Time for some more hardcore shit though. This presumes you’ve played some XCOM 2, and you might indeed know some of these things already, but hey just in case right?
1) Advanced Warfare Centre and Guerrilla Tactics School
These should be among the first facilities you build. Both buildings have two important functions. The Advanced Warfare Centre decreases healing time required, and also allows soldiers to gain one random cross class skill at a random level. The earlier you build it, the more soldiers that can ‘proc’ the bonus skill, allowing for some truly broken mixes like a ranger with serial, or a sniper with auto-hunker and aim.
The Guerrilla Tactics School allows you to buy certain squad buffs, but very importantly also allows you to train rookies in a specific class. This means that while you still have to level your squaddies up the hard way (XP and likely death), you should technically never run out of the class you need because you can train rookies in whatever class you need. The early GTS allows you to bring 5 (or 6) troops, allowing you a bit more freedom to bring lower ranked soldiers on ‘training missions’, which still having your high ranked soldiers around to babysit them.
2) PHANTOM RANGERS
I know I said that the classes in XCOM 2 were pretty well balanced, but phantom rangers are AUTO INCLUDE! Phantom rangers stay concealed when your whole squad is revealed, and can even reconceal later in the game. This allows you to scout ahead with much lower risk to your team. Even better, your phantom ranger can act as a spotter for the rest of your team, pulling off a variation of the ‘conceal ambush’ by having a sniper kill one alien, having the rest (hopefully) scatter towards you into your overwatch death.
You can also use him to establish LOS to the objective if your team is stuck dealing with another group of aliens. Sometimes this speeds up your ability to hack/destroy/protect the objective.
The only issue is that your ranger is revealed if he ever attacks, which means you are effectively playing ‘one man down’ for most of the game. The tactical information is usually more valuable though. Forewarned is forearmed, after all. Plus, if you really need him to attack, he is available in clutch situations.
3) Psi Ops FTW
Psi Ops Soldiers are generally only available mid-game onwards, and really only effective mid-late game, but they can be amazingly powerful. This is mainly because they have an alternate method of levelling up. While your normal soldiers level through kills, missions and xp, Psi Operatives can only be trained after you build a Psi Lab (costing supplies, power and engineers), and gain powers by training in that room for 5-20 days per skill level.
While this represents an incredible investment of time and resources to a Psi Operative, the benefit is that you can train them at zero risk. They can come out if the Psi Lab (albeit after like 2 months) with 6-9 skills, all of them varied and useful at a certain point in time. You have AOEs, lines, or targeted damage. You can stun someone, make them invulnerable, or give them a free action. You can become immune to debuffs, and even cleanse certain debuffs around you. You can even blow up someone else’s grenade. It’s insane.
Speaking of debuffs…
4) If you can’t kill, debuff
Poison, Gas, Acid and Fire all inflict conditions that either damage the target, inflict aim reductions, restrict actions, or a combination of the three. If you can’t kill them outright, sometimes debuffing them will allow you to survive till the following turn. The most important of these is usually the restriction of actions. Which is why an early item everyone needs to build is the flashbang. It inflict the disorient status on a HUGE area (excluding friendlies and robotics), which inflicts penalties and most importantly prevents many scary alien abilities like grenades, mind control (even breaks mindcontrol) and the like. It even negates Codex BULLSHIT (you’ll understand once you get there) which is amazing.
One caveat. Apparently a bug in the flashbang means that while their aim stat drops, their crit chance inexplicably rises. Anecdotally, it has happened to me before, but I still find them incredibly useful.
5) MIMIC BEACONS
A thrown mimic beacon makes a copy of the thrower at the spot thrown. It has HP, as well as defense based on the cover it is thrown next to. It lasts for either one turn or until it is killed. There is a very high chance of enemies deciding to attack it instead of your squad, and because you can throw it into cover (granting high defense), this means that every mimic beacon roughly translates to one get out of jail free card. There are many times when I see a dead squad member and think ‘man I should have used the mimic beacon’.
Don’t make the same mistake as me.
6) Terrain is destructible
The basic application of this is destruction of cover, but you can take it one step further. Only some terrain items can be targeted (and explode), but all terrain can be destroyed (and maybe explode). Use explosives to open LOS to an enemy pod, or chain an explosion (ie cars, gas stations, etc) to deal extra damage. Blow out a floor to cause falling damage to enemies and kill turrets.
Just remember, what you can do to them, they can do to you.
7) The UI shows a lot more information than you think
Want to know why your shot percentage is so low? Click on the left part of the action button. Want to see if you have LOS to certain enemies? Mouse over a square; any targeting reticules that appear next to enemies imply you have LOS to them and vice versa. Want to know if something will end your turn? Check the ‘fast forward’ looking icon next to the right of your action choices. Almost all info is available if you know where to look for it.
I didn’t figure this out until like my second play through, but if you hold control and click to move it sets up waypoints. A final click and it triggers the move. Important in allowing you to skirt concealment detection ranges or LOS.
9) Hack almost anything you can see
Most missions have hackables which provide either a temporary or permanent boost. More importantly though, apparently every successful hack increases you specialists’ hack stat by 5 (limit of one per mission). So sometimes the lower choice is a better one.
10) Walk the knife’s edge of the AVATAR project
If the Avatar Project hits max progression, it starts a 20 day countdown. You only lose the game if the 20 day countdown hits zero. This means that even if you max out the avatar project progression, you have 20 days to hit an alien facility or complete a story objective to reset the countdown to 0 and reduce avatar progression. While you shouldn’t let the avatar project actualy succeed, this actually means that you have some time to spare to research better weapons and armor, before hitting ADVENT when it truly counts.
And that’s some of the things I found out in my playthroughs (and from other people) so far. Hope all these help. Take the fight to them, commander.
XCOM 2 is out now for $79.90 on Steam and in stores.
The Digital Deluxe Edition is $94.90 and comes with the Reinforcement Pack (essentially a DLC season pass)