Unlike in Long War or vanilla XCOM 2, the maximum squad size remains fixed for the entire campaign. Players can send up to 8 soldiers on most missions, and up to 10 or 12 on special missions. Network Tower Assaults have a maximum of 5 soldiers. On missions involving Havens your squad will be reinforced by the Advisor assigned to them and in some occasions a few rebels.
However taking as many soldiers as possible on every mission is not advisable due to Infiltration mechanics, which make it so the squads sent on a mission have to wait to build up infiltration to carry out the mission without it being excessively difficult. Taking too many soldiers increases the time to fully infiltrate, in turn increasing the time those soldiers are unavailable. In addition, soldiers will have their will reduced by fatigue, either because of the time spent on the mission or because of the results of battle.
Since players have to manage a high amount of soldiers and missions, the ability to create persistent squads by assigning soldiers in the Squad Management interface exists to streamline soldier selection by loading up a squad from the list, and then making ad hoc changes if necessary. Changing the composition for that particular mission doesn't change the composition of the squad. If all squads are busy on missions, a "temporary" squad will be created to be sent. Squad Management is mostly optional, but it can be a handy shortcut for favourite soldier compositions, and once Officers are available they're a useful way of keeping soldiers under the same officer to maximise the benefit of Leadership.
Soldiers begin as Rookies without class, and as they promote to Squaddie they are assigned one of the 8 main classes at random:
As the campaign goes on, soldiers will be able to be trained into specific classes in the Guerrilla Tactics School, where they'll also be able to promote to officers and learn new abilities. Rookies can also be trained as Psi Operatives, a class unlocked through the Psionic Labs facility. For owners of the Shen's Last Gift DLC, completion of the Lost Towers or research on Mechanized Warfare will unlock the possibility to build robotic soldiers: SPARKs. Completing Lost Towers will grant a free SPARK to the roster.
Special soldiers belonging to each of the three factions can also become part of XCOM's roster:
These soldiers have special mechanics and equipment and are generally stronger, but otherwise behave the same as other XCOM soldiers. There is a limit of two heroes per faction and requires higher influence in order to recruit additional soldiers.
XCOM Row Perks
As the Advanced Warfare Center was removed in WOTC and replaced with the Training Center (and Infirmary), all non-Psionic, non-SPARK soldiers can now gain Ability Points (AP) upon ranking up (in addition to a shared pool of XCOM Ability Points, which are granted only upon completing very specific and difficult objectives, such as defeating Chosen) and have a specialized "XCOM" row of perks, separated into 4 tiers:
- 2 Tier 1 Perks for 10 AP each
- 2 Tier 2 Perks for 20 AP each
- 2 Tier 3 Perks for 30 AP each
- 1 Tier 4 Perk for 40 AP
All of these perks can be acquired as soon as the Training Center facility is operational (assuming sufficient AP). There are no rank requirements for any tiers; you can get a Tier 4 ability on a Squaddie, although you will need to spend a lot of the shared XCOM AP.
It's worth noting that these perks are generally much more synergistic with the soldier class than they were in LW2 - for example, classes that don't usually rely on grenades will no longer obtain grenade-related perks.
Similarly to LW2, most soldiers can equip pistols and learn Pistol Perks, but the perks now cost AP and are acquired in the same way as XCOM row perks. They appear 1 row below the XCOM row, which makes it necessary to scroll down the perks screen to see them.
- All soldiers now gain a new perk Get Up which allows reviving an unconscious unit for 2 actions. Reviving the unit always disorients them. Serves as an additional method to bring soldiers back without requiring revival protocol
- All soldiers now gain a new perk Stock Strike which stuns a mind controlled ally and deals 30% max hp. Serves as an addtional method to control your soldiers from hurting you.
The cost of recruiting new Rookies is 10 supplies in Rookie and Veteran difficulty, 15 in Commander, and 20 in Legend. There are 5 recruits available from the start in Rookie and Veteran difficulty, 3 in Commander, and none in Legend. More soldiers become available for recruit by putting rebels on Recruit jobs, which has a chance of providing soldiers to the recruit list. New soldiers can also be obtained from the Black Market or from mission rewards.
Faction soldiers can only be recruited from Covert Actions, and only if there are less than 2 available (i.e. not captured, training, or otherwise unable to take on missions) soldiers of that faction. One random faction soldier is granted at the start of the campaign, during Gatecrasher.
In Long War of the Chosen, experience for soldiers is primarily earned by mission completion. Kills and covert actions also grant XP.
The XP awarded at the end of a mission is the number of aliens present at the start of the mission, divided equally among soldiers on the mission, with a minimum of 3 soldiers.. Soldiers at Master Sergeant (or equivalent max rank) will have their weight when dividing reduced by a third. Therefore soldiers in large squads will gain less XP than soldiers in smaller squads, as the same total XP is split among more people, but squads with one or two soldiers are treated as though they had 3 soldiers. The XP assigned to the unfilled spots is wasted.
XP obtained through mission completions is then multiplied by a class specific constant:
Each enemy kill grants 1 XP except for the Lost, who grant 0.25 XP each; Sectopods, Gatekeepers and the Chosen who grant 2 XP each; and Rulers who grant 3 XP when they're killed. Kill XP is granted up to the amount of enemies present at the beginning of the mission. For example, if a mission started with 8 enemies, Kill XP is granted up to 8 kills regardless of whether the kills come from the pre-set enemies or from reinforcements.
Covert actions grant 3-4 XP to the soldiers participating.
The XP needed to promote to each rank is dependant on difficulty. Keep in mind a soldier cannot promote more than one rank each mission:
- Health is the amount of damage soldiers can take before dying or going into bleedout.
- Aim determines base to-hit chances.
- Defense lowers enemy hit chances. Negative Defense will increase enemy hit chances instead.
- Dodge is the chance to demote enemy hit quality (see Mechanics). Negative Dodge has a chance to promote enemy hit quality instead.
- Mobility is the amount of meters (not tiles, 1 tile is 1.5 meters) the soldier can move in a single action.
- Hacking determines success chance in hacking actions.
- Will is the defensive stat against psionic attacks, stunning effects (such as from Stun Lancers), but no longer determines bleedout chance, which is now based on overkill damage. It also functions as the fatigue stat.
- Psi Offense determines success chance and strength for some psionic abilities.
- Combat Intelligence determines the amount of AP the soldier gains each promotion starting at Lcpl (7 ranks to gain AP in total) : 4 at Very Low and 1 additional for each level higher.
- Heroes Gain additional AP to spend on their base perks as they also require AP to learn. This also means it is optional to skip a tree perk to save AP and instead spend it on XCOM row perks instead. In addition to this, Heroes total AP gain based on their Combat Intelligenece is slightly higher than that of standard soldiers but the AP gain per rank is not linear and rather most of which are granted in the higher ranks. Shown below is the AP gain per rank per Combat Intelligence and its total for use on XCOM Perks and the base cost for main tree perks.
|Surplus AP Per Rank||
|Total Surplus AP||
|Base Perk Cost||10||11||12||13||14||25||30|
Soldier's starting stats can vary depending on whether the Not Created Equally option is active. By default, it is, and soldiers will start with randomized startig stats, making each soldier unique. Disabling the option will give every soldier starting stats fixed at the average. SPARKs are always Created Equally, don't have Will or Psi Offense stats and have differences over normal starting stats: +8 Health, +30 Defense, -3 Mobility, +1 Armor.
Not Created Equally works by swapping stats and will never produce really bad or good rookies. A rookie with high Aim might have low Mobility or Health as a result. For the purpose of those modifications some stats are worth more "points" than others. The total of "points" a soldier has on all of their stats is 483. This information can be used to determine the Psi Offense of rookies prior to building the Psionic Labs in order to save high psi offense troopers as future Psi Operatives:
- Dodge, Will, Hacking and Psi Offense are all worth 1 point.
- Aim is worth 3 points.
- Health and Mobility are worth 12 points.
- Defense will never be randomized.
- Combat Intelligence uses Psi Offense values: 5-8 for Very Low, 9-14 for Low, 15-25 for Average, 26-31 for High, and 32-35 for Very High.
In Rookie difficulty soldiers will also gain a bonus +5 Will and +1 Health, and non faction soldiers gain +10 Aim.
Stats by Class
As soldiers rank up in their assigned class, they will gain stat bonuses. These are the total stat gains for each class:
|Total Stats Gained|
* Psi Operatives also gain Psi Offense, starting at 45 at Squaddie, and raising by 4 each subsequent rank, up to 73 at MSgt.
Bonding soldiers is a feature ported from War of the Chosen with some minor changes.
Two soldiers can bond by increasing their cohesion level. This can be done simply by sending the soldiers out on missions together. Cohesion is measured by a scale from 1.0 to 10.0, and once their cohesion level is at 10.0, the soldiers are eligible to be bonded. Every time the bond is leveled up, the scale resets, raising by 5.0 for each bond level (15.0 for level 2, 20.0 for level 3).
Rescuing a bleeding out soldier via evac improves the cohesion between the rescued and the rescuer.
The only way to break a bond is for one of the bondmates to die (or be permanently dismissed from the barracks). If this happens while they're on a mission together, the other bondmate might panic.
Sending 2 incompatible soldiers on a Form Soldier Bond Covert Action (incompatible due to at least 1 of them being already bonded with another soldier) will have no effect on any bond, effectively wasting the Covert Action.
Bond Perks: Level 1
At level 1 of a bond, both soldiers receive this perk:
Teamwork: Grant an additional movement point to a bondmate. Has a single charge shared between bondmates.
This ability costs 1 action point to use, requires line of sight to their bondmate and doesn't end the soldier's turn.
"Movement point" means 1 action point that can only be used for movement.
Note that firing a Sniper Rifle requires 2 "normal" action points (assuming no Snap Shot), meaning that if you want to move your Sharpshooter and fire with them on the same turn, you will need to grant them the movement action first, then consume it on a movement action, then shoot.
Unlike Sniper Rifles, the Gauntlets used by Technicals do not differentiate between "normal" action points and movement-only action points - thanks to this distinction, you can increase the accuracy of your soldier's Rocket Launcher whether you grant the extra movement action before or after moving the Technical.
Bond Perks: Level 2
At level 2 of a bond, the bondmates receive three passive abilities and one upgrade to an activated ability:
Covert Operators: When deployed on a Covert Action together, the duration is reduced by one day.
Stand By Me: When this soldier ends a move adjacent to their bondmate, their bondmate will be automatically cleansed of any negative mental effects.
The soldier doesn't need to end their turn adjacent to their bondmate - they simply need to end a movement action there.
For the purposes of this ability, "adjacent" means adjacent in a cardinal direction (either horizontally or vertically - not diagonally!). However, it's worth noting that there can be "zero-tile-width cover" (such as very thin barriers acting as either half cover or full cover) between the two soldiers and this perk will still work.
Starting a turn adjacent to your bondmate is not enough - the cleansing effect will only trigger at the end of a movement action.
Spotter: This soldier is granted a bonus to aim when their bondmate has attacked or been attacked by the soldier's target. An extra bonus is granted if the bondmate is adjacent.
Both the targeting bonus and the adjacency extra bonus provide +10% hit chance each, up to a maximum of +20%.
Similarly to Stand By Me, "adjacent" means adjacent in a cardinal direction.
The extra bonus is granted only if the other condition is fulfilled - that is, the other bondmate either shooting at or getting shot by the target. It's not granted merely by standing adjacent to the bondmate.
As of LWOTC version 1.0.2, getting attacked by an enemy does not seem to grant any aim bonus. This is likely a bug.
Advanced Teamwork: Grant an additional action point to a bondmate. Has one or two charges per mission depending on bond level, shared between bondmates.
This ability replaces the regular Teamwork.
Unlike regular Teamwork, Advanced Teamwork grants a "normal" action point that can be used for any action, not just movement. This ability still requires to have line of sight to their bondmate
Level 2 bonds have access to 1 charge of this ability per mission.
Bond Perks: Level 3
At the third and final level of a bond, the bondmates receive one new active ability and one upgrade to an existing active ability:
Dual Strike: A combined standard shot attack by this soldier and their bondmate. This shot is a free action for the bondmate.
This ability causes the soldier using the ability to take 1 standard shot at the selected target, then makes their bondmate take another standard shot at the same target.
Normally, it costs 1 action and is turn-ending for the soldier using the ability, but doesn't cost their bondmate any actions. However, if the soldier using the ability is a Sharpshooter, it will cost them 2 actions instead (and still end their turn). If you want to maximize the effectiveness of Dual Strike in a bond where one of the soldiers is a Sharpshooter, make sure the other bondmate isn't a Sharpshooter - this way, you can use Dual Strike for 1 action point on the non-Sharpshooter and still have 2 actions left on your Sharpshooter.
It can synergize with Spotter: if a soldier uses Dual Strike, their bondmate will be eligible for the associated aim bonuses on any further shots taken on the same target.
Advanced Teamwork will have 2 charges available per mission instead of 1.
The amount of time a soldier will be out of action is based how much damage they took over a battle and what percentage of their maximum health (including item granted HP) this accounted for. The lowest HP the soldier got down to (1 HP if they went into bleedout) will be what the time calculation is based on, so healing the soldier during battle will not reduce healing times (only the Field Surgeon perk will), but it will help prevent higher healing times if the soldier takes damage again. Templar's Greater Padding ability prevents wound times for the first few HP depending on shield tier.
Staffing a scientist in the infirmary will increase the healing rate by 50% (100% on Rookie), decreasing healing times by 33% (50% on Rookie).
Wound Time Calculation
The points needed to heal a wounded soldier are rolled randomly between a minimum and a maximum depending on the percentage of health lost (based on the lowest HP reached) and difficulty, all configurable. The points rolled will be multiplied by 1.5 by default on all difficulties, and each hour the healing rate will be substracted. The base healing rate is 80 points per hour, increased by 40 (80 on Rookie) when staffing a scientist in the AWC.
|Calculated Wound Time|
|% HP lost||Minimum Points||Maximum Points||Minimum Time||Maximum Time|
|0 - 10||1000||7500||0 days and 19 hours||5 days and 21 hours|
|10 - 20||5000||12500||3 days and 22 hours||9 days and 19 hours|
|20 - 30||10000||17500||7 days and 20 hours||13 days and 17 hours|
|30 - 40||15000||22500||11 days and 18 hours||17 days and 14 hours|
|40 - 50||20000||27500||15 days and 15 hours||21 days and 12 hours|
|50 - 60||25000||32500||19 days and 13 hours||25 days and 10 hours|
|60 - 70||30000||37500||23 days and 11 hours||29 days and 8 hours|
|70 - 80||35000||42500||27 days and 9 hours||33 days and 5 hours|
|80 - 90||40000||47500||31 days and 6 hours||37 days and 3 hours|
|90 - 100||45000||75000*||35 days and 4 hours||58 days and 15 hours*|
* On Rookie difficulty the maximum points are reduced to 55000, making the maximum time 43 days and 0 hours.
Bleedout and Death
If a soldier loses all their HP, they can either enter a state where they're bleeding out but not dead yet, or outright die without any chance of saving them. The chance for a bleed-out to happen depends on the amount of overkill damage they took: if they took the same damage as the HP they had, the bleedout chance is 90%, reduced by 20% for each point of damage extra. The "Stay With Me" training done in the Guerrilla Tactics School makes the game roll up to 50 instead of up to 100, effectively doubling the chances:
|Chance to Bleed Out|
|No "Stay With Me"||90%||70%||50%||30%||10%||0%|
|With "Stay With Me"||100%||100%||100%||60%||20%||0%|
Bleeding out soldiers have a limited time to get treatment: if 4 turns pass and they haven't been stabilized with a medikit or a Medical Protocol, evac'd out by having your other soldiers pick them up, or the mission hasn't ended, they will die. After being stabilized soldiers will become unconscious, after which they can be brought back up with Get Up or a Revival Protocol, but it's recommended to heal them up to reduce the risk of death.
|XCOM Units in Long War of the Chosen|