I love XCOM 2 and have got pretty good at it over the years. All that experience didn’t make winning at Long War 2 (a semi-official full-conversion mod for the game) any easier though. Lots of failure and knuckle-biting near misses meant it’s taken me a while to win a campaign. There were loads of things I’d wish I’d known before I started that would either have made it easier or made some of the choices I was making clearer. So here’s a dump of all my hard-won experience; it might help you survive a few months longer….
This where the meat of the changes occur, with the infiltration mechanics especially being a key to getting winnable missions.
The important thing to remember is that Advent are running their campaign irrespective of what the player does; missions are being generated throughout the world, troops are being moved around and the Avatar project is being researched.
If you sat there and passed time, all these things would happily go on under the hood until you eventually lost the game and got carted away to be turned into Advent burger.
So remember, you can’t win every mission. You can’t even find every mission…
This is one of the coolest things about LW2; you really feel like the aliens have their own agenda which you can (try to) disrupt during the course of the game.
You need manage the rebels working in each region to best advance your strategy, expand to new regions, destroy key facilities, liberate areas and eventually deal the aliens a knock-out punch.
When you discover a mission you need to send a team to infiltrate it. This represents the team getting into position covertly before the strike. The quoted strength of Advent for that mission assumes you get infiltration to 100%; if you don’t, the strength will go up sharply. Conversely, if you infiltrate for longer you’ll get weaker aliens and an easier mission.
Getting the missions spotted early is the key and that is directly down to how many rebels in the territory you have on “Intel”.
For every tick of time that passes, you get a chance to find each mission that is in a region for each rebel on the Intel task.
You can increase the odds more by using more experienced rebels, stationing a scientist in the region or scanning with your ship but the core chance is determined by the numbers.
So with a few exceptions, putting your guys on Intel duty in a region is a good way to go.
Finding the missions early and over-infiltrating (where you can) is key. You can boost infiltration by spending Intel (the resource) as well and there are various bits of equipment and technology that will help. But advanced warning is the key.
Every region has a strength score, which represents both how strong and how advanced the forces are in the area. Advent has a limited number of forces and will move these forces around the globe in response to XCOM. Under the hood, there’s another score called “Vigilance” which represents how much attention a region has from Advent.
Do a lot of missions in an area and the vigilance will spike and Advent will start moving forces to the area over the next few days / weeks increasing the strength score.
This is another good reason to expand quickly; you ideally want to be doing missions in areas where the strength is low. As vigilance ramps up and the strength of the forces increases you move onto another area.
You still want to keep an eye on missions in high-strength areas as there will likely be troop-convoys going there to increase it’s strength; hitting those will both decrease the strength and give you some nice materiel to use for research.
Timers: How to Lose the Game
Just like the base game, the Avatar project “Doom Clock” is counting all the time. The progress of the counter isn’t revealed at the start though; you need to liberate your first region and progress the story to make it appear. You can roll back some progress by completing some story objectives and you can slow down the rate the aliens progress by putting them under a lot of pressure (expanding and completing missions).
While the Avatar project clock is the most direct timer in the game (and it’s easy to lose to it if you don’t hustle a little) there are others.
As mentioned above, the total number of available Advent troops increases steadily during the game. This will be shown as a steady increase in the region strength, making missions steadily more difficult.
The aliens have a “Tech-Level” that increases as well. This controls the likelihood of you seeing tougher aliens as the game progresses; take too long or do too poorly and you’ll start seeing Archons when you still have basic weaponry; while it won’t end the game it’ll make progressing very difficult indeed.
Finally, the aliens try and achieve “Dark Events” which are a temporary or (normally) permanent boost in their power. You can prevent these occurring by discovering a special mission for them and completing it successfully. These can have a dramatic effect on the game so it’s another reason to expand and try and catch as many missions as possible. Just a few extra pips of health on the Advent troops mean you can’t easily kill them in a single turn and that can mean a lot more damage on your troops (and visits to the infirmary).
The Tech-Tree is slightly different in Long War 2 and the research takes a lot longer. Once you’ve got a decent amount of scientists and a bit of spare cash, the Lab is a good investment to take some of the edge off the long wait times.
Generally you want to aim at Lasers and Combat Armour ASAP (as the research takes so long) and after that keep on top of weapon / armour upgrades while getting as many items that help you control the enemy; Incendiary grenades, better ARC throwers etc)
Most of the principles for the tactical layer are the same as in the guide for XCOM2: Legendary;
- Don’t activate additional pods
- Try and use “risk-free” abilities
- Kill them before they move: Dead aliens are no threat.
There are a lot more options in Long War 2 though which gives you a lot more flexibility in strategy.
The Only Principle that Matters: Keep Control of the Battlefield
This pretty much sums up the rules above. Only activating the pods of aliens you want is key; Long War 2 increases the number of pods but reduces their size so it’s a lot easier to activate by accident.
Flanking is great for maximising your hit / kill chances but you can’t flank into unexplored space without risking an activation.
So I focused on troops that could;
- Control more than one enemy at once,
- Fight where they were standing
- Rangers specced into accuracy and rapid-fire (two-three attacks per round)
- ARC-thrower specced assaults (fight where they stood, flanking when they were able)
- Gunners with Demolition, Hail of Bullets and suppression talents
- Specialists specced into the Hacking talents
- Sword-specialised Shinobis
- Flame-specced Technicals
- Grenadiers specialised in the non-lethal grenades
- Death-From-Above snipers
Only my Rangers and Snipers were deeply specialised on killing the aliens; all the rest did reasonably on the body-count at the end of a mission but mainly focused on keeping the aliens locked-down when they could’t easily be killed.
Fire in all it’s forms is great; burning aliens take regular damage but more importantly can only use basic melee attacks. Most aliens don’t even have a basic melee attack so they were out of action for 2+ turns. Incendiary grenades are brilliant, as were flamer-technicals (though a bit fiddly to use)
PSI troops with Stasis are great; Stasis doesn’t end their turn so you can freeze one alien and shoot (or use Insanity). They have guaranteed damage in the form of Soul Fire too and when they get Null-Lance and/or Void Rift they do a great job killing multiple aliens a turn. Getting PSI-Troops are quite a commitment however.