Whether it’s support, vanguard, heavy, scout, or sniper, here are the best Gears Tactics abilities for each class.
Things to know before you spend points:
Even after finishing Gears Tactics, I barely finished one branch of a character’s skill tree. Filling out two is even more difficult. That said, really think about what kind of role you want your soldier to fill, and commit to that. If you find yourself barely using their abilities, you can always spend one of your reset tokens.
Support Class Abilities
Every class in Gears Tactics has four possible branches they can explore in their skill tree, and for support, none may be more important than the Surgeon branch. This and the combat medic branch are the strongest abilities for healing members of your squad who’ve taken heavy amounts of damage. The surgeon branch will allow you to heal a single soldier using the Stim ability, and you can heal a large amount over three turns using the Recovery Patch.
If you’re more interested in healing the whole group at once (albeit in smaller chunks), invest points in the Combat Medic branch, which gives you the Group Therapy ability, but overall has a bigger focus on using combat actions to apply additional healing to your squad.
Personally, I never had much use for the Paragon branch, which focuses heavily on its Empower skill to give squadmates 1-2 additional action points during a turn, along with a couple of damage buff abilities. If you’re finding yourself constantly wishing you had just one more action point, perhaps consider investing in this branch, but like I said, it didn’t strike me as terribly useful.
The Strategist branch is far more focused on buffing damage through High-Powered Shot. Considering you’ll have the heavy class, vanguard class, and sniper doing plenty of damage already, I didn’t see much use for it.
One final note, since Gabe Diaz is your default support unit at the start of the game, invest in a second and perhaps even third support unit for side missions. When the game presents you with multiple side missions during a chapter, any soldiers you send on one mission won’t be available for the other, so you don’t want to leave yourself stranded with no healing abilities.
Sniper Class Abilities
Gears Tactics can often feel like a game that’s all about numbers — mainly, your accuracy/chance-to-hit counter that hovers over every enemy head when you aim at them. While the sniper class will often have the advantage when it comes to using height and line-of-sight to get solid shots off, it can still be frustrating when enemies use cover effectively.
That’s why I found that the Marksman and Assassin branches of the sniper skill tree were the most effective for closing that accuracy gap, and really making Mikayla and other snipers a long-range force to be reckoned with.
You’ll first want to invest in Precision Shot, which can be leveled up three times for a maximum 50% accuracy bonus and 50% damage bonus. If you really want to ramp up the damage, but know you can bide your time for another turn, invest in the Bullseye ability, which can be upgraded to also give you an additional action point. Bullseye will guarantee a critical hit on “the next time this unit hits with a shot,” so unless you’re whiffing, it’s a guaranteed kill, or at least very close to it.
Personally, I also found it worthwhile to invest in the First Blood ability, which gives your character a 50% damage bonus if an enemy is at full health, and can be upgraded to 100%. Since you’re often the first to fire on an enemy, this skill has saved my hide from a full-health grenadier many a time.
It’s one of the last abilities on the Marksman branch, but also invest in the Extra Round abiliity. It gives you +1 ammo whenever you hit an enemy with a critical chance. Since the sniper class usually only has three shots before needing to reload, this can save you a lot of hassle.
Alternatively, you have the Hunter and Stalker branches. Hunter features a mix of abilities (like Chain Shot) that will let you receive a bonus action for hitting a target.
The Concussion Shot ability in the Stalker branch is a great ability for stopping heavy-hitting enemies from moving during their next turn, but it has a 5-7 turn cooldown, significantly reducing its value.
Heavy Class Abilities
I love the heavy class, slow and lumbering as it is. It’s the perfect defensive wall of damage, and some of its abilities truly elevate it to a level only Gears of War could reach.
Funny enough, one of the heavy’s most important abilities is Anchor, the default starting ability. Each time a heavy unit shoots from cover, it gains a stack of 10% accuracy and 15% damage. If the unit moves even one section over, it will lose that stack and have to start over.
There’s really no wrong way to go with the heavy. It all just depends on if you like them as a method of defense or assault.
The Artillery branch gives the heavy two additional stacks (for a total of five) with the level two Anchor ability. It also features the Reckless Shot and Heat Up abilities, which buff your critical chance and damage for an individual turn.
Ultimately, the Artillery branch is all about that Ultra Shot ability, which lets you unload an entire clip (and usually heavy units have 6-8 shots) until either the enemy unit is dead or you’re out of bullets. Even at a distance, this ability works some gruesome wonders, both damaging and knocking enemies back further out of range.
If you love to defend areas with brute force, the Defender branch is obviously for you. The Explosive Shot ability is great for turning groups of enemies into mincemeat, especially if you can land a shot on a weaker wretch unit, almost assuring the kill that triggers the explosion. Defensive Anchor, which reduces damage you take while locked in place, is also great. If you hate it when snipers pin you down from afar, the closest thing a heavy has in retaliation would be their Suppressing Fire ability, which fires on a target and gives anything nearby the suppressed status, halting their movement. Really, if you just love the overwatch ability, go with the Defender branch.
The Specialist branch really seems focused on allowing you to keep moving with the heavy unit and not lose your bonuses. Good for if you feel like your heavy moves too slow to be effective, but otherwise, pass.
The Demolition branch, much like Artillery, focuses on damage output, particularly from a leveled up version of the Explosive Shot and extra frag damage.
Vanguard Class Abilities
The vanguard is a great source of versatile offensive firepower, for when the support unit doesn’t do enough damage, and the heavy is just too slow. If you hate it when enemies duck into cover and reduce your chance-to-hit percentage, then following the Assault and Shock Trooper branches with Intimidate is for you. Intimidate has Sid or any vanguard yell at enemies, pushing them back from cover and interrupting any overwatch cones they’ve placed. It’s saved me in plenty of firefights. You can level that up twice more, increasing its radius and actually damaging enemies, too.
The Assault branch is about as good, with plenty of damage buff effects, but the Rage Shot ability feels pretty useless. You’d use it to get a damage bonus equal to however much damage you’ve taken (up to 250 damage), but I always found myself healing my vanguard way before this ability ever proved useful.
Hemorrhage is a solid choice further down the Assault branch. It’s a passive ability that does 200 damage on enemies for three whole turns if the vanguard lands a critical hit on them.
The Warden branch tends to focus on damage reduction, buffing your evasion and general damage reduction stats. One skill you should absolutely invest in is the Leech ability, which heals you for 25% of the damage dealt during every shot. That’ll keep Sid or any other vanguard in the fight the entire time, freeing up your support to heal other squadmates.
Speaking of Leech, the Paladin branch’s strongest ability would probably be Rally. That gives every ally within an 8 meter radius a healing boost equal to 40% of whatever damage they individually deal that turn.
If you find your squad is constantly dying or just getting downed, the Paladin branch’s final ability is Stand Together, which revives all allies within a 10 meter radius and gives them a 50% damage reduction for one turn.
Scout Class Abilities
The scout class is great for getting around enemies, cloaking into stealth mode, and surprising them with close-range shotgun blasts. There’s a few ways you can approach this, with two clear standouts.
The Recon branch of the scout skill tree is great for those flanking manuevers, allowing you to get the Sprint ability (a straight, long-range dead run that’s basically 3 action points worth of movement for the cost of one action point), the Blood Rush ability (if you down or kill an enemy early in your turn, you get 3 extra meters in your movement) and Anticipation (get an extra action point next turn). Additional abilities like Free Cloak will get you extra movement when cloaked.
If you like aerial denial, the Commando branch is a great choice. You’ll get the Proximity Mine ability, which you can toss out a little shorter than a grenade and really pin enemies in. Quick Swap also reduces your grenade cooldown by one turn if you kill an enemy with your shotgun. The Extended Cloak ability fundamentally alters how you use the cloak, giving you one extra turn, which means you can get even closer or further around enemies without worrying about getting swarmed yourself.
The Raider branch is very straightforward, just giving you abilities like Double Shot and Exertion, which actually damages you in exchange for more action points. My personal recommendation, skip this branch since there’s better routes to take.
The Slayer branch is equally straightforward, with a little more emphasis on the stealth aspects of the scout class. Ambush lets you get a 25% damage boost when shooting while hidden, and Assassination lets you get bonus action points for killing enemies while hidden.