high? I feel like I’m sacrificing rookie soldiers as an unholy offering to the RNG gods just to make one or two high-level soldiers survive and thrive. Then, if you lose them, there goes the whole game.

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And then there’s the timers. THE TIMERS.

In Enemy Unknown, a few missions required you to complete an objective in a set amount of turns. There’s weren’t many of them, and their inclusion was a challenging but enjoyable change of pace.

In XCOM 2, almost every single mission is timed. And not slowly timed, either — like, you have seven turns to complete an objective point and evac all your troops. Sorry, but this makes the sharpshooter class one of the most difficult classes to use effectively, especially when snipers were so enjoyable in Enemy Unknown.

Did I mention the entire game has a big ‘ol ultimate weapon countdown timer? Everything in this game feels so desperate.

Yeah, I get that’s the theme of the game, in both story and gameplay.

But we’re still talking about rookie difficulty.

I know that I might be outside of this game’s demographic when I say this, but I enjoy simple tactical gameplay and lower stakes. Yes, I’m one of those that selects rookie mode over legendary, even over normal mode. I like to experience the story. I like seeing the soldiers I’ve spent time with grow and develop. Maybe I’m too chicken to play this game the way it was intended.

Ever play Final Fantasy Tactics? Sure, there’s always the possibility of losing two or three characters over the course of the game, but it’s a challenge to lose your entire party in a single fight (barring the late game battles) once you know what you’re doing. Here in XCOM 2, it’s not rare to lose an entire party of rookies in the first real fight. And the second. And the third. Then you spend your hard-earned resources on more rookies. Etc.

Lead developer Jake Solomon did an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun and spoke about the game’s difficulty:

The difficulty is actually one of those things that can be traced to a particular conversation pretty late – very late, actually – in development. I had been pushing the mantra for a long time that we need to make Normal or Veteran difficulty basically an ‘I want to see the cinematics’ mode, an ‘I want to see the story’ mode, and the player can get through it and it shouldn’t be that difficult. But very, very late in development everybody was playing the game, all the team was playing the game and they were coming back saying “yeah… it’s fun. But it’s pretty easy.”

…It definitely happened by late, but I think when the game got more difficult then you started to see people engaging, you felt that spark of life. ‘Ok, I do want to try again.’

…There are cases where it’s difficult to imagine getting through a mission without somebody dying. Some players can get frustrated by that, and that’s something that we’ve been thinking about quite a bit later. Obviously some people respond really positively to the difficulty and others say ‘it’s too much’, and that’s something we’re thinking about. How do we please both players, basically?

How to please both kinds of players? Well, make rookie difficulty actually rookie difficulty, for one.

There’s a balance between having fun playing a game and playing it for the challenge. Both should obviously exist. But in my opinion, XCOM 2 decided to take the difficulty over the fun. If it was during the late stages of development, I understand that perfecting these systems to balance out is difficult. But if the game was fun and too easy to begin with, I feel the pendulum swung a little too far towards difficult and unmanageable.

And that ‘spark of life’ the early players felt to try again and again? I just don’t feel it with this game like I did with the previous title. Even with modding options to raise the limit on those awful timers, I don’t feel like I’m progressing with the difficulty of obtaining resources and useful upgrades. And I still get torn in half by the aliens, killing my soldiers and my desire to play.

The game is praised almost universally by players and critics alike. And I can understand why. But XCOM 2 lost me. I didn’t want it to, either. I love blasting aliens. But I can’t finish the game on rookie mode. Maybe I’m not a true gamer.

And that makes me sad.

EDIT: I have BEATEN the game by modding out the timers. A couple of times, now, in fact. It’s quite the learning curve, and I haven’t even gotten the DLC for the game yet (which I hear raises the difficulty to incredible heights). So, yeah. Git gud, right?