XCOM 2 Enemies Guide – Enemy Types, Abilities, Tactics to Counter Them

By   /   Feb 11, 2016
XCOM 2 mod

One of the most important parts of forming strategies is to know your enemy. This holds true even for XCOM 2.

For more help on XCOM 2, read our Commander Difficulty Walkthrough, Class Builds Guide, Avenger Facility Upgrades Build Order and Combat Strategy Guide.

XCOM 2 Enemies Tips

XCOM 2 has a large variety of unique enemies that will challenge you and test your tactical astuteness. It can be especially difficult to face certain enemies for the first time, as you don’t know what to expect.

This guide will help prevent you from losing too many soldiers against enemies you fight for the first time. For each enemy, we’ve given their abilities, and tactics to counter them.

Note: This guide may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

ADVENT Trooper

The ADVENT Trooper is the first enemy you encounter, and the most basic. ADVENT Troopers are the most common enemies in the game, and are fairly easy to dispatch. As the game progresses, you will fight more powerful ‘Elite’ variants who have more health.

Abilities
Troopers lack any real abilities, but the Elite versions possess frag grenades which they can toss at clustered XCOM soldiers.

Tactics
ADVENT Troopers are fairly easy to deal with. They have no real answers to flanking, and lack any armor/shields. Use your standard weapons against them.

ADVENT Officer

ADVENT Officers often combine with Troopers and Stun Lancers to form a single enemy unit. They are similar in appearance to Troopers, but have a cape which distinguishes them. You will come across Elite Officers later in the game with significantly increased health and damage.

Abilities
The Officer has the ability to ‘mark’ specific soldiers. Once an XCOM soldier is marked, the unit under the Officer’s command will concentrate their assault on that specific unit.

Tactics
In most circumstances, try taking out the Officer as quickly as possible. This will prevent any exposed XCOM soldier to be marked. Apart from marking, ADVENT Officers operate in a very similar way to Troopers.

ADVENT Stun Lancer
The Stun Lancer is often a part of a unit alongside an Officer and one (or two) more enemies. Stun Lancers are extremely aggressive, and will look to get within melee range of your soldiers to use their powerful stun weapon.

Elite Stun Lancers often possess projectile weapons as well, though they will still try to get within melee range.

Abilities
Stun Lancers mostly try to attack in melee range. They are essentially the ‘Rangers’ of the ADVENT force. Their stun lance can cause disorientation, unconsciousness, or stun your soldiers.

The melee attacks deal a lot of damage, so be careful.

Tactics
If you come across an ADVENT unit with a Stun Lancer, concentrate all fire on him because he makes it close to one of your troops.

Stun Lancers deal a lot of damage with their melee weapon, so take them out before they get close. Overwatching is a good tactic, but its accuracy is not reliable, so try and take him out through more dependable means.

ADVENT Shieldbearer

The Shieldbearer ADVENT soldiers wear white uniforms, and are primarily a defensive unit. They will often move last, and will look to boost defense of their allies with their abilities.

Abilities
The first action a Shieldbearer takes (apart from moving) will almost always be to provide its unit with a special. This resilient shield absorbs all damage before it is destroyed.

Shieldbearers are generally defensive, and will look to stay back. The will however attempt to move forward and attack once they are shielded.

Tactics
Shieldbearers aren’t much of a threat overall, but the extra protection they provide to their allies can be quite troubling.

Flanking a Shieldbearer is difficult because he’ll stay the furthest away from the heart of the battle. Try to keep him for last, and use your Grenadiers to tear through the shields he provides his allies.

ADVENT MEC

MECS are robotic units that are often accompanied by Troopers and Officers. They are fairly mobile despite their size, and have a robust armor that absorbs a specific number of damage points on every hit.

Abilities
MECs have a fast magnetic weapon which they will often use. These units in general don’t try to take cover.

MECs also have a back-mounted rocket launcher that will send rockets towards soldiers. They’ll only use the rockets when they spot clustered soldiers.

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Tactics
MECs can be hacked fairly easily by a skilled Specialist who has the Haywire Protocol skill.

Grenadiers work very well against MECs, as their cannons (and grenades) will shred a MEC’s armor, allowing your other players to do deal additional damage.

Make sure you don’t cluster your players together when fighting MECs, or else you’ll have to face a barrage of rockets on the next turn.

ADVENT Turrets

You’ll often come across ADVENT Turrets located high on ADVENT buildings. These turrets are not compulsory enemies during missions with objectives requiring you to neutralize all hostiles.

However, they can be formidable foes due to their immense accuracy and damage.

Abilities
Turrets have no real abilities, but have boosted accuracy and deal high amounts of damage.

Tactics
As with all robotic enemies, hacking turrets with Haywire Protocol (Specialists) is the best strategy.

If that is not possible, use Grenadiers to shred their armor, then land hits from a distance using your sniper. Turrets are always exposed, so you get fairly high hit chances on them.

Sectoid

Sectoid are grey alien type enemies with powerful psionic abilities.

Not only do they look meaner than the tiny versions in Enemy Unknown, they are also more aggressive. Sectoids are encountered fairly early on, and their numbers seem to dwindle as you progress in the game.

Abilities
Sectoids have several psionic abilities that can disrupt the flow of battle. They have the ability to cause panic in an XCOM soldier. They can also reanimate dead ADVENT soldiers.

In addition to this, they also have a plasma weapon they’ll use after having used psionic abilities in their previous turns. Some Sectoids in the later game can even attempt to possess an XCOM soldier.

Tactics
Your squad will automatically improve their performance versus Sectoids as they rank up, since Will Power is the primary way to resist the psionic abilities of a Sectoid.

Whenever a Sectoid reanimates a dead ADVENT soldier, ignore the soldier until it is in melee range and attempt to kill the Sectoid instead; if a Sectoid dies, the reanimated corpse will die as well.

Viper

The Viper is a snake-like enemy that has several tricks up its sleeves. It is introduced after a certain period. Vipers are extremely mobile, which gives them boosted Dodge stats. Dodge helps them take occasionally reduced damage even when you hit the target.

Abilities
Viper have multiple tricks up their sleeves. They can use their long tongues to pull XCOM soldiers who are within range towards themselves (this action does not end a Viper’s turn if it has not moved, so even if it misses, it will attempt to do something else).

Once they do, they can grasp a soldier. Once a soldier is grasped, he/she cannot move on the next turn unless another soldier shoots the Viper. Vipers can also poison their foes by spitting venom at an area. This ability has an AoE and can poison multiple soldiers at once.

Additionally, Vipers also wield a plasma rifle which they will often use when they cannot use their other abilities.

Tactics
Vipers can be a nuance, especially when there are multiple in a unit. The best strategy against Vipers is to stay far away from them, as they tend to pull and/or grasp anyone close enough.

It is also advisable to spread out when facing the foes, as Vipers will mainly use their poison AoE when they spot clustered soldiers.

Mutons

Mutons make a return in XCOM 2, but they are more mobile, tactically smarter, and more aggressive than the ones in Enemy Unknown. They wield before plasma weapons, and have extremely strong melee attacks.

Abilities
Mutons don’t have too many abilities, but they use their tactical positioning, intelligence, and (when in melee range) sheer strength to overwhelm soldiers. They will look to close down distance between them and your soldiers, and attempt melee strikes whenever possible.

Mutons also possess powerful plasma grenades which they’ll toss if they spot clustered soldiers.

Tactics
Mutons are fairly intelligent in their positioning and movement. Try to keep the fight ranged, as Mutons have very powerful melee attacks. In addition to this, avoid clustering soldiers at all costs, as the plasma grenades deal a lot of damage.

You should be very careful in attempting to melee strike Mutons with your Rangers. These enemies have a powerful counter against melee which does a lot of damage. It’s usually not worth the risk.

Berserkers

Berserkers look a lot like Mutons, but are bigger, meaner, without a weapon, and apparently without any skin. These hulking beasts are extremely aggressive, and driven by pure rage.

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They will attempt to get close to your soldiers to deal immense melee damage that have the potential to one-shot anyone.

Abilities
Berserkers tend to become enraged the more you hit them. Unlike in Enemy Unknown, they do not move when they are hit.

However, the rage piles up, and they can unleash it on the closest target in the next turn. This includes other aliens as well. Berserker melee attacks have the tendency to knock soldiers unconscious.

Tactics
Whenever you see a Berserker in an enemy unit, concentrate all your fire at it.

Berserkers become enraged with every hit, and will unleash extremely powerful swings at any target close-by, including their own allies. Use this to your advantage if you cannot take a Berserker out in a single turn.

The other strategy is fairly obvious: stay as far away from Berserkers as possible. If you feel they will close in on a soldier during the next turn, use Aid Protocol on that soldier to lower chances of the Berserker knocking them out or one-shotting them.

Faceless

Faceless are large, grotesque beings that take the form of regular civilians.

Faceless are first encountered during Alien Retaliation missions in which you must save civilians. They are almost entirely exclusive to those missions, except for when certain Dark Events are active.

Abilities
Faceless take the form of other civilians that need to be rescued, and will only transform to their original form when a soldier gets near them, or when all other hostiles in the map are dead. They only have melee attacks, which are extremely powerful.

Tactics
The best tactic against the Faceless is the Specialist’s Scan Protocol ability. This ability will reveal enemies in a wide radius, and will also force all Faceless civilians to transform.

They can then be taken care of from a distance. An alternative to Scan Protocol is the Battle Scanner item.

Codex

These strange apparitions are digital beings that appear on the battlefield. They are extremely mobile, and possess a large set of abilities that can make them quite a challenge.

Abilities
Codex enemies are extremely mobile, and have the ability to teleport to arbitrary locations. They will often attempt to flank XCOM soldiers using this tactic, as a teleport costs only one action.

Codex will also duplicate when they are hit, creating a clone in a random location on the map. Whenever a Codex does this, the clone and the original Codex’s health will automatically reduce to three.

In addition to this, Codex unleash a powerful AoE aura which instantly unloads all weapons of soldiers within the area of effect. On the next alien turn, the aura explodes, dealing large damage to anyone who hasn’t moved out of it.

Codex also wield standard alien plasma weapons, which they will use in combination with their other abilities.

Tactics
Codex can be quick tricky to deal with because of their versatility and mobility. EMP grenades work exceptionally well against them.

Make sure to get out of their AoE aura before the next alien turn, or else it will explode and deal a lot of damage. Stay aggressive towards the codex, and try to get it to duplicate so its HP is reduced. Once done, concentrate your fire on the multiple Codex targets.

Archon

Archon look a lot like Egyptian gods, and they behave like commanders on the battlefield, often commanding ADVENT Troopers. These enemies float, and hence are extremely mobile, which also gives them significant Dodge stats.

They also have a wide variety of attacks that make them very dangerous. Archon have a large health pool and excellent defense, which can make them difficult to take down.

Abilities
Archons have a number of abilities. They will attempt to get within melee range to deal devastating blows.

Archons will also often look to use the Blazing Pinions ability, where they will release multiple rockets. These rockets will then land on highlighted locations on the next alien turn, giving players a chance to move their soldiers away.

Archons also enter into Battle Frenzy whenever they are hit. This grants them one extra action point for the next two turns.

Tactics
Try to get rid of Archons as quickly as possible, especially if there are multiple ones. Although they are formidable at melee range, flanking them to increase critical hit chance is viable, as it makes it easier to kill the Archon in a single turn.

Because of their immense mobility, Overwatch doesn’t always work well against them, and neither do melee attacks.

However, a team Overwatch for a single Archon is a good strategy, as it is possible to take out the Archon before it attempts to melee attack an enemy. Although Archons never take cover, their enhanced mobility stats have an aim penalty on your soldiers.

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It’s nearly impossible to stay out of an Archon’s melee range. Their mobility allows them to close down distance very easily, especially when they are frenzied. Try to take out an Archon before it can get near your soldiers.

Chryssalids

The dreaded Chryssalids from Enemy Unknown are back, and they are just as formidable as before. Chyssalids boast immense mobility, and their tough epidermis gives them extra armor. They also have a nasty habit of breeding on the battlefield.

Abilities
The deadliest aspect of a Chryssalid is its ability to reproduce at an alarming rate.

When a soldier or civilian is killed by a Chryssalid, the corpse forms a cocoon. If this cocoon is not destroyed in the next turn, it will spawn three additional Chryssalids.

Chryssalids will attempt to get with melee range. Their melee attacks deal large damage, and inflict a buffed version of poison which takes away 3 health per turn. These deadly creatures have also gained the ability to ambush.

Whenever they go underground, they will be able to ambush players who walk within range.

Tactics
The new ability to go underground is a lot like Overwatch, so treat it like that. Avoid moving towards a Chryssalid when it is buried underground, or else it will attack and induce poison.

The creatures should be dealt with swiftly and from a distance. Use collateral damage from explosives to shred their armor, and then concentrate all your firepower on them before they can close down distance. Chryssalids don’t take cover, so you have aim bonuses against them.

Whenever a cocoon is formed, concentrate all your fire on it, even if it means letting the Chryssalid get closer on the next turn. You don’t want to be facing three more of these creatures on the next turn.

Andromedon

The Andromedon is a powerful enemy found in late game that is encased inside a specialized armored hazmat suit. These enemies wield deadly acid-based weapons, and will look to use melee attacks whenever possible.

However, all that is just formality in front of the real trick up this enemy’s sleeve.

Abilities
Andromedons will behave a lot like Mutons for the most part, attempting to close distance, moving from cover to cover, and using their weapons. They will use a deadly acid AoE attack when they spot clustered soldiers.

Acid does a large amount of damage over time, and can render a soldier unable to attack. The biggest trick the Andromedon wields is after it is killed.

The armor will become automated with fully rejuvenated health, and will release acid trails wherever it walks. It will attempt to get within melee range and deal devastating acidic melee damage.

During this time, the Andromedon will suffer a massive cover penalty, giving a huge boost to the aim of all your soldiers.

Tactics
When the Andromedon is ‘alive,’ it behaves as an organic enemy, and a lot like Mutons. Use the tactics you would with a Muton.

When the Andromedon shell becomes automated, it behaves like a robotic enemy. This means you’ll be able to use EMP grenades effectively, as well as hack the shell with Haywire Protocol.

Use the massive cover penalty on the dead Andromedon to your advantage, and try to destroy it as soon as possible. If you feel you won’t be able to, simply back off; the armor shell itself is extremely slow and has limited movement.

Stay wary of its acid trail even after it’s dead – the trail takes a few turns to dissipate.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeepers are one of the most powerful enemies in the game. These floating orbs are almost elegant looking initially, but their incredible psionic abilities mixed with devastating attacks make them a formidable foe. Their extra armor and very high health don’t make things easier.

Abilities
The Gatekeeper is able to charge through and destroy cover, being one of the only two enemies capable of doing so. This renders cover against Gatekeepers useless (although you should still stay in cover because of enemies accompanying it).

Gatekeepers have numerous abilities. They can deal a massive psionic AoE attack that deals large damage and reanimates corpses within the area into zombies. In addition to this, they also have a powerful beam weapon that deals huge damage.

Gatekeepers are one of the most powerful psionic beings in the game, meaning even strong Willpower against them does not work. They can use their tentacles in melee range to absorb HP from a soldier, or attempt to control a soldier.

Tactics
Gatekeepers are one of the hardest enemies in the game to deal with because of their wide range of abilities and their immense defenses. Their armor is incredibly tough, so use a Grenadier to shred it as much as possible.

EMP grenades seem to work very well against them, but since they are primarily organic beings encased in an outer shell, they are vulnerable to high-rank Psi Operatives, especially Domination with an Alien Amp. This is the best tactic against Gatekeepers.

Once a Gatekeeper opens its shell to use its tentacles, it will lose its armor. Use this opportunity to deal as much damage as possible.

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A Gatekeeper will explode upon death, dealing large damage in a three-tile blast radius. Make sure your soldiers are at a distance when you’re about to deal the final blow.

Sectopod

Arguably the hardest, meanest, biggest enemy in the game, the Sectopod is a giant bipedal mech robot that can singlehandedly annihilate an entire XCOM squad.

Their immense health pool and extra high armor make them a painful experience for most, though with a few clever tactics, they can certainly be outplayed.

Abilities
The Sectopod is one of the two enemies in the game that can charge through cover, destroy everything in its path. It has the ability to increase its height by nearly two-folds, and will attempt to use this option whenever it faces soldiers who are in full cover.

The Sectopod has an extra action point. This means it is able to attack twice in a single turn, making it the deadliest threat in the game.

It primarily uses its laser cannon to deal damage. It also has a massive beam weapon up front which it primes for the next turn. A Sectopod can also emit a high-damaging electromagnetic blast around itself if it senses a soldier within melee range.

Tactics
The Sectopod is the most difficult enemy in the game. Every tactic is thrown out of the window, as a Sectopod can counter conventional tactics like proper cover and positioning with its incredible height advantage.

Keep the Sectopod’s height advantage in mind when you’re facing it. Use your Grenadier’s most powerful tools to shred as much armor as possible, and have everyone give their best shot.

Because Sectopods are robotic enemies, they can be hacked with Haywire Protocol. They have relatively high tech skill, but an upgraded Gremlin (Mark III) and a high-ranking Specialist can hack a Sectopod and at least shut it down for two turns.

An absolute lifesaver of a tactic, as two turns gives you ample time to destroy the giant bipedal mech. You can also attempt to temporarily shut down a Sectopod by using EMP grenades. This method however doesn’t have a 100% success rate.

When a Sectopod readies its beam cannon, use the next turn to either destroy the Sectopod or to take evasive measures. The beam cannon shoots in a straight line, and has a width of 3 tiles. Use this knowledge to your advantage and stay free of the beam’s region for the next turn.

Sectopods when faced alone are easier than when facing with enemies. They are often accompanied by ADVENT soldiers, who only make matters more complicated. Use grenades to deal collateral damage and also get rid of ADVENT soldiers.

A Sectopod’s footsteps can be heard from a distance. Use this knowledge to your advantage to avoid Sectopods in mission where it is not compulsory to face them (VIP Extraction/Execution missions. This is important since fighting a Sectopod can potentially waste a large number of turns, which are essential in missions with turn limits.

Avatar

The deep secret in the game is the Avatar. This transcended being is only encountered when a player uses the Skulljack on a Codex. The Avatar is an incredible psionic enemy, and is extremely mobile.

The Avatar has a lot of life, and also deals huge amounts of damage.

Abilities
The Avatar is an extremely powerful psionic being, and will almost always be able to mind control an XCOM soldier with success. Every time the Avatar takes damage, it will change its position, often significantly.

The Avatar also possesses a powerful AoE attack that deals a large amount of damage. The AoE aura stays in the region it is deployed, and will explode on the next enemy turn to deal additional damage.

The enemy can also shoot a beam of energy (Null Lance) in any direction that deals incredible damage and goes through objects in its path. In addition to this, the Avatar also regenerates health on every turn, and will look to temporarily head into fog of war to rejuvenate whenever it is low on health.

Tactics
The Avatar is a powerful enemy you’ll face late in the game’s story missions. These beings will almost always look to mind control one of your allies. It is extremely important that you take out the Avatar within a given time.

Concentrate all your firepower towards it when it is encountered. It can be quite difficult to kill an Avatar because of their resilience and teleportation. Additionally, they also gain 5 HP every turn.

Simply try to throw everything you’ve got at the Avatar to down it before it can do severe damage and regenerate back to full health. Spread your units out so that it can be attacked no matter where it teleports after being hit.

Use your explosives, rockets, melee, and everything else. Don’t be shy of getting out of cover to deal damage as long as it allows you to flank the Avatar or increases your hit chance.