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I find the Lightning somewhat useful at hunting down medium UFO's, since you do the downing and scavenging in a single trip, effectively saving a hangar. Of course, this is not exclusive - you still need at least a transport and an interceptor - but I find having a Lightning craft useful for such missions, especially since transferring soldiers and equipment from one craft to another costs nothing.

--Trotsky 04:29, 26 June 2006 (PDT)

If I built a Lightning, I'd do away with the SkyRanger/Interceptor (so long as I was sure I could access the Elerium required). However, because the Avenger can do everything the Lightning can (and much more), I don't see the point in wasting time and money building the lesser craft.

- Bomb Bloke

I think the Lightning is not so much a Skyranger/Interceptor replacement, but an experience. In fact, I'd actually recommend that the Lightning be used to suppliment your Skyranger or Interceptor than to replace them. (I always recommend hanging onto your older aircraft anyway... but that's not in discussion)

The Lightning's main selling point has to be when it's used in the battlescape, with its multiple exits (although, this is unique only because of a collision detection error). You don't get HWPs, but fill this with veteran soldiers and you're all set.

It's a lousy interceptor due to its shorter range, but it can still move very fast, making it good for emergency situations where you have to intercept a UFO close to home. But if you want a troop carrier, go for the Skyranger and Avenger. If you want an interceptor, go for the interceptor or Avenger.

The lightning, to me at least, is much more interesting than the Firestorm. But some players find that useful as well, and I won't begrudge them that.


What a shame

What a shame the Lightning doesn't have a viable niche in the game, if even for just a phase in the mid-game. It's less fuel-efficient and less heavily armed than the Firestorm, and of course it pales in comparison to the Avenger. I suppose it's possible to use it for intercepting and recovering Scouts... but a Firestorm+Skyranger would work better.

Question: my recollection is that early in the game I can find Elerium-115 on crashed UFO's, but later in the game the crashed UFO's are too heavily damaged. Is this just something hard-coded into the gameplay, or is it related to the level of overkill the later weapons do?

Perhaps the Lightning could serve some function as a specialist in anti-Scout missions... give it a single Plasma Beam and it could shoot them down without taking damage and without blasting their power sources, while also carrying an assault team that would be sufficient for dealing with the small number of aliens on those UFO's.

Eric 22:42, 6 January 2007 (PST)

I think you might be missing the usefulness of the Lightning. There are other ships that fulfil specific roles better - and the Avenger's whole purpose was to trump everything else. The Lightning however isn't a power-gamer's ship.
It offers fast short-range rapid interception and UFO recovery. So it can't go as far or carry tanks. Its single hardpoint fits a plasma beam, putting it in the same league as the Interceptor with dual plasma beams where it can shoot anything down except battleships without taking on damage. It's also second to the Avenger in terms of how much damage it can soak up, but I really wouldn't count that as a plus.
The Lightning's ground combat experience is completely unique to that of the Avenger and Skyranger - which are practically identical except for the cover behind the ramp. With flying suits, you can have your whole squad deployed from any direction around the aircraft, making it excellent for squads of elite troops that are good enough to handle missions without tanks.
Because of its obvious limitation in range, you don't want to use them in large numbers. I only ever use one of these, and only one Avenger. Interception is otherwise easily handled by Interceptors with one or two plasma beams. For Battleships, the Avenger(s) take over. Firestorms on the other hand hardly ever see any service in my campaigns - but they are useful ships in their own right.
As for UFO damage - The amount of damage that you deal to the UFO in the Geoscape does not determine the damage to the UFO on the ground. Ground damage is randomised at the creation of the battlescape map, and will vary if you reload in the Geoscape and relaunch the mission several times. It just depends on what numbers turn up on the dice rolls. So no, using weaker or less firepower will not change the condition of the ship in the battlescape. - NKF