XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Here you will find a guide on how best to handle alien abduction missions in the form of suggestions on how to run your squad in terms of troop type allocation and loadout configuration.

XCOM, a game that heavily features chance, loss, brutality and of course, now and again, soul crushing seemingly-impossible mishaps that occur just when you don’t want them to. Of course, we want to stop these sorts of things from happening as much as possible whilst keeping squads alive and one way to accomplish this is to ensure you have a squad that is perfect for the situation you find yourself. So, let’s shed some light on how to turn this from “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” to “XCOM: Enemy Annihilated”.

Mission Type: Alien Abductions

One of the most common mission types to find in XCOM, regularly you will be requested to head to one of a number of abduction sites and wipe out all alien enemies in the area. The level during the mission is of course important for consideration when picking your squad but most of the time these tend to be urban areas featuring a fair mix of close-quarters indoor areas to urban combat, street environments. Whether early on in the game up against Sectoids and Thin Men or later in the game when fighting the larger and vastly more terrifying opponents, there’s a couple of things here that can sway the battle in your favour.

Snipers, whether you have one or two should at any available opportunity be elevated with the best possible aim upgrades to ensure their accuracy is optimal along with the best possible chance of scoring critical hits. Whether you send them up a building with grappling hooks on the skeleton suit or using a conveniently placed ladder, once you are sure their new nest is clear and they are safe from immediate danger it’s time for them to take cover and get set to rain death on their enemies. This works best with the squad sight perk where they are able to shoot at enemies that are in their line of sights and that other squad mates can see. This means that the snipers can stay a very safe distance back but still deal immense damage. Remember, snipers should be kept a safe distance since with them essentially being glass hammers, they deal heavy-damage but can go down quickly so they should be kept safe and, more importantly, alive for as long as possible.

Of course, for your snipers to be able to fire upon enemies the foes themselves need to be found and this is where your assault troops come in handy. These guys or girls wield shotguns that deal damage to put most enemies down in only a few successful hits. They should be clad in the strongest available armour, titan or archangel if possible, as they are the ones you want to send up the front to seek and destroy all aliens in the area. It is worth either giving your assault guys a medkit in the chance they take a lot of damage in their haste to the fray, or a grenade as most of the time they should be in range to use it for damage as well as destroying enemy cover for your snipers to shoot through. There’s also of course, the opportunity to give them a nano-fibre vest to give them an extra couple of hit points, but that’s down to you and the skill of your assault trooper. Choose wisely! This is the member of your squad you send running up to open doors, see enemies and pepper them with shells, lasers, plasma, whatever you have, hopefully for your snipers to finish off if not destroyed by your assault soldier right out.

Support troopers may not be the ones to put aliens down the most often but they are one of the most vital members of your squad, to the extent where it might be worth getting two of them in your squad, providing you have one of the squad size upgrades. The support soldiers may seem to lack power which depends on their current weapon but their usefulness is what makes them important. If experienced enough they are able to carry three medkits at one time, combine this with the improved medkit upgrade then these guys can help to keep your squad alive throughout the toughest missions. Later in the game, as previously mentioned, it could be worth getting two support guys to help keep your squad up and running but again, that’s down to you and the difficulty of the mission you have opted to complete. Do not underestimate the smoke grenades either, these can get your squad members out of some dire situations. These help to make those within the smoke cloud harder to hit, and increasing their defence with the appropriate support upgrade. If your troops are getting flanked and are unable to move, showering them in smoke may just be their last hope for survival, giving them the chance they need to find some decent cover.

Finally, what would a military squad be without someone wielding a light machine gun with a rocket launcher strapped to their back? Heavy squad members are the ones you want to keep at around medium distance, between your assault troop and your support soldier, so that they avoid some of the fire but are close enough to inflict some major damage. The most important and lifesaving ability of the heavy is, of course, the rocket launcher which deals good damage to most enemies and with the appropriate upgrades can have a huge blast radius with even more damage. These are the guys want to resort to when you discover a new enemy that you are not prepared for, especially if the enemy is very big, very angry and running at you very quickly. Do not hesitate to use the rocket on the more dangerous enemies such as the Cyberdiscs or Berserkers, especially if there’s multiple of them which you can hit in the one blast. In the later ranks the heavy can even carry two rockets which can prove to be the shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark and hopeless situation. Just remember, 90% hit chance is NOT 100%.

So, to summarise:

Squad of 4:

Assault: Best Available Shotgun Archangel or Titan Armour Medkit, Grenade or Nano-Fibre Vest

Sniper Best Available Sniper Rifle Skeleton Armour SCOPE

Support Laser Rifle Carapace Armour Medkit

Heavy Light Machine Gun or Heavy Laser Carapace Armour Grenade or SCOPE

If Squad Size Upgrade I

Sniper Best Available Sniper Rifle Skeleton Armour SCOPE or Medkit

If Squad Size Upgrade II

Support Laser Rifle Carapace Armour Medkit

Of course, these are recommendations, if you have your own strategy up and running that is doing you well then post about it in the comments. XCOM can be a cruel and heartless game and the only we will survive the alien onslaught is if we work together!

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