HE vs single target weapons
HE vs AP/Laser/Plasma (EU) or HE vs AP/Gauss/Sonic (TFTD)
I've seen the signs. This discussion looks like it is long overdue.
So... Explosives... or direct fire? ... Or, more likely, a mix of the two?
An all HE team early on is AWESOME, due to Xcom fresh recruits absolute lack of 20/20 vision and steady trigger fingers.
But I digress. Basically, several factors to consider here:
- Raw Damage
- Damage Resistances
- Under Armor on direct hits
- Collateral Damage (xcom soldiers, items, civilians...)
- Terrain Destruction
- Auto Fire
- Firing Speed
- Killing unconscious units.
Raw damage goes to Plasma and Sonics.
AOE is a 2 bladed sword... tactics are very important here... AOE makes a huge difference based on SIZE of AOE, angle of fire, accuracy, All part and parcel of whether a missed shot will miss the target but still damage it.
Damage resistances are especially pravelent in TFTD.
Under armor is almost always the weakest location for armor. This can be significant sometimes.
Without a doubt, HE causes the most unwanted collateral damage. The frequency, scope (destroying 1 clip is ok, destroying a million dollars worth of alien artefacts is NOT ok, and this can happen with alarming frequency with powerful explosives and a chokepoint where aliens tend to congregate. Even worse is when one soldier has a good shot but doesn't take it because he would be destroying loot... the the whole squad gets killed, and you don't get that stuff anyway, and lose the squad to boot.
Terrain Destruction, the prize goes to HE for most terrain, but superhard Alien and Xcom constructions require tougher weapons.
Weapons with auto-Fire have an advantage, but HE on Auto tends to cause a lot of collateral damage. Auto tends to also burn through ammo pretty fast.
Accuracy. The HE weapons tend to be reasonably accurate compared to others.
Firing Speed. HE are the slowest firing weapons in the game.
Killing unconscious units is good or bad in different situations. For instance, if you ally gets knocked unconscious and an Aquatoid is standing next to him, what to do, what to do... Basically: unarmored soldier = almost always instadies from HE or precision fire. Armored soldier = tends to be unharmed from a lot of HE, and occasionally survives Plasma/Sonic. Unconscious soldier = INUVUNERABLE to non-HE, HE instakills even on glancing hits.
Overall, I would say... this all makes carrying spare weapons of various types is a good option.