|“||Killing a flanked or uncovered target with the sniper rifle does not cost an action.||”|
– In-Game Description, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
In the Zone allows for sustained fire as long as the Sniper continues to kill exposed targets and has ammo. For maximum benefit from the ability, the Sniper's sight range can be extended with Squadsight or supplemented with a Battle Scanner if available. Targets can be exposed by destroying their cover with plasma weapons or explosives or forced out with the Assault's Flush ability. Alternatively, mobile Snipers with Snap Shot can move to flank their enemies. Certain enemy types, primarily Chryssalids, Zombies, Berserkers and Drones, tend to ignore cover completely, making them extremely easy targets for an In The Zone Sniper, making the unit an invaluable asset in Terror Site missions.
The downsides to this ability are that it doesn't provide an increase in damage against single tough targets like Sectopods, and that it is accuracy dependent, which means its potential is lowered when using Snap Shot for mobility, when there's no high ground to exploit, and in close-to-mid combat situations. It also doesn't work against enemies in cover, requiring specific tactics from the player to benefit from the ability.
There are a limited number of circumstances beyond a sniper rifle kill where the ability also applies:
- Restricted to a single action-free kill with a pistol.
- In XCOM: Enemy Within, pistol kills no longer trigger In The Zone.
- Applies to a successful hit with Disabling Shot – even if the target was not killed.
- In XCOM: Enemy Within, Disabling Shot no longer triggers In The Zone if the target was not killed.
- Applies after successfully stunning a target with the Arc Thrower, making the Sniper an unexpectedly suitable hit-and-run operative for this purpose, as they can retreat back to cover after incapacitation.
- As a regular Plasma Sniper Rifle shot is guaranteed to kill a Chryssalid or Drone, the Sniper can wipe out entire groups of these enemies as long as they're in sight. This is especially doable when they're attracted to a Mimic Beacon.
- This ability also allows the Sniper to dispatch high priority targets at low health like Cyberdiscs, Berserkers and Sectopods before focusing on other threats.
- This ability has less use with Squadsight in campaigns with Damage Roulette enabled, especially if the Sniper is a Squadsight build, as kills with non-critical shots are only absolutely guaranteed on targets at 1 health. Double Tap may be a more reliable option.