UFO: Afterlight

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  • Apply the official and unofficial patches, and look into the rebalance mod. They fix a lot of the weirdness and CTD bugs.
  • You'll be reliant on Reticulan weapons until you can start building firearms. Ammo is very scarce in the early game; don't waste it.
  • Resource levels are non-linear. You'll have level 2 metal supply with 2 mines, level 3 with 4 mines, level 6 at 16, etc. If you're desperate you can try to request resources from your allies, but they'll usually want a different resource in exchange.
  • For much of the game, you'll be able to dictate the operation tempo. If you don't expand at all, you'll be unable to pursue key research and manufacturing projects. Expand too fast, and your tech will be insufficient to properly exploit and defend your territory. Try to strike a balance.
  • The Beastmen aren't cheating. The reason they can detect your soldiers from halfway across the map is because they can smell you. Don't expect stealth approaches to be very effective. Use cover, indirect fire weapons, and landmines to turn the tables in your favour. Eventually, a technological solution will present itself.
  • Tactical combat will seem slow and stupid at first because, well, it is. You've got a crew of truck drivers in awkward spacesuits, terrified to move too quickly lest they brush up against a sharp outcropping and die of hypoxia. They're armed with a handful of scientific tools and alien artefacts that someone has told them should work as weapons. They're wearing diapers, for heaven's sake. Just relax; things get a lot more fast-paced and *tactical* later on.
  • Accept that the game isn't XCOM.
  • You'll always be outnumbered. Eventually your soldiers will be outclassed as well. You can't simply hire new recruit to make up for losses. Aborting a mission doesn't hurt your funding score (since you don't have one), and it may be the only way to save your soldiers' lives.
  • Weapons aren't all that deadly. Move your soldiers in groups, because you'll want concentrated firepower to take down enemies quickly.
  • Maps are small, weapon ranges / spotting distances are short, and tactical fights don't last long. Snipers are less useful than you might expect, because of the time needed to get them into position.
  • You can get knockout weapons, but they're a waste of time because you can't use them to kidnap enemies whenever you feel like it. You'll be assigned specific "capture" missions, and the game allows you to use lethal weapons to perform them. Just put a few bullets into the target and he'll become very cooperative.
  • There is no UFOpedia. You're facing an unknown foe; you're supposed to learn what works and what doesn't by trial-and-error instead of magical infodumps. If you're desperate, you can look up the relevant statistics (damage resistance values are very important) on the ALTAR forums or in the game files.
  • You can have multiple squads, but they all pool from the same set of weapons and gear, and you can't have multiple squads out at once since you only have a single UFO. This means you only need a maximum of seven of any given weapon, suit or equipment piece.
  • Any given soldier can also be in multiple squads, so you could, for example, have two squads with the same members but different gear to make it easier to switch around for different enemies.
  • Much like X-Com, you should never leave your factories idle, even though you can't sell things in this game. At the start, when you can't really make much, make some suit repair kits and dynamite, which will be very useful in later missions. If you ever have down time where you don't especially need to make anything, crank out ammunition - you can never have too much!
  • Early research: projectile weapons are a LOT more versatile and a LOT easier to get up and running than lasers - you can make rifles after researching one tech, but to get to lasers you need to research about four techs, and capture some territories to get the somewhat rare materials needed to produce lasers. You don't have nearly enough ammo at the start to be able to hold off that long.
  • That said, before researching Firearms you may want to research Military Training first of all. The sooner your guys get combat skills, the better.
  • After that, try to get to Heavy Suits once it opens up. Heavy suits are larger, can't run or crouch, and require Minor and Major Suit Wearing training, but Beastman weapons will pound the living daylights out of you without them, and Beastman Alchemists fire grenades that will knock you down. They also look really cool.
  • Speaking of grenades, Minor Stability is a good skill as it makes your guys less likely to fall over in the blast. Other good trainings include Minor Toughness for higher max HP, and Minor/Major Beastman Anatomy, since Beastmen are the most abundant and the strongest opposing faction. Major Toughness is a double-edged sword - while it prevents your guys from going unconscious when their green HP is gone, it means they're still a target for enemies until they're completely dead.
  • The war may be the main focus of the game, but don't forget that the goal of your time on Mars is to terraform it! Research Terraforming fairly early on and get your science buggy out there planting terraforming stations sooner rather than later.