Ever since we announced XCOM 2: War of The Chosen, people have been fascinated by the introduction of Soldier Bonds. With the upcoming expansion, you’ll see soldiers bond in the heat of battle and if they make it out alive, come out stronger – and closer than before. That’s saying nothing of how soldiers can now develop additional abilities.
HOW SOLDIERS BOND
Each soldier has a compatibility level with each other, the higher the compatibility, the more likely they are to bond while on missions together. But there are also incidents that can occur, mid-mission which can boost a soldier’s compatibility. Whether one solider rescues an unconscious squaddie from the battlefield or if more than half the squad is lost, the survivors bond. In watershed moments like these, two soldiers’ compatibility will shoot up.
When two soldiers are ready to bond, you will see them on the Avenger getting a drink together, practicing at the range as pals and more. Once two soldiers have bonded, neither soldier can bond with anyone else unless their bondmate dies…til death do us part. If a soldier’s bondmate dies, the survivor might not take it well and fly off in a berserk rage and suffer penalties. But they will recover and eventually be able to bond again.
Besides personalizing your in-game experience, there are some inherent benefits to sending bonded soldiers on a mission together
SOLDIER BOND LEVEL I
Teamwork: Grant an additional action point to a bondmate.
SOLDIER BOND LEVEL II
Spotter: This soldier is granted a bonus to aim when their bondmate has attacked or been attacked by the soldier's target. An extra bonus is granted if the bondmate is adjacent.
Stand By Me: When this soldier ends a move adjacent to their bondmate, the other soldier will be automatically cleansed of any negative mental effects.
Covert Operators: When deployed on a Covert Action together, the duration is reduced by one day.
SOLDIER BOND LEVEL III
Advanced Teamwork: Grant an additional action point to a bondmate.
Dual Strike: A combined standard shot attack by the soldier and their bondmate.
NEEDING SOME R&R
Whether or not your soldiers are bonded, though, they will need to rest. The more missions you send a soldier on without a break will start to take a toll. Exhaustion and stress, as well as bad encounters in the field, could lower a soldier’s Will and develop negative traits. This can include a fear of certain types of enemies. For example, after a fight against Mutons that ended poorly, the soldier might panic when they see Mutons again. It could lead a soldier to constantly reload a weapon on their second action, a nervous tick, instead of listening to your orders. These negative traits can be cured by setting a soldier to heal in the infirmary.
Needing to rotate your squad makeup between missions does come with a couple benefits as well: You’ll have to make some interesting choices while selecting who deploys. The other notable perk is that your entire roster will benefit from being more evenly-powered.
NEW SOLDIER ABILITY POINTS
The Training Center – replacing the Advanced Warfare Center from the base game – is an essential facility that XCOM can build. Not only is the Training Center there to enhance soldier bonds in War of the Chosen, but this is where you’ll spend Ability Points earned in combat to buy additional skills and abilities for the regular XCOM troops.
According to Senior Producer Garth DeAngelis, the design team wanted to offer a new way of soldier leveling with War of the Chosen. “Since XCOM: Enemy Unknown, progression has been a binary choice: Which of these two skills do I want,” says Garth. “This was an opportunity to allow more meaning to squad capacity overall. Will I dump most of my Ability Points into a promising hybrid XCOM recruit through the Training Center, or save those points for a balanced approach across multiple units? The AP system is also far more comprehensive by being a direct result of smart decisions by the player.” You earn AP by pulling off maneuvers like flanking and taking shots from height. Gaining a resource from intelligent combat play gives progression an entirely new feel.
This also allows the player to execute on a non-linear approach to spec’ing out Faction Heroes, since the tree now offers more than two choices at once. You can rush for the later abilities, or go for breadth and grab a number of low-cost abilities, up front.
This also impacts the original XCOM soldier classes. Take the Specialist, for example. With Ability Points, you can select previously passed-on abilities from either the Battle Medic or Combat Hacker skill paths. Or, you can opt for a third path made up of abilities from the other XCOM soldier classes. The assortment of available abilities is random for every individual soldier. Only a few of these abilities show up for each soldier.
Essentially, every soldier class gets more powerful in XCOM 2: War of the Chosen and we want you to have more of them in your ranks. And then, of course, are the even-more-powerful Faction Heroes joining the cause.
The Chosen are going to be in for one hell of a fight.
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