XCOM 2: Veteran Class Guide

By Marcello Perricone 16 Mar 2017 0

Soldiers are the ground-level troops of XCOM, sabotaging ADVENT activities in guerilla raids, protecting civilians from retaliation, and acquiring intelligence regarding the alien threat. They are usually deployed in squads of 4-6 soldiers, often covertly, through the Skyranger, a VTOL troop transport.

But what many may not know are the specificities and pitfalls of each individual class, so we're here to provide the knowledge that only hundreds of hours of playthrough can give you. Below you can see some of the best strategies and biggest no-nos of each XCOM 2 class.

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Ranger

The Ranger serves as the primary reconnaissance unit, capable of moving independently in concealment while engaging enemies at close range using firearms and melee weapons. Definitely the most versatile class in the game, Rangers can either be a devastating spectre of death striking from the shadows, or a swift ninja capable of cutting enemy hordes down.

Rangers can attack adjacent enemies with their sword even after using both actions to move or dash, extending their movement range. Aliens behave differently to melee; Sectoids take +3 damage from all sword/melee attacks, while some enemies like Muttons counter Ranger melee strikes, fully avoiding damage and hurting the Ranger instead. A couple more things to keep in mind:

  • Due to Rangers' unique ability to recon and flank enemies after the squad is engaged, there is always a strong possibility that a roaming patrol or wrongly executed flank will end up stranding your operative far from the main squad. Units with Phantom begin the mission in concealment even when the squad doesn’t, so watch out they don't get caught alone behind enemy lines.
  • If an enemy attempts to attack a Ranger with Bladestorm within melee range, Bladestorm will activate before the enemy attack. Further still, when ADVENT reinforcements drop next to a Ranger, Bladestorm activates before they can react. Bladestorm will also activate upon a Viper successfully using its Constrict ability after pulling the Ranger, and allows them to kill the Viper even while constricted. However, a Ranger with Bladestorm that panics will attack allies as well when they come into melee range, so keep that in mind when things go south to prevent friendly fire.
  • A Ranger is the only soldier capable of reaching or even surpassing a 100% Critical Hit chance. Other classes cannot use shotguns and only have a small chance of getting the Shadowstrike skill from the Advanced Warfare Center, giving the Ranger 45% more chance of landing Critical Hits.
  • Nearly all missions with task and evac goals can be solo'd entirely by Rangers using the Conceal Skill and some simple, stealthy hit and run tactics.
  • Implacable can activate after Run and Gun, granting a total of 4 moves in a single turn.
  • A Ranger may seem like a good choice to carry a Skulljack as it naturally fits with the Ranger's normal skill set, but its lower hack score compared to the Specialist may make it a better choice for Skulljacking than Skullmining.

 

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Grenadier

Serving as demolitions experts, the Grenadiers provide heavy ordnance delivery whenever and wherever is needed it. Carrying rockets and grenades, the Grenadier is arguably the most versatile and useful all-rounder to have in a squad, and their ability to affect the environment and deal guaranteed explosive damage often means the difference between life and death.

The first and most important decision when it comes to Grenadiers is which role you want them to have. If you're going the offensive role, we advise you take Shredder instead of Blast Padding. Shredder is a proactive skill which allows you to dictate the terms by which you attack, while Blast Padding is a reactive skill, softening the damage when you are forced to take it. Given the possibility of panicking as well as the time it takes to recover from wounds, it is preferred that soldiers don't get hit in the first place. While Blast Padding can be highly useful for tanking when combined with a high dodge stat, the Shredder is particularly effective for taking down armoured targets quickly. Shooting with the Grenadier first to knock out armour before opening fire with other units is a great way to kill armoured enemies, and it can pair with Holo-Targeting as well, knocking out armour and providing an aim bonus for other soldiers to finish the enemy off.

As you decide which role your Grenadier is going to perform, you must also choose his tool of trade. If you're going the heavy weapons route instead of explosives, you might need some terrain shaping skills like the Demolition, which is a good alternative to grenades for destroying cover. It is more risky than the same level skill Suppression; if the enemy whose cover is destroyed can't be killed in the same turn, they will just move to different cover and fire back. In addition, some cover is indestructible or can only be damaged instead of completely removed, rendering Demolition useless in some situations. Also keep in mind the accuracy calculation of this skill adds +10% to hit chance but ignores any scope mod, so hitting might be a problem.

As the Grenadier naturally has low aim, you need make sure to focus on aim bonuses and mods if you plan to hit anything with your weapon. Hail of Bullets can help offset Grenadier's naturally low aim, and it offers a counter to enemies with high innate Defence (such as Gatekeepers) who can often be very difficult to hit. It also goes well with Shredder -- as a guaranteed armour hit is usually reserved for grenades only -- and quite useful when dealing with entrenched enemies. And since many Grenadier abilities consume two or three shots instead of one, make sure to equip expanded magazines or speed reload mods to counteract the ammo drain. Besides that:

  • Suppression is effective for stopping dangerous enemies from attacking the squad, and multiple Grenadiers can effectively lock down an enemy with an aim penalty of -100 since the ability stacks with itself. In addition, Suppression is guaranteed to remove Overwatch and can be paired with Holo Targeting for an aim bonus on top of its basic effects.
  • Heavy Ordnance is great if you use your Grenadier primarily for their... well, grenades. It works well against enemies who like to fight from cover, and allows you to worry less about rationing explosives. It also gives you a good tactic to get rid of those pesky high Dodge targets, against whom guaranteed damage is often more important than raw hit probabilities.
  • Holo-Targeting's aim bonus triggers on every shot and it's applied regardless of whether the attack hits or misses, which is quite useful as an opening attack against high-defence targets like Archons. It can be combined with Shredder and either Hail of Bullets or Rupture for an absolutely devastating opening salvo which gives the squad a much better chance of killing dangerous targets like Sectopods or Gatekeepers on the turn which they are encountered.
  • Volatile Mix bonus to each grenade is substantial, and when combined with the Advanced Grenade Launcher often allows you to hit multiple packs of enemies with a single grenade. It is specially interesting when combined with speciality grenades such as Flashbangs, due to their low/non-existent damage.
  • Salvo is extremely useful at times, since it allows Grenadiers to fire two grenades in one turn, or one grenade and then act. it's a slightly more defensive ability, as it requires the Grenadier to remain stationary in order to have any use of the ability, but synergises very well with ambushes. If opened with it, it guarantees enemies will be in the open for following manual or Overwatch shots.
  • Rupture is a crucial skill for Grenadiers who want to be able to take down single targets. When combined with Shredder and/or Holo-Targeting, Rupture also guarantees a critical hit (but keep in mind the extra potential damage is not shown during previews).
  • Saturation Fire's cone of effect is extremely narrow, limiting use against multiple targets unless they are almost in a straight line from the Grenadier. In addition, it doesn't trigger Holo-Targeting and is not even guaranteed to hit enemies or destroy cover in the cone of fire.

 

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Specialist

Operating some of the most advanced equipment XCOM has to offer, Specialists deploy robotic drones on the battlefield that can be outfitted for combat or field medic duty, and are capable of providing amazing support to the rest of the squad. In addition, their unique ability to hack robotic units helps deal with those overpriced tincans that plague the late game.

The Specialist is especially adept as a support role, able to enhance the capabilites of the squad and provide amazing coering fire. If you use Threat Assessment on a Specialist with the Guardian skill, this will usually grant you three or more overwatch shots in a single turn. Besides that, giving another soldier Threat Assessment before they open fire as part of an Overwatch ambush will result in said soldier firing again after the squad loses concealment. That's two shots from one person in an Overwatch ambush!

  • Due to their naturally high hacking score, Specialists make good candidates for carrying Skulljacks. The extra hack boost from Skullmining also benefits them greatly.
  • Hacking an ADVENT Network Tower or a mission objective only consumes one action point and will not end your turn. However hacking a robotic enemy with Haywire Protocol does end the turn, as do Combat Protocol and Capacitor Discharge.
  • Combat Protocol and Capacitor Discharge both bypass armour. They do not apply a damage bonus to robotic enemies that are hacked with Haywire Protocol, either.
  • Robotic enemies (such as MECs) hacked with Haywire Protocol cannot act on the first turn of being Hacked, but they can act on the first turn after hacked ends. However, ADVENT Turrets can act on the first turn of both situations. Keep in mind robotic enemies hacked with Haywire Protocol do not need to be destroyed to complete a mission that requires all enemy units to be eliminated, but you don't receive their wrecks if they are still in operating condition.
  • Aid Protocol, Medical Protocol and Scanning Protocol each only consume a single action and will not end your turn. However, Restoration does end the turn.
  • Aid Protocol cannot be used twice on the same target.
  • Ever Vigilant will trigger so long as you do not consume an action point with an action other than moving; it will trigger from skipping your turn, moving once, moving 3+ times, opening/closing as many doors as you like, or moving twice after using a Free Reload.

 

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Sharpshooter

Just like it sounds, sharpshooters engage enemy targets with pinpoint accuracy from extreme range. They're also trained in pistol marksmanship for the occasional close encounter. A staple of any squad, a good sharpshooter can finish off powerful enemies or take out aliens before they get close enough to hurt your soldiers.

But curiously, sharpshooters can also excel at close range when following the Gunslinger tree, which includes abilities that help the squad clear a whole block of enemies in one turn. Quickdraw has no cooldown, and Faceoff grants a pistol shot on every visible enemy and has no upper limit on the total amount of shots it can make, and it's an excellent way to use special ammo due to the sheer amount of targets available. Lightning Hands is a free action/pistol shot against anything within range, working well for both Snipers and Gunslingers specialisations; for a Sniper, Lightning Hands allows the sharpshooter to weaken or finish off a nearby enemy before sniping them, or even shoot another target altogether. Giving gunslingers special ammo types severely augments their usefulness, with Faceoff acting as an effective crowd control skill, limiting enemy actions and -- in the case of Dragon rounds setting them on fire -- stopping enemy melee attacks altogether. Using Lightning Hands, shooting normally with Quickdraw and finishing the turn with Faceoff, allows a sharpshooter to potentially clear a whole screen of enemies alone.

Regardless of specialisation, in most cases one should pick Steady Hands instead of Aim. Steady Hands does not take this turn's movement into account, making it useful for all sharpshooters. And unlike Aim, which only affects the first shot of a turn, Steady Hands affects all shots, and it does not require the sharpshooter to not have made an attack last turn. Besides that, keep in mind:

  • Deadeye's aim penalty is 25%, not a direct -25, meaning it differs per target. As such, this powerful skill is not very reliable until the drop can be compensated. Like Deadeye, Fan Fire scales up very well with upgraded equipment,as it can potentially deal up to triple normal damage to an enemy. Unlike Deadeye, however, Fan Fire is a pistol skill and only requires one action point, allowing it to combo with Death From Above and Quickdraw and makes it more viable for both full Gunslingers and mixed sets. Fan Fire can also benefit heavily from special ammo, just like Faceoff.
  • Kill Zone activates once every movement, meaning it activates once if the enemy dashes, but twice if the enemy moves twice, or move and attack. Melee attacks, however, count as part of movement and only trigger one shot. Kill Zone also does not require Long Watch in order to take reaction shots against enemies in squadmates' line of sight, giving you two skills for the price of one.
  • Serial returns the sharpshooter's actions when they make a kill with their sniper rifle, rendering it very useful when snipers have multiple enemies in sight at low HP. While it does allow you to take them all down, when using the skill one should keep in mind that every kill made by the sniper effectively results in wasted experience from killing enemies.
  • Long Watch allows you to activate enemy pods during the enemy turn, when the Sharpshooter is not concealed but a phantom Ranger can see the enemies.
  • Due to the fact that the Sniper Rifle requires both actions to fire, reloading will be a heavy burden on snipers, often making them have to skip an entire turn of combat. Weapon mods such as expanded clips and the Auto-Loader are invaluable to sharpshooters. Similarly, Kill Zone only activates as long as the sniper rifle has ammo, making it more effective in conjunction with expanded magazine mods. Similarly, Squadsight reduces it's accuracy with distance and the Sniper Rifle gets less accurate at close ranges, so consider using a Scope weapon mod.
  • Death From Above activates only on kills, and then only if made from higher elevation. In addition, it doesn't allow the second action to be another shot with your sniper rifle, meaning you can only relocate, reload, or use the pistol.

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What do you think? Did these tips give you new ideas to assembling your squad? Do you have any specific class advice we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Tags: XCOM 2

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