As with previous XCOM games, the player takes the role of the commander of an XCOM team. As commander, the player has access to a pool of recruits housed at various bases around the globe. These soldiers can initially be recruited into squads consisting of four members which are sent out on missions to investigate alien activity.
Later in the game, by making use of the Officer Training School, the number of squad members can be increased to six.
Potential squad members are initially chosen from the available rookies which fall into four classes: Assault, Heavy, Sniper and Support, each with its own set of abilities, default weapons and combat roles. As squad members gather experience on the various missions, they progress through the following ranks :
 Injuries and fatalities
Squad members may be injured or killed during missions. The level of injury governs the amount of time necessary before these soldiers can participate in further missions.
The morale of the squad is directly related to the number of injuries and fatalities sustained during missions and has a direct impact on the success of further missions.