How to build a great Shinobi soldier in Long War 2

Tips and suggested abilities for running a killer Shinobi soldier in XCOM 2's Long War 2 mod.

Working on a Technical build for your Long War 2 run? I recommend these perks: 

  • Ghostwalker
  • Lone Wolf
  • Covert
  • Bladestorm
  • Conceal
  • Tradecraft
  • Rapid Fire

The Shinobi tree is littered with tempting combat-focused perks that sound excitingly effective, so it’s important we understand the real strength of the class—Concealment is absurd. Other classes can compete with and surpass the damage or defensive capability of even the most combat-oriented Shinobi, but none can compare to their dangerously cheesy mastery of becoming practically invisible. With that in mind, we want to restrain ourselves from indulging in the more action-oriented choices such as Cutthroat and Coup de Grâce, and instead focus on our Shinobi's real goal—be unseen, unheard, and let the rest of the squad benefit from the absolute wealth of reconnaissance information our hidden ghost can provide.

Technical soldier guide

Pick the right perks for your flamethrowing, rocket-shooting Long War 2 soldier with our Technical guide.

Ghostwalker, Covert and Conceal all build towards this goal. Respectively, they’ll provide you with an 40% reduced detection range on a cooldown, a 20% smaller detection range all the time, and the ability to re-enter Concealment once per mission. Between the three of them, the only time you should be getting detected is when you wish it so, by swiping objectives or assassinating weak, lone enemies—and even once your cover’s blown, you can just pop back into stealth and carry on with your important sneaking duties.

Lone Wolf provides extra aim and, more importantly, defense for when you’re operating far from allies, as most Shinobis should aim to do. Bladestorm provides an interesting combat niche for your trooper in those rare scenarios where Concealment is no longer helpful to you—you’d be surprised how much value you can wring out of this perk in the right situation, and versus the undeniably limited versatility of Shadowstrike and Evasive, it’s the best bang for your buck in its section.

While the Shinobi’s constant Phantom Concealment is an incredibly powerful tool—in my opinion, perhaps the most powerful ability in the XCOM series to date—an important fact to remember is this trooper will be an unavoidably weaker fighter than any other. Rapid Fire helps offset this, with its constant double-fire action providing the damage boost the class needs to stay relevant when your squad killing every alien in sight is the only acceptable solution to a given turn.

Finally, Tradecraft helps address the Shinobi’s combat weaknesses in a different way. By significantly reducing the soldier’s infiltration time, Tradecraft makes bringing the Shinobi more of a free bonus than a trade off. The extra infiltration time you’ll save allows you to bring another, more damage-focused class to pick up the Shinobi’s slack while they focus on sneaky recon.

Used properly, Shinobis provide excellent flank security and forward recon, screening out accidental, unwanted activations and ensuring the only enemies who spot you are the ones you’re ready to kill. Their stealth means they’re also capable of taking on some mission types entirely on their own, though the all-or-nothing stakes of dodging patrols or dying alone makes solo sneaking an approach not for the faint of heart. 

John "Beagle" Teasdale has sent a lot of aliens to alien heaven. Check out his XCOM videos (and karaoke skills) at youtube.com/beaglerush.

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