Tactical combat of UFO:Afterlight is used to defend and expand territories, making sure that strategic objectives can be meet.
The terrain of operation area is determined by nature of mission and type of territory. For example a defend mission in a hilly territory may result in a mining station built on a slope.
Up to 7 soldiers can be sent into tactical missions, except for capture mission you need to leave a space for the captive. Some mission will need multiclass soldiers to attend, for example technicians to repair disrupted stations or scientists to identify artifects.
Originally, only human soldiers are available. When the game progress, it is possible to acquire Reticulan and Martian soldiers and to produce battle robots. Each races has different strengths and weaknesses.
Simultaneous Action System Edit
SAS, or Simultaneous Action System, is used in the tactical game.
Every action in the game takes time to complete. And your action happens at the same time with the enemy. Specifically, it will take time for soldiers to switch between states, such as deploying weapon (holding up weapon) before fire, or picking up objects.
The game can be paused at any time, and the speed can be controlled, for example fast time to skip boring time, and slow time to micro control the soldiers. You have direct control of the soldiers; they only obey your commands, and for example will not automatically attack enemies.
When the game just begins, there are only weapons and suits. Weapons is required to attack enemy; bare fist is not accepted. All soldiers must be equipped with a weapon for a team to be ready for mission.
Suits is required to protect soldiers from enemies, and to protect human soldiers from the Mars's environment. Non-human soldiers can survive on Mars without suits, but without armor they are vulnerable to enemy fire.
Immediately after game start, it will be possible to research and then produce new devices such as mines, medkits, or detection devices. These devices are quite useful, and should not be underestimated.
A bit later in game it will also be possible to research and produce addons, that can further enhance equipments and robots.
Scouting means "discovering enemies", and is important because your soldiers cannot target what they cannot see. In the worse case, they will be attacked but do not know where the attacks come from.
It pays to train up at least one specialist human scout, and research detection devices such as goggles. Some sensory, such as hearing, can pass walls, but normally cannot be used for targeted attack.
The enemy also need to scout your soldiers. They can remain stealthy by keeping a low profile and stationary, and later in game it is possible to research devices to help.
With suitable research and training, the soldiers can acquire different movement modes and poses.
Movement modes affect how fast and how many places the soldiers can reach. Poses affect accuracy. Both affect scouting, stealth, and dodge rate.
Since the game is real 3D, poses and movement modes also directly affect line of fire, both dealing and receiving.
Most actions can only be done when stationary, it is impossible to shoot on the move.
The varied enemies and battlefields make sure that you will need to use different tactics to keep winning.
Sometimes it is OK to form a firing line and wait for the enemy, but sometimes the enemy is numerous and you need to hit hard and fast to accomplish the objective before being overwhelmed.
Each weapon also has their strengths and weakness, including melee and pistols. It is well know that dual pistol specialist can shot almost as fast as a Gatling gun, except with higher flexibility.