Aliens Dark Descent Beginner’s Tips and Tricks

Instead of a reward farm, I’ve decided to share some useful information for everyone else starting out, while trying not to drop any story spoilers. I’ll update it as I find out more useful information, but I’ll leave out some details to avoid spoiling too much. It may be barebones at first since I’m still completing the game myself, but there’s already enough useful information to lay the foundation for the guide.

Crew management on the Otago

If a soldier is tired but also in the medbay, don’t use a doctor for them. They’ll get some rest while they heal up, unless you’re going to the next day anyway. In that case, use up any doctor charges you have. I’m personally prioritizing traits that prevent soldiers from getting tired, fix their own trauma, and remove bad traits. This cuts down on the headache-inducing mechanics.

Psychiatry removes 2 pips per day, so don’t bother putting a marine in the psych ward if they only have 1 point of trauma, unless you have a free spot and you’re going to progress the day.

Maps are persistent

Remember that everything is persistent, so if you had to rush out of a map and leave your sentries behind, you can come back to pick them up another day. They’re not lost forever.

The same goes for a room you might have walked past without a hacker or marine with the smart trait. You can always come back for this room if you desire. I usually wouldn’t bother unless there are several unexplored rooms/buildings, as wasting an entire day for just 1 medkit, 1 tool, and 1-2 ammo (which won’t carry over) isn’t worth the cost. (Spending days has downsides, but I can’t say more without spoiling too much.)

Weapons and upgrades

From what I’ve seen, all classes get the revolver as their secondary weapon when they promote from a private to a class. While it has half the clip size, it can roll up to 3 damage per hit instead of 1. However, the damage rolls are 1-3, so it can be argued that the starting pistol is more ammo efficient for marines that haven’t leveled up yet. But once you’ve added 1 or 2 levels of accuracy, I’d consider giving them the revolver instead.

The Smart Gun is probably something people will unlock just for nostalgia, but the true benefits are in the upgrades that come with it for the class. You can deploy it as an improvised turret (your marine will use its secondary weapon) and improve the effects of slowdown in the suppression cone.

In my opinion, the biggest must-have is the sniper for the recon, because it has a silencer upgrade on the recon itself. This allows you to essentially get rid of pesky patrols without alerting anyone or anything. It doesn’t even warn nearby enemies right next to the target. This allows you to stay out of being spotted much easier, reducing stress buildup and aggression.

I’m unsure about the heavy pulse rifle. While it provides bigger magazines and better ammo efficiency, you lose the ability to launch grenades for that specific marine. I’d say give everyone in your squad the heavy pulse, but have at least 1 or maybe 2 with the normal pulse so that you aren’t without grenades if you lose the grenadier marine.

Thanks to ‘Lv2Bat’ for providing insight into how mines work before I unlocked and used them myself: Mines are quite useful. I’d probably leave them on enemy spawn points as population control measures, but he provided some good knowledge: They don’t cause team damage and they don’t trigger “you are sighted.” However, they do attract others as they explode. They’re good for covering escape routes and defensive placement in front of your sentries, for example.

I still need to unlock the plasma rifle seen in the trailer and mentioned in the comments. I will share my thoughts once I have it.

The RPG is hard to control as you need to lead the target. So, you either need to have good timing or get them to come straight at you. But it does about 3-4 times the damage of a standard grenade. It’s worth it if you play on high health difficulties or often go into medium/high aggression.

Resource management

This one is rather simple: just don’t bring any resources, and I mean it. You’ll find so many resources on the map because it’s huge, and every time you come to a location, it starts off peacefully, giving you enough time to loot and fill up your bags. Additionally, every map I’ve done so far has at least 1-2 turrets or provides them if you’re about to run into trouble. What this does is allow you to take more back to the Otago and build up supplies for missions you are struggling with (so that you have some backup items in case you need to redeploy). The only exception to this could be a medkit or 1 sentry. A medkit is handy in case you get injured before finding the first few (don’t use medkits unless you have a wound), and a sentry is useful because they are refilled for free if you bring them back to the Otago, essentially providing free bullets when you have to shoot anyway.

Ammo is a special case because there’s no limit to how much you can pick up in a mission, but it also doesn’t go back with you to the Otago. So, you actually shouldn’t grab too much ammo because you want there to be ammo on the map in case you need to make a 2nd or 3rd trip, and those new squads might also need ammo. Try to limit yourself to 6-8 mags in reserve. This is where the generic ammo pouches upgrade comes in very useful because it starts you off with 1 extra mag instead of just increasing capacity as the description would suggest, reducing the need to consume ammo on the map.

Use your command points; they can really save you in so many situations and save you ammunition.

  • A horde is coming through your small door chokepoint? Drop a napalm pool in it so they’ll have to walk through fire and not just your bullets.
  • A runner is in your face? Don’t risk your marine getting its arm torn off; shotgun the bastard.
  • A boss isn’t in melee range yet? Use this opportunity to launch a grenade at it and inflict severe damage.

Command points are an infinite resource; use them as such. Just try to always have 1 point left whenever possible for nasty surprises. I usually don’t deploy sensors, for example, unless I’m at 3 or higher.

Research is plentiful, and while it’s initially rare, you start building it up faster over time as you kill more enemies. Bosses are worth more and guarantee drops: Crusher 4 and Queen 8. Most of them are “okay.” The pheromone mine, I’d stay clear from as you’d want mines to only kill what’s coming towards you, not anything lingering nearby and seeing it. While the hive tranq and pheromones are good value, as they essentially reduce the difficulty by 1.

Combat tactics

If you’re spotted and they’re already coming for you, your first instinct would be to pull back and set up a defensive perimeter or try to stay clear from the hunt.

However, this actually hurts you because you’ll be building up stress for your marines and aggression from the enemy anyway.

So, what you should actually be doing is changing your mentality to: “I’m spotted anyway; I should get as much done as possible,” especially when entering new rooms and such. Let’s say there’s a bunch of facehuggers. It doesn’t matter now if they spotted you because you’re already spotted anyway.

So, while it is initially bad, during this time you should consider yourself immune to spotting and use it to push through areas where you’d otherwise rather not get spotted.

The exception to the above is when you enter a new aggression level, and a wave is headed towards you after a 30-second timer.

Use this time to set up a defensive position, preferably with a single chokepoint or long sightlines, and have one marine on suppressing fire from where they are coming.

For the aggression level waves, you can actually prepare because as you go through the map, you should be placing motion sensors (especially on spawn points). These will stay there permanently, even if you leave the map and come back. This allows you to monitor where enemies are spawning and, more importantly, where the aggression wave is coming from, so you know what direction to cover.

Another thing that helps in providing yourself a safe space is NOT opening all doors. Some doors will be locked, but you can go around. If you let this room on the side of your main path have only one of its doors unlocked instead of both, you have a nice room you can run into and lockdown for either a safe haven and rest or use as a defensive position with a natural chokepoint. The reason you want to do this is that welded doors will be attacked and broken, while locked doors won’t, so they essentially count as walls that you can unlock when you actually need them.

Remember that your ARC has a gun on it and is not just a transport. If you have motion trackers placed around the compound and see a patrol heading your way, send the ARC to the nearest ARC point, and it will blast them before they even reach you. Also, if you’re going to enter a building, make sure you leave the ARC covering the entrance so you don’t get any unwelcome visitors from behind, and you have a point of strength to retreat to.

Place a motion tracker near each ARC point as well, specifically for the purpose of blowing them up and attracting attention to that area. This way, they aren’t just being pulled away; they’re also being killed by the ARC. This can be especially useful if there are boss enemies on the map that are no longer hunting you but that you’d obviously like to get rid of.

This guide about Aliens: Dark Descent was written by Xeonzs. You can visit the original publication from this link. If you have any concerns about this guide, please don't hesitate to reach us here.