Chimera Squad Enemy Analysis: Sacred Coil Purifier

HP: 6/6/7/7 (+1/+4)
Aim: 70/70/75/75 (+2/+5)
Mobility: 10
Damage: 2-4 (+0+1)
Will: 50 (+10/+20)
Initiative: 50

Alert Actions: Move to a better position, Hunker Down.

Yep, another unit with no unique Alert actions.

Moving to a better position is at least potentially more significant on Purifiers than on a lot of enemies given the Purifier's very short range, but in execution this isn't exactly consistent; a Purifier can elect to advance on your squad as part of this, yes, but they're clearly not coded to do so on a consistent basis, just using the general 'seek a better defensive position' logic. So sometimes an Alert Purifier will actually walk away from your squad and therefore impair its ability to be a threat.

So that's unfortunate design.

Passive: The Purifier is immune to Fire and Poison.

Yep, just like XCOM 2 Purifiers. Which is... actually unintuitive, given these Purifiers have the usual Sacred Coil skin-tight suit. It does look a little heavier than eg a Commando's suit, and their headpiece in particular looks plausibly like an airtight helmet with a built-in rebreather, but I suspect a decent portion of even XCOM 2 vets don't actually assume that Chimera Squad Purifiers have these immunities.

Conversely, note that Purifiers in Chimera Squad do not explode on death. Feel free to melee them down! This is, thankfully, more visually intuitive than the retained immunities given XCOM 2 explicitly pointed at the giant fuel tank on the back for why its Purifiers could explode, where Chimera Squad Purifiers conspicuously lack anything equivalent. (This... raises questions about how they fuel their flamethrower, mind...)

I do have to wonder if the removal of the explosion-on-death mechanic was motivated more by KOing enemies being made a standard mechanic. I'm pretty sure XCOM 2 already had Unconsciousness not trigger on-death effects like death explosions (Unconsciousness is largely not available to the player in XCOM 2 so I don't have particularly many tests, mind), so it's probably not a technical limitation thing, but I can readily imagine the devs deciding it was weird and janky to have one unit where KOing it has tactical benefits over killing it. Aside Verge's Neural Network, Chimera Squad is very consistent that the advantage of KOing over killing is the ability to get Intel, which is a strictly strategic benefit, including that multiple other on-death-effect enemies in Chimera Squad resolve the issue by being killed regardless. For example, in XCOM 2 you could KO an Andromedon and this wouldn't trigger its robot mode, whereas in Chimera Squad the Andromedon auto-dies even if Verge has Collar and has the Andromedon in his Neural Network, ensuring the robot mode actually happens no matter what. So I can easily see 'non-exploding Purifiers' being turned to under a similar logic of wanting KOs and kills to be almost identical in combat functionality. (As the alternative solution would be 'Purifiers always die and always explode no matter what', which would be deeply unpleasant for several reasons, not the least being that Sacred Coil already regularly produces missions where Intel may be denied to the player in spite of them playing perfectly for maximizing Intel chance)

Anyway, as for the Purifier's immunities, they're actually notable for being a rare example of having no weird 'barely actually exists' caveats. Poison immunity will of course come up if you field Torque and/or hit Gray Phoenix before Sacred Coil, and while the fire immunity is at first glance reduced in relevance by fire gear being locked behind completing the Sacred Coil Investigation, Purifiers themselves have two different ways to potentially set allies on fire, not to mention setting terrain on fire, and so the immunity can crop up readily by virtue of a pair of Purifiers carelessly tossing flames at each other, or a single Purifier setting some terrain on fire and then walking right through without issue. Certainly, a given run may find one or even both immunities don't really matter (eg by hitting Sacred Coil first and not fielding Torque and just happening to never have a Purifier get exposed to Purifier-produced flames), but it's not nearly-guaranteed to be irrelevant the way some enemy immunities are.

Turn-ending action: The Purifier's basic attack is a cone-based attack that hits up to three tiles out and up to three tiles wide, setting on fire any units it successfully hits, which cannot Graze. The Purifier never runs out of ammo and its weapon cannot be disabled. Targets immune to Burn are also immune to the initial damage from Flamethrower.

Yes, this means Purifiers can't damage your Androids at all with their basic attack, nor any agents equipped with Hazmat Weave. Purifiers are in fact the one and only time it's genuinely a little annoying that you can't elect to send in Androids unless somebody has already gone down, and are one of the strongest arguments for passing out Hazmat Weave if you have any. Being able to completely ignore an entire unit type while you focus on the real threats is pretty useful!

As an aside, I'm pretty sure Chimera Squad Purifiers use the regular Aim formula for their Flamethrower attack, unlike XCOM 2 Purifiers using a completely unique accuracy system (That I still don't actually understand). At minimum, I know Chimera Squad Purifiers can hit units through High Cover, which XCOM 2 Purifiers absolutely could not do.

In any event, Purifiers are the primary way for your agents to end up on fire, unless you have a habit of chucking Incendiary Grenades at your own troops for some strange reason, as fires simply don't start as readily from regular weapons fire relative to XCOM 2, pre-placed fires don't exist in Chimera Squad, and exploding objects are much rarer in Chimera Squad. (Among other points, Chimera Squad maps tend to be set indoors, or at least inside a property line, and so bombs-pretending-to-be-cars are much less common a sight than in prior Firaxis games) It's plausible to go through an entire run without ever seeing fire on the ground outside of Purifier action -or to never see fire on the ground at all, if you never let Purifiers take a turn.

The Purifier flamethrower is itself fairly uneven in its threat potential. First of all, it's really front-loaded; since most of the damage comes from the over-time part and furthermore Purifiers only gain 1 point of damage and only in the third Act, hitting Sacred Coil first will tend to result in Purifier damage being much more proportionately concerning than if you hit Sacred Coil second or third. Second, the flamethrower has multiple special action considerations, where setting an agent on fire disables most actions that aren't movement or plain shooting, but it doesn't disable Subdue (surprisingly), doesn't disable Zephyr's melee, doesn't disable Preparation (Which clears Burn from an agent when used!), doesn't disable Kinetic Shield...

... and conversely it significantly bypasses Kinetic Shield, as its impact damage is blocked by Kinetic Shield, but the victim will still be set on fire, and a unit that is on fire and shielded will take damage from the fire right through the Kinetic Shield. (Without breaking the shield, thankfully; not every enemy ability is so kind)

As such, depending on your team composition and preferred tactics, people being set on fire might be kind of whatever, or it might be ruinous.

Also relevant from a somewhat different direction is that the Spray Flame action is actually considered to be a special action instead of a standard shooting action, and more specifically is disabled by Disorientation. As such, Purifiers are actually completely disabled by being Disoriented, which is pretty unusual; Disorientation is an okay status to inflict in Chimera Squad, but against most enemies the benefits are fairly mild, or even arguably a tradeoff since it forces various enemies to shoot (albeit at an Aim penalty) instead of using some not-immediately-threatening ability.

Aside all that, Spray Flame's mechanics usually leave Purifiers a bit in the lurch, as the incredibly short range on it often leaves Purifiers unable to actually attack your squad on their first turn. On larger maps it can easily take until Round 3 -or later!- for a Purifier to get close enough to start burning people, and only a handful of maps are so tiny that it's actually expected for a Purifier to be able to reach someone on its first turn.

Also not helping is that Purifiers are completely careless with their flamethrower; even though Spray Flame is a freely-aimable cone if you Puppeteer a Purifier, in AI hands they just aim it dead-center on their intended target with no regard for what else might be caught in its path. This is inherently relevant just from how melee is universally available to the player's agents and some agents outright specialize in it, but even if that weren't true Sacred Coil fields Chryssalids; either way, it's pretty easy to end up with an agent next to an enemy where the Purifier sets that enemy on fire in the process of trying to set the agent on fire. It won't happen in every run or anything, but it's one more reason why Purifiers being present can make an Encounter easier.

Which is a bit strange, as the game treats them like a relatively elite enemy; I'm not sure I've ever seen more than 2 Purifiers in a single Encounter, and they're pretty uncommon in general.

Delayed Incendiary Grenade
Turn-ending action: Lobs an explosive to a designated location within ? tiles, The explosive will detonate in a 3x3 radius for 3-4 damage and 1 Shred within 2 tiles either when attacked, or after its own turn arrives, with its turn being placed three slots after the Purifier's current turn, as well as setting units on fire and randomly spawning fires inside its blast radius. 1 charge.

So remember how Purifiers in XCOM 2 had an Incendiary Grenade/Bomb? So too do Chimera Squad Purifiers, except it has a delay before it goes off and so you can potentially have agents scramble out of reach to avoid being caught in the blast. This is actually sort-of-standard with enemy grenades in Chimera Squad; no enemy has a 'throw a grenade action' where it just immediately does damage. I say 'sort-of-standard' because there's actually only two enemies in the entire game that conceptually toss grenades; given how common grenades were in XCOM 2, it's surprising how rare they are in Chimera Squad.

Delayed Incendiary Grenade itself is something Purifiers are strangely reluctant to actually use, which is a really big part of why their danger level is so uneven or inconsistent. The grenade has a noticeably longer toss range than Spray Flame's maximum strike zone; you'd think Purifiers would regularly move, notice no hostile was in Spray Flame range, and toss their Delayed Incendiary Grenade, but as far as I can tell Purifiers 'roll' for whether they're going to toss Delayed Incendiary Grenade before they make other decisions, with it being a low-odds choice and automatically failing if there's no targets in their immediate throw range. (That is, they don't seem to consider the possibility of 'can I move and then throw to get any targets?') Most often when I see Delayed Incendiary Grenade used, it's from a standing position.

I have to wonder if some manner of oversight occurred here, as the other enemy that has a delayed grenade -Shrike Bombers- has it use a single action point rather than being a turn-ending action, and seems to similarly strongly prefer to toss without moving, which fits naturally to it only costing 1 action point. Was Delayed Incendiary Grenade also supposed to be 1 action point, and whoops it got missed that it actually isn't?

In any event, do note that Delayed Incendiary Grenade does in fact do impact damage to units that are immune to fire, so when I said earlier that Hazmat Weave can potentially let you completely ignore Purifiers, it comes with the caveat that you need to be confident in your ability to get agents out of the Delayed Incendiary Grenade blast zone in a timely manner for this to be truly a reliably safe thing.

Conversely, this is another example of AI carelessness, and twice over: Purifiers are perfectly happy to toss Delayed Incendiary Grenade such that it will catch one of their allies in the blast, and the AI seems unaware in general that it's a bad idea to stand next to the grenade. So on the rare occasion a Purifier remembers that they're carrying a grenade, it may well backfire and actually harm your enemies instead of your agents!


While Purifiers work out clunkily overall in Chimera Squad itself, I do like that the already-clunky War of the Chosen Purifier was revisited and refined. While I won't be surprised at all if XCOM 3 simply scraps more or less every familiar enemy concept given the hints that XCOM 3's plot will involve a brand-new enemy faction, I'm somewhat hopeful that this is more evidence that XCOM 3 is liable to revisit and refine assorted XCOM 2 enemy designs.

Aesthetically, Purifiers are fine enough as a translation of the old Purifier design into the Sacred Coil style; I'm not going to go over again how weird and confusing the Sacred Coil hybrid uniform is, except to note that the Purifier is probably the most plausible to be 'this is what XCOM 2 Purifiers were wearing under their visible armor'. (Aside that the headpiece would really have to be new outright)

Narratively, Purifiers are, like Commandos, never directly addressed that I'm aware. The name and familiar mechanics suggests the player is probably intended to assume these are literally War of the Chosen Purifiers, just running around in a new uniform, but that's about it, and that raises questions; for example, the Autopsy in War of the Chosen told us that Purifiers were biologically tailored to the job of being a flamethrower infantry. Did Purifier hybrids have a harder time integrating into the new social order than most hybrids? Did their tailored biology present additional logistical difficulties, like having unusual dietary requirements to stay in good health? Or maybe the Ethereals made Purifiers particularly disposable, where they're simply not designed to be a long-term-sustainable organism. Are any such difficulties meant to be why Sacred Coil has a good supply of Purifier hybrids, where their additional difficulties make them resent the new order or otherwise make it less sensible for them to try to fit in?

Or is Chimera Squad just kind of ignoring that whole thing, and these Purifiers are just supposed to be 'generic' hybrid soldiers who happen to be wielding flamethrowers for whatever reason, with the name being a really misleading choice on the part of the devs?

No idea! And I kind of doubt any other materials will clarify the point, honestly.

So that's kind of annoyingly murky.


Next time, we cover Sacred Coil's version of a Turret.

See you then.


  1. Hey. You mentioned enemies in XCOM 2, saying that it would stop the Andromedon from transforming? Is that, like, a thing available in the engine that was simply never used? Because I have no idea how you'd be able to K.O. anything in that game. I've read all your articles on the game, too.

    1. Firstly, you can Dominate Stun Lancers and Berserkers and have them melee attack enemies. It's unlikely, but their chance to KO does in fact work on most biological enemies (The Chosen are immune in spite of being biological. Probably so are Avatars, though I'm less sure of this), not just your soldiers.

      Secondly, the R.A.G.E. Suit you get from the Berserker Queen has a chance to KO enemies with its once-per-mission melee attack. This is in fact why I know Andromedons can be knocked Unconscious in XCOM 2; because one time I went for the Rage Strike on an Andromedon for the Shred and damage, and was surprised when the Andromedon promptly fell over Unconscious. I was actually kind of annoyed, since it denied me the body!

    2. Neat! I wonder if you could have grenaded it, and had it result in the andromedon's suit activating? THAT would have been a weird little edge case.

    3. Unconscious units are absolutely vulnerable to area damage in XCOM 2 (Chimera Squad's Unconscious status makes the unit immune to harm, but is clearly actually a new status given downed agents *do* still take damage from area attacks), so that would be completely possible.

      I suspect XCOM 2 would wig out if you did kill an Unconscious Andromedon, though I never tested it and don't know when I'll be able to. But I doubt the switch-to-Shell routine was coded with the possibility of an Unconscious Andromedon on the floor in mind.


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