Hi there! This is James Clarendon, Lead Systems Designer on The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. For those of you who want to get a head start on how to build and maintain your roster of agents, I’m here to provide some insight into how these systems work, and how you can maximize your strategies in the field.
As field agent William Carter, you take the role of squad commander, making important choices as to how you and your agents progress in their careers and achieve certain victory. Bringing low-ranking agents into a mission can easily spell disaster, so you’ve got to take the time to invest in and develop each squad member for the challenges ahead.
First, the basics: you can keep a roster of eight agents, and two of these will join you in the field to form your squad. There are four classes in The Bureau, each with unique capabilities:
- Commando – hits hard and uses direct abilities.
- Engineer – deploys traps; the lynchpin of tactical combat.
- Recon – eagle-eyed marksman best used at long range.
- Support – bolster’s the squad’s abilities and hampers enemies.
Each of these agents is hand-crafted by you. You’ll first select a background for the agent; these backgrounds give the agent personality and act as minor perks to their stats. An Engineer might have the Gunsmith background, for example, giving him increased accuracy with weapons. Or your Support agent may have studied Pre-Med, allowing him to last longer when injured. I recommend having two of each class in your eight-person roster, because you’ll be making choices that will result in completely different abilities, even within the classes.
You’re then able to customize their face and uniform colors. A lot of players like to tailor specific colors to their abilities, so go wild with that hot pink Engineer if it reminds you that he’s the one that’s going to be deploying Laser Turrets on the battlefield.
If you’re familiar with the progression system from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you should feel right at home. Each time you increase a character’s rank, you’ll be forced to make a choice from a branching skill tree. These choices really enhance the tactical nature of combat, and you’ll find yourself using different strategies based on what abilities are at your disposal. Sometimes what you choose will be a perk—these improve the agent’s performance, like the Endurance perk which increases his maximum health—while other times the agent will get a new ability.
Abilities are powers unique to the class that have a clear tactical usage on the battlefield. For example, the Engineer’s Mine ability allows him to toss out an explosive that will detonate whenever an enemy walks near, and the Commando’s Pulse Wave will send bogeys flying.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- On your first playthrough, I recommend giving Carter the Medic perk, which lets the Heal ability recharge faster. This will give you some time to learn the game and take some risks. When you’re ready for The Bureau’s biggest challenge—Commander difficulty—I’d advise taking the Grenadier perk, which doubles your grenade capacity. Grenades are a tactical necessity at this level.
- Having two Support agents in your roster is almost a must; give one the Disrupt ability to strip shields off pesky Elites and enemy Commanders, while the other takes the Weaken ability for use against armored foes, like Sectopods.
- Each class earns new abilities at different rates, so think about how you pair them up and how they progress. The Support agent will get all of his abilities by rank 3, while the Recon won’t get his final ability until rank 5.
- A Commando with the Peak Conditioning perk will have more health than any other character in the game; this will enable you to take some big tactical risks on the battlefield with even bigger payoff.
- For Recons, choose carefully between the Cloak and Diversion abilities. Cloak turns an agent invisible, allowing him to inflict heavy damage and get into tactically advantageous places, but you’ll need to make sure the agent is protected when it wears off. The Diversion ability deploys a holographic distraction that draws enemy attention. It’s a good choice when you need to rescue someone that’s being overwhelmed by Outsiders.
- Experiment with how abilities can combo. Deploy a pool of deadly plasma with the Commando’s Plasma Field ability, and then flush entrenched enemies into it with the ear-splitting noise of the Engineer’s Scatter ability.
- Doubling up your squad with the same classes can produce some surprising strategies. Having a pair of Support agents (for you Final Fantasy players, I call this the “White Mage squad”) means using their Shield Orb ability to deploy a portable defense, and boosting your gunplay with their adrenaline-enhancing Combat Stims ability. Just watch out for enemies that want to charge you!
- Equipping backpacks can further let you customize your performance. These can be used to minimize weaknesses in your squad, or bolster their strengths. If you have a set of abilities you want to use frequently, select a pack that will reduce recharge times on them. And if you’re in the run-and-gun mindset, select packs that enhance their accuracy and damage output.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Think carefully about how you mold your squad, because their lives are literally in your hands. Losing a high-ranking agent can be the difference between success and failure, and in the high-stakes world of The Bureau, you can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes.