Gears Tactics skills are pivotal to taking down hordes of Locust in Gears Tactics when bullets alone aren't getting the job done.
But with five playable classes - Support, Vanguard, Sniper, Heavy and Scout - each featuring a skill tree of 35 different skills to choose from, you might need a hand building your squad.
This page runs through our picks for the best Gears Tactics skills for each class, as well as some best build recommendations, too.
On this page:
- Gears Tactics skills explained: How do you unlock skills and how do they work?
- Best Support skills in Gears Tactics
- Our best Support build recommendation in Gears Tactics
- Best Vanguard skills in Gears Tactics
- Our best Vanguard build recommendation in Gears Tactics
- Best Sniper skills in Gears Tactics
- Our best Sniper build recommendation in Gears Tactics
- Best Heavy skills in Gears Tactics
- Our best Heavy build recommendation in Gears Tactics
- Best Scout skills in Gears Tactics
- Our best Scout build recommendation in Gears Tactics
Gears Tactics skills explained: How do you unlock skills and how do they work?
If you're familiar with the XCOM franchise, you should know most of how skills work, but Gears Tactics does a few things differently all the same.
Skills can be sorted into two categories: Actives and Passives. On most missions, your soldiers will each have 3 AP (Action Points) to spend per turn on shooting, moving, reloading, and using Active Skills.
Active skills usually cost 1 AP and will have an immediate impact on the battlefield, after which they go on cooldown for a set number of turns before they can be used again.
Passive Skills, on the other hand, can't be manually activated and will usually improve your soldiers' base stats or improve their proficiency in battle when a specific trigger happens.
One example of this is the Run and Gun kill for the Sniper, which gives them increased damage for a turn after they move.
Each class starts with a single skill, and you'll earn 2 skill points every time they level up, which can be spent to unlock new skills in their Skill Tree.
The Skill Tree can be accessed from the Barracks at any time, or when selecting which soldiers to bring with you on a mission.
Each class' Skill Tree splits into four specialization branches to choose from, and as you unlock skills along a branch, the adjacent skills become available to unlock next.
How do you reset skills in Gears Tactics?
You can use Reset Tokens that are earned throughout the campaign to reselect your skills if you aren't happy with your choices, but these are in fairly short supply.
The real challenge comes from picking which skills to unlock, but you'll only have enough skill points to unlock one or two branches before the final mission, so you'll need to choose wisely.
This is where we come in! Let's look at some of the best skills to unlock for each class, starting with the Support...
Best Support skills in Gears Tactics
We'll focus on the Support first as it's one of the most influential classes, using Gears Tactics' protagonist, Gabe Diaz, as our example.
Supports can be built as medics with powerful single-target and group healing abilities, but their true worth lies on the right side of their skill tree, letting them bend the rules of engagement to their will.
Here are some of their most useful skills:
At its first level, Empower gives one of your allies a bonus action during the turn it's activated.
Occasionally useful to move an ally to safety or let a Sniper pick off another unit that no one else can reach, but nothing extraordinary.
Once you've put additional points into it, however, it provides two additional actions and a damage buff.
This provides a nice boost of tempo by increasing the net number of actions your squad has on that turn, but things really start getting crazy when combined with the next skill: Teamwork.
Teamwork allows the Support to earn free actions whenever a specific ally kills or downs an enemy, up to a maximum of two of three actions (depending on how many points you have put into Teamwork.)
This is best used on a Scout that's in range to kill a group of Wretches with a grenade, or a Sniper with a good line-of-sight on multiple enemies.
Use Teamwork and Empower on the same ally and you can reliably earn up to three free actions for your squad on the turn they're activated; insane momentum potential!
Lock and Load
Lock and Load is the final perk in the Paragon specialisation branch, which you work towards by unlocking Teamwork and Empower.
This powerful finisher reloads the weapons of your entire squad and grants them a 50% damage bonus for one turn.
This is exceptionally useful in boss fights, where you need to burn through their large health bars before you're blown to smithereens.
It can also save you two to three actions after a group Overwatch play, as your units won't have to waste one of their own actions using Reload.
Surge is the last perk in the Strategist branch for Supports, and while the other perks in that branch aren't particularly special, this skill more than makes up for it.
Surge resets all cooldowns and abilities of a targeted ally - with the exception of itself, no infinite Surge loops, unfortunately.
This can still be incredibly useful to refresh the Empower and Teamwork skills of a fellow Support, or really any of the other skills we're about to showcase for other classes.
Wildcard recommendation: Stim
While Stim isn't a skill I suggest maxing out or prioritizing ahead of any of the skills above, it definitely has its uses.
While a healing focus is often less effective than the Paragon / Strategist build I've laid out - after all, the best defence is a good offence - Stim only needs a single point to be useful.
Use Stim to heal up an ally when your Support isn't in range of any enemies, or throw a second point into it to enable ranged revives.
You can also use Stim repeatedly in between encounters to top up your squad before reinforcements arrive - it's free heal estate.
Our best Support build recommendation in Gears Tactics
For the Support class, spend your skill points in the following order:
- Level 2: Empower [LV1] + Weak Point
- Level 3: Teamwork [LV1] + Empower [LV2]
- Level 4: Empower [LV3] + Lock and Load
- Level 5: Teamwork [LV2] + High-Powered Shot [LV1]
- Level 6: Distracting Fire + Stim [LV1]
- Level 7: High-Powered Shot [LV2] + Surge
Recommended Weapon and Armor Mods for Supports
Supports rely heavily on their skill cooldowns, so equipping weapon and armor mods that reduce these can be game-changing.
The Commando Vest is an excellent choice thanks to its Potential skill that can give the wearer cooldown reduction on a random skill each turn.
The Master Scope attachment for our Support's Lancer reduces all cooldowns as well, so look out for this.
Various mods will also increase the potency of a Support's healing, so these are a good choice if you choose to build them along the Medic branch.
Recommended missions for Support classes
Supports are versatile units that are always useful to have in your squad, but they excel on Rescue and Scavenger Run missions where efficient actions and movement range are vital.
Empower and Surge in combination with a well-specced Scout can turn even the trickiest Scavenger Run into a relaxed walk in the park.
Best Vanguard skills in Gears Tactics
Vanguards are tough soldiers that are difficult to take down and can cause havoc amongst a large group of enemies.
Their Regeneration passive provides healing every turn, so don't be afraid to charge this class into the thick of a battle.
Vanguards tend to be the least impactful class, though, so leave them on the bench if you can't decide who to bring.
Intimidate pushes back all enemies within a 10m radius and interrupts them, which is extremely useful as it removes an enemy's overwatch.
Extra points in Intimidate will increase the damage taken by enemies that are interrupted, but this is usually overkill as they've been pushed out into the open anyway.
Demoralize interrupts and removes any buffs from an enemy by shooting at them.
The shot does need to land for this effect to trigger, but the ability to interrupt a unit that's outside of your Intimidate range can be very useful.
It can't be used on Bosses, but should definitely be used on bigger enemies that you aren't able to immediately take down like the Kantus.
Breach applies the Breached status effect to any enemies within 5m of your Vanguard.
Allies that down or kill a Breached enemy gain a free action and get a good chunk of healing, so inflicting it on multiple enemies can give your squad a big swing of momentum.
5m is a pretty small radius, unfortunately, but the Vanguard can also benefit from the free action(s) and healing.
Distraction forces a target to attempt an attack on your Vanguard during the following turn.
This can be used to draw fire away from a vulnerable Scout, or reduce the chance of a low-health ally being downed.
You can also get fancy with Distraction by attacking an important unit like a Boomer before spending your remaining actions to move far enough away that the target is unable to move into attack range next turn.
Putting a second point into Distraction also gives the target a -50% damage debuff, and this really comes alive when combined with the Badass skill that reduces the first attack against a Vanguard by 75%.
Wildcard skill: Rally
Rally is another alternative to the skills above that I wouldn't immediately suggest but can be worthwhile if you're having trouble keeping your allies alive.
Rally gives allies within 8m of your Vanguard a lifesteal effect, which increases in potency if you put more points into it.
Group lifesteal is obviously useful if your whole squad is injured, but you'll usually only get the healing off with one or two allies.
Our best Vanguard build recommendation in Gears Tactics
For the Vanguard, your skill points should be spent in roughly this order:
- Level 2: Intimidate [LV1] + Recharging Bayonet
- Level 3: Demoralize + Intimidate [LV2]
- Level 4: Charged Up + Breach
- Level 5: Hunker Down [LV1] + Regeneration [LV2]
- Level 6: Distraction [LV1] + Distraction [LV2]
- Level 7: Self-Revive + Badass
Recommended Weapon and Armor Mods for Vanguards
Vanguards have an excellent passive skill called Bloodlust on the Hollow Stock mod, which gives them a free lifesteal effect.
Combine this with accuracy improvements to make sure you're getting those important heals - and increasing your chances of landing Demoralize.
For the armor mods, choose anything that raises the Vanguard's maximum health, such as the Hardened passive skill on Trooper Helmets.
This will make them even harder to take down, while also increasing the effectiveness of their Regeneration passive.
Recommended Missions for Vanguards
Vanguards work best when they can disrupt large groups of enemies, so they're a good choice on Sabotage and Control missions.
Their Bayonet Charge does allow them to cover a lot of ground, though, so don't discredit them from Rescues or Scavenger Runs, either.
Best Sniper skills in Gears Tactics
Snipers are the Ronseal of Gears Tactics soldiers; they do what they say on the tin: Snipe. But who really needs more when they execute this task so clinically?
We've tried making a critical hit Sniper build work but ultimately the skills on the right side of their tree are far superior in practice. Here's what your build should look like:
Fast Fingers shoots at a target and gives your Sniper a free reload if the enemy is downed or killed by the shot.
It goes without saying how useful it is to avoid spending an action reloading, but putting a second point into Fast Fingers refunds the action cost on top of the free reload.
Use this to mop up weak targets like Wretches, Tickers, or injured enemies to make sure you're getting the free effects.
Chain Shot is the best skill in a Sniper's arsenal, essentially giving them a free action if their shot lands.
Things get really crazy when you put a second point into Chain Shot, though, where the shot will grant 2 bonus actions instead.
Always start engagements with Chain Shot onto the target that you have the highest chance of hitting. You can use the bonus actions to reposition later and get better angles on the rest of their friends.
Ultimate Shot functions very similarly to Chain Shot, shooting and granting bonus actions to the Sniper. The difference here, though, is that Ultimate Shot needs to down or kill the target to grant you free actions.
There might be some confusion over the "maximum actions" wording, here, but in most scenarios this translates to three - some mission modifiers restrict you to two actions per soldier, though.
Concussion Shot is like a Vanguard's Demoralize skill on steroids, interrupting a target and also stunning them for the next turn, taking them out of the fight completely.
Additional points into Concussion Shot also reduce its cooldown and make allies more likely to crit the target, but these aren't nearly as important as the stun effect.
Wildcard skill: Impact Rounds
Finally for the Sniper, you might want to consider Impact Rounds. This knocks down targets that are shot with your Sniper's primary weapon, essentially interrupting them.
While it's pretty useful to have an interrupt on your basic shots and Overwatch, you should absolutely focus on getting to Ultimate Shot before this, as refreshing your actions can make you completely unstoppable.
Our best Sniper build recommendation in Gears Tactics
Here's a good idea of what a Sniper's build order should look like:
- Level 2: Fast Fingers [LV1] + Active Reload
- Level 3: Chain Shot [LV1] + Chain Shot [LV2]
- Level 4: Fast Fingers [LV2] + Ultimate Shot
- Level 5: Concussion Shot [LV1] + Concussion Shot [LV2]
- Level 6: Concussion Shot [LV3] + Impact Rounds
- Level 7: Setup + Run and Gun
Recommended Weapon and Armor Mods for Snipers
Accuracy is clearly important for Snipers, so we should take any mod that increases our chance of hitting the target.
Precision Scope is great for this, but don't go as far as using the Precision Stock - the damage reduction from this drops you below important kill ranges such as one-shotting Wretches.
Most of the available Armor mods for Snipers give luxuries like increased Crit Chance or Damage that aren't exactly vital, but the most valuable mod is Delta Straps in the leg slot.
They give +1 magazine size, which makes her even deadlier as you won't have to spend actions reloading as often.
Recommended Missions for Snipers
Snipers work best from range and with elevation, which makes them ideal for Sabotage and Control missions where you have more control over the pace of engagements.
Take them on story missions wherever possible, too, as a high-levelled Sniper can blast large crowds of Locust away with ease.
Best Heavy skills in Gears Tactics
The Heavy boasts some of the highest damage output of any class in Gears Tactics using their signature Mulcher weapon.
Their Anchor passive also increases their damage and accuracy if they don't move between shots, turning them into makeshift turrets.
You may be tempted to build towards their Demolitionist specialisation, but I found the Scout to be a much more effective explosives expert in practice.
Instead, the Heavy works best when they're churning away with multiple Overwatch shots, or disrupting key threats with their skills.
Explosive Shot fires at an enemy, which will trigger a 4m explosion if the unit dies from your shot.
This is fantastic at dealing with groups of Wretches, as they like to clump up and their low health means they should die from a single shot.
Just make sure your accuracy is high enough before attempting this as it's easy to waste your Explosive Shot.
Suppressing Fire shoots and inflicts the Suppressed debuff on the target and any enemies within 4m.
Suppressed units are interrupted and cannot move, so this is extremely useful at locking up a small group of overwatching Drones.
Beware, though, there's nothing to stop the Suppressed enemies from shooting on their turn, so you'll still need to deal with the threats or find decent cover.
Slayer is the final perk in the Defender branch that we're building towards, which buffs the damage of the Heavy's Overwatch shots by 50%.
Combine this with the Quick Overwatch passive in the same branch to further increase the damage output of your Heavy and they'll be cutting through enemies like butter.
Redeploy gives your Heavy three actions at the cost of disabling their weapon for a turn.
This might sound like a bad tradeoff, but the upside is that Redeploy keeps your Anchor stacks while moving, which is fantastic for repositioning once you've mown down everything in range.
A second point can be put into Anchor before unlocking Redeploy, too, which lets you stack it up to five times for an even greater payoff.
While the weapon might be disabled, it's worth noting that your Heavy can still throw or plant their grenade after using Redeploy, so they aren't out of the fight entirely.
Wildcard skill: Fury
Finally we have Fury, the next skill after Redeploy in the Specialist branch.
Fury is a passive skill that will fire twice at a unit if the first shot misses or grazes the target.
While this isn't anything game-changing, and it can only trigger once per turn, it's a useful passive to have once you've already unlocked the other skills we've mentioned above.
Our best Heavy build recommendation in Gears Tactics
For the Heavy, spend your skill points in the following order:
- Level 2: Explosive Shot [LV1] + At The Ready
- Level 3: Suppressing Fire [LV1] + Quick Overwatch
- Level 4: Suppressing Fire [LV2] + Slayer
- Level 5: Reckless Shot [LV1] + Anchor [LV2]
- Level 6: Redeploy [LV1] + Fury
- Level 7: Redeploy [LV2] + Streak
Recommended Weapon and Armor Mods for Heavies
Weapon and armor mods are fairly underwhelming for the Heavy, unfortunately.
The ideal loadout will depend on the exact build, but I take Accuracy bonuses wherever possible, and the Impact Barrel has a nice passive in Disrupt, which will make your Overwatch shots interrupt enemies as they run through.
For their armor, accuracy bonuses such as Stabilizers on the Cadet Chest Plate are a good selection, and a second copy of Delta Straps for the increased ammo capacity wouldn't go amiss, either.
This is much more useful on the Sniper, though, so keep it on them unless you have multiple copies.
Recommended Missions for Heavies
Much like Snipers, Heavies want to set up a perch and control the pace of firefights. This makes them another ideal candidate for Sabotage and Control missions, especially the latter.
You'll often want a Heavy on story missions, too, as they're capable of chewing through bosses in a few short turns.
Best Scout skills in Gears Tactics
Finally, let's look at the Scout. This Gnasher-toting class has probably the most versatile variety of builds; you can go all-in on their shotgun skills, turn them into a silent assassin, or transform them into a demolitions expert.
I found the most success with the Commando branch, as it's capable of thinning herds of Locust from range in one fell swoop. Here are the skills you want to prioritize:
Sprint is a nice, simple skill that lets the Scout run a long distance with a single action.
You can't bend it around obstacles, unfortunately, but it covers two to three action's worth of movement in a straight line, and you can extend the range a little by aiming it into cover.
Proximity Mine acts like a second grenade for the Scout.
The Proximity Mine won't detonate until an enemy moves into its radius, but you can trigger it on the same turn by knocking an enemy back into it with a skill like Demoralize, or the explosion of a grenade.
You can also throw it down on a choke point or in the path of an oncoming group of units to hamper their advance.
Putting a second point into Proximity Mine improves the range, radius, and damage, which are all useful upgrades to have.
Cloak is the default Scout skill, which gives them the Hidden buff, turning them invisible to enemies for a turn.
The Extended Cloak skill extends the Hidden effect for a second turn. Not especially useful on its own, but incredibly important when combined with the next skill: Demolition Expert.
Demolition Expert turns the Scout from a somewhat competent explosives user to a full-blown grenadier.
This skill allows the Scout to use Proximity Mine, and the Plant ability with grenades, without breaking the stealth effect from Cloak. This lets you hit the enemy hard and get out before they ever knew you were there.
As an added benefit, Demolition Expert also gives your Scout 25% damage reduction from explosive effects.
Assassination is the last perk in the Slayer specialisation branch, but the other Skills before it aren't very useful to our explosives build.
Still, this perk has a nice synergy with Demolition Expert by giving our Scout one free action any time they kill a unit while Hidden.
This allows us to rain down destruction from the shadows and still have actions to spare; glorious!
Our best Scout build recommendation in Gears Tactics
For a good Demolition Scout build, here's the order you should prioritize your unlocks in:
- Level 2: Sprint [LV1] + Frag Grenade Mastery
- Level 3: Proximity Mine [LV1] + Proximity Mine [LV2]
- Level 4: Extended Cloak + Demolition Expert
- Level 5: Double Shot [LV1] + Regenerative Cloak
- Level 6: Finisher [LV1] + Finisher [LV2]
- Level 7: Finisher [LV3] + Assassination
Recommended Weapon and Armor Mods for Scouts
The Scout build that we're going for is somewhat unique in terms of mods.
None of the weapon mods synergize particularly well with our explosive experts, so just take whatever effects you like for the Gnasher.
Armor mods are a completely different story, however; all 3 armor slots have useful passive skills for our Scout.
UIR Regulator helmets and torso pieces both give increased grenade radius, but the real star here is the UIR Holsters, which reduces the cooldown of your grenades by two turns. That's a chef's kiss if I ever saw one!
Recommended Missions for Scouts
Supports have excellent mobility, while also being able to stay safe with their signature skill, Cloak. This makes them the perfect candidate for Scavenger Run missions, while Rescues are a good choice, too.
Their explosive potential makes them a strong candidate for any squad, though, so they're useful no matter what the mission is.