Friends In Low Places is a unique Council Mission added by the Slingshot Content Pack for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This mission carries a randomized Operation designation and takes place in a random Chinese city.
Friends In Low Places is available as an alternate to the first Council Mission which randomly occurs during the first month. The timing is altered in XCOM: Enemy Within, it is available during the second month (51 days into the campaign), provided that Operation Slingshot was enabled via the Advanced Options when beginning the game. This mission is initiated by a Council transmission received at the Situation Room:
|“||A member of the Triad criminal organization has reached out to one of our contacts. Although we have little interest in the man himself, he allegedly has in his possession a piece of "unique" technology. We'll need you to investigate; we will transmit further details to Central.||”|
– Council Transmission, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
|“||If the contact's device is genuine, as we suspect it is, it'll be of high value. Stay sharp, as the aliens may make an effort to recover it.||”|
– Mission Brief, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
|“||▪ Escort VIP and the alien artifact to the extraction point|
▪ Eliminate any resistance
▪ VIP must survive
|– Mission Objectives, XCOM: Enemy Unknown|
Upon arriving at the mission site, a brief cinematic introduces the Triad operative, Shaojie Zhang, before revealing a unique Chinese graveyard map. The graveyard is set on a gently sloping hill with the squad starting at the top and having to reach the extraction zone in the street at the bottom. Cover consists of numerous graves and short walls, several "Foo Dog" statues, a lone cherry tree and some cars parked on the street.
The alien forces encountered during this mission consist primarily of Sectoids and Thin Men. Depending on the game difficulty, either a solitary Chryssalid or a Plasma Rifle-wielding Muton will spawn near the LZ. In XCOM: Enemy Unknown the Muton appears exclusively on Impossible difficulty; in XCOM: Enemy Within it spawns on Classic and Impossible difficulties.
Only a single pod of the aliens are present at the start of the mission (near the cemetery gate), and the rest will drop into the map as the squad and Zhang advance towards the extraction zone. On the turn they arrive, the Sectoids, Thin Men and the Muton will use Overwatch as their first action.
Like other Target Escort missions, the VIP begins with the squad and is under the player's control. Zhang is unarmed and has very little health. He should be shielded from enemy attacks and stay clear of burning vehicles near the extraction point.
Since all of the newly spawned enemies drop into the mission and their entrance counts as movement, placing several soldiers on Overwatch may allow them to weaken or eliminate the enemy with reaction fire before they can become a real threat.
Given the early placement of this mission, it may be XCOM's first encounter with Thin Men and/or Chryssalids and/or Mutons; all three can present a significant threat to the squad, especially on the higher difficulties. A lack of experienced veterans and advanced equipment will likely leave soldiers unable to easily kill such enemies and susceptible to instant kills from critical hits from the Thin Men's Light Plasma Rifles, the Chryssalid's melee attacks and the Muton's Plasma Rifle shots. The Chryssalid presents a particular problem, as it can spawn a Zombie which could prove to be another tough opponent at this early stage of the game; the Muton has no spawning capabilities, but his Plasma Rifle has enough firepower to kill soldiers in one shot even if they're equipped with a Nano-fiber Vest or Respirator Implant, and so can his Alien Grenade, on top of destroying cover.
Given there is no time limit for the completion of the mission, one of the best strategies is to take the squad slowly along one of the sides of the graveyard. The approach provides the squad with high elevation, a safe flank to prevent flanking, and better vision. While it is possible to advance through the center of the graveyard, enemies have increased opportunity to flank the troops, and the lower ground makes Snipers less effective.
The following status updates are received from Central Officer Bradford during the mission:
|Event or Condition||Update|
|Mission intro||"We've just received an interesting report from the Council. Apparently a high-ranking Triad enforcer based out of Hong Kong claims to have gotten his hands on a piece of alien hardware. We'll need to rendezvous at his location, and, assuming he's legit, provide a secure escort out of the area."|
|Mission begins||"That's our man, and it looks like he's got the package with him. We'll need to get him back to the extraction point in one piece. His former employers, not to mention the invaders, will be looking for him."|
| Arrival of the|
|"Heads up, Commander. We've got an intermittent contact. It's something different from the others."|
| Zhang safe,|
enemies remain (1)
|"The target is secured; eliminate any remaining hostiles in the vicinity."|
| Zhang safe,|
enemies remain (2)
|"The VIP is safe, but we should remove any remaining hostiles near the LZ."|
| Zhang safe,|
enemies remain (3)
|"Our target has reached the extraction point. Secure the surrounding area and eliminate any remaining hostiles."|
|Zhang is killed||"Dammit...You lost the VIP. Get out of there, Strike-One. Mission's over."|
|Mission successful||"The device and our contact are secure; get back to HQ for debriefing."|
|“||Dr. Vahlen has confirmed the device is genuine, although the aliens' presence at the extraction site was perhaps evidence enough. Dr. Shen has several theories on the purpose of the equipment, and will notify you immediately once his team has reached a conclusion. And it appears Zhang is awaiting your orders down in the barracks.||”|
– Council Transmission, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The Council rewards XCOM with the following:
Zhang joins XCOM as a Heavy Class Lieutenant with the nickname "Chilong", likely outranking his fellow soldiers at this point in the game, meaning he will have a superior number of abilities and will unlock additional upgrades at the Officer Training School.
Completing the mission rewards the player with the "New Friend" achievement.
- This mission provides an easy method of capturing of aliens for prepared players. Because they drop into the map when a team member moves into certain zones and use Overwatch as their first action, it is possible to position squad members (equipped with Flashbang Grenades and Arc Throwers) at or near the predetermined drop-points.
- The Muton in particular, if captured, provides a very early opportunity to rush Plasma research.
- The game may not register that Zhang is in the extraction zone, preventing the mission from ending. He may need to be moved in and out of the zone more than once before the event is recognized.
|XCOM: Enemy Unknown Missions|
|Alien||Abduction • Terror Site • UFO Crash Site • UFO Landing Site|
|Council||Asset Recovery • Bomb Disposal • Site Recon • Target Escort • Target Extraction|
|DLC||Slingshot: Friends In Low Places • Confounding Light • Gangplank • Progeny: Portent • Deluge • Furies|
|Storyline||Alien Base Assault • XCOM Base Defense • Overseer Crash Site • Temple Ship Assault|
|Other||Starter Mission • Tutorial • Meld Tutorial • Covert Operations • EXALT Base Raid|