Posted 01 August 2007 - 03:42 PM
Got myself a copy of Afterlight fairly recently, and I must say that despite (very infrequent) CTDs, memory leak issues and loooong loading times I am having a great time with it.
So, a few combat tips from me, straight from the war zone.
I have not yet beaten the game, but since the strategies worked for me so far, some of them seem to be universal.
So far I am playing on medium difficulty.
Soldiers & Training
(o)Combat experience in AL seems to be calculated mostly on the basis of damage inflicted.
If you want to balance your characters (i.e. level up rookies) have the more experienced team
members down an enemy for them (using stun grenades or bringing them to 'red health bar') then
run up to the incapacitated target (for higher ToHit%) and finish it off.
(it should go without saying, but make sure your improvised training ground is free of hostiles (-: )
Also, note that just being on a mission gives XP. This can be a fairly large amount in the later game.
(o)Make sure your soldier/scientists have medical training. You'd want at least one with you on a mission.
Reticulans with psionic medikits are a bit more effective, since they can heal at range.
This will all come in handy when you face psionic attacks and martians who seem to love stun weapons.
(and tend to throw EMP gvrenades like mad)
They also help when reviving stunned targets marked for capture.
(o)Don't hurry with spending promotion points. You may find an nice promotion in the future.
It can also be worthwile to keep one or two characters with a 'clear card', around level 8,
so that in the future you can train them any way you want.
(o)Thoughts on Training (not all of them)
(Lemmie know if I mess up the names, I am using a non-english version)
Athletics - lets you run in the light suits. This effectively doubles your movement rate.
Without it your units move pitifuly slow, get it for everyone, even sniper whom you want to get to
firing positions ASAP. Second level is actually a lesser priority (except for the Heavy Suit guys).
The guys in heavy suits can benefit from it as well, as it seems to increase movement speed.
It is also very useful when dodging grenades - when you see one flying towards you, get out!
Suit Wearing - First level lets you crouch, lay prone and sneak in a space-suit.
While I've yet to appreciate the use of sneaking, the added cover and a small ToHit% you'll receive
are well worth the 1 point investment.
Characters who tend to run around much can probably skip it.
Level II is required to wear the heaviest suits, so this is a must for Heavy Suit troops, obviously.
Balance - Allows to evade knockdown and grenade splash damage more easily.
I didn't use this much, and only regretted it a few times. Getting knocked down in the middle of a firefight
can really ruin your day, but this can be countered through appropriate tactics (moving around a lot, keeping
your men in a loose formation).
Heavy Weapons - This is a specialist skill, obviously useful for your Heavy Weapon troops,
but not much use for anyone else. Second level reduces firing time, so get it right after the first.
Not that you dont get good heavy weapons until mid-game, (but when you do get them, they'll make your day)
so do not make this a high-priority skill.
This skill also adds carrying capacity.
Ranged Weapons - A good skill for anyone to have, reduces firing and reload times, adds accuracy.
Get I & II for everyone.
Melee Weapons - Didn't used this one much. Decent melee weapons come late in the game, and they
all suffer from the obvious drawback - you have to get close. They are effective vs. the martians, so
do not neglect it (although one melee specialist should be enough.)
Sniper Training - Two levels, 7 points total. That's a steep price if you wanna play with
sniper rifles, but all the sniper fans like me will pay it without a shadow of doubt.
NOTE: To use sniper rifles effectively you only need the first level (and it is useful to
non-snipers as well, as it seems it raises ToHit% for firing aimed shots).
The second level allows for selective fire, and in my experience the difference in effectiveness
in not that dramatic. Get it eventually, though, but don't prioritise.
Sneak If you want to go stealthy, go get it, but if you're
having doubts should you take it, better leve these points open.
Leadership Useful. Especially on slow moving troops (who are also the most vulnerable to PSI attacks,
incidentally that's what the second level is for.) Personally, I don't use it that much,
but I am not a great fan of slow moving troops.
Toughness Nice HP increase on level I. No reason not to get if for everyone, even snipers who may
find themselves flanked or grenaded at some point.
Level II you probably wont need. If you get grounded... better don't - move around or use heavy armour,
but if you are, just wait for the medic. I tend to get this promotion later.
Anatomy Great many skills here, you get one for each race. It raises damage and chances to score
a critical hit vs. the specified race. In theory, they are a nice way of creating specialized squads.
In practice, however, I find most of them a waste of points. They can be a tremendous help, but once
you work out the tactics and get hold of the better weapons, their usefulness diminishes.
OTOH, critical hits are useful, they inflict massive damage, and often knock the target down
messing up their attack. I would suggest getting them on higher difficulties
(But then again, if you are playing a higher diffculty, you should make up your own
tactics, and hence do not need this piece of advice (-:
and when you are really having problems with a particular race.
Reticulan Anatomy - this is perhaps a bit of an overkill, these guys are frail, regular
shots knock them around, and explosives send them flying. What you need here is
protection vs. their PSI attacks not increased damage.
Beastmen Anatomy - these guys are tough, and their grenades hit hard, so you may want to give
this training to someone if you are really having a hard time, but I find them easily outgunned at
longer ranges, use loose formations and pick out the grenadiers and hard-hitting bosses first and
you'll get yourself some breathing air.
Martian Anatomy - the green men were a surprise for me the first time they showed up - nearly
impervious to bullets, hard hitting and regrow themselves really fast. Howevewer, once the inital
shock of the encounter was over, they died easily.
The main problem with these dudes is that they are near invisible, incredibly fast and throw
grenades like mad. When you see them grenades fly, move out of the way and absolutely never
allow them to occupy an elevated position - you will get grenaded to death.
Human Anatomy - this is an exclusively reticulan training, I've yet to get to the point in game when
I'll face humans (and when I do, I guess a heavy round between the eyes will work just as good as always)
but since this training adds a healing bonus, and I make my Retuculan dudes part time medics anyway,
I give it a go.
Cover - I don't like this skill, it is cheap, I'll have to give it that, but I prefer to spend my points elsewhere and see nothing to change my point of view on it. Level II is even worse. You wanna avoid friendly fire?
Think when you position your troops, don't spend training point on it, thank you.
Ambidexterity - A specialist skill - get all levels or none at all. The reduction in reload and inventory manipulation time is nice, but you don't need it that much. OTOH, wielding two weapons gives you access to good
firepower early on, so be sure to give it a go, either with pistols or blades.
Plasma and EMP training Cheap training which allows wielding Plasma and EMP respectively, both human and alien designs. Like all specialist weapon skills, do get it if you plan using it.
PSI Weapons Training - Exclusively reticulan skill, unfortunately. I don't use PSI that much, as reticulans are slow to move and slow to attack and thus don't mix up well with the rest of my fighting force, however I train them up in this skill anyways, as they don't seem to have a choce as broad as humans.
I love that the new UFO lets you customize the training for your soldier. This way,
you get a wide range of possible builds to toy around with. So far, I found a number to my liking:
Grunt This is not really a permanent role, but an in-between stage. I use them in the beginning,
and later on they become the base for different buids.
Suit Wearing I
Ranged Weapons II
Usage: Arm these guys with rifles or reticulan lasers and in the beginning you have a formidable fighting force.
Group them together and drop enemies firing squad style. (Long line)
If you are in the open, use lasers for their longer range, or run for cover. That is what athletics is for.
If the enemy is close, use aimed bursts to chop them down fast.
Not uch finesse here, but that's about the most you can get in the beginning.
Commando The first role really effective at dealing damage. Saved me a lot of fuss
with the early Beastmen encounters.
Ranged Weapons II
Toughness I (possibly II)
Usage: These guys use dual wielding pistols (with silecers attached, just for the looks)
to dish out damage up close (running to get close). The combo of Ambidexterity II and Ranged II
means they fire two shots each 0.4 seconds, almost as fast as a gatling.
With high skil, snap shots and gyro-stabilised pistols you can get it down to 0.2!
Theoretically one try and do the same with any other one handed weapon, but I like the pistol best as it can be modded.
Beastmen pistols don't make the cut for me, despite having longer range and more ammo options,
they are too slow on aimed.
Reticulan laser pistols are an option vs robots and martians, as laser do a bit more damage vs. these guys.
I like to call this combo a poor man's gatling, as it is equally brutal and ammo consuming.
One time I dropped a squad of 6 basic beastmen without them really noticing (none managed to fire!)
The best thing is, the dual pistol combo is possible right from the start.
Dropping 6 beastmen grunts is nothing impressive later on when Matriarchs appear, but in the beginning
it is an immense help.
This tactics also fares well agains the Reticulans, run up to them and identify the ones with PSI
weapons and drop them ASAP. PSI weapons take above 3 secs to fire, that is an eternity
compared to rapid 0.4 dual wield shots (-:
Most of the time they can make do without backup, and they work best in pairs.
Watch out for grenades and critical hits. Getting kocked down will cost you precius seconds to get up,
so It may be worth it to use a training to counter that. However, your superior speed should
let you get away, but remember about critical hits!
Their usefulness diminishes once the heaviest robots and martians appear - bullets just do not
do enough damage.
For this reason, I tend to use a shotgun or a grenade launcher as backup weapons.
Add stun grenades to the mix, and the capture missions will be a breeze.
Since they are the fastest guy in my team, I tend to give them medikits and various toolkits.
(which also implies that I prefer Soldier/Scientists and Soldier/Techs in this role)
In the beginning, these guys tend to dish out the most damage and gain the most levels,
so you'll have plenty of training points to spare to customize them more.
You do not need suit wearing - you are not going to wear heavy suits nor you are not going to
lay down flat in the grass. You run up close, fire away and disappear.
Sniper Self explanatory. Get to an elevated point and it is picking time.
Suit Wearing I
Ranged Weapons II
Sniper Training II
Usage: In the beginning I was dissapointed with snipers. It takes a few technological advances
to really take pleasure in deploying them, as well as careful planning and training choices.
Later on, they make up for it and totally dominate long range fighting.
On the whole, most maps have vast flat surfaces and elevation points, which beg for
sniper deployment. A crater hill, a cliff, stairs, all these are perfect sniping spots.
The trick is identifying them and getting there, the athletics training takes care of
that. I learned the hard way, that slow snipers are not the way to go, so learn Athletics ASAP.
You learn every tiniest bit of accuracy and cover you can muster, so Suit Wearing I is a must -
kneel or lay down flat, depending on whether you are planning to move to a new position anytime soon.
On the other hand, I am a bit skeptical about Sniper II training. It allows for choosing
body parts to target in precise fire mode, but the increase in effectiveness is not that dramatic.
Headshots guarantee a critical, that is true, but I've yet to disarm anyone with a shot to the arms,
or drop them with a shot to the legs. Better just to off them with a headshot.
And that is the problem - you want pinpoint accuracy, but in the beginning targeted shots knock
off a lot of accuracy, so you are better off sticking to regular shots to the torso
(like with Sniper Training I precise shot) until you research better equipment.
SO: Don't be desperate to get Sniper Training II. Get it eventually, but don't rush. IMO
Snipers work best in pairs, especially in the beginning - have two target the same foe, aiming at the
head, to guarantee a kill. Once your ToHit% get into the nineties, you can abandon this practice.
I also recommend getting a mod which allows targetting unseen enemies. This makes it possible to use
spotters for your snipers and in general makes for a better sniping expeirence (-:
Heavy Support These guys are slow and ponderous compared with your other guys.
Heavy Weapons II
Suit Wearing II
Ranged Weapons II
Usage: To be frank, I wouldn't use these guys much, since I prefer fast moving troops.
However, I have a soft spot for the heaviest armor suits in AL, perhaps something
reminiscent from Aliens, Warhammer 40K Terminators and all that stuff, so I take them
along just for fun.
Their sluggish movement is compensated to a large extend with the resilence of suits.
Once they get to a position, they are guaranteed to hold it. Their slow movement can be alleviated
by developing their speed and Athletics II, but they will still lag behind.
I arm them with rapid fire gatlings and heavy weapons and generallyt use them whenever the situation
demands massive firepower.
Possibly a unit with light armor would do the same job and get to the spot faster, but that just
wouldn't be fun. Also, the heaviest weapons take a long time to fire, so the protection offered by
heavy armor does count.
In the beginning use Reticulan Lasers - they have nice range and accuracy. Just the things you need
for your inexperienced troops.
For close range encounters use dual wielded pistols - eats up ammo like a gatling, but drops
enemies like flies.
Forget about Ancient Earth weapons and science lasers.
Grenade Launchers are godsend. They have tremendous range, great accuracy and require no LOS to the
enemy. Use stun grenades to quickly incapacitate heavy armored targets and regular grenades to send
them flying and disrupt their attacks. Only drawback - grenades fly so sloooow...
Warp Cannons kick arse. No ammo requirements but only 6 shots per UFO flight, though. I use them
whenever serious firepower is needed (like heavy mechs and martians - one shot kills are common,
but don't rely on it too much and have other guys shoot it as well). I often put two on the same person
and give him or her a shotgun as a backup weapon for the longer flights.
Reticulans make perfect scouts - they see through walls (and PSI weapons fire through obstacles,
incidentally) and can detect invisible martian in a good radius as well!
Use long range ammo in the beginning for extra accuracy at long ranges.
Hard Hitting ammo works wonders on dual pistols.
Once you get get a satisfying ToHit%, do what thou wilt. I tend to stick to Hard Hitters then.
Beastmen Tip #1: If you have night vision, attack them at night. They seem to be more confused then.
Beastmen Tip #2: Once you neutralize the granade launchers, they are easy to gun down at a distance.
Beastmen Tip #3: In the beginning Alchemists, Regualars can be easily brought down by
running up to them fast and unloading dual pistols.
Beastmen Tip #4: Once you get to it, i find it really satisfying to secure a choke point with two guys
with heavy armor, miniguns and force fields. Beastburgers!
Reticulan Tip #1: Slow and steady isn't going to work here. Rush them, scour every corner for hidden
guys with PSI weapons and bring them down. Ignore laser wielding ones at first.
Reticulan Tip #2: Spread your troops, in case anyone gets mind controlled they won't shoot each other up.
You don't need that much firepower, as the guys are really frail.
Reticulan Tip #3: If you get mind controlled, scour the area, one funny guy is probably hiding behind a rock.
Likewise, if you see indications of failed Reticulan attacks on your HUD it means they are around.
PSI weapons do not have spectacular ranges, but can shoot through obstacles.
Martian Tip #1: They are highly resistant to bullets and regenerate real fast.
If you bring one down and think you've killed one, make sure HE gets the picture.
It is a tedius task, bringing them down with bullets, they do a pitiful 14 damage at best.
If you do not have high power lasers or warp cannons, you have to stick
to good ole bullets and shotgun shells.
Martian Tip #2: In you face multiple martians, spread around, they chukk grenades really fast.
Also, move around, don't let them come to you with their blades. If you bring one down,
don't waste time killing him for good, just shoot him once or twice every now and then so
that he stays down, and focus on bringing down the others. (This also works on heavy mechs
frequently accompanying them)
Martian Tip #3: They can become near invisible, even to IR and NV, so bring reticulan scouts along, or use
goggles (although Rets are a lot better in this respect).