Giants in the Earth

We got in another session of Aliens: Fireteam Elitethis week. Last time, we cleared the first set of campaign missions “Priority One” and got our feet wet with the gameplay. This week we took on the second set of campaign missions “Giants in the Earth”.

From what I’ve seen so far, each campaign mission is split up in to three smaller missions.. The first 3 in “Priority One” took us about 25 minutes each to clear. The first two missions of “Giants in the Earth” took us around the same time.

Each mission has a recommended combat rating to clear it. Combat rating seem to be based on your equipped weapon loadout as well as your class level and class mods. “Giants of the Earth” Mission On has a recommended combat rating of 250. That was a good 20 points above either of our current ratings at the time.

Not wanting to replay the first set of set of missions again, we decided to ignore the recommendation and play the mission anyways. How much could 20 points matter?

Mission one was going smoothly. We were progressing at a decent rate, losing more health than the last set of missions but nothing my trusty trauma station couldn’t handle between med pack pick ups. That is, until we got to the final wave fight of the level. We ran in to trouble trying to suppress a swarm while also trying to deal with a big, ole’, tank that is the Xenomorph Warrior.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough fire power to take down the Warrior before he downed Brother, me, and our AI companion. To his credit, our AI is an excellent shot. But when given the chance, he will stand in the middle of enemy swarms until he runs out of health.

We learned some important lessons with this run. First, if your team wipes you have to run the whole mission again. I’ve taken issue with this sort of thing in the past (see my frustration with GTFO) but another 20 minute mission is a lot easier to swallow than 2 hours of wasted time.

Second, we learned that we should actually utilize the utility items. Specifically turrets.

There are chests scattered around the level that, when opened ,provide some quantity of utility items. They range from special ammo, turrets, minds, and even some traps. Some of them have names in a variety of colors which, I’m assuming, makes them better than their white named counter part. Either way, when you get a purple named turret at what looks like a big fight, you’re going to want to use it. Multiple if you have them.

Mission One: Take Two went better. We knew what to expect and took advantage of that to speed our way through the level. We made our way back to our last wipe in under 20 minutes.

This time when the Warrior rushed the squad we met him with a barrage of rockets, two sentry turrets, and 3 assault rifles. He didn’t stand a chance. We made short work of the rest of the wave and got our mission complete.

When we got back to base I noticed that we had completed two Tactical Opportunities (Dailies) that rewarded us with some challenge cards, some credits, and a shiny, new flamethrower. Sadly, the Doc class can’t use heavy weapons. I would not be setting our enemies ablaze. But Brother could and he was very excited to try it out.

When we started Mission Two, we had the option to add our newly aquired challenge cards. These impose limitations on what you can do in the mission but offer bonus reward like an XP multiplyer and extra loot on mission completion.

I threw one down to restrict dodging in exchange for a 1.5x XP multiplier. Brother threw one down that restricted reloading or changing weapons until the clip is empty. This one offered a 2.5x multiplayer. I was hoping they would combine for a 4x multiplyer but it looks like it takes the best card and uses that for everyone.

Mission Two introduced us to a new enemy type: synthetics. They came with guns. Finally, a use for the Gears of War like cover system!

The fun thing about the synths is that they also shoot at the Xenomorphs. Once there’s no more Xeno’s they go right back to shooting at you. Your average synth is a bit tankier than the average xenomorph but they aren’t as numerous.

Again, we used the turrets and some mines to clear out the big swarms when they came. We only had to run this mission once and picked up our sweet, sweet, bonus XP.

After acquiring and/or buying some new gun attachments as well as getting some new skill modifiers I’m sitting at a 382 combat ranking. I’m interested to see how that will affect the third mission in “Giants in the Earth” now that I’m 130 points over the recommended ranking.

I’m also left wondering what the heck there is to do after we beat the 12 Campaign missions. Each mission has a couple difficulty levels so I’m sure we’ll be running those again. Possibly multiple times each. But there’s also this mysterious locked “Game Mode” option in the menu. Hovering over it says it’s unlocked once all campaign missions are complete. Color me intrigued…

Sure, I could look it up, but I’d rather the surprise once we get to that point. We’ve recruited another squad mate, SuperToast, who will, hopefully, be able to replace our AI next time. At least we can tell him to hide behind cover!

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