So, I don’t work for Firaxis, but I do troll the XCOM forum and I’ve played more of the game since it launched than anybody else I know (60 hours in the first seven days…no, really) and, okay, that makes my authority exactly nothing. However, I have this stream of search phrases that lead people here and they’re mostly questions about the game that I’ve decided to try and answer. Here we go.
“How do I get Sectopod parts?”
You blow it up and autopsy it.
“How do I kill a Sectopod?”
You shoot it. A lot. My favorite way is to slowly kite the jerk through terrain that I have already cleared, keeping my guys spread out and in cover…retreating to my sniper(s) which ping him to death. (Squad sight is kingly.) In a pinch, Smoke and/or Suppression can really be a life saver. If you are sure you can kill him, light him up with everybody, but keeping people out of his range is pretty important. He gets two shots each turn, and the first one will probably vaporize whatever cover you’re hiding behind. (One or both of those shots can go to Overwatch, so keep that in mind if he doesn’t shoot!)
Oh, don’t bunch up. He will…just…just don’t bunch up.
“What is a Sectopod?”
Horror unspeakable. Imagine six Cyberdiscs. Okay? Got that pictured? A single Sectopod would crush them.
“How to deal with Mutons?”
Honestly, after Sectopods, Mutons will become a welcome sight. Early on they’re a pain, though. The real trick to XCOM in general is taking your time, focus-firing, and flanking. Every soldier counts, so risk nobody. If you are not sure, do not take the risk. Fall back! It’s okay to fall back; a tactical withdraw brings your enemies into terrain that you already know (and you can set a trap up in).
Use your terrain! If they need to cross a cover-free field to get to you, you get to shoot them out of cover. Also, use a grenade or a rocket: it’ll hurt them and clear the cover they’re hiding behind.
“I lost my entire squad. Should I start again?”
Your squad of six? There’s your problem, right there. What you need to do is to keep bringing rookies with you on every deployment. You should have no fewer than 12 soldiers at Sgt. grade or better, so that – no matter who is wounded or who dies – you have a variety of people alive to fly the next mission and train the next rookies. Also, go down swinging. Do not quit the game until it makes you quit. The “You Lose” video alone is worth it.
That said, don’t be afraid to evac when things go south. Just lost half of your go-to team, and the half that’s left is in rough shape? Fall back carefully through the terrain you’ve cleared and get back to the Skyranger. Live to fight another day.
“What is Ironman Mode?”
Very simply, this is a game mode where you cannot save/reload the game: if your favorite soldier dies, that soldier is gone. It can hurt, but that’s really the charm of the game. It’s designed for that, so I recommend you play it that way. Kick in autosave and enjoy the ride. Also, due to the way they handle the random number generation, you can’t reload and retake a shot and hope to hit it…if you missed it, it will miss every time you reload. Genius.
“What is a critical injury?”
If your soldier gets incapped and starts bleeding out, that is a critical injury and – even if you save him or her by finishing the mission in time or stabilizing them – that soldier will suffer a reduction to their will power, making them more likely to panic and making that panic worse (i.e. longer lasting). If your soldier gets low enough on will power, no amount of Iron Will-ified promotions will fix the issue. Dismiss them. The war has broken them.
What is low enough? Maybe less than 40? If they’re under 40 and a Colonel, it’s time for them to retire.
“XCOM Classic mode is hard.”
That’s XCOM, baby.