Psionics (Apocalypse)

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Psionics in Apocalypse makes use of an agent's latent psionic powers to attack an enemy with their mind. This is aided through the Mind Bender, a device similar to Psi-Amps of old that were used by the earlier generation of X-COM combatants.

Psionic powers in the Apocalypse era however are reduced from what they once were during the first two alien invasions. While still powerful in the hands of a powerful human/sectoid hybrid, is field of psionics are no longer the divine balance breaking force that it once was.

Psi Stats

An agent will have three separate stats that govern their psi ability. Psi Defence, Psi Energy and Psi Skill.

Defense
Controls how well the agent will be able to resist attack.
Skill
The Aptitude of the agent at performing a successful attack.
Energy
How much psi energy your agent can store. Think of it as the currency for psi attacks. This recharges in small amounts during combat.

Training Psi Stats

Psi is a long term investment. You will not be able to get brand new agents to perform successful psi attacks right away. With time and patience, their psi abilities will become much more powerful.

Psi stat training is done primarily through the Psi-Gym. Every day at the stroke of midnight, if an agent has been assigned to the lab and is at full health (i.e. the opposite of the med-lab requirement), the agent will get a chance at gaining some minor increases to his or her psi stats.

Psi stats for an agent cannot go beyond 300% of their base level. For example, if an agent starts with 25 points of psi energy then the most they can ever achieve in that stat is 75.

Psi Stat Progression by Race

Humans 
Humans have very low psi stats, therefore they make the weakest psionic users as their maximum psi stats will be very low. They are still able to obtain a small success rate at probing enemy targets.
Hybrids
The mutants will be the core of your psi users as they get the highest base psi stat rolls. However they are weaker than humans, thus have to invest some time in the combat gym as well, so their overall training time tends to be double that of their human counterparts if you wish to keep their strength stat up, which can only be raised through physical training and not actual combat.
Androids
Androids cannot use psionics, but are also immune to them. This makes them effective at combating enemy psi units.

Psi Attack Requirements/Limitations

In order to perform a psionic attack, the user must:

  1. Have a Mind Bender
  2. Be able to see the target
  3. Have enough energy to perform the attack.
  4. Be able to maintain the attack (RT Combat only)

Obviously, to perform a successful attack, the psi users must have a strong enough skill level to combat the target's psi defence.

Potential Psi Targets

Psi powers, though powerful, are limited to a small selection of targets due to the unusually high levels of psi defense most enemies exhibit.

As such, Psi can only be used reliably on humanoid tool-weilding enemies. Namely, Anthropods, Skeletoids and all humanoid enemy guards.

Every other alien will have such high resistance that only probes will be reliable. All other attacks will tend to have a very low chance of success (2% being the most common).

Although you are severely limited to the types of enemies you can control, these are also the most significant enemies to control due to the items that they carry. They are also the most common targets.

Mind Bender Quick Overview

The mind bender is akin to a sorceror's magic staff. A device to channel the user's energy.

The mind bender provides several functions. The first is a display of the agent's psi stats. These are the same that you can view in the inventory screen, although you can see any updates to the stats as they happen. The data may not be instantaneous, so give the game a few seconds to update the screen. In Real Time Combat, bringing up this panel will also break any current active attack you may have on at the moment.

The primary use of the mind bender is to perform four separate psi attacks on the enemy. Probe, Panic, Stun and Mind Control.

Probe
The easiest function, and only gives you access to the target's statistics in the inventory screen.
Panic
Causes the target to lose morale. One of the easier attacks with minimal drain in real-time. Once the target's morale is too low, it will start to panic.
Stun
Inflicts stun damage on an enemy target. If the stun threshold exceeds the unit's health, it will be knocked out. Stun damage is the same as the type caused by the stun grenade or stun grapple.
Mind Control
Takes full control over the target. The hardest and most expensive attack to perform.

For detailed information on each attack, see the Mind Bender article.

Turn Based vs. Real Time Psi

All of the mind bender attacks will differ based on the game mode.

In Turn Based, each attack is a one-use attack and the effect takes effect right away. This is not too dissimilar to how it previously functioned, only you still require line of sight.

In Real Time, once an attack is successful, it must be maintained by spending psi energy in order for the attack to keep the attack live.

Real Time: Maintenance Costs

As long as you are attacking the target, your psi energy will be consumed at a rate depending on the attack mode selected. The harder the mode, the more energy will be drained.

Probe and mind control are instantaneous, but require energy to maintain for as long as you want the effect to last.

Stun and Panic do not affect the target immediately, but slowly build up the longer the link is maintained. Of the four attacks, these two must be maintained long enough for their effects to be of any use.

Note that maintenance costs only take effect as the clock is ticking, not while the game is paused. You can avoid paying maintenance costs for probe and mind control by using them while the game is paused, and then breaking the link before restarting the clock.


Real Time: Breaking the Psi Link

An active attack will be broken when:

  • The target goes beyond the user's line of sight
  • The user runs out of psi energy
  • The user manually breaks the link by selecting a new attack on the mind bender.

Real Time: Effect on Neutral Guards

If you were to perform a non-violent raid on a non-hostile organization, you can safely practice with your mind bender to your heart's content on the guards with no repercussions.

If the guards are hurt in any way while under mind control, this will be viewed as a violent action towards the organization and may cause the guards to turn hostile on your agents.

If the guard gets hurt after you've broken the mind control link, then the action will not be blamed on your troops. Even if the guard is killed or sustains fatal wounds and dies from them, your relations with the building owners will not be affected. The guards must see it as self inflicted damage.

Note that that while this condition was tested only on whether guards will turn hostile towards you, no visible changes in relation standing or requests for compensation were observed afterwards.

Real Time: Active Psionic Defence

In both modes your first line of defence against psionic attacks is the Psi Defence of your agents. The higher the psi defence of a unit the less likely an attack is to succeed, meaning the attacker must try again, spending Psi Energy each time.

In Turn Based that's where it ends, if mind control succeeds then the unit becomes theirs for the turn and there's nothing you can do about it. In Real Time however, you have the opportunity to take back your unit by using mind control on it with your own psionics. A successful mind control will terminate the hostile mind control. You should then immediately cease your mind control to save energy and the agent will remain in your control.

Tips

  • Hire some hybrids from the very start and have them studying in the Psi Gym right from the word go. Either keep them out of direct combat, or make sure they take it easy during the battle. They may not seem like much now, but they will improve.
  • If you hire lots of hybrids, consider placing half of them in combat training and the other half in the psi gym. Swap them over from time to time.
  • Psionics are a good option for dealing with shielded enemies. Get them to throw their shields to you.
  • Multiple psi users should be employed to combat the low amount of psi energy a single agent will have. Let one attack while the other rests.
  • Don't over-use your psi in a single burst. On the other hand, try not to let your psi-energy go to waste by having an energy bar at 100% at all times.
  • Mind Control and Probe in Real Time should be used while the game is paused. With Mind Control, do as much as you can in the enemy's inventory such as set off explosives (remember to activate them by moving them after setting the timer) and then breaking the mind control.
  • Consider assigning the hybrids to your Capture Teams, especially if they are highly psi-skilled, as they can use the long line-of-sight range on the Mind Bender to attempt to Stun/Panic/Control enemies. This allows other soldiers (namely those armed with the Megapol Stun Grapple) to move in closer and secure the target.

See Also