Air combat takes on a more active role in Xenonauts, and while it is still viable to simply auto-resolve any interceptions, it is often more effective to engage in combat directly to avoid losing Interceptors and minimize the loss of ammo, fuel and armor.
Usually it is more efficient to auto resolve most UFO encounters where you have a 100% chance of success. However in situations where you don't have a 100% chance or you want to keep using the interceptor on multiple engagements you will have to manually control the interception.
- Interceptors: Your aircraft. You can directly control up to three individual interception craft. All Interceptors carry fuel for movement, health, and weapons. Certain interceptors are capable of performing dodging rolls to evade missiles and all interceptors can use afterburners which increase their movement speed by 50%, but increase their fuel consumption by 300%. You directly command each interceptor akin to a RTS game.
- UFOs: The enemy. There can be between one to three separate UFOs in a engagement. Usually this consists of a single "main" UFO and two "escort" UFOs. Main craft typically cannot barrel roll though escort craft can. UFOs employ plasma weaponry and energy missiles in combat.
The Playing FieldEdit
The combat area consists of a wide empty area representing the airspace in which the engagement is occurring, there are no defining features in the environment. There will always be only your Interceptors and the Alien UFOs on the board. Any Interceptor that leaves the field and goes into the black area surrounding the field is considered to have disengaged from the fight and will return to base unless instructed otherwise.
- UFOs are not repaired in between air assaults by Xenonaut interceptors. A great strategy against almost all crafts that roam around funding nations throughout the game is to have Foxtrots in all bases ready to charge and damage UFOs for other Foxtrots to finish. If you are on par with alien technology, or even a little behind, four Foxtrot Missiles will take out any craft at that stage. This fact can also be used for finishing crafts off with condors and the like.
- Destroying the main craft can often times result in a successful air interception, despite one or both escorts being unharmed. This is especially important to know when attempting to strike down Alien Aerial Terror missions. Destroying the bomber that is threatening to bomb the city will absolve the threat as a whole. If there is a Corvette with two Fighters, taking down the corvette will lead to the escorts disappearing, which can be good if you're facing them with only two foxtrots or not enough ammo to destroy all of them.
- Outnumbering enemies when it comes to air combat is particularly effective. UFOs will typically only go after one Xenonaut aircraft, and will normally follow that ship until it disengages or is destroyed. Having one ship as a bait while the other sneaks around to unload it's ammunition into the UFO will make air combat a lot easier and more reliable.
- One of the most critical tools to destroying UFOs that are otherwise unbeatable with auto-resolve (or leave the player with heavily damaged ships) is the afterburner. 50% speed increase can be of pivotal importance in order to get around larger ships to unload damage without risking to lose the interceptor. This is also a crucial way to get around ships with decent turn rates without another interceptor as a lure. It is recommended to use the afterburner extensively only if your fuel levels are at least above 20%, otherwise it might lead to premature retreating before being able to maneuver the interceptors properly.
- Missiles shot from the side of an alien craft capable of evasive maneuvers (barrel roll) will result in the craft dodging right into the missile or away from it to be shot down anyway. The match-up of a foxtrot versus a Heavy Fighter or Light Scout is a 0% auto-resolve one, but with the help of proper maneuvering, lining ones foxtrot to the side of the enemy aircraft, will allow for shooting down the enemy craft. It can be tricky, but it is one way to shoot down fighters only using one missile.
- Deliberately going into alien range of fire can be a viable move. Fighters typically only have two long range missiles, which can be easily baited out by moving within their firing range but in a sideways direction. Barrel rolling can also avoid missiles effectively. When going around larger crafts in order to get behind them, going slightly inside the range of the crafts short-range weaponry might be necessary, and being target of the longer range weaponry, not moving towards the alien craft, is usually not a danger at all either. With the high enough speed, interceptors will not be hit by alien fire while moving around. Afterburner especially helps an interceptor's ability to outrun enemy fire.
Useful knowledge Edit
Condors can be worth to keep around, despite being slow and having low HP. With technology, the damage output of a condor can be higher than that of other more advanced interceptors, such as the Corsair or Foxtrot. Three condors can dispatch of the mid-late game alien ship Cruiser, despite being early game units.
Auto-resolving has its limitations. There are many instances where auto-resolving a 100% won battle leads to interceptors losing a high amount of health, despite the fact that a successful air combat battle wouldn't necessitate such losses. In spite of those limitations, auto-resolving really difficult or important battles, especially when several interceptors and alien crafts will be in the fight, can save the player from the potential risk of losing them. There are also instances where the chance of winning a fight with auto-resolve is 100%, but where actually playing out that fight would lead to an incredibly difficult match-up or guaranteed stalemate, such as a fight where your interceptors don't have enough fuel or ammunition.