The Specialist operates some of XCOM's most advanced equipment. They deploy robotic drones on the battlefield that can be outfitted for combat or field medic duty. The Specialist is the successor to the Support class.
- Primary Weapon: Assault Rifle
- Secondary Weapon: Gremlin
As a support and utility class, the Specialist is possibly the most able to mix its skill trees without impacting its usefulness in any particular role.
The Specialists signature ability is Aid Protocol, an ability that grants bonus defense based on the rank of the Gremlin they have equipped. It's noteworthy that using Aid Protocol does not end the Specialists turn, nor does hacking or Medical Protocol. This ability to use two actions in a turn means that the Specialist is best placed in a defensive position near the edge of active combat, allowing them to use minimal actions moving and instead controlling the battlefield with their Gremlin, whilst still providing fire support.
Medic specialists gain multiple abilities allowing them to recover their teams health more efficiently and remedy status effects.
Combat hackers gain a wide variety of utility skills, including the ability to finish off weakened enemies, and deal with robotic enemies effectively.
Regardless of path, experienced Specialists will have a focus in Overwatch shots, and will be the primary carriers of Skulljacks, reducing their potential item slots, though their array of utility abilities reduces this downside.
As the Support class was described as 'not sexy like the other classes,' the Specialist managed to bring the sexy back.
In the Tech-heavy world of the ADVENT Administration, information is a literal commodity: Intel resources can be hard to come by, and that's where the Specialist comes in. As they bring the Gremlin models with them, they receive a major boost to hacking abilities over the other soldiers tiny PDAs. Not only can you (with luck) disable, or even take over enemy robotic units, but remotely access terminals you would otherwise need to get close (and risk exposure) to access. Indeed, they're the only ones that can safely hack the 'lamp posts' in the cities that scan for identification, at least while remaining in concealment.
When hacking (including with other soldiers), the screen that appears will show the three possible results. Most commonly, it will show the failstate (often buffing the targeted device), a medium-difficulty utility hack, and a hard difficulty bonus hack. For example, on MECs and Turrets, the failstate is to buff the unit, and the hack is to either disable, or to take over the unit (lasts 3 turns). Meanwhile, the aforementioned 'lamp posts' hack is the failstate of summoning re-enforcements, and usually either causing all enemies to go into Disoriented status, or complete invulnerability for the Specialist for two turns. 'Usually', because on occasional missions, hacking these lamp posts, which are connected to ADVENT's equivalent of Mosaic, may give other bonuses, such as ADVENT facility information-- extremely helpful to keeping the Avatar program from completing, or effectively a free Mind Control of a random enemy unit still on the map. It is worth going out of the way to hack whenever possible for other bonuses such as permanent increase to the Specialist's hacking score.
It is also advisable to give them the Skulljack device, as their hacking bonus will apply, as well: this not also gives the Specialist a high-chance instant kill against ADVENT soldiers of all kinds, but gives them a Ranger/Lancer-like dashing attack with it (once per mission). This can be extremely profitable, as hacking bonuses include intel, resources, or even Avatar Facility location data (which must then be researched). Turning your specialist into such an 'Intelligence Officer' is very effective for your overall campaign against ADVENT and the aliens.
Skulljacking does a flat 20 damage, so certain enemies (Elite officer with elite shields has 21 HP) can survive if at full HP. Also note that Gremilin MkII and MkIII hacking bonuses do not apply to hacks made with the Skulljack.
Note that when hacking, the choice is for either the 'utility' hack, or the bonus hack, not both: simply click the panel for the hack you want to go for. Either way, pray to the RNG Gods that you chose below the roll.
Aliens are at least smart enough to pick the most likely shots available, so protect vulnerable or low-health allies with Aid Protocol to stop them being finished off. Aid Protocol can also negate an ADVENT officers mark, the weakness of low cover, or exposed Rangers. If your entire team is in high cover and one ally is in low cover, they will recieve dangerous amounts of enemy focus. Aid Protocol can negate this.
Combat Protocol deals extra damage to mechanical units, which can compensate for the limited means to deal with armoured enemies early-game.
Once ADVENT MECs have appeared, autopsy one as a priority to get the Mark 2 Gremlin, which offers substantial improvements to most things that a Specialist can do.
Combat Protocol has many beneficial situations, but should not be used as a primary offensive tool, due to its low number of uses and great utility. Use it to cancel enemy Overwatches, deal severe damage to MECs if you cannot shred their armor, and finish off entrenched units.
Carrying a Skulljack once Skullmining has been researched provides a substantial boost to your Tech score.
Bluescreen Rounds and EMP Grenades reduce the Tech scores of targets they damage. This can allow for easier hacking of mechanical units. Even a stunned unit that is hacked will still attract a lot of fire from the alien forces onto itself, which can turn the tide of combat.
Haywire Protocol is best used on enemies whose destruction you can be fairly certain of if things go wrong.
Attempting a Skulljack or Skullmine does guaranteed damage, and does not cost the unit their entire turn if it fails.
Consider when hacking the negatives of failure. It's better to take riskier hacks on guaranteed hacks like transport doors or item chests, rather than lampposts.
Triggering alien groups to investigate your position as a result of failed hacks can actually be a good way to lead them into an overwatch trap.