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Tips and Tricks from a Veteran XCOM 2 Player

XCOM 2 Tips and Tricks

Current XCOM2 play time: 200 hours.

XCOM: EU & EW game hours: 940.

So, here we go!

I’ve only beaten this game twice so far, one with the 4-man squad on Commander/Ironman. And one, the first time, on the Legend difficulty. Here are the things I picked up on.


Classes: There’s a HUGE diversity with classes! I noticed that I fell into a pretty rigid, well-established patterns for my talent picks. Here they are.

  • Ranger:

  1. Killing machines they are! Try to get their shotguns upgraded with Superior Laser Sights and Talon Ammo. You’ll be amazed with the damage they’ll do.
  2. Blademaster is a must for me! Most of the time you get a guaranteed 90% hit at max distance. Upgraded with Bladestorm and Untouchable he becomes a true monster. And reaper at Colonel makes turns him into a force of nature! Early game blademaster will kill most enemies outright, which is great, but it will also save you ammo. Just be careful not to trigger another enemy pod while you’re running to cut someone’s face off!
  3. Shadowstep, Run&Gun. Avoiding the potential overwatch damage is fantastic! Being able to reposition aggressively is even better!
  4. Untouchable/Reaper. Yes. Yes… A thousand times yes! Many a times I would have a scenario where my Ranger would run into a pod, kill a thing, and then tank the shit out of the next turn’s damage w/out losing a single point of health! It’s truly incredible! Here is a scenario that happened more than once for me: my Ranger runs in with Reaper on and executes 2 out of 4 enemies in the pod, the third one gets a shotgun to the face instead of the blade. Enemy turn: The one that got a shotgun to the face runs in to hit the ranger only to die to the Bladestorm attack. The fourth one (probably a Gatekeeper or Archon) misses his attack because of Untouchable. Next turn, I win! 😀

Pro Tip: It took me forever to figure out that you can just use the move cursor to attack with the blade w/out actually clicking on the Slash button. Pro Tip: Talon ammo will get you 20 point crits late game with over 100% (weird right?) chance of crit! I’d recommend a Laser Sight, Expanded Magazine, and Hair Trigger for the weapon. Pro Tip: Mobility or Health PCS are great for Rangers!

  • Sharpshooter

Running a 6-man squad I like to have 2 of them. But it’s a preference. One is a long-range assassin, the other one is a pistol-toting cowboy (w/ a hat an a cigarette!)

  1. Long Ranged Assassin: Long Watch is a must. If you stack enough aim, eventually he rarely misses an overwatch shot! Deadeye is fantastic for bursting down some large health pool enemies. It’s also great for executing Codexes (Codexi?) so they don’t clone like the assholes that they are! Death From Above is great for reloading, but that’s about it. Still better than Quickdraw since you never want to be in the return fire range of any enemy.
  2. Killzone. If you know you are going to trigger a pod Killzone is your friend! An incredible ability! Steady Hands is alright, but not amazing, while Serial can be a complete game changer, a difference between a squad wipe and a flawless victory!
  3. Gunslinger option for a sniper is super fun. Try it. Not as big of a game changer as a long-range assassin, but very satisfying and fun!

Pro tip: Expanded Magazine is a must! You can easily wipe out 4-5 enemies when using Kill Zone. Also, use Tracer Ammo before you stack a enough aim. After that, use AP Ammo. Those Gatekeepers and Sectopods won’t know what hit them. A good weapon configuration is Expanded Magazine, Scope, Hair Trigger.

  • Specialist

This is a fantastic class! Play it any way you want! I personally prefer Haywire ProtocolGuardian, and Capacitor Discharge.

HUUUUUGE Tip: Threat Assessment is an absolute must! This is one of those two-for-one abilities that are just a no-brainer! Here’s a scenario: I’m about to engage a pod. I set up Kill Zone with my sniper, then put up threat assessment on my ranger. Then I throw an Acid Grenade (more about that later) with my Grenadier. What happens is that my sniper gets off 3 shots at the enemy pod and… AND, my Ranger shots a nearly point blank overwatch shot as well. But wait! There’s more! The ranger will still have another two moves to make! So, I get to Run and Gun, or just plain gun someone for free… again.

Another tip: Do not take Field Medic unless you also picked Medical Protocol. That being said, Medical Protocol is surprisingly useful! Especially when running a 4-man squad.

Recommended Weapon Configuration: Repeater, Stock, Scope. Ammo: Dragon or Venom rounds.

  • Grenadier

  1. Shredder is amazing late game! It’s a no brainer. Just take it. Trust me.
  2. Demolition/Suppression – both kind of garbage-ey, but whatever. I personally get more use out of suppression.
  3. Heavy Ordinance – OMG, always! You can’t have enough Acid Grenades. (More on that later)
  4. Volatile Mix – Pairs amazingly well with the Heavy Ordinance. Just an all around yes!
  5. Salvo – Throwing a grenade AND shooting right after is incredible! Just do it! Or throwing two grenades… but that’s overkill in my book.
  6. Saturation Fire / Rupture – Both are great. I think I might like Saturation Fire better, but boy do those sectopods drop fast if you hit them with Rupture early on! The operative work is “if”. Missing Rupture hurts the soul.

Weapon Configuration: Expanded Magazine, Scope, Stock/Repeater. The guys misses a lot, so the first two are a must. Ammo: Pick anything! I’d even go as far as going Tracer rounds to help land those armor shredding hits. But it’s really up to you. The biggest benefit from this soldier is his grenade chucking ability!


  • Late game, AP Rounds are the way to go. Especially during the last mission when you have to chew through a lot of those yellow points. However, poisoning or setting aflame enemies brings a HUGE benefit, especially when the enemy Avatar can’t Mind Control your soldier or throw a Dimensional Rift. Early game Sharpshooters really benefit from Tracer Ammo, so consider using those in the beginning. Late game, however, having your sniper landing a 12 point crit of raw health damage is too good to pass up. Talon Rounds are the only rounds that your shotgun wielding Ranger should have. Late game you’ll have a guaranteed crit every time you hit an enemy withing 3-4 tiles. It’s just too good!
  • Acid Grenades are OP af. Your Volatile Mix Grenadier chucks one of those into a pod and everyone loses 2 armor and up to 6-9 health in a single turn. Acid Burn doesn’t debilitate the enemy ability use, but it sure eats through their health! I was a little hesitant trying it out, but once I did, I never went back.
  • Incendiary Grenades are probably the second best to the acid ones. It’s a shame that metal doesn’t burn, but it does a lot of upfront damage to the organics, limits their ability use, and ticks for the next 2-3 turns. Just great.
  • Gas Grenades – Pretty fun they are! It’s like an improved Flashbang, but with a little bit of damage. Remember, Vipers, Robotics, and Cryssalids are immune to poison.
  • Flashbang – Before you get any of the other grenades, have at least one Flashbang in your squad! They’re surprisingly effective at making enemies miss, which makes a huge difference early on!
  • Repeater – I wouldn’t bother putting one on, unless it’s a 15% one. The 5% to insta kill is nearly random. You’ll rarely encounter that. But 15% means you can execute 2 enemies per mission! Put that upgrade on a soldier that will do least damage (so, Specialist it is then!).
  • Expanded Magazine – It absolutely rules for Snipers and Grenadiers. Even for your regular Ranger it can be great. I love it! Allowing your Sharpshooter shoot 6 shots in one turn is beyond satisfying!
  • Scope is a must for sharpshooters and great for everyone else, but the Ranger. Rangers must use Laser Sights. Those crits get out of control late game!
  • Hair Trigger is fantastic for Sharpshooters. It’s like having a mini Serial once in a while. Good for everyone really.
  • Stock is fine when you miss a lot… so, Grenadiers take the cake, followed closely by the Specialists. But that’s why you’d want to Scope those fellas up!

General Game


  • Intel is the KING! Get as much of it as you can from the drops. You can buy supplies with it, but most importantly, rush your research, and get that elerium for your plasma weapons!
  • If you’re playing on Legendary, a construction bonus is really useful! It really helps you catch up in terms of squad size and weapon quality before the game ramps up the difficulty.
  • Initial build order: Guerrilla Tactics School, Resistance Coms, Power Conduit. Get that +1 Squad Size perk as fast as you can. It’ll make all the difference!
  • Always bring a Specialist for any of the Vault or Hacking missions! Even for the VIP Rescue! Hacking those objectives remotely can be the difference between failed and successful mission. Also, those vault chests have the +20 to Hackperk pretty often. I stacked 3 of those on one of my Specialists and lol’ed the rest of the game with perma-hacked Sectopods and robots!
  • Hit/Miss/Hack rolls are calculated on per-tile basis. If you can’t hack something that has an 80% chance, reload and move to hack from another tile. You might get luckier! Same goes for all the shots and weapon effects (hair triggers, executions, etc.)

My hands are hurting now. Ask if you have any questions!

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