Great Moments in PC gaming: Landing an impossible shot in XCOM 2

An alien sectoid
(Image credit: 2K)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.


An alien face made of skulls on XCOM 2's cover

(Image credit: 2K)

Year: 2016
Developer: Firaxis

To me, XCOM 2 is a game about learning to keep a cool, rational, head while navigating a constant string of self-inflicted failures. The experienced soldier kidnapped before my eyes. The explosive barrel I accidentally ordered someone to stand behind. The shot that misses even though I have a freshly researched gun the size of a house not just pointed at but clipping straight through a birthday-suited sectoid's head.

To be fair to XCOM 2 I knew the last one wasn't going to work because the game had pretty much told me so before I gave the order to fire. This is a series that's been painfully reminding its players since 1994 that a 70% chance to hit—practically a guaranteed shot in most games—is actually a whopping 30% chance to miss.

It's a lesson my cheery optimism often chooses to ignore. This mission's going to be different. Nobody's going to panic after a psychic attack. Nobody's going to get roasted alive by a flamethrower. And this long shot with a meagre 25% chance to hit is definitely going to work.

It has to. I've got a powerful Chosen on the ropes, my team's looking more than a little beat up, and I'm running out of options. If this nigh-impossible shot I've got lined up hits it will almost instantly turn the tide of battle in my favor. If it misses I've more or less condemned an entire squad to their deaths. 

What the heck—why not go for it? I can give you a long list of reasons why it's a bad idea, I can tell you all the smart and sensible things I could do instead, involving words like cover and overwatch and hunkering down, but… this could work. Maybe? Hey, at the worst I'll lose a little earlier than I was probably going to anyway. 

An alien's face seen through a scope

(Image credit: 2K)

So I order my unit to fire, and against all odds the shot finds its target and some alien overlord with a raspy voice makes a swift exit before vowing revenge over the comms, leaving me to mop up a few stragglers and limp back to the Avenger thoroughly battered, technically victorious, and grinning from ear to ear.

Blind luck? No. Of course not. That was obviously a sound tactical decision—and maybe it'll work next time too. I should check; one more mission wouldn't hurt, would it?

Kerry Brunskill
Contributing Writer

When baby Kerry was brought home from the hospital her hand was placed on the space bar of the family Atari 400, a small act of parental nerdery that has snowballed into a lifelong passion for gaming and the sort of freelance job her school careers advisor told her she couldn't do. She's now PC Gamer's word game expert, taking on the daily Wordle puzzle to give readers a hint each and every day. Her Wordle streak is truly mighty.

Somehow Kerry managed to get away with writing regular features on old Japanese PC games, telling today's PC gamers about some of the most fascinating and influential games of the '80s and '90s.