XCOM 2 is dropping this Friday and you’ve probably read our review on how punishing the game can be. Well fear not wannabe commanders about to enter the fray, here’s some helpful tips on how to survive your new career as leader of XCOM.

Prepare yourself for the worst.

When I was in the army cadets, they thought me a really important saying called the five P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. This replicated well into XCOM 2 allowing me to prepare myself for the worst. XCOM 2 likes to throw things at you when you least expected and because you’re the underdog most (or well) all of the time then you must prepare yourself.

Position your units loosely but in a formation as you move around the map. The fog of war hides your enemies so taking a cover to cover movement system helps you provide flanking options when they do appear. Don’t bunch your operatives too close together, if you do – your options are limited to counter-attack when you do get ambushed or find yourself surrounded.

So always have this in mind: keep your flanking options open and move to positions where you can easily temporarily retreatĀ if you do get attacked.

Your recruits are expandable.

This is probably the worst mentality to have if you’re actually a leader in the army but in XCOM 2, sacrifice is everything. In some situations, you might have to use your own operative to distract an enemy or keep the focus off your higher ranked soldiers as they’re deemed much more valuable.

There’s been countless times in XCOM 2 where I just had to use a recruit as a human shield so my higher ranked operatives can survive. This is sometimes the best way to do things and often for the more successful outcome. So put it this way: New recruits come easily but veteran soldiers don’t so put them on the line first.

Just don’t tell your mates how you command troops.xcom2-squadrespawn

Loot, Upgrade and Loot. Repeat.

The aliens have significant firepower and tricks up their sleeves and vanilla XCOM operatives are often outmatched and out-gunned in every fire-fight. So it’s up to you, the Commander to provide the neccesities for a higher survival-rate on the field. Aliens are dangerous but their dead corpses and equipment are valuable so make sure you seek every opportunity to loot drops. This will help fund your research into achieving better weapons and armour plus more.

Trust me, you’ll need it in the long run. I’ve seen things.


Watch your position and don’t trust civilians.

Coming from the first tip, positioning is key in XCOM 2. The game features much more traverse terrain where your operatives can sneak up and down from. Higher ground is the best position and often allows your troops to cover movement between cover. The element of surprise is also another key factor to take into. Taking the first shot is often the best choice surprising your enemy before they get into a position where they can steam roll you. So move carefully and keep out of sight until the time is right to open up.

Also be careful of civilians, despite helping their sorry asses – they will rut you out if they spot you so stay out of sight from them too.

So that’s a quick run down on the things you should do (and not do) when jumping into your first missions in XCOM 2. I can’t hold your hand any more, it’s time to let your decisions on the battlefield play out the war. Just remember your training and you’ll survive (maybe).

XCOM 2 is available on PC from February 5th, 2016. Read our review here.