FAQ by Edalborez

Version 1.04, Last Updated 2012-11-04

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This is not a beginning-to-end walkthrough. The mission structure of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is very freeform and there is no guarantee any player will have the exact same random events or available options in their playthrough.

Version History

v1.00 - October 21st, 2012

  • Squad Management and Abilities ~90% complete, need additional analysis and range testing
  • Appendix has entries listed with prerequisites.
  • All other sections generally "complete", pending fixes and additional content.

v1.01 - October 22nd, 2012

  • Added note on bullet reflection to Ethereals
  • Added note on death explosion for Cyberdisc/Sectopod
  • Minor typo adjustments

v1.02 - October 23rd, 2012

  • Added stat growths to each class entry
  • Added brief build suggestion/summary to class entries
  • Added note to Sqaudsight about overwatch behavior
  • Added missing Combat Drugs and Dense Smoke entries to Support
  • Added Gray Market list to appendix.
  • Removed incorrect statement about Steam Vents being invisible on Impossible
  • Added costs of new recruits in Hire Soldiers
  • Minor typo/format adjustments

v1.03 - October 28th, 2012

  • Added Scientist/Engineer monthly amounts to Situation Room
  • Improved Pistol projects in Foundry now have precise bonuses listed
  • Build Facilities note on Engineer requirements for Workshops and Satellite facilities updated
  • Correction to Thin Man Classic modifiers (+1 HP)
  • Minor corrections/additions to other enemy entries
  • Added Alien Grenade to Cyberdisc's weapon list
  • Added notes for which enemies use Overwatch/Suppression (essentially all organics with guns)

v1.04 - November 5th, 2012

  • Added resource costs to Build Facilities
  • Tips section updated and cleaned up
  • Updated list of actions that can be performed without breaking Stealth

Controls

Controls are listed onscreen when at XCOM headquarters. The table below lists controls during battle.

Xbox 360PS3Action
AXTake action
BCircleCancel
XSquareSwap weapon
YTriangleOverwatch
LB/RBL1/R1Previous/Next unit
LTL2Zoom camera out (when held)
RTR2Target mode
Left StickMove cursor
Right StickPan camera
L3/Left Stick ClickDetails (when applicable)
R3/Right Stick ClickNo function
StartPause menu
D-pad Up/DownHeight adjust
D-pad Left/RightRotate camera
BackSelectEnd turn

Flow of Gameplay

Upon starting a new game, you'll be prompted to select Easy, Normal, Classic, or Impossible difficulty. You can also choose to disable/enable tutorials or Ironman settings. Ironman settings allow for only one save file which autosaves as you progress. If you lose an Ironman game, you will have to start over from the beginning on a new file.

Easy:

  • Base starts with Officer Training School
  • Monthly funding increased by 50%
  • Start with $175 base funds

Normal:

  • Base starts with Officer Training School
  • Start with $175 base funds

Classic:

  • Start with $100 base funds
  • Engineers/Scientists awarded from satellite fundings halved
  • Enemies generally have more health and ~+10 Aim/Crit
  • More enemies can be active at once compared to Easy/Normal

Impossible:

  • Start with $75 base funds
  • Engineers/Scientists awarded from satellite fundings halved
  • Enemies generally have more health than Classic and ~+10 Aim/Crit
  • More enemies can be active at once compared to Easy/Normal

The beginning of the game varies slightly depending on whether Tutorials are on or off.

If Tutorials are enabled, the first few missions, and the time spent at XCOM Headquarters inbetween them, will guide the player to perform certain tasks.

If Tutorials are disabled (or if playing on Impossible), the player will have full control over their actions from the introductory mission.


The goal of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is twofold:

  • Stop the alien invasion - Complete Priority missions
  • Maintain panic levels across the globe - Prevent 8 countries from leaving XCOM

The gameplay of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is mainly divided between base management at XCOM Headquarters and Combat during missions.

At XCOM HQ, you can take your time and manage any number of facilities, tasks, and resources. When ready for a mission, visiting Mission Control and scanning for activity will start progressing time at a very fast rate. When you discover alien activity you can choose to deploy for combat or ignore it. There are no immediate consequences for ignoring a mission but panic can rise as a result.

Combat is turn-based, controlling a squad of 4-6 soldiers as they complete various objectives. Soldiers grow stronger as they earn more kills and take part in missions, but any soldier that takes damage will have to spend a few days recovering from their wounds. If all soldiers die during a mission, the game is not lost. You will simply need to use additional soldiers as replacements.

At the end of each month, the Council grades you on your performance and provides funding. Generally, responding to all alien threats in a month successfully will be received favorably while ignoring or failing missions results in a low grade.

There is a final Priority Mission which acts as a "point of no return" for the playthrough, but gameplay can continue indefinitely until players either accept the final mission or lose 8 countries.

XCOM Headquarters Tips

Regarding panic:

  • Any countries at maximum panic level (5) will leave at the end of the month (maximum of 3 in one month?)
  • Countries at maximum panic whose panic level rises again will immediately leave
  • Failing a Terror Attack results in a country's immediate withdrawal, regardless of panic level
  • Responding to Alien Abductions lowers panic in one country, but raises panic across the entire continent for ignored locations.
  • Deploying satellites reduces panic immediately, but funding they provide only comes at the end of a month. Save satellites until just before the Council Report when possible.

Regarding funds and rewards:

  • Funding is only provided at the end of each month. Any other funds must be obtained from selling on the Gray Market or as rewards from missions.
  • Funding is influenced by the number and locations of satellites across the world. Making satellites and Uplinks should be a high priority.
  • Similarly, monthly costs for Facilities and Interceptors only count at the end of a month and only if they have been completely constructed.
  • When considering mission rewards and panic is not a concern, generally take Engineers or Funding instead of Scientists.

Regarding Engineering and Research:

  • Try to always have a Research project active. These only cost time and resources, not money.
  • Facilities and some items from Engineering require time to build. Plan ahead.
  • Items ordered in bulk from Engineering will be delivered at the same time, not 1 every X days.
  • Satellites can be constructed before you have the Uplinks to support them. Uplinks take 14 days to build while Satellites take 20.
  • Adjacent facilities count in any direction.
  • All types of power generators provide adjacent bonuses to each other, as do Uplinks with Nexuses.
  • A 2x2 square of Uplinks can cover 12 countries. A 2x2 square of 2 Uplinks and 2 Nexuses covers all 16 countries.
  • Build Thermo Generators over any Steam vents in your base.
  • Try to fill out each floor with Facilities before digging deeper. Lower levels cost more to excavate.

Combat Tips

  • Save often, with multiple saves if possible. You can't save-scum until a shot miraculously misses, but you can take different moves to avoid a bad scenario.
  • Train extra soldiers so they can sub in when your veterans are wounded. Early on, try to take at least one Rookie each mission.
  • Conversely, bring your highest ranking soldier as much as possible early on to progress towards Officer Training School upgrades.

  • Don't dash into unknown territory. Advance slowly as a group. Enemies don't generally move very far until they see you.
  • Enemies that are alerted to your prescence for the first time in a mission will always spend their next move just moving:
    • If discovered on the player turn, this is a "free move" where enemies either advance or back up into cover.
    • If discovered on the enemy turn, enemies will never attack even if they have the action points left to do so.
  • If no enemies are in range, advance one soldier first, then bring everyone else up to them on Overwatch. Don't make moves that might reveal enemy squads when you have no actions left.
  • If facing low hit chances, it's better to play defensively. Back up and get into Overwatch, or Hunker Down to weather the coming attack.
  • Be in cover whenever possible, with full cover preferred over half cover.
  • Cover provides Defense bonuses as long as an enemy is at a frontal angle. Enemies from left/right/back (flanking) ignore the cover bonus.
  • Most environments are destructible to an extent. Grenades and rockets offer a manual method of doing so, while missed shots and Suppression (especially from Plasma weapons) can also destroy terrain.

  • When Suppressed, enemies react in different ways:
    • Enemies with a ranged attack will typically not move, and will sometimes not fire if their odds to hit are low enough.
    • Melee enemies will generally always move, triggering your reaction fire.
  • When Sectoids are under the effects of Mind Merge, killing the "sender" also kills the "receiver".
  • If a soldier becomes mind controlled, killing the "sender" will free the soldier. They will be able to take 1 action on a freed turn.
  • Enemies that use Mind Control will always tend to make it their first move. This gives you a chance to kill them before they unleash more devastating attacks.
  • Chryssalids are fast but have no ranged attack. Overwatch and Suppression are effective against them.
  • Muton Berserkers charge a short distance towards soldiers that damage them. Lure them closer to your squad and team up on them.
  • Mutons, Cyberdiscs, Heavy Floaters, and Muton Elites aren't shy about using grenades to blow up your cover if it will expose multiple soldiers.
  • Sectopods always get one Overwatch shot even when they have already taken two actions.
  • Sectopod attacks cause a lot of collateral damage; the cover you use in one turn may not last to the next turn.

XCOM Headquarters

At XCOM HQ, you can assign Research to your scientists and have your Engineering team develop new technology or build new equipment. From the Barracks you can manage and customize your squad members. The Hangar bay lets you manage your anti-UFO aircraft defense. From the Situation Room you can observe panic levels across the globe, sell unwanted goods on the Gray Market, and review your current priority objectives.

Research

  • More scientists resuolts in quicker research

Assign New Research: Only one research project can be done at a time. Changing to another project pauses progress on the current research.

Research leads to more Research, Engineering products, and Foundry projects. Interrogating live aliens awards Research Credits towards certain fields of study, decreasing the time it takes to complete a Research or Foundry project by 50%.

See Research - Appendix for more information.

Engineering

  • More Engineers results in cheaper manufacturing costs

Buy/Build Items: Allows you to purchase weapons, items, armor, and air defense tools like Satellites and Interceptor armaments. Weapons, items, and armor for ground troops is developed instantly, but other items take time to build.

Build Facilities: Manage and build additional facilities in the base, each providing additional benefits.

Solid spaces must be excavated to build over them. This costs more depending on which sublevel you're excavating: $10 for level 1, $20 for 2, $40 for 3, $80 for 4. To access a new sublevel you will need to build and maintain a new level of the Access Lift. Excavation takes 5 days.

Steam vents can be found on some blocks. Steam vents provide no additional benefit to facilities, save that Thermo Generators can be only be built on them.

Foundry: Essentially the Engineering version of Research. Unlike Research, you can take as many simultaneous Foundry projects as you desire. These projects add new abilities, strengthen equipment, or open new equipment for purchasing.

See Buy/Build Items and Foundry in Engineering - Appendix for more information.

See Build Facilities for more detail on specific Facilities and their benefits.

Barracks

The Barracks are where you manage your XCOM soldiers. You can also use the Officer Training School and Psi Labs from here to further augment your squad if you have these facilities constructed.

View Soldiers: Edit details of your squad. See Squad Management

Officer Training School: Bonuses for the whole squad can be purchased here if you possess a soldier with a high enough rank. The bonuses only apply if the OTS is still intact; removing it will bar access from upgrades until it is rebuilt.

AbilityCostRankEffect
Squad Size I$50SergeantSquad size increases to 5 soldiers
Squad Size II$75CaptainSquad size increases to 6 soldiers
New Guy$250MajorNew recruits begin at Squaddie rank
Rapid Recovery$150LieutenantAllows soldiers to heal from wounds twice as fast
Don't Die On Me$275ColonelHigher ranking troops are more likely to be critically wounded than killed in battle
Wet Work$125SergeantKills grant additional experience to soldiers
Iron Will$200MajorThe Will bonus gained from promotions increases

Visit the Psi Labs: Soldiers can be placed here to test their Psionic potential. Psionic testing takes 10 days, during which a soldier cannot be used for missions. After 10 days have passed, a soldier will either develop the gift of Psionics or be permenantly without them. A soldier cannot be retested.

High Will has been stated to improve the odds of a soldier having the gift. If you are playing a non-Ironman run, note that the chance to pass or fail is calculated when you place a soldier in the Psi Labs. If you save beforehand you can see if a soldier has the gift, reloading and pulling them out if they fail.

View the Memorial: A chronicle of dead soldiers is listed here.

Hire Soldiers: If needed, you can hire new Rookie soldiers to add to your ranks. If you have the "New Guy" upgrade from the Officer Training School, they will be Squaddies instead of Rookies. New soldiers take 3 days to arrive.

New soldiers cost $10 on Easy/Normal, $15 on Classic/Impossible

Sometimes Alien Abduction missions will award a soldier who starts at a higher rank. These soldiers do not come with preset abilities and can be assigned as you desire. Their stats may vary from that of a naturally-raised Rookie.

Hangar

From the Hangar, you can manage your anti-UFO aircrafts. Each continent can hold 4 aircrafts.

Interceptors are the basic aircraft. They are not very durable, but are the only option for air defense for most of the game. $40 build cost, $20 monthly maintenance cost.

Firestorms are an advanced model available after the appropriate research is performed. Tougher, faster, and more expensive than an Interceptor. Firestorms are bought from the Build Items section of Engineering, rather than directly from the Hangar menu. Firestorms are built in the Hangar of the continent where XCOM Headquarters is located, but can be transferred to other locations once they are built.

When a UFO Attack occurs, choose an aircraft to respond and counterattack. UFO combat plays out automatically until one of the two crafts is destroyed, engagement time runs out, or when you choose to manually abort an attack. It's strongly recommended to abort when your aircraft is 1-2 shots away from destruction, as repairs only cost time while destruction requires replacement. If the UFO survives, it's possible to send another aircraft to re-engage. If the UFO is shot down, you can send a ground squad to attack the UFO crash site.

With the proper Research, items can be made in Engineering to provide a one-time boost to aircraft accuracy, speed, or evasion for a short time.

See Hangar Items for aircraft weapons and equipment.

Situation Room

At the bottom of the screen, the current Priority objective(s) will be displayed. Click L3/More Info for more detailed descriptions.

Launch Satellite: You can view worldwide panic levels from here and deploy satellites, if you have any, provided you have Uplinks to support them. You can also see the monthly income and bonuses provided by each country.

After the introductory mission, one continent is selected as the home base for XCOM Headquarters. If Tutorials are enabled, only North America or Europe can be selected. The continent selected provides a bonus as if you controlled the entire continent and determines starting funds.

Starting funds:

  • $175 (Easy/Normal)
  • $100 (Classic)
  • $75 (Impossible)
  • Add monthly funding of starting country (bolded entry in table below)
  • Monthly funding +50% on Easy

Example: Starting in North America on Classic difficulty, players will have $280 starting funds.

Funding:

North AmericaSouth AmericaAfricaEuropeAsia
United States: $180Argentina: $70Egypt: $70United Kingdom: $100China: $100
Canada: $100Brazil: $80South Africa: $80Russia: $150Japan: $100
Mexico: $50Nigeria: $100France: $80India: $60
Germany: 100Australia: $60

Scientists/Engineers:

  • Amounts halved on Classic/Impossible
TerritoriesNorth AmericaSouth AmericaAfricaEuropeAsia
1+2 Scientists+2 Scientists+2 Engineers+2 Scientists+2 Engineers
2+2 Scientists, +2 Engineers+2 Scientists, +2 Engineers+2 Scientists, +2 Engineers+4 Scientists+4 Engineers
3+4 Scientists, +2 Engineers+2 Scientists, +4 Engineers+6 Scientists+6 Engineers
4+8 Scientists+8 Engineers

Having a satellite over each country on a continent (or starting on one) provides an additional bonus.

North America - Air & Space: All aircraft and aircraft weapons cost 50% less to purchase, build, and maintain. Saves a bit of money over the course of an entire playthrough.

South America - We Have Ways: Autopsies and Interrogations are completed instantly. I would strongly encourage not starting in South America. With only 2 countries it's relatively easy to just claim this bonus if desired. Autopsy and Interrogation research tends to be quick anyways.

Africa - All In: Monthly XCom funding increased by 30%. One of the better starting options, and a good goal to claim in any case. Considered one of the more useful bonuses, either from starting in Africa or claiming it as soon as possible.

Europe - Expert Knowledge: Labs and Workshops cost 50% less to build and maintain. A somewhat niche utility bonus.

Asia - Future Combat: All projects in the Foundry and the Officer Traning School cost 50% less. Handy, but there aren't very many of these upgrades to save 50% on.


Visit the Gray Market: Sell unwanted alien goods here for extra funds. Some items will be clearly marked as having no research benefit and can be sold freely. If you need some extra funding, don't be shy about selling corpses or other goods. Some are used for manufacturing items or research, but you will generally always have a good supply of corpses from new missions.

Council Requests: Sometimes a country may request an order of goods, usually an Engineering-made item or alien goods. These have a generous time limit for the order, but no penalty is imposed for not fulfilling a request other than not getting the associated reward.

Combat

Combat plays out as a turn-based affair; your squad of 4-6 soldiers goes first, the aliens then take their turn, and the process repeats until mission's end.

Characters have 4 basic stats:

  • Health: Determines how much damage you can take before being wounded or killed.
  • Will: Determines user's ability to resist panic and use/defend against Psi powers.
  • Aim: Base accuracy
  • Defense: Base evasion

Under most circumstances, each player unit has 2 action points to spend during their turn on actions like moving and attacking. Generally actions in a turn can be done in the following orders:

  • Move, then perform an action.
  • Perform an action (ends turn without moving).
    • Some actions can only be done before moving; takes 2 action points.
  • Move twice the normal distance ("Dashing"), but can't perform actions afterwards.
    • Dashing provides a small defense boost against reaction fire.
    • Can also move as 2 separate actions instead of dashing in one move.

Abilities possessed by each class and enemy can slightly alter the rules of using action points.

You are not required to use all of a character's action points at once. For example: you can move Unit A, then take Unit B's whole turn and come back to Unit A.


One important facet of combat is cover. Soldiers die very easily when in the open. Cover provides a boost to defense. At its most basic form, accuracy is merely calculated as [Aim-Defense]. Thus, even being in half cover provides a 20% increase in evasion.

Cover provides defensive bonuses against any enemy in a near 180-degree arc. Units who are directly to the side or anywhere behind a unit in cover are "flanking" the unit in cover. This nullifies their cover defense for the flanker's attack. Attackers who are adjacent to a unit in cover (within 1 tile) also count as flanking.

     A
B--------D
C       X

In this example, X is a unit in cover. C and D's attacks count as flanking while A and B still have to deal with the defense boost.

The shield indicator next to a unit in cover shows what kind of effects are in play:

  • Blue shield for player units, red for enemy units
  • Half-full shield = half cover, +20 defense
  • Full shield = full cover, +40 defense
  • Yellow shield = being flanked from one or more directions

Enemies in XCOM: Enemy Unknown typically don't move until disturbed by the player. In most cases, disturbing the enemy plays a small cutscene close-up of the enemy group and awards them a free movement to either advance or get to cover on a player turn or a forced second movement on an enemy turn.

Enemies are typically banded together in squads of two or three. Disturbing one enemy in a squad prompts all of its members to move, even if you can't see them all. Once disturbed, a squad will act more aggresively or defensively depending on the enemy type.

Sometimes "sound waves" will be heard by one of your soldiers from some part of a map you haven't yet explored. This gives you a visual indication of which direction you can find a group of enemies. If the origin of the "wave" is red the enemy squad is usually very close, within 1-2 movements.


Soldiers who take damage in combat will need to spend a few days recovering from wounds afterwards. Bonus health granted from items and armor allow for a wounded "buffer" where you can take damage and not have to recover. For example, a soldier with 5+10 health will not be counted as wounded unless they fall to 4 HP or lower. Healing a soldier who has crossed into the wounded threshold with a medikit does not remove the wounded status.

When soldiers take damage or die, there is a chance that they or other soldiers will panic. Panicking soldiers can't be controlled for the turn they panic and the following player turn. Initially after becoming panicked, soldiers will usually either shoot a random friend or foe, Hunker Down, or run for cover. The following player turn they will simply do nothing. The odds of becoming panicked decrease with higher Will.

Soldiers who lose all of their HP either die instantly or become critically wounded. Critically wounded soldiers can be stabilized using a medikit, but will otherwise die permanently in three turns. If the mission is completed during the three turns, critically wounded soldiers also survives. Critically wounded soldiers take a permanent decrease to their Will value.


Sometimes when things aren't going your way, it can be better to abort a mission instead of continuing. Moving all soldiers into the highlighted area near your landing zone allows you to abort the mission and take all surviving soldiers back to base. You can also choose to abort from the pause menu, but any soldiers outside the landing zone will not be extracted. No alien corpses or artifacts are obtained from a failed or aborted mission.


Following is a basic description of actions available to most or all player units. See Abilities for class-specific or Psi-related abilities.

Fire: Shoot with your equipped primary weapon or pistol. Consumes ammo for primary weapons.

Overwatch: Fires at the first enemy that moves within your sight radius. Overwatch shots cannot inflict critical hits and have a small Aim penalty (-15).

Reload: Fully reloads a primary weapon.

Hunker Down: Only available in cover. Doubles defense bonus from cover (half cover now gives +40, full cover +80) and provides immunity to critical hits, but shortens user's sight radius to 3 tiles until their next turn. Cover bonus is not applied towards enemies that flank a Hunkered Down soldier.

Switch Weapon: Swaps from primary weapon to pistol and vice-versa. Counts as a free action. Heavies do not take a pistol and cannot swap weapons.

Mission Control

Scan for alien activity and deploy for ground and anti-UFO missions from the Mission Control room.

Scanning advances ingame time at a rapid rate. Progress is temporarily halted when an important update arises, such as completed Research, Facilities, or discovering alien activity.

Missions do not have to be undertaken immediately, but will expire quickly (usually within a day) and reflect poorly on your monthly evaluation if they do so.

Note that alien strength and variety increases as time progresses. A few species only appear after certain Priority missions, but delaying your progress will still result in fighting tougher enemies before too long.

Priority Missions

  • Please note, there's no need to rush priority missions. Take your time to manage funds, panic levels, upgrades, and so on before advancing.

1A: Introduction (tutorial)

You will first play a scripted mission to introduce you to the controls. Afterwards you will be able to select your starting continent between North America or Europe.

Complete the required operations as the game commands. After the tutorial mission, a few more preset missions will follow:

  • Alien Abduction mission, choosing between one of two locations to respond to.
  • Target Escort mission, escorting a VIP.
  • UFO Attack, raiding a downed UFO.

After this, you are given freedom to act as you please for the remainder of the playthrough. Priority mission path now intersects with that of the non-tutorial introduction.

1B: Introduction (non-tutorial)

Select your starting continent from any of the 5. You will then immediately deploy on an introductory mission with 4 Rookies. Complete this mission and you'll be free to continue as you please.

2: Containment

  • Research Xeno-Biology
  • Construct the Alien Containment Facility
  • Research the Arc Thrower
  • Build an Arc Thrower
  • Use the Arc Thrower to capture a live alien
  • Interrogate a live alien

The goal for this phase is to capture a live alien. Doing so requires a few steps of construction and research. The Arc Thrower is best used on weakened enemies with 3 or less health. Use Pistols if necessary to limit the amount of damage you deal. Recommended that you give the Arc Thrower to an Assault soldier (who are usually closest to enemies anyways) or a Support soldier with Sprinter.

3: The Alien Base

  • Capture an Outsider
  • Research Outside Shard
  • Build the Skeleton Key
  • Assault the Alien Base

Outsiders can be found in UFOs, so be sure to take your Arc Thrower on these missions.

The Alien Base will likely be the longest mission yet. It's highly recommended to have a Support or two with Medkits. Some paths will split but they all unite at the same general places.

The final room will have a Sectoid Commander. Commanders have psionic powers, most notably Mind Control. Take care not to hit any brainwashed allies by accident. Completing the Alien Base mission reduces worldwide panic by 2.

4: The Hyperwave Beacon

  • Research the Hyperwave Beacon
  • Construct the Hyperwave Relay
  • Scan with the Hyperwave Relay

Important note: before building the relay, take some time to outfit your Interceptors with better weapons or start developing Firestorms. What the Hyperwave Relay reveals may not be easy to handle for regular Interceptors. Also perform an autopsy or interrogation on the Sectoid Commander to gain access to the Psi Labs. Start testing soldiers for Psi candidacy and start using those who are gifted.

It may take a few weeks of scanning before the relay picks up anything, so just continue with your everyday procedure until then.

5: The Overseer UFO

  • Research an Advanced Fighter Craft
  • Intercept the Overseer UFO
  • Assault the Crashed Overseer UFO

It's possible to have a Firestorm built beforehand and strongly recommended to do so. Interceptors will only last a few seconds against the Overseer, whether by time or by damage taken. Firestorms can only be built from your starting country's hangar, but it's advised to transfer one to each continent for general UFO defense.

The Overseer UFO is much like any other UFO crash site, save for the Ethereal inside of it. Ethereals are tougher psionic enemies than Sectoid Commanders. They seem to prefer using Mind Control whenever it's available, so use that as a free turn to finish off any other minions before focusing fire.

6: Final Preparations - The Temple Ship

  • Build the Psi Labs facility
  • Develop and create the Psi Armor
  • Research the Ethereal Device
  • Construct the Gollop Chamber
  • Use the Ethereal Device
  • Assault the Temple Ship

To begin the final assault on the Temple Ship, you will need one soldier who can wear Psi Armor (and furthermore use Psi abilities). The choice of soldier doesn't matter, but whoever you chose must be part of the final mission squad and must survive to the end of the mission.

Using the Gollop Chamber crosses a point of no return. No further research, engineering, or missions can be done. The only thing you can do is launch the final mission. If you still want to do other tasks, simply delay activating the Gollop Chamber.

The Temple Ship, like the Alien Base, is a long indoors mission. The ship is split into large chamber with multiple paths. Access to the next chamber is only granted when all enemies in the current chamber have been defeated. If a door isn't opening, look around in dark corners for enemies you may have missed.

  • Section 1 enemies: Sectoids, Sectoid Commanders, Drones, Cyberdiscs
  • Section 2 enemies: Heavy Floaters, Chryssalids
  • Section 3 enemies: Thin Men
  • Section 4 enemies: Mutons, Muton Berserkers
  • Section 5 enemies: 2 Sectopods, Muton Elites
  • Final section: Muton Elites, 2 Ethereals, Uber Ethereal

Killing the Uber Ethereal completes the mission, no matter how many other enemies are left. When you beat him, you've completed the game!

Alien Abductions

Alien Abductions are the simplest variety of mission. No secondary objectives are involved. Defeating all aliens completes the mission.

However, Alien Abductions force you to choose between 2 or 3 locations. Each provides a different reward for completing the mission. The country you aid will have their panic level reduced, while panic will rise across the continent in other locations.

Alien Abductions can only occur in countries without satellite coverage.

Terror Attack

In Terror Attacks, you need to aid 18 civilians against alien forces. Civilians are extremely weak and will die in a single hit. Civilians can be "saved" by moving next to them within 2 tiles (shown by a blue ring around civillians). Any civilians unrescued but still alive when all aliens are killed will count as being saved. You don't immediately fail if all civilians die, but save as many as possible.

Ignoring a Terror Mission, regardless of the country's panic level, causes them to leave the XCOm project.

UFO Contact / Crash Site

UFO Contacts involve an air-to-air battle between your aircrafts and a UFO. Shooting it down allows you to raid the crash site.

UFO crash sites tend to have valuable resources like Alien Alloys and UFO Flight Computers. The alien crew will usually be inside the ship or not far from the wreckage.

UFO size classes for general missions can vary, with larger ships having more enemies and usually tougher as well. These classes include:

  • Small Scout
  • Large Scout
  • Abductor
  • Supply
  • Battleship

Ignoring UFO sightings can eventually lead to UFOs shooting down your satellites. Shooting down a UFO but choosing not to raid the crash site does not seem to have any negative effect on panic levels.

UFO Landing

UFO Landings are similar to Crash Sites, but the UFO is intact. This yields more valuables in comparison. Enemies tend to be more spread out around the map.

Ignoring UFO sightings can eventually lead to UFOs shooting down your satellites.

Asset Recovery

Functionally these are like Alien Abduction missions. No secondary objectives are involved, just kill all aliens.

Bomb Disposal

Bomb Disposal missions require the squad to find and disarm a bomb within a turn limit. Power nodes located on the map add one turn to that limit when deactivated. Disarming and deactivating count as a "free" action like opening doors.

After disarming the bomb, a final wave of enemies appears on the following enemy phase. Killing these enemies, in addition to any of the original enemies still alive, will complete the mission.

Ignoring Bomb Disposal missions seems to have a negative effect on panic levels.

Target Escort

Target Escort missions involve finding a VIP and escorting him/her to the starting location. When you find the VIP, move within 2 tiles of and you will be able to control them like a regular unit. VIPs have no weapons and low health, so keep them safe on the way back. Additional enemies appear on the turn after you gain control of the VIP. As soon as they reach the starting location, the mission is completed.

Loadout

Armor provides extra health to soldiers. Normally any soldier that takes damage during a mission becomes wounded afterwards. Health provided by Armor acts as a buffer for that wounded threshold. For example:

A soldier with 8 health takes 3 damage. They will be wounded afterwards. A soldier with 5+3 health takes 3 damage. They will not be wounded. A soldier with 5+3 health takes 3 damage, is fully healed by a Medkit, then takes 3 more damage. Will not be wounded.

Armor may also confer additional benefits, such as increased Defense, Will, movement, or extra abilities.

ArmorHealthDefenseOther
Body Armor1
Carapace Armor4
Skeleton Suit310Grapple, Move +3
Titan Armor10Immune to poison, walk through fire
Archangel Armor8Flight, 6 fuel
Ghost Armor620Grapple, Stealth, Move +3
Psi Armor610Will +20, Move +2

Primary weapons provide the bulk of a soldier's firepower. Each shot consumes ammo. Spare ammo is unlimited, but weapons must be reloaded after firing a certain number of shots. Some abilities use more than 1 ammo per shot.

  • All weapons have a range of 27 tiles unless otherwise noted.
  • All weapons have a damage range of (Base Damage +/- 1). A weapon with a base damage of 4 will do 3-5 non-critical damage.

Assault Rifles: Usable by Rookie, Assault, and Support

  • All Assault Rifles have a base ammo count of 4.
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical DamageOther
Assault Rifle310%4
Laser Rifle510%7
Light Plasma Rifle510%7+10 Aim
Plasma Rifle710%10

Shotguns: Usable by Assault

  • All Shotguns have a base ammo count of 4?.
  • Shotguns are less accurate at longer distances
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical Damage
Shotgun420%6
Scatter Laser620%9
Alloy Cannon920%13

Light Machine Gun: Usable by Heavy

  • All LMGs have a base ammo count of 3.
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical Damage
LMG40%6
Heavy Laser60%9
Heavy Plasma90%13

Sniper Rifle: Usable by Sniper

  • All Sniper Rifles have a base ammo count of 4?.
  • Sniper Rifles are less accurate at close distances.
  • Sniper Rifles have 100 range, but Squad Sight must be taken to use this extra range.
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical Damage
Sniper Rifle425%6
Laser Sniper Rifle630%9
Plasma Sniper Rifle935%13

Secondary weapons include infinite-ammo Pistols and the Heavy's Launchers. Pistols provide a less powerful but reliable backup weapon for the classes that possess them, while Rockets excel at area damage and cover destruction.

Pistols: Used by all except Heavy.

  • Pistols have infinite ammo and do not need to be reloaded.
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical Damage
Pistol10%1
Laser Pistol210%3
Plasma Pistol30%4

Launcher: Used by Heavy

  • Cannot be reloaded or used for Overwatch, Suppression, etc.
  • Launchers have a base ammo count of 1.
  • Blaster Launcher can curve and are not obstructed by obstacles in direct line of sight.
  • Rockets have a 10% chance of veering slightly off-course.
NameBase DamageCritical BonusCritical Damage
Rocket Launcher60%12
Blaster Launcher90%13

Items such as Grenades and Medkits provide offensive, defensive, or passive abilities available for use. All soldiers can equip one item. Support soldiers at Major rank or higher can equip two, but some items cannot be equipped twice

ItemActive EffectPassive EffectUsesEquip 2?
Frag Grenade3 damage, ~2 radius, 15 range1Yes
Alien Grenade5 damage, ~2 radius, 17 range1Yes
Nano-fiber Vest+2 HPNo
S.C.O.P.E.+10 AimNo
Arc ThrowerStun + Capture, ~2 range2Yes
Chitin Plating+4 HP, reduces melee damageNo
Mind Shield+30 defensive WillNo
Combat Stims[Immune to criticals, halved damage, increased movement, resist panic] 2 turns1Yes
MedikitRestores 4 base health, can stabilize/cure poison, 2 rangePoison immunity1*No
  • Medikit uses for Heal and Stabilize/Revive are shared.
  • Grenades can hit allied units; the tagrt circle will be yellow and a warning will pop up when confirming a friendly fire selection.
  • Arc Thrower cannot stun Cyberdiscs, Drones, Chryssalids (and their Hatchlings/Zombies), or Sectopods.

Customize

From this menu, you can change a soldier's first and last name. Characters who promote to Sergeant rank can also be assigned a nickname. Names do not affect combat ability or stats, with the exception of 4 cheat code-related names, so feel free to name your soldiers whatever you want.

Nationality and gender can't be changed, but have no effect on gameplay.

Abilities

All soldiers start out as a Rookie. All Rookies begin with 40 Will and 65 Aim. Starting health is also the same, but depends on the playthrough difficulty:

DifficultyEasyNormalClassicImpossible
Health6543

Rookies will, after gaining enough experience, promote to a Squaddie. From here their path is now permanently set towards one of 4 classes. As they gain more experience, they promote to Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, and Colonel.

Each rank offers a choice between one of two abilities, except for Squaddie and Major which only have one.

Each class has static level growths to HP, Aim, and Will. Will seems to be the same for all classes: +3-8 per rank, plus an extra 3-6 bonus if Iron Will is purchased from the Officer Training School.

Assault

Assaults are good picks to start off any engagement. Their skillset allows them to play hit-and-run, is suited for close ranges and is moderately effective at dealing critical damage.

Growths:

RankHPAim
Squaddie15
Corporal03
Sergeant13
Lieutenant03
Captain13
Major03
Colonel14

Abilities:

RankSkill 1Skill 2
SquaddieRun & Gun
CorporalTactical SenseAggression
SergeantLightning ReflexesClose and Personal
LieutenantFlushRapid Fire
CaptainClose Combat SpecialistBring 'Em On
MajorExtra Conditioning
ColonelResilienceKiller Instinct

Run & Gun: Allows firing or Overwatch after Dashing on the turn Run & Gun is activated. 2 turn cooldown.

  • Using Run & Gun is a free action, but it must be activated before taking a second move or Dashing.
  • Activating Run & Gun disables all commands for the rest of the turn except Fire, Flush, Rapid Fire, and Overwatch.

This is a great ability that exemplifies the Assault's strengths. Use hit-and-run tactics or make a risky move for a more accurate and deadly shot.


Tactical Sense: Confers +5 Defense per enemy in sight (max 20).

  • Enemies in sight range of other allies do not count, only those that can be seen and targeted by the ability holder are considered.

Aggression: Confers +10% critical chance per enemy in sight (max +30%).

  • Enemies in sight range of other allies do not count, only those that can be seen and targeted by the ability holder are considered.

Tactical Sense is considered the safer option and is exclusively advised on higher difficulties.


Lightning Reflexes: Forces the first reaction shot against this unit each turn to miss.

Close and Personal: Confers +30% critical chance against adjacent targets. The bonus declines with distance from the target.

  • Presumably, +30% from 1 tile distance, +20% from 2, +10% from 3.

Lightning Reflexes is immensely useful, allowing your Assaults to trip enemy overwatch fire and allow other soldiers to move freely. Close and Personal is not recommended if only because Lightning Reflexes is so much better.


Flush: Fire a shot that causes enemies to run out of cover. The shot is easy to hit with, but does reduced damage.

  • +20% Aim.
  • Consumes 3 ammo instead of 1.
  • Does not force an enemy to move if they are not in cover or are incapable of taking cover.
  • Enemies forced to move will trigger reaction fire.

Rapid Fire: Take two shots against a single target in quick succession. Each shot carries a -15 penalty to Aim.

  • The second shot (and second ammo unit) is not fired if the first shot kills.
  • Can be performed with a Pistol.

Rapid Fire is usually more useful in most situations. Flush can be redundant or unneeded if you prefer to attack enemies in cover with grenades or rockets, but combos well with other soldiers using Suppression, Overwatch, In The Zone, and so on. Hard to go wrong here.


Close Combat Specialist: Confers a reaction shot against any enemy who closes to within 4 tiles. Does not require Overwatch.

  • Limited to one reaction shot per enemy move.
  • Seems to trigger when enemies cross the 4 tile "boundary"; doesn't seem to trigger on enemies that move around within 3 or less tiles.

Bring 'Em On: Adds 1 damage on critical hits for each enemy the squad can see (up to 5).

  • Enemies in sight range of other allies do not count, only those that can be seen and targeted by the ability holder are considered.

Since Assaults are usually the forward-most members of a squad, Close Combat Specialist will likely see more use.


Extra Conditioning: Confers bonus health based on which type of armor is equipped. Heavier armor increases the bonus.

  • Medium armor awards +2 health, Heavy awards +4.
  • The bonus health is not seen in the Barracks menu, but will be displayed during missions.

Provides a nice bit of extra health, but be sure to weigh the benefits of Medium armor abilities versus the extra health of Heavy armor.


Resilience: Confers immunity to critical hits.

Killer Instinct: Activating Run & Gun now also grants +50% critical damage for the rest of the turn.

Resilience is recommended on higher difficulties, as enemies are more likely to hit and crit. Killer Instinct has good synergy with shotguns, other offensive Assault skills, and/or Ghost Armor.


Assault abilities in general are very polarized, focusing heavily on defense or offense. Offensive abilities are also better tailored to Shotgun-wielding Assaults. While going straight down the left or right hand paths works, using a hybrid build leaning towards defensive can also be effective:

Pure DefenseHybridPure Offense
Run & Gun
Tactical SenseTactical SenseAggression
Lighting ReflexesLightning ReflexesClose and Personal
FlushFlush or Rapid FireRapid Fire
Close Combat SpecialistClose Combat SpecialistBring 'Em On
Extra Conditioning
ResilienceResilience or Killer InstinctKiller Instinct

Heavy

Heavies tend to be less accurate than other classes, but they boast high damage and powerful cover-busting rockets alongside several team support options.

Growths:

RankHPAim
Squaddie12
Corporal01
Sergeant11
Lieutenant01
Captain11
Major02
Colonel12

Abilities:

RankSkill 1Skill 2
SquaddieFire Rocket
CorporalBullet SwarmHolo-Targeting
SergeantShredder RocketSuppression
LieutenantHEAT AmmoRapid Reaction
CaptainGrenadierDanger Zone
MajorWill to Survive
ColonelRocketeerMayhem

Fire Rocket: Fire a rocket using an equipped launcher. This ability can not be used after moving, nor more than once per mission.

  • Free-aimed ability, can be shot at higher/lower elevations.
  • Damage based on equipped launcher.
  • Destroys most terrain in addition to dealing damage.
  • Can hit allies; target area turns yellow to signify friendly fire.

Rockets are useful against groups, but are also invaluable for destroying enemy cover.


Bullet Swarm: Firing the primary weapon as the first action no longer ends the turn.

  • Using Fire as the first action allows the soldier to make a second move (with no further action) or use any ability except Rockets.

Holo-Targeting: Shooting at or suppressing enemies also confers a +10 Aim to any allies' attacks on those enemies.

  • Bonus applies even if the Heavy misses.

Holo-Targeting is well-suited to a Suppression-focused Heavy or for general squad support. Bullet Swarm aids greatly in a Heavy's versatility, allowing them to potentially fire and Hunker Down in the same turn for added safety, fire twice, fire and use a Psi power, and so on.


Shredder Rocket: Fire a rocket that causes all enemies hit to take +33% damage from all sources for the next 4 turns. The rocket's blast is weaker than a standard rocket's.

  • Shredder Rocket ammo count is separate from that of the normal Rocket.
  • Base damage: 4

Suppression: Can fire a special shot that grants reaction fire at a single target. The target also suffers a -30 Aim penalty.

  • Consumes 2 ammo instead of 1.

Shredder Rockets allow your Heavy to act as a large damage multiplier for the rest of your squad on sturdy targets. Suppression is more of a deterrent for most enemies than a true counterattack, but can inflict some guaranteed damage with Mayhem at Colonel rank.


HEAT Ammo: +100% to damage against robotic enemies.

  • Bonus damage applies to Drones, Cyberdiscs, and Sectopods.
  • Bonus applies to any type of attack from the Heavy.

Rapid Reaction: Confers a second reaction shot, if on Overwatch and the first reaction shot is a hit.

Robotic enemies can be difficult to handle, so HEAT Ammo is the recommended option. Heavies have low Aim compared to other soldiers so Rapid Reaction is usually less useful.


Grenadier: Allows to carry 2 grenades in a single inventory slot.

Danger Zone: Increases hit area of rockets and suppression by 2 tiles.

  • Suppression now affects the designated target and enemies within 2 tiles of it.
  • Applies Holo-Targeting effect to all enemies affected.

If you frequently take grenades with your Heavy, consider Grenadier. Otherwise choose Danger Zone. Danger Zone is especially recommended if you also took Shredder Rocket.


Will to Survive: Reduces all normal damage taken by 2 if in cover and not flanked.

  • Presumably, "normal damage" means all regular shots and does not apply to grenades or Psi powers.

Solid boost to soldier durability and another reason to always be in cover.


Rocketeer: Allows 1 additional standard rocket to be fired per battle.

  • +1 to Fire Rocket count, does not increase Shredder Rocket count.

Mayhem: Confers additional damage based on weapon tech level to Suppression and all area-effect abilities (1 damage per tech level).

  • Supression now also deals a 100% accurate guaranteed amount of damage to any target(s); 1 damage for LMG, 2 for Heavy Laser, 3 for Heavy Plasma.
  • Rocket Launcher/Shredder Rocket damage +2, Blaster Launcher damage +3.
  • No effect on Grenades.

Mayhem offers a sizable upgrade to either Suppression or all Rockets. Rocketeer's extra rocket can be handy on late missions packed with tougher enemies. Hard to go wrong here.


The Heavy's abilities are divided between offense and team support. Almost every option is viable for a Heavy build, but Bullet Swarm and HEAT Ammo are highly advised for any hybrid build. If you take Suppression it's recommended to pair it with Danger Zone and Mayhem, otherwise you may as well be suppressing with a Support instead. Grenadier is not recommended in these build, but don't let that stop you from choosing it.

Hybrid OffensiveSupportive
Fire Rocket
Bullet SwarmBullet Swarm or Holo-Targeting
Shredder RocketSuppression
HEAT AmmoHEAT Ammo
Danger ZoneDanger Zone
Will to Survive
Rocketeer or MayhemMayhem

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