I have reached a point where I have a S.H.I.V but I am not sure if I should use them or not.


  • SHIV has better stats than a rookie
  • SHIV can suppress
  • SHIV does not panic.
  • SHIV are immune to psi attacks?
  • If they die, no humans die (this is more an ethic issue than a game issue, I wonder if other squad mates got moral penalties if a SHIV is destroyed as they get if soldier dies)


  • I lose the experience benefits
  • SHIVs are more expensive than soldiers
  • SHIVs needs more time to build than rookies to be recruited.
  • SHIVs have less hit points than a rookie with proper armor.

Are there any more pros and cons that I am not aware of? What is better to use as scout, SHIV or rookies?

  • 2
    I don't know why, so it might be just me, but each time I tried out a SHIV on a mission, it was easily destroyed. Doesn't have that much hit points, and you automatically are less cautious because no XP is lost on a soldier. For me, it was always more rewarding to use a soldier (rookie or not). They are just more flexible, AND harder to hit.
    – pleinolijf
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 12:02
  • 1
    SHIVs cant take cover.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 15:15
  • 1
    I'd also note that, given the investment required to research the shiv, you might want to consider whether it's better to invest in researching/building a SHIV or to save up for the "New Guy" promotion, which gives you access to unlimited squaddies. I've wanted to give the SHIV a try, but so far, I haven't felt like I had the cash to research them until long after my troops were too good to consider replacing one with a SHIV. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 15:58
  • I found that a very good squad is three soldiers and three Heavy SHIVs. In my first game, I lost almost my entire squad late in the game, and the SHIVs were extremely useful in training up rookies. Heavy SHIVs provide half cover, so the soldiers could go wherever they needed to, without having to stick to cover.
    – SaintWacko
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 14:13

4 Answers 4


I've never liked the SHIVs personally, as they cost more to research/build/setup than a human soldier, along with the other downsides you've mentioned. I'd much rather bring a rookie/squaddie (or otherwise underleveled soldier) along for the ride than a SHIV if I have the choice. The investment I'd make in a SHIV I would rather make in gear or other base improvements. A properly equipped soldier will beat a SHIV hands down in terms of versatility and firepower. Even if the squaddie dies, I get to keep his gear, although the destruction of a SHIV is a loss of all the cash/resources invested.

However, I think the root problem here is that you're losing scouts frequently. Stop doing that, and you'll be much better off. I explained my strategy in this answer, but the general gist in this situation follows.

If you don't know where aliens are, cycle through your squad until you've got your scout selected. Use the scout to look for aliens in the first half-move of your scout's turn. If you find them, have the scout retreat and set up an overwatch ambush with the rest of your team. If you don't find them, move everyone up using half-moves, and set up a perimeter with overwatch and wait out the enemy turn. Your scouts should generally never engage directly.

(There are exceptions and caveats - for instance, on a terror mission where you need to move quickly, you might opt to be a bit more aggressive. If you've got all the time in the world, though, use it.)

When you find aliens, you're generally outnumbered - your one soldier discovers a group of usually at least 3. The aliens then get a "free move" to set up defensively to react to your position. This puts you at a disadvantage, and you can't afford disadvantages.

  • Thanks to this comment, I have never put the resources for SHIVs, and you know what. I am not complaining! My soldiers are nicely advancing and I have 3 colonels in my squad and 3 majors. Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 18:12
  • For scouting, always use one move for going further and the other for going into overwatch. With this technique, whenever your soldier accidentally finds an alien group, the soldiers in overwatch are ready and waiting for the aliens. Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 18:14
  • Pretty sure SHIVs outclass novice operatives in terms of damage. IIRC, a plasma SHIV can do up to 12 points of damage, while a plasma rifle will only do up to 8, and SHIVs have ridiculously high aim.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 22:25

I would say it comes down to whether you need the added firepower or not. SHIV's - especially the upgraded versions - are incredibly strong to say how easy they are to get ( as opposed to training up a rookie). I usually balance how hard the mission will be with a rookie, which later in the game are essentially walking targets.. against any sort of training agenda I might have at that time.

I would say that the use of a SHIV does strike me as a "make your life easier now, pay later" sort of decision. But maybe an acceptable one.

  • I suppose it also depends on at what point in the game you acquire the SHIV (+ upgrades). Once you have enough plasma rifles for your squad, there's not that much benefit in investing in a SHIV (usually, around that time you would have also upgraded your soldiers' armor).
    – pleinolijf
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 14:40

After trying them out in the past, I only use SHIVs in endgame now. This is because (a) Hover SHIVs are available (b) By this point in the game, money is no longer tight (Although Elerium may be, and SHIVs require that too) (c) Hopefully I'm no longer too desperate for promotions....

Hover SHIVs with plasma weaponry have 20 health, 40 defence, something like 95 aim, a gun that seems to be equivalent to a Heavy Plasma, and the ability to fly - with twice as much flight fuel as Archangel Armour. They can also move a really long way in one turn. The high defence is to some extent cancelled out by the fact that they can't use cover, but they still make for very mobile, very accurate and fairly hard-to-kill units. On open maps I sometimes use them as flying scouts.

They're certainly not a good substitute for a soldier in all circumstances, but Plasma Hover SHIVs can be a good choice in some circumstances. I'm not at all convinced about the lesser varieties, in terms of their abilities or the cost of developing them earlier in the game.

EDIT: To more directly answer the question: Hover SHIVs are more capable than rookies. In the late game, when you have spare cash and do not need to promote more soldiers, they can be a good choice - especially on open maps or ones where flying is useful.


SHIVs are a reasonable choice for the advantages you already mentioned. Overall I consider them superior to rookies, especially as the SHIVs get more advanced. I consider them inferior to experienced, properly equipped soldiers, pretty obviously. Therefore, I only use SHIVs when I can't put together a full squad when my top soldiers are wounded, and I could only field rookies instead.

That being said, with a maximum team size of only 6, you should generally try to have all your team members survive and not use any of them (shiv or not) as scouting cannon fodder. Most of the time, especially late game, you simply need every bit of fire power you can get, and losing a single member can put a serious dent into your ability to deal with multiple Muton Elites and Sectopods.

There are sufficient options to scout with soldiers, without having to expect casualities:

  • Only move in small increments (no dashing), and, if the situation allows, never leave cover for the whole movement to prevent triggering enemy overwatch.
  • To avoid enemy Overwatch damage, use Assault soldiers with Lightning Reflexes to scout unknown/hostile areas.
  • Use Ghost armor to be invisible, which makes any soldier a 100% safe scout. Bonus points for ghosted assault soldiers with Alloy Cannons.
  • Use Snipers with Battle Scanners. Limited to 2 uses per sniper, but 100% safe.

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