Shot in the Dark – Sharpshooter Opinions

This is awkward.

Four weeks after saying that I was putting out my last post on XCOM2, its still going strong, and seems to have expanded beyond what I could have comprehended. Ah well, always forward!

This week, a look at the Sharpshooter class, how I used it and why I like what I like.

And remember, spoilers past here

XCOM Guide so far:
Pt 1 – Getting started and Facilities
Pt 2 – Research and priorities
Soldiers
Pt 3  – Grenadiers

Sharpshooters.

Overveiw:

Sharpshooters are, in my opinion and experience, one of the best units in the game. They are able to deal a significant amount of damage every turn with the versatility to be able to apply it where and as needed, aiming and on the move, from long range and at short, they are the pinch hitters of XCOM, picking up the slack where others have failed.

Where they excel in dealing death, they are remarkably unable to contribute in other ways, with little or no controlling or support abilities to speak of. Where the sharpshooter goes, death follows. The class, like every other, has two trees. Rifles and Pistols.

Rank 1 –

Squadsight.

Boy, this makes a huge difference. In XCOM 1, Snipers were a burden until they were able to pick up squad sight or snap fire at level 2. Thankfully, XCOM2 made that burden vanish. A strong ability that enables the sharpshooter to wait and see how the turn plays out and then take advantage of his rear position in order to remove the biggest threats for next turn. Their aim is generally high enough that it isn’t a problem to hit, even with the minor penalty it gives. Taking advantage of the Grenadiers ability to remove cover and grant the flanking bonus enables the sharpshooters to threaten massive critical hits with their already massive damage guns. One of my favorite abilities in the game. The only real downside is that Squadsight only works on the Sniper Rifle, and only seems to work in conjunction with a few abilities. all told, though, it is worth the sacrifice.

Rank 2
Long Watch v. Return Fire

This is a very simple choice for me. Long watch is above and beyond stronger than return fire. With the Sniper in the back of the squad, using squadsight to pick of what remains after the rest of the squad has taken their actions, the ability to take an overwatch shot from any squad members line of sight can be devastating. This is often used when setting up an ambush while taking advantage of a high ground position. Additionally, It provided a level of security to my squad if they finished everything off during the turn, as I knew that I would be able to take an overwatch shot from anywhere the enemy emerged from. For me, Rank 2 was all I really needed for my sharpshooters to be effective. Everything else was just icing on the doomcake.

Rank 3
Deadeye v. Lightning Hands

Lightning reflexes, like Long Watch before it, is the clear winner here. Accuracy is one of the key components to the Sharpshooters kit, and loosing that consistency in order to gain a potential bit of damage just doesn’t seem worth it to me. I took Deadeye on one of my initial snipers, and it never seemed worth it. The only time I would attempt t was when I was already sitting at a greater than 75% chance to hit, which was a rare enough event that I felt the ability wasn’t worth it. Lightning Hands, though, is always useful. The damage from a pistol in XCOM 2 is not insignificant, and at close range is an accurate weapon. The key here, though, is that the Pistol grants high percentage shots when the opponent is close, where the Sniper rifle fails. What makes it the clear and best choice, though, is that it is an action that takes no action points or ammo, so it is free in every way possible.

you can easily take two shots with the pistol on the move, or shot with a pistol and with the sniper rifle while staying still. This ability to attack two targets allows you the additional benefit of being able to remove two mobs with a single activation, something that is fairly uncommon in the game. Rank 3, unlike some other classes, has the Sharpshooter coming into their own. Anything that gets past the front lines will end up on the receiving end of a storm of gunfire, and that is clearly not their favorite place to be.

Rank 4
Death from Above v. Quickdraw

This rank has some pretty terrible choices. Both abilities are not particularly useful. Quickdraw, though, has more uses. Death from above is an amazing potential spell, but it does not work the way I want it to. I wanted it to work so that every time I killed a person from higher ground I got a free shot. Instead, it work like Quickdraw, but only if you kill a person, and only if it is from higher ground. Instead, I’ll just take Quickdraw. In those dire, face to face circumstances, I can easily put out three pistol shots, at one target or many, and sometimes I can put out two, with the help of Lightning Hands, and still move back into cover. Neither are helpful all the time, but Quickdraw is clearly the least not helpful.

Rank 5
Kill Zone v. Faceoff

Man. The enemies I have laid low with Killzone. This isn’t even close. Rangers with Conceal, battle scanners, scanning Protocol, wits. Anything can really enable a masterful execution of a glorious ambush. Over and over again. Kill zone enabling me to just lay down an entire area of overwatch shots made some of the early ambushes trivial. With a full magazine, or even an extended one, I could, and have, taken down the entire pod with a single solider. Combine this ability with the Long Watch, and you have an ability to really get shots off down the field. I cannot remember the amount of times that I was able to wipe out a whole, or almost a whole pod simply by using Kill Zone. its a complete and total victory.

Rank 6
Steady Hands v. Aim

This is not a choice I look forward to. Both choices are strong enough to consider, corner case enough to be concerned your picking the lesser of the two, and conditional enough that you feel you need to know how to use it. Any of those break down, and you’re screwed. My choice, after hemming around for a little bit, Was steady hands. This is simple: I often overwatch and burn through enemies on the opponents turn, and this is useful to the sniper sitting back and trying to be cool. Overwatching and not moving definitely counts for staying still, don’t you think? being required to  Hunker Down, which I did not do  often enough for Aim to be a worthwhile, made Aim a very difficult sell. I’d often not hunker down, but contribute to the fight. Everyone just had their heads removed before I had to hunker down. I think it feels fair.

Rank 7 
Serial v. Fan Fire

Serial is clearly as good as it gets for the rifle sharpshooter. Continuing to kill mobs as long as I keep killing them, the upper ceiling is potentially limitless. It does need to be set up, and you have to trust that you will not roll extremely low on your first attack so you can have at least one kill. This is also just a bonus.I would not try to set up a situation where the Sharpshooter can kill a whole slew of enemies, I would instead kill as many enemies as possible and let Serial play out, often pulling you out of unexpected turns.

Care and Feeding

Sharpshooter snipers require little. Grenades are useful at the beginning of the game to conserve ammo and to remove cover from the opponent if needed. However, once you’ve reached rank 3, you’re often distant from your squad, so the grenades your able to clear out might not be the best. Their best armor is standard upgraded armor with three slots, allowing them to have both an Ammo Type and a solid vest or a grenade. I prefer bluescreen and AP rounds, as with both of them I am able to do massive damage to either armored or robotic enemies. Sometimes I like to upgrade them to the WAR suit, and launch a blaster bomb when the going gets tough. Keeping them doing damage and alive is my number one priority, though, so stasis suits are one of my favorite for the sniper class.

With the build I use, I tend to prefer the Auto Loader and Expanded Magazine mods, but if I am feeling particularly aggressive, I’ll just clip on a repeater. Executing aliens when you’re the first activation in the round is glorious.

thats how I trained and used my snipers. I never got around to creating a sharpshooter, I was just too in love with using the sniping gear. Next up, Specialists!