X-Com Enemy Unknown
Sycraft's X-Com Enemy Unknown (2012) Strategy Guide
Table of Contents
[1.1.0] Yes There is Another X-Com
[1.2.0] Quick Tips
[1.2.1] Geoscape Tips
[1.2.2] Battle Tips
[2.0.0] Starting Out
[2.1.0] Difficulty Levels
[2.2.0] Choosing Your Location
[2.3.0] The First Mission
[3.0.0] Building Your Base
[3.2.0] Permanent Facilities
[3.3.0] Additional Facilities
[4.1.0] Soldier Stats
[4.2.0] What Class Will My Soldier Be?
[4.3.0] How Does Experience Work?
[4.4.0] The Classes
[4.5.0] The Abilities
[4.5.1] Assault Abilities
[4.5.2] Heavy Abilities
[4.5.3] Sniper Abilities
[4.5.4] Support Abilities
[4.5.5] Psionic Abilities
[5.2.2] Assault Rifles
[5.2.3] Scatter Guns
[5.2.4] Sniper Rifles
[5.2.5] Heavy Weapons
[6.1.0] Abduction Mission
[6.2.0] Crashed UFO
[6.2.1] Landed UFO
[6.3.0] Terror Attack
[6.4.0] Base Assault
[6.5.0] Council Missions
[6.5.1] Bomb Disposal
[6.5.2] VIP Protection
[6.5.3] Asset Recovery
[7.2.0] Thin Man
[7.5.0] Heavy Floater
[7.7.0] Muton Berserker
[7.8.0] Muton Elite
[7.14.0] Sectoid Commander
[7.16.0] Uber Ethereal
[8.0.0] Battle Tactics
[8.1.0] Understanding Cover
[8.2.0] There's More to Defense Than Cover
[8.3.0] Range Matters
[8.4.0] Line of Sight Matters More
[8.5.0] Overwatch and Reaction Shots
[8.6.0] Scouting and Free Enemy Moves
[8.7.0] Choosing Your Shots
[9.1.0] The Basics
[9.2.0] Types of Interceptors
[10.0.0] Basic Walkthrough
[10.1.0] Starting Out
[10.2.0] Your First Abduction
[10.3.0] Research and Priorities
[10.4.0] Get some Satellites
[10.5.0] Fetching an Alien
[10.6.0] Getting an Outsider Shard
[10.7.0] All Their Base Are Belong to You
[10.8.0] Hyperwave Research
[10.9.0] A New UFO, and it is... Purple?
[10.10.0] Well That Didn't Help!
[10.11.0] You Call it a What Chamber?
[10.12.0] An End, Once and For All
[11.1.0] Basic Modding
[1.0.0] Introduction [1.0.0]
This guide is intended to be a strategy and mechanics information for Firaxis'
game X-Com. I'd call it a walkthrough, but you really can't have such a thing
per se when you are talking about a more open, random game. So this guide will
cover how the mechanics in the game work, in much greater detail than the tiny
manual or tutorial, some useful strategies, a basic overview of progression and
REGARDING SPOLIERS: This guide is not spoiler free. While it doesn't
particularly spoil much since the plot of the game is more or less "Kill all
aliens, do so now," there is still information that will give away what goes
on. If you aren't ok with that, please don't read any further. Unfortunately,
there's no real good way not to have some spoilers so it is what it is.
Also this guide is not intended as a replacement to the tutorial, so I won't be
going over all the basics like movement. Play the tutorial to find out how to
play the game, read the guide for more detailed information.
[1.1.0] Yes There is Another X-Com [1.1.0]
For those that aren't aware, this game is a sequel, or more accurately a
reboot, of an old series. Back in 1994 Microprose released a game called UFO:
Enemy Unknown, or X-Com: UFO Defense. It was a turn based tactical game, with a
strategic geomap, like this one, and was a real classic greatly loved by many
strategy fans. In 1995 a sequel called X-Com: Terror from the Deep came out
where again you were getting invaded by aliens, but from the ocean this time
(so you know what you may see next here). It was exceedingly hard. For those
that don't think "classic" difficulty could be accurate, try it and see.
After that there was Apocalypse which tried to mix in real time strategy and
didn't work so well, and then they quickly ran the franchise in to the ground
with a bad space shooter, a horrible budget e-mail game, and finally a bad
third person shooter.
In 2005 Take2 (2k's parent) bought the rights to X-Com, and now in 2012, here
is the result.
While this game is substantially different in execution from the originals, it
is the same basic idea, same basic setting and so on. If you've a soft spot in
your heart for old DOS games, you can find copies released legally for free, or
on Impulse, Steam, and so on which will run in DOSBox. Just be warned: They
aren't kidding on the classic difficulty, it was hard.
As of this writing you can find them on http://www.xcomufo.com/ legally to
download. DOSBox (also free) is required. The Steam version is packaged with
[1.2.0] Quick Tips [1.2.0]
Tip: Read the tips :).
[1.2.1] Geoscape Tips [1.2.1]
--Get satellites up as soon as possible. They help reduce panic in a number of
ways and panic will be a big problem particularly early on.
--Worry about workshops more than laboratories. One lab is probably fine.
Construction cost and research materials tend to be the problem, not research
--Don't just have one squad of soldiers. Your soldiers WILL get injured, you'll
need backups. Rotate in some new people in with the veterans to rank them up
--Never ignore a UFO unless there is just no way you can do the mission. It
increases panic, pisses off the council, and deprives you of much needed
--Try and build your base so there's area to build things next to each other
for adjacency bonuses. Ideally, you want a square of 4 buildings so you get one
bonus per building.
--Don't overspend on items. Just build what you need at the time. Items for
your squad construct immediately, so you can build them right before a mission,
just go back to the briefing, out to engineering, build your stuff, and then do
the mission. Save money and resources.
--Try to capture aliens as instructed fairly quickly to get the mission to raid
an alien base. It reduces panic globally by two and you will probably have
trouble managing panic until you are more satellites up so you likely need to
do it sooner rather than later.
--Don't build the Hyperwave Decoder until you have new interceptors, or at
least the materials to research them. It will make a new, fast, UFO appear and
your old ones won't be able to shoot it down, meaning more panic/angry council.
--Remember PSI training takes your soldiers out of commission. Make sure you
don't put all your best guys in there at once.
[1.2.2] Battle Tips [1.2.2]
--Put your soldiers on overwatch when they don't have something else to do.
--No, seriously, put your damn soldiers on overwatch, it is often the
difference between life and death.
--Generally limit moves to one action point (not dashing) in most cases. You
want to be ready to fire, hunker, retreat, etc if the move takes you in to
--Always, always stay in cover. Standing in the open is just asking to get
--Be aware of the directions of cover. Enemies can, and will, flank you if
given the chance. Each direction of cover handles a 180 degree arc basically,
so watch your sides, and move if you are getting flanked.
--Bring a mix of classes. No one class is great at everything. In general I'd
take one of everything and two of your two favorite classes, or the ones that
seem most applicable.
--Don't send soldiers off alone, except in special cases. Enemies occur in
groups, you should too.
--Don't cluster soldiers all up though, that is just asking for a grenade. Stay
a bit loose, but with overlapping fields of fire.
--Stack up soldiers before breaching a door. Have one on each side, and maybe
another looking in. Be ready for whatever baddies are on the other side.
--If psionic enemies are giving you trouble, consider bringing a SHIV. They are
immune to psi attacks. Use them to get vision for snipers and then peg the
aliens. Also a cloaked assault solder works great for the same purpose.
Controlling a drone also works excellent for this.
--Ghost armor gives you 100% crit chance when cloaked. Get it, use it, love it.
--Chryssalids are priority targets. Not only do they do a good bit of damage,
but they make another Chryssalid if they kill someone.
--If a soldier gets mind controlled, kill the controlling alien ASAP. Cloak and
Run & Gun, rain down death with your snipers, use your rockets, whatever it
takes. Otherwise you can easily get in a situation of having to kill one of
your own men.
[2.0.0] Starting Out [2.0.0]
When you first start the game, you'll be asked to choose a difficulty level
from the choices Easy, Normal, Classic, and Impossible. Take the naming
seriously. Classic is hard like the original games turned up a good bit and
impossible nearly is. Under advanced options you'll find the ability to enable
and disable the tutorial and Ironman mode.
The tutorial in enabled by default for the first game, and disabled by default
once you complete it once. However you can turn it on or off as you wish. Play
the tutorial once, even if you are an X-Com veteran. This game is done in a
rather different style, and the tutorial will teach you what you need to know.
Ironman is a mode where there's only one save, and it is automatic. It is like
some old school games such as Rogue where death is permanent. Anything you do,
you live with. If you don't like that, and many people don't, then don't play
it. However don't choose it and then get angry when you can't go back.
[2.1.0] Difficulty Levels [2.1.0]
So you've seen the four levels, but want more than a simple blurb as to what is
different? No problem! The difficulty levels actually vary quite a bit about
the game. For all the things I'll list them in the format of
Funding: Your monthly funding is 150%/100%/100%/100% of normal.
Soldier starting HP: 6/5/4/3 (plus one more from armor).
Enemy AI: On levels under classic, it is shackled and is not as smart as it can
be. It will make suboptimal moves and it doesn’t tend to use grenades much
(particularly on easy).
Max aliens active at once: 5/5/Unlimited/Unlimited.
Total aliens in a mission. On Classic it can be a few more, on Impossible it
can be a lot more.
Enemy damage bonus: It varies per critter and is as follows:
Thin man: -2/-2/0/0
Chryssalid Zombie: 0/0/2/4
Muton Berzerker: 0/0/1/3
Enemy aim bonus: 0/0/10/10 except for Outsiders who are 0/0/10/20 and melee
units which don't get any (since it isn't relevant).
Enemy crit bonus: 0/0/10/10 except for the Uber Etherial who is 0/0/10/20
Enemy HP bonus: Varies a lot per critter but is 0 for Easy and Normal, 2-4 for
Classic and about half the enemies have it, and 1-5 for Impossible and all the
enemies have it.
How many engineers and scientists regions give you per month per satellite. On
Classic and Impossible they are half what you get on Easy and Normal.
Starting equipment: On lower levels, you have an extra satellite to deploy
where you want (the first is over your base), on higher levels you get only the
one. Also on lower levels you have the OTS already built, on higher levels you
must build it yourself.
Bonuses for you: On Easy and Normal the game "cheats" for you when you have
four soldiers or less (three or less on normal). The less you have, the more
aim bonus your guys get, and the bigger an aim penalty the aliens get. There
are also aim bonuses each time you miss a shot, and a penalty each time the
aliens hit. Basically it means that if your squad start to get low on people
they go a bit superhero, and it is more likely you can still pull out the
So turning up difficulty increases quite a bit, but the real big divide is
Easy/Normal and Classic/Impossible. There is a BIG jump from Normal to Classic.
Classic is fun, it is tense, but it can be very hard and frustrating. If you
aren't sure, give Normal a try if you are a turn based strategy player, Easy if
not. I'd save Classic for a second play through.
[2.2.0] Choosing Your Location [2.2.0]
When you first start a game, it will ask you where you'd like your base to be.
Your choice decides what bonus you get to have. To get the other bonuses, you
need to completely blanket that region is satellites. As such your choice is
not only based on which region has a bonus you like, but also how many sats it
takes to cover. South America takes 2, North America and Africa take 3, Europe
and Asia take 4. So if you are going for multiple bonuses as soon as you can,
it can be beneficial to take a base in one of the 4 country regions. In terms
of the bonuses here they are in descending order of usefulness:
North America: Air and Space
All aircraft and air weapons cost 50% less to build and maintain. This is by
far the best overall bonus in my opinion. You are going to spend a lot of money
on interceptors and their guns over the course of the game. This will also make
it much less painful to maintain them in multiple regions early on. When you
place a sat in a new region, you need to buy interceptors for it to do any
good. This really helps with the cost.
Asia: Future Combat
All training at the OTS and all foundry projects cost 50% less. A close second.
You tend to spend money in the OTS early on, when it is tight, since the
upgrades are useful. Also, there's quite a few foundry projects and cutting
their cost is nice.
Africa: All In
You get 30% more money per month. More money is always good, and this means
each sat you launch is even more useful (you get bonus monthly money when you
have satellite coverage on a country).
Europe: Expert Knowledge
All labs and workshops cost 50% less to build and maintain. This is nice
particularly since you may want to build a bunch of workshops quickly to reduce
later costs, but of course that can be hard to get the money for up front.
South America: We Have Ways
All autopsies and interrogations complete immediately. While it sounds cool,
after a bit the limiting factor with research is likely to be weapon fragments
and the like, not time. Also since there are only two countries in the region,
it is by far the easiest to get later.
Any starting location is perfectly valid and you can beat the game, however you
most likely will find you have an easier time of it if you start in North
America or Asia than in South America.
[2.3.0] The First Mission [2.3.0]
Once you choose your base, the game will dump you in to the first mission. If
you have the tutorial on, it'll lead you by the nose slowly introducing you to
things one by one, and guiding your initial base construction and a later
mission. It is all pretty scripted.
If you don't have the tutorial on it'll give you four soldiers and set you down
in the country where you base is to be. You'll then have to track down and kill
four sectoids (more on higher difficulties), the idea being each soldier gets a
kill and thus a promotion, though it often doesn't work out that way. Once that
is done, you are sent on your way to your base to do as you please.
[3.0.0] Building Your Base [3.0.0]
Once the intro mission is done the first thing you'll be doing is looking at
your base. Despite not having a ton to do right now, you still want to plan it
out and think about where things go. The reason is Adjacency Bonuses. Most
facilities will offer you a bonus when they are next to a facility of the same
type. In some cases it isn't all that big a deal, but it often helps out quite
a bit. For example you get one extra satellite for each facility you have
adjacent. The net effect is that if you build two Satellite Uplinks and two
Satellite Nexuses in a square, you can have enough to cover the whole world. If
you build them spread out, you'll need more facilities.
[3.1.0] Excavation [3.1.0]
You also need to plan in terms of excavation, both making sure you have things
dug out and making sure you have the money to do so. To be able to build a room
on a square it must be excavated, and must be adjacent to either the lift, a
built room or an excavated square on the same level. You can only move up and
down via the lift, an excavated square above the one you wish to excavate does
Excavation costs double as you go deeper. The costs are as follows:
Level 1: $10
Level 2: $20
Level 3: $40
Level 4: $80
It takes 5 days to excavate a square. You may see some squares that are already
"pre-excavated", they are just available for use, as soon as you connect to
them with the lift/excavated squares.
To go down to lower levels, you have to build your lift out lower. It costs
$50, 2 power, and $10/month on each level to build. The lift shaft is always
You also will notice one or more (I've seen as many as three) squares that say
"Steam". These are special squares in that not only can you build any normal
facility, but you can also build a Thermo Generator on them. Thermo Generators
generate quite a bit of power per square, so making use of steam squares can be
a very good idea and you may wish to plan your base accordingly.
[3.2.0] Permanent Facilities [3.2.0]
Your base has a number of permanent facilities that you can see when you look
around, but cannot add or remove. These are Mission Control, the Hanger, The
Barracks, Research, Engineering, The Situation Room, and the Memorial. These
are all above the area you build in, so are of no concern to construction.
[3.3.0] Additional Facilities [3.3.0]
When you get your base, it comes with an Officer Training School, a Satellite
Uplink and nothing else. You can also build a Power Generator and a Thermo
Generator. Other buildings are unlocked with various events, and research.
Note that with regards to costs: Money and items are used in the construction,
spent and never come back. Power is used so long as that building is present,
but is refunded if you demolish the facility. Engineers and scientists are
minimum requirements, but are not used in construction and still count for all
Officer Training School
Costs: $125, 3 power $15/month, soldier ranked Sergeant or above.
Build Time: 8 days.
This lets you purchase abilities that enhance your squad in various ways. On
high levels you have to buy it, and it unlocks when you get a Sergeant (the
first rank that could actually buy something from it). On low levels you start
with it. However be warned there doesn't appear to be any way to rebuild it on
Trent notes that if you remove it you lose ALL training done at it. So don't
remove it, even on higher levels.
The things you can train are:
Squad Size I: Costs $50 and requires a Sergeant to unlock. This lets you have 5
soldiers in your squad, instead of 4. Get this ASAP.
Squad Size II: Costs $75 and requires a Captain to unlock. This lets you have a
full 6 soldier squad. Also get this ASAP.
New Guy: Costs $250 and requires a Major to unlock. This makes all new recruits
start out as a Squaddie instead of Rookie, and instantly promotes any Rookies
you have left. This is kind of useful, but not a big deal. Only get it if
you've money to spare.
Rapid Recovery: Costs $150 and requires a Lieutenant to unlock. This halves the
recovery time of soldiers who are wounded in battle. This is very useful and
well worth getting.
Don't Die On Me: Costs $275 and requires a Colonel to unlock. This makes it
more likely soldiers are critically wounded, rather than killed, with an
increasing chance based on rank. How much is unknown. Given that, I can't say
how useful it is, but I'd get it on Ironman particularly.
Wet Work: Costs $125 and requires a Sergeant to unlock. This gives soldiers 25%
more XP. This is nice, but don't stretch the budget to get it. It is more
useful later on for replacing veterans that die.
Iron Will: Costs $200 and requires a Major to unlock. This increases the will a
soldier gets on level up. Extremely useful, get it as soon as you can afford it
as will is very critical.
Costs: $150, 5 power, and 10 engineers per uplink or nexus after the first,
Build Time: 14 days.
Adjacency Bonus: One extra satellite when they are touching another uplink or
This lets you have two more satellites per facility and as such is critical.
Satellites decrease panic in the nations they are over, let you find UFOs which
get you materials and further decrease panic when you kill them, and when you
cover an entire region with satellites, you get that region's bonus. Lots of
satellite coverage is key to doing well, so get a second one as soon as you
Costs: $60, $11/month.
Adjacency Bonus: Two power for each adjacent power facility of any kind.
As you'd expect gives you power, 6 in particular. However, you shouldn't build
it unless you have to, since the Thermo Generator is so much more efficient.
Costs: $200, $23/month.
Build Time: 8 days.
Adjacency Bonus: Two power for each adjacent power facility of any kind.
This is the thing to get as soon as practical. It provides 20 power, and as
such makes much more efficient use of space, and costs the same amount per
power unit, and less in maintenance.
Prerequisites: Have 6 scientists.
Build Time: 10 days.
Costs: $125, 3 power, 6 scientists for the first, 10 for the second, and 5 more
per lab thereafter, $24/month.
Adjacency Bonus: 10% research speed increase per adjacent laboratory.
This gives you a 20% boost to your research speed. Players of the old X-Com may
immediately seek these out, but they are not all that useful in this game. The
problem is that often as not you are limited by your supply of weapon fragments
for research, not time. Also the aliens increase in power is partly tied to
your own. So doing super-fast research is not so useful. A single lab can be
worth it but I wouldn't build many more.
Prerequisites: Have 6 engineers.
Build Time: 10 days.
Costs: $130, 3 power, 6 engineers for the first, 15 for the second, and 10 more
per workshop thereafter, $26/month.
Adjacency Bonus: 7% refund on resources used in building vehicles, facilities,
and foundry projects per adjacent workshop.
These give you 5 engineers per workshop built, and when adjacent give you back
resources when projects finish. As such, they are extremely useful because more
engineers allow for different things to be built, and lower the cost of things
you build. It is worth looking at getting a block of four of them to get a big
boost in engineer numbers as well as a good refund.
Prerequisites: Research Xeno-Biology
Build Time: 7 days.
Costs: $85, 5 power, $18/month.
You only need one of these (and can't build more), but it is quite necessary.
It lets you capture and interrogate live aliens. This is required to advance
the game, and also interrogations give you research credit, speeding up the
research of various topics.
Prerequisites: Research Experimental Warfare
Build Time: 10 days.
Costs: $75, 3 power, $20/month.
The lets you upgrade existing weapons and items. More or less it is another
research facility, but one that concentrates on improvements rather than new
technologies. So you can improve your pistol, or medkit and so on at this
facility. You only need and can only build one.
Prerequisites: Research Alien Nav Computer
Build Time: 21 days.
Costs: $300, 8 power, 25 alloys, 2 UFO Flight Computers, 15 engineers per
facility, on top of what the uplinks require, $26/month.
Works just like the Satellite Uplink, but controls 4 sats instead of 2. Two of
these and two uplinks in a block is enough to get coverage for all countries.
Prerequisites: Research Alien Power Source
Build Time: 14 days.
Adjacency Bonus: Two power for each adjacent power facility of any kind.
Costs: $275, 8 power, 30 elerium, 40 alloys, 2 UFO Power Source, 55 engineers,
Provides 30 power per square. As such it is the most efficient power facility,
space wise, you can build. However it has a rather steep cost in materials. One
of these and two Thermo Generators should be enough to power even a pretty
Prerequisites: Interrogate a Sectoid Commander
Build Time: 14 days.
Costs: $200, 3 power, 20 alloys, 20 ellurium, $30/month.
This allows you to test your soldiers for psionic abilities. You can choose up
to three soldiers (and only three, you can't build multiple labs) and stick
them in it for 10 days, during which time they are unavailable for missions. At
the end, it'll let you know if any of them have psionic ability. If so, they
are promoted and unlock the first tier of abilities.
Prerequisites: Research Hyperwave Communication
Build Time: 14 days.
Costs: $175, 4 power, 10 alloys, $30/month.
This facility both allows you to see information on alien ships, and is
required to advance the game. Once built it sits for a while before becoming
operational. Once it does, you will get detailed information on a UFO, its
type, crew compliment, mission, etc, when you go after it. It will also trigger
a new stage of the game, where you'll have to shoot down a new kind of UFO. As
such you may wish to delay building it until you are ready to build new
interceptors. You can't get rid of it, once built.
Prerequisites: Ethereal Device
Build Time: 14 days.
Costs: $200, 5 Power, 10x elerium, 10x alloys, 1x Ethereal Device, $100/month.
This is the building you use to start the final mission and finish the game. It
also gives a special psionic ability to one of your soldiers. It is the game
ender, so you build it and use it when you are ready to be done.
[4.0.0] Soldiers [4.0.0]
Your soldiers are the backbone of your forces. They are the ones you send out
on missions and the ones who have to worry about a Chryssalid making an
amuse-bouche out of their fingers. As such you will spend a good deal of your
time managing with them.
[4.1.0] Soldier Stats [4.1.0]
A soldier has 4 stats: HP, Will, Defense and Aim. On the soldier screen each
stat is listed as the base number and then + a bonus number from gear.
HP is hit points, as you might expect. When they reach zero, your soldier dies
or is critically injured. Soldiers start out with 6/5/4/3 HP on
Easy/Normal/Classic/Impossible and gain it as they level. Assault, Heavy and
Support classes gain it every other level starting at Squaddie, Snipers every
other level starting at Corporal. All armor also adds to your HP, how much
depends on the type.
Will is your ability to resist panic, resist psionic attacks, and to conduct
psionic attacks. Rookies start with 40 and 200 seems to be the max, However it
is rare to see even 100. Near as I can tell, all soldiers gain 2-6 per level
plus 2-4 more if Iron Will has been purchased. Psi Armor and Mind Shields add
Defense is your ability to avoid incoming fire. It is 0 base in all cases,
however some armors and items can add to it. Most defense comes from being in
cover on a mission. Partial cover is 20 defense, full cover is 40 defense.
Aim is your ability to hit targets. Rookies start with 65 and again 200 seems
to be the max. As a practical matter, you don't tend to see over 105, and then
only on snipers. How much you gain on level up depends on class. Snipers gain
the most, from 3-10 per level, Heavies gain the least, 1-2 per level.
[4.2.0] What Class Will My Soldier Be? [4.2.0]
Something that perplexes many is how to choose or influence what class their
soldier becomes. The bad news? You can't. It is completely random. When a
solider is promoted from Rookie to Squaddie the game randomly chooses a class
for them. Nothing you can do to change it. So if you don't get what you want,
you have to go get another solider and try again. Rather annoying, but that is
how it works at present.
Mark adds "Save before killing the last alien on the early missions. When you
get back to base and you don't like the class your rookie has taken, reload and
kill the last alien again. You will be randomly given another class."
[4.3.0] How Does Experience Work? [4.3.0]
This is something I'm not 100% sure on, and so far examination of the game's
resources hasn't helped. However play testing shows that kills are a sure-fire
way to get experience. Non-lethal takedowns with the arc thrower do NOT get you
any experience at all. It does not appear that simply going on a mission gets
you any. I am unsure if other abilities get you any or not. Kills are, at this
time, the main confirmed way to get experience. If anyone has different
information, let me know.
Examining the games files shows that the experience table is:
However, without any context for what amount of experience you get per kill or
the like, it isn't that useful. Basically, if you want a guaranteed way to rank
soldiers up, have them kill aliens. It also appears now that they gain some XP
simply by participating in a mission, but how much is unknown. You will
sometimes see a soldier level, even though it didn't say so in the mission.
Also note a soldier can get no more than one promotion per level. So once the
game lets you know they've received a promotion, with a message and a + symbol
over their rank icon, further kills won't rank them up more for that mission.
Thus if you have a rookie along for training, don't put everyone at risk
letting them get all the kills, just enough until they level up once and that
Ranks are this game's levels. When you gain a rank, you gain stats, and also an
ability. As such veteran soldiers are significantly more powerful than rookies,
so it behooves you to try and keep them alive when practical.
[4.4.0] The Classes [4.4.0]
Once a soldier gets a kill and ranks up to Squaddie, they get assigned to one
of four classes with different abilities and weapons.
[4.4.1] Assault [4.4.1]
The assault class is basically a rusher. They are designed around getting up
close and personal with the enemies. Their canonical ability is Run & Gun which
lets them execute both movements, and then still either fire or go in to
overwatch. As such they make excellent scouts for racing up and revealing
things, and still being able to do something, and great breachers inside ships.
They also can be useful for saving a soldier who's gotten themselves in a bad
position. You should really always take along at least one assault.
They are also the only class that you can choose their primary weapon. They use
scatter guns (shotguns) or assault rifles. Which you choose depends on your
play style. Shotguns are for if you like to get right up in the enemy's face,
particularly if you like to rush around and flank. They have an increased crit
chance and up close they are devastating damage wise. Assault rifles are for if
you want to stay back a bit as you do with other classes. Despite the run and
gun nature of assault, arming them with rifles is useful and is actually my
As with most classes, they carry a pistol as their off weapon.
[4.4.2] Heavy [4.4.2]
An aptly named class, the heavy carries your heavy weapons. Their main gun is a
light machine gun (which despite the 'light' name is heavier than a rifle), and
their off weapon is a rocket launcher. They also can carry two grenades with a
perk later on.
Despite all that, they are not as generally useful as you might hope. The LMG
doesn't do that much more damage than other weapons, and heavies have poor aim
overall, so they'll miss a lot. The rocket is strong, and long range, but like
all explosives will destroy anything but corpses, precluding the recovery of
any weapon fragments. They also lack a pistol, as the rocket launcher is their
second weapon, and the LMG eats ammo badly.
As such their usefulness is a bit limited. They aren't worthless though. They
can get a perk to do double damage against robotic enemies which makes them a
menace against cyberdiscs, and a well-placed rocket can be the difference
between one of your troops getting their face eaten by a Chryssalid and not.
However if you need to take more of some class, I'd trade off the heavy in most
[4.4.3] Sniper [4.4.3]
Your typical snipey class. They carry a sniper rifle and a pistol. The sniper
rifle is very accurate at long distances, but can only be fired on the first
turn (unless you get an ability to change that). As such they seem a little
limited at first, however they get an ability that will let them shoot at any
enemy that any soldier can see, so long as they have a clear shot. This makes
them very much the classic sniper, hanging back and blasting targets from
They are particularly useful for helping with hard targets. Say your assault or
support soldier discovers and shoots at a target, but doesn't kill it. So long
as the sniper has a shot, they can hit it too, usually with pretty good
Their usefulness does vary based on map. The more open the map, the more useful
the sniper. If you are going down a bunch of small corridors, a sniper is
probably not so good. However on a city map they can destroy. I generally bring
two snipers on open maps, one on more enclosed maps.
[4.4.4] Support [4.4.4]
Despite the name, this is your general go-to soldier. If you can't decide what
class to bring in a spot, bring a support. They are good at pretty much
everything. While a healbot may be the first thing that comes to mind, and they
are good at that, they also can be extremely mobile, can suppress, can take two
items, have pretty good aim, and so on. The jack of all trades, master of the
healybotting. They carry an assault rifle and pistol. I usually run with two of
them, and sometimes will take another. They are just that generally useful.
[4.5.0] The Abilities [4.5.0]
Each rank a soldier gets brings new abilities. At Squaddie and Major there is
only one ability which you receive, however at all other ranks you have a
choice between two abilities. In some cases both are equally good, in some
cases they are situational, and in others one is much better. Here's a
breakdown of what the abilities are, what they do, and which are preferable:
[4.5.1] Assault Abilities [4.5.1]
-=Run & Gun=- (2 turn cooldown)
This is what makes an assault class what it is. When you activate it, you may
move any amount up to the limit of your dash, and then fire your weapon, or go
in to overwatch afterwards. You can activate it on either turn, so you can
move, activate Run & Gun, then move again and fire, or you can activate it on
the first turn, dash, then fire.
You use this ability for scouting and breaching. If you want to dash ahead of
the group to look for enemies and give your snipers targets, Run & Gun is a
great way to make sure you can lay down some hurt when you get there. It is
also great for breaching rooms in the alien ships. When you have a long
corridor with little cover an assault or two in Run & Gun mode can clear the
whole distance and go in to overwatch at the other end, allowing the squad to
move up safely.
Also useful for shotgun assaults to run around the enemy's cover and give them
a wedgie from behind. When you flank an enemy and get right next to them, your
attack is usually 100%, and your crit chance can be as well.
-=Agression=- [not recommended]
This increases your crit chance by 10% per enemy in sight, up to 30%. Sounds
cool off the bat, but a high crit is mostly of interest to shotgun assaults and
you don't really want to be running in to the middle of a bunch of enemies in
that case. It isn't useless, but it isn't as good as the alternative.
-=Tactical Sense=- [recommended]
This gives you +5 defense per enemy in sight, up to +20. This is pretty useful
in any situation as more defense is always nice, however it is particularly
good if you happen to get yourself in more trouble than expected with a Run &
Gun dash. If there's a bunch of enemies firing on you, this helps make more of
-=Close & Personal=- [not recommended]
This gives you 30% more crit when you are close to a target, and the bonus
drops off with distance pretty quick. Nice for shotgun assaults though not a
huge thing since a close up shotgun has a high crit chance anyhow usually.
However, the problem is the other ability here is just too good.
-=Lightning Reflexes=- [HIGHLY recommended]
An amazing ability. With this, the first reaction shot an enemy takes against
you misses, no matter what. This is a lifesaver with Run & Gun when you charge
in and there is an enemy on overwatch. Not only is it good for surprise
situations, but in general if there's an enemy on overwatch and you need to
move. Say you want to move a support, but there's an enemy on overwatch and
nobody has a good shot. No problem, have your assault run by, draw the shot,
and then the support can move freely.
There is just no reason not to get this.
With this you take two shots on an enemy, but both with a 15% aim penalty. How
useful this is largely depends on play style. If you do the "rush in close and
shotgun" thing then this can be a great ability against heavy targets. Getting
up close and flanking a target and using this can drop even pretty powerful
enemies in one shot. You can use it after activating Run & Gun.
However, it is not so useful at range. If your chance to hit is only 50%
anyhow, this would drop it to 35% and just eat up ammo. So it is one to take
only if you use your assault unit in an aggressive fashion. Otherwise, choose
This causes enemies to run out of cover. You get a decent bonus to hit with it,
but it doesn't do much damage. However it is extremely useful because, well, it
gets enemies out of cover. You tag them with a Flush shot, and then have a
sniper poke a hole in their head. Can work wonders against an enemy that is
well entrenched in good cover. I use it with rifle assaults to great effect.
-=Bring 'Em On [not recommended]=-
This gives you one more critical damage per enemy the squad can see, up to a
max of five. Sounds pretty good, extra damage is always nice, but can't hold a
candle to the other ability.
-=Close Combat Specialist=- [HIGHLY recommended]
This lets you take a free shot at any enemy that gets within four tiles of your
soldier. This is independent of your overwatch reaction shot and is automatic;
you don't have to choose it. This is just critical for when you get up close
and personal with the enemy. When a Chryssalid pops out and comes to nom on
your face, this is the ability that will save you. It works great watching
doors as well. There is just nothing like an extra reaction shot that you don't
have to do anything for.
This increases your armor's health bonus, the heavier the armor, the bigger the
bonus. Now you might think this means you should stick titan armor on your
assaults. That can be done, but it turns out ghost armor really works better
overall. Stealth mode + Run & Gun = a bad time for aliens.
With this, you get 50% crit damage for the turn any time you activate Run &
Gun. Nothing to dislike here, more damage is always a good thing. Can be
particularly lethal for high crit shotgun assaults. Synergizes well with ghost
armor, since you have 100% crit chance when you are cloaked.
This makes you completely immune to critical hits. Again, nothing to dislike
here. If it is better than Killer Instinct depends largely on play style, but
also on difficulty. On higher difficulties, aliens get crit bonuses. As such,
Resilience can help a lot.
[4.5.2] Heavy Abilities [4.5.2]
This is what gives you the rocket launcher, instead of the pistol, as your
second weapon. Do note you can only fire the rocket once per battle. Also it
requires both action points to fire, you can't have moved first.
-=Bullet Swarm=- [slightly recommended]
With this when you fire your LMG, it doesn't end your turn. This lets you fire
and then move, fire then reload, or fire twice. It is pretty useful since it
not only adds firepower, but also flexibility. In particular the ability to
fire and reload can be really useful to a heavy, since they chew through ammo.
However it does only apply to regular shots. You can't suppress and reload in a
round, or fire a rocket and your LMG.
This gives everyone in your squad +10 aim on any target the heavy has fired at
or suppressed. It can be useful, particularly on tough aliens in cover. You
have the heavy suppress the alien, reducing its aim, and then have the rest of
your squad fire on it with increased aim.
This gives you a rocket that does less damage than a normal rocket, but
increases the damage the target takes from all sources by 33% for 4 rounds.
This is more useful than it might sound at first. You don't actually want to
kill things with explosives since you don't get any weapon fragments if you do.
Also, for tough enemies this can really kick up the overall damage you do.
This allows you to suppress enemies. Instead of shooting at an enemy to do
damage, your heavy continually fires at the enemy to suppress it. That reduces
the enemy's aim by 30, and also will let the heavy take a shot at the target if
it moves. Suppression is very useful for making an alien stay put while someone
sneaks up to stun it with an arc thrower, or any time where something is just a
little too accurate for your liking. Suppression eats a ton of ammo though, so
you have to reload after using it before you can use it again.
-=HEAT Ammo=- [recommended]
This doubles your damage against robotic targets. Now when you first start the
game this doesn't seem very useful, however some of the most powerful enemies
are robotic, so against them it makes the heavy a beast. This works on both the
LMG and the rocket launcher.
-=Rapid Reaction=- [not recommended]
With this the soldier fires a second overwatch shot, if the first shot is a
hit. Sounds useful, but HEAT Ammo is better overall, particularly since heavies
don't tend to have great aim and thus are prone to missing reaction shots since
they have an aim penalty.
This lets you carry two grenades. You don't get another inventory slot, just if
you put a grenade, regular or alien, in your inventory slot you get to take two
on the mission. Useful is you like lobbing grenades about, though as with any
explosives you want to be careful since you don't get weapon shards for
explosive kills. How useful it is entirely depends on how much you like using
grenades. If you don't give your heavy a grenade, it does nothing.
This increases the radius of rocket explosions and suppression by two tiles. If
you like spamming rockets instead of grenades this is your thing for sure.
However it is also useful for suppression since instead of suppressing just the
target you aim at, it will also suppress any targets within two tiles of that
target at well. If you take Suppression and/or Rocketeer, this is the ability
-=Will to Survive=-
With this a heavy takes two less damage than normal so long as they are in
cover and not flanked. This is real nice since it just reduces any and all
damage they'd take, whatever the source, and you should always strive to be in
-=Rocketeer=- [slightly recommended]
With this you get to fire another rocket per battle. Over all, this is probably
the way to go. Rockets are very flexible since they have a large hit area and a
fairly long range, as well as going where you tell them. Having another one can
be very useful.
This increases your AoE damage, and your suppression damage. How much depends
on how high up the tech tree your weapon is. In general this is probably not as
useful as having a second rocket, since it increases damage, it does is not
doubled, and enemies usually stay put when suppressed, however if you like
grenades and not rockets it is the way to go.
[4.5.3] Sniper [4.5.3]
-=Headshot=- (2 turn cooldown)
This fires a shot with +30% cirt chance, and also bonus crit damage that
increases with higher tech weapons. This is extremely useful against hard
targets. A good headshot can one-shot even some very tough aliens with a good
rifle. However since it has a cooldown, you want to choose when to use it with
some care, don't spam it on easy targets, and don't waste it on low chance
shots. It does not increase chance to hit, only to crit.
-=Squad Sight=- [HIGHLY recommended]
This is what makes snipers godlike. With it, they can take a shot on any enemy
any squad member can see, so long as they have a clear shot to it. Basically
you take your sniper, park them some place up high with good lines of sight,
and rain down death on targets with impunity. It is great when someone gets
themselves in a bind as the sniper can take the target out usually. It is the
only way to go for snipers.
-=Snap Shot=- [not recommended]
This allows you to fire your weapon after moving, like other classes, but at a
-20 aim penalty. Sounds nice because your sniper can keep up with people, but
just not worth it since you have to sacrifice Squad Sight. Also, given the aim
penalty, it makes the sniper far less useful since accuracy is a big reason to
take a sniper.
Digitalyak disagrees. He says:
"I would just like to say though that in my games so far (I've completed
Classic and Normal) that I find Squad sight far less useful than Snapshot.
All my snipers use SCOPES (as there's not a lot else for them to use...) so
you've already eliminated half the aim penalty. Secondly, because you can now
move them much closer (and to better positions) you remove the rest of the aim
penalty. So now it's a semi Run and Gun ability for the snipers.
I use a scout (possibly ghosted) to find where the aliens are, use my snipers'
first move to get into the best position for a flank/rear shot, and then frag
them with one shot kills - and with a plasma sniper rifle, you can seriously
dish out the damage. I've taken out many a cyberdisc with a one shot kill this
By using Squad sight, you can safely take sniper shots from a distance, but I
found the distance reduces the aim % too negatively, and unless the map is the
forest one, there's usually something blocking their shot."
This isn't entirely true though, since sniper accuracy DECREASES as you get
closer to the target, unlike most classes. Also the SCOPE aim is useful
period, even with no penalty. You can't have too much +hit.
-=Damn Good Ground=- [recommended]
This ability gives you +10 to aim and +10 to defense if you are on higher
ground. Flying counts, so Archangel Armor works wonders with this. Also the
added defense is great when flying since you only have 20 inherent defense in
the air, and this adds another 10, making you just 10 shy of being in full
-=Gunslinger=- [not recommended]
With this pistols deal two more damage than normal. It takes them from useless
to mostly useless :). Generally your sniper isn't going to move and shoot. You
want to move them just to get LOS for sniper shots. I suppose if you really
like running your snipers around, or if you take a lot of snipers and need them
to be able to double as weak assault troops it could work. Make sure to upgrade
pistols in the foundry if you do.
-=Disabling Shot=- (2 turn cooldown)
This fires a shot that empties all the ammo out of an enemy's weapon, in
addition to doing damage. They have to reload before they can fire again, which
means they can't fire for one round. However it can't crit and has a -10 aim
penalty. It can be useful against though enemies if there just isn't the
firepower to kill them, you can stop them from firing on your troops for a bit.
However if you've the ability to go for a kill shot, do that instead.
Tyler adds: "Disabling shot for the snipers can be a great mind-control
counter. I've definitely saved my squad more than once by using it on my own
Good point, given the lower damage and zero crit chance, it is a way to take
them out of the game for a round but probably not kill them.
This gives you a grenade like device that you can toss out that reveals the
map, and any enemies, around it in a pretty wide radius for two turns. You can
toss out two of them per battle. Quite useful, since not only do they give you
forward vision but enemies don't notice them and scatter, so you can get the
drop on them. The only thing that limits their usefulness is that you tend to
keep snipers in the back, since they are the ones which you'd want to fire the
ambush shots. Still, there are plenty of useful situations for them.
With this you get +10 aim at any target under half health. Don't overlook the
usefulness of this, as snipers make great finishers. If a forward class
damaged, but couldn't kill, a tough enemy this helps a sniper finish the job.
-=Opportunist=- [slightly recommended]
This eliminates the aim penalty for reaction shots, and lets them crit. Since a
sniper can get a reaction shot on aliens with squad sight, this is very useful.
An alien pops its head out and gets blasted from afar. It makes snipers really
lethal on overwatch.
This causes all cover to count as full cover, even when it is partial. Nice
ability, just a pity it is for the sniper, who is often as not way in the back
out of harm's way anyhow. Still, it means if your sniper is forward and there
is a choice of full and partial cover, you don't need to worry, let the other
classes have the better cover, the sniper can take partial cover.
-=In The Zone=-
With this when you kill a target that is not in cover or that you are
flanking, it doesn't count as an action. This ability can be godly in the right
situation, but useless in others. It synergizes really well with an assault
with Flush and ghost armor. You cloak your assault, have them run forward and
find a group of Mutons sitting around in a circle playing scrabble. Your sniper
then shoots one of them. They scatter, your assault flushes another, your
sniper shoots him, and then the sniper shoots the third one. It does take some
planning/work to make it worth it though but when it works right; you can empty
your rifle in a round.
This lets you fire a second shot of any type, regular, headshot, or disabling,
after your first one. A very useful ability, often more useful than In The
Zone. Though you only get two shots, and the second one can only be a shot, you
can't move or reload or anything, it works all the time, even on enemies in
cover, and even on non-kill shots. So long as there's two things to shoot at
(or one target that needs two shots) the sniper can take them.
[4.5.4] Support [4.5.4]
This gives you a grenade you can toss out that deploys a smoke field that gives
all units, friendly and enemy, +20 defense for your turn and the enemy turn.
It's a great way to increase the defense of a group of soldiers near each
other, or to help someone out who got stuck out in the open. Be careful though,
since as noted it works on enemies too. It isn't the kind of thing to toss in a
room where you are doing close combat.
With this your soldier can run 3 more tiles, per action point, than normal.
Nothing not to like here, you can move farther, faster. Great for advancing in
sparse cover, for getting to a squad mate to heal them, and so on. It really
makes the support very useful.
-=Covering Fire=- [not recommended]
This lets you take reaction shots when an enemy fires, not just when they move.
The problem is not only is sprinter very useful, but you generally don't want
to do that. Reaction shots are useful for when enemies move in to view, because
they are out of cover so the aim penalty isn't such a big deal. If the enemy is
in cover and in range, well you probably want to take a normal shot at them, or
to not shoot at them and do something else. A reaction shot is not generally
something you'd do.
-=Field Medic=- [recommended]
Turns your support in to a healybot. This lets you carry 3 medkits, instead of
one. Like the heavy's grenade ability, you still have only one slot, but if you
stick a medkit in it, you get 3 uses. This is very, very useful. Medkits can
quite often be the difference between a soldier coming home and not, so you
want to have a few with you. However when they are single use, you have to
either have very few, or devote a lot of item space to them. Two supports with
this ability can have as many medkits as a full squad carrying nothing but. Of
course it is only useful if you carry a medkit.
-=Smoke and Mirrors=- [not recommended]
This gives you one more smoke grenade to use (two in total). Useful, but not as
good as more medkits. The only way I'd take this is if you are sure that this
particular support won't be carrying medkits at all.
This lets you revive critically wounded soldiers to 33% health, instead of just
keeping them from dying. That way they can actually get back in the fight. In
Ironman mode, this is really worth considering.
Just like the heavy's suppression, this gives the target -30 aim and gives you
a reaction shot if they move. It further increases the versatility of the
support class. If you aren't taking a medkit, it is the way to go. If you are,
it depends on your play style, if you try to save wounded soldiers, then take
Revive. If you just let them die, or if you simply reload the game then this is
the way to go.
-=Combat Drugs=- [recommended]
With this your smoke grenade also gives units in its AoE +20 will and +10%
crit. This is very useful later in the game when psionic abilities, which cover
does not help with, become a big threat.
-=Dense Smoke=- [not recommended]
With this your smoke grenade gives +20 additional defense, and has a larger
area. Sounds nice, but as I said, psionics become a much bigger problem in
general. Also the larger area makes it easier to accidentally cover enemies.
This is what turns supports from a good class in to an all-around great one: It
lets you carry two items, instead of one. So take a medkit and grenade, or a
chitin plate and an arc thrower. It is just extremely useful to be able to
carry a second item and is one of the reasons supports are so great.
This increases the amount medkits heal by 4. With improved medkits, that means
10 points of healing which is enough to fully heal most wounds. For a healybot
support, this needs serious consideration. Late game your soldiers can take
some big hits, and this will let you heal most of them in one use.
With this your soldier gets to take two reaction shots, instead of one. Now
this isn't like the heavy's ability, rather they take a reaction shot on one
enemy, and if another moves (or fires in the event you have that ability) they
take another. It is fairly useful, and if you didn't take Field Medic, it is
the way to go.
[4.5.5] Psionic Abilities [4.5.5]
All classes can get psionic abilities. What happens is after you've examined a
sectoid commander, you'll learn how to build a PSI Lab. You can then put three
soldiers at a time in it for 10 days, during which they'll be unavailable. At
the end, you will find out if any of them have psionic abilities. If they do,
you'll be able to train them. They rank up by using the abilities, and it
really doesn't take all that much for them to reach the maximum. At the first
level, everyone gets the same ability; at the next two you have a choice
between offensive and defensive abilities.
You can use Psi Inspiration to level psionic skills. Just spamming it will get
you your final level. You only have to use the skills, not kill enemies with
-=Mindfray=- (2 turn cooldown)
This gives you an ability that hits a target for 5 damage and inflicts
penalties to their will, aim, and mobility. It is a very useful little attack
since psionics aren't affected by cover. So if there's an annoying Thin Man
hiding in good cover, you can just Mindfray him and kill him (they are rather
weak to psionics). Also, due to the will reduction, it is useful if you are
going to try harder psionics on a target. Any time you have a low chance to
hit, check your Mindfray chance, often it will be better, sometimes 100%.
Like all psionic abilities, doesn't work on robots.
-=Psi Inspiration=- (4 turn cooldown) [recommended]
This removes Mindfray from all allies within 3 tiles of the soldier, and also
boosts their will. Very useful for helping deal with panic, but also can be
used to bolster will for psionic abilities. Good to use before going up against
enemies that are good with psionics.
-=Psi Panic=- (2 turn cooldown) [not recommended]
This will panic an alien, if it works. Useful, but it is somewhat hard to hit
and Inspiration is generally more useful. The problem is that much like your
own units, panicked enemies are unpredictable. Often as not you'll panic them,
and they'll open fire on the unit who used. Not so useful. Still, if you have a
whole squad of psionic soldiers, maybe give this to one of them. Doesn't work
on robots of course.
This generates a very large field centered on the solder that increases the
defense of all units, friendly or enemy, in it by 40. A psionic Dense Smoke
grenade of sorts. Very useful when you have tough enemies firing on you, just
be careful that you don't get them in it as well. It is quite large, and you
can't target where it goes. Best used just before ending a turn.
-=Mind Control=- (5 turn cooldown)
As the name implies, this lets you take control of an enemy. This is really
useful as you now have a shock troop, suicide scout, red shirt, basically a
soldier you don't have to care about at all. However, it is really hard to make
it work; it has a low chance of success on high will aliens, contrary to what
you may have seen from the enemy, and has a long cooldown. Also unlike your
soldiers, enemies seem not to panic after MC, and will come back looking for
blood. Thus somewhat limited in overall usefulness. If you do take it, make
sure to do so on soldiers with very high will, as they'll have a better chance
of making it stick. Robots, lacking a mind, cannot be controlled. Still can be
worth taking on at least a couple units.
If you do have it, Mutons are going to be some of your primary targets, as
their low will makes them reasonably easy to control. Don't even both with
Etherals, you'll be lucky to have a 20% chance, if that.
[5.0.0] Equipment [5.0.0]
Just as important as getting better soldiers, is getting better equipment,
perhaps even more so. It is amazing how much a rookie can do with good gear, or
how bad a veteran will do if restricted to the intro gear. With weapons, it is
pretty much just a case of straight upgrades: your research will lead you to
new weapons that are better than your old ones. With armor, it is a bit more
varied and with items it very much depends on what you want a soldier to do.
However, in the beginning, you'll have no real choice as to what to take, other
than if your assaults take rifles or shotguns.
Note that equipment costs can be reduced by having more engineers, so if you
want cheaper goods, a larger engineering force is the way to get them. Any
engineers you have over the required amount, listed in costs, decreases the
cost of the item. All costs should be the base cost, but it is always possible
I messed something up. Let me know if so.
[5.1.0] Armor [5.1.0]
This is what stops you from dying so much, as you might expect. In X-Com
armor's big function is to add hitpoints, so higher end armors give your troops
more hitpoints and thus make them harder to kill. However, the higher end
armors also add various abilities as well, which can influence your choice as
to which to use.
Stats: +1 HP
This is the basic armor you start with and have an unlimited amount of. It is
just this side of useless and you should look to replace it as soon as is
Stats: +4 HP
Costs: $25, 15 alloys, 10 engineers
A much improved body armor that you should get as soon as you can, or look at
Skeleton Suits. On higher difficulties it can nearly double the hitpoints of
Stats: +3 HP, +10 defense, +3 move, grapple ability
Costs: $30, 10 alloys, 15 engineers
While it provides one less hitpoint than Carapace, the other abilities can
potentially make this armor more useful. More movement is always nice and extra
defense is nothing to sneer at. Defense is your chance to avoid damage
entirely, rather than just to resist it, so it is worth having.
With newer updates, the grappling hook has become a rather useful gadget. It'll
show you valid squares for grappling and it has a pretty decent range. You
can use it to hop up on buildings, and also to move across gaps when you are
elevated. It can be good for getting snipers up high, getting out of trouble,
or literally getting the drop on aliens. It makes the skeleton armor almost
always the better choice than Carapace.
Another advantage is that it costs only 10 alloys, which tend to be in short
supply more than money does, at least on lower difficulties.
Stats: +10 HP, poison immunity, fire immunity
Costs: $150, 35 alloys, 10 elerium, 25 engineers
This is the heaviest armor in the game. If you want just straight HP increase,
this is the way to go. With this and a Chitin Plating, a soldier will likely
survive even the hardest hits. Also the damage immunities are nice, you don't
have to care about Thin Men spewing their crap everywhere anymore.
Stats: +6 HP, +20 defense, +3 move, grapple ability, stealth ability 4 times
Costs: $250, 40 alloys, 50 elerium, 40 engineers
Despite the lesser HP, this is my vote for the ultimate armor. Its other
abilities are just too good. The extra move is nice; grapple is useful
sometimes as well. However the big deal is in the defense and stealth. 20
defense is a lot, the same as being in half cover. So it turns no cover in to
partial, partial in to full, and full in to extra. That is huge.
Then there's the stealth ability. This is what makes it godlike. Four times per
battle you can stealth, at no movement cost, and then remain hidden through the
enemy round, provided you don't shoot. So it becomes amazing for scouting
ahead, as it doesn't alert enemies and trigger their reaction move, and for
escaping from dangerous situations. However it gets better: When stealthed you
have a 100% crit bonus, on top of all others. Hence it is great even for snipers
and non-front line units. It is a guaranteed crit on almost every baddie.
On top of that, it has a grapple, which means it is extremely mobile. You can
get up and around just like with the skeleton armor, and you can cloak and use
grapple to escape from bad situations.
Despite the cost, this is what to get for most of your units. Save up, get a
bunch of engineers to lower it, do what it takes but get yourself a bunch of
Ghost Armor. You won't be sorry. Combined with a Chitin Plating, you have the
same HP bonus as Titan Armor, plus the extra defense, plus melee resistance,
plus all the great abilities.
Stats: +8 HP, flight
Costs: $200, 50 alloys, 35 elerium, 35 engineers
As noted, this armor lets you fly. You can do 6 flight moves when you get it
and it can be upgraded in the foundry. It also provides nearly as much HP as
Titan Armor, making it a pretty nice suit of armor. In general though, Ghost is
However Archangel is something to look at for your snipers. The reason is that
only flight moves are limited, you can hover as much as you like. So you move
your snipers up in the air, and they get great lines of sight to all the
enemies with squad sight, plus the bonus form being up high. They can rain down
death on all of the things. In general, they are the only ones I'd get it for
Stats: +8 HP, +10 defense, +2 move, +20 will
Costs: $400, 20 alloys, 40 elerium, 30 engineers
The game kinda presents this as the "ultimate" armor, and it is the last one
you'll unlock likely. For all that, it really isn't that epic. What with the
will bonus it seems like the perfect armor for your PSI troops, but I wouldn't
in general. While psionic abilities aren't useless, you are still going to be
using your guns often as not, and if someone is going to be doing PSI stuff you
want to choose someone with high will anyhow. You can try it, but I prefer
Ghost Armor over it in general.
However what it does excel at it if you need to bring out rookies late game to
train them. Their low HP and low will makes them a real problem, and this helps
fix both. So having a set or two for training people up can be something to
consider. They do have to be pisonics trained to use it, however.
Something to consider though is having one high will soldier, an assault if
possible, with Psi Armor and a Mind Shield to scout against Sectoid Commanders
and Etherals. That way they are close to immune to MC, and it is decent in
terms of other stats as well. If you do that, I'd give that unit MC as well as
they'll be good at it.
[5.2.0] Weapons [5.2.0]
These are the things that go "bang" or in X-Com more often "Pew! Pew!" Having
good weapons is important if you are going to take down the tough aliens. You
don't get much choice in terms of weapons, as class dictates what you have to
take. It is pretty much just a linear progression up upgrades.
[5.2.1] Pistols [5.2.1]
Everyone except a Heavy has one of these, and when you try to use them you'll
probably wish you didn't. They are extremely weak weapons. Their only advantage
is unlimited ammo with no reloads, so you can use them when your main gun is
empty, if a reload isn't a good idea. Also snipers will need to use their
pistol if they wish to move and then overwatch.
In general, due to their extremely limited use, I wouldn't worry about
upgrading them too much. I'm not saying ignore them, but don't spend the
resources unless you've nothing else that needs them. The only exception is the
sniper's pistol, for them, getting a better one can be a good idea.
Pistols can be improved a good bit at the foundry, but it is questionable how
much it is worth spending the resources to do so, rather than something else.
Base Damage: 1
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 1
Slightly better than just staring at the aliens, but only slightly. Its only
real use is to do a bit of damage to make aliens easier to capture with the Arc
Cost: $10, 10 alloys, 10 engineers
Base Damage: 2
Critical Bonus: 10%
Critical Damage: 3
A little more useful and can actually take out weak aliens. Worth looking at
getting for your snipers.
Cost: $100, 20 alloys, 10 elerium, 20 engineers
Base Damage: 3
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 4
Not really that great, considering the cost, though with pistol upgrades such
as the crit chance upgrade it can be ok. Close to a basic Assault Rifle. Rather
than spend resources I'd consider simply stealing them from enemies. If an
enemy is using a Plasma Pistol and you stun it rather than kill it, you get to
have the pistol.
[5.2.2] Assault Rifles [5.2.2]
Your standard main gun. All your rookies use them, as do your supports and your
assaults can use them if you wish. You'll get a lot of mileage out of these.
Base Damage: 3
Critical Bonus: 10%
Critical Damage: 4
Not great, but all you have in the beginning. Look to replace them when it is
Cost: $25, 14 alloys, 12 engineers
Base Damage: 5
Critical Bonus: 10%
Critical Damage: 7
A substantially improved rifle. It will blast any weak enemy in one hit and
does a good bit against stronger ones. Given its fairly low cost and easy
research, this should be a top priority to get for your team. Even if for some
reason you run no supports and don't use them they are still good to have. If
you have to take a rookie out, things go much better with one of these.
Light Plasma Rifle
Cost: $125, 20 alloys, 15 elerium, 20 engineers
Base Damage: 5
Critical Bonus: 10%
Critical Damage: 7
At first look it doesn't look much better than the Laser Rifle, but it actually
has a +10 aim bonus as well which makes it quite nice. Due to the aim bonus, it
is really good for training rookies. Thin Men use these so they are a great
source to steal them from.
Cost: $200, 30 alloys, 20 elerium, 20 engineers
Base Damage: 7
Critical Bonus: 10%
Critical Damage: 10
The heaviest hitter for the rifles. Despite the cost you'll want to try to get
these for your squad when you can, as you'll be facing tougher aliens that need
big hits to take out. However I would reserve them for higher ranked soldiers,
with better aim. Use Light Plasma Rifles for the rookies, to help their shots
[5.2.3] Scatter Guns [5.2.3]
With the assault you can not only use a rifle, but you can also use a scatter
gun, more commonly called a shotgun. These have more limited range, meaning
their accuracy drops off faster at range than a rifle, but they have a higher
damage and crit chance. As such up close, they put the hurt down in a big way.
Base Damage: 4
Critical Bonus: 20%
Critical Damage: 6
Hits a bit harder than a rifle, but more limited range. For the base shotgun,
its range is even more limited than the higher end scatter guns so you may wish
to consider that when using it.
Cost: $30, 25 alloys, 12 engineers
Base Damage: 6
Critical Bonus: 20%
Critical Damage: 9
A nice upgrade the only problem is the alloy cost, which may be difficult to
deal with early on. You can always have your assault use a Laser Rifle until
you have enough for one of these. Also it isn't as range limited as the
standard shotgun, but still has quite a bit of accuracy falloff with distance.
Cost: $200, 50 alloys, 20 elerium, 25 engineers
Base Damage: 9
Critical Bonus: 20%
Critical Damage: 13
Just an amazing weapon for the up close and personal kind of assault player.
With the Rapid Fire ability and Ghost Armor, it can drop nearly any enemy in
one shot, no matter how tough so long as you are close to them.
[5.2.4] Sniper Rifles [5.2.4]
For snipies, they are the only weapon that will do. They feature very little
drop off at range meaning that even an enemy quite far away viewed with Squad
Sight is still something you can hit most of the time. However, they can only
fire on the first round, you can't move and fire them (unless you take an
ability to do so), so that does limit their usefulness in some situations.
Also, their accuracy decreases if a baddie is too close in, so be mindful of
shooting at things right next to you.
Base Damage: 4
Critical Bonus: 25%
Critical Damage: 6
Your basic sniper rifle. With a crit, which it has a decent chance of, it can
even do a one shot kill on some of the intermediate aliens.
Laser Sniper Rifle
Cost: $35, 25 alloys, 12 engineers
Base Damage: 6
Critical Bonus: 30%
Critical Damage: 9
A great upgrade since not only is its regular damage as high as the regular
Sniper Rifle's crit, but it has a better crit chance too. A couple of these
will make for a bad day for any Chryssalids trying to turn your assaults in to
the main course at P.F. Chryssalid's Alien Bistro.
Plasma Sniper Rifle
Cost: $250, 30 alloys, 25 elerium, 25 engineers
Base Damage: 9
Critical Bonus: 35%
Critical Damage: 13
Despite being the ultimate sniper rifle, this isn't something you need to rush
to. Unfortunately it isn't powerful enough to one shot many of the toughest
aliens, so the Laser Sniper Rifle continues to be ok. I'm not saying ignore it,
just don't make it a big priority.
[5.2.5] Heavy Weapons [5.2.5]
The big guns that your heavy uses to lay down the hurt. Despite the name, they
are not that much more damaging than your assault rifles. None the less they
are useful, and are the only gun the heavy gets to have.
Base Damage: 4
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 6
Compared to the base Assault Rifle, it really isn't that great. It does a bit
more base damage, but has no crit bonus, and the heavies are inaccurate so it
isn't easy to hit with.
Cost: $30, 25 alloys, 12 engineers
Base Damage: 6
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 9
A reasonable upgrade and you will probably have bullet swarm which means you
can lay down a decent amount of hurt with this weapon
Cost: $250, 30 alloys, 30 elerium, 25 engineers
Base Damage: 9
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 13
Same damage as a Plasma Sniper Rifle, but without the crit chance. However,
with Bullet Swarm and HEAT Ammo, you can lay down some major hurt on mechanical
enemies with this, which is good because there are some rather powerful
mechanical enemies. I'd get one of these for your heavies when you can. You can
also steal them from some enemies later on.
Base Damage: 6
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 12
Instead of a pistol, your heavies get to carry one of these. It is a single
shot (unless you get an ability) weapon that does a fairly large amount of AoE
damage. In the start of the game, it'll one-shot pretty much anything you come
up against. Later on, it is more useful for softening up enemies, or for
destroying cover. It does a lot of damage to terrain/buildings/ships/etc and so
is quite useful for exposing enemies, if you need to. It is also quite
accurate, and it doesn't depend on range or cover. It does need line of sight
though, or the rocket will slam in to things in the way.
Cost: $275, 50 alloys, 65 elerium, 1 fusion core, 2 UFO flight computers,
Base Damage: 9
Critical Bonus: 0%
Critical Damage: 13
The rocket launcher's bigger brother. You need to shoot down and raid a
battleship to get this so when you see it can vary. It not only does more
damage, but can guide itself around obstacles and thus can hit what you aim at
in most cases, regardless of what is around.
Since this requires fusion cores to make, you have to raid battleships to get
the materials. Each battleship has up to two fusion cores (if they don't get
[5.3.0] Items [5.3.0]
In addition to weapons and armor, each soldier gets to carry one additional
item (or two for high rank supports). These can be real useful and be the
difference between victory and defeat, so think carefully about what you want
to take. They all have uses in different situations, and for different play
This is your starter item and you have an unlimited amount of them to equip.
They let a soldier toss out a grenade once per round with an extremely high
accuracy. Does 3 AoE damage and it DOES hit friendly units. It also can destroy
some cover, though it isn't great at it. If you kill an enemy with a grenade,
you don't get any weapon fragments, only their corpse, so consider your use of
Prerequisites: Research Alien Materials
Costs: $20, 5 engineers.
This adds +2 HP to your soldier. It isn't armor, it stacks with armor. As such
it can be useful in the beginning of the game when you are rocking standard
Body Armor, particularly on higher difficulties when you have next to no HP.
Since it just takes cash, you can outfit your squad as soon as you research it.
Costs: $25, 5 engineers.
Medkits are key to bringing soldiers home alive. They heal 4 damage to start
with, can be upgraded to 6 in the Foundry, and can heal 10 on a Support
Colonel. You should bring a couple with you on missions. In general, your
support guys are the ones to give these too as they get great abilities to
enhance them at higher ranks. However they can be used by anyone and are
additionally useful in that they make you immune to the Thin Man's poison,
which can be useful for shotgun assaults early on.
Prerequisites: Research Arc Thrower
Costs: $35, 5 engineers.
This will be a priority to research and build in the game, because the doctor
wants a live alien to have a chat with. What it lets you do is stun an alien,
rather than kill it. You can use it twice per mission and have to get fairly
close to be able to stun. The stun range of an alien will be indicated with a
blue circle with lightning bolts when a character with an Arc Thrower is
selected. It has a 70% chance to hit a target with 3 HP. That goes down rapidly
with HP over 3, and goes up with less HP. You can upgrade it in the Foundry to
have a better hit chance, to be able to repair your SHIVs, and to be able to
control enemy drones.
It is usually good to bring at least one of these along, at least until you've
interrogated all the aliens out there. Give it to whatever soldiers you like
sending forward, usually assaults. Due to the chance to stun, it can be a good
idea to have two soldiers go after a baddy at the same time, in case one stun
Also note that when you stun an alien, you get to keep their gun, it doesn't
blow up. So even once you've interrogated an alien, it can be useful to stun
more to steal their weapons. Plasma Rifles stolen from Mutons are much cheaper
than Plasma Rifles built in engineering.
Prerequisites: Research Weapon Fragments
Costs: $20, 5 engineers.
As the name would imply, this increases a soldier's aim, by 10 to be precise.
Early in the game this is quite useful and I'd give it thought if you don't
have something else you need on that soldier as 10 aim is quite a bit. Late
game it is still useful for training rookies up. You can upgrade it in the
Foundry to have a crit bonus as well. When so upgraded, it is quite nice for
snipers. I tend to leave it on my snipers even end game, since they hang back
and thus don't tend to need other items.
Prerequisites: Autopsy a Chryssalid
Costs: $85, 10 alloys, 4 Chryssalid corpses, 15 engineers.
Turn those damn Chryssalids back against themselves! Chitin Plating adds 4 HP
to a solder on top of their armor and also reduces melee damage by 50%. This
makes Chryssalids and Muton Berserkers much less of a problem. It is a good
late game item to put on any soldier that doesn't need something else in that
slot. I quite often have my supports carry it as a second item, and generally
have my assaults take it once I'm done capturing aliens.
Prerequisites: Steal it from a stunned Muton
The Alien Grenade: Like your Frag Grenade but better! And Alien! Does 5 damage
instead of 3 and does significantly more terrain damage. Unlike basically all
other weapons, your soldiers can figure out how to use this without any
research so when you get one, you can use it right away (it isn't consumed
during missions). I guess triggers are too complex for them, but a grenade is
no problem. If you need more you can do a Foundry project to upgrade your
grenades to Alien Grenades, but give that you probably won't have many, if any,
units using grenades I'd just appropriate them from Mutons as you need them.
Prerequisites: Autopsy a Muton Berserker
Costs: $50, 5 alloys, 1 Muton Berserker corpse, 15 engineers.
Inject yourself with some pure Berserker goodness! When used (on the soldier
who is carrying it only) it increases movement by 3, increases will, and gives
you 50% damage immunity and complete crit immunity for two turns. This is real
useful for a shotgun assault before going in on a tough enemy. Inject one
round, then cloak and Run & Gun the next. You can put some hurt down at a long
range, and generally live to tell the tale, even if there are other enemies
around. You need to choose your use of it carefully, it is single use only per
battle, but used right it can allow a soldier to be a hero and come out on the
Prerequisites: Autopsy an Etheral
Costs: $150, 10 alloys, 30 elerium, 1 Etheral corpse, 35 engineers.
Gives you 30 will. This is critical late game as Etherals just love using mind
control, and other psionic nastiness, against your troops. With this, a high
will troop should be ok against it most of the time. I like to give them to my
assaults since they tend to scout forward, and thus are a likely MC target.
Only problem is you have to kill 2 Etherals to get one (one to autopsy, one to
build it). Have at least one soldier with this once you can, to use against
Etherals and Secotid Commanders.
[6.0.0] Missions [6.0.0]
A good deal of your time in X-Com will be spent in missions, the actual turn
based strategy part of the game. While all missions share the same general
theme of "kill all the aliens" there are a number of varieties that you get at
different times, in different ways.
[6.1.0] Abduction Mission [6.1.0]
These are the first thing you'll encounter in the game, and can be very
annoying. The mission itself is pretty straight forward: You will be dropped in
a city, country side, etc where the aliens have shown up and taken away some
humans. You'll see various remains of people encased in green goop and web
around on the ground. All you need to do is hunt down and kill all the aliens.
There are no civilians to worry about, so anything that is moving that is not
one of your units needs to be shot. Also any technology to be recovered is on
the aliens themselves. As such collateral damage is of no concern. You can
level a building and nobody minds.
You can find any kind of alien on these missions however early on it is usually
Sectoids, Thin Men, and maybe Floaters. Later you start seeing a whole spectrum
of baddies, if they are still going on (which they shouldn't be).
The reason abduction missions are annoying is that they occur in threes. The
aliens will choose three countries and hit them at the same time and you can
only deal with one. Panic will lower in the country you deal with, but panic
will rise in the REGIONS you don't. So a steady string of abduction missions is
a great way to lose the game.
As such when choosing which abduction mission to deal with, don't only look at
the reward, look at the panic levels in countries as well. If you have a
mission happening in a region with a high panic country, you need to do that
one, even if it isn't the reward you'd most like.
So what to do about these in the long run? Build satellites. Abductions only
happen in countries where there is no sat coverage. So blanketing the globe
with sats is a priority. Once you have full coverage, abductions stop.
[6.2.0] Crashed UFO [6.2.0]
Any time you see a UFO flying around, you want to dispatch an interceptor with
a giant swatter to knock it out of the sky. However, you aren't done when it is
down, you need to go and clear it on the ground. These missions are set out in
the wilderness, and of course feature a UFO. Depending on how bad the UFO was
hit, there will be a various amount of fire and debris lying around, as well as
pieces missing from the UFO itself. Again the objective is to kill all the
There's no civilians so no worry there, but you do want to consider collateral
damage to the UFO itself. You only get to bring back the pieces you don't blow
up. So mind the shots at the power generators and so on, if you want to have
those for your own use. Remember you can't build UFO parts in this game either,
you must capture them.
The UFOs can feature any baddie, which one depends on the stage of the game.
However a special one you only see in UFOs is Outsiders, which you'll need to
capture one of to advance the game. They only appear in early UFOs, once you've
raided the alien base they are gone, replaced with Sectoid Commanders normally.
You generally find some aliens milling around outside the UFO, some milling
around inside, and some holed up in the command room. The aliens can be to the
side of large UFOs so check there, don't just assume there's nothing. The
command room normally has the most powerful aliens, and since they stay put, it
is to your benefit to stack up your guys and get ready for a breaching action,
rather than sending in just one soldier.
How many aliens you face depends on the size of the UFO, and how many died in
the crash. It can be as few as four and as many as 20 or more. When you have
the Hyperwave Relay it'll tell you how many aliens are on a craft, as well as
[6.2.1] Landed UFO [6.2.1]
Same deal as a crashed UFO, but you spotted this one on the ground. In this
case the only difference is that there are more aliens, since none died, and
the UFO is in perfect condition. They can be slightly harder than crashed UFOs,
but usually not much. The only difference in tactics can be entry points.
Crashed UFOs often have holes in the walls you can use to enter through, Landed
UFOs don't. However, a rocket launcher will make a hole, if you wish :).
[6.3.0] Terror Attack [6.3.0]
This is what happens when the Chryssalids get hungry and want to chew on some
humans. The aliens pick a major city and go about with the killin' and
destroyin' of stuff. Here you have a dual objective of killing the aliens and
saving the civilians. The game will show you a bar at the top that shows how
many civilians are still in play, how many are saved, and how many have been
killed. This means you need to check your fire, lest you blast a civilian on
accident. Buildings can be leveled with no penalty, but beware of the civilians
that might be in them.
To save a civilian, you just run a soldier up next to them; they'll have a
little circle indicating the area. When you do the civilian will suddenly stop
doing their impersonation of a deer in the headlights and run off to safety,
the aliens don't get to take pot shots at them. As such it is a good idea to do
when feasible because it gets the civilians out of the way and they move in to
the "saved" category.
Don't worry about saving every civilian, you probably won't be able to, and you
can still get an "excellent" rating in that category with a few dead. Heck
you'll still get a "good" rating even with around half dead. However, save them
when you can. Also, when the last alien dies, all the remaining civilians are
You again see a mix of aliens, based on how advanced the game is, however
Chryssalids make a common appearance here and are real problems since they
infect civilians they kill. On higher difficulties, they'll do it off screen
too. So they are top priority targets. Also Mutons seem to be fans of terror
raids, and will often ignore your solders in favor of civilians.
[6.4.0] Base Assault [6.4.0]
Sooner rather than later, you are going to kick in the door to an alien base
and serve them with a notice for violating their zoning ordinance. Wait, no, I
mean kill them all and let their favored deity sort them out. Whatever :).
This is an indoor mission and on the alien's turf. However for all that it
isn't bad. Despite being indoors there are lots of open spaces, so you'll want
to bring the snipies along. Also there's generally a whole lot of cover for
your soldiers. Just advance slowly and you should be ok.
If you do the mission fairly soon, with lower tech, you'll find Sectoids,
Floaters, some Drones, and a few Chryssalids, as well as a Sectoid Commander at
the end. If you wait and tech up a bunch, there can be Sectopods and Elite
Mutons and all that jazz.
No civilians here, but try not to blow up everything in the base, as you get to
take a bunch of it back and it'll provide you with a much needed cash and
[6.5.0] Council Missions [6.5.0]
Periodically the spokesperson from the council, who seems to have a real fear
of cameras, will contact you and give you a special mission to do. You get a
reward for this, panic reduction, and it keeps the council happy. Also, they
generally aren't all that bad. The only ones I've seen so far are "disarm the
bomb" and "protect the VIP" which sometimes requires locating the VIP, or
sometimes has the VIP start with you. In either case, Thin Men seem to be the
unit of choice for these, even later game. These missions are heavily scripted
and feature dialogue.
Justin also let me know about another type, "asset recovery" where you just
have to go and kill aliens, nothing else.
[6.5.1] Bomb Disposal [6.5.1]
Here you just have to find and disarm the bomb; however there are a limited
number of turns. There are also nodes all over the map, and activating one of
those will increase the countdown by one turn. You need to get next to the
nodes, or the bomb, and then click on it to use it. Once you disarm the bomb,
some reinforcements will come to try and rearm it. Kill off all the remaining
aliens and the mission is done.
More or less just run from node to node, disarming them and using them for
cover, and then when you find the bomb get your guys near it and shut it down.
Deal with the Thin Men who drop in and call it a day.
[6.5.2] VIP Protection [6.5.2]
Here the mission is to keep one person alive, and get them to the Skyranger.
The good news is that you get control of them, so you can make them take cover,
hunker down, and so on. In some cases you need to go find them first, blasting
aliens as you go along; in others they start in the middle of your squad.
Either way keep them back and safe and blast any aliens around them. If you
have to find them, more aliens will drop in once you have gotten the VIP. Once
you have them within dash range of the Skyranger, just have them dash to the
exit, as soon as they make it the mission is complete.
[6.5.3] Asset Recovery [6.5.3]
The "gimme" version of a council mission. While they take about needing to
secure assets, what they mean by that is just "Kill all the aliens." No
civilians, no bombs, no big deal. Sectoids seem to be the units here often or
maybe Mutons if you get one late game, it is just free money and panic
reduction with little effort. Perhaps because of that, they aren't all that
[7.0.0] Aliens [7.0.0]
There are a bunch of different kinds of critters you'll meet in missions in
X-Com, all of them nasty, but some more than others and in different ways.
Knowing how to deal with various aliens is key to doing well. For Alien stats I
will list them in the form of Easy/Normal/Classic/Impossible difficulty, as it
varies with level.
[7.1.0] Sectoid [7.1.0]
Weapon: Plasma Pistol
These are the iconic X-Com aliens and the first things you'll face. They are
not very strong, one blast from an Assault Rifle should punch their ticket on
anything but Impossible. They mostly just shoot at you, but can also use an
ability called Mind Merge. Here one Sectoid shoots a purple stream at another
and gives it +1 HP and better accuracy and crit. However, if you kill the
Sectoid doing the merge, both die.
[7.2.0] Thin Man [7.2.0]
Weapon: Light Plasma Rifle
These little pests seem to think they are acrobats rather than aliens. They
like to jump all around and can hop up on vehicles, buildings, and so on. On
easy and normal they have a damage nerf so they do around the same damage as a
Sectoid. However what makes them more annoying is they can spit a poison cloud
at a soldier, and also explode in to one when they die. This does damage every
turn until cured with a medkit. Also note their effective aim is higher than
listed, since the Light Plasma Rifle gives a bonus.
Due to their low will and HP, they are easy to pop with a Mindfray later on. It
will usually have a 100% chance to hit and is one shot except on Impossible.
[7.3.0] Outsider [7.3.0]
Weapon: Light Plasma Rifle
These funny looking aliens show up, literally out of thin air, in early UFOs.
They aren't particularly difficult, though they are fairly accurate,
particularly with their weapon bonus. You need to capture one to get in to the
alien base. After the alien base, they don't show up anymore.
[7.4.0] Floater [7.4.0]
Weapon: Light Plasma Rifle
As the name implies, these guys float around. They move quickly and since they
are flying always have defense of at least partial cover, even in the open. The
thing to be careful is flanking, not only can they move around you fast but
they can launch themselves up off the screen and land on any tile they wish. So
they can hop back by your snipers and surprise them. This isn't too big a
threat on lower difficulties, but still something to be mindful of.
[7.5.0] Heavy Floater [7.5.0]
Weapon: Plasma Rifle
Same deal as a floater, but a bigger pain in the butt. They carry a heavier
hitting plasma rifle, and have extra aim so their effective aim is the same.
However they have a ton more health and are thus much harder to take out. They
tend to replace floaters late game.
[7.6.0] Muton [7.6.0]
Weapon: Plasma Rifle
Redefining the terms "big and ugly". You'll meet these guys after floaters and
they can be quite a pain in the butt. In addition to their health, they also
have inherent defense similar to Skeleton Armor and so are harder to hit. When
you do hit them, they will often use Intimidate on the soldier that shot them.
If your soldier fails a will check, they will panic, though sometimes this
causes them to shoot the Muton which is pretty damn funny. Also they can use an
ability called Blood Call which buffs themselves and other Mutons. Finally,
they have Alien Grenades which they can toss, with great accuracy, at your
troops. So you want to keep a bit spread out, lest you get grenaded. They are
quite weak to psionics though, which is nice.
[7.7.0] Muton Berserker [7.7.0]
This was the Muton who kept trying eat his gun in "Mutons l2plasmarifle 101"
class so they took it away. Instead, he just rushes up and tries to punch you.
That does a LOT of damage though, so they are quite dangerous. Also any time
you shoot one, it'll get a free small move towards the unit that shot it. You
can exploit this, by shooting at one with people on alternating sides. They can
also Bull Rush through some cover and get all punchy on someone, so you want to
kill them at range. If you are going to get up close, Chitin Plating works
wonders to mitigate the damage. They usually show up with two regular Mutons.
[7.8.0] Muton Elite [7.8.0]
Weapon: Heavy Plasma
A very nasty late game variant of the Muton. Not only do they have more HP,
they also have higher inherent defense, the same as Ghost Armor, and they carry
a Heavy Plasma. Unlike your heavies, these guys actually know how to aim too,
particularly on higher difficulties. Due to their weak will, nailing them with
a Mindfray can be a good idea. You can also try mind controlling them, if you
want, they make excellent red shirts.
[7.9.0] Chryssalid [7.9.0]
Weapon: Fangs n' Claws
These little pricks are some of the most annoying enemies in the game. They
like to rush up to your soldiers or to civilians and chew on them, and their
melee attacks are not only powerful but also can poison you. However the real
problem is what they kill someone: They then implant the corpse which rises as
a Zombie, and that then turns in to a Chryssalid in a couple turns. On terror
missions these guys can over run the map by noming on civilians. They are
priority targets. If they get near one of your soldiers and you aren't sure you
can kill it, run, since if they kill you, there will now be two of them.
[7.10.0] Zombie [7.10.0]
Weapon: Fists and teeth
This is what Chryssalids make. They'll move around slowly and aren't a big
threat, but burst in to a new Chryssalid in short order. Take them down quick.
[7.11.0] Drone [7.11.0]
Weapon: Drone Beam
These little things are normally found in pairs, floating along with a
Cyberdisc or a Sectopod. They are not powerful and their Drone Beam doesn't do
much damage, however they are problematic because they will heal the disc/pod
if it takes damage. With an upgraded Arc Thrower, you can control one of them
and use it as an expendable scout.
[7.12.0] Cyberdisc [7.12.0]
Weapon: Plasma Barrage, Death Blossom, Alien Grenade
Not so little flying wheels of death. These things are quite tough, and can
deal out a lot of damage. Their normal attack is a barrage of plasma bolts
which hit hard and do a good bit of damage to cover. However they can also toss
a grenade at a group of soldiers, or just get up close and do a PBAoE attack
called Death Blossom. Oh, and they also explode when you kill them, dealing
damage to everyone around them. They seem to favor getting up close to troops
and shooting them point blank, but they aren't averse to ranged combat either.
When they are folded up in their disc form, they have a decent amount of
inherent defense, so they are basically always in cover in terms of to hit.
When they unfold to attack, they have less defense, but of course start spewing
hot death at your troops. You want to engage these from range, when possible,
since they are nasty up close and the explosion on death can take a soldier
over the edge and kill them if they are wounded.
[7.13.0] Sectopod [7.13.0]
Weapon: Chest Beam, Plasma Beam, Cluster Bomb
ED-209 lives! :) These are the biggest, baddest, robots you'll face and man are
they a handful. They have the most hitpoints of anything in the game, and can
do massive damage in a number of ways. They can fire a beam from their chest
that does large single target damage at range. Also, they have an additional
plasma beam attack that they get to do as a reaction shot, even when not in
overwatch. So you might think you cower at range and shoot at them, nope, then
they'll go and launch a cluster bomb mortar attack at a group of your guys.
The best counter to these is a heavy with HEAT Ammo. Two blasts of that will be
near enough to kill them, even without a crit. However they are kind of hard to
hit, having 30 inherent defense and so always being a bit better than in
partial cover. Another option is an assault that runs in with an Alloy Cannon
and downs a double shot at point blank range.
Regardless, these things are a massive threat, and their accompanying drones
will try to repair them. It is going to take focused fire from multiple
soldiers to take them down in most cases. They should be a very high priority
target, due to the massive damage they can dish out.
[7.14.0] Sectoid Commander [7.14.0]
Weapon: Plasma Rifle
Like a Sectoid, but more powerful and annoying. In addition to their higher HP,
better aim, and better weapon, they also have 20 inherent defense just like
Ghost Armor, meaning they are harder to hit. However their real nasty ability
is Mind Control. As it sounds, it lets them take control of one of your troops.
When you first meet them, none of your troops are likely to be able to resist
As such they are extremely high priority targets; otherwise you often face the
situation of killing one of your own soldiers, or being killed by that soldier.
If a soldier does get controlled, you need to kill the Commander that is
controlling them ASAP. You may wish to send SHIVs against them as they cannot
be mind controlled, and then blast them with snipers from afar. They can also
do the Mind Merge that regular Sectoids can, but can do it on normal Sectoids
[7.15.0] Ethereal [7.15.0]
These guys are a massive pain. Despite the doctor describing them as
"physically weak" they have some of the highest hitpoints you'll encounter.
They also have 40 inherent defense and so are effectively in full cover, even
when standing in the open. On top of that, they have a 60% crit reduction,
meaning you'll rarely crit them outside of using cloak. Oh, and did I mention
they can pull the Jedi trick of reflecting shots? Ya they do that too.
Their attacks are psionic, and thus something armor and cover does nothing to
help with. They can use Mindfray, just like your guys, they can Mind Control
and are very good at it (usually the first thing they do), they can do
something called Psi Lance which does more damage to low will targets, and they
can use Psi Drain to drain 5 hit points from a friendly target, which can be,
and often is, a soldier they've mind controlled. On top of all that they can
use an ability called Rift, which does some serious AoE psionic damage.
Definitely a high priority target. Due to the inherant defense, you'll often
need to flank them and get up close to have a reasonable chance of hitting
them. Shotgun assaults with cloak can work wonders here. Psionic attacks are
nearly useless against them due to their extremely high will. If you can mind
control a Muton Elite, they can make a nice meat shield to send against the
Etheral while your snipers blast it. Careful getting too close though, they
explode on death.
[7.16.0] Uber Ethereal [7.16.0]
Because a regular Etheral wasn't bad enough. Same as the regular Ethereal but
more... Uber. More HP, even higher will, more chance to go Jedi on shots. This
is as nasty as it gets in X-Com, which is a good thing, because this guy is
exceedingly tough. Every game needs a big baddie, and this one is X-Com's. This
is the final boss.
[8.0.0] Battle Tactics [8.0.0]
While the strategic decisions you make regarding who to give satellites to, how
to spend your money, and what mission to take are very important, the game is
ultimately won and lost on the tactical battle map. This is also where player
skill and strategy play the biggest role. Competent strategy can pull a win
with no losses, even with soldiers that don't have great equipment or high
rank. On the flip side, reckless tactics can get even a good squad killed.
Failing missions is a big problem too. When you fail not only does it cost you
time and money in terms of units, but panic increases and so on. To do any good
with regards to panic, the mission needs to succeed. Needless to say you also
don't get any rewards from the council for failures.
X-Com is a Turn Based Strategy so you have as much time as you need to work out
your moves. It is like Chess where well thought out moves are what wins the
game, not a blitz. Take your time, consider your options.
[8.1.0] Understanding Cover [8.1.0]
Probably the sole most important thing to not being turned in to a puddle of
goo is to understand the cover system. Like many modern games, X-Com is all
about cover, however being a strategic game it is not just arbitrary, there is
math behind all of it. The basic rule is "always be in cover," however there's
more to it than that.
When you are looking at moving around, you will notice there are shields, half
and completely full, next to some tiles. This means you get cover when you park
your soldier next to the tile. You always want to be next to a cover tile,
except for some very special situations. How full the shield is indicates the
quality of cover. Half full is partial cover and grants 20 defense, completely
full is full cover and grants 40 defense. The amount of defense you have is
subtracted from the enemy's chance to hit, hence why cover is so vital.
For example say you are up against a Sectoid, who has a 65% chance to hit you.
If you are out in the open, that's how often you'll get hit: every other shot
or more. However suppose you are now in full cover: that reduces its chance to
hit down to 25%. It'll tag you one in four times if it is lucky. So you would
take less than half the damage, over the long run, being in full cover (and
hopefully kill the Sectoid before it could hit at all).
Cover works the same way for aliens as it does for you. The better cover they
are in, the harder they are to hit. You can see a shield next to them, and your
soldiers, indicating their cover status. It is red for aliens, and blue for
you. This can help you prioritize targets: if you have two equal threat
targets, one in half cover and one in full cover, the half cover target is
probably the better one to go after first as it will be easier to hit.
However that's not all there is to it. You will notice the shields face in one
of the four cardinal directions. This is because cover is directional. When you
are covered behind something it provides cover in about a 180 degree arc in
that direction. However, if an alien moves beside or behind that, they've
flanked you, and your cover isn't useful anymore. You'll see the shield change
yellow to indicate a flanked unit (be it you or the enemy).
The game also indicates flanked squares by having their shields in red, rather
than blue. What this means is if you choose to move your soldier there, they
will be flanked and thus the cover not useful. So just because a tile has
cover, doesn't mean the cover is useful. If there's an enemy flanking that
position, it isn't going to do you any good against that enemy.
Flanking is something to use to your advantage. When you have a chance to move
a soldier in to a flanking position on an enemy, it is generally a good option.
You'll have a much better chance to hit, and even if you don't kill the enemy,
it'll likely choose to relocate, rather than retaliate. Flanking is something
the assault class is particularly good at with Run & Gun. You can run up and
blast an enemy from the side, often taking out entrenched enemies.
[8.2.0] There's More to Defense Than Cover [8.2.0]
Despite the importance of cover, it isn't all there is to defense. Various
armors and aliens have inherent defense as well. This is added to any cover
before the final defense is calculated. So if you have Ghost Armor, it has 20
inherent defense meaning you have a much defense standing in the open as
regular armor does in cover. If full cover, it would give you a total of 60
defense, making you really hard to hit. Same deal with some aliens, Etherals
have 40 defense as an example hence they are in "full cover" even when standing
in the open, which is why they are so hard to hit.
This can influence your armor choice, as well as what enemies to target. A
Sectopod in the open is actually the same to hit as a Muton in partial cover,
since the Muton has 10 defense and the Sectopod has 30.
Another defensive tool is the Hunker Down command. This causes the soldier to
hit the dirt and do nothing but defend. While they can't take an action, it
does double their cover and thus in full cover, gives an 80% reduction to enemy
aim. On lower difficulties, this means few enemies will be able to hit you at
all, and then only rarely. It can be useful for surviving in a very hostile
[8.3.0] Range Matters [8.3.0]
Another factor in chance to hit is the range to target. The closer you are, the
higher your chance to hit and the same is true for enemies. So if you are
firing at an enemy from a long distance, you will both have a lesser chance to
hit. If you get up close and personal, the chance increases and can easily hit
100% in flanking cases. So you want to consider range both in terms of
increasing your chances to hit, when needed, and decreasing the enemy's chances
to hit, when needed.
A big factor in this is weapon type. Different weapons have different aim
penalties at range. Sniper rifles have essentially zero penalty. They can shoot
a target at any range and still have a high chance to hit, hence when using
Squad Sight a sniper can peg a target half way across the map from them with
high accuracy. Assault rifles and heavy weapons have some range falloff, but it
isn't too bad. They can only function in the visual range of the unit, of
course, and they are less accurate at longer ranges, but still have a
reasonable chance to it. Scatter guns, however, are very range dependent. Their
chance to hit falls off quickly with range. So if you use a shotgun assault,
you'll need to get up close to the enemies to have a reasonable chance of
Also while it doesn't apply to your soldiers, the aliens have melee units and
for them, the only range that works is right next to a soldier. Against them,
cover isn't any use since they don't have a chance to hit: They either hit you
if they are next to you or don't if they aren't. With them, you have to back
off out of their range to be safe.
[8.4.0] Line of Sight Matters More [8.4.0]
While range and cover are important to chance to hit, Line of Sight is the
be-all, end-all. If you don't have LOS to a target, you can't fire on it at
all, period. This has both offensive and defensive implications. If a soldier
is wounded and in trouble, it is far better to move them to a location where
the enemy cannot see them, and thus not attack them, than to just hunker down
and hope for the best. This isn't always possible, of course, but it is the
kind of thing to be aware of. Retreating around a corner can be far more
effective at preventing incoming fire than any amount of defense.
Likewise you must position your soldiers such that they can see the enemies
before they can shoot them. For everyone but snipers this means not only having
a clear view to the enemy, but being in range. With snipers, Squad Sight lets
them shoot at any enemy anyone sees, but they still need LOS to the target. So
don't think you can park a sniper inside a hidey hole and still blast any
On many maps, this means you need to reposition your snipers as you advance, so
that they can cover the advancing forces. If you are going around a building,
the sniper is going to need to go around as well, if they are to provide
covering fire down that street.
You cannot hit what you cannot see, and that can be used against you or to your
[8.5.0] Overwatch and Reaction Shots [8.5.0]
Another important concept is that of the reaction shot. This is a shot that a
unit gets to take during the enemy turn, rather than their own. Both your
soldiers and the aliens can do this. The idea is they watch for movement (or a
shot in special cases) and then open fire in response. This lets you get shots
in on enemies as they come in to view.
As such, you pretty much want to have your troops on Overwatch any time they
don't have something else to do. If there are no enemies on screen, set your
troops on Overwatch to end the turn. Then, if enemies come at you during their
turn, you'll take shots at them and hopefully kill one or two of them. Having
troops on Overwatch is quite critical to mission success, particularly on
higher difficulties. It can be the difference between having to take on a full
group on enemies, or having one dead and a couple injured.
The downside of a reaction shot is that a soldier's accuracy is decreased, and
the shot can't crit. As such you don't want to take reaction shots instead of
normal shots, if you have a reasonable normal shot. You don't just go "all
Overwatch all the time." It is the kind of thing you use when you have a
soldier in a position that they do not have a shot on any aliens, to make them
ready if aliens come sneaking up. That way if an alien runs in to try and flank
them, they get to take a clear shot at it.
Snipers in particular can be lethal with reaction shots because with Squad
Sight and Opportunist they can take a shot at any alien that any soldier sees,
with no aim penalty, and it can crit. Since reaction shots often happen to
units moving outside of cover, this can quite often lead to a big hit. If you
have a sniper with both abilities and Archangel Armor, having them fly up and
stay on Overwatch can be an excellent way to drop incoming aliens as soon as
Aliens get to go in to Overwatch too, which means you need to be careful about
running around with reckless abandon. They can and will take shots at you. If
you have vision to the alien when it goes in to Overwatch, the game will show
you that they have. At that point, if you move any soldier in their range of
sight, they get to take a free shot. The counter to this is the Lightning
Reflexes ability for the assault class. It forces the first reaction shot to
miss, no matter what. Doesn't matter how good the chance to hit is, the first
one misses. So you can draw out the shot while you rush in, or just dash
laterally to draw the shot to allow another class to move.
Overwatch isn't the only way to get reaction shots, some units get to have
reaction shots even without it. In particular the assault class has an ability
to take a reaction shot at any enemy that makes a move within 4 squares of
them, without being in Overwatch (they can still be in Overwatch and get
another shot with that too). Also Sectopods have a reaction shot ability that
does not require Overwatch.
[8.6.0] Scouting and Free Enemy Moves [8.6.0]
When you first come an enemy group, no matter if they moved in to your view or
you moved to theirs, they get to have a free move. The game will play a little
reaction cutscene and the aliens will scatter for cover, rush you, etc,
depending on what class they are. What this means is that under normal
circumstances, you can't get the drop on the aliens. They get to free move in
to cover and get ready. You can still take reaction shots at them, which is a
big reason why you have guys on Overwatch all the time, but you can't catch
them out in the open...
...that is unless you use a Battle Scanner, or Ghost Armor. In both cases, you
do not alert the aliens to your presence and as such they do not get their free
reaction move. This can be used to great effect in various situations. You can
sneak in to an area, line up some guys behind likely alien cover and go to
town. Snipers can fire on aliens revealed through either method, if they have
squad sight. Once you do fire, the aliens will get their free reaction move,
but of course they can't see cloaked soldiers so if you have soldiers cloaked
behind cover they may well cover right next to that soldier.
However you aren't going to be able to do cloaked scouting all the time, which
in general means you need to move up carefully, and be able to move additional
soldiers in to an area to support if your reveal enemies. If you dash forward,
the enemies will get a free move to cover, and then during their turn be free
to open fire on your troops.
[8.7.0] Choosing Your Shots [8.7.0]
Part of doing well is trying to decide which soldier to use to fire on a given
enemy. Don't just fire with the first soldier the game happens to select for
you. Look around at your other troops. See who has a shot on what, and what
their chances are. For example suppose you have two soldiers who can see
enemies. Soldier A can see enemy 1 and 2, Soldier B can only see enemy 1. Have
Soldier B take the first shot and see what happens. If they kill enemy 1,
Soldier A is now free to fire on enemy 2. If not, you can then consider which
target Soldier A should try for.
Another example: Suppose a soldier can see an enemy, but only has a 20% chance
to hit. That isn't very good and probably isn't worth taking. However look back
at your snipers, can one of them see the enemy, and perhaps with a better shot?
Is there another soldier who can also see the enemy, but can move to flanking
Basically before you take a shot, evaluate what all your options are. Find out
which soldiers have shots on what aliens and how good those shots are. Decide
which targets you want to prioritize and then take shots to maximize the damage
you do. If you just have the first soldier that comes up shoot, you can easily
have a situation where only one or two guys take a shot and everyone else has
nothing, whereas if you plan shots you can have your entire squad lay down the
There are no bonus points for speed, plan your assault carefully and don't
forget your snipers with their Squad Sight.
There is one other thing to consider with regards to shots and that is kill
shots and their influence on rank. Near as I can tell, only kill shots award
any experience. So, if you want to rank a soldier up, they need to drop
enemies. This means you need to work on letting them take shots they can make
and that will do the damage needed to finish the job. For example say you are
up against a Muton Elite. You've got a lower ranked soldier with a Plasma Rifle
you'd like to rank up that has a good shot on it. Well, that won't do the
trick, it'll damage it but that's all, even with a crit. So look around, maybe
a sniper has Squad Sight to it. If so, have the sniper open up and damage it,
and the newbie finish the job.
[8.8.0] Suppression [8.8.0]
Yet another aspect to successful combat is making use of the suppression
ability, and knowing how to deal with getting suppressed yourself. Both heavies
and supports can learn to suppress and you always want one or two guys along
that know how to do it.
With suppression you don't actually attack an enemy, you just fire a bunch of
rounds at them to make them keep their head down. This uses two shots worth of
ammo and the net effect is the enemy has -30 to aim and your soldier gets to
take a free reaction shot at said enemy if they move before the suppression has
ended. This usually means the alien will choose to stay put.
As such suppression is useful in trying to make an alien stay put while someone
sneaks up on it with an Arc Thrower. The alien can't run, without getting shot
at, and thus will often opt to sit tight where it is.
However the more important use of suppression is dealing with tough enemies who
have high percentages to hit. For example a Sectopod has a 90% chance to hit on
Classic and above, meaning that even in full cover it is likely to hit you 50%
of the time, and then for large amounts of damage. In partial cover it is 75%
likely to hit. However if you suppress it, you can knock that down a lot,
making it only 45% to hit in partial and 20% in full cover.
Of course the enemies can and will suppress your soldiers too. So what to do
about it? Well in general, sit tight; don't run as it will provoke a reaction
shot. You could choose to provoke it on purpose if an assault with Lighting
Reflexes is being suppressed, but in general just wait. Have your other
soldiers fire on the alien doing the suppressing. If you hit it, it should
stop. Then the suppressed soldier can do as you wish. You can fire back with
the suppressed soldier, without provoking a reaction, but given their very low
chance to hit it isn't a good idea. Try and have someone else deal with the
suppression first, then have them take their shot.
[8.9.0] Medkits [8.9.0]
A key to doing well in the long run is having and using Medkits for your
soldiers. The obvious reason is that it can keep them from dying, and thus you
from having to train up new rookies. However late game they get even more
valuable for two reasons:
1) Stabilizing or reviving critically injured soldiers. When a soldier is
dropped to zero health, they don't always die, sometimes they are just
critically injured. In this case, you need to stabilize them with a medkit, or
they'll bleed out. Also, there is a support perk that allows you to revive them
at 33% health, rather than just stabilize them. If things go really bad and a
valued veteran gets shot, this may be what you need to bring them back to fight
another day. Also there is an ability in the OTS you can buy that make it more
likely for high rank soldiers to be critically injured, rather than killed, but
that does no good without medkits on hand.
2) Reduced or eliminated recovery time. The reason is the way the game
calculates wounds and hitpoints. Your total HPs are your soldier's inherent HP
+ their armor's HP. However all damage hits the armor's addon HP first. If they
never take enough damage to reach their own HP, then there's no recovery time
needed. Thing is, medkits heal all HP equally.
So suppose a soldier has 7 native HP, and is wearing Ghost Armor for another 6,
13 total. They then get shot for 6 points, you heal them, and they get shot
later for 6 more points. You might think the healing wasn't really needed;
after all they lived, right? Well in addition to making sure a crit didn't kill
them it actually drastically changes recovery time. In the first example, with
healing, the soldier's own HP was never touched, so they aren't injured and
thus no downtime. In the second example they will be gravely wounded, and
require a long time to recover, because they were nearly killed.
Thus in general, you want to heal your soldiers as they take damage. You want
to be smart about it, of course, don't waste medkits on a tiny wound, but if a
soldier has taken a wound near to what your medkit can currently heal for, then
hit them with it and heal them up. Doing so can keep your whole squad in
operation, despite taking some damage on a mission once you have better armor.
[8.10.0] Stealth [8.10.0]
Ghost Armor is quite powerful, not just because of its hit point and defense
bonus but because it allows your soldiers to cloak themselves four times per
battle, and remain cloaked either through the enemy turn, or until they fire.
Cloak is a free action; you still get to use two full actions after it. This
bring a whole new element to your tactics as you can now move around enemies
unseen to launch true surprise attacks, where they don't get their reaction
Stealth is particularly useful in door breaching situations. You can cloak two
guys on either side of the door, and then open it. That lets you see what's in
the room with no reaction, and you can even withdraw if needed. You can then
place your guys behind enemy cover, and have two others move up and fire at the
enemies from the doorway, then launch a finishing attack from flanking
positions with your cloaked soldiers.
However it gets better still: Cloaked soldiers ALWAYS have 100% chance to crit.
Yes, even against Etherals. This means that cloak can be used not only for
stealth attacks, but just to amp up a regular attack. Heavies in particular can
benefit due to their low crit chance. If you have a good shot, you can cloak,
then fire, and do guaranteed critical damage.
It is particularly lethal in the hands of a shotgun assault with Rapid Fire.
You can cloak, flank your target and get up close, and then unload on them with
a guaranteed critical hit. Likewise Killer Instinct goes from a good ability to
a godly one since you can guarantee a crit with the higher damage, simply by
cloaking before you use Run & Gun.
[8.11.0] Psionics [8.11.0]
Later in the game you'll get psionic abilities for soldiers, and if you are
patient enough to sift through people you can have an entire squad with it.
While psionics will never become your primary abilities, they are quite useful
in the right situations.
Mindfray is something to look at when you don't have a good shot on an enemy.
If the enemy has a weak will your chance to hit with Mindfray will be quite
high, even 100%, and isn't attenuated by distance or cover. While it only does
5 damage it also lowers their will, aim, and mobility making them all around
less of a threat. If you choice is a 20% normal shot or a 98% Mindfray, launch
Psi Inspiration has the triple use of removing Mindfray, helping deal with
panic, and boosting will for other psionic attacks. Use it to clear off
Mindfray any time someone gets hit, or to calm a rookie down that got scared of
a Muton. Also if you are going for a tough Mind Control, try and have another
soldier use Inspiration first to boot will to help it succeed.
Telekinetic Field is an ability to keep around for when everything goes to
hell. If you have some soldiers trapped in a bad situation, see if you can get
someone near them to launch a Telekinetic Field, it gives 40 defense, the same
as full cover. If you are going to need to cover some enemies too, just wait
until the last move of the turn. Launch the field, then end the turn. The
enemies will have a penalty to hit your soldiers, but it'll dissipate when your
next turn starts.
Mind Control can be useful, mostly for creating red shirts, aka troops you are
willing to throw away. When you MC an enemy, you want to take it and rush the
other aliens. Don't try and hold it back and use it as another troop, because
in 4 rounds, the MC breaks and it will not be pleased with you. Run them ahead
to scout, or straight up to flank their friends. If they die, all the better.
Just make sure it isn't near your squad when the timer runs out so it has to
actually come back and can't just turn around and take a shot where it is. Also
if you aren't going to get it kill, have it blow any one use abilities like
grenades. Better yet, have it drop the grenade at its feet.
[9.0.0] Interception [9.0.0]
The tactical battles aren't the only part of killing aliens in X-Com, sometimes
you need to shoot down their UFOs too. For that, there's a very abbreviated
mini-game on the geomap you deal with. There's not a whole lot to interception
in this version of X-Com, but it still warrants your thought and attention.
[9.1.0] The Basics [9.1.0]
When you detect a UFO in the air, which can only happen in countries you have
sats in, the game will ask you if you'd like to deal with it or ignore it.
Don't ignore it unless you just flat out don't have the craft to deal with it.
Panic goes up a good bit if you do. When you choose to deal with it, it'll ask
you which interceptor you'd like to launch. You can only launch one at a time.
It'll show you all the craft you have in the region (there can be up to four).
That craft will then launch to intercept and the interception interface comes
Your choices then are to order the craft to abort, or to use any of the special
one-use items you've crafted, if you have any. In general, you want to keep
your finger on the abort button and if the interceptor is near death, call it
back. You can then send out another one to finish the job. For this reason, I'd
keep at least two interceptors in all regions you have coverage in.
[9.2.0] Types of Interceptors [9.2.0]
There are only two interceptors in X-Com:
Cost: $40, $20/month.
These are what you start with, and you can buy as many more of them as you want
at any time. They take 3 days to get delivered. They aren't great, but against
many UFO's they'll do the trick particularly if you use boosters or if you
recall one as it is damaged and send out another. Upgrading their weapons can
help a whole lot. For much of the game, you'll have to make do with them.
Callsign Raven in game.
Cost: $200, 40 alloys, 20 elerium, 1 UFO Power Source, 2 UFO Flight Computer,
20 engineers, $10/month.
A much, much upgraded interceptor. Its biggest feature it its speed, which
means it can stay in range of UFOs longer, allowing it to successfully shoot
down the faster UFOs. Also it has a ton more armor, so it can go toe to toe
with almost any UFO. It also can equip the most powerful weapon, the Fusion
Lance. When so equipped, it can solo any alien ship except the battleship,
You'll need one of these to take down the overseer UFO. It is just too fast for
Ravens. In general, getting at least one per region is a good idea, despite the
expense. Do note that when you build them, you need free hangar space for
however many you are building in your main base. Don't clear out all 4 slots
and try to build 4 at once, that is just asking for trouble.
Callsign Demon in game.
[9.3.0] Consumables [9.3.0]
To help give your interceptors the edge, you can make consumables that perform
various functions. These are one shot deals, you use them and it uses up an
item. They are used just by clicking the buttons along the bottom of the
Cost: $10, 3 Sectoid Corpses, 5 engineers.
When activated, the next two shots your weapon takes are guaranteed hits. More
useful for starter weapons with a high chance to miss, and for slow firing
weapons. Given they are pretty economical, it is worth having a couple ready
at all times for hard UFOs.
Cost: $50, 3 Floater Corpses, 5 engineers.
When activated, the next two shots the enemy takes miss you. This can be a real
life saver against powerful ships. In particular it is useful if you are using
a more short range weapon and need to close in before you can attack. Always
try and keep one around at all time if you can afford it.
Cost: $20, 2 Cyberdisc Wrecks, 10 engineers.
When activated, stops the timer counting down until you lose contact with the
UFO. Used to stick on those fast UFOs. However since cyberdisc corpses are
rare, use sparingly.
[10.0.0] Basic Walkthrough [10.0.0]
This provides a basic guide for what happens in a game of X-Com and some advice
on what to do when. You'll find it is fairly high level and sparse, owing to
the free form, random, nature of X-Com. Any step-by-step guide would invariably
be useless since each game is a little different. Still, it'll give you a
general idea of when things happen and what triggers various events.
This presumes you are not doing the tutorial, as it leads you around by the
nose for a while. The game is still generally the game, the tutorial will just
take you through more of the beginning of the game in its scripted fashion.
[10.1.0] Starting Out [10.1.0]
When you first start out you pick a region for your base, discussed elsewhere,
and you then get plunked in to a starter mission in that country. The mission
is always the same, only the scenery varies. You have 4 rookie soldiers, there
are 4 sectoids. You need to make there be 0 sectoids, and preferably still have
4 soldiers. In the event you can't complete this mission, restart on an easier
difficulty. It is a real easy mission, don't count on them getting much easier
any time soon.
Upon a successful killing of the sectoids, you head back to your base and are
allowed to do as you please. Any soldier that got a kill will get promoted to
Squaddie and get assigned a class. Make sure to get a research project going,
you should have three to choose from. I generally go for Beam Weapons as that
will let you have laser weaponry and it is quite a big step up. Once you've
done all you wish to do, go scan the globe for threats, which passes time
[10.2.0] Your First Abduction [10.2.0]
Not long after you do some scanning, an abduction mission will happen. The
aliens will hit three cities and you only get to choose one to deal with. The
net result is that panic will decrease in the country you do the mission in (if
you succeed) and stay the same for that continent. It will increase in the
continents you don't do the mission in. Since panic levels are low everywhere
at the start, choose your mission according to the reward. I suggest the
engineers, but the scientists are good as well.
[10.3.0] Research and Priorities [10.3.0]
As you go out on missions, your scientist will decide that she'd like to have a
chat with a live alien, and tell you capturing one would be a good idea. This
then sets up your first priority. Whatever is a priority appears in green, and
has a big PRIORITY next to it. Despite the name this does NOT necessarily need
to be your highest priority. What priority actually means is "advances the
plot". That's all well and good and you'll want to do that, but don't feel like
you have to rush off and do priorities right away.
Your first priority will be to research Xeno-Biology, then the Arc Thrower,
which lets you stun enemies rather than kill them. Then you'll need to build an
Arc Thrower, and an Alien Containment facility since aliens make lousy house
guests and you don't want them sleeping on the couch. At that point, you'll
need to actually get yourself an alien.
[10.4.0] Get some Satellites [10.4.0]
However before you worry about black-bagging an alien, worry about getting
yourself more sat coverage. As soon as you have the engineers and the money,
build another satellite uplink next to your first one. More sats are key to
keeping panic from growing out of control, and they take a while to get online.
Once you have the facility started building, go and get some satellites started
as well. Your XO will complain that you don't have facilities for them but that
is fine, you can have extras. It takes 20 days to build sats, so you need to
start on them soon. They actually take longer than the facility itself.
Also note that with projects like sats the time is fixed, regardless of number.
So build the number you need, 3 in this case, all at once, not sequentially.
Get 3 sats and an uplink going and in 20 days, you will be able to manage panic
When you launch a sat over a country, it immediately reduces panic there, has a
chance to reduce it each month, and stops abductions from happening there. So
if you cover a region in sats, you not only get the bonus but can manage panic
there quite well.
Getting the globe covered in a timely fashion is very important to success.
When the whole globe is covered, abductions no longer happen. So long as you
can keep up with the other missions (shooting down UFOs, terror missions, and
council missions) you should be able to get everything down to 1 bar of panic
and keep it there.
[10.5.0] Fetching an Alien [10.5.0]
The basics are pretty simple: Equip one or more soldiers with an Arc Thrower
and then go stun an alien. However it can be a little harder than that. Arc
Throwers have a very limited range. You'll need to close to within a few tiles
of the alien to be able to use it. You can see the range when you are selected
on a soldier with the arc thrower, any alien will have a blue circle with
lightning bolts on it. Within that range, you can use the Arc Thrower.
Also, despite the description, you CAN use it on aliens with more than 3 HP, it
just lowers your chances a lot, quickly approaching 1% as HP gets high. Also,
lowering an alien's health below 3 can be useful. An un-upgraded Arc Thrower
has a 70% change to stun a 3 HP alien, but about a 90% chance to stun a 1 HP
one. Pistols can be useful here as they do tiny amounts of damage.
What I like to do is find a likely target, an alien that is alone and not too
tough. Have someone suppress it so that it stays put, ping it with a pistol to
get it down to 1 HP, and then have an assault with an Arc Thrower sneak up and
knock it out.
I would do this as soon as you are able. Also, get one of each kind of alien
you encounter, as you get different research benefits for each one. You only
need to do each interrogation once though.
However, it can be useful to nab additional aliens to get their weapons. In
particular Thin Men carry Light Plasma Rifles so you might want to stun them,
whenever the risk of doing so is low. That way when you research it, you can
have a collection of rifles ready to go for your squad.
[10.6.0] Getting an Outsider Shard [10.6.0]
Before very long you'll encounter an Outsider, which the doctor calls a being
of almost pure energy. She immediately fixates on it and wants you to grab one.
When you do successfully stun one you'll discover that you don't get to bring
it home, but rather get an Outsider Shard. Once you have that, it becomes your
priority research and I'd go ahead and do that.
With that complete, you'll be able to build a Skeleton Key in engineering,
which will let you go and assault the alien base that the shard will have
helped you find. When you have that, you can then choose to do an alien base
assault at your leisure.
[10.7.0] All Their Base Are Belong to You [10.7.0]
At this point your priority is to assault the alien base. Now you may be
tempted to hang back, build up a bunch of weapons, and then go, however this is
probably not the way to do things. There are three things to consider:
1) The game does increase alien difficulty as you get better. So if you wait,
there will be tougher aliens in the base. As such you aren't going to gain a
huge amount by putting it off for a long time.
2) Panic level becomes a real problem. Because of those damn abduction
missions, your panic will likely be rising faster than you can control it. When
you knock off the base, panic will reduce in ALL countries by 2.
3) The base has a ton of resources for you to procure, so you get a bunch more
alloys, elerium, and money (there's multiple things you can sell that have no
research value) to kick start your operation.
As such, I'd say you hit the base when panic is starting to become a problem,
before any countries leave if possible. If you go early on, with just laser
weapons, and Carapace/Skeleton Armor you'll find it is pretty much just
Sectoids, Thin Men, Drones, and Chryssalids, plus a Sectoid Commander at the
end. It isn't too bad, if you are careful. If you wait, there will be
progressively harder aliens (in line with what you'll see on missions) in
Despite the mission being enclosed, there are lots of wide spaces in the base
so bring your snipers along, don't go all close quarters units. A good mix of
units will serve you well, snipers included. They'll have plenty of high ground
and open spaces to play with. You'll also want at least one assault along for
sure, since there are some long corridors with little cover that they are great
Advance carefully, stay in cover, and keep reaction fire up and you should be
[10.8.0] Hyperwave Research [10.8.0]
Despite your XO getting all excited, the doctor is correct, the war is not
over. She'll now be all excited to research the Hyperwave Relay you found in
the base. You can do this as you please, it doesn't matter all that much.
Keep building up satellites, you want to go for full coverage as soon as you
can. You'll need two uplinks and two nexuses in a 2x2 block to be able to
control that many with a minimum amount of facilities, so make sure to get
Alien Nav Computer researched so you can build a nexus. You'll need to get nav
computers off the alien ships to build it as well, so don't go selling those
Once you've researched Hyperwave Communication, your chief engineer will want
to build your very own Hyperwave Relay.
[10.9.0] A New UFO, and it is... Purple? [10.9.0]
I would hold off on building the Hyperwave Relay until you at least have the
materials to research a new fighter craft. The reason is once you build it,
it'll sit there and do crossword puzzles for a few weeks and then go nuts. The
engineer will want it off, the doctor will demand it stays on and in the end,
It'll be up and running. This gives you full information on any UFO you see,
which is nice, but also introduces a new UFO, which has a purple icon called an
However the thing is so damn fast, your normal interceptors can't take it out,
even when you use a bunch of boost abilities to help them out. This means if
you'll have to keep letting it go, which of course lowers your monthly rating,
until you do have some new interceptors to go blast it with. As such, hold off
on building the relay.
Once the UFO shows up, your priority becomes researching and then building new
When you shoot it down, you have to go and clear it out, of course. Here an
Ethereal will show up for the first time. They are exceedingly good at mind
control so be careful. It is hiding in the most central room, guarded by Muton
Elites. When you enter the doctor will chatter about its ability, but then
immediately become enthralled by the device in the middle of the room. Melt
some alien faces and then it is back to base.
[10.10.0] Well That Didn't Help! [10.10.0]
As soon as you get back to base another UFO will show up, a REALLY big one. So
that whole "taking out the overseer" doesn't seem to have improved your
situation much. Your new priority becomes to research the Etheral Device. Don't
do that just yet; make sure you research the Etheral corpse to get the ability
to build a Mind Shield. You'll have to kill more Etherals before you can build
one, but they are extremely useful. They increase your will by 30 making your
soldiers much harder to mind control.
Successfully researching it will unlock the ability research Psi Armor, and to
build a Gollop Chamber.
[10.11.0] You Call it a What Chamber? [10.11.0]
So now your priority is to build the rather oddly named Gollop Chamber
(apparently credit to one of the original X-Com designers). This is the
penultimate chapter in the game. Once the chamber is built, you have to get a
soldier who is good enough at psionics to activate it, when is then what you
use to trigger the final mission. During the time while you are building it and
getting your soldier, you'll have to deal with the normal alien-swatting
activities like shooting down UFOs, dealing with terror missions, and so on. As
long as you maintain your satellite network and respond to things when they
happen, it shouldn't be too bad.
It appears you must equip the soldier you wish to use with Psi Armor. No matter
how high their will, they cannot use the chamber until they have the armor
[10.12.0] An End, Once and For All [10.12.0]
Upon activating the chamber you'll get a little cutscene, and your soldier will
go in and have a brief chat with the aliens. They'll also get the Rift ability
that the Etherals have (on top of their other powers). At this point, all you
can do is go and assault the Temple Ship (the big purple craft), the final
mission. The game won't let you scan anymore or do anything other than build
any items that complete right away. You are locked in to the final mission once
you activate the chamber, so don't do it until you are ready.
Make sure you have a team you are happy with, and that they are all healed. If
keeping units up is proving to be a problem, you may want to send your low
ranked units and SHIVs and so on for missions while your Colonels heal up and
In terms of who to take I'd concentrate more on people with max rank and high
will than I would with specific classes. Also look at bringing people with PSI
training, it can really help out. The ship is pretty big, so all classes,
including snipers, have a role. However if you have the troops to choose, I'd
look at two support, two assault, a heavy, and a sniper, or alternately one
assault and two snipers. Make sure your supports have medkits and are of the
healybot variety, look at Chitin Plating or Mind Shields for everyone, and have
all the best weapons/armor.
Something else to note is that your volunteer who activates the Gollop Chamber
must survive. So supposing you have a choice, a sniper might be a good one.
Whatever the case you need to play conservative with that unit. If you have to
sacrifice someone in a situation, don't make it them.
The Temple Ship is pretty much just a long linear corridor with multiple
levels. It is very open, so your snipers are plenty useful. You progress
through the ship as the alien voice whines about all its failures, but seems
happy with your "new one," and goes on with the "I had to kill you to save
you," crap. You get to fight and kill all these failures (the enemy aliens)
roughly in increasing order of difficulty.
When you reach the end, you get to fight big Uber Etheral. He summons up a
bunch of other critters to fight you as well, but they all disappear when he
dies. As a note, the barrier in the middle before the hallway has good line of
sight for snipers to him. First time I fought him, I didn't do anything with my
forward troops. My snipers took 3 shots, got 3 hits and that was it. Other than
summoning enemies, he is just a regular Etheral, but tougher (higher will, more
HP, better deflection, etc).
Once he's dead the alien voice whines about you killing him. Well if you didn't
want a sniper shot to the face, you should have left Earth alone. They seem to
think you can't handle whatever is coming after without their "help." You then
get the end cutscene, stats and credits.
That is it for X-Com for now.
[11.0.0] Mods [11.0.0]
While X-Com wasn't designed to be modded, some intrepid modders are working on
it anyhow. The best place to look for mods is http://xcom.nexusmods.com/ it is
part of the Nexus Network that does the Elder Scrolls games and all that. At
this point, you can find mods that alter the game balance in some various ways.
It turns out a lot of stats about the game are in a file called
DefaultGameCore.ini, but that editing it doesn't do anything. The reason is
that it has been cooked in to exe file itself. However, modders with resource
editors can alter that.
Who knows how far they'll be able to mod the game ultimately, but it is an area
of active development. So if you love the game but wish that some things were
changed or improves, well check over there from time to time, maybe they have
[11.1.0] Basic Modding [11.1.0]
WARNING: This is fairly advanced stuff. If you aren't comfortable messing with
it, don't. Also please don’t e-mail me about it, I do not have time to walk
people through this.
If you want to modify X-Com a bit to suit your tastes, and aren't interested in
using any of the current mods out there, you can actually do so pretty easily.
As noted, the DefaultGameCore.ini has many of the settings you might wish to
change in the game, particularly ones related to difficulty. However the
executable won’t read it, it only reads the version cooked in it.
This can be fixed.
What you need to do is get yourself a hex editor HxD is a good choice. Either
make a backup of the X-ComGame.exe file, or be prepared to re-download it from
Steam if you make a mistake. Do be warned that this can break you game if you
mess it up, and you’ll have to reverify integrity or reinstall to make it work.
In your hex editor go to offset 157D93C (hexadecimal). There you will see the
\.D.e.f.a.u.l.t.L.o.a.d.o.u.t.s...i.n.i." over in the text section. What these
are doing is telling the game what files NOT to load. So you can change that.
All you do is change the character to something else. I'd change it to "43"
which is a C. So you’ll have "\.C.C.o.m.G.a.m.e.\.C.o.n.f.i.g.\
.D.e.f.a.u.l.t.G.a.m.e.C.o.r.e...i.n.i". Save that change.
At this point, the game will load the DefaultGameCore.ini in its Config
directory, instead of the one cooked in the exe. You may now modify it as you
wish. I would make a backup first in case you mess it up. Otherwise you could
have to reverify integrity, which would of course also replace the exe with the
Now you aren't done quite yet, as every time you run the game, it'll contact
the server and download some of the game core data, and use that instead of
what you've modified. So to stop this, you'll need to block the game on your
firewall. This will, of course, disable multi-player play but then you didn't
buy X-Com for MP anyhow :).
One thing to note is that while the changes you make are immediate, they only
apply when something happens that would cause them to be loaded. So if you
change soldier level up progression, it will not retroactively apply to
soldiers already leveled. For the most part, you want to start a new game when
you change things, otherwise you might have some strange results.
[12.0.0] DLC [12.0.0]
There are currently two pieces of DLC available for X-Com:
Elite Soldier Pack
This was the first DLC, which you got for free if you preordered, and is purely
cosmetic. It allows for more customization to soldier appearance, including a
whole bunch of different armor colors, and some new helmets/hair styles you
didn't get in the base game. Basically just for fun, though the color feature
can be useful for color coding different classes (I do purple snipers, red
assaults, white supports, black heavies, and yellow rookies).
A set of three custom council missions. They follow the same basic format of
other council missions, but the details are a bit different and more scripted.
You escort a VIP, who then becomes a soldier for you. Then have to set a bunch
of transponders in a mission similar to a bomb disarmament. Finally you assault
a battleship, though with a greatly easier set of aliens than normal. Net
result is you get a soldier, and a bunch of battleship tech early on. It is
really not all that special.
Neither DLC is all that great, thus both are the kind of thing to look at
getting on sale, rather than full price. Due to the poor reception of the
Slingshot Pack, Firaxis is reevaluating what they are going to do with future
DLC. It is unclear if there will be any more, or what form it will take.
[13.0.0] Cheats [13.0.0]
Currently the only known in-game cheats are to give soldiers special names.
There are five "super soldiers" you can unlock doing this. When you rename a
soldier to the proper name the game will warn you that this will disable Steam
achievements, and if you say yes, your soldier will be transformed in to said
super soldier. They all have extreme stats (as much as 200), high end weapons
and armor, and physically resemble the real person whose name they have. They
Assault : Otto Zander
Heavy: Joe Kelly
Sniper: Ken Levine
Support: Sid Meier
Sniper: Chris Kluwe (not as high stats as the other four)
Other than that if you want to cheat, you'll have to turn to modifying the
config in the exe as the modders do, or memory editing. Tools like Cheat Engine
and Art Money can easily edit memory values in this game, they are all stored
in a normal unencrypted format, normally 4 byte integers for most values.
You can always find the latest version of this guide on GameFAQs.com.
This guide is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
(CC BY 3.0) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode).