XCOM 2 Alien Analysis: ADVENT Turret


Basic
HP: 4/4/5/6
Armor: 1/2/3/3
Defense: 0
Dodge: 0
Aim: 50
Mobility: 0
Damage: 3-4 (+1)
Shred: 0
Crit Chance: 0
Will: 50
Tech: 30/30/35/35

Mechanical Chassis
This unit is a robot, rendering it immune to Poison, Fire, and Chryssalid Poison as well as most psionic or mental effects (Including that it will never Panic or be rendered Unconscious), but susceptible to anti-robot effects and impossible to heal with Medikits.

Depending on your decisions and luck, Turrets may be your first encounter with a robotic enemy. On lower difficulties, a Specialist with Combat Protocol can reliably one-shot them, and even on Commander they can still be one-shot and will be trivially finished off if they do survive the Combat Protocol. Up on Legendary this is a less useful thing, but still something to keep in mind if you fight one early and have a Combat Protocol Specialist.

Their horrifically bad Tech score also makes them a particularly good target for Haywire Protocol, if you have it early enough to get a chance to use it on a Basic Turret. This isn't terribly likely to crop up in War of the Chosen for a few different reasons, but it's pretty easy to have it come up in the base game.

Hardened
Does not use Cover, but is never considered to be in the open.

This is often mildly disadvantageous to Turrets, as it's not unusual for them to be placed atop a rooftop against Low Cover. Probably for the best they have it, though, both because it doesn't make much narrative sense for Turrets to take cover (How would they do so?) and because it would be trivial to flank them, even aside that Turrets spawned at the ground level are reasonably prone to just... sitting in the open, no Cover nearby.

Bullet Storm
Firing does not end the unit's turn, and it has unlimited ammo.

Note that I'm making up a name here, not to mention borrowing Bullet Swarm's icon. The game itself has no icon for this ability and does not have an explicit allusion to it at all.

This is also less relevant of a quality than you might expect, as Turrets are depressingly prone to firing once and then ending their turn even though they can still shoot. Usually if they do act twice, the second action is to go into Overwatch, which... isn't threatening. It's exceedingly rare for a Turret to actually take full advantage of its capabilities and fire twice in a row.

If you Haywire Protocol a Turret, these AI limitations don't apply, and you can and should have the Turret spam fire. Same with Defense Matrix-derived Turrets, as they're more or less exactly the same as ADVENT Turrets, just under your control.


Turrets are one of the more unique enemies of the game for several reasons.

A non-obvious, extremely unique quality of Turrets is that their generation is handled primarily on the map generation level instead of the more normal enemy pod level. You can mostly predict which missions can or can't have Turrets in them by mission type, as mission type controls map type. If a mission is allowed to pick maps with Turret nodes, Turrets can spawn in, replacing some Turret nodes. (Annoying bit of inconsistency: a Turret node constitutes Low Cover... unless a Turret spawned into that spot, in which case that's not Cover, even once the Turret is dead) If there are no turret nodes, this usually means they can't. For example, Old World city maps, the kind that Lost-mandating missions use, can never have Turrets, and never have Turret nodes, whereas Avatar Project Facilities usually have Turrets and usually have Turret nodes.

In general, if an ADVENT train is present, or ADVENT modular construction is present, Turrets are a possibility, whereas if neither is present Turrets are probably impossible. Note that by 'ADVENT modular construction', I don't just mean the style of building used for Avatar Project Facilities and other ADVENT military infrastructure, I'm including a certain kind of Low Cover barrier that litters a number of maps. Landed UFOs, for example, have no ADVENT-style buildings, but can have these ADVENT barriers, and you can find Turrets among them. Similarly, Chosen Strongholds use a different visual style from typical ADVENT construction, but there's a specific room type with ADVENT barriers that can have Turrets. Also, to be completely clear, while Turret nodes not in use is a thing and a pretty strong indicator Turrets are possible, Turrets can be placed at locations that don't normally have Turret nodes, even on maps that do have Turret nodes.

Turret generation being tied to map type is important to know about, as Turrets are unique among regular enemies in that they are never announced by the Shadow Chamber. The Shadow Chamber won't mention that Turrets are in a mission, and the number of enemies predicted won't include Turrets in the tally. (ie if a mission has 11 enemies, 2 of which are Turrets, you'll be told that there's 9 enemies) This can be a nasty surprise if you took a team with no Shred and no anti-robot tools at all into a mission because the Shadow Chamber predicted nothing but humanoid ADVENT troops, and whoops sorry there's Turrets guarding the mission objective.

On the plus side, Turrets are one of a handful of enemies that is usually audible in the fog, making a distinctive electronic-sounding noise repeatedly if any Turrets are on the map and neither activated nor dead. Once you know the sound bite in question is tied to Turret presence, you're highly unlikely to be caught off guard by a Turret in the sense of stumbling into one with zero warning. (This is unusual of Turrets: while the prior game defaulted to enemies having 'inactive pod' sound bites, in XCOM 2 almost no enemies have such)

More surprising and quite useful is that Turrets don't count against you for 'kill everything on the map' objective purposes. If the only surviving hostiles on a map are Turrets in such a mission? You get credited the 'kill everything' objective, no need to hunt down the Turrets. Though note you do not loot their bodies if you didn't actually destroy them. This isn't an issue in missions you can't loot bodies in anyway, like Avatar Project Facilities, but can be inconvenient if you were intending to double back and kill a Turret so you could loot it and whoops the mission ended before you did that. Anyway, in conjunction with their complete immobility, it's genuinely possible to simply sneak past a Turret and never bother to engage it.

Related to this; don't waste your ambush on Turrets! Since they can't move, an Overwatch ambush won't actually trigger on them, and since they can't take Cover it's not like it would be helping even if it did work. Sneak around them and find something actually worth breaking Concealment for if at all possible.

Sneaking around them is relatively easy due to another unique quality they have: an unusually small detection radius relative to every other enemy. You can get surprisingly close to a Turret without it noticing so long as you're under Concealment. And since they can't move, running right up to the edge of their detection radius doesn't even carry real risk!! So where sneaking around a patrolling pod requires a wide berth to avoid getting stuck, Turrets are seriously trivial to sneak past.

Turret innate stats are also slightly misleading. Turrets are most commonly found atop buildings or train cars, so their unusually poor Aim is generally effectively 20 points higher than their statline would imply, though notably Landed UFO missions that generate Turrets consistently have them grounded. A flipside to this is that Turrets atop buildings are often surprisingly ignorable, as getting up against the building will get you out of their line of sight. (This crops up really blatantly in the Blacksite mission, where War of the Chosen's target preview effect makes it very obvious Turrets atop the primary Blacksite building can see only a very small strip of ground) Particularly significant is that activated Turrets that can't see any of your troops do not go into Overwatch during their turn, so if you activate a Turret by briefly passing through its sight band... your other troops can run through its sight band with no danger, even if you end turn before trying to run through.

The fact that they can't move and don't enter Overwatch if they can't see your troops also means it's trivial to just... back out of their reach. This is especially useful to keep in mind in missions with no time pressure, but even in timed missions you can potentially activate a Turret and then shrug and loop around it, if you don't feel up to fighting it for whatever reason.

Overall, Turrets are more a newbie trap than a serious threat in their own right. They can soak a lot of punishment, so if you try to focus on them they'll pull attention away from real threats, and if you ignore them they're not very likely to deal real damage, among other points being unable to re-position for a flank. Basic Turrets can't even crit unless their target is conveniently standing in the open already! Similarly, an experienced player will know not to try to Overwatch ambush a Turret, and know that picking fights with Turrets isn't necessary; a new player is quite likely to end up with a very unpleasant first Turret experience by virtue of trying to ambush the Turret, failing, and possibly losing someone to the Turret and certainly not getting to sneak up on their first proper pod. Ouch.

It's a bit unfortunate Turrets got introduced at the same time as Concealment...

Anyway, one thing to keep in mind is the consideration of explosives, or more precisely floor destruction. With any enemy on high ground it is of course useful to keep in mind the possibility of blowing it up beneath their feet, since that's at minimum 2 Armor-ignoring damage on top of the attack itself, but Turrets are unique in that if the ground they're set on is destroyed the Turret is instantly destroyed, no questions asked, no regard for its actual HP. This is particularly useful in War of the Chosen, where even Frag Grenades can smash most destructible floors in one blast, but even in the base game it's useful to keep in mind; tossing a couple Frag Grenades may be worthwhile, depending on your situation.

That said, I have had a handful of occasions where the game didn't handle things properly and a Turret was left floating in the air, undamaged. I think this may be a bug specific to trains, due to their unusual construction -most destructible objects are broken up into tile-by-tile segments, where the game will only remove terrain outside the blast radius in the event that the game deems there to be inadequate connection to solid ground. (ie floors aren't allowed to float in the air, unlike classic X-COM. Destroy all the walls supporting them, and they vanish) Trains have some segments that are spread across multiple tiles, where any tile suffering catastrophic damage removes the entire segment, and every time I've ended up with a floating Turret it was on a train, where the blast didn't directly hit the tile the Turret was in but still destroyed the segment. So.. maybe don't rely on smashing trains to get at their Turrets. It's always been fine with regular buildings for me, so that's probably not a concern, unless the bug is something weirder than I think.

Finally, a fiddly detail point: Turrets are unique among enemies in that a destroyed Turret still in some sense occupies its original location. The primary point of note here is that a dead Turret will still prevent your troops from passing through its tile; there's other weird stuff related to this point, but as far as I'm aware it's not relevant weirdness. (eg lobbing a Frost Bomb at a Turret's former location can result in the game announcing that a Turret got Frozen, but this doesn't do anything a player cares about that I'm aware)


Heavy
HP: 6/6/6/8
Armor: 2/3/4/4
Defense: 0
Dodge: 0
Aim: 50/60/60/60
Mobility: 0
Damage: 5-6 (+2)
Shred: 0
Crit Chance: 0/10%/10%/10%
Will: 50
Tech: 70

Mechanical Chassis
This unit is a robot, rendering it immune to Poison, Fire, and Chryssalid Poison as well as most psionic or mental effects (Including that it will never Panic or be rendered Unconscious), but susceptible to anti-robot effects and impossible to heal with Medikits.

You might actually have Bluescreen Rounds by the time Advanced Turrets show up to take advantage.

By a similar token you might have EMP Grenades, but it's difficult to care, particular in War of the Chosen. The vast majority of the time, a Turret is on a roof, and in War of the Chosen that means tossing a Frag Grenade will instantly kill it, regardless of difficulty and so on. Turrets are almost never a reason to bring EMP Grenades, especially since it's so easy to hit 100% accuracy against them, at which point Bluescreen Rounds is better for raw damage-dealing. EMP Grenades potentially Stunning is all they have going for them, and who cares if you can just kill them? Even if you're playing with Beta Strike, you're probably just going to toss a Frag Grenade and kill them.

Hardened
Does not use Cover, but is never considered to be in the open.

Not really anything new to say here.

Bullet Storm
Firing does not end the unit's turn, and it has unlimited ammo.

Interestingly, Shen has different dialogue for when you first sight a Heavy Turret -or a Superheavy Turret- as opposed to sighting a regular Turret. I mention it here because the dialogue in question seems to imply that the higher-tier Turrets are supposed to have their behavioral shackles lifted a bit, as she refers to them being able to 'track multiple targets'. I haven't specifically found code supporting this assertion and Turrets are a rare enough encounter I'm hesitant to make sweeping statements just off my gameplay experiences; I don't think it's a true implication, but I'm honestly not sure.

There's also a bit of an oopsie here, in that you'll simply never hear the regular first-Turret-sighted dialogue if you never encounter a Basic Turret. This isn't too big of a deal in the base game, as there's really no reason to not hit the Blacksite as fast as possible in the base game and it's extremely unlikely you'll fail to see a Turret during that mission, but in War of the Chosen you may well put off the Blacksite for a while, long enough for Turrets to progress to their Heavy version. I wouldn't be surprised if there's players who only played War of the Chosen and have literally never heard the proper Turret intro dialogue, perpetually confused by Shen's apparent brief into line.


It's a Turret, but even more able to soak damage and more lethal when it hits. It's also much more resistant to hacking, but it's entirely possible you won't have Haywire Protocol on anyone before the switch is made anyway, in which case the point is a bit moot. So basically on higher difficulties, particularly in War of the Chosen, you're probably not getting an easy Turret hack.

Basic Turrets are hard targets, but soft enough your squad might be able to dispose of them fairly trivially anyway, especially on the lower two difficulties. Heavy Turrets are a big enough jump fast enough that it's very unlikely you can brush them aside through simple shooting; if you haven't gotten into the habit of bypassing Turrets where able already, Heavy Turrets will probably push you in that direction. Unless you're really stubborn.

Especially since that bump in their Aim means denying them high ground isn't as dramatic a drop in their probability of doing damage, making it a little harder to trivialize them.

Though while we're on the topic of Aim, it's worth pointing out Suppression is extremely reliable against Turrets of any tier. They can't move to break it, after all, and their Aim is poor; even at Heavy with high ground, a Suppressed Turret will have no chance to hit a soldier in High Cover, and only a 10% chance to hit one in Low Cover. This isn't exactly a strong niche for Suppression, but if you have it anyway and are in a situation where a Turret is a potential problem, Suppressing the Turret is worth considering.

It's not like Demolition is the better choice for a Grenadier.


Superheavy
HP: 9/10/12/14
Armor: 3/3/4/4
Defense: 0
Dodge: 0
Aim: 55/60/60/60
Mobility: 0
Damage: 5-6 (+2)
Shred: 0
Crit Chance: 0/10%/10%/10%
Will: 50
Tech: 75

Mechanical Chassis
This unit is a robot, rendering it immune to Poison, Fire, and Chryssalid Poison as well as most psionic or mental effects (Including that it will never Panic or be rendered Unconscious), but susceptible to anti-robot effects and impossible to heal with Medikits.

Superheavy Turrets are ridiculously tough, but odds are extremely high you have AP Rounds and/or Bluescreen Rounds by the time they've shown up, so they're often actually less of a threat than Heavy Turrets in practice.

Hardened
Does not use Cover, but is never considered to be in the open.

Same as always.

Bullet Storm
Firing does not end the unit's turn, and it has unlimited ammo.

Superheavy Turrets aren't any more lethal than Heavy Turrets, surprisingly, so this is less menacing than you might expect. An endgame soldier foolishly standing in the open is actually guaranteed to survive two Superheavy Turret shots; contrast this with how Basic Turrets can one-shot early-game troops if they're dumb enough to stand in the open, or how Heavy Turrets can one-round someone in Predator Armor even if they have a few levels under their belt. (However unlikely the kill might be)


It's a Heavy Turret, but with even more HP, slightly more Hack resistance, and if you're playing Rookie in specific more Armor and Aim. It doesn't even have harder-hitting crits or anything.

You could be forgiven for not realizing there's actually three tiers of Turret.

The HP increase is a lot, mind, and can be genuinely problematic when a Superheavy Turret is placed on indestructible ground. Combat Protocol can't one-shot Superheavy Turrets reliably outside Rookie difficulty, even with third-tier Gremlins, for example.

But if they're on destructible ground... you're probably going to lob a Plasma Grenade, and it wouldn't matter even if they had fifty HP. So the distinction is almost always pretty ignorable, even -maybe especially- in the base game.

I tend to like environmental kills in games, but in the case of Turrets I really feel they're hurt a bit too much by the reliable ease of pulling an environmental kill on them. It's difficult to come up with much interesting to say about how you fight them, because 99% of the time it really will boil down to either 'I chuck a Frag/Plasma Grenade: problem solved' or 'my squad has AP Rounds and/or Bluescreen Rounds: I shoot the Turret to death trivially.' That they have qualities like 'potentially your earliest enemy with serious Armor' ends up drowned out by 'I blow up their floor: they instantly die'.

They're also hurt by not participating in normal pod mechanics. Every Turret is its own standalone pod: even when multiple Turrets are placed close together, they won't be linked together, and they don't send up an alert to draw real pods to the area, or call in reinforcements. Turrets are only interesting/threatening if you happen to end up fighting one at the same time as a proper pod, as o lone Turret is boring and easy to destroy or bypass, and since they're immobile and all they usually won't end up complicating other fights. This is particularly conspicuous of an issue in missions without time pressure... which is a bit of a problem, given how biased they are toward spawning in such missions! At least when time pressure is on the table they present the threat of slowing you down enough (Whether by getting bogged down fighting them or by looping around them) to fail the objective or whatever.

The overall result is that while Turrets have a number of qualities that are interesting on a technical level or seem like they should be interesting on a gameplay level, they're... probably the single most boring enemy of the game, unfortunately.


The Turret Breakdown is probably the most lackluster Autopsy in the base game, which is irritating given that Turret Wrecks are shockingly rare to actually loot. (Turrets are heavily slanted away from mission types that let you loot bodies, and you can still miss out on their corpses even if you do get Turrets on a mission you can loot bodies on due to them failing to count against a Kill Everything objective) All it unlocks is the ability to build a room that gives you some turrets of your own during Avenger Defense missions. Which... will usually happen exactly one time in your entire run, and very possibly before you have any Turret Wrecks to Autopsy!

Insult to injury is that one of the better ways to loot a Turret Wreck is to hit a Landed UFO... which can only occur after you've had a UFO intercept you.

If you do loot a Turret before a UFO hits you, it's worth considering Autopsying it because the Defense Matrix makes it a little bit easier to do the 'scramble to the Avenger' portion of the mission and the Defense Matrix is actually pretty cheap, It's not a great payoff, but the Autopsy is fairly quick, so it's not hard to squeeze in, and the Defense Matrix is cheap and space on the Avenger isn't really an issue in the base game. So... underwhelming, but why not.

War of the Chosen is a different story, if a bit of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, the Defense Matrix has been made vastly more useful in War of the Chosen, with its turrets able to benefit from the Improved Cannons Breakthrough, having an Engineer manning the building granting them Squadsight so they can contribute throughout the battle instead of only when enemies are uncomfortably close to the Avenger's ramp, the introduction of Chosen Avenger assaults, making it so it's actually realistic for the Defense Matrix to benefit you multiple times... oh, and the Defense Matrix passively defends against Chosen Sabotage, so even if you never get use out of the Defense Matrix's turrets it will still tend to be helpful!

On the minus side, War of the Chosen has made it vastly less likely you'll actually loot Turret Wrecks. It's introduced several new map sets, almost none of which allow for Turret generation (Sewer maps never get Turrets, for example), and very specifically has largely displaced the possibility of Turret Wrecks being looted: you'll still usually face Turrets when hitting Avatar Project Facilities, but you can't loot those. Same with the Blacksite and Forge: the Blacksite will almost always have Turrets, and they're a frequent sight in the Forge, but you don't loot bodies on either mission. Chosen Strongholds are a new mission type that doesn't displace existing ones and can have Turrets... but you'll never get to loot their bodies from Chosen Strongholds.

I've had base-game runs that never looted a Turret Wreck at any point in the run, but they were exceptions and pretty consistently caused in part by me deliberately avoiding engaging Turrets. In War of the Chosen, it's instead a notable event when a run loots a Turret, even though I actually try to engage them consistently in War of the Chosen.

It's nice that they can pay off more than in the base game, but frustrating how it's a lot more likely you'll never loot them, or only loot one after you've finished off all the Chosen and been hit by your mandatory UFO. Especially because I don't think that was really intended.

I do like how it helps give variety to runs, where you don't always get the Defense Matrix up in time to help and so on, but sometimes you get it really early and it helps a ton.

But I'm pretty sure that's a happy accident, where the devs would've endeavored to make Turret looting opportunities more common if they'd realized they were reducing the odds of getting such an opportunity.

On a different note, one oddity of the Autopsy is that Tygan indicates he expects Shen will be interested in the Turret's optics, but nothing comes of this. It makes me wonder if at some point the Turret Autopsy was supposed to be the basis of a S.C.O.P.E. analogue or something of the sort, rather than the Defense Matrix.

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Narratively, Turrets are a bit difficult to place. They never get depicted in any pre-rendered cinematics, your support staff never attempt to contextualize them within the setting, and some elements of what gets said in relation to them doesn't mesh well with how the gameplay uses them, which taken altogether makes it difficult to figure out how they're supposed to fit inside the setting,.

For example, Turret placement within gameplay is biased heavily toward contexts your average ADVENT citizen would likely never see, such as at Avatar Project Facilities, or guarding landed UFOs. Less common but still pretty common, particularly in the base game, is for Turrets to show up in small towns that ADVENT seems to have only recently started overhauling: I wouldn't be surprised if such cases are supposed to be ADVENT moving in and wiping out people who refuse to move to the city centers, or something else similar, in which case Turrets showing up in such areas also makes perfect sense.

But then you also have Turrets on the ADVENT trains, which we are told and shown pass through city centers, and can sometimes see Turrets on an ADVENT building on a city center map. Were those done for gameplay reasons, without thought regarding the plot end? It's difficult to guess in any direction, because we get so little info. Maybe Turrets are supposed to be basically a secret from your average ADVENT citizen, and this just isn't communicated clearly by the game, and whoops gets occasionally contradicted by the gameplay. Or maybe Turrets aren't supposed to be a secret, and the devs have a sensible model in mind for why kill-bot automated turrets wouldn't alarm the average citizen, but whoops it never got communicated by the game. Or maybe the devs just... didn't think about how Turrets would be perceived by your average ADVENT citizen, and that's why we didn't get such info, and why Turrets have some eyebrow-raising spawn possibilities.

I'm most inclined to suspect not a ton of thought was put into Turrets as narrative entities, in part because War of the Chosen seems to have almost forgotten about them, but there's really just... not enough info to say in any particular direction. And it seems unlikely a future game will address the topic, unless we do get a The Bureau-but-in-XCOM-2-as-Reapers sort of game; Chimera Squad has Turrets, for example, and while they recycle audio and and visuals in regards to their shooting effects, they're a whole different beast in concept that doesn't clarify anything about XCOM 2 Turrets. XCOM 3 seems even less likely than Chimera Squad to address the topic in a substantial capacity.

It's not a big deal, overall, as Turrets aren't a fundamentally interesting and important idea.

But it is part and parcel of a larger trend of the game being a little fuzzy on how ADVENT's 'peacekeepers' are supposed to make sense within the setting.

Game design-wise, I appreciate Turrets as an experiment. I don't think they're a terribly successful experiment, but I prefer it when a game is willing to try out ideas that break from assumed defaults of the design. That willingness to experiment is important for hitting on new, interesting ideas, after all.

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Next time, we cover the first plot-critical enemy: the Codex.

See you then.

Comments

  1. It’s actually possible, albeit rare, for a turret to be affected by the Unconscious status effect. On at least a couple of occasions, I’ve hacked a turret with Haywire Protocol, only for it to be promptly knocked Unconscious by a Stun Lancer’s baton.

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    1. Fair warning: the most recent time that it happened (and possibly the other times), I was playing with Long War 2 and some UI mods enabled.

      Still, I don’t see why the mod-makers would have added this interaction intentionally or how they would have added it by accident, so I think it’s more likely than not that it’s in the vanilla game.

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    2. Long War 2 does enough major overhaul changes I'd be hesitant to assume anything in it is representative -I haven't played Long War 2 much in part to avoid messing up these posts, I've already run into trouble a few times with War of the Chosen/base game differences- but I'll still make an effort to test it, just in case. Outside the R.A.G.E. Suit, the player can't inflict Unconsciousness without stealing an enemy unit first, and I've already seen that Unconsciousness behaves a bit weirdly when inflicted on enemies, so I wouldn't be surprised if Mechanical Chassis doesn't properly protect from Unconsciousness.

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