XCOM: Enemy Unknown Class Builds, Progression, Abilities Guide

By   /   Oct 8, 2012


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

Combat Drugs: Smoke Grenades now contain powerful stimulants that grant +20 Will and +10 critical chance for all units in the cloud.

Major
Deep Pockets: Confers an additional item slot in inventory.

Colonel
Savior: Medkits restore 4 more health per use.

Or

Sentinel: Allows two reaction shots during Overwatch instead of one.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

For two supports in your squad, I would recommend the following builds:

For a Medic Based Support, consider the following skills:

Sprinter, Field Medic, Revive, Dense Smoke, Savior

For a Gunner Based Support, consider the following:

Covering Fire, Smoke and Mirrors, Revive, Combat Drugs, Sentinel

Heavy Class Builds, Progression and Abilities

The Heavy class may sound like the tank of the squad, but they are actually ‘heavy’ because of their ability to wield badass weapons like the Rocket Launcher.

Rocket launchers have great range and damage, and the ability to blow away cover. Thus, it’s essential to have a Heavy unit in your squad who can fill the gap between front liners like the Assault Class, and those long ranged Snipers.

Squaddie
Fire Rocket: Fire a rocket using an equipped launcher. This ability cannot be used after moving more than once per mission.

Corporal
Bullet Swarm: Firing the primary weapon as the first action no longer ends the turn.

Or

Holo-Targeting: Shooting at or suppressing enemies also confers +10 Aim to any allies’ attacks on those enemies.

Sergeant
Shredder Rocket: Fire a rocket that causes all enemies hit to take +33% damage from all sources for the next 4 turns.

Or

Suppression: Can fire a special shot that grants reaction fire at a single target. The target also suffers a -30 Aim penalty.

Lieutenant
HEAT Ammo: Confers +100% damage against robotic enemies.

Or

Rapid Reaction: Confers a second reaction shot if on Overwatch and the first reaction shot is a hit.

Captain
Grenadier: Allows 2 grenades in a single inventory slot.

Or

Danger Zone: Increases AoE on Suppression and all rocket attacks by 2 tiles.

Major
Will to Survive: Reduces normal damage taken by 2 if in cover and not flanked.

Colonel
Rocketeer: Allows 1 additional standard rocket to be fired per battle.

Or

Mayhem: Confers additional damage based on weapon tech level to Suppression and all area-effect abilities.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Since it’s usual to keep just one Heavy in your team, you should be careful in the skills you select. I recommend:

Bullet Swarm, Suppression, HEAT Ammo, Grenadier, Rocketeer

Sniper Class Builds, Progression and Abilities

The Sniper class is my personal favorite in XCOM. They have the ability to deal a huge amount of damage from a very long range, which makes them extremely efficient.

A sniper is the jewel in a squad, because their accuracy increases as the distance from the enemy increases. This makes them excellent at the safest positions.

Because of the high value of the Sniper, it’s highly recommended that you equip them with a good pistol in case some enemy comes too close – you wouldn’t want your elite Colonel ranked sniper going bye-bye on you, would you.

Squaddie
Headshot: Fire a shot with +30% critical chance and extra damage on critical hits, based on the tech level of the sniper rifle. Two turn cooldown.

Corporal
Snap Shot: Removes the sniper rifle’s restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty.

Or

Squadsight: Allows firing at targets in any ally’s sight radius.

Sergeant
Gunslinger: Confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.

Or

Damn Good Ground: Confers +10 Aim and +10 Defense against enemies at lower elevation, in addition to the usual elevation bonuses.

Lieutenant
Disabling Shot: Allows the Sniper to fire a shot that causes the target’s main weapon to malfunction. The shot cannot inflict a critical hit. Two turn cooldown.

Or

Battle Scanner: Deploy a canning device that creates a new source of vision for 2 turns. Can only be used 2 times per battle.

Captain
Executioner: Confers +10 Aim against targets with less than 50% health.

Or

Opportunist: Eliminates the Aim penalty on reaction shots, and allows reaction shots to cause critical hits.

Major
Low Profile: Converts partial cover to full cover.

Colonel
In The Zone: Killing a flanked or uncovered target with the sniper rifle does not cost an action.

Or

Double Tap: Allows both actions to be used for Standard Shot, Headshot, or Disabling Shot, provided no moves were made. 1 turn cooldown.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

The Sniper is extremely capable in every way, but since it is such a precious class, you should build it carefully. Consider the following skills:

Snap Shot, Damn Good Ground, Battle Scanner, Opportunist, In the Zone