XCOM: Enemy UnknownMore guides, cheats and FAQS
XCOM: Soldier FAQsThis particular FAQ is devoted to the soldiers within your squad. They’re the backbone of your offensiveagainst the aliens and it’s important to understand what kinds of perks that they’ll have access to earlyon so that you can help plan your squad’s overall development. So what this guide is going to show arethe perk trees for the different classes along with some recommendations for perk selections. Nextthere will be some general squad builds to toy around with that can be very effective in the field. Butfirst we’ll start out with a couple questions that should be addressed first?I’ve heard this game is tough. When do I need to be on the lookout and on my guard?All the time! Never let your guard down, because that’s XCOM cruel trick in many cases. You maythink that a mission is going great, and that your squad is cruising along. Suddenly you find yourselfoverextended when an Ethereal, Sectapod, or Cyberdiscs come out of nowhere bringing missiles, beamweapons, grenades, and mind control. If you aren’t sure what lies beyond within the darkness of the fogof war move slowly, and keep your character’s second turns in reserve in case something should comeup.Which enemies should I focus on first?This is a tough question as it can vary on a case-by-case basis. However, in most situations you’ll wantto focus on Chryssalids first. These guys can be very, VERY troublesome, and if they infect and kill yoursoldiers they can spawn more Chryssalids for you to deal with. Ethereals are bad too with their mindcontrol abilities. Finally, there are the Sectopods which look like the ED-209s from Robocop 1. Basicallyimagine a big mech, armed with beam weapons and missiles. Usually these guys come backed upwith drones too so be sure to take them out before dealing with the Sectopod as they have a terribletendency to heal the mech when it takes damage.Now that those are out of the way we’ll look at the soldiers. As you are probably aware, each soldier hasa class assigned to them when they level up for the first time. Each level grants different perks whichplay to different strategies and ideals. We’ll recommend some skills here, but really you should messaround with different builds on your own to find out which fits your particular playstyle.Heavy:The Heavy is a great frontline unit. They tend to have the most life of anyone on your crew and areheavily armed to boot. They come equipped with LMGs by default and also gain the use of a rocketlauncher at first level. The rocket is particularly useful as it can get your out of a bind quickly shouldsomething terrible arise or if the enemies are clustered together.Squaddie: Fire Rocket – Exactly what the name says. This grants one rocket for use during a battle. Becareful though as it can’t be fired after moving, and will end that character’s turn after being fired.Corporal: Bullet Swarm or Holo-Targeting – Bullet Swarm is a great skill as it lets a Heavy fire as a firstmove without it ending their turn. This is nice if you happen to be close to multiple enemies and cantake them out before they return fire or close distance. Holo-Targeting gives your squadmates a +10 Aimbonus when they are attacking the same enemy. It’s nice if you want to put your Heavy into a supportrole, but later on when your teammates are one-shotting enemies it kinda falls by the wayside. For thislevel we recommend Bullet Swarm.Sergeant: Shredder Rocket or Suppression – Much like Holo-Targeting, Shredder Rocket is more ofa support move. This causes a target to take 33% more damage from any source. Again this can benice in the early game, but here we would recommend Suppression. Suppression is a fantastic skillthat can lockdown a tough enemy with a -30 Aim penalty. Better still, if the target moves, the Heavyautomatically gets a reaction shot against the target.Lieutenant: HEAT Ammo or Rapid Reaction – This level becomes more of a tossup than the previouschoices. HEAT Ammo doubles basic damage against any robotic enemies. This can be very useful later onwhen going up against Sectopods or Heavy Floaters. Rapid Reaction gives the Heavy a second reactionshot on Overwatch if they manage to hit the target with the first one. This may sound awesome, butremember that Overwatch shots are taken at an Aim penalty. Worse still, Heavies aren’t the mostaccurate class under normal circumstances, so here it’s recommended that you take HEAT Ammo.Captain: Grenadier or Danger Zone – This one is another good tradeoff. If you find yourself using a lotof grenades or relying on them to some major appreciable extent then go with Grenadier which grantsthe Heavy two grenades instead of one. On the other hand, if you want to try and take aliens in aliveor would favor moves that won’t make you miss out on weapon fragments for upgrades then go withDanger Zone which increases the AoE of Suppression and any rocket attacks. This can be very nice if theAI has placed multiple enemies close together or you want to suppress multiple hostiles at the sametime. Again in the early game Grenadier is nice, but later on you get better rockets and the enemiesstart to have more health than even two grenades. Plus suppressing multiple enemies can let you flankenemies much easier so you can score critical hits on them with relative ease. Therefore, it’s best to takeDanger Zone as it aids Suppression, and is more useful than grenades later on.Major: Will to Survive – At major level you aren’t given a choice (something that is true of every class).Will to Survive is a general -2 damage reduction to the Heavy if they happen to be in cover and aren’tflanked. All the more reason why you should move slow and deliberately place Heavies so that theyhave good range on targets downfield, and aren’t out in the open.Colonel: Rocketeer or Mayhem – At the final level, Heavies get access to Rocketeer which allows themto carry another rocket while Mayhem increases the damage of AoE attacks and Suppression basedon weapon level. This is a really tough one. In most playthroughs, having Mayhem is going to do youfine (especially if you have Suppression and Danger Zone). This is especially true later when you unlockplasma rockets. Having a higher damage for AoE attacks can stack really well with Grenadier or withrockets. Meaning that the real choice becomes would you rather have two rockets or one rocket thatdoes a lot of damage? We recommend Mayhem, but again if your playstyle is to have a Heavy armedwith as many explosives as they can carry then you can’t go wrong with an extra rocket.Assault:Assault soldiers are the spearhead of any squad usually they are frontline tactical units that need to beup close and personal to do any damage. This is especially true since they are armed with shotguns.However, the range of their shotgun improves as you gain better equipment.Squaddie: Run & Gun – This ability allows the Assault soldier to activate an Overwatch or fire theirweapon if activated before their second move. This is nice if you think you can eliminate an enemy upclose or if you want to provide a forward firing position that will damage hostiles moving forward toclose gaps.Corporal: Tactical Sense or Aggression – At this point you have to make a decision regarding whetheryour want to provide extra defense or offense to the Assault. Tactical Sense grants +5 Defense for allenemies in sight (up to a max of 20). Meanwhile, Aggression provides the Assault with a +10% critical hitchance for every enemy in sight (up to a max of 30%). For this level we recommend Tactical Sense sinceyou can’t really go wrong with it at any point in the game. The reason for this is because if the soldiergains a +20 to defense that’s equivalent to being in partial cover even if out in the open and exposed.This defensive bonus stacks with any bonuses granted by armor or items which can mean your Assaultsoldiers can wade into some hairy situations with a passive buff. Aggression on the other hand isn’t asnice since shotguns increase their critical percentage based on proximity to the target. Later weaponupgrades can confer the Aggression bonus without having to take the perk. Assaults do a lot of damageanyway so go with Tactical Sense for the defensive bonus. This will be especially helpful on higherdifficulties.Sergeant: Lightning Reflexes or Close and Personal – Close and Personal confers a +30% critical chanceagainst adjacent targets with that bonus decreasing with the range from the target. Meanwhile,Lightning Reflexes allows the first reaction shot from Overwatching enemies to miss. Here werecommend Lightning Reflexes, if only because it never becomes less useful at mitigating damage.Moreover, there will be many times where your frontline Assault units are locked down due toSuppressing fire. With Lightning Reflexes you can run through it without having to worry about being hit.Plus with the guaranteed miss it will increase the survivability of your Assault units especially if multipleOverwatching enemies are taking pot shots.Lieutenant: Flush or Rapid Fire – Rapid Fire allows an Assault to take two shots against a single targetin succession, but the shots carry a -15 penalty to Aim. Considering how inaccurate Assault soldiers canbe from range, that -15 Aim penalty can be devastating. Plus in the later game getting close to someenemies is enough to send your soldier home in a box. Flush on the other hand allows you to shootat an enemy and make them run out of cover. This move is very useful when multiple troops are onOverwatch. As a result you can setup a nice chain of free attacks on enemies that have to sprint fromcover. Plus the shot has a high hit percentage at the cost of reduced damage. Therefore, Flush is whatwe recommend for this level.Captain: Close Combat Specialist (CCS) or Bring ‘Em On (BEO) – BEO adds 1 damage to critical hitsfor each enemy that your squad can see (up to a max of 5) while CCS allows the Assault to have afree reaction shot on any enemy that closes to within 4 tiles of their position even if they aren’t onOverwatch. We recommend taking CCS as it can give your Assault a chance to do some damage whenyou don’t have access to Run & Gun or you find yourself overextended.Major: Extra Conditioning – This perk grants an Assault bonus health based on their armor with heavierarmor increasing the bonus. It’s nice, but don’t feel obligated to outfit your Assaults with Titan orArchangel armor especially since Ghost armor confers better bonuses. Still it’s a nice perk to have if youwant to experiment.Colonel: Resilience or Killer Instinct – Killer Instinct grants a critical damage bonus of +50% after usingRun & Gun that lasts for the rest of the turn. This is nice, but you’ll only have access to it every two turnswhen Run & Gun has recharged. Plus once an Assault is that close to an enemy anyway the chance thatthey critically hit is going to be pretty high already. By contrast, Resilience grants complete immunity tocritical hits for the Assault. For this one we recommend resilience as it can be extremely useful on higherdifficulties and can mitigate the damage done to an Assault to a weapon’s base damage. Plus the benefitfrom Killer Instinct is moot if the Assault is placed into Overwatch as successful Overwatch shots aren’table to critical.Sniper:Snipers as their name would suggest are the masters of distance combat. Even before they get theirmaxed out plasma sniper rifles they will be the ones dealing enormous amounts of damage from longrange. Their perks also give them the ability to hang further back than the rest of your attack forcewhile attacking the same targets. This is all a good thing since being up close with a sniper rifle incursan aiming penalty. If the terrain of a level has higher points of elevation consider moving your snipersto that location as a nest. Of course unlike the other classes, snipers cannot go into Overwatch or firetheir rifles after moving. This means that they have to have a pistol out if you want to Overwatch them.Luckily the game has many different pistol improvements and snipers can also pick up perks relevant topistols or negating their move penalty.Squaddie: Headshot – Throughout the game Headshot will be a skill you fall back on constantly. Laterwhen your squad’s Snipers have the ability to hit very consistently from range turning on Headshotwill allow you to one shot even the game’s toughest enemies. Headshot fires off a round with a +30%critical hit chance that also adds extra damage depending on the level of the gun being used. Again it’s agreat skill that you’ll come back to often.Corporal: Snap Shot or Squadsight – This is a really tough trade-off! Snap Shot allows a sniper to fireafter moving which is something that a sniper normally can’t do. Unfortunately shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty. Squadsight on the other hand allows the Sniper to fire at any target within an ally’ssight radius. This allows a Sniper to say nice and safe, while also being able to contribute significantly tocombat. While Snap Shot increases the convenience of Snipers, Squad Sight is a better skill for providinglong distance support while at the same not keeping some of your units out of harm’s way. Therefore,we would recommend you take Squadsight unless you really know what you’re doing.Sergeant: Gunslinger or Damn Good Ground (DGG) – Gunslinger adds 2 bonus damage to pistol attacksthat are successful. At first this sounds kinda lame, but then you remember that by default Snipershave to Overwatch with a pistol after moving to a location. This bonus damage also stacks with someupgrades for the pistol that are available in the Foundry later on, and also stacks with the base damagebased on the weapon being used. By contrast, DGG provides a +10 Aim and +10 Defense bonus againstenemies from a lower elevation. This can be nice, but then you may run into problems maneuveringyour Snipers into a position where the buff kicks in. Moreover, enemies that can fly or hover willimmediately negate a height advantage, and some maps do not grant a significant enough elevationdifference in the terrain to be of help. Therefore, Gunslinger is a better choice overall as a plasma pistolwith Gunslinger can be very deadly in the hands of a Sniper on Overwatch.Lieutenant: Disabling Shot or Battle Scanner – Disabiling shot can be a great way to shut down a majorenemy as it causes a target’s main gun to malfunction. This can be nice if your squadmates have foundthemselves in a middle of a suppression or overlapping fields of fire. Battle Scanner on the other handallows the Sniper to throw a projectile that expands their vision to the area where the orb is thrown for2 turns. That perk can also be used up to two times per battle. While Disabling Shot has its advantages,you’ll probably want to go with Battle Scanner since it caters more to a carefully managed playstyle.Additionally, Squadsight stacks with Battle Scanner and when thrown it doesn’t cause the enemiesto trigger. This can allow a Sniper to pick off targets before they become a problem and make thingssignificantly easier for your squad.Captain: Executioner or Opportunist – Executioner confers a +10 Aim bonus against targets that haveless than 50% health. This is nice as it will allow you to finish off most weakened enemies. Opportuniston the other hand removes the Aim penalty from reaction shots. Better yet, it also allows reaction shotsto critical. For this level we recommend Opportunist as being able to critical on Overwatch and firewithout Aim penalties is just too good to pass up. This is especially useful if you have Squadsight as itwill allow you to reach a position with a good line of sight much earlier which will allow the Sniper toOverwatch with their rifle instead of a pistol.Major: Low Profile – Low Profile allows partial cover to count as full cover for the purposes of damagecalculations and will saves. It also stacks with defensive bonuses from armor which means that keepingyour Snipers in an area where they won’t get flanked becomes even more of a bonus to the squad.Colonel: In the Zone (ITZ) or Double Tap – ITZ provides an unusual bonus. If the Sniper kills a flankedor uncovered target then the shot does not count as an action. This can be very nice against enemiesthat are unable to take cover such as Floaters or Ethereals as multiple shots could be fired in a singleturn. Double Tap is basically the Sniper equivalent of Bullet Swarm in that it allows for two shots tobe fired in a single turn provided the Sniper did not move as a first action. Unfortunately this can beproblematic when trying to take an alien alive as the second shot of a Double Tap must be used to firesomething. In these situations it’s nice to have Disabling Shot to minimize damage to a potential capturetarget while also making it safer for your squadmates to approach. This one is tough to offer a concreterecommendation for so it will entirely depend on playstyle. However, if you have two Snipers, it’s niceif one has ITZ and the other has Double Tap. Then you just have to remember which one is which whentargeting enemies.Support:Support class soldiers are Jack of all trades characters. They are armed with assault rifles which givethem good range and nice damage with ample opportunities to critical. They’re basically a good crossbetween a Heavy and an Assault. Depending on the route you decide to go they can act as a medic foryour team or act as a full support gunner. As such, for this class we won’t offer any recommendations,but general pros and cons of the different perks at each level.Squaddie: Smoke Grenade – Smoke Grenade, as its name would imply, allows the Support class to throwa smoke grenade that at base level offers a +20 Defense to all units within the cloud. Notice how wesaid all units? That’s because this tactical benefit can also go to the enemy if they find their way intothe cloud. Given how fast some battles can shift this skill has its uses, but can be problematic if usedincorrectly.Corporal: Sprinter or Covering Fire – Sprinter allows the Support class to move an additional 3 tiles onthe battlefield. This can be very nice if you decide you need a frontline gunner in a hurry or have to geta medkit to a soldier that’s about to bleed out. Covering Fire allows the Support class to have reactionshots to enemy attacks as well as movement. Covering Fire can be nice later on in the game when youhave equipment that can minimize the Aim penalties from reaction shots, but Sprinter is a good skill tohave for a party medic or if you want a long range recon unit that can retreat quickly if necessary.Sergeant: Field Medic or Smoke and Mirrors – Smoke and Mirrors allows for the use of an extra smokegrenade while Field Medic allows the Support class to use an equipped medkit 3 times in a singlebattle. While an extra smoke grenade can be nice in some situations later levels in the game due to theextreme lethality of combat will call for medkits for resuscitating/reviving downed soldiers. Usually,Field Medic is a good way to go especially if your support gunner is in the back too far to engage wellwithin combat.Lieutenant: Revive or Rifle Suppression – Rifle Suppression is the Support class’s version of the Heavy’sSuppression perk. It can be nice, but usually your Heavies will have Suppression which can make thisperk kinda redundant. Revive on the other hand allows you to revive a critically wounded soldier at33% of their max health. This allows you to bring a soldier that would otherwise be unconscious for theremainder of combat back into the fight.Captain: Dense Smoke or Combat Drugs – Dense Smoke adds +20 Defense and increases the AoE ofSmoke Grenade. Combat Drugs adds a +20 Will bonus and also adds +10% critical chance to the smokefrom Smoke Grenade. Both are good perks, but generally Combat Drugs takes it. The bonus to Will canmean the difference between a missed shot or a critical hit on one of your people. Again though…makesure that the enemy isn’t inside the cloud!Major: Deep Pockets – This is perhaps the best perk in the whole game. Supports gain the ability to havetwo inventory items equipped instead of just one. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that you can equiptwo medkits and then have six kits (assuming you picked the Field Medic perk). However, it does allowyou to get the best of both worlds by being able to equip a S.C.O.P.E and a medkit. Improving accuracyand allowing the use of 3 medkits per battle. Really the possibilities are endless. So try out a combo thatworks for you.Colonel: Savior or Sentinel – Savior increases the healing power of medkits by 4 HP. Sentinel on theother hand allows two reaction shots per Overwatch instead of just one. Of course, the standard Aimpenalty applies to the reaction shots so it might be best to stick with Savior, especially if your Supportclass already has Field Medic and Revive.General Squad Builds:Now we can talk about some general build strategies. It goes without saying that these builds assumethat the increases in squad size have been unlocked. To start with one particularly useful build is tohave 2 Heavies, 2 Snipers, 1 Support and 1 Assault. This is a nice build because your Heavies can haveoverlapping fields of fire while being in Overwatch positions. This is a great move if you want to backup a forward unit. Here the Assault acts as a forward recon unit that can encounter enemies. Since ithas Run & Gun it can be placed into a forward Overwatch position or can take out an enemy before therest of your squad takes their turns firing. Sighing the enemies with an Assault also gives your Snipersa chance to use Squadsight. Provided they have a line of sight to the target, this can be invaluable intaking out targets quickly and without much fuss. As for the Support, in this scenario you can have eithera gunner or medic, but always place them in the rear either near the Snipers or between the Snipers andthe Heavies into an Overwatch position. That way if the enemies should spawn to either side of you andattempt to flank you can have a gunner ready to help prevent a problem.Another useful build is to have 2 Heavies, 2 Assaults, 1 Sniper and 1 Support. Having two Assaults isnice when you want to make sure that your forward troops have adequate backup. Of course, this buildcan run into problems when enemies rush in. That’s why the Heavies should, again as above, take upforward Overwatch positions to help protect the Assaults. Meanwhile, the lone wolf Sniper could beplaced anywhere with a good line of sight while the support can again be used to prevent flanking.