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What determines if a soldier is gifted with psionic powers?

After just building the psionic training facility, I immediately test all my soldiers for having the gift.

Among my original collection of soldiers, two soldiers had the gift, the rest had not. I immediately started ordering new rookies, testing them all for psionic abilities. But after hiring 20+ soldiers, none of them had the gift.

Is this normal that it is so rare for the soldiers to have the gift? Or can there be a problem that no psionic abilities are found when testing soldiers with no combat experience?

I am playing the PS3 version (but I doubt that it should matter)

  • While I can't speak to how often, Psychic ability is determined at the start of testing. Reloading an older save (before you put the soldiers in the psionic lab) can cause different soldiers to present with psychic powers. Oct 28 '12 at 18:34
  • Also, it likely depends on soldier's current Will score (so you are better off testing colonels post-Iron Will) and probably other soldiers in Psi Lab (so you probably are better off testing your favourite colonels with rookies).
    – Orc JMR
    Oct 28 '12 at 18:48

Psionic powers are not an intrinsic attribute of the soldier, it is a chance based on the soldiers Will attribute.

Since promotion raises Will, highly promoted soldiers tend to have "the Gift" more often. Another thing that helps is the officer training project that raises will more when promoted, be sure to get it as soon as reasonable so more soldiers are affected.

I did some save/loading in my last game and found that who gets psionics is determined before the testing is actually completed. Saving just before testing is done, seeing who gets it and then reload and kick the ones that got nothing is a way to get all soldiers powers, eventually. Just put them in testing over and over again until they get it.

That experience gave me the impression that, at 70 will about one third will get psionics. Raw rookies never do.

I don't know exactly when who gets it is determined. Possibly when you start training, or it could simply be that the game saves the random seed.

  • It's not true that rookies never have "the gift" -- I happened to get lucky and a rookie in my very first test group happened to have it. (Then she died.) However, rookies do have a low Will, and therefore it is very rare for one to have it -- I think I read somewhere that it's around a 0.5% chance for raw rookies! I upvoted your answer anyway because you've still got some very good info here.
    – Kromey
    Oct 29 '12 at 19:09

The Psi "Gift" is an attribute that is assigned randomly at the end of the psi test to each soldier that underwent it, with some dependence on their will. This is a random process and not a deterministic one. So, if you reload after an unsuccessful Psi test, you can test the same soldiers again and again until the soldiers you want get the psi skill.

You can read the answers to " What determines if a soldier is gifted with psionic powers? " for a little more detailed explanation.

From my own personal experience, In my playthrough on normal difficulty I had 7 psi soldiers from approximately 50 soldiers tested, without reloading to get better psi results. And from my best 6 soldiers which I took to missions, I had only 1 with psi powers.

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