Meeting the Resistance

Any soldier class in XCOM 2 and XCOM 2: War of the Chosen can hack mission objectives. Notably, only the Specialist, SPARK and Reaper may perform hacking attempts of ADVENT Security Towers. However, not all three are equal to the task.

The Hack ability (with Remote Hacking) allows an XCOM Specialist to not only hack primary mission objectives, such as workstations, chests, doors and ADVENT Security Towers remotely, but a variety of additional mechanized units like ADVENT MECs and Turrets using the Haywire Protocol ability.

Specialists are able to increase their Hacking skill with each passing rank, eventually exceeding 150 with the appropriate upgrades, and their skill set contains multiple options for disposing of mechanized threats. Reapers and SPARKS will never exceed skills of 45 and 30 naturally, and although Reapers become invisible to Security Towers, neither is particulary effective.

The Hack ability has a 1 turn cooldown, while Haywire Protocol's is 4 turns.

Mechanized Enemies

A Specialist with the Haywire Protocol ability may attempt to shut down (stun/disable) a mechanized unit or take control of it entirely. Haywire Protocol is turn-ending, regardless of success or failure.

  • Successful hacks will not break concealment. A failed hack ends concealment.
  • Failed hacking attempts will grant the unit a 'Supercharge' buff (increased Aim and Defense).
  • Hacking a unit ends the Specialist's turn, regardless of the result.
  • Hacking a unit does not remove its Overwatch.
  • Attempting to hack a frozen unit (possibly stunned also) will have no effect.

Targets vulnerable to hacking attempts and increased damage effects include:

  • ADVENT MEC, Heavy MEC, Turret, Heavy Turret, Superheavy Turret
  • Sectopod, Andromedon Shell (2nd stage) not Andromedon (1st stage)

The Codex and Gatekeeper are only vulnerable to some robotic damage effects.


  • Successful shutdown of a unit in a pod of enemies does not trigger that pod.
  • Abilities which stun units will cause shut down on robotic enemies instead.
  • Lasts 2 turns. (1 turn for a Sectopod) [needs verification; varies 2-3 turns based on tech score?]


  • Successfully taking control will itself not break concealment. However, if the controlled unit is visible to other enemies it will trigger detection.
  • A unit that has been taken over by a Specialist will have no moves available in the turn of takeover. As a consequence, it will have wait 1 turn before it can act.
    • However, this does not apply to Turrets, which may be fired immediately.
  • Controlled enemy units can not be used to collect loot.
  • Ends early if the affected unit is put into stasis (eg: by enemy Priests).
  • Abilities which deal extra damage to robotic enemies do not apply that damage to hacked units.
  • Lasts 2 (ADVENT Heavy MEC) to 3 (ADVENT MEC) turns. [needs verification; 4 turns WotC]

Security Towers

Security Towers are fixed rotating structures emitting red light that can be found on many maps. Hacking them only cost one action and is not turn-ending.

  • Maximum hacking distance is 14 tiles. [needs verification; counting 17+ maybe 25]
  • Success does not break pre-mission concealment. A failed hack will break concealment.
  • If a map has multiple towers, they will all have the same rewards/penalties but individual Tech scores, thus different success/failure rates.

Possible Rewards (2 of the following):

  • Central Command: Gain control of all robotic enemies for 1 turn.
  • Deception: Gain control of a random enemy for 2 turns.
  • Disorient: Disorient enemies for 2 turns.
  • Distraction: Squad recovers all action points already spent this turn.
  • Facility Lead: Recover a lead on an Alien Facility.
  • Hypnography: Reduce enemy Will by 50%.
  • Override: Soldier gains complete immunity from the next 2 attacks.

Possible Rewards (1 of the following pairs):

  • Small Supply Cache (35) vs. Large Supply Cache (75)
  • Blitz/Squad Blitz: Soldier/Squad gains 1 free use of 'Run And Gun' ability.
  • Disguised Signals/Squad Disguised Signals: Soldier/Squad immediately gains individual Concealment. (breaking concealment for one soldier does not break it for others)
  • Integrated Comms/Squad Integrated Comms: Soldier/Squad gains Squadsight for 2-4 turns.
  • Precision/Squad Precision: Soldier/Squad Crit Chance increased by 33 for 2-4 turns.
  • Reflexes/Squad Reflexes: Soldier/Squad Dodge increased by 33 for 2-4 turns.
  • Targeting/Squad Targeting: Soldier/Squad Aim increased by 15 and Crit Chance increased by 25 for 2-4 turns.
  • Video Feed/Squad Video Feed: Soldier/Squad vision is increased by 2 for 1-2 turns.

Possible Feedback Penalties:

  • Jammed: A failed hack will result in all enemies gaining a Defense and Mobility boost.
  • Map alert: A failed hack will result in any nearby enemy groups being alerted to your position.
  • Reinforcements: A failed hack will result in a group of enemy reinforcements being called down on your position.

Mission Objectives

Mission Objectives are items such as workstations, cell doors, chests, bombs, UFO beacons, etc. Hacking a Mission Objective only costs one action and is not turn ending.

  • Specialists can use their GREMLIN to hack mission objectives remotely, as long as the soldier has direct sight of the objective (same as Squadsight).
  • Specialists use their GREMLIN to hack even when directly adjacent to the objective, and enjoy the Hack bonus from the GREMLIN.
  • Objectives will always be one of the following sorts: Disarm Detonator, Unlock Door, Breach Network, Deactivate Beacon (Landed UFOs), and the primary quest objective Control Broadcast Array.
  • Doors can be hacked remotely even if destroyed by environmental damage (fire).

Possible Rewards (1 of the following pairs):

  • Small Intel Cache vs. Large Intel Cache
  • Small Alien Alloy Cache vs. Large Alien Alloy Cache (Landed UFO only)

Possible Rewards (2 of the following):

  • Bypass Door Lock: Unlock this door without triggering security protocols.
  • Enemy Protocol: This soldier's Hacking stat permanently increased by 20.
    • Stackable. If a soldier gets two Enemy Protocol rewards (however rare that may be), they will get Hack stat permanently increased by 401.
  • Facility Lead: Recover a lead on an Alien Facility.
  • Insight: Research time on the current Tech reduced by 50%.
  • Priority Data: Delays the current Dark Event projects by 2 weeks.
  • Resistance Broadcast: Income from the current region increased by 25.
  • Satellite Data: Avenger Scanning times reduced by 50% for 4 weeks.
  • Watch List: Reduces the Contact Cost for a nearby region by 50%.
    • Not stackable. If their is only one region left to contact, the Intel cost does not reduce to 25%.


The Skulljack is a main quest device which provides the ability to hack a single ADVENT Officer, Codex and Avatar. With the Skullmining upgrade, the Skulljack also grants the Skullmine skill which can be used once per mission on any ADVENT unit to instantly incapacitate them. A Skulljack device must be manufactured, equipped, and Skullmining researched at the Proving Ground facility before these abilities become available.

  • Skulljack and Skullmine are both melee abilities with a 70% chance to hit.
  • A successful Skullmine hit always kills the target regardless of hack result.
  • Possible hack rewards for Skulljacking a mission objective, if the strike hits:
    • Small Intel Cache vs. Large Intel Cache.
  • Possible hack rewards for Skullmining an ADVENT unit, if the strike hits:
  • A failed hack after Skullmine hit results in a Neural Feedback effect, inflicting 4 damage to the user. It still kills the target however.
  • A missed Skulljack or Skullmine strike inflicts 2 damage to the target instead of killing them.
  • If TWO of your soldiers are equipped with a Skulljacks and use Skullmining twice during the mission, they must choose DIFFERENT rewards. The same reward cannot be taken twice.

While not specific to the Specialist class, Skullmining is most effective with a high Hacking score, and adds +25 bonus to the user's Hacking score even when performing hacking with the GREMLIN or hand-held pad. The reverse isn't true as GREMLIN Hack Score bonus does NOT apply to Skulljacking or Skullmining attempts.


  1. This screenshot shows a specialist with high Hacking stats from two previous Enemy Protocols acquiring a third one.
    Third time Enemy Protocol.jpg
    Very high Hack Stat
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