Main: Phoenix Point
You can only enhance two out of three body parts with either mutations or bionics. Having mutations disables putting on bionics on the same body part, and the reverse. But you can change from one mutation to another or one bionic to another.
During the early game, the only alternative is wearable armor, and very little of that if you are playing on the hardest difficulty. Considering that producing armor will delay your ship productions, hampering your trading expansion, it makes more sense to go into battle with no armor and only using a ground vehicle for protection and firepower.
Also, having a shield blocks most attacks when used properly. Having only a helmet and a shield can be a viable alternative.
The benefits of the werable armor is that they come earlier than Mutations and bionics.
- Compared to the New Jericho heavy helmet, the Phoenix helmet is weaker, 27 vs 33 armor. That's the difference between getting 3 damage per assault rifle shot and getting no damage.
- The Technician helmet has 25 defense, but increases Accuracy from -4 up to +6, a 10 accuracy difference. If your strategy causes you to take mostly low amounts of damage, the occasional damage from assault rifles can be well worth the accuracy boost on a front line soldier.
- The best accuracy boost comes from the Synedrion sniper helmet, +10 accuracy and +5 stealth, with so little armor, 14, that it doesn't really do much. It's good enough for a sniper that is so far away that he isn't going to get hit by anything other than a sniper bullet.
- However, a great alternative is the New Jericho sniper helmet. It has 1 less accuracy, 9 down from 10, but has 18 instead of 14 armor. Receiving 12 damage per bullet instead of 16 is impactful damage mitigation for negligible accuracy loss. It's so good I recommend it to be put on everybody except snipers and front liners. In fact, put it on everybody if you don't have the better alternatives.
- Assaults need enough Perception for their Return Fire ability to trigger, so there is a good reason to have them use the New Jericho sniper helmet (7 perception) instead of the Technician helmet (0 perception). Just remember that your gave up 7 armor for 7 perception and 3 extra accuracy.
- The Living helmet is a unique helmet with the highest armor, 35 up from 33 for New Jericho heavy helmet. And it does so with +5 stealth and +5 accuracy, in contrast to -7 perception and -4 accuracy of the second New Jericho heavy helmet. Only a unique super soldier should have this. 0 Perception, so it doesn't increase return fire range, but gives you loads of armor to take incoming fire.
- The synedrion helmet gives +10 stealth. I don't know when that would be worth having only 10 armor and no accuracy.
- Rest is trash not worth considering with adequate gameplay.
- For the front line soldier, anything other than the New Jericho heavy body armor is sub-optimal. At 40 armor, you take initially no damage even from the New Jericho assault rifle. The huge drawback is -8% accuracy. This can sound like a huge cost, but it can be compensated with a helmet or mutated legs. 40 Armor is so high that it lowers 60 melee damage to tolerable 20, and lowers what could be lethal 100 melee to survivable 60. With the personal perk, you get two awesome rockets that are life savers in heated combat. Of course, for free if you are heavy, and they also get a cool laser for 1 AP to complement their 3 AP heavy weapon.
- The Technician alternative has only 25 armor, but adds 11% accuracy for a total of +3%. If you are sure you won't be hit by melee attacks and only occasionally be hit by assault rifles, then this is a good alternative. With a helmet and mutated legs, you are at +32% accuracy only from your armor. This is not viable for Stealth builds.
- If speed is a priority, then the synedrion assault body increase speed from -1 to +1. At the cost of only 20 armor. Have this on only one soldier that is stacking speed for melee strikes. If you feel you really have to stack on speed, you got +2 speed from the Berserker body armor. At 14 armor, it's basically running around half naked, so make sure to bring a shield with you.
- If you are stealthy sniper that doesn't care about armor, go for the Synedrion sniper armor for +5% accuracy and +10% stealth. Or if you have enough accuracy anyway, use the infiltrator armor for no accuracy but +20% stealth.
- Rest is trash, except for the living armor that is broken at no speed penalty, 40 armor, +10% stealth and +5% accuracy.
- New Jericho heavy legs start at 35 armor, down from 40 the body has. Only -4 accuracy, better than the -8 of the body. The first mutated legs, the stomper legs, would provide 5 less armor at 30, but have +12% accuracy instead of -4%. 16 accuracy is a whole lot to sacrifice for 5 more armor on the legs. Only reason to not take the legs is if you plan to use the head and body for mutations and bionics.
- The technician legs are still at 25 armor! While the New Jericho heavy legs are 5 armor weaker than their body armor, the technician legs aren't weaker at all. So while the armor difference between the technician body armor and heavy body armor was 15 armor, the difference is 10 armor for the legs. They also got +4% accuracy instead of -4%, an +8% accuracy difference.
- +1 Speed goes to the New Jericho Assault Leg Armor, at 22 armor. 0 Accuracy. You can get 2% accuracy if you lower armor from 22 down to 18 with the Synedrion assault leg armor. +2 Speed goes to the Anu leg armor, 18 armor and nothing else.
- Stealth goes to the Synedrion sniper legs for +10% stealth and 5% accuracy, or the stealth legs for +20% stealth an no accuracy bonus.
- Rest is trash, except the living legs. 35 armor, +10% stealth, +5% accuracy.
The mutations are performed using the resources called Mutagens. You get them from Lair raids as well as turning captured Pandorans into Mutagen with the required technology. If you have Mutagen but lack a plan for mutations, you are basically wasting the opportunity they give of having your troops being stronger without occupying your production.
Several of the mutations give extra stats. This increased values will be displayed in the numbers shown when you look through all units, but not shown when looking at the specific units by clicking the "edit unit" button. There, only the base stats are used, since the base stats are used to calculate the cost of further increasing the base stats. You don't want the price of acquiring more will to skyrocket just because you got a mutated head that adds +8 will.
Short version, give:
- Armored Head to high end berserker as optimal gear
- Armored head to expendable front line soldiers as cheap armor
- Perceptor head on expendable snipers as cheap armor
- Priest head on priests
- Regeneration Torso on all expendable soldiers as cheap armor if you got overabundance of mutagen
- Tentacle Torso for captures without needed to build the melee capture weapon
- Stomper legs to high end snipers as optimal gear
- Stomper legs for all expendable soldiers
- Rest is either trash or very situational
There are three head mutations, and three priest mutations.
Non-priest heads: Non-priest Mutant heads cost only 80 Mutagen, that's not a much!
- Armored Head (30 armor, -4% perception, -6% accuracy, Daze Immunity, +1 Strength): Berserkers get dazed after using their Adrenal Rush ability (lower all attacks to 1 AP each with -50% aim penalty). This makes them immune to the daze effect. However, it will further lower their aim. So it's mostly useful if the unit is at point-blank range to the enemy with either a melee gun or a heavy weapon. You could use it to get armor early on without taking up production time, and then change to the preferred head when you get the tech for it.
- Perceptor Head (15 armor, +14 perception, +5 stealth, +10 accuracy): Compared to the Synedrion Sniper helmet, this has the same stealth and accuracy, but 14 instead of 7 perception, and 15 instead of 14 armor. So it is basically a Synedrion sniper helmet. If you don't plan to give the soldier anything better than that, you might just as well mutate him into this head and save on the production time and cost of the helmet, 20 Tech, 95 Materials and work 20 hours. The superior alternative is the Disruptor Head bionics.
- Resistor Head (20 armor. 2 WP): Trash. Poison and Virus reduced by half. Really disappointing for being an ultimate mutation technology. Idk, maybe it's really useful during the endgame?
Priest heads: Priest Mutant heads cost only 200 Mutagen each. That's high.
- Synod Head (12 armor, +4 WP): gives 2 free Will per turn to all units, increasing the performance of them all. With only 12 armor, it's not suited for frontline units. That's fine since it works with a 7 tiles radius, so the unit should optimally be at the center of the group. Not sure who to put it on though.
- Judgement Head (25 armor, +7% accuracy +8 WP): The second priest head gives frenzy to everybody, increasing mobility by 50% for two turns (1 AP, 5 WP to use). That's huge to get in positions and perform. It also gives +7% accuracy and 25 Armor, one more accuracy than the Technician helmet, so it's well suited on a Heavy/Priest dual class. The frenzy ability also removes panic, but that shouldn't be an issue if you play correctly. The 8 WP is a huge boost that will come in handy for a priest. Check the Stomper Legs for sniper builds.
- Screaming Head (12 armor, 4 WP): Trash. 12 armor, no accuracy bonus. Enables Psychic Scream, lowering WP of all by 4 WP at a cost of 1 AP and 4 WP. Only useful if (a) the priest is last man with turns, (b) and there are several units (c) up close (d) with low WP (e) while the priest has 16 WP and 4 AP to spend. That's a scenario not worth spending resources on guarding against.
All torsos cost 200 Mutagen. That's nice for a torso. Unfortunately, only the tier 1 torso is comparable to other high tier gear, the other torsos are trash. So don't take it thinking you have nice mutant torso upgrades to look forward to.
Also, note that the bionic torsos are top tier, and going for a mutated torso gets you stuck with it.
- Regeneration Torso (34 armor, -8% accuracy, +1 strength): Makes you like a triton, regenerating 10 HP and limbs every turn. Half fire damage, as if it mattered. It's comparable to the New Jericho heavy armor. It has 6 less armor, but you get back 10 health instantly, unless you didn't survive the enemies turn. And then you can hide away while you regenerate. The strength bonus is nice. Saves you the cost of building the body armor at a cost of 37 Tech (ouch) and 300 materials (double ouch). Oh, right, you don't get to rocket jump, nor wear mounted rockets and lasers. So have the Heavies and those with mounted weapons perks still use the Armor and let the other dudes get this mutation.
- Tentacle Torso (16 armor, +1 speed): Tentacle attack (2 AP, 3 WP) that applies 24 paralyze damage. Return Fire on melee (3 WP cost, torso must not be broken). The low armor should want you to not be in melee range at the front. The 24 paralyze is comparable to the Neurazer, a single hand weapon that applies 8 paralysis for 1 AP no WP. Not impressed.
Quote: "The paralysis kicks in the turn that it is applied, which stops melee arthron from hitting for lethal (assuming their DPS is lower than your torso's HP) due to AP drain. A mostly-paralyzed melee arthron stuck at close range can then be killed or captured at your leisure.
It's a useful trick for getting captures (for harvesting for resources), and on harder missions lets you trade HP for DPS (you can ignore the Arthron that turn and focus on other things). I do it all the time."
- Venom Torso (20 armor, +2 speed, +10% accuracy, +20% stealth): Trash? Can shoot poison spike at the cost of not being able to use 2 handed weapons. Woot? What weapons do you get to use?
- Spider drones
- Pistols, notably:
- Anu hand cannon: 100 damage, no range.
- Anu acid gun: 10 damage, 10 acid, burst 5
- Neural Pistol: 10 damage, 30 piercing and 7 paralysis
- Vidar Grenade Launcher for Assaults
- Mounted weapons
- Most melee weapons
- The main feature of this torso is the +20% aim. The synedrion sniper armor gives +5% aim. Haven't tried this, will get back when I have. It's underwhelming at first glance for being in the ultimate tier of mutations.
All legs cost 100 mutagen. First one is great, 2nd is meh, 3rd is situationally useful.
- Stomper Legs (30 armor, -10% stealth, +12% accuracy, +1 strength): Synedrion sniper legs give +5% accuracy, this one is more than twice as good while having great armor value and adds one strength on top. Yummy. The new Jericho heavy legs have 35 armor, but have 16% less accuracy. Not sure the stomp is of any value, or if it combines with War Cry.
- Snipers: Bionics don't offer better accuracy, so this is an obvious sniper mutation. As for their second slot, bionics torsos don't offer anything spectacular with the exception if your sniper has mounted proficiency personal perk. Mutated torsos has nothing to offer a sniper. That leaves heads. The mutated head is comparable to a Synedrion helmet. The two superior head alternatives are the priest head and the bionic head. The bionic head is offers negligible better accuracy and the ability to shut down the WP usage of an enemy for one turn. The priest head gives frenzy and +8 WP. Going sniper/priest instead of sniper/infiltrator would reveal your sniper and substantially lower his damage. But if you really want, you can have your sniper hide behind cover instead and use a light sniper rifle followed by a heavy sniper rifle overwatch to avoid spending WP on shooting, and spend your WP on Mind Controlling units that get close for 1 AP (light sniper fire, mind control, light sniper overwatch) while providing passive immunity to panic to the entire group.
- Shadow Legs (12 armor, +30% stealth): worthless armor value, no accuracy bonus, so not useful for stealthy snipers. Not sure who this is for. The Electric Kick dazes the opponent if they have lower health than 200. If they don't, why bother going into melee range? Maybe as a last resort against a close heavy armored unit. Not impressed.
- Agile Legs (10 armor, +4 speed): Goo immune. Useful for an Assault/Heavy that wants to run in for a melee killing spree. Needs to have a shield or stay out of line of sight most of the time. Can jump up one elevation level automatically at no cost. Compared to the New Jericho bionics, this one has half as much armor, 1 more speed and doesn't cost 1 AP, 2 WP to leap, but doesn't leap as well. It also doesn't have -10% stealth. And costs only 100 mutagen instead of 49 tech (!) AND 145 materials. tech This legs might be suitable for Infiltrator/Assault with the melee and stealth personal perk going at it alone. Striking from Stealth gives the same damage bonus as the heavies, but can do so safely with vanish and Dash.
All heads cost 140 materials. The first one also costs 16 Tech, the other 30 tech. That's about 30% more expensive than wearable armor, but won't clog up production.
All bionics need to repaired if damaged.
- Clarity Head (30 armor, -10% stealth, +3% accuracy, +1 strength): Mind Control Immunity. 5 more armor than then Technician helmet but +3% accuracy instead of +6%. The drop in accuracy is negligible, but 5 more armor counts when being fired on by assault rifles. Not impressed.
- Echo Head (20 armor, +10% stealth): No penalty -50% perception during night. All weapon attacks are silent. Not the best armor value, and no accuracy bonus for the sniper. Not sure what this is good for.
- Disruptor Head (16 armor, +5 Perception, -5% stealth, +12% accuracy): Can Disorient, disabling use of Will Point abilities for 1 turn (1 AP, 3 WP). Highest accuracy boost on head slot, and can disable a nasty enemy that is getting too close. Nice. Check the Stomper Legs for sniper builds.
They are all top-tier, but will cost you all your Tech.
- Juggernaut Torso (45 armor, +1% accuracy): in-built shield. Can breach walls (2 WP). Highest armor in game. Amazing for your frontline soldiers, they can just wreck obstacles to melee, or to clear the way for the snipers. Just like the PURE soldiers, but with above average IQ.
- Vengeance Torso (22 armor, +20% stealth -3% accuracy): Gives melee weapon proficiency, so anybody can have melee weapons... and also lowers the cost to 1 AP per attack, omg!
- Neural Torso (30 armor, +-0 speed, -15% stealth +8% accuracy): Can also use Mounted Launchers and Technician arms. And carry double weight. The real gem here is the +8% accuracy for your sniper, and if they happen to have the mounted weapons personal perk, then they can shoot rockets as well as having high accuracy! The armor is acceptable for a frontline soldier, so if you got an assault with that wants to carry a storage worth of assorted weapons and switch them for 0 AP, he might want to have this instead of the 45 armor bionic torso.
- Armadillo Legs (40 armor, +3% accuracy): Goo immune, no fall damage. Highest leg armor value in the entire game. Being able to jump onto buildings with no risks and not being hampered by goo is nice, but negligible.
- Mirage Legs (20 armor, +1 Speed, +20 stealth, -3% accuracy): Does not activate enemy overwatch. I don't get bothered by enemy overwatch, I just overwatch them back. Meh. Not even great for stealth given the accuracy penalty.
- Propeller Legs (20 armor, +3 Speed): Rocket leap, 9 tiles (1 AP, 2 WP). don't think rocket jump (3 AP 2 WP), think Dash that disregards obstacles and can actually move one altitude up. Now everybody is an assault minus the level 7 ability!v Update: Tested it. It's amazing.