XCOM

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This is a rare treat. X-COM, or as it's called across the pond, UFO: Enemy Unknown (It was released as XCOM in North America, it was UFO: Enemy Unknown literally everywhere else) is a turn-based strategy game that is, to put it simply, about as close to a game of Dark Heresy as one can get in isometric 3D. Note that X-COM is significantly older than Dark Heresy, and older than all but the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, so it'd be better to say Dark Heresy is a lot like X-COM on the tabletop. Dating back to the much-lamented Microprose, it set a gold standard for atmosphere and playability that has, frankly, not been breached in ages.

The game is old as balls and in isometric view, which, paired with the Dark Heresy similarities, makes it more /tg/ material than /v/.

A General Gist[edit]

A general synopsis is that in the not-so-distant future, there is war - and aliens. Aliens are arriving, and they are most assuredly hostile. It falls upon the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, or the eponymous X-COM, a multi-national task-force, to deal with the invasion by blasting the fuck out of the Aliens, stealing their shit, researching their technology, and using it to fucking kill them off, all the while fighting off terror attacks and trying to figure out where in Uranus these fucking things are coming from (as it turns out, from Mars, and if you win, the final mission involves you going to Mars and dropping an Exterminatus on their asses).

It kicked ass. It was good enough to spawn a sequel, Terror From The Deep, which was basically the same game, but underwater and infinitely harder. Story-wise, the destruction of the Martian base activated a fail-safe in the aliens' system that woke up T'leth, their 'secondary' (and mobile) base buried deep under the seas of Earth. X-Com now again must protect the people while finding out about where exactly T'leth is and go in to blast it to smithereens with extreme prejudice. It was hard. Really hard. Not only do aliens have a major advantage technology-wise at the start and they tear through your recruits with impunity, but later in the game when you catch up they start using a nasty trick to take control of your troopers, leading to sometimes hilarious and extreme rage-inducing turn one TPKs as your heavy weapon trooper gets controlled and fires his heavy weapon inside the transport while the team is busy disembarking. Oh, and did we mention that the only way to research the best armour in the game was to capture a live specimen of a rarely-appearing alien? And that to capture a live specimen you had to send a poor redshirt in armed with an oversized cattleprod to stun it in close quarters? And that said alien was able to tear a human apart effortlessly in close quarters? And (as if all that wasn't bad enough already), that the poor redshirt then had to pick up and to carry the damn unconscious thing back to the human ship praying that the specimen didn't wake up with a grudge before he got there and the mission ended? Yeah, it was kinda like that.

It then spawned a second, somewhat different but still appreciated sequel, X-Com Apocalypse. Destruction of T'leth fucked up Earth's biosphere and humanity retreated to quickly built mega-arcologies to survive. Unlike the two first game, there's a bigger political aspect to things as you have not only to make sure you deal with the damn aliens coming to fuck your shit up, but remain best buds with the other humans while doing so. It tried to blend Turn-Based & Real-Time strategy into one so you could play it at the speed you wanted. All in all, a decent and ambitious, if not overwhelmingly good game (mostly because a ton of content was cut before release). Basically this time it was one Cyberpunk city against extradimensional aliens, though the equipment from the first two games gave the player a far greater headstart.

Then Microprose was bought by that which must never be named, who proceeded to nose-dive the IP with games like X-COM: Interceptor and X-COM: Enforcer. At least Interceptor had a decent backstory and for those with a good eye, explain where the aliens in X-Com Apocalypse came from.

Fucking Hasbro.

Anyway. Combat is a lot like Dark Heresy's in that it's exceedingly lethal; at the game's outset, you have no armor beyond jumpsuits with Kevlar stuffed into them, and your firearms are the best and most powerful weaponry that chemical propelled explosives can provide only moderately capable against alien forces (though quite diverse). In order to properly take these fucking things on anything remotely resembling their own terms, you need upgrades. Upgrades come through research, and research comes by shooting down UFOs, landing a ground assault, killing the surviving aliens, and stripping the UFO like the Blood Ravens do other chapters' shiny bits. Once brought back to base, your researchers can look into what makes the alien's gear work, research your own weapons and tech, and develop technologies to help in the fight against the Aliens. Eventually, you can load your forces up with Power-armored bad-asses, but starting out, your forces are fragile, and fighting smart is vital. You will suffer casualties early on - guaranteed - but such is war, and you must press on, allowing the survivors to grow into manly badasses.

The Aliens themselves are diverse, ranging from the Sectoids (conventional "gray" aliens), to Chryssalids (horrifying abominations that inject targets with eggs that turn them into mindless drones which will explosively birth new Chryssalids thereafter). Nightmare fuel = yes. The game manages to be exceedingly creepy for one so simple, and is one of many reasons that X-COM works so well.

Tales of Heroism[edit]

In accordance with /tg/'s love of war stories about your dudes, several examples of awesome have been compiled:

Instant death doesn't always happen. Occasionally, one Rookie will be touched by God and succeed against all odds. After that, he will die horribly. Just as Planned.

X-COM agent of note: Marc Lecointe. Lecointe survived numerous missions, got the highest kill count on most missions, killed a Snakemen leader and his bodyguards (despite losing over half the squad), and got shot in the face and back with plasma and lived. He eventually was hit with return fire in an alley and began bleeding. He returned fire and killed the Snakeman, but bled to death before help could arrive. Lacointe lives on in our hearts.

Another agent of note is Gristle McThornbody, a Rocket-Toting Team-Killing asshole who refuses to die OR be mind-controlled. He's so badass, that even when he has 85% or more to hit on a 2x2 alien, he'll still hit the wall twenty tiles to the left.

New Stuff and Things[edit]

According to things /v/ likes to watch on the Internet, a new X-Com game is in the pipes, set to be made in the gameplay and spirit of the old games, with new graphics and updated for the new generation of gamers to be introduced into the X-Com game style. It lost the dash along the way someplace, and got re-named XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This new game, which has spawned joy boners in many on /v/ and /tg/ alike, is believed to stem from the utter, burning fury that was originally spawned from 2K's simply-titled XCOM game, which, near as we can tell, is an FPS that takes place in the 1960s and has exactly nothing to do with the actual X-COM franchise. Seriously, don't look into 2K's game if you're a fan of the series on any level - it will cause veterans to spontaneously transform into Angry Marines and/or Khornate Berserkers. Apparently, those in charge had the wherewithal to note that if they didn't make a proper X-COM game, /tg/ (and by extension, /v/) would leave their asshole in ruins. They even went ahead to declare the two games take place in separate universes. If only Games Workshop had that much sense...

XCOM: Enemy Unknown by Firaxis[edit]

An in-game screenshot of the new game.

And Firaxis came to the rescue, promising to return to the roots of XCOM (note the lack of a hyphen this time around, although the logo does have a horizontal stripe taken out of the "COM"). Since Firaxis has a lot of ex-MicroProse people, a lot of them have had to do with the original as well, and the original musical score will make a return. Although it's changed a few things to avoid hurting the brains of delicate little console kiddies like removing time units, removing ballistic simulation, cutting down on your maximum amount of squad members (4 at the start and 6 maximum) and limiting us to one base (though each base location gives its own unique bonus), it still somehow manages to be a good game in its own right. If the original X-COM is like Mordheim, then XCOM is like Space Hulk: massively simplified and more heavily dependent on the luck of the die, but with less micromanagement and long-term planning required.

If you haven't bought the game and you're a TBS fan, everyone in /tg/ that isn't That guy, would highly recommend you give it a whirl at the modest price of $39.99 $16.49 for all the good remade XCOM games because of our father Gabe Newell on PC, still is 39.99 for console/Non-Steam or $9.99 on mobile/tablet devices. Like always, we have footage for vidyas: https://youtu.be/qDhuZ4b51hA https://youtu.be/-SKoS5BYVuY https://youtu.be/bxuzLyR-000

XCOM: Enemy Within[edit]

Did we mention melee combat with exosuits?

Enemy Within is an expansion pack (and unlike most "horse armor" tier DLCs with the name this one actually deserves it) that completely re-defines how the game progresses, compared to the original one. The game's story still progresses like the original game, but expands on it for a more entertaining experience.

It adds the "meld" resource to the game, a type of alien organic/synthetic-hybrid nanomachine that allows you to unlock two powerful technologies: MEC and genetic modification. MEC allows your troops to interface with a Mechanized Exoskeleton Cybersuit, a heavy exoskeleton that brings the heaviest of weapons to the field (Including the option for a powerfist equivalent called a "Kinetic Strike Module". Yes, make your own faux Terminator squad! Especially when the Tier-3 Paladin upgrade bulks up your suit's armor that you look vaguely similar to Termies.). Genetic modification allows you to augment your troops using data gathered from dissected aliens, making them killier than ever before. In fact, you can create your own equivalent of an Imperial Space Marine with the list of available modifications you can do (Two of these specific upgrades are a second heart and the ability of self-regeneration).

It also adds new aliens to the xenos' side, like a cloaking squid robot that chokes your troops to death and their own brand of exosuit troops. It also introduces another enemy into the game: EXALT. EXALT are a bunch of power-mad blokes who sees the alien's invasion as a way to gain power by adapting their technology for themselves, inching them closer to world domination. They see you as an obstacle and are determined to undermine your efforts to defeat the aliens by disrupting your operations through a number of ways and sowing panic amongst XCOM-member nations, generally making your already hectic life even more hectic. You must now defeat this new threat through a combination of cunning brutality and brutal cunning. They have most of your technologies to go toe-to-toe with you (Except for their own exosuits) and they are well hidden, so bringing them down won't be an easy affair.

XCOM 2[edit]

Turns out they are poison glands. Hee.

A direct-ish sequel to EU/EW, XCOM 2 seems to decide that what's canon is not: not "you killed all the aliens, now here's more aliens", but "you know that Impossible Ironman game you played for a laugh and got utterly stomped? That's the canon ending". (The utterly stomping part takes place in the base assault, and it is so bad that two of the most important things got taken: The Commander, and more importantly, central officer Bradford's sweater). The aliens won before humanity even got to laser weapons, taking over the world and unifying humanity (read: ruling over them in a pseudo-utopia "Brave New World"-style), and basically preparing to turn them into another of their slave races (not that most of humanity knows this).

XCOM refused to back down even after the Council of Nations ceased to exist and instead went underground, hijacking an alien supply ship to act as a mobile base for hit-and-run operations against the alien occupiers, in the hopes of toppling the ADVENT (the puppet government aliens've set up) and exposing the true purpose of their supposedly ideal society to the world. So they free the captured Commander (sadly the sweater seems to be shrunk in the wash) and it's guerilla warfare time.

This is where the first core gameplay mechanic differs from the previous entries in the franchise. Where before now you had to push forth inch by inch before getting jumped by sectoids and surprise sectopods lurking around corners, most missions start with your strike team in concealment, letting you get the jump on the aliens. Once you execute this initial ambush, however, it reverts back to the standard formula for the rest of the mission.

New features include: The Assault class has been given a makeover to focus even more on Rip and Tear, replacing the sidearm with a sword and changing title to the Ranger. The Sniper has been renamed the Sharpshooter and given a pistol-focused skill-tree-route that turns the soldier into Clint Eastwood (literally, like you can have a stand-off by firing 3 pistol-shots in the same turn). The Support class has been renamed the Specialist and been given a drone to hack, heal, shield and/or zap shit remotely. The Heavy has been given a nice grenade launcher to act as your cover-stomper, and been renamed the Grenadier. Psi-operatives are their own class now as well, and get hate-hair and purple eyes because that makes sense and all psychically talented people look like neo-punks. Troops can be captured, and then rescued, which also reclaims any expensive gear they had on them (but it's never the captured troops you actually need back). New enemies (without spoilers), including "human" ADVENT security troops (who really love to say "bitch" and pointing towards your soldiers) with magnetic weapons who look like humans till you get their armor off, sectoid-human hybrids with teeth, thumbs, and belly buttons (which can be really creepy if you really think about it), and Snake-women called Vipers (which is what the Thin Men actually look like without their disguises). Yes, there were snaketits on the thread that announced this to /tg/. No they are not actually tits, being venom glands. No /d/ did not care. Yes they have drawn porn of them. Yes, it will be added to the gallery.

Moving on.

XCOM 2 also contains an in depth explanation for the aliens' motives that many fans felt was lacking or too ambiguous in Enemy Within. Apparently, the Ethereals have some kind of fatal disease they can't cure, so they've been trekking around the galaxy culminating genes to form the ultimate bodies for themselves, while amassing a genetically supreme army. When the Ethereals found humanity, they found their genes to be so awesome and powerful that just adding some of them to a lowly sectoid turned it from a pathetic 3' tall creature you could kill with basic weapons, to an 8' tall psionic rape machine that could raise the dead and withstand salvos of bullets to the face. They then set up an alien government on Earth so they could discretely process humanity's best genetic material and slowly form new bodies for themselves that don't die called Avatars. And by don't die, we mean have copious amounts of health, teleport every time they're injured, regenerate like crazy, are guaranteed to successfully mind control anything, and are immune to any of your psychic status abilities(ie: panic, disorientation, and mind control, you can still annihilate them with psionic fire). And the boss fight involves killing three of these dick-butts and an endless wave of alien reinforcements. Using human DNA is also where their ADVENT troops came from, they grew armies of human spliced with unspecified aliens to act as their public face to the humans. But humanity wins anyway, because humans are just that fucking awesome.

The game is also notable for abandoning the usual conditions for losing. The norm for the series is for your funding to get cut if too many countries lose faith in XCOM. Since you're fighting a guerrilla war and your support are humans fighting to survive outside the aliens' control zones, that isn't happening. Instead you lose if the aliens complete the Avatar Project, their goal to mass produce the bodies for the Ethereals. If they do you get treated to a scene of almost all resistance being crushed because the Avatars are dangerous enough in small numbers and an army of them would unstoppable. You can slow progress, but can only stop it by finishing the game.

So far there have been recently four DLCs for XCOM 2. "Anarchy's Children" added new customization features for your soldiers, most of which you wouldn't ever really use. "Alien Hunters" adds a new mission, weapons, and alien rulers who you have to hunt down. The alien rulers get to take an action every, single, time, one of your soldiers does(this is changed in war of the chosen,because firaxis realized it was bullshit). This is even more infuriating then it sounds. Some more customization options are added too. "Shen's Last Gift" adds another mission and the SPARK class soldier. SPARKs are robots you have to make in the proving ground. War of the Chosen finally allows players to add modifications to their guns, gave them better aim and a health boost. So now they're worth taking. If your Grenadier is injured or has low morale. While their weapons are much larger and more powerful-looking than the other squad specialized weapons, they don't do more damage than the regular specialized weapons. This is stupid, as an auto-cannon would naturally do much more damage than a 7mm Gatling Gun. They are also prohibitively expensive so you have no choice to do the mission if you want one for cheap. Optional mods have improved their balance to outright making them a super unit if you wish.

And here comes the fun part; if you read the developers blog, their idea of "balance" is to actually nerf plenty of stuff...so the game is harder after having a buffed-up alien lord chase your dudes all over the game. Was old-school really this hard?

You think that's bad, the end game unlocks second wave options, like increasing all Health by 50%, having your guys get worse as they get injured, have their stats rolled at random, so you can make the game even HARDER! Because dying is fun.

And finally, if you find yourself bored with the vanilla experience, XCOM 2 has a very healthy and active modding community adding anything from extra voice packs to full on reworks of the entire game akin to the famed Long War of the original game. Do you want Bob Ross to lead your squad to victory? Want to bring back weapons and MECs from the EU and EW? Your own custom Deathwatch kill team? The possibilities might not be endless, but you can ensure no two games are ever the same. A warning though, due to how easy it is to create and add mods to your game, care should be taken when implementing them, as conflicting or poorly made mods can crash the game or corrupt your saves. Additionally, unoptimized or script-heavy mods can make lower-spec computers run like absolute ass. Unreal Engine 3.5 has annoying stability issues as well. You read that correctly. It runs not on the latest version of Unreal Engine 4, but a modified version of Unreal Engine 3. Not even the DLCs or WOTC itself have fixed these issues. Even a high end gaming machine will experience game crashes due to the age of the engine. With a higher chance if one is running over 150+ mods. So care should be taken when concurrently running a large number of them. Damn it, Firaxis patch your damn game!

While most of the character customization mods introduced (like the Halo: Reach MJOLNIR armor, Mass Effect Turians/Asari/etc, Star Wars Clone Troopers n' such) are entirely cosmetic, one particular mod bears special mention for you elegan/tg/entlemen out there. Armors Of The Imperium is a Warhammer 40k mod that adds fully fledged Space Marine power armor into the game, including a standard set, an Assault variant, a Terminator variant, an Apothecary variant, a Techmarine variant and a Librarian variant. For the ladies in your army, they have access to the Sisters of Battle power armor alongside the Seraphim variant. These armors can be upgraded much like the standard armors ingame and offer significantly better protection than the vanilla equivalents (as you would expect), with the specialized armors offering additional benefits to their wearer. The customization available to your personal Space Marines is ridiculously expansive, allowing you to mix and match virtually any version of the armor from Mk. II through Mk. X and enough additional bits and bobs that'll make any kitbasher weep with envy. Combine this with the available voice packs, bolter and plasma weapon mods to create your very own personal Space Marines to defend holy terra in style!

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen[edit]

This brand new expansion gives us three new allies to aid us. It's actually more than large enough to be a game into itself.

  • Reapers: Stealthy hunters who are armed with nothing but a rifle and explosives. It's enough. They wear trench coats and gas masks. Have a special ability where they have a chance to not reveal themselves upon attacking. Enemies have vastly reduced detection ranges against Reapers, and Reapers can detonate explosives on the map without revealing themselves. They can also throw an environmental explosive. They also have an ability that lets them shoot at an enemy until they run out of ammo. Long story short, these guys are only slightly less powerful than the Reapers from Mass Effect.
  • Skirmishers: ADVENT defectors who are armed with a grappling hook that can pull them to a rooftop and pull themselves to the enemy or vice versa and at max level allows them to have the alien rulers ability to gain action points every. Time. The. Enemy. Moves. Except it only works three times a turn, and doesn't trigger on non-move actions. The game doesn't tell you this. Their Bullpups have lower range and damage over the standard rifle, but make up for it by being able to shoot multiple times a turn and being wielding by dudes using grappling hooks to zip between buildings like Spiderman. Despite the longer barrel would give it the same stats and longer range. Once again you need download a workshop mod to fix this.
  • Templars: A resistance group made of only psionics that wield psi blades and machine pistols, but you'll probably never use those. They're fast, hard to kill, and hit like a brick. And like any good psi-based unit, they can fry their enemies with lighting from their hands. They're like the rip and tear half of the Ranger, but with psionic powers. They have access to some rather obscene powers (like being able to teleport your allies and enemies across the map or summon lightning storms to disintegrate several enemies at once), but this is tempered by them needing to build up Psionic Focus by killing enemies in melee in order to use them. They're also fantastically hammy and roll their Rs.

But these new allies come with a catch as you now have to fight the titular chosen who can adapt to your soldiers' abilities with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the Lost (zombie swarms) that attack both you and ADVENT. Along with these new allies and enemies is trying to get the three resistance groups to work together, as well as a new fatigue and relationship system.

The faction leaders are voiced by actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation. They do pretty good job except for Marina Sirtis poorly performed lines. Good thing the game allows players to switch to a better voice for your first Reaper(and their other soldiers).

Tactical Legacy Pack[edit]

A mini expansion pack that adds 4 mini-campaigns detailing some of the adventures of Bradford and Lily Shen during the tumultuous days of ADVENT's takeover, adds new weapons to your WotC playthrough for each of these mini-campaigns you beat, allows you to choose between three soundtracks, (X-COM 1, X-COM 2, and Legacy Remixes), allows free access to all of the 100 challenges rather than the random daily challenge system, and even allows you to make your own challenge missions. Also has more than a few bugs and oddities that needs to be fixed with workshop mods. However it isn't as a glitchy broken mess compared to some other games.

IT WAS Free until Dec 3rd, 2018, for all WotC owners. Though it's still a cheap buy at $7.99 on Steam. The ability to switch between three soundtracks alone is worth it.(remixes of classic XCOM tracks, the OST from Enemy Within and the vanilla War of the Chosen soundtrack. )

XCOM: Long War[edit]

The big daddy mod for XCOM: Enemy Unknown made by a small developer known as Pavonis Interactive that is single-handedly responsible for XCOM 2's thorough mod support (alongside Firaxis "borrowing" some notable aspects of this mod for the actual sequel), Long War is a very extensive rework of the entire game from the ground up. While the mod greatly expands the classes, perks, weapons and armor players can gear up their dudes with, it also greatly enhances the aliens' arsenal, which now adapts and evolves to combat the player the longer the game goes on. The number of changes made to the game is well into the hundreds and the difficulty is so stepped up that it makes the vanilla game a walk in the park comparatively. This mod is almost universally praised, to the point that not only did Firaxis make it a point to make the sequel as mod-friendly as possible, but they actually partnered up with the Pavonis team to help develop the core XCOM 2 game as well as the first wave of miscellaneous mods to showcase how easy it is to plug-and-play community made content into the game.

As said perviously, this is pretty much the XCOM mod. It's such a big mod that a lot of other XCOM mods are metamods designed to modify this mod!

XCOM: The Board Game[edit]

From Fantasy Flight Games, there's a board game adaptation of XCOM (in fact, XCOM: Enemy Unknown was quite inspired by board games, with the two-actions-per-turn system instead of the old 'time units'). There's a companion app for smartphones, tablets, and computers which controls the aliens and informs players of events, a bit like a Game Master, but without exposing the players to too much bookkeeping. Amazing what games can do with computers these days -- just imagine if such a thing had been available for FATAL! On second thought, don't.

Players (1-4) take on different roles in the XCOM organization. The Commander keeps an eye on the budget and allocates interceptors. The Chief Scientist directs research efforts. The Central Officer works the app and solicits input from the others (if there are any) to make decisions (many of which are time-critical). The Squad Leader manages troops and base defense. Together, they need to allocate their resources, judge when to push risky but rewarding avenues (inviting retribution from the aliens if they fail), and defend humanity. Like the games, successes are rare -- a die only has a 1/3 chance of coming up with a success, and tasks may need multiple successes. There is also an "enemy die", a d8 that is rolled against the number of times that task has been attempted. If it rolls equal to or under that number, something bad happens. So, do you pool resources for critical tasks (neglecting anything else, and hoping that your priorities are correct), in order to most likely be successful before the threat level climbs too high? Or do you stay flexible but push your luck? Your call, commander.

XCOM 2: Long War 2[edit]

If you thought XCOM 2 was already hard, thanks in part to the involvement of the original Long War modders in the game's development, said modders come back with a sequel mod for the game. Not only does this go even further than the first Long War in going into a lot of detail, such as new graphical touches, significant rebalancing and completely overhauling the global map to be more reminiscent of classic X-com. But the difficulty is amped up even more, with missions even requiring you to send in potentially fatal scouting parties to make sure your other squads don't die on the spot. Also, rather than launching parties directly into battle, missions spawn on the geoscape with an expiration timer. The player can launch immediately, but the enemy presence will be drastically increased! Instead, the idea is that the squad can spend time infiltrating, to let ADVENT get complacent and draw troops elsewhere. Having more Resistance folks working Intel increases mission expiration times, but the bigger and heavier the squad, the more infiltration time is required. And vice versa -- short-staffing a squad can allow a player to infiltrate to high percentages on short notice... but now you've only got like four guys on the ground, and that might not be enough firepower if activations go badly...

This mod requires dramatically more strategic thought and care. Weapons, armor, and equipment are all purchased individually, forcing you into decisions like 'do I continue the rollout of my newly available armor-piercing coilguns, or do I buy armor for the two rookies I've trained up?' and 'do I send my last seven man team to secure me an engineer, commit them to a long infiltration to wipe out an advent tower, or hold them in reserve for a better opportunity?' The difficulty is likewise much higher, but you have dramatically expanded options to combat it with special weapons, squad leaders, extra inventory slots packed with flashbangs, veteran troop skills, choosable bonus perks, a psi advancement training regime that makes some actual sense, and many, many more troops and mission opportunities. Minor reinforcement on that last one, in fact: in stock XCOM 2 you'll likely end the campaign with fewer than twenty soldiers, whereas here it's pretty common to have a hundred active-duty troopers at a time.

The Shinobi (all the Ninja IRL schools have closed up shop) is the most overpowered class. Making missions easier then they should be as he can bypass Overwatch and has a very low impact on infiltration. Making missions unrealistic for players who hate RNG and want a pure stealth game.

The devs of Long War have said they will not be making a Long War for War of the Chosen. The reasoning for this is two-fold; sifting through all the new/reworked code introduced in WotC would take months, if not a year or more just to ensure compatibility with the expansion, much less add to it. The second and more important reason is that Pavonis is focusing heavily on their own X-COM type game and would much rather put their time in that project (understandably).

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified[edit]

Despite having the name XCOM in the title, the game really has little relation to the series. The reason behind this is because 2K passed this game on to the lovely people that brought you Bioshock 2; meaning it was made by a studio that makes more or less decent games. It's supposed to be a prequel, set in the 1960s during the Cold War era. The protagonist, William Carter, was a CIA agent just delivering a suitcase of classified "documents" until an Outsider disguised as a female agent got ahold of it. Not long after that, an alien invasion commenced!

The Bureau is a RPG that plays like Mass Effect, but not as good for a variety of reasons. One reason is in the dialog scene, you're given choices of what to ask/say. They really don't impact the game, nor changes it for the most part, so you can skip a majority of it if you want to. The agents in your squad are pretty dull, sure you can change their names and how they dress, but really doesn't offer any friendship/foe engagements. If they die, you will need to recruit another agent and start him off from scratch, but really, leveling them up isn't fun and customizable, so just restart a checkpoint if they do die.

The agents in your squad have bad AI if you don't babysit them and give commands on what they should do, and their skills at fighting Outsiders are... Well, okay. The best they can offer is their abilities, so spamming them and you taking care of the killing is an effective way to go (Some recommend starters to start their first mission with a Recon to cause critical damage on certain enemies and a Commando for taunting the grunts and make them easy picking for you).

There would be more to go on, but if you want to know more about the game, you can search up reviews of XCOM Declassified. In short, it's a decent prequel that fans can find some enjoyment, but it's not as good as Enemy Unknown. Without going into spoilers, there's also a reveal during the last few levels that's surprisingly meta and well-written. Still worth looking into if you can find it for cheap or rent it.

Interestingly enough, turns out that the universe in XCOM Declassified is the same as that of Enemy Unknown/Within's. After the events in The Bureau, all records were wiped. This explains why the player had to start from scratch at the beginning of Enemy Unknown. When the Ethereals of Unknown/Within spoke of their own failure to ascend, they really meant that they wanted to be like the Ethereals from The Bureau. Either way, only time will tell exactly what the hell they were preparing humanity for.

Xenonauts[edit]

X-Com coded by Reasonable Marines.

A faithful remake of the original, with time units and all that. Changes a few things (like lack of Psionics on your side) and adds vehicles (yes, blowing up half a building with a rocket jeep is awesome) and controllable dogfights. Basically the alien invasion is during the Cold War and makes everyone shit themselves simultaneously when THOUSANDS of spaceships are openly in orbit and fucks humanity's shit up in creative ways. Every day the UFO's are left wandering, news bulletins full of terror emanate from the screen, worrying you further.

The ending is very creative, particularly concerning the plot of how an inferior species can even bother to defeat a powerful empire. Stunningly well-made, desperate final mission which may result in a glorious ending, or a bittersweet ending where you still win but the assault team is martyred.

Other differences between it and the original include:

Maps are mostly pregenerated, not fully procedural.

Fewer weapon and ammo types. Seriously, you've got the big five (pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper, and LMG) and a rocket launcher. No variant ammo types, although the weapons do have researched tiers (which are simply damage-ups). This means no unfairly powerful weapons like the Rape Launcher or the Stun Grenade Launcher. There *are* a few super weapons but seriously, if you waste a "Singularity Generator" which is an ENTIRE CAPTURED BLACK HOLE (a hot commodity salvageable from alien battleships) for a 50 kilogram (without ammo) glorified grenade launcher that doesn't even one shot its AoE, you are a fucking moron.

More basic inventory control. You don't micromanage producing and storing individual missiles, and you can have as many magazines, grenades, and med-kits as you want, limited by carrying limit. You just build the alien-based laser or plasma gun, base gives you ammo made fashioned from a melted-down alien cells. (Alenium is basically a quantum-grade battery aliens came up with. Usually it powers the alien craft, you simply creatively salvage the spent ones into explosives because HFY.)

Smaller team sizes. Max troop count on a mission is 12, with the best drop-ship.

Fewer oddball items, like the motion scanner or psi-ball, but there is now an assault shield, so your dudes don't immediately die when popping open a UFO. Said shield gets upgraded with Alien alloys, and even the final mission sees use of it. Trust me.

Rookies are better out of the gate, but are still shit compared to your colonels. Still, they have a decent chance of killing an enemy in a turn, doubly so if carrying a missile launcher. No longer to operatives miss the broad side of a barn. They *will* miss the spot but will still shake it badly.

Explosive weapons damage items, lowering the amount of money you receive from selling. This is for the best, because explosives are stupidly powerful and are probably the most reliable way of putting a fool down. Considering Reaper, the expy for Chyrssalids are even faster and crazier, you *are* going to need them.

Saveable, customizable loadouts for all of your troops, and obviously no engine-based limit on the amount of items you can bring into a mission.

Aliens don't really hide in corners or really hard to find spots, which makes flushing them out a lot easier. I said flushing out mind you, as they DO charge out and deal extremely serious amounts of damage before going down, to say nothing of teleporting aliens that burst fire in your face if they are lucky.

Troops remain vulnerable a lot longer. You are never at the point where you can float an invincible army of death-dealing demigods over a cowering cadre of snakemen, raining death and destruction down with maddened glee. Even if you do, weird aliens will teleport close and blow you out of the sky, or your flyer will fry a nerve from psionics.

Country relations are more important than after-mission loot.

You can kick or pistol whip an enemy to death. Cue surrounding an annoying alien marksman and beating him to death with riot shields.

You can call airstrikes to cancel boring UFO raids.

Xenonauts 2[edit]

Now with 3D graphics! A demo is available through GOG.com, with the release planned to be later in 2017 late 2018 early 2019.

UFO: Alien Invasion[edit]

The most detailed opensource version of XCOM based on the Quake 2 engine.

Buildings are not destructible and it doesn't have a great fog-of-war. It doesn't have unmanned vehicles like the current iterations and sadly doesn't have any sort of Chryssalids yet.

Has a better world map than any other XCOM in that you can fully explore it like google-earth, even showing ship movement on the globe in real time. The campaign is more forgiving in that it does not force you through Acts like Enemy Unknown where you can't possible keep everybody happy, or has nations constantly bitching at you for radar coverage like in Xenonauts. Instead you get to bid captured UFOs and give preference to unhappy nations that feel neglected or where you haven't been saving civilians frequently.

The camera is completely free in battlescape mode just like in Enemy Unknown, complete with zoom capabilities. Lots of different weapons, though you will find yourself a fool if you don't immediately start using alien weapons. Also levels tend to have more floors than other iterations, such as one mission in which you're going through an office building or another where you're entering a subway.

The only major problem with the game is that the smoke grenades are so overpowered your guys will be coming out of your drop ship like Snoop-Dogg out of his trailer. Otherwise you'll find aliens are more than happy to shower your guys with plasma from across the map.

After a general huge update smoke is now useless and aliens are much, MUCH more powerful.

Oh, and its free. Still, fuck it. Final version is broken, often locking the game, and developers have been keeping silent, the fucking FAGGOTS.

Phoenix Point[edit]

A spiritual successor by Julian Gollop himself. As of the time of this edit, fully funded and in development with a hard-as-balls backer pre-alpha having been released. The basic idea is; some kind of strange virus has been dug up in the permafrost and has had two outbreaks so far, each escalating in severity. Now it's invading the land a third (and fatally final) time, most of humanity is gone (Partly cus of the virus, partly cus of WW3 happening during the second outbreak), and you must defend the survivors from both the creatures and each other, you poor sap.

The virus morphs all life into Lovecraftian horrors. Literally Lovecraftian; it is implied that Howard the Great was inspired by ancient findings describing an outbreak of the same virus a few million years ago. It even came from Yuggoth. Humanity being humanity, there are several factions with drastically different ideas on how to deal with it; there is a faction based around a religion worshipping the mutations that is also capable of retaining human consciousness despite said mutations, another is high-tech anarcho-communists trying to coexist with the virus and other factions while the third faction Is a high-tech PMC turned militaristic civilization with "Service Guarantees Citizenship" that just wants to destroy the virus and any of its sympathizers.

So far, the game has managed to gather enough funding and reach one stretch goal for a floating base that will be given as FREE DLC, along with other stretch goals at a later date should the game be successful.

Expected; large bosses, your own mutated soldiers with crippleable limbs, the option of saving a group of people by landing on a giant creature and injecting it with poison, Deep Lore, A hybrid of the old TU and new Two-Action system, unique tech trees for each faction (which you can also get in on by either allying with or stealing from them) and randomized global events (a la Crusader Kings 2). Oh, and there are flamethrowers, Shoulder-Mounted missiles, power armor, gauss rifles and other goodies, such as a mutant mount for the cultist faction.

XPiratez[edit]

What XCOM 2 was to XCOM: Enemy Within, XPiratez is to X-COM: UFO Defense. Made of pure awesome, you lead a crew of female mutants on a quest to kick ass, gain riches, and fuck bitches. A mod for OpenXcom, it's completely free and gets constant updates. Go check it out! Nothing's more satisfying than crushing a pureblood's head in with a sledge hammer and then mowing down his mates with your custom Boarding gun. Basically, post XCOM defeat, humanity is a province in the alien empire, and a long, long time later, you lead a band of mutant female pirates living the pirate life, looting, capturing, ransoming, and eventually enslaving prisoners. More detailed, fanmade, with a morally darker atmosphere for the protagonist faction (apart from turning prisoners from human factions to slaves -miners for men, maids for females, and ahem..."squires" for shota younglings from Cult of Sirius), PirateZ offers a unique experience.

The Tabletop Game[edit]

Yes, there was a Tabletop game, made by Fantasy Flight Games, so this article has some direct /tg/ relevance. The problem is, you need a cell phone app to play it.

Aliens[edit]

Needless to say, in this game, there are many different types of aliens that your teams are going to have to fight.

Original Continuity[edit]

X-COM: UFO Defence[edit]

Sectoid: Doesn't matter what game, these guys are always the first things you face. They're not tough, but they are annoying, and the higher ranked ones (yes aliens have ranks, just like your guys in the old games) can and will successfully mind-control your guys all the fucking time.

Cyberdisk: The original flying, metal pancake, these guys only show up supporting Sectoids. They can take an abusive amount of punishment, and deal it out just as much, before exploding when they are finally disabled. Expect to see your bullets passing over or under it all the fucking time.

Floater: Changed significantly in the remake. Here they're a still mostly intact torso and abdomen mounted on a giant, floaty antigravity ball. They can't fly as freely as the ones in future versions, but they're far less suicidal, and prone to setting up ambushes.

Reaper: Big, spiky dogs that appear alongside Floaters on terror missions. They're dumb as shit and only attack in melee making it easy enough to lure them out and turn your entire fire team against them. Now if that would actually kill them.

Snakeman: Another basic type, these guys are easy pickings on any mission other than Terror Missions. Their autopsy states that they are stuffed full of fertilised eggs so take that "men" part with a grain of salt.

Chryssalid: And these are the reason you'll hate Snakemen on terror missions. They bring Chryssalids with them. Twelve foot tall murder bugs that kill people, plant their eggs into them, turn them into shuffling zombie, which hatch into new Chryssalids unless killed, quickly. Unlike the remake these guys can take a beating, and it's entirely possible to have an entire squad with laser weapons and repeating grenade launchers hit one of these bastards with every shot, and it'll still be standing at the end. You see one of these things, you do not let your squad break apart or approach blind corners.

Muton: As always the aliens' equivalent to your guys, except they're better armoured (despite wearing goofy green jumpsuits), better armed, and just better being as they're not the best janitors all the world's militaries have to offer. Mutons don't have Psionics on their side, so if you want to play with them bringing along your Psi Specialist is a good idea, otherwise they're going to take an absurd amount of punishment to put down. A superhuman grade Muton can take a block of High Explosive to the chest and come out shooting, so bring the plasma, and bring enough it of for a small city block.

Celatid: One of the two terror units found alongside Mutons, it looks like nothing more than a floating kidney bean. It's small, it's fast, and it has the most damaging non-High Explosive attack in the game, which becomes even more destructive against non-armoured targets like your rookies, or civilians. Thankfully this attack works on a lobbed arc so its range is severely nerfed down to 7 tiles, but out in the open that goes up to 16 tiles, and it can attack up to three times in a turn if it doesn't have to move.

Silicoid: The second terror unit that is deployed alongside Mutons, and the most useless alien unit in the game. It crawls along at a speed of 8 tiles a turn, has no ranged attacks, and triggers reaction fire from even the worst of your guys allowing you to use it as a reaction fire training sponge, especially if you use Incendiary rounds as it will not take any damage from fire or incendiary rounds, but your guys will still gain experience. High Explosives work well against it.

Ethereal: Far different from the remake game, Ethereals are packing heat in conjunction with their insane Psi abilities. These cloaked bastards can fly, will rain plasma fire down on your squad, spot for their allies to make their job easier, and at the end of it all, they'll mind control or panic the ragged remains of your squad. Kill them as quickly as you can, preferably from long distance with a Blaster Launcher.

Sectopod: Giant metal murder toads. These guys aren't actually robots, although they come close, they are intact Remote Control murder mechs for the ethereals so that they don't have to get close to you while they turned you into plasma fried Kentucky X-COM rookie. The scary thing about these guys is just how much punishment they seem to take, even from late game weapons; however if you can target their rear armour, and bring laser weapons (which deal x1.5 damage against these guys) you'll be laughing all the way to the ICU. Of course this is going to make your prospects against their Ethereal controllers far, far worse, but hey-ho, win some, lose some.

Terror From The Deep[edit]

IA, IA, CTHULHU FATAGN

Aquatoid: Genetically, and surgically slap gills and flippers onto a Sectoid, et Voila! You have an Aquatoid. Their commanders still have the Psionic abilities of their land locked cousins, but they call it Molecular Control, because they're fancy like that.

Gillman: Apparently an earth creature, these creatures from the black lagoon were around when DINOSAURS ROAMED THE EARTH!, and submitted to the aliens when they arrived the first time round. They make for 'poor' soldiers (although this being TFTD that just means their only better than your guys by a factor of 1 or so, and not 3) and can take a bit of punishment from basic weaponry, although by the time you get Sonic weaponry, they start dropping like wheat before the scythe. Taking one of these guys in alive, and dead is critical to researching melee weapons (???), and accessing the final mission. So get catching.

Lobsterman: An organic Sectopod, these guys will walk off whatever you throw at them, and then strike back with extreme prejudice. Ironically though they're mostly weak to stunning weapons, making tasers, and stun grenades the best weapon to use against them if you've got them. If you don't, well you can always use drills to pierce their hides, or hope that the tiny plinking of your harpoons cause them to laugh themselves to death.

Tasoth: A clone vat species based off of humanoid velociraptors, these guys would be awesome, if they were on your side. As they are not, they are assholes. In combat they function as Ethereal lite's, unable to fly, and not quite as psionically potent, they make up for this by having much more physical strength, health, and durability.

Bio-Drone: A brain-in-a-jar mounted on a super speaker. Electrical impulses torture the brain and use its screams (without vocal chords, don't ask me) to project a wave of hyper-condensed sound which will melt the victim's brain inside their head. Noise Marines might have stolen this idea for their Doom Siren. Grimdark as fuck because often the brains are made of kidnapped civilians.

Calcinite: A Gelatinous green goop inside an old school diving suit, it might be possible to mistake this thing for one of your guys while you're underwater, but they remain fully suited up while on land, so the helmet is a good indicator. They lack any ranged attacks, and will instead try to run up and claw your agents face off, to add to this, their antique diving suits are tougher than your guys starting body armour (WHY?), nonetheless any weapon will put them down.

Deep One: You'd think this would be the perfect place for some Cthulhu monstrosity, but sadly no. These guys are more "The Fly" than anything else. Humans that have been captured, tortured, and then surgically and genetically altered to become alien shock troops, the only original bit of their humanity left is their eyes. Their primary ranged attack is an arcing electrical burst (which is treated as a Gauss weapon for damage types) which allows them to fire over walls and other obstacles so nowhere is safe.

Hallucinoid: Giant electrical jellyfish. The aliens keep on taking earth creatures and turning them into weapons of war. Although choosing jellyfish may have been a... poor decision. These things aren't particularly aggressive, preferring to just gently float into range when they can be bothered, rather than hunting your agents down. Unfortunately they're still tough enough to weather the storm of fire that their slow approach allows you to unleash on them, and their melee attack is devastating.

Tentaculat: BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T BE A X-COM GAME WITHOUT CHRYSSALIDS, NO MATTER WHAT YOU CALL THEM. THEY CAN FLY NOW SO HAVE FUN! (appearance is directly identical to Grell from Dungeons & Dragons)

Triscene: A mother-fucking T-REX! The aliens brought back a T-Rex, slung two sonic cannons onto its sides, and let it loose in battle. These guys are the sectopods of TFTD, without the sectopod's weaknesses. However they have one glaring flaw, which is they have no under armour, and one well placed grenade will severely hurt them, or outright kill them if powerful enough.

Xarquid: An overgrown Nautilus that swims in reverse, the things act like sniper tanks, preferring to sit in one corner of the map, usually several levels up, and snipe your squad from a safe distance. Other than the reaction fire you'll inevitably take when hunting these things down, they're not particularly dangerous, just use cover and explosives if they're on the ground, or get underneath them and take out their weak underbelly.

X-COM: Apocalypse[edit]

Brainsucker: Because Facehugger was already taken. Why is the first alien you encounter in this game another GOD-DAMNED CHRYSSALID? FOR FUCK'S SAKE! These guys are fairly weak, and can be dealt with simply in RT mode, in TB however, their movement speeds enough to take them from outside your field of vision and into attack range, considering that their melee attack is a one hit kill keep enough time units back for reaction fire.

Multiworm: One big ugly green fat worm the size of a human that shoots acid like a machinegun. Kill it with piercing weapons for a surprise burst of FOUR land equivalent of piranha, the Hyperworm. Use fire and nades for a pentakill in one shot.

Hyperworm: Doglike rapid moving worms with a vicious bite. Toss fire and grenades to kill quickly.

Chrysalis: In 72 hours, the Hyperworm turns into that to produce new aliens. Harmless meat bag.

Anthropod: Ugly blue humanoid alien with decent stats. The first gun using alien. Helpless on its own but Alien equipment becomes TPK bait afterwards complete with personal shield and fuckhuge bazookas.

Psimorph: Huge flying blob Psyker with fuckton of HP. Kill on sight as it will mindrape every agent. Luckily stays in the Alien Dimension... Mostly.

Spitter: Misunderstood Pink Guy from Uganda who looks for de way, spitting on Heretics. Weak.

Megaspawn: Imagine an Imperial Knight but alien scum and wholly organic. Its' rapid firing, replenishing rocket launcher arm and ORGANIC LASER CANNON ARM says it all. Huge and powerful.

Popper: Muslim alien who Allahu Akbar's you.

Skeletoid: Anthropod V2.0 with flying. Fast reacting, agile and smart. Dangerous with endgame equipments.

Micronoid Aggregate: Actual alien rulers. Hive mind of single cells running across all Alien veins and buildings.

Queenspawn: Mother whore, land octopus and breeding bitch. If you stun her, you get the best Alien toxin gun... AND IN GAS FORM! Now you can start a race war and gas all xeno scum, like humanity should.

Overspawn: Kaiju alien dropped from top 2 biggest UFO's. When aliens get mad, it will rampage across town, and can destroy the xcom base underfoot if it hits its building. Scramble all crafts and shoot it down, try hitting it with rubble for instakill.

Reboot Continuity[edit]

The reboot continuity has its own array of different monsters, with some changes in variety between the first and second game.

X-COM Enemy Unknown / Enemy Within[edit]

Sectoid: Tiny little grey men in the first game, these are the first Psionic enemy you'll meet, with the ability to boost each other in combat. This can be rather nasty giving them an extra hit point and a +10 to hit and dodge, although if you kill the booster, you'll kill whatever Sectoid they're boosting as well thanks to Psychic feedback.

Sectoid Commander: Only in the first game, these guys are Sectoids on psychic steroids. You'll see one on the tutorial mission and get a taste of what they can do, even if you don't fight it. They're stronger, tougher, and more psionically powerful than the basic sectoid, and are the first unit that can possess your guys mid-firefight.

Thin Man: Apparently an "Infiltrator Unit" nobody (other than the Ethereals) would mistake these guys for human at close distance as they have snake scales running up their necks, and are skinny enough to make a supermodel jealous. Apparently they were made from genetically modifying Snake-women as they can spit clouds of poison at great distance, and will explode into one when they're killed. Otherwise they're real flimsy. Do not underestimate them, however, as their choice of weaponry and habit of frequently spawning on high ground means that they will often one-shot soldiers through full cover if not dealt with quickly.

Muton: How you know the aliens are stepping up their game. Everything up till now has been child's play (for a particularly psychotic child), then these guys come along. Big, tough, cunning, brutal, and dangerous, these guys will mulch a squad equipped with regular weapons and armour without breaking a sweat, and capturing one of these guys alive brings one of the better upgrades. Have fun.

Muton Berserker: Ha, ha, ha. These girls are melee monsters, capable of soaking up bullets by the magazine, and slowly getting angrier and angrier as they do. If they can get in close they'll unleash the melee hurt, but thankfully they're not amazingly fast. Thankfully, their instinctive charge of the last person who shot them means you can set them up to run a gauntlet of Overwatch fire, with a bit of luck.

Muton Elite: As much health as the Berserkers, plus armor, and lacking the berserk charges. Instead, they carry heavy plasma cannons.

Floater: Apparently reject Mutons, stripped down to an upper torso and fitted up with cybernetic implants, mainly a jetpack. They're your first hint that the aliens may not be one big happy family, as they have an idle animation consisting of them ripping at their flesh and bionics until blood spurts. They're basically the fastest unit in the game, great Overwatchers, and pack about as much punch as a standard Muton. They have a special ability that sacrifices all their actions for the turn to instead fly to any single spot on the map, which they love to use to get the drop on your team.

Heavy Floater: A tougher, armored version of the standard Floater, with a bigger gun. Basically just replace floaters in the late game to keep them competitive, but they've got no new tricks up their sleeves.

Outsider: Strange "energy" lifeforms that serve as the technicians of the UFOs. You need to capture one of these in order to advance the game. They're wimpy, but their light plasma rifles are deadly accurate, so they can gun down whole teams if you're careless. For some unexplained reason, they just up and completely vanish from the game as soon as sectoid commanders turn up, never even being mentioned again. The most popular fan explanation is that they are actually not so much crew of the UFOs as hardware.

Sectopod: The aliens' equivalent of a tank; an enormous, heavily armored killer robot that walks around the battlefeild in a perpetual squat, it has insanely high health, high armor, a 50% damage reduction ability with the Enemy Within expansion, and the ability to blaze away with both a fuck-off huge fire-laser-beam-thing and to launch showers of cluster bombs. They also blow up when you kill them. Your most hated enemy.

Cyberdisk: A ridiculously fast flying robot that can shapeshift between a flying saucer-like flight-mode (in which it's harder to hit) and its unfurled combat mode. Not quite as killy as the sectopod, but still really adept at ruining your day.

Drone: Small flying robots that basically zip around like laser-spitting wasps. They don't do much damage, but they can repair mechanical aliens and they explode like a grenade when killed. And they're extra-hard to hit, for added nuisance factor.

Chryssalid: An absolute fucking nightmare, just like the original series. These bugs are lightning fast, vicious, and if they kill anyone they'll automatically plant an egg in the corpse, which will turn into a zombie before hatching a new chryssalid three turns later. And these zombies are tough enough to weather several turns of shooting. One of the standout points of Enemy Within is a pre-baked mission where you get to investigate a whaling ship that crashed ashore in Newfoundland after being infested by Chryssalids who turned the catch into their personal hive. Your job is to first investigate the area, and then light the place up for your bombers so they can carpet bomb the place into fire and rubble, running your squad away the whole time.

Ethereal: The leaders of the alien forces, physically frail but masters of psionics, which they can use to really fuck up your day.

Seeker: A relatively weak squid-like robot that uses camouflage to sneak up on its prey and then tries to crush it to death with its tendrils. They like to go after isolated members of your squad, which can be used to bait them into going after Assault troopers with Close Combat Tactics for hilarious effects.

Mechtoid: An armored exoskeleton piloted by a sectoid, carrying twin plasma mini-cannons. Sectoids can use their mind merge ability to give a layer of shielding to mechtoids; killing the sectoid removes the shield and causes some damage to the mechtoid.

X-COM 2 / War of the Chosen[edit]

ADVENT

The end results of what the Ethereals want to do with humanity. Puppet soldiers controlled by a series of psionically linked chips that feed back to command nodes. It's stated that the Commander's brain was a central "tactical command" processing node for these, providing the ADVENT officers and troops with advanced stratagems. The fact that XCOM rescued him in the tutorial mission serves to explain why the Resistance has such an easy time with ADVENT during the game itself, forcing the aliens to send in the more advanced otherwordly brawn.

  • Officer: These guys aren't a threat on their own, however they can Holo-Target one of your guys, granting their ADVENT and alien allies a +10 to hit against that soldier. Killing the officer removes this mark from your soldier and as such, you should prioritize taking down the officer should you become afflicted by it.
  • Shield-Bearer: The most annoying ADVENT type in the base game, these guys can pop a shield that gives every ADVENT and Alien soldier in range +3 or +5 temporary HP. Combined with their armour these guys can take a licking and keep on ticking. Taking them out will drop the shield on everybody else, so they should be a target priority otherwise each affected enemy will require significantly more effort to drop. They also kinda look like Robocop so they have that going for them.
  • Stun-Lancer: Melee focused, these guys are noticeable by the fact they were far less armour than any other ADVENT soldier. They're addicted to melee and will almost exclusively favor charging in to taze your guys with their electric Melee beatsticks. While this normally just runs a good chance of disorienting or stunning your soldier, it can straight up knock your dudes unconscious if RNG fates it so. In the event some affliction prevents them from slapping your dudes with their tasers, they do carry a standard ADVENT Rifle. They however can be easily dealt with if you have a Ranger with Blademaster, Bladestorm and upgraded blades. They'll run towards your Ranger only to be swiftly cut down like chumps.
  • Priest: Introduced in WotC, these guys are the ADVENT Psions. Primarily a supportive unit, they can boost another ADVENT soldier much like Sectoids could in Enemy Unknown (and like that game if you kill the priest the soldier will suffer psionic feedback and die), or they can put one of your guys in Stasis for a turn, preventing them from doing anything. Advanced and Elite priests have additional tricks that allow them to Mind-Control your guys, and place themselves in Stasis if they would be killed, instead staying around with 1 HP for another turn.
  • Purifier: Flamethrower wielding ADVENT troops that only appear in WotC. The guys are kept "secret" from the public (despite that fact they can appear in any mission if the RNG says so) as they are supposed to hunt down and kill the lost in the old, abandoned cities. As stated they use flamethrowers, alongside incendiary grenades, and when you kill them there's a good chance they will explode, so don't kill them with melee unless you want to lose your eyebrows. Although that can lead to some hilarious chain reactions if you're lucky.
  • General: Only appears in assassination missions in WotC. Essentially just a beefed up Officer with a shit ton of HP, and the ability to throw Flash-Bangs.
  • MEC / Heavy MEC: The first truly heavy ADVENT Unit. These things come with an absurd amount of HP and armor for the early game. They're not particularly smart however and cannot use cover at all, instead relying on their durability to weather your shooting so take advantage of this. Remember not to bunch your guys up as they have a shoulder mounted missile launcher that they will use on your guys if they're clustered together. MECs can also use suppression at the end of their turn if they can't target a group. The Heavy MEC is just tougher and more accurate, you can think your way through this fight. The best way to deal with them is hacking or anti-machine equipment such as EMP rounds and grenades.
  • Turrets / Heavy / Superheavy: It's a turret. What more do you want? They have some armour and a decent amount of HP as well as the ability to fire up to twice per turn (more often than not, they'll shoot once then enter overwatch). As can be expected, turrets don't move and are usually positioned up on building rooftops or on trains for that high-ground advantage. Like most mechanical enemies, you can hack it with a Specialist or simply destroy it by using Bluescreen rounds. If the turret is on a rooftop, you can also utilize conventional explosives (like grenades or rockets) to blow out the floor from underneath it, destroying the turret instantly.
  • Sectopod: The final and toughest ADVENT unit. It's just as much of a nightmare as it was in the first game. Sectopods have three actions per turn as opposed to the nearly universal two, can extend their legs to give themselves a height advantage over your soldiers and walk through nearly all buildings and terrain (destroying cover or even blowing out the floor from underneath your soldiers as it does so) in their path. The basic shots they fire do devastating damage and shred armor, potentially killing even highly ranked soldiers if caught even slightly off-guard. They explode rather violently when they are finally defeated, likely killing or severely injuring any units caught in the blast. So don't be stupid by making your melee units deliver the finishing blow. As with any robotic unit they can be hacked by a properly specced specialist, although their rather high hacking defense makes taking control of them extremely difficult. Bluescreen Rounds, EMP Grenades and/or acid grenades are all highly recommended when fighting it.

Aliens

  • Sectoid: Tougher than you remember due to the infusion of human DNA. Now have the ability to resurrect dead troopers - yours and ADVENT - as zombies, and all sectoids from the get-go can lay a mind whammy on your troops, randomly panicking, disorientating or controlling them.
  • Chryssalid: Because why the fuck wouldn't the Ethereals keep their most effective terror weapon. These guys have changed from scuttling horrors to burrowing, venomous, scuttling horrors, capable of turning anyone they kill, either with their venom or their claws into a slowly metamorphosing cocoon that, if it reaches maturity, will spit out THREE new chryssalids, because Firaxis hates you. They are rendered mostly harmless by being set on fire, so if you think you're going to run into them bring incendiary rounds, fire bombs, and hell weave vests. The previous sentence is no longer the case in War of the Chosen, so prepare your anus.
  • Viper: The most famous of the new aliens because they look like humanoid snake-women with nice tits and a sweet pair of hips. Appear pretty early in the game; not much tougher than sectoids, but quite annoying. They can drag you out of cover with their tongue whip attack, spew toxic clouds like the Thin Men, and strangle you in melee like a Seeker. These gals represent the true form of the Thin Man alien from the last game. (And yes, the thin men were actually disguised snake women the whole time.)
  • Andromedon: One of the cooler new alien designs, it could almost have been ripped out of the old X-COM series. It looks like a combination of an old diving suit and an iron lung, filled with green acidic sludge, and a single pickled alien who apparently needs that sludge to live and dies if exposed to Earth's atmosphere. When you kill it the first time the glass torso-visor shatters, exposing the pilot's corpse, and the suit reboots and come to life by itself, dropping its heavy plasma cannon and charging into melee. In its first form, an Andromedon is a tough customer, with more armour & health than a Muton while packing the same firepower. In its second form it will only ever try to hit you with its fists, but it leaves behind trail of acidic and poisonous sludge that hurts your guys if they try to move through it (because jumping isn't a thing, despite the ability to haul yourself up drainpipes) which makes navigating the battlefield a hassle, especially in densely packed urban missions. Thankfully their second form will be easier to deal with. Due to the immense control of the battlefield these guys possess (being able to simply destroy cover by running through it and leaving acid trails that can cut off avenues of approach) in addition to their rather devastating firepower, it's highly recommended you fully focus these things down if no other priority targets (like Sectopods) are immediately present.
  • Faceless: A new enemy that should only appear in Terror Attack missions, but they can be seeded in regular missions if you pull the Dark Event that allows them to mingle with the regular citizens. Isn't that lovely. Shapeshifters that look like ordinary humans until your troops get too close (or all other aliens are killed), then they turn into fucking huge moaning melted-wax men with claws the length of shotguns. In the early game they can be a hard target to drop due to their fairly high HP and ability to regenerate lost health every turn. That said, as exclusively melee units that rely more on ambushing unsuspecting XCOM operatives, they can easily be kited and picked off at range. In a pinch, your Scanner Grenades and Specialists can reveal concealed Faceless by scanning the area, so there's a touch of counterplay against them.
  • Muton: Remaining as the ethereal's shock infantry, these Mutons have apparently been crossbred with humanity, making them slightly smaller and faster, but also slightly smarter. But considering just how badly the A.I. can flub up sometimes, you have to wonder about that last one. They aren't packing any more HP, but they now have a point of armor, which means that the first point of damage from every attack gets ignored, so they'll soak up more damage unless you can shred their armour with heavy weapons and explosives. They'll still be a threat until you get Plasma weapons, and 3rd tier armour, but once you're there, they pretty much become chaff beneath the scythe. They also like tossing grenades if they don't have a direct line of sight on your troops. Along with the ability to use suppression if a Muton can't get into melee. Making them an annoyance well into the late game. They're also the only Alien that has countermeasures against melee, being able to parry and riposte 50% and dealing significant damage to your Ranger.
  • Berserker: Now visually more distinct from the regular muton instead of just having a fancy costume, being entirely naked and seemingly skinless, looking like the musculature section of a human anatomy book. Still the same extremely tough melee combatants with the same instinctive berserker charge, only now they have this feature that lets them attack their allies if they're mad enough. This game also reveals that Berzerkers are actually the muton women. Gives a whole new meaning to the term amazon, huh?
  • Codex: A replacement for the Outsider, but far more annoying. The Codex first appears when you Skulljack an ADVENT officer, and it looks like a weirdly sexy woman made of pure yellow, but with a cybernetic brain & spinal column. They can teleport around the battlefield, and when struck by an attack that fails to kill them, they split into two Codexes with half of their remaining health. They can also create temporary zones of energy that suck all the ammo out of your guns, and then close with deadly force. Naturally you want Snipers or Magnetic/Plasma Weapon chain attacks to kill them quickly. Which you should have by the time of encountering them. Unless of course you rush the skull-jack out in your first run, and get one of these while you still have conventional weapons, in which case... have fun. Or just toss a flashbang at them and turn them into slightly more dangerous ADVENT Troopers.
  • Specter: Another WotC specific enemy. These guys look like the Codex if they were men and made out of Necron Scarabs rather than pure energy. It's fitting too as they are a collection of Psionic nanobots that can grab your guys, stun them, and create a shadowy doppelgänger with all of your guy's skills and gear, and none of their bad luck. Thankfully killing the Specter will also kill this doppelganger and bring your guy back into the fight, but if you can't take it down immediately, expect the tide to turn against you. In a pinch, you can revive a soldier possessed this way with a medically inclined Specialist, though you'll still have to fight the doppelganger. Oddly, attacks that harm biological targets without requiring a will test can harm the Specter.
  • Gatekeeper: A giant, floating, psionic ball that might be the replacement/upgrade to the cyberdisks. No, we're not joking. For all the goofiness of trying to summarise this thing, it's a shockingly vicious threat. That big metal sphere contains a psionic powerhouse in the shape of a fleshy mass with tentacles which will unfurl to bitchslap your soldiers into the ground if they get too close. When moving or firing its eye-beam (a very strong, if semi-inaccurate laser), it remains enclosed in its heavily armored sphere (We're talking 4-6 pips of armor, difficulty dependent). In order to use its most powerful attacks, however, it must unfurl out of its armor in order to cast them. These include the ability to create a massive explosion that deals heavy damage to everything within it and reanimates all humanoid bodies within its radius as zombies that it controls (this includes any humans killed by said explosion) and the ability to grab your soldiers and siphon their life to heal itself. Additionally, it'll try to use cover despite being a 2x2 giant, floating, metal, psychic ball of doom. As a final FU, when killed they explode with a blast that will reach all tiles around them, heavily wounding or outright killing any of your squad next to them. Melee units such as Templars should be kept far away if they don't have Fortress. One of them is always encountered during the Psi Gate mission and will likely be the first time seeing them. Hilariously these tiny Eldritch Abominations can be mind controlled by Psi Operatives, if their will stat is good enough. Another way of dealing with them is using explosives and heavy weapons that shreds their armor. These would be the first targets to use Frost Grenades on if you encounter them early in the maps. You should have Magnetic or Plasma Weapons by the time Gatekeepers start showing up or they will be nearly impossible to defeat.
  • Archon: So someone in the Aliens' side realized that having a heavily mutilated torso mounted on jetpacks, which actively tore at its implants and constantly mounted suicide charges so it could be put out of its misery was bad for PR, so they replaced the Floaters with these guys. They look almost angelic or like something out of a high-tech ancient egypt, and their design incorporates a lot more white and gold with much less obviously chop-shop cybernetics. The nigh-constant pain going away has made them far smarter too. They still like to jump around the battlefield, but now they can also use a new ability called Blazing Pinions to rain rockets down on your guys after a turn's delay and will actually take advantage of cover. They also happen to have the Adonis-like musculature of a Chip-n-dale dancer. No seriously, ask any fa/tg/irl who isn't asexual or a lesbian to look up these, and she'll tell you they're one of the sexiest videogame monsters she's ever seen. Snaketits, meet mechpecs.

The Alien Rulers: If you played the previous game, you may have been wondering: "what happened to Dr. Valen?" Well, the first DLC for XCOM 2, "Alien Hunters" reveals that she went off and set up her own base in an abandoned alien genetics lab, where her experiments in undoing the genetic suppressants on three cryogenically suspended subjects created three amped-up alien variants so powerful that the Ethereals couldn't control them. Great work, doc! Alien Rulers have a huge health bar and many unique abilities, but one of their more bullshit traits is that they have, no shit, Lair actions from D&D 5e. If you don't play D&D, this means they get a free turn in reaction to every action your troops take. This is nerfed somewhat in the WotC expansion to only reacting to anybody taking an action in its immediate line of sight (so dudes hiding behind walls or who are too far away won't trigger them). The best way to deal with them is heavy use of Incendiary, Acid and Venom Bombs. Not only do all these grenades stack damage over time effects (such that they take damage on every one of their own turns), but the burn limits the number of things they can do on their turn, the acid shreds almost all their armor while the poison severely hampers their accuracy, if it doesn't just gimp them of their reaction entirely. Free actions (like the Lightning Hands perk) and reloading don't trigger reactions, while abilities that allow your troops to make multiple attacks (like Rapid Fire or Chain Shot) count as one action. In WotC, Sharpshooters abusing the Squadsight mechanic can attack them without triggering a reaction if they are doing so from outside conventional range. Something you should have before facing them in mid to late game. Because fuck these guys. War of the Chosen also allows you to "integrate" this expansion, eliminating the special story mission in lieu of just shoving the Rulers around various facilities and just giving you the special guns. Doing this means missing out on a couple minor cutscenes, controlling Bradford for a mission and missing out on the opportunity to take his fancy gun kitted out with every possible upgrade for a spin.

  • The Viper King: The only male Viper in existence, this creature shows why the Ethereals removed the male gender from the viper species with how rampantly he set about fertilizing every female viper he could encounter, filling an entire base with a huge array of hatchling vipers you have to fight through. His unique abilities allow him to spit a freezing gas instead of the normal venom. The weakest of the Alien Rulers, the Viper King is usually the first one you encounter. He's ironically also the most vulnerable to the Frost grenade, so slap it in a Grenadier with the Heavy Ordinance perk and hit him with it from out of sight to maximize your attacking opportunities. If you manage to tag 'n' bag Subject Gamma, you can turn his carcass into a unique Spider Suit, the Serpent Suit, that can scare the scales off of normal vipers and lash out with freezing whips.
  • The Berserker Queen: Just as much bigger and scarier compared to normal berzerkers as they are compared to male mutons, Subject Beta can not only unleash a howl that can panic your whole squad, but is equipped with cybernetically integrated wrist-mounted hammers she can use to create earthquakes. Because fists the size of the average adult human weren't enough apparently. From her carcass, you can build the R.A.G.E Suit, which not only terrifies mutons and berserkers, but lets your trooper make a berserker-style charge attack themselves.
  • The Archon King: Subject Alpha is the nastiest Alien Ruler in the game, and has the most health. His special attack "Devastate" is a version of Blazing Pinons (the Archon's "shower an area with rockets" ability) that does less damage, but which can also disorient, stun and knock unconscious. Worse, it hits on the next Ruler Reaction, meaning you have no chance to get away from it the way you do from Blazing Pinions. He also has a unique attack where he grabs a trooper, hauls them into the air, and then power dives them into the floor. If you can take down this asshole, his corpse can be refashioned into the Icarus Armor, a superior Warden Armor suit that grants the Vault ability and the ability to pull off the Archon's "move to any point on the map you wish" twice per mission. Give it to your best Sniper, as this allows them to keep up with the rest of the squad and find the nearest vantage point.

The Chosen: The new Dragons aka Second in Command below the Ethereals. These three alien hybrids were once human before being abducted by the aliens (indeed, the Hunter was once one of the Reapers before his capture) and molded into the Ethereals' ideal elite agents. Each of them acts as an antagonist to one of the three resistance factions XCOM allies with and usually come equipped with a bunch of BS abilities that can wreck your troops at lower levels. You also want to find their base ASAP as they gain upgrades through the game like you do and can hurt your income. Getting their OP shit is also a nice bonus.

When first encountered they'll attempt to stun and either siphon the knowledge from or capture one of your troops for intel. If they succeed in doing so, it gives them a massive boost to their progress against you and will ultimately lead to a potentially game-ending assault on the Avenger. Additionally, soldiers that they choose to capture will go off the grid for quite some time before you can get the chance to rescue them. If they appear during a Blacksite mission, The Chosen AI will just straight up murder a squad member instead. The game doesn't give any hints to this change in behavior. So if you're counting on manipulating their AI into kidnapping a soldier who is near death during those missions. The Chosen will just slaughter your squad like the rest of ADVENT. Because all bets when are off when your trying to kill mommy? and/or err daddy? Shklee? Maybe? Thankfully, the game rolls to give them permanent weakness, along with an arch enemy who will deal extra damage to a Chosen among the new Hero classes. They will also roll for one immunity and a special ability, though the immunities are things that many players will hardly ever use against a boss regardless. The special power can either be meh, or fuck you right over. Good thing for the player the summoning powers are mutually exclusive and can't gain strengths that counter most of their weaknesses.

They can also be countered by researching Mindshields, your own (fully upgraded) Psi operatives and the buffed Sparks. When you have the latter two the Mindshields are redundant as the last two are right out immune to being stunned and mind controlled. Too bad there aren't new lines for a Spark with Julian's voice. As hearing a GlaDOS expy with the attitude of Bender snark back at The Chosen would have been hilarious.

  • The Assassin: The first of the Chosen you'll meet if you're playing the "Lost and Damned" mission to introduce yourself to the new mechanics introduced in WotC, the Assassin is a dark reflection of the Ranger class. The biggest weeb in all of Advent. She attacks mostly with her Katana (although she does have a rarely used shotgun called Arashi, and you'll thank the programmers she rarely uses it), striking out of concealment to stun one of your guys (Who you'll then have to revive or risk them getting kidnapped), before running away. In the same turn. Because the Bad Guys get to move, shoot, move, but the player doesn't get nice things. To top this all off she's immune to overwatch so you either have to try and escape from the current mission, or take the fight back to her just as hard. Oh yeah, and avoid bunching your guys up, or she will stun half the squad at a time with an area of effect special attack, but don't get too spread out or you won't be able to revive stunned soldiers before she kidnaps them. Thankfully, her concealment works by the same rules as yours, and it'll break if one of your guys flanks her, so if you've got a good idea of where she is, you can move someone in to reveal her, and then light her up with the rest of the squad. To make her easier to deal with make sure to take a Specialist with Scanning Protocol. After killing The Assassin you can build Arashi and her Katana. Though many will find her Katana redundant after they have tier 3 Axes and late game Templars.
  • The Hunter: While you would expect a roided up Craven the Hunter cosplaying furfag by name alone, he is instead a more or less a hit man armed with a pistol and sniper rifle with an Affably Evil personality. He's also known to have team killed some of the weaker Advent aliens when he got bored. Unlike his siblings he outright admits that he is a psychopath who likes killing things. The Hunter's abilities are a bit mundane compared to the other Chosen. While still being effective none the less. His Tracking Shot can aim at your troops from the other side of the map, and if they don't move he will kill them the next. This makes mind controlling Advent and hacking MECs for recon useful for once. He also come with a grappling hook with no cool-down, stun grenades and pistol tranq shots that never miss. So don't be stupid and send in a lone Reaper without Banish. Even if he rolls them as a weakness. As they don't put out enough damage to out snipe him and will end up killed or captured instead. His Sniper rifle Darklance and pistol Darkclaw are obviously weapons that are meant for your Snipers. So Reapers can't use it without modding the game. Not a good idea regardless as it can't be modified with extended magazines and mods that can do this might cause conflicts. The Hunter is by far the most popular of The Chosen among players. While all three of them are edgelords, he adds a huge load of snark to his. He even mouths off to the Ethereals. This shouldn't be surprising as he's voiced by the very talented Nolan North.


  • The Warlock: Probably the most dangerous of The Chosen, if you don't have Mindshields. If you do he's about as dangerous as the final boss of the game. If you don't he's damned near impossible as he'll mind control your entire squad at once. In the event his mind-wiping powers are ineffective/on cooldown, he'll summon waves of exploding spectral zombies or psionic copies of Stun Lancers to swarm after you. On his direct offense he has a buffed up plasma rifle that will do extra damage to psionics (i.e. your Psi Operative and Templar), a mind bullet that will split off to affect up to two additional targets, and the ability to teleport his own allies into flanking positions. Sometimes his AI does some stupid shit such as teleporting an Advent next to him. Bonus points if said Advent is the target your supposed to kill during the mission. Once you get his Disruptor rifle, it has every possible upgrade in the game. Though only Rangers, Psi-Operatives and Specialist can take it in an unmodded game. A waste on the latter two as by the time you get it. Their late game abilities and equipment make giving them a 3.5 tier weapon redundant.

The Lost Also know as the laggers, as the game starts slowing down if there are too many of them on screen. Introduced in WotC, the Lost were created when survivors of the initial invasion decided that returning to the desolated ruins of their former cities still infested with radioactive alien drop-pods and trying to live off the scraps was a good idea. The Lost serve as a sort of third enemy faction and will attack XCOM, ADVENT and Alien forces alike (though with a very high preference for your dudes, go figure). Any explosives, be they from grenades, gas tanks or cars will summon hordes of them in the missions they can appear in and can potentially overwhelm both your soldiers and your computer's RAM in high enough swarms. They have a notable weakness to fire and if ignited, will run away panicking before burning to death. Any successful killshot (be they from you or the aliens/ADVENT) will refund the action point spent to kill it, which helps significantly when dealing with swarms of them. Like both the aliens and ADVENT, all variants will start appearing with more base health as time passes, but as long as you're on top of your research game, they shouldn't be a problem.

  • Regular: Standard Lost behave exactly like any prototypical zombie; they beeline it towards whichever enemy suits their fancy and try to peg them in the head with their rotting limbs. In most cases, they can easily be killed in a single shot with most guns, bar the unlucky miss/damage roll.
  • Dasher: Faster and with slightly more initial HP (4-5, as opposed to 2-3) these guys aren't much more of a threat compared to regular Lost. They do have a surprising threat range and can easily surround isolated soldiers if not picked off immediately, however.
  • Brute: These guys have a lot of HP for a Lost, can actually deal some melee punishment. Early on they do require a little bit of focus fire to down them and they become more and more common by endgame. Then again, by endgame you'll have the best weapons and armour, so once again... only really a threat if you're unlucky, and there's a lot of them.

Recommended soldier classes for missions involving lost are Reapers with Banish and Annihilate, Skirmishers, Rangers and Templars with Bladestorm and Templars/Sharpshooters with Faceoff for room clearing. Dragonfire rounds also ensure that even if by some miracle the Lost shot by them survives, they'll be rendered harmless and die shortly after. There is also a mod that makes their targeting more realistic, as by default they target XCOM(70%) over Advent(30%). Which doesn't make sense as Advent would have no reason to deploy Purifiers. They become even more annoying if the game rolls to deploy a Chosen at the same time. Be wary of your RAM and don't rely on autosaves.(16GB+ is the bare minimum you want to have! If it still lags use lower settings. High settings look about as good as maximum and still run at a decent FPS.)

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