Apocalypse – Starting Tips and Tricks

This is my final entry as Commander of the XCOM forces. The Aliens have been routed, the resistance network has become the de facto government, and the populace is slowly coming to grips with the world as it exists now. We, have been saved.

I’ve written about my experiences, a bit about missions and tactics, but this time, I want to catalog how I accomplished the mission.

Be prepared. Many spoilers.

Edited to add:

Covered in this post
First Mission
Starting Research Trees

Covered in Part II


From the first missions first frame, I had an inkling of what I was going to need based on my experiences with XCOM:EU. Those lessons served me well in XCOM2, and I was able to beat the game, after 11 previous tries, on Ironman and Commander level, without previously beating it on another, lower, difficulty.

The hardest transition was the numerous resources I had to balance. While I was correct on my initial assessments, there were some very difficult lessons I from other failed games that enabled me to really make the most of each of those resources.With that challenge also came unit tactics, strategic disposition of personnel, and wise choices of research. As each game played out and the war drug on, I was able to leverage the best choices for my play style to enable how I wanted to beat the game.

First Mission

When starting out the game, at least on Commander difficulty, you’ve got a simple mission in front of you. With four rookies, armed with assault rifles and hand grenades and only 4hp each, I have to move forward, set the explosives, and blow up a monument. There are two pods, each with 3 soldiers in them, one of them having a Captain. They all have magnetic rifles and grenades, and the Captain has an ability to mark, adding +15 to aim against one of your soldiers.

This is important because this missions perfection is what sets up the rest of the game, in a very real way. The mission has no time limits and when the pods do move, they are extremely predictable. Take your time and set up a beautiful ambush! Don’t skimp on the explosives, either. I talked about it in my flawless article, but its worth bringing it up again: Don’t let the enemy take shots on you. With their superior weaponry, especially at this point in the game, they will often crit and kill your soldiers with a single hit. Keep deep in cover that is hard to flank, think about how easy it is for the AI to simply walk around the side and get a bonus to hit and damage.

Try and take the Pods one at a time, and be very cautious about advancing past where your line of sight already is. Triggering the second pod early can be devastating. Don’t be afraid to pull back to save a single solider, his experience will be needed as the game goes on.

Once you’ve gotten your first mission completed with perfection, you’re ready to start the game in earnest. Oh? You didn’t get perfection the first time and don’t want to wait for another game and/or don’t want to add another to your tally? Don’t worry, get all your soldiers killed and try again. It won’t count against your game count and you get to have a useful game instead of one where you start with doom looming inevitable.

Starter Research

Once that is out of the way, you get to choose from a few starting research items, each of which takes around 3 days: Alien Biotech, Modular Weapons, and Hybrid Materials. Biotech leads to Autopsies, which grant some very cool bonuses. Modular Weapons allows you to use the parts you pick up and moves you down the weapon trees, Hybrid Materials grants you your first armor and leads you down the armor tree. I don’t pretend like I don’t have favorites, and I find that Modular weapons -> Hybrid Materials ->Magnetic Weapons -> Alien Biotech is one of the stronger paths. Modular weapons give your gear just that little bit of an edge that you need at the start, and Hybrid materials gets you on your way to Plated Armor. I do not advocate wearing Nanofiber Weave until all your soldiers are running in Plated Armor. Magnetic weapons are slow but worth it. Starting with 25 days of research, it comes down to a manageable two weeks after your first scientist. After that, I generally jump into Plated Armor. This will eat a good amount of your first two months, but don’t worry. With Mag Pistols, Mag Rifles, Shard Guns and Plated armor, your well on your way to equaling the field.

While you’re researching Magnetic Weapons, You will receive two missions: Your first Guerrilla Ops and your First Resistance Council Mission. Often, the Resistance Council mission comes first. This will involve extracting a VIP in a turn limited environment. This VIP is crucial to the successful start of XCOM. Having your whole crew up and ready to go at this point, with modular weapons and class Training, is paramount to getting this VIP to the Resistance. I’ve almost always had this VIP be an engineer, but I have seen, once, it be a scientist. Importantly, The first Guerrilla ops mission is oftentimes the other staffing crew member. This means that prior to the end of month 1, you can expect to have both a scientist and an Engineer.

Having the scientist cuts down on your research times significantly (I’ll get back to them, I promise) , but is otherwise uneventful. Having your first engineer allows you to start excavating towards those all-precious Exposed Power Cores. These should be the only place you spend your time building Power Supplies, as the eventual power output is staggering. Grab as many engineers at this point and excavate as fast as you can towards the power cores!

Those Guerrilla Ops missions will keep popping up, and keep offering you rewards. My suggestion is to take Engineers if at all possible. Dark events are going to happen, and they are all pretty awful, but if you can stomach the penalties of the others, make sure you grab those Engineers swiftly. While Scientists reduce research time, which is pretty good, the Engineers do multiple tasks. They work on Proving Ground Projects, They excavate chambers, and they speed up new facilities. This triple duty means you will need as many of them as you can pack into the avenger, as fast as you can.

Keep your engineers busy! I found that by having as many of them excavating as I could at one time, I was able to build facilities faster than I was able to in other games. This enabled me to get further, faster, which in turn enabled me to get a little ahead of the aliens.

Facilities Priorities

There are 8 Facilities, which makes this step pretty simple:

Guerrilla Tactics School – Available at the Start. Priority #1
Resistance Comms – Available after your first Guerrilla ops Priority #2
Psi Lab – Available after Sectoid Autoposy – Prioirity #3
Proving Ground – Available after advent officer Autopsy – Priority #4
Advanced Warfare Center – Available after Alien Biotech – Priority #5
Shadow Chamber – Available after alien encryption – Priority #6
Power Relay -Available at the Start – Place only on Exposed Coils
Defense Matrix – Available after Turret breakdown – Not a Priority

Labratory -Available at the Start – build when possible not a priority
Workshop- Available at the Start – build when possible, trying to stay in the center to use the four drones as engineers.

This leads us back to research. With Three of the Facilities predicated on the Biotech Tree, once you get done with weapons and armor, it behooves you to get Biotech and then follow it up with the Sectoid and Alien Officer autopsies. Once you Skulljack an enemy and free up the codex as an alien foe, something I don’t recommend doing until you have to, then you can get Alien Encryption and work on the Shadow Chamber.

The GTS is of ultimate priority because it allows you to get a few extremely useful benefits from it. The largest bonus is the 5th and eventually 6th squad mate on missions, but Vulture is also an amazing perk that you can grab pretty quickly to enable a wider variety, and strong use of, mods for your weapons.

Resistance Comms is priority #2 because as soon as you can, you need to get going on supplying yourself with the good to make the resistance function. If getting this research project done after the first successful guerrilla ops requires the pausing of the current research project (likely plated armor) then so be it. It needs to be done as soon as you can.

Psi Lab is something that I neglected for a long time, much to my chagrin. I constantly felt like I was on the ropes, but being able to field a Magus in game earlier than the last mission would be a great gonsend. After playing the amount of games I have, definitely put this high, get a solider and send him in. Don’t let him out (except for missions if you don’t mind them dying) until he’s got nothin’ more to loose.

The Proving ground really should be higher, but I can’t seem to find the time or engineers to get this facility online prior to now. The Projects it represents can be game changing, but each other facility here, except the Psi labs, also present the same vectors. Once you get this going, I’d churn out any weapon or armor better than your current, if possible.

The AWC allows faster healing and abilities from other classes to bleed through to your soldiers at certain levels. While this can become problematic at late stages because the soldiers have advanced beyond the level that they would be granted their new ability, Its not a high priority to me because I kept not getting injured for so long and was doing just fine with the soldiers as they were.

The Shadow Chamber, available after Skulljacking an officer, killing a codex and then decrypting the aliens intelligence, is fairly unimportant as priorities go because it simply advances the story and allows you to keep playing. You can accomplish the same thing by carefully building a Resistance network and taking down Avatar Facilities. Once the end game comes, you are going to be glad its around!

Power relays are built in only one spot, and aren’t even considered elsewhere. the bonus they provide is simply to good to be turned down. Its why clearing out until you get to the power coils really matters, because you can only place two new facilities with the current power that the Avenger is running off of. This means that the Power Relay Facilities are both the highest priority, and not a priority at all. They should always be placed on the coils, so build them when you get there, no sooner, no later.

Defense Matrix: Never build one, can’t tell you.

Laboratory – only built one towards the end, never got worth out of it.

Workshop – This one is good! Having up two four free engineers to work on adjacent projects, including staffing, is excellent. Don’t give up a good place to put him!


well, I thought this would be my last, but I’ve got a lot more to say. Until Next time,