XCOM: Enemy Unknown Beginner's Guide - Be Prepared For The Alien Invasion


Posted October 10, 2012 - By Donell Tucker

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Beginner's Guide - Be Prepared For The Alien Invasion

Welcome, new recruits! Earth has been invaded by an unknown alien race, and the planet's governments have banded together to create the secret organization known as XCOM, to counter attack the extraterrestrial invasion. You play as the commander of XCOM and have full control of the world defense team. You must lead them into battle against the intruders and create a fully functional HQ

Our beginner's guide will get you started in the world of alien elimination by going through the basics in this tactical turn-based game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Once you are done reading this guide, you'll be ready to take on the alien invasion and save Earth once and for all.

Building A Better HQ

Before we send you out to battle, you’ll need to build up your team, put together your alien-blasting arsenal, and make some of the tough choices that make XCOM a game that’s nearly impossible to put down. In the base-building section of the game, you'll have a complete overview of your HQ and be managing five rooms. Your main goal is to grow and enhance your base in order to improve your overall readiness when you take the fight to the aliens. Let me break down the five different rooms before we head into battle.

Mission Control

Within the mission control room, the hollow globe provides a complete representation of Earth, and allows you to scan for incoming alien activity using XCOM's satellite network. If all of your departments are currently tasked with something, mission control allows for the passage of time to complete current projects.

The Situation Room

The Situation room provides constant monitoring of the member nations within the council. It will provide the XCOM project with funding from each individual nation. Each of these governing bodies around the world comes with a panic gauge showing the status of that nation. A sudden attack will raise the level of panic for that particular nation. If the panic level gets too high, that nation will withdraw from the council and take their money with them, so try your best to please them.

There is also a main panic level called the "Doom Tracker" which displays the overall status of your game. If the Doom Tracker gets filled up, it's game over for you and the world. To lower the national panic levels, satellites can be launched from the situation room and additional coverage will also increase your current funding level.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown


Dr. Vahlen and the research team conduct all of XCOM's research and development from within the research lab room. After coming back from a battle with alien artifacts or specimens, your research team will notify you with an on-screen prompt that they can research a new project. It's important to remember that you only research one project at a time, and that research on the current project will be halted if you switch to a different project.


The Engineering room handles the actual fabrication of items and equipment developed by the research team. You can purchase new items and weapons that have been fabricated immediately. The engineering team is also responsible for the construction of new facilities within XCOM HQ including crucial infrastructure facilities like power generators or satellite uplink. Be careful when you choose to make a new structure since making facilities will take several days to complete. Plan ahead.


From the Barracks, you can view your current roster of soldiers and hire additional troops to bolster your squad. The Officer Training School, located in the barracks, gives you the chance to give abilities to heal quicker or level up faster for all units. If you are running out of units, don't worry about it. The Barracks lets you hire more recruits and ship them to the XCOM HQ. Finally, this section also provides access to a memorial honoring XCOM squad members lost in combat. Rest in peace, Johnny Rico.


The Hanger is where you can manage XCOM's current fleet of interceptors that are crucial to engaging hostile enemy craft detected in mission control. These flying beasts can be stationed on every continent in order to protect areas where new satellite coverage is established. From the Hanger, you can also order additional interceptors and modify their weapon loadouts.

XCOM Enemy Unknown

Hitting The Battlefield

After your preparations at XCOM HQ have been complete, you are now ready to head into combat. In this mode, you will be on ground zero ordering your units where to go, what to attack, and which abilities they should use. Before you head out to the battle, the game will automatically select the best units you should bring to the fight. If you don't agree with what the game chooses you can always re-arrange the soldiers can create the squad you want. You can also edit their load outs and either upgrade their abilities or just see what kind of heat they’re packing.

Health, movement, cover, and actions are the key to your success in XCOM: Enemy Unknown; so let me break it down piece by piece.


The indicators presented on the Unit Flag of each soldier display the health of the unit. You can restore a soldier's health or stabilize a critically wounded in the field through the use of Medkits, which you can obtain in Engineering and equip during the loadout screen. Soldiers that are killed in combat cannot be brought back to life. When your units die, they stay dead.


Each soldier has a limited range of movement represented by the "pips" on the HUD. When you select a certain solider, an outline will appear indicating the maximum movement range currently available to that unit in a single move. An additional buffer area indicates the movement range available by "dashing." This will expend all available movement points at once. By dashing, you can get into cover quickly or find yourself in a whole lot of trouble.


Cover plays a crucial role in the effectiveness and longevity of your troops in the field. Objects that provide cover include everything from benches, trashcans, and other scenery all the way up to buildings and vehicles. The amount of protection each item provides is indicated by either a full shield icon or a half-shield icon located beside the item. A yellow shield indicated that an enemy is flanking the unit at that location.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Pre-Sale Announcement:  Elite Solider Pack Detailed


In addition to their standard attack, each solider class has a number of unique abilities that can be used in the field to support your overall squad. As your troops progress through the ranks, additional specialized abilities will become available. The Assault class’ “Gun and Run” ability allows you to shoot and fire at the same time by using one action point. “Covering Fire” give support units the ability to return fire if the enemy fires first. Variations in each soldier’s equipment loadout can also provide unique benefits on the field and enable additional combat maneuvers.

XCOM doles out only two action points per character. This means that you’ll often have to choose between dashing or setting up a shot. The sniper unit, for instance, requires that you don’t move before pulling the trigger. Think before you act. If you find yourself dashing into trouble, you’ll need to hunker down for a whole turn in hopes that you get to see another mission.

With these quick tips under your belt, you are ready to take on the alien invasion, win back Earth, or simply take on a friend in the online multiplayer options. Be sure to check back on g4tv.com for more guides and walkthroughs for XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Beginner's Guide - Be Prepared For The Alien Invasion


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