1. Do I have unlimited reloads or is there a limit?
The ammo of main weapons and pistols are infinite. Always reload when you can.
2. If say three mutons are bunched up, can I have my heavy shoot them with a rocket, then have the rest of the squad gun them down and still get all the fragments, or does just wounding them with explosives destroy things?
You lose the fragments if the last HP is removed with explosives. And you really can't use too much explosives, especially during early game, when surviving > Items.
EDIT: 3. I just had my first Exalt mission. Is there any advantage to Exalt weapons over standard weapons? The on-screen stats are identical. I had just manged to research laser pistols right before the mission as I went for laser canons for my craft and skeleton armor first.
No difference. EXALT doesn't get scatter guns though.
4. Finally, has anybody modded Zhang's intro mission so that he keeps his pistol? I haven't been able to find such a mod. I always thought it was stupid that he tossed the pistol away. Even if it was out of ammo and used a different type of round than what X-COM uses, they could have given him one of their sidearms (which could be an interesting take, but probably not possible. Pick an assault/support/sniper to give their sidearm to Zhang)
Didn't level up, as randoms gave so little XP even with a reduced squad size. I did arm the soldiers quite well to compensate.
Olli is ready for the 3rd World war - if needed.
Bought the Sea Devil for Abala, although didn't use it a single time. Also didn't use any beam weapons in the whole map.
The first part was insanely easy, especially due to how broken sniper class is. Tadas didn't even need the Master Sniper, which he did get after a few kills, as he could actually one-shot everyone. I feel the extra AP spent over 100% hit ratio actually increases the overall damage / crit chance, as ALL my "over-aimed" shots with a Silenced Kar98k blew their head off. Even worked against PKs.
Tadas in position. Carm was next to him as a backup spotter.
Main got a fresh PK from the enemies. The grenade autocannon was really nice. Do note how most of the enemies didn't even get a chance to move..
Part II of the mission was arguably the hardest part. The enemies did damage through the PKs, also critting like no tomorrow. (Main got Motionless, AP reduction and even stunned a few times.) The strat was to occasionally hide behind the corner, repair the PK and get back to the position.
The 3rd part of the mission was, and wasn't difficult. I couldn't beat them in a frontal assault, thus I had to lure them into a howitzer trap. They did high amount of damage, they could destroy an allied PK in one turn.
After the battle, even Olli's supply of weaponry was starting to get low. I did swap the guns a bit, giving the main the "sniper cannon instead".
And in the end, this is the screen that I was waiting for:
Beat my former 'record", which I thought was a decent score - by almost 6000 points. This was a fresh install on my desktop PC, thus no other scores are shown.
So.. How was the run? Well.. It was an experience, frustrating, actually really difficult up to mid- to mid-late-game and quite fun tbh.
Is it possible to beat it with "Save only outside mission" enabled (I played with "Save outside combat", thus making it even harder? Yes, but it wouldn't be fun. Even with over 150 spotting, some enemies were ludicrously stealthy.
If I ever play with this high of a difficulty, what would I change? First of all, I wouldn't pick an engineer as a main. Yes, the secret mission is nice to beat, but the PK you get isn't even that great.
Do I recommend to play the game in such a high difficulty? No way. If I wanted to have a more balanced yet challenging run, I would enable the "Save only outside mission" but make the AI never hide, decrease the enemies' AP from 160% to 120% and increase the player's damage from 50% to 100%.
The random info:
-Didn't rob the German bank.
-Didn't sell any artwork (goblets, paintings) or the "piece of Amber Room". They got to the museum.
-I did occasionally disable quotes.
-MP40 remained the most used weapon of my main.
-I have never gotten as high stats I got this run. Some of the soldiers had shooting over 170.
-I will never pick Carm again. I hate her quotes.
Completed "The Firm" and "Shipment company". Firm was the usual. Tried a new strat for the Shipment company.
And got a quote I have never heard. Also got Tadas' comment: "Look at that damage! I proud of you." for the first time during this run. (Olli threw a HEAVY grenade next to 6 men). I might be wrong, but I think getting shot many times actually decreases the gun durability, as it was that low after a single magazine.
Completed the secret mission. Had to cheese and use the beam weapon four times.
Good to have a 160 engineering skill engineer. Could repair the PK and fall back to the alcove in one turn. While remaining in stealth.
Need a few random encounters to get Master Sniper for Tadas.
Chose assault. Never done it before, even though I have beaten the game 6-7 times in the past.
The squad after the secret mission. I have around 50k to spend. Didn't even know the Sea Devil appears in the store. Might get it - or not.
The base defense went easier than I expected, mainly due to how high damage output the allies had. When they hit, they dealt 80+ damage each shot. Usually over 130. I also did a few random encounters and some boot camp training with my soldiers.
I had the main and Abala on the left-hand roof top. They were pretty useless, they only got a few shots in due to lack of range.
Olli was in the only PK I had, with the loadout shown in the previous post. In the end, I had 3 AP rockets remaining.
Carm tried to spot first, but was spotted. Had to retreat. She took the only damage in the whole mission! (Obviously the NPCs did die)
Tadas was positioned on the right-hand roof top. Out of usual, he had Carm's silencer Kar98K, as I tried a new strategy. He could actually one-shot the armored suit drivers with a double-turn sniper shot D: . Unfortunately I had to break a promise I made, and used a single shot of the beam weapon against the enemy beam armored suit.
Before I made the preparations, I noticed an interesting thing: Talk about girl power..
Did the usual strat, unfortunately most of the mines were ineffective:
The worst penetration mines were at the front, just in case normal enemies walked in front of the enemy armored suits.
Olli sharing his usual optimism with everyone. The beam armored suit was destroyed quickly with a salvo of Olli's mortal shells.
Main: Wisdom, Master Engineer (Engineering at 136). Can use all the engineering items in the game.
Abala: Perfect medicine knowledge (Can use all of the medical items in the game), Resist Critical Severity
Tadas: Faster Skills Growth, Solo. Two level ups required for Master Sniper, three for Master Sniper + Faster Aiming. Tadas is still the main damage dealer, he can actually one-tap enemies with a sniper head shot.
Olli: Increased Throwing Range, Increased Area Attack Damage.
Carm: Faster Crouching.
Everyone is at 15, apart from Carm. She needs mission to reach 15.
Main: I did decide to give the SKS to the main, as I found it from the mission. Might replace the FG42 with the newly unlocked AK47, arguably the best non-beam firearm in the game.
Abala: No changes.
Tadas: No changes. Might buy him the scoped SKS.
Olli: Might replace the PK PIAT with a Sniper rifle. Olli's shooting is actually really good.
Carm: No changes.
"The Firm". I might try it without the phone call.
Other notes: The game has "given up". Like with most RPGs, the hardest difficulty mainly affects the early and mid-game. Although care should still be taken, the enemies do hurt a lot.
Spent a fortune on the PIAT AP projectiles. Only to find AP projectiles for the M1 Bazooka. Fun.
The first part of the mission was a cake walk, pretty uneventful.
When the first armored suits arrived, I was in trouble.
I had to rely on quite cheap tactics.
I moved all of my soldiers inside. Boris' men left outside, trying to beat the armored units. Olli was near death and had blindness, he was being treated.
One of the engineers driving a suit came out on the yard, to shoot the remaining allied soldier with his pistol. I could use pot shots from the building to kill him.
One of the enemy armored suits came in. Luckily he had mortar shells, thus he didn't fire them. (Would've taken self-damage, most likely programmed not to do that). The engineer came out and began to shoot Olli (most of the crew were hidden).
After Olli was healed, he took the armored suit, took all the mortar shells and opened the door..
Two of the enemies were waiting outside.
Olli had three mortar shells. He fired all in the middle of the two armored suits. One was destroyed and one was heavily damaged. My main took the PIAT Olli left next to them and fired a shot. A 30% shot actually hit quite close - but didn't destroy the remaining one. The AI-controlled Boris (before joining the crew) did pick up the M1 (I saw the action he made), used the only shot which destroyed the second one.
Olli did move on, picked mortar shells from the two suits and went to hunt the 4th (and last one).
Crew did increase in levels.
Main: Difficult Trap (Requirement for Master Engineer). Main's Engineering is at 116 atm.
Abala: Faster skill growth. (Required for Perfect Medical Knowledge)
Tadas: Faster Pose Change, Faster Shots.
Olli: Fast Throw, Good Throw From Any Pose.
Carm: Faster Pose Change, Run For Your Life.
Weaponry hasn't changed, apart from Olli's.
Olli has been prepared for the upcoming base defense mission. Time to grind randoms, in the hopes of finding mines. Currently I only have 6. Also it is kinda bad how I only have one PK atm, thus no sniper PK for it.. Also still no beam weapons.
EDIT: Gave the stimulant for each. Will not use the better stimulants, booze shall be enough