In XCOM 2, the success of a squad can often be determined at the squad building screen before each mission. Building a strong squad involves understanding the role of each class and knowing how to effectively use them on the battlefield. This guide gives a brief overview of each class type, as well as tips for assembling your squad before combat.
There are four main soldier classes in XCOM 2, as well as an additional special class that is only available through specific facility training. We have outlined the function of each class type below, and have included some best practices for utilizing each class.
The Specialist is the most versatile of the soldier classes, as they can fulfill several different roles. Specialists come equipped with a Gremlin that can perform various tasks during combat. Consider the role you want a specific Specialist to perform, and try to upgrade their skill tree accordingly. For example, a supportive Specialist should have the Medical Protocol, Revival Protocol, or Field Medic abilities, in order to effectively heal and revive their squadmates.
The Specialist’s Gremlin can also hack into alien tech during certain missions. If a mission involves hacking into a particular objective, you should prioritize moving your Specialist in proximity to the objective's location in order to complete the hack within the allotted turns. On the Specialist’s turn, consider whether their Gremlin can perform an important task, such as healing a squadmate or damaging an enemy, before having them engage in other tasks.
Equipped with a powerful sword and slash ability, the Ranger class is intended for close range combat. The Ranger is most effective when running up to slice an alien in the face, so try to equip additional protections on your Rangers before sending them into combat. When possible, have a Specialist apply their Aid Protocol to a Ranger if you plan to move the Ranger toward enemy territory. This will apply a single-turn defense boost to your Ranger, allowing them to move more aggressively with added protection.
Apply upgrades that improve the Ranger’s mobility and damage stats to help them have better chances of securing kills on their targets. Increasing their critical chance will also significantly boost the Ranger’s overall damage output and effectiveness.
The Sharpshooter class serves as the sniper for your squad. Sharpshooters come equipped with a massive sniper rifle, as well as a powerful pistol for close range combat. The effectiveness of these Sharpshooter weapons depends on their distance from an enemy target. The Sharpshooter benefits heavily from increased aim, so try to prioritize any Personal Combat Sims or weapon upgrades that improve aim stats, such as rifle scopes.
Early on in a mission, position the Sharpshooter on a rooftop or somewhere with long lines of sight over an area, and then put the Sharpshooter on Overwatch so that they can defend their squad. If you use Sharpshooters more offensively, consider unlocking the Return Fire and Lightning Hands abilities on their skill tree. These abilities allow the Sharpshooter to effectively sneak in extra shots with their pistol, without using turns.
As the resident demolitions expert, the Grenadier uses a grenade launcher and gatling gun to provide explosive power to your squad. The Grenadier’s grenade launcher can reach quite far, guaranteeing damage with well placed hits. The Grenadier can also carry grenades as their utility item. Research experimental grenades in the Proving Ground in order to equip enhanced grenades on your Grenadiers.
Grenadiers can deal a significant amount of damage from a distance, so make sure to take advantage of any opportunities to lob grenades at wounded enemies to finish them off whenever possible. Grenades also cause vehicles to explode, damaging any bystanders using the vehicle for cover. If you see an enemy crouched behind a vehicle, chuck a grenade in their direction to deal a lethal blow.
The Psi Operative is a unique soldier who must undergo intensive training in the Psi Lab to gain special Psionic abilities, including mind control. Only rookies can be trained in the Psi Lab, and this is the only way to add Psi Operatives to your squad. After training, your new Psi Operative will receive one of four random starting abilities. You must first research Psionics in order to build the Psi Lab facility, so prioritize this research when you have it available.
If your Psi Operative is lucky enough to have the Domination ability, make sure to use it strategically on the battlefield, as it can only be used once per mission. Domination allows your Psi Operative to permanently take control of an enemy for the duration of the mission, making them an ally. Try to take control of a powerful enemy to unleash more devastating attacks on enemy targets.
Basic Squad Building Tips
Train Extra Recruits
After a challenging mission, your squad will likely return with several wounded or shaken soldiers. Ideally, you should have more trained soldiers waiting on standby in case you encounter another mission while your main squad members are on medical leave. Try to recruit new rookies whenever you have the supplies to spare, to ensure you have a steady supply of healthy soldiers when you need them.
Keep in mind that rookie recruits don’t need to have field experience to gain a class promotion. Build the Guerilla Tactics School early on and always have rookies in training so that replacement soldiers are ready when your favorite squad members are unavailable.
Balance Squad Roles
When creating a squad before a mission, it is best to select one soldier of each class type, provided that you have a variety of soldiers to choose from. Try to avoid having multiple squad members of the same class type so that you can have a more evenly balanced squad. However, this rule is a bit flexible once you have purchased the squad size upgrade in the Guerilla Tactics School. With five or six squad members, having a duplicate class is nearly unavoidable.
As you accumulate more recruits, you will eventually have multiple soldiers that belong to the same class. Try to stagger their abilities as they level up, so that you can have balanced offensive and defensive soldiers to choose from. If you must have more than one soldier of the same class on your squad, equip them with different utility items to ensure your team is still capable of a variety of tasks during combat.
Diversify the Utility Loadout
Each soldier has multiple utility item slots on their loadout, which unlock as they gain promotions. Having an entire squad go into battle with nothing but grenades can lead to an undesired outcome during advanced missions. Maintain a steady flow of research on corpses and other loot in order to have new gear for the engineering department to build. Have Chief Shen build a variety of utility items for your squad, then equip each squad member with different utility items from one another. A squad that has Mindshields, Medkits, Mimic Beacons, and Grenades will perform much better than a squad that only carries a single type of utility item.
Apply Personal Combat Sims
Personal Combat Sims (P.C.S.) are character specific upgrades that apply unique enhancements to a character’s stats. You can acquire new P.C.S. upgrades during battle by picking up loot drops from fallen enemies. These upgrades can also be purchased on the Black Market for a portion of Intel.
Certain P.C.S.’s work better for certain class types, so choose wisely before confirming a character’s P.C.S. Once a P.C.S. is applied to a character, it can be replaced, but not removed. Consider the types of P.C.S. upgrades that would work best for each class, so that you can apply them to the appropriate squad members when new ones become available.