X-Com Enemy Within: Classic "Portent" Mission Guide

Probably the most difficult thing I've had to do since choosing a career.... Oh wait, haven't done that yet.

Tearing my hair out, breaking keyboards, sacrificing to the gaming gods and calling my computer a "cheater" are all things I may or may not have done while trying to succeed at the Portent mission on Classic difficulty in XCOM. Thin Men gain a huge boost when moving from Normal to Classic difficulty; Turning a cakewalk mission into probably one of the hardest missions I've ever played in this game. I've heard plenty of advice online:

  1. Get on the roofs.
  2. Get research to a MEC as soon as possible.
  3. Keep cover the whole time.

If any of those had worked, you wouldn't be here and neither would I be. I'm here to teach you what I've learned.

I was able to get the tech for MEC troopers, unfortunately, mine was injured enough to miss the window for this mission, so I had to deal. Fortunately, I had one set of carapace armor, given to my assault soldier. Still not a really good setup, but I decided to go for it.

The real key for this mission is to realize that you aren't on a timer. With no MELD on the map, you have no reason to push up towards the target.

Take. Your. Time.

Even these skylights can be dangerous. The aliens find some interesting ways to shoot through them.

Get all your soldiers on the roof. Spread them out to prevent any poison from hitting more than one of them. This should also set up a good "covering fire" formation with overwatch. The Thin Men don't drop on the map until you move. Reload your weapons with the whole squad when you know you won't be moving. All I can say is...

Overwatch, Overwatch, Overwatch!

I kept trying to play this mission early on by hiding behind walls and using Hunker Down. The Thin Men are pretty good at moving to positions that ignore your cover. This is another reason to stay on the rooftops.

The Thin Men don't start on the rooftops often, meaning their most important move will be to jump onto the roof; a perfect opportunity for Overwatch to shine. While all my soldiers were on the roof, they had no issues knocking off Thin Men jumping to the roof.

Stay on the rooftops and follow in his footsteps.

With all escort missions, you want to move your civilian last. In this mission, you want to make sure he moves ONLY in the path of a soldier you already moved that turn. This will make sure your soldier takes the attacks of opportunity, not the civilian. If the path is clear, then it will be for the civilian as well. This map has some odd angles on it that allow for some shots you'll never see coming.

The hardest part of the mission will be the trip back. The enemy spawns are pretty manageable on the way up the map because they are always in front of you. On the way back, you'll have one spawn that will include a Sectoid and Thin Man in front and one Thin Man behind. The rest of the spawns are one Thin Man each. Pretty easy if you're keeping your Overwatch up and your weapons loaded.

Mindset

I lost one soldier on this mission and in hindsight, I feel like I could have kept her alive. Twice now, I've kept my sniper on the first roof shooting the Thin Men at a distance. When the one hard spawn comes up, she's left alone on the roof to deal with two baddies. Move the whole squad from one roof to the next.

In the end, this mission is more about learning how to play on Classic than just about beating this specific mission. It's the first real stumbling block for players learning the new difficulty. Aiming to have a MEC on this mission uses up most of the MELD resources that you'll have on one soldier. I would like to explore building my base with gene labs to use Adaptive Bone Marrow on several soldiers to help with the attrition battle on the way back.

Columnist

While I do play some of the greats like Civilization and X-com, consider me your Tabletop guru here at gameskinny. Want to know about a tabletop game? Just ask!

Published Sep. 8th 2017

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