%% Use of This Troper and personal examples is not allowed anywhere on the wiki. Please limit moments to those that are possible to be seen by everyone.
[[caption-width-right:350:[[CoolVsAwesome This]] is probably the ''[[UpToEleven least]]'' awesome moment in the game.]]

'''Beware, unmarked spoilers.'''
* The [[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=13257879870A20080100&page=1 announcement]]. Firaxis. XCOM. Together. The immediate reaction:
-->..... It's still too soon for 1st April Jokes.
* TheStinger for [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFdwgtW91-k the Combat Pre-Visualization video]]. A Muton charges the last surviving XCOM soldier, one Squaddie A. "Spicy" Currie, and the video fades to black just as a heavy impact sounds out. After the logo flickers away, Squaddie Currie is still alive and is pulling a knife out of the Muton's neck.
* Creating the Firestorm. ''"I think we've just leveled the playing field,"'' indeed. The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnb8ybOxylk entire cutscene]] is pure awesome.
** Equipping said Firestorm with an EMP Cannon or Fusion Lance lets it easily bring down ''Battleships'' by itself, even on the hardest difficulties.
* Getting an entire squad through a mission without anyone even getting injured. Your NPC advisers will even comment on it.
* Earning the "As A Scalpel" achievement[[note]]Complete a Terror Mission with Excellent ratings in all categories[[/note]]. You're pitted against the deadliest the aliens have to offer, ranging from [[ChestBurster Chryssalid]] swarms to the devastating [[MiniMecha Sectopods]], and given a SadisticChoice, take it slow to try and keep your soldiers alive (which will result in more civilians being gunned down), or rush to try and pull them to safety (putting your valuable troops in the crossfires of the aliens' strongest soldiers). In the face of all that, you manage to get the drop on the aliens and [[CurbStompBattle mow them down so quickly they only manage to kill a few civilians at most, without losing any of your soldiers]]. You've beaten the best the aliens can throw at you, all of the troops you sent and most of the civilians are still alive, and you get a massive, well earned, morale boost across an ''entire continent''. You will never feel like a bigger badass. It only gets better when you realize that earning this achievement is essentially the OffhandBackhand of responses to alien invasions.
** Even better? Getting it on the ''first'' Terror mission. The aliens step up their invasion, [[BadassBoast and it still]] ''[[BadassBoast isn't enough]]''.
* Getting your first psionic soldier. Even better if you find multiple psionically-gifted people in your FIRST round of testing.
* In the expansion, fielding a MEC-trooper. With a little planning, by endgame they can move as fast as Supports, take as much damage as Assaults, field explosives and firepower like Heavies, and with the accuracy of Snipers. They have extraordinary Will (meaning they will rarely, if ever, panic) and keep cool and collected, even when taking fire:
---> MEC taking a hit: "Minimal damage, at best." / "All systems green."
---> MEC taking out a unit: "Good riddance." / "Kill confirmed."
* The odd pathfinding can lead to some pretty cinematic moments, such as a civilian in a Terror mission jumping through a window to get away from an alien or a XCOM soldier [[SuperWindowJump dropping through a skylight]] to get into a building instead of [[ThereWasADoor using the door]].
** Or deliberately invoking this sort of thing in the name of DynamicEntry. Have a bunch of aliens cornered in a small building? Have one of your heavies get the door...with a [[StuffBlowingUp shredder rocket,]] then have your assault troops rush in with alloy cannons blazing as your snipers mop up the rest before the aliens even know what happened. SingleStrokeBattle at its finest. With ''Enemy Within'', the [=MEC=] Trooper's Kinetic Strike ability can also be used to this effect, knocking holes in pretty much anything you could want a hole in. [[GrievousHarmWithABody Sometimes by punching an alien INTO the wall.]]
* A quiet one, but the Thin Man you interrogate handles being tortured to death rather awesomely. As opposed to panicking and trying to force his way out like the other species, he'll rather calmly observe his surroundings, give his captors a particularly powerful death glare that works perfectly thanks to the way the camera angle shows his reptilian eyes behind the glasses, and stride right towards the camera as the containment unit seals up.
** And then successful interrogation remarks on how the science team was surprised to find how "pliable" the Thin Man was. Either he was unusually cooperative, or their torture techniques got ''really'' inventive when they found out about his segmented spine.
** The Muton on the other hand isn't panicing...it's just rearing for a fight, pacing the interrogation room while punching it's palm. It slaps aside one of the interrogation devices and proceeds to try and smash it's way out of the glass. DefiantToTheEnd as fitting for a race bred for frontline combat.
* Some of the randomly generated [[OperationBlank operation codenames]] can be quite awesome. For example: Operation ''Shattered God''. Target: ''Downed Battleship''. BadassBoast meets PreAsskickingOneLiner!
** Then there are some of the more subtle ones, such as ''[[DefiantToTheEnd Defiant Whisper]]''.
** After a TotalPartyKill, Operation: ''[[RoaringRampageOfRevenge Vengeful Thunder]]'' cropped up. No one got hurt this time.
** Even better is ''defying'' the name. [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Operation: Bloody Hero]]. Yeah, that sounds ominous. Then it turns out to be a daylight mission where your team curb-stomps the aliens without taking a scratch. Mind you, it never specified ''who'' the blood belonged to, and those Assaults do tend to get pretty close to their targets...
** "Operation Bloody Palace" on the [[StormingTheCastle alien base assault]].
** "Operation Spectral Sword" for the EXALT base assault, with five out of six squad members equipped with Mimetic Skin or Ghost Armor.
** "Operation Lone King" - One veteran sniper and three complete and utter rookies, and the former's attempts to keep the latter alive.
** "Operation Splattered Stranger" - 3 Sectoids splattered across a New York city block.
** "Operation [[Literature/TheHobbit Lone Mountain]]" - Generated name for [[BattleshipRaid Gangplank]], the final mission in the Slingshot Pack. Taking down a dragon, indeed...and running away with its entire hoard as intact as can be.
** "Operation Glass Blade" - Terror mission. Team fulfilled the requirements for the "As A Scalpel" achievement. As the AbsurdlySharpBlade page explains, properly prepared glass is one of the sharpest materials known to human science.
*** "Operation Defiant Hymn" - Another "Scalpel" Terror mission.
** "Operation [[BoomHeadshot Banished]] [[PinkMist Skull]]" - an all-sniper team dispatched to a crash site.
** "Operation Lazy Grave" - An Exalt transmitter defense mission, where overwatch was spammed each turn and the covert operative kept disabling Exalt's weapons. Then just watching as they ran to their deaths.
** Operation [[NotAfraidOfYouAnymore Dying Fear]]: 6 panicking council nations, one base raid. One game won.
** "Operation Frozen Grave" - Took place in Russia.
** "Operation Bloody Grave" - [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Yeah, sounds like a]] [[TotalPartyKill Code Black]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast waiting to happen, huh?]] Especially since the level this operation was on was the [[ClimaxBoss Overseer UFO?]] [[SubvertedTrope Nope!]] Not only did the team manage to decimate two Sectopods, an army of the aliens best ''and'' capture an Ethereal alive, ''[[AndThereWasMuchRejoicing it was done without a single scratch!]]'' Then again, just like the above "Operation Bloody Hero," [[CurbStompBattle the game never quite specified who was being put in a bloody grave...]]
* Meta-Example: While praised on the internet, ''VideoGame/XCom'' has been a dead game series for the better part of two decades. The majority of gamers in 2012 wouldn't even know it existed, and [[AudienceAlienatingPremise wouldn't readily embrace it if the game came out today.]] Add to the mix that [[RunningTheAsylum the developers constantly praised the original game]], and there was a '''high''' chance that Enemy Unknown would be the counterpoint to VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}} and VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}, making the die-hard original fans ''love'' it and alienating everyone else. And it '''didn't happen''', for the most part. Firaxis managed to take a dead game series, burn off everything that didn't belong, replace it with modern technology and mentalities, and make new people feel what the die-hard fans felt so long ago.
** Vindicated with the mere announcement of the sequel ''VideoGame/XCOM2''... despite the fact that [[spoiler:it picks up twenty years after an Enemy Unknown "''Game Over''"]].
* A Sniper with a Plasma Sniper Rifle and Double Tap is concentrated awesome that reaches out and touches the enemy. Having two of them on an open map turns it into a literal shooting gallery as, with the right talents, they can just stand (or hover in the sky with Archangel Armor) at the spawn and are nearly guaranteed to kill or badly wound an enemy or two every turn, without being fired upon in return because they are firing from beyond visual range.
** A Sniper with a fully loaded rifle and the Squadsight[[labelnote:1]](their sight radius is extended to that of the furthest-out squaddie, so they can target any enemy that another squaddie can see so long as line of sight isn't otherwise blocked)[[/labelnote]], Damn Good Ground[[labelnote:2]](+10 Aim bonus and +10 Defense bonus against enemies who are on lower elevation than the Sniper)[[/labelnote]] and In The Zone[[labelnote:3]](a shot that kills a flanked or uncovered enemy does not use up an action/turn)[[/labelnote]] perks. Combine with the Assault's Flush ability [[labelnote:4]]forces enemies to change position[[/labelnote]] or [[StuffBlowingUp cover-destroying explosives]] for lots of dead aliens in one turn.
** Alternatively, with careful use of high ground and positioning, a Snapshot[[labelnote:1]](Allows Snipers to shoot post-move with a -20 accuracy penalty, -10 in ''Enemy Within'')[[/labelnote]] Sniper with In The Zone, Damn Good Ground, and a suit of Ghost Armor or Archangel Armor can snipe an exposed enemy for a free action with ITZ, move into another position, ''then'' snipe several now-flanked enemies with more ITZ snapshots, ''then'' move again, reload, or take one last potshot at any enemy still in cover and alive.
** A Sniper with Mimetic Skin and Low Profile. Mimetic Skin makes the sniper invisible if they have High Cover, and Low Profile turns Low Cover into High Cover. If they have cover at all (even cover that's at the wrong angle for the nearest enemy), they're cloaked. And shots from cloak have improved crit chance. A sniper with a plasma pistol, SCOPE, and the right perks can one-shot just about anything. Turns them from long-range headshot specialists into classic backstabbing rogues (especially useful in covert ops.)
* From the LetsPlay series ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIPXN2vEJbE Iskandar's Travels in XCOM EU]]'', a character who, at least in some circles, is becoming a MemeticBadass - or perhaps the Creator/ChuckNorris - of XCOM, Colonel Crossblade. Starting out as just one soldier of many, he becomes an Assault, and from there...well, he Assaults his way through aliens like a hot knife through butter. Alien Grenade to the face? You just made him angry. Muton plasma blast to his center of mass? All you did was piss him off. Panicked teammate sending plasma his way? A dodge and a calm report of being under fire. His player normally gave all his soldiers helmets, but as he passed Major he decided Crossblade was badass enough to go without, and gave him the Guile hair. Then comes the psionics lab...and guess who the first soldier out with the gift is? Even when his player decided to try and ''not'' have him hog all the XP, using him to shoot to wound a Muton so another soldier can finish it off, Crossblade shoots the alien stone dead. It's reached the point where even the AI seems to recognise how scary he is; in one case a pack of three Mutons ''all shot at targets further away in better cover'', as if afraid of drawing his attention. Writing IC as The Commander, his player states that he's considering retiring him due to the effect on morale his possible loss would cause, but he can't due to his sheer brute competence at killing aliens.
** And guess who wound up being the ''only'' psyker on the base, and thus the Volunteer? And who ends the Temple Ship mission by running up to the Uber Ethereal and ''applying plasma [[MemeticMutation directly to its face]]''.
** Another LP example: From [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0aJoILmg3Y TheStalinator's XCOM playthrough,]] we had the MemeticBadass [[AwesomeMcCoolName William "''Viking''" Wilson]] of the UK. He started as something of a ButtMonkey, as he always took a lot of hits. But he would simply ''refuse to die.'' Poisoned by Thin Men? He would walk it off. Trapped behind an exploding car? Pshaw. Plasma to the face? He would stay up and kill a few aliens for good measure. He would often limp back to the Skyranger, hanging on by one HP. By the time he got his nickname, his badassery had caught Stalinator's notice, and he started growing a massive fandom in the comments section, along with the Argentine Heavy "''Tank''", and Russian Sniper "''Hex''" Ivanov. He usually wasn't the first in everything; "''Hex''" got a lot of the first kills (including the Sectoid Commander, the first Ethereal, and the Uber-Ethereal), and the "''Italian Stallion''" Riccardo Marino was the first psyker, but Will Wilson made up for it by being MadeOfIron and being an awesomely powerful psionic trooper. His CrowningMomentOfAwesome, however, was when he, of course, became the Volunteer, and made his HeroicSacrifice to save the Earth. Stalinator himself responded with a BigNo himself, followed by [[FunnyMoments clips of the "''WILSON''!" scene]] from ''Film/CastAway''. And after all that, fans of the XCOM LP posted memorials and shed ManlyTears to Will Wilson, the greatest hero humanity had ever known (at least in this playthrough). It shows you how good of a game this is, that an essentially randomly-generated soldier can become so beloved by the player and those watching.
*** Most games will have some real bad asses that crop up through the halfway point. Big protective MEC trooper that runs headlong, rocket punching enemies while taking lots of fire? Call him "''Big Daddy''." Mission reward sniper with a nickname of "''Zero''"? Defies statistics and NEVER MISSES. An assault named "Havoc" where the best thing to do is plant him in the path of the aliens and watch the destruction. The game is awesome just for the individual soldier stories that come out of it.
*** How about Goddess, a Sniper with a 97% Hit Rate? Or Santa, a Medic who consistently saves soldiers with smoke and medkits? How about Geronimo? She's an Assault who has never been critically hit.
*** [[WebVideo/WhatTheFuckIsWrongWithYou Nash's]] New Year's Eve 2015 Iron-Man stream gave us 'The Life and Times of [[AC: Colonel Igor 'Geronimo' Koslov, Savior of ERF]]'. A surly Russian Assault, Nash took a shine to him immediately (because of his sweet name) and assigned him to almost every mission. Often wounded, never killed, chat elevated him to MemeticBadass status very quickly.
---->'''Nash:''' Oh don't do that... [[Film/BlazingSaddles You'll only make him mad.]]
** Another on the LP front, but for the player himself: [[https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvqxe4XbcSiEzrZm28NjsLXmHkffCJmBY Zemalf]] beat Enemy Within on [[{{Unwinnable}} Impossible]]-[[FinalDeathMode Ironman]], with the Not Created Equal and Hidden Potential Second Wave options on, and had both Operation Slingshot and Operation Progeny active. Made it through Site Recon blind. Beating the game in Impossible-Ironman is hard enough. And what did he do? He beat the game with '''''zero soldier KIA's[[labelnote:*]]Well, apart from exactly one base defense blueshirt, who was downed by a cyberdisk [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill and blown up four times over]][[/labelnote]] and no lost nations. He finished the game with a perfect run.''''' PC Gamer even wrote a story on him, calling him [[http://www.pcgamer.com/worlds-best-xcom-player-how-zemalf-beat-enemy-within-on-impossible-ironman-with-zero-deaths/ the best XCOM player in the world,]] although he humbly insists that he simply got insanely lucky in his playthrough.
* On Council rescue missions, enemies, usually Thin Men, start spawning by dropping onto a building, behind cover, or DIRECTLY BEHIND YOUR GUYS and going into Overwatch. While it never fails to make your heart skip whenever a lanky guy in a suit drops down from the sky behind one of your soldiers, if you're on Overwatch with multiple people, said alien will have about two seconds to realize what a mistake he's made before he's blown apart by two or three guys at the same time.
* Final level, Team S.H.I.V (Volunteer and ''five'' hovertanks). Not even the leader could withstand a barrage of 5 plasma guns bearing down from above.
* Killing [[DemonicSpider Sectopods]] with one volley from a Heavy with HEAT Ammo and a Heavy Plasma.
** Or even more awesome, killing one with a single shot from a Plasma Sniper Rifle. Even the aliens seemed surprised.
** An Assault using the right perks and Ghost Armor can guarantee that his Alloy Cannon ''will'' crit anything it hits. It only takes two crit AC shots to turn a Sectopod into scrap metal, so add Rapid Fire into the mix and the poor machine will never know what hit him.
*** ... at least until ''Enemy Within'' came along and buffed Sectopods with 50% damage reduction from all sources.
* In the opening mission of the ''Slingshot'' DLC, Zhang is telling your squad about the alien tech he stole from his former colleagues when he notices a Sectoid behind them. Cue Zhang casually shooting the Sectoid [[BoomHeadshot in the head]]. He then follows up by musing:
---> "''Not so different from killing a man''."
** Completing that mission on your first go, with zero casualties. Not only will this likely be your first encounter with Thin Men (you usually have more time to prepare for them), but it will also be your first encounter with a ''Chryssalid'' (''Way'' before you're adequately equipped to deal with them). Getting through hordes of Thin Men and a Chryssalid with zero casualties this early in the game? Yeah, pretty badass.
* Killing the Uber-Ethereal with [[HoistByHisOwnPetard Mind]][[CherryTapping fray]].
** Or lobbing in several rockets blind to either kill him outright (circumventing his speech) or weaken him so a sniper can finish him off with one lucky shot.
** Or even better: Remember how the game started with an entire squad sans a LoneSurvivor getting wiped out by a mind controlled soldier who then suicide bombed them? Mind control one of the Uber-Ethereal's lesser Ethereals. Walk it right up to its face. Use a point blank Rift to show it just how bad of a mistake it made by messing with humanity.
* Doubles as a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming, but any time things go catastrophically wrong and you pull it out of the fire with only one or two troopers left standing.
* Sometimes, a panicked soldier will shoot, hit and even outright murder an enemy. Bonus points if said enemy was the one responsible for panicking the soldier.
** Doubles as heartwarming, but when a soldier gets panicked at the death of a comrade, before turning around and one-shotting an alien who was threatening another.
** Then there's the case of an Assault getting panicked by a Muton Berserker. The Berserker charges the Assault...right into alloy cannon range. The Assault panic-fires, and potentially also gets a free reaction shot. Add to that that in order for the Berserker to charge the Assault it had to be the target of a previous attack, and you get the single most thorough slapping an alien could suffer.
* The Volunteer pulling a HeroicSacrifice to prevent the Earth from being consumed by a black hole. The FridgeBrilliance of the ending lies in the fact that the Volunteer [[FeaturelessProtagonist has no preset features]]--it can be a man or a woman, hailing from any nation on Earth and having had any military career path. He or she has probably started off as a rookie in the wake of the initial invasion with many more rookies just like him/her, yet rose up to the highest ranks of XCOM and became a member of the very small group of first psychic humans--where others died. It may appear strange at first to have to [[GotVolunteered choose the "Volunteer"]], but only until you realize that ''every XCOM fighter must have volunteered for the duty''. And then the Volunteer, the pinnacle of human evolution and the quasi-featureless representative of all humanity, uses his or her new-found powers to save the Earth over [[TranshumanTreachery him- or herself]]. It's not just a MOA for the Volunteer--it's a MOA for the entire human race.
* [[WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation Yahtzee]] mentioned one of his own in his review, relating how most of his troops were trapped in a UFO with one of the more vicious aliens[[note]]Considering he called it "The alien version of Hulk Hogan", it was likely a Berzerker[[/note]], and the only two with any moves left were a Heavy and Sniper out of range to get inside and cover. So he TookAThirdOption - blew a hole in the side of the UFO with his Heavy's rocket-launcher, then Double-Tapped the alien in the tash for the mission completion.
--->'''Yahtzee''': A masterstroke of unconventional strategizing of which I was so embarassingly proud that I boasted furiously about it for the entire last 30 seconds of an internet video.
* Finding a battleship, the most powerful UFO in the entire game, and shooting it down with your basic fighter, then taking it on with a normal squad using just ballistic weapons, killing all the aliens without losing any troopers, all during the second month.
* Capturing your first alien. Not only is it awesome in the sense that you have captured a living alien for all the benefits that provides, and the difficulty in capturing one in the first place, but it is awesome in the narrative as well. The aliens started off their invasion by abducting humans. Now humanity is returning the favor.
* Turning Mind-Controlled aliens into suicide death seekers. One mind controlled Berserker rounded a corner and came face to face with a Cyberdisk patrol. The patrol lowered his health to almost dead. One assisting shot from a nearby Support lowered the Cyberdisk enough that the Berserker could charge and kill the Cyberdisk. The exploding Cyberdisk killed its Drone and the Berserker...on the last turn before the Berserker regained control of its mind.
* The randomly generated names for your soldiers can sometimes come up with a name that may or may not be a ShoutOut, like an American sniper by the name of [[VideoGame/StarCraft Sarah "Blades" Kerrigan]] (who went on to become The Volunteer, to add even more awesome) or a German assault trooper by the name of [[Series/TwentyFour Jack Freaking Bauer]]. And yes, both of them were insanely good.
** Or [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Karen Murphy.]] Doubly awesome, given that the game already contains a shoutout to TDF. Triply so if she's both badass and blonde.
** And from Canada, [[MassEffect Shepard]], Jane Shepard. And she just happened to hit the jackpot on base statistics and become a heavy with freakishly high aim. [[WholePlotReference Then nearly died in the base raid..........and came back psychic powers and gene mods.]] The Aliens are ''[[PrecisionFStrike Fucked]].''
** You can invoke this with the name, nickname, and customization options for your troops. Got a female Sniper from Russia? Give her red hair, name her [[Franchise/MarvelComics Natalia "Black Widow" Romanova]], give her Mimetic Skin and level her up to Major for Low Profile, and send her on all your Covert Ops. EXALT won't know what hit them. Got a female Heavy from a Hispanic nation? Name her [[Film/{{Aliens}} Vasquez.]]
* The [[{{Crawl}} news ticker]] on the bottom of the Doom Tracker's screen in the [[TheWarRoom situation room]] will report how the general public reacts around the world as the war against the aliens goes on. For most countries, when the panic level reaches 4 or above, there will be reports of [[ApocalypseHow rampant looting, riots and chaos as the country face imminent class 2 social collapse due to the alien onslaught]]. There will even be reports of [[VichyEarth high ranking government officials and business leaders covertly approaching the aliens to negotiate terms of their country's surrender]]. However, there are a few that [[DefiantToTheEnd refuse to go down without a fight even as their country is collapsing around them]]:
--> - '''India panic level 5 message''': "Rogue Indian politician urges citizens to rise up against alien aggressors despite overwhelming dangers in facing powerful alien technology."
--> - '''Germany panic level 5 message''': "Fighting erupts in parts of Southeastern Germany as some civilians attempt to fight aliens themselves in last ditch effort to protect homes."
* Earning the "Ain't No Cavalry Coming" achievement[[note]]Have a soldier survive every single mission throughout a full game[[/note]]: Somewhere amongst your ranks is one of the four first then-rookies to encounter alien life on Earth.\\
(S)he was there when the first UFO was shot down.\\
(S)he was there when the first alien was captured alive, and may indeed have been the one to do so.\\
(S)he was there when the first casualty at the hands of extraterrestials hit - and may be the one who had to dole out revenge.\\
(S)he was there when the aliens started terrorizing Earth's major cities.\\
(S)he saw the good, old fashioned ballistic weapons gave way to laser-, plasma and alloy weaponry. \\
When new armor was developed, (s)he was the first to take it out for a field test. \\
When you gave the command to storm the alien base, (s)he was first down the hatch. \\
As the bodycount kept rising, (s)he endured. (S)he saw friends, comrades, brothers and sisters in arms die to volleys of plasma time and again\\
(S)he has seen TheGreys, TheReptilians, half-man half-machine monstrosities, looked a Cyberdisk in its eye through their scope, faced 250 kg worth of muscle armed and armored to the teeth. \\
When the Franchise/{{Alien}}'esque ZombieApocalypse happened, (s)he kept it in check. \\
Throughout his/her countless missions, (s)he has racked up more kills than anyone in the entire organisation, cleared countless UFO's, defended countless civies, protected numberless VIP's and - aside from the odd grip of panic - has never even gotten close to quitting in spite of the dire odds. ''They never even got injured'' enough to take them out of the fight for long.\\
Finally, (s)he underwent psionic testing, and may or may not be gifted - if she was, she went on with yet another mission to save the planet one more time, once and for all. If (s)he wasn't, (s)he was the true image of the BadassNormal: The first one into the fight with Sectoids, and the last one out of the Uber Ethereal's Temple Ship, save for the Volunteer, who had to [[HeroicSacrifice play hero]]. One thing is for certain, if (s)he is still alive at the end of the war, his/her children, grandchildren, and hell, the '''''entire human race''''' has one hell of a ShellShockedVeteran's story to hear.. [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold if it all ever gets declassified.]] - but let's be honest here, no one would probably dare tell him/her that they can't tell that story to his/her children.
** Doing so with the tutorial active forces you to do it with the SoleSurvivor of Operation Devil's Moon. The rest of his squad was slaughtered in the blink of an eye, but that doesn't stop him from leading the charge against the aliens throughout the rest of the war, and surviving every single battle no matter how badly the odds are stacked against him. If he's responsible for killing the Uber-Ethereal, it means [[BookEnds he fired the first shots of the war, and he fired the last.]] If he becomes the Volunteer, then the last Delta finally joins the rest of his squad, but [[HeroicSacrifice not before ending the war once and for all]].
* Getting the "Lone Wolf" achievement[[note]]clear a crashed UFO with just one soldier on Classic or Impossible[[/note]] means one of your soldiers has just pulled a OneManArmy. Already quite the feat on Classic, on Impossible it may be the most awesome thing you'll do in your campaign.
* [[MissionControl Central Officer Bradford]] gets one in the "Security Breach" trailer for ''Enemy Within''. XCOM HQ has been infiltrated and sabotaged, and one of the people responsible attacks Bradford... who proceeds to ''beat the ever-loving shit out of him.'' Not bad for TheScrappy.
* In ''Enemy Within'', earning the "Apotheosis Denied" Achievement [[labelnote:explanation]]Defeat EXALT for good by finding and destroying their HQ[[/labelnote]]. Your organization has just been forced by EXALT to fight a war on two fronts, against the invaders, as well as their treachery. In order to achieve this victory against what you could describe as an evil counterpart to your organization, you will need to:
## Undertake Covert Operations to unveil their cells and stage tactical missions against EXALT agents, who are similarly armed to your team and use similar tactics.
## Ensure their nefarious insurgency doesn't disrupt the world too much while hunting them down [[labelnote:explanation]]They are capable of stealing funds and technology as well as raising panic in the countries of the world with terror attacks and misinformation, and ultimately turn out to be the ones who leaked your location to the Aliens, culminating in the Base Defense mission[[/labelnote]].
## Correctly point out the country where EXALT's central command is HiddenInPlainSight [[labelnote:explanation]]Failure to choose the right country will make the accused country immediately terminate support for XCOM[[/labelnote]]. Only then can you corner the last of their corrupt kind and stop them from making things worse for people in general.
** The EXALT HQ has a lot more verticality than usual in this game, including several skylights that are just ''begging'' for a SWAT-style DynamicEntry. Or you could just have your troops engage from the skylights. Or split them between skylights and ground forces. Or...
*** If you ''really'' go for shock-and-awe, have a ''fully upgraded '''MEC Trooper''''' drop in on 'em this way,
** Speaking of Base Defense, surviving that and earning the "They Shall Not Pass" achievement. You only get a select team of field operatives against four sizeable waves of nasty enemies, from Cyberdiscs and Mechtoids to Chryssalids, Sectoid Commanders, and Mutons. While reinforcements are available, the bulk of the people helping are simply regular Base Security personnel, who are roughly as competent as your ''Rookie'' field operatives and only armed with conventional weapons and body armor. Nevertheless, your veterans manage to rally the defenses and organize a strong presence that stops the alien assault from destroying XCOM's command centre. Extra points if you get the "All Hands On Deck" achievement, which means your 'Rookie' Base Security personnel managed quite a few kills of their own, showing that while they don't enter the warzone like your regulars, they can and will pass muster when push comes to shove.
* In ''Enemy Within'', completing the Council Mission "Site Recon" and earning the "Zom-B-Gone" Achievement. In a scenario straight out of a player's [[NightmareFuel/XCOMEnemyUnknown nightmares]], they are to investigate a fishing village that mysteriously went silent, and also swallowed up a group of government investigators. Turns out that said village has been overrun and effectively turned ''into a Chryssalid nest''. Eventually Bradford will decide that it's too dangerous for your unfortunate operatives as the site is completely overrun by Chryssalids, and orders your team to use the transponder in a fishing vessel to 'mark' the site ''for a saturated bombing run'' in order to eradicate the Chryssalids - a fishing vessel with plenty of shark corpses and a massive whale corpse, all of which ''are incubating more Chryssalids than anyone would want to face''. Even so, your field operatives perform excellently, not only getting to the ship's transponder to activate it, but also carving a path back out of the slowly amassing army of Chryssalids to safety and evacuation before the bombs start dropping. Well done, people, for preventing a catastrophe.
** The entire mission qualifies as one - run and gunning through the darkened village, shooting down zombies and fleeing to the dropship with the glowing-eyed monstrosities hot on your tail, to finally make it to the ship and fly away just in time before [[KillItWithFire the bombs come down.]]
*** With the right squad build, it's entirely possible to make an orderly, well-managed and well-protected withdrawal back to the Skyranger using bounding cover, with two troopers moving as the others provide cover on Overwatch. Any Chryssalid that comes within range gets shot to pieces before it can even become a threat, and your squad gets to pull off the closest thing to an UnflinchingWalk that can be found in this game.
* MEC Troopers are all-round badass, but [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8H-FDOLxz0 here]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z5Oknhon4U here]] we have footage of them beating aliens to death with their fists.
** Sending a MEC-heavy squad on a Terror mission can be particularly awesome. Not only is the sight of multiple MiniMecha rushing to rescue civilians impressive, they are the ''perfect'' counter to Chryssalids. They have the health to survive multiple Chryssalid melee attacks, they dish out plenty of damage at range to cut down both the Chryssalids and their zombies, and the Chryssalid tendency to make a double move right up to your units often puts said Chryssalid right in the path of a Kinetic Strike, which is invariably fatal.
** There's also something awesome about using them to kill Sectoid Commanders. Especially the first one. He's just mind-controlled one of your soldiers, and Dr. Vahlen says that all your technology is useless against such power. Then a MEC Trooper stomps up and takes the damn thing out with one punch, or with one of the lowest forms of technology: [[KillItWithFire Fire.]]
** Sending an all-MEC squad to take down the EXALT headquarters is a very good and awesome idea. Given the confined environment and relatively low health of EXALT operatives, you'll probably just want to use your Kinetic Strike modules to pulverize them. The fact that this will do immense collateral damage to their lavishly equipped headquarters is just icing on the cake.
** Speaking of the Kinetic Strike, the Cyberdisk gets a unique animation when killed by one. There's are few things quite as satisfying as seeing a hulk of man and metal run up to the machine, then [[{{Memes/SuperSmashBros}} Falcon Punch]] it so hard it goes back into disk mode and flips through the air like a coin before exploding in mid-spin.
** The kill animation that plays when a MEC rocket-punches a Muton Berserker. The massive Berserker charges in and starts hammering away at the MEC, expecting to pulverise him like an ordinary squishy human...only to be casually thrown aside and killed with a single punch. Guess what, alien: humanity just TookALevelInBadass.
** An MEC punching a Sectopod is even more awesome. A sectopod is the equivalent of a heavy walking tank armed to the teeth. SO is your MEC. During the animation, the MEC trooper will bodily LIFT the sectopod into the air and smash it into the ground, then punch it into scrap metal.
** MEC Trooper vs. Mechtoid is admittedly a fairly good momment for the Mechtoid, which manages to avoid the instant-death fist the first time, parrying it, which leads to the MEC knocking it down with his offhand and finishing the Mechtoid off.
** During mission start animations where your crew rappels down from the skyranger from above, the MEC Troopers available will simply jump off and smash into the ground with a cool pose. Even more awesome is when you have an entire team of MEC troopers doing this.
** A MEC with a [[KillItWithFire flamethrower]] invokes some deliciously grim satisfaction when you cut down Chryssalids, Mutons, or EXALT terrorists with a wave of fiery death, causing any survivors ([[OneHitKO if there are any]]) to ''panic'' and scramble away. On top of that, it's a ''special'' panic state that also precludes them firing randomly or hunkering down. Turns out that despite all the advanced armor, plasma weaponry, psionic might, and genetic tinkering, lighting them on fire will still yield panicked screams of their analogue for "OH FUCK! OH ''FUCK''!" Even better on EXALT terrorists, who actually have things to say. Usually along the lines of "I'M LOSING CONTROL OF THE '''SITUATION!!!'''" or "'''I didn't sign up for THIS!'''" before running away. Also, you know Ethereals? Those tough bastards with [[NervesOfSteel the highest Will in the game]]? FIRE MAKES THEM '''''PANIC'''''!
* While not as aweome outright as the above, Gene mods can be awesome too. Ethereals keep mind controlling your solders? Give them Neural Feedback and watch as those annoying aliens get smacked down to size, taking a lot of damage AND forcing all of their abilities to be put on cooldown. If said alien has been hurt already, there's a very good chance that this will kill them too. Among many others.
** For extra awesome points, it is entirely possible to bring an operative with Neural Feedback to the Temple Ship Raid and get the Uber Ethereal to attempt its psionic attacks on that one guy once it's been wounded enough, using the resulting Feedback damage to finish it off.
** The stealthily awesome "Mimetic Skin" is a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for the research team as they were able to reverse-engineer stealth capabilities ''[[GameBreaker very early]]'' in the game. All players need to do is kill a "Seeker", research it, build the Gene Mod lab, send your troops in for 3 days, and you have amassed an army that can generate stealth kills. Problem with recon? Just have your Mimetic Skin assault go to full cover, discover the aliens, send everyone else, and the aliens won't even know what killed them. Even more so for Snapshot snipers as they can recon even better ''than assaults'' thanks to them having the "Low Profile" perks that allow them to activate Mimetic Skin at ''any cover''.
* Zhang is a badass in general, but it really shines through if he becomes the Volunteer. This is a man who has spent much of his life living outside the law, putting himself first and living through his guile and ruthlessness; when the aliens invaded, however, [[spoiler: and his boss was planning to sell away an artifact which could lead to the loss of thousands of human lives,]] he risked himself not only against his former allies but against a much more dangerous threat, the aliens themselves, to get it into XCOM's hands, and then kept up that fight by joining XCOM. Not only did he excel through the ranks, he attained incredible psychic powers beyond the scope of most humans - [[spoiler: and rather than abuse them, as many who lived a life like his would have been likely to do, he chose to sacrifice himself, saving humanity.]]
* In the expansion, when you rescue [[spoiler:Annette from the dam]], she initially attempts to flee your squad, only to be stopped by a couple warning shots. She then looks out at the path of carnage and alien bodies you carved through to get to her, and all she can say is "You... can kill them? But how..." To her, what XCOM (and the player) has come to consider a matter of course by now (killing alien {{Mooks}} by the dozen per mission) is the equivalent of DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu.
* The science team doesn't get punished for "playing GOD". When was the last time that happened? Somewhere in the fifties?
* Many of the news items you read if you sell technology to council nations:
--> Witness claims fighter jets from *country name* outperform alien [=UFOs=] in air-to-air combat\\
According to military sources, *country name* increases assaults on hostile alien forces\\
Soldiers in *country* reportedly disappear in the middle of firefight with aliens\\
Soldiers in *country* take down hostile aliens in greater numbers than previously recorded\\
Eyewitnesses claim multiple aliens killed in ambush by government forces in *country*\\
Reports coming from *country* indicate hostile aliens repelled by unknown forces\\
Images of laser weapons fire coming from the ground in *country name* flood the internet\\
Images of *country name* soldiers going into battle with advanced alien weaponry posted on Internet
* Soften up a group of Chryssalids, then have them all take a run toward an Assault-class with Close-Combat Specialist and a shotgun. They won't get far.
** Even more awesome if said Assault has [[{{BFG}} an Alloy Cannon]]. No softening up needed there.
* Having a sniper with such a high aim, that he has perfect accuracy at point blank range.
* Accidentally getting the attention of a Sectopod, its 2 Drones, 3 Chryssalids, a Beserker and 3 Mutons in one turn. And then killing them all in the same turn with a Sniper equipped with In The Zone, a MEC, and an Assault. The other 3 members basically watched the entire thing.
* One Terror mission, up against an alien squad entirely comprised of Chryssalids. First turn, a Psi-capable Heavy took control of one, gathering the attention of ''[[ZergRush every other Chryssalid]]''. Next squad member was a Sniper with [[OneHitKill Squadsight, In The Zone and a Plasma Sniper Rifle]]. By the time he was done, only the controlled Chryssalid was left. One rocket later, and job done. [[CurbStompBattle The best mission rating one could get from a Terror mission]], and all on ''[[SingleStrokeBattle the first turn]]''.
* In the Alien Base mission, two sets of three Chrysallids were helpful enough to ''line up'' in front of a MEC Heavy. Chrysallids, meet flamethrower.
* Assuming they survive, seeing your squad go from a ragtag bunch of rookies with standard armaments to a force of alien curb-stompers with advanced weapons and armor feels great. You really get to see the transformation of humanity going from comparative helplessness to equality or even superiority to the aliens.
* With Second Wave options, Training Roulette can lead to some awful random skill combinations...but then there is the opportunity for your soldiers to have some mind-blowing (literally for the aliens) combinations.
** An assault with Bullet Swarm (Firing your weapon on the first action does not end the turn), Close and Personal (first shot within 4 tiles costs no action) and Rapid Fire (two shots against a single target with a -15 aim penalty using one turn) means the soldier can fire FOUR times in one turn with an Alloy Canon.
** A heavy or sniper with Covering Fire ( reactions shots trigger on enemy attack attempts, not only movements), Sentinel (2 separate reaction shots during Overwatch) and Opportunist (no Aim and crit penalty for reaction shots) means you never actively use these soldiers, just put them on overwatch and watch as the enemy's turn leads to alien slaughter.
** A heavy with deep pockets, mayhem and grenadier (along with the foundry upgrade Tactical rigging) means they can carry 6 grenades that hurt like rockets.
* Sometimes, you have to [[SadisticChoice decide between killing one of your own soldiers who's been mind controlled and letting them live and potentially killing another of your soldiers]]. Should you order one of your soldiers to attack them, however, they may choose to TakeAThirdOption and [[ImprobableAimingSkills hit them with a critical hit that allows them to be stabilized and carried back to base]]. Sure, they'll be out of commission for a while, but it's one less picture for the memorial wall.
** Snipers can do it even better. Your buddy has been mind controlled and is about to shoot you? You scramble to find the alien mind controlling him, but are unable to kill him before your buddy shoots you in the back... You close your eyes, and hear plasma streaking through the air... But you don't feel anything... You open your eyes, and see your buddy holding his arm before fixing his rifle, while the team FriendlySniper gives you a thumb up... Time to kill that alien scum and free your buddy! You are definitely offering that sniper a month worth of drinks when you'll get back at the base!
* Some maps in the game can have music playing in stores or resturaunts. Often, this music sounds like it was taken straight out of ''Film/BlackDynamite''. The best time to hear it is ordering a Heavy with a spare rocket to move just behind a closed door with something to shoot behind it.
* What can be more awesome than killing a Sectoid ? Killing a Sectoid that was buffing one alien, thus making the second alien's brain seemingly explose and kill it too.
* There's an Abduction mission in Egypt, just before the Alien Base Assault. So the map's a highway one, meaning there's little but cars for cover. The squad deploys, moving up and carefully looking for the aliens. A pair of Mutons appear, and one is quickly taken down by the team sniper, while the other takes cover after taking a few wounds from a Heavy on Overwatch. The Assault moves up to take the other one out, and in the process triggers the other Mutons. So now, eight Mutons are bearing down on the team from the side, they're all but caught with their pants down, and to boot, the one in cover just initiated Blood Call. Thanks to several lucky shots, a well-placed rocket from a Heavy, and generally an excellent performance, the squad manages to kill the Mutons and complete their mission, albeit with everyone wounded and the squad medic dead.
* Not a moment you'd probably appreciate, but seeing a mission's last [[{{Mook}} Sectoid]] fire from across the map, landing a critical hit on an escort target, killing them right in front of the extraction zone? Badass. Especially if the job had been going perfectly beforehand.
* Sure, it sucks that the sequel takes place in a universe where XCOM failed, but think of what that means for the original universe. There was never a second war.
* Annette Durand is rescued from EXALT and then join XCOM. Despite being a civilian without any prior military experience (and thus having lower Aim and health than standard soldiers), she more than make it up by her high Will and guaranteed psionics ability.