It can take awhile for any player new to the XCOM series to get the hang of Firaxis’s latest entry into the series, XCOM 2. Like the first game, XCOM 2 is a complex strategy game that’s made up of multiple layers. There’s the strategy layer, which involves managing your resources, adding facilities to your base, and deciding which missions to take on. And then there’s the tactical layer, which is where all the action happens.
Don’t let words like “complex” and “layers” turn you off, however. Though difficult to master, the game’s easy enough to learn, and it doesn’t suffer from the obtuseness that many other titles in the genre seem to have.
In any case, getting good at XCOM 2 requires some time investment, patience, and the willingness to learn its mechanics. This guide is intended to provide you with some basic tips and tricks to ease your path into becoming a commander capable of saving the planet.
Combat Tips and Tricks
Countdown timers end at 1, not 0. Be mindful of the timer.
You can hack any objectives and access points from a distance using a Specialist thanks to their robotic drone, provided you have a line of sight to the object. Some objects must be interacted with directly, however.
Use grenades on armored enemies to shred their armor. You’ll waste a lot of turns trying to kill them otherwise.
Units can evac in an extraction zone even if they are out of action points.
Advent troopers equipped with the stun baton will charge at you from afar and strike you in the same turn. Keep your soldiers at a distance.
Don’t use melee attacks on Mutons. They will counterattack any Ranger that tries to do that.
Sectoids take increased melee damage. Close in and make short work of them.
Explosive containers have health points. Gas pumps and other small objects have 3HP. Explosive train cargo has 7HP. You can’t do critical damage on them. Just don’t stand too close to them.
Enemies that have the floor blown out from under them will take fall damage. This automatically destroys turrets.
Fire rises. Don’t stand on a platform if the floor beneath it is burning, or you will catch fire.
Phantom Rangers can provide your squad with intel on enemy movement by staying concealed.
Use flashbang grenades to stun and disorient enemies. They are particularly effective on Sectoids, who lose control of their mind-controlled units and zombies.
Faceless have AOE melee attacks. When dealing with one, keep your units apart and stand away from any exploding objects, such as vehicles.
Killing a Sectoid will free any units under mind control. It will also automatically kill any zombies it creates, so don’t waste your ammo on walking corpses.
You can now retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades along with their gear. Simply pick them up and carry their body to the extraction zone and evac out of there.
Never sneak past patrols if you can help it. They will usually double back and trap you.
You will not automatically lose the game if the Avatar Project bar reaches the maximum level. You will have 20 days to destroy a blacksite to lower it.
When hacking an alien tower, you may have the option to gain control of a random enemy unit. Keep in mind that the enemy unit can be any unit on the map.
Battle Scanners allow you to detect any Faceless disguised as civilians without having to approach them directly.
Strategy and Base Building Tips and Tricks
Some facilities you build will confer bonuses to facilities they are adjacent to. Build a Workshop next to facilities that require engineers to fill those slots for free with drones.
Power generators will get a bonus from being built over an alien power source.
The Black Market from XCOM is back. But this time around, you’ll have to find it on the world map and travel to it. You can no longer access the Black Market from your base.
The Guerrilla Tactics School facility allows you to train any of your rookies into a class. The Advanced Warfare Center will allow you to retrain any of your soldiers into a different class while retaining their levels and experience.
If you build the Advanced Warfare Center facility, your soldiers will earn hidden abilities on promotion, including the passive ability to shred armor with any of your attacks. You should build this facility early on to help your units recover faster from injury. Here’s what you’ll get:
|Ever Vigilant||If you spend all of your action points on moves, you are granted an automatic overwatch shot at the end of the turn|
|SALVO||Launching or throwing grenades, or using heavy weapons with your first action, will not end your turn.|
|Shredder||Your [WEAPON] attacks shred armor. (Weapon type is dependent on class)|
|Hail of Bullets||Unleash a hail of bullets that is guaranteed to hit your target, but uses a lot of ammunition.|
|Deadeye||Reduces the overall chance of a shot hitting by 25%, but increases the overall base damage by 50%.|
How to skip intro movies
Tired of seeing the intro movies play every time you launch XCOM 2? Just right click on XCOM 2 in your Steam library, select Properties, click the Set Launch Options button, and type in “-nostartupmovies” without the quotes. Click OK. The next time you run the game, you’ll go straight to the main menu.