They are first deployed in late June (mid-August on Legend) on either pure Chryssalid pods or as support troops for a Berserker.
The Chryssalid is a swift four-legged alien unit with terrifying melee capabilities. Evolved from the previous unit in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this new creature is an enhanced, more deadly variant of the original. The Chryssalid is now much more visually imposing and physically dangerous, with spines, talons and razor-like skin. Its four insectoid legs give it the new ability to burrow underground and hide from sight as well as the trademark ability to leap extraordinary heights and move with frightening speed.
Much like its predecessor favoring Terror missions, the Chryssalid is most frequently seen on Retaliation missions. Its high mobility and metamorphosing poison make it extremely efficient at moving swiftly around the battlefield and killing civilians and creating new Chryssalids.
Chryssalids are agile melee-only units that are able to Leap to scale buildings and have high mobility. They are able to attack after dashing.
All Chryssalid melee attacks will cause a new status effect known as Chryssalid Poison, which can affect any organic unit. Units that are killed by a Chryssalid attack or die by the poison will become a cocoon; If the cocoon is not destroyed during the gestation period, up to three new Chryssalids will emerge from the cocoon, one each turn it is active.
Chryssalids have also gained the ability to burrow underground and lie in wait to ambush unsuspecting targets. Ambushes can occur even during the player's turn, if they are triggered, they are able to move and attack the nearest target.
Chryssalids also have a single armor point, making them more robust than their previous incarnation.
- There are two types of encounters when meeting with Chryssalids:
- Packs: these Chryssalids move in groups and act like most other enemy pods, deploying when they spot you. They will attempt to cluster on closer units rather than spread out to attack the entire squad.
- Burrower: Burrowers are lone Chryssalids that use the Burrow ability to ambush targets. Be aware that you are not safe even when you are taking actions.
- Scanning Protocol of the Specialist class will force the Chryssalid to emerge for the turn it is active.
- Specialist's Aid Protocol can be used on the scouting unit to reduce the chance of being hit by the burrowed Chryssalids.
- It is useful, when advancing in a mission where burrowed Chryssalids are suspected to be present, to move a scouting unit last and place other units behind them on Overwatch first, so as to cover the scout. Follow up on the next turn by advancing the squad up to the point guard's new location, putting them on Overwatch again, then moving the point guard up once more.
- A Ranger with Bladestorm is extremely useful against overeager Chryssalids. The attack will usually not kill a Chryssalid with one hit, but if other Overwatch shots connect it is more than useful for finishing it off.
- While burning, Chryssalids cannot use their melee attack, effectively disabling them. Using Incendiary Grenades/Bombs or Dragon Rounds is recommended.
- A Bladestorm Ranger with a Fusion Blade is very useful combination.
- As a last line of defense, Hellweave ensures any Chryssalid that lands an attack will be set ablaze.
- A Hazmat Vest confers immunity to the poison's damage, leaving only the melee damage. Psi Operatives with the Fortress skill are unaffected by poison as well.
- If a biological unit dies by Chryssalid Poison that is caused by a mind controlled Chryssalid, all Chryssalids emerging from the cocoon will still be hostile.
- In multiplayer you are able to spawn Chryssalids from the pod the first turn after the host is killed. Chryssalids are spawned one at a time, and you appear to have to wait for a while before three can be spawned. Spawning too quickly will only allow two total: this is known to be a glitch.
- Non-mechanical units that are immune to poison via traits or items can still be affected by Chryssalid poison. However, they will not take the poison damage.
- Chryssalid Poison does not expire and must be cured with a Medkit. It can be useful against Avatar with mind control.
- When all else fails, a player can evacuate a soldier to cure the Chryssalid Poison.