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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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