There are three objectives in UFO: Enemy Unknown: defend the Earth, learn all
you can about the aliens, and, finally, deal with the threat permanently. The
success, though, lies in the first. If you don't provide an adequate defence
the Earth is quickly overrun, the funding nations become dissatisfied, X-Com is
disbanded and you lose the game. Fortunately, the funding nations are quite
selfish - they're less bothered by UFO activity in the 'neutral' areas of the
than with activity inside their own borders. This makes your task a lot easier,
though, because to start off with you only have to worry about these countries
instead of tackling the entire globe.
The first thing to do is decide on the position of your first X-Com base.
the choice is virtually limitless, two location in particular will get you off
pretty good start - Central Europe enables you to protect the greatest number of
funding nations immediately, whereas right in the centre of the USA protects the
nation that provides the most initial funding. Whichever one you choose, your
second base should ideally be in the other location.
Once you've decided on a spot, the game begins - and you should immediately go
to the base screen and the Build Faculties option. Build an Alien Containment
Building, a Large Radar System, another General Stores and two more Living
Quarters. The Alien Containment Building is necessary for researching living
aliens (you never know when you'll get your hands on some). The Large Radar
System drastically increases the range at which you can detect incoming UFOs,
while the General Stores and Living Quarters are for future expansion.
Next, go to Purchase/Recruit and recruit 12 scientists (you don't have enough
living space for more at the moment). Afterwards, go to Research and put all ten
of your scientists to work on Laser Weapons. Go back to the main Geoscape view
and, as soon as the new ones arrive, add them to the project.
From this point on it's very hard to give hard and fast advice, because a great
depends on how many UFOs you intercept, what difficulty level you've chosen
and so on. There are, however, some general guidelines that are worth bearing in
The single most limiting factor on X-Com's actions is cash. Virtually every
decision you make involves money at some point, and your initial funding is, to
put it mildly, pathetic. It is therefore of paramount importance that you
results as quickly as possible and get more cash. However, increased funding is
not the only way to get your hands on some mooley - don't forget that from the
base screen you can also sell unwanted items. The more advanced alien artefacts
and weapons - the plasma weapons, for example - are worth a lot of money, so
always sell gear that you've researched but decided not to use. If the worst
to the worst, you can raise some cash by manufacturing an item and then selling
straightaway (the manufacturing costs are always less than the re-sale value).
It's important to be aware of your current funds and your overheads - it's all
easy to fall into a situation where you're losing money each month, and that can
easily spell the end for X-Com. Be sure to consult the finance graphs regularly,
well as the maintenance screens on each base.
A large part of your success in UFO is down to the placement and management of
your bases. You should aim to build enough to blanket the Earth in a radar net -
this maximises your chances of detecting a UFO and provides few places for
UFOs to hide. When you start a new game, concentrate on getting your main base
up to scratch as quickly as possible. What you should be aiming for are: two
with a full complement of 100 scientists, researching two projects (50
each), and two Workshops (with about 70 engineers), enabling you to
manufacture new items at a high rate. All of this costs a lot, especially in
maintenance, so you should make sure that neither scientists or engineers are
idle - if there's nothing that needs manufacturing, set your engineers to make
loads of something, and then sell it for a huge profit.
Logistically and economically, it's impossible for you to develop all your bases
this level, though. The best compromise is to make your first base the 'main'
then have two more with both Interceptors and Skyrangers, plus some advanced
facilities. (Placing the main base in Europe and the secondaries in the USA and
China is a good idea, because this covers most of the funding nations.) The rest
should be Ldetection and interception' posts, which consist of a Hangar, Large
and Small Radar Systems, General Stores and Living Quarters. You should make
sure each one is equipped with an Interceptor, armed with your best heavy
weapons, and four to eight soldiers, all kitted out with your best weapons and
armour for base defence. When building new bases, always consult the UFO
activity graphs, and use the information to decide on where to place the next
so as to counteract the highest alien threat. (Remember: protecting funding
nations is more important than neutral areas.)
Finally, remember you're vulnerable to alien attack while building a base.
can only enter bases through the Hangar(s) and Access Lift(s), so try to isolate
these areas from the rest of your facilities as much as possible. This reduces
number of areas the aliens can move through and thus the area you have to
defend. With the detection and interception posts described above, for example,
build the Access Lift in the middle of the screen, with the Hangar above it and
General Stores below. Then, when you've constructed the General Stores, build
the other facilities around it, not connected to the Access Lift. This means
reach the rest of your base, attacking aliens have to move through the General
Stores, and thus you can place all of your defending troops here and not have to
spread them out. Your bases take longer to build, admittedly, but it's worth it
the long run.
The aliens' level of technology far exceeds that of Earth's, so to stand any
of defeating them, learn about it and then use it against them. There are a vast
number of topics to research, and although you need to eventually understand all
of them, some are more immediately useful than others. The most important thing
at the start is to arm both your Interceptors and troops effectively. This gives
the best chance of downing UFOs and then recovering the crashsite without losing
The following, then, is a suggestion of what you should research, in what order,
and why. Obviously, this may change, depending on the order in which your
troops recover the various items. The brackets list other projects that you need
research in order to gain the listed technology.
Laser Rifle (Laser Weapons - Laser Pistol): The laser rifle is by far the best
purpose weapon for your squads. It's relatively powerful, accurate and capable
autofire. Most importantly, it offers unlimited shots, and thus relieves you of
the hassle of running out of ammo mid-mission, making sure all your troops are
adequately supplied with clips and so on.
Personal Armour (Alien Alloys): Keeping your troops alive is vitally important,
because it gives them the chance to gain experience, and eventually become
killing machines from hell with 200 Time Units, 90% Shooting Accuracy and
enough Health to soak up an anti-tank round. Personal Armour is far from bullet-
proof, but it gives your boys a chance at least.
Laser Cannon (Laser Rifle - Heavy Laser): Although lacking in range, the Laser
Cannon does as much damage as a Stingray missile, is far more accurate and has
unlimited power, once more relieving you of the problems and costs associated
with ammunition. Upgrade your Interceptors to carry two of these as soon as
Power Suit (Personal Armour, Elerium 115, Alien Power Source): The ultimate
form of personal protection, exceeded only by the Flying Suit's added mobility.
Power Suits are bullet proof - and can often stop a Heavy Plasma hit.
Small Launcher (Stun Bomb): As soon as you're lucky enough to recover one of
these, research it immediately. The key to eventually winning the game is to
research living aliens, and the Small Launcher enables you to stun from a
distance. A vital weapon.
Plasma Cannon (Heavy Plasma, Heavy Plasma Clip): The best craft weapon,
combining range, accuracy and power with no ammunition requirements. Only the
Fusion Ball is more powerful, but that requires ammo, has a low rate of fire and
you can only fire twice before having to reload. Twin Plasma Cannons enable
Interceptors to down all but the largest UFOs with the minimum of risk.
Getting hold of these technologies is a top priority - once you've managed it,
you're well set up to give the aliens some grief.
Being able to successfully complete the ground combat missions in UFO: Enemy
Unknown is just as important as managing the strategy side of things. For a
ground combat missions have a large influence on your monthly rating, and thus
directly affect your funding. In addition, only by capturing living aliens can
learn enough about the enemy to finish the game, and only by having highly
experienced troops will you be able to succeed in the final missions.
Unfortunately, due to the virtually limitless number of different situations
arise, it's much harder to give specific advice on this area of play. The
then, are simply broad guidelines that cover the main aspects of combat
The single most important thing to remember is, quite simply, to keep your
alive at all costs. I can't stress this basic idea enough - only by gaining
will your troops be good enough for the later missions, and only by staying
can they gain the necessary experience. The safety of your troops should
always be uppermost in your mind, especially during the early missions when
they're weak and unprotected. Always think about protecting your squad from
enemy fire before anything else. Although it's impossible to guarantee that your
troops won't get shot, there are several ways you can lessen the risks.
Always take your time when exploring unexplored territory. Never move a soldier
into a new area when they don't have enough Time Units left to move out of it.
(Never step through a door or around a corner unless your soldier has enough
time to shoot and step back out of trouble, for example.)
Try to move your troops in pairs, and finish their moves facing in different
directions, so that aliens cannot sneak up on them.
Space your troops out. If your forces are clumped together a rogue shot may hit
innocent bystander. Also, soldiers standing in a group can interfere with each
others' lines of fire.
Use whatever cover is available to hide your troops and protect them from fire.
Try not to leave people standing out in the open - they'll be easy targets.
It's very important that you plan ahead and explore the battlefield carefully.
There's nothing worse than not being able to find the last alien - you know he's
out there somewhere, but you don't know exactly where. With this in mind, use
the overhead map and look at where your transport has landed in relation to the
rest of the map, then sweep your squad out across it slowly. Always explore
area carefully as you go, so as not to miss any aliens. This way you can be
confident that no aliens will creep in from 'behind' your squad, between your
soldiers and the transport. This will also enable you to spot and deal with all
aliens in one sweep, and prevent you from missing any. When dealing with the
larger UFOs it's best to cover the exits and use the rest of your soldiers to
the surrounding area. Once you've dealt with any aliens outside, you can then
your entire squad to explore the UFO itself. Remember, it's best to take things
slowly and extremely carefully - it not only lessens the risks, but it saves you
in the long run.
Know The Controls
Be sure that you use the game's controls properly. This sounds stupidly obvious,
but it's surprisingly easy to forget about some of the more useful functions
actually playing, so bear the following in mind:
Get into the habit of using the Reserve Time Units buttons so that your soldiers
are ready for Opportunity Fire. This can often make the difference between life
and death, especially in the cramped confines of a UFO or a town.
Remember that kneeling increases your soldiers chance of hitting by a small
amount. It also makes them a smaller target. Be careful, though, because if
are walls or fences between the soldier and his target, kneeling often breaks
line of sight.
Use the correct mode of fire for the situation. With autofire-capable weapons,
such as laser rifles, use autofire at any range up to about a screen's width,
shots beyond that. Only use snap shots when you don't have enough Time Units
left for the other modes. With single-shot weapons, especially those with
limited ammo (such as small launchers), always use aimed fire unless you are at
very short range - every shot counts with weapons like this, so it's important
maximise your chances of hitting.
Know The Battlefield
There are several types of mission you'll encounter in UFO, some of which can
occur on different terrains. In order of difficulty, they are:
Crash Sites The most common type of mission, and normally the easiest. The best
thing about crash sites is that you never have to attempt one at night. As the
site remains 'active' for at least 24 hours, simply wait until daylight before
landing your transport.
Ground Assaults These vary in difficulty depending on the size of the UFO and
the time of day. Since the aliens rarely hang around for too long, you have
control over the lighting conditions - you just have to go in there and do your
However, the benefits from capturing an undamaged UFO are considerable -
they're the best source of Elerium-115, for a start. Always send an interceptor
hover over the landed UFO while your transport makes its way to the site, so
if it takes off in the meantime you can immediately shoot it down.
Terror Sites Thankfully, these are rare. With so many buildings, alleys and
hiding places, just finding the aliens can be a nightmare. These are also the
missions where you're under considerable time pressure - you have to stop the
aliens as quickly as possible in order to save the local inhabitants - which can
real pain. In addition, the sites are only active for a short period of time, so
have little choice as to the time of day. However, it's vitally important to
terror sites wherever they occur, because they have a significant effect on your
Base Defence Once again, these are rare, but if the aliens do discover one of
places, expect several attacks - when they find a base they don't forget where
However, if you have designed your bases with defence in mind (see last issue),
they shouldn't be too vulnerable. Just be sure to station troops at all your
Alien Bases These are very dangerous, but can really boost your monthly rating.
They also provide you with Alien Commanders (which you must capture if you
want to complete the game).
To successfully complete UFO, you must capture living aliens and research them.
There are several 'ranks' within the various major alien races, and each
The most common form of alien. Researching Soldiers simply gives you more
information about the race and their motivations - a kind of supplement to the
information you glean from alien autopsies.
These often give you more information about aliens you have yet to research.
Each engineer you capture gives you detailed information about one of the
various types of UFO used by the aliens.
Similar to engineers, except each navigator gives you detailed information about
specific type of mission.
These are the aliens that enable you to finish the game. By researching captured
leaders and commanders, you not only learn about the Hyperwave Decoder and
Psi Lab base faculties, but gradually uncover the truth behind the alien attacks
the means by which you can take the fight to the enemy, dealing with the menace
once and for all.
The simplest way to subdue aliens is by using the small launcher. The stun bomb
this weapon fires is explosive and covers a fairly large area, but is harmless
your own troops, provided they're wearing effective armour (otherwise you'll
knock them out). In addition, you can use the stun sticks, but these require you
get up close to the alien, which is dangerous, or the psi amp, once you've got
psionically trained troops.
You'll only find the high rank aliens inside alien bases or the larger UFOs.
normally stay in the control room or bridge area. If you want to be sure of what
you're capturing, use the mind probe on the target.