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How can I tell how many kills my soldier is away from promotion? I'd like to get this information, especially when in the middle of a battle, as if I know that I'm just a few kills away from a promotion and the enemy is sending reinforcements, I can reliably "farm" for a bit to get that soldier his/her promotion.

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In the base game, you can't, unless you're meticulous about counting kills and mission completions. It gets more complicated than that, though, since kills are worth different amounts of XP, and the XP threshold needed for promotion varies based on difficulty. – Raven Dreamer Feb 11 at 3:06
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Alright, I dug into the code some more and updated my answer.

Here are the number of kills needed for each level, taken from DefaultGameData_XPData.ini:

            Rookie  Veteran  Commander  Legend
Squaddie   |   1  |    1    |    1    |    1
Corporal   |   5  |    6    |    6    |    8
Sergeant   |  12  |   12    |   12    |   18
Lieutenant |  24  |   24    |   24    |   40
Captain    |  38  |   38    |   42    |   70
Major      |  57  |   57    |   60    |  110
Colonel    |  81  |   81    |   85    |  175

However, there's more to it than just straight-up kills.

Every time a unit gets a kill, all the other units on that mission get partial-kills. The game calls these "KillAssists", but that's a misleading name because the unit earns a KillAssist whether or not they did any damage.

How much a "KillAssist" is worth varies by class
(taken from DefaultClassData.ini, variable name KillAssistsPerKill)

Specialist:    1/3rd kill
Psi Operative: 1/3rd kill
Rookie:        1/4th kill
Ranger:        1/4th kill
Sharpshooter:  1/5th kill
Grenadier:     1/5th kill

Additionally, Psi Operatives gets a kill bonus called a "PsiCredit", worth 1/3rd kill, every time they are hit by Feedback.

Finally, if a unit started at any rank above 'Rookie', they'll have additional hidden bonus kills equal to the number necessary for that rank.


Assuming you obtained a unit at 'Rookie', you can see how many kills they have in the armory...

Armory kills

but without a save-file viewer (which doesn't exist AFAIK) you cannot view their KillAssists. The best we can do is guesstimate from the number of missions.

In my screenshot above, if we assume she's encountered, say, 8 enemies per mission on average, then over 10 missions she's encountered 10*8=80 enemies. That gives her 80-29=51 KillAssists, which counts for 51/4=12 kills, bringing her approximate kill-total to 29+12=41 kills. So she needs around 16 kills or 64 KillAssists to level up to Major.

Edit: There is now a mod that shows KillAssists on the soldier info screen: Accurate Soldier XP


Some other interesting things I discovered while code-diving:

  • Except for rookies, units only gain levels after actually getting a kill, so you can't have a Colonel with 0 kills.
  • Kills are still kept track of after getting a promotion mid-mission, so people who claim "When a unit gets a promotion further kills are wasted" are incorrect. However, it is true that a unit can only gain one level per mission, even if they pass the threshold for two levels. In that case, they'll get promoted immediately on their first kill in the next mission.
  • As of the latest patch, Wet Works (25% XP boost) is no longer retroactive. KillAssists and PsiCredits are not boosted by Wet Works.
  • Despite popular claims to the contrary, there is no XP in this game, it was disabled before the game's release (bUseFullXpSystem=false). Though, I suppose you could consider KillAssists and PsiCredits a form of XP...
  • I've created a mod that gives a small number of kills to idle units (for technical reasons I can't add KillAssists). There's an option to allow them to level up outside of missions as well.
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So this means that the "wet work" research (+25% experience for each kill) is basically useless? – STT LCU Feb 11 at 10:38
    
I'll second that -- how does "Wet Work" factor into this? Reducing the threshold by 25% per tier, I'd imagine? – Sable Dreamer Feb 11 at 13:19
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I have removed some obsolete comments, since this answer has been completely updated. – Raven Dreamer Feb 14 at 2:33
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Useful Note: I bought Wet Work the other day, and one of my soldiers was immediately promoted. Didn't need to wait for a fight. – DCShannon Feb 16 at 19:14
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Are you sure about not being able to level up twice? I know for sure after the Avenger Defense mission I was able to rank up my Grenadier from Corporal to Lieutenant. – O-O Feb 16 at 20:35

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