Tips for playing Long War 2

Start off your Long War 2 campaign right with these opening moves.

Long War 2’s main focus is a massive overhaul of the strategy layer, providing a significant revamp to the depth and complexity of your activities in XCOM 2’s geoscape. But with this complexity comes a variety of new concerns and questions when you’re starting out with Long War 2’s expanded campaigns—read on for a few tips to get to grips with your increased responsibilities as the world’s most important Commander.

#1 Intelligence is Key

It should be no surprise that the key to getting your early game ball rolling is effective prioritization of your resources—and in this case, Intelligence is one of the best things to focus on. When managing your initial Resistance Haven, focus all your starting rebels on the Intel job.This accomplishes a few important things. For one, it gives you the best chance of detecting missions early and often, giving you plenty of opportunities to gain resources and plenty of time to approach them with. As your troops are weak and inexperienced early on, it’s important to aim for the most generous infiltration times possible to balance that out with larger squads. 

In Long War 2, expansion is far more pivotal to your success, and ignoring it for too long can have dire consequences.

Even if you want to try one-man stealth approaches to certain operations, an Intel focus means you’ll detect more missions in general, allowing you to amass more rewards and resources to speed up XCOM’s development. When your troops are more experienced and your havens are better developed, you can afford to start switching some rebels to Supply and Recruit.

As an additional bonus, Intel rebels provide small amounts of the Intel resource, important for expanding to new regions. Speaking of which...

#2 Expand your Land

In vanilla XCOM 2, you contact new regions to reach ADVENT Blacksites, Facilities and Story Objectives. In Long War 2, expansion is far more pivotal to your success, and ignoring it for too long can have dire consequences.
For one, setting up Havens in new regions allows you start performing the Intel job there, opening up a whole new area of potential missions you can detect and infiltrate. Like any good strategy game, that also means it’s core to ramping up your economy—steadily establishing and developing new Havens is important to scaling up your Supply and Intel income, not to mention the wealth of new mission rewards you can benefit from.

But perhaps even more important than the positives you enjoy from expanding are the negatives you suffer from staying small. Every mission that goes undetected and unbeaten around the world can potentially be advancing alien goals like introducing Dark Events, and if you don’t spread your reach to  start interfering with these operations, you’ll eventually be overwhelmed by the unrestrained power of an unopposed ADVENT occupation force.

Additionally, XCOM activity in any given region increases the ADVENT strength there as they pay attention to the growing resistance movement, making missions in that part of the world feature tougher and more numerous enemies. Expanding your global reach allows you to maneuver strategically to focus on exploiting the world’s least-defended regions, ensuring you aren’t backed into a strategic corner where your only choice is to take on harder and harder opposition as your only region’s ADVENT strength grows higher and higher.

#3 Go Hard and Fast, or Smooth and Sneaky

Long War 2’s extended infiltration mechanic means you’ll be planning the theme of your missions on the geoscape long before any boots hit the ground. It’s important to take a good look at the mission type, infiltration time and your available troop roster and pick a realistic strategy with an achievable outcome.
In the early game when timed missions are at their most common, seek to beat the rush by either going all-out aggressive or high-speed sneaky. Large teams featuring Technicals, Grenadiers and Assaults excel at blasting their way through contact and maintaining a steady advance to achieve objectives that are well-defended by ADVENT opposition. Small squads of Shinobis and Specialists, meanwhile, are perfect for avoiding the enemy completely and sniping hack-based objectives from afar.

In either case, tailor your approach to what you have available. If the mission objective is hack-related but you don’t have any Specialists, you’ll have to get up close to achieve the objective, making stealthy approaches more difficult. On the other hand, if you don’t have any Technicals or Grenadiers handy for a more combat-focused approach, it’s easy to get bogged down in a cover-to-cover firefight that bleeds out the timer before you can push through and accomplish your goals. When you just don’t have the tools available for the job, or the infiltration timer of a mission is too short to bring those key things you depend on, it’s a good time to consider ignoring the mission completely. Knowing when a mission is fundamentally unwinnable is the difference between simply missing out on a reward and losing an entire squad because of your greed.

#4 Don’t Get Comfortable

When you first load up Long War 2’s geoscape, you might be relieved to note the absence of the AVATAR project clock—but don’t be fooled, because global doom is still ticking along whether you can see it or not. Dally too long and your resistance war will become a losing one all too quickly; keep your eyes on the prize and your focus on strategic objectives from the moment you start your campaign. With your Havens and your base developing, keep your eye out for operations that mention ‘leads’ in their rewards—finding these leads is critical to fully liberating the regions you operate in, which in turn is a crucial part of your campaign to liberate Earth. Once you’re capable of freeing regions, keep your soldiers and technology developing in preparation to take on the more challenging story missions you’ll discover—get your boys and girls trained up and decked out and start sniffing out and tearing up ADVENT’s most critical military installations.

These early game pointers should get you moving in the right direction for your first Long War 2 campaign, and with some experience and a little luck, you should have all you need to free Earth from ADVENT’s clutches. Good luck—as always, the world is counting on you.

John "Beagle" Teasdale has sent a lot of aliens to alien heaven. Check out his XCOM videos (and karaoke skills) at youtube.com/beaglerush.