XCOM soldiers are those who risks their lives going on missions. On mission squad setup screen, an arbitrary mix of soldier classes (and SHIVs) can be chosen for the task at hand. Soldier slots can be scrolled with arrows when squad sizes above 6 are available, e.g., on all UFO missions.
XCOM starts with 15 unique soldiers and 2 random soldiers from their starting country. They also start with 1-4 SHIVs (depending upon difficulty). This means a starting barracks size of 18-21.
Of the initial 15 soldiers: 5 will start at LCPLs, 5 at SPECs, and 5 as PFCs (rookies).
Each XCOM soldier costs credits to recruit which vary based on how the campaign is progressing: Recruiting Soldiers.
Like the base game, soldiers are divided into classes. Soldiers start out as Privates (analogous to Rookies), where they have no class, and when they progress to Specialist (equivalent to Squaddie) they are assigned a class. You have some control over which class the Private is assigned to; when a soldier becomes a Specialist, they will be assigned a specialism of Tactical, Weapons, Marksman, or Support. You can then choose between the two classes for each specialism by choosing the appropriate perk. When assigned to become a MEC each specialism creates one MEC class.
|Specialism||Soldier Classes||MEC Class|
The Long War Rebalance classes are all designed with certain roles in mind, and they work best if they have other roles that synergize with them. For example, a Gunner's ability to Suppress works well with an Assault, as the Gunner can pin an enemy and prevent it from overwatching while the Assault moves up for a flank. Alternatively, a Medic can cancel out overwatch fire for the Assault using Concussion Grenades with Smoke and Mirrors, allowing the Assault to move up, providing cover with a Smoke Grenade afterwards.
The roles your soldiers are designed to fulfill, i.e., your build composition, are far more important than the individual strength of a soldier and their abilities. If your Engineers, Rocketeers, Infantry, and Goliath MECs are all built to use explosives for the role of cover destruction and AOE damage, you may have to build your Shogun MECs in a comparatively 'boring' way which focuses on Anti-mechanical utility.