Help needed for XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I have been trying to play for quite a while but have come to admit defeat and am asking for some tips. I can do some missions quite well but on the next have two high ranking soldiers killed and the rest of the team panic and get turned into zombies.

So I am after some combat hints like who to send, how many rookies, general tactics and how to rank classes up.

Also could do with help with what facilities to buy, rough idea of when to do things in the base, how many soldiers I need, good weapons to invest into, what to prioritize and other essential things to know about running things.


It's quite possible to end up with a game that has you down so much that it's best to start fresh. But aside from that, try to have several characters with long range weapons and advance forward in a fairly tight group. Most enemies remain completely inert on the map until you've gotten close to them. Never split the team up early in the game when you are weak on tech and have many rookies. Use high protection cover whenever possible. Only long range snipers are relatively okay with taking a position without cover. If your point man finds himself out of cover with an enemy in sight, dash to cover rather than taking a shot. At least until you get heavier armor.

One thing that helps for long term is to always have at least one rookie in the squad if you can, or whatever is your lowest ranked soldier at the moment, that way if you happen to screw up and lose a couple guys or at worst the whole squad (sorry) then you don't have to start fresh. Being at end game with a squad of rookies is just impossible and I don't wish that on anybody.

There's no easy instruction to this game. You have to expect to get your ass kicked and work with what you're given. The start of each game has subtle differences that will effect your immediate progress, planned builds etc. It's impossible to plan for every eventuality. So I can't give you a step-by-step process.

I like to complete games to the best of my ability; but I have to admit defeat in XCOM, I have to try and scrape by. This is not a game for perfectionists. SAVE OFTEN!

The early game isn't too hard. Here are some things that you might consider:

I try to manufacture satellites early, so they are ready when I establish communications links. It gives better retention of council members/countries/funding. You should only place satellites in the continents where your base(s) are located. Otherwise, your satellites will fall prey to enemy UFOs. You can't protect everyone, unfortunately.

Don't be frightened to use rocket launchers and grenades. Taking out multiple enemies efficiently increases your survival rate. Even if it hurts your research resources.

If you find it difficult to balance resources in the early game, start in Africa. It gets a substantial monetary supply buff. You can concentrate efforts on acquiring scientists and engineers.

Sell items on the grey market for additional funds. Money makes things easier and faster.

Always move into cover. It is better to make shorter steps with adequate firing cones from nearby units. Don't run long distances where other units cannot give fire support. Always set up "over watch" positions to intercept alien reinforcements. This is especially useful on rescue missions, or bomb disposal missions. Aliens will drop reinforcement atop buildings and vehicles. Be ready for them. Try to "peak" corners from distance. Don't run into a building to get a better look. Blow a hole in the wall for visual assessments.

I do believe that armour and weapons upgrades outweigh the plot line. Try to improve your soldiers and increase your squad size early. You will have to complete multiple tiers before you get anything substantial. Do not purchase the first set of armour that you research. It is far better to spend your resources on the following armour upgrade. Otherwise, you will not be able to afford the superior armour when you need it most. In short, you're only completing certain research projects to gain access to the next. Not every upgrade is worth the coin. So research far outweighs engineering - you shouldn't saturate your engineers on too many build projects this way.

Heat ammunition for heavies is especially useful against armoured, cyborg/mechanical units.

I happen to like the assault class for flanking routes. They can fire in the "yellow zone" with the run and gun ability. But you make that move at your own risk. But I tend to be offensive and eliminate enemies before they can eliminate me.

My ideal squad is 2 assault, 2 support, 2 heavies. The support should carry the 3 medic kit upgrade, and you would do well to give them more movement points.

Aircraft upgrades are especially useful for intercepting larger space craft in the early game. Larger space craft net you more research resources/materials. Worth the risk, in my opinion.

I don't know on which difficulty you play. I play on normal right now. What has let me play well is that I don't like to accept dead soldiers. Safety first! It's very tempting to get offensive, but that can screw you up. The enemy's advantage over you, beside of the better tech, is that they can come from nowhere. So try to be always prepared. And choose your research carefully. If you are not rich on cash, (which doesn't happen in my instance on normal) concentrate on your soldiers, or what else your deficits compared to the enemy are. At UFO crashsides, I use 2 higher ranked soldiers, and a bunch of rookies. I would go with only rookies, but I have to say: Having a Heavy who can shoot a rocket, and a sniper, even just on the first rank, is very safe. So I usally throw some firstly ranked guys, or higher and a bunch of rookies together at UFO crash sites. And another thing: There is one reasearch that is called: Light plasma rifle. Do that one if possible, before you build the laser rifles. Because then you can just use those weapons from the thin mans without major modifications, which costs you nothing (yes, it's free alien guns!), and the guns give you all +10 aim, compared to the self made, and costly laser rifles which do the same damage. What else I can say is: Don't focus way too much on the engineers. Because without fast research, you are producing weaker weapons sooner.

There is, if you compare research and engineers, two szenarios:

more engineers than researchers: means cheap. Building stuff is cheap, but you are slow at research, which means that the possibility of your soldiers to die could be higher, because of not enough higher tech.

more research than engineers: You find out powerful stuff faster, but it's more expensive to build stuff.


Now looking at which is more effective, in my case so far, having more research is essential. I am building less, but when I build, it's freakin powerfull. I have atleast 30% more researchers if not more, than engineers. But don't take it as a rule of thumb. It also depends on you situation. If I am getting blank at cash, there are plenty of possibilities to gain some. (because there are more chances, where you get money from countries for missions, satelites etc.) Don't forget your jets, with those "aim" and "dodge" things you get through research, they are more effective.



Edit: Many things also depend on your individual situation, like mentioned above by Berserker^^.

Cheers everyone for the help. Based on what you said the main things are that I need to be more cautious, invest more into research and try to develop rookies more.

Caution? Yes and no. Rather, a clear assessment of each turn.

Can you flank the enemy to get a clear shot? Be offensive.

Is the enemy on an attack vector that you cannot move to counter? Be defensive.

You should use the overwatch ability to protect your squad. Flying enemies will often fly behind you. So you shouldn't waste all your turns going forward when the enemy has that kind of capability. Expect attacks from all directions in the later game.

The one thing that I would hammer home is the direction of rushing your research efforts to develop the skeleton suit (second armour upgrade). Fairly cheap to produce, you can increase the health of your front line soldiers, which will help a great deal. Mistakes will not be so lethal.

Your funds increase with greater satellite coverage. Build them before you need them!

You will get used to assessing each map and how to move through those maps.