XCOM 2 Reaper faction - Abilities, skill tree, Resistance Orders and how to recruit new Reaper units such as Elena Dragunova

How to encounter and master XCOM 2's Reaper faction.

The XCOM 2 Reaper faction is one of three added to the huge War of the Chosen expansion.

Encountered as part of the main story, and able to be recruited into your own unit starting with Elena Dragunova, Reapers are stealth and subterfuge incarnate, and are best used for infiltration and scouting the enemy position from the shadows.

Led by Volikov "Volk" Konstantin, the Reapers were established in the frozen desolation of Alaska and are known to survive by whatever means necessary.

If you need more help, our XCOM 2 War of the Chosen guide provides a breakdown on how else you can tackle the huge expansion.

XCOM 2 Tips: Top 5 Tips to Dominate Mission Combat (How to Guide for Tactics)

How to unlock and play as Reaper units, Elena Dragunova in XCOM 2

The Reaper faction is the first of the three new factions to be introduced.

How to get Reaper units and Elena Dragunova in XCOM 2

During an early story mission in which you attempt to broker peace between the Reapers and Skirmishers, you meet Elena Dragunova who will come aboard and become one of your strongest, most valuable assets.

Later in the game, it's possible to recruit an additional Reaper via a covert operation that becomes available through the Resistance Ring building type.


How to play as Elena Dragunova as other Reaper units

The first Reaper you'll encounter in the game is introduced via a slight reworking of the opening cinematic. Elena Dragunova becomes available early on in the game and is an asset to your scouting and intel gathering.

Her Shadow ability ensures she will only break cover of concealment when an enemy is either right on top of her or through taking actions in the field, such as putting a bullet between the eyes of an ADVENT trooper with her custom Vektor rifle.

Even then, Shadow is so powerful that there's a chance that she won't be revealed. Dragunova's abilities start powerful and just get better and while she may never reach the damage output of a fully suped-up Ranger, her ability to act as a stealthy insertion tool remains invaluable throughout.

Things to look out for when building your Reaper:

  • Target Definition for the win: regardless of the exact Reaper build you opt for, consider picking up Target Definition early on. Once the Reaper has laid eyes on an enemy you will always know where they are, and whether that's unaware enemies who are patrolling, or enemies with high mobility in battle (like the Codex) that information can help save the lives of your soldiers.
  • Banish and Annihilate are a combo deal: In order to pick up Annihilate you'll need to first invest in Banish. Annihilate is a very useful way of getting a free attack on another enemy, particularly if you are running low on actions and/or soldiers and need to finish off a couple of weaker enemies.
  • Beware the BOOM!: Remote Start is excellent, allowing you to detonate cars, canisters, gas stations and more with a single, stealthy shot. However, before you jump at the chance to take out an enemy pod huddled around an ignitable source, spare a thought for your surroundings. Are there vulnerable civilians at risk during a Retaliation Mission? Are there valuable pick-ups nearby during a Supply Raid? Or a hostile VIP you're supposed to be capturing, unharmed? The satisfaction of taking out a group of oblivious enemies is tarnished somewhat if your opportunity to successfully complete the mission also goes up in smoke.

XCOM 2 Reaper abilities and skill tree

Training the new Reaper class works a little differently to training regular soldiers. At each rank-up, the Reaper will be awarded a handful of Ability Points to spend on an ability from their new rank. Alternatively, you can double-back and pick up a slightly cheaper ability from a previous rank, offering a degree of welcome flexibility.

This versatility is a powerful levelling tool, so it's useful to have a guide to the abilities you can expect to choose between from the table below. The Markman abilities ensure Dragunova is a deadly combatant, but Stealth abilities such as Target Definition offer huge tactical benefits, while Saboteur options like Remote Start and Homing Mine make her deadly from the shadows while ensuring she doesn't blow her cover.


Shadow - Advanced form of concealment, soldier has a chance to retain concealment after taking actions N/A Target Definition - Any unit seen by a Reaper remains permanently visible Silent Killer - Kills with the Vektor rifle do not increase the Reaper's chance to break out of Shadow Sting - Fire a shot while in Shadow. Guaranteed to remain in Shadow N/A N/A


Claymore - Throws a targetable environmental explosive. The Reaper is not revealed when shooting the claymore or when it is triggered Remote Start - Detonate an environmental explosive, causing it to deal double damage within twice its normal radius. Does not reveal the Reaper Shrapnel - Claymore does +3 damage and has +1 radius Distraction - A kill with the claymore puts the Reaper into Shadow N/A Highlands - Soldier can carry an additional claymore on a mission Homing Mine - Attach a claymore onto an enemy (does not alert the enemy).


N/A Blood Trail - Shots deal +1 damage if the target has been wounded this turn N/A Needle - Shots taken in Shadow have +2 armour piercing Soul Harvest - Kill shots increase crit chance by 5, to a maximum of 20 Banish - Fire at a target until you run out of ammo or it dies. Reveals the Reaper Annihilate - When you kill a target with Banish, you will continue firing at another enemy (until you run out of ammo)


None Possible chance for a random ability from another class Possible chance for a random ability from another class Possible chance for a random ability from another class Possible chance for a random ability from another class Possible chance for a random ability from another class Possible chance for a random ability from another class

If you need more help with XCOM 2's expansion, our XCOM 2: War of the Chosen guide and tips can explain everything you need to know, from how to beat The Chosen Assassin, Warlock and Hunter and the new The Lost, Spectre and Advent units. Combat them by learning about each new faction with our Reaper abilities and skill tree, Skirmisher abilities and skill tree and Templar abilities and skill tree pages, as well as learning about the new Challenge Mode, Resistance Ring, Ability Points, Fatigue and Bonds systems. Good luck, Commander!

XCOM 2 Reaper Resistance Orders

Aside from the powerful individual soldier abilities that a Reaper boasts, the Reaper faction can also benefit you through a number of Resistance Orders. These are issued at month end and take effect throughout the following month, up until the next supply drop.

Amongst the most useful of the Reaper's Resistance Orders are:

  • Resistance Rising: Increases the number of Resistance Contacts available on the Geoscape. Higher levels of this order increase the number of contacts by greater amounts.
  • Guardian Angels: Covert Actions undertaken via the Resistance Ring will not be ambushed. This is particularly useful if you're looking to pursue a number of covert operation opportunities in a given month and want to minimise the chance of the enemy countering your plans.
  • Munitions Expert: One for a little later in the game once you've constructed the Proving Grounds improvement, this order enables Experimental Ammo projects to be completed instantly. It's best used when you have a bunch of spare Elerium Cores to pay for the ammo projects and can net you all of the Dragon, Talon, Tracer, Armour Piercing and Venom rounds you could need in one fell swoop.

Increasing your standing with the Reaper faction by undertaking both covert operations and the occasional Faction mission that they pass your way ensures you gain access to the most useful orders, in the shortest possible time. You will also unlock additional order slots so that you can have multiple orders active at any one time.

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About the author

Stace Harman

Stace Harman


Stace Harman is a freelance writer and zombie survivalist. He writes mainly about video games but has also reported on topics ranging from airline security to Claudia Winkleman’s shoes.


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