Class Ability ComparisonsEdit

Some players who have completed Ironman on Classic and Impossible difficulties recommend choosing Squadsight, Opportunist and Double Tap.

Snap Shot vs. SquadsightEdit

  • 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, and allows the sniper to score more critical hits, realizing the powerful sniper rifles' true potential.
    • In XCOM: Enemy Within, the Aim penalty was reduced to -10.
  • 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.
    • On the plus side however, utilizing squadsight effectively will result in every sniper shot being fired with maximum aim and critical strike chance, in addition to leaving more actions to utilize double-tap in conjunction with reload or just simply fire two times, instead of relocating.
    • However a lone sniper way behind other soldiers is an easy target for Seekers.
    • XCOM: Enemy within changed Squadsight so that shots made on enemies through Squadsight cannot ciritcally hit, unless using Headshot.
    • This also reduces the value of Opportunist.

Gunslinger vs. Damn Good GroundEdit

  • Gunslinger confers 2 bonus damage with pistols.
    • Good for Covert Operatives because they are limited to just pistols and this allows them to do more damage.
  • 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.
    • Works well with Squad Sight as it will often allow the sniper to stay in one location for extended sessions and provide cover for the squad

Disabling Shot vs. Battle ScannerEdit

  • Disabling Shot allows a shot that causes the target's main weapon to malfunction, forcing it to waste a turn "fixing it".
    • Useful for disrupting enemies who either are or is about to go for a flanking shot.
    • Can be utilized to disable the attack ability of powerful enemies like the Sectopod or the Cyberdisc.
  • Battle Scanner is a grenade-like scanning device that, when thrown, creates a new source of vision.
    • Battle Scanner reveals all cloaked enemies within its scan range, making scanners useful for uncovering Seekers who have gone into Stealth mode; this stealth-revealing capability is valuable in the early game prior to researching Bioelectric Skin.
    • Battle Scanner's scouting utility is diminished by the presence of Mimetic Skin Gene Modded squad members, which allows for safe, effective and unlimited scouting. These soldiers can move far up-field and provide targeting data to Squadsight snipers indefinitely without danger so long as they do not move.

Executioner vs. OpportunistEdit

The choice here is a 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.
    • If coupled with Damn Good Ground alongside Squadsight, this will effectively allow the sniper to fire against enemies when first engaged and before they move to cover.

Double Tap vs. In The ZoneEdit

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 synergize with Snap Shot - the ability's benefit is negated if the soldier is moving in that turn.

Builds and TacticsEdit

Main article: Squad Tactics (XCOM: Enemy Unknown)

Sniper Class builds suitable for all difficulties and DLCs:

Covert Ops SoldierEdit

Early-game "Gunslinger" build (1-2 months):

Squadsight, Gunslinger, Battle Scanner, Opportunist, Double Tap
S.C.O.P.E., Reaper Rounds, Laser Pistol, Archangel Armor
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 at any stage in the 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 that's before Hyper Reactive Pupils, Gunslinger and Double Tap are factored in.

Marksman Soldier Edit

Mid-game "Hunter" build (3-4 months):

Snap Shot, Damn Good Ground, Battle Scanner, Opportunist, In The Zone
S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Laser Sniper Rifle, Ghost Armor
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Mimetic Skin, Depth Perception

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.

Psi-Assassin SoldierEdit

Late-game "Dominance" build (5+ months)

Squadsight, Damn Good Ground, Disabling Shot, Opportunist, Double Tap
S.C.O.P.E., Chitin Plating, Special Application Plasma Rifle, Psi Armor
Tactical Rigging, Ammo Conservation, S.C.O.P.E. Upgrade, Neural Feedback, Adrenal Neurosympathy, Mimetic Skin, Muscle Fiber Density, Depth Perception, Mindfray, Psi Panic, Mind Control

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

Access to a cloaking ability (i.e. Ghost Grenade, Ghost Armor, or Mimetic Skin) is critical for a Sniper end-game build. Attacks while cloaked provides bonus critical chance, which increases single-target damage potential that stacks with Headshot, to confer the highest critical chance.


  • Skeleton Suit and Archangel Armor allow snipers to get to higher ground instantly. Depending on the map in question, this is extremely useful on Terror Missions and abductions; however,it is only marginally useful if there are no buildings or elevated ground.
  • Ghost Armor, when combined with Depth Perception, Mimetic Skin, and Muscle Fiber Density, is highly adaptive to any terrain and tactical situation, having both the pre-requisite mobility and stealth attributes of previously mutually exclusive armor builds. Ghost armor allows snipers to take advantage of higher ground and remain there with impunity thanks to the ability to cloak.


Gene ModsEdit

Main article: Gene Mods
XComEW Gene modded Sniper takes aim

A gene modded Sniper takes aim.

Requires XCOM: Enemy Within expansion:

  • Depth Perception confers +5 Aim and Critical for height advantage; Squadsight snipers build "nests" on high ground.
  • Muscle Fiber Density helps snipers reach their "nests"; normally requiring a ladder, drain pipe or grapple. More importantly, this mod substitutes the uses of the Skeleton Suit and Archangel Armors.
  • Mimetic Skin greatly increases the viability of the Snap Shot and Low Profile; since these requires access to full cover. Mimetic Skin becomes infinitely more valuable on fully indoor maps with numerous obstacles: snipers often wastes a turn repositioning upon entering the next room; invisibility, allows them to remain undetected during that turn, and can potentially set up an easy Double Tap or In The Zone spree.

Multiplayer Sniper ClassesEdit

The following is a detailed break-down of the Sniper class stats and abilities in multiplayer mode. 








Marksman 150 6 75 0 45 Headshot
Hunter 1000 8 88 0 65

Headshot - Snap Shot - Gunslinger - Battle Scanner - Executioner

Dead Eye 2000 8 88 0 65 HeadshotSquadsightGunslingerBattle Scanner - Executioner - Opportunist
Agent 2000 9 105 0 75

Headshot - Snap Shot - Gunslinger - Disabling Shot - Executioner - Low Profile - Double Tap

Psi Assassin 4750 9 95 0 70

Headshot - Squadsight - Damn Good GroundExecutionerLow Profile
Psionic: Mindfray - Psi Panic - Mind Control

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.

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