Sharpshooter build: Gunslinger
Abilities: Squadsight, Return Fire, Lightning Hands, Quickdraw, Faceoff, Steady Hands, Fan Fire
Gear: Spider/Wraith Suit, +1 Damage Ammo (your choice)
Accessories: Perception, Scope, Repeater (Bonus: Hair Trigger)
Gunslingers are the damage carries of XCOM 2, and that title is well deserved. Lightning Hands, Quickdraw and Fan Fire allow this soldier to put out more damage in a single turn than anything else in the game, bar a Rapid Fire crit combo or a very angry Sectopod. Return Fire provides yet more damage by hitting back at enemies during their turn. I prefer Steady Hands over Aim—I rarely hunker my Gunslingers and instead prefer to keep shooting, so the passive nature of Steady Hands gives me more benefit.
The core of a Gunslinger’s power is ammo items—Dragon and Venom rounds each give them +1 damage on every pistol hit while also applying either burning or poison effects, dealing damage over time and debilitating your enemies. Particularly when combined with Faceoff to shoot every enemy in sight, this +1 damage quickly adds up to a ridiculous benefit over the course of many painful hits. Conversely, armor is where Gunslingers struggle—their many small hits tend to be wasted on well protected enemies.
High aim is critical for a Gunslinger, so a Perception PCS is essential. For weapon attachments, stick a Scope and Repeater on your rarely used rifle - when you do use it, it’s probably due to facing a tough and well armored enemy. Your pistol might not kill a Sectopod, but executing it with a Repeater rifle shot might just help. Otherwise, shred the armor and go to town—once you’ve removed an enemy’s armor, a Gunslinger’s pistol is more than enough to kill anything that moves.
Sharpshooter build: Sniper
Abilities: Squadsight, Long Watch, Deadeye, Death from Above, Kill Zone, Aim, Serial
Gear: Spider/Wraith Suit, Tracer Rounds
Accessories: Perception, Scope, Expanded Magazine (Bonus: Hair Trigger)
The Sniper is less flexible than a Gunslinger and suffers from being very static, a handicap in most of XCOM 2’s timed missions. However, their ability to attack any target in their view combined with some powerful skills still makes them highly effective. Long Watch and Deadeye provide Overwatch and improved damage from squadsight range. Kill Zone is a critical skill that lets you lock down an entire cone of the map with covering fire, which is why we take an Expanded Mag - we want the ammo reserves for shooting up to 6 enemies in a single move. Death from Above combos well with Aim, letting you hunker after every high ground killshot to gain accuracy for your next attack.
Serial allows the Sniper to kill for free, refunding actions for every enemy you drop while the ability is active. While all of these abilities work at Squadsight range, the aim penalty incurred for this requires some serious offsetting—we’ll want the best Scope we can find as well as a Perception PCS to boot. If you’ve earned the extra attachment slot through the continent bonus, you can try a Hair Trigger to give yourself the occasional free shot, or try an Autoloader to as much as quadruple the amount of enemies you can kill in a single Serial chain.
Tracer Rounds stack your aim even further to further counter the Squadsight penalty, but feel free to take whatever you like instead. A Spider/Wraith suit is important though, as it gives you free and easy access to high ground which is critical for your Sniper’s effectiveness.