XCOM: Enemy Unknown Class Builds, Progression, Abilities Guide


Going into battle against aliens with a set of generic soldiers just won’t do it for you. That’s why XCOM offers a variety of different classes for your soldiers.

However, it’s essential to figure out the abilities of each class, so to understand what set of soldiers you want to send into a battle.

Soldiers and Classes

Soldiers in XCOM begin with no specific class assignment. You can send them out to battle, but it isn’t until they reach the Squaddie rank that you can find their class. Thankfully, it doesn’t take too much to get soldiers to rank up initially. Soldiers increase their rank by killing or capturing enemies.

However, if you wish to avoid that tiny bit of hindrance, then consider purchasing the ‘New Guy’ tactic from the Officer Training School.

Once a soldier’s class is determined, it cannot be changed. If you are unhappy with your new recruit’s class, you can always dismiss him/her and opt for some more, since hiring soldiers is fairly inexpensive.

After you have determined every class, you should look to have a balanced squad. There are four classes in XCOM, and six slots for a squad. This obviously suggests that you can have duplicates of a class type in a squad.

This is where the abilities of the classes come out. Each class has different ability branches. This means that two supports may not exactly be alike in-terms of traits.

Now, it’s important to have a backup. You may absolutely love your fully ranked squad of all Colonels, but the factor of injury and even death can never be neglected.

Thus, it’s extremely essential to rotate with ‘backup’ soldiers and keep them at a good rank.

Assault Class Builds, Progression and Abilities

The Assault class is your primary frontline class. They have the ability to deal out the most damage, but also have the drawback that they take the bulk of damage. Thus, it’s important to have a strong support with your assault class.

I recommend using two assault class soldiers in your squad.

Note that you have to only have one ability per rank. There are a few ranks with multiple skills, but only one can be chosen. This allows for a good amount of diversity if you have multiple soldiers with the same class in a squad.

Squaddie
Run & Gun: Allows firing or Overwatch after Dashing. Two turn cooldown.

Corporal
Tactical Sense: Confers +5 Defense per enemy in sight (max +20)

Or

Aggression: Confers +10% critical chance per enemy in sight (max +30%)

Sergeant
Lightning Reflexes:Forces the first reaction shot against this unit each turn to miss.

Or

Close and Personal:Confers +30% Critical Chance against adjacent targets – bonus declines with distance from target.

Lieutenant
Flush:Fire a shot that causes enemies to run out of cover.

Or

Rapid Fire:Take two shots against a single target in quick succession. Each shot carries a -15 penalty to aim.

Captain
Close Combat Specialist: Confers a reaction shot against any enemy who closes within 4 tiles.

Or

Bring ‘Em On: Adds 1 damage on critical hits for each enemy the squad can see (max 5).

Major
Extra Conditioning: Confers bonus health based on which type of armor is equipped. Heavier armor increases the bonus.

Colonel
Resilience: Confers immunity to critical hits.

Or

Killer Instinct: Activating Run & Gun now also grants +50% critical damage for the rest of the turn.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

I would recommend having one Assaulter built around defense while the other focuses on offense.

For the Defense Based Assaulter, consider the following skills:

Tactical Sense, Lightning Reflexes, Flush, Close Combat Specialist, Resilience

For the Offense Based Assaulter, consider the following:

Aggression, Close and Personal, Rapid Fire, Close Combat Specialist, Killer Instinct

Support Class Builds, Progression and Abilities

The support class is primarily used as a Medic. However, the have some extra utility benefits such as smoke grenades and the ability to run further than other classes.

I recommend using two differently built supports in your squad.

Squaddie
Smoke Grenade: Deploy a smoke grenade once per mission. The smoke confers +20 Defense to all units, and lasts through the enemy turn.

Corporal
Sprinter: Allows the Support to move 3 additional tiles.

Or

Covering Fire: Allows reaction shots to trigger on enemy attacks, not just movement.

Sergeant
Field Medic: Allows medkits to be used 3 times per battle instead of once.

Or

Smoke and Mirrors: Allows 1 additional use of Smoke Grenade each mission.

Lieutenant
Revive: Allows medkits to revive critically wounded soldiers at 33% of max health, instead of just stabilizing them.

Or

Rifle Suppression: Fire a barrage that pins down a target, granting reaction fire against it and imposing a 30 penalty to aim.

Captain
Dense Smoke: Smoke Grenades have increased area of effect and further increase units’ Defense by 20.

Or

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By Haider Khan

One of the long time staff at SegmentNext, Haider is an integral part of the team with a love for writing, playing guitar, and aviation. Apart from writing for us, Haider is also a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) on the side.

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    • Thanatos

      Seems to me, the individual writing the guide fails to see the synergy between Squad Sight and defensively-orientated Assaults acting as spotters.
      That being said, with close-in, claustrophobic maps (IE: UFO recoveries) where you absolutely *must* take a sniper, then the Snapshot-capable scout-sniper build works (Provided you switch Damn’ Good Ground out for Gunslinger)

    • verhey

      it depends on the situations i have 2 snipers in my group 1 with snap one with squad sights when they hit max level and get their best move can wipe whole groups out with snap shot by moveing into the open to flank and wipe them all out in a single turn

    • Suncrush

      Squad sighting is the best ability in the game. Snap shot is not a wise decision.

    • Malumservus

      I would suggest that for a sniper, Squad Sight is a much better choice than Snap Shot, I consistently get reaction shots or really long shots with that ability. I like to keep my snipers way back and I’m able to shoot across the map (supposing line of sight in unobstructed, but then that’s what rockets are for). Because of their range, I can usually safely set them on Overwatch and have another unit scout out ahead and when I find something, my sniper can usually get an Out of Cover kill before the aliens can do anything. Against Elite Mutons, this is extremely effective, as well as for storming UFOs, but that’s another story entirely.