In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, what is the best mission type to use to level up rookies?

I prefer to play where I am constantly leveling up my rookies, but it definitely seems like there are certain mission types that are less volatile towards rookies than others.


4 Answers 4


All missions are theoretically ok for Rookies, though there is a higher risk of them dying in:

  • Terror Missions
  • UFO Missions for bigger UFOs
  • Alien Base Mission
  • Final Mission

Just equip them properly with laser/plasma rifles and armor and they should be able to survive.

  • I also wouldn't take rookies on a longer missions just to bring as much firepower as possible.
    – Orc JMR
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 17:24
  • 4
    just to add to this, since rookies predominately have crappy aim, I always give them light plasma rifles (better accuracy) and either a scope or a grenade to help them get kills.
    – l I
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 20:08
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    you forgot to add, hostage rescue missions or bomb missions, sometimes the missions are only populated by thin man which are easier for rookies to kill with a light plasma weapon :D
    – jonleech
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 9:29
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    ^^ This. Because it guarantees ONLY thin men, which have only 4 life points, making for a one-shot kill (if you can hit them). Cover your retreat prudently, because they will drop from the sky after bomb disposal.
    – pleinolijf
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 14:30

Disclaimer: all this is with Normal difficulty in mind.

Small UFO landings or crashes are always a safe (ish) bet.

Escort/retrieval missions are a good option since they tend to have a fairly small map and controlled alien appearances. Bomb diffusal missions are also good since you get easy aliens and plenty of cover.

I avoid bringing rookies on missions in large ships, story stuff, and terror sites. Abduction missions aren't great, but if they're "easy" or "moderate", that's not so bad.


While the game itself hints that small downed UFOs make a good mission for bringing rookies along, this gets farther away from the truth as the game progresses. Later in the game even the smallest UFOs contain some pretty dangerous alien types (and in surprising quantities, at that).

I personally find that the best missions to bring rookies on are council missions (which are pretty rare, but always have a tendency to contain weaker alien types, usually Thin Men) and terror sites. While Chrysallids are initially intimidating, the farther along the game you are the more weapons you have that can make short work of them. They also have a tendency to come running at you, which is very helpful in aiming properly.

As a final point, consider the fact that with a good enough squad, you can probably keep a rookie alive and let him have a kill in almost any sort of mission. Just try not to take them on missions that you know are challenging. Also, explosives are your friend when you try to net a rookie an easy kill.

  • Any reason you single out chrysallids?
    – kotekzot
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 17:31
  • Might be because high level troops with titan armor can survive a single chrysallid melee attack while on Rookies, it's an insta-kill.
    – user1978
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 17:48
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    I imagine because melee + rookie == dead rookie
    – Joseph
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 17:48
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    @kotekzot Mainly because they don't skulk around cover, and their 8 HP really isn't all that intimidating once you get some better weapons. Also, once you get the archangel armor, they become harmless basically.
    – Aubergine
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 21:25
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    Council missions are particularly good for blooding new psi specialists. The thin men go down with a single mind fray.
    – GoatRider
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 21:47

Promote rookies as early as possible!
Sectoid/Thin Man are weak enough for rookies.

  1. Onley promote 1 Colonel (recommend sniper) to unlock upgrade in Officer Training School. And use this Colonel as a baby sister.
  2. Equally use other soilder, promote to Corporal. Heavy take Bullet Swarm, Sniper take Squadsight, Assault have many bouns in close combat.
  3. Only Support has low firepower, promote early.

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