XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

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Routing notes for XCOM: EU. This route was intended for speedruns played on easy. Runs on other difficulties may require running additional missions

and acquiring additional squad upgrades.


Routing an XCOM speedrun comes down to gathering the materials and research neccesary to unlock the three story missions in the fastest possible way.

The requirements for each mission are below along with recommended squad upgrades. Note that credits are not tallied as they are generally in plentiful supply.

Base Assault


  • Xeno-Biology -> (Arc Thrower, build Alien Containment) -> (capture alien -> interrogate alien, capture Outsider) -> Outsider Shard -> buy Skeleton Key

Minimum Resources Required:

  • 10 Weapon Fragments
  • 10 Elerium
  • 10 Alloys

Overseer UFO


  • (Alien Nav Computer, UFO Power Source) -> New Fighter Craft -> (buy Firestorm, EMP Cannon -> buy EMP Cannon)
  • Hyperwave Communication -> build Hyperwave Relay

Minimum Resources Required:

  • 4 UFO Flight Computers
  • 2 UFO Power Sources
  • 70 Elerium
  • 90 Alloys
  • 75 Weapon Fragments
  • 30 Engineers

Temple Ship


  • Ethereal Device -> (PSI Armor -> buy PSI Armor, build Gollop Chamber)
  • Sectoid Commander Autopsy -> build Psionic Lab

Minimum Resources Required:

  • 60 Elerium
  • 40 Alloys

Recommended Squad Upgrades

By Base Assault:

  • Weapon Fragments -> Experimental Warfare -> build Foundry -> Heavy Weapons Platform -> buy 3-4 S.H.I.V.s
  • 5 Weapon Fragments

By Overseer UFO:

  • buy 5 Hover S.H.I.V.s
  • 100 Elerium
  • 150 Alloys

By Temple Ship:

  • Beam Weapons -> Heavy Lasers -> S.H.I.V. Laser
  • 40 Alloys
  • 30 Weapon Fragments

Detailed Route

The first couple months of the run will be spent taking optional missions and gathering resources. The second couple months will be spent fighting through

story missions and ignoring optional encounters. XCOM must attack the Temple Ship before the end of June to avoid a game over condition.

March (Month 1)

The only variance in the first month is the order in which the first abduction and the first UFO come in. Either way, if the first abduction happens before the 7th of June, you are good to go.

Intro Mission

Pick Europe. Start Xeno-Biology, excavate.

First Abduction

Must arrive before the 7th of June. If it doesn't, reset. Take Engineer reward. Start 2 satellites and a Workshop immediately afterwards, excavate if available.

First UFO

Arc Thrower Research after Xeno-Biology. Sell corpses and broken UFO parts up to 150 credits. If neccesary, sell some alloys and Elerium too. When Workshop
finishes, build Satellite Uplink, excavate if available.

Second Abduction

Take credit reward. Start Alien Containment. Start Power Generator. Start Lift. Weapon Fragments Research after Arc Thrower. Excavate second level when available.
Launch Satellites to Canada, the USA and Mexico when Satellite Uplink Finishes. Transfer an interceptor to North America.

April (Month 2)

The order in which these missions arrive is pretty random. In any case, you should try to grab the live alien first mission of the month. Don't forget to buy and
equip your Arc Throwers beforehand. It's recommended to bring 2 Arc Throwers and to give at least 1 to a support class with movement bonus. Also make sure you aren't
ever idling on research. If you don't have an interrogation going, start either Alien Nav Computer or Alien Power Source. Both should be done around the end of the month.

Council Report

Buy Arc Throwers. Buy Squad Size I if available. Build a Laboratory, excavate. Optional: buy and equip Phoenix Cannons to your interceptors. Start building a Foundry
as soon as experimental research is finished. You are also going to need a bit more power to finish out the month. If you have a place to put a Thermo Generator, build
one. If not, just build a regular generator but be aware that you will probably need to add another before the end of the game.

Third Abduction

Take engineers.

Second UFO

Capture the Outsider.

Third UFO (optional)

You need to get a total of 4 flight computers in this run, two for the research and two for a Firestorm. You also need 1 power source for the UFO Power Source
research. If you don't have the necessary flight computers or power source, you should do this UFO. Also if you are low on Weapons Fragments (less than 54) you should
do this UFO. However this UFO also doesn't always come.

Other Stuff

As soon as the Foundry is completed, start Heavy Weapons Platform. As soon as Heavy Weapons Platform completes, start 3-4 S.H.I.V.s. You will also need to build a
Workshop sometime this month and start another generator if the last generator you built wasn't a Thermo Generator. After you do the missions above ignore all others,
even the terror mission.

Base Assault

Start Base Assault as soon as your S.H.I.V.s finish. This should be right before the end of the month. There are several approaches to this mission. The most common
are either 3 S.H.I.V.s, an assault and a heavy or 4 S.H.I.Vs and an assault. A backup strat if your S.H.I.V.s don't finish before the end of the month is to grab Beam
Weapons research and go in with 5 soldiers with laser weaponry.

May (Month 3)

The resource gathering phase of the run is now over. Starting with Base Assault, the only missions we will be playing from now on are story missions. It is vitally
important to stick to the optimal research order. Any gap could push the final mission into July and cause us to game over.

Research/Build Order

New Fighter Craft (buy Firestorm and 5 Hover S.H.I.V.s) -> Hyperwave Communication (build Hyperwave Relay) -> Sectoid Commander Autopsy (build Psyonics Labs) -> EMP Cannon (buy and equip EMP Cannon)
In addition you will also want to build a second elevator, a Lab, and Squad Size II. If you need build space while your elevator finishes, remove Alien Containment.

Second Satellite Uplink Route (optional)

This route diverts credits into more excavation, another elevator, and more power generators to get another Satellite Uplink and satellites to help control panic and
prevent a game over at the end of June. If you choose not to use this route, make sure to start a third lab as soon as possible in May.

Overseer UFO

Toughest mission in the run. See Combat Tricks and Tactics section for tips.

June (Month 4)

Same general idea as May.

Research/Build Order

Ethereal Device (build Gollop Chamber) -> Psi Armor (buy Psi Armor) -> Beam Weapons -> Heavy Lasers -> SHIV Laser
Also replace any destroyed Hover S.H.I.V.s.

Psi Labs

Sometime around the end of May or the beginning of June, the Psyonics Labs will finish up. The exact script the game uses to select gifted soldiers is not fully
understood, but it is recommended that you just test all your highest ranking soldiers to ensure you find a match.

Temple Ship

The only mission in the game with a set map and set spawns. There are also 3 save/load despawns possible in this level. See Combat Tricks and Tactics section for tips.

Combat Tips and Tricks

General Tips and Optimizations

  • In XCOM, soldiers may move while other soldiers are moving, but no soldier may use an ability or attack while any other soldier is moving. Therefore the most efficient
way to manage your squad is to move everyone to where you want them first and then to take shots. This is not always possible, especially when dealing with abilities
like Run and Gun, but it is a good thing to keep in mind.
  • When trying to chase down enemies with an Arc Thrower, leaving a soldier out of cover in sight of an enemy will cause that enemy to invariably spend their turn
shooting at the exposed soldier and not moving.
  • Explosives SHOULD NOT be used against any weapon bearing alien until after Base Assault. Doing so can screw badly with your weapon fragment count. However they can be
freely used against Chryssalids.
  • Many experienced XCOM players will instinctively try to spread around experience in a squad. This is a mistake. Remember that the difficult missions are played with
only your one or two highest ranked soldiers, and Squad Size upgrades become available based only on the rank of your highest ranked soldier.
  • If you find yourself seriously short on weapon fragments, raising the difficulty, starting a mission, and then lowering the difficulty again will cause the mission to
have significantly more enemies.

UFO Missions

  • The scripted sequences which freeze your controls when you first encounter a UFO Power Source or a medium UFO's flight computer only freeze your controls if you are
selecting the unit which triggers the sequences when they trigger those sequences. If you switch to a different soldier before the soldier you moved triggers the
sequence, only your camera will be frozen and you are free to take shots with your other soldiers. Rarely useful but a nice time saver if it comes up.

Base Assault

  • Chryssalids are the main threat on this mission. Having a Lieutenant ranked assault going into this mission with Rapid Fire is hugely beneficial as it allows him or
her to 1v1 a Chryssalid. Taking down a pack of three Chryssalids can be done quickly with three shots and a grenade or with a rocket and a grenade if you happen to
bring both an assault and a heavy. If your assault is not Lieutenant ranked by Base Assault, it may be advisable to bring along the heavy as well to give yourself more
options when dealing with Chryssalids.
  • Do not get too aggressive with movement in this level. Move up step at a time so that every squad member has a shot if there are Chryssalids lurking in the next set of
shadows. Any damage which you do take try to take on your S.H.I.V.s as they are far less important to keep alive.

Overseer UFO

  • This mission always has the same enemies: 4 Muton Elites, 2 Super Floaters, a Sectopod, 2 drones and an Ethereal. The Ethereal and two of the Muton Elites will always
be in the room in the middle of the ship.
  • Putting your S.H.I.V.s in flight for this mission gives a huge benefit. In addition to the aim bonus, your S.H.I.V.s also become immune to grenades and the bombardment
attack which the Sectopod uses.
  • It is very important to fight one group of enemies at a time in this mission. Move your units in a tight group and pick off all the enemies outside before going into
the final room.
  • The behavior of the Ethereal is what makes the final room fight a bit inconsistent. In general, the Ethereal seems to prioritize Mind Control over Rift. However, if
your human soldier is not alive, a Rift is most likely coming. Having a few S.H.I.V.s surrounding the Ethereal can get him to rift himself sometimes but not reliably.
Also, units within one tile of the Ethereal when he dies will take damage from his death.

Temple Ship

  • You can despawn three waves of enemies during the Temple Ship mission by saving and reloading during the spawning animation.
  • Use your psi soldier's Rift spell on all difficult fights and don't be afraid to wait a couple turns to get the cooldown back. Rift is especially indispensable against
the Sectopods in the second to last room.
  • Placing some S.H.I.V.s at ground level and flying in with others in the final boss room will cause the final boss to rift at a midpoint altitude, hitting neither set of

(Now obsolete, see here and then here)

  • A Slightly out of date routing video for this mission can be found here

External Links


  • World Record: 1:07:46 by Papers
  • Segmented Run: 29:05 by Papers and Twyn
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