XCOM 2’s Best Class: Tips For Sharpshooter, Grenadier, Specialist & Ranger

XCOM 2‘s soldier classes are one of the best examples of how Firaxis have carefully overhauled the systems introduced in Enemy Unknown. Rather than simply adding further classes to the established roster, XCOM 2 performs an intricate restructuring of Enemy Unknown’s archetypes. It remixes the abilities of the original classes, while also adding new skills that radically change how these soldiers are best used. Classes that were enormously powerful in Enemy Unknown now only function well with appropriate support, while others that were tactically difficult to use are now a vital component of any team of alien hunters.

So we’ve taken a more detailed look at XCOM 2’s class system, and ranked them in order of their importance in the field. We’ll examine how each class functions, what their best and worst abilities are, who looks down on who, the works.

NB: this article considers only the four starting XCOM classes. There’s one class we haven’t mentioned in this list, because talking about it might be considered a spoiler. In any case, our advice for that class would simply be “acquire it”, because it is astonishingly powerful.

Here are the contents:

XCOM 2 Sharpshooter Tips
XCOM 2 Grenadier Tips
XCOM 2 Specialist Tips
XCOM 2 Ranger Tips

Looking for more on XCOM 2? Head to our XCOM 2 Guide hub page for general advice to strategy, mods, performance and more.

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  1. grobstein says:

    Great piece overall, but I have to say I think Aid Protocol is great.

    Sometimes, it's hard to avoid having one of your guys in an exposed position -- either flanked, no cover, or at the focus of a lot of enemies. Timed missions especially will push you into those situations. Those are the times when you can easily lose a soldier. Aid Protocol lets you tip the odds in those cases, and has saved plenty of my guys from death.

    Another way to think of it is, how much is a 20 or 30 defense boost over 1 turn worth? Well, it depends on how many enemies are going to shoot at you. If you're in a spot where 3 or 4 enemies are going to be taking real shots at one guy, then getting that 20 or 30 boost against each shot is worth a lot.

    If you can always avoid exposing your guys, then Aid Protocol won't do much for you. But I've found that having the ability to sometimes expose a guy -- and have him live -- is quite valuable.
  2. Wisq says:

    Regarding Sharpshooters: "Aim" might synergise well with that Ranger ability that lets them automatically hunker down if they don't attack on a turn. (And I believe "attack" doesn't include "overwatch", so that's an extra bonus.)

    I also wouldn't call them the best class. I'd give that to Grenadier — with the right upgrades and special grenades, you're looking at guaranteed damage plus lots of armour shredding, terrain destruction, and DoTs that take effect before the enemy acts. With Salvo, they can be firing multiple grenades per turn, or grenade plus normal attack, or grenade plus move. There's more than enough slots to field two grenadiers per mission, with up to three grenades apiece.

    I do agree about keeping them long range, though. Gunslinger seems a bit gimmicky, but I suppose mixing the two sides does give them a bit of short-range defensive potential.

    Regarding specialists: Aid Protocol is underrated, even aside from that ability that turns it into a free super-overwatch. You can do it without ending your turn, which makes it great for protecting your most exposed member right before you go into overwatch. It's not flashy, but it works.

    I would actually argue that the worst Specialist ability is Guardian. Firstly because it's across from Ever Vigilant — which is so useful, it's almost criminal — and secondly because it's basically a mental trap. We like to think of amazing scenarios where our Specialist just unloads Overwatch shot after Overwatch shot. But think of the odds. You need to hit, you need to roll 50%, and you need to hit again for this ability to be of any use at all. Not useless by any means, but nowhere near as great as it sounds, and definitely not something you can rely on.

    If you outfit your specialist with a Skulljack to boost their hacking ability, you can often get 100% chances on your "Shutdown" hacks. Great way to take a mech out of action until all its buddies are dead and you can focus fire on it.

    There's also nothing to prevent a Specialist from being both a medic, a hacker, and a great Overwatcher. None of the critical abilities are opposite each other in the level-up progression.

    Regarding ranger: STRONGLY disagree here on both the best and worst skills. They depend entirely on whether you're going for swordplay or stealth.

    In a sword build — yes, attacks of opportunity good, automatic hunker down bad. You've got that. But you then go on to admit that "Rangers are arguably more effective when they avoid combat altogether", and your skill choices just don't reflect that.

    Best ability for a stealth build: Concealment. You can do it _any_ time you're not flanked by the enemy, even if you're right under their nose, and they just instantly forget you ever existed. (This is the reason I give it the edge over Phantom.) Having one team member in stealth lets you set up ambush after ambush, or get awesome long-range sniper shots, or sneak around to the objective while the team makes a lot of noise and keeps the enemy busy — and if you're using any of those tactics, Phantom and Concealment are your bread and butter.

    Worst ability for a stealth build: Probably ShadowStep. The issue here is that you ignore overwatch, but you don't trigger it, and your team is still subject to it. At best, this lets you get close enough to do a flanking attack / sword attack on just one enemy, cancelling a single overwatch. At VERY best, a grenade. But given that the goal of a stealth build is to remain concealed anyway, you generally get the benefits of this ability for free, and it goes wasted.

    Regarding Grenadier: Yeah, I don't really have anything to add here, except that I tended to use them as crowd control and direct damage a lot more than just "support". Sure, they would attack armoured enemies first to lower the armour — but honestly, by the time the rest of the team got their chance to shoot, there wasn't much left to shoot.
  1. Xocrates says:

    Meanwhile, the Psi-operative – i.e. the one I never use and was wondering if it was worth using – is absent.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I believe that’s what the final paragraph was referring to. In which case, bugger; should’ve got me some Psi-ops.

    • Wisq says:

      As far as I know, psi ops don’t have to make any hard choices about abilities, because if you train them long enough, I believe they can pick up every single ability.

      Also, yes, they are _absolutely_ worth using. My final mission loadout was two psis, one specialist (medic), one sharpshooter, two grenadiers. I would’ve brought more psis if I had them.

      One: they can do a ton of damage. Their class ability is a guaranteed-damage shot that (if you upgrade it later) can also vampirically heal them.

      Two: they can stay alive. At least two abilities focus on preserving their own life and mitigating damage.

      Three: they keep your team alive. Put that ranger in a bad spot? “Inspire” them, let them move wherever. Enemy you can’t handle this turn, or a teammate that will surely die? “Stasis” them. Big baddie ahead of you? Dominate them. Bunch of baddies that you would normally grenade? “Void Rift” them — you’ll do damage and possibly get a one-turn mind control on them, or at least a panic or disorientation effect. (One-turn mind-controlled enemies with grenades make great suicide bombers.)

      Four: they keep your team sane. “Solace” is an amazing ability, providing an AoE around them that prevents mind control, panic, etc. If a soldier does get one of those mental conditions, just have the psi walk up to them to cure them. Best of all, the enemy AI doesn’t take Solace into account, and will happily attempt these sorts of attacks on people who are shielded.

      And five: they’re super easy to train. You don’t need to take them on missions, it’s purely about time spent in the lab. You can train two at a time, and you can take them out on missions in the middle of training if need be.

      Honestly, they’re the endgame class. A team of six of these would be super overpowered and wouldn’t need any help from anyone.

      • laiwm says:

        Dang. I’ve ironmanned all the way to the final mission without a single psi-op (something else always seemed more important, y’know) and I’m nervous now because I’ve heard there’s a huge difficulty spike, and that unit you get given makes me realise how useful the psi powers would be. Saved halfway through after downing 2 squads last night, wish me luck…

      • Xocrates says:

        Point five is interesting. One reason I’ve never really got them was because there are other buildings I prioritize and by the time I would build a psionics lab I really wouldn’t want to be carrying rookies around.

        • C0llic says:

          PSI ops passively train in the avenger (and in fact don’t seem to earn XP from missions), unless they’re injured, and you can take them out on missions while they are still assigned to the lab.

          The training is completely hands off (bar some choices on promotion) and does take some time, but it means you can just take them out when it seems like they’ll be useful and not before. I imagine they did this because players will be getting them later.

          In other words, don’t be put off giving them a go.

          • C0llic says:

            Sorry, that’s what I get for scan reading. All been said before.

      • Coming Second says:

        One thing: They don’t have a “core” ability, it’s assigned randomly when they become psionics. One of my guys started with Inspire, for instance.

        Everything else you’ve said is correct, they are insanely powerful by the end-game. Dominate on its own wins battles.

        • Wisq says:

          Interesting, didn’t know that. I guess all of mine got Soulfire when they first started.

          While I do like Domination, I actually think Void Rift is more useful overall. On a good Psi-Op, and casting it on a group of 3+ enemies, it tends to cause at least one temporary mind control, and the rest of the enemies tend to get debilitating effects. The next turn, the aliens are too busy attacking each other to attack us, and if my mind-controlees survive and have grenades, I can have them run up to another group of enemies and throw a grenade at their own feet, solving everything all at once.

          Sure, Dominate has that same effect (and is more likely or even guaranteed), but only one per mission — Void Rift has a modest cooldown. The only downside is that if, say, you mind control two enemies and panic one, you have to sit through four psi skill animations before you can do anything else. They really kinda screwed up making each one a separate casting animation instead of “poof! your AoE did this, this, and this”.

          That said, Domination’s permanence is great when you find a beefy enemy early on. My very first attack in one of the story missions was to Dominate a Berserker. For the rest of the map, my Ranger would scout ahead, my soldiers would all set up Overwatch, my Berserker would run up to the enemies and trigger them, and we would all Overwatch them to death. The Berserker never had a chance to do (or take) any damage, but aside from reaction fire and grenades, we managed to complete that mission without firing a single official shot — our “hit percentage” and “most attacks” were both “–“.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Number six: Cryssalid bait. I recently had a mission with Cryssalids in it where I was able to Dominate an Archon and use it to lure the insects out of the ground. That glorious golden hover monster dodged every attack put against it.

        Stupid Bradford wouldn’t let me take it home even though I promised to feed it and clean up after it every day.

        A mod/expansion that lets your recruit turn-coat aliens to your team would be grand.

        • Coming Second says:

          Leaving behind pet Andromedons is the hardest thing in the game.

    • BorgiaCamarones says:

      Page 1, first paragraph.

    • iucounu says:

      In the mid-to-endgame, you can just have a Psi-op levelling up in the background until they’re invaluable.

      Psi-ops have some amazing skills. Insanity gives you a chance of Mind Control. Domination gives you guaranteed Mind Control. Either gives you an extra soldier as an asset or as cannon fodder. They’ve also got guaranteed damage skills (Soulfire) and powerful non-aimed beam and area attacks (Null Lance and Void Rift.) Any of these can be triggered after a move and can be absolutely devastating if you’ve researched the Alien Psi-amp.

      About half way through my game I put a Magus on my team with all skills unlocked and never took him off. Don’t leave home without one.

  2. larpsidekick says:

    They even said it could be considered a spoiler. Sigh.

    • Wisq says:

      Every X-COM/XCOM game has had psionic training, and they’re usually pretty darn powerful. It’s not much of a spoiler.

      • Xocrates says:

        Particularly since the research is available from essentially the start of the game.

  3. grobstein says:

    Great piece overall, but I have to say I think Aid Protocol is great.

    Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid having one of your guys in an exposed position — either flanked, no cover, or at the focus of a lot of enemies. Timed missions especially will push you into those situations. Those are the times when you can easily lose a soldier. Aid Protocol lets you tip the odds in those cases, and has saved plenty of my guys from death.

    Another way to think of it is, how much is a 20 or 30 defense boost over 1 turn worth? Well, it depends on how many enemies are going to shoot at you. If you’re in a spot where 3 or 4 enemies are going to be taking real shots at one guy, then getting that 20 or 30 boost against each shot is worth a lot.

    If you can always avoid exposing your guys, then Aid Protocol won’t do much for you. But I’ve found that having the ability to sometimes expose a guy — and have him live — is quite valuable.

    • Weed says:

      +1

    • thetruegentleman says:

      Aid protocol combined with its Overwatch add-on ability proved so useful I made most of my strategies revolve around it; it allows you to be far more aggressive with positioning then the game really knows how to handle, barring a very unlucky enemy squad makeup/placement.

      • ooshp says:

        Most definitely +1.

        Saying aid protocol is bad is like saying flashbangs are useless.

        On timed missions/retaliations where you’re forced to take movement risks, aid protocol/threat assessment is pure gold. Cast on a ranger with the Guardian AWS perk who’s just been spotted out of concealment all by himself, with zero AP left? Watch him take 2 point-blank overwatch shots and splash half the enemy squad, and STILL be in better defence than half-cover. AND it doesn’t end the specialist’s turn: 1-2 free shots from a guy with zero AP, and it costs the specialist 1 AP, they can still overwatch or fire themselves.

        I can’t imagine doing another Ironman run without it, TBH.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      One thing I noticed is that the Aid Protocol would often make the Advent fire on another target instead of the one being aided. So if you have a Grenadier with lots of armour next to a Ranger with none, put it on the Ranger and the enemy is more likely to waste ammo on the Gren.

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        DrollRemark says:

        Yeah the AI prioritises the chance to hit percentage, I believe, and since defence directly counters that value, it will make another target often look more appealing to them.

    • Fonzcorp says:

      Aid Protocol +30 helps a LOT. Especially, if you have two Specialists in a team.

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      Kemuel says:

      I love Aid Protocol. One of the first basic tactics I realised was that you should always save your Specialist’s turn for last so that they can Aid anyone caught out by a bad pod trigger. I love how in that way it enables you to offset dick luck with careful play. It’s saved so many of my troops.

  4. Jonfon says:

    I love the gunslinger so much. My sniper managed to pull off a 3 mech kill on a reinforcement group by using their “shoot everyone you can see” ability on a bunch pre-softened by an Acid grenade. Currently on my 2nd play thru with a bunch of custom classes which remix the ability trees and my ranger/gunslinger is way too much fun.

    I found the specialists most useful ability was the one where you automatically go into overwatch if you just move on your turn.

  5. Reds says:

    there is a very strong combination of abilities and items for the ranger that is worth mentioning, the run and gun ability allied with rapid fire plus Superior laser sight and talon ammo makes the ranger fire twice in a row with 100% crit chance on a flanked enemy, meaning he can one shot some very strong enemies.

    • khamul says:

      I got lucky. One of my rangers picked up ‘Serial’, at a fairly low rank, through the Advanced Warfare Centre. Honestly, just obscene: there were missions where she took out 4 or 5 aliens in one turn.

      “You can’t handle me!”: too true, Wild Child, too true.

  6. JFS says:

    Aid Protocol is useful, and the main job of a Ranger isn’t damage dealing. It’s recon. A concealed ranger up front + Sniper and/or Grenadier, or even Specialist out of sight = hit them like there’s no tomorrow, with zero fear of retaliation. Being able to actually fight is a bonus, not the main feature.

    Class conceptualization and balance is actually one of the parts where XCOM really shines. To me, a ranking such as the abive is simply not possible. Now, if only the class abilities were balanced as well. Still 9/10, I’d say, and sternly disagree with the article above :)

    • laiwm says:

      I’ve got a ranger colonel with the unstoppable (free move after a kill) and lucked out by getting death from above, which means with a bit of planning she can get up above a squad, fire twice and retreat. She’s the hero of the squad so maybe I’m biased, but I disagree about ranger being the weakest class.

      • JFS says:

        My kill count table is topped by a Ranger as well. She’s got more kills than my along-from-mission-1 Specialist and my long range sniper, who follow up close.

      • Blastaz says:

        Agree. I found missions were either dominated by my sharpshooter or my close combat ranger. Or both.

        Then again I wasn’t really clever enough to use my specialist effectively…

    • Tuco says:

      A ranger with rapid fire and bluescreen rounds can one-shot even the biggest enemies like Sectopods and gatekeepers, so you better bet they can be top damage dealers.

      • ooshp says:

        Yeah my highest kills is also a ranger, final shot of the game to bring down the last guy was a run & gun, point-blank rapid-fire double crit. My word, that poor ET died a messy death. I can’t remember the numbers but with all the bonuses I think it was 35-40 total damage.

  7. Jimbo says:

    The Ranger’s main function is phantom.

    If I had to go without one class it would be Sharpshooter easily. Actually I never took a Psi Op on a single mission in my campaign so I guess I can live without that too (I hear they’re wicked OP though).

    Grenadier > Specialist > Ranger > Sharpshooter for me

    • Choca says:

      I have to agree with you on the Sharpshooter. While I find my Gunslingers hilarious to use with experimental ammo and the Snipers situationally lethal with Kill Zone, they’re the first members to get replaced when someone else is needed on a mission.

      I actually disagree with the entire first paragraph on Sharpshooters : they’re the least essential soldiers in XCOM 2 and were absolutely overpowered to all hell in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      This seems right. Naders are clearly the best. And while gunslingers are nice, you need healing. Rangers can be useful.

    • Shadow says:

      I take one or two Sharpshooters on my missions, and my only surviving Ranger fills a recon role sometimes, but he isn’t essential. Grenadiers and Specialists are valued equally.

      Overall, I support the notion Rangers are sort-of the weakest class, though not by much. Only because their sword, accuracy issues aside, doesn’t scale very well with tech compared to the shotgun.

  8. Choca says:

    Some very questionable advice here.

    Aid protocol is a great ability that doesn’t even end your turn, meaning that your Specialist can still move, heal, shoot or overwatch after using it.

    Lightning Hands is a nice gimmick at the start of the campaign, on fully gunslinger-specced sharpshooters or if you’re playing on a low difficulty settings but it’s far from the best ability on this class. Kill Zone and Serial are far more powerful and even Deadeye could be considered a better pick if you’re going full sniper.

    The same goes for Bladestorm on the Ranger, it’s a fun and powerful situational ability but Run and Gun, Untouchable and even Implacable are way more powerful in most situations.

    • JFS says:

      And Phantom. By the way, who is Rick Lane anyway?

    • Jimbo says:

      One of my Grenadiers got Serial and between max Aim mods/PCS, Bluescreen rounds and Chain Shot he basically broke the game with how awesome he was.

      • Choca says:

        I got Rupture very early on one of my would-be-healers thanks to the AWC. Turns out he’s now pretty damn good at killing stuff for a healer.

        • ooshp says:

          Same. I ended up putting a superior scope and +aim PCS on my main healer just because she got lucky with Rupture. Having a 90%+ auto-crit from a healer to fall back on seriously saved alot of soldiers.

    • Punning Pundit says:

      I modded Reaper to give +1 damage after every kill, so that my rangers will just become unstoppable raging murder machines who dance across the battle field and leave death behind their waltz.

      Good times.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Gunslinger + Serial + Superior Auto Loader + AP Rounds = Up to 9 dead Advent in a single turn.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I mean sharpshooter. Whatever, you know what I mean.

  9. Wisq says:

    Regarding Sharpshooters: “Aim” might synergise well with that Ranger ability that lets them automatically hunker down if they don’t attack on a turn. (And I believe “attack” doesn’t include “overwatch”, so that’s an extra bonus.)

    I also wouldn’t call them the best class. I’d give that to Grenadier — with the right upgrades and special grenades, you’re looking at guaranteed damage plus lots of armour shredding, terrain destruction, and DoTs that take effect before the enemy acts. With Salvo, they can be firing multiple grenades per turn, or grenade plus normal attack, or grenade plus move. There’s more than enough slots to field two grenadiers per mission, with up to three grenades apiece.

    I do agree about keeping them long range, though. Gunslinger seems a bit gimmicky, but I suppose mixing the two sides does give them a bit of short-range defensive potential.

    Regarding specialists: Aid Protocol is underrated, even aside from that ability that turns it into a free super-overwatch. You can do it without ending your turn, which makes it great for protecting your most exposed member right before you go into overwatch. It’s not flashy, but it works.

    I would actually argue that the worst Specialist ability is Guardian. Firstly because it’s across from Ever Vigilant — which is so useful, it’s almost criminal — and secondly because it’s basically a mental trap. We like to think of amazing scenarios where our Specialist just unloads Overwatch shot after Overwatch shot. But think of the odds. You need to hit, you need to roll 50%, and you need to hit again for this ability to be of any use at all. Not useless by any means, but nowhere near as great as it sounds, and definitely not something you can rely on.

    If you outfit your specialist with a Skulljack to boost their hacking ability, you can often get 100% chances on your “Shutdown” hacks. Great way to take a mech out of action until all its buddies are dead and you can focus fire on it.

    There’s also nothing to prevent a Specialist from being both a medic, a hacker, and a great Overwatcher. None of the critical abilities are opposite each other in the level-up progression.

    Regarding ranger: STRONGLY disagree here on both the best and worst skills. They depend entirely on whether you’re going for swordplay or stealth.

    In a sword build — yes, attacks of opportunity good, automatic hunker down bad. You’ve got that. But you then go on to admit that “Rangers are arguably more effective when they avoid combat altogether”, and your skill choices just don’t reflect that.

    Best ability for a stealth build: Concealment. You can do it _any_ time you’re not flanked by the enemy, even if you’re right under their nose, and they just instantly forget you ever existed. (This is the reason I give it the edge over Phantom.) Having one team member in stealth lets you set up ambush after ambush, or get awesome long-range sniper shots, or sneak around to the objective while the team makes a lot of noise and keeps the enemy busy — and if you’re using any of those tactics, Phantom and Concealment are your bread and butter.

    Worst ability for a stealth build: Probably ShadowStep. The issue here is that you ignore overwatch, but you don’t trigger it, and your team is still subject to it. At best, this lets you get close enough to do a flanking attack / sword attack on just one enemy, cancelling a single overwatch. At VERY best, a grenade. But given that the goal of a stealth build is to remain concealed anyway, you generally get the benefits of this ability for free, and it goes wasted.

    Regarding Grenadier: Yeah, I don’t really have anything to add here, except that I tended to use them as crowd control and direct damage a lot more than just “support”. Sure, they would attack armoured enemies first to lower the armour — but honestly, by the time the rest of the team got their chance to shoot, there wasn’t much left to shoot.

    • JFS says:

      I witnessed the mentioned amazing scenario once. I had my Guardian specialist turn into personified overwatch hell and annihilate a whole ADVENT reinforcement platoon when they stepped off their chopper. It was like seeing a rapid fire demon unload the anger of a thousand years in hell, only stopping when the full clip was empty.

      Didn’t have it happen anymore since then, though.

    • Herring says:

      Re Guardian : You can game it a bit with mods. For example, there’s never a ‘miss’ when they have a stock. Apparently there’s some combination with the ‘15% chance for an extra action” mod as well though I never tried it. I presume it procs extra Overwatch attacks.

      • Wisq says:

        Stock misses are still misses, and won’t proc any abilities that require hits, like Shredder or Guardian. The best a stock will do for Guardian is give you some stock damage on the _second_ shot, _if_ the first hits.

        Also, stock damage is affected by armour, making it less effective in the late game.

    • wondermoth says:

      The other issue with Guardian (which also applies to a lesser degree to Kill Zone and that Cone ability) is the reliance on ammo. There’s just far too much setup involved in getting value from the ability.

      Also, Bladestorm isn’t just not the best Ranger ability, it’s something that I would never, ever choose over the obviously superior alternative, Implacable. All Bladestorm does is land a relatively paltry amount of damage on a unit that you’re about to crit in the face with a Storm Gun anyway (assuming you survive the enemy’s melee). There is never a time when choosing Implacable over Bladestorm is an error.

  10. Merlin the tuna says:

    Enemy Unknown’s snipers were, frankly, a bit of a pain to work with.

    Ahhhhhhh!

    Seriously, who uses Hunker Down?

    AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

    • Wisq says:

      TBH, I kiiinda agree with them re: not using Hunker Down, just because I find there’s almost always something better to do. I’ve never used it on a soldier (maybe I’m just missing out?), and the only situation I think I could see myself doing so is if they were under imminent attack and out of ammo.

      Otherwise, I’d rather have them Overwatch to discourage the enemy from trying to flank them. I haven’t run the numbers, but my gut feeling is that a flanked attack on a Hunkered Down soldier is quite likely to be way worse than a regular in-cover attack on a non-Hunkered soldier.

      That said — in a stealth build, no way am I going to pick “one guaranteed miss if you get a kill” over “automatic defense from all attacks on all turns that I don’t attack”.

      • khamul says:

        Pair it with Death From Above. Find a nice high sniper’s nest with some cover. Pick a target, kill it, hunker down with the free action you get. Next turn, repeat, but with +20 aim.

        Or, as you can’t move and fire the sniper rifle in the same turn anyway, move into a good position and hunker. You’re trading it against a pistol overwatch shot… so it depends, is your sniper close enough to the enemy for that to trigger?

        • Wisq says:

          Death From Above seemed like such a great ability on paper, but I found myself disappointed that a) it only applies on kills, and b) it doesn’t let you fire the sniper rifle twice (since you don’t know if it’ll be a kill until after you fire).

          That said, I’m warming to it again now that I see possibilities like this. Or shoot + reload. Or shoot + move.

          Still, it’s one of those abilities that I almost feel is more useful on other classes via the AWC. My Ranger got this one, and double 100% flanking shotgun blasts from above with no aim penalty is nothing to sneeze at.

    • Tapkomet says:

      Admittedly, Hunker Down did lose a bunch of value in XCOM 2, what with mission timers and increased recovery time/reworked wounds (getting hit on a healthy soldier is quite painful as well despite the armor). You are almost always better off doing something that benefits the entire squad, like flashbanging.
      Otherwise, yeah, not the smarted thing I’ve ever read.

      • aircool says:

        I dunno.. I’ve used hunker down a few times along with Aid Protocol/Threat assessment to draw fire (as long as your not likely to get targeted by explosives).

        With timed missions, you can’t always advance as slowly and as cautiously as you’d like and it’s often useful to activate pods of aliens in the manner mentioned above, particularly if you can force them to take cover in areas where they’ll be immediately flanked when the rest of your squad move up.

      • Shadow says:

        Question is, does Hunker Down work when flanked? I’ve always assumed it doesn’t, in which case it’s generally better to spend the action maneuvering and avoiding the possibility of getting flanked.

        • Merlin the tuna says:

          Nope. Hunker down doubles your cover benefits, and when you’re flanked you have no cover. So yes, it’s a situational tool. It’s just frustrating that so much XCOM advice involves massive overuse of overwatch and totally ignoring hunker down.

          Agreed that there are factors in 2 that make it less valuable than in 1 though.

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        cpt_freakout says:

        Thing is, I think Overwatch also lost some value in XCOM 2. Aliens take many more risks this time around, whether out of stupidity or because the AI knows there’s a high chance of OW missing, so I’ve found myself playing much more towards distance/cover (never let an Andromedon close enough, or a Sectopod, or…) than OW/cover as I used to do in 1/Long War. Aliens’ idiocy/recklessness adds something of a risky variable to the combat, since now you can’t really count on OW as a deterrent, or as a key to good positioning. Given that many missions ask you to move forward constantly, it’s more difficult to ascertain how OW will or will not neutralize an enemy position. I think this actually adds some value to Hunker Down: if you’re in a position where you just know that goddamn Muton is gonna risk the overwatch just to get closer to your flank, it’s often better to use HD.

        I’ve just finished my first Veteran campaign, so take that with a grain of salt, since the Aliens might be smarter when I move on to the next difficulty. However, there’s a mod that makes the AI value cover and its life better, so I guess that’s an indicator that maybe the AI is quite reckless even in the higher difficulties.

  11. Tapkomet says:

    Extremely questionable advice here. Legendary Ironman player here, almost to the final mission, disagree on a few points:
    Sharpshooters are not bad, certainly, Faceoff, Fan Fire, Serial and Killzone are all great perks. However, Sniper-focused Sharpshooters are hampered by mission timers where their low mobility becomes a liability, mediocre perks such as Deadeye and Death from Above, not to mention the Squadsight penalty, while Gunslingers suffer from increasingly large amounts of armor and health on enemies, which are rather hard to kill with a pistol. Certainly they are helpful, but a bit more situational and reliant on support than “Best Class” ought to be. That’s not mentioning that you won’t get the best perks until well into the game. I’d say they are tied with Specialists for 3/4 place, not counting 5th class.
    You will need the damage output from rangers with the huge amount of hp enemies have on tough difficulties. Their scouting is a huge help, too.
    Memic beacon on Rangers isn’t very good, they should be too busy DPSing. Let your Specialists be the bag of tools, or make your Sharpshooter be useful when he’s forced to move up.
    Bladestorm is only good (and even then, unreliable, typically 60% or so) on Blade Rangers, and swords are quite weak mid-late game, especially without Reaper.
    Aid Protocol is great simply because it only takes one action. Especially if you Aid a wounded soldier, as enemies will often go to great lengths to try and finish them off, taking 15% shots and the like. Automated Threat Assesment makes it even better.
    Shredder is not the best perk, as it’s unreliable (low aim) and your Grenadiers are often too busy grenading (duh). Heavy Ordnance is probably the best.
    Blast Padding is far from the worst perk, as it provides quite a bit of survivability, useful when you don’t shoot much anyway. Worst perk is obviously Demolition, as it often fails to do its only job.
    Battle Medic build certainly isn’t essential, as instead of striving to heal injuries, you should instead strive not to get hit, especially considering random crits and the longer recovery time. Exchanging Combat Hacker for Battle Medic is like going into a minefield with a crutch to help you if your leg gets blown off, instead of packing a mine scanner.
    That seems about it. Of course, there’s always room for preference, and some things are very situational, but many of the appear to be just blatant mistakes.

    • Horg says:

      I agree with all of that apart from the bit about battle medics. I like them. To make a fully functional battle medic, all you need to do is give up combat and possibly scan protocol. Combat is nice as it ignores armour, but with plenty of shred on your squad you can usually just shoot for as much as combat would have hit for. There are so many other ways to deal with mec that it’s not essential. Scan is good as well, but two battle scanner charges are generally better if you can spare an item slot. That one is more personal preference as most may find two med kit charges enough anyway making field medic redundant. You can keep haywire and still have remote healing, and no matter how careful you are there will come a point where you get a crappy activation and someone will inevitably get hit. Being able to remote heal / stabilise / purge acid, etc. can be a mission saver.

    • phlip says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Just wanted to add two things regarding the sniper/gunslinger:

      1) The grapple increases the mobility of snipers dramatically. In addition to it’s obvious for getting the sniper in position, it can often also help him to catch up with his teammates (free movement as long as there is higher ground and the grapple is not in cool-down). Saved my sniper more than once from missing the extraction.

      2) If your gunslinger does not get through armor with his pistol, give him AP rounds.

    • ooshp says:

      Gotta agree with alot of this.

      Snipers have been majorly nerfed in 2. They were monsters in EU with ITZ and no mission timers, usually accounting for 80% of my kills by end-game.

      They’re far harder to use now: ITZ has been nerfed with a cooldown (Serial), the significant squadsight penalty really hurts them until very high rank, and the mission timers turn them into a liability very quickly. Some of this is mitigated by the pistol skills, but they sure aren’t the Turrets of Automatic Death they were in EU.

      Fully agree on the Grenadiers too: with a tight mission timer, you should be running out of grenades around the time you’re thinking of heading to the evac. Add to this the low aim on a grenadier and innate defence on anything worth shredding…. why on earth would you take an iffy shot on ONE guy when a grenade (even better, acid) will shred 3 guys?

      Also WHY THE HELL DO MY GRENADIERS SET THEMSELVES ON FIRE EVERY TIME I USE SATURATION FIRE? Bloody hell, I only picked it because I don’t trust them to hit with Rupture (again, anything worth rupturing is going to have -40% odd defence), but now I have to waste a heal every mission.

  12. Walsh says:

    My Rangers with talon rounds are always one of the highest damage dealers on a mission. They almost always crit and the damage is at least 10+ with the plasma shotgun thingy. Concealment on the ranger always ends at some point so the automatic hunker down has saved my bacon many of times when I’m trying to get out of dodge fast.

  13. SupahSpankeh says:

    Advice in this article is utter trash. No offence intended to the author, but they plainly have no idea how the game works. Rangers are brutal, with a 2 move double shotgun blast and a move to cover with invulnerability from one attack when they’ve got a kill.

    Bladestorm is lovely but far from required.

    And acid grenades? Good lord, someone needs to read up on status effects.

    Burning prevents most ability use, overwatch, reloads and melee. It’s also the best at destroying cover etc.

    Poison is a -6 movement and -20 aim chance.

    Acid is a DoT with a bit more upfront damage.

    Acid grenades get left behind on every mission unless my only other choice is plasma.

    Combat hacker builds are friggin amazing.

    • JHVDH says:

      I like acid grenades/bombs because they’re better at stripping armor. If I’m going into a mission knowing I’m going to be seeing lots of enemies with armor I’ll usually bring acid grenades.

    • PikaBot says:

      Acid grenades are fantastic, they tear the shit out of armor. Absolutely crucial for taking out tankier units. They don’t debuff apart from the DoT, but that armor stripper is worth it on its own.

    • JFS says:

      Third to agree that acid grenades are the best weapon against armor. You’re right on your other observations, though. Burning and poison are useful as well, however I find armored and/or mech enemies are the worst in this game, so there’s not as much need to bring special equipment to deal with “soft targets”.

  14. Joshua Northey says:

    Shredder blows. I would much rather have blast padding. Who is shooting with their naders? Blow crap up!

    • aircool says:

      Nah, once you can auto-hit with a Grenadier’s cannon, it’s a far more reliable way of stripping armour and leaves grenades for when you really need them. Plus, with the auto hit and holo targeting, you can take down big targets very quickly.

    • Coming Second says:

      Blast padding is hands down the worst ability in the game.

      First off, it’s a damage limitation ability in a game where the key aim is to avoid taking damage altogether. If you’re setting your guys up to soak up the heat, you’re doing it wrong. You can’t rely on tanking when even on Veteran you are two hits away from dying, one hit away from freaking out and a scrape away from spending a fortnight in hospital.

      It’s fair to say that RNG dictates you are going to be in a bad position every once in a while, and you may want to mitigate the effects of that. Others have already pointed out the usefulness of Defence Protocol, for instance. But this brings me on to my next point, which is that Blast Padding fails *even on these terms*. Most enemies don’t use explosives, the ones that do decide to use them very rarely (Again, if you’re clumping your guys up, you’re doing it wrong). BP doesn’t protect you against the worst AoE attacks the aliens can bring to bear, like the Andromedon’s acid bomb or Codex’s thing. And – going to capitalise this because I feel it’s important – BP DOES NOT PROTECT YOU AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL EXPLOSIONS. Cars, tankers etc. still do the same to your unfortunate plod.

      So really, the only way BP is useful is if you keep finding yourself in a situation where you have to use a grenade that will also hit you (think this has happened to me once?). This is weighed against Shredder, which starts off useful and only gets more so as the game goes on. It’s the easiest decision in the game.

      • Tapkomet says:

        Blast Padding and Shredder are, for Explosive-focused Grenadiers, both abilities that are rarely used. Blast Padding is only ever used if you get shot/blown up, while Shredder is only used when you shoot, which, as I said above, is not a thing that happens that often. Obviously for a Gunner-Grenadier the choice is a no-brainer, but I’ve found the exact point of armor to be the difference between life and death on several occasions, the difference between your gunner randomly one-shot through cover on 20% and that not happening. Not to mention that sometimes there’s little cover to go around (especially if you have, say, blown much of the cover up), and if you have to bunch up someone to get into engagement range, then it may as well be your two grenadiers who will take basically no damage.
        Anyway, the point is that Blast Padding succeeds at increasing survivability. If you have to pick the worst perk in the game, it’s obviously Demolition. Lots of ammo, no damage, and no actual guarantee of destroying cover, something that Grenadiers are already great at. You had one job, demolition!

        • Coming Second says:

          Fair point about Demolition, that really is the worst one. I’m afraid you’ll never persuade me that Blast Codpiece is almost as worthless, however.

          • ooshp says:

            Well… I often used 2 grenadiers per mission before I had psi-ops, and both had heavy ordnance. Neither of them, ever, ONCE, fired their cannon at at a heavy target, because that is precisely what they brought their grenades for. They did, however, get shot at and even gravely wounded.

            I would have got 0 use from shredder, while -1 damage per hit potentially either saved them or saved valuable heals for someone else. I’m not saying it’s great, I’m just saying if you’re using your grenadier as a grenadier and not a gunner, shredder is even less useful than padding.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        I don’t think I used was in a situation where shredder would have helped me kill an alien faster once. If there is just one alien with armor who cares, nae it and focus fire. If there are three, well then nade it anyway.

        There are not so many that you cannot throw one grenade at each pod except on the last mission, and by then your gear is good enough armor doesn’t matter much.

    • Xocrates says:

      Shredder scales with weapon tech, meaning it stays relevant through the whole game. Once you get beam weapons it shreds more armor than a plasma grenade, and since many high armor enemies don’t even use cover the chance of hitting is fairly high.

      Personally, I always bring 2 grenadiers with shredder + holotargetting. It essentially ensures that whatever I’m facing dies that turn.

      • PhilBowles says:

        Blast padding seems underrated and shredder overrated, but don’t mistake that for blast padding being good. Shredder isn’t useful when it first becomes available, while blast padding is – and while it’s been pointed out that blast padding fails because your objective is to avoid taking damage, shredder fails exactly the same test.

        It’s an ability whose only use is to make it easier to cause persistent damage to a target that survives the first shot – in a game where your objective is to prevent any aliens surviving your attacks. Early in the game it does nothing because aliens don’t have armour; later in the game you have AP rounds that do a better job. It’s only really useful against Sectopods and Gatekeepers.

        Blast Padding is at least relevant against multiple attacks and across multiple turns, and is relevant immediately at a point in the game where survivability is at a premium. The downside is that it becomes entirely redundant once you get decent armour, as one damage makes no difference here or there. On balance shredder is the better ability, but I wouldn’t say shredder is good.

  15. aircool says:

    Specialists are the winner for me. Aid protocol gives another unit a whopping cover bonus (once you’ve levelled up your Gremlins) and overwatch (including an extra bonus shot if given whilst concealed) and the ability to enter overwatch after dashing is immense. I give these guys speed PCM’s so they can go from central support units the being a manoeuvre element in one turn.

  16. CrispyLiberty says:

    I think the folks knocking gunslingers haven’t tried putting AP ammo on them. A colonel gunslinger w/ that can kill basically any enemy in the game in one turn by themselves.

    • Baranor says:

      That is wot I did too and face-off/serial are now da bomb. Lightning hands, fan fire and then a regular pistol shot with AP ammo kill gatekeepers… e-z pie.

      Might be me but my snipers were extremely usefull.

    • wondermoth says:

      I always put bluescreens on my Gunslingers in late game. Getting five shots off in a turn against a Gatekeeper or Sectopod is pretty sweet.

  17. aircool says:

    I guess if this article and its comments prove one thing, it’s that there’s more than one way to skin an alien in XCOM 2.

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      Hydrogene says:

      Exactly. It’s also a proof that the game is very well balanced, and can accomodate very different play styles (aggressive, sneaky, short and long distance fighting…). Well done Firaxis!

      • aircool says:

        I concur. I’m now on my third playthough… unheard of in my 40+ years of videogaming.

  18. itchyeyes says:

    Strongly disagree on the Ranger analysis. Their main role is as a scout, and you should be speccing them for stealth, especially if you have a sharpshooter on your team. Their shotgun makes a good, high DPS weapon in a clutch, but you should always be looking to get kills with your other team members if you can to preserve the Ranger’s concealment.

    Best ability is either Phantom or Conceal.

    • Tuco says:

      Played my entire first campaign following pretty much this template, and then the two successive ones (at increasing difficulty levels) mostly ignoring concealment and going for full aggressive shotgun rangers. I ended up liking (and finding useful) the latter far more.

      Full concealment-focused rangers are overrated.

    • Archonsod says:

      The problem with ranger scouts is that they’re redundant as soon as you have battle scanners or scanning protocol specialists. Not only can the scanner see further, it also reveals Faceless and doesn’t require isolating a single member of the squad to do so. Not to mention you can’t attack if you want to stay concealed, and that shotgun is one of the most brutally efficient killers you have (the only class that can do more raw damage is the gunslinger, but once they pull off their six shot trick they’re stuck with ability cooldown timers. Rapid fire on the other hand has no timer).

      • CubeTruth says:

        Every Battle Scanner I take is one less Mimic Beacon I could have taken.

  19. Ghevd says:

    Whoa whoa! Slow down! More like the Ranger is the ONLY class ya need.

    Yes, my squad of 6 Rangers rule the battlefield.

    All of them are Colonels now. The 2 casualties I did have where squadees when they bit the dust. Temporary replacements for rangers with more experience who where wounded.

    You just have to compensate for the other classes hacking being the hardest but equally unnecessary weakness.

    Retaliation missions, or any mission you don’t get squad concealment, is a joke! All my rangers start concealed regardless! Central you dumbass don’t tell me the enemy knows we’re here… they don’t… not yet.

    What are Heavies good for? Shredding armor? Well thanks to the advance warfare center I have a ranger with shredder. Oh grenades? Yeah rockets from my heavy or powered armor go a lot further.

    With so many rangers ready to slice and dice the nearest enemy is such proximity to each other I don’t even bother shredding armor less than 3.

    Oh reinforcements are coming? I just surround the flare and blademaster takes care of all those jerks. It was pretty sweet. My guess all crouched behind them as they landed.

    My favorite is when an enemy uses overwatch. Yeah… that doesn’t work on me. Here is a blade to the face. Sucks to be that scientist I was extracting though.

    So here is all ya need.
    6 Rangers
    1 Best sword available for your tech
    3-6 Mimic Beacons(Flash bang in the beginning)
    1 Heavy Armor(Powered armor comes to fast to need more)
    3-6 Power Armor
    2 Shardbeam heavy weapons
    4 any other heavy weapon
    1 pinch of cinnamon
    1-2 Skulljacks(with skull mining you can raise you hacking stat)

    Stir in soon to be dead aliens.

  20. Sangrael says:

    The fact that you think Aid Protocol is a bad ability makes me think you haven’t played past Veteran difficulty. The AI tends to zerg on anyone up front. A ranger with protocol on is basically invincible for one turn, and he’ll soak up the alien’s turn. With Threat Assessment at Captain they also get a free shotgun blast to anything’s face. The only way I managed to get through a lot of early missions on Legend was with a Ranger + 2 Specialists to rotate aid protocol while my sharpshooter did the heavy lifting.

  21. Pharos says:

    Kill Zone with high cap mags is absolutely bananas. Use a Concealed Ranger to scout out pods, set up the Sharpshooter, then kick things off with a grenade and laugh at the game.

    Also, I’m not seeing much love for Combat Protocol. It’s just so clutch I find it hard to go without it. It’s true that grenades are also guaranteed damage, but the AoE can present a problem occasionally, and Combat Protocol is consistent.

    • Shadow says:

      Not to mention Combat Protocol ignores armour AND deals double damage to robotic enemies. Extremely handy.

  22. stringerdell says:

    Rangers the worst class, and bladestorm over implacable!? madness.

  23. Carcer says:

    The fact that there’s so much disagreement over which classes are better is a nice indication that they’re relatively well-balanced.

    On my first playthrough I rated my snipers most highly and had a very snipey strategy, basically using the other members of the team as support to spot enemies and strip armour while my sniper pair used kill zone to wipe the floor with things.

    Now on my second playthrough I’m madly in love with the Ranger, sprinting forward, placing basically guaranteed critical shots on things and then dashing back to cover. The combination of Run & Gun, Rapid Shot, Implacable and Untouchable just makes them utterly devastating – I’m using the light armour variants and mobility PCS to maximise their manoeuvrability, so they’re almost always making flanking shots (that +3 flanking damage bonus)…

    I expect when I get around to doing it the third time I’ll hit on another class/strategy.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    I’m wondering about how it is that nobody who has commented except Sangreal has pointed out that Aid Protocol is AMAZING. This one ability on a high-level specialist breaks the rules in all of the right ways.

    Aid Protocol with Threat Assessment gives a FREE OVERWATCH to ANY UNIT, even if that unit has ALREADY USED ALL ACTIONS. What makes this pure gold is that Aid Protocol doesn’t end your specialist’s turn, and your specialist can use Aid Protocol on any unit on your team regardless of where they are on the map. This even works on concealed rangers without revealing them. If you don’t have a unit that you want to give the defensive bonus to, it’s still useful because of the free overwatch ability – your perfectly positioned sniper is still effective!

  25. Duke Flipside says:

    I’d say Serial or Killzone are the best sharpshooter abilities; a sharpshooter with Serial, increased ammo capacity, and free reloads can take down an entire map’s worth of enemies in a single turn, which can be a life-saver if all else has gone to hell…

    Also, Hunker Down actually has its uses; I had a Ranger Run & Gun to hack an objective, only to discover himself completely flanked by a previously-hidden Sectopod. Shotgun wasn’t going to be much use and the rest of the team were too far away to help, so he Hunkered Down and hoped for the best. The Sectopod was fully flanking him. It was point-blank, only a single-tile away. It shot three times. It. Missed. Every. Shot. Never again will I doubt Hunker Down…

    • Oirad says:

      Hunker Down just doubles your cover bonus, so Hunker Down doesn’t do anything if the target is flanked because a flanked target has no cover. You simply got very lucky.

  26. icarussc says:

    Guys, guys — I think what we’re all *trying* to say here is that XCOM2 lends itself to a very wide variety of tactics.

    And that’s why it’s just so great.

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      Kemuel says:

      I think that’s why Rick’s occasional commentary on “good” XCOM players will have rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. I don’t think any Chess players worth listening to would claim to be too good to need their Queen.

  27. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I would say that the most important Grenadier perk is Ordinance. Being able to take two EMPs or two Flashbangs in a mission means you can nerf most enemy pods before they even get a chance to know what is going on.

  28. Phinor says:

    First reading the guide, then reading everyone disagree with everything tells me that all the classes are very powerful when used properly.

    Personally towards the end I dropped sharpshooters from my roster completely and rangers were crucial to my success. Well, as crucial as grenadiers were because of their ability to shred enemy armor. Other than damage, I didn’t find that much use for sharpshooters and every class can deal damage anyway.

  29. 2lab says:

    I vote for this in the worst guide ever category.

  30. Ufofighter says:

    A quick tip about Ranger and Sharpshooters combinations, concealment + long watch and later death zone allows you to start every pod encounter in their turn (effectively having two turns before they shoot you back), with at least 1 shot per enemy from your sharpshooter (more with Threat Assessment) and probably more of the rest of the squad as aliens will charge in the direction of your sniper triggering squad overwatch.

    This is important in Commander and absolutely crucial in Legendary, I recently finished a Legendary/Ironman run with only two deads and 18 flawless mission of 55 thanks to this tactic and a couple of grenadires clearing the survivors.

    • Ufofighter says:

      Also concealment allows you to check if that on paper wonderfull movement to flank something will trigger more pods, wich is the main cause of pain death and faliure in Xcom 2.

  31. Abaleth says:

    Completely wrong about rangers, yes their close combat abilities etc are what makes them cool, but it’s not what they’re for. Rangers are stealthers, they let you set up devastating and well planned attacks, rather than randomly stumbling upon, packs of aliens after the first one.

    This tactic is the difference between my first playthrough on Commander (about 15 soldiers lost, lots of reloads on failed missions) and my second (Ironman) playthough (2 soldiers lost, 1 failed mission).

  32. PhilBowles says:

    Interesting – I’d make rather different choices, and would still generally place the Grenadier and likely the Specialist above the Sharpshooter.

    Specialist: Worst is undoubtedly Covering Fire, as it does exactly nothing Threat Assessment (which can be used on the Specialist itself and so gain benefit from Guardian etc.) can’t do while also providing versatility and the defensive bonus. The cooldown is irrelevant on an ability you won’t use every turn anyway. All on top of the fact that the ability isn’t really any better than it was in XCOM to begin with. Only plus is that it can be awarded by the AWC to other classes while Threat Assessment – because it requires a GREMLIN – can’t.

    Best I’d say is Haywire – the area effect ability is great, but comes very late.

    Grenadier: Blast Padding isn’t great, but I’ve found the worst to be suppression – as you note, Grenadiers tend to promote with low accuracy, and suppression just seems much less useful in this game than in its predecessor, in part because aliens seem less inclined to go onto overwatch. Blast Padding would be better if it didn’t compete with Shredder, which is at a decidedly odd point on the upgrade tree since, on Normal and Classic, it does exactly nothing with early Heavies for several missions, simply because there aren’t any armoured enemies. Even later on it’s of limited use until units with heavy armour show, because it’s used by the same class that has long-range grenades which shred armour.

    • Ufofighter says:

      A minigun-focused grenadier with Shredder, Rupture, Chain Shot, Holo-Targeting, etc, would be extremely useful for the squad and deal tons of damage but at the current state of the game (apparently there’s going to be some kind of rebalance) explosives are simply unbeatable as a choice, guaranteed damage, acid/fire/venom states, cover destruction, armor shredding, no damage falloff…

    • Wisq says:

      Whoa, easy there on Suppression. It’s got three things working for it:

      One, it’s not just an Overwatch-buster. It’s useful in situations where your chance-to-hit is low (probably due to either range or good cover) and nobody else has a good shot (or already fluffed them), but you’d still like to do something to defend against an enemy. They either fire at you (with -50% aim) or try to move (and risk getting shot). Often, they’ll just pick the safer “fire” option and miss.

      Two, it’s across from Demolition. And no matter what you think of Suppression, I would argue that Demolition is worse, for reasons various posters have pointed out.

      Three, it’s a fantastic way to hold an enemy down while you move in to do something special to it, like Skulljacking or letting a newbie get the kill. If you have two Grenadiers in the squad (a configuration I absolutely love), you can have them both use Suppression and up the ante — the enemy has 0% chance to hit and a fairly good chance to die if they move.

      • PhilBowles says:

        “It’s useful in situations where your chance-to-hit is low (probably due to either range or good cover) and nobody else has a good shot (or already fluffed them), but you’d still like to do something to defend against an enemy. ” That’s what overwatch is for, and costs half as much ammo while not requiring you to have line of sight on the enemy.

        Being in view of an enemy at the end of your turn is not usually where you want to be – -50 to hit is still more dangerous that 0 chance to hit. Moreover, if an enemy is in cover and hard to hit, you WANT to force it to move out so you can take overwatch shots at it, not force it to stay in one place.

        Pinning a unit you want to skulljack relegates it to an ability used against ADVENT infantry, which aren’t individually threatening for the most part and so not optimal targets for high-damage-dealing Grenadiers. If memory serves the ability also unlocks later than in XCOM (in part because soldiers promote more slowly), so situations where you pin something down to let a rookie take a shot aren’t going to be all that common – even if you have rookies and squaddies (which, with XCOM 2’s attrition rates, you often will), you probably aren’t facing many units they can kill without help.

        I’m not sure why Demolition has a chance to miss when its equivalent in XCOM didn’t, but when it works destroying cover without using a grenade can be useful – I typically run a Grenadier with each ability, and use Demolition to better effect than suppression.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Sihoiba says:

    The one thing that no one else has mentioned is that you can always retrain soldiers for a measly five day wait.

    So sure Demolition is rubbish once you have 3 grenades per grenadier, but early game when you have only 1? It can be extremely useful.

    Likewise with Blast Padding there are a fair few abilities which are useful and certain stages of your tech/soldier level versus the aliens.

    Plus given that the AWC abilities can sometimes completely change the power of a class, retraining your Soldiers to make better use of them is invaluable.

  34. Herring says:

    Grenadiers were my MVPs by a long, long stretch. I played through first time on Ironman Commander without knowing about how any of the enemies would work and grenades (No cover! Guaranteed damage!) and flashbangs (no accuracy for you! No special attacks either!) were my get-out-jail free cards.
    The latter actually caught me on the hop down the line as the first time I saw a Codex I flashbanged it and killed it before seeing it’s abilities. When they became common later on I had some nasty surprises….
    I sailed through with 3 grenadiers until the last mission. No spoilers, but let’s just say consumable resources won’t last long… Made it really, really tough.

  35. Premium User Badge

    DrollRemark says:

    I can put most of the opinions in this article down to personal playstyle preferences, but not ranking Grenadiers as the best class in the game? Maaaaaaaaan.

  36. B L Z Bubb says:

    Delighted with this article, it’s really thrown up some diversity I’d never considered, so thank you to all the constructive posters who posted their takes on various on units, skill sets and tactics.

    Have to say, VERY taken with Ghevd’s idea of a fully tricked out, Colonelised, 6 person Ranger Unit! Fuck Yeah and Hoooo YAAAHH!!

    Not convinced they’d survive the final mission though, so Ghevd, your thoughts would be appreciated! Did you manage it?

  37. SgtSchmidt11 says:

    The author missed the boat on Aim.

    Sniper kills from on high (Death from Above kicks in)
    Hunker Down w/free action
    Shooting again with +20 (Full Cover is now negated by High Ground and Aim) making it like the targets in the open, ad most snipers by this point should have 100+ Aim means it’s a high percentage shot. While they are in full cover.

    Without Death From Above it’s total garbage.

  38. Ampen says:

    Lots of interesting posts here, and it’s obvious that there’s more than one way to play this game.

    For me, my main issue with this guide is placing the sniper up front, that class causes more harm than it do good due to its low mobility and considering so many missions are timed. In my book, the sniper class is the least useful, and it took an ironman commander game to figure it out. I’ve mainly used grenadiers and just levelled pretty much everything.

    Closing in on the end of that game, and I have colonels in every class, except for sniper, where the highest ranked is a sergeant.
    Casualties so far is a rookie, a squaddie and a sergeant.

    THE class, and the end-game class as someone mentioned, is psi-ops though. Have 4 Magus now, and you can imagine the chaos on the field once aliens switch sides in the middle of everything, blowing themselves up, panics and shoot friendlies etc. Hopefully will have another two in time for the final mission.