Missions are mainly distinguished by their urgency. Normal missions, a circle with four studs, can be done at your leisure, and ignoring or failing them would at most lost a territory. Urgent missions, a circle with eight studs, are limited time missions that may result in game over if ignored or failed.
It is possible to chain multiple missions before letting the UFO arrive to base, however the limited capacity of the UFO restrict the effectiveness of this strategy.
Clicking on a mission will shows you a mission briefing.
People requirements are the only know factor before hand. All other information are expectations or guesses and actual result may be different. But they are pretty reliable most of the time.
Different missions has different goals. Some missions' goal will change midway, and some multi-stage missions has different goals at different stage.
Most missions can be failed without ending the game, and can be retried until success. Missions that cannot be failed is rare, and should be obvious, for example there is no second chance when the Base is under attack.
Despite this, soldier lost should be limited with best effort, because there are no reinforcements.
Some mission end when the last enemies got killed/unconscious, but some can last forever if the objective is not fulfilled
Destroy all Units
These are the most common missions. Disable anything that moves. As soon as all enemy lost conscious, you win.
Destroy a Group of Units
Kill all moving targets marked by red arrows. The team can then proceed to neutralise all other enemies or retreat to UFO. If a red arrow still have HP left, it cant end.
Destroy An Unit
Kill a moving target marked by red arrow. The team can then proceed to neutralise all other enemies or retreat to UFO. If that red arrow still have HP left, it cant end.
Destroy all object(s) marked by red arrow(s). The team can then proceed to kill all enemies or retreat to UFO.
You may need to switch attack mode from "Attack Unit" to "Attack Location" to be able to attack target object. Do not forget to switch it back afterwards, if there are enemies left.
These missions are usually for crippling the enemies, and should be placed at higher priority then normal attack missions.
One of few type that with battle lengthened to forever if you kill emies first and leave object destruction later.
Pick up the object(s) marked by red arrow(s). The team can then proceed to kill all enemies or retreat to UFO. As long as the one who have the item make it safely back to UFO, it is a success.
If the object is destroyed, for example by explosions, the mission would be a failure. Note that robots cannot pick up items.
These missions are usually important for research. Do NOT drop retrieved item after mission success (e.g. in the loot screen or in chained mission). Since the mission is a success, it will not reappears and you will lost the item and its related research forever.
One of few type that with battle lengthened to forever if you kill emies first and leave object retrievant later.
Note: A specific subtype of these mission is to retrieve martian artifacts inside maze's full of robots. before Martians arrive, they mostly happen in Excavation maps. The artifacts are necessary to activate Martian Archive research which are necessary to activate Spoken Martian Language allow their alliance. Get the artifacts ASAP if you want to activate Martian Rescue missions that allow 3 martian recruits.
Capture Enemy Unit
The enemy marked by red arrow can be captured by knocking out its green health, without killing it (i.e. keep some red health), and send someone next to it. When the target wakes up, it will be taken prisoner as an additional unit, and you can escort it back to UFO, or kill or other enemies.
Since enemies will attack the prisoner (as it is now a human faction unit), it is best left as the last enemy standing, and medkits would be handy. Also, if it gained distance from other team members, the target will revert back as enemy and need to be recaptured.
If the target is killed, the mission would be a failure.
These missions are usually important for research.
The name says it all. Run to the marked location and that is it. It's normally the 1st stage of a 2stage mission, happen in a dug-up construction site, with the 2nd stage is inside a martian construct. Most of the time it's robot defending.
One of few type that with battle lengthened to forever if you kill emies first and leave reaching marked area later.
These missions happens only once, and has unique map or unique story script.
These missions does not have unique map or script, but still have limited availability.
The are your usual missions.
Enemies Allocation and Level
It's uncertain exactly what factors affect the number of enemies inside a mission and what kind of them . Example for Beastmen: soldiers, captain, chief, alchemist, martriarch.
Based on long games' observations, there are some elements:
- Game difficulty: Impossible will have earlier Martriarch than Normal, etc...
- Territory revealed: The more territories are revealed, the more higher level enemies will appear. This is assumed an counter to the old problem of Aftershock where if you dont advance to next stage and just focus on capture territories, you can capture nearly whole Earth before middle game.
- Total Level Averaging of ALL characters (discounted dead and retired). The higher it is, the higher level enemies will appear. This number total levels of soldiers, soldier/scientist, and soldier/technicians, but not pure scientist, technicians, or sci/tech. Two games where you fight same number of battles should have same kind of level of enemies appear in same time period.
- Total Level Averaging of characters in active squad: This number affect the number of enemies in a mission. This translate to the more high level soldiers you use , the more enemies will appear. This one is also assumed a counter to the AS tactic of turtling down and not advancing game stage. So In one game where you turtle down and only fight with your best soldiers, a battle become harder than if you add a few newbies along.
NOTE: This aspect of the game has the effect of limiting certain cheat codes. If you add experience to your soldier a lot, the game naturally introduce a bunch of high level enemies next battle for you to fight.