Real-Time vs Turn-Based (Apocalypse)
For each tactical mission, Apocalypse lets the player choose between Real-Time (RT) and Turn-Based (TB). Each mode provides a unique gameplay experience, added variety and replayability to the game. Although most players tend to favour one mode of combat over the other, I encourage experienced players to try an entire game using their weaker combat mode as a challenge and for a different gameplay experience.
Game play experience
In real-time mode, all humans and aliens move simultaneously. The player can issue commands at any time and the action will play out continuously in 'real time'. The battles can be frantic, with a lot of stuff going on at once, but the player can still pause or slow the game at any time to get a finer degree of control.
Turn-based mode is closer to the traditional X-COM style. Teams (eg. X-COM vs the aliens) take it in turns to move their units, each being limited to some basic automatic reactions when it is not their turn. These battles have a greater emphasis on careful unit placement and anticipation of enemy moves.
Since there are differences in the game mechanics of the two modes, it is important to develop tactics for each mode. Here are a couple of examples of advantages that the player has in one mode but not the other.
- Ability to respond to a new threat as soon as it appears - for example if you see a Popper in the distance you will have time to reposition/reorder your units to best deal with the threat. This makes fast melee enemies like Poppers, Brainsuckers and Hyperworms considerably easier in RT than TB because in TB that unit can charge and attack on the same turn that you see it.
- Dual wielding - in real-time mode, holding a weapon in each hand allows both weapons to fire simultaneously. This effectively doubles your firing rate (at the cost of some accuracy). In turn-based mode there is no firing rate advantage to dual wielding.
- Ability to dodge missiles, projectiles, and explosions in mid-animation. Easiest to do this with Teleporters.
- Teleporters are instantaneous. This would be equivalent to not costing any TUs in TB.
- Security Turrets, both in X-COM base defence and in the Alien Dimension Buildings will operate and fire until either depleted or destroyed. Turrets do not work at all in Turn-Based play.
- Charge attack - you can run from some distance to get directly adjacent to your enemies and kill them at point-blank range without them being able to react in any meaningful way. This works even better when launching ambushes around corners or other blind spots. Teleporters are also quite deadly for this purpose. This makes tough enemies like Megaspawn and Psimorphs considerably easier in TB than RT because you can kill them without them being able to fire.
- Later in the game, you can obtain Personal Shields from Cult of Sirius raids by using the above method combined with Toxigun A ammo. You will require many many shots to kill a COS member with this, so trying to farm COS in this way becomes unfeasible in RT.
- Tag team attack - you can have several agents take turns at firing through a particular choke point (a doorway, for example). The advantage of this is that it effectively means all of your agents can fire through the choke point at once, whereas in real-time mode only one agent can at a time.
- Security Turrets, both in X-COM base defence and in the Alien Dimension DO NOT OPERATE at all.
- Aliens are less likely to escape the map and flee to other nearby buildings compared to Real-Time mode.