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XCOM: UFO Defense - Why It's Still One of the Best Games Ever Made

XCOM UFO Defense: A Classic Strategy Game That Still Holds Up

If you are a fan of strategy games, chances are you have heard of XCOM UFO Defense, also known as UFO Enemy Unknown in some regions. This game, released in 1994 by MicroProse, is widely considered as one of the best and most influential games of all time. It combines turn-based tactical combat with base building, research, and resource management, creating a deep and immersive gameplay experience that will challenge your strategic thinking and decision making.

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In XCOM UFO Defense, you are the commander of a secret organization formed by the world's governments to fight against an alien invasion. You must build bases, recruit soldiers, intercept UFOs, research alien technology, and engage in ground battles with the extraterrestrial threat. The game is dynamic and unpredictable, as the aliens will adapt to your actions and launch different types of attacks. You will also have to deal with the political and economic aspects of the situation, as your funding and support will depend on your performance and reputation.

XCOM UFO Defense is a game that has aged well, thanks to its timeless gameplay mechanics and its moddable nature. It has spawned several sequels, spin-offs, and remakes, as well as inspired many other games in the genre. However, nothing can beat the original in terms of charm, challenge, and satisfaction. If you want to experience this classic game for yourself, or if you want to revisit it with some enhancements, here is how you can download and install XCOM UFO Defense on your PC.

How to Download and Install XCOM UFO Defense

Where to buy the game legally and safely

The easiest and most convenient way to get XCOM UFO Defense is to buy it from one of the online digital distribution platforms that sell it. The game is available on Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle, and other reputable sites. The price is usually around $5, but you can sometimes find it on sale for less. Buying the game from these platforms will also give you access to some bonus features, such as achievements, cloud saves, forums, etc.

Once you buy the game, you can download it directly from the platform's client or website. The installation process is simple and straightforward, as the game is compatible with modern operating systems. However, keep in mind that the game is still based on the original version from 1994, which means that it has some limitations and bugs that may affect your enjoyment. For example, the game has a low resolution, a clunky interface, a limited number of items and soldiers, a lack of options and customization, etc. Fortunately, there is a way to fix these issues and improve your game experience significantly: using OpenXcom.

How to use OpenXcom to enhance the game experience

OpenXcom is an open-source project that aims to recreate XCOM UFO Defense with none of the problems that plagued the original. It is not a mod or a remake, but rather a new codebase that runs on top of the original game data. This means that you need to have a copy of XCOM UFO Defense installed on your PC in order to use OpenXcom.

OpenXcom offers many benefits over the vanilla version of XCOM UFO Defense. Some of them are:

  • Fixability: OpenXcom eliminates all the bugs and glitches that made the original game frustrating or unplayable. No more crashes, freezes, corrupted saves, etc Flexibility: OpenXcom allows you to customize the game to your liking, with many options and settings that you can tweak. You can change the difficulty, the graphics, the sound, the interface, the gameplay, etc. You can also enable or disable certain features, such as ironman mode, autosaves, line of sight, etc.

  • Moddability: OpenXcom supports a wide range of mods and customizations that can add new content, features, and challenges to the game. You can find mods that change the graphics, the music, the weapons, the aliens, the missions, etc. You can also create your own mods using the OpenXcom modding tools.

  • Compatibility: OpenXcom runs on any modern operating system, such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, etc. You can also play it on any device, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. You can also play it online or offline, with or without Steam.

To use OpenXcom, you need to download it from its official website or from one of the platforms that host it. The latest stable version is 1.0, but you can also try the nightly builds that have more features and updates. The installation process is easy and fast: you just need to extract the OpenXcom files into your XCOM UFO Defense folder and run the OpenXcom executable. The first time you run it, you will have to configure some settings and point it to your game data folder. After that, you can enjoy XCOM UFO Defense with all the improvements and enhancements that OpenXcom provides.

How to Play XCOM UFO Defense

The basics of map mode and base management

XCOM UFO Defense is divided into two main modes: map mode and battle mode. In map mode, you can see a global view of the Earth and monitor the alien activity. You can also manage your bases and resources in this mode.

You start the game with one base in a location of your choice. You can build up to eight bases around the world, but each one will cost you money and maintenance. Your bases are where you store your equipment, conduct your research, manufacture your items, train your soldiers, launch your interceptors, etc. You can customize your bases by building different facilities, such as hangars, laboratories, workshops, living quarters, radar systems, missile defenses, etc.

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Your bases are also vulnerable to alien attacks. If an alien UFO detects your base location, it may try to infiltrate it and destroy it. You will have to defend your base by sending your soldiers to fight off the invaders in battle mode. If you lose your base, you will lose all its facilities and personnel.

In map mode, you can also see the UFOs that fly over the Earth. You can use your radar systems to detect them and track them. You can also send your interceptors to shoot them down or force them to land. If you succeed in doing so, you can send your transport craft to recover the UFO and its occupants in battle mode.

In map mode, you will also receive reports of alien activity in different regions of the world. These may include abductions, terror attacks, crop circles, cattle mutilations, etc. You can send your transport craft to investigate these incidents and engage in battle mode with the aliens. If you ignore these incidents or fail to stop them, you will lose public support and funding from the affected countries.

The basics of battle mode and combat tactics

Battle mode is where you control your soldiers in turn-based tactical combat against the aliens. You can enter battle mode when you intercept a UFO or respond to an alien incident.

In battle mode, you can see a detailed view of the battlefield and its surroundings. The battlefield may vary depending on the location and type of mission. It may be a rural area, an urban area, a desert area, a polar area , a jungle area, a UFO interior, etc. The battlefield may also have different features, such as buildings, vehicles, trees, rocks, hills, water, etc. These features can provide cover, concealment, obstacles, or opportunities for you and the aliens.

In battle mode, you can select your soldiers and give them orders. Each soldier has a number of time units (TUs) that determine how many actions they can perform in a turn. Actions include moving, shooting, throwing, reloading, using items, etc. Each action costs a certain amount of TUs depending on the soldier's skills and equipment. You can also reserve some TUs for reaction fire, which allows your soldier to shoot at any enemy that moves within their line of sight during the alien turn.

In battle mode, you can also see the stats and inventory of your soldiers. Each soldier has a rank, a name, a nationality, and a gender. They also have various attributes, such as health, morale, bravery, reactions, accuracy, strength, etc. These attributes affect their performance and behavior in combat. For example, a soldier with high health can withstand more damage, a soldier with high morale can resist panic and mind control, a soldier with high accuracy can hit more targets, etc.

Each soldier also has an inventory that contains their equipment and items. You can equip your soldiers with different weapons, armor, grenades, medikits, scanners, etc. You can also loot items from dead enemies or allies. Different items have different effects and uses in combat. For example, a weapon can have different modes of fire and damage types, an armor can provide protection and mobility bonuses or penalties, a grenade can explode and cause area damage or smoke or stun effects, a medikit can heal wounds or revive unconscious soldiers, a scanner can reveal hidden enemies or objects, etc.

In battle mode, you have to use your soldiers' abilities and items to fight against the aliens. The aliens have different types and ranks that vary in appearance, behavior, and abilities. Some aliens are more common than others and some are more dangerous than others. You will encounter different aliens depending on the difficulty level and the stage of the game. Some examples of aliens are:


SectoidA small gray humanoid with large black eyes and a weak body. They are the most common alien type and have psionic powers that allow them to mind control or panic your soldiers.

FloaterA humanoid with cybernetic implants and a jetpack that allows them to fly. They are fast and agile but not very tough. They usually carry plasma rifles or heavy plasma guns.

MutonA large green humanoid with a muscular body and a fierce appearance. They are strong and resilient but not very smart. They usually carry plasma rifles or heavy plasma guns.

SnakemanA reptilian humanoid with a snake-like lower body and scales. They are agile and venomous but not very durable. They usually carry plasma pistols or rifles.

EtherealA tall pale humanoid with a robe and a skull-like face. They are the most powerful alien type and have psionic powers that allow them to mind control or panic your soldiers or use psi attacks that bypass armor.

CyberdiscA large metallic disc with spikes and weapons that can fly and hover. They are heavily armored and armed with plasma beams that can cause massive damage.

ChryssalidA large insectoid creature with claws and fangs that can run fast and jump high. They are extremely dangerous as they can kill your soldiers in one hit and turn them into zombies that will hatch into more chryssalids.

SectopodA huge bipedal robot with multiple weapons and sensors that can walk over any terrain. They are the most heavily armored and armed alien unit and can cause devastating damage with their plasma cannons or missiles.

To win a battle mode mission , you have to complete the objective of the mission. The objective may vary depending on the type of mission. For example, in a UFO recovery mission, you have to eliminate all the aliens and secure the UFO. In a terror mission, you have to save as many civilians as possible and kill all the aliens. In a base defense mission, you have to protect your base and kill all the invaders.

To complete the objective, you have to use your combat tactics and skills. You have to plan your moves carefully, use cover and concealment, flank and surprise your enemies, exploit their weaknesses, use your items wisely, etc. You also have to manage your resources, such as ammo, health, morale, etc. You have to be prepared for any situation, as the aliens can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Battle mode is the core of XCOM UFO Defense and the most exciting and rewarding part of the game. It is also the most challenging and frustrating part of the game, as you will face many difficulties and risks. You will lose soldiers, equipment, missions, and even bases. You will make mistakes, face setbacks, and suffer losses. But you will also learn from your failures, improve your skills, and achieve victories. You will feel the thrill of combat, the joy of success, and the satisfaction of progress.

How to Improve Your Skills and Enjoyment in XCOM UFO Defense

Tips and tricks for beginners and veterans

XCOM UFO Defense is a game that requires a lot of skill and strategy to master. It is also a game that can be very fun and rewarding if you know how to play it well. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you improve your skills and enjoyment in XCOM UFO Defense:

  • Save often: XCOM UFO Defense is a game that can be very unforgiving and unpredictable. You never know when something bad will happen that will ruin your game. Therefore, it is advisable to save often and use multiple save slots. This way, you can avoid losing too much progress or having to restart the game from scratch.

  • Use hotkeys: XCOM UFO Defense has many hotkeys that can make your gameplay faster and easier. You can use them to perform various actions, such as selecting soldiers, changing views, opening menus, etc. You can also customize your own hotkeys in the options menu.

  • Use smoke: Smoke is one of the most useful items in XCOM UFO Defense. It can provide concealment and protection for your soldiers from enemy fire. You can use smoke grenades or smoke rockets to create smoke clouds in strategic locations, such as near your landing zone, near enemy positions, near buildings or vehicles, etc.

  • Use explosives: Explosives are another useful item in XCOM UFO Defense. They can cause damage and destruction to enemies and objects. You can use grenades or rockets to blow up walls, doors, windows, floors, etc., creating new paths or openings for your soldiers. You can also use explosives to kill or injure multiple enemies at once or destroy their equipment or cover.

  • Use scouts: Scouts are soldiers that have high movement speed and good vision range. They can help you explore the battlefield and spot enemies before they spot you. You can use scouts to scout ahead of your main force, check corners or rooms, lure enemies into traps or ambushes, etc.

  • Use snipers: Snipers are soldiers that have high accuracy and long range weapons. They can help you eliminate enemies from a safe distance without exposing yourself to danger. You can use snipers to snipe enemies that are hiding behind cover or out of reach of your other soldiers.

  • Use supports: Supports are soldiers that have high strength and useful items or abilities. They can help you support your other soldiers with healing, ammo, morale boosters , etc. You can use supports to heal your wounded soldiers, resupply your low ammo soldiers, boost your low morale soldiers, etc.

  • Use specialists: Specialists are soldiers that have high skills or abilities in a specific area. They can help you perform certain tasks or overcome certain challenges that your other soldiers cannot. You can use specialists to hack computers, disarm bombs, capture aliens, use psionics, etc.

  • Use teamwork: Teamwork is one of the most important aspects of XCOM UFO Defense. You have to use your soldiers as a team, not as individuals. You have to coordinate your moves, cover each other, communicate with each other, support each other, etc. You have to use your soldiers' strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. You have to use your soldiers' roles and abilities to complement each other.

These are some of the tips and tricks that can help you play XCOM UFO Defense better and have more fun. Of course, there are many more things that you can learn and discover by playing the game yourself. The game is full of surprises and challenges that will test your skills and creativity. The game is also full of mods and customizations that will add more variety and difficulty to the game. Here are some of the mods and customizations that you can try in XCOM UFO Defense.

Mods and customizations for more variety and challenge

XCOM UFO Defense is a game that has a lot of modding potential and community support. There are many mods and customizations that you can use to enhance or change the game in different ways. Some of them are:

  • XCOM Files: A mod that expands the game with new content, features, and mechanics. It adds new factions, enemies, missions, weapons, items, research, etc. It also adds new gameplay elements, such as stealth, infiltration, diplomacy, espionage, etc. It also changes the game's story and timeline, making it more complex and immersive.

  • Final Mod Pack: A mod that combines several popular mods and customizations into one package. It adds new graphics, music, sounds, interface, options, etc. It also adds new content, such as weapons, items, aliens, missions, etc. It also adds new difficulty levels and challenges.

  • X-Piratez: A mod that transforms the game into a completely different setting and genre. It replaces the XCOM organization with a band of female space pirates who fight against various factions and enemies in a dystopian future. It adds new graphics, music, sounds, interface, options, etc. It also adds new content , such as weapons, items, enemies, missions, etc. It also adds new gameplay elements, such as trading, crafting, looting, recruiting, etc.

  • XCOM: Long War: A mod that overhauls the game with new content, features, and mechanics. It adds new classes, perks, skills, weapons, items, enemies, missions, research, etc. It also adds new gameplay elements, such as fatigue, injuries, officer ranks, air combat, etc. It also changes the game's balance and difficulty, making it more realistic and challenging.

XCOM: UFO Redux: A mod that updates the game with new graphics, music, sounds, interface, options, etc. It also adds new content, such as weapons, items, aliens, miss


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