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(Sniper Class)
(Double Tap vs. In The Zone)
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===[[Snap Shot]] vs. [[Squadsight]]===
 
===[[Snap Shot]] vs. [[Squadsight]]===
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This decision is one of the more decisive ones, substantially changing your Sniper's role; generally speaking, Snap Shot is more useful if you want your sniper to play similar to other classes, while Squadsight is for if you want them to be unique.
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*'''Snap Shot''' removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty (reduced to -10 with [[XCOM: Enemy Within]] installed.)
 
*'''Snap Shot''' removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty (reduced to -10 with [[XCOM: Enemy Within]] installed.)
 
** Snap Shot is considerably more flexible in usage compared to Squadsight. Being able to move ''with'' the squad and not require a "nests", allows full use of certain Sniper abilities which are otherwise of limited use to their Squadsight counterparts.
 
** Snap Shot is considerably more flexible in usage compared to Squadsight. Being able to move ''with'' the squad and not require a "nests", allows full use of certain Sniper abilities which are otherwise of limited use to their Squadsight counterparts.
 
** Consider offsetting the accuracy penalty with a [[S.C.O.P.E.]] and the [[S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade]], if not using them already. (Snipers should, however, usually be using them anyway.)
 
** Consider offsetting the accuracy penalty with a [[S.C.O.P.E.]] and the [[S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade]], if not using them already. (Snipers should, however, usually be using them anyway.)
** Snap Shot is generally best taken if you want your Sniper to be more similar to other classes, while Squadsight is more useful if you want them to be more unique.
 
   
 
*'''Squadsight''' allows sniping at targets in an ally's sight radius.
 
*'''Squadsight''' allows sniping at targets in an ally's sight radius.
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*** Double Tap ''is not'' [[Bullet Swarm]] for snipers - the second action '''MUST''' be a shot, [[Disabling Shot]], or [[Headshot]]; this may result in the player having to use the "End Turn" button if a target isn't available for the sniper.
 
*** Double Tap ''is not'' [[Bullet Swarm]] for snipers - the second action '''MUST''' be a shot, [[Disabling Shot]], or [[Headshot]]; this may result in the player having to use the "End Turn" button if a target isn't available for the sniper.
 
*** Double Tap combines poorly with [[Snap Shot]] - the ability's benefit is negated if the soldier is moving in that turn. Furthermore, even if you do take two shots, the second shot receives the [[Snap Shot]] penalty.
 
*** Double Tap combines poorly with [[Snap Shot]] - the ability's benefit is negated if the soldier is moving in that turn. Furthermore, even if you do take two shots, the second shot receives the [[Snap Shot]] penalty.
** Double Tap is, generally speaking, more useful if you ''must'' kill a particular target reliably.
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** Double Tap is, generally speaking, more useful if you ''must'' kill a particular target reliably, since it provides a second opportunity to hit even if your first shot misses.
 
** If you are slow to upgrade your sniper rifles, Double Tap can help mitigate this by allowing you to focus-fire particularly tough enemies repeatedly.
 
** If you are slow to upgrade your sniper rifles, Double Tap can help mitigate this by allowing you to focus-fire particularly tough enemies repeatedly.
   

Revision as of 08:36, July 28, 2020

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The following is primarily for players who want help, or have completed XCOM and just want to compare notes.

Assault Class

Tactical Sense vs. Aggression

  • Tactical Sense is a competitive defensive alternative that excels in the early game portions of xcom: enemy unknown.
    • Tactical Sense allows an soldier to end a turn in partial cover and still retain a somewhat passable defense. This can make for safer scouting for a Squadsight Sniper, and allow more direct attack paths to the enemy while remaining in relative safety. It grants defense when being flanked, aiding in dodging potentially lethal critical fire.
    • Tactical Sense can cause aliens to ignore the assault and fire on another target that is easier to hit. This can negate the advantage of Tactical Sense in certain engagements, but it also can be used to control where enemy fire might go. Assaults surviving into the late game can be a decisive advantage, whereas supports and heavies tend to be more replaceable.
    • Tactical Sense has no effect against Chryssalids and Berserkers, which hit automatically.
    • Tactical Sense is less relevant late in the game, where aliens have significant Aim bonuses, as well as grenades, psionics, and other specials that don't trigger a chance to hit roll against a soldier's defense. At this point, one strong strategy can be to kill them before they get a turn to act; as such, Aggression contributes more to clearing groups effectively. As the early game is so difficult and the late game is relatively easy, Tactical Sense may be more advantageous overall.
  • Aggression is a competitive alternative that tends to be stronger in the mid-and-late-game portions of the campaign, and has synergies with other right-handed abilities.
    • Aggression's bonus fully stacked is +30%, combined with a shotgun (+20%) on a flank (+50%), results in 100% critical hit chance; this makes some risky flanking maneuvers a sure bet that can be planned around.
    • Aggression's bonus of 10% when combined with Close and Personal's 30% with a Rifle(+10%) on a flank(+50%) results in a 100% critical hit chance, a sure bet that can be planned around.
    • Aggression aids in overcoming critical-chance reduction on enemies with the Hardened property, such as Sectopods, Ethereals, and Cyberdiscs.
    • Aggression rarely stacks to 30% in practical use.
    • Consider holding back on guaranteed or almost guaranteed kill actions such as rockets, Sniper shots from high ground, or grenades until your Assaults have fired to preserve the Aggression bonus. Due to how frequently cover must first be compromised, this is often impossible; thus the effectiveness of this bonus is often in practice quite limited.

Lightning Reflexes vs. Close and Personal

  • Close and Personal tactically allows the soldier to move in to point blank range (i.e. within 4-tiles), shoot at no cost, and then move back into cover; or take three shots per turn (if combined with Rapid Fire). Note that this ability is defined such for Enemy Within; in the vanilla game this ability merely gives an increased critical chance against adjacent targets but does not remove the action cost.
    • Close and Personal synergizes very well with Ghost Grenade or Ghost Armor; particularly useful in lategame, allowing a soldier to close in and unload multiple shots against high valued targets.
      • Choosing Close and Personal means though that the squad sacrifices mobility: if the enemy is in Overwatch, then they may have fewer "safe" options to trigger it.
  • Lightning Reflexes forces the first reaction shot against this soldier each turn to miss.
    • You can't place suppression fire on a target that you can't see, but Lightning Reflexes will trigger if an enemy is discovered in the fog of war and is on Overwatch.
    • Suppression fire costs a lot of ammo and reduces your turn to effectively an even weaker overwatch effect that can't crit and only effects one target; lightning reflexes requires no reloading, and in many cases, a half move was something you were going to do anyway.
    • Lightning Reflexes does well in Council Missions where speed and ammo efficiency is important; Thin Men frequently spawn on Overwatch behind your lines. The first few Council Missions can be the most challenging missions of a whole game playthrough.
    • Choosing Lightning Reflexes means though that the squad sacrifices firepower: if the enemy is a high valued target, then they may lack the means of killing (or capturing) it in one turn.

Flush vs. Rapid Fire

  • Flush hits for 50% damage but has a +30 Aim, and combined with +20 Aim from Scope and Light Plasma Rifle is enough to overcome high cover and hit any target reliably. Flush will also force enemy to re-seek cover, often from high to low ones, which is what you want. It takes a lot of munitions though.
  • Rapid Fire's two shots at -15% aim is a fearsome doubling of firepower at close range, where range bonus and shotgun bonus stack. Since the assault is often attacking foes within 10 tiles, the range bonus (and shotgun bonus) more than makes up for the Aim minus of this skill. If the initial chance to hit was 36% or less, this skill is ineffective. This even increases your deadliness when shooting exposed targets at middle range with a rifle, provided an aim boost like S.C.O.P.E., veterancy, high ground, light plasma, etc.

Close Combat Specialist vs. Bring 'Em On

  • Close Combat Specialist confers a reaction shot against any enemy within 4 tiles.
    • Close Combat Specialist can Proc once per turn.
    • Close Combat Specialist is extremely effective against melee enemies, which in most cases must move from one visible tile to another visible tile within 4 tiles of you in order to strike, generating a proc.
    • Close Combat Specialist can be combined with Flush against a point-blank target for a proc.
      • Flush+CCS combo is at its best when you run n' gun up to an alien's cover but don't flank; if you activate a pod, your cover is very likely facing the right way, as it is in the same direction you fog-busted. Flush will likely hit despite their cover, even with a rifle, and CCS/planned reactive fire will likely trigger.
        • Reactive fire builds are generally pretty weak, as it can't crit and takes an aim penalty - Opportunity snipers can't crit in squadsight (XCOM enemy within), Savior is nearly essential to a medic support which precludes Sentinel, and the excellent Heat ammo competes with the generally mediocre Rapid Reaction, which almost requires holotargetting to be effective, something you probably don't have until you've stabilized the XCOM project and essentially won the game anyways.
      • Even though flanks can be risky, Flush+CCS combo is often quite a bit weaker than more straightforward alternatives, as Assaults shoot flanked or exposed targets more than any class, but overwatch can't crit - Rapid Fire can and does crit.
    • That said, Close Combat Specialist is a perfectly fine stand-alone ability.
    • Close Combat Specialist will proc on soldiers' under the effect of Ghost Armor, Mimetic Skin or a Ghost Grenade, exposing them. The only way to prevent this is to have the soldier maintain a discreet distance from the enemies while cloaked.
  • Bring 'Em On adds 1 damage on critical hits for each enemy the squad can see (up to 5).
    • Bring 'Em On has synergies with Aggression and Killer Instinct (and Close and Personal, in XCOM Enemy Unknown) in allowing an Assault armed with a shotgun to reliably deliver hard hitting critical hits at close range.
    • Bring 'Em On's damage boost is generally somewhat middling at best; if you are critting, you are probably doing enough damage anyway, and if you aren't, Bring 'Em On is no help.
    • Bring 'Em On combines well with a Light Plasma Rifle and Rapid Fire in the mid-game.

Resilience vs. Killer Instinct

  • Resilience confers immunity to critical hits.
    • Resilience' critical hit immunity (along with additional effects) can be provided by Combat Stims.
    • Crits are involved in most XCOM soldiers' deaths; immunity is hard to pass up.

Heavy Class

Many players who have completed Ironman on Classic and Impossible difficulties recommend taking at least Bullet Swarm, Shredder Rocket, and Danger Zone.

Bullet Swarm vs. Holo-Targeting

Bullet Swarm greatly improves the capabilities of the Heavy; Holo-Targeting is weaker initially as a stand-alone talent - it requires commitment to its synergies (Suppression, Rapid Reaction, Danger Zone, Mayhem).

  • Bullet Swarm allows a Heavy to perform new turn action combinations, including:
    • Fire weapon twice per turn
    • Fire weapon before a half-move.
    • Fire weapon before using Reload
    • Fire weapon before using a grenade (or other items)
    • Fire weapon before using Overwatch
    • Fire weapon before using Suppression
    • Fire weapon before using Mindfray (or other Psionic abilities)
    • Fire weapon before using Hunker Down
  • Double shot misses can even be relevant as LMG fire can destroy light cover.
  • Bullet Swarm's additional shot with a heavy weapon against large targets is frequently better than a small Aim bonus.
  • The advantage of new turn combinations cannot be overstated. Fire weapon->kill->advance, fire weapon->miss->retreat, fire weapon->miss->grenade, fireweapon->hunkerdown in half cover in particular may see frequent use.

Holo-Targeting promotes a more mobile strategy, as it's unaffected by an initial half-move.

  • Holo-Targeting adds to the reliability of triggering Rapid Reaction, although the difference is relatively minor.
  • Holo-Targeting's +10 Aim bonus is useful for assisting Rookies and Squaddies in earning kills
  • Holo-Targeting is at its best against large targets where a squad can focus fire. This advantage however, is dubious, as 10 aim is relatively marginal compared to the benefits of an entire additional attack (or other turn combinations), at least until synergies are available (and likely afterwards).

Shredder Rocket vs. Suppression

Shredder Rocket is a strong stand-alone talent. Suppression is weaker as a stand-alone talent; it requires commitment to its synergies (Holo-Targeting, Rapid Reaction, Danger Zone, Mayhem), which are also individually weaker.

  • Shredder Rockets provides an additional rocket that deals 4 damage and applies 33% increased damage debuff against struck foes.
    • Shredder Rocket destroys cover, hits multiple targets, detonates cars/power sources/explosive terrain, has a long range and a wide area of effect.
    • Shredder Rocket allows precise lowering of an aliens' health (without weapon damage variance or critical hits) for easier alien capture.
  • Suppression applies a -30 Aim penalty and grants reaction fire on a single target.
    • Some strong uses for Suppression include:
      1. Clear away Overwatchers, as Suppression removes Overwatch
      2. Neutralize aliens that are dangerously close to gaining a flank, where overwatch may be unreliable for this role, potentially proccing on another alien and exhausting its single use.
  • Suppression is largely redundant with Lightning Reflexes (Assault), which is an incredibly quick, powerful, and reliable way of nullifying enemy overwatches.
  • Enemies can still throw grenades, use psyonics, emit poison, etc when under suppressing fire.
  • Suppressing fire cannot crit.
  • Suppression costs 2 ammo; Heavies only have 3 shots per clip (and only 6 after Ammo Conservation).
  • Suppression's Aim penalty does not prevent aliens from killing squad members, unless said target is locked down under multiple suppressions, at which time they can still use grenades/psy/etc.
  • Suppression's lockdown utility may be better utilized by S.H.I.V.s and the Support Class's Rifle Suppression ability, some reasons include: the support's ammunition is often less important than the Heavy's highly damaging LMG ammo, and whereas S.H.I.V. cannot gain levelups or experience of any kind.

HEAT Ammo vs. Rapid Reaction

HEAT Ammo is situational but extremely effective when active. Both talents have some degree of merit, although HEAT ammo can potentially make your Heavy exceedingly efficient at dispatching robotic targets. Rapid Reaction is weaker as a stand-alone talent; it requires commitment to its synergies (Holo-Targeting, Suppression, Danger Zone, Mayhem), which are also individually weaker. 

  • HEAT Ammo provides +100% (reduced to +50% in XCOM: Enemy Within)  damage bonus when used against robotic targets.
    • HEAT Ammo is extremely effective against Cyberdiscs, Drones, Mechtoids, and Sectopods, even at +50%.
    • Heat Ammo applies to all attacks, including rockets and grenades; this makes it highly effective with any of the other explosive-oriented Heavy skills.
  • Rapid Reaction is an unreliable general purpose boost to reactive fire as the Heavies' Aim statistic is the lowest of all classes.
    • Rapid Reaction is relatively effective against Chryssalids and Berserkers, as melee aliens must move in order to attack, so if well positioned, a holotargetting heavy can generate close range reactive fire twice.
    • Consider stacking aim bonuses; Scope, Archangel Armor flight, aim gene mods, medals, etc.
      • A Rapid Reaction Holo heavy can be viable, albeit typically rather suboptimal, with enough resources committed to it.
    • Most Heavies from early game will be promoted Bullet Swarm instead of Holotargetting, which makes Rapid Reaction hard to justify.
    • In Enemy Unknown, Rapid Reaction is relatively weak.

Grenadier vs. Danger Zone

Danger Zone is preferred for most cases: it has synergies with both sides of the Heavy ability tree in ways Grenadier does not.

  • Danger Zone increases Area of Effect on Rocket attacks and Suppression by 2 tiles.
    • A Danger Zone Rocket's area of effect is 225% that of normal, which is quite significant, and extends a rocket's reach even further.
      • The area of effect is so big that even if the rocket veers off target, it may still affect the intended target.
    • Danger Zone adds a small area of effect onto Suppression, which can be useful - rarely.
      • Danger Zone suppression can suppress multiple targets at once, granting potential reactive fire on each of these targets.
      • When combined with Suppression, Danger Zone has significant synergy with Mayhem, allowing unlimited small AOE attacks that hit automatically. Both the damage and radius are low, but it can be used to destroy cover.
  • Grenadier allows two grenades in a single inventory slot. In XCOM: Enemy Within, the ability also grants +1 damage to Frag, Alien, and Needle Grenades.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Heavies are generally better served with items such as a S.C.O.P.E. or Chitin Plating.
    • Bullet Swarm Heavies tend to park and send rockets and sustained LMG fire until all hostiles in LOS are dead before moving again; as grenades have limited range, oftentimes they are not in position to grenade enemy cover, even with a half move. Assaults and Support half move freely as engagements develop.
    • Grenadier does provide greater utility in XCOM: Enemy Within due to the expansion's addition of Tactical Rigging and non-lethal grenades (Flashbang, Gas, and Ghost).
    • Ghost grenade(s) make a good pairing with Grenadier as they are expensive, yet have a powerful effect.

Rocketeer vs. Mayhem

Both promotions are somewhat close in terms of value: select whichever best suits the Heavy's role.

  • Destroying cover and exposing foes is often the most important aspect of rockets, and rocketeer increases your total capacity to do so by at least 50%.
  • Rocketeer grants an additional source of reliable damage that you can use to finish kills in otherwise dangerous situations.
  • Rocketeer ensures you have enough explosive ordinance to meet most challenges presented by the game.
  • Rocketeer greatly speeds up missions overall - Rocketeer allows for the removal of 1-2 pods' cover at the first sign of trouble while still retaining more rockets.
  • Rocketeer is exceptional for setting up kills for Rookies.

Mayhem adds 1-3 damage based on weapon tech level to Rockets and Suppression.

  • Mayhem maximizes the power of a single Rocket.
    • The cover-destroying property of rockets are generally the most important aspect of their use.
  • 2-3 damage by the time colonels are promoted is somewhat minor.
  • Mayhem rockets kill a Chryssalid in one shot, no Blaster Launcher required.
  • H.E.A.T. Ammo further boosts Mayhem bonus damage against robotic enemies.
  • Mayhem is a safer pick for Terror Sites, where XCOM can be overrun in an instant.
  • While it can bail you out if you activate too many pods, for the rest of the methodical clears you will feel the lack of explosives.
  • Mayhem pairs nicely with Shredder Rocket, as 2 rockets is serviceable enough for many missions and Mayhem lifts its damage some - Use shredder rocket for demolition and if things go wrong, you have the big mayhem rocket in reserve. If they don't, just use the big rocket next and on many missions things are relatively under control by then.
    • Battleship, Supply Barges, and plot missions often feature 20 or more aliens in serial engagements, which can overtax a Mayhem heavy.
  • Suppression dealing 2-3 damage is a somewhat modest boost, but can finish low targets in cover. With Danger Zone this also allows you to do repeatable AOE damage, albeit in a very small area.
  • Mayhem does not add damage to grenades.

Sniper Class

Snap Shot vs. Squadsight

This decision is one of the more decisive ones, substantially changing your Sniper's role; generally speaking, Snap Shot is more useful if you want your sniper to play similar to other classes, while Squadsight is for if you want them to be unique.

  • Snap Shot removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty (reduced to -10 with XCOM: Enemy Within installed.)
    • Snap Shot is considerably more flexible in usage compared to Squadsight. Being able to move with the squad and not require a "nests", allows full use of certain Sniper abilities which are otherwise of limited use to their Squadsight counterparts.
    • Consider offsetting the accuracy penalty with a S.C.O.P.E. and the S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, if not using them already. (Snipers should, however, usually be using them anyway.)
  • Squadsight allows sniping at targets in an ally's sight radius.
    • Squadsight requires unobstructed line-of-sight (LoS): this means frequently hunting for "Snipers' Nests" with unobstructed view of most of the battlefield in order to make the most of this ability.
    • Squadsight synergizes with Opportunist, since being able to target more of the battlefield opens up more opportunities for reaction fire.
    • Squadsight is more useful in squads focused on removing enemy cover (such as with the Heavy's Danger Zone, Rocketeer, and Shredder Rocket skills.)
    • Even with the best explosives, there are some levels (especially more extended ones) where it simply isn't possible to find an ideal sniping location, forcing your snipers to move forwards constantly.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Within, Squadsight was nerfed to be unable to do critical damage when firing beyond your normal sight range unless you use Headshot.
    • In the base game, Squadsight is generally superior to Snap Shot, despite its limitations; as a result, pair was one of the few that saw a combined buff and nerf in XCOM: Enemy Within, making them more even.

Gunslinger vs. Damn Good Ground

  • Gunslinger confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.
    • Gunslinger has little purpose for a Snap Shot Sniper, who can already fire on the go and therefore isn't reliant on their pistol.
    • Gunslinger is an option for Squadsight snipers who still want to have a reasonable attack option after moving; while Damn Good Ground obviously synergizes better with a Squadsight Sniper's tactics of finding an elevated sniper nest to target the entire battlefield from, doing so isn't always possible, so you have to choose whether you want to go all-in on one strategy or have multiple options. Note that using pistols this way still doesn't allow you to use sniper-rifle specific abilities like Disabling Shot after moving.
    • Gunslinger obviously synergizes with Improved Pistol I, Improved Pistol II, and Improved Pistol III; with all of them and Gunslinger, your pistols will be (slightly) more effective than assault rifles. This allows for a Squadsight sniper who can still reposition while firing effectively if necessary. By the time you have all those upgrades, however, the +2 damage from Gunslinger may no longer be as relevant.
    • Note that Squadsight does work with pistols (though their limited range means it can't be used to its full potential.) Combined with S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade and Improved Pistol II, you should have the accuracy to take advantage of this and use Squadsight while repositioning in large rooms.
  • Damn Good Ground confers +10 Aim and +10 Defense against enemies at lower elevation, when on elevated ground or flying with Archangel Armor, in addition to the usual elevation bonuses.
    • Damn Good Ground has obvious synergy with Squadsight snipers that prefer to take an elevated position and target the entire battlefield.
    • Damn Good Ground is also fairly effective for Snap Shot snipers, who can use its bonus to offset their accuracy penalty and who are more likely to need the defense bonus.

Disabling Shot vs. Battle Scanner

  • Disabling Shot allows a shot that causes the target's main weapon to malfunction, forcing it to waste a turn "fixing it".
    • Against normal enemies, it usually makes more sense to simply try and kill them; unless you have prioritized other weapons, your sniper should have the highest damage output on your team.
    • Some enemies have secondary weapons that are as powerful as (or even more powerful than) their main weapon. Disabling Shot is better used against enemies whose primary attack it their only attack.
    • Disabling Shot is extremely useful when you want to capture an enemy rather than kill them, allowing you to approach them safely for a stun.
    • Perhaps the most important usage of disabling shot is not against enemies; it can be used to safely disarm mind-controlled allies, often averting a catastrophe.
    • Disabling Shot synergizes with Squadsight, allowing you to use it at increased range and mitigate mind control against your entire group without the risk of falling to it yourself.
    • Because its applications are situational, squads with multiple snipers generally shouldn't take Disabling Shot multiple times.
  • Battle Scanner is a scanning device that, when thrown, creates a new source of vision.
    • Battle Scanner reveals all cloaked enemies within its scan range, making scanners useful for uncovering Seekers who have gone into Stealth mode.
    • Battle Scanner's scouting utility is reduced by the presence of the Mimetic Skin Gene Mod, which allows for safe, effective and unlimited scouting; however, the stealth-revealing ability is valuable in the early game prior to researching Bioelectric Skin.
    • Battle Scanner is more useful for snipers that take Snap Shot or Gunslinger, since they are more likely to be close enough to the frontlines to throw the scanner somewhere useful.

Executioner vs. Opportunist

The choice here is an conditional ability thats active 50% of time vs. an unconditional ability that can always be activated on your own terms.

  • Executioner helps to finish off wounded enemies.
    • Executioner has some degree of synergy with In The Zone, especially in a team that uses large amounts of explosives to destroy enemy cover; this tends to leave large numbers of half-dead enemies, while In The Zone rewards you for having high accuracy.
  • Opportunist allows for the setup Reaction Fire ambushes.
    • Opportunist is useful with Snap Shot as a way of negating its accuracy penalty; Snap Shot allows you to use Overwatch with a sniper rifle after moving, but will not apply its own penalty to those reaction shots. With Opportunist removing the penalties of reaction fire, you can effectively ignore the disadvantage of Snap Shot in many cases.
    • Opportunist has a more obvious synergy with Squadsight in that, provided you find a good position, your reaction fire can effectively cover your entire squad at once.

Double Tap vs. In The Zone

The true "force multiplier" potential of the Sniper Class unlocks at the Colonel rank. Both abilities presented at this stage allow multiple shots per turn, but in different ways: high-variance reactive sniping, and low-variance proactive sniping. Your Squad Tactics and abilities need to be taken into consideration.

  • Double Tap allows the use of the first action for shooting instead of moving. If the soldier has an excellent enough position, they can potentially shoot twice per turn, either at the same target or two separate targets.
    • Double Tap synergies with Squadsight and Disabling Shot, and excels at dealing double damage quickly to high valued targets or allow for the neutralizing of two weaker targets in the same turn. (Compared to In The Zone, it doesn't require any specific "Squad Tactics" to setup or to pull off.)
    • Double Tap is limited by the cooldown, which only allows the ability to be used every other turn. (It is activated automatically when taking the first shot; cooldown can be tracked by opening the Sniper's status window: when Double Tap is available, it will be shown in beneficial status effects.)
      • Double Tap is not Bullet Swarm for snipers - the second action MUST be a shot, Disabling Shot, or Headshot; this may result in the player having to use the "End Turn" button if a target isn't available for the sniper.
      • Double Tap combines poorly with Snap Shot - the ability's benefit is negated if the soldier is moving in that turn. Furthermore, even if you do take two shots, the second shot receives the Snap Shot penalty.
    • Double Tap is, generally speaking, more useful if you must kill a particular target reliably, since it provides a second opportunity to hit even if your first shot misses.
    • If you are slow to upgrade your sniper rifles, Double Tap can help mitigate this by allowing you to focus-fire particularly tough enemies repeatedly.
  • In The Zone allows for sustained fire - for as long as the soldier continues to kill visible targets that are flanked or exposed - before needing to reload.
    • In The Zone is effectively an "AoE attack" with the potential to pick off the two Drone escorts of a Sectopod, or the Sectoid escorts of a Mechtoid or Sectoid Commander, or the damaged survivors of a pack of Mutons, or every member of a pack of Floaters.
    • In The Zone is highly dependent on squad tactics - requiring the destruction of alien cover by allied action - and thus synergies with:
    • In The Zone synergies with Snap Shot and Opportunist while in Overwatch against flanked foes. Certain enemy types (i.e. Chryssalids, Zombie, Berserkers and especially Drones) frequently ignore cover, making them extremely easy targets for the Sniper.
    • In The Zone is less effective with Snap Shot in the base game; the -20 accuracy penalty is too severe given that In the Zone requires large numbers of consecutive hits to be worthwhile. In XCOM: Enemy Within the reduced penalty makes this combination more viable. However, it should be noted that even in the base game, Double Tap, the alternative ability, doesn't synergize well with Snap Shot either.
    • In The Zone synergizes with Squadsight in the sense that Squadsight makes it easier to have a large number of enemies available to target consecutively; however, like Squadsight in general, this depends on being able to find a good sniping position.
    • Because the number of shots you can take with In The Zone is limited by your ammo capacity, it is extremely important to take Ammo Conservation to get the most out of it.
    • Since In The Zone depends heavily on your accuracy, it is worthwihle to take the S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade to maximize consecutive hits; it is also important to upgrade your sniper rifle as quickly as possible to allow for consecutive kills.

Support Class

Two strong options with the Support Class skill tree can be building a medic specialist (predominantly left side) or building an Overwatch specialist (predominantly right side).  

Sprinter vs. Covering Fire

Covering Fire is extremely weak; Sprinter is essentially the only choice in this tier. Sprinter offers extreme utility whereas the penalties to reactive fire combined with the Support's inferior weaponry makes Covering Fire's additional chances for reaction fire of mediocre value.

  • Covering Fire allows reaction shots to trigger on enemy attacks.
    • Covering Fire provides "bonus" reaction fire opportunity in a situation where the player is certain that they need to suppress an enemy, rather than attempting to deliberately set up a situation where reaction fire can occur.
    • Covering Fire synergies somewhat passably with Rifle Suppression and Sentinel; it allows reactive fire against a suppressed target who fires and increases the likelihood of two reactive shots per Overwatch exposed/flanked targets in an engagement.
      • Covering Fire still incurs the reaction fire Aim penalty present with Rifle Suppression or Overwatch, as well as any cover bonus an enemy might have.
      • The reaction fire cannot crit.
      • The Support Soldier still incurs the aim penalty associated with the enemies' cover, which when stacked with the overwatch penalty, often makes your chance to hit neglible, so much so that your Covering Fire is often just a waste of ammo, and thus worse than no Covering fire at all.
    • Covering Fire frequently wastes shots and expends ammo at enemies in cover as Overwatch triggers cannot be controlled; it is generally safer to fall back and entering Overwatch as it is more likely to force an enemy to move up and be fired upon reactively while they are exposed and before they can fire.
      • Covering Fire is improved in XCOM: Enemy Within by allowing Supports on Overwatch to shoot their targets before they attack. This includes the single-target Overwatch granted against the target of Rifle Suppression.

Field Medic vs. Smoke and Mirrors

Field Medic is immediately strong, whereas Smoke and Mirrors tends to need the Captain promotions to really shine. Given the strength of explosives and Squadsight Snipers at ending standoffs quickly, the tendency of Aliens and EXALT operatives to use grenades, rockets, psionic attacks and/or poison in the mid game, and the dominance of psionics late game, the niche for Smoke and Mirrors is quite small.

  • Field Medic allows Medikits to be used three times per mission.
    • It synergizes very well with a squad containing front-line troopers with the Secondary Heart gene mod, as it guarantees that these soldiers can be lose all their HP once per mission and without taking any permanent penalties whatsoever.
    • Field Medic's effectiveness is greatly increased through its synergy with the Sprinter and Savior abilities and the completion of the Medikit Foundry upgrade.
  • Smoke and Mirrors allows Smoke Grenade to be used two (enemy unknown) or three (enemy within) times per mission.
    • As smoke grenades themselves are somewhat weak, smoke and mirrors tends to have a limited effect on your squad's ability to avoid damage.
    • As the beginning of the game is significantly harder than the end, this talent can sometimes take too long to matter, even when eventually paired with +20 aim combat drugs (enemy unknown).
    • Smoke and Mirrors assists most when movement between full cover positions is difficult or even impossible.
      • Lots of explosives can sometimes create deadly no-mans-lands that lack decent cover.
    • Carefully-placed smoke can make overwatching aliens miss, but this is unreliable and Lightning Reflexes and Suppression can better answer overwatch. If someone takes a hit from noncritical overwatch fire, a field medic can just as easily heal them - most of the time.

Revive vs. Rifle Suppression

These both have merit. Revive sometimes ensures you don't lose in the numbers disadvantage too badly, whereas Rifle Suppression can help suppress enemies on overwatch, partially disable large single enemies, or threaten an enemy in danger of flanking your position.

  • Revive has strong synergy with the Officer Training Don't Die On Me, or the Secondary Heart Gene Mod in XCOM: Enemy Within, due to the increased odds of soldiers falling critically wounded instead of being killed. With Secondary Heart, it virtually guarantees that those troopers can lose all their HP once per mission, yet continue fighting with no detriment to performance, thus making the player's squad very resilient to mistakes especially in Iron Man mode.
  • Revive is a potential lifesaver but is a skill that is never used on a good mission; on a bad mission, it can salvage a potential squad wipe and hopefully open a shot at victory.
  • Rifle Suppression fires a barrage that pins down a target, granting reactive fire against it and imposing a -30 Aim penalty.
    • Rifle Suppression is a somewhat more frequently useful skill that reduces the effectiveness of a foe's weapon fire against squad members, albeit with modest effectiveness.
    • Rifle Suppression is great for partially disabling Sectopods or Mechtoids, who can fire twice per turn; using two Rifle Suppression effects, should cause any shots against targets in cover to always miss.
    • Rifle Suppression, like Smoke Grenades, encourages enemies to choose alternative attacks such as grenades, rockets or psionics; none of which are affected by the suppressive Aim penalty, nor trigger the ability's reaction fire. Careful note should be taken of which enemies are suitable for suppression and which types should simply be killed.

Dense Smoke vs. Combat Drugs

Dense Smoke is preferred for most cases: Dense Smoke enhances the core functionality of Smoke Grenades where as Combat Drugs offers some moderate additional utility.

  • Dense Smoke increasing Smoke Grenade's area of effect to 4 tile radius and Defense bonus to 40.
    • Dense Smoke's bonus of 40 Defense on allies in full cover combines to make 80 Defense, which is almost impenetrable to all weapons fire, even on Impossible difficulty.
    • Dense Smoke can be extremely effective when thrown in front of an Alloy SHIV or MEC. If the enemy is limited to conventional weapons fire, they will struggle to stop your advance.
    • Dense Smoke can be extremely effective when thrown on an ally/allies in indestructible cover.
    • Dense Smoke's increased area of effect aids in squad positioning - squad members can spread to minimize the effects of AoE damage effects like grenades.
    • Dense Smoke's increased defensive bonus is more likely to cause foes to re-position, use a grenade, or use abilities that aren't reliant on Aim; triggering the use of a grenade is an undesired outcome, as it both delivers unavoidable damage and destroys cover, leaving soldiers exposed to enemy fire. Thus, just as with Rifle Suppression, take this into account when deciding when to use it, and how to position your troops beforehand; Dense Smoke's increased area of effect aids in this regard.
  • Combat Drugs grant Smoke Grenade a +20 Will and +10 critical chance for all units in the cloud.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Combat Drugs also grants a +20 Aim bonus not listed in the talent's description. This Aim bonus is more significant than anything listed in the tooltip. This greatly assists relatively inaccurate Heavies and otherwise inaccurate reactive fire at critical moments and supports lower ranking troops in landing shots to gain promotions.
    • The Aim bonus has been removed in XCOM: Enemy Within, further reducing the ability's usefulness.
    • Combat Drugs makes Smoke Grenade able to support almost anything, albeit in many cases in a relatively minor way. These small bonuses are often inferior to simple primary weapon fire.
    • Combat Drug's critical chance gain is often marginal, but an Assault with Close and Personal (enemy unknown version) using a rifle on a close exposed target can have his crit raised from 90% to 100%, which may prove decisive.
    • Combat Drugs are extremely important to synergize a Holotargetting Rapid Reaction type Heavy build with some bonus aim (enemy unknown only).
    • Combat Drug's Will bonus tends to be ineffective protection against psionic encounters.
    • Combat Drug's Will bonus can be somewhat useful to assist in psionic attacks, particularly if multiple psionic attacks are planned for the turn and can be simultaneously buffed.
    • Combat Drugs can work well if you have 2 highly promoted supports where 1 is already medic-specialized.
    • Covering FIre and Suppression synergize somewhat decently with a Scope and Combat Drugs, arguably.

Savior vs. Sentinel

Savior is preferred in most cases: Savior grants a reliable increase to a core strength of the class, while Sentinel offers the potential for a double attack but suffers from the penalties of reactive fire.

  • Savior doubles Medikits' restoration value to 8 health per use.
    • Savior is a great upgrade for a Field Medic, providing three (enemy unknown) or four (enemy within) heals for 8 hp (10 hp with the Foundry upgrade).
    • Savior progressively increases in utility as the player researches advanced armor and equipment that allow troops to survive significant hits and benefit from the substantial healing that this ability provides.
    • Savior allows a single well-prepared medic to significantly buffer a player's potential ability to recover from bad situations, turning many difficult missions into easy victories.
  • Sentinel allows two reaction shots during Overwatch.
    • Sentinel is the only way for a Support soldier to make two attacks per turn (thus roughly doubling a Support's damage output, the reaction fire Aim penalty notwithstanding), but is reliant on consistently getting two reaction fire chances per enemy turn. Pairing this ability with Covering Fire can maximize the opportunities for reaction shots. However take note that the other soldier classes all have more reliable and effective methods of making two or more attacks per turn, and arguably, a Support should be optimized toward maximizing their unique abilities instead.
    • Sentinel cannot use heavy weapons and can only use rifle-class weapons, making them arguably the weakest offensively of all the classes. Other squad members deal significantly more damage with their specialized weaponry, more reliable methods to make multiple shots per turn, and substantial critical hit bonuses.

MEC Trooper

MEC Troopers have the most complex skills and customize builds of any soldier class.

Inherent Ability

MEC Trooper skills should compliment their inherent ability for a common purpose.

  • Shock-Absorbent Armor for flanking and close-quarter rushes.
  • Body Shield for tanking and mid-range firefights.
  • Platform Stability for ambushes and long-range sniping.
  • Distortion Field for supporting rigid squad formations.

Advanced Fire Control vs. Automated Threat Assessment

Advanced Fire Control is preferred for most cases, and only if in conjunction with Body Shield.

  • Advanced Fire Control is functionally identical to Opportunist (without the critical damage).
    • Advanced Fire Control's reaction fire often kills weaker foes attempting to outflank or run away in one hit.
  • Automated Threat Assessment increases defense to 25 while on Overwatch.
    • Body Shield increases this defense to 45 (which is more than full cover).
    • Automated Threat Assessment ends if the MEC Trooper takes an Overwatch shot, further reducing its utility.
    • Automated Threat Assessment works best with Kinetic Strike Module when MEC Trooper falls short a few tiles of an alien in full cover; or in situations where a normal shot would would most likely miss.

Vital-Point Targeting vs. Damage Control

Damage Control is preferred for most cases, due to AIs preference for targets with a high hit probability.

  • Damage Control effectively grants MEC Troopers circa 4-6 health per turn in Firefights.
    • Damage Controls mitigation comparatively prolongs a MEC Troopers' lifespan by a marginal amount; two consecutive hits from a Thin Man's 6-9 damage range kills a Level 1 MEC.

Jetboot Module vs. One For All

Jetboots is preferred for most cases, as clustered units will trigger AI's grenades and Area of Effects.

  • Jetboots can be used to reach high ground and grant good fields of fire over the map.
    • Jetboots and Kinetic Strike can quickly close distances with the enemy by moving straight over normally impassable terrain.
  • One for All is functionally identical to Alloy S.H.I.V.'s Armored Shell ability.
    • One For All ends if the MEC Trooper takes an Overwatch shot, moves, or uses any other low-tier abilities, further reducing its utility.
      • High-tier abilities do not cancel the effect.

Repair Servos vs. Expanded Storage

Expanded Storage is preferred for most cases, due to superior utility and healing options.

  • Repair Servos effectively grants MEC Troopers circa 4-6 health per mission.
    • Repair Servos, by itself, is inferior to Damage Control, Restorative Mist and Savior Support.
      • Expanded Storage + Restorative Mist heals 4 per use for two uses, for a total of 8 points of healing.
      • Restorative Mist heals in a small AoE instead of just healing the MEC.
        • Restorative Mist requires an action to use, as opposed to Repair Servos, which is passive.
    • Repair Servos should only be take of no other viable healing options are available, and only in conjunction with MEC Troopers defensive skills.
  • Expanded Storage Increases MEC Troopers' primary weapon base ammo by 50%, and allows 1 additional use of Restorative Mist, Grenade Launcher and Proximity Mine Launcher in each mission.
    • Repair Servos might be preferable for Grenade Launcher MEC Troopers for a balance of healing and offense.

Absorption Fields vs. Reactive Targeting Sensors

Reactive Targeting Sensors is preferred for most cases, due to MECs having very high health pools and are Hardened; and only if in conjunction with Body Shield.

  • Absorption Fields effectively reduces incoming damage to 33% of MEC Trooper's maximum Health.
    • Absorption Field is comparable to the Assault's Resilience ability
    • Absorption Fields' threshold damage reduction, prevent all damage above a certain threshold, while having no effect on damage below that threshold.
      • Absorption Field scales backwards; its usefulness gradually decreases as the MEC Troopers' HP bar increases.
        • Absorption Field is vital to the survival of a brand-new MEC-1.
        • Absorption Field is useless to the survival of a fully upgraded MEC-3.
      • Absorption Field contributes weird occurrences such as a Sectopod hitting an baseline MEC for 4 damage with a cannon that can normally deal 15 damage.
    • Absorption Field almost never applies itself on difficulties below Impossible, as on average, only Sectopods deal more than 33% of a MEC Troopers health (without critical damage).
  • Reactive Targeting Sensor effectively provides a free kill during the MEC Troopers' turn, provided there's enough ammo to do so.
    • Reactive Targeting Sensor depletes ammo fast, often against insignificant targets with a very low probability of connecting return fire.
    • Reactive Targeting Sensor's synergy with the aim bonuses from Advanced Fire Control or Platform Stability are currently unknown.
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