Firaxis’ series is notorious for its punishing gameplay so some XCOM: Chimera Squad tips will always be useful. Especially as, while this latest installment in the turn-based tactics series removes some of the franchise's more disciplinary features like permadeath, XCOM: Chimera Squad is still a gauntlet of tension and challenge.
Having played through Chimera Squad's campaign, and thus learned the hard way about how not to keep the peace in the new setting of City 31, we've provided some crucial pointers that you ought to know about before jumping in. Here are 5 XCOM: Chimera Squad tips to keep your squad alive and thriving, and avoid that ever regrettable Game Over screen.
1. Consider your difficulty settings carefully
The first thing you'll need to do when you begin XCOM: Chimera Squad is tweak your difficulty settings, which is more than just a case of selecting between Easy, Medium, and Hard.
Firaxis provides a number of modifier options which can drastically influence the nature of Chimera Squad's battlefields, ranging from Ironman mode, which locks off the ability to return to previous save files, to setting the heal rate that affects how much (or even if) your units can recover their life bar between encounters.
Be sure to read the descriptions of each setting carefully before you make a decision, otherwise you could find yourself stacked against the odds with no way out but to reset your campaign entirely.
2. Keep a close eye on the turn queue
Chimera Squad forgoes the turn system of its predecessors, in which entire teams would alternate between taking actions, for a Dungeons and Dragons inspired Interleaved system, which places all active units into a queue based on the order in which they breached the room or, in the enemy's case, a seemingly randomised Initiative stat. Sounds overly complicated, and a little bit boring? Don't ignore it. Understanding whose turn is up next, and what that means for the shape of the battlefield, can make the difference between failure and victory in Chimera Squad.
What's more, there's ample opportunity to manipulate the Interleaved queue to your favour, either by moving your units further up the queue, or deploying an attack that can send an enemy's turn back to the bottom of the list, or disable them from taking it completely. Don't forget that the Breach period at the start of each round will determine which allied unit attacks first, too, which brings us nicely to point three...
3. Use breach mode to your advantage
You'll be breaching at least once during every match in XCOM: Chimera Squad, and while there's certainly an element of theatre to the new mechanic, it's not there just for show. In addition to determining each of your unit's position in the turn queue, each entry point will come with its own modifiers that can either buff or debuff the squadmates assigned to it. Pay attention to these, and take care to assign the right person for the right entry point.
If going in through the window gives a higher chance for a critical hit, for instance, then choose the unit with the most powerful firearm to enter first. Meanwhile, units can even be upgraded to deploy special abilities that can only be used during the Breach period, such as levitation or poison; perfect for starting the match with a clear advantage against the enemy.
4. Don't ignore the countdown clock
City 31 is days away from total collapse, and it's up to Chimera Squad to save it. Seriously, if your peacekeeping efforts aren't run with the rigor and efficacy of a well oiled ship, the urban metropolis will descend into anarchy, and it's game over. The in-game calendar means that missions and certain actions back at HQ will move the timeline forward, and the amount of unrest within the city's districts will increase.
When a district reaches max unrest, the overall City Anarchy meter will rise. You want to keep both of these meters down, so focus on the districts that need the most help, and use Field Team Abilities (time gated abilities that can reduce or freeze levels of District Unrest and City Anarchy) to maintain the peace while you're off on another mission. You can learn more about the best ways to avoid total collapse in our XCOM Chimera Squad City Unrest guide here.
5. Make the most of the Scavenger Market
While the Supply store back at Chimera Squad's HQ has plenty of useful items to purchase with Credits, its range of products lacks that… je ne sais quoi that could help give your agents the serious leg up they need on the battlefield. Enter the Scavenger Market; an underground trade cell that visits your HQ every four days with bespoke, off-grid equipment that can be purchased with Intel.
You'll need to complete a mission with the Scavenger Market reward to first bring the traders to HQ, at which point it'll become an option at the main menu. I'd recommend buying at least one thing every time the Market shows up, as there's no way to re-open it without progressing through the in-game timeline once it's gone away.
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