Missions (Long War)

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For most standard missions with a deployment/extraction zone, many additional such zones have been added to each map as compared to vanilla. Which zone you get is random, and some are significantly more difficult than others.

When a mission appears in the Mission Control room, you have a certain amount of time to deploy to it before it disappears. Note that you can only engage in one mission at a time, and it takes time to travel to and from missions, up to around 3 hours on the other side of the globe. Failing to complete some missions can result in significant punishments and penalties, whereas others merely rob you of the opportunity for their rewards.

Ground force quantity depends on the mission type and sometimes on a number of other factors and variables. Ground force quality is highly random and depends on the aliens tech progress, see the page on aliens for more details on individual units, as well as Pod Composition Details for pod composition mechanics.

Alien Missions

Alien Abductions

See also: Alien Abductions (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 8 hours
Enemy Count: 8-21

Alien Abductions are generated by landing UFOs - the UFO will disappear and be replaced by an abduction site that you can respond to, even if you don't have that country covered and didn't detect the incoming UFO. Shooting down the UFO before it lands will, naturally, prevent the abduction being generated. In Long War, abductions will only affect one country at a time and you no longer have to choose between mutually-exclusive missions; furthermore, the reward for abductions is always credits. Skipping or failing an abduction mission will result in increased panic in the affected country (+25) and continent (+20 in all difficulties but normal). Thwarting an abduction will decrease panic by 2 in the country saved.

Alien Abductions are categorized by the number of aliens on the map: Light, Moderate, Heavy and Swarming, with the credit reward of §80, §90, §100, and §110 respectively. This is computed as an internal "difficulty rating" that scales from 0 (Light) to 3 (Heavy).

Enemy Forces

The number of aliens depends primarily on the difficulty rating variable, with small adjustments based on Alien Research and Alien Resources. All pods are "soldier pods" (see Pod Types for details).

Difficulty Research <= 180 Research > 180
Rating Activity Aliens Pods Aliens Pods
0 Light 7-9 3 7-9 2-4
1 Medium 10-12 2-4 10-12 2-4
2 Heavy 12-14 3-4 13-15 3-4
3 Swarming 14-16 3-4 16-18 3-4

Finally, if Alien Resources > 180, add +0-3 aliens. This does not affect the displayed activity level.

UFO Crash Site

See also: Crashed UFO (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 36 hours
Enemy Count: Based on UFO Type

A number of UFOs will have to be shot down over the course of a campaign, particularly those conducting Scout, Hunt, or Bomb missions (see the respective pages on identifying UFOs). Allowing these missions to proceed results in potential harm for XCOM: Scout missions spawn an automatic follow up Hunt mission, Hunt missions destroy the target satellite (leaving the country temporarily unprotected, robbing you of potential country or continent bonuses, and setting you back the credits required to replace it), and Bomb missions spike panic in a target country. UFOs conducting other missions can often be ignored... or rather, XCOM forces will be unable to realistically do anything to stop them anyways, at least not until much later.

When a UFO is shot down and not destroyed, a UFO Crash Site mission becomes available. Completion of a UFO Crash Site mission rewards the player with the possibility of recovering valuable components from the UFO; however, a crashed UFO is now even more likely to have destroyed artifacts. Unfortunately (new to Long War), a UFO has a chance to be destroyed entirely rather than crash; in that case the Council will pay a moderate cash bounty and small amounts of materials will be recovered. This chance is proportional to the strength of the killing blow: the more you overkill the target the more likely the UFO is destroyed.

Ground force quantity depends on the UFO type you shoot down, see the UFOs page for details.

UFO Landing Site

See also: Landed UFO (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 15 hours
Enemy Count: Based on UFO Type

Some UFO sorties will involve a landing. Whether or not this will be the case can often be determined by looking at the UFO's altitude: UFOs that are landing will be listed as flying NOE (except those with a purple strobe effect). If you allow the UFO to land it will either generate a terror mission, an abduction, or simply a landing site. It is generally in your interests to let NOE-flying UFOs land. For the most part, UFOs that generate terror sites or abductions are likely far too difficult or even outright impossible to shoot down, so you'll have to let them land anyways. Conversely, any UFOs that can feasibly be shot down typically generates a landing site instead, netting you more XP and materials than a crash site. Furthermore, successfully assaulting a landed UFO will prevent whatever mission the aliens are conducting from being completed and is otherwise functionally equivalent to shooting it down. As a result, allowing all NOE UFOs to land will (a) save your interceptor craft some damage, and (b) net you a lot more salvage, including intact Flight Computers and Power Sources generators.

Beware that NOE UFOs may be conducting Bombing missions instead and should be shot down, but they are easily identified by the purple strobe effect they display on the hologlobe like satellite hunters do. Also note that some landings may be Traps and contain an extremely large contingent of aliens, so always be prepared either for a hard fight or a quick extract. Note that for both Crashes and Landings, the Command pod of aliens will now rarely, if ever, be on the bridge (and for the Scout, it might be 'slightly outside'). This is so you won't be able to memorize exactly where this pod is, and thus won't be able to use the same strategy to take it out every time.

Ground force quantity depends on the UFO type you shoot down, see the UFOs page for details. Ground force quality is also slightly increased compared to most missions, as the random pool of possible aliens that can be rolled is moved ahead 28 days, leading to new alien types appearing. This applies both to regular landings as well as traps. Note also that Landed UFOs are subject to pod overflow and pruning rules, which (for particularly large UFOs or Trap UFOs) may result in aliens being discarded in early months if pod sizes are low and they do not fit into the number of pods.

Terror Site

See also: Alien Terror (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 24 hours
Enemy Count: 15-30

Similar to vanilla terror missions, you are required to eliminate all hostiles and save as many civilians as you can. Terror missions virtually always impose an unavoidable negative effect: unlike vanilla, every civilian lost will increase panic in the country (+3) and continent (+1). You also receive no cash rewards and no UFO salvage, just some corpses and weapon fragments, soldier XP, and small amounts of incidental alloys, elerium, and meld from defeated aliens. Failing or ignoring a terror mission will cause the targeted country to leave the project immediately, and will increase panic in the surrounding continent by 20.

In the long run terror missions are a constant drain, pushing panic ever upward and causing countries to leave the XCOM project, and aliens can potentially do up to 2 of them per month. However, each country that leaves has an alien base that you can assault, and doing so will reward you with extremely large amounts of resources while allowing the country to rejoin the project. As a result, terror missions are more of a early-to-midgame issue, forcing you into fatigue spirals and denying you funding. The only way to truly stop a terror mission outright is to either ensure no civilian casualties (not feasible) or to shoot down the UFO that drops off the troops (also functionally impossible until the ultra lategame). Lategame Terror Missions can get extremely difficult, with the troop counts of a Landed Large on a smaller map with a time limit, but failing one on occasion will lead to a windfall of resources.

Enemy Forces

Standard terror missions contain a number of aliens spread across 5 pods, with the total number of aliens determined by the number of months that have elapsed since the start of the campaign:

Months Date Added Total
0 March 15
6 September +3 18
9 December +3 21
12 March +3 24
15 June +6 30

Randomized alien pods in terror missions pull from the "terror pod" pool, not the "soldier pod" pool, which contains different alien types that appear at different rates.

Note that some terror missions have twists added to them:

1st Terror Mission: New Threat

Instead of the above table, the first terror mission always contains a pod of 4 aliens led by a Chryssalid leader, as well as 2 pods of 4 aliens led by Floaters, for a total of 12 aliens.

3rd Terror Mission: Zombie Apocalypse

Instead of the above table, the third terror mission always contains exactly 2 pods of 3 aliens led by Chryssalids, as well as 3 pods of exactly 5 Zombies each and 1 pod of 3 Zombies, for a total of 24 aliens.

Cover is mostly meaningless in this mission. Close Combat Specialist, Flashbangs, and AP Grenades are the key here.

10th Terror Mission: Greater Hive Queen

The 10th terror missions spawns a "Greater Hive Queen" (level 9 Chryssalid boss) with 4 supporting aliens in its pod, as well as 16 additional randomly generated aliens spread across 4 terror pods, for a total of 21 aliens.

The Boss has over 40 HP as well as Resilience, making it outright immune to critical hits. Bring a squad capable of pumping out large amounts of raw base damage; Shredder Ammo (either the perk or the item) is very useful here. As usual, Flashbangs can buy you an extra turn, nerfing the Aliens movement range down to below the max range of the Flashbang. Just hope it doesn't run off into fog of war.

19th Terror Mission: Atlas Drone

The 19th terror mission always spawns an "Atlas Drone" (level 9 Drone boss) with 7 supporting aliens in its pod, as well as 22 additional randomly generated aliens split across 4 terror pods, for a total of 30 aliens.

The Boss has Absorption Fields, Light Em Up, a significant boost to its base damage, and excellent aim, making it capable of annihilating an unprepared squad. The Drone Capture foundry project is an excellent investment here.

Base Defense Missions

XCOM Base Defense

See also: XCOM Base Defense (EU2012)
Expiration timer: N/A (begins automatically)
Enemy Count: ???

This mission type makes a return, but can now happen multiple times in a campaign (see the UFO missions page for details). It is guaranteed to happen by the end of March of the 2nd year, if it hasn't happened at least once already. First, the aliens send a Battleship to down the satellite over your HQ and leave you blind. Next, your base is assaulted by a NOE altitude Assault Carrier. If you can get satellite protection back up, when the UFO alert/interception prompt appears for the Assault Carrier, it will say "Warning! Warning! UFO vectoring to XCOM HQ!" on the lesser notifications on the lower-left of the screen. Shooting down that UFO will prevent the assault.

Unlike vanilla, you will get the chance to select and equip a squad for this mission. You select and equip 12 soldiers, of which a random 5 will be selected at the start. Additional soldiers from this pool will arrive as reinforcements, one automatically at the end of the first turn as well as up to 2 waves of 1 soldier should any of your soldiers go down, giving you a maximum of 6 soldiers at any one point. Ensure that of the 12 soldiers you select, virtually all are powerful, trustworthy, mobile DPS units like MECs, Infantry, Gunners, snapshot Snipers, DPS Scouts, etc.; you'll have a much tougher time beating the mission if a bunch of support or move-limited units like Concealment Scouts, Medics, Engineers, Rocketeers, LMG gunners, and non-snapshot Snipers are selected.

Each reinforcement wave (including the automatic one) also comes with up to 2 Blueshirt PFCs (bringing you up to a total of 2 blueshirts at any one time), each armed semi-randomly as PFCs are with the unlimited-use starting gear: Ballistic Rifles or Carbines and a pistol for weapons, Tac Armor or Tac Vest for armor, plus any two small items like HE grenades, AP grenades, Flashbangs, Medikits, Ceramic Plating, et cetera. Edits to the INI files to adjust what items PFCs randomly spawn with can also be used to edit what the blueshirts will randomly spawn with. Unlike vanilla, you do not gain additional reinforcement waves due to blueshirt casualties, only XCOM casualties; however, you will gain replacement blueshirts alongside your XCOM soldier replacement should you have lost any. For the Blueshirts, there are Foundry projects that make them slightly better: one that allows them to equip spare Laser Rifles (so, regular EXALT Elite stuns to fill your armory will help) and another for spare Phalanx Armors. The Laser Rifles come with +0-6 aim and +1-2 damage over the ballistic carbines and rifles they would normally equip, and Phalanx offers +1-2 HP and -1 to +1 mobility over what they would otherwise wear; they'll be a little more useful in these fights, but not that much more. However, they equip these randomly, so the blueshirts you get may not be the blueshirts actually equipped with the gear: you can have up to 6 blueshirts in the mission (two guaranteed in the first reinforcement wave and up to 2 each in each subsequent reinforcement wave), so you'll need up to 6 Laser Rifles and 6 Phalanx Armor to guarantee everyone wears one. If you succeed the mission, any surviving Blueshirts will join your roster, retaining any XP they gained during the base defense.

The format of the mission is similar to the vanilla version: the aliens will drop in to the command center, followed by flyers in the back, assorted drops in the MEC bay, and finally two waves in the forward access tunnels. Expect this mission to be extremely difficult, though the forces deployed can vary wildly based on RNG. Always look around and check for the falling dirt to see if any waves are about to drop in the MEC Bay, particularly the upper areas at all four corners. Don't forget to count the enemies and your kills, so you don't move ahead to defend the access tunnels, just to get hit from behind by something.

Failing this mission does not mean the end of XCOM, however it is extremely damaging. The aliens will ransack your base, killing engineers and scientists and destroying cash, meld and other supplies before the regular military arrives to bail you out. XCOM will lose the following resources on a failure:

  • §450-550
  • 50-60 alloys
  • 50-60 elerium
  • 100-110 meld
  • 20-30 scientists (capped to 1/3 of current staff)
  • 20-30 engineers (capped to 1/3 of current staff)
  • all alien captives
  • interceptor damage

If you succeed base defense on your first try, another Base Defense mission is highly unlikely to occur, as you will be in prime position to snowball your way into the end of the game. Conversely, failure will set you back immensely and potentially cause you to have to survive another at some point.

XCOM Air Base Defense

Expiration timer: ???
Enemy Force: 19-22 aliens in 2 soldier pods and 1 terror pod

In addition to assaulting your base, aliens can now go after your interceptor stations. These missions will only be launched after your air game becomes significantly strong (that is, you've built your first Firestorm), and failing this mission will cause severe damage or destruction of all interceptors. It will generate similar to an abduction mission, with XCOM soldiers outfitting in the Skyranger as per usual and having to be sent to one of your Interceptor bases. If the Hyperwave Relay is built, the mission notice on the approaching UFO will say "Retaliation".

Unlike the XCOM HQ Defense mission, the Air Base Defense mission can happen monthly, and it is also MUCH less difficult. You'll be taking a full squad against just 3 standard pods of 19-22 enemies. The battle takes place in the previously multiplayer only Interceptor bay map. Be aware you will enter the area through an entry tunnel in the center of the map, so odds are that there will be aliens in both wings, and you can easily be flanked on both sides.

Council Missions

Expiration timer: 8 hours
Alien Troop Counts: 10-30

Council missions have also been modified, mostly to the tune of larger numbers of enemies, both seeded and airdropped. Airdrop spawns may be random, and include enemies other than Thin Men. They typically drop in to cover and on overwatch, making them more difficult to deal with. Mission objectives have not been changed from vanilla XCOM Enemy Within.

For more information, see the dedicated article, Council Missions.

EXALT Missions

See also: Covert Operations, EXALT Units, and EXALT Pods

As with vanilla, Communication Arrays are available for your Covert Operative to hack, which deactivates all EXALT firearms and forces them to spend a turn reloading (which they almost always will). You can use this to keep your troops relatively protected from Medics and Snipers. Rockets (from Heavies) and grenades (from Operatives) *should* be deactivated as well, but a bug regarding this was never fixed and persists into Long War 1.0, so they can be considerably dangerous even while hacked; you might want to locate and download an extra mod to fix this.

Enemy forces in EXALT missions scale with the total number of Covert Operations attempted (of either type), up to a maximum of 18 (all missions after that point will have the same enemies).

Covert Data Recovery

See also: Covert Data Recovery (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 48 hours
Enemy Count: 9-23 + drop-ins

These missions are similar to their vanilla equivalent. You field a full squad, and have to defend an encoder (and if that fails, a transmitter) from all EXALT forces for a cash reward and Intel on completion. There is a defined area for each device that you and EXALT can stand in, and if three turns elapse where EXALT starts its turn with more units within that area than XCOM does, the device is disabled; EXALT will often ignore opportunities to shoot at you with nearby units in favor of sending them into the target area until they have more units than you do and start up the timer, but this isn't 100% reliable. Accidentally destroying a device with an explosive also counts against you and disables it, although EXALT will never attempt this. EXALT will attempt to capture the encoder first before targeting the transmitter; the mission only fails if you allow the Transmitter to be disabled or destroyed, but keeping the Encoder functional as well doubles the cash you earn.

Ideally, your covert operative for this mission is an Assault, as their class perk Run & Gun allows you to not only fire but use interactive devices like Hack relays after a full Dash move; this can help you chain relays repeatedly to keep the majority of EXALT unable to fire at you for multiple consecutive turns, long enough to buy time to take the majority of if not all of them out. Plan a route from one transmitter to the next in advance, and set your Assault up in position to chain them in sequence, using Run & Gun to bridge the gap between two of the transmitters if they happen to be too far to reach in a single blue move. You will not know whether you are getting a Covert Extraction or Data Recovery in advance, so specialize a covert operative for whichever of the two mission types you find more difficult; generally, Data Recoveries are more difficult in the early-to-mid game when your squad doesn't have the firepower to defeat large numbers of EXALT.

EXALT Forces scale with the total number of Covert Operations (of either type) attempted:

Covert Data Recovery Enemy Force
Op # Pod Leaders and Pods
1 Level 1 Regular Operator Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
2 Level 2 Regular Operator Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
3-4 Level 3 Regular Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +3 EXALT
5-6 Level 2 Elite Operator Leader +2 EXALT
Level 4 Regular Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
7-8 Level 3 Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
9-10 Tough Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Tough Regular Leader +3 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +3 EXALT
11-12 Level 7 Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Level 6 Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Level 5 Regular/Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Level 5 Regular/Elite Leader +2 EXALT
13-14 Level 6 Elite Leader +5 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +3 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +3 EXALT
15-17 Level 7 Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Tough Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +3 EXALT
18+ Level 7 Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Tough Sectoid Commander +2 aliens
Tough Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +4 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +4 EXALT

Covert Extraction

See also: Covert Extraction (EU2012)
Expiration timer: 48 hours
Enemy Count: 8 to 17 +drop-ins

In this mission type you are limited to only 4 soldiers and your Covert Operative, and your objective is to hack two Comm Arrays and then extract for a small cash reward and Intel on completion. Beyond the first couple of months, enemy forces are usually split between a series of smaller pods with 1-2 EXALT as well as 1 large QRF pod with 6-8 EXALT units. Furthermore, fail to wipe out any pod in a single turn and all remaining EXALT pods will begin slowly moving towards your covert operative. As a result, it's best to treat this as a stealth mission where you want to avoid getting into a pitched battle with EXALT if at all possible. Try to get your Covert Operative to at least 1 of the two mandatory relays undetected, link up with your extraction team, hack the two relays back-to-back in consecutive turns if you can, and get out fast. Two or more active EXALT will spawn once your covert operative arrives at one of the target transmitters, so it's within your interest to hold off activating it till the start of your next turn if you can so you can disable the newly-spawned units.

The ideal Covert Operative for this mission is a Scout with the Concealment perk; Concealment allows the Covert Operative to move up and carefully monitor enemy activity near the target transmitters over several turns, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get close enough to hack two of them in quick succession before leaving. If the distance between the two transmitters is considerable but you can move up next to one undetected, you can hack it at the beginning of your next turn when you have your full 2 AP of movement back, and then start your dash to the next transmitter under its protection; at the beginning of your next turn, you'll have another 1 AP to dash to the second transmitter. This allows you to cross 3 AP of distance total to chain the two transmitters while keeping enemies disabled the entire time. You will not know whether you are getting a Covert Extraction or Data Recovery in advance, so specialize a covert operative for whichever of the two mission types you find more difficult; generally, Covert Extractions are more difficult in the mid-to-late game when EXALT starts bringing 15+ units including Elites to these missions and you're still stuck with an extraction squad of just 4 troops.

Keep in mind that there is no penalty for extracting if a Covert Extraction looks too tough; you only lose the cash and Intel (i.e. progression towards discovering the location of the EXALT base). EXALT does get stronger over the course of a campaign and it is in your best interests to defeat them as quickly as possible, but you can afford a few failed missions here and there.

EXALT Forces scale with the total number of Covert Operations (of either type) attempted:

Covert Extraction Enemy Force
Op # Pod Leaders and Pods
1 Level 1 Regular Operator Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +1 EXALT
2 Level 2 Regular Operator Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +3 EXALT
3-4 Level 3 Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +1 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +1 EXALT
3x Lone Random Regular EXALT
5-6 Level 4 Regular Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +1 EXALT
Random Regular Leader +1 EXALT
3x Random Lone EXALT
7-8 Tough Elite Leader +5 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +1 EXALT
Random Lone Elite
3x Random Lone EXALT
9-10 Tough Elite Leader +6 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +1 EXALT
Lone Tough Elite
2x Lone Random Regular/Elite
Lone Random Regular EXALT
11-12 Tough Elite Leader +7 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Random Regular/Elite Leader +1 EXALT
2x Lone Random Regular/Elite EXALT
Lone Random Regular EXALT
13-14 Level 6 Elite Leader +5 EXALT
Tough Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +1 EXALT
3x Lone Random Regular/Elite EXALT
15-17 Level 7 Elite Leader +6 EXALT
Tough Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Lone Random Elite EXALT
3x Lone Random Standard/Elite EXALT
18+ Level 7 Elite Leader +7 EXALT
Tough Sectoid Commander Leader +1 alien
Tough Elite Leader +2 EXALT
Random Elite Leader +1 EXALT
2x Lone Random Elite EXALT

EXALT Base Assault

See also: EXALT Base Assault (EU2012)
Expiration timer: Unlimited
Enemy Count: 33

To trigger this mission, you must accuse a country of harboring EXALT. You can do this at any time, but false accusations cause the target to leave XCOM (if they haven't already) or spread +40 panic continent-wide (if they have), and give the aliens +50 bonus research. More realistically, wait until you have gathered 15 pieces of Intel from 15 successful Covert Data Recovery or Covert Extraction missions: each piece of intel eliminates 1 country from the possibilities list, leaving only a single country remaining.

Note: Long War makes a tweak to the Hologlobe UI so that if a mission is outstanding, time acceleration will stop when interesting things like a soldier recovering from fatigue happens. This means you may want to avoid the final "discover" step on the EXALT base until you're ready to assault it to avoid this behavior triggering constantly even though you don't want it.

This mission is considerably tougher than it is in vanilla. The EXALT base is crawling with randomly generated elite EXALT squads, four unique level 9 EXALT leaders (one Sniper, Operative, Medic, and Heavy) acting as bosses, as well as a few aliens. Cover is extremely destructible, and one wrong move can activate half the map.

Raiding the EXALT base will grant substantial credit and meld rewards and several unique items. It will also prevent any more EXALT missions from occurring and decrease panic worldwide by 5. Due to the high randomness of late game EXALT missions, leading to almost unwinnable missions at times, raiding the HQ is a priority, although you could hold off on it and farm extra cash from EXALT if you wanted to.

Enemy Forces

Enemy forces are always fixed:

  • One pod of 6 EXALT elite led by "EXALT Deputy Commander", a level 9 EXALT Elite Operator Boss
  • One pod of 6 EXALT elite led by "Commander Iago Van Doorn", a level 9 EXALT Elite Heavy Boss
  • One pod of 6 EXALT elite led by "EXALT Elite Captain", a level 9 EXALT Elite Medic Boss
  • One pod of 6 EXALT elite led by level 9 EXALT Elite Sniper Boss
  • Two pods of 3 standard exalt led by a random standard EXALT type (Operator, Heavy, Medic, or Sniper)
  • A Sectoid Commander (+3 leader level bonus, max 7) with 1 supporting alien
  • A level 1 Muton Elite

Storyline Missions

See also: Storyline Missions (EU2012)

Like in vanilla, story progression is nearly the same: capture an Outsider and make a Skeleton key, raid an Alien Base for the Hyperwave Beacon, down an Overseer for the Ethereal Device, and finally launch an operation against the Temple Ship. However each of those objectives are now substantially more difficult than the last and may require many months to tech up and prepare your squad. Alien Bases can have massive troop counts and will be quite difficult without MECs and MSgts; downing an Overseer will require a top-grade pilot, a Firestorm, and almost all aircraft upgrades; and the Temple Ship should be done with the most well-equipped ground force you have available as you only have one chance to succeed.

First Battle

Enemy Count: 10

The first mission of the campaign, which begins immediately after you select your starting country, is an abduction mission. The enemy force is always 3 pods led by Sectoids, with 4/3/3 aliens.

Alien Base Assault

Expiration timer: Unlimited
Enemy Count: 51-54

In Long War, one random country outside of your starting continent will immediately withdraw from the project in the first month via a large scale alien operation, during which time the aliens will construct an alien base within said country. Progress as normal and research Alien Operations so that you can manufacture a Skeleton Key, and then place a satellite over that country (or any others you lose along the way: they will also spawn bases and you can raid any that appear) to locate it. Note that by default, satellites take 5 days to become active and be able to detect the base, so plan accordingly.

Note: Long War makes a tweak to the Hologlobe UI so that if a mission is outstanding, time acceleration will stop when interesting things like a soldier recovering from fatigue happens. This means you may want to delay putting a satellite over an occupied country until you're ready to assault it to avoid this behavior triggering constantly even though you don't want it.

Expect over 50 aliens packed together in the vanilla Base Assault maps, meaning you'll have to deal with bad/buggy sightlines and terrible cover. Buying both squad size upgrades from the Officer Training School as well as the Super Skyranger Foundry project for added firepower helps, but a couple of your soldiers will probably need to be MECs due to the cover issues. You'll be guaranteed to see a "Dreadnought" (a Level 9 Cyberdisc boss) on your first base assault, and an additional level 9 boss of another type can appear during any subsequent attempts. Finally, in this mission, alien will behave as if the Itchy Trigger Tentacle Second Wave option enabled, allowing units who normally overwatch on activation to fire instead. In short, expect a painfully difficult experience and prepare accordingly.

Rewards are substantial: raiding the alien base reduce panic in the country by 20, returns it to the Council, drops panic across the continent by 5, and provides a massive influx of meld and materials as well as the Hyperwave Beacon, which is necessary to research Alien Communications, allowing construction of the Hyperwave Relay.

But clearing your first Alien Base also makes the game more difficult, causing a number of things to change at the strategic and tactical layers:

  1. Command Pods in general stop being pure Outsiders, with chances for tougher aliens like Sectoid Commanders to appear.
  2. The aliens prepare missions as if you had maximum possible threat during next month, see this page for details.
  3. Level 9 boss aliens will start appearing randomly in landed or crashed Transports and Terror Ships.
  4. The pool of Level 9 boss aliens that can appear in late game council missions, future Base Assaults, Transports, Terror Ships, Assault Carriers, and Battleships becomes tougher. This occurs each time you raid an Alien Base; see this page for details.

Enemy Forces

Alien Base Assaults contain a random assortment of 36 aliens stuffed into 4 soldier pods and 2 terror pods, subject to pod overflow and pruning rules, which may discard aliens in early months if pod sizes are low and they do not fit into the number of pods.

Additionally, there are a number of predetermined pods on top of the above that will appear:

  • A Soldier pod of 6 aliens led by a Muton Elite. The pod leader is flagged as Tough, and gains a +3 bonus to its leader level roll, up to a maximum of 7.
  • A Commander pod of 6 aliens led by an Sectoid Commander (or alternatively if you have collected an Ethereal Device, an Ethereal). The pod leader is also flagged as Tough, granting it a +3 leader level bonus.
  • A level 9 Cyberdisc ("Dreadnought") with 2 supporting aliens.

Additionally, if more than one Alien Base Assault has been performed, an additional random level 9 Boss with 2 supporting aliens is added.

Overseer Crash Site

Expiration timer: 24 Hours
Enemy Count: 15

Triggering this mission requires shooting down an Overseer, an extremely difficult endeavor (see this page for assistance). To even detect Overseers, you need to research Alien Communications and build a Hyperwave Relay.

Enemy troop counts are similar to vanilla, but the ship is staffed with elite aliens, including guaranteed spawns of high level Sectopods, Muton Elites, and Ethereals. The command pod is always in its usual, fixed spot.

Successfully completing the mission will reward you with the Ethereal Device, necessary for the research of Alien Command and Control and the construction of a Gollop Chamber.

Enemy Forces

All pod leaders are flagged as Tough, meaning they get a +3 bonus to their leader level (the maximum is still 7).

  • 1 Soldier Pod led by a Tough Muton Elite, with 4 supporting aliens
  • 1 Soldier Pod led by a second Tough Muton Elite, with 3 supporting aliens
  • 1 Terror Pod led by a Tough Sectopod, with 2 supporting aliens
  • 1 Command Pod led by a Tough Ethereal, with 2 supporting aliens

Temple Ship Assault

Expiration timer: N/A (begins immediately)
Enemy Count: ???

It's been a lengthy journey, but the end of the Long War is in sight!

In order to initiate the mission, activate the Gollop Chamber, but don't do this until you are ready. Upon doing so, all research and Foundry projects will be suspended, soldiers won't heal or recover from fatigue and you essentially can't do anything but the Temple Ship Assault mission, so the Chamber shouldn't be activated unless you're prepared for the last mission.

The Temple Ship is near-identical to vanilla: same enemy composition, positions, and spawn triggers as Enemy Within/Unknown, albeit each alien has VASTLY increased health, stats, and gene mods (and size, for that extra player intimidation factor). Specifically, each unit is a level 8 boss variation of its unit type; see the article on alien stats for details.

You'll be able to bring up to 12 soldiers with the Super Skyranger Foundry project. Go in heavy, hit hard, and let nothing stand in your way. If you've survived EXALT and an Alien Base or two, you should be fine. Try to bring soldiers that specialize at bringing down singular powerful units and take them down one by one.

At the end of the brutal road, in the Ethereal Cathedral, awaits the Uber Ethereal, Lord of the Alien Collective. He has massive stats and receives a massive 15 extra Damage Reduction for each nearby Ethereal (4 of them spawn as soon as you get vision on him).

Good luck, Commander.