The X-Com Files: Play the early history of the agency

Just read about this on Twitter: a huge mod for X-Com: UFO Defense that… well, here’s the creator’s description:

This megamod will allow you to grow X-Com from its humbled beginnings, as a two-men team travelling the world in an expensive-looking car to the global military force we all know and love. It contains many, many additions, like new mission types, enemies, equipment and story arcs (including the entirety of my previous project, the Final Mod Pack). It also places the game a bit more firmly in the 90’s conspiracy genre and its clichés.

Defeat the enemies from the outer space, the oceans the underground, but primarily within our own society.

Welp, since you started the thread, now you have to play through it and report back!

Seriously, though, I might have to figure this out while I’m waiting for Terra Invictus to get finished. But jumping into Open Xcom and modding looks kinda scary…

OpenXcom is what made me return to UFO: Enemy Unknown to finally play it through because it was so easy to install and the little quality of life improvements helped a lot too. The modding I recall being straight forward as well but that was just a simple music mod to mix it up after many hours of play. Of course, that was some years ago now so things might have changed somewhat…

OpenXcom is one of the few games I have installed at all times. Not that I play it a lot, but it’s relatively small and feels like one of those perennial games to always have at hand.

I remember OpenXcom itself being pretty easy to set up if you have the Steam version of X-Com. (For those who don’t know, it requires you to own a copy of the original game, and then it has updated files that fix bugs and whatnot.

I’ll try to get X-Com Files added in and check it out!

I finally got around to installing openxcom this morning after this thread popped up. It automatically will detect GOG intstalls now as well as Steam. I haven’t tried installing any mods yet, beyond installing it with the openxcom extended installer.

Y’all who are trying this, please keep us posted. I’m going to be more inclined to jump in if I know a few of you are forging ahead and can help a clueless n00b. :)

I’ve got it working! The installation instructions were a little funky, so I’ll share what I did:

  1. Installed X-Com: UFO Defense on Steam. Sounds like you can use GOG too.
  2. Installed OpenXcom Extended. This is the extra-moddable version of OpenXcom. I had OpenXcom installed already, but this can be installed as a totally separate application. The installer automatically detected the Steam install. There’s an option for Portable Install; I chose yes. Get the installer for OpenXcom Extended here.
  3. Downloaded and extracted X-Com Files 2.8. Get it here.
  4. Created a “mods” folder in the “user” folder in OpenXcom Extended. (If you didn’t do a Portable Install, I think you have to also make the user folder.)
  5. Put the three folders extracted from The X-Com Files zip into the new mods folder.
  6. Run OpenXcom Extended! It’ll probably be in a small window. You can go to the Options to set the resolution to 1024x768 or whatever you want. I also found that the display language was not set to English by default. (Although everything I saw in-game was English. This might determine soldier names?)
  7. Hit the Mods button on the main menu. Ignore the list of basic mods and open up the drop-down at the top. In there should be an option for X-Com Files.
  8. There are two sub-mods for X-Com Files–Cyrillic Names and Dark Geoscape. I think both of these are optional and mostly cosmetic.
  9. Hit OK and it’ll reload with X-Com Files activated. The main menu will say it prominently.

I’ve just played a little, but it gave me a sense for how things progress. It’ll look very similar to start. You’ll have a base and a squad of Agents. Your only vehicle is “Public/Car-1”. Basically it means your agents fly on commercial airlines and go to sites in a car. The car only holds two agents. You have a package of basic modern-day equipment. You have 5 scientists at your base (but no ability to expand your lab facilities at first, I discovered!).

If you advance time, you’ll start to get pop-up introductions from characters on your team. It doesn’t really tell you this, but they’ll unlock research projects for your scientists and that gets things moving. Eventually there will be an incident at a location and you can send your two little agents to scope it out.

That’s all I know so far! It’s slightly kludgy, but no more than I would expect!

That is goddamn adorable!

Well the first mission went very quick. Walked around, caught sight of what they were searching for, fired and missed, then both killed by it the next turn. I guess I should hold off on naming agents after qt3 members for a bit. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that means they lost the car.

You did better than me! I met the first several officers who explain elements of the base, then got a sighting! So my agents got in their car, drove north from Pasadena all the way into the Arctic Circle, equipped a shotgun and pistol, and then stepped out…into pitch black. Oops, nighttime mission and I didn’t think to invent flares first. Seriously, though, that’s on me as I deliberately enabled the mod for better visibility of the day/night line on the geoscape. Sorry, agents, I made you drive all the way to the North Pole for nothing, get back in the car. Which aborted the mission, as expected, but then we lost contact with the sighting and had to make the 4000-mile return trip dejected and empty-handed. But at least we were alive and had completed our first mission!

The problem is that somewhere around the third step of @Nightgaunt’s otherwise very helpful instructions, I seem to have gotten turned around, because I kept getting error messages about the save file directory being invalid. So I have no way of saving my game until I untangle whatever I screwed up with the installation, which isn’t really the X-Com files game I was hoping to play… :(

But my initial assessment remains: goddamn adorable!

EDIT: I sorted my directories issues, verified I can save the game, put a couple of flashlights in the truck of the car, named the car “Chickmobile”, and I’m ready to give this another go:


There should be some mag-lites in the inventory that you can bring along. Luckily I had one equipped with the pistol toting agent.

Yeah, I learned the hard way about night missions as well! Sorry I didn’t warn you!

If you think it’s adorable at the start, wait until you research X-Com Dogs!

I’ve been doing fairly well. Losing a few agents here and there, but hauling in a lot of cultist prisoners. Unfortunately, you can’t build labs at the start, so your research bandwidth is terrible. It’s taking forever just to research the stuff they hand out at the beginning. Unless I’m missing something.

My 2nd attempt went better. Reading the info screens I guess it is a rental car, and we take commercial flights to the location, so no worries about losing the car if I have another mission wipe. Considering what we found at the site this is going to be interesting.

Edit: Yeah, I didn’t catch that there were only 5 slots initially, so I have a couple scientists just sitting around.

So how are your agents doing? :) I made some friends last night that you would like.

I ended up building a 3rd hangar, and have been keeping all 3 vehicles pretty busy. Research is going slow. Hopefully I will eventually hit upon the tech that will allow building more lab space. I think it took me 3 or 4 missions before finally remembering to add equipment to the vehicles to apprehend people instead of just killing them on missions that need that. At least one of our new friends a mechanic that surprised me when it first happened (perhaps it was evident the whole time, and I missed the cues beforehand Zombies! and they don’t “die” they are just down for a couple of turns, so if you don’t drop them all within a few turns of each other, the others start jumping back up).

I wonder how feasible it is to have multiple bases early? I did my normal thing of dropping my first base in Europe, but I think the majority of my missions have been in Asia, with North America also having about as many as Europe so far.

Working on those frequent flyer miles:

I started in Greece and then later plopped one in central America to try to cover the western hemisphere as I was getting overwhelmed with just two vehicles. Gotten a pretty even global distribution of events, I would say.

Sadly, I’ve spent most of my time with X-com Files troubleshooting directory structures and saved game files. Mods, man. So fucking aggravating, even with all the obvious work to streamline everything with Openxcom Extended. But it turns out the source of (all?) my problems is Windows 11’s permissions structure. I eventually figured out that it wasn’t letting Openxcom write to the directories it was creating, at which point it was trivially easy to fix. But what a goddamn goatrope trying to troubleshoot all that crap when the solution was so basic. It’s enough to drive a fella back to boardgames. :(

Well, at least now they’re able to exist beyond quitting out of the game! I’ve basically restarted about five times, but I’m getting further each time.

I actually went back to vanilla X-com for a bit just to get my X-com legs back. I’m forgetting how all this TU and reaction fire and manufacturing stuff works, and unfortunately, I’m starting to bristle at the limitations of the combat. For instance, line of sight is giving me fits, and I’ve gotten spoiled by the LOS tools that made XCOM and Phoenix Point so painless. I guess we’re just supposed to eyeball it in X-com? By moving guys where we think they might have line of sight and keeping our fingers crossed?

I’ll figure this stuff out eventually and either ragequit or lose myself in it, but I obviously need a primer in Olden Days X-com before I make much progress in the mod. :(

I was surprised when I sorted out finances and realized how much money the game gives you at the outset! Seems like it would be wasteful NOT to build a second base.

Oh man, I know. Cover and line of sight are just a black box that may or may not cooperate with you. I had a battle where a fence with two thin horizontal slats would block shots from half the spaces along it but not the other half. I don’t think there’s any solution except to tolerate it (and lean on save games if it’s really devastating; I think it autosaves every turn?).

My worry was there is something they haven’t told us about yet that is going to need my money, so I’d been a bit conservative, but I guess I should open up another base. Asia has been busier, but I think western hemisphere is probably the best bet like @Nightgaunt did, and then both can send teams to Asia if needed for now. We’ve upgraded to renting vans now. I agree on the interface. They sure can seem to fire a lot of rounds from a glock in 1 turn though. :)