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XCOM: Second Contact [XCOM/Mass Effect]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Agayek, Dec 20, 2012.

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  1. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    FAQ
    Table of Contents:
    Prologue
    Chapter 1: Hostile Contact
    Chapter 2a:2b:2c:2d:2e:2f
    Chapter 3a:3b:3c:3d:3e
    Chapter 4a:4b:4c:4d:4e:4f

    Thread 2

    Opening Note: So about a week ago, I read through Mass Effect: A New Past and shortly thereafter played through nuXCOM again, and this idea came to me. I’ve no idea how long it’ll hold my interest, but I’m taking it for a ride at least. Let me know what you think.

    XCOM: Second Contact
    By: Agayek
    Journal of XCOM Commander Samuel Ramses
    November 11, 2015:
    Temple Ship destroyed. Reports coming in of pieces raining down on half the Earth. Figures that the Ethereals can’t even die peacefully. Hope this’ll be the last of them.

    The Colonel volunteered for it. It’s not my

    O’Connell saved us all. She will be remembered.

    November 17, 2015:
    Nothing from ET since the big one. Council’s ready to call the war over; civvies have been partying since it was announced. 11/11 declared official holiday, recognized by all Council nations. Talked them into naming it after the colonel. Dunno what the official tag will be, but ‘O’Connel Day’ or ‘Day of the Flash’ were leading last I heard.

    This don’t sit right with me though. Colonel told me about a vision she had in the Gollop Chamber. Said the four armed bastards talked to her, something about us succeeding. I think they wanted things to work out like this. Dunno what they planned for after, but we’ve gotta be ready.

    November 25, 2015:
    Funerals are just about done now. Recovery will take longer though. 600 million deaths are a lot to mourn. Everyone lost someone. Don’t know if the scars will ever fully heal.

    Rebuilding’s started at least. DC and Moscow the first to start putting the pieces back together. The rest of the major cities are planning it. The Ethereals could smash them, but they can’t keep them down. One last ‘fuck you’ to the bastards. Humanity’s good at that.

    November 29,2015:
    Vahlen conned ‘Torch’ into helping with her experiments. Don’t think the Major knew what he was getting into. Paid off though. Can synthesize Elerium now. Couple ounces left Torch tapped out, could barely stand once he was done. Set Vahlen to examining pieces of the Temple Ship; Shen can handle E production.

    Gotta find more psi’s and turn up more of the materials, Astatine and Cesium whatever those are. Putting the word out now. Making this will ensure financial security for centuries. XCOM-South America isn’t closing after all.

    February 1, 2016:
    Still no sign of ET. Been called paranoid once or twice. Can get them to play ball for now, public likes me too much to get canned. ‘Savior of Humanity’ I’ve heard thrown around. Don’t much care for it, but small price to be ready for the next one.

    February 15, 2016:
    Vahlen’s figured out how the Ethereals were popping things around on the Temple Ship. ‘Psionic Wormhole’ she calls them. Psi’s can tear a hole between two points in space-time and send things through.

    Maj. Rodriguez lost a bet and was the guinnea pig again, made a portal big enough for a Firestorm that reached over a mile. Vahlen says specialized amps may boost that to interstellar distances. Not sure I can believe it, but she’s done the impossible before.

    February 29, 2016:
    Cracked the distance problem. First stable wormhole from XCOM-Europe to the moon* formed today, XCOM-Luna already in planning stage. Shen’s happily busy for the first time since the TS.

    Not going to be making galaxy-wide jumps anytime soon though. Furthest stable portal was 4 lightyears out, just shy of Alpha Centauri. Still, started planning for Hyperwave bases throughout the solar system. If they come back, we’ll know it.

    *Remind Vahlen to seal wormhole generator next time she opens portal to vacuum

    November 12, 2019:
    Finally got the Mars base set up. Hyperwave Relay going up in the next few minutes. Like pulling teeth to get the Council to cooperate without an alien invasion. Only managed it with civvie support.

    November 18, 2019:
    Got report of subsurface anomaly from Sentinel-1, near Deseado Crater. Strike-1 already en-route.

    November 19, 2019:
    I was right. Something else is out there. Strike-1 found an empty base and some hardware we’ve never seen before. Whatever left it behind, it sure as hell wasn’t Ethereal. Set Vahlen and Shen to tearing it apart, should have answers soon.

    November 26, 2019:
    Shen’s got some weird results from the mechanical pieces. Most of these machines shouldn’t be possible. The forces involved simply don’t allow it to work, but then why would they make something that doesn’t function?

    On the bright side, Vahlen figured out the monolith Strike-1 found. Apparently, it was an outpost for observing humanity by a species called Protheans. Best she can tell, last records are from at least 50,000 years ago though. Not sure what to make of that.

    The public’s made up their mind at least. Council hasn’t been this free with funds since the War. Even seeing some new faces on the Council. Heh. All it takes is the threat of extinction to unite our species.

    January 1, 2020:
    Council’s taken the last step to a real world-wide unification. The Protheans are out there somewhere, we can’t be fighting ourselves when they come back. The Human Coalition aims to ensure we’re never at risk like we were before. With XCOM as the sword and shield of humanity, I intend to do the same.

    And the first step is colonization. We have the technology, it’s time to go extra-solar.

    March 7, 2020:
    The son of a bitch did it! Shen has made a breakthrough easily on par with the discovery of Elerium. The Prothean artifacts we recovered from Mars aren’t nonfunctional at all. When exposed to an electromagnetic field, their mass changes. Shen’s already isolated the material that triggers the change, he’s taken to calling it Element Zero. The labrats are already fighting each other over who gets to play with it next.

    April 14, 2029:
    Psi’s are popping up faster than we can train them. Kids mostly, all of them born after the Temple Ship exploded. Dunno what it did, but puberty seems to be the trigger. Almost a quarter of the people born since the Day of the Flash have been psionic.

    August 12, 2033:
    The Protheans may be more of a threat than I had thought. Explorers on the edge of the solar system noticed something strange about Pluto’s moon. Turns out it’s some kind of Prothean station, buried in ice after they left it behind.

    They built something the size of a goddamn moon. Gotta admit, this scares the crap out of me. We can’t fight something that size. I pray to whatever god is listening that they stay away until we can.

    December 13 2033:
    The labrats have concluded that the Prothean station on the edge of our system is a transportation device. Somehow, it uses Element Zero to fling objects through space. It’s almost as fast as our Wormholes, but is not limited by range.

    Vahlen’s already come to me about integrating the concepts with our wormhole technology. “Warpgates” she called them, devices that can be linked together and fling a wormhole through space. I like that a hell of a lot better than our long range options being dictated by the Protheans. She’ll figure it out I’m sure.

    November 11, 2056:
    Today is my last day as Commander of XCOM. Humanity has come a long way since we first cowered in fear of the alien. Must admit, I’m terribly proud of what we’ve accomplished the last 40 years. Looking forward to where we go from here.

    ******

    “Priority alert, Commander!” A voice barked, shattering the serenity of the office. The Supreme Commander of XCOM put aside the battered old diary and looked to his aide. The young man continued, “Shanxi’s reporting a scientific expedition destroyed by an alien force. No survivors.”

    The Commander’s face went white. “Is it Prothean?”

    “Unsure.”

    “Damnit...140 years of peace and now this...” A low growl echoed through the office. “Send word to the Coalition, then contact the O’Connell. Hackett will know what to do.”


    Final AN: So does anyone know an easy way to copy-paste from Google Docs without the colors and formatting going haywire?
     
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  2. SemiSaneAuthor

    SemiSaneAuthor Dawn Susan Summers

    Oh this is going to be fun. Now on formatting, the little eraser next to font family. Select a piece of wrongly formatted text via dragging and then click the eraser.

    Turns selected text into standard forum style.
     
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  3. ryuan

    ryuan Cutest little sister

    Uhmmm~ looks nice. Should give a nice OCP to c-space while still being challenging.
     
  4. Richardson

    Richardson Solidarity

    Those poor Turian bastards...
     
  5. Zerodius

    Zerodius Baffled by existence

    Considering X-Com Interceptor, I do think that a Mass Effect/X-Com crossover can be done without it being a rethread of canon Mass Effect but with small X-Com cameos.

    A big part of X-Com humanity is that they're a sponge. They have awful luck with making themselves targets to everyone everywhere they go but they have mastered the fine art of reverse-engineering and will not give up in the face of overwhelming odds. X-Com humanity does not rise through 'diplomacy', the 'ability to gather people together', or any of that sappy stuff.

    X-Com humanity survive through sheer speed of adaptation and through suicidal-level courage even in the face of odds that would make even humanities from other settings wag a white flag back and forth. From the modern day all the way into space, many are the incomprehensibly powerful, terrifying alien intelligences that tried to squash X-Com humanity like a bug.

    All of them failed.


    I hope you will avoid the pitfalls of most Mass Effect crossovers and manage to have the X-Com setting inclusion matter.


    (note: as I'm a fan of the serie and actually read about some of the cancelled games, although X-Com humanity is rather flawed and does suffer from (rather justified) heavy paranoia toward aliens (the survivors of the Ethereals' stooges fared rather badly on Mega Primus in X-Com Apocalypse), they are not absolutely xenophobes. The cancelled X-Com Alliance did involve the humans allying with a friendly alien intelligence to take down a common foe.)
     
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  6. I really hope the citadell races will be just as paranoid as humanity about aliens. As in: They had to fight back against the Ethereals too. And then humanity shows up, with ethereal tech... well, what are the Turians supposed to do?

    (Please make this a totally understandable misunderstanding, please)
     
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  7. Wulfenbach

    Wulfenbach Psychopath

    Okay this got me giddy
     
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  8. Arcman

    Arcman My Lord!

    Use their own reverse engineered Ethereal tech. :p
     
    Reece likes this.
  9. Exactly^^. Which, to the humans, looks exactly as if the etherals have attacked again. Bigger oops. At the same time though, the Turians would have started from a different tech base. Unlike humanity they would have MassEffect technology, so the reverse enginered tech would have been integrated with the MassEffect tech base, instead of with modern day earth tech.

    Assuming the ethereals were fighting the reapers, the Citadel Races having access to Ethereal tech might change things significantly. On the other hand the reapers, with such opposition, might have changed their own operation model, or they were another path to fending off wht the Ethereals fear, parallel evolution so to speak.

    Lot's of posibilities, all better than lol xCom roflstomps those stupid backward Citadel Races.
     
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  10. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    That is the plan. I don't have anything really set-in-stone in terms of plot, mostly due to my writing process, but I do have human tech more-or-less figured out (though suggestions are welcome). I've also got some ideas to tie the Ethereals into the Reaper cycle; hopefully it will be made clear later on.

    My take on XCOM's approach to aliens basically comes down to two different "types":

    1) Attacked us. These shall be put to fire and sword.
    2) Did not attack us. These shall be met with suspicion but given the opportunity to prove themselves.

    That said, the Protheans are basically the boogeymen for this version of humanity. There's going to be... tension about interacting with race(s) that all but worship them.

    Yes and no. The Citadel is aware of the Ethereals, but only in the same way that they are aware of the Collectors. I'll just say that there's a reason the Ethereals did what they did, and the Reapers are tangentially involved.

    Edit: As for your concerns about a curbstomp, I'd like to think I won't fall into that trap. XCOM will dominate the ground (usually), but they have little-to-no experience with large scale space navy warfare. They also have vastly more limited production capabilities, since everything they use requires Elerium, and that's hard to produce.
     
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  11. Harry Leferts

    Harry Leferts Solidarity

    I'm guessing that some of the aliens from X-COM are actually modified/converted members of Citadel Races then? Perhaps some of the very isolated colonies in the Terminus were "Tested" and "Failed"?
     
  12. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    More or less. There's trace evidence that the Ethereals have been at various places, usually very old (youngest site yet found by the Council was over 10,000 years old), but nothing concrete. The Citadel has a few pictures of ships and a name, and not much else.

    As a consequence, they've basically been written off as extinct.

    Semi-spoilerish hint: There's a reason the Citadel races haven't been attacked.
     
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  13. Zerodius

    Zerodius Baffled by existence

    Well, from my own understanding (entering personal opinion mode)...

    A major point is that due to the Ethereals' attacks, X-Com humanity never went down the Reaper path of technology... which might have been the Ethereals' goals all along.

    On the ground, instead of using kinetic guns and kinetic barriers, they rely on energy weapons and powered armor. Instead of relying on biotics, they rely on psionics.

    In space, instead of single large ships with kinetic killer weapons, they rely on interceptors with missile weapons.


    More exactly... X-Com humanity, on the ground, rely on energy weapons, bypassing almost all types of barrier right away. And likewise, except for force field shields stolen from extra-dimensional aliens in X-Com Apocalypse, X-Com humanity never develop shields or kinetic barriers and instead rely on advanced armor. On one hand, this means that a X-Com operative will die quicker than a Mass Effect kinetic barrier-protected soldier... but being in powered armor, will avoid being hit longer and will have much better agility as well as the capability to wield heavier weapons. Energy weapons bypass kinetic barriers right away and although slower in their rate of fire and not really gaining in range until several decades, their homeground laser weaponry and adapted plasma weapons cannot be 'lol no'-ed like Mass Effect weapons can. This is mostly due to the fact that since X-Com humanity was at a 'modern' tech level when the Ethereals got there, they could not simply pump up kinetic weapons like the Mass Effect species did to compensate. They had to outright change their weaponry paradigm to energy weapons.

    Likewise, psionics are a whole new ball game and potentially the key against Reapers. Biotics are of limited use against the Reapers but the Leviathan DLC in Mass Effect 3 shown that Reapers and their creations are vulnerable to psionic attacks like anything else.


    In space, this is mostly like in canon, where humanity was well-known for its use of carriers. The major difference is that instead of being a background story mention, X-Com humanity's mastery of missile weaponry make the carrier doctrine a genuine alternate to dreadnaughts ; due to X-Com humanity's mastery of missile technology, allowing them to build strategic-scale missiles that can defeat even GARDIAN arrays and destroy even gigantic vessels in one or a few hits, fighters and bombers become a valid strategy that is also cost-effective in terms of pilots (as you need less huge ships with huge crews). Again, this is due to the Ethereals and the problems caused by them ; UFOs go "lol no" at humanity's kinetic weaponry and only their missiles did any good. And while energy cannons did well in the first few wars, their low range meant that eventually, humanity, instead of going with kinetic railguns, instead went with superior missiles.


    A major point is that X-Com humanity is a radically different research path from the Mass Effect one. They even rely on a different element for their tech: Elerium. A lot of the Reapers' effectiveness rely on their victims using the correct technology path that they master and then counter with ease. X-Com humanity does not use any of that technology.


    (end personal view of tech)


    Regarding the Ethereals' role in the galaxy at large... mostly how I'd see them is as a nomadic, secretive species with no actually known homeworld who probably either hid from the Reapers (it was shown in canon to be possible) or who witnessed the Reapers' rampage despite being pre-space flight. In fact, maybe they got to gaze into a Reaper's mind as one flew near their world and evaluated their world to be not worth reaping, giving them the necessary push to begin their own rampage.

    As for why the Citadel wouldn't have plasma weapons and their own tech... easy enough: humanity did not have a choice but to pick the technological path of the Ethereals to survive. But for the Citadel species... why get plasma weapons when you got Mass Effect railguns that do the job quite well already? And why get energy cannons or fusion lances when your kinetic cannons on your dreadnaughts are much bigger?
     
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  14. Night_stalker

    Night_stalker SB's resident Advocatus Diabolis Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Hmm, I'm considering a fic with this kind of cross, so I'm going to be watching this as kinda advice.
     
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  15. Angelform

    Angelform Celestia’s messenger

    Well an interesting, if slightly convoluted start.

    Very interesting that humanity is being discovered a couple of centuries early. Should have some nice butterflies.
    Hopefully you will take the opportunity to fix a few of the glaring issues, such as the canon reason FTL ramming doesn’t work.

    A note about the tech: Laser weapons don’t need Elerium. They will without question be all over the place within a couple of years.
    Also depending on what you decide Alien Alloy is made of they may not have access to it. I don’t recall it being stated in new-XCOM.

    Question: Why are the humans paranoid about the Protheans?
    The sum total of their knowledge about them is:
    - They observed (without interfering) humanity 50,000 years ago.
    - They had tech based on Enzo.
    - They (apparently) built a gigantic FTL catapult.
    This constitutes a Clear and Present Threat… how?
     
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  16. Arcman

    Arcman My Lord!

    Because they might be out there, and considering what happened during and after the last alien invasion Earth isn't taking any chances.
     
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  17. hance1986

    hance1986 Bolo Commander

    The Prothean Threat is also a great motivator to get Earth to unite and point all that pesky human aggression and drive outwards, at the xenos, instead of inwards, causing trouble.

    And actually this XCOM/ME fic seems to be happening maybe around the same time canon ME First Contact War happens. Hackett as Hackett in the SA Navy is mentioned at the end as 'knowing what to do'. What really might be out of context for the aliens is the human use of psionics in maybe everyday life and definitely in military applications. In this fic psionics can with equipment open wormholes that span over a light year. Biotics seem in this setting more tactical, while psionics seem more strategic.

    Thoughts?
     
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  18. Harry Leferts

    Harry Leferts Solidarity

    Part of it might have to do with how they know that the Protheans were observing humanity and perhaps experimenting on us 50,000 years ago for some reason. The Etherals, who they now believe to be perhaps dead, did the same thing. Not to mention the Etherals mentioned how they were fighting some enemy and were planning to use humanity as troops in their war...

    They might assume with the evidence they have (including the Mass Relay) that the Protheans are the enemy that the Etherals are talking about. Not to mention the idea that their forebearers were subjected to experimentation by aliens are going to leave a very bad taste in humanity's mouths...
     
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  19. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    First off, as a disclaimer, I should probably mention that I haven't played the old-school XCOM games. Just the new one and, as such, that's what I'm basing the tech on.

    Edit: All of this is aimed at Zerodius.

    For the most part though, you're correct. I feel I should point out a few things. This will eventually be explained in the story, but I haven't worked out when/where.

    Humanity here does use Element Zero. As you yourself mentioned earlier, XCOM humanity are the ultimate scavengers. They reverse-engineer everything they find and make it their bitch. As such, they use it, albeit in different ways from ME ships though. For one, they never actually developed shields. At this point, they don't even know it's possible to do so. They're focused on mobility and armor for their defense, and Element Zero boosts (at minimum) the former dramatically. Unfortunately, they haven't faced any real space combat. They finished the Ethereals without needing to go beyond the Firestorm, so they really don't have any experience there.

    Fighters were proven effective however, especially since they continue to emphasize mobility, and that provides the backbone of the offensive power of their navy. There's a few classes of ship with BFGs (generally scaled up Fusion Lances, but a few with MACs or plasma cannons), but the scary pieces of their fleet are the Carriers. Ranging from 7 to 9 kilometers in length and able to field between 500 and 2,000 manned fighters and as many as 1,500 SHIV-equivalent fighters. Each one carrying sufficient offensive power to slap down a Frigate if they get close enough.

    Lasers are generally used for point-defense and not much else, due to energy dissipation.

    Also, I feel I should point out that plasma weapons are stopped by Kinetic Barriers. Plasma has mass and it's moving at a very high speed, thus it will trigger the barrier and be stopped. The barrier won't do anything for the heat it radiates however, and until the ME races figure out that they need to give a significant buffer between the barrier and the wearer's skin, it will be just as lethal as if the plasma hadn't been stopped.

    The Citadel doesn't have plasma weapons and all that because they don't know it's possible. All they know about the Ethereals is that a long time in the past, they were present when a planet was razed, what some of their ships look like, and whatever the Ethereal word is for "Ethereal". That's literally everything they know about the Ethereals. They investigated the ruins and didn't find anything useful, so they shrugged and went back about their days. There's a few specialists in Citadel space that state loudly that there must have been more to them, but they're mostly ignored as crackpots.
     
  20. Arcman

    Arcman My Lord!

    *Whistles*

    That's really big for Mass Effect.
     
  21. Harry Leferts

    Harry Leferts Solidarity

    So they never figured out the trick behind using Mass Effect fields to compress armor and make it much tougher and more durable?
     
  22. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Bear in mind that these facts should be approached with the mindset of a people that just fought a war of extinction against an alien foe. There's a few reasons they're afraid of the Protheans, most of which have been mentioned in the thread already. In short, the Protheans are out there somewhere, they'd been experimenting on humans in the past, they're overwhelmingly powerful as evidenced by the tech they left behind, and the last race they encountered said that there was something out there even worse than they.

    It doesn't take a big logical leap to go from "Something's out there that's bad. These people were observing us a long time ago. Those people are probably that something bad." It's definitely a mix of paranoia and "better safe than sorry" attitude, but it's not unfounded.

    Plus, it leaves XCOM and the Council of Nations in a position to exploit it and put themselves in charge of the whole human race. That alone is reason enough for them to do it.

    Edit:
    @Harry Leferts:
    They have actually. They use it to harden armor when going into battle. There's a lot of ME-field manipulation on their fighters, and the skill of manipulating them is what determines the skill of a pilot, more than actual steering ability. The real aces are able to juggle their mass and momentum on the fly to maximize both movement and defense.

    PS - I should probably also mention that the events of the story itself happen during the ME canon timeline, so the non-italicized portion is occurring in 2156
     
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  23. hance1986

    hance1986 Bolo Commander

    Well the Citadel's advantage with KBs will last just until the first destroyed ship is carted home for analysis.

    Does this mean that right now human ships are glass cannons? If what could be put into kinetic barriers is used for mobility and armor, how much of a speed advantage do human ships have over Turian ships? I suppose the human doctrine is 'duck and move, bob and weave' rather than 'take the hit and keep going' that Citadel ships would have.

    Fighters and carriers I guess would fit with human stratagems of assaulting the enemy on every possible vector and breaking through and overwhelming him. Energy weaponry allows fighters to be far more than a nuisance. Drone warfare seems to be a heavy aspect of things. How does this carry with ground troops?

    One final thing, once XCOM gets ahold of KB tech, would they develop cyclonic barrier tech first(think that's what it was called) where the KB slaps the enemy fire aside, parries it, instead of just tanking the shot?
     
  24. Agayek

    Agayek Ravenous Gormandizer Super Awesome Happy Fun Time

    Human ships aren't really glass cannons, but they can be. Basically, instead of having shields, humans here use mass-effect-laden armor plating. They use the Mass Effect to trigger the "configuration", but even in 'tank mode' the best plating can't take much more than a single fusion lance. They have the armor so they can take a few hits, but they really don't want to.

    As for a speed advantage, they really don't have much of a one. What they have is an agility advantage. With the way human ships are set up, they are able to (sometimes literally) turn on a dime. They simply dial back the weight and can then overcome their momentum with ease. In a straight line, ME ships will always win in terms of speed; human ships don't have conventional FTL after all.

    Ground troop paradigm is basically what is shown in the game. Small squad based guerrilla operations to accomplish a short-list of objectives then GTFO. Drones are used as both fire-support and packmules, usually both.

    We'll see about XCOM shields when we get there.

    Edit: Before I forget to respond to this again.
    Well, think about the Temple Ship. That thing was at least 10 km stem to stern. Judging from the map view, it was ~1/3 the size of Brazil (though I'm reasonably certain that wasn't real proportions). Plus, they're convinced that the Protheans, the guys who threw away a station the size of a moon, are going to come back. Big is what you want at that point.
     
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  25. Is this Warhammer influence? And why so big? A modern aircraft carrier is only 1/3 of kilometer. ME Dreadnoughts are about kilometer as well.
    You be better off having more carriers with numerous fighters each instead of thousands as C&C issues will pop up with so many.

    Except it isn't really logical. All they know is an abandoned observation post on Mars and the Mass Relay Station as a transport along with a warning that something worse is currently out there. Considering this is 50k years ago, it is more logical that they were wiped out. And if it not, it is equally logical they be friendly as much as they could be hostile. There is nothing that links the Protheans are what the Etherals were warning of. Or they were even telling the truth.
     
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