XCOM 2 Class Analysis: Reaper

It's tempting to think of the Reaper as something of a hybridization of the Sharpshooter and Ranger, but even though they can get a few Sharpshooter skills, including Squadsight, in practice the Reaper is what a Scout-lane Ranger was always wanting to be and not much more beyond that. The Sharpshooter-isms are very much tangential to what Reapers do well.

Like every Resistance class, Reapers are stuck with their own armor type -which piggybacks off of purchasing Predator and then Warden armors, and has similar parameters to them except minus the part where they expand the soldier's item slots to 2. In fact, Reapers are unique among classes in that they have no Item slot at all, with the only caveat that one of their X-COM skills is Tactical Rigging, allowing them to get up to one whole Item slot. (Which makes them unique in that SPARKs have no Item slot... and can never get one. Not counting their Heavy Weapon slot)

Their primary weapon is a unique rifle, which primarily serves to limit their effectiveness at direct fighting, with the usual 'bad' ammo level (3 shots), poor damage, poor damage gains from upgrading it, and the only significant positive in its favor being an unusually favorable Aim climb for getting close. Their 'secondary weapon' is really that they don't have one at all, but the game lists their Claymore ability in that slot. I say that they don't have one at all because the game doesn't treat Claymores like a secondary weapon in any capacity: you can never upgrade your Claymores technologically, and even though the interface will claim they benefit from Breakthroughs in actuality they don't.

This is fine, though, because Shadow defines the Reaper much more than anything else anyway.

+10 Aim
+1 HP
+5 Will

Yes, they have Squaddie stat gains. Even though Resistance classes always start at Squaddie, just like SPARKs. Some kind of technical limitation?

Regardless, also notice they have the same immediate and significant Aim boost as a Sharpshooter. In conjunction with Vektor Rifles having unusually generous accuracy behavior, Reapers are generally your most reliable shots in the early game. Later in the game, this will be further magnified by Shadow -speaking of.

The Reaper replaces Concealment with Shadow. Enemies have substantially reduced detection radii for spotting Shadow than for standard Concealment, and most actions that would normally break Concealment only have a chance of breaking Shadow. This chance rises each time Shadow fails to break, and as this chance rises enemy detection radii expand for the Reaper's purpose. The Reaper starts every mission in Shadow, even on missions the squad does not start in Concealment, and has 1 charge that allows it to enter Shadow without consuming an action point once Shadow is broken. This charge has a one turn cooldown after Shadow is broken, meaning the Reaper cannot break Shadow during the player's turn and then immediately re-enter it. Shadow also cannot be re-entered if the Reaper is standing in the open while an enemy is in range or their current Cover is flanked by a visible enemy. Lastly, the Reaper's moves 37.5% faster when Shadow is active.

Shadow is the Reaper's defining skill, and as it happens it's a vastly more powerful version of the Ranger's Phantom and Conceal skills shoved together, providing you a unit that can effortlessly and fearlessly provide forward scouting on every mission. Critically, the Reaper has a variety of skills that allow them to contribute to fights while staying in Shadow; the biggest problem with a 'scout' Ranger was and remains that they have very little innate ability to contribute to a fight if they want to hold onto their Concealment, putting them in an extremely awkward position. Reapers never have it as bad as Rangers in this regard, and at higher levels can potentially contribute every single combat turn without ever risking Shadow breaking.

By default, enemies can only detect a Reaper when they're directly adjacent to the Reaper.  You still have to exercise some caution when scouting with a Reaper, but they just don't have to deal with the 'whoops I happened to walk into the very edge of the enemy detection radius while scouting' problem that anyone else you might want to scout with has to deal with. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that it's a bad idea to have Reapers end their turn leaning up against narrow entryways of any kind, since it ensures that any enemy passing through will spot them. You should also be cautious when going up or down terrain, particularly in urban environments with civilians: among other points, when dropping from a building you should generally try to drop somewhere that's not adjacent to a window so you don't land next to a civilian and lose Shadow that way. Also note you can somewhat cheat in that if you move your cursor in unseen terrain, it will mysteriously fail to let you move your cursor into tiles that contain enemies, potentially letting you determine where enemies are that you really shouldn't be able to know are there. This actually applies to anyone, but it's particularly likely to come up with Reapers and matter in a more immediate sense, since it can be used to determine where to stop when climbing a ladder, not to mention whether to climb it at all.

An incidental consequence of Shadow's generosity is that Reapers don't really need to bother with Cover when they're sneaking about. Cover does make it a little harder for enemies to wander near enough to spot them, but unless you've had your Reaper do something that risked breaking Shadow already it will almost never actually crop up. In some situations, it may be safer to have them stand in the open than to try to place them on what Cover there is, such as if the only decent Cover in a region is risking them getting caught up in an enemy's area of effect attack aimed at other members of your squad. Reapers can also be useful for blocking off climbing locations, which often lack Cover at the top point and so are dangerous to block off with most other soldier types. This is especially relevant against the Lost, but can also crop up when going up against Berserkers or Stun Lancers, securing a rooftop against melee attack with no real risks.

Speaking of risking breaking Shadow, this normally effectively operates in three 'tiers'. Tier one is the default; this has your base chance of breaking it when firing the rifle or the like at 0%, but the UI will almost always predict it as 50%, and with one exception I'll get to later this is actually true, as the game modifies your Reaper's chance to break Shadow and then rolls for whether Shadow breaks. Tier two is where you sit at if you've risked breaking Shadow once; it has you sitting on 50%, with enemies having about half their normal detection radius, but again the UI will instead predict 80% for your next shot and aside the one exception this is actually true. Tier 3 is you sitting on 80%, with enemies having their full detection radius against you, and if you got lucky enough to reach this state without Shadow breaking you're not going to see any further changes. A Reaper never has more than an 80% chance of breaking Shadow; there's no point the game takes away your dice and declares it impossible to stay in Shadow any longer.

Mechanically, the Reaper isn't actually operating in a discrete tier system, but most of the time this is what it boils down to. The actions a Reaper can perform that have only a small chance of breaking Shadow are somewhat situational -for example, clearing Daze on an ally only adds 10% to the chance to break Shadow, but Reapers are usually not your best choice for clearing Daze, and Chosen don't even necessarily inflict Daze in a given encounter anyway. Mostly, you'll risk breaking Shadow by shooting things, or maybe tossing a grenade, and these all either add +50 to the chance or are guaranteed to break Shadow. (Tossing grenades always breaks Shadow)

A point to note: in missions where you're supposed to retrieve an objective item, if your Reaper picks up the objective item this will not only automatically break Shadow but will also bar them from re-entering Shadow for the remainder of the mission. Late in a campaign, particularly if you have the Alien Hunters DLC, you're unlikely to ever stumble into and be screwed over by this, but early in a campaign, or even to an extent later if you don't have Alien Hunters, a Reaper is by far one of your best classes for reaching such objectives thanks to Shadow's fairly significant Mobility boost. As such, if you're not aware of this unintuitive mechanic it's entirely possible to end up constructing a plan that ends up getting your Reaper killed because whoops they can't actually sneak away!

Anyway, Shadow is a massive game-changer, finally providing a good means for the player to scout ahead and avoid accidentally pulling too many pods at once. Shadow actually makes it quite realistic to set up additional ambushes, especially in conjunction with War of the Chosen adding the target preview functionality so it's easier to tell where to stop your soldiers to avoid activating a pod the Reaper can see. It's incredible and multifaceted and I don't even know how to summarize all the ways in which it fundamentally changes the game to have access to Shadow.

Indeed, Shadow is such a game-changer it honestly bothers me that it's attached to a Resistance class in the context of War of the Chosen. Having a Reaper to scout ahead and keep contributing to the fight without losing Shadow and while having a free charge to re-enter it if it does get broken does a lot to address problems with the pod activation system and all, which is fantastic...

... but you're only going to have 1-2 Reapers in any given run, and War of the Chosen introduces a fatigue system that means that even if you're completely perfect at avoiding injuries you can't actually send a soldier out into literally every mission. The difference between having a Reaper on a mission vs not having one is stark, with a Reaper-less mission being vastly more likely to end up unexpectedly pulling multiple pods even though it wasn't even marginally intuitive that line of sight would allow for that possibility, or to end up triggering an Alien Ruler with a move that didn't seem like it should reveal any new terrain, or whatever, and have things go very wrong very quickly not so much because you made an actual mistake as because the system fundamentally won't let you continuously take the unit that is a nearly-perfect fix to the problems with the pod activation system.

I'd honestly have preferred for War of the Chosen to take Shadow and backport it onto the Ranger. Turn Phantom into Shadow, for example. It's an excellent mechanic for patching problems with the game design, which in turn means it's a very poor mechanic to handle as a powerful bonus Cool Thing you're not supposed to strictly need.

Like, I'm honestly impressed with how War of the Chosen managed to so radically change things with minimal direct changes to the existing classes and all, but this particular case is one where I'd rather they'd done an actual retcon-type change.

The Reaper's 'secondary weapon' is a Claymore. Claymore can be tossed at a location like a grenade, but it does not immediately detonate, and tossing it does not break Shadow, nor does it necessarily end the Reaper's turn. The Claymore will detonate when manually fired upon or caught inside another area of effect attack's radius, and if it is a Reaper firing on the Claymore there is no chance of Shadow being broken. The Claymore does 5 damage with 2 Shred to all units in a 3x3 block when activated, regardless of why it was activated. The Reaper gets one Claymore charge by default.

Claymore is essentially an extra-powerful built-in grenade specifically designed to support staying in Shadow. Keep in mind enemies like to move, so ideally you shouldn't toss the Claymore unless you're going to detonate it in the same turn. Fortunately, the Reaper can toss and then detonate the Claymore in one turn on their own, so a Squaddie Reaper can eg toss a Claymore and then shoot it immediately to soften up a tough enemy and smash their Cover with no risk of breaking Shadow.

Note that the game doesn't warn you about friendly fire on the Claymore's blast radius when you're tossing it. You'll get warned when you try to detonate it, but if you're talking a mission-critical environmental object, or to a lesser extent a civilian, sorry, it's too late. This thankfully doesn't crop up very often, but when it does crop up... ugh.

Another point is that explosives that catch the Claymore in their radius will, in fact, cause the Claymore to detonate. This ability to be combined with another area-of-effect attack in an Overwatch ambush is almost uniquely useful (The Proximity Mine is the only other option for this) and can be used to stack high damage and Shred onto a particularly durable pod, or a pair of tough pods, such as if you find a Sectopod and an Andromedon happening to stand beside each other.

Also note that Claymore will double its damage against Chosen with a Weakness to Reapers, regardless of which unit triggers the detonation.

One unintuitive point to note, which is relevant to a lot of the Reaper's mechanics: detonating a Claymore on a pod will cause the pod to activate... but not only will the Reaper's Shadow not be broken, but neither will squad Concealment. This is part of why it's a good idea to launch an explosive to detonate a Claymore: doing that will let you initiate an Overwatch ambush, whereas having the Reaper shoot the Claymore while everyone else is in Overwatch will result in your soldiers standing around, doing nothing, while the pod freaks out over why the ground randomly exploded on them.

You can, of course, have the Reaper harass an enemy pod in safety while the rest of your squad paints their nails or reads webcomics or whatever it is X-COM soldiers get up to when idle, and then also initiate an Overwatch ambush, but that kind of stalling for time is a bad idea in most missions due to them being timed one way or another, so this shouldn't be a staple tactic. Especially since it's risky: activated pods will actually wander around, trying to find your squad, so unless you're very confident they can't end up flanking your squad or anything this can go pretty badly wrong.

Regardless, the Claymore is a nice little boost to the Reaper's relevancy at low levels, especially against heavily-Armored targets. As they get to higher levels they tend to have better ways to contribute from Shadow, but it's always a good idea to keep in mind you have the Claymore.

+4 Aim
+5 Hack

Like Sharpshooters or Psi Operatives, Reapers only gain a hit point every other level, making them comparatively frail at higher levels. Unlike those classes, this usually isn't an issue: Shadow means they usually aren't getting shot at in the first place.

They also continue to have Sharpshooter-type Aim gains from leveling, which in conjunction with the Vektor Rifle's generous Aim climb behavior means they tend to be the most accurate of your troops, so much so you can often skip giving them a Scope entirely, particularly thanks to Shadow and a later skill. Just at Squaddie, a Reaper has 75 Aim and will get up to +30 Aim from getting in close: thus, a Squaddie Reaper who flanks a target and gets nearly on top of it will achieve a 100% chance to hit if the target has no innate Defense. Nice!

Remote Start
The Reaper expends 1 ammo to fire on an environmental explosive, which causes it to instantly explode, doing twice its usual damage with twice its usual radius. This does not risk breaking Shadow. 1 turn cooldown.

Remote Start is easy to look at its description, conclude it's painfully situationally garbage, and never purchase it.

You shouldn't do that, though, as Remote Start works on vehicles. While there are still maps that have nothing Remote Start works on, there's not many of them. Furthermore, where most environmental explosives have no particular incentive for the AI to get nearby them, vehicles frequently make for appealing Cover. In particular, trucks have their High Cover portion be the part that explodes, and the AI does prefer High Cover to Low Cover, so when those are around the AI is quite likely to set themselves right up against this convenient Remote Start target.

Furthermore, most environmental explosives hit for 6 damage. That's already comparable to upgraded grenades, and then Remote Start doubles it! With no risk of breaking Shadow! That's insanely powerful, and in missions with no timer it can be abused quite extensively as it won't even break your squad's Concealment, allowing your Reaper to wander around and rip huge chunks off of pods without ever being in danger. Furthermore, it Shreds (Albeit by only one point), making it a great tool for softening up enemies. It does require the map and the pod patrol routes cooperate, and so it's erratic on timed missions and can be useless if the mission is allowed to generate a map with no explosives on it, but when it works out it can completely wipe out entire pods of low-to-mid-end units. On lower difficulties, even some of the endgame enemies will die to a single Remote Start!

It helps that it's down at Corporal, and so costs the minimum points to purchase. This makes it fairly easy to justify buying it, even knowing it won't help in every mission the way some skills tend to.

One point to keep in mind: while the vast majority of damage effects will be bolstered by Chosen Weaknesses so long as the originating unit is the correct faction, Remote Start actually won't double its damage against a Chosen with a Reaper Weakness. As such, Shrapnel Claymores will actually do more damage against such Chosen, in spite of the massive base damage on Remote Start. So if you're in a situation where you can do one or the other, Claymore will be the better choice. (Again, assuming Shrapnel)

Of course, if you can arrange to throw the Claymore and then detonate it with Remote Start, that's the best of both worlds.

Anyway, Remote Start is the big example of a Reaper mechanic that can trigger pods without breaking squad Concealment, and unlike Claymore there isn't really any way to work around this fundamental issue, not until relatively late in the game. (Having someone throw a Proximity Mine before you Remote Start is a solution, but it's restricted to late game and has other problems to boot...) As I've already explained it's amazing regardless, but don't make the mistake of thinking it'll be a decent way to start an Overwatch ambush, because it won't work.

Blood Trail
When firing on an enemy that has taken damage earlier in the turn, the Reaper does +1 damage.

When Blood Trail first becomes available, it's pretty dubious. A low-level Reaper should rarely be taking a shot: their supreme scouting ability is compromised by taking shots, their damage is lackluster, and as a Resistance class it hurts a lot more to have them killed or even merely taken out of action by injuries.

If you take Silent Killer a couple of levels later, Blood Trail suddenly becomes decent. Not amazing or anything, but that extra point of damage makes it that little bit more likely the Reaper will have a sure-kill option in a given turn. As Reapers have low damage, Silent Killer being taken advantage of usually already means you had other units deal damage to the the Reaper's victim beforehand, meaning you don't need to go out of your way to try to activate Blood Trail.

Blood Trail gets a further boost in appeal if you take Banish, as Banish's initial shot will in fact cause Blood Trail to boost the later shots. If you have a Superior Expanded magazine and are firing on a big target like a Sectopod, Blood Trail can suddenly be a free +5 damage to Banish. That's a plenty solid boost, equivalent to an entire extra shot from their most powerful weapon.

As such, I usually skip Blood Trail initially, but always grab it eventually.

It's worth pointing out here that Vektor Rifles only gain a point of damage and a point of crit damage per tier improvement, and so Blood Trail is, on non-crits, exactly equal to a tech improvement. If you're going to focus heavily on your Reaper shooting things, Blood Trail is essential.

A bizarre mechanics note: Blood Trail actually improves the damage from Burn or Poison inflicted by a Vektor Rifle! There's normally not much reason to care, since Reapers don't have an innate Item slot and so can't necessarily equip Dragon Rounds or Venom Rounds, and even when you have Tactical Rigging Reapers are so oriented toward landing killshots that you almost never want to allow for a situation in which it can be relevant to crop up, but if you happen to be in an edge case scenario where a target can potentially survive with 2 HP that you desperately need dead where your Reaper has Blood Trail and (relevant) Dragon Rounds or Venom Rounds equipped... well, now you know that'll actually be a for-sure kill, and can fire without worrying the Reaper will reveal theirself and then be killed or Mind Controlled by the target.

+3 Aim
+1 HP

Target Definition
Any enemy the Reaper ever personally sees is permanently marked, and will remain visible to the player even when not visible to any of the player's units. Such marked units will show up in orange when not currently visible to any player units.

Note that the game does not display the detection radius of unseen-but-marked units, and the Target Preview function will fail to accurately inform you of whether you'll have line of fire on such unseen-but-marked units. If your entire squad is in Concealment, you shouldn't treat Target Definition as license to advance non-Reaper units recklessly.

Also note that Target Definition has an odd interaction with the Assassin's Vanishing Wind ability: if she uses it outside your Reaper's sight, she'll break Target Definition's mark on her. If she uses it where the Reaper can see her, however, she'll remain marked by Target Definition for the duration of that Vanishing Wind, making it easy to properly reveal her for the rest of the squad. Ideally you'll have a Target Definition Reaper when you assault her stronghold so you don't have to guess where she's hiding; she always Conceals and moves somewhere else when she spawns in during the Stronghold mission. Even outside that mission, a Target Definition Reaper can do a lot to make it easier to cope with her shenanigans, but you have to keep the Reaper on top of the situation; you can't just mark her once and then have your Reaper wander off to deal with other things.

Target Definition isn't quite as dramatic a gamechanger as Shadow itself, but it's still an ability I'd really like to have seen get put on a core scouting class, such as replacing the Ranger's Conceal ability. One of the big pain-points in the base game is when enemies turn corners or wander just out of sight, where you don't know exactly where they are and so end up wandering into a detection radius while trying to reacquire sight on them. Target Definition isn't a perfect fix in this regard due to inexplicably not showing detection tiles from marked targets (Which is bizarre because enemies seen solely by the Specialist's Scanning Protocol do have their detection radius displayed, even if they're on the other side of a solid wall), not by itself, but in conjunction with Shadow it's very easy to at least have your Reaper find the enemies again without breaking squad Concealment, at which point the rest of the squad can advance without stumbling into a detection radius. Probably.

I don't even care that Target Definition is kind of ridiculous if you try to take it seriously from an in-universe standpoint, because honestly if I'm focusing on realism the situation Target Definition is helping do away with is much more unrealistic. Like, it's frustratingly inane how running a soldier up to a solid wall to peek around a corner can instantly break their Concealment, especially how this is contrasted with how a soldier standing in the open will fail to be spotted so long as the Concealment state is active and no enemy wanders too close to them. Corners really should be X-COM's friend, not the player's hated enemy.

Target Definition is one of my go-to basically-mandatory Reaper skills, because it's such a quality-of-life improvement.

Also, a bit of a frustrating UI consideration has to do with the camera. Normally when enemies that are known to you move about, the camera will jump to follow them. Enemies 'seen' only via Target Definition will not trigger this, which isn't a huge deal but it does mean you have to manually search for them when your turn rolls around to figure out where they went, and it doesn't really make any sense that the camera doesn't move to follow Target Definition victims. An additional annoying point is that normally when you can't see enemies, their portion of the turn passes quickly, but marked enemies will go through their entire slow-walking animation, making the enemy turn take longer than if they weren't marked.

Claymore does +3 damage, has +1 Shred, increased blast radius, and it now always destroys any environmental object that can be destroyed.

A straightforward improvement to Claymore. Particularly important if you take Remote Mine and Highlands.

Like Blood Trail, I often skip Shrapnel when it's first available, though in its case this in part has to due with enemy scaling. A Reaper can easily get to Sergeant fast enough that 3 Shred isn't any more useful than 2 Shred, and won't be for a bit, even on Legendary where Armor is more of a concern overall. The increased blast radius is also surprisingly eh, as enemy pods are generally shockingly consistent about clumping up in a 3x3 area -ie all within a regular Claymore's blast radius. That leaves only the damage as actually helping in the early game, and the thing is you don't generally want the Claymore killing enemies, as that's risking blowing up loot.

Mind, I sometimes skip Shrapnel entirely, as honestly high-level Reapers have strong incentives to lean heavily into rifle usage, with the Claymore being more a cute bonus than an essential part of their arsenal. But if you are using Claymores, it's pretty good, just preferably grabbed later.

This is in part influenced by difficulty, of course. If you're playing on Legendary, Shrapnel is a lot more worth considering early. Sectoids, for example, will consistently be instantly killed by a Shrapnel Claymore, destroying any loot they might be carrying, on any difficulty below Legendary, but on Legendary jump up to 10 HP and so will survive if they haven't taken damage previously.

+3 Aim

Silent Killer
Shots that kill their target do not increase the chance of Shadow breaking, but still roll for the possibility of breaking Shadow.

Remember how I mentioned a single exception to the game's UI accurately predicting your chance of breaking Shadow?

Silent Killer is that exception, and it's really unfortunate the game does such a poor job of explaining itself on this topic. Since the game's predictions of your chance of breaking Concealment don't account for Silent Killer, and the game never explicitly clarifies what's going on under the hood, it's easy for a player to look at the apparent basic mechanics, look at Silent Killer, and deride it as an awful skill they refuse to purchase because a chain of 50% chances to break Shadow is not good odds.

But that's not at all what actually happens if you take Silent Killer, regardless of the UI's predictions. It absolutely lets your Reaper wander around, invisibly picking off enemies with absolutely no chance of breaking Shadow. Just don't get tripped up by how the UI's HP predictor assumes you high roll on damage (Or install a mod that fixes that behavior, either way), and remember that Silent Killer doesn't help you if you miss, and you're golden.

Silent Killer gives very strong incentives to move Reapers aggressively inside enemy lines, getting flanks that would be suicidally aggressive on any other class. You'll still want your other soldiers softening up enemies, and if you're bad at reading the AI this can go very wrong very fast, but if you know what you're doing a Silent Killer Reaper can be astonishingly effective with just their gun without ever exiting Concealment. It's a lot of fun, too!

It's also the skill that takes a Reaper from an incredible scout that can struggle to directly help in combat situations to being an all-around excellent piece, able to pick off enemies in combat without compromising their extraordinary ability to forward scout. If it weren't for Silent Killer, I'd rate the Reaper as the weakest and least useful of the Resistance classes. With it, however, they finish solving everything that made a scout Ranger not make sense to do, instantly shooting them to the top of the three Resistance classes.

As with Shadow and Target Definition, I would in fact have preferred the Ranger acquiring these skills. Maybe Silent Killer could've replaced Hunter's Instincts, for example, since Hunter's Instincts ended up significantly toned down anyway. There would've been a loosely similar result, as far as pursuing flanks. Alas.

Hopefully XCOM 3 will get this detail right.

If the Reaper's Claymore kills a target, the Reaper enters Shadow if they aren't already in Shadow.

By itself, Distraction is more a neat gimmick than a worthy purchase. It becomes a lot more worth considering coming back for it if you purchase Banish; suddenly it becomes possible to toss a Claymore, Banish (Which automatically breaks Shadow no matter what), and then have someone else detonate the Claymore to finish off a target and promptly put the Reaper back into Shadow without ever giving the enemy the chance to shoot at them.

Personally, I rate Distraction as one of the lowest-value picks available to the Reaper and generally skip it. Reapers just have too many good skills and not enough Ability Points to get them all, and none of their other reliably-available skills is lower value than Distraction. I like the idea of it and all, but the Reaper has too many great skills to really have the Ability Points to spare on something that's cool but merely decent.

Shots taken while in Shadow ignore up to 2 points of enemy Armor.

Needle is one of the better examples of how Resistance classes play with the level mechanics, as it's really best off combined with Silent Killer, which is found on the same level and thus under the base game's system would be mutually exclusive. Neat!

That said, if you're carting around adequate Shred, it's not unusual for a target in range to be finished off by a Reaper to also be completely stripped of its Armor, so Needle isn't actually a huge priority to take with Silent Killer. It's much more significant if you get Sting, which is influenced in part by what bonus skills your Reaper has rolled.

Mind, this is also something of a difficulty-dependent thing. On lower difficulties, you can often get away with just shooting at eg Shieldbearers without necessarily Shredding them in the process. In that case, Needle can be nice to have for letting your Reaper more readily finish such targets off. It mostly gets pushed into being a bit situational if you're playing on Legendary.

+2 Aim
+1 HP
+5 Hack

Takes a normal shot that has no chance of breaking Shadow. 1 charge.

Sting is particularly great if your Reaper rolls Shredder and Holo Targeting, as that combination heavily encourages using the Reaper as an opener on tough targets, and Sting lets them do that without risking breaking Shadow. The once-per-mission limit is a bit unfortunate, but in most missions you only fight 3-4 pods so most of the time it's not too big a deal, especially since a Claymore combined with somebody else's explosive is generally a much better way of burning your Overwatch ambush. If you go for Highlands, you're quite likely to Claymore the first pod you encounter, burn Sting and the other Claymore on two later pods, and then either the mission is already over or there's only the one pod left to deal with. And that's assuming every pod is threatening enough to justify such measures.

With Sting, Needle also makes a lot more sense to take since you're suddenly liable to have your Reaper taking a shot at an Armored target on a regular basis. Getting 2 extra damage in that situation for free is a pretty good purchase, and in conjunction with Shredder can actually mean that lower-Armor enemies actually never get any use out of their Armor.

Without Shredder or Holo Targeting, Sting drops to merely 'okay'. It's still nice to have around for when the Chosen pop in, for example, but you may go entire missions without a sensible point to use it at, especially since a Silent Killer Reaper can pretty easily end up killing an enemy every combat turn with no risk of missing or anything and thus no risk of breaking Shadow, making Sting redundant. You might want to prioritize other skills if your Reaper has neither Shredder nor Holo Targeting.

Soul Harvest
Each kill the Reaper lands increases their crit chance by 5, up to a maximum of +20.

Soul Harvest isn't a bad skill, but it feels a bit misaimed. The kill requirement makes it seem like a natural synergy with Silent Killer, but Silent Killer is all about taking sure shots. You very specifically have to slap a Superior Laser Sight onto your Reaper's gun and obsessively pursue flanks for it to start fitting smoothly... and then its slow buildup is fairly killer. Most missions only put you up against around 11 enemies, and unless you go out of your way to feed kills to your Reaper it's unlikely they'll max out the bonus off the first two pods. Worse, the numbers are against a Reaper: by default, they can at most reach an ~85% crit chance. (Flanking, Superior Laser Sight from close-up, Soul Harvest: 40+~25+20=~85) If they have Tactical Rigging and you actually manage to generate Talon Rounds they can then reach a 100% crit chance, and having the Resistance Order/Continent Bonus that boosts Weapon Attachments will add another 5% from the Superior Laser Sight so they don't need as many Soul Harvest triggers to hit 100%, but there's a certain minimum amount of strategic luck required to actually make crits a reliable damage boost on Reapers.

If you're prone to taking shots that risk breaking Shadow, Soul Harvest can be an okay pick for bolstering your Reaper's average damage where you don't bother to go out of your way to make it reliable, but its design feels a bit ignorant of how the Reaper's other skills incentivize using the Reaper.

To be fair, the Vektor Rifle has one of the most aggressive crit damage scaling in the game; at every tier, the Vektor's Rifle's crit damage is equal to its minimum damage! So crits are disproportionately useful to a Reaper.

But still. I'd rather have had something that fit better into good Reaper play.

As a final issue, Soul Harvest's bonuses are lost in transition in multi-part missions. Which means the longest missions you'd theoretically get the most value out of Soul Harvest... nope!

+2 Aim

The Reaper now has 2 Claymore charges.

Why is this named Highlands? It's a Highlander reference, that's why, specifically based on the whole 'Highlanders wielding claymore swords' thing. Okay. Sure.


Highlands is a pretty nice boost to Claymore usage and if you grab it you should absolutely grab Shrapnel so your Claymores are the best they can be. Grabbing Homing Mine is also worth considering, once you get there, as Homing Mine gives you a lot more flexibility in how to go about opening an Overwatch ambush while blowing things up with Claymores.

I personally tend to view it as a bit of a low-priority purchase, something to grab if my Reaper rolled a high Combat Intelligence once they've gotten all the more important skills, but Claymores are sufficiently useful I could see prioritizing them more than I do.

The Reaper fires on a chosen target until either the target is dead or the Reaper runs out of ammo. These shots all occur at a -15 Aim penalty, and are completely unable to crit. Banish is guaranteed to break Shadow. 1 charge.

If you're going to make use of Banish, it's vital to attach an Expanded Magazine to the Reaper's rifle, preferably a Superior Expanded Magazine. A Superior Expanded Magazine will double Banish's maximum damage, making it much more effective a tool for wiping out big targets you need dead now, such as Chosen, Alien Rulers, or even just a Sectopod you accidentally activated when most of your squad was out of moves. Also make sure to reload before Banishing if you've used up ammo, maybe even equip an Autoloader specifically to support Banish.

Banish is notably more versatile and consistent if your Reaper happens to roll Holo Targeting and/or Shredder. With Holo Targeting, only the first shot is actually operating at the Aim penalty, while with Shredder Banish can suddenly be used to tear through heavily Armored targets without requiring other soldiers soften them up first. As such, if you normally view Banish as underwhelming and happen to get a Reaper rolling both of those, you might want to give it a second chance.

The main nice thing about Banish is that it's not up in Colonel, and so isn't operating at a surcharge. I personally rarely use Banish at all simply because exiting Shadow is a really undesirable thing to be doing, but find it reasonably easy to justify dropping 14 Ability Points into it as a just-in-case measure. I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it, at that price.

The other reason I don't use Banish much is that Vektor Rifles have poor base damage, enough so that Banish is actually in meaningful competition with Sharpshooter pistol specialization. A Sharpshooter who Lightning Hands, Quickdraw-fires, and then uses Fan Fire will get out 5 shots in one turn: with a Beam Pistol, this will work out to 15-30 damage, ignoring ammo potentially boosting it. A Reaper using Banish with a Shadow Lance with no boosts of any kind will get 3 shots, which will work out to 15-18 damage, which is pretty unambiguously worse than the Sharpshooter scenario if the target isn't Armored, not even touching on the fact that the Reaper will need to reload where a Sharpshooter can fire their Pistol shots all day long -and the Sharpshooter's abilities are all reusable, where Banish is once per mission, giving such a Sharpshooter another edge.

Furthermore, Reapers don't get an innate Item slot, where Sharpshooters can have 1-2 Item slots completely reliably, which means Ammo Items tilt things further in the Sharpshooter's favor. A Reaper with Blood Trail and a Superior Expanded Magazine using a Shadow Lance but no Ammo Item on a previously-injured target would do 35-41 damage, which is plenty impressive... but a Sharpshooter using Bluescreen Rounds on a relevant target would end up doing 40-55 damage, using the prior scenario. Not always better than the Reaper as far as damage rolls goes, but almost always, on top of the other advantages. (And yes, 40-55 damage is complete overkill on all robots if we ignore Armor, but Sharpshooters can naturally spread that damage to other targets, where Banish by default doesn't)

Banish does pretty unambiguously win out as a boss killer in the absolute best-case scenario, where you have Tactical Rigging to equip an Ammo Item and have a relevant one equipped and not only have a Superior Expanded Magazine but have the Resistance Order/Continent Bonus that improves Weapon Attachments so that's 7 shots from a Banish. In that case, a Reaper equipped with Dragon Rounds or Venom Rounds (Backed by Blood Trail still, of course) could use Banish on an Alien Ruler or Chosen to do 49-56 damage; that's not enough to actually kill an Alien Ruler or completely trained Chosen from full health on Legendary, but it's certainly enough to finish a mildly wounded Chosen or drive an Alien Ruler straight into retreat mode on Legendary. On lower difficulties, it can outright kill completely trained Chosen, and even the Viper King if you're talking below Commander difficulty. Given you'll only fight either one in a given mission, and only one of them bar very specific exceptions, the ability to use Banish only once isn't much of a limitation if you have this perfect storm and reserve Banish for them.

And of course getting a Breakthrough for Vektor Rifles and not for Pistols would tilt things a little more in favor of Banish as a boss killer. But the reverse is also true, which is why I'm not really talking about Breakthroughs in this comparison.

There's also the point that Banish can't crit at all. If it could, Banish's peak damage would actually be really impressive, and Pistols have terrible gains from crits so that would favor Banish as the boss-killer more. Since Banish can't crit, though, you have to add 1-2 damage*number of hits to the Pistol shots for working out potential peak damage -and thanks to Deadshot, late-game Sharpshooters expect to always have a crit chance, even against enemies that aren't possible to flank, so there's no situation where this is irrelevant.

Ruler Reaction mechanics do mean Banish has the advantage that where a Sharpshooter doing Quickdraw+Lightning Hands+Fan Fire would end up triggering two Ruler Reactions -potentially being interrupted entirely by Bind, being Frozen, being knocked Unconscious, or Panicking- Banish will only prompt one, which will probably be the Alien Ruler running away. So Banish is definitely worth keeping in mind for Alien Rulers, especially since it automatically breaking Shadow even lets the Reaper reliably initiate an Overwatch ambush on them so you can stack on yet more damage at full accuracy. That's a noteworthy bit of utility all by itself, particularly if you're prone to deliberately scouring the map for the Alien Ruler to specifically burn your Overwatch ambush on it.

But unless you're willing to support it and preferably have gotten lucky with the right elements, Banish is more nice to have than anything else, with Sharpshooters generally filling the role of burst-damage boss killer much more effectively. Or Rangers using Rapid Fire. Or Grenadiers using Salvo with a Heavy Weapon and following up with other attacks. Heck, even Specialists can get lucky with Guardian and do astonishing amounts of damage! Not to mention the Training Center potentially leads to a Rapid Fire Salvo Specialist or the like...

Easy enough to justify purchasing, just not quite as impressive as you might first expect unless you get quite lucky.

Of course, if you do get quite lucky, it's kind of ridiculous...

+2 Aim
+1 HP
+5 Hack

Final stats
Aim: 91
HP: 8
Hack: 20

Same statline as a Sharpshooter.

It's actually kind of silly that Reapers get such excellent Aim from leveling, since Vektor Rifles have unusually generous Aim climb for getting close to the target and a Silent Killer Reaper can very easily arrange close-range flanking shots. If they capped out at 80-ish, they'd still be able to achieve reliable shots without even having to get close enough to break Shadow!

Mind, Reapers are pretty clearly intended to be Sharpshooter variants, but there's really no reason to play them that way.

Homing Mine
Claymores can now be attached to enemies, and will explode if the enemy takes damage. A Homing Mine applies its Shred before the damage that detonated it applies its own damage.
Costs 25 Ability Points.

A curious property of Homing Mine is that the Reaper can magically throw a Claymore farther if it's going to be attached to an enemy than if it's going to hit the ground. As such, Homing Mine is effectively a throw range upgrade for the Claymore, and this is more significant than it might sound: with regular Claymore throw range, it's often a struggle to arrange to throw and then fire, or to throw two Claymores in preparation for someone else triggering them with their own explosive as part of an Overwatch ambush. With Homing Mine these issues are much-alleviated, especially since the mine will move with the target and so it's actually acceptable to throw a Claymore a turn before you're ready to kick off an Overwatch ambush.

Also note that the Homing Mine still doesn't warn you of friendly fire when you set it, though this is a little less of an issue since one of the obvious ways of using Homing Mine -tossing a Claymore a turn before you intend to detonate it- would carry the risk of unplanned friendly fire even if the game did warn you. Regardless, be careful with Homing Mine in missions where there's something you don't want destroyed.

Homing Mine benefits notably from Sting, letting a Reaper who is ranging out alone do a shocking amount of damage without risking breaking Shadow. Among other points, this combination can be used to make an Alien Ruler much less threatening, since they won't Ruler React if their tormentor is guaranteed to stay in Shadow. This can even be used to substantially soften up an Alien Ruler without breaking squad-wide Concealment, among other points ripping off Armor, so you can then additionally Overwatch ambush them for massive damage on a later turn. With Integrated DLC on, you'll even be able to arrange this scenario consistently, since you'll know the first mission an Alien Ruler is on ahead of time instead of stumbling blindly into them while you possibly don't even have your Reaper with you at all.

Also worth noting is that if the Reaper fires on a target with a Claymore on it, they'll get the Blood Trail damage boost, since the Claymore detonates first. Blood Trail thus enhances the Sting+Homing Mine combination very reliably. Further worth noting is that if the combined Claymore+shot damage is enough to kill the target, you can skip bothering with Sting; this generally won't crop up very often since the Reaper's base damage is low and Homing Mine is a Colonel skill so you won't have it early in the game when frail enemies are more normal, but even late in the game you can see stuff like Sectoids escorting a Gatekeeper, so the opportunity can still exist. You'll need to have the relevant numbers memorized, though, since the damage preview won't include Homing Mine's damage.

Overall, though, Homing Mine is a surprisingly low-value skill, and not necessary worth the AP. Claymores are useful at low levels for letting a Reaper contribute without breaking Shadow, but Sting and Silent Killer are more direct solutions to the issue that show up before Homing Mine is an option with Silent Killer in particular being infinitely reusable an effect, and at higher levels Claymores are generally better used by having someone else detonate them with an explosive as part of an Overwatch ambush and then having the Reaper finish off a target with their rifle. So even though Homing Mine is fantastically fun as a concept, and fantastically funny since hurling a sticky explosive onto an enemy completely fails to concern them... you're probably better off buying a couple of other skills with the AP you're considering spending on Homing Mine.

That said, it is worth pointing out that Homing Mine provides a subtle action economy benefit, if a bit of a situational one. If your Reaper has no need to move in a given turn, they can toss a Claymore and then do whatever; without Homing Mine, this is only action-efficient if someone else uses an area of effect attack to incidentally trigger the Claymore. With Homing Mine, you can slap it atop an enemy you were intending to shoot anyway, adding free damage and Shred to a regular shooting action. I don't really feel this is worth 25 Ability Points, but if eg you happen to have a Savant Reaper anyway, or are about to enter the final mission and are looking for stuff to spend X-COM AP on before you launch, it's certainly a more worthy purchase than eg Soul Harvest.

Curiously, even though the Homing Mine applies Shred before the attack that detonated it does damage, my experience seems to indicate that if the target dies from the combination of attacks the Reaper is the one who actually gets credited, regardless of who shot the victim.

Requires Banish. Banish will now move to a new target if its first target dies before the Reaper runs out of ammo, repeating until there are no enemies the Reaper can fire on or the Reaper is out of ammo.
Costs 25 Ability Points.

Even more so than basic Banish, Annihilate makes it vitally important you attach an Expanded Magazine to the Reaper's rifle. Three shots plenty to kill that target? Don't care, a Superior Expanded Magazine will let the other three shots hit something else.

Annihilate is honestly a skill I tend to skip. In the absolute best-case scenario where your Reaper has 7 ammo, access to Ammo Items, and is backed by a couple of Breakthroughts, Annihilate is probably worth taking because most anything they attempt to Banish is probably going to explode before they run out of ammo and might as well get the most out of breaking Shadow, right? If your Reaper doesn't have Tactical Rigging and all that other stuff, though... Annihilate is kind of hard to justify, more so as you climb up in difficulties. On Regular, just Banishing a completely trained, full health Chosen with nothing more than a Plasma Lance backed by Blood Trail would expect 1-2 shots to go shooting off against another target, potentially even if you either didn't Shred their Armor first. On Legendary, Banishing a completely trained Chosen under the same conditions would be guaranteed to end with the Chosen still alive.

Furthermore, Annihilate doesn't help any if there aren't any other targets to redirect to. If you're good at avoiding pulling too many pods at once -and remember, having Banish available by definition means a Reaper is around, making that a lot easier- it's actually pretty likely you'll end up with no smaller targets to redirect to.

As such, Annihilate is difficult to justify spending 25 Ability Points on, unless maybe you rolled a Savant Reaper. Indeed, even though my opinion is that Banish isn't stupendously amazing, I really feel like Banish should've been the 25 AP ability and Annihilate the normal-priced ability. I'm pretty sure we only ended up with this situation because War of the Chosen always makes skills that depend on another skill have the skill they need placed earlier in the skill tree, which doesn't play nice with the gimmick of Colonel-tier Resistance skills being 25 AP.

But I don't think that gimmick was more important than the actual balance concerns of giving Banish and Annihilate actually-appropriate prices.

Oh well. It's not actually too terrible in practice... it could be worse.

It could be forcing me to choose between Bullet Swarm and Holo-Targeting.


But wait, there's X-COM skills!

As I noted earlier, Resistance classes don't draw from the general Training Center pool, and instead have a custom list that's much more limited, though in turn they all get to pick up some options the Training Center pool doesn't include. Hence why I'm going to be covering the Reaper's X-COM skills in this post, instead of in some separate post, and will do the same for Skirmishers and Templar when we get to them.

For the Reaper, these skills include...

Tactical Rigging
The soldier gains an additional Item slot.

A must-buy if your Reaper has it, as Item access is hugely useful no matter what and can be used to shore up weaknesses, emphasize strengths, etc. Also a cute callback to Enemy Within, even if it's a little weird to make what was previously a Foundry Project into a personal skill when Deep Pockets was already a personal skill that prior to Enemy Within added a second Item slot. Shouldn't this be called Deep Pockets?

Regardless, Tactical Rigging is excellent, and indeed it's in some sense too excellent. A Reaper without Tactical Rigging is dramatically less useful than one that has Tactical Rigging, so much so that I'd argue I'd rather have a Reaper roll Tactical Rigging and one of their borderline-useless X-COM skills rather than 4 skills with none of them being Tactical Rigging, even if we assume Ability Point costs are irrelevant to the discussion. (Though admittedly it doesn't help that the Reaper only has 6 X-COM skills, 2 of which are pretty terrible for them, as it means I can't say 'and their four best non-Tactical Rigging skills') Such a vitally important skill being maybe available on a class you're supposed to only get 1 or 2 copies of is an unfortunately swingy bit of design, where you can pretty unambiguously say a run whose Reaper has Tactical Rigging is notably better off than one whose Reaper didn't get it.

It's not quite so significant that I'd argue for trying to get your Reaper killed off or captured if they turn out to not have it, but that I've even given the possibility actual thought should tell you how big a contrast it is.

Also interesting is that Tactical Rigging fills a position somewhat akin to Lightning Reflexes, in that no class has it as part of their native, reliable skill pool. I'm a little sad it wasn't actually added to the general pool: it would've been interesting for core classes to be able to get two Items with light/heavy armors, or three Items with a medium armor. (Mind, the game itself explicitly claims it won't add a third slot, and if you mess around with mods... yeah, it doesn't, but still) Ah well.

Primary weapon has Shred equal to weapon's tech level.

Shredder is, by itself, not particularly great on a Reaper. Prior to skill support, Reapers should generally be hesitating to actually fire their rifle directly at enemies so they can avoid breaking Shadow. Silent Killer makes Shredder outright anti-appealing, since Shredder is contributing nothing to your Reaper's ability to land stealth-kills; a Silent Killer should probably be putting their points elsewhere.

Sting and Banish both finally make Shredder strongly appealing, and more subtly Needle helps bolster Shredder's utility. Sting suddenly allows a Reaper to soften up an Armored target with no chance to break Shadow, and most missions have few enough enemies that it being only a single use tactic isn't too harsh a limitation. As the Reaper's base damage is fairly poor, clearing some Armor may be a much better use of the Reaper's time than trying to deal damage theirself, and with Needle the attack can even do decent damage against lightly-to-moderately-Armored targets like ADVENT Shieldbearers.

Banish, meanwhile, benefits Shredder by virtue of the fact that basically anything tough enough to merit a Banish is probably something that has at least some Armor, and it being a chain of attacks means a single action can be used to strip all the Armor off even a very heavily Armored target. Just at the magnetic tier, backed by a Superior Expanded Magazine, a Shredder Banish will wipe twelve points of Armor (When nothing has more than seven, so there's room to have some misses in there) and in the process Shredder will be outright increasing Banish's damage/removing the need to have other squad members strip Armor ahead of time. A Reaper who also has Tactical Rigging to slap Bluescreen Rounds in can, at magnetic, easily be doing forty-seven damage to a Legendary Gatekeeper that absolutely nothing was done to ahead of time. That's enough room to miss a couple of times and still kill the Gatekeeper with a single attack! And is also me assuming all low rolls, by the way.

Meanwhile, if you don't have Shredder, that scenario results in... 12-18 damage. Decent and all, but not a one-action kill on one of the toughest enemies of the game.

So yeah, Banish benefits a lot from Shredder, and so Shredder is a lot more worth considering if you grab Banish. As such, Shredder is usually something you should skip over initially if it happens to show up early in your Reaper's list, but don't dismiss it forever. And if you're a big fan of Banish, you should be a big fan of Shredder.

Holo Targeting
Firing your primary weapon at an enemy marks it until the start of the soldier's next turn, adding +15 Aim to all following attacks at that target.

Holo Targeting has pretty similar circumstances to Shredder: by itself, it's honestly not that great for a Reaper, and Silent Killer makes it even less appealing since Holo Targeting a corpse is useless, while Sting and Banish do a lot to make Holo Targeting more appealing. Do remember, however, that a Reaper using Sting not only won't break Shadow but also won't break squad Concealment: if you want someone to initiate an Overwatch ambush by Holo Targeting something (Which is a good idea against stuff like Andromedons!), a Reaper is actually dead last among all possible options.

Regardless, being able to spit out a Holo Target without breaking Shadow once per battle, while a little limited and arguable whether it's worth the points, is a decent little scenario that makes Holo Targeting better.

Banish, however, makes Holo Targeting vastly more appealing, directly offsetting the Aim penalty for Banish past the first shot, and ensuring that if the target survives the Banish the rest of your squad is better-positioned to finish it off. Annihilate makes it even more appealing, since Annihilate means a Banish will usually end up killing the primary target and then doing just a little bit of damage to another target (Or maybe killing two targets and weakening a third, whatever), and getting Holo Targeting on that secondary target is a nice bonus.

With all of Sting, Banish, and Annihilate, Holo Targeting turns pretty reliably useful, twice a mission providing strong utility and with the option to leverage it in more desperate situations adding a little bit more utility. (That is, you end up in a situation where Banish and Sting are both used up but you still need to pile the damage onto a target urgently)

Fires a shot with the primary weapon which does 50% more damage if it hits, but reduces the final accuracy value by 25%. 2 turn cooldown.

Reapers are more likely than Sharpshooters to get an unobstructed shot and have Aim climb, so much like how a Ranger with Deadeye actually has decent potential a Reaper with Deadeye isn't so bad. In conjunction with their innately high Aim, a high-level Reaper backed by eg a Superior Perception PCS and a Superior Scope can pretty easily reach the roughly 140~ base accuracy necessary to turn Deadeye into a sure hit.

On the other hand, since it is a percentage boost to damage, the Reaper having poor base damage undermines its effectiveness a bit. Luck plays a notable role in how useful Deadeye is: a Reaper who rolls Tactical Rigging can use ammo to up their base damage, most extremely using Bluescreen Rounds to hit pretty high damage against mechanical enemies, while getting relevant Breakthroughs can help offset the problem more generally. With both, a Reaper may well be hitting pretty impressive damage numbers. With neither, Deadeye might not be worth the points.

Thankfully, Deadeye functions like a normal shot as far as Shadow mechanics goes, meaning it only has a chance of breaking Shadow in general, and if you have Silent Killer won't ever break Shadow on a kill. As such, with Silent Killer bought it's actually moderately attractive, allowing the Reaper to secure kills more readily and thus actually increase their average ability to contribute to fights without breaking Shadow: turning a 100% chance to hit with no chance of being a kill into a 75% chance to hit that will kill if it hits is taking you from a 50% chance to break Shadow to a 25% chance of a 50% chance to break Shadow -ie it actually quarters your chance of breaking Shadow to use Deadeye if your accuracy is exactly 100 and Deadeye will turn the shot into a kill-shot, and just gets better if your pre-Deadeye accuracy is over 100%.

Not even touching on how landing a kill with one shot from one soldier is obviously more efficient than eg having two soldiers each shoot once to kill the target, and all the advantages that fact entails.

Deadeye isn't something you should auto-buy, but it's pretty good if you know how to use it right, much more so than on a Sharpshooter.

Deadeye's one issue in this regard is that the game will sometimes demand two action points to fire. I think it's really supposed to be reliable about doing this, or maybe it's supposed to be reliable in not doing this, but whatever the case the Vektor Rifle is actually secretly a two-action-point gun just like the Sniper Rifle and the Reaper's basic attack and skills are all just hard-coded to ignore their weapon's action point requirements. (This, incidentally, is more support for the idea that Reapers were originally imagined much more as Sharpshooter-analogues) Deadeye, for whatever reason, is a buggy, inconsistent exception to this rule that sometimes calls for the weapon's actual action point requirement and sometimes doesn't. I've not noticed a rhyme or reason to this issue, unfortunately.

Kill Zone
Designates a cone-shaped region, in which the soldier will automatically perform Overwatch fire on any enemy that passes through or fires from within the region, lasting until the soldier's primary weapon runs out of ammo or their next turn arrives. 3 turn cooldown.
Costs 25 Ability Points.


If your Reaper happens to have Shredder and Holo Targeting in addition to Kill Zone, and you don't mind deliberately breaking your Reaper's Shadow (eg by using Banish), Kill Zone can be... okay. Sort of. I guess.

Mostly, it seems to have been slapped in on this idea that the Reaper is Sharpshooter-like, even though they're really, really not.

Keep in mind that it's literally impossible to set up an Overwatch ambush with a Reaper's Kill Zone. As reaction fire can't get crits and Reapers have poor damage on non-crits and excellent damage on crits... this is a big factor in why Kill Zone is just a confusing choice to give them. Especially since it does cost 25 Ability Points.

The Reaper can fire their rifle potentially unlimited distance, but firing beyond normal range imposes a flat -10 crit chance as well as -2 to Aim for each tile beyond normal firing range. Overwatch cannot trigger at Squadsight ranges.
Costs 25 Ability Points.

double why

If Squadsight was a regular-price bonus skill, it would be pretty bad. The Reaper is best off abusing their ability to flank enemies and fight from Shadow on a consistent basis, and Squadsight doesn't synergize with that at all. Still, it would be maybe worth considering so that if your Reaper ends up breaking Shadow twice in a mission they can back off and keep contributing in safety, so they won't be wounded and unavailable in later missions, and it would even potentially be worth buying early on, if it was rolled at a low level before Silent Killer, so you could have your Reaper firing from Shadow Squadsight so that if Shadow broke they'd still be safe, even if acquiring Silent Killer would tend to make it suddenly a waste of Ability Points.

With the massive price point, though?... I have difficulty imagining ever buying Squadsight for any reason other than a vanity project of buying all of a Reaper's skills just to have the bestest, most ultimate Reaper.

Technically speaking it goes well with Holo Targeting and Shredder, allowing a Reaper to consistently contribute from the back to help the rest of the squad and all, but why is your Reaper in the back of the squad in the first place?

And no, you can't Banish at Squadsight ranges. One would hope, but nope, sorry.

You can Sting at Squadsight ranges, but... so? Firing from Squadsight makes breaking Shadow less of a hazard to your Reaper's health. Why would you want to Sting at Squadsight ranges?


Just like the core classes of the base game, the Resistance classes each have a Guerrilla Tactics School skill you can purchase once you've gotten one of them to Captain.

It's kind of dumb with Resistance classes, design-wise, given that you're hard-capped at 2 of a given case total and a given run is hard-capped at 1 apiece for the two Resistance classes that aren't the first. Not completely meaningless, since Resistance soldiers are normally forced to spend Ability Points on new skills and if you manage to outright lose a Resistance soldier the purchased skill will immediately apply to their replacement even if they're below Lieutenant, but not nearly as meaningful as on the core classes.

Reaper Infiltration
Reapers gain +25 to their Hack rating, and security towers can't detect Reapers.

The boost to Hack is pretty pointless and mystifying, running contrary to both the Reaper's thematics (The Reapers pride themselves on using home-grown Earth technology, why can you make them especially good at hacking Alien tech?) and to their gameplay. (The vast majority of hackables they even can interact with will automatically break Shadow to do so, when Shadow is the majority of the point of a Reaper. This includes using a Skulljack, since it requires getting adjacent to the target)

And no, it doesn't give them the ability to hack security towers.

The ability to ignore security towers is situational, but useful when it applies. By default, security towers are the most limiting things on a map to a Reaper's movement, as Shadow has no effect on their detection radius. ADVENT city center maps in particular are prone to placing security towers to block off bridges and other key travel points, so on VIP-related missions it's pretty reliably useful. As those are the maps that put you on the harshest time pressure, broadly speaking, ensuring your Reaper can scout even through security towers to let you advance the rest of the squad at maximum speed without activating pods at problematic moments is extremely useful.

Overall, however, it's a relatively low-priority GTS skill, as many mission types have no security towers at all, and most security towers barely interfere when missions do have them. Particularly on Legendary where your Supplies don't go as far in general, it's usually better to put it off until later rather than unlocking it the instant it's available.


Aesthetically and narratively, the Reapers are pretty clearly based on the Metro series, a post-apocalyptic setting that started as a Russian book. Among other points, this is almost certainly why we get told the Reapers trace their roots to Russia and they all get Russian names and whatnot.

I don't have any particular opinion on this particular decision itself, in part due to being only minimally familiar with the Metro series myself and so not in a position to say anything about how appropriate or not such a decision might be, but it does leave me wondering what all went into the decision. Did the Lost come first in the design process, and inspire the idea of basing the Reapers off of Metro stuff, or was the Metro inspiration there from the beginning and the Lost added in partially to fill the role of horrible radioactive Metro-style mutants? That kind of thing.

In any event, this is probably where a lot of the decaying old city aesthetic comes from. Base XCOM 2 was willing to depict environments that were crumbling remnants from before the Alien invasion, but it was generally just stuff like a freestanding warehouse in the wilderness that had seen better days, or a refugee camp squatting in a combination of shanties and the occasional structure from twenty years ago. Densely urban environments were generally only covered in the form of the ADVENT city centers, which of course were shiny and new. War of the Chosen gives us abandoned, post-apocalypse urban centers, and they certainly put me in mind of what I've seen of the Metro games, just with less nuclear ash.

Actually, I wonder if that's why War of the Chosen suddenly has sewer level maps? I've always been confused by why those were added, but Metro influence would pretty neatly explain that.

Anyway, the other outside-of-the-game influence that stands out is that the Resistance factions all include voice actors who were actors in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the case of the Reapers, their boss is modeled after and voiced by Riker's actor, while the Reaper who shows up in the tutorial and joins you if you have The Lost and Abandoned turned on is voiced by Troi's actress. The boss being modeled after Riker/Riker's actor is kind of funny since the whole Reaper thing of living in the woods while eschewing futuristic technology leads to a Riker-alike who is grizzled and dirty, while Elena (The Reaper who joins you) being voiced by Troi's actress is part of a recurring thing with the actress of playing harsh/mean characters who are quite contrary to Troi's character. (Did you know she played Demona in Gargoyles? She's not the only Next Generation actor in Gargoyles, either...) I find that enjoyably amusing every time I recognize her in another role like that.

As far as the Reapers aesthetic/conceptual end of things goes... there's a lot of weirdness here. One of the more overtly odd things is that if you go through The Lost and Abandoned, there's this whole thing about how the Reapers hunt and eat Aliens. This doesn't really show through anywhere else in the game -Reapers don't talk about having caught dinner when killing an enemy or anything- and is a detail where I'm honestly not sure what the game was intending to be going for. Is it supposed to be an indication of how completely out there the Reapers are? Is it supposed to be an outgrowth of stuff in the base game, where we keep getting told that pets are illegal and indications that domestic-for-food animals are also illegal and suggestions that the Aliens are genociding a lot of animal species, where the idea here is that the Reapers eat Aliens because they can't actually live off of hunting Earth wildlife because it's mostly all dead? Is it just some Metro callback that doesn't mean anything to me because I'm not familiar enough with that series? It's just such a weird detail, and the game doesn't seem to do anything with it.

The stealth focus is also weird in its implementation. This is honestly a bit of a fundamental problem with XCOM 2, in that stealth in the wilderness and stealth in ADVENT city centers ought to look completely different, with the latter involving blending into the crowd and not, you know, carting around giant guns or wearing obvious body armor or the like, but with the Reapers it comes to a head in multiple ways.

You've got Elena having a glowing mask when 'sneaking' into a gene therapy clinic in the opening cinematic, you've got the general fact that the Reaper outfit should logically stand out enormously in an ADVENT city center and so of course Elena is shown sneaking in an ADVENT city center in said outfit with it looking completely ridiculous, and then there's all the stuff with Reapers eschewing advanced technology and whatnot, which means you can't assume they're using a scifi cloaking device or something of the sort to justify their super-sneakiness.

The gameplay contributes to the wonkiness, since Reapers will be skirting right past enemies even once those enemies know X-COM is in the area. Squad Concealment can be waved off as basically representing the enemies not being on alert enough to pay close attention to what's happening in the distance, but once they are alerted to your squad... Reapers can still operate right under their nose undetected. I appreciate it as far as mechanics goes, but it's consistent with the more purely narrative elements pushing the idea of Reapers being sneaky in a manner that seems rather implausible to how they dress and operate and all. It really seems like the developers just didn't think about how at odds the Reaper aesthetic and so on is with their core concept of being super-sneaky.

Setting them up as the Normal Earth Human Faction is also strange. Not necessarily bad-strange, actually, more interesting-strange in that it seems to be playing with how X-COM as an organization fights against Aliens while embracing their technology. The previous game did kind of touch on this idea itself, with Enemy Within having the opening cinematic quote implying X-COM so willingly using Alien technology is a corruptive influence or something, but then base XCOM 2 didn't come back to that (And Enemy Within did a pretty terrible job of selling the idea, really), so I'd sort of assumed that angle was being dropped, but the Reapers being set up as a faction that rejects Alien technology is implicitly coming back to that general notion in some form. Not necessarily implying X-COM is bad for embracing Alien technology, but certainly establishing that this is a distinct philosophical position of some sort for X-COM, rather than an unquestioned universal norm of the story.

I do hope that XCOM 3 actually does come back to a lot of the elements of War of the Chosen instead of repeating how XCOM 2 largely ignored the stuff introduced in Enemy Within, because there's a lot of bits in War of the Chosen like this where it feels like there's got to be an actual reason behind the choice but it's not very clear in the final product.

All that said, I do like the Reaper coat. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in context, but it does look cool.


On a completely different note...

... this icon is curious to me. The first time in a given campaign you select a Resistance class during a mission, you get a pop-up explaining some of the Resistance class' unique mechanics while their faction leader rambles at you about how awesome they are, and they always have three icons in the lower-right of an image. For the Skirmisher and Templar, these three icons are skills the classes have. For the Reaper, two of those icons are skills they actually have, but the middle one is the above icon, which I've never seen anywhere in-game.

My suspicion is that at some point in development Reapers had their own special shooting icon, and this got overlooked when they changed their mind and removed it. It's easy to overlook, but Sharpshooters have a different icon for a standard shot than all other classes, which is actually explicitly labeled 'fire Sniper Rifle'. There's a lot of evidence Reapers were originally more Sharpshooter-like; Vektor Rifles are actually coded to need two action points to fire and it's just Reapers have code that basically says 'ignore the equipped weapon's action point cost', they have the same Aim climb setup as Sharpshooters, they can get Squadsight as a bonus skill, and Volk plays up how they're better marksmen than anyone in X-COM's ranks. It would make sense if this Sharpshooter-ness extended to having their own special firing icon, especially since they have unique fancy graphical effects when you're considering a shot with a Reaper.

That it's not just a recycling of the Fire Sniper Rifle icon does have me wonder if at some point their firing behavior would've been unique in some additional manner. I dunno, maybe they'd have been able to arc shots over walls? Regardless, this icon's existence is interesting, whatever the exact explanation is.

Anyway, next time, we cover the Skirmisher.

See you then.


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