XCOM Enemy Unknown was released in 2012. It is a remake of the popular 1994 game. XCOM is a turn based strategy game in which you try to halt an alien invasion. You choose what you want to research and what you want your engineers to build, as well as managing your troops and relations with all of the countries in the XCOM project until a mission comes up. Once you accept the mission you get a taste of the real gameplay.
You will drop 4-6 soldiers into an area where they will have one of several objectives, though you will always have to fight aliens, which will develop and you will end up fighting stronger enemies the farther into the game you progress. Each turn your soldiers get two actions. One is to move, and then you can move again or fire your weapon, reload, etc. You will need to move your troops into cover, hopefully flanking the enemy’s position in order to get bonuses to aim and critical hit chance.
This is a difficult game. A lot of aliens, especially in the early game, can kill your soldiers in one shot. They can also do plenty of other bad things as you progress in the game. When a soldier dies, they are gone forever. That’s right, permanent death. Meaning that if you lose a high level soldier, it could be very hard to promote another one. If you lose too many of your good troops then you could be stuck with a bunch of rookies and be unable to take on the tougher enemies, which could end in a loss for you.
Each time you up the difficulty level, your soldiers will have less health, the enemies will have more, and you will be less accurate, and they will be more accurate. This leads to serious frustrations when you miss when your guy flanks an enemy and has a straight shot, and then an alien returns fire from a long distance through three walls and kills your best soldier. Playing on Ironman mode compounds this because the game saves automatically, meaning that if anything happens, that’s it. There is no way to go back and change it.
With that in mind, XCOM can be an extreme challenge, even to strategy veterans. I suggest playing normal mode, and not on Ironman for your first playthrough. Then, after that, you can try other difficulties. If you start out on too high of a difficulty you might just get frustrated and not play the game.
In order to beat the aliens, you’re going to need money, and lots of it. I suggest putting satellites up in the air as quickly as possible. You have to know that responding to alien abductions is a losing battle. Every time you choose one of three locations. Each one is from a different continent (of which there are five) and the one you choose will have its panic level decreased. The other countries in that continent will not be affected, and neither will the continents that are unaffected by the abductions. Panic will increase in every country across the two continents that you did not save though. This means that you need to get research done as quickly as possible, and you also need enough money to keep up with new projects in the Foundry and upgrading your gear. That means satellites. Having satellites over countries will increase your income depending on which country it is. Covering an entire continent with satellites will also grant you a special continent bonus.
UFOs are another concern. If you fail to shoot one down, usually another, larger UFO will come and shoot down your satellite. If this happens, then you will lose income and odds are that country will panic, possibly even leaving the council at higher difficulty levels. You should try to unlock the Firestorm fighter through research as quickly as possible. It is on a completely different level from the Raven.
Battle itself is tough. You have to be incredibly careful at all times, especially if you are playing on Ironman mode. I’ve lost good soldiers because the last person to move spots a group of aliens, they move into cover, and then get essentially a free turn. You want the first person that moves to spot aliens, or you want the aliens to come into sight on your turn. Try to kill all of them before they get a turn. If that is impossible, put your troops in full cover. You can survive with low cover on normal difficulty or below, but anything above that, and partial cover is almost instant death. You’re going to want to keep your soldiers close enough to support each other, so that they can bring down tougher enemies together. Also, once you run into Mutons, you will need to be wary of grenades. They do five damage to anyone caught in the blast and destroy cover, which can lead to instant death if another alien does a follow-up attack.
Always get high ground if you can, as it will help you hit enemy targets. Always try to flank targets if you can, but be careful when moving, as uncovering new groups of aliens in the middle of your turn can easily lead to dead soldiers. Stay careful, only make your soldiers take one move at a time, allowing them to retreat or shoot if they run into opposition. Always make sure everyone has moved or is in the position you want them before you make anyone use a second action, otherwise you could discover enemies who will flank a soldier and mercilessly kill them on the following turn. Good luck.
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