Early: Flashbang, Battle Scanner, Mimic Beacon
Mid: Dragon OR Venom Rounds, Talon Rounds, Acid Grenade, Skulljack, Skullmining, Shredder Gun
Late: Proximity Mines, Blaster Launcher, Shredstorm Cannon
Optional: Bluescreen Protocol for EMP Grenades and Ammunition
Once we’ve got our facilities and research planned, it’s good to know what items give us the best bang for buck. It goes without saying that you should be building upgraded weapons and armor whenever possible—in general new shotguns and pistols provide the most lethality for their price, and you should try to spread experimental armor around as quickly as possible, with light grapple gear for your Rangers and Sharpshooters while your Grenadiers get EXO Suits to bring more ordnance to bear.
Early on, a flashbang is a key purchase. On the surface its large radius and aim penalty seem helpful, but the most important detail is that what flashbangs do is disorient targets, disabling many abilities for the duration such as Stun Lancer meleeing, Muton grenading and even Codex teleport and cloning, just to name a few. But the most important enemy the Flashbang disables is the Sectoid—disoriented Sectoids can’t perform psychic abilities, and abilities they’ve already cast and are channelling will be broken upon the flashbang landing, cancelling nasty Mind Controls and even dispelling Psi Zombies from their reanimated existences. Having a Flashbang handy is often the difference between regaining control of your Ranger or watching them machete charge your entire squad to death, so don’t leave home without one.
Battle Scanners and Mimic Beacons are both very helpful tools. The Battle Scanner is most useful early on when hidden Faceless are big ambush threats on Retaliation missions, as any fake civilians detected in their radius will be revealed as the goo monsters they are. Mimic Beacons remain indispensable throughout the campaign, providing incredibly effective distractions that will save you time and again during otherwise untenable turns.
As our Proving Grounds completes in the early to midgame we want to make the most of its capabilities. Dragon or Venom Rounds are both great ammo types for a Sharpshooter’s weapons; one sets enemies aflame, the other poisons them, and both grant a flat damage boost to boot. Talon Rounds are excellent for Shotgun Rangers or anyone you want to focus on critting, and Acid Grenades are incredibly useful for shredding through armor as you meet the game’s tougher enemies. Be sure to pick up Advanced Explosives to keep your other grenade types useful as you upgrade your basic frags.
A Skulljack with the Skullmining upgrade is an important boost for your Specialist as it grants a boost to their hacking stat, crucial as later missions feature fearsome robotic enemies to be stunned or controlled. It also allows you to reveal more of Advent’s agenda and set back AVATAR progress, both things you need to do if you want to complete the game. Best not to leave it unbuilt for too long. As you experiment with the heavy EXO Suits you can build with Plated Armor you’ll want to try and gain a Shredder Gun as a heavy weapon; the long cone of lethal armor removing damage it provides will net you many impressive multikills and help you take down the tankiest enemies you face.
Towards the lategame we’re topping off our explosive power and finalizing our arsenal of heavy weapons. Proximity mines from Andromedon Autopsy are an awesome destructive package of high damage and radius and should be picked up ASAP. Shredstorm Cannons are an excellent upgrade of the Shredder Gun, while Blaster Launchers improve the Rocket Launcher heavy weapon into a guided cruise missile that can navigate any terrain and reach out to a hugely extended range. A mix of both will cripple any targets, near or far.
If you’re having trouble with robotic enemies, consider Bluescreen Protocol for its EMP bombs and ammo. Both deal huge damage to bots and also apply a penalty to their hack defense with each hit—a Colonel Gunslinger armed with Bluescreen Rounds can hit a Sectopod up to five times in one turn, making your Specialist’s chance to hack them significantly higher. Considering that hacking a Sectopod is about as close as you can get to guaranteeing a win, it’s a tactic worth considering.
Early: Engineers, Supplies, Elerium Cores
Mid: Intel, Alloys
Late: Elerium, Weapon Upgrades, PCS Chips
With our research, facility and equipment objectives understood, our last concern is getting the resources that’ll allow us to achieve those goals. Every resource in XCOM 2 is precious, but some are more critical than others and these priorities shift as your campaign develops and your situation changes.
To start with, we need as many engineers as we can find. These staff members clear out rooms, earning you supplies and allowing to you build, and without them your campaign is going nowhere fast. Consider buying them whenever they show up at Resistance HQ each month; an engineer bought with supplies will soon pay for themselves through the rewards of excavating rooms, so they’re a good investment to make early on.
Speaking of supplies, we’ll need as many of them as we can grab to furnish all the new facilities and items we need, so early game is an especially important time to grab as many supplies as you can. Once you’ve made contact with the Black Market, check the sell tab every month to see what the buyers are most interested in purchasing at the moment; sell high to make the most of your inventory of corpses and items, giving you a big cash boost that can be critical for keeping your strategy game rolling. Just try not to sell things you still need—for example, selling all your Advent Trooper corpses will completely stall you if you need to build Plated Armor, which requires them as a component.
Elerium Cores aren’t useful until your Proving Grounds completes in the midgame, but we need to start stocking up on them early as they take a while to amass. Try to grab cores through combat looting whenever it’s reasonably safe to do so in your missions, as without them you’ll be unable to complete experimental projects for important gear. Vulture is an important Guerilla Tactic to pick up early as it doubles your looting rewards and will bolster your Elerium Core hoard significantly.
Intel is always an important resource to focus on, but it becomes absolutely critical in the midgame where we need to start expanding to new territories quickly and regularly. Intel is also how you buy important stuff from the Black Market like top end weapon upgrades and PCS chips, so the more of this you can get the better—in many ways it’s an even more important resource than supplies for gaining powerful items and boosts. Keep checking Advent towers for hack rewards that grant you intel caches and consider skullmining Advent troopers often when you’re mopping up firefights, as both of these can grant you bonus income to this very important currency.
You’ll also need to stock up on Alien Alloys for the midgame to build an array of Magnetic Weapons and Plated Armors. You’ll need quite a lot to manufacture all this gear, and even more for lategame equipment. If you’re finding yourself short, consider buying some extra Alloys from the Black Market to get that new technology built ASAP. The same is true of Elerium once you enter the lategame—you’ll need tons of it to built all the Powered Armor and Plasma Weapons you want. Elerium is also important for constructing your Psi Lab and creating new Psi Amps, so keep your eye out for supply raids and buy Elerium from the Black Market as necessary in order to get your psychic program in order.
Weapon Upgrades and PCS Chips are standard loot you can find on missions, but they’re also purchasable in the Black Market with new items coming in every month. It’s always good to keep your eye on what comes in each month but lategame is the best time to focus on these upgrades, as the stock becomes higher in quality as your campaign progresses. With enough hundred Intel, you can outfit your whole squad with superior attachments and PCS chips, providing a massive increase to your capabilities. If you haven’t already geared yourself up by lategame, it’s definitely time to start boosting your troops to their fullest potential.