The PC Gamer XCOM 2 Campaign - Join the War Effort!

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Welcome, James and Jody! I'm chuffed you found the topic! It's great that we're getting to round the team out a bit more.

@PCG Jody I see you already made your likeness in-game! Could I bother you for the exported character file, so I can simply load your character into my game? Failing that, could you provide me with a little bio of your character so I don't have to come up with something and botch it horribly?

I realise I'm asking a lot here, but if you know of any other XCOM fans amongst the PCG staff, I would love for you guys to send them our way!

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Everyone, I want to keep signups open a few more days now that it looks like a few more people might join at the 11th hour. Let's give it the rest of the week and then next week, we'll launch operation Gatecrasher!

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EDIT: Here's your in-game representation, @SeriousNERD. No Bosnia in XCOM 2, so you're from the Ukraine now. Sorry! You were in jail, so I gave your character a bit of a tortured, downtrodden look. Also, the gun is subtly, seriously yellow. I hope you like it!

 
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Great Idea, I'd love to join the ranks
Name: Elvedin
Surname: Sinanovic
Nickname: SeriousNERD
Nationality: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Gender: Male
Biography:
Elvedin enjoyed his life as a software engineer before the occupation. The aliens took over his company and forced him to make software that would be used to recognize resistance members and people who are likely to rebel. He tried to rebel himself by implementing hard to notice bugs in the code, but they eventually found out and punished him. He spent some time in jail where he trained hard to get his body in shape. When he got out, he swapped his keyboard for a sniper rifle and learned to use it well.
He joined XCOM to hack some alien brains with a high powered rifle.

Character Details: Short dark hair and full beard, brown eyes, white Slavic skin, glasses... go crazy with the rest
 
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EDIT: Here's your in-game representation, @SeriousNERD. No Bosnia in XCOM 2, so you're from the Ukraine now. Sorry! You were in jail, so I gave your character a bit of a tortured, downtrodden look. Also, the gun is subtly, seriously yellow. I hope you like it!

Thank you, it looks great, I figured Bosnia wouldn't be in the list, it rarely is, but Ukraine works too. The character looks great, I like the tattoo and the gun color. I hope he is useful in the campaign. Looking forward to see how it progresses.
 
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Alright everyone, today's the final day of signups. I'll be adding the last entries tonight and then I'm kicking off the campaign in earnest on Monday. If you've already submitted a character, feel free to make one more. @PCG James I'm waiting for your character, hope you still feel like getting in on the action!

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Here's what you can expect from the campaign once we start: I will be posting at least once a week, which is probably the most I'm going to manage for the first few weeks. I work full-time and go to night school on the side, for which I have exams coming up in two weeks. I will have to take some extra free time to study.

At the start of the campaign, in-game events happen a little more frequently and tactical missions are fairly brief, so I'll likely cover two or three deployments in a single post. That's about 2-3 weeks of in-game time. After a few in-game months the tactical layer will get more complex and missions can sometimes take multiple hours to complete, so the pace will slow down a bit. At the end of each entry, I'll provide a little summary to explain how the campaign is doing on a macro level and update the roster on page 1 to reflect any changes in the squad.

Realistically, the campaign will take me multiple months to complete. I will try to post as consistently as possible to keep interest going. I can't promise we will actually win the game, but we are damn well going to try! I'm very excited to start and I hope the whole endeavour is going to be a great success, because I'm already kicking around some ideas for a possible series 2!

You guys ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum?!
 

Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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Alright everyone, today's the final day of signups. I'll be adding the last entries tonight and then I'm kicking off the campaign in earnest on Monday. If you've already submitted a character, feel free to make one more. @PCG James I'm waiting for your character, hope you still feel like getting in on the action!

---

Here's what you can expect from the campaign once we start: I will be posting at least once a week, which is probably the most I'm going to manage for the first few weeks. I work full-time and go to night school on the side, for which I have exams coming up in two weeks. I will have to take some extra free time to study.

At the start of the campaign, in-game events happen a little more frequently and tactical missions are fairly brief, so I'll likely cover two or three deployments in a single post. That's about 2-3 weeks of in-game time. After a few in-game months the tactical layer will get more complex and missions can sometimes take multiple hours to complete, so the pace will slow down a bit. At the end of each entry, I'll provide a little summary to explain how the campaign is doing on a macro level and update the roster on page 1 to reflect any changes in the squad.

Realistically, the campaign will take me multiple months to complete. I will try to post as consistently as possible to keep interest going. I can't promise we will actually win the game, but we are damn well going to try! I'm very excited to start and I hope the whole endeavour is going to be a great success, because I'm already kicking around some ideas for a possible series 2!

You guys ready to kick ass and chew bubblegum?!
Can't wait to see how we do! We will fight to the last soldier to defeat the ADVENT Project. Fight well, Commander.
 
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CHAPTER 1: Gatecrasher

The year is 2035. Twenty years after XCOM's defeat during the alien invasion, the ADVENT administration celebrates the 20th anniversary of Unification Day to commemorate the formation of the ADVENT Coalition. XCOM has been in hiding since the bulk of its forces was destroyed and all record of its existence erased. Under the command of their battle-hardened CO Bradford, XCOM now returns to take the fight to our alien overlords one more time. Resistance cells across the globe prepare for a coordinated sudden strike..

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Operation: Gatecrasher, ADVENT Surveillance Ward, Sapporo
Objective: Sabotage ADVENT Monument
Operatives: DelirusRex, Pifanjr, Big Country, Rensje

Our strike team dropped as soon we got word that Bradford succeeded in disrupting ADVENT's celebrations. The objective: destroying one of ADVENT's precious monuments, sending a clear message that XCOM is back and ready to fight for our planet once more. The team lands on a rooftop overlooking the monument and immediately spots a group of Troopers, just standing in the middle of the road.

We're in big country now.


Striking from concealment, Rensje announces their arrival by scoring a double grenade kill on two of the nearby Troopers. The third trooper, only seconds after taking the last sip of his morning coffee, is so startled by the brashness of the attack that he doesn't really know what to do with himself. He makes a run for it, but unfortunately for him he runs right into an ambush set up by DelirusRex and Big Country, with BC hitting the poor Trooper square in the face. So far, so good.

You wot, mate?!


The team takes a moment to reload and collect themselves before slowly moving up to the monument. A parked lorry provides some much needed cover. Before long, DelirusRex spots a second group of Troopers, this time led by a dangerous ADVENT Officer. They spot our soldiers and run for cover before anyone can react.

Fortunately, the Officer seems overconfident and thinks a park bench is plenty of protection from a bunch of untrained XCOM rookies. Being the clever chaps that we are, we hatch a plan. Big Country is in grenade range of the Officer and although a single grenade impact won't be enough to destroy the Officer's advanced armour, it could destroy the bench he's cowering behind and set us up for a nice flanking shot.



He slam dunks the grenade like Kobe and leaves the officer standing in the open. Pifanjr spots an opportunity and takes aim.

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to hit.


As you can see, he isn't the best shot in the world, but Pi proves himself to be effective at performing under pressure. He strikes true and the Officer goes down, leaving behind a nice little piece of loot for us to collect. Meanwhile, the Trooper sitting behind him gets taken care of by Rensje, who manages to flank him from behind a concrete pillar. Nice job, mate.

That just leaves one more Trooper hiding behind the monument, but no one has a decent shot at him. Rookie DelirusRex moves up and takes cover behind the lorry, which he assumed would be ample protection from incoming fire. Sadly, he was wrong. The overachieving Trooper decides he wants to go down in a blaze of glory and manages to get a hit in on DR before finally getting destroyed by Pifanjr's grenade. DR lives, but he will be out of commission for a while.

With the last trooper down, Big Country plants the X4 charges on the monument and the team beelines for the Skyranger. The exloding monument provides a fitting celebratory fireworks display for a mission well accomplished.





It's promotions all around for our scrappy rookies. Miraculously, DelirusRex only needs about a week in the infirmary. Come on mate, we've seen worse. It's just a flesh wound. He gets to enjoy his new sword from his hospital bed as he's been promoted to Ranger. Big Country will be our first tech Specialist, while Pifanjr decides he likes things to go boom and volunteers for the position of Grenadier. Myself, I pick up a sniper rifle and pistol and decide to fulfill the proud role of skittish Sharpshooter.

Back aboard the Avenger, Shen builds us a flashbang and Dr. Tygen sets about researching modular weapons, because apparently we haven't yet figured out how scopes work in the year 2035. It's fine. Our headquarters is situated in the New Arctic region, near the coast of the Siberian sea. While passing the time, we find some extra supplies we can use and get word of a nearby resistance cell that can bolster our forces with some new recruits. Inside the Avenger, work commences on our first facility: the Guerilla Tactics School.

On March 7, literal hours before DelirusRex is discharged from the infirmary, we get the opportunity to strike at a relay under ADVENT control, potentially preventing word of our resurgence from spreading across the Aliens' communications network in the area for some time to come. Down a man, we decide to go in regardless. In the late afternoon of March 7, we launch operation Dying Skull.
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Operation: Dying Skull, outskirts of Novgorod, New Arctic
Objective: Destroy Alien Relay
Operatives: Pifanjr, Big Country, Rensje, Waltz

Bad Boys


Before we launch, Pifanjr is equipped with a kevlar helmet to protect him from his own worst impulses, and I dye my armour fifty shades of black so as to be more invisible from a distance. Waltz is the lucky bastard who gets to accompany us vets on this second outing, and we can only pray for his safety.

The Skyranger drops the team off at the edge of Novgorod, and gingerly they inch forward towards the nearby petrol station. We know that the relay has been set up inside the shop, but it's far and we only have 8 minutes before we're too late to intercept the transmission. Big Country takes a risk and runs ahead to get a better view of the surroundings.



Right under the all-seeing eye of a nearby security tower, BC spots a Sectoid and a Trooper standing guard at a nearby road block. The squad sets up for ambush behind an abandoned car nearby, and rookie Waltz does what rookies do best: he inches forward to lob a grenade.





The Trooper is instantly dead, flung over the barrier by the grenade's impact. The Sectoid lives, spotting the group and running for cover so it can strike back from relative safety. Before it gets the chance, Rensje manages to catch it out in the open with a well-placed overwatch shot. Two down, the rest of the team takes a breath and prepares to move up again.

A few minutes later, the squad spots another Trooper and his Officer under the steel canopy of the petrol station. They were alerted by the sound of a nearby explosion and lay waiting. Big Country and Pifanjr find themselves horribly flanked, but Waltz manages to outsmart the watchmen and flanks the Trooper in kind. Making his German ancestors proud, he proves himself quite the exterminator and fires a few rounds into the Trooper's overly large head.



That just leaves the Officer. He's positioned far back and in high cover, making him difficult to get to and therefore dangerous. Big Country sees no other way out than to run into high cover and Rensje cannot fire at the Officer from his position, leaving Pifanjr to pick up the slack. Determined to save his frag grenade should he need it later, he decides to flashbang the Officer instead. It proves effective, as the Officer does not dare move out of cover and even forgets to go into overwatch.

The team assesses the situation. No one can flank the Officer because he is still too far away, and hitting him with gunfire will be difficult. Rensje and Waltz take pot shots, but both rounds fail to connect. The time is ticking and Big Country's patience is running out. He jumps forward and lobs a grenade at the fuel pump, blowing up it, the car behind and the Officer for good measure. Looking smug, Big Country darts back into cover and leaves Pifanjr to blow up the relay.

With the primary mission objective out of the way, Pifanjr and the rest move up to mop up the survivors. Before long, they run into another Trooper and his Sectoid buddy. They take cover inside and behind the nearby building, and the team dig in and overwatch so they can lash out next turn. Pifanjr launches a grenade at the Sectoid, destroying its cover and forcing him to move.

AVADA KEDAVRA!


The Sectoid foolishly repositions behind a large gas tank on the side of the building, making him an easy target for anyone in range. Don't count it out yet, though. Before the squad can respond, the Sectoid resurrects a nearby civilian that got caught in the crossfire. Zombified, it stumbles across to Rensje's fortified position.

That looks heavy.


Mindful of the fact that blowing up the Sectoid could destroy some potential loot that it's carrying, Rensje tries to get a sneaky sniper shot in from afar. If he manages to hit, the team won't need to blow up the tank. Unfortunately he misses despite his best intentions, and so does Waltz. Big Country, having had enough of their incompetence, fires at the gas tank from close range and blows up the Sectoid for good.

Pifanjr, never one to be standing on the sideline, runs back to the front of the building and manages to flank the remaining Trooper. Being quite the trooper himself, he pumps the alien scum full of lead and with that, saves the day for XCOM.

'Say hello to m..' NO. Just, no.


Dying Skull was an unmistakeable success. No one got injured or left behind and that relay won't function for a while. Back at the Avenger, it's time for another round of promotions. Waltz, ever the German, has shown an aptitude for murdering lesser species wholesale and is promoted to Grenadier. Rensje receives a commendation for his impressive Sectoid kill early on and gets promoted to Corporal. As for Pifanjr and Big Country, well.. they are undervalued for now. Just keep overdelivering guys, you will get your promotions in due time!



While we were busy laying the smackdown on some alien scum, Dr. Tygen managed to research modular weapon tech and has since commenced working on hybrid materials. Shen puts a newly acquired engineer to work building the GTS and then.. a strange call comes in.

-------------------------------------------------​


The Council yet survives. Interesting. The alien Blacksite is our next port of call, but we are a little understaffed and poorly equipped, so figuring out what this 'Avatar' project entails will have to wait for a bit. In the meantime, Big Sky intercepted a faint distress signal from a familiar source. The old Skyranger, Big Sky's former pride and joy, lay downed in a field with some precious cargo on board. The Avenger heads over there to pick it up, and we find some interesting and unique equipment. It appears to have to been used to hunt aliens. The Hunter's Axes and Bolt Caster in particular catch our eye.

Construction of the Guerilla Tactics School is now complete, and we immediately put forward our first rookie for training. Jenske 'Jammer' Lemmens commences training as a Ranger, and through the wizardry of the GTS the field teams may now find extra loot like the vultures they are. Tygen finishes up Alien Biotech research and commences work on Resistance Comms, so we may restore contact with other cells on the continent.

56, 57, 58..


Before we can resume our search for the local resistance cell that has some soldiers to spare, we get an incoming call from a Dr. An Gao. She is a scientist working for ADVENT, but she has had enough and has agreed to work for XCOM if they can guarantee her safe extraction. Once again, it's up to the strike team to get out there and get dirty. Commence operation Fire Slap!
-------------------------------------------------

Operation: Fire Slap, ADVENT Priority Ward, Novgorod
Objective: Extract VIP from ADVENT city
Operatives: DelirusRex, Big Country, Rensje, Pifanjr

With no time to lose and our window for extraction closing quickly, the Skyranger came in hot and the team is caught in the open when they find Dr. Gao. The Skyranger sets up for extraction at a safe distance while the men form a perimeter around the scared professor. One foot in front of the other, they move forward as one while trying to stay in cover as much as possible.

It isn't long before an ADVENT patrol finds them. Fortunately, our soldiers look alive and manage to catch a Sectoid out in the open as it's about to duck for cover. Pifanjr only manages to redecorate the once lovely urban environment, but a well-aimed shot from Big Country critically injures the slimy git and DelirusRex seals the deal with a stray bullet from his shotgun.

'Mowing' the lawn.


The Trooper on the left is now praying for its alien gods to help him in his time of need, but the gods require sacrifice and it is Rensje who delivers it to them in the form of some neatly perforated alien guts. He hits the trooper so perfectly between the eyes that the bullet's impact hurls him backwards, folding him into a neat pile against a nearby tree. We think the gods would be proud of his handiwork.

Make like a tree and die!


Nearby, an ADVENT Officer is feeding some pidgeons while watching the news. Looks like we're famous, lads! As he looks over his shoulder, he realises that a few faces on ADVENT's most wanted list are staring right at him and he bolts to cover. Worried his beautiful crimson cloak might get dirty, he sends a Trooper to scout ahead and take some bullets for the motherland. This is Russia, after all.





Big Country, offended by the Officer's cowardice, decides to get close and dispatch the creeping commander with prejudice. A beautifully cooked stake pierces his alien heart and sends him to his overlords on a silver platter. Lordy lord, what a powerful weapon! It may only fire once before you need to reload it, but that thing could put down a bison in a single shot. A puny Officer proves to be no problem either.

Now that Trooper McTrooperson is the highest ranking ADVENT soldier in the immediate vicinity, he looks on in terror as the rest of the squad move up to go for his throat. It's squaddie DelirusRex who gets there first, and from a beautiful flanking position he delivers murder to the Trooper's doorstep. Helmet or not, the terror in his unliving eyes is obvious. Good job there's some storm drains in the pavement to wash the blood away.



Honestly, it's going maybe a bit too well, isn't it? How much longer before it all goes to pot and squaddies start dying left and right? Feeling perhaps a touch overconfident, the squad moves up to the tall building ahead, where the Skyranger is burning fuel at an alarming rate. Just a few more minutes before it has to take off, and the team isn't even close!

Around the side of the building, we finally run into what looks to be our last adversaries of the day. On the first floor of the office building, a Sectoid and a Trooper come streaking past the window. Pifanjr misses his overwatch shot but blows out pretty much the entire side of the building, giving Rensje a chance to wound the naked alien rat with his pistol. The Sectoid and the Trooper both run for cover, but DelirusRex is having none of it. He hurls one of his axes at the Trooper, killing the poor sod instantly, and uses the other axe to slice up to the Sectoid into tasty alien sashimi. The man is a veritable axe murderer. Glorious!

You axed for it!


Suddenly, the team finds itself with time to spare, and all that's left to do is to take a leisurely stroll to the Skyranger for extraction. Always the gentlemen, our boys let the lady get roped into the Skyranger first and then follow suit for the ride home.

This feels a little ropey.




Just look at these ballers! Congratulations on a job well done, guys. Tygen finally gets to boss someone around and maybe, just maybe our research will get done a little faster too! Everyone but Rensje gets promoted and they all retreat to the bar for a well-deserved drink. We even managed to extract some loot and score some valuable intel in the process!

While the team was out doing its thing, the Avenger found the rookies we were looking for and happened upon an encrypted signal, likely left by the late Dr. Shen, Lily's father. Decrypting it would mean going to the signal's location, and there's currently more pressing matters to attend to, so that will have to wait. First we need a good night's sleep!

Join me next time as we prepare to restore comms with resistance cells in East and West Asia and receive our first paycheck for a job well done. Want to know how the team is doing? Check out the roster on page 1 of this topic! For now, XCOM out!

 
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Thanks for the kind words, everybody! I spent pretty much the entire Monday playing, making notes and then writing the piece. It was super fun and I'm thrilled that you guys seem to enjoy it so much! I want to say I'm going to get the next installment out on Monday, if all goes well.

I hit one little snag along the way: not every character I currently control in the campaign is one of ours, a few are just randoms. I think that happened because I didn't start with at least 25 unique, named characters. It's fine, I'm going to either not use them at all or turn them into some of @Johnway's unused entries. Or yours, if anyone wants to send in a second character. The other characters should start showing up over time.

I've already been playing a bit more and making notes for the next chapter, so I'll just drop a little tease here.


Also, would you guys enjoy animated gifs at all? I honestly have no idea how I would make those, but wouldn't it be awesome to see some of those sweet, glorious kills in motion?!
 

Zoid

Community Contributor
Jan 13, 2020
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Thanks for the kind words, everybody! I spent pretty much the entire Monday playing, making notes and then writing the piece. It was super fun and I'm thrilled that you guys seem to enjoy it so much! I want to say I'm going to get the next installment out on Monday, if all goes well.

I hit one little snag along the way: not every character I currently control in the campaign is one of ours, a few are just randoms. I think that happened because I didn't start with at least 25 unique, named characters. It's fine, I'm going to either not use them at all or turn them into some of @Johnway's unused entries. Or yours, if anyone wants to send in a second character. The other characters should start showing up over time.

I've already been playing a bit more and making notes for the next chapter, so I'll just drop a little tease here.


Also, would you guys enjoy animated gifs at all? I honestly have no idea how I would make those, but wouldn't it be awesome to see some of those sweet, glorious kills in motion?!
Uh oh, faceless already?? Godspeed, soldiers.

Animated GIFs of some of the bigger moments sounds amazing, but the most important thing is that you have fun playing!
 
Yeah animated Gifs for more awesome moments or WTF moments otherwise, don't stress it. As long as the writing is good/entertaining, its more then enough to keep it going.


Edit:
Concerning randoms, i personally like to add one or 2 strangers into the team and see how they shape out. You'll be surprised as to how some of them develop and become a hero in their own right and become memorable members of the team. or they're quickly forgotten as they get killed.

But i'm sure we can come up with more characters. balls in your court forum! start suggesting ideas and you too could be part of PCGF XCOM 2 history!

I have the most to lose as i have contributed a hell of a lot of characters and not all of them are going to make it out alive.
 
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Great write up, I really enjoyed reading it, and can't wait for the next one. GIFs would be a welcome addition , but are not necessary. I don't know what GPU you have, but maybe nVidia shadowplay can be useful with the last few minutes of gameplay feature, or with AMDs ReLive instant gif...
 
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Welcome back to the campaign! When we last saw our squad, they were getting Chinese takeout from an ADVENT facility. Now, they're taking a breather on the Avenger after a perfect mission. Will their lucky streak last? Let's find out!

CHAPTER 2: Retaliation

March 18. We rejoin our crew as the Avenger's preparing to establish contact with the East Asia region. A supply drop is coming in a few days and rookie Karl 'Whiskey' Fletcher is taking sharpshooter lessons from yours truly at the Guerilla Tactics School. Dr. Tygen is busy researching a promising new magnetic weapons technology with his new associate while Dr. Shen is looking at the bottom of a beer glass at the bar. All is well at the moment, but dark events loom on the horizon.

By now, ADVENT is more than aware that XCOM is back and here to stay. Bradford figured it would be a simple matter of time until they decided to strike back at us rather than sit around waiting to be attacked, and he was right. He just didn't think that retaliatory strike would come so soon. At 9:59 PM on the 22nd of March, the resistance haven at Harmony Creek was invaded by ADVENT. Their objective: search and destroy.



The haven was overrun before we even got a chance to scramble the jet, and by the time we arrived the entire camp site was on fire. Hope remains, however. Some rebels managed to survive and the Skyranger is on its way to rescue as many of them as we can.
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Operation: Defiant Dirge, Resistance Haven 'Harmony Creek'
Objective: Rescue at least 6 civilians
Operatives: DelirusRex, Big Country, Rensje, Pifanjr



Our fearsome foursome drops on a hill at the southern edge of the campsite. Overlooking the haven, they assess the damage. A few of the survivors are screaming for help in the distance, but running straight towards them would be a death sentence for both them and our soldiers. We have to take the smart approach, even if it means we can't save everyone. It's a difficult choice, but necessary.

DelirusRex takes point and approaches a cliff face at the edge of the hill. Looking down, he spots a Sectoid and a Stun Lancer. Before he can duck for cover, they spot him too. He jumps down and runs behind a stack of crates. The rest of the squad isn't far behind. Rensje takes position behind a tree on the hill, from which he will be able to scope out the entire camp. Pifanjr takes care of a nearby civilian while Big Country joins DelirusRex in facing the enemy.

DR proceeds to drop a grenade at the Sectoid's feet, blowing up the cover he is cowering behind. This gives Big C a clear shot, but there is the Lancer to consider. A colum of fire is blocking his view, but he does have a shot and Rensje can take care of the Sectoid as well. He rolls the dice and isn't left wanting. The Lancer is impaled and Rensje manages to shoot the Sectoid from afar before he ever gets a chance to return fire.

In the distance, a civilian by the name of Chris Tucker dies to plasma fire. We can only hope Jackie Chan isn't next on the alien's hit list. Pifanjr has managed to rescue three civilians thus far, putting his life on the line by running far ahead of the squad to get them. By the time he reaches the fourth civilian, disaster strikes. Not only does he alert another group of aliens to his presence, but the civilian he was running for turns out to be.. well, we're not sure, exactly. A goop monster? Swamp Thing? De blob? It is something, alright.



Pi is so startled and out of breath that he's unable to move for just long enough that the goop monster gets to hit him square in the face. Pi is badly hurt, but mostly disgusted. We would be, too. He probably smells. Anyway, the injured Pi quickly darts behind a tree and waits for his squad to knock out the big blubbery boi. Rensje gives it his best shot, but only manages to wound the creature. Big C and DR are out of range and currently entangled in a fight with another Sectoid and a Lancer, so it's up to Pi to finish off the shapeshifter before it gets the chance to finish him off. Steadying his gatling gun against the tree he's hiding behind, Pi fires and manages to kill the mouldy mimic. Phew.



Meanwhile, Big C and DR are fighting off some more aliens in the distance. Chen wants to get at the Sectoid by destroying his cover with a grenade, but unfortunately he fumbles the throw and the grenade goes absolutely nowhere. Fortunately, no friendlies are injured. DelirusRex runs in and throws his axe at the Lancer, killing it instantly. A lucky break, but the Sectoid is still alive. He could run it and take its head off in close quarters combat, but he would risk alerting another nearby group of enemies and the rest of the squad are currently too far behind to cover him. He decides to stand his ground and set up an overwatch trap.

Taken aback by the sudden death of his compatriate, the Sectoid bravely decides to hightail it out of there. DelirusRex spots the opportunity and fires, but his shotgun blast misses the agile alien and it disappears into the night. If nothing else, this gives the squad a chance to regroup and reload their guns for the final push.

It isn't long before squad leader Big Country spots the last group of enemies. An Officer and a Lancer are waiting for the squad, alerted to our presence by the Sectoid that ran off minutes earlier. Rensje, still standing on the hill far behind the rest of the squad, manages to fire at the Lancer with the help of BC as his spotter. A difficult shot, but it connects. The Lancer is badly wounded but lives. Big C sends in his Gremlin to jolt the Lancer, and the attack is damaging enough that the Lancer finally gives out.

Sadly, Big C didn't take the cowardly Sectoid into account and realises too late that he is badly flanked. Rensje can't quite fire again and DelirusRex is too busy axing the nearby Officer to even notice the Sectoid standing in between them. That leaves Pi to take care of it, but he's afraid to get too close lest he be shot and killed should he miss. He decides to hunker down behind cover and hope for the best.



Being so badly outnumbered, the Sectoid sizes up the enemy and decides he needs help. The ground around our squad is littered with corpses and the Sectoid proceeds to resurrect one of them as his psionic zombie. Rensje can't fire from his position and DR is still wiping the blood off his axes, so Big Country steps up to the plate and flanks the Sectoid, stapling him neatly to a nearby barn. With the AO clear and 12 of the 18 civilians accounted for, the squad packs it up and returns to the Skyranger.



Big Country has proven to be quite the effective soldier and is rewarded the rank of sergeant for his outstanding work. He is our first real squad leader and under his command, the away team will henceforth be allowed a fifth squad member. Pifanjr isn't quite so lucky and has to spend the next two weeks in the infirmary, but at least he got away with all his limbs mostly intact.

On the Avenger, research into mag weapons is still very much in progress as the squad returns and settles in. Engineers have started work on the Advanced Warfare Center, a facility that should help us unlock the hidden potential in our soldiers. It's going to take 21 days to build, so it won't be operational for a while. Bradford has seen fit to recruit another rookie to the team, none other than Dawg 'Round' himself. He is immediately sent to the GTS for Specialist training, as we don't want to send him into combat as a complete rook.

A week goes by without much fuss. The Avenger's been able to pick up the supply drop and collect another nearby resource cache, providing us with some sorely needed financial means to build equipment and train soldiers. Contact with the East Asia province has also been established. On the 30th of March, we get an incoming call: resistance fighters have intercepted an enemy transmission, stating that one of their UFOs is on an intercept course for the Avenger. If we hack a nearby ADVENT workstation and send a counterfeit message, we might be able to get the UFO off our scent.
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Operation: Storm Steed, Slums District, Novgorod
Objective: Hack workstation at ADVENT facility
Operatives: Big Country (CO), Rensje, DelirusRex, Waltz, Round



Pi is still in the infirmary and therefore unable to join the mission, but fortunately Waltz is able to take his place. New to the team is Round, who managed to finish up his training just in time and will be our backup Specialist for this assigment. Big C will be leading the charge, with reliable veterans Rensje and DR rounding out the team. At 5:18 AM on the March 30, they drop quietly into Novgorod once more.

The LZ is quite far from the workstation and with a mere 8 minutes to spare, we're on the clock. The team pushes hard for the objective and manages to stay concealed for the time being. Waltz is the first to make contact with the enemy; a Sectoid and Lancer, as per usual. A tried-and-true combination. The squad sets up an overwatch trap but the enemy does not bite, so Big C decides to lead by example and takes aim at the Sectoid. The shot connects and his powerful stake driver kills the enemy in a single critical hit.



The Lancer stumbles into cover, but butcher Zach is on the case. He goes for a flanking position, but in his eagerness to destroy the Lancer he accidentally alerts a nearby group of enemies to his presence. They take position and are flanking him badly from a safe spot. Zach is in trouble and calls for aid.



Both the Officer and his subordinate are in high cover and will be difficult to hit. They're also far back enough that a flank is simply not an option. Attempting it regardless could alert even more enemies to our presence, something we want to avoid at all cost. Rensje scoots closer and tosses a cheeky grenade at the Trooper. His cover is destroyed and the poor bastard is sent to his maker. DR attempts to get a hit in on the Officer by throwing an axe at him, but this time he misses his mark. Frustrated, he blasts the Lancer he was flanking square in the jaw with his shotgun, killing him on the spot. Satisfaction guaranteed.

The rest of the crew is unable to get at the Officer from their positions, and Round can think of nothing better than to Aid Protocol his flanked buddy DR in hopes of saving him from a grisly death. Waltz, being the last to move, tosses a grenade at the officer to wound him and hopefully scare him off. His gambit works and the alien scurries off.

Still not quite believing their luck, the team reassembles and moves a little closer to the objective. Round is the first to lay eyes on the workstation from a distance and sends in his Gremlin to perform the hack at range. With the objective completed, they set up an overwatch trap in case the Officer comes back for another shot at DR. He doesn't, and the team proceeds to sweep the area.

Big C stumbles upon a security tower just outside the courtyard, and decides he wants to take a peek in its mechanical brain. He hacks it with his Gremlin and spots an opportunity to override the enemy's comms, providing him with full immunity from the next 2 attacks made against him if the hack succeeds. He goes for it greedily, but sadly the attempt fails and a squad of enemies is now alerted to their position!

The squad curses Big C for his hubris as an enemy dropship flies in and an Officer, Lancer and Trooper jump out to greet our beleaguered heroes. To make things worse, the wounded Officer proves himself a true tactician and returns at this very moment with a Sectoid and another Trooper by his side. Suddenly, the team is staring down a superior opposing force of 6. Big trouble in little Novgorod, for sure.

The enemy reinforcements from the dropship take position outside the fence surrounding the courtyard, while the Sectoid and Officer hide behind the building containing the workstation. The Trooper that accompanied them hides behind a desk inside the building. They're all pretty far away, either out of sight or in cover, and in great position to flank us if we don't take charge of the situation. The team ducks for cover behind a tall statue in the middle of the courtyard and we assess our options, but it's not looking good.



DR spots some high cover ahead from which he can grenade the Trooper in the building. This will also blow up the cover that the wounded Officer is hiding behind. Deciding it's better to kill one or two enemies than wound multiple, he goes for it. The Trooper dies and the Officer is exposed, making him an easier target for the rest of the squad.

Big Country attempts to make up for his costly hacking mistake by shooting the Lancer closest to his position, but unfortunately the shot misses and the Lancer escapes unscathed. We really needed a win here, Big C! Rensje can't see a damn thing from his spot behind the tall statue and has no other option than to reposition for a better shot next turn. That leaves Waltz and Round, but neither is a very good shot and the enemy is hard to hit from this range.

Round eventually decides to mitigate the risks by throwing a flashbang at the Lancer and Officer hiding behind the perimeter fence, while Waltz uses his costly frost bomb to immobilise the Sectoid for a turn. With only one out of six enemies eliminated and one other enemy frozen in place, that still leaves four of them free to attack us. We prepare for the worst. Let's see what happens.


What an actual god among men! We think DR's incredible luck will be spoken of for generations to come! After being marked for death by one of the Officers, he manages to dodge all but one of the incoming attacks and live to tell the tale. He even downplays his injuries with a cheeky 'that one hurt a little'. Legendary!

Big C has finally had enough of this awful situation and takes charge like the leader he is. He pulls the pin from his grenade and lobs it at the Trooper and Lancer, killing one and wounding the other. As a last 'F-you' to the XCOM team, the cover he is behind somehow holds up in the blast, leaving the Lancer protected. DelirusRex, wounded but still very much in the fight, runs at the burning Officer that marked him and chops his head off with a clean blow to the neck. He darts into high cover behind a video camera immediately afterwards.




Rensje is finally in a good position to fire, but the Lancer he is gunning for is not quite as exposed as he should be after that grenade blast. It's a tough call, but he decides to take the shot. HIT! The Lancer goes down, thank goodness. His prowess inspires Waltz and he shoots his gatling gun at the Officer standing next to him. His chance of actually hitting the alien is poor, but miraculously he still manages to wound him badly. Dawg Round is still too far to actually hit anyone and decides to defend his wounded comrade DR as best he can.

The Officer, angered by Waltz's cheek, marks the poor man for death and proceeds to fire at him. Waltz gets hit and is in rough shape. As if that's not bad enough, the thawed-out Sectoid plays a mind trick on him and makes the man panic. Unless we can finish the fight fast or make him come to his senses, Waltz might not survive another turn. We have to stop this now!

Big C spots an opportunity to finish off the second Officer by sending his Gremlin in to attack him. Only the Sectoid is left and being the fleshy sort makes him vulnerable to melee attacks. DR gets one last hurrah and charges him for the kill. At long last the nightmare is over and the battered squad can return to base, satisfied with the knowledge that their efforts today have thwarted even more dangerous events!



Both Waltz and DR will be spending some time in the infirmary with Pi, but both are to be commended for their fantastic performances on this mission. DR deservedly gets promoted to sergeant and may very well take over for Big C in the future, or lead a second squad. Big C, well.. let's just gloss over that. Rensje gets promoted for his calm and assertive efforts, too. Round has not seen much action on his first combat mission, but certainly without his defensive tactics DR wouldn't be alive today. He can look forward to a box of Cubans courtesy of our beloved axe murderer!
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And that concludes the first month of the PC Gamer campaign against alien oppression! I sincerely hope you guys enjoyed the second chapter. I still haven't had much luck getting gifs to work, but I decided to add a little video instead to spice things up a bit. Join me again next week to see what becomes of our wounded soldiers and what terrors lurk just over the horizon.

For now, XCOM out!
 
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