This section contains game play guidelines, targeting first time players.
For specific help on exactly what to do and what to research, see the Walkthrough.
Game tips can be read in the game's library screen, and can almost replace the manual. They are duplicated here for easy reading.
- The Mars is one of your biggest enemies. No man can be without the spacesuit outside the home base, because of the lack of the atmosphere, high radiation and low temperatures.
- Those factors are summed up in the game as environmental hostility. The hostility varies according to place and time. Generally, the regions near equator and with low elevation are not so dangerous as the regions in mountains and around the poles. By night, hostility is usually higher than by day, but the day hostility grows considerably in the times of high solar activity.
- If you send your soldiers to the mission in a territory with high hostility and they do not have appropriate protection, they start losing their HPs (the same trouble occurs when the spacesuit is damaged during a battle). To prevent it, you may develop new types of spacesuits, offering better resistance, and equip them to your soldiers.
- The long-term way how to deal with hostility, is terraformation. If your scientists research proper technologies, you may start changing the Mars environment to one similar to the old Earth - hostility will gradually decrease. And do not forget that complete terraformation is one of your main goals in the game - the people in cryogenic monument are going to wake up in the course of time and if the planet is not ready to feed them, everything will be lost.
Tips on Strategic Game
- Strategic game is the base for success in tactical missions. You must have good background to deal with stronger enemies in later phases of the game. To achieve this, you should be able to manufacture up-to-date equipment, i.e. to research appropriate technologies and to have enough raw materials for production.
- First, you should occupy new territories. To do that, send your scientists to build a geological probe (it gives you information on the neighboring territories as well). If there is some raw material deposit on the territory, you can build mining station there. The material is necessary for manufacturing and building. Note that you do not accumulate material, instead the mines give you access to the material. If you have sufficient access to the material, you may produce any number of items with this prerequisity.
- However, before your technicians can manufacture some new weapon or device, the scientists have to develop appropriate technology. Later in the game, there will be more technologies to research. Do not neglect building excavation sites on the ancient ruins - you may make important discoveries there - and construction of buildings in the home base - they are necessary for some technologies or manufacturing. Check out diplomacy screen sometimes as well.
- Try to listen to what the base crew talks about, their discussions may contain important information about the advance of the game. The same is true about tutorial messages. In options menu, you can change the game behavior in certain situations and make playing more comfortable for you.
Tips on Tactical Game
- Combat missions are the core of this game. You are going to learn in the course of the game, the different battle tactics are effective against various enemies.
- The first thing to think about is equipping your combat squad with weapons. Check the weapon’s parameters before you give it to a character. Note that some weapons (or devices) may be used in several modes with different effects. Various types of weapons also deal different kinds of damage - some enemies may be more susceptible to one and more resistant to another.
- The other thing to consider are the abilities of the character. Some of them may be precise shooters, other one good observers or charismatic leaders. They may also have some specialization, enabling them to do things impossible for other soldiers, like using special kinds of equipment.
- After you are ready to start a mission, the characters may use different types of movement - fast running, or slower, but less conspicuous prowling. Movement is also affected by the spacesuit worn. Experiment a bit with different squad compositions, equipment and tactics to learn more. And check the options menu to adapt the game to your playing style.
Tips on Personnel Management
- Your people are the most important commodity in the game (together with time). Get acquainted with them personally and watch their advancement during the game.
- There are three classes in the game - soldier, technician and scientist. The character has one or two classes. Only soldiers may go to the combat missions, only scientists may research new technologies and build some stations on the planet, and only technicians may manufacture items, construct buildings at the home base and build the rest of the stations.
- Character’s activity gives him experience in the appropriate class. When acquiring enough experience, a character advances one class level. What does it mean? The scientist with higher level will research in faster pace, as well as technician will manufacture faster. Soldiers will be able to raise one of their attributes they use in combat.
- However, all classes will gain one training point on level advance. These training points may be invested to character’s specialization for strategic and/or tactical game - he may become expert on weapon production, Reticulan technologies (i.e. manufacturing or research will be even faster) or using heavy weapons in combat. The later phases of the game may become very difficult if you neglect personal development of your crew.
- Note that some scientific or technical trainings (like medic) may be useful also in combat. More trainings will be available in later phases of the game. And beware: the training should not be ceased for too long or the character will forget what he or she learned."
These guidelines does not contain spoilers.
- Make sure game is patched to latest version.
- Read the tutorial box and the library; Afterlight has complex game play. Most "what is happening" and "how to do that" can be answered by reading item descriptions, the library, or by listening to the directors.
- Resource is scare, and should be the primary driving force for your expansion and diplomacy strategy.
- Prioritize researches and constructions related with game event. You need experts in Planetology and Earth technology most.
- Train early for focused character and diverse team, but not too eagerly in case better trainings comes up. For example, in middle game there's going to show 3 line of training for stealth soldiers, and late game there's going to show 2 new lines of training for two kind of weapons
- Never stop production; queue lots of ammo and expendables, so that production line is only built once for each. You can change production order (i.e. current production) any time. Like heavy bullets can be expended 300 magazines at the very least, same deal with laser batteries.
- Tactical pace would be slow in the beginning, when you got "truck drivers in awkward spacesuits, armed with scientific tools that someone said should work as weapons."  It will get better.
- Mission briefing always shows environmental hazard level and enemy types. Read them and be prepared. Hazard will pierce your suits and make you lose HP after that. However, hazard type of HP loss can be easily healed, easier than wounds.
- Free camera let you have more control. Do read and maybe customize camera keyboard controls in options screen.
- If a veteran dies, reload. You need the best when new enemies arrives. Do not spread the experience too much.
- You can enhance weapons by composing them with add-ons in the store screen.
- There is no single best weapon / Suit, and no single best training. There's only weapons and skills that suit you best. Some players really like to run around like athletes, and some really like to wear heavy suits like a tank to inch closer to targets.
- When enemy close in, don't aim shot; use snap shot or even snap burst.
- When issuing movements, before you release the mouse button you can drag the mouse to set facing.
- If it is hard to win, try another approach. Instead of laser, try firearms. Try melee or explosives. Try luring or hit and run. Try robots. etc.
- In middle to late game missions, sometimes the enemies can be hard for the weapons you have on hand. Never forget the stimulants you produce can raise the stats/skills of your soldiers in quite some time.
Military Training should be the first research so that your soldiers can train ASAP in Tactical Training room. Otherwise they are just sitting around doing nothing. And tactical room is one of the busiest room from start to middle game.
Beastmen Soldier Interrogation research open up the usage of Beastmen weaponry which should be plentiful by now for players. Normal soldiers can use grenades, pistol and rifles, though Big Rifle require heavy weapon training. Medicine scientist soldier can use Beastmen Medikit in mission, etc... It simplify your production lines immensely especially on Impossible difficulty.
Terraformation open the ability to build terraformation stations on Mars. You dont, necessarily, need to build it until you see missions with hazard scale far beyond your suits. But other than that need , you also want to prepare for late game when you need Terraformation advances to certain thresholds (40, 48, 63, 70) the which will silently allow researchs, and have diplomatic effect with a certain faction in the game.
You also need to build at least three Excavation area to activate Retrieve object of Martian type. They will activate two researchs to open up Martian line of research. Any more just provide Robot-map mission which is helpful when you need to expend large amount of Ret and Mar batteries.
AL:Accelerated Terraformation (Tech) and AL:Terraforming Acceptable by Martians (Tech) Are necessary to open up new advance in main story. If you dont know what to do next, that was most likely because you havent research AT and build AT stations to push terraform upto 63%.
AL:Hyperspace Gates (Tech) will make Gate area only appear Destroy Object/Gate missions until the gates are destroyed. Before, they show Destroy Enemies mission type repeatedly over time. For certain type of players, delaying this research allow "farming" gate missions.