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Subject: Off to a very rough start... rss

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Kevin J
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The time has finally come to put some time into the highly regarded XCOM. I just started playing on Normal and am making my way through the tutorial stage of the game.

I got to the mission where you rescue a woman from somewhere in Japan. In the first few turns, I had an alien attack me from what visually seemed like a completely safe position, and it killed one of my units. Later in the map, while escorting the woman to the ship, I had another alien shoot some sort of poison at a guy he couldn't possibly have seen! Then that guy died, another guy panicked and ran next to a car, and then the car blew up. Three units dead on a tutorial mission...

I really don't understand this game so far...the aliens shoot at me when I can't imagine they have actual line of sight to me, and I can't seem to see them to get similar shots off. I don't know where or how I should be moving my units to get the best balance of high chance to hit enemies while maintaining good cover for myself.

Any tips?
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Luke Stirling
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Are you talking about the mission with the park running down the centre of the map with a road on either side, or the mission where there is a road in a cutting with an overpass?

Either way though, I think with rescue missions it's fairly easy to game the system. Just take your time getting the person you are rescuing back to the map exit. Make sure you clear out all visible foes before moving the VIP forward. His/her movement towards the exit triggers more enemies. If you try to rush it you can get overwhelmed.

As for your exchanges of fire, I'm not sure I can account for your experiences. I've found the cover mechanic to be fairly reliable at gaining superior battlefield position. Though it is important to not that cover is only useful in a limited arc. The VIP rescue mission with the park down the centre of the map is one where it can be a challenge to maintain cover in all necessary directions, depending on where the enemies spawn.
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David
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Yeah. Compared to your own troops (especially at the beginning) the enemies seem to be much better shots.

Like paralipsis said: In almost all mission types the key is being careful, slow and methodical. Don't rush thing, don't separate your troops, secure your positions. If you are engaged it is better to fall back into weaker cover in safe territory than move ahead into stronger cover but risk activating another set of enemies.

Not all cover is created equal. Stone pillars or rocks are best. Excellent positions are strong L shaped structures that cover your from two sides. The planters and the fountain on your map are good choices. Open car doors are also good but carry the risk of exploding cars.

Finally: Overwatch. Learn to love it baby! When moving forward a good tactic is to put your front two troops into overwatch and then move your back troops past your front troops. Then reverse repeat.

Don't lose heart. I personally found Normal too punishing when I first started out. By now it's not too bad.
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James Fung
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Kempeth wrote:
Finally: Overwatch. Learn to love it baby! When moving forward a good tactic is to put your front two troops into overwatch and then move your back troops past your front troops. Then reverse repeat.
You mean like the real military?
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David
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fusag wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
Finally: Overwatch. Learn to love it baby! When moving forward a good tactic is to put your front two troops into overwatch and then move your back troops past your front troops. Then reverse repeat.
You mean like the real military?
You mean they play XCOM too? whistle
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Pieter
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"Normal" is not that hard -- if you know what you are doing.

I recommend doing your first game on "Easy". You need to learn the ropes. "Easy" is very forgiving. And the game is not that long, after you finished (or if you get bored), restart on "Normal".

I myself am mainly playing Classic or Normal/Ironman. I know, I should really do Classic/Ironman, but I'm often playing when I am a bit tired and Classic is not forgiving of mistakes.

One tip: the big challenge of this game is not the aliens -- its the money. There are many ways to approach the game and most of them may work out, but money is ALWAYS a problem in the early game. Get those satellites up fast.

Oh, and it SELDOM happens that an alien can shoot at you without having line of sight. When it happens, it's a bug, and it usually concerns an alien that manages to shoot through a wall. I have never seen it happen on an open map. Look around before you take actions, always make all your units first move, and only after all have moved, let them take their action, try to get full cover at all times, send your rookies out in front, try to flank the aliens and avoid having them flank you, and make sure you have at least 45% chance of a hit before you take a shot -- preferably a lot more, but with rookies very often that's the best you can get.
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Kevin J
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It was on this map:



The first death, the alien was shooting from behind the car on the bottom edge, and I was behind the grey pedestal to the right of it (if I recall correctly). I don't know how I could have gotten a better defensive position than that while still being able to attack.

The second one, the alien was on the sidewalk at the bottom left, and I was on the sidewalk on the upper left; both of us were against our respective walls.
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Kevin J
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Kempeth wrote:
Finally: Overwatch. Learn to love it baby! When moving forward a good tactic is to put your front two troops into overwatch and then move your back troops past your front troops. Then reverse repeat.

So you mean, the front most troops go into overwatch without moving, then "dash" the back units?
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James Fung
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The idea behind overwatch is that, if the entire unit is moving forward into unexplored terrain with unknown threats (they have look for cover, control noise, keep unit cohesion, AND watch enemies), if they are ambushed, they're all pretty screwed. By keeping part of the unit stationary in cover and good firing position over the moving half, if the enemy reveal themselves, at least some of the unit can respond quickly. Also, the unit is already broken into fire and movement teams if they need to apply those tactics to an enemy (that doesn't seem to really apply in XCOM though since long range fire is plenty lethal already, so by the time the movement group flanks the pinned enemy, they may already be sniped).

Having the front troops not move at all may mean your unit moves up slowly. That's fine on some maps, not so good on others. You may want to reserve some AP of the moving units too.
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David
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tatoolo wrote:
Kempeth wrote:
Finally: Overwatch. Learn to love it baby! When moving forward a good tactic is to put your front two troops into overwatch and then move your back troops past your front troops. Then reverse repeat.

So you mean, the front most troops go into overwatch without moving, then "dash" the back units?
Exactly. Except I'd rather not use dash if I don't have to. Otherwise yes.

That way only your can slowly explore territory and if your folks find any enemies your other soldiers can at least take some pot shots before they move into cover.

Dash is a risky proposition. It leaves your soldier a sitting duck where ever they end up. It is almost always better to take individual movements from cover to cover and not get as far then stir up a hornets nest outside the fire range of your squad mates.

Later when you've got 6 squad members you can often use sprint for repositioning behind the front lines. For example when you've send 2/3 soldiers to secure a side area and they need to catch up with the rest.

As for the map you posted. The pedestal is one of the better cover positions, yes but it is pretty close and isolated. Better would have been behind the fountain or between the planters. Corners of cover are surprisingly easy to shoot around sometimes.
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Kevin J
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I was able to go back a few turns in that battle thanks to Auto save, after the first casualty but before the second and third. The mission went a bit better. The next mission saw a lot of injuries, but no casualties!

I'm still kind of displeased with parts of the game. In particular, because the onus is on the player to explore, there are often times where the aliens are getting the first shot in a fight. In one mission, I was pretty sure that there was an alien on the roof of a building, and it was on overwatch. I couldn't get it in my sights without first getting in its sights, so it got a reaction shot on my unit who was at full health and did something like 5 damage to her. Any way around that, or am I forced to have a unit with lots of armor suck up the reaction shots?

No time to construct med kits yet...too busy building satellites.
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David
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Good to hear you were able to save at least some of your soldiers.

If it's any consolation, it will get better once you have some armor and better trained soldiers.

One tactic against aliens in overwatch is to use an Assault with lightning reflexes (first shot at them each turn misses) to draw their fire.

Another one is to retreat and try to make it come after you.
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Pieter
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tatoolo wrote:
In particular, because the onus is on the player to explore, there are often times where the aliens are getting the first shot in a fight.
If you play "correctly", that generally does not happen.

When you disturb some enemies, the camera zooms to them, and they move to cover. Only when there is "alien activity", AFTER all your units have done their actions, these aliens are going to shoot.

So the trick is to make sure that you are NOT disturbing any new enemies with your last guy.

Thus it is best to first let ALL your guys move once, and only after ALL of them have done the first half of their turn, then with the second half either make them shoot, or put them in overwatch. That way, you will never get surprised by aliens.
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Железный комиссар
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tatoolo wrote:
In one mission, I was pretty sure that there was an alien on the roof of a building, and it was on overwatch. I couldn't get it in my sights without first getting in its sights, so it got a reaction shot on my unit who was at full health and did something like 5 damage to her. Any way around that, or am I forced to have a unit with lots of armor suck up the reaction shots?

Fairly early on, the assault unit gets an ability that where the first reaction fire they trigger on a turn automatically misses.

Depending on the set-up, you can also just wreck the whole building with a rocket, which will damage/kill the alien and possibly draw them out.

There is also a sniper ability later in the game where you can reveal areas of the map without entering them.

IMO, the only armor that is worth looking at prior to the endgame is the one with the grappling hook. It has a bit of extra defense, but it's mostly the extra mobility that matters (both movement range and the ability to easily switch between sharp differences in elevation).
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Pieter
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JohnRayJr wrote:
IMO, the only armor that is worth looking at prior to the endgame is the one with the grappling hook. It has a bit of extra defense, but it's mostly the extra mobility that matters (both movement range and the ability to easily switch between sharp differences in elevation).
You mean the skeleton suit.

That was also my armor of choice for Enemy Unknown, and I stuck all my guys in it until I discovered Ghost Armor.

But it has changed with Enemy Within. In Enemy Within, it takes a lot longer before you can get the Skeleton Suit, so I tend to stick my guys in Carapace Armor (which I always skipped in Enemy Unknown). Titan Armor has also become an important technology, because Mimetic Skin and Ghost Grenades basically made Ghost Armor superfluous. And I actually use the Psi Armor now in the late game.
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David
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Personally I've not found the grappling ability of the skeleton armor all *that* useful. It requires a suitable map and a fitting tactical situation. But even though you get 1 HP less than with Carapace I feel the increased movement range and defense make it a worthwhile intermediate step nonetheless.

Now Ghost armor I didn't like at all. I've never found a good way to use it. If you want to fire you need to be able to get into a favorable and protected position in only one movement action. Or maybe I just didn't get it...
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Ian Kelly
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Kempeth wrote:
Now Ghost armor I didn't like at all. I've never found a good way to use it. If you want to fire you need to be able to get into a favorable and protected position in only one movement action. Or maybe I just didn't get it...

I like it on snipers late game. Ghost them, dash them into position, end the turn. Next turn, Double Tap.

Also very useful on spotters if your snipers have Squadsight. Remember, the ghosted character doesn't need to fire. And if they're not going to fire then they can pretty much just sit out in the open without a care in the world.

The only armor I never really used in the base game was the Archangel Armor.
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Pieter
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Archangel on snipers is great on woodland maps.
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Kevin J
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Things are going pretty well for me now! I got myself into some rough situations the other night, but somehow came out of them without any casualties!

(Some slight spoilers follow...)

I infiltrated the alien underground base (with the skeleton key) at a pretty good time and the worldwide panic reduction has left me in a really good spot! I haven't lost any countries to panic yet (a few were on the brink), and I'm in a good spot to launch up to 4 more satellites before the end of the month, and will likely cover all of Africa for the "All In" bonus for a huge chunk of change starting next month. I'm debating if I should launch all of my satellites or hold on to some to reduce panic in the future. Thoughts?

I've been sort of neglecting armor so far...I have Carapace unlocked but haven't had the cash for it, and will soon have Skeleton suit researched, so I should be able to skip past Carapace altogether (I couldn't help but to look up the armors online).

The only thing that might be lacking for me is aircraft...I have a single Interceptor above each continent, and recently equipped them with plasma cannons, but I hope to replace them with the new type of aircraft in the new month.
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David
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IIRC each story line mission will bump up the difficulty a bit. So armor becomes more important. But if you can leapfrog the carapace then that's certainly not a bad opportunity.

I've always kept one satellite in reserve for emergencies. But I never needed it on Easy. It can be handy to have the option if things get out of hand. But it is also very useful to cover a whole continent with sats an make it virtually immune to panic increases...

As for the aircrafts. Keep them around. You should be easily capable of financing them by that point and having a backup in case your new interceptor gets damages could be handy.
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Kevin J
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Kempeth wrote:
IIRC each story line mission will bump up the difficulty a bit. So armor becomes more important. But if you can leapfrog the carapace then that's certainly not a bad opportunity.

I've always kept one satellite in reserve for emergencies. But I never needed it on Easy. It can be handy to have the option if things get out of hand. But it is also very useful to cover a whole continent with sats an make it virtually immune to panic increases...

As for the aircrafts. Keep them around. You should be easily capable of financing them by that point and having a backup in case your new interceptor gets damages could be handy.

Regarding satellites: Do they only reduce panic when they're launched, or is there some permanent effect?
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Ian Kelly
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tatoolo wrote:
Regarding satellites: Do they only reduce panic when they're launched, or is there some permanent effect?

A country with a satellite will no longer have abduction missions; it will have UFO detections instead, which don't have the same impact on the panic level. Fill a continent with satellites and the panic there will virtually never increase again.
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David
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Peristarkawan wrote:
tatoolo wrote:
Regarding satellites: Do they only reduce panic when they're launched, or is there some permanent effect?

A country with a satellite will no longer have abduction missions; it will have UFO detections instead, which don't have the same impact on the panic level. Fill a continent with satellites and the panic there will virtually never increase again.
There's even a more subtle component. You know when you get abduction missions there are always 3 mission sites and where ever you don't go the panic goes up continent wide? So if you cover all countries except one on a continent with sats then it can still be selected for an abduction mission. And if you don't choose to go there, panic can still go up in the other countries too. But if you cover the continent fully then that won't happen.
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Pieter
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Satellites also reduce the panic in a country slightly every month (I think it goes down by 1). Every satellite launched gives you more income, so my advice is to not keep them in reserves. Just launch them and buy new ones next month. Panic is only checked near the end of the month, so you have plenty of time to build a new Uplink and some more satellites.

As for your airforce: interceptors with plasma can take on anything except for the purple ship. So you should be fine.
 
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Pieter
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Just noticed that Mimetic Skin has been nerfed in Enemy Within with the latest patch. Suddenly, Ghost Armor becomes viable again.
 
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