XCOM 2’s turn timers are a relatively new feature to the series. We did see them for certain missions in XCOM Enemy Unknown, but they were never really a mainstay (and you could skip those missions if you wanted). Now turn timers are a harsh reality and pop up almost every other mission, so knowing how to manage your time is essential.
The first thing you should do is try to remain calm. Timers can put a lot of stress on people, especially when they’re fighting through hordes of aliens at the same time. Just remember that even if make a terrible mistake that wipes your entire squad, or you don’t make it to the evac in time, there’s always the auto saves to fall back on.
With that taken care of, it’s time to look at some efficiency strategies.
- Plan, plan, plan. The only redeeming feature about the timers is that they are turn based and to time based, leaving you all the time in the world to plan your moves out before making them. Examine every strategy and option before you commit to it, and then choose the one that gets you closest to your goal without losing squad members.
- Have a scout. The faster you move through a map, the more likely you are to run straight into a waiting group of enemies. You should always have a ranger scout in your group that you can use to scout the uncharted bits ahead using the first move of your turn. Rank them up and give them the perks that keep them concealed to minimize those whoops moments.
- Focus on the objective. This one’s a given, but it’s easy to get caught up in a firefight and forget about that computer needs hacking. Once the objective goes down so does the turn timer. Aliens should be treated as a secondary objective so long as they aren’t directly in your path.
- You can hack terminals from afar. If you’re on a hacking mission you can complete the objective a little earlier by using your specialist’s drone to hack the computer from a distance. This can be extremely useful if the objective is heavily defended by enemies.
- You can evac on your final move. Even if you use your two actions getting to the evac zone, you can still rope up into the waiting ship. This is especially helpful if you want to avoid the incoming reinforcements which always appear one turn after you complete your objective.
- Always move on your turn. If you spend even one turn entrenched in a firefight you’ll be losing too much time. Always use move as at least one of your actions during a round.
- Use the destructible environments to your advantage. If there is no straight path to the objective, you may want to make one by blowing a hole in a wall.
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