Long War 2 - Quick Start Guide (2024)

If you have not yet played XCOM 2, you should do that first. Long War 2 is a more difficult and complicated variant of XCOM 2, and is best appreciated after having played through the base game. This guide assumes you have XCOM 2 experience, and is intended to get you familiar with unique concepts in LW2, so you can get going faster, without being tripped up by opaque game mechanics. That will be my focus: New mechanics that are invisible or very complicated.

I am not going to go over the new classes, new enemies, new graze mechanic and so forth. Much of this is easy to figure out on your own, and you will pick it up as you play. Also. there is just too much to put in a Quick Start guide. Other resources go into all the details, and I will list them at the bottom of this guide.

Set up:

There are hundreds of mods available, not all compatible with each other or LW2. This can be daunting. Here is a link to my LW2 mod list:

LW2 Mod List.

It is a good place to start; Very few changes to gameplay, many helpful information mods, some speed ups and other small quality of life improvements. The informational mods (Gotcha Again, LOS Preview, Show more Buff Details, etc.) will make the game easier, but not in a cheaty kind of way.

Uninstalling the Alien Hunters DLC is something I would recommend. The Alien Rulers are better balanced in WOTC, whereas in Long War 2 they get free actions even when you reload. To uninstall the DLC go to your Steam Library, left click on XCOM 2 and select properties. In the properties window select the DLC tab and uncheck Alien Hunters, as shown below.

Long War 2 - Quick Start Guide (1)

On the First Turn:

The game opens with a battle, and this is a good test of your abilities. If lose more than one soldier, you may want to turn down the difficulty. After the battle you will be introduced to the Avenger, your ship and also your base. There are 4 things to do.

  1. It will prompt you to select a Technology; choose Modular Weapons.

  2. It will prompt you to promote all your surviving soldiers. Do that.

  3. Start building the Guerilla Tactics School in the one vacant room.

  4. Go to the Commander’s Quarters (upper right corner of the ship), select “Resistance Management” then click on the single haven listed. This will open a screen that lists the Haven advisor and all the Resistance Personnel. Switch all the Personnel to Intel gathering and assign a Haven Advisor (I find a Ranger or Assault work best early).

When you are done with all that you can go to the Bridge with the cool holo globe. That takes you to the main map, where you will see the option to scan for the Blackmarket. Do not do that yet, instead, go to your home region and scan there. This will improve your chances of finding missions to run, and also the amount of time you have to infiltrate those missions. Only after you have found 2 missions to send your troops out on, should you scan to find the Blackmarket. You can move some haven personnel to the Recruit job, a good idea when all your soldiers are out on missions. Eventually you will want to assign some personnel to Supplies, usually when Advent strength gets too high to run normal missions in this region. So not for awhile.

Once the GTS has been built you should immediately start training Rookies into Squaddies, just as you would in Vanilla XCOM 2 or WOTC. But there is now a new function of the GTS, and that is to train Officers, and you should start doing this also.


Officers are new in LW2. They must be trained in the GTS, which takes considerable time. Every class (other than the Spark) can become an officer. Most players agree that Shinobis and Specialists are the classes best suited for it. They will gain numerous abilities that can help you win, but their strongest ability is the first available; Command. This ability will end the Officers turn and grant another soldier (who is visible to the officer) an extra action. It is very powerful.

The other thing you should know right away is an Officer of Captain rank (3rd tier) can get Trial By Fire. When this Officer leads a successful mission, all soldier on that mission below Sgt. rank, will automatically gain a promotion to the next rank. It is quite useful early on and you should try to rush one Officer to Captain rank to help level up your barracks. If you are late in acquiring Trial By Fire, it won’t be as helpful as most of your soldiers will have already attained Sgt. rank.

Research Order

Here is a quick and easy Research order for the first 10 Technologies, and what they will give you. It is not at all important to follow this exactly; it is a good starting place for your first few campaigns.

  • Resistance Communications - Allows you to connect to nearby regions

  • Modular Weapons - Allows use of Weapon Upgrades

  • Alien Biotech - AP Rounds to deal with MECs, other technologies

  • Hybrid Materials - Nanoscale Vest, other technologies

  • Advent Trooper Autopsy - Proving Ground, Alloy Plating Project

  • Laser Weapons - Better weapons

  • Adv. Laser Weapons - Better weapons

  • Advent Officer Autopsy - Incendiary Grenades (with Proving Ground)

  • Sectoid Autopsy - Needed for Psi Technology

  • Psionics - Psi Lab for Psi Soldiers.

Intel and Infiltration

This is the biggest difference in LW2. Missions will not be automatically revealed; you must find them, and then infiltrate. Infiltration takes time, and the more time you have the more soldiers you can bring. That is why you switch to intel gathering immediately and scan at your home region. Scanning with the avenger is equivalent to gathering intel with 4 more personnel. Discovering missions is a dice roll (this is XCOM after all). More Intel means you are rolling more dice, so that you find missions sooner, so that you have more time, so that you can bring more soldiers. You are not limited to 6 soldiers on normal missions as is the case in Vanilla XCOM 2 and WOTC. Instead you can usually take up to 8, sometimes more, but you will usually not have the time to infiltrate with that many.

Once you find a mission, it will have an expected troop strength and a time till it expires. Early in the campaign, the expected enemy strength is usually Extremely Light (7-9 enemies). It may also be Very Light (10-12 enemies). Anything heavier than that will be very tough in most standard timed missions, and you will need 7+ soldiers to have a good chance of success. How many soldiers you can bring is tied directly to how long you have to infiltrate. This is because you will need to reach about 100% infiltration, otherwise the number of enemies will go up. The further you are from 100%, the more extra enemies there will be, and anything less than 90% is usually suicide. Even 97% infiltration is risky. It is almost always better to bring fewer troops, than to under-infiltrate.

For practical purposes most missions fall into these categories:

  • 7.5 days or more: 6 soldiers can infiltrate at 100%. This is a green light for Extremely Light missions. 6 soldiers can tackle a Very Light mission as well.

  • 6.5 - 7.5 days: 5 soldiers can infiltrate at 100%. It is harder to run Extremely Light missions with only 5 troops but you will need to be able to do this. Very Light will be very tough with only 5 soldiers.

  • 5 - 6 days: 4 or fewer soldiers can fully infiltrate. You have 3 options:

    1. Skip it.

    2. Run as a stealth mission.

    3. Boost infiltration. Pay Intel, to increase the infiltration rate by 50%. For example if you have 5 days, it will count as 7.5 days, thus allowing 6 soldiers to fully infiltrate. This is costly as Intel is hard to acquire.

  • 3.5 - 4.5 days: 2 soldiers. Run as a stealth mission, or not at all.

  • Less than 3 days: almost worthless. You can boost infiltration, but that will still not enable a full team, only a stealth squad. Usually not worth it.

  • Does not require Infiltration: Some missions you run immediately, rather than first needing to Infiltrate. You will have about a day till they expire, and there will be a huge negative consequence if you fail to run the mission. Data Tap, Supply Raid, Recruit Raid, Haven Retaliation, and Haven Defense all fall in this category. Because there is no infiltration required, you should always take the maximum allowable number of soldiers, which for these mission types is 8. I didn’t know this when I first started playing LW2, and only brought 6, as that was the limit in Vanilla XCOM 2… things went poorly. If you have robojumper’s squad select mod installed, you will see additional soldier slots by clicking and dragging the screen left or right, which rotates the squad.

Stealth Missions

If you don’t have enough time to get 5-6 soldiers infiltrated 100%, you may still be able to complete some missions with only 1 or 2 soldiers. This is tricky, and not crucial for beginners. You can skip it entirely and still win the campaign. I am including it in a Quick Start Guide because I didn’t even know it was possible when I first started playing.

Here is a list of mission types that can be stealthed, ordered by difficulty and with a very rough estimate of success and casualties when attempted by an advanced players:

  • Hacks not in Vehicles 75% success; 25% casualties

  • Extract VIP 50% success; 10% casualties

  • Neutralize VIP 50% success; 30% casualties

  • Destroy Relay 40% success; 40% casualties

  • Vehicle Hack 30% success; 35% casualties

Once again, my estimates of success and casualties are extremely rough, and I include them mostly to give you an idea of what to expect when you learn all the tricks.

Here is a brief synopsis of how I do Hacks and Extractions, the most common stealth missions, and the most likely to succeed:

  • Hacks not in Vehicles: 2 man team; Shinobi and Specialist. Best if Shinobi is an officer in order to command the Specialist, and preferably should have Ghost Walker ability, though not necessary. They sneak to the Hack target. Specialist gets eyes on the objective, but out of sight of enemies. On following turn, Specialist hacks the objective, then moves away, throws the Evac flare, hopefully all without being spotted. Having the specialist throw the evac flare is very important as this breaks concealment. If the Shinobi throws the flare, both soldiers, rather than just the Specialist, will be revealed. An officer shinobi can help the Specialist get further away by using the Command ability to grant him an extra action. Alternatively the Specialist can sacrifice himself, hacking the objective even when visible to enemies, then throwing the Evac Flare directly on himself. He’ll be killed or KO’d. The Shinobi hides until the Skyranger arrives (takes 5 turns if 100% infiltrated on Legend difficulty, can be reduced with higher infiltration), then picks up the Specialist and Evacs.

  • Hacks in Vehicle: Same as above except much more difficult. First the Shinobi must open the vehicle door, which means getting very close to the enemies guarding the vehicle. The Shinobi needs to have the Ghost Walker ability. I rarely attempt this variant of the stealth hack.

  • Extract VIP: 1 man team: Shinobi. The Shinobi is concealed. The VIP is not. Enemies will spot the VIP within a 17 tile range, unless obstructed by walls or tall vehicles. It is the job of the Shinobi to find a path for the VIP to the evac zone that does not activate any enemy pods. Usually this means running the VIP to the edge of the map, then running along the edge of the map, then cutting back towards the objective. There is a lot of luck involved. Picking which way to go, left or right, is often the coin flip that decides the VIP’s fate. The Shinobi should survive regardless unless you get very unlucky or make risky decisions. Sometimes you can activate an enemy pod and still get the VIP to the evac zone, but not usually.

Liberation and the Resistance Management Screen:

A new and important goal in LW2 is region liberation. It is necessary to liberate at least one region, as that will then activate the Blacksite Mission, which is the start of the Golden Path missions. Liberation is challenging for even advanced players, but particularly confusing to beginners of LW2. In part this is because the first mission in the liberation chain is not identified as a liberation mission. You have to just stumble onto it. Experienced players know what it looks like: a simple hacking mission for only intel. Another problem for beginners is that once you complete the first Liberation mission, there is no fanfare. You will not be made aware that you have succeeded in starting the the liberation chain at all. But something big has happened. The 2nd mission in the chain has been spawned in that region, and it requires a lot of effort to detect. You should probably set all your haven personnel to gathering Intel if you intend to liberate this region, but how do you know? You can find your progress on region Liberation in the Resistance Management screen. In the Avenger, go to the Commander’s Quarters (upper right corner of the ship), and select “Resistance Management”.

On this screen every region that you have contacted is listed as well as important information about each. This is a helpful screen as you can click on each region to navigate to the Haven Management screen which allows you to set the Haven Advisor, and assign tasks to the Resistance Personnel. It is also helpful as it shows you exactly where you are in the Liberation Chain for each region.

Long War 2 - Quick Start Guide (2)

The little dots next to each region signify your progress.

  • 0 dots = No progress.

  • 1 dot = First liberation mission (Lib 1) has been completed.

  • 2 dots = Lib 2 has been completed.

You will not see 3 dots. Instead, when you complete Lib 3 the Network Tower mission will become available on the main map. Completing that mission will give you a Network Tower in that region which decreases the intel costs to contact nearby regions, and is signified by a Network Tower icon next to the Haven’s name. Completing the Network Tower unlocks the Advent HQ mission, which upon completion, will liberate the region. You are not quite done yet, as Advent will probably try to take back the region, and in about 4 weeks you might have an Invasion mission. You need to beat back the Invasion in order retain your liberated region. This is one of the hardest mission in the game.

One more note: after you complete any and every mission in the liberation chain, it will not show up on the Resistance Management screen above until you have returned to the main map. You don’t have to scan. Just go to the map, then go to the Resistance Management screen and it will be refreshed with your new status.

For more details about liberation: Long War 2 - Liberation Guide

The New RNF Timer:

Many mission objectives are very similar to what you have seen in the base game, or easy enough to figure out without a guide. But there is a new timer in LW2, the reinforcement timer, and if you are slow, it will be deadly.

The reinforcement timer doesn’t actually tell you how many turns you have until Advent reinforcements (RNFs) arrive. It is green when it starts ticking, either at the start of the mission, or when you break concealment depending on the type of mission. Eventually it turns yellow, and finally red. When it is red, reinforcements will arrive at the end of your turn. After RNFs arrive, the timer resets to green and speeds up. If it took 4 turns for the first pod of RNFs, the next will probably arrive in 3 turns, then 2, speeding up until RNFs arrive every turn. Also the RNF pods get bigger each time.

For more details about how to deal with RNFs, here is my guide:

Beating the RNF Timer

Obtaining Artifacts (corpses):

In LW2 you will only get to keep the enemy corpses on a few mission types. Those missions are extremely lucrative. The most common one is the Troop Ambush mission. This occurs only in regions that have Advent strength of 4 or greater. It is worth mining Intel in high strength Advent regions to find these missions. These missions have no timer and no RNFs. All you need to do is kill all the enemies, and you have all the time in the world to do it. This means that you can take on a much larger force than what is feasible on timed missions. With 6 soldiers you should be able to handle a Light mission strength (15), or even a Light Moderate (18). With 7 soldiers you can take on a Moderate force (21), and maybe more. 8 soldiers is the maximum that you can bring. Heavy (27) or even larger forces are very manageable when you bring 8.

The most effective strategy on these missions is to isolate enemy pods. Kill them one pod at a time, staying away from the center of the map, so you don’t activate additional pods and end up outnumbered and surrounded. Pod sizes will be larger on these missions, and very often there will be a pod of 8 advent soldiers. The best way to handle a big pod is to fight it first, and use the Technical to break concealment with his flamethrower, lighting a bunch of them on fire.


I don’t want to go over tactics in this guide, but I will make one exception to discuss the utility of Flashbangs. In vanilla XCOM 2 and WOTC you begin with very few utility slots to take extra equipment. In LW2 you get 3 utility slots. This means you can take quite a few items. At the beginning of the campaign, most soldiers will want to wear Ceramic Plating, then equip 2 of the following: Flashbang, Frag Grenade, Medikit, or Smoke Grenade. Of these, Flashbangs and Frag Grenades are the most important. Frag Grenades don’t need any explanation, but Flashbangs have some less obvious advantages. They can be thrown much further than Frag Grenades. They can break mind control, and dispel Psi Zombies. But you must target the Sectoid itself with the Flashbang, not the mind controlled soldier or Psi Zombie; both of which are immune to its effects. Flashbangs also prevent Stun Lancers from using melee attacks, and will lower the aim of other enemies, giving you a better chance of surviving. I usually take about 4 flashbangs on every mission for the first 2 months of the campaign.

Other Resources:

This guide should get you started, but there is so much more you will need to learn to win a Long War 2 campaign. Unfortunately, the game mechanics are mostly hidden. To remedy this, you should refer to other online resources. Much of the time you may want to figure it out for yourself, which is more satisfying. But if you start to feel frustrated or angry at the game, it is a good idea to read up on the particular game mechanic that is causing you grief. More likely than not, this research will not spoil the game for you, as no amount of online help will make LW2 easy. Here are the resources I have found most useful:

  • ufopaedia: This is the best place to start. It offers very well organized information about all the different classes, enemies, technology, equipment, facilities and game mechanics.

  • Pavonis Forums: Pavonis made the game, and has probably the best forum for LW2. If you have an issue, more likely than not it is discussed in this forum.

  • xwynns on YouTube: There are many great XCOM players on YouTube. The one I watched play LW2 was xwynns. He is excellent, very instructional, and recorded entire LW2 campaigns. There is no better way to learn than watching the best.

  • xcom.substack.com: My substack has other guides and advice, which I highly recommend.

  • Long War 2 - An Unofficial Compendium of Tips and Observations: This is a long detailed document which is extremely helpful. It is mostly for advanced players. It is a little outdated, having been published during version 1.4.

  • XCOM sub on Reddit: This is more for fun, but you can ask questions and get help here as well. A lot of players are active on Reddit, including me.

Long War 2 - Quick Start Guide (2024)


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