Invisible Inc’s campaign has about-I think at any rate-about 6-9 missions, depending on how you manage your time. Certainly not many more than that. Whereas XCom’s campaign has about twice to three times as many as that, and both have similar fail states or points of no return. So given the comparative shortness of an II campaign I think more RNG at the campaign level is fair enough.
The main reason that II is better than Xcom though is that Xcom is a very poor strategy game. If I can find one strategy that always works I don’t consider that to be much of a strategic challenge, and in the first Xcom all you had to do was the build satellites and advance slowly in dense formation to avoid releasing aliens thereby always managing at least parity of firepower. After playing a few missions to get the hang on things on normal I completed an ironman campaign like this in one go, and it was boring as. The randomness of II means you can’t just follow one prescribed method every time.
Also-for all that yes, repeated playthroughs help in II, I never felt as though they were necessary to proceed at least to the latter stages of the campaign in one go. The tool tips and visual cues you’re presented with in game give you all you need to be good enough to get to that point at least on one of the easier difficulties, and you can even rewind things. There are some things they could tell you explicitly-the amount of tiles that sound is heard from, LOS of guards etc-but that doesn’t happen in other stealth games I’ve played before. You operate on what you can discern from how they behave, and II is no different. I was working out patrol patterns and guard cues several missions in, because that’s what I’ve always done in stealth games. Similalry, when I saw the guy in stupid level armour, my first thought wasn’t “gotta take this guy out” but “how do I get around him or how do I use what I have to negate that advantage” because that’s always how you beat people like that in stealth games. And like them, when you get a handle on those basics the level opens up to strategising. When I saw the alarm counter counting down I knew I had to get gone soon because stealth games where the security is at high alert are hellish etc. I know precisely what happens at each alarm tick because it’s the same every time and again, just made a note of that. From my perspective I don’t think there’s anything the game communicates which is opaque or anything other than genre convention. I never once had to look at a wiki to understand why I failed a mission or how to do something.
BIG INVISIBLE INC BASICS THING********
For anyone wanting a leg up, these are all things which you can observe yourself over time but are essential to understand if you want a bit of cheat sheet. There’s about a dozen or so trial and error hours put into this that will get you further ahead if you weren’t already aware:
The alarm encounter advances one tick per turn, unless you are seen or noise detected by appropriate technology (firing a gun or sprinting will set them off) in which case it goes up by one for every time you are spotted or heard. At the separate levels the following happens: 1) More cameras come online 2) Firewalls increase 3) A guard will spawn at an elevator 4) A guard will spawn at an elevator 5) A guard will spawn at an elevator one of your agents locations will be made available to one of the guards 6) Two guards will spawn at an elevator and all of your agents locations will be pinpointed.
So basically the first two levels are fairly benign but after that you need to really be thinking about exit strategies. That doesn’t mean you have to leave, but you have to work out how you’re going to get back from wherever you intend to go before leaving. Even one room away from the exit can become an impossible situation in the space of two turns if you haven’t planned ahead. Planning ahead isn’t just about patrol routes and AP-it’s about equipment cool downs, PWR availability, unit abilities (theirs and yours). On the harder difficulties if you forget to think about one of those things that’s often enough to leave your trapped.
If you avoid taking out guards early then that’s one less random factor to worry about as their patrol routes won’t change. If you take one of them down and aren’t able to keep them contained then that’s one rogue wanderer when they come around, possibly two or three if the other guards find them as they will all leave their patterns to look for you. That’s not a good position to be early on as it removes one of the few periods of certainty in the game. If you learn how and when guard’s cones of vision work and change, then observing their patrol route should mean you never get spotted if you have a full review of the situation and shouldn’t need to get physical (unless, as is occasionally the case, that’s the only option).
Sometimes that’s not possible and you just have to pray that hiding in places that look safe will be, but most of the time if you’re planning ahead you should be able to predict guards behaviour 90% of the time. This also goes for when they’re not on patrol. You can still see their patterns. Also you can manipulate them by making noises, opening doors if they’re close by etc. Say you have Decker with his Invis cloak and a guard is about to spot Internatioanle in the open-pop on the Invis Cloak and run around a corner, the guard will go there instead attracted by the footsteps, you can let Interantionale get out of harm’s way. Maybe he sees Decker next turn but then Internationale can just bop him and then you both sprint off without fear of being heard. That sort of thing.
You must have a power reserve. Sometimes 1 PWR will be the difference between you leaving with a new companion and 2000 credits, like I thought I was yesterday, or the run ending. Some programmes can give you guaranteed power, or you might just need to sit on a reserve, but always always always have a way of accessing power that isn’t console dependent. Daemons are nasty. Occasionally they can be benign or reversed but just as often they will spawn guards, increase firewalls to something stupid and reduce AP. The only missions where I feel I haven’t been a bad turn away from victory were where I ignored Daemons and was basically stuck in a swamp of no AP and Guards somewhere at alarm level 2. BUT sometimes they can do positive things so remember that when you’re a turn away from death. They just might prove your salvation (unlikely).
CLOSE DOORS, it costs no AP. Or be prepared to be overcome by spontaneous tourettes as your otherwise entirely safe agent is locked down by someone’s vision from three rooms away. There are a few exceptions to this, sometimes you might want to leave them open and bait vision, but this is unlikely. If your agent is tracked then you can only escape being shot if you move into a square that is hidden (white). Any other square, or remain stationary, and you’re down in one. If your agent is noticed but not tracked, you can move into yellow squares without being spotted, the guard will go to the last location you were in however. You can rescue a downed agent with medgel. They aren’t dead. Rescue operations are often feasible if your other agent is in good shape and also wicked cool. there are so many pieces to consider. Never give up even stupid situations without thinking through every possibility. It’s amazing the moves you can put together if you think it through. Think about every single thing you can click and the order you can do it in. There’s probably one outcome you hadn’t considered in the mix. Use your rewind(s) as more than just resets. Experiment with the rules. Even if you’re going to die, use the rewind as an opportunity to try something that you aren’t sure about (Can I shoot while tracked, if I put this EMP down will it go off before or after I’m shot, if I Parasite this drone will it kill me before I capture it, that kind of thing) that you can take with you into the next run.
You’ll note there isn’t a section on items, because they’re useless basically unless you understand the other stuff. They’re the cherry on the cake.