XCOM 2 Legendary Ironman Guide + Tips – Gameplay Walkthrough

XCOM 2 Legendary Ironman Guide + Tips – Gameplay Walkthrough 1 - steamsplay.com
XCOM 2 Legendary Ironman Guide + Tips – Gameplay Walkthrough 1 - steamsplay.com

This guide is on many tips surrounding Legendary Ironman (also known as “L/I”) for War of the Chosen (WOTC). I started it because I felt like there wasn’t really an adequate, one-stop-shop place to dig up legendary tips. Yeah you can browse for them, find bits and pieces here and there on reddit, find some videos, etc. But I thought it’d be nice to just have something located here on steam right next to the game…

Plus, its well known the most difficult part of L/I is the early game. Having done hundreds of campaigns, I can safely say the “tipping point” at which one can have a great game going is right around the second faction mission. If you can get to there with minimal wounds/deaths, you’ll probably do alright throughout the rest of your campaign, barring some bogus RNG just failing to stay on top of the avatar counter and research.

So… wanted to use this as a collection pool of various thoughts and tips on how to deal with legendary. It’s stuff I’m aware of and think about as I go thru the campaign, and they are things that can help you too! 🙂


General tips part 1

Just a bunch of tips for your legendary ironman playthrough. Can also use em’ for easier difficulties and just decimate those modes too…:

  • More options = greater chances of winning battles. This is the reason early game is so tough. Very few skills and crappy aim.
  • Always, always, always have a way to reduce the avatar counter before the timer starts. For example, if you’re nearing a full meter and you don’t have a golden path mission available, you better be doing a sabotage covert op…
  • Considering the avatar project, you’re going to want to occasionally do “Reduce avatar project” from the ring. Don’t neglect it. You will lose if you do. You are too constrained by resources and contact limits to get to alien facilities in time.
  • Don’t wait for the first avatar project to near completion if possible. On legend, you start out with 28 days until completion. On subsequent “near victories”, it continues down from the last count NOT TO GO BELOW 7 days. Example
    • Avatar counter starts, you have 28 days
    • You do something to terminate it at 18 days left
    • Counter starts again due to reasons (facility, dark event, etc)
    • That counter will begin at 18 days
    • This continues on until you break through 7 days. After 7 days, when you terminate the project, whenever it starts again it will ALWAYS be at 7 days.
    • Nutshell answer: just stay on top of the project and don’t try to squeak out an extra day or two here. Just don’t let it fill up to begin with. Not worth the risk of RNG where you have a few days left then “OH! Surprise! Avenger defense!” Now you can’t do a facility…


  • Squad size I is pivotal. Many legendary runs fail because you did not get squad size upgrade by mission 6 at the latest (the advent raid mission). Mission 5 is still doable with just 4 soldiers as you’ll only be at force level 2.
  • The “safest” start is choosing reaper. The scouting is so invaluable and early game enemies are deleted with claymores. Remote start is either a total let down or a total game changer. Early game it will erase pods, but requires luck in them being near something explody…
  • The “strongest” start is choosing templar. If you can control your pod activation, which you should be doing already as you’re in legendary, then the guaranteed damage, mobility, positioning, and damage soak is incredible.
  • It’s all about pod activation. Most runs fail due to too many pods being activated at once.
  • The best defense is a supreme offense. As such, aim for all “offensive” type abilities on your soldiers. Exclusions here are things which help scouting (such as phantom, extra conceal, etc) and sometimes specialist healing abilities.
  • Early game, strive for ~6 grenadiers. They are the most important class early game to blow away cover and do guaranteed damage. Their cannon hits hard. Late game, they do amazing dmg with chain shot, rupture, hail of bullets, freeze nades, etc. You will likely cycle through 4-5 most of the time, but the 6th is backup for times of spike missions such as getting an extra op, avenger defense, retaliation, council mission all close together. On that note, as soon as GTS is finished, start shoving grenadiers through immediately.
  • Meeting the 1st lvl bond on soldiers will jump them to a “very high” rating (7.5) if they are not already above it. By way of this mechanic, you can pick/choose two soldiers of very low bond, send em’ thru the resistance ring bond training, and they’ll hit lvl 1 as well as be of very high rating at 7.5. But if the soldiers are higher than 7.5, even if you send them thru the ring, they’ll still have the higher amount.
  • Don’t ignore the WILL stat. In wotc, it affects if you’re tired or not, and can impact how you deal with panic states and percentages to RESIST psi attacks. But most imporantly the tiredness 🙂 It has ZERO bearing on your psi stat and if psi abilities success rate/dmg. If you pay close attention, watch the little tiny green bar under soldier health. You’ll notice it go down on the actions listed below:
    • Seeing a pod. Yes, scouting them while under concealment. The moment you see a pod the first time, all soldiers immediately incur a will hit based on type of enemies and how many they are.
    • Getting shot at.
    • Taking damage. This is especially awful for “poisoned” soldiers. While poisoned you lose 5 will each turn. Fun hidden mechanic 🙂
    • Seeing civilians die. Yeah don’t kill civilians needlessly unless you have to
    • Seeing your buddies die.
    • Activating “lost” swarms up to a certain point. This one is interesting. I don’t know the exact details, but I can say for sure that at some point you no longer incur will hits each time a swarm comes. You also don’t continue to get XP forever. Just assume the first 1-2 swarms that arrive will ding your will… after that shouldn’t have much affect.
    • A chosen with “brutal”. This one pretty much sucks and can completely devastate your soldiers to the point they’re shaken if the fight goes on too long.


  • Overwatch should mostly never be used except to set up a trap on NON-ACTIVATED pods. Also, with the exception of the first couple missions, you should not use overwatch to pop your concealment. It “locks” you into your position and you gamble that those overwatch shots will hit, despite having no overwatch penalty. It’s much better to reveal with a grenade or some other opener. Keep your options open.
  • Use overwatch ONLY when blue action creeping. Move first soldier up. If no activations, rest of team can move up and overwatch everyone. You can also use it on flare drops if no other enemies are around. But that’s basically it. Unless you have NO OTHER CHOICE (ie, no los on an enemy), it’s better to just take a super crappy 20% shot than rely on overwatch.
    • There are a couple other exceptions to this rule when dealing with chosen too. You can try to setup a trap to kill adds on their turn, or “kill” the chosen on their turn to ease in sarcophogus killing action. But still risky.


  • If you blue move with a non-concealed soldier, never move your other soldiers past him, else you risk activating a pod and not having full soldier options available.
  • ALWAYS be excavating. Except for the first two months or so where your priority is GTS > ring, you prob won’t always be excavating. After the second facility though you should always be excavating, first to expose 5 rooms of the top two layers, then aim for a power coil.
  • Templar will probably be one of the most powerful characters given some time to build up. They will trivialize most chosen encounters, and do some nutso damage later on. If you get one with blade storm, which happens often… a fantastic opener when concealed is to just run into a pod and wreck face. Be sure to have first done some scouting behind them so you don’t activate more though….
  • Skirmisher is probably weaker of the three TO START. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly use them, but not hugely until nearing mid-game. The problem is the good skills aren’t until later. Bullpup does crap dmg. To kill someone you really need to shoot em’ twice. But that’s two rolls of dice. Even then might not kill em’. The hook pull is great, but early on you only get 1, maybe 2 uses of it due to mission timers. I find the other two heroes way better early on.
    Once you’ve:

    • Given them a perception PCS
    • Sent them thru a +Aim covert op once or twice
    • Gotten their first bullbup mag upgrade
    • Give them bluescreen rounds

    Then they become actually quite powerful and a solid choice for nearly every mission.


General tips part 2


  • For mimic beacons to work, you need to throw it into the line of sight of an enemy. If it is out of line of sight, then the aliens will act as if it’s not there. Also, chosen/rulers will also shoot beacons, though it doesn’t seem to be consistent. Beacons can absorb 2/3 shots of aliens even in late game… sometimes they absorb 1, but also that’s also all you may need to distract with. They are very, very good and I like to take atleast 2 with me on each mission.
  • You can evac first haven mission. However… I personally like to try to do it. Mostly because you get faceless corpses. Evacing this means you’ll basically get mimic beacons one month later than you normally would, around month 3 or so. Also, you have a high chance of getting someone to Sergeant rank right as your GTS is finishing. May not be a problem, but something to think about.
  • It’s fairly easy to get squad size upgrade 1 by mission 5. You need to feed at least 5 kills to your hero unit on the first mission. Take hero on second mission and get a few kills. Let them rest the third mission. Fourth mission, the haven defense, take them and do work. They will very likely promo to sergeant. Right around this time, assuming you did GTS first, the facility will finish and you can purchase the upgrade.
  • You can get squad size upgrade 1 BEFORE first haven defense, but it’s not as recommended and requires some luck. Basically:
    • Hope you get a pretty decent will roll on your hero unit (50+)
    • Feed at a minimum 5 kills on the first mission. Necessary to get first mission promo. More kills is better though, but riskier to do.
    • Second mission feed them nearly every alien on the map… very hard to do though without incurring wounds. If you didn’t get sergeant after second mission, hope you have enough will to take them on the third mission such that they are NOT tired. Feed them some lost and they should get promoed.
    • Buy GTS immediately on day 1, but DO NOT purchase a flash bang. If you buy a flashbang, you will not have enough supplies to purchase the upgrade. Odds are one of your scouting rumors will be for supplies and you’ll have just enough to purchase squad size 1 when it’s ready.
    • Only mentioning here, but generally just avoid trying to get sergeant by first haven defense. Really it requires to much hope to the RNG gods and will induce far more stress than enjoyment.


  • Try to get all your highest combat intelligence troops to be your rangers and grenadiers. But don’t sweat it if that isn’t the case. It’s not a deal breaker, just a nice-to-have.
  • Sharpshooters and specialists are just kinda… meh. Aim for ~3 specialists, and ~2 sharpshooters in your campaign. Mostly take specialists on any hack mission for the range hack, or if you KNOW you’ll induce damage in some way… such as an assassin controlled territory, or you know there will be hidden chrysalids. Otherwise their slot is better filled by bigger damage dealers. Yes I get they can heal and provide utility, but the reality is if you take a stance of supreme offense, you’ll find you don’t need a specialist much.
  • If you go sharpshooters, just deal with it and make them a pistoleer or whatever. Know they won’t really shine until mid/late game. Do the pistol track of skills. Give em’ a bluescreen rounds. You’ll be happy…. especially after you get the hunters chosen weapons. They’ll probably absolutely decimate the battle field. Until then though they are quite poor until you get them death from above and stronger weapons.
  • Just always take phantom on your rangers. Just do it. Unless you have a plethora of rangers. The blade mastery is nice, but it’s so situational it’s not worth taking that over having the concealment to do scouting. Remember you can’t ALWAYS bring a reaper, unless you eventually get two of them…
  • Sparks are REALLY great and I would highly recommend you pick one up. Once you get fist punch you can really start controlling the battle-field. And get a gun scope on them right away.
    • They don’t incur will hits, hence are never tired
    • You can send them in wounded, and they auto-heal much like your other soldiers. Can heal them faster through the engineering bay if you want though.
    • Overdrive is clutch and you’ll find it insanely useful all campaign
    • Can jump unlimited heights
    • Adaptive aim over bulwark… you aim to kill as fast as possible, not get shot at.
    • Have decent armor to soak a couple hits. Be careful late game tho! Many enemies shred and can do serious damage in one shot.
    • Bombard is clutch to just lob anywhere on the battlefield. Some mec overwatched and you cant break it? Bombard! Dudes hidden out of LOS but they’re a threat? Bombard! It’s really great.
    • Ignore repair. It’s like a medikit. Even if you repair, had you incurred damage, you still have to heal back at base similar to other soldiers. Better to go ham mode.
    • Get a shredder gun on them asap. Later the shredstorm. Rainmaker (if you dont take fist punch…) is absolutely nutty. It makes these already OP weapons absolutely mind-blowing. You can level an entire battle-field with a single shot.
    • The last ability, nova… to me is a let down. It’s just junk. Take the “sacrifice” instead. You “might” use it once or twice in your campaign.


  • Some moves are 100% free even after a yellow move. Remember this as it can and will help you out at spots. The three most notable ones are:
    • Extracting advent supplies – opening containers is 100% free and you can do it EVEN AFTER A YELLOW MOVE… or even after shooting.
    • Reviving soldiers from chosen daze – Yes you can yellow move, or shoot then revive, or revive then shoot, etc.
    • Running to any evac spot. You can just yellow move, or blue then shoot, etc. Either way you’ll still be able to evac. So… stick around and shoot crap, then bail!
  • Avenger defense from chosen: There is much that say use a reaper, sneak to the big gun, shoot it with shaprshooters. Yes, that’s one way. But consider you have TEN soldiers. Just plow down one side of the map and face roll everything. It’s quite simple to get to the big cannon and blow it up with lots of avenger life to spare… You have TEN soldiers. Hard to not deal with pods along the way.
  • Avenger defense from ufo: Easiest thing is just sneak up, preferably with reaper, and sharpshooter down the emitter thingy. Then just get out of dodge. You can try farming xp but remember each pod activation takes dings to your soldiers’ will and can make them tired…
  • chrysalids: Their attack will induce a “forever” poison that will not go away until you die. Only way to heal it is with a medikit. In light of this, there are a few times where you’ll face burrowed chrysalids. For sure on one of the golden path missions, and, later, during haven defenses… you’ll see them burrow. Be very wary of this. You WILL take damage from them if you get even a little close to them, even while concealed. Here is how to deal with them:
    • Take a specialist to heal… or if you don’t wanna do that…
    • Can also use the specialist to “scan” an area and they’ll reveal. else…
    • Give someone a battle scanner and throw it where you know they are… that will reveal them too.
    • Take a spark with you. Where you know one exists, move the spark up so that it takes damage, but not your soldier. Spark can’t get poisoned and has tougher armor.
    • You can also, if you have psi soldiers by this point, dominate a crappy alien and move them forward to be the dmg sponge.
    • If you take dmg and have chryssy poison, with no way to purge it, remember you can always just evac that “one” soldier to get them out of there. You may still have enough firepower to finish the mission and save that soldiers life.


General tips part 3


  • You can’t really truly “sneak” thru a mission. You can to some degree, but after a certain threshold of getting near the objective, the game basically “cheats” and will start roaming the pods toward you. So be very careful about thinking “I’ll sneak along the edge and get the objective!”. You’ll find yourself in hot water more often than not when you realize activating the objective will trigger 3 pods. I think it’s a lame mechanic but… I guess it forces you to engage w/ the enemy. Just be aware of it.
  • If you’re going to do any kind of “deep” sneaking, such as really getting back there to get eyes on the objective, only do it with a reaper. Ranger is just too risky and the vast majority of the time you’ll get spotted.
  • Be very careful of grouping soldiers up when fighting mobs which can AoE. They can, and likely will, nuke you. For example, if you have 2 soldiers within 2 tiles of eachother, a mec is very highly likely going to shoot missles at you… or that muton will throw a ‘nade at you.
  • With the above in mind, also know the AI cheats on this. Unfortunately, it just “knows” where your soldiers are. If you have an activated pod, and you hide two soldiers completely out of LOS (say behind a wall), you’ll eat an AoE. It’s quite silly really. Even if the AI doesn’t see you “move” there. The one exception is if you happen to be concealed still, which is different. Anyhow, don’t think that crowding behind a wall, or on an upper floor with un-concealed soldiers means you can’t get naded, poison spit, etc, right through the wall/floor! It will probably make you furious when it happens 🙂
  • Early game, protect the device is way easy. You have LOTS of turns to save it due to aliens hitting it for such little damage. Late game… don’t dare do them. Aliens hit harder and will kill the device in as few as 3-4 turns. Sadly, the device HP doesn’t scale with force level. Take em’ early, leave em’ late.
  • Within the first month, or when you’re only at 4 soldiers, neutralize commander can be tough until you get crowd control and stronger. Later on they’re quite simple.
  • Alien relay mission types are usually always easy. Sniper up and shoot from afar, and take your time dealing with aliens.
  • Ladder cheese: Standing a soldier at the very top of a ladder makes it so other units cannot climb the ladder. This is a big deal on lost missions. You can stand atop a ladder, and they can’t climb to get up to you. This will usually force the AI to take another, much “longer” route to get to you.
  • Door cheese: You can stand by a door, open it, shoot, then close the door again. You’ll be out of line of sight of enemies, nor will they attempt to “open” the door. It’s great. Very rarely have I seen an enemy open a door. Just be aware to close it you need another soldier near it to close it (since you can’t do anything after shooting). Also because of this, you’ll be within 2 tiles of that soldier. This means the AI, can and will, shoot you with AoE despite not seeing you. So careful with this strategy against aliens with AoE attacks.
  • Understand flanking and defense. Typically, aliens will prioritize taking the “greater chance to land” a shot, with sometimes odds going for a kill shot instead even if that soldier had a greater defense. Also, enemies basically NEVER move into line of being flanked, unless they have literally no other choice. You can use this to your advantage. If you move a soldier, and see that the enemy could easily move to flank them on their turn, you can position another of your soldiers such that you’d impose a flank shot on them if they moved into that flanking shot. It will essentially prevent enemies from moving into certain places of cover.
  • Don’t underestimate hunker down, especially early game. It doubles your defense. On high-cover, that gives you +80 defense, which makes you nearly impossible to be hit early on. On low cover, thats +40 defense, meaning on legendary an advent trooper has only a 25% chance to hit you (but let’s be real… thats xcom baby and it’ll probably hit you…)
  • Normally you can’t directly target something to make it blow up with your gun. However, if you see no enemies within line of sight, yet you can target something that explodes, you are guaranteed to know there are enemies within range of that explosion. As such… blow em up before you even see them. Fun trick 🙂
  • Consider taking the throwing axe over the chosen katana when/if you get it. While the katana does more damage, by the time you do get it, you will do a lot more damage with your shotgun. Plus, you get a free action to throw the axe which is clutch in some situations to clear a threat.


Dealing with Chosen

Worst strengths:

  1. Planewalker – If a chosen gets this, consider just gunning down their facility as soon as absolutely possible. This strength is single-handedly the worst one a chosen can get, and will severely complicate your encounters with them unless you have a reaper/banish wombo combo or hope for executions.
  2. Missed shots cause reaction fire – Early on this one really sucks and you can suffer losses if not careful. Later it’s less of an issue as your soldiers get better aim and have guaranteed hit skills.
  3. Brutal – Will loss on attacks. This has nasty effects after the fight, and can cause your dudes to be shaken and out of combat for a time. Don’t underestimate it. It can be a nasty one if the fight is prolonged.
  4. Low profile – This one is a pain too because after their first dmg taken on the turn, they get extra defense, making future attacks less of a chance to hit. Not the worst, but certainly something to consider. This in combination with missed shots is pretty nasty.

    The other two obvious ones might be immune to melee/explosions. Honestly they’re not that bad. Even if you get a immune melee and weak to templar. Don’t sweat them too much. Even if they are immune to explosions, you can still boom their cover and shred their armor, so it’s still worth grenading them.
    Every other strength is mostly just… a non issue and can easily be worked around, so not worth mentioning here.


  • Brittle – On a brittle chosen, save your hero dmg they are weak to for the 3rd+ attack. You’ll do a bonkerz pile of damage to them. You get +bonus from the weakness to hero AND the +bonus from brittle. On that note, use your weak hitters first on them… maybe launch some ‘nades first. Big hits should take advantage of brittle.
  • Groundling – Rarely do I find this useful. More of a placeholder. You “might” get lucky and actually fight a chosen while on a roof, but don’t count on it. Odds are it will just do nothing for you. If there’s a ladder near you or something to where you can take advantage of this, then by all means do so… but this weakness just isn’t that exciting.
  • Close quarter – (May be called something different)…. basically, if you’re within 3 tiles when you attack them, you do more dmg than usual. This is pretty flarging awesome with your melee guys, or a ranger sticking their shotgun up close and personnel….


  • After first round, will ALWAYS summon zombies. The zombie summoning will continue forever, every 3 rounds, until you engage him in combat. Keep this in mind so that you don’t activate pods AND deal with summoned zombies.
    • For example… you know zombos are coming, and you’re not on a time crunch. Just sit and overwatch. Deal with them. After they’re gone, reload/overwatch everyone again w/o moving. Then proceed further.
  • Zombies typically spawn from the average “center” position of your entire squad, slightly in front of there and the warlock himself. Basically draw a line from your squad to the warlock. Figure maybe ~10 tiles from where your squad is, on that line, is where you can expect zombos to spawn. Use this to your advantage and put a bladestorm dude out in front to be the “target” of those zombies 🙂
  • Only ONE zombie will ever enter spectral explosion on the first move. But it doesn’t much matter. Never, ever, ever leave a zombie up. The following turn they will always just trigger detonate and suicide into you, regardless if they trigger explosion on the previous turn or not.
  • Zombo spectral boom has a blast radius of 2 tiles. Know this before you kill one that is flashy and shiny and about to esplode…..
  • I’m fairly sure he summons spectral army at around ~30% health. You can use this to your advantage. Once he summons them, anyone who is mind controlled will be freed.
  • With one spectral soldier remaining, you can place a bladestorm fellow near him, or pray for landing overwatch shots if they are flanked. Basically kill them on the alien turn, and you can go ham on the warlock next turn. He will no longer be immune and he will not have moved from where he initiated spectral army.
  • A templar with a mindshield is a warlocks worst nightmare. Makes the warlock mostly trivial. Just run templar in, swing, parry… rinse/repeat. Doesn’t even matter if warlock is melee immune. You can just keep the warlock busy forever with this.


  • Can be a royal pain if he gets plane walker. Just jumps around shooting you.
  • Be very careful early game when you engage him. He can and will one shot your soldiers, outright killing them or bleeding them out.
  • He does tracking shot ONLY if there is a pod currently activated. But… easily avoidable. Just move off the squares. Eezy peezy.
  • Because he likes to chill up high, consider shoving a ‘nade down his throat. Not only does he take blast damage, but he falls and takes more.


  • In my opinion, the worst of the three. Many say he’s awful but honestly it comes down to knowing how his stealth works. Basically, assume he is a “concealed” ranger, and while he’s moving about, he too has to avoid those “red alert” tiles that would be surrounding your troops. As such, if you can happen to move a soldier such that you’d get a flank, then he’ll reveal. This is why sometimes you might see him just “randomly” reveal after moving… a civilian or one of your soldiers happen to see him sneaking by. If you reveal him before he can attack, you can usually crush him pretty easily.
  • He will engage you usually in 3-4 turns after he shows up on the battlefield.
  • If you have a scout, you can try to sneak ahead and reveal him… but it’s not always 100%
  • If you hadn’t revealed him, he’ll just run up, sword strike a soldier, then bending reed away. Usually he moves a good distance, but nothing you can’t deal with. Take note where he runs and blow away the cover.
  • You can also reveal him with specialist scanner or battle scanners.
  • bladestorm/overwatch things are mostly worthless, as he just vanishes and moves about freely
  • If your soldiers are grouped up, he’ll use harbor wave, dazing a bunch of soldiers


Chosen facilities

Chosen facilities – here are some tips on dealing with these on legendary. They are MUCH tougher than any other game mode.

  • Try not to burn your 1-2 time use items in the first part. Save all your limited use skills for the chosen fight… so fight smart on the way to the elevator.
  • When at the elevator, just end your turn a bunch to refresh cooldowns until everyone is ready to go.
  • When inside sanctum, there will be 2 aliens. Feel free to burn your cooldown abilities. Once they’re dealt with, just end turns again until they’re refreshed. Then advance mid-map to make the chosen spawn and essentially have very fresh soldiers to deal with them.
  • You have EXACTLY one FULL turn where the chosen isn’t alive (with the exception you manage to kill the chosen on THEIR turn, via overwatch, dot, bladestorm, etc). However, this is complicated by the fact 2 aliens roughly around the current force level will teleport in.
  • Basically, the regen counter will increment by 33. So it goes like this:
    • Turn one. You make your soldiers do stuff to the chosen to kill it. Maybe you kill it with 2 guys, maybe it takes all 6. Either way, the second you kill it, the timer is already at 33 on that same turn. This is also your chance to deal damage to the sarcophogus.
    • Turn two. Timer is now at 66. Two aliens will spawn in randomly. Deal with them, but also know you need to widdle down the sarcophogus.
    • Turn three. Chosen respawns, sarcophogus immune. Rinse and repeat.
  • With that in mind, here are some possible options
    • Try to not outright kill the chosen with your last soldier… instead get them very low. Stand a bladestorm soldier (templar/ranger) next to him for a nearly guaranteed kill. The exception is the assassin who can just vanish 🙁
    • Setup some overwatches in hopes that the nearly dead chosen will die. This is the absolute best scenario, as you’ll have an entirely free turn to shoot the sarcophogus… but also a risky play cuz you’re letting the chosen take actions.
    • Use a soldier that has high chances of killing the chosen first… like a reaper for example with banish. Then go ham on the sarcophogus.
    • Consider just using CC in some way (mimic beacon or freeze nade… whatever) on one of the spawned aliens in favor of doing sarcophogus dmg. Deal with it when the chosen is back alive.




  • The only two that matter are perception and speed
  • Templars and rangers get speed
  • Grenadiers, skirmishers, reapers, then anyone else, get perception… in that order. However if you rank up a sharpshooter to get death from above, and snag the Darklance, they absolutely get the aim pcs over anyone else. It just takes awhile to get to that point. 🙂
  • Sell the rest, or use as temporary fodder



The best items are:

  • Bluescreen rounds (grenadiers, skirmishers, sharpshooters… anyone else with a rifle)
  • Mimic beacon
  • AP rounds on a reaper (if you get shredder on your reaper, take some venom rounds or dragon rounds)
  • Talon rounds for your rangers
  • Mindshield on a Templar (or a mimic beacon if not going against many psi enemies…)
  • Shredder gun and shredstorm cannon. These things are just silly OP. Take a few when you get em’.


Black Market

Black market tips

Always pick up:

  • Early game, if you’re unlucky with rng and are low on engineers, pick up an engineer if one pops up
  • superior perception
  • superior speed
  • superior repeater
  • superior scope
  • Elerium when it’s mid/late game and you’re starting towards beam stuff
  • Between early/mid game, if you’re struggling with having certain classes and you see a needed class pop up, you might consider purchasing it for intel to fill a gap… I only did this once or twice though
  • Dont bother with research rush or anything else really
  • Dont buy scientists
  • Buy an engineer if you’re still at 3 or so engineers by the time you do the second faction mission. After that don’t buy anymore.
  • Dont buy alloys. Usually you get enough through supply raids. But, you might consider buying em’ once if you choose to do an early mag weapon rush, in which case you’d need the alloys.


Weapon Mods

Useful/unuseful ones…

  • Scopes… put them on everything except shotguns. Order of importance is spark > grenadier > skirmisher > then whatever after that. Because you’re using grenadiers so much, you want their shred attack to be hitting… and their cannon does great damage.
  • Repeaters… probably just put them on everything. Order of importance is reaper > grenadier > skirmisher > everything else (excluding shotguns…)
  • Laser sights always on shotguns
  • Expanded magazine – Place on spark gun, reaper gun, shotgun
  • Hair triggers are “ok”, so just use them and plug a hole until something better. Can’t perform moves “relying” on them though. Mostly I throw em on shotguns/cannons/rifles.
  • Stocks. If you have em and have extra slots to fill, sure, use em up. But nothing to write home about.
  • Autoloaders less valuable than expanded mag. There are “some” cases where having it would have been better than expanded mag, but it’s too few clutch situations.


Faction orders and continent bonuses

I put these under the same section as it’s up to RNG which continent bonuses you get, and some bonuses are actually faction orders. If you have a faction order that is a continent bonus, then that bonus would not show up on one of the continents in your campaign.

Going to just list what are, in my opinion, the best faction orders (and some tips with them!). Will list them in order from best to worst (though this isn’t necessarily always the case… just go with me here as I have to order them in some way! 🙂 ) Not going to list all of them since some are mostly worthless.

I would say if you ever see anything in this list in the ring, do everything you can to get it immediately, and use it on at the next supply drop.

  • Between the eyes
    • This will (usually) trivialize all Lost missions, especially the “Horde” sitreps. They’ll be basically free mission wins
    • When fighting Lost, bring along a sharpshooter or templar… their pistol doesn’t need reloading and you can clear huge waves of lost.
    • Mid/Late game this will be such an amazing order as the Lost gets more HP and it becomes much more difficult to one-shot them. Without it, any missions with the “lost/horde” sitrep has a potential to go south pretty quickly
    • Anyone with bladestorm is basically “immune” to the lost with this order… by virtue of the fact that they cant actually get near you to hit you, else they just die. They will just be untouchable, excluding those sword misses 🙁 In fact they will probably just obliterate waves and waves of lost.


  • Sabotage
    • This one is so good. Every supply drop, you’ll lose 1 pip of avatar counter.
    • It, by itself, will mostly remove all avatar counter pressure you’ll face in legendary.


  • Infiltrate
    • This will remove a massive amount of pressure on most missions that have timers
    • Just sneak as close as you can to the objective without triggering pods, taking time to set up accordingly to only pull a single pod


  • Tactical Analysis
    • Another top tier order… you want this one ASAP
    • You can do pull n’ drag techniques with this order with un-concealed units. Basically, because all enemies now have 1 less action on reveal, you can blue move a soldier revealing a pod, then retreat him back such that he is out of line of sight of the enemies. If you can’t break line of sight then this won’t work. But, doing so means all the enemies can only move up to you and not actually shoot. Works really well. Most often they will be in positions for easy flanks when they do this. Be aware things with 3 action points can still do bad things (sectopod, gatekeeper)
    • If you reveal a pod, then flank them, they will “usually” spend their action to become un-flanked, giving you all of next turn to take care of them


  • Resistance Network
    • This is really fantastic the earlier you can get it. Instantly make contact. With enough intel, you can quickly claim ground all over the globe. This one will, depending on when you get it, potentially save you MONTHS of in game scanning time.


  • Inside Knowledge
    • Increases all weapon mods by +5% or +1, depending on what they do.
    • For example, a normal repeater goes from 5% -> 10% chance. Advanced repeater goes from a 10% -> 15%. A normal expanded magazine goes from +1 ammo -> +2 ammo. Advanced magazine goes from +2 ammo -> +3.
    • Early on there are more beneficial orders, but as you get more weapon mods, this just gets better and better. Definitely want it mid/late game.


  • Integrated Warfare
    • Self-explanatory and very similar to inside knowledge… just affects PCS. Generally harder to get PCS’s early on though so this too is better mid/late game when you have all the superior ones and enough for all your troops


  • Heavy Equipment
    • Really amazing early game. You will get all the rooms excavated quite fast and bring in tons of resources
    • Basically pointless toward the end of mid-game… but if you happen to see this one early, jump on it as soon as you can.. it will be an incredible help


  • Vulture
    • More loot…
    • Take this early when soldiers are weak. All the extra weapon mods will be a nice boost to your overall firepower


  • Art of War
  • Trial by Fire
    • These are both fairly decent the sooner you get them. I would say art of war is “better” in the sense you wind up getting more AP overall… but its on a per soldier basis.
    • They provide zero benefit to you until you can get the training center


Early game, Day 0, mission 1

Lets get through the first few missions. Do this and you’ll be good to go. Basically, we want to make it through the second faction mission with minimal wounded and situated well on our economy and ample troop strength.

Some things to point out here:

  • This is from the perspective of choosing a faction hero at the start. We are NOT doing lost and abandoned
  • Most days I state will not be exact. For example, second mission might trigger on day 7, or might hit on day 8. Either way they generally ALWAYS fall within that same day or two timeframe.

Day 0 – Gatekeeper: (You’ll probably restart this one a lot….)

  • Not much to say here… you’re victim to RNG. It’s just what it is.
  • My conditions for restarting gatekeeper:
    • Hero unit takes any form of damage
    • Any soldier dies (it’s ok if one or two of em get wounded)
  • Try to feed your hero with at least 5 kills. This will get them promoted at end of mission.
  • Some fun reaper tips:
    • Position soldiers on rooftop and in over watch
    • Ensure you see ONLY a single pod
    • Open with reaper shot on one of the troopers… might kill it with 4 damage, might not. You also might not reveal in which case… just try again.
    • If you reveal, your soldiers will unload with pretty good accuracy on them being that you’re up high
    • If any survive… hope you don’t get shot. Otherwise use reaper to finish remainders off
    • Setup shadow again, then find the officer pod. Get near them, but not in a direct path between them and your squad.
    • Throw the ol’ claymore, and blow up his two buddies… and maybe hurting him as a bonus if you’re lucky and he stands near them.
    • Move your soldiers up, but NOT in the line of sight of the officer… get them ready to engage. it’s also possible he may have scurried off to the sectoid pod…. either way move up
    • Open with your reaper blasting the trooper… hope for a kill.
    • Using soldiers, grenade and kill the officer
    • Sectoid is easy to deal with and will probably not damage you, unless you’re in the open…
    • Doing this its pretty easy to achieve 5 kills w/ the reaper… just remember to save the claymore for the officer pod. Initial reaction is to use it on the first pod and wipe the first three troopers… but doing so makes the officer pod such a pain to deal with.
  • Some fun templar tips:
    • Hope for a map with buildings and not just super flat and open
    • Get near a building and first pod… position your templar within sight of them
    • Stuff your other soldiers in the back far out of LOS of the troopers
    • with one of your soldier units, do something to break concealment… run through a window or something. This will activate the pod.
    • Now run your templar out of LOS… this is important. The troopers will now all run up.
    • Run out, erase a trooper, run away out of LOS again
    • Rinse/repeat till pod is gone. After one trooper remains, he may try to join another pod.
    • Slowly blue move your templar to “heavy cover” locations…. on pod activation, hunker down. You’ll take 0 dmg, unless you get marked and roll some really bad RNG… but it’s quite unlikely.
    • Run back to your cheezy LOS place. Do what you did earlier… dart in and out killing troopers. Can also use volt and blast them from range if you cant break LOS. This will outright kill the troopers but prob not the officer.
    • Sectoid pod is easy… just run up and whack trooper. Run to cover. Face roll sectoid next turn
    • With a bit of luck and cheese tactics, you can get 5, even more, kills on that ol’ templar. Immediately pick up parry.

    Some fun skirmisher tips:

    • Dont do a skirmisher start on legendary (kidding of course… you can, it’s just “tougher” to deal with the tactical portion of the game early on)


Early game, Day 1 – 13, mission 2

So 2 hours later you’re finally past gatekeeper in somewhat good shape. Fantastic!

Day 1:

  • Research modular weapons
  • Build a GTS in open slot
  • Buy a flash bang
  • Assess available soldiers and see who does and doesnt have crappy combat intelligence. Take the “standard” dudes on the next mission.
  • Promo soldiers if you’ve not. Hopefully you have a grenadier. No sweat if not.
  • Scan first rumor. It’s probably supplies… but may also be rookies. It’s quite random but the best one that you can get is an extra engineer.
  • Take a peeksie at your resistance orders… hopefully you got something nice. If you started templar, it’s probably all junk. If you go reaper, hope for “Between the eyes” or “Infiltrate”. Those ones are incredible.

Day 5:

  • Modular weapons will finish. Start researching alien biometrics.
  • Scan second rumor after first finishes.

Day 7 (maybe 8…)
Mission 2, your first guerilla OP will pop. “Usually” it’s an engineer but I’ve seen differently. Hope you don’t get “Neutralize commander”, “Hack workstation”, or “sabotage device”. The best ones are “Protect the device”, and “Destroy alien relay”.

This is probably one of the toughest missions in the entire game to have go flawlessly… more-so than even the first haven defense.

  • The “Protect the device”, and “destroy relay” missions tend to be the easier. The device has tons of hp and will take aliens upwards of 10-13 turns to finally blow it up. Destroying the relay you can just shoot from afar, especially with a sharpshooter. Done carefully you can minimize pod activation.
  • The thing with “neutralize commander” is that you have 4 dudes, super weak. You have one grenadier at most and your hero unit. Sneaking to that commander and ensuring they are the only pod to activate, and also killing him in turn one, can be tough. He’s got 14 HP. Later these are easy missions but right now this is tough one to draw. Usually crap just gets messy. Plus after first turn he starts running away making it very difficult to chase him down without pulling other pods. If you cant keep the general as the only activated pod, you will likely incur several wounds/deaths.
  • Normally hack workstation is pretty easy… but being that this is the second mission, you have 4 dudes, limited options, and are under a time crunch. Plus, depending on the type of mission you have to hack, reinforcements will arrive once you hack. This is surprisingly a very difficult mission at this stage in the game especially if reinforcements come and you don’t have a clear line of sight on the hack object.
  • Sabotage can be absolutely brutal early on. With 4 soldiers, you have very limited options in dealing with the turn counter. Already strained, you now have to use one of your soldiers to shoot the nodes to increment the counter so you don’t fail. It’s a balance of shooting nodes while enemies aren’t activated. Really this mission is pure RNG… hoping for decent enemy placement, the objective isn’t 20 miles away, nodes are within line of sight, etc. Usually it goes to crap this early on… but sometimes you can pull through 🙂

Second mission:

  • Hero unit and grenadier will be your friend. Save flashbang for when multiple pods pop… can use it to break mindcontrol or wreck their accy.
  • This might be the only time where I’ll say to break concealment with everyone on overwatch. Hopefully you can be on high ground when you do.
  • Just safely advance, dealing with single pod at a time. Not much else to say here. RNG is still severely against you and the second mission can go utterly horrible despite your best efforts of playing.
  • A corporal hero unit is such a huge help here. You could get lucky with remote start and erase a pod but maybe not… but atleast there’s the claymore. You can use templar to erase an enemy, and also go into parry mode.
  • Dont be scurred to use LOS cheese tactics here too… being mindful of the mission timer
  • Its legendary and it is what it is.
  • Try to feed a few kills to the hero unit as you possibly can…. safely. Going for a sergeant promotion on the haven defense.
  • If you squeaked out of the second mission and took only 1-2 wounded soldiers, and hopefully not the hero unit, pat yourself on the back. That’s pretty good! It’s very difficult to flawless mission 2 and just relies on RNG to be in your favor at the end of the day.

Day 6ish:

  • Immediately assign an engineer to GTS, if you’ve not already

Day 12ish

  • Start researching resistance comms next. If you get a breakthrough and can do something that is +dmg as defined in the various general tips, take that one first. Again we really only care about rifle/cannon or the conventional weapons. Others you can ignore.
  • Continue scanning whatever rumors you’re doing, prioritizing doing an engineer/scientist first if you have them.
  • Around day 13-14, your third mission, the first faction mission, will pop
  • Also, around day 13, take the engineer that is building your GTS, and start him excavating (assuming you have only a single engineer right now… sometimes you have 2 by this point. This way you can get a head start on clearing the way for resistance ring. GTS should finish by itself right around time supply drop comes.


Early game, day 14, mission 3

Around day 14-15, your third mission will appear. This is always going to be a faction mission. It will come in one of two flavors:

  • Rescue a scientist with a downed soldier at a car. The soldier will join your group, but you have to haul him back. You have four turns to get to them. As rewards you’ll get a scientist, that soldier, and some intel.
  • Rescue a scientist. Also find two soldiers to join you in the fight. Unlimited turns. You’ll get those two soldiers as rewards, some intel, and that scientist.

Of the two, the one where you have 4 turns is the easiest. The one where you can find two soldiers can, surprisingly, be quite difficult and turn into a hot mess real fast.

For the one where you have 4 turns:

  • You can pretty much just take 4 rookies on this. Let your other peeps heal up. Can also take the other 1-2 non-rookie classes that you didn’t take on mission 2. They can do this mission and join the haven defense too. Do NOT take anyone on this mission you took on the last mission, that you want to partake in the haven defense. Probably leave your hero home for this one even if he’s not tired….
  • You have four turns. Pick a rookie. He is your runner.
  • You really have no lee-way to dwaddle on this mission. One of your soldiers needs to absolutely just yellow move towards the objective. Yes you’ll trigger lost. Yes they’ll move towards you.
  • With your other three soldiers, you’re going to be playing back-up and hoping for some good RNG and getting those headshots
  • Try to take high-ground if you can… this will give your soldiers ~85-90% shots on the lost.
  • Also important, utilize ladder strats here! Don’t let the lost climb up to you.
  • Your runner soldier needs to move yellow moves toward the objective. Just go full speed.
  • What’s important here is that you can move to within the circle on the last turn remaining. Next turn you need to be able to pick up, and do a double move back to the evac point. Sometimes this map spawns and you don’t have to run nearly as far, in which case when there are 2 turns left, you can yellow move “just to the outside” of the circle. If you happen to have RNG on your side for that, on your last turn you can move in, pick up your soldier, and have an extra move to get away from whatever spawned near you.
  • The trick here is knowing how far “lost” can move. Dashers move far as all hell… they have 20 mobility, giving them ~15 tiles per movement action (around 30 on a full yellow move). Normal lost have only 8 mobility. They can only move roughly 6 tiles in a single move, which means if you’re any further than that, they can’t attack you that turn. Dashers on the other hand can move and swing… however if you yellow move and a dasher is right near you, you should be just far enough out of range that they can’t hit you next turn.
  • By that logic, as long as you’re just yellow moving, you should be safe from the lost… unless you end your turn right near some 🙁
  • This mission is also very lame in that it’s possible the swarm which spawns after reaching the objective can be right on top of you. Not sure if it’s a bug or what… but if that happens plan on taking damage, including possibly just being taken out. It’s quite lame and I wish the scripted interactions forced the lost to spawn a certain distance from that objective once you got to it.
  • Also if you think you’ll take a hit, you can try to position your scientist dude to absorb the swing. s/he has 5 hp and you don’t need to deal with recovery times.
  • With everyone back at the evac point, you can try to farm a little xp. You don’t get nearly as much as you think you do, and eventually things cap out and you can no longer get anymore xp. Watch your will meter… if you see lost spawning, and it’s not going down, you’re all capped out. So no need to kill 70 lost… but you probably won’t have the aim/ammo to do that anyhow. Honestly just get everyone back safe and evac.

For the one where you can rescue two soldiers:

  • This one can be deceivingly difficult.
  • Just hope for a “close” soldier right near the scientist
  • You want to stay concealed for as long as possible. Try to get withing a single move range of the 5th soldier to rescue. It’s likely they will be right outside the building you start nearest to. You’re going to want to have 5 soldiers for this ASAP.
  • If you don’t get to the 5th soldier within the first 1-2 turns, things are gonna get rough. Between advent and dealing with lost, you may struggle to keep the numbers down and actually make progress…. this is why I say try to get the 5th ASAP.
  • You can use your scientist dude to do ladder strats and block entrance up a ladder. Great for cutting off entrances the lost can take.
  • With the 5th secured, you can head and get the scientist. Or you can head towards the 6th soldier. They are usually far away.
  • Just take your time dealing with lost swarms, and activating only single pods at once
  • There is no timer here.
  • Utilize ladder strats! Don’t let the lost come up to you.
  • Once you clear all the advent pods, it’s mostly in the bag. Just save the scientist, save the 6th soldier, and move on.

Afterwards, move along and continue scanning whatever rumor you were doing. Your first haven defense is coming up next.

Early game, day 15 – 21, mission 4

Day 20ish:

  • Right around now resistance comms will finish. I like to go sectoid and pick up a mindshield. But really it’s up to you at this point. Could also start going mag weapons here too. Make a choice and stick with it! You can go hybrid materials too, but plated armor requires alien alloys which you have little of, if none at all. So you can’t really get that until you do your first raid mission, or you buy some from black market.

Also around day 20 or so, just a “few” days before your first supply drop, you’ll get your first haven defense. It may not happen on day 20, but right around there. It is always your fourth mission, and always before the supply drop.

Some useful things to know:

  • This mission is the only time on a haven defense where “failing” it does NOT lose you the region. You will only take a hit to region income, which isn’t really that bad. If you have too many wounded or can’t take your hero unit, aren’t sure of yourself, etc, consider just taking the mission then immediately evac out.

Reasons to actually do this mission:

  • You get squad xp, and will likely hit someone with a rank of Sergeant, opening way to squad size I.
  • You “usually” get 2 faceless corpses. Meaning next haven defense (unless you get a sitrep…), you can build the amazing mimic beacon.
  • There’s only 5 roaming enemies, 1 pod of 2, 1 pod of 3. The other two are faceless in disguise, and the chosen. Sometimes I have seen the map spawn with only 1 faceless however…
  • You get 5 ability points for taking out the chosen
  • Collection of corpses to sell and whatever loot they might drop. Chosen summons also drop loot, so you’ll have more than 1 pickup.
  • Depending on how many civilians you saved, you get + region income

Mission 4, first haven defense:

  • You will start without concealment.
  • You “probably” have only 4 soldiers, unless the ol’ RNG was in your favor, you saved money and didn’t buy a flashbang, GTS got done in time, and managed to get someone to Sergeant before this mission. Unlikely but it can happen.
  • Advance forward, being careful to activate only a single pod at once.
  • Be very careful about civilians. Don’t go near them! One could be a faceless, and they have 12 hp. If you activate one WHILE other enemies are alive, it will be a real struggle to get out of the situation without taking damage.
  • After all other enemies on the map are dead, including the chosen, all the faceless will reveal themselves. It’s very nice to be able to kill one of the faceless BEFORE you activate the chosen, since you’ll need to deal with only one.
  • If using a reaper, try to have “explody” objects between you and where the chosen would run to you to activate. Typically they run just to the edge of your line of sight. If they happen to be near a car, gas station etc… remote start and kiss them goodbye. Will likely one-shot them, or at least put them down to like 2 hp.
  • If using templar, can just run up, slap em with your sticks, parry. Great way to occupy them.
  • If you rolled the assassin… be sad 🙁 Such a pain early on and likely will just strike you, probably bleeding someone out. If the assassin is activated WHILE you’re dealing with another pod of enemies, highly consider evacing. You probably won’t make it out in good shape if you dont…

After the first haven defense… you should hopefully have a sergeant by now. Also your GTS should be finished, or within a day or so. If you don’t have the funds, scan your supply drop and immediately buy Squad Size 1. Congrats! You now have a pretty good foothold in your campaign….

Recommended Mods

Personally, I don’t use any mods which “alter” the way the game is played. That is, nothing that makes the game easier through altering content, adds/removes enemy types, etc. Only things I use are some cosmetic things for soldiers to give it some flavor, and quality of life type mods. Here’s a few of my faves:

  • Stop wasting my time
  • Still stop wasting my time
  • Smart overwatch all (one click to overwatch everyone… saves you lots of time over the course of the game)
  • Quicker reload (you’ll like it after you get sick and tired of watching a grenadier reload….)
  • No reveal cinematics (mostly to stop the 5 billion reveals on “lost” missions)
  • Instant Avenger Menus
  • Evac All
  • Gotcha (This one is just a HUGE time saver. Or, you can submit yourself to counting tiles over and over and over again to prevent trigger pods. Play the game, don’t spend your time constantly counting stuff. You will save yourself tens/hundreds of hours just spending time counting silly tiles…)
  • Reliable wounds (this is a double edge sword, but really makes more sense. If you take 1 pip of damage, you shouldn’t be wounded for 40 days. On the other end, if you have only 1 pip of health left, you shouldn’t be wounded for 5 days…)
  • Less overwatch lock ups
  • Instant loot
  • Zip mode combat protocol camera fix


Written by stealth_villain

Here we come to an end for XCOM 2 Legendary Ironman Guide + Tips – Gameplay Walkthrough hope you enjoy it. If you think we forget something to include or we should make an update to the post let us know via comment, and we will fix it asap! Thanks and have a great day!


  1. Love it! Here’s another tip for Chosen Facilities: at least on XBOX, if you run your cursor around the periphery of the map, you can catch a remnant of the “avatar statue” in the elevator room so you know where it is, and can home in on it directly- cheese, I know, but it’s Legendary and the RNG isn’t exactly fair as we know, so it’s all good 😉

  2. This was a truly excellent and well researched read.

    Follow up question: have you ever tried a Lab first build on Legendary?

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