XCOM 2 is all about smart and sometimes difficult choices, and putting your squad together is one of the most important ones that you can make. Having the right soldiers on your team for a tough mission can make the difference between coming back with everyone intact and not coming back at all.
We’re going to lay out the basics of the different types of soldiers, then make recommendations for how to put your squad together for various missions. Feel free to make changes or follow your own system, and make sure to work with what you’re given – you might have a soldier survive from being shaken multiple times, giving them amazing Will, or have a less than optimal soldier type at an extremely high rank.
More likely, you might have a bunch of wounded soldiers and not be able to choose who to bring, but let’s hope for the best…
Choosing Your Squad
The grenadier is your heavy weapons guy, bringing destruction, control, and high damage to the team. They have the ability to fire grenades with a bigger blast radius and at a longer distance, which is really helpful for clearing cover, dealing big damage, and applying status effects like burning or disoriented to lots of baddies at once. They’re also the best class for stripping armor, which makes them invaluable on missions with lots of mechanized foes.
You are probably going to want at least one of these guys on every mission, with some rare exceptions. You definitely won’t ever regret bringing one.
The Sharpshooter is a sniper/gunslinger combo, and is capable of taking out an entire pod by themselves under the right circumstance. They are, however, dependent on good positioning and favorable terrain, and need a lot of team support to be the best that they can be. They also don’t bring any unique utility to the team (unless you count incredible damage as utility, and maybe you should…)
Whether or not you bring a Sharpshooter on your mission depends on your skill and preferences – if you’re good at finding the right spot for your sharpshooter to rain death on the foes, or if you’re good at setting up incredible Faceoff opportunities, then bring them along. If not, you might want to make room for a different class.
If you could make an entire team out of a single class, it would probably be the specialist. Pretty much every other class you can do without, but if you aren’t bringing a Specialist on most of your missions, you’re going to have a bad time. Whether you’ve specced your Specialist for hacking or for support, you’re going to get a ton of use out of them, and a timely heal or hack can completely turn a mission around.
Bring a specialist on all of your missions. Better yet, bring two – one focusing on the medic branch of skills, one on the hacking branch.
The Ranger is a high-risk, high-reward class, which will obviously play into your decision about whether to bring one along. They have the potential to do truly incredible damage, and have the ability to dash-attack from the very beginning — which can be really clutch, so they’re absolutely great to have. At the end of the day though, they are just bringing damage (and potentially scouting, but a Battle Scanner or Scanning Protocol can take care of that).
Like the Sharpshooter, base your decision to bring a Ranger on your skill and preference – if your Rangers keep ending up dead or crippled from accidentally triggering an extra pod of aliens, maybe leave them behind, but if they’re consistently finding enemy openings or dashing in to get the crucial kill, bring one along.
The Psi Operative is kind of an unknown quantity, partially because you may not be able to start training them until later in the game, and because you can’t be sure what abilities they’re going to end up with.
Deal with Psi Operatives on a case-by-case basis. They may be worth bringing on every single mission, or they might only be worth bringing with the B-side.
The Best Squad Compositions for Missions
As always, take what you’re comfortable with and what you have available, but be aware that different types of missions require different approaches. Here are some recommendations for squad compositions.
Note: This assumes that you have the Squad Size I and II upgrades from the Guerilla Tactics School.
Guerilla Ops (Dark Event and Resistance Missions)
- 2 Specialists
- 1-2 Rangers
- 1 Grenadier
- 1 Sharpshooter/Wild card
You need to move fast on these missions, making Rangers especially useful, and giving even more importance to Specialists, who can hack objectives remotely and break into the ADVENT network, giving your squad big bonuses or disrupting the enemy team. Grenadiers are always useful, though wanton destruction can be a liability if it’s a VIP or defense mission. A Sharpshooter can be incredible in the right circumstances, but on a bad map they might be less than useless or risk being left behind when evac comes.
- 1-2 Specialists
- 1-2 Rangers
- 1 Grenadier
- 1-2 Sharpshooters
Since there is less stuff to hack, you can probably get away with just one Specialist — or none, if you have better soldiers to bring (a Specialist with Scanning Protocol can reveal sneaky Faceless though, which is a big plus). As with any mission that has a timer, Rangers are great for their ability to get to the objective quickly and effectively – in this case, it’s preventing civilian casualties. Just watch out for Faceless.
Black Site/Base Assault Missions
- 2-3 Grenadiers
- 2-3 Specialists
- 1-2 Rangers or Sharpshooters
These are some of the toughest missions around, and involve assaulting an entrenched position with the toughest enemy units available. You can take anyone you want, but because of the unit density and the closed layout of the bases, Sharpshooters and Rangers are somewhat less useful. There’s almost always a lot of stuff to hack, so Specialists are a big plus, and probably the best way to get through these with your team alive is to bring a lot of grenades and just blast the whole structure to bits. It’s not elegant, but it works.