Best Squad Skills Builds in XCOM 2

When building a squad in XCOM 2, there are several things to keep in mind. Your team has to be versatile, with enough firepower and utilities to be able to cope with anything.
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Having a poorly built squad will lead to your doom. For the best results, you’ll have to carefully choose abilities when your soldiders advance through the ranks. This guide will show you the best squad skills builds in XCOM 2 that will help you win most fights.

xcom 2 best squad skills builds
Before we dive into the skills, here are some tips on general team building:
  • It’s imperative that you have at least one of each class in your squad. When you increase your squad size, you can insert a second Grenadier or Specialist, but before that it’s best to have one of each.
  • Have a Team B. Your main soldiers will get hurt in combat. You need to have capable stand-ins for times like that. Use low difficulty missions and the GTC to boost your backup guys.
  • Diversify your inventory. Having a bunch of frag grenades might seem like a good idea, but there are times when a smoke grenade can do so much more than an explosive one. Fill up your utility slots with different items.

Sharpshooter Skills

Sharpshooters start with the Squadsight ability, which lets them target anyone the team can see, as long as they have a clean line of sight. Here’s a list of all the abilities you can unlock for this class as you progress:

RankSniper SkillsGunslinger Skills
CorporalLong Watch:
Allow Overwatch to trigger with Squadsight

Return Fire:
When targeted by enemy fire, automatically fire back with your pistol once per turn
Take a shot with a small aim penalty for a significant damage boost
Lightning Hands:
Fire your pistol at a target. This attack does not cost an action
LieutenantDeath From Above:
Killing an enemy at a lower elevation with your sniper rifle costs only a single action, and does not end your turn
Quick Draw:
Firing your pistol with your first action no longer ends your turn
CaptainKill Zone:
Take a reaction shot against any enemy that moves or attacks within a cone of fire
Fire once at every visible enemy with your pistol
MajorSteady Hands:
If you did not move last turn, gain +10 Aim and +10 Critical chance
Hunker Down now confers +20 Aim to the first shot on the following turn
A powerful chained shot ability. For every kill made with your sniper rifle, your actions will be refunded
Fan Fire:
Fire the pistol three times at the same target
Our ideal build includes Return Fire, Lightning Hands, Death From Above, Kill Zone, Steady Hands and Serial. As far as equipment is concerned, we like to upgrade our sniper rifles with scopes and give battle scanners to the people using them.

Grenadier Abilities

Grenadiers begin with a skill called Launch Grenade, which lets them use a grenade launcher. The grenades it shoots have better range and do more damage than regular ones. Here are the rest of their abilities:

RankDemolitions Expert SkillsHeavy Gunner Skills
CorporalBlast Padding
Your gear includes layers of extra padding and blast plates, granting a bonus point of Armour and 66% less damage from explosive attacks
Your cannon attacks shred armour
Unleash a volley of bullets at your target’s cover, significantly damaging or destroying it. Deals no damage to your target
Fire a barrage that pins down a target, granting reaction fire against it if it moves, and imposing a -50 penalty to the target’s aim
LieutenantHeavy Ordnance
The grenade in your grenade-only slot gains a bonus use
Holo Targeting
Any directed cannon shot, hit or miss, will mark the target, increasing your squad’s aim by +15 against this target
CaptainVolatile Mix
Your grenades have an increased radius of 1 tile and deal +2 damage
Chain Shot
Take a shot with an aim penalty of -15. If you hit the target, you take another shot on the target automatically
Launching or throwing grenades, or using heavy weapons with your first action, will not end your turn
Hail of Bullets
Unleash a hail of bullets that is guaranteed to hit your target, but uses a lot of ammunition
ColonelSaturation Fire
Fire a cone shaped barrage of bullets at every enemy in an area. In addition, the cover of those enemies can be damaged or destroyed. Uses three ammo
A Rupture shot deals critical damage and ensures that the target takes an additional +3 damage from all attacks in the future
We like to specialize in blast damage, so we pretty much always go with Shredder, Demolition, Heavy Ordnance (Holo Targeting for B Team grenadier, maybe), Volatile Mix, Hail of Bullets and Rupture. Modding your heavy cannon with a magazine extender is a must. We also encourage you to experiment with different types of grenades whenever you can.

Ranger Skills

Rangers start off with Slash, a skill that lets them run up to any enemy within dashing distance and attack them with the sword. The rest of the skills focus either on swordsmanship or staying concealed and making good use of it:

RankScout AbilitiesAssault Abilities
When the squad is revealed, this soldier remains concealed
Deal +2 extra damage on all sword attacks
SergeantShadow Strike
When concealed, gain +25 bonus aim and +25 bonus critical hit chance when attacking enemies
This soldier does not trigger overwatch or reaction fire
Immediately enter concealment once per mission
Run and Gun
Take an action after dashing
If you score one or more kills on your turn, you are granted a single bonus move
Free sword attacks on any enemies that enter or attack from melee range
MajorDeep Cover
If you did not attack this turn, hunker down automatically
If you score a kill during your turn, the next attack against you during the enemy turn will miss
Fire twice in a row at an enemy. Each shot suffers an Aim penalty of -15. There is no cooldown on this ability
A devastating chain melee attack where the first melee attack cannot miss. Each melee kill in Reaper mode grants an extra action, but further melee attacks deal reduced damage
Although making a phantom ranger is a smart move and can be a better solution at higher difficulty settings, honestly, the sword-wielding maniac is so much fun to play. Our favourite Ranger build includes Phantom, Shadowstep, Run and Gun, Bladestorm, Untouchable and Reaper. Early on in the game, a ranger with Run & Gun and a medkit can be a lifesaver. Later on, it’s best to just focus on providing the ranger with protection, since he will be getting the closest to danger.

Specialist Abilities

Specialists have a starting ability called Aid Protocol, which allows the gremlin to buff an ally with increased Defense for one turn. The other abilities will develop them into either a medic or a hacker:

RankBattle Medic SkillsCombat Hacker Skills
CorporalMedical Protocol
The GREMLIN can perform healing actions remotely: GREMLIN Heal and GREMLIN Stabilize. The GREMLIN has a single charge. If a medikit is equipped it has two charges
Combat Protocol
Send the GREMLIN to an enemy to jolt them, dealing guaranteed damage, which is increased against robotic enemies
SergeantRevival Protocol
Send the GREMLIN to an ally to remove any negative mental status effects: Disoriented, Stunned, Panicked, or Unconscious
Haywire Protocol
You may target robotic and mechanical enemies with your GREMLIN, attempting to hack them and seize control
LieutenantField Medic
Equipped medikits have 2 extra charges
Scanning Protocol
The GREMLIN can trigger an instant scan of the area, increasing the Specialist’s sight radius substantially for one turn, and revealing any hidden or disguised enemies
CaptainCovering Fire
Overwatch shots can now be triggered by any enemy action, not just movement
Threat Assessment
Aid Protocol now grants the target a Covering Fire Overwatch shot, but the Aid Protocol cooldown is increased by 1 turn
MajorEver Vigilant
If you spend all of your actions on moves, you are granted an automatic overwatch shot at the end of the turn
With every successful Overwatch shot, there is a 50% chance that another shot will be taken
The GREMLIN flies to each squad member, healing or reviving them as needed
Capacitor Discharge
Send the GREMLIN to a location where it emits a substantial electric discharge, damaging and potentially stunning all nearby units. Robotic units take more damage
The wise choice would be to have one of each – a medic and a hacker. When upgrading them, you should just follow the left side for the doctor and the right for the hacker, except at Captain and Major ranks. There, we recommend taking Threat Assessment and Ever Vigilant. The medic should be equipped with a medkit, obviously.

Psi Operative Abilities

Psi Operatives are like mages in the XCOM universe. They use their minds to do damage and disable enemies. They start off with a random low-level psi ability, and the rest of their skills aren’t mutually exclusive. If you have enough time and missions, you could level up the psi soldier in such a way to have all the skills in the game. Here’s a list of them:

Debilitating telepathic attack that can inflict different negative conditions, including mental control of the target.
Grant a bonus action immediately to a nearby squadmate
AdeptSoul Steal
Soul Fire transfers half of the damage done back to the Psi Operative as health
Stasis Shield
Stasis can be cast on allies, rendering them immune to any attacks, and stunned, for 1 turn
Psi Operative is surrounded by an aura that immediately extinguishes or blocks any mental impairments for themselves and any nearby squadmates
If the Psi Operative takes enough damage to be killed, they are immediately put in Stasis for 1 turn and their health is only reduced to 1 HP. This can only happen once per mission
Insanity now does a small amount of guaranteed damage, and applies Rupture to the target
The Psi Operative is immune to fire, poison, acid and explosive damage
If an enemy is carrying explosives, they can be remotely detonated by the Psi Operative
Permanently mind control an enemy. Only one successful Domination can be performed per mission
MagnusNull Lance
Project a beam of terrible power that damages every target it passes through. This attack can penetrate multiple enemies and obstacles
Void Rift
Generate an explosive field of Psionic energy that damages everything within. Organic enemies have a chance to suffer Insanity.
However, most players won’t be able to unlock all of the skills, so there’s still the need to choose. Our recommendations would be Inspire, Stasis Shield, Sustain, Fortress. Fuse and Domination are both great skills, as are Null Lance and Void Rift.

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Ketchua has been writing about games for far too long. As Señor Editor, he produces words (and stuff) for Gosunoob. There are a lot of words (and stuff) there, so he's terribly busy. Especially if you need something.



  1. X

    Ouch, a lot of poor recommendations which show a lack of understanding how skills combine. One quick example, Specialists ‘Covering Fire’ alone looks like garbage but wait, combine it with the next skill ‘Ever Vigilant’ and it becomes godly.

    1. U

      Yeah, Specialist really improved on the overwatch skills we got on the support in EU/EW. Also, just go full sniper. Return Fire might be better than Long Watch, but Lightning Hands won’t do crap unless a) you get the worst Retaliation spawn ever or b) you are playing you Sharpshooter wrong. Deadeye is fan. Damn. Tastic. Also SALVO IS THE BEST THING FOR ARMOR BREAKERS. Salvo is the ability that will let you decimate Sectopods and Andromedons! Action one=grenade (preferably acid bomb), action two=shoot, get shred. Fantastic. You can also think of it this way. Hail of Bullets gives you one guaranteed hit for buckets of ammo and only once every three turns. Salvo, on the other hand, can give you a great shot by blowing cover and then shooting, and is never off cool down. I find it a rarity that I run out of explosives, especially because I run my Grenadiers in W.A.R. suits, so Salvo having no effect for the remainder of a mission is not likely. If you are building a Gunner, more aggressive Grenadier, Hail of Bullets all the way. But for the skills that went into grenades, Salvo is the way to go.

  2. G

    sniper with lightning hands, faceoff, serial, bluescreen rounds, and wraith suit is the strongest of any class IMO. Bluescreen rounds work on gatekeepers, codex, and andromedon shell in addition to mecs & turrets. Guaranteed one-shot kills on codex. 8-11 damage with a PISTOL on bluescreen targets. My team of 3 of these take out gatekeepers and sectopods with one sequence of overwatch shots. scope, auto-loader, expanded mag, perception PCS. Team with one phantom ranger for spotting, a grenadier to soften up targets, and either a specialist or psi. It’s a blast.

    1. A

      I have a gunslinger col. on commander difficulty, with superior perception and the powered shadowkeeper = +30 aim on pistol shots. Also note the +20 aim after hunker down… With bluescreen rounds and the trifecta of lightning hands, quickdraw and fan fire that’s 40-55 damage on susceptible targets, though armor can still be a problem. However, when you also have a grenadier with plasma cannon, hail of bullets and possibly holo aim, this gives your team a guaranteed sectopod or gatekeeper kill every few rounds using only two men… As a bonus, if you can kill an andromedon with the first 1-2 pistol shots, you can then proceed to fan fire the suit to pieces all in one round, especially as it cannot use cover and has no more armor left.

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