X-Com: Enemy Within: Gene Labs Guide

Super soldier implants for X-Com and what you need to research to get it.

I spent all this time building guides for X-Com and then I realized that I forgot the most important part! The NEW stuff! Once you’re able to build the Gene Labs, you’ll still need to find all the autopsies and research that will get you the benefits for your soldiers.

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The soldier can have their Brain, Eyes, Chest, Skin, and Legs upgraded. Just like the abilities your soldiers gain through advancement, they will only be able to take one upgrade per area. Each individual procedure takes 3 days. There is no time discount for doing them all at once. It would make sense to do one upgrade at a time in order to keep your soldiers in rotation for the difficult missions.

Some soldier types will benefit far more than others from these upgrades, but Snipers and Assault seem to get the most from Gene Modification.



The Abilities for the brain give you two choices and both are meant to be used against Psionic attacks.

Neural Damping

Cost: 20 Meld, $35

Research needed: Berserker Autopsy

Confers +20 Will when defending against psi attacks, and immunity to panic. If the soldier is Mind Controlled, the control is cancelled, and the soldier is stunned for 1 turn instead.
 This ability should have a significant effect in reducing how often your soldier will be attacked with psionic attacks and it removes the threat of Mind Control. While you still lose a turn, you won’t have to worry about your heavy turning around and throwing grenades into your squad. This ability is the better of the two if you want to drastically reduce the threat of psionic attackers. If you want to beat them at their own game, your second choice is better.

Neural Feedback

Cost: 10 Meld, $35

Research Needed: Sectoid Commander Autopsy

Causes damage to psi attackers and puts all of their psi attacks on cooldown. Does not reduce the attacks chance of success.
You can earn an achievement with this implant if you kill your attacker on their turn from the damage. This ability doesn’t reduce the chance to hit with their attacks. It could be enough to do that little bit of damage that might finish off a Sectoid Commander or Ethereal. This ability is probably best given to a soldier with an already high Will stat. The Will can reduce the likelihood of being successfully hit and the Feedback can damage the attacker when they do hit.


The upgrades for the eyes focus on the soldiers ability to hit, giving them aim bonuses. The eyes are also the cheapest upgrades on the list.

Hyper-Reactive Pupils

Cost: 5 Meld, $15

Research needed: Meld Recombination

Confers +10 Aim on any shot after a miss.

This is a simple aim bonus when you soldier misses. Quite often, it might even go unnoticed if the you only shoot once per turn. A Heavy with Bullet Storm or a Sniper with Double Tap can get a noticeable gain from this if they miss their first target.  But, Snipers will probably prefer the second choice here.

Depth Perception

Cost: 5 Meld, $15
Research needed: Meld Recombination

Height Advantage confers an additional +5 Aim and a +5% Critical chance.

This can be good for any soldier that you plan on using at heights and can compound with the Leg Gene upgrade of Muscle Fiber Density for a soldier that excels at death from above. Damn Good Ground from the Snipers list only gets better with this extra +5 added to an already good Height Advantage.


Secondary Heart

Cost: 15 Meld, $75

Research needed: Cyberdisc Autopsy

Causes soldiers to bleed out instead of dying the first time they go to zero health in a mission. The bleed-out timer is extended by two turns. Prevents loss of Will from critical wounds.

You can turn your soldiers into a Time Lord! The extra heart upgrade makes your soldiers incredibly durable. Knowing that your soldier won’t die the first time they hit zero is huge. With the bleed-out timer having an extra two turns before death, you’ll have more time to rescue the soldier in a fire fight or finish the mission before the timer goes out.  

Adrenal Neurosympathy

Cost: 10 Meld, $25

Research needed: Muton Autopsy

Overloads the soldier’s adrenal glands; when a kill is confirmed, the soldier emits pheromones that grant offensive benefits to all nearby squadmates. Cannot occur more than once every 5 turns.

If you don’t have the cash for the second heart or you just prefer a more offensive play style, then Neurosympathy is your choice for the chest. It gives a small buff to aim and speed to anyone near the squadmate. Not as good as the second heart, but not near as expensive, either.


Bioeletric Skin

Cost: 15 Meld, $35

Research needed: Chryssalid Autopsy

The soldier projects an electric field from his or her skin, revealing but not alerting nearby enemies, and is immune to strangulation.

This ability seems tailor-made to combat Seekers, which usually aren’t that much of a problem. The aliens don’t really specialize in invisibility, so I don’t suggest this ability when the second Skin upgrade holds so much more potential.

Mimetic Skin

Cost: 35 Meld, $75

Research needed: Seeker Autopsy

Confers the ability to change skin pattern to match cover. When the soldier moves to high cover, enemies without special capabilities will not target the soldier. Does not work if any enemies have line of sight to the soldier’s starting position. Leaving cover of firing will break this concealment.

It seems complicated, but Mimetic Skin is simple. Any time you move and don’t run yourself right in front of any enemy, you become invisible as long as you are behind high cover. This is a passive effect that you won’t have to activate like the Ghost armor. This is excellent for you snipers to gain great positions without being seen, Assault class to get right up in the face of danger before being seen, and great for your agent on EXALT missions.


Muscle Fiber Density

Cost: 25 Meld, $60

Research needed: Thin Man autopsy

Confers superhuman leg strength, enabling the soldier to reach high positions without the need for ladders or other climbing aids.

Again, the Damn Good Ground sniper can get the most mileage out of this ability. If you took Depth Perception to go with your other Gene Choices, you will have a Sniper that gets huge height advantage bonuses and a great way to get up on the roof without needing a flying suit of armor. Plenty of other classes can take away added mobility with this, making it useful for nearly any class.

Adaptive Bone Marrow

Cost: 15 Meld, $30

Research needed: Meld Recombination

Wound recovery time is reduced by 66% (stacks with Rapid Recovery). Soldier regenerates 2HP per turn up to the HP max without armor.

This ability can help your Heavies and Assault get into the battle without being almost dead by the time they get there. Combined with Rapid Recovery from the OTS, it could only take a day or two for your soldier to completely recover from almost bleeding out on the battlefield. If nothing else, this ability allows your team to have an excellent turn around on missions, keeping your first string available for battle more often.

What do I take from this?

In the end, the Gene upgrades are pretty well-balanced for their cost effectiveness. It will be up to your play style to figure out which upgrades you prefer.  The Sniper is the only class that clearly gets the most from Gene Upgrades, but don’t hesitate to try new combinations with old abilities to see what new awesomeness you can get.

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Landon Sommer
While I do play some of the greats like Civilization and X-com, consider me your Tabletop guru here at gameskinny. Want to know about a tabletop game? Just ask!