So you got your hands-on XCOM and are now playing the Enemy Within expansion. Yeah, it’s one exciting strategy game. It’s also very unforgiving; one little mistake, be it in turn-based strategic battle or during the RTS management, and you’ll be in tears.
While the RTS management is a bit too complicated and demanding to be tackled efficiently in one guide, the preparation of your soldiers, and managing them is something that one can be tutored about.
No matter how much of a manly man of a person you are (even if you’re a girl), you’ll always feel a tinge of pain when you see a veteran Colonel downed in battle because of a bad mistake. However, it’s not only how you cope with things in battle that makes the difference, it’s also the preparation prior to it.
In fact, progressing your soldiers and managing their load-outs will directly determine what kind of role they can partake in battle. Though leveling your soldiers isn’t as complicated as it would be in a hardcore strategy or fantasy RPG, it does influence factors such as combat role, positioning, and efficiency of your soldier.
XCOM: Enemy Within Class Builds and Loadouts
The following are some recommended level progressions for your soldiers, categorized according to class. We won’t be talking about Gene Mods much here though, but it doesn’t mean you won’t see them mentioned anywhere ahead.
The Assault class has a very channeled and straightforward approach: assault the enemy with aggressive reconnaissance, flanking techniques, and by pushing forward. Assault Class can be equipped with Rifles and Pistols, and is the only class that supports Shotguns.
- Run & Gun
- Tactical Sense
- Close and Personal
- Rapid Fire
- Close Combat Specialist
- Extra Conditioning
This setup should give your Assault soldier a fine mix of defense and good offense. Note that this leveling method emphasizes on you being up-close, so don’t feel hesitant in using a powerful shotgun. Just make sure you have a healing support with you at all times.
If you are playing 2 Assaults in your squad, then have one take a Shotgun, making him/her the aggressor, while one takes an Assault Rifle. Use an Alien Grenade along with this.
You should always cherish your Snipers the most, because they will be carrying your team throughout. Pamper these men and women as much as you can; I remember my veteran sniper had a base accuracy of 98%, and boy was he some big-time alien slayer.
Because they have so much value in battle, it’s three times more painful to lose a Sniper than any other class. Favoritism, you say? Play it for yourself and you’ll agree with me.
Actually, snipers are the best and only reasonable choice for Gene Modification on higher difficulties, and maybe even normal difficulties; don’t waste your time on others, they’re fine and they won’t benefit from the pain and torture of alien genetic mutation, so just give it to you the Snipers. After all, tough love is necessary.
It’s hard to go wrong with leveling a sniper, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll always go right either. The Sniper tree is OP, to say the least, and all it comes down to is how you pick out of the choices.
- Snap Shot
- Damn Good Round
- Battle Scanner
- Low Profile
- Double Tap
Given the amazing range you get with a Sniper, and the added range you would get with the Battle Scanner, you can literally sit at your deployment zone and slay distant aliens. Double Tap is probably the best ability in the entire game. As a sniper, you won’t be doing too much moving, so Double Tap becomes so much more lethal.
It doesn’t matter if you have a -20 penalty from Snap Shot, because if you’ve built your Sniper correctly, that will still mean around 78% percent chance of a critical hit – not a bad option to use, if I do say so myself.
Get the Plasma Rifle as quickly as possible, and make sure you always use the S.C.O.P.E, you have to upgrade it in the Foundry. If you do, you’ll be hitting every target every time, no matter what.
The Support Class is your savior, and that’s why I usually kept two of them in my squad. These folks are minimalistic in-terms of offensive combat, utilizing assault rifles, but they have the necessary utility needed for survival, which is providing health and reviving critically wounded players.
The Support class is highly bipolar; it can act as a medic class, or as a traditional support, providing covering fire and utility-based defense. Since both of these attributes are very essential, I like to keep two of them, one embodying the role of a medic, while the other is an assault-support hybrid.
For a medic-based Support, I recommend the following:
- Smoke Grenade
- Field Medic
- Combat Drugs
- Deep Pockets
Sprinter is highly effective for reaching a wounded target. The rest are very self-explanatory. You might think of using Dense Smoke instead of Combat Drugs here, but I like the idea of a buff giving ability with a pure medic. It’s important that your medic support still wields a good weapon, and uses it to protect him/herself and nearby allies.
For a covering fire support, here is build I use:
- Smoke Grenade
- Covering Fire
- Smoke and Mirrors
- Rifle Suppression
- Dense Smoke
- Deep Pockets
This is a classical support build that utilizes covering fire and suppressive elements, so your assaulters can infiltrate enemy lines and take them out. Your role isn’t to cure injured people, but to cloak your allies’ assault.
Plasma Rifle for sure – even though it’s a support class, the soldiers will need the best weapons to protect themselves and their allies. Keep medkits for both kinds of supports, and make sure they are upgraded in the Foundry.
Though it may come as a surprise, my Heavy was the most gifted, most experienced, and most active member of my squad, from start to finish, even more than my veteran Sniper. This is because the Heavy class dominates in the first set of missions, and will always deal more damage thanks to Rocket Launchers and powerful (but very inaccurate) heavy weapons.
Though it’s convention to keep the assaulters in the frontline, I always treated my heavy like a tank, and despite all the harshness he had to face, he lived throughout the entire campaign. Keeping the heavy in the frontline greatly reduces the problem of inaccuracy.
When the heavies do strike, they strike hard. I also always made sure they had superior elevation to further boost their accuracy.
- Fire Rocket
- Bullet Swarm
- Shredder Rocket
- HEAT Ammo
- Will to Survive
The best thing about this build: Bullet Swarm hands down. Just imagine the sweet ecstasy of first shooting a foe with a plasma minigun, and then finishing it and its surrounding allies off with a rocket.
If that’s not right out of the ‘how to be a badass’ manual, then I don’t know what is.
Plus, you get more rockets, and the all-important HEAT Ammo. It’s easy to ignore this if you aren’t experienced, but most XCOM veterans will know that some of the toughest enemies in the game are robotic, which makes HEAT Ammo all that more essential. And of course, who would ever mind having two grenades. You’re all packed up to do some collateral damage.
Heavy Plasma, Blaster Launcher, Alien Grenade, that’s all that can be said.
It’s a little hard to justify the use of these fellows, especially in higher difficulties. Yeah, they give you firepower and stuff, but they’re a walking bull’s-eye in the battlefield, since they can’t take cover.
Yes, you could use them as bait, but making MEC Troopers isn’t cheap, so it’s not wise to be piling cash just to create something you’ll use for one or two battles. Worst part is, no matter how much you upgrade them, they always have horrible accuracy, even worse the heavies.
Anyways, if you want to have a MEC Trooper in your squad for the sake of it, consider the following:
- Collateral Damage
- Automated Threat Assessment
- Vital-Point Targeting
- One for All
- Expanded Storage
- Reactive Targeting Sensors
Don’t forget to share your own leveling tips and loadouts with us by commenting below!