Real-Time Combat (Apocalypse)

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One of the new features in Apocalypse is Real-Time Combat (RT) as an alternative to the Turn-Based (TB) system used in the previous games. During RT both sides units will move and fire at the same time. Units and squads can carry out independently their orders and game progresses as time advances (and you can set the pace or even pause the action).

RT combat can also be more intense, realistic (seeing as each side is not taking turns), brutal, and at the same time easier. If you're more familiar or more comfortable with it, it can be a viable option. And another use of RT combat can be to speed up ground battles in order to advance through the game campaign.

  • Projections should be attempted only when the 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.

Real Time Challenges

RT combat has a number of benefits and challenges.

  1. Firstly, everything happens in real time, though you can pause and play at different speeds. This can give you more (or less) time to react to threats.
  2. It also means your agents react essentially as fast as your ability to give them orders.
  3. This makes brainsuckers and poppers a lot less dangerous - you get free shots at them as they come at you, no matter your agent's current actions. In contrast, it will make friendly fire casualties more prone to happen.
  4. RT adds one more significant benefit to the mix - dual-wield. In TB, wielding two weapons decreases accuracy and you can't fire both at once. Real time is not restricted in this fashion and agents can fire both weapons at the same time.
  5. RT can also make it a lot harder to accomplish certain goals such as capturing live aliens, as combat is far more frantic and it can be harder to account for gunfire when you are trying to capture certain aliens.
  6. Personal Teleporters are now instantaneous (since there are no TU to spend) and using them while the game is paused is truly instantaneous, allowing you to dodge explosions, missiles, projectiles, etc. Only limited by the recharge time of teleporter energy, making multiple personal teleporters a useful tool.

Real Time Combat

There are a number of features that set it different from TB combat:

  • The game pauses at important moments (such as reporting that a unit is under fire, a new enemy has been spotted, and so on) so you can't easily get overwhelmed. The events that cause the game to pause can be selected from the options menu during any RT combat at any time.
  • Grenades also work differently than in TB, mainly because of the priming function; a specific time can be given from 0.25 to 7.5 seconds ( in 0.25 second increments ), giving both far more accurate and a lot more trickier control over the moment of detonation. This can actually be used by crafty commanders to detonate grenades literally in front of their face. Impact mode is also available in RT combat.
    • To use a grenade in impact detonation mode, simply right-click on it when it is in your agent's hand; the throw icons near the hand panels will light up and the grenade will disappear to indicate the device is armed. The cursor will change to the throw icon, so left click on the intended target and unpause if necessary. The grenade will explode as soon as it touches the floor.

Real Time

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

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 Gameplay

Early game

To help conserve ammunition, equip a Stun Grapple as your secondary weapon. This serves two functions. First, it gives you a very strong weapon against those annoying close-combat aliens (hyperworms and poppers) and can quickly take down humanoid enemies. Second, it will significantly increase your chances of capturing live aliens, which is essential to developing toxiguns. When not fighting in close quarter combat, keep it stowed in your backpack until it is required so you do not suffer the accuracy penalty.

For general armament, a common practice in RT combat is to have agents arm two of the same weapon. At the cost of lowered accuracy, their rate of fire is increased. Adjusting the firing mode to snap or aimed balances the accuracy with the improved rate of fire. Dual M4000's on aim for example are nearly as rapid but more accurate than a single M4000 on auto. When accuracy is not required, use auto for optimum damage.

Launchers big and small Rockets of all types effectively have perfect accuracy even on auto shot. Even a blind rookie with horrible accuracy turns into a killing machine when armed with the marsec mini launcher.
Mini Launchers are useful for use (albeit controlled use) in city buildings. Heavy Launchers are good for UFO assaults or other situations where collateral damage is not your main concern. Their hefty punch can aid in softening up tightly packed UFO defenders and Megaspawn. All missiles in Real Time will track their targets. As missiles track their targets in Real Time, high accuracy is not a requirement.

stun grenades should be carried in plentiful supply. In addition to stunning aliens, they can be useful for quickly clearing unwanted smoke clouds. In RT, stun damage from stun grenades are administered in two ways. First a small dose of stun is dealt from the impact of the grenade exploding and then from the amount of time the alien spends in the cloud. Blanket an area or serially detonate stun grenades for maximum effect. Aliens in stun gas will always flee from the cloud, momentarily preventing them from shooting at you.

AP grenades are not powerful, but are useful general purpose explosives. They can quickly dispatch groups of small enemies like hyperworms and brainsuckers. In RT, AP grenades are lifesavers for lone agents that find a brainsucker suddenly latching on their head. To remedy this situation: grab an AP grenade and set it to .25 or detonate-on-impact and drop it. Note that you have to access this agents inventory by going through another agent as the soldier being brainsucked will have their open-inventory button temporarily locked.

M4000 Machine Guns are useful general purpose weapons that are effective against most early enemies. They are ideal accuracy trainers thanks to their high rate of fire and low damage, as accuracy improves by the number of successful hits. The Megapol Lawpistol is a stronger substitute, albeit does not have a large clip.

Dual Auto Cannons are exceptionally powerful in the hands of the right troopers. Auto Cannon AP rounds are the most damaging non-explosive rounds you can fire prior to Disrupter guns. High Explosive rounds are powerful and require little accuracy to use effectively. Lone agents can also use it to shoot brainsuckers off their own heads. the Incendiary rounds are useful to set fire to Multiworms to pre-empt hyperworms at the moment they hatch.

Laser sniper guns are weak, but with enough of them trained on the same target, they can deal a decent amount of damage to make it worthwhile. If you really must fight in close quarters with them, consider using dual rifles and switching to auto, or carry a sidearm.

Megapol Plasma Guns, once available or stolen, are great all-rounder weapons with decent accuracy, damage and a high capacity ammunition clip. They can easily fill in for the laser sniper rifle or Auto Cannon/AP roles. Their size make them excellent secondary sidearms before the Toxigun.


As soon as you have Toxiguns, carry them on any mission where you will encounter humanoid aliens. Particularly those armed with shields as toxiguns do not damage them. Toxiguns have a very high firing rate, so there is no benefit to using two at a time. Use the free hand for other equipment or weapons. Against agents and other humans, Toxigun ammo (all three types) deal damage comparable to M4000 rounds. They have the advantage of leaving your troops mostly unable to harm one another if under psionic control (apart from grenades). Sustained fire is still lethal.

Against aliens that do not carry disruptor shields, use Disruptor weapons to conserve Toxigun ammunition. Start with the rapid-fire Disruptor Gun and work up to the Devastator Cannon. Be aware that the Devastator Cannon can cause a lot of collateral damage in city buildings.


Late game tactical combat is often straightforward. You should plenty of Personal Disruptor Shields, Devastator Cannons and/or Toxiguns, and X-COM Disruptor Armor that you need to take out the enemy easily. When all you want to do is cause a lot of damage, swap toxiguns out for more Devastator Cannons, Dimension Missile Launchers or even Entropy Launchers as required.

Bring the usual assortment of stun weapons to capture aliens you still need to research. Stun Grapples lose their edge as they have no effect against Personal Disrupter Shields, but will continue to work against unshielded aliens and are absolutely essential for capturing Micronoids. Stun Grenades and Mind Benders remain useful.

If you stuck with the game long enough, you can reward yourself with the use of the Personal Teleporter. Teleporters are practically a cheat in Real Time, since they work instantaneously while the game is paused. This means you can pause at the precise moment before a projectile hits, or even while an explosive is detonating, and teleport your agent out of the way. Useful for avoiding missiles, instantly-getting into close proximity with enemies for quick kills, and escaping from any number of tricky situations or to explore areas previously only accessibly by flight. Note that they need time to recharge, so carry multiples or build a stack of them in a safe spot for quick refills. Be prepared for a lot of teleporter juggling.

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See Also