XCOM’s top modders have built a mind-boggling grand strategic game

It didn’t take me very long to figure out that Terra Invicta was going to turn out to be an exceptional place. Pavonis Interactive, the developers of XCOM and the ambitious Long War addons for XCOM 2, has created a new game that is an independent title. In this game, they have essentially taken the strategic layer from XCOM and transformed it into a grand strategy game in the vein of Paradox.

The breadth of the project is just staggering right from the start, and one is left with the impression that it will never end up being any less so. The simulation includes every major nation that existed on Earth in 2022, as well as the entirety of the solar system, all the way out to the asteroids and ice dwarfs that lie beyond the orbit of Pluto. Until you experience it for yourself, attempting to describe it seems almost ludicrous. In addition to that, it is also true that it is effective.

The beginning of the game has just about arrived, and every aspect, including participation in transnational organisations such as the EU and NATO, as well as the war between Russia and Ukraine, has been meticulously modelled.

If you take control of a country’s foreign policy, you have the ability to influence a variety of ratings that influence how that country behaves, including the amount of military technology, political freedom, and income inequality. Each of these ratings may be influenced in either way. The most notable distinction is that an extraterrestrial spacecraft has mysteriously landed on Earth, and no one can agree on how to respond to the situation.

In contrast to the vast majority of other grand strategy games, you do not take control of a single nation when playing Terra Invicta. Instead, you assume command of one of the numerous factions, each of which has a unique perspective on how to respond to the revelation of sentient life elsewhere in the galaxy.

The Resistance is the default faction in the game, and its mission is similar to that of a standard XCOM or Stargate Command team: they want to protect Earth from hostile alien incursions and ensure humanity’s autonomy in the cosmos. The Protectorate, on the other hand, views a protracted conflict as an enterprise that is certain to fail and so desires to submit to the aliens as a vassal state.

They only care about creating a colony ship that will allow us to ensure the future of our species somewhere very far away. Project Exodus believes that the neighbourhood is getting a bit congested, and they are concerned solely with building a colony ship.

At least at the beginning of the game, there is a very stark contrast between the incredible intricacy of the simulation and the relatively straightforward ways in which you may interact with it. Yes, it will monitor atmospheric CO2 on Earth to predict the effects of global warming, rising sea levels, and the accompanying economic destruction, which will be felt more severely in certain locations than others.

There are a number of different Lagrange locations around Saturn’s moons that might each serve as a suitable location for a space station. However, during the first several months or so, this is mostly a covert espionage game.

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Your faction is managed by a council that consists of up to eight people. These characters each have a variety of objectives available to them and excel in various areas of the game. A celebrity may be particularly skilled at manipulating public opinion in favour of your side, whereas a spy may be particularly adept at sabotaging the agents of opposing factions.

Their primary responsibility is to persuade the nations of Earth to adopt the philosophy of your party. This is the only method to obtain additional resources at an earlier stage in the game, and it can eventually grant you control of those nations’ military and space programmes, assuming they have either. This is accomplished by aiming for various Control Points. Larger nations like the United States and China have access to a far greater quantity of resources, but they also have a greater number of Control Points, each of which is significantly more challenging to take.

When you have taken control of all of a country’s Control Points, you have the ability to choose its economic and foreign policy goals. If you wanted to, you could pretend that this is a future version of Hearts of Iron and strive to win support for your group by establishing dominance over the globe via the use of traditional military strategies.

Be warned, though, that by attacking a nation or coalition that possesses nuclear weapons, you could be making the task of the extraterrestrials more manageable. The modelling of the global temperature may also go in the opposite direction, and one conceivable way for all of this to come to an end is with a nuclear winter that kills out half of the people.

Waging war with information

Attempts will be made to conquer the world by a variety of other factions as well, including those that are sympathetic to extraterrestrial life. The Servants, who hold the belief that the invaders should be worshipped in the same manner as gods, are an obvious adversary of the Resistance.

As you continue to investigate extraterrestrial activities, you will gradually get a clearer understanding of the nature of these beings and their goals. As a result, power blocs and even the agendas of individual factions will alter as a result. It’s a mystery that will keep you guessing for quite some time, and I don’t want to give anything away here. On the other hand, I can honestly state that I was taken aback by several of the discoveries that finally came my way.

You now have a solid grasp on the reins of power, which gives you the ability to mould the nations that have defected to your cause in a variety of different ways. You have the option of pillaging them thoughtlessly for their resources, attempting to construct a utopian welfare state, or simply redirecting all funds into the development of a space programme. In addition, it will eventually be critical to ensure victory by maintaining a robust presence outside of the atmosphere.

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After constructing your first space station, you will go to the second part of the Terra Invicta game. You will participate in the race to colonise every planet, moon, and asteroid in the neighbourhood by making use of a resource known as Boost, which is produced by launch sites on Earth.

Because of all this pesky gravity that Earth has, it is extremely expensive to launch big payloads of armour plates and laser beams. Therefore, you will need to shift your focus to accumulating resources in space and constructing new vessels and stations in that region. Because the extraterrestrials will have a head start on this, we cannot afford to squander any time.

You’ll begin with relatively straightforward research stations like the International Space Station (ISS), but as technology advances, you’ll gradually gain access to more advanced alternatives like orbital shipyards and lunar mining colonies. Out here, country governments no longer hold the same level of significance as they once did, and everything will either be held by the aliens or directly by one of the human groups. If you study the aliens, you will not only learn what they are doing on Earth, but you will also be able to help propel Earth’s technology ahead in an effort to catch up to what they are doing.

You have the option of devoting your research points to either advancing the technological level of the entire world, which is beneficial to everyone, or to the exclusive endeavours of your own faction, which only benefits you. Even if you want to retain all the shiny toys for yourself, you still need to be concerned about global technology since the majority of those projects can only be unlocked by global technology.

At long last, you are prepared to engage in combat with extraterrestrials in space. Also, the pausable real-time fighting system takes into consideration factors like momentum and facing, so you shouldn’t anticipate operatic dogfights like those seen in Star Wars.

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If you have played the game Kerbal Space Program, you have a good notion of what you are getting yourself into, with the exception that there are no firearms. The ability to master orbital transfer windows and strike a balance between combat mobility and the need for Delta-v for lengthy journeys is vital. I have only just begun to scrape the surface of this system’s potential.

Due to the staggering scope of Terra Invicta’s ambitions, the game is more than a little bit complicated, and it has a high entry barrier. However, I’m enthralled by how everything fits together and how it lives up to its sky-high promises while delivering an intriguing tale with a lot of twists and turns.

Even though I’ve already spent a couple of dozen hours playing, I still have the impression that I’m just getting started. I have a feeling that this one is going to have a stratospheric influence on the sorts of strategy gamers that are the same as me in that they enjoy spreadsheets, geopolitics, and beating the asses of aliens just as much as I do.


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