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Didact04

Advice in combat

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One thing I've looked around a lot for but found a distinct lack of is some kind of combat guide for people trying to get the hang of this game. X-COM had plenty scattered around, but here I can't seem to locate even the most basic of walkthroughs of the do's and do-not's of Xenonauts. I'm trying to keep in cover, use spotters ect, but everything always ends up coming down to dice rolls and inevitably I will lose those. Aliens require only one hit to kill me in any situation and I need several consecutive ones. Not to mention the fact that they seem to be able to consistently spot me outside of my visual range and open fire from there, and they just are overall better shots. There are times when I'm seriously struggling to put down enemies and end up having to close in to get reliable hits, which inevitably leads to two or three snapshots picking my guys off each. Seriously, Sebilians are stupidly good at double kills. I really dislike having to fight those guys.

I suppose I'm looking for some pointers. There has to be some strategy to this besides "spam fire and hope you hit/don't get shot" because I will miss and I will get shot very frequently. At least, I would HOPE that there's some strategy to this strategy game besides praying.

A lack of a "hunker down" ability also really bites. Cover is unreliable as hell.

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No guide, you say?

Http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/11110-Ground-Combat-Guide-For-Beginners

You apparently didn't check the stickies :-P

You mention hunkering down. Was the Firaxis XCOM the first one you've ever played? It's the only one that plays like that. Xenonauts plays almost exactly like the original game that the firaxis one is based on.

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RNG is a hateful creature. there are couple of threads that give advice for this game.

http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/12086-Need-a-bit-of-noob-advice

http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/11375-General-strategy-for-survivng-at-insane-tips-needed

Also, I think you've overlooked a valuable resource. Youtube, watch a few let's play videos or try to find a stream on twitch. Watching what other players do and asking the reasons behind decisions will give you valuable knowledge that is sometimes difficult to get from strategy guides.

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No guide, you say?

Http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/11110-Ground-Combat-Guide-For-Beginners

You apparently didn't check the stickies :-P

You mention hunkering down. Was the Firaxis XCOM the first one you've ever played? It's the only one that plays like that. Xenonauts plays almost exactly like the original game that the firaxis one is based on.

Tried to follow this. Did worse than I ever have on the first two missions. Lost half my squad mission one, then had to airstrike about 3 UFO's after because my squad was half injured and down a man. Half a month later, new recruits arrive and I go in to fight the next batch. Lost 5 men and quit the game, no saving. No point. It's beyond recovery by now anyway.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I mean I am clearly doing something very wrong but I don't know exactly what. This is the sort of thing I'd need someone to watch me play to be able to tell for sure. As it is all I'm doing is dying and I'm not enjoying it. It's not even fair how much I'm dying. Random snipes a screen away...god, at least in XCOM the enemies could see you when you saw them equally. I feel like how the aliens then must have when someone has Mimetic Skin and a Squadsight sniper.

From what I can tell there is no way to defend yourself diagonally. There's an effort to "peek" around corners, but all that seems to have done is deleted the corner part of the cover and left that part totally open. So all full cover is basically worthless if it isn't at least 3 tiles wide, and standing on either side of the center is like standing in the open. So there is effectively zero cover on half the maps, only obstructions in the environment to constrict my movement to get out of harm's way (which seems to be absolutely everywhere, no matter where I go).

I mean if I survive long enough to shoot back, I win eventually, but that's only because I've been against the squishy grey humanoid things. Don't care what their name is. Don't even want to face the lizards like this.

I don't get it and it's frustrating me. At least in XCOM i could exclusively blame the dice rolls.

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First of all, though I'm playing the XNT mod, I'm pretty sure that losing 6 men in half a month is not close to game over even in vanilla. Seems pretty normal. If you can at least recover some tech and get back to the dropship you've gained something. One of my first tasks in a new game is to recruit an extra 6 or so soldiers.

In the early game, go for pure over-kill and don't worry too much about collateral damage. See two reapers standing near a civilian? That's bait so toss C4 at the between yourselves and the bait then retreat fast and get ready to shoot. Chances are one reaper will die along with the zombie and the second will still be in the blast zone. Be ready to shoot though as they move fast and number two may have scooted past the C4 while his buddy snacked on Bob the builder.

The hardest part is getting established in cover and keeping the early rushing aliens at bay without losing too many men. Med kits can really help keep the squad together here.

C4, rockets and grenades are important in the early missions. You can throw over buildings by aiming "airbursts" at the second level instead of at the ground. Use rockets to deny aliens their cover and c4 to destroy nearby buildings if you suspect rushing aliens. Take advantage of the timers to time the explosions to happen when you're in cover and ready to return fire. Be selective about destroying cover. Leave some for your own advance and avoid opening too many lanes of fire for the aliens. You want to force them into a hole, then fire at them from multiple angles.

If you bring enough ammo, keep the machine guns shooting suppressing fire towards possible ambush locations before you even see aliens. The goal is to minimize alien movement so you can reposition your squad with good firing angles.

It's risky, but sometimes splitting the team in two portions can pay off. I prefer a strong team to attack down one side of the map and a weaker team to do defensive, delaying tactics. I like lots of explosives and a shotgun and sniper rifle for the defensive side. A shotgunner with plenty of grenades and some C4 can really hurt an alien assault.

I've not played vanilla but based upon observations, XNT is harder so tactics that work in that mod should translate to vanilla. The goal of the first mission is to get material for the research labs so do everything possible to make some quick kills, secure the corpses then have some team members run the loot back to the chopper while everyone else fights a defensive battle. If the mission goes sour, try to grab all Xenonaut bodies then fall back and abort so you can at least capture loot with minimal losses.

Recruit high strength soldiers and load them heavy with gear. It can always be dropped. The best guys get disposable, one-shot rocket launchers, C4, grenades and shotguns or higher tier rifles. Sometimes having a heavy weapon at hand for a couple shots will turn the tide. It's tossed when the ammo runs out and before the lack of TU's hurts you.

This game can be sort of like chess or paintball. Angles are everything. You want to spread your soldiers as far apart as possible while still letting them support each other with over-lapping firing lanes. Basically, a piece of cover usually protects best from one angle. Hit it from two angles and the target becomes more vulnerable.

The soldiers on the flanks need sniper rifles and rocket launchers if they are covering open ground or shotguns and explosives it the terrain is dense. Make sure they have a path of retreat and the ability to spot incoming danger in time to retreat. When you're spread out, you need to be able to quickly contract back into a tighter formation if the enemy presses hard on either flank.

Don't fight the battle of attrition. If you have the position advantage, advance. If the aliens gain the advantage, fall back. If both sides are even and exchanging fire, have a couple men delay the aliens but avoid direct confrontation while the rest of the team repositions.

Edited by Akavit

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So...wait, you mean this game is built AROUND taking casualties? Your members of your squad aren't important enough to really value individually?

That's...strange. For being a squad-based tactic game you'd think the squad would be important enough to preserve. Or that the "Good," "Bad", "Terrible" ranks would mean anything post-match.

Strange. All very strange. This game feels foreign somehow. Probably because I played with Firaxis's XCOM and played with perfection as the goal. I suppose this is more realistic as far as wartime goes. People die on both sides.

I don't know, there's a lot I need to fit into and I feel it would help a lot if I had someone hovering over my shoulder critiquing me.

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Nononononono, don't get sadded by your unfortunate turn of event where you feel underpowered by these challenging turn based gamings(I assume that you're playing on normal) It's meant to be that way if you're starting out in the depthful strategy games that require alot of planning and thinking such as Xenonauts. If you're new to high difficulty, high depth games you are meant to have plasma shots wrapped in the face on your first playthrough, and you are meant to suck at it, seriously.

You will get better at subsequent playthroughs, and at most you'll lose an average of 1-2 soldiers per mission (unless you're save-scumming like me). The game is meant to make you lose soldiers that easily so it creates a tension feel to the game. You somehow put a value to your soldiers because any rookie mistake on your part would have them wasted. You don't want a Major to be wiped out by a plasma grenade just because you forgot to cover his back. It creates a sense of attachment to your troops, which they are like children in the battlefield, you have to pack them the proper lunches and remind them about not walking up to strangers without covering each other's back.

The fragileness of your soldiers also reinforces the immersion that the aliens are much, MUCH superior than the humans. The only way that the humans can win against this war is the fact that they can overcome with adaptability, not superior firepower. It makes you use tactics to beat the aliens rather than have the "biggest gun" on the battlefield and swing your gun around like a moron.

And yes, war is hell. I love Xenonauts partially because it gives that gritty feel that you're not a hero that is not a son of god, or possess lots of unbelievable wealth, or just is arbitrarily lucky, you're a normal, average human commander that has to work for your title of a "hero", you'll have to sweat for that title, and that's whats gratifying. So you're meant to suck, at first.

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Hi Didact04, I'm on my first vanilla playthrough as well.

My tips so far for the early game are: a hospital or 2, a big team of rotating squaddies, rocketeers and some guys with shields as point men/ tanks/ observers, shotgunners and a sniper. Basically anything but the riflemen with ballistic weapons. It's a slow methodical advance, rocketing cover at a few, select points. Then rocket the UFO front door and lob some gas grenades in if there's more than one alien in the entrance. If you're having a problem with cover, then smoke grenades can help protect your team. I don't like the normal grenades, they seem to take too long for too little effect (a run up and shotgun is usually much better).

At one point in my early game I had 2 hospitals full of wounded soldiers, I think I was lucky that few died, but some were out of action for ages.

Steel Monkey

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As you come from a EU2012 background, remember that troops are completely interchangeable. A solider armed with a sniper rifle will operate a heavy weapon with the same facility. If a guy dies in combat you don't loose a vital pool of unique skills which will make the rest of the level that much harder to beat.

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You could always play the bait and wait game. Send one or two guys out to spot an alien, then run back to the ship. The aliens will eventually come to you. Hide your guys inside, poke your head around a corner every turn to see if anyone showed up, and kill them all. Eventually all you'll have left are the guys who never leave the ship, so you can take your time getting to them, get set up, and enjoy shooting fish in a barrel.

A strat for the ships, esp. early game: set up around the door, shot guns and pistols up front. Have someone else go and open the door, toss in a flash bang or two so you don't get reaction fired. Shoot away. Before you end the turn, close the door. If an alien cames to open it, it'll possibly cause reaction fire from anyone outside (shot guns and pistols have the highest chance) for basically free extra kills. If you suppress aliens, just like what happens to you, they get significantly (half?) less TUs on their turn.

Also, when hiding in your ship, smoke grenades are handy to keep you hidden. Toss one out a door before venturing out to see if any aliens showed up.

I've never used rocket launchers or tanks. Every guy carries a med pack. Every guy carries two each of frag, smoke/flash, and stun/electrocharge grenades except heavies. They usually just carry ammo. Those guns have the highest kill rates in all of my games, they're good at suppressing, but man can they chew through ammo.

My bait and wait strat has worked on everything up to and including corvettes. Landing ships are just too big, and most of the aliens hide up top so you have to go in after them.

If you decide you want to just move in every turn instead of hiding, it's usually a good idea to end a turn at least one tile away from a corner, standing next to a door, or in any little nooks you can find. The aliens seem to be able to know where you are at all times, even when they can't see you, but you can typically prevent them from blindly killing you if you aren't in an easy to reach spot.

Snipers work wonders on roofs or top floors of buildings.

Kneel whenever you can. Lowers your chance to be hit, and increases your chance TO hit.

Send your guys out into teams, but keep them close. A team might find an alien and be unable to kill it, but another team might be able to finish the job. With eight guys, I usually do 4 teams of 2, but again they all try to cover each other.

Pay attention to vision cones! If all your guys are facing the same direction, aliens could sneak up from the sides or behind and murder everybody. If you cluster, make sure everyone is facing a different direction.

If you're on a map where you're fairly certain there are reapers, the bait and wait method works wonders. Since they have to get within melee range to do their thing, they have to make it into your ship in order to do so. Plenty of time for you to pick them off.

Don't bother with jackal armor unless you have the spare funds. The protection it gives is minimal, and you'll eventually research wolf armor which is much better.

Hoard materials. Armor, weapons and new planes are not cheap, money or material wise. Don't waste them if you don't have to. I've made it up to landing ships at least still in basic armor. Just get good at hiding :-)

There is no "perfect strat" and everyone does things differently. Some things work better than others, and other people are better at one form than another. Who knows, maybe you'll figure out something none of us vets would've thought about!

Edited by endersblade

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Only used a tank once myself - IMO too much movement restriction, though you can blow stuff away if needed. I see my guys as some kind of specops team rather than regular inf having armored support. But tanks are a cool feature nonetheless. Maybe I try that most advanced tank type next time.

IMO rocket launcher are great, esp. early on to get some guys to rack up kills quickly. Even mid-game I often equip rookies on their first mission(s) as rocketeers because they can get kills relatively easy. Also they need only light or no armor at all if you keep them covered mostly, only to expose themselves for safe kills from a distance.

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Another good tip of such is "training" your guys. Get the aliens down to just one or two left, usually locked safely in the UFO, and start burning all of your TUs every turn for a couple of turns. Or stand your guys at max range from an alien and start taking snap shots at him. Get your accuracy and TUs up, and your guys will be more likely to make it out alive. You can also slightly overburden them and move them around to up their strength, so they can carry more. Probably the hardest to work on is reflexes. It isn't something you can safely train, but can be really important.

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Hmm, another newbie here, but I'll tell you what worked for me:

Spotter/Sniper tag teams:

I equip my two frontmen with two shields, a medpack and all the grenades they can carry without losing too many TUs.

That said, my strategy on open maps is to position both of my snipers to cover all the terrain I can, while sending the shieldmen to scout ahead, with the riflemen and machinegun covering the rear, and the Rocketeer supporting the snipers by taking out the alien's cover.

In closed maps, the shieldmen inch forward while closely followed by riflemen, with the snipers providing cover (Beware of grenades).

Except for the HW and rocketeer, that makes my team pretty symmetrical, and easy to split if I need to surround a dangerous zone.

It's just my tactic, you could find that only one sniper, no rocketeer and 2 shotguns works better for you, or any other combination, just think about the possible scenarios beforehand and what tactics you'll use.

Second point: I'm only careful with the first ship of it's type to get the new tech asap, all the following can be blown up from the inside out with 30 charges of C4 if needed, the only thing that matters is the fighting experience.

Third point: I love C4 and rockets, I barely open any doors if I know that I can get a clear shot to whatever is on the other side from a distance. Is pretty effective, though it might cost you some tech rewards if you're not careful enough.

Back to point one, unless you already know what's ahead, advance slowly, you can move the same unit all of the times you need on the same turn with no extra cost, so make a buddy system to cover your advance.

Early game, sebilians are pretty hard to handle, don't be afraid of losing a little tech by safely blowing them up with an avalanche of grenades, C4 or rockets if you're not confident enough to pick them off from far away. They regen pretty fast, so you'll need to take them down in one turn, and remeber that they will always be better than you at close range.

Final point. If you don't like my sniping approach, I only have one last tip to give you: SUPPRESSION. Machine gun fire, full auto rifle burst, flashbang and only then close in for the kill. IRL, I've heard that ver 75% of the ammo used in war is used as supression fire, and in Xenonauts it's just as important.

Edited by Gurbo
Spellchecking

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You're going to lose soldiers from time to time. I'd say my average on Veteran is one per mission. On terror and base missions you may lose a lot more. The biggest problem beginners have is moving too fast so that there are no soldiers with enough TU to fire or return fire when an alien is found AND no TUs to move under/behind cover. Another problem big problem is failing to end your turn with all your forward troops under cover or completely behind cover.

Maybe if you tell us how your guys are getting killed and what all happened on that turn we can make some suggestions. Screen shots are excellent too. It's probably something easy to fix. You shouldn't be losing half your men on Lt. Scout recovery missions.

Edited by StellarRat

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OP, it's understandable that you're frustrated. Since you mention Enemy Unknown, I'm assuming you're used to games that give the player an advantage or is equal to the enemies. Xenonauts is one of the (relatively) few games that has the player at a disadvantage. You need to rethink your instincts about how to play this game. Games like this can be very frustrating no matter how long you've been playing. It's not uncommon to start making more mistakes when you're angry, lack of patience in difficult games is quick way to lose. When you start getting frustrated take a break and do something else. I hope you've found helpful advice here and I hope you don't quit.

The only way that the humans can win against this war is the fact that they can overcome with adaptability, not superior firepower.
And save scumming. Don't take that they wrong way, I do the same thing. I treat every dead soldier as a personal failure. Despite that probably 80% of my soldier deaths are RNG being unpleasant.

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So...wait, you mean this game is built AROUND taking casualties? Your members of your squad aren't important enough to really value individually?

It is definitely built around taking casualties. You can lose an entire squad and still come back for another fight. However, this doesn't mean that each squad member isn't important. They are - especially the experienced ones. Losing them is bad but not game over bad. Losing an entire squad and the dropship is even worse but that's still recoverable in many cases.

I mostly avoid save-scumming except for those annoying friendly fire incidents where my men shoot each other in the back at point blank range while aiming for aliens far away so that means I have to take precautions to avoid excessive deaths. Almost everyone gets a med pack and I try to pull all downed soldiers back to the dropship to the point of taking small risks in the process.

The team and mission however, are more important than any individual soldier. Sometimes one gets cornered by several aliens and gets left to die while the rest run to the chopper. Though I try to carry wounded back, sometimes it's just too dangerous and I'll abort the mission and leave them behind.

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I mostly avoid save-scumming except for those annoying friendly fire incidents where my men shoot each other in the back at point blank range while aiming for aliens far away so that means I have to take precautions to avoid excessive deaths. Almost everyone gets a med pack and I try to pull all downed soldiers back to the dropship to the point of taking small risks in the process.

That happened to me last night, my second sniper got shot in the back of the head.

I wasn't aware that dragging the wounded helped survival chances. I know that they aren't always dead at the end of the mission, but If you use the number hotkey you can select the downed soldier. If I open the inventory it says "(KIA)" next to their name, I assumed this meant that soldier had no chance of survival.

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That happened to me last night, my second sniper got shot in the back of the head.

I wasn't aware that dragging the wounded helped survival chances. I know that they aren't always dead at the end of the mission, but If you use the number hotkey you can select the downed soldier. If I open the inventory it says "(KIA)" next to their name, I assumed this meant that soldier had no chance of survival.

I haven't played vanilla so I can't be certain it's not an XNT thing but all soldiers have a chance of being alive at the end of a mission if they are on the dropship. The ones that are knocked out with stun damage can be revived in battle with medkits and keep on fighting.

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Losing men is normal? What, you want to keep your starting squad (assuming good rolls) stay alive they have the best stats. 95% of the problems people have in this thread with losing men is not scouting, and rushing into said unexplored terrain.

Designate one (or two) as your scout with the highest TU points, equip him with two shields one in each slot, a shotgun, pistol and 1-3 nades (you shouldn't need a lot of ammo at this point in the game even on insane, 1 clip is more then enough in most cases). You can drop the shield at the start and equip the pistol if you want, or just keep both on till one is used up (drop if less then <20).

-Use him first (best defense against reaction fire + shield to give him a fighting chance against any that do trigger)

- Keep the rest of the squad grouped and unexposed

- Do not rush

- Do not take pointless risks for a easy kill.

- Avoid night missions, crashed UFOs last a few hours, more then enough time for Day to sweep over it before you engage

tips to keep men alive on insane

- Always have enough TU to move back into safe cover 50% min, 100% or LOS cover is best

^*Take less accurate shots if you have too just conserve TU's to deal with surprises*^

- Do not leave units on the edge of corners

- Do not rush a lone alien unless you have scouted the area recently

- Grenades and high strength are your friends (always make sure units are encumbered a bit before each mission, more strength means kick-ass grenade throws)

P.s: Jackal armor is important on vet/insane iron man or not, build a few and give the first to your scout.

Two snipers, 1 heavy, 1 rocket, 3 riflemen and 1 scout is usually what I start with. Make sure every squadmate has at least 1 shotgun, 1 medkit, 1 stun, 1 frag. All grenades in the bottom slot, except for rocket/heavy place all ammo you need in those slots first, this will give you room for the shotty, medpack and 4 shots. If the soldier has a lot of strength fill with more grenades.

Congrats you now have 8 soldiers that can do short, long range and can throw grenades like Spartans (eventually), see what you need and change accordingly before you engage

posted on phone sorry NOTHING BUT BAD GRAMMAR FOR YOU TO ENJOY AND MAKE MIND HURT

EDIT: If you want to be lazy rush stun grenades, flash and stun is the quickest way to clear the inside of early UFO's in 1-2 turns

tl:dr Scout first, shoot second

Edited by Notos90

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Just to chime in with Notos; aliens can't shoot what they can't see. Just like in XCOM 2012, if you really want to be safe, move out of line of sight (and out of grenade range >.> )

Also, just so you know, if you are standing against a corner of a building, just because you can't see an alien doesn't mean he can't see you. Make sure you move at least one square inward from the corner if you're trying to break LoS.

Make sure you keep your angles covered. XCOM 2012 doesn't have positional vision angles (it uses vision radius), but in Xenonauts, you can have an alien literally walk up behind you and slap you in the back of the head without you ever seeing him so long as you don't turn around.

Vision is less of an issue in vanilla (though Reapers can give you trouble) but if you try XNT bad vision habits will ruin your day. (Unless you're going for the how-many-xenonauts-can-I-lose-in-one-turn-to-Gargols record.)

Edited by JDCollie

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In vanilla at least, it doesn't matter where your dead soldiers are so there's no gain in carrying them back to the ship.

The best defensive measure is not ending turns in LOS of the aliens. That can slow your mission completion way down, but it is a heck of a lot safer. There are very few ways to actually lose a soldier "because of RNG". That generally requires making a bad/risky decision to put them into a position where RNG determines their survival.

Vision control is huge. I'm increasingly convinced that in vanilla Buzzard armor is more valuable than Wolf because scouting from the air is so strong.

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In vanilla at least, it doesn't matter where your dead soldiers are so there's no gain in carrying them back to the ship.

Except if you're going to abort the mission, then they need to be in the dropship to have a chance for survival I believe.

Doesn't happen that often, but since the post bringing it up mentioned aborting, it's probably relevant in this case.

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Except if you're going to abort the mission, then they need to be in the dropship to have a chance for survival I believe.

Doesn't happen that often, but since the post bringing it up mentioned aborting, it's probably relevant in this case.

Good catch.

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