The primary role of the Sniper Class is providing long range standoff, force multiplier and supporting Overwatch against enemy units.
|“||Specialized in dealing large amounts of damage from extreme range, the Sniper is an invaluable resource for both scouting and surgical elimination of enemy units. Please note: Snipers are not suited for close-quarters combat without supplemental training.||”|
–XCOM Database, XCOM: Enemy Unknown
The primary role of the Sniper Class is to either quickly kill priority targets, or dispose of retreating or flanking weakened targets. Every alien they "kill confirmed" directly translates into one less potentially -dead- XCOM-Soldier. The unique characteristic of the class is the focus on long range combat: unlike other weapons, sniper rifles have greater accuracy at long distance, and suffer reduced accuracy at close and mid range.
Available abilities allow snipers to develop into two general types — Recon and Overwatch.
Recon is generally better for missions where lots of movement and close-quarters combat is expected (such as UFO and Target Extraction). Overwatch is better for open missions (such as Alien Abductions and the Alien Base.)
The Sniper class can be equipped with sniper rifles and pistols. They tend to rely on their pistols as backup weapons more often than any other class, so they should be the first to receive upgraded pistols.
|Weapon||Base Damage||Crit Damage||Crit Chance||Range|
|Sniper Rifle||3 - 5||6 - 8||25%||Long|
|Laser Sniper Rifle||5 - 7||9 - 11||30%||Long|
|Plasma Sniper Rifle||8 - 10||14 - 16||35%||Long|
- Ammo Conservation: Increase ammo capacity by 100%.
|Weapon||Base Damage||Crit Damage||Crit Chance||Range|
|Pistol||1 - 2||2 - 4||0%||Medium|
|Laser Pistol||1 - 3||3 - 5||10%||Medium|
|Plasma Pistol||2 - 4||5 - 7||0%||Medium|
When a soldier is promoted, certain ranks allow the player to choose one of two abilities for the soldier.
|Headshot||Fire a shot with +30% critical chance and extra damage on critical hits, based on the tech level of the sniper rifle. 2 turn cool down.|
|Snap Shot||Removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim (-10 Aim in XCOM: Enemy Within) penalty.|
|Squadsight||Allows firing at targets in an ally's sight radius. (In XCOM: Enemy Within, these targets cannot be critically hit unless using Headshot.)|
|Gunslinger||Confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.|
|Damn Good Ground||Confers +10 Aim and +10 Defense against enemies at lower elevation, in addition to the usual elevation bonuses.|
|Disabling Shot||Allows the Sniper to fire a shot that causes the target's main weapon to malfunction. The target may use Reload to fix the weapon. The shot cannot inflict a critical hit. 2 turn cooldown.|
|Battle Scanner||Scanning device that, when thrown, creates a new source of vision for 2 turns. Can only be used 2 times per battle.|
|Executioner||Confers +10 Aim against targets with less than 50% health.|
|Opportunist||Eliminates the Aim penalty on reaction shots, and allows reaction shots to cause critical hits.|
|Low Profile||Makes partial cover count as full.|
|In The Zone||Killing a flanked or uncovered target with the sniper rifle does not cost an action.|
|Double Tap||Allows both actions to be used for Standard Shot, Headshot, or Disabling Shot, provided no moves were made. The second shot must be taken immediately after the first. 1 turn cooldown.|
- Snap Shot removes the sniper rifle's restriction on firing and Overwatch after moving. Any shots taken suffer a -20 Aim penalty.
- Snap Shot is considerably more flexible in usage compared to Squadsight. Being able to move with the squad and not require "nests", allows full use of certain Sniper abilities which are otherwise of limited use to their Squadsight counterparts.
- Squadsight allows sniping at targets in an ally's sight radius.
- Squadsight requires unobstructed line-of-sight (LoS): this means frequently hunting for "Snipers' Nests" with unobstructed view of most of the battlefield in order to make the most of this ability.
- Gunslinger confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.
- Damn Good Ground confers +10 Aim and +10 Defense against enemies at lower elevation, when on elevated ground or flying with Archangel Armor, in addition to the usual elevation bonuses.
- Battle Scanner is a scanning device that, when thrown, creates a new source of vision.
- Disabling Shot allows a shot that causes the target's main weapon to malfunction, forcing it to waste a turn "fixing it".
- Battle Scanner reveals all cloaked enemies within its scan range, making scanners useful for uncovering Seekers who have gone into Stealth mode.
- Battle Scanner's scouting utility is reduced by the presence of the Mimetic Skin Gene Mod, which allows for safe, effective and unlimited scouting; however, the stealth-revealing ability is valuable in the early game prior to researching Bioelectric Skin.
The choice here is an conditional ability that's active 50% of the time vs. an unconditional ability that can always be activated on your own terms.
- Executioner helps to finish off wounded enemies
- Opportunist allows for the setup Reaction Fire ambushes.
The true "force multiplier" potential of the Sniper Class unlocks at the Colonel rank. Both abilities presented at this stage allow multiple shots per turn, but in different ways: high-variance reactive sniping, and low-variance proactive sniping. Your Squad Tactics and abilities need to be taken into consideration.
- Double Tap allows the use of the first action for shooting instead of moving. If the soldier has an excellent enough position, they can potentially shoot twice per turn, either at the same target or two separate targets.
- Double Tap synergies with Squadsight and Disabling Shot, and excels at dealing double damage quickly to high valued targets or allow for the neutralizing of two weaker targets in the same turn. (Compared to In The Zone, it doesn't require any "specific Squad Tactics" to setup or to pull off.)
- Double Tap is limited by the cooldown, which only allows the ability to be used every other turn. (It is activated automatically when taking the first shot; cooldown can be tracked by opening the Sniper's status window: when Double Tap is available, it will be shown in beneficial status effects.)
- Double Tap is not Bullet Swarm for snipers - the second action MUST be a shot, Disabling Shot, or Headshot; this may result in the player having to use the "End Turn" button if a target isn't available for the sniper.
- Double Tap does not synergies with Snap Shot - the ability's benefit is negated if the soldier is moving in that turn.
- In The Zone allows for sustained fire - for as long as the soldier continues to kill visible targets that are flanked or exposed - before needing to reload.
- In The Zone is effectively an "AoE attack" with the potential to pick off the two Drone escorts of a Sectopod, or the Sectoid escorts of a Mechtoid or Sectoid Commander, or the damaged survivors of a pack of Mutons, or every member of a pack of Floaters.
- In The Zone is highly dependent on Squad Tactics - requiring the destruction of alien cover by allied action - and thus synergies with:
- In The Zone synergies with Snap Shot and Opportunist while in Overwatch against flanked foes. Certain enemy types (i.e. Chryssalids, Zombie, Berserkers and especially Drones) frequently ignore cover, making them extremely easy targets for the Sniper.
Builds and TacticsEdit
- Main article: Squad Tactics
Sniper Class builds suitable for all difficulties and DLCs:
Early-game "Gunslinger" build (1-2 months):
- Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, Improved Pistol (I / II / III), Mimetic Skin, Hyper Reactive Pupils
All-round great "general purpose" sniper build for all difficulties -- perfect for Covert Operations -- yet still remains the cheapest, most effective, and most reliable damage dealer. This build is good at any stage in the game, but especially in late game. Low Profile and Mimetic Skin allows for "camping" Intel objectives at no risk. Remains fairly flexible and effective in late game with all three Improved Pistol upgrades researched. Very high Aim combined with a Plasma Pistol allows a minimum 5 damage every shot (which is comparable in both firepower and accuracy to Light Plasma Rifle) but with half the manufacturing cost and zero reloading; and thats before Hyper Reactive Pupils, Gunslinger and Double Tap are factored in.
Marksman Soldier Edit
Mid-game "Hunter" build (3-4 months):
A fireteam-oriented designated marksman -- designed to exploit "In The Zone" -- by moving with the squad and support them via proactively terminating low valued targets. The key point is to combined hit-and-run tactics, flanking and crossfire maneuvers with bounding overwatch, without putting your soldier at risk.
Excels in Terror Site and Council Missions where enemies (usually Thin Men) will drop in and flanked from the side, often outside of cover. Generally good at indoor missions or close quarters engagements that requires frequently repositioning. Battle Scanner helps to plan moves in advance; this build only allows engagement of only targets in their own view zone, and the scanner can be used to scout the area without alerting the enemy.
Late-game "Dominance" build (5+ months)
- Squadsight, Damn Good Ground, Disabling Shot, Opportunist, Double Tap, Mindfray, Psi Panic, Mind Control
- S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Special Application Plasma Rifle, Psi Armor or Archangel Armor
- Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Neural Feedback, Adrenal Neurosympathy, Mimetic Skin, Muscle Fiber Density, Depth Perception
Extremely powerful dominance sniper, perfectly designed to terminate all weaklings, before disabling or mind-controlling high-valued targets. The key point in this tactic is making excellent use of fireteam discipline and finding the best spot to overwatch "nest", which is often the highest vantage point on the current map with the fewest LOS obstructions, and changing locations at the correct times.
This build is recommended to have archangel armor when possible; at the mission start, immediately move your recon units forward and simply "fly" with your sniper. This is also incredibly effective against sectopods end game, since you can hit them with a disabling shot, followed up by a near 100% critical headshot.
Equipment and UpgradesEdit
Consider equipping the Sniper with Skeleton Suit as soon as it is available. This is more useful for the stationary sniper, of course. The Grapple can be used twice per turn, and will allow your sniper to get to higher ground instantly. It depends on the type of the map, though, how useful this can be - on shot-down/landed UFO missions, there are usually no buildings or elevated ground. On Terror Missions and abductions, however, this is extremely useful. After Archangel Armor is available, you can discard Skeleton Armor, though. Chitin Plating is a must for any sniper using Skeleton Suit or Archangel Armor since these suits of armor offer less protection, high ground does not typically offer cover, most of the enemies will be able to see you as well, and the stationary sniper will have to spend one turn positioning and so unable to kill aliens before they get a chance to attack.
Ghost armor might be the best armor for stationary snipers. When exploring the map or creep/crawling, stationary snipers are very unwieldy and are often out of position when an ambush occurs. However, when using ghost armor, the stationary sniper can find the enemy then reposition in the best possible location to fire an opening salvo using double tap or flanking fire on the next turn when they cloak. Ghost armor also comes with a grapple, allowing the sniper to take advantage of higher ground and remain with impunity thanks to the ability to cloak.
It, however, becomes infinitely more valuable on fully indoor maps with numerous obstacles: a Squadsight sniper would almost always waste a turn repositioning upon entering the next room. However, with invisibility, they won't be fired upon during that turn, and can potentially set up an In The Zone spree.
S.C.O.P.E. is extremely useful for low-rank Snipers, ensuring their shots hit, and that they score enough kills to advance in rank. Stationary snipers, however, have next to no use for anything but S.C.O.P.E, since they will stay far away from the fight.
With Tactical Rigging researched, a Stationary Sniper can make use of bringing a Medikit to allow for patching up wounded squadmates when regrouping. A Ghost Grenade can allow easy escape for a sniper ambushed by a Floater or enemy reinforcements.
In XCOM: Enemy Within, Snipers may choose to take a Respirator Implant to provide immunity to Seeker strangulation, as a lone sniper far from the team tends to be under the most threat from these units (Although in some cases, the Sniper is so far away the Seekers cannot even see them, and instead target other squad members).
Chitin Plating can be helpful for adding extra protection, since Ghost/Skeleton/Archangel armor all have less defense.
In the XCOM: Enemy Within expansion, Gene Mods can confer further bonuses to snipers, especially when it comes to getting to and utilizing high ground. The eye mod Depth Perception gives additional +5 Aim and +5 Crit Chance bonuses for height advantage, aiding Squadsight snipers in camping and Snap Shot snipers in flanking. The leg mod Muscle Fiber Density helps snipers leap to heights normally requiring a ladder, drain pipe or grapple, minimizing the time snipers need to get to high ground. More importantly, this mod largely substitutes the uses of the Skeleton Suit and Archangel Armors, allowing the sniper access to more armor options. A Squadsight sniper with both Depth Perception and Muscle Fiber Density, paired with Ghost Armor, becomes highly adaptive to any terrain and situation, having both the mobility and stealth attributes of the previously mutually exclusive armor builds. It's also worth noting that Mimetic Skin is a very powerful gene mod for Snipers and is good synergy with Low Profile, since Mimetic Skin requires access to full cover, and Low Profile lets Snipers treat partial cover as full (allowing the Sniper to make use of partial cover for Mimetic Skin). Access to a cloaking ability--either a Ghost Grenade, Ghost Armor, or Mimetic Skin--is very useful for a Sniper end-game because making an attack while cloaked gives you bonus crit chance which increases your single-target damage potential and can stack with Headshot to confer a high crit chance even to things that normally are very difficult to crit, such as Sectopods. Bear in mind also, that Battle Scanner is less useful if you have anyone else in the squad with Mimetic Skin. They can move far upfield and provide targeting data to your Squadsight Snipers indefinitely without danger so long as they do not move. (Try to keep them out of the rough path of the Sniper's fire, however, as the Sniper can occasionally strike cover objects along the rough line of its fire, and destroying the cover a Mimetic Skin squadmate is using to stay cloaked will immediately decloak them.)
Multiplayer Sniper ClassesEdit
The following is a detailed break-down of the Sniper class stats and abilities in multiplayer mode.
|Dead Eye||2000||8||88||0||65||Headshot - Squadsight - Gunslinger- Battle Scanner - Executioner - Opportunist|
Note: Each soldier class has a base cost of 800 points, which would need to be added to the values above to determine the point value of a particular build. The above point and stat values reflect the default (i.e. 0 point) equipment load-out.
- Snap Shot and Double Tap - If a Sniper acquires both of these abilities, then the second shot from Double Tap will be affected by Snap Shot which reduces the accuracy by 20% (10% penalty on XCOM: Enemy Within).
- Overwatch - After moving, a Sniper can only Overwatch with a pistol (except with Snap Shot). After selecting Overwatch, the Sniper may switch back to a sniper rifle and reaction fire animation will be performed with the rifle, despite the fact that Overwatch with a rifle is not possible. This requires at least one of your other soldiers to have an unused action. (Tested on XCOM: Enemy Within and XCOM: Enemy Unkown single player)
- It is likely that this is a specific case of a more general graphics bug in XCOM: Enemy Within, as it has been observed to occur without switching back to the sniper rifle, as well as in both the Support and Assault class.