Cataclysm Postmortem*

by Kyzrati on 20120925 , under

*so-called because you've played Cataclysm and are now dead :)

I've done a few stealth releases in the past several days, mostly little fixes and tweaks to the scenario, so we're actually up to R7.3 now. Here's a rundown of what changed in Cataclysm:
  • Unarmed civilians will also take weapons you offer them (originally only armed civilians would swap for better)
  • Second evac zone always different from the first
  • Police now talk, and eventually receive orders to leave their station and do what they can to help civilians evacuate
  • Suicide bomber detonation text uses proper actor (bomber detonates, not their intended target...)
  • Mission results correctly shows number of scrolls read
  • Fixed actor reference for one of Rev. Jones' lines
  • Fixed a few typos
There were a few other gameplay issues I found, which you can read about in the changelog. (The updates do fix a pair of pretty serious bugs, so if you're still playing R7, I highly suggest making sure you have the latest version.)

For those of you only following the project and not actually playing yet, I've uploaded a new video showing a quick overview of the new and old game elements. As usual, YouTube manages to ruin the clarity with overzealous mp4 compression, so HD + fullscreen are essential (and even then the quality leaves much to be desired).

In addition to the tips provided on release, here are some more hints and strategies to help you survive long enough to evacuate:
  • Some items may have unexpectedly useful melee attacks.
  • Alien enemies are spawned entirely from the necromass, and both it and all of the spawned units except for one are weak against fire. They're also very slow. If you can get your hands on some "fire"-power (there are several sources), you'll be nigh invincible... until your ammo runs dry.
  • If you see a growing Necrospore Shell or Bulge and have something with which to destroy it, by all means do so immediately, because what it hatches will no doubt be a fairly big problem.
  • Avoid wading through the necrospores--it slows you down.
  • If you can manage to persuade the drug dealer to give you some cocaine (guns being the best form of persuasion), it works pretty well on zombies...
  • If you can get hold of a bible, they have a chance of smiting zombies when you whack them over the head.
  • You should of course immediately gather your family first--they'll be your first rescues, and they all have rudimentary armament, which is better than what you've got, so they can at least shield you if absolutely necessary.
  • Always always grab the sledgehammer in the garage. It's your primary weapon until you can find something in another house/building. Also make sure it goes to your strongest soldier--strength = damage for the sledgehammer. Notice you have two rookies and two sergeants--the latter are generally going to be stronger, and better at just about everything else, too.
  • House garages always contain one common household tool that doubles as a weapon.
  • Remove guns from cases and swords from stands using the undocumented manipulate ('n') command. (They're quite uncommon, but you may find one.)
  • If you see a chryssalid, RUN. The only way you can hope to defeat one is with some fairly heavy explosives. Conventional arms aren't effective enough since chryssalids have thick armor and can close on you way too quickly.
  • If you spot some useful assets, don't think "Oh, I'll just go around this other building then circle back and get them", IMMEDIATELY go straight for them. Things change fast, and there a lot of unknowns. There may be no later, so if you really them now...
  • Food and drink are good for restoring stamina, which you may run low on if you run around a lot (which you probably will)--drinking an espresso and continuing your sprint is better than having to take a breather and wait for those zombies to catch up to you!
  • Flares can be useful later on when the power starts failing and street lights start flickering off. Even worse than fighting a horde of zombies is fighting a horde of zombies in the dark where you can't see them until they're almost on your position. Remember to light (use) the flares before throwing them! (These are standard flares, not the X-COM electro-flare variety).

A few screenshots from Cataclysm runs:

Here I've herded herded my civilians together for a final push through the zombies--the necromass decided to spread all over the evacuation zone to the west... This is right before I discover that unarmed civilians won't take weapons you want to give them (fixed in R7.3)... Fortunately the good reverend hooked us up with molotovs and I had found a shotgun elsewhere. (You can actually see a bit of this exact scene in the video.)

Seeking refuge by the church altar while Rev. Jones does his thing.
No one gets into this church without permission from his shotgun!

A scene I captured while checking on the game as it ran on autopilot just before R7 release.
Man are they screwed.

Field Reports

In the past few days, players on Bay 12 have been sharing some of their experiences as they try to escape the alien-induced apocalypse. Read about their exploits here (post order):

Draxis: "My team was leading a large group of civilians out of a zombie-infested area, when a zombie runs up and attacks my lead man. He smashes down the zombie with a sledgehammer, but an alien emerges from the corpse and strikes him down. He drops the unstable compound he is carrying, and it explodes, wiping out my whole team. This causes the similar compounds carried by the rest of my team--we got them out of an abandoned laboratory, and were using them as grenades--to explode as well, killing most of the civilians following us and leveling a block and a half."

Lesson: Spread out when carrying dangerous chemicals.

Crazy Cow: "I explore the city, finding nothing but a Starbucks until I come across a drughouse in the corner. The gang is dead, but it's filled with cocaine and Glocks. I set up shop waiting for the order to evac, and decide to try one of these cocaine blocks. Toshio Tanida promptly eats the entire block and falls into a coma. *facedesk*"

Lesson: Don't try cocaine while fleeing from zombies. Having a medi-kit handy might make it okay, though ;)

Orb: "I had a grenadier with unstable compounds ready to give fiery death to the necrospores. However, Doctor Faust thought it was a great idea to shoot him instead of the zombie, and proceed to have him, the Zombies, Doctor Faust + Pet, and the laboratory destroyed. Thankfully, the other two members of my team were elsewhere (1st death was due to throwing an unstable compound instead of an Anti-Necro 'nade at close range...never making that mistake again.)."

Lesson: Doctor Faust is a bad shot (he really is).

1freeman: "Just had my first 'successful' run on cataclysm, I managed to find the good doctor's lab early on which allowed me to stock up on unstable compounds and a pair of useful companions. I made my way to the northwestern quadrant and found a certain pick-wielding civilian who also joined me, then the good doctor got a little trigger happy and shot one of my guys with the explosives who died and set off a chain reaction killing another agent and most of the civvies including little Timmy and the doctor himself. The survivors then grabbed the doctor's gun and the sledgehammer, the only weapons I had left. I desperately fought off the zombie horde and just when all hope was lost I received a message from HQ informing me of the new evac zone which miraculously was nearby. Then a crystallid pops out of a zombie like a demonic jack-in-the-box, and kills the guy with the gun. I send my last agent to sprint to the evac site, leaving most of the civilians behind and with my points in the negative but hey I survived the !!FUN!! and came out a victor."

Lesson: Death and destruction is enjoyable, even when it's your own squad.

Crazy Cow: "I sat myself in the police station, used my sledgehammer to knock out the floor tiles around the stairs, blew out the far wall, and shot as many zombies as I could. After a while my limited ammunition ran out, and I sat around lobbing unstable compounds at the necrospores if they came close enough. An unnatural shriek pierces the air, and I don't give a fuck because chryssalids can't fly. The bugger paths up to me, which I found strange, so I just stared at it for a bit. Then... the chryssalid tears through the shelves lining the wall and attacks my weaponless soldiers, killing two and zombifying one before my turn rolls around. >_>"

Lesson: Don't challenge a chryssalid to staring contest. It will tear through the shelves and kill you all ;)

kingfisher1112: "A necro lord fucked up my shit, and a homeless guy killed it. Also, 'Package arriving in 5 minutes'? Is it weapons/supplies?" [he was posting while playing--this point was laugh-inducing for anyone in the know] "So. I played again. I played and I got some pretty good weapons. Rescued some civvies. Then A MOTHERFUCKING NUKE LANDED WHY ISN'T THIS IN REGULAR XCOM?"

Lesson: X@COM just gets more and more fun.

Kyzrati (while playtesting): "Down to one man, obliteration by tactical nuke imminent, I'll just hide in this house here... Miraculously SURVIVE the nuke (it happens) while pretty much everything around me is leveled (the toilet from nearby remains!). 'Wow, this is great, now I can walk around the level and see what's going on *after* the nuke!' Apparently I wasn't the only one to survive: Ten steps later a gang member walks out of the smoke at almost point blank range and shoots me dead with his pistol..."

Lesson: Murphy's law of X@COM: If you survive the nuke, it must be because you deserve some other ironic death.

Kyzrati (still playtesting): "Looking into the drug dealer's house from afar I see that everyone on the first floor is already dead. Must've been hit by a wave of zombies. Guess I'll just go pick up some free weapons. Sure enough, the first floor is littered with corpses both human and undead, and GUNS, yay! So I grab a nice pistol for myself by the stairs. Hm, should check upstairs and see if anyone's left... Ah ha, one last gang member looking out the window with his back to me. Well, I'll just shoot... *click*. DAMNIT, the pistol I grabbed is out of ammo. (That must've been some firefight downstairs.) Oh well, I'll just whack him in the back of the head with my pistol then! Sneak up behind him... *wham*, he takes the blow but doesn't go down, instead spinning around to shoot my guy in the face with reaction fire... [Several minutes later another unarmed soldier dodges into that same house, fleeing a group of zombies.] Nowhere to hide from all these zombies but upstairs... He heads up stairs to find there's already a zombie up there facing off with that same gang member. He has plenty of time and is standing behind the zombie, but decides to wait and hope that dude gets mauled. Unfortunately he blows the zombie away with his pistol. My turn. Walk up and pick up the sledgehammer my earlier friend dropped from his backpack. *WHAM* The hit doesn't kill him, but knocks him right out the window he was standing in front of... right into the middle of the zombies that had chased me up to the house earlier."

Lesson: Revenge is sweet.

That's enough fun for one post. The next one will be about modding X@COM. I've also updated the FAQ with a new section that addresses some questions which have come up multiple times in the past months.

2 comments more...


  • Crazy Cow

    While those chryssalids are tough motherfuckers, concentrated firepower is generally good enough to bring them down, I find. The real problem is when you're in cramped quarters and they can jump at you from around corners or, gods forbid, through walls. Stay on the second floor if you're making a stand, because they'll jump at you like kool-aid men from even deeper levels of hell.

  • Kyzrati

    Still kinda dangerous to fight them with only the conventional weapons in Cataclysm, since you'd have to get lucky with the damage rolls just to get past their armor. Doable, yes. Worth the risk? Maybe.

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