Covert Operative (EU2012)

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Keys to Cover Operative Deployment
Security Breach Trailer
  1. Covert operatives are limited to pistols; pistol tech and Foundry upgrades may be useful.
  2. Covert operatives have a powerful in-mission ability. "EXALT Comm Hack". If you can find an EXALT comm array, you covert operative can hack it, disabling all EXALT forces weapons for a short time.
  3. Heavy soldiers and MEC Troopers are ineligible for covert ops duty.

Covert Operative


  • Covert Operatives are deployed individually to countries in Covert Operations to disrupt EXALT Cells. They need to be retrieved by an XCOM squad after 6 days, otherwise they'll be permanently lost (KIA).
  • When a squad is deployed to retrieve a Covert Operative it will generate either a Covert Data Recovery or a Covert Extraction mission.
    • While survival of the Covert Operative is required to successfully complete a Covert Extraction mission, the same does not apply to Covert Data Recovery mission.
  • The Operative may not start with your main squad specially on Covert Data Recovery missions, where it will usually start on the Transmitter area.
  • Your Covert Operative can be any of your soldiers. However, because they cannot use Pistols, Heavies and MECs are excluded.
  • As mentioned above, Covert Operatives are limited to the Pistol, the Foundry upgrades can make a big difference. Make sure they're equipped with your best model. Tactical Rigging can also help them out quite a bit as well.

Comm Array Hack

EXALT Comm Array
  • COMM ARRAY HACK.png Covert Operatives have the Comm Array Hack ability. This allows them to hack the active EXALT Comm Arrays that are present during all Covert Operations missions and disrupt EXALT communications and prevent them from using their main weapons during the next turn.
  • There will be 4 active Comm Arrays on Data Recovery missions and 2 active (and 2 inactive) during Covert Recovery missions. They provide full cover to adjacent unit and are immune to damage.
  • If the Covert Operative is adjacent to one, they can use it with the left mouse button, the same way you power down bombs or claim Meld Canisters. This immediately sets to zero the ammunition of the main weapons carried gives all EXALT units present on the map, forcing them to reload their weapons during the next turn.
  • Once a Comm Relay is hacked, it cannot be hacked again in that mission.
  • Note that the Comm Array does not restrict use by EXALT of their other weapons like Rocket Launchers or Grenades; most notably, EXALT heavies may be more likely to use their Rocket Launchers since you just disabled their LMGs.
  • During Covert Extraction missions, approaching the active Comm Arrays will activate EXALT reinforcements so be aware.

Who to Bring

All three eligible classes (Assaults, Snipers and Supports) can be equally viable candidates for being a Covert Operative. Though depending on the Commander, one may be better than the others. While the lack of a main weapon and armor means you probably want to send your highest ranked soldiers undercover, this isn't a must. In fact, it can be a good idea to send a lower ranked soldier and give him or her some free kills to pick up experience points for promotions. Since the Covert Operative is an extra and free soldier on the ground, your A-Team Colonels or Majors can soften up the EXALT troops while your Squaddie or Corporal Covert Operative picks them off for some free kills.


Assaults can have good mobility thanks to all of their abilities make up for their lack of a main weapon and/or armor, making them much more viable in the ensuing firefight.

  • Run and Gun allows Operatives to join up with the main squad faster and still shoot or be put into Overwatch. Likewise, Run and Gun allows you to knock out EXALT Comm Relays from farther away.


Snipers are exceedingly powerful Covert Operatives.

  • Gunslinger and Opportunist can put the damage of Pistols on par with Assault Rifles, making it a reliable form of damage. No other ability can increase the combat effectiveness of your Operative in such a broad, far reaching manner.
  • Low Profile coupled with Mimetic Skin will help with the survivability of the Operative. If a Sniper doesn't have Gunslinger, you should probably leave them in the main squad.
  • Double Tap coupled with Hyper Reactive Pupils means the Operative can easily take out lone EXALT operatives themselves.


Supports are best if you send one of your Medics as the Operative. This allows you to pack a little more firepower in your main squad since your Medic is already going to be in the mission. In addition, the Medic can do a better job of staying alive should he take some fire.

  • Sprinter will help the Operative move around without the benefit of advanced armors
  • Deep Pockets gives more item usages.


If you've gotten Psionics and EXALT is still around, It doesn't hurt to bring a Psionic to Mindfray whenever you can instead of having to utilize your Pistol.

What to Bring

Your Operative should always be equipped with the best Pistol you can produce. As for items, a Medikit is a good idea if they take some fire and are still far away from your main Medic. A S.C.O.P.E. is a good idea, but should be left at home once you have Improved Pistol I and II, since they do not stack. Because EXALT Weapons are simply aesthetically different versions of your own, a Grenade isn't a bad idea since blowing EXALT troops up means you're not missing out on anything important. Elite Operatives and Heavies carry Alien Grenades and drop fragments when killed, so it may be worth killing them using weapons and not explosives.

Armor items such as Nano-Fiber Vests, Respirator Implants and Chitin Plating can be equipped on the Operative, and while their health bonus does not appear in the loadout screen, they still benefit from their health boosts while in-mission, which is useful in making them harder to kill and less likely to be injured.

If you're lagging in Pistol technology, an Improved Arc Thrower can offer a relatively good chance to 'kill' an EXALT operative with 6 HP or less remaining, as it is unaffected by cover or Smoke Grenades, and does not trigger Covering Fire.

How to Bring

If you've got Gene Mods, some mods are very useful on your Operatives.

Mimetic Skin can keep your Operative from getting mowed down in an extreme firefight, and pairs especially well with Snipers.

Muscle Fiber Density can help with mobility; alternatively, Adaptive Bone Marrow will allow an operative to heal their meager HP.

Secondary Heart keeps your Operative alive if you make a costly mistake, which can save you from immediately failing the mission. (Although if the mission is a Data Extraction mission, you will still need a Revive Support in order to successfully complete it.)

EXALT does not field Psionics, so Brain upgrades are irrelevant.

EU2012 Badge XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012): XCOM Units
Soldiers:CLASS ASSAULT.png AssaultCLASS HEAVY.png HeavyCLASS SNIPER.png SniperCLASS SUPPORT.png SupportCLASS PSIONIC.png PsionicCLASS MECH.png MEC Trooper (EW DLC)
S.H.I.Vs:S.H.I.V.Alloy S.H.I.V.Hover S.H.I.V.
Attributes:ClassesClass BuildsAbilitiesStatsNicknamesGene Mods (EW DLC)Medals (EW DLC)
Loadout:WeaponsArmorEquipmentMEC Suit (EW DLC)
Barracks:Officer Training SchoolPsi LabMemorialGenetics Lab (EW DLC)Cybernetics Lab (EW DLC)
Other: VolunteerHeroesZhang (Slingshot DLC)Annette (EW DLC)Covert Operative (EW DLC)Training Roulette (EW DLC)

EXALT Insignia (EU2012).png XCOM: Enemy Within DLC: EXALT
Covert Operations:Covert OperativeCovert Data RecoveryCovert ExtractionEXALT Base Raid
EXALT Units:EXALT Sniper EXALT HeavyEXALT OperativeEXALT Medic
EXALT Elite SniperEXALT Elite HeavyEXALT Elite OperativeEXALT Elite Medic
EXALT Weapons:EXALT Assault RifleEXALT Sniper RifleEXALT LMGEXALT Rocket LauncherEXALT Laser RifleEXALT Laser Sniper RifleEXALT Heavy Laser
Other:Recovered ArtEXALT ArtifactEXALT Technology