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Any soldier who has a WAR suit (tier 3 heavy weapon armor) equipped gains a "Shield Wall" ability, allowing them to act as high cover for other soldiers (something like one of the MEC Trooper abilities from XCOM: Enemy Within).

The game doesn't really explain well how this ability affects both the soldier who deploys the shield, and any soldiers who then take cover behind the shield.

  1. Is the soldier deploying the shield immune to damage, or do they still take damage as normal?
  2. Can the soldier deploying the shield still take advantage of any environmental cover while also activating the shield? For example, can a WAR suit soldier crouch behind low cover, deploy the shield, and still take advantage of the low cover?
  3. Does activating the shield give the WAR suit soldier a defensive bonus that stacks with whatever cover that he is using?
8

The effect of Shield Wall is: you become high cover.

That's it. You don't get any sort of defense bonus, you don't get damage resistance, nothing else. On the bright side, it doesn't appear to prevent you from taking cover, either. The net effect is that you're a regular soldier in every way, except that wherever you're standing happens to count as a high cover tile.

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    As it currently exists, I find Shield Wall to be underwhelming, or even dangerous, especially on higher levels of difficulty. It's not like the old MEC troopers who were durable and survivable enough to stand out in the open, because they couldn't take cover anyways. – DarthPizza Feb 11 '16 at 2:14
  • Yeah, it's extremely underwhelming. If armor functioned like it did in XCOM:EU, where armor damage didn't send you to the med bay, it would at least be feasible. Right now it's just a very situational "your soldier is already in acceptable cover and it would be nice if there was even more cover". – Chris Hayes Feb 11 '16 at 2:19
  • @ChrisHayes: The idea of having a damage soaker is not to keep everyone out of the medbay, but rather to have the damage soakers go to the medbay instead of the glass cannons. For such a strategy, you need several damage soakers so you can rotate them for needed missions. – Flater Oct 17 '18 at 11:04
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The purpose of the shield wall is to provide full cover where none exists. The soldier that casts it turns into that heavy cover, but as a side-effect that soldier receives no bonuses. The benefit of using it is to, say, move up to a soldier that is now being flanked and give him some hard cover. Kinda like in the last game with Alloy SHIVs. You could move one up to a soldier standing, and it would provide them with hard cover.

The uses of the shield wall are still very...limited. I think it can have some good uses if the right combination of buffs are applied by your other squadmates, but that's a lot of spent moves that might work better for a different strategy.

Basically, let's say you deploy it in a no man's land of cover and want to move someone else up, say a Sharpshooter, to get in some sweet pistol kills. But you don't want to leave them flapping in the wind and open to flanks, who wants to do that? So you use the shield wall and move someone up into that no man's land.

However, once you do that, then that soldier is flanked. Even though you can now move someone up behind them and they will have full cover, your shield-wall soldier is considered flanked (they're standing in the open). This renders the full-cover benefit to the soldier behind them worthless, because the aliens will prioritize shooting the now flanked soldier in their sights over everything else.

It still seems to me that it might have some interesting things with it, such as a grenadier with blast padding. That gives you 3 or 4 armor pips I think, which is very tanky. Combine that with a very high dodge PCS, and aid protocol, and you'll have a virtually untouchable wall of hard cover that can move. Still, I'd rather spend moves with my specialists elsewhere, like overwatching with guardian, hacking, or using combat protocol. And use my Grenadier for more useful things like Salvo.

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    A lot of enemies can shred armor, so your 3-4 armor WAR suit soldier isn't as tanky as you think. Plus on higher difficulties, getting critically hit is especially brutal, and can often result in instant death in 1 or 2 hits, so leaving a soldier flanked out in the open is basically a death sentence. – DarthPizza Feb 12 '16 at 0:56
  • "The benefit of using it is to, say, move up to a soldier that is now being flanked and give him some hard cover." - This would effectively only swap one flanked soldier against another while additionally providing a good OeE target. I can only imagine VERY rare cases where this might help- – Rev1.0 Dec 30 '16 at 10:33
  • I agree it's underwhelming. But might be useful on a Ranger with the Untouchable buff (to rush in a second soldier). – rkagerer Mar 20 '18 at 14:13
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The Shieldwall appears to absorb no damage whatsoever. My guy took full damage from all angles and she was even flanked meaning there could be some gain from cover as well.

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