XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn based strategy game with a deep intricate game-play; to survive in the XCOM universe you need to know all your unit’s strength and weaknesses, when to send which soldier in, how to combine the specializations of your different units and finally how to position your soldiers.
This guide is to help you understand some of the game-play mechanics of the different classes so that you stand a better chance against the alien invasion.
There are several levels of game-play in XCOM, in the headquarters you will have to take decisions about which missions to take, what to research to improve your units, which abilities to unlock, etc.
You are smart enough to discover what play-style suits, this guide focuses more on how your decisions affect the turn-based ground battle between your troops and the alien scum.
You can unlock abilities for your units making them more effective in certain situations, but you must choose wisely because you cannot unlock all abilities. The abilities’ upgrades are paired up such that you can take one of two contrasting roles, there are five such pairs, allowing for a lot of unique combinations.
Although you can build your units flexibly they have specific classes that have their own set of abilities and cannot substitute the role of another class, this means that you have even more unique combinations for your team composition as a whole.
More classes, weapons, armor, etc. can be unlocked through research. Other than unique additions to your abilities, each promotion also increases your unit’s health, accuracy and will power.
Will power is what separates your calm killing machine of a soldier from a panicking mad man who makes for an easy target for the aliens. Don’t worry though, your units won’t be panicking unless subjected to the most extreme situations.
Furthermore, some abilities/items can be used in the same turn as you move while others cannot depend on your unit and the ability/item, making it crucial to know the power of each unit in one given turn. The 4 basic classes available from the start of the game are support, assault, sniper and heavy.
As the title suggests these units support the other front-line units and don’t do so much of the killing themselves.
They can heal other units and create advantageous conditions in battle so that your team has an upper hand such as throwing a smoke grenade to create an effective cover in an otherwise vulnerable position.
Support class can also provide suppressive fire to cover your frontline units by lowering enemy stats and on higher levels giving him reactionary shots to punish enemies if they try to make a move. When upgrading you can choose either to give your support more med-kits or give him additional grenades.
On higher levels, you can even upgrade your grenades so that they boost the stats of units near the smoke in addition to providing cover, it all depends on your play-style.
Med-kits, for example, will work well with high risk high reward strategies and your units won’t have to reserve extra space for defensive items. On the other hand, smoke grenades would make it so that you aren’t in unnecessary danger, making it a more defensive and tactical advantage.