Aliens will land in the polar regions more often than you would suspect. They prefer flat, open snowfields. From the Geoscape, artic terrain looks snow-white.
The chief terrain features here will be low snowdrifts (usually lower than head height) and cracks in the icecap, where frigid water peeks through the surface. To avoid hypothermia, ground units should not attempt to cross standing water. Failsafes in both alien and X-Com hardware prevent flying units from crossing such water at ground level, for fear of being speared by angry narwhals. Be sure to rise at least a story above the surface to cross
There is little cover for alien or trooper. Enemies can be sighted from long distances, and sharpshooters can often place a shot clear across the battlefield. The effects of darkness seem to decrease somewhat here, due to the brightness of light reflected off snow and ice.
- Because it is so open, many commanders prefer to arctic terrain for 'training' missions. It is relatively easy to shoot down a UFO over the broad expanses of the icecaps, and then let the rookies hunt aliens out in the open.
- The shortage of cover means that a "two step forwards, one step back" strategy can be very effective. This means that scouts should move forward until they sight the enemy, then let second-line shooters take those enemies down. Once the enemy is taken out, the scouts should fall back a short distance, forcing any other enemies to move forward on their own turn, burning up the enemy's time units and reducing their opportunities to fire.
- The open space will allow long-distance grenade tosses.
- Because they are both so wide open, arctic and Desert Terrain are tactically very similar.
- Depending on module placement, you may find yourself completely cut off from the UFO by water. It is advised to equip your soldiers with Flying Suits so that the mission can be properly completed.