Characters / XCOM 2

The various characters, classes and alien types found in XCOM 2.

For characters from the first game, see XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

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XCOM Mission Control

    The Commander 

The Commander
Click Here to see the Commander's Avatar 

The Player Character and leader of XCOM. They are rescued from stasis at the start of the game, and proceeds to take charge of XCOM's revived efforts to save humanity.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Their gender is never referred to in game, allowing any player to identify with them.
  • Armchair Military: Type 1, although without the negative connotations. The Commander takes to the field in person exactly once, and even then they're largely safe from actual harm because they're remote-controlling an Avatar. They never physically leave the Avenger after the Gatecrasher mission.
  • Ascended Extra: In the first game the Commander was a basic player avatar, but this time around they are given greater story importance.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The final mission has the Commander take part via their own Avatar, being more than capable of keeping up with your troops. By that point in the game, you'll have a squad of colonels capable of mopping the floor with the aliens.
  • Blue Is Heroic: The Commander's psionic aura turns light blue during the last confrontation, in contrast to the purple aura they had before/used by other psionic soldiers as well as the Elders/Ethereals.
  • The Chosen One: In a non-prophecy related example, the Commander was considered so special by the aliens that they made them into a Wetware CPU, and one that was basically in charge of their entire army. It's also because of this that the Commander is chosen as the best possible candidate to control an Avatar against the Ethereals in the final mission, due to their previous integration into the alien's psionic network making them the one most likely to survive the procedure.
  • Commanding Coolness: Par the course. Taken Up to Eleven as of the final mission.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Played with. While you're around for the whole game, the final mission is the only time you fight the enemy on the battlefield.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The final mission has the Commander control an Avatar to fight alongside their soldiers.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Commander gets an in-game model... as a bulky self-contained suit that obscures any identifiable features, including gender. All the better for the "self insert" Non-Entity General role taken up for the rest of the game. The Commander's Avatar looks like any other. Namely, like an androgynous albino with a faceplate that never speaks on its own. However, when hit, Commander's Avatar lets up scream like ADVENT soldier.
  • Frontline General: Subverted. After taking control of their Avatar, the Commander, armed with the Avatar's advanced Psionic powers, leads the XCOM squad in the final battle, but their actual body is still (mostly) safe and sound on the Avenger, so they're basically Armchair Military with a kickass remote-controlled toy.
  • The Gift: The Commander is confirmed to have latent psi potential like the Volunteer of the first game.
  • Heroic Mime: Continuing the tradition from the previous game, the Commander never says a word. Even when they're controlling a Avatar body for the final mission, you never utter a sound.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Letting yourself die during the assault against the Avatars is grounds for automatic failure.
  • Hope Bringer: Is this to the resistance movement, allowing them to finally raise up, unite and take action.
  • Humans Are Special: In the final battle, the Commander is apparently psionically powerful enough to defeat the combined psionic power of the Ethereal council in a Beam-O-War duel (though it's mentioned earlier on that the Ethereals are likely weakened from having to maintain the psionic network controlling their army by themselves, without the aid of the amplifier device you just blew up).
  • Plot Hole: Their Avatar wields the same Psionic Repeater rifle as the Elders' Avatars, and while it's abundantly clear where XCOM got the Avatar body, its weapon was apparently delivered by mail at some point before the final mission. It's highly unlikely at least that ADVENT crammed it into the Avatar's stasis suit while it was being grown.
  • Rebel Leader: The Commander of XCOM and organizer of the Global Resistance after all.
  • Rip Van Winkle: The Commander is pulled out of stasis to find the aliens in control of the world. A few research projects result in the discovery of information about what the aliens were doing with them while whey were in stasis.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Starts the game imprisoned in a stasis tank, and becomes a Hope Bringer once unsealed.
  • The Strategist: Well, they are you, and you can't really win this game without thinking a little.
    • It should also be noted that ADVENT are implied to have captured you and integrated you into their network early on, so you are literally the reason why the aliens conquered Earth so quickly and managed to suppress any meaningful dissent for 20 years.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sure, the Commander is still The Strategist in- and out-of-universe, but they also are a latent/untrained psionic,take direct control of an Avatar body to storm the underwater alien base housing the Avatar project, leading the squad in destroying three other Avatars controlled by the Ethereals, and then fights a Beam-O-War with all five Ethereals, and WINS.
  • Walking Spoiler
  • Wetware CPU: After being captured, the Commander was put into a stasis suit, with the brain being implanted to transfer tactical data of the mind playing battle simulations in order to boost the ADVENT soldiers' tactical ability. Once the Commander is removed from the network, it is noted that the ADVENT soldiers' tactical data decayed, making Commander an integral (but not absolutely crucial) part of the system.

    John Bradford 

Central Officer John Bradford

Voiced by: Brian Bloom.

Returning as the Mission Control for XCOM, he became broken after XCOM was betrayed to the aliens during the first game and spent the next 20 years on the run with a small resistance movement. After one inciting incident, he becomes inspired to restart XCOM and redeem humanity.
  • The Alcoholic: His personnel file implies that he became this after XCOM's first defeat. That said, he's still more than capable of handling himself.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Despite his reservations about close combat in the previous game, Bradford has apparently taken to practicing swordplay in the intervening years. His playable character is a colonel-level Ranger who wields their trademark sword just as efficiently as your other Rangers.
  • Badass Grandpa: The man is 55 years old and still kicking alien ass.
  • Beard of Sorrow: A relatively mild example, but John wears a constant five o'clock shadow.
  • BFG: Has a huge, customized assault rifle in the tutorial, with a drum magazine, scope, and more. He only uses it once, in a cutscene.
    • In the Alien Hunters DLC he gets it when playable and it's ridiculously overmodded to the point of absurditynote . It is named the "Multipurpose assault rifle".
  • Berserk Button: There'll be hell to pay if he finds any more Advent Burger wrappers lying around the command center, or whoever has been leaving them there.
  • The Chains of Commanding: For twenty years, Bradford has been in charge of leading a hopelessly outmatched guerilla group in a war he knew he had no chance in hell to win, but he soldiered on regardless. You can tell he paid a heavy personal price for his determination, and the Commander's return, and subsequent successes in rebuilding XCOM, obviously take a huge weight off his shoulders. He doesn't even hesitate to give up command - he's relieved that he can finally do so.
  • Characterization Marches On: The Bradford of XCOM 2 is a very different man than the one in Enemy Unknown. Originally a clean-cut, upstanding, by-the-book Boy Scout of a second officer, Bradford's experiences following the events of the first game have left him bitter, jaded, cynical, and world-weary. Also, he's much more fond of close range than he used to be.
  • Crutch Character: In the Alien Hunters DLC he's on the field for the first meeting with an Alien ruler. Since this mission tends to occur early, he's this, as he has the stats of a colonel rank Ranger (melee specs for the most part) long before the player's likely to have promoted a soldier to colonel and wields a BFG assault rifle with more mods than it is actually possible to have on a gun. And the reaper skill is ideal to deal with all the low health enemies on the mission.
  • The Determinator: This guy simply won't give up no matter the odds, which is obviously a good thing. Anything less than his total dedication to defeating the alien invaders would've seen what remained of XCOM destroyed for good many years before the events of the game.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Shen and Tygan constantly question Bradford's skills on piloting the Avenger. He, in turn, grumps that he'd like to see them do a better job.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a cool, straight scar going down his right cheek. Looks like just the kind of person you'd want for your second-in-command in a desperate resistance against a ruthless alien government!
  • Grumpy Old Man: On a humorous note, Bradford's gotten a bit crotchety in his old age; he grumps about Tygan's personnel files, gets irritated at all the hamburger wrappers he finds on the ship, rolls his eyes during one of the Speaker's broadcasts, and overall has an "I'm-too-old-for-this-shit" approach to problems.
    From the Intro mission
    Shen:"She's calling for reinforcements! Stop that-"
    Shen: "-transmission."
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: The defeat of XCOM left him wandering aimlessly for two decades, until a currently unspecified incident broke him out of it.
    • Drowning My Sorrows: Specifically, his "Meet the Personnel" bio on the official website says that he was "continually seeking comfort at the bottom of a bottle."
  • Made of Iron: In the intro sequence and then the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, Bradford gets hit in the gut by the butt of an ADVENT trooper's magrifle, gets buffeted by the explosion of the ADVENT van when Jane Kelly sets off the X4 charge (even though he does hit the deck right as the vehicle explodes), and then gets shot and nearly killed during the actual extraction of the Commander (on Veteran difficulty he is reduced to 1 HP when the ADVENT trooper clips him with a burst, more than enough damage to put him in Gravely Wounded status). He then immediately goes to oversee the operation to remove the Commander's implanted chip when they return to the Avenger, and presumably only receives proper treatment for the injuries sustained after the successful operation. Granted, this might explain why he never returns to the field for the rest of the campaign.
    • Zig-zagged when he appears in the first mission of the Alien Hunters DLC, where he can have anywhere from 5 (about as much as Squaddie-ranked Ranger) to 11 HP (slightly more than usual Colonel), depending on your difficulty level (and assuming you didn't research better armor before the mission).
  • Mission Control: Although all three leaders may chime in during missions, it's primarily his job to update you on new developments. He's also the one to give your strike teams the rundown of their current assignment while they're en route to their destination aboard Firebrand.
  • Number Two: Returns in this role to the Player Character.
  • Old Soldier: He's easily the oldest person aboard the Avenger but still fully capable of taking names and kicking plenty of alien ass. That being said, he does show some signs of PTSD.
  • Rousing Speech: Gives a weary but still pretty epic one before your team embarks on the final mission.
  • Seriously Scruffy: His Perma-Stubble suggest he is too busy to prioritize personal grooming very highly.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Bradford has been through some serious shit over the years since XCOM's defeat, and it occasionally shows through the tough act he puts on in front of his subordinates. He grows noticeably wearier as the campaign progresses and the casualties pile up, and his official bio makes no secret of his heavy drinking. Still, he'll neither rest nor hesitate until Earth is free once more.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He did have his own badass moment back in Enemy Within though, but here he personally takes to the field to rescue you in the tutorial mission Operation Gatecrasher, and even takes a bullet while carrying you to the evac zone.

    An-Yi "Lily" Shen 

Chief Engineer An-Yi "Lily" Shen

Voiced By: Carlye Pollack.

The daughter of Dr. Raymond Shen, Who carries on her late father's legacy as the new head of XCOM's engineering department.
  • Ace Custom: Her unique Gremlin, Rov-R has a higher hack bonus than even a Gremlin MK-III.
  • A Taste of Power: While she doesn't have the advanced Overwatch tricks of a proper Colonel Specialist, her moveset otherwise has most of what one can do and then some. If you start Shen's Last Gift as soon as it's available (not the wisest move, but still), you almost certainly won't have another Colonel Specialist available yet.
  • Action Girl: During Shen's Last Gift, she will personally accompany the squad, and while she's not the combat beast Bradford is in Alien Hunters, she's more than capable of holding her own with the rest of the squad.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Not outwardly nerdy, but still, Chief Engineer of XCOM.
  • Brainy Brunette: Black-haired and hands-on tech expert.
  • Crutch Character: For Shen's Last Gift. Lily is equivalent to a late-game Specialist, and her unique Gremlin, Rov-R gives her a huge bonus to hacking. Convenient as all the enemies on the map are robotic. And like other examples of the trope, relying too much on her will mean losing out on EXP for the rest of your troops, especially since she can't be used in combat again afterwards.
  • Daddy's Girl: Positive example. It's abundantly clear that she deeply loved and admired her father even though she didn't see him often. Watching his final video message to her during the Shen's Last Gift mission is enough to choke her up pretty much instantly. It's probably not a coincidence that she followed in his footsteps as XCOM's Chief Engineer as soon as she was able.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She's not averse to some heavy sarcasm every now and then.
    The Informant: [...] I only wish I had better news for you.
    Shen [under her breath]: [scoffs] When does he ever?
  • Disappeared Dad: She didn't see her father at all for the duration of the first alien war, and he passed away before the second could begin in earnest.
  • The Engineer: Like dear old Dad.
  • Gadgeteer Genius/Wrench Wench: Her introduction scene has her tinkering with her personal pet Gremlin, Rov-R.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When a Specialist like Lily relocates, their Gremlin zips to their destination almost instantly, arriving long before its master does. Rov-R is no exception, yet when Lily is told to dash somewhere in the Shen's Last Gift mission:
    Lily Shen: Keep up, Rover!
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: When usable in Shen's Last Gift, she has a combination of skills that includes those you can't normally have on Specialists at the same time, as well as unlimited uses of Combat Protocol and Capacitor Discharge.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • Has a Gremlin drone she calls "ROV-R", and treats it more like a pet than a non-sentient machine.
    • The SPARK prototype was built by her father to be this and a bodyguard for her.
      • It's possible for you to double down on the Robot Buddy here by implementing the Julian AI into the original SPARK you get from the mission. If you do install him, then Lily essential takes a failed Robot Buddy and turns it into a successful example by using another Robot Buddy as the shell, which in turn has its own Robot Buddy called a BIT.
  • Reality Ensues: If you start a campaign with the tutorial mission enabled, your first mission after that is to secure a massive ADVENT power converter for her to get the Avenger up and running. She positively squees when she sees it and immediately tries to push the trolley to her workshop on her own, but the thing barely moves at all. As badass and fit as she may be, one person alone simply can't move something this heavy without help.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Her outfit lacks sleeves on both her shirt and overlapping jacket.
  • The Smart Girl: All those fancy toys your troops use? Her work, directly or otherwise.
  • Those Two Guys: Has this dynamic with Tygan.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Seems to prefer doing her job note  over silly little things like "wearing makeup".
  • The Workaholic: Her "Meet the Personnel" bio describes her as unable to be complacent, considering time where she isn't working to be wasted.

    Richard Tygan 

Dr. Richard Tygan
Voiced by: Gary Anthony Williams.

A biochemist and former member of ADVENT, now working for XCOM as head of the research department.
  • Admiring the Abomination: He can get quite excited during alien autopsies, although others seriously freak him out instead.
  • The Atoner: He regrets his part in advancing ADVENT's sinister research and spends the campaign making up for it with his aid to XCOM.
  • Black and Nerdy: Bradford calls him one of the brightest minds on Earth.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Of the research division.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Formerly the head of an early Gene Therapy clinic. He also has a scar on the back of his head from when he had to remove his own chip.
  • Defector from Decadence: Tygan got to enjoy the creature comforts and shining cities that ADVENT introduced to Earth for a while, but the oppressive surveillance eventually drove him to leave the fold.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Defected from the ADVENT Administration after he was disturbed by ADVENT's increasingly controlling nature. He also feels a little responsible for the matter of the implant chip he removed from the Commander's head, as it was clearly based on technology he had worked on during his time with the Gene Therapy Clinic.
  • The Mole: Several pieces of character dialog from Shen and Tygan suggest that the former does not completely trust the latter. Lily goes so far as to consider the possibility that Tygan's chip was never removed, and that he could indeed be a spy or a double-agent. Inevitably subverted; contrary to these concerns, Richard never betrays XCOM during any point of the storyline, and is indeed a critical ally in helping to destroy ADVENT once and for all.
  • Non-Action Guy: The only member of the command team to never take to the field.
  • Not So Different: At the conclusion of the Alien Rulers DLC, he harshly criticizes Doctor Vahlen for allowing her curiosity and scientific zeal to outweigh her good sense... before admitting that he had done essentially the same thing by partnering with ADVENT previously.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: In addition to being a biochemist, his expertise also appears to span to biology and mechanical engineering going by his dissections of dead enemies and computer science with his help in the Codex and Avatar projects.
    • It is played with a little. When examining mechanical enemies he mentions getting Shen's opinion, and admits to learning medicine 'on the job'. He also gets noticeably more vague when dealing with subjects outside his experience, and on many occasions, concludes he has no idea how certain things work. It helps that many of the subjects he's forced to confront are outside conventional science anyway.
    • He also mention he's not a professional surgeon and thus the troop are happy he hones his surgical skills on performing autopsies on ADVENT troopers.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In the Alien Hunters DLC, once he finishes the autopsy of The Berserker Queen, he is clearly pissed off at Vahlen's experiments, and comes close to outright yelling about the risk to humanity and her For Science! behavior.
  • Self-Surgery: Removed his own neural implant with no help, as stated above. The only apparent complications being that he was unable to avoid leaving a scar.
  • Those Two Guys: Has this dynamic with Shen.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Those "damn juicy ADVENT Burgers." They're the one thing about life in the city centers that he misses, and according to a War of the Chosen radio broadcast, Tygan's willing to pay triple their market value to whoever delivers some to a supply drop.
  • Verbal Tic: His speech has a quite peculiar cadence to it, and he's very fond of the word "intriguing", which gets lampshaded by some minor gags here and there.

    The Informant 

The Informant
Voiced by: Jon Bailey

Formerly the Council spokesman, he aids XCOM by serving as an insider and revealing what's going on within the ADVENT Administration.



The Skyranger pilot responsible for ferrying soldiers to and from missions.
  • Ace Pilot: Given that she is able to escape from ADVENT iInterceptors while piloting a transport aircraft and break contact well enough to avoid leading them directly back to the Avenger she's presumably an excellent pilot.
  • Badass Normal: ADVENT holds total air superiority in Earth's skies. Only the most fearless badass would dare piloting an unarmed, completely defenseless dropship full of wanted terrorists right into the heart of enemy territory under these conditions. She does it on a regular basis and always gets everyone in and out safely.
  • The Faceless: Only ever shown wearing her helmet.

XCOM Ground Forces

    The Sharpshooter 


Analogous to the Sniper of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Sharpshooter specialises in picking off agents of the ADVENT with precise shots, whether from afar with sniper rifles or up close and personal with pistols.
  • Achilles' Heel: Armoured foes for Gunslingers, as pistols don't have any armour piercing or shredding. If you don't have AP Rounds yet or can't bring them for whatever reason, better have fellow troopers able to shred their armour first, or all he's going to do is Scratch Damage.
  • Art Evolution: The new sniper rifle model vaguely resembles the Barrett M82. Despite its mediocre stats, bringing an anti-materiel rifle to the fight as your starting weapon feels quite good.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sharpshooters can fall into this category during timed missions as the squad must push towards their objective and extraction, leaving little time for the Sharpshooter to set up. Compounded by the fact that they can't move and shoot their rifle in the same turn, forcing them to choose between falling behind or contributing to the fight.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Unlike the first game, the pistol no longer needs to reload ever. You can now put out as much fire in one turn as you have the abilities necessary.
  • Counter Attack: With the "Return Fire" ability, they can counter the first attack aimed at them with a pistol shot, once per turn.
  • Death from Above: The aptly-named "Death From Above" ability gives them back one action after killing an enemy at a lower elevation. Gets ridiculously powerful when combined with the Hunter's Darklance, a unique sniper rifle that only requires one action to fire. As long as they keep one-shotting enemies below them, a Sharpshooter with this weapon can keep firing until they run out of ammo.
  • Firing One-Handed: The way they fire their handguns; even the absolutely massive magnum revolver they start out with.
  • The Gunslinger: The Gunslinger skill tree is very much this. It's the only skill tree that can attack a single target five times in one turn (Lightning Hands, Quick Draw, and Fan Fire), and it also fits into all four categories. (The Trick Shot for obvious reasons, The Vaporizer due to Fan Fire, The Woo due to the incredible marksmanship with pistols present, and the Quick Draw after the eponymous skill.)
  • Hand Cannon: Their pistols are way larger (one of models shown had a barrel as long as soldier's thigh) and more powerful than their counterparts from the first game.
  • Handguns: This time, the Sharpshooter gains bonuses to pistols that allow them to become viable alternatives to sniper rifles.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: The "Face-Off" ability lets them fire their handgun at every enemy in range in a single turn.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The default Sharpshooter skill is now Squadsight, albeit nerfed from its previous incarnation. Compensated for, however, with the Sniper tree skills: they ALL make Squadsight more dangerous.
  • Magikarp Power: Just like their predecessor in the first game, the Snipers. Their first skills are reliant entirely on their aim, but none of these skills buff that (Squadsight has an aim penalty, Return Fire is a reaction shot that also has an aim penalty, and Long Watch is just Squadsight Overwatch, meaning it ''also'' has an aim penalty.) Once the Sharpshooter's aim gets higher via promotions, weapon upgrades or PCS, is when they begin to show how dangerous they really are.
    • Even more so with if you spec Gunslinger build. The basic pistol isn't even guaranteed to one-shoot the weakest Advent Troopers. Armor upgrades and AP or Bluescreen ammo are absolutely vital to survive and do any meaningful damage. A fully-upgraded Colonel Gunslinger more than repays all that investment, as they can solo the fearsome Gatekeepers or Sectopods or clear an entire pod of lesser foes in a single turn.
  • Mighty Glacier: Like their counterparts from the previous game, their sniper rifles take two action points to fire meaning they can either move or shoot but not both on the same turn, outside certain buffs, compensated by sniper rifles being the strongest weapons in terms of base damage. This is worsened by the fact that, unlike Snipers, they don't get to learn Snap Shot that allows them to move and fire on the same turn. The Major skills reinforce this; Steady Hands grants an Aim and Crit bonus for not having moved in the previous turn, while Aim grants a bigger Aim bonus for ending the previous turn with Hunker Down.
  • More Dakka:
    • A Gunslinger-focused Sharpshooter is focused on lots of free shots at lots of enemies with their Bottomless Magazines pistol. While the pistol does less damage than a standard weapon attack it stacks up fast once you have free shots from the pistol every turn, free counterattacks with it, an extra ability that lets you take an action-free shot with the pistol once every four turns, and the ability to just shoot everything you see once with the gun.
    • The Sniper tree can also do this, albeit requiring more setup. The tree's final skill is Serial, which makes any kill refund your action points. With sufficient aim, and a Superior Auto-Loader, you can usually kill every alien in sight. If there are some in hiding, then Kill Zone will make sure they'll be dead soon, too.
  • One-Man Army: A base game Sharpshooter can become one with the colonel-level skill Serial and some clever targetting, but it's War of the Chosen where things get plain ridiculous. The Hunter's Darklance rifle, coupled with the Death From Above skill that refunds one action for every kill from a height advantage, allows one Sharpshooter to wipe out half the battlefield in a single turn with barely any trouble. Sharpshooters generally take a while until they can pull their own weight, but high-ranking examples will quickly rack up more kills than any other class in your roster.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: The two sides of the Sharpshooter's skill trees lead to very different playstyles. The Sniper side is built around being a Long-Range Fighter by using the sniper rifle to deal out strong single attacks from afar, preferably from elevation. The Gunslinger side, emphasising use of the short-ranged pistol, is a Close-Range Combatant that makes many individually weaker attacks.
  • Quick Draw: One of their abilities is actually named "Quick Draw", and it allows them to fire pistols without ending their turn, allowing them to relocate or shoot again. Another ability, "Lightning Hands", grants them one free shot every four turns. "Face Off" fires the pistol once at any and all enemies in range, and finally "Fan Fire" fires the pistol 3 times at a target.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: The official page's article on the Archon notes that Sharpshooters are your best defense against Archons, a claim that doesn't have any basis in actual gameplay. Unlike the Sectoid's explicit melee vulnerability, Archons don't have a specific weakness to Sharpshooter attacks and thus take the same damage from them as any other enemy type. It's probably just an indirect advice to keep Archons at as much distance as possible due to their very powerful melee attacks.

    The Grenadier 


Analogous to the Heavy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Grenadier deploys grenade launchers and other area-denial weapons to defeat the ADVENT threat. Their ability options are Demo Expert, which focuses on blowing up multiple enemies at once with grenades and area attacks, and Heavy Gunner, which focuses on wearing down powerful single targets.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The "Hail of Bullets" ability allows them to perform an attack with 100% accuracy at the cost of using more ammo.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The "Shredder" ability allows them to destroy some of the target's armor with every attack depending on the tier of weapon they're using (1 armor with starting gear, 3 once you reach plasma weaponry). This is vital against heavily-armored enemies like MECs or other mechanical enemies. The Rupture ability stacks with Shredder if taken, and makes the enemy take extra damage.
  • BFG: They carry two in fact, one is their miniguns, the other one is their grenade launchers.
  • Can't Catch Up: Of the two Corporal-rank abilities, "Blast Padding" adds 1 armour point but doesn't scale with the tier of your armour, which means it eventually loses out unlike "Shredder" that does scale with weapon tier. Fortunately, there's a mod for that. Grenadiers as a whole are extremely powerful early in the game with their armor-shredding, cover-destroying, and always-accurate grenades, but their disadvantages rapidly begin to pile on.
  • Chainsaw Grip BFG: The Grenadier's cannons are wielded like this. Interestingly, they are carried in a more traditional fashion with a hand on a standard pistol grip. When actually firing, the Grenadier shifts their grip to the chainsaw position.
  • Critical Hit Class: Both played straight and averted. While the cannon has no innate crit chance, Grenadiers are the only class that can crit with explosives. Not for much, sadly. They also have a guaranteed critical hit ability in "Rupture".
  • Crutch Character: Grenades are one of the few things available to the players immediately for the game's starting phase that are guaranteed to do damage...and they destroy cover as well as reduce armor! And then Grenadiers fire them with a greater area, from a farther range, and get a free, you should be able to see how they're pretty key when most of your troops will have a not-insignificant chance to miss enemies they're literally next to. In accordance with this trope, grenades don't scale well into lategame, with neither they nor their launcher having a third tier upgrade. Grenadiers themselves also suffer from their upgraded weapons requiring a separate research and purchase, whereas Rangers can make do with rifles and Sharpshooters unlock their pistol upgrades out of the basic Magnetic/Plasma Weapons research. They're also the only class that lacks a Chosen counterpart for them to acquire an Infinity +1 Sword from.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: With the "Rupture" ability, they can perform an attack that increases all damage dealt to affected unit by 3. In addition, this attack is a guaranteed critical hit.
  • Gatling Good: Their main weapon besides the Grenade Launcher is a minigun.
  • Grenade Launcher: Their namesake signature weapon. Initially, it just lets them lob regular grenades with more range and accuracy than other soldiers can chuck them; later they can upgrade the damage, splash radius and carry multiple grenades.
  • Magikarp Power: At first, you really can't make use of many minigun skills, due to their ammo costs combined with the low ammo of said miniguns, including one that uses three ammo, which is all they have. Upgrade their ammo capacity however, and you can wipe out entire armies in a single move.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Grenadiers are your best choice when faced with enemy Gatekeepers. A single Grenadier with the right tools and builds can, in a single turn, tear off all the Gatekeeper's armor.
  • More Dakka: Most of their minigun related abilities involve shooting a lot of bullets at enemies.
  • Pinned Down: The "Suppression" ability makes a comeback from the first game, and it's been buffed to grant -50 aim penalty over the original -30.
  • Stone Wall: If you forego "Shredder" you instead get "Blast Padding," which soaks up a minimum of 1 damage from all attacks and vastly reduces explosive damage the Grenadier would normally take, making them very tough customers.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Demolitions Expert skills are ALL about this. More grenades, better grenades, AND more CHANCES to use grenades. With two Demo Expert Grenadiers, things will look like a Michael Bay film. Toss them into a E.X.O. Suit or a W.A.R. suit for even more kaboom.
  • Support Party Member: While they have powerful damage abilities, some of their moves also help other soldiers to hit more accurately or deal more damage while hindering the aliens. In addition to some of those mentioned above, "Demolition" and "Saturation Fire" damage or destroy cover, leaving aliens exposed, while "Holo Targeting" returns from the first game to give allies increased aim against aliens targeted with the cannon.

    The Ranger 


Analogous to the Assault of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Ranger is a close-quarters combat expert, using shotguns and melee weapons to cut down the alien invaders, and a high risk/high reward fighting style.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Rangers use swords for melee combat. Justified by you operating a stealth guerrilla group, that would prefer quiet blades to loud guns in many situations, along with XCOM's general lack of resources.
  • BFS: Rangers use an oversized machete in melee combat. Its upgrades are the Arc Blade and the Fusion Blade. The former has a chance to stun, the latter has a chance to set its victims on fire.
  • Back Stab: Shadowstrike grants a bonus to aim and crit chance when attacking from Concealment.
  • Close-Range Combatant: In addition to the shotgun, it also gains access to melee weapons.
  • Critical Hit Class: A properly-skilled and equipped Ranger can exceed 100% crit chance.
  • Crutch Character: Rangers' shotguns are one of the few weapons available to you in the beginning of the game to do guaranteed damage (at very close-range) and hit hard, making them key for working past your low-ranking soldiers' unreliable accuracy.
  • Foil: Just as Sharpshooters are the hard counter to Archons, Rangers appear to be designed to be the hard counter to Sectoids. Sectoids are extra-vulnerable to sword attacks and often die in one hit to them.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Implacable allows Rangers to make another move after getting at least one kill in their turn. Unlike in the first game where going for a kill could leave an Assault in a vulnerable spot, Rangers with Implacable can now make a kill then run to a better position afterwards.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Rangers draw and strike with their swords in one motion, and then sheathe their swords back onto their back. Occasionally, their animation will even have them Swipe Your Blade Off first.
  • Incendiary Exponent: The Plasma-tier melee weapon is the Fusion Blade, which has a chance to set whatever it hits on fire. Assuming, of course, that the target even survived the sword slash.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Bladestorm comes pretty close. It's a free attack on ANYTHING that gets into melee range, even if it's just passing by.
  • I Was Never Here: Sometimes said word-for-word by the ranger when using the Conceal ability.
  • Kill Streak: The "Reaper" ability allows them to chain a melee attack into another attack, which can go on for as long as the Ranger is getting kills. To keep it from going too crazy, you do less and less damage with each successive attack, but you can easily clear a pod of weak enemies with this skill.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: All three tiers of the shotgun fire solid projectiles, unlike the other weapons that eventually progress to plasma. The Storm Gun uses a plasma pulse for the propulsion but ultimately is still shooting projectiles.
  • Machete Mayhem: The default melee weapon for the class is an oversized machete.
  • No-Sell:
    • With the Untouchable skill the Ranger can ignore the first attack done to them after they get a kill, that includes enemy explosives and Psionics. This goes in conjunction with Bladestorm; Enemies trying to using tricks that require them to be in melee range will find the Ranger getting their blade swipe in first. This includes Vipers trying to grab the Ranger with their tongue. Untouchable is refreshed if a Ranger gets the kill via Overwatch or Bladestorm. Those baby Chryssalids don't look so threatening any more.
    • Shadowstep causes a Ranger to not trigger Overwatch or other reaction fire, excellent for charging into melee or making a potentially hazardous flanking move.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: The standard animation that plays after blasting someone with the shotgun.
  • One-Man Army: As mentioned in Kill Streak, "Reaper" can potentially allow a Ranger to clear a whole pod by himself.
  • Rule of Cool: Why exactly do the Ranger's Magnetic and Plasma level weapons still have a shotgun pump? Is it a manual cooling system, as someone suggested back during Enemy Unknown? Who cares, the One-Handed Shotgun Pump is awesome.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Wields shotguns as its primary ranged weapon. Although you can always switch one to a rifle if you prefer long-range combat, these shotguns are still fairly effective at 2/3 of the Ranger's sight range.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Some of their abilities favour concealment and stealth in order to gain a better shot. One, "Phantom," lets them remain in concealment even if everyone else is blown or start out in concealment in missions that usually have no concealment. Shadowstrike gives them a bonus to aim and crit when striking from concealment, and another ability, "Conceal", lets them manually re-enter Concealment once per mission.
  • Technicolor Ninjas: The Ranger's stealth is in no way compromised by wearing brightly-coloured armour.

    The Specialist 


Analogous to the Support of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Specialist is a cyber-warfare trooper who uses repurposed alien technology to fight the ADVENT, most notably in its "Gremlin" drone. Their ability options are Battle Medic and Combat Hacker.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The "Combat Protocol" skill allows them to send Gremlin to the opponent and zap them for low, but certain damage. The biggest drawback is that the Specialist can use this ability only twice per mission.
  • Attack Drone: XCOM operatives utilize one called the 'Gremlin', though it seems much more a floating support unit like the Cyberdisk Drones instead of the heavy-duty SHIVS of the last game. It's capable of inflicting always-hitting electrical damage to a unit at a distance, but it can also shield friendly units or deliver medical support.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Specialist in a nutshell. Ever Vigilant, Combat Protocol, Guardian, and Capacitor Discharge are the only Specialist skills that allow them to directly deal damage; everything else is either for buffing allies or debuffing enemies. In short, they won't get that many kills, but they will ensure your soldiers can, as well as securing any objective or target from a safe distance.
      • That being said, Ever Vigilant lets a Specialist kill things when no-one else can anymore, and Guardian can result in ridiculous numbers of dead aliens very quickly. It gives a 50% chance (which is a lot by XCOM standards) to take another Overwatch shot after the first, with no limit on how often it triggers. It's astounding how often a Guardian Specialist keeps firing until their gun runs dry, potentially leaving entire pods dead in the dust in just one reaction shot kill streak. With a bit of luck, your Specialist can end up having a killcount to rival your Ranger and Sharpshooter. Still boring, but very practical indeed.
    • The aforementioned Combat Protocol. 2 points of damage may be low, but as an Always Accurate Attack, it can finish off grievously wounded enemies, or break an Overwatch. This damage is doubled against robotic/mechanical targets and with later researchable upgrades to the Gremlin, will do enough damage to one shot or severely damage most mechanical enemies. Oh, and did we mention it completely ignores armor?
  • Combat Medic: With a "Battle Medic" focus. Unlike Supports of old, the "Gremlin Heal" lets them heal allies from a vast distance. The ultimate healing skill a Specialist can get causes their Gremlin to heal everyone on the team, even those out of sight, and will cure panic and revive unconsciousness to boot.
  • Deflector Shields: Instead of throwing smoke grenades, a Specialist's first ability is to use "Aid Protocol" which makes one ally harder to hit by raising their cover rating.
  • Drone Deployer: The Gremlin is a flying robot drone capable of stunning enemies with electrical shocks and augmenting allies. It can also deliver the Combat Medic component from a distance if specialized in that manner.
  • Hack Your Enemy:
    • A major reason it is strongly recommended to bring a Specialist on a mission. While any soldier can get close to an objective and hack it with a PDA, Specialist can do the same from the distance, using Gremlin. It can be critical on timed missions. Minor bonus perks include higher Hack score note  and the ability to hack lamp posts to disable them and get an advantage in combat. Do note that distribution of skills between Medic and Combat Hacker does not affect the Hack score.
    • With the "Haywire Protocol" ability, their Gremlin drone can hack stuff like turrets or MEC troopers. Depending on their skill level, they can merely disable it, or take control of it.
    • Skulljacking an enemy to drain them for intel is also a Hack attempt, and succeeds more often if you have a high Hack skill. Thus, Specialists are usually the best characters to use as Skulljackers.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Hacking requires luck and a high Hack skill; fail an optional hack and you may penalize yourself, but gain a successful hack on a security pylon or other terrain feature and you'll get a significant bonus instead (like refreshing everyone's action points this turn, intel on what the Aliens are up to, improved scanning speed on the Geoscape, and even permanent upgrades to your hacking score).
  • Necessary Drawback: Threat Assessment upgrades Aid Protocol so it grants the buffed ally Covering Fire Overwatch, but adds an additional turn to the cooldown time.
  • One-Man Army: Guardian gives a Specialist a 50% chance to fire another Overwatch shot if the previous one hit and can proc as many times a turn as Overwatch shots are made. With the blessing of the Random Number God and an Expanded Magazine, a Specialist can potentially get a shot at every alien that enters his line of sight. With the purchasable Specialist-exclusive ability to get crits on Overwatch shots (which can be either enhanced by or replaced with the Laser Sight weapon upgrade) or the Repeater weapon upgrade note , he might even kill them all.
  • Quick Draw: Implied by Covering Fire and Threat Assessment, which allow the Specialist or the buffed soldier to make an Overwatch shot before a foe can get its own off.
  • Support Party Member: Pretty much. They heal soldiers, hack targets, secure objectives, and many more. This puts them squarely into Boring, but Practical territory. It is telling that while the specialist rank rises, his bodycount decreases.

    The Psi Operative 

Psi Operative

Instead of the system from previous game, where every soldier had a chance to develop psionic abilities, in XCOM 2 Psi Operatives are a separate class. Their abilities have to be learned via Psionic Lab, and every training session grants them one of three random skills to choose from. Their offensive abilities lock down enemies with status effects and some powerful direct-damage abilities (sometimes combining the two at once) while defensively they can become immune to most status effects and damage types and boost their allies.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Like the Specialist's Combat Protocol, Soulfire deals damage that always hits regardless of Armour or cover. Unlike Combat Protocol it can't hit mechanical targets, but it's stronger against the organics it can be used against.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: One of PsiOps' most distinctive trait is that all their offensive powers ignore any and all defenses. Hard cover? Superheavy armor? Won't save you from their arcane powers.
  • Badass Adorable: Can be Invoked. While potentially true with all classes, with the right customization it is possible to have a Psi Operative that is cute as a button with a bubbly personality that is also capable of wiping out half a city block without firing a shot. There's nothing more badass and adorable than a Null Lance wiping out a pod followed by a cheerful "By the numbers!"
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: The upgraded "Insanity" power, called "Schism", applies a debuff increasing all damage taken by affected unit by 2.
  • Emotion Control: The "Solace" ability creates a psionic shield around Psi Op, blocking all psionic attacks aimed at troops in range and removing all mental debuffs, like panic or Mind Control. (This also makes the Psi Op themselves immune to psionic attacks aside from pure damage ones).
  • Extra Turn: They can grant one to their ally by using the "Inspire" skill.
  • Fantastic Rank System: As befitting such a Mechanically Unusual Class, Psi Operatives have a rather different rank system, though it's equivalent to the normal soldier ranks-theirs are Initiate (Squaddie), Acolyte (Corporal), Adept (Sergeant), Disciple (Lieutenant), Mystic (Captain), Warlock (Major), and Magus (Colonel).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The entire training process turns an inexperienced recruit into a super powered badass. It's entirely possible to start training one, and not send them on their first mission until they're maximum rank and know every power possible.
  • The Gift: Averted. Unlike the last game where only a few soldiers had the potential, any non-promoted squaddie can now become a psi operative.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The "Null Lance" ability fires a powerful beam of psionic energy that can hit multiple enemies and ignore cover.
  • Large Ham: A side effect of their psychic powers apparently.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The "Sustain" ability allows them to enter Stasis and survive otherwise lethal hit with one HP.
  • Life Drain: "Soul Steal" upgrades "Soulfire" to regain half of the damage dealt as health.
  • Locked into Strangeness: In addition to their eyes turning purple all psi operatives' hair turn white after the initial training. It can be changed back to its original color in the options though.
  • Magikarp Power: It takes a long time and some luck to get the good psi powers, but it will pay off by giving you an immensely powerful psychic warrior who has a large variety of offensive and defensive psychic abilities at their disposal.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Psi Operative can only acquire abilities by training in the Psionic Lab, unlike their counterparts who can earn exp in battle. Additionally, the abilities it can access come in random batches of three, so it is possible for your operative to acquire a powerful ability early in training. Furthermore, in War of the Chosen, Psi Operatives cannot make use of the Ability Point-based advanced training facilities and are purely reliant on their training, exchanging ease of learning skills immediately for the potential to unlock all the psychic powers over time.
  • Mind Control: The "Domination" ability. As opposed to its Enemy Unknown counterpart, it can only succeed once per mission, but in exchange, it's permanent. (Failure instead puts the skill on four-turn cooldown.) Insanity and Void Rift can also randomly put an enemy under mind control, but that's only one of its possible outcomes (and this time it's temporary).
  • Mystical White Hair: When one become a psi operative, their hair will turn white.
  • No-Sell:
    • With the "Fortress" talent, they become immune to acid, poison, fire and explosive damage. If a car gets blown up next to them, a Gatekeeper fires their psychic beam weapon at them, or an Andromedon launches an acid bomb at them, they can completely ignore it.
    • Solace creates a field around the Operative that makes both themself and any allies in the vicinity fully immune to mind control and panic.
    • The aforementioned abilities aren't mutually exclusive, meaning a PsiOp with both is a ridiculously versatile offensive powerhouse that's also immune to everything but direct physical damage. No wonder ADVENT troops have a noticeable habit of prioritizing shooting XCOM PsiOps over almost anything else on the battlefield.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Unlocking a soldier's Psi-powers turns their hair white, and changes their eye color to purple as well, though both can be changed if you feel so inclined.
  • Psychic Powers: As the name implies, all of the Psi Operative's abilities fall under this category in some capacity.
  • Sixth Ranger: Has shades of it. The research requirements mean they won't be joining the team until awhile in. When they finally do arrive they'll be bringing their cool psychic powers to an already experienced squad.
  • Stone Wall: A combination of effects make them very difficult to kill; Life Drain, their ability to enter Stasis instead of dying, the ability to No-Sell status effects both physical and mental with Fortress and Solace and so on. Getting this combination of effects is random, but if you get them all, the Psi Operative is almost indestructible and should last strong through hard missions.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The "Fuse" ability allows them remotely detonate any explosive objects on the battlefield. This includes explosives carried by dead aliens. Unlike normally-used explosives, though, explosions caused by this can somehow miss.
  • Super Power Lottery: Psi Operatives learn a variety of powers that are unlocked semi-randomly as they gain ranks and experience. This can mean anything from unlocking powerful Rift-style skills as soon as they become Psi-ops, or merely getting subtle mindlinking powers as they unlock the upper reaches of their psi-skill. No two Psi operatives learn the exact same set of psi powers at the same time. Played with in that they can learn all Psi skills eventually, but this will take quite a bit of time in the Psi Lab to nab them all.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: All their psionic powers are purple. Their eyes also turn purple after their training too. Goes along with Locked into Strangeness above.
  • Time Stands Still: Their Stasis skill immobilizes one unit (friendly or enemy) and makes them indestructible for the rest of the turn. It's good for nullifying the threat of one powerful enemy for a turn while the rest of your team gets set up, or shielding a vulnerable ally who's out of cover.

    Unique Soldiers 

Jane Kelly
Kelly's default appearance.

The only surviving trooper from the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, Jane plays a crucial role in the mission to rescue the Commander from ADVENT, setting X-4 plastic explosives on an ADVENT troop transport to create a distraction for Bradford and Crasher Squad. For her exemplary performance during that mission, she is promoted to Squaddie as XCOM's first Ranger.
  • Action Girl: As a field operative who actively participates in battle, she definitely qualifies for this role.
  • Action Survivor: Given the amount of firepower sent her way during Gatecrasher, she easily qualifies.
  • Fighting Irish: Is of Irish descent.
  • Iconic Item: She keeps the baseball cap she's wearing during Operation Gatecrasher even after her promotion to Ranger, and since this item seems to have an exceedingly low probability to randomly spawn on new recruits, chances are she'll remain your only soldier to wear it. You can, of course, switch it out for some other headwear at any time.
  • Mauve Shirt: Just like all named "unique" operatives before her, she can be killed in action if you're not careful/lucky. She is still acknowledged as a unique character, though. For example she has some minor unique interactions with The Chosen in War of the Chosen.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you skip the tutorial, she never joins your team (at least for that campaign).
  • Sole Survivor: Technically not, since Bradford was also part of Operation Gatecrasher, but she's the only one to see field duty since Bradford goes back to being Mission Control, and the other two members were gunned down by ADVENT.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Is established as blending in with a crowd of civilians, and taking advantage of a distracted ADVENT squadron to secretly plant explosives on their van, before blowing up the van (and the ADVENT squad). She also becomes a Ranger, meaning she can also build up on at least some stealth-based perks as well.
  • Unflinching Walk: Kelly does this while pressing the detonator for the explosive charges she planted that Bradford provided a distraction for in Gatecrasher.

Peter Osei and Ana Ramirez

The other two members from the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, who first attack the gene therapy clinic before Bradford or Jane Kelly. They both die in the process, but not before helping Bradford and Kelly to save the Commander.
  • Action Girl: Ana is a trained combatant, like any female field operative for XCOM.
  • Angry Black Man: Initially subverted with Peter, who is cool and professional when moving on the ADVENT. When he does get mad, it's justified because he just saw Ana gunned down before his eyes.
  • Badass Spaniard: Ana is of Mexican descent.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted with Peter, since Ana is killed before him. He doesn't survive Operation Gatecrasher though, and he IS the first male casualty of XCOM.
  • Leave Him to Me: Peter tells Bradford and Kelly to save themselves while he holds off the ADVENT reinforcements. His Last Stand doesn't last long, but it's barely enough to hold back the ADVENT soldiers from getting to kill Bradford or Kelly.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Ana is aggressive in her movements, dashing forward to take out the ADVENT at close range. This gets her killed when an ADVENT Trooper flanks her, and guns her down.
  • Mauve Shirt: Their names and appearances are fixed, and both get a chance to take out some ADVENT, but both of them die in this mission.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Peter gets furious when Ana is gunned down in a flanking attack, and flanks said attacker to give them a taste of their own medicine.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Ana is the very first soldier killed in Operation Gatecrasher, and thus the first XCOM member to die in the game.

The Kiryu-Kai Survivors

XCOM veterans with improbably-styled hair, wearing aviator sunglasses and tattered versions of XCOM's old uniform. According to their biographies, they served in a number of pre-invasion operations for the unit, including an infamous event known as "Kiryu-Kai Disaster." They are available as part of the Resistance Warrior DLC, and are randomly generated save for their hairstyle and clothing.
  • Anime Hair: They possess the classic X-COM "blowout" hairstyle, seen on male soldiers in the original game.
  • Cool Shades: In addition to their old-school uniforms, they all sport a pair of wicked aviators.
  • Mauve Shirt: As with all other "unique" soldiers in the series, they are just as vulnerable to death as the next rookie.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never explained what exactly the Kiryu-Kai Disaster actually was in-universe, though if it's anything like what it's a reference to, it wasn't pretty.
  • Shout-Out: The mention of the "Kiryu-Kai Disaster" in their biographies is a reference to this famed novelization/let's play of the original X-COM: UFO Defense.
    • This also serves as a shout out to the timeline of the original series, in which the Kiryu-Kai serves as a short lived and unsuccessful predecessor to X-COM, from which the aforementioned LP draws reference. Unlike X-COM, the Kiryu-Kai is not a multinational effort, and is instead solely run by the Japanese government.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Their outfits, which come with the DLC as a customization option for kevlar armor, are tattered versions of the default kevlar armor in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.


Major Advent Figures

    The Speaker 

The Speaker

Voiced By: Brandon Keener.

A human-looking mouthpiece for ADVENT and the Aliens, he bears a resemblance to the Thin Men seen during the events of Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. He is always seen in cutscenes contributing to ADVENT's propaganda machine and decrying XCOM as a terrorist organization.


The Angelis Ethereal

The overseer of the Avatar project, a female-sounding Ethereal who regularly contacts you throughout the final mission, trying to convince you her race did nothing wrong. Absolutely nobody is convinced.
  • Berserk Button: As the introduction cutscene to War of the Chosen shows, she does not appreciate being insulted or talked down to. When the Hunter casually does so, she gets pissed.
    • The idea of her minions becoming more like Humans enrages her. After one of the Chosen is permanently killed and she senses the remaining two expressing human emotions such as joy or unease, she becomes even more furious then when the Hunter mouthed off to her.
  • Big Bad
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She goes to great lengths to reason with the Commander, claims that all of the problems thus far have been either misunderstandings or necessary sacrifices, and pleads for an end to all the violence and bloodshed. When it becomes clear that XCOM isn't listening, she drops the ruse and makes it fairly obvious that her previous high-handed approach was just another attempt at manipulation.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: While instructing The Chosen on their mission, the Hunter openly makes a backhanded comment towards the Elders. This causes him to get pinned down for several seconds and berated.
  • Fantastic Racism: For all her posturing on how what she and the other Elders do is for humanity's own good, she acts openly disdainful of them and their ways. She even violently punishes two of the Chosen for having an emotional reaction to the permanent death of the third.
  • Final Boss: She and two of her fellows possess Avatar bodies for the final skirmish.
  • God Guise: according to the Skirmishers during their service to ADVENT the Elders were viewed as Gods.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Angelis Ethereal is not a nice person, despite her association with divinity and the color white.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Despite having two other Ethereals as backup, and the three going after the Commander in Avatar host bodies, the Commander mops the floor with the Avatars with their own Avatar body, before defeating the Angelis and other two Ethereals with Psionic powers - with the Commander only able to use either of these because the aliens made them a Wetware CPU compatible with their psionic network.
  • Knight Templar / Moral Myopia: She seems completely convinced the conquest of humanity and reprocessing into Avatar bodies was for humanity and life's own good.
  • Villain Has a Point: Oh boy, humans will never trust ADVENT or aliens ever again when they realize that the Ethereals created the 'Avatar Project' by using humans as Human Resources. Well, maybe you're the only one who knows the main reason why they created the 'Avatar Project', that's because they were apparently using it to beat back the Bigger Bad.
  • Voice of the Legion: When she is angry she shouts in a collection of multiple voices, like as if all the Etherals are speaking.
  • We Can Rule Together: A variation. She notes that the Commander is currently inside an Avatar body, and thus has a place in the Ethereal hierarchy as the ruler of Earth - and also notes that if s/he refuses, all of Earth will be destroyed as punishment.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: She certainly believes that her methods, while brutal, were necessary to save the Ethereals, and to "uplift" mankind as well. Her hints that the Ethereals only came to Earth while fleeing another force that annihilated their home planet is one of the few legitimate points in her favor.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The main point of her Breaking Speech and Deal with the Devil offer.
  • Woman in White: Her portrait when talking with/scolding you throughout the final mission shows her wearing ivory-colored armor. At least until she gets pissed off and returns to the normal Ethereal color scheme.

ADVENT Troopers

    ADVENT Troopers

The bulk of ADVENT's soldiers, Troopers and their sub-types form the majority of enemies that XCOM fights. While most people are told that the soldiers are human volunteers who are willingly serving ADVENT, a quick examination of their bodies shows that they are genetically altered humans, with yellowish blood, snout-like noses, and oversized eyes, which are concealed behind heavy armor and helmets.

There are four sub-types: Basic Troopers simply shoot at you and are the weakest enemies in the game, Stun Lancers rush your troops with melee attacks, Shieldbearers are heavily-armored and create protective forcefields around themselves and their allies, and Officers have double health points and the ability to mark your troops for attack. War of the Chosen adds two more; Priests are wielders of psionic powers offensive and defensive alike, while Purifiers use flamethrowers and incendiary grenades to set everything on fire.
  • Alien Blood: Despite apparently human, they bleed orange which implies that they have been modified to some extent.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: The Magnetic Rifles used by ADVENT troopers and officers are initially weaker than the conventional assault rifles XCOM start out with for no reason besides game balance.
  • Artificial Human: It's eventually revealed that they were never fully human, but human-alien genetic hybrids manufactured from scratch.
  • Body Horror: Beneath their face-concealing helmets ADVENT soldiers have snout-like noses, oversized eyes, and a heavily creased forehead, making them look very Sectoid-like.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The Loyalists are supposedly humans who volunteered to fight alongside the aliens. In the prequel novel, however, a resistance fighter notes that he's never met anybody who actually knew a volunteer. It's later revealed that ADVENT troops don't volunteer, they're grown.
    • La Résistance: Yet as of War of the Chosen, it's possible for ADVENT troops to be this as well. The Skirmishers are an entire faction of former ADVENT soldiers who managed to remove their control chips, and one of their Resistance Orders adds a not-insignificant chance that an ADVENT unit will join your squad at the start of each mission.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: While all ADVENT troops are pale skinned, they are are evenly split between male and female, though their bulky armor and distorted voices often make it difficult to tell the difference. In general, high-pitched ADVENT are female, while low-pitched are male.
  • Elite Mooks: Once you progress enough into the game, you will get to fight tougher versions of them, with the Elite version being the strongest. These look and behave no different, but they generally have upgraded health, firepower, and accuracy to contend with your own troops' upgrades.
  • Evil Counterpart: To XCOM agents; they come in distinct classes, like the Stun Lancers contrasting the Ranger. War of the Chosen adds the Priests, contrasts to the Psi Operatives, and Purifiers, flamethrower users like EXO/WAR Suit users or the Technicals from Long War 2.
  • Faceless Goons: They wear helmets that leave nothing but their lower jaw and mouth visible. That's because everything above the mouth has been obviously genetically modified, the helmets concealing the modifications made by ADVENT. This helps at least "confirm" to civilians that they are indeed human.
  • The Goomba: Initial ADVENT troops are about as weak, gameplay-wise, as Sectoids from the original game. More elite ADVENT troops are much more formidable, however, especially officers. Later in the game, all basic ADVENT troops get upgraded health, but if you stay on top of your weapons research you should be able to still take out the grunts with one good shot.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Engineered from a mixture of human and alien DNA. The Shieldbearer in particular appears to have Muton DNA mixed in given it shares their trait of unnaturally warm corpses.
  • Heel–Face Turn: During the final mission, which takes place while ADVENT is ruthlessly cracking down on humanity's uprising following the breaking of their propaganda, Bradford will eventually report that some of ADVENT's troops are either putting down their weapons or turning on other ADVENT soldiers in the middle of battle. This is further expanded in the ending of War of the Chosen, which shows many ADVENT troopers willingly laying down their arms and joining Betos' faction of Skirmishers.
  • Instant Expert: While the Commander was comatose, ADVENT was draining the Commander's mind for battle data to instantly train their troops by digitally transferring skills to them.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Commanding officers can be readily identified by their distinctive red uniforms. Basic ADVENT troops and stun lancers are in black, while Shieldbearers are in white.
  • Magnetic Weapons: The Loyalists wield magnetic weapons, in contrast to the actual aliens, who all use Plasma Cannons.
  • Police Brutality: Despite the propaganda, ADVENT soldiers are not professional and even-handed enforcers. In the gameplay footage shown at E3, when a firefight breaks out down the road at the Unification Day parade, ADVENT troops on the other side walk away from the gunfire to disperse the crowd by rifle butting the panicking civilians. Bradford notes that the Stun Lancers were originally deployed to quell riots early on in the occupation, but as time passed they became increasingly brutal.
  • The Quisling: They serve as the public face of the ADVENT's armed forces, being highly visible on patrols and security positions while the aliens hide nearby. Averted once you learn that they're all manufactured soldiers and were never human in the first place.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The ADVENT soldiers' uniforms are black with red highlights, and the Elite Mooks have much more red on their suits.
  • Slave Race: While it was already implied in the base game, the existence of Skirmishers in War of The Chosen fully confirms that ADVENT Troopers are little more than a race of mind controlled slaves for the Elders to command, with their own personalities having been shut down by the control chips implanted on their bodies.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The most obvious example by far, ADVENT forces come in three distinct tiers: Basic, Advanced and Elite. Each one is generally better than the preceeding tier, with better weapons, better aim, more health, often armor, and new abilities. There is some overlap between their deployments, but the farther you progress in your campaign, the more advanced versions you'll encounter until eventually, Elites are the only ones left.
  • Starfish Language: They talk to each other in an alien language during combat, blurring the intent of their communications. According to the E3 footage, they are capable of speaking human languages, however.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Statistically, ADVENT Troopers start out nigh-identical to Enemy Unknown Sectoids (same Aim, same Health, same Mobility, same average damage) with some minor variations by difficulty that tend to make them slightly less powerfulnote . The similarity lessens later on, as while Sectoids there were phased out by stronger aliens (disappearing entirely in the base game and being reduced to Mechtoid shield-makers in Enemy Within), ADVENT Troopers have stronger variations (Advanced and then Elite) and can also be powered up by Dark Events.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Conducting autopsies reveals that ADVENT soldiers were once ordinary humans who have been subjected to extreme genetic modification by the aliens. Then you find out they were never ordinary humans.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: As revealed in War of The Chosen they are a Slave Race whose personalities have been shut down by their control chips. Though the Skirmishers still consider killing them a better choice than letting them live on as mindless slaves for the elders.

    ADVENT Stun Lancers 

Stun Lancers are specialised troopers, originally deployed during the early stages of ADVENT's occupation to quell civil unrest with their non-lethal stun batons.
  • The Berserker: Stun Lancers will make every effort possible to get into melee range.
  • Elite Mooks: Stun Lancers are much more dangerous than other ADVENT types, since their batons are capable of knocking a victim unconscious regardless of their health, Stunning them or Disorienting them in addition to doing considerable damage with high accuracy. They're also the second-most common type of ADVENT unit.
  • One-Hit KO: Their stun batons deal high damage by default, but their most dangerous trait is their ability to knock the target unconscious even if it had plenty of health left after being hit.
  • Police Brutality: Central mentions that Lancers used to serve as police units specializing in quelling riots by non-lethal means, but grew increasingly unhinged and brutal over the years. By the time you fight them, the "non-lethal" part has long been thrown out the window.
  • Psycho Serum: According to their autopsy report, Lancer bodies are flooded with combat drugs. It also notes that their lips curl back in a pschotic sneer upon death, implying those creeps actually enjoyed the suffering they inflicted before someone took them down.
  • Slasher Smile: Their corpses apparently put one on due to all the drugs in their system.
  • Static Stun Gun: Stun Lancers wield alien stun batons that can knock you out cold.

    ADVENT Shieldbearers 

  • Barrier Warrior: They can spawn a shield barrier to give themselves and any allies in the vicinity an extra layer of health.
  • Deflector Shields: ADVENT Shieldbearers can grant other ADVENT and alien forces an energy shield, giving them a bonus layer of health.
  • Ground Punch: How they activate their shield - they charge their fist, then punch the ground at their feet, causing red energy to burst through cracks in the ground for a moment.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Base-level Shieldbearers sport two points of armor and a deployable forcefield that soaks up three points of damage. End-game Shieldbearers have three armor pips (only the hulking Andromedon has more) and can absorb five points of damage with their shield. That being said, even the elite version has very little health when compared to other units of the same tier.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Of the supportive variety. Their shield boost ability covers a huge area around the user; if there are ADVENT troops anywhere near the Shieldbearer, chances are they'll benefit from his support.
  • Light Is Not Good: Shieldbearers can be readily identified by their white color scheme, at least in the base game. With War of the Chosen installed, they're easy to mistake for Priests and vice versa at first glance.
  • My Blood Runs Hot: Their corpses are mentioned as still being warm to the touch, hinting at additional Muton genetic material added to their genome.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Killing a Shieldbearer instantly disables the shielding they gave other ADVENT troops before. Just one more reason to shoot them first even after they deployed their shield.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: ADVENT Shieldbearers don't wield a literal shield, but they do carry a forcefield that fulfills the same purpose.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Take out those Shieldbearers first, or else you'll have a much tougher time dealing with all the ADVENT troops it's buffed. Even if they managed to raise their shield, killing them will instantly remove it again from everyone affected. The Shieldbearers seem to be well aware of this strategy; unlike pretty much every other ADVENT unit they generally won't actively engage XCOM units, preferring to run behind cover and pop their shield.

    ADVENT Officers 

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: ADVENT officers have more health, do more damage, and are more accurate than line soldiers, and have a variety of support abilities as well.
  • Badass Cape: Officers have a little half-cape hanging off their armor's shoulder.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Officers can mark one of your troops for attack by yelling at their troops to concentrate fire. This doesn't actually increase damage against that soldier- just increases accuracy of attacks against them- but the danger comes from the fact that every trooper in the area will suddenly concentrate their fire on that soldier.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: While all ADVENT units can be skulljacked, Officers are the only type to be guaranteed to get a two-pronged holographic blade jabbed through their mouth and into their brain at some point of the campaign.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Whereas their subordinates wear exclusively black, white or orangenote , Officers are easily recognizable by their bright-red armor. They also have an exceedingly rare Commander version that only appears during "Neutralize Field Commander" missions; those guys are clad in gold instead.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Their main role, assigning targets for the other units to focus fire on, and leading the other troops into battle.

ADVENT Mechanical Units


Similar to the XCOM MEC Troopers from Enemy Within, MECs are hulking mechanical exo-armor used for heavy support. Except that this time, they are created by the ADVENT and deployed to oppose XCOM.
  • Anti-Armor: The basic model's autocannon shreds your soldiers' armor by one pip, the advanced version's by two.
  • Artificial Stupidity: An In-Universe example even, considering they're unmanned robotic drones acting on preprogrammed directives. MECs feel little compunction about firing their grenade launchers at targets at point-blank range, which invariably catches themselves in the blast radius. An already damaged MEC can easily destroy itself this way while XCOM has multiple options to nullify eplosive damage for their soldiers.
  • Grenade Spam: MECs can use their shoulder-mounted launchers to fire a trio of grenades at your soldiers. While the explosions' damage is rather small, the real threat is that the blasts will shred your operatives' armor, and their cover will be demolished, making them perfect target practice for the MEC's allies.
  • Elite Mooks: Towards the mid-game, ADVENT starts deploying tougher Elite MECs.
  • Evil Knockoff: These MEC drones are derived from captured Robotics research belonging to Chief Engineer Shen, which is also the basis of the MEC troopers in Enemy Within. As seen in the Shen's Last Gift DLC content, ADVENT has factories and development facilities putting their captured knowledge to good work.
  • Eyeless Face: Their face plate is entirely blank, without any defined features.
  • In a Single Bound: Much like their Enemy Within counterparts, MECs can leap up walls and get the jump on XCOM troops.
  • Killer Robot: Entirely autonomous murder machines hardcoded to kill everyone and everything that doesn't bow to ADVENT's rule.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Enhanced models of the MEC are colored red.
  • Light Is Not Good: The basic model features a bleached-white colour scheme.
  • Logical Weakness: Despite being a robotic unit, your Psi Operatives can detonate their rockets. They are also vulnerable to being hacked by your specialists.
  • Mini-Mecha-Mooks: Humanoid mechanized troops that stand twice as high as the average human.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: While many of the alien troops are variants of previously fielded forces, the ADVENT MEC not only has almost the EXACT same design as the MEC trooper chassis from Enemy Within, they even use many of the same animations. They even fill the same tactical niche: heavy support troopers who can circumvent or destroy cover while soaking up gunfire. The only difference is that ADVENT MEC are automated robots unlike XCOM's piloted cyber suits.

    ADVENT Turret


Automated turret guns placed around ADVENT facilities and vehicles to bolster their forces.
  • Achilles' Heel
    • If the turret is atop a structure, destroying the floor that is placed on instantly destroys the turret as it falls to the ground.
    • The proper use of Squadsight can allow a Sharpshooter to repeatedly shoot the turret without it being able to shoot back. Unfortunately, each shot does little damage thanks to its armor so it can take several turns to chip away at its health.
    • Like all robotic enemies, they can be hacked by your specialists. While they are quite hard to take control, they are fairly easy to knock out using the Haywire ability.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: For some reason, that massive barrel assembly shoots magnetic rounds dealing just 2-3 damage. For reference, an ADVENT magnetic rifle (standard-issue to all ADVENT troops) deals 3-4.
  • Bottomless Magazines: As expected for a video game sentry gun.
  • Convenient Color Change: Deploying the scavenged turrets with the Defense Matrix switches the red parts to blue.
  • Sentry Gun: Turrets are immobile making it possible to bypass them by simply going around its attack radius. To balance this out, turrets have heavy armor. You do not need to kill turrets to complete "Kill all enemies in the AO" objective.
  • More Dakka: They can shoot twice a turn. This can get very painful, given their accuracy (owing to their height advantage) and infinite ammunition.
  • Weak Turret Gun: At least the early-game variants, which have little health, very little armor, has rather terrible accuracy, and take just a few shots to kill, as well as do even less damage than a standard ADVENT magnetic rifle.


These hulking alien war machines return once again, and remain the heavyweight armored punch of the alien occupation.
  • Achilles' Heel: These are scary foes, but they're just as vulnerable to Bluescreen rounds and EMP bombs as any other robotic enemy, and a properly-outfitted squad can make short work of them. They are also vulnerable to getting hacked, sometimes not directly.
  • Anti-Armor: Every hit from their main weapon shreds two armor pips.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: It explodes when you kill it, doing damage and ruining cover in its vicinity
  • Giant Mook: Now stand at two or three stories tall.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: With five armor pips on Normal, Sectopods are the second-most heavily armored enemy you can run into, beaten out only by closed Gatekeepers and Julian's unique Sectopod in Shen's Last Gift with their six pips each.
  • Killer Robot: Even worse than their smaller cousins, the MECs. Made especially poignant by XCOM's adamant belief that there must be a pilot inside (hence the Non-Indicative Name), only to find out to their dismay that these hulking monstrosities are indeed fully automated. Shen in particular is disgusted by ADVENT's willingness to unleash heavily armed killer robots in densely populated city centers without any organic oversight.
  • Lean and Mean: The new model of Sectopod is noticeably more slender and sleek than the squat, hulking design seen during the invasion.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Sectopods are armed and armoured to their non-existent teeth, get three actions per round, don't end their turn by firing, are not impeded in the slightest by terrain, buildings, or cover, and can assume a high-stance freely which gives them height-advantage bonuses with no downside. It's not hard to believe Shen when she says sectopods trounced Earth's own armored units in the first war.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Tygan says that the soldiers call them 'sectopod' because they assumed there was a sectoid piloting them. As the autopsy dialogue suggests, some people in the base insist that there should be armed guards protecting the scientists and engineers as they take it apart for fear there is something inside, which turns out to be untrue.
  • Shock and Awe: If an enemy attacks them at very close range or in melee, Sectopods unleash their Lightning Field attack, a massive electric shock that extends outwards from their legs, dealing damage and potentially stunning what it hits.
  • There Was a Door: Have been seen simply crashing through obstacles they can't simply step over. As with Andromedons, they're not averse to wrecking buildings they're meant to protect by walking through them.
  • Transforming Mecha: They have two stances, a taller, thinner form and a lower squatting stance.
  • Tripod Terror: Technically two legs, but they fit the spirit of the trope when in their "tall" mode: an elevated walking machine wielding deadly ray blasts. These things can take at least two shots per turn, as well.
  • Wave Motion Gun: One of their weapons, deals massive damage but luckily it takes a full turn to charge.

ADVENT Alien Units


One of the ADVENT's servitor-species. Implied to have been the subject of genetic fusion experiments with human DNA. Instead of the weak little alien it used to be, it now serves as a much more powerful lieutenant alien, and instead of mentally merging with each other, they commonly revive dead enemies to serve as soldiers or use their mental powers to drive your troops insane. In a worst-case scenario they even mind control your troops.
  • Achilles' Heel: They have two, first they take extra damage when hit by melee attacks, and then they practically lost their special abilities when dazed by a flashbang, which will also dispel any status effects they had on your soldiers including mind control and making their summoned psi zombies drop dead immediately.
  • Assist Character: They have a plasma gauntlet, but hardly ever use it. Instead, they act as a force multiplier for the actual soldiers; by making more enemies for you to fight through zombies, turning your troops against each other and so on.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: The only thing they wear is the plasma gauntlet on their right arm.
  • The Greys: They are a lot less grey-like due to the infusions of human DNA but they still retain many grey attributes.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Implied. They seem to have more human-like features this time around, such as mouths with teeth.
  • Logical Weakness: They run around butt-naked and use mental attacks. This makes them take extra damage from melee attacks and disrupting their concentration by way of simple flashbangs completely neuters their psionic abilities.
  • Mind Control: They start with this from the get-go, although in a diminished form; "Mind Spin" is a randomized telepathic attack that could randomly do this, disorient the target or simply confuse the target.
  • The Necromancer: Can use Psi Reanimate to resurrect dead civilians and soldiers to fight for them.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The continuous effects of their Psychic Powers like Mind Control and the Psi Zombies stop once they are killed. Unfortunately for them, Sectoid's tend to waste turns by using these abilities when they are about to be killed the next turn, before they have any chance to do damage.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Their psychic abilities are vastly greater than before, but they have one glaring weakness: hitting them with a flashbang destroys their concentration and they immediately lose control of anyone they've mindcontrolled and any zombies they've created die instantly. In War of The Chosen, they also die quite easily when attacked by The Lost due to their melee vulnerability.
  • Power Glows: Parts of their body, especially their ribcage, glow from the inside when they use their psionic abilities.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Sectoids are your entry-level psionic enemies that introduce new players to the mechanics and threat level of psionics in general. With War of the Chosen installed, they're quickly supplanted by the much more durable and versatile ADVENT Priests until they disappear almost completely by May/June.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: The only thing they wear is a wrist mounted plasma gun that also acts as some sort of communications device.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sectoids in the previous game were The Goomba, with comparatively little offensive power, low health and mostly dangerous only in groups. Here, they're much more dangerous, even being capable of mindcontrolling your operatives from the very beginning.


Female humanoid cobras, another of the ADVENT's many servitor-species. They wield plasma-based guns and can use their prehensile tongue and crushing coils to capture & kill XCOM troopers.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Alien Hunter DLC demonstrates that Vipers have both sexes, and that nearly every Viper soldier is a female specimen.
  • Battle Harem: Applies to the Viper Nest in the Alien Hunter DLC. The population of the cave includes the only Male Viper, the half-dozen female Vipers that he's been mating with, and the many, many offspring they've produced. That being said, XCOM wipes them all out.
  • The Beastmaster: The Viper King's lair is full of snakes, and it's implied he can attract and control them the way he attracts and communicates with female vipers.
  • Breast Plate: The exotic alien body-armor a Viper wears visibly emphasizes its breasts.
  • Friendly Fireproof: A variant; other enemies can blow away an XCOM trooper caught in a Viper's coils without hurting her at all.
  • Explosive Breeder: They show sign of this, a single male viper produces a ton of progeny out of three to four females. Dr. Vahlen guesses the elders might have done their Gendercide as a form of population control.
  • Gendercide: Alien Hunter reveals that the Elders engineered out the male of the species, presumably to keep their population under control. Just one male escaping cryostasis is enough to cause it to become an Explosive Breeder that covers a base with its spawn. When one sees how the Viper lair is filled with snakes who flocked to it despite the cold, and how the vipers are willing to fight to death for the Viper king, another reason could be inferred: The Ethereal wouldn't want male vipers who might have control and authority over the females.
  • Hartman Hips: A Viper has a notably flared "pelvis" at the bottom of its "humanoid torso", which helps give it a more human-like silhouette.
  • Multipurpose Tongue: The Viper's tongue is a prehensile appendage that it can use from quite a distance away, and which gives it a particularly dangerous option for combat.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Physically, Vipers are basically a gender-swapped variant of the Snakeman enemy from the classic XCOM. Possibly not even gender-swapped, as an autopsy of classic "Snakemen" revealed them to be carrying eggs. They're also the natural form of the genetically engineered Thin Men from the previous game.
    • They have the Bind ability of the Seeker enemy from the previous game, allowing them to catch hold of, immobilize and eventually fatally crush an operative.
  • Non-Mammalian Mammaries: Sports a set of small breasts, despite its reptilian nature. Justifiable, as these pectoral developments are actually venom glands, according to Tygan's autopsy records; having the venom glands in their chest would allow the Viper to spit up a cloud of the venom at enemies at range, via compression of the pectoral muscles. As he begins his autopsy, Tygan mentions it's rather off-putting to see obviously reptilian aliens sporting "such human features". He's not referring to them having arms.
  • One-Gender Race: The Vipers are all distinctly female, in contrast to their Thin Men disguises from the previous game. The Viper King is the only observed male, being the product of genetic tampering to restore the suppressed gender. The characters theorize that Vipers were forced into being this trope by the Elders as a form of population control.
  • Personal Space Invader: Like the Seeker from the previous game, Viper can coil her body around a soldier and Bind them, rendering both unable to move or attack with the soldier taking a little damage each turn they're constricted. Vipers can initiate it by either using their tongues to yank a soldier to their position or by moving to the soldier's position. The Viper will release the soldier if she is damaged/killed or if the soldier loses all of their health and falls Unconscious (fortunately it doesn't outright kill the soldier, but another enemy can if you're not careful). Ironically, despite the fact that their official concept art does depict them with unhinging, snake-like jaws, they are incapable of devouring a captured trooper whole, perhaps because such a One-Hit Kill ability would be unfair even by XCOM standards.
  • Poisonous Person: As one might expect, Vipers retain the Poison Spit ability of the Thin Men. However, unlike Thin Men, they don't leave behind a poison cloud when they die.
  • Snakes Are Sexy: They might be serpentine Petting Zoo People, but many fans are quite appreciative of their looks.
  • Snake People: They resemble anthropomorphic female cobras, having the head and tail of a giant cobra connected by the upper torso and arms of a feminine humanoid
  • You Will Not Evade Me: They can use their long tongues to drag XCOM troops out of cover and into melee range.


A mysterious new enemy, seemingly an improved version of the Outsider. It has several strange abilities that force your party to scatter and improvise.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • The humble flashbang will disable several of their abilities, not least the splitting, making them much less of a bother.
    • Despite not being eligible for hacking, Codices are considered mechanical enemies and thus take additional damage from Bluescreen munitions. A Grenadier with Volatile and EMP Bombs can one-shot whole squads of them.
  • Animated Armor: Possibly, as they appear to be an upgraded form of the Outsider.
  • Asteroids Monster: Summons clones of itself upon taking damage, halving their remaining health.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The first time you successfully skulljack an ADVENT officer, you unlock access to the Avatar Project's "Codex." A Codex enemy suddenly appears and, if you're still stuck on Tier 1 weaponry, you're effectively in a boss fight against a surprise enemy with a lot of abilities you may not be ready for.
  • Brain in a Jar: You can recover the Codices' brains but not a full corpse, possibly making them this.
  • Breast Plate: Codices have a distinctly feminine physique, unlike the Outsiders before them. Possibly indicative that they're not simply machines like was thought in the first game.
  • Cyborg: Downplayed. They're mentioned to have biological components, but unlike the Archon's and Gatekeeper's there's never even a glimpse of them. It can only be assumed that their squishy part is some brain matter inside their artificial skull.
  • Degraded Boss: The first Codex you fight is a unique enemy triggered by your own actions. Subsequent Codices start appearing in alien pods as the game progresses.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: They split into multiple copies of themselves everytime they are hit. Unless they get stunned that is.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The cutscene after Gatecrasher shows a Codex teleporting in to see the ruins of the Commander's cell, long before you get to fight one.
  • Fragile Speedster: Rather frail compared to other later game aliens, but very fast and capable of teleporting around the battlefield.
  • Metal Slime: Played with; they fight back, but actually encountering one is difficult, they have a potent defense, and killing one reveals a valuable resource-screwing up the Avatar Project and giving you more time.
  • Party Scattering: Their entire combat style is dedicated to splitting up your squad. The first attack they lead with is a psionic vortex that disables all weapons within an area of effect (discouraging clumping your troops) and which will collapse in on itself damaging everyone inside it, forcing them to scatter. The teleportation means cover is nearly useless against this being. Since it copies itself every time it takes damage that means you're encouraged to use powerful attacks instead of whittling it down slowly.
  • Projected Man: The only solid part of them is their head.
  • Pure Energy: They appear to be entities made of pure data held together as a sort of living hologram.
  • Self-Duplication: Codices can create duplicates of themselves on the battlefield, splitting their health between the copies.
  • Teleport Spam: Can teleport nearly every turn and will teleport a fresh clone to another location every time she is damaged.
  • Villain Teleportation: She has the ability to teleport around the battlefield.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: It is implied you're fighting a multidimensional entity. It's possible every single codex you fight is actually just a different facet of the same entity existing in multiple points throughout our reality.


Returning from the first game, the brutish Mutons have been enhanced with human cunning.
  • Anti-Armor: Their plasma rifles destroy one armor pip per hit, similar to your own Grenadiers' Shredder ability, although thankfully it doesn't scale with tiers because Mutons themselves don't.
  • Bayonet Ya: The new Mutons have Gears of War style bayonets attached to their plasma rifles, making them capable of both ranged and melee combat in equal measure.
  • Dumb Muscle: Averted this time - Mutons are just as tactically savvy as any other ADVENT unit. They do have a tendency to act more aggressively, but that also makes them that much more dangerous.
  • Evil Counterpart: Seemingly to the Ranger class, being capable of both melee and ranged attacks as well as nullifying the Ranger's most potent abilities. They also possess their own grenades, like your units, and use them much more aggressively than other enemies with grenades.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Mutons have three fingers and one thumb.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Whatever that thing over their mouth is supposed to be, it certainly looks like a gas mask.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Like the Sectoid, the Mutons have been enhanced with human DNA, although the focus was on using human genes to make them smarter rather than stronger. Bradford notes that the new Mutons aren't quite as strong as the old, but possess increased agility and intelligence as a result of the genetic tampering.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Mutons are arguably the aliens' most versatile unit. They have a decent amount of health, armor, a powerful gun that shreds armor, powerful grenades that shred armor, an even more powerful melee attack that can counter other melee attacks, and they certainly know how to make good use of all of these assets. The only thing they don't have is psionics, for which we're all thankful. Mutons are also fielded in above-average numbers much of the time, with only the basic ADVENT trooper being more numerous overall. Late-game units tend to outclass Mutons especially in the health department, but the brutes in green remain a serious threat regardless.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Mutons can block Ranger sword strikes and Templar Rends, then follow up with a Counter Attack with their own spiky bayonet. In turn, that counter-attack can itself be countered with Parry, or no-selled with Untouchable.
  • My Blood Runs Hot: Dr. Tygan notes that their corpses are abnormally warm, causing Thermal Dissonance while dissecting one.
  • Pinned Down: They retain the "Suppression" ability they had in the last XCOM.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Although their mouth is covered by a gas mask of sorts, they're the only grenade-tossing unit type to frequently arm their grenades this way. Might be intentional on the dev's part to emphasize that Mutons are still the Elders' Dumb Muscle.
  • Shout-Out: Their aggressive combat style, their oversized gun including bayonet and their love of Stuff Blowing Up, but especially their redesigned armor, gives them more than a slight resemblance to Mass Effect's Krogans.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: They still carry deadly plasma grenades and use them with reckless abandon.


A mysterious new alien menace unseen in previous installments. The Faceless are covert troopers, using their shapeshifting ability to walk amongst humans in order to root out "malcontents".
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: Faceless have a habit of hiding among the civilians XCOM must rescue during Retaliation missions. Since tracking them down one by one would be a chore with up to 20 civilians on the map, any remaining Faceless automatically reveal themselves once all other ADVENT forces have been dealt with.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: It's rare to see their clumsy claw strikes actually hit the intended target. What makes them dangerous regardless is their considerable environmental damage that often destroys all cover in a large area around the victim, leaving them exposed to follow-up shots by other ADVENT troops.
  • Blob Monster: Or, more accurately, a blobfish monster.
  • Body Horror: The texture of their body makes it look like their flesh is melting. That they leave trails of large puddles the color of their skin wherever they go only reinforces this impression.
  • Brown Note: The sight of their transforming is horrific enough that low-Will soldiers can panic from seeing it happen.
  • The Brute: Their true form stands almost one story tall with the strength and reach to match.
  • In a Single Bound: Like MECs, they can leap up walls to assault XCOM soldiers.
  • One Of These Is Not Like The Others: How one can spot hidden Faceless in non-Retaliation missions: they're the only civilians that don't panic and run when fighting breaks out in their vicinity. There's not much leeway between the "civilian runs" distance and the "Faceless reveals itself" distance, but it can still save an observant player from unpleasant surprises.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Normally they're very well hidden, but if a Dark Event causes shapeshifted Faceless to spawn on every mission, it spawns them literally everywhere, even in places civilians have no business being. If you run an op in the sewers of an abandoned city and suddenly find civilians standing around at every corner, you know what to expect.
  • Piñata Enemy: Mostly harmless through their low mobility and accuracy, and their corpses are the sole ingredient for the insanely valuable Mimic Beacon.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: These shapeshifting aliens have pinkish-red eyes.
  • Regenerating Health: They regen each turn, which means they're a pain to kill unless you concentrate fire.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Somehow they disguise themselves as perfectly ordinary-looking humans, despite being simply huge in their true forms.
  • Stone Wall: They're slow and tough rather than particularly damaging. The danger is that you usually are close to them when they reveal themselves.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Prior to revealing their true form, they are disguised as humans. Furthermore, XCOM cannot initially detect Faceless before they transform, meaning any civilian could secretly be one. One of the Specialist skills will force them into the open if they're within range, however.

    Muton Berserker

Muton Berserker

This unit from the first game returns as the strongest melee unit in the game.
  • Action Girl: All Berserkers are female, as confirmed by Word of God at their Pax Prime Panel and the in-game flavor text for Berserker attacks.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: They are 'only' armed with something like knuckle dusters.
  • The Berserker: Just like the name suggests.
  • The Brute: Huge, evil, and can backhand a human several feet through the air.
  • Cool Mask: Probably modeled after a hockey mask, like Jason's.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: As with regular Mutons.
  • Ground Punch: Their default melee technique, usually with both fists simultaneously.
  • Light Is Not Good: Much of their body is coloured a bright white.
  • Metal Slime: Their corpses are required for crafting the exceedingly powerful Overdrive Serum that buffs pretty much every stat your soldiers have, but is consumed in the process. Unfortunately, Berserkers are among the rarest enemies in the game both generally and due to the fact they're only deployed for a month or two until ADVENT mothballs them again for reasons unknown. If you managed to create ten Overdrive injections by the time you launch the final mission, you can consider yourself quite lucky.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: These female Mutons are much bigger and more aggressive than their male counterparts, although that might be due to lacking human gene-infusions.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Not outwardly visible, but their roars reveal that their maws and gullets are studded with rows upon rows of sharp teeth.
  • Roar Before Beating: They usually roar when their pods are encountered.
  • Turns Red: Taking any amount of damage enrages them, which increases their mobility. However, landing two non-lethal hits in succession results in the Berserker turning on its own pod in its rage, assuming no XCOM troops are closer than the closest pod member.
  • Unstoppable Rage: So unstoppable in fact, that enraged Berserkers can willingly commit friendly fire if other ADVENT troops are closer to her than your operatives.


Insectile horrors deployed as indiscriminate terror-weapons by the ADVENT. Their abilities have shifted from the first XCOM: Instead of creating zombies, their victims mutate into cocoons that eventually pop out three new Chryssalids.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: They're an aggressive, six-limbed insect species whose warrior clade stands at least as tall as the average human.
  • Explosive Breeder: Chryssalids are not only be able to pull off their "convert a victim into a gestator for new Chryssalids" trick, they are now able to produce three Chryssalids per corpse. Fortunately, a gestator will only give birth once per turn, so you should destroy a gestator quickly to save your soldier's life or use it to farm Chryssalid corpses if you wish to produce some important items from them.
  • Extremity Extremist: Although they do have quite capable-looking hands, everything they do on the battlefield (including impregnating enemies with their spawn) is done with their front pair of legs.
  • Infernal Retaliation: A very strange indirect case. Chryssalids are weak to fire, but autopsying one unlocks the Hellweave item, a special vest for your soldiers that serves as an Attack Reflector and has a 100% chance to set melee attackers on fire. So chryssalids basically hand you the perfect item to render them (mostly) harmless on a silver platter as soon as you manage to kill one for the first time and drag the corpse back to Tygan.
  • Kill It with Fire: They cannot attack if they are burning so dragon rounds and incendiary grenades is a good way to make them harmless for a couple of turns.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They can cover great distances very quickly to deliver venomous, highly dangerous melee attacks. They also have armor and a good amount of health, making them quite resilient for an enemy that likes to attack in considerable numbers.
  • Logical Weakness: If you mind control a chryssalid and it creates a cocoon out of a dead enemy, the chryssalids spawned from it don't magically become your chryssalids because you aren't controlling them, only their parent.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Arm a Bladestorm ranger with a fusion blade and send him into a suspected Chryssalid burrowing ground. Watch the Chryssalids beeline towards him, only to be hacked apart - and the survivors being set on fire and thus unable to attack. If the Ranger has the Assasin's katana along with said Bladestorm, any and all Chryssalid will be dead when they get into melee range.
  • Poisonous Person: All of their attacks can inflict the Poison status on victims. Anything that dies from their poison turns into a cocoon.
  • Tunnel King: Chryssalids can rapidly dig into the ground and burrow around the map to out-stealth XCOM, though certain gear and skills can counter their efforts. What makes this particularly dangerous is that any burrowed chryssalid counts as overwatching, so they will attack from hiding the moment someone enters their trigger radius.
  • Zerg Rush: Not as bad as the Lost, but chryssalids never come alone. Their pods always consist of at least three units, and there's usually more than one pod in any mission they appear in.


Observing the horrified reactions humanity had to the Floater and its grotesque melding of cybernetics and flesh, the ADVENT redesigned their aerial troopers into the Archons, regal and elegant figures deliberately sculpted to have an angelic mien. Not that this has changed their personality.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Even ignoring the whole "alien cyborgs designed to resemble angels so humanity would accept them better" thing, Archons are unusual. They appear as perfect male human upper torsos, with their forearms replaced by elegantly crafted golden gauntlets, a bullet-shaped golden helmet covering their upper face, and mechanical "wings" consisting of two struts on their back that house multiple burning jet-thrusters.
  • Airborne Mook: Of the Elite Mooks variety.
  • Bishonen Line: Deliberately designed to look more beautiful and human-like, so as to receive a better response from humanity. They're also one of the most powerful enemies in the game now, rather than the cannon fodder Floaters used to be.
  • Blade on a Stick: Carries an exotic, alien-looking technological staff for melee attacks that also pulls double duty for long-range combat due to its integrated plasma gun.
  • Body Horror: Implicit: the Archon's torso has visible "panel seams" on it, implying that the ADVENT created it by extracting the organs and nerves from a Floater and embedding them in a completely mechanical shell.
  • Boom Stick: What their weapons appear to be.
  • Crosshair Aware: The Blazing Pinions ability creates glowy columns of light on the squares that they are going to hit.
  • Cyborg: Gatekeepers may be more powerful, but Archons are ADVENT's most advanced biomechanical creation to date. Their organic and mechanical components seem to be so tightly intertwined that nobody can really tell one from the other.
  • Death from Above: In addition to the Floater's ability to fly across the battlefield and shoot from the air, the Archon has access to the "Blazing Pinions" ability, where it bombards an area beneath it with multiple missiles!
  • Eyeless Face: An Archon's "helmet" covers its eyes completely. Presumably, they see through cybernetic sensory apparatus integrated into the helmet instead.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Zigzagged. All Archons are sculpted so that they appear to be wearing ornate helmets, specifically so they are more visually appear "good" to humans, so averted. On the other hand, they're alien monsters, so... played straight, sort of.
  • Jet Pack: Built into their bodies and stylized to resemble mechanical angel wings.
  • Light Is Not Good: Just because Archons look angelic, doesn't mean they not still the same bloodthirsty, calculating killing machine that they always were.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They move faster and farther than any other enemy type, and can deal incredible damage if not put down quickly.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The "Blazing Pinions" ability involves firing a barrage of missiles skyward, that then turn around and bombard the ground where the Archon designates. Needless to say, this absolutely wrecks cover. And anything caught inside of it.
  • Shoutout: Their weapon looks suspiciously like a somewhat smaller and more elegant Necron warscythe.
  • Stripperiffic: The Archon is a "Perfected" version of the "Floater" enemies from Enemy Unknown that's essentially the upper body of a male human with gloves, helmet, pauldrons, and nothing else. Justified in that the revised appearence is designed to make them less intimidating to humans than the original design.
  • Turns Red: When an Archon is wounded, it goes into a frenzy that grants additional actions and starts lashing out with its melee attacks.
  • Unstoppable Rage: As mentioned under Turns Red, Archons grow vastly more dangerous the more damage they take. They also give off bone-chillingly enraged roars constantly that make you wonder how something this visibly insane can still be a functional tactical fighter. Taken Up to Eleven by the Alien Hunter-exclusive Archon King, naturally.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: They appear to be like this, but on closer inspection their chest is actually made of metal plates and that most of their organic components are buried within.


Reminiscent of the Cyberdiscs of old, Gatekeepers are floating metallic spheres which encase a mass of tentacled flesh. They can attack XCOM through energy beams and necromancy.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: If forcibly panicked, the Gatekeeper nervously shifts in place and begins to drip yellow fluid. It's possible it's leaking blood or coolant, but it's definitely evocative of this trope.
  • Combat Tentacles: It can flail its tentacles into XCOM soldiers to Mind Control them, or use them as a life-draining melee attack.
  • Cyborg: ADVENT's most powerful biomechanical unit. Its autopsy report notes that the tentacled mound of flesh inside the armored shell relies completely on said shell's sensors to perceive its surroundings. Removing it would probably leave the pilot organism blind, deaf and mostly helpless, if it even survived the separation.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Gatekeepers explode when destroyed.
  • Degraded Boss: A lone Gatekeeper provides the boss battle for the Codex Brain Coordinates mission, the op that officially introduces these creatures to the player. Afterwards they appear as part of regular pods. If you postponed the Codex Brain Coordinates mission long enough, you'll even start encountering them before they're properly introduced, downgrading them from Degraded Bosses to powerful but otherwise normal enemies from the get-go.
  • Dirty Coward: They don't flee the battlefield outright, but if they take damage while their shell is open, they'll instantly close it to double their armor value. Sounds helpful for controlling what they can do (their most dangerous attacks can only be performed in their open state), but unfortunately, opening/closing the shell is a free action, so they don't suffer any drawbacks from turtling up.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Gatekeeper's initial appearance is a white spherical ball. Then it peels back the shell to reveal a pink body with four tentacles. It's difficult to comprehend the exact nature between the non-existent source of levitation and the automatic (and floating) components of its white surface.
  • Expy: Of Cyberdisks, serving as mid-to-late game heavy unit that can change between open and closed form with powerful attacks targeting a wide area. Their partial flight, tentacles, and ability to raise zombified corpses also makes them one for the Tentaculat from Terror from the Deep.
  • Eye Beam: Its most mundane attack (and the only one it can perform in its closed form) is a huge psionic beam fired from its central eye. The thing hurts when it hits but has low accuracy, and Gatekeepers rarely use it anyway. You'll mostly see it if a Gatekeeper leads the pod closest to the data tap you must protect during the respective mission type.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: A Gatekeeper with its shell closed boasts heavier armor than anything else in the game. Opening its shell halves its armor value, but three pips (on Normal) are still nothing to sneeze at.
  • Life Drain: Its consume ability heals the Gatekeeper for same amount of damage dealt by the attack with the added bonus of raising the target as a zombie if it is killed by it.
  • Light Is Not Good: Like most psionic alien units, Gatekeepers are shiny white and gold on the outside, sociopathic murder machines on the inside.
  • The Necromancer: Capable of raising dead soldiers from around it. Specifically, its Gateway attack will turn anyone killed by the blast or even pre-existing corpses within the blast's range into zombies, while its Consume ability will do the same if it kills an organic enemy.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Are prone to flattening the distress beacon of UFOs they're supposed to protect by moving through it, as well as killing VIPs they're supposed to protect by catching them in their Gateway attack's area of effect. At least the latter example can be construed as intentional in order to prevent the VIP from falling into XCOM's hands alive.
  • Oculothorax: Its appearance is very reminiscent of a floating eyeball.
  • Power Floats: One of the most powerful psionic units in the game is also the only one to float without obvious technological means of levitation or propulsion.
  • Psychic Powers: One form of its attacks involves firing psychic energy in forms very similar to Ethereals.
  • Sinister Geometry: Unnaturally spherical and non-threatening at a first glance.
  • Super Toughness: Not only do they have the toughest armor in the game when closed, beating out even Sectopods, they also boast the second-highest amount of health of any alien unit (20 HP) after the Sectopod's 28 HP.
  • There Was a Door: You could mistake it for a pearly white wrecking ball the way it obliterates whatever terrain is in its way.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The only things it can do when its shell is closed is moving or shooting a massive, high-damage psionic energy beam from its eye.


Combining the strength of machinery with the intelligence of organics, Andromedons are a new alien threat seated within powerful Battlesuits.
  • Achilles' Heel: Massive armor and health. Very little resistance to mind affecting psionics. And when they're reduced to Animated Armor, they can be hacked and take additional damage from Bluescreen munitions.
  • Animated Armor: Once you kill the pilot, the armor will start attacking on its own.
  • Anti-Armor: Their plasma cannon shreds two armor pips per hit. Strangely, it only does so while the pilot is alive. The gun loses its shred stat (and one point of damage) when the battlesuit's autopilot takes over, but most players probably won't notice because the Animated Armor prefers melee strikes over everything else in its arsenal.
  • The Berserker: Andromedons are normally fairly intelligent ranged enemies, but when "killed" the helmet shatters and kills the pilot. The battlesuit then reactivates in autonomous mode to charge into melee.
  • The Brute: As brutishly hulking as the Mutons with the strength to match.
  • Dynamic Entry: When you're fighting on a city map, it's not uncommon for newly revealed Andromedons to introduce themselves by smashing straight through the nearest wall. They also simply drop down from any height if they're above their intended target, which can have the same nasty surprise effect if you didn't know the damn thing was up there.
  • Expy:
  • The Faceless: The Battlesuit has a translucent dome that reveals the position and shape of the head without revealing details. Even when you kill the pilot, the body hanging out of the suit doesn't really betray a lot of information about what the alien looked like.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The most heavily armored infantry unit in the game with an impressive four pips on Normal. Thankfully, their armor doesn't regenerate when the suit reactivates after you kill the pilot.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Their battlesuits aren't immune to the acid grenades XCOM can reverse-engineer from salvaged Andromedon wrecks, so you can turn their own Hollywood Acid against them to remove their entire armor bar in one blast.
  • Hollywood Acid: The internal coolant of the Battlesuit is corrosive to organics. Andromedons can opt to shoot this coolant as a projectile, complete with literal Splash Damage.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They pack a good turn of speed, tough armor, and are capable of flattening basically everything in their path, with both melee and ranged weaponry.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted; unlike every other alien in the series, these things were adapted to a totally different environment from Earth's and can't breathe our atmosphere. Conversely, whatever the pilot species is breathing in there is extremely toxic to Terran lifeforms and materials once it gets out.
  • There Was a Door: Silly things like walls and trees will not stop this thing. It'll walk though stuff during its idle patrol move when its not even in combat. Which can get a bit silly on alien facility missions, where its idle patrolling can demolish half the building before you even get there.
    • Amusingly enough, they will hop over smaller obstacles and can climb drain pipes.
  • Poisonous Person: When its pilot is dead and the faceplate is broken, the battlesuit starts leaking acid all over the place as it runs around.
  • Powered Armor: The Battlesuits that Andromedons wear are the source of the power. And enemies in their own right.
  • Reviving Enemy: Andromedons must be killed twice, every time, and overkilling it in its first form doesn't count towards damage in its second.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: They're essentially the late-game upgrade to the Muton, with even more punch both at range and in close combat, much more health, much heavier armor, and a few additional nasty tricks up their sleeves.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Their punches lack finesse and are inaccurate, but they hit hard and can destroy cover.



The Avatar Project is the ultimate goal of the alien presence on Earth: the creation of artificial Human-Ethereal hybrids which the Ethereals can inhabit in order to abandon their old, dying bodies. In battle, all Avatars possess the psychic powers of Null Lance, Dimensional Rift, Mind Control, and carry both a plasma rifle and a psi-amp.
  • Ambiguous Gender: It's quite hard to tell what gender most Avatars are. The one created for the Commander seems to be male however, judging by its bodyscan.
  • Anime Hair: Their white hair stands up on end, emphasizing their inhuman nature.
  • Big Dumb Body: A variation: despite their immense psychic potential, they're nothing more than a shiny new host-body for their ethereal masters.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity:
    • Immune to flashbangs, so no, you can't nullify their potent psionics by blinding the living daylights out of them. They aren't invulnerable to Repeaters though. They're also immune to mind control...Well, additional mind control.
    • In War of the Chosen, they're more resistant to the freeze effect, as it simply costs them one action point rather than actually freezing them for multiple turns.
  • Evil Counterpart: To XCOM's Psi Ops. They even have similar equipment loadout (assault rifle + PSI amp)!
  • Empty Shell: Implied. The bodies act as a vessel for their Ethereal masters, and little else. It' unclear if they're even self-aware without them.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Their ability to teleport every time they get hit has this effect, as they usually like to get as far away from your forces as possible and hide behind enemy lines if they can.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Part Human, part Ethereal.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: The Elders have one of their own Avatars turned against them by XCOM in the endgame, as Tygan uses the 'blank' template clone body and the Blacksite genetic sample vial, plus cooperation from the Commander with the stasis suit they were wearing during the Operation Gatecrasher rescue in order to pilot the Avatar body via the very Psychic Network they used to control ADVENT forces.
    • Their teleportation every time they're hit can also lead to this in gameplay on the final map, as they can be forced to teleport away from their escorts and towards your troops by a long-range explosive such as the Blaster Launcher or the Commander's Dimensional Rift. The size of the map will make it difficult for the escorts to reach you before you've disposed of the Avatar.
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy: They will keep summoning reinforcements. You have to hurry and kill them before your troops get swamped.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They have a massive HP pool, have armor, regenerate a high amount of HP per turn, teleport away every time they take damage, and and have a good number of powerful psychic abilities.
    • Master of None: however, at this point in the game, they are not really that big of a problem. Mind Control is a waste of turn if there's a Psionic with Solace nearby, and while Rift hurts, it does the same damage as regular grenades. To boot, while a flanking Rapid Fire Ranger does not One-Hit Kill them, it comes damn close. The best they can do is stay the hell away from your soldiers, drop occasional Rift and let the unending stream of reinforcements wear you down.
    • Glass Cannon: The Commander's Avatar does not have a teleport and is generally squishier, but his mind control cannot be interrupted by that pesky Solace field and you are likely to open with Null Lance. Enemy avatars do have a Null Lance, but it is very low on their priority list. It is a good thing for you, because this thing hurts.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Played with. Killing the third and final Avatar doesn't directly lead to the destruction of the Avatar Base, but the Commander's psi battle with the Ethereals does, though it's left nebulous if the battle itself caused catastrophic damage to the base, or if defeating the Ethereals did it.
  • Mind Control: As is typical of endgame psychic enemies, they possess this power. The Commander's Avatar has access to this ability as well.
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: For the final level, the commander controls an Avatar psionically. It's offensively as powerful as normal Avatars, though it has lower health and no armor, and it has to survive the mission. It does have the regeneration and immunity to all status effects, though. Your soldiers all have a psionic link connecting them to the Avatar in gameplay, meaning that you, the player, are controlling your troops through the Avatar as well.
  • The Pretty Guys Are Stronger: The most deadly and highest ranking of the ADVENT forces look like androgynous humans wearing facemasks. Given how they're artificial bodies cloned from humans, it makes sense.
  • Purple Is Powerful: They have a purple color scheme going on in their armor and face plate, and psionic abilities are always signified by a purple glow. And as the Ethereals' ultimate weapon, they are indeed very powerful.
  • Regenerating Health: They heal 5 HP of damage every turn. Better be ready to deal a lot of damage before they teleport across the map and heal back to full health.
  • Teleport Spam: Elder-controlled Avatars will teleport to reposition themselves whenever they take damage, making it difficult to pin them.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Pure alabaster locks, contain the minds for rulers of the alien junta. Averted for the Commander's Avatar, though.
  • Weak-Willed: Ironically, despite having immense psychic power, none of the avatars seem to have their own will. All the avatars seen in-game are possessed by ethereal or by the Commander.

Alien Rulers

    Rulers in general 
The main antagonists of the Alien Hunters DLC. A trio of alien clones created by Dr. Vahlen, who removed some of the genetic alterations made by the Ethereals. As it turns out, those mods were meant to limit their potential.

  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: They get a full turn for every action your team makes, meaning they can attack or move far more times than they have any right to. Combined with their greater durability and new abilities, they pretty much force the player to use a very specific strategy or else any mission that they show up in turns into a nightmare. War of the Chosen nerfs this ability very slightly by making it so Rulers will not react to the Reload action or to anything that happens out of their line of sight. Both in the expansion and in the base game, they also don't react to anything that doesn't cost an action, such as using a grappling hook or an attack that gets a Hair Trigger bonus.
  • Bonus Boss: Assuming you didn't "integrate" their content at the start of your War of the Chosen campaign, you can avoid them altogether by simply not doing their introduction mission. Otherwise it's averted and they must be fought whenever they randomly crash your missions.
  • Cowardly Boss: Take too long to kill one or do enough damage, and they'll call in a psionic gate to warp out. Thankfully, any injuries you've done remain from mission to mission.
  • Cryogenically Frozen: Vahlen discovered the trio as embyros perserved within an intact and functioning cryostasis unit in the abandoned Alien genetics lab that she made her hideout at.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Ruler health pools range from 40 HP (Viper King) to 100 HP (Archon King) on Normal, supplemented with a good amount of armor. For comparison: ADVENT's toughest unit, the Sectopod, has 28 HP. It's not uncommon for any one of them to have more health than all other enemies on the map combined. Needless to say it takes ridiculous amounts of firepower to take them down.
  • Demoted to Extra: The rulers will appear in War of the Chosen if you have Alien Hunters, however they take a back seat to the titular three siblings, who are XCOM's primary adversaries. Checking the "Integrate content" box while setting up a new campaign means they don't even get their introduction mission and simply appear out of nowhere without any explanation as to what they are or why they exist.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Don't let the game "integrate" their content into your new War of the Chosen campaign if you want to know why these creatures exist and where they came from. If you do, they'll simply pop up during high-stakes missions to ruin your day without any introduction whatsoever. The most you get is a text message to warn you about some extremely dangerous alien in the area before you board Firebrand.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
  • King Mook: They are souped-up versions of regular aliens with special powers. Unlike other aliens, killing them is considered strictly optional and they may retreat during a mission as well, making them a bit Metal Slime. The reward is new research options to create new armors with special powers.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Unlike any other status effect, Stasis actually works for full turn. Sure, it doesn't allow you to hurt the Ruler, but it gets you a full turn to regroup. It is an enormous advantage.
  • Marathon Boss: There's a reasonably good chance to kill the Viper King in his first battle, but that's because he's the weakest Ruler, has almost no backup when fought, and his spawning can be avoided until your team is in the perfect position for some serious Overwatch overkill. The other Rulers are neither as predictable nor as fragile, and they're almost always surrounded by other ADVENT forces that force you to split up your firepower. Combine this with their ginormous health pools and it becomes likely you'll have to fight them across multiple missions again and again until they finally bite the dust.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Even Vahlen herself admits that maybe tinkering around with alien biology For Science! wasn't the best plan.
  • Super Soldier: What Vahlen accidentally made.

    Viper King 

Viper King
Codenamed "Subject Gamma", the Viper King is one of Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects. He is the only male Viper ever encountered, with a unique ability to breathe ice instead of poison.
  • An Ice Person: Can breathe ice and freeze enemies. Anyone wearing the Serpent Armor fashioned from his corpse can do the same to a single enemy, once per mission. It's the most powerful disabling ability in the game - the target can't act at all for multiple turns but (unlike subjects in Stasis) can still be damaged, and it works on anything except Avatars.
  • Enhanced Archaic Weapon: He and his retinue wield Bolt Casters, which are essentially high-tech crossbows. They must be reloaded after every shot, but they deal more damage than an assault rifle of the same tier, can't be dodged, are incredibly accurate at any range and have a high chance to stun the target.
  • Explosive Breeder: His introductory mission is filled to the brim with what is implied to be his immature offspring with the few regular Vipers encountered in the mission.
  • It Can Think: Vahlen's audio logs note that most of her team were unnerved by the obvious intelligence in the Subject Gamma's eyes. He's the one who first escapes containment and frees the other Rulers. After escaping, he's also kind enough to display piles of human skulls in the entrance to his lair as a threat to any other passing humans.
  • Last of His Kind: The Viper King, the His part being the relevant part. Subject Gamma is the only known example of a male Viper, the rest of the species being female and their reproduction handled with test-tubes. Then you kill him. It's unknown if the process used to create him could be replicated again, however.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Gender-flipped, with him being the only male Viper ever encountered.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The King's got horns running down his body and all around his hood, his pauldrons are especially spiky, and even his helmet is designed to look horned. It makes him look even more dangerous than the regular female Vipers.

    Berserker Queen 

Berserker Queen
Codenamed "Subject Beta", the Berserker Queen is one of Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects. She is equipped with enhanced chemical pumps and powered fists, and can stun or panic several soldiers at the same time.
  • The Berserker: She's to regular Berserkers what they are to regular Mutons. Harder-hitting and faster, and even more unrestrained in her rage. In fact, if her pod spawns an additional Muton follower, the Queen will actually start mauling her guard if you can observe her unnoticed.
  • Brown Note: The blood-curdling roar she emits when she spots XCOM is enough to panic your entire team in one fell swoop. Worse, the effect is map-wide, so there's absolutely no way to avoid it aside from your operatives having very high will scores.
  • Cyborg: Her autopsy report notes how her combat gear including her oversized weapons are tied directly into her central nervous system, to the point that even her cold dead corpse is dangerous to approach due to residual reflexes.
  • Dual Wielding: Both her arms are equipped with massive Power Fists.
  • Early-Bird Boss: Quite possibly the hardest of the three bosses due to this trope. While the Viper King is low-powered enough to be fought comfortably with kevlar armor and ballistic weapons so long as the player is sufficiently prepared, the Berserker Queen almost always shows up before the already-tough Berserkers she is supposed to be a boss-type of. As a result, the squad is almost always woefully under-equipped and under-levelled to handle her.
  • Ground Punch: Can smash the ground to create a shockwave, damaging and knocking nearby enemies unconscious.
  • Power Fist: She dual-wields enormous piston-driven pile drivers the size of refridgerators.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The R.A.G.E. Armor you can fashion from her corpse is usually the second Ruler armor to be acquired, but where the Viper King's Serpent Armor gives the wearer a single-shot but very powerful freeze ability, the R.A.G.E. Armor gives... a single-use melee punch that's weaker than the Ranger's basic sword slash. Plus it looks kinda goofy.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Even worse than "normal" Berserkers.

    Archon King 

Archon King
Codenamed "Subject Alpha", the Archon King is one of Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects. He has upgraded equipment compared to standard Archons and can grab a soldier and slam them from above.

  • Eyeless Face: Averted. Unlike his lesser brethren, the Archon King has visible cybernetic eyes built into his helmet.
  • Jump Jet Pack: His corpse can be fashioned into the Icarus Armor, a unique medium armor suit that allows the wearer to jump to any visible tile on the map no matter the distance, twice per mission. Very useful for getting your Sharpshooter into position, but it comes at the price of breaking concealment - shooting through the sky on pillars of rocket fire isn't exactly a subtle thing to do.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Like the regular Archon, but Up to Eleven. The standard Blazing Pinions is rather easy to avoid, since you get an entire turn to move your squad away to new cover, but the king's impact his next turn. Once he fires his missiles, you have one move to decide which lucky soldier gets to avoid the enhanced-radius, overlapping explosions. The only way for other soldiers to escape is if they can use a free-action Grapple to move away.
    • Luckily the explosion damage itself is quite low, but it can inflict status debuffs and it will make you fall if you were standing on the roof.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: In contrast to his pseudo-angelic, white and gold underlings, the Archon King makes no secret of his bloodlust and insanity.
  • Spinning Piledriver: Can pull this off on your soldiers, rocketing upwards with them and smashing them on the ground the next turn. Your soldier will still take fall damage should you interrupt the attack, but it's better than actually letting the full attack finish.
    • Probably was patched as soldiers do not take fall damage if the ability is interrupted now.
  • That One Attack: Devastate, the Archon King's favorite action. See Macross Missile Massacre for why.

Shen's Last Gift

The former XCOM base AI, upgraded by Raymond Shen and given sentience after XCOM's defeat. He sees himself as Dr. Shen's true heir and Lily as his "Sister". He was captured by ADVENT and integrated into one of their facilities, where he built the ADVENT MEC for them, based on Shen's design for the SPARK. Eventually he tired of Advent and turned the facility against them. He now seeks to reunite with his "Sister" and settle accounts as well as force her to upload him to a physical body. At the end of the DLC's mission, Lily can upload him into SPARK bodies, after stripping some of his higher functioning and programming him to be unable to disobey XCOM.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: He's originally hostile to XCOM. He also turned out to be this for ADVENT.
    Lily: For once, I almost feel sorry for ADVENT.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For : His greatest desire ever since he backstabbed ADVENT was to use the SPARK robot that Raymond created as a physical body. After XCOM escapes from his factory, you can let him do just that, after making sure to edit his systems so that he is utterly loyal to XCOM first. He gets his body, and it can indeed be exactly the body he asked for, just not the freedom he thought would come with it...
  • Big "NO!": His first reaction when Lily activates the SPARK and he realizes it was never meant for him. Needless to say he isn't happy.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": He's extremely dismissive of humans in general, including human teammates. It's not limited to humans either; he is scathing in his criticism of the ADVENT races and even finds the Elders 'disappointing'.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Part of his computer interface is a moving circle in the middle that closely resembles an eye and offers some limited ability to emote. The Sectopod he takes control of for the final battle also qualifies, although this is a trait all Sectopods share.
  • Deadly Gas: After Shen activates the SPARK, he throws a trantrum and floods the facility with toxic green gas.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He basically almost only talks in snark and condescending sarcasm. It's possible that Shen programmed him to be this way. The only time this isn't the case is when Lily activates the SPARK, revealing that it wasn't made for him. If he's placed in a SPARK, he displays this trope even worse than before as he's forced to obey, fully aware of that fact, and sarcasm is basically his only means of protest.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: For the first part of the Shen's Last Gift mission, his dialogue pop-in window shows white static and is titled "Interface" since, initially, nobody has any clue as to who or what the hell he is. It then immediately gains a "Julian" subtitle and switches to his trademark interface the moment Lily recognizes him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He's surprisingly polite for someone whose every second sentence is dripping with contempt.
    Julian: I had thought myself above such things, but I believe you are starting to.....piss me off. The sensation is quite pleasant, thank you. You will all still die, of course.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: He may simply not start talking to the squad when they enter his tower's first room, preventing the mission from progressing. It's unknown what exactly triggers the bug, but if reloading the most recent save doesn't fix it, your Ironman campaign just ground to an ignominious halt.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: After he's defeated, Julian can be uploaded into a SPARK body, as mentioned, having been reprogrammed by Shen to be subservient to XCOM.
  • It's All About Me: He never even entertained the notion that Lily, not him, might be Raymond Shen's most beloved child. Julian spent twenty years convinced that Shen Sr. was utterly heartbroken over his loss when XCOM HQ was conquered in the war, but in reality Shen doesn't seem to have cared about it much, if at all. When faced with these facts, Julian instantly drops his reverence for his father figure and enacts a simple Kill 'em All approach to get what he wants, consequences and loss of life be damned.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Maybe. There is no question the Ethereals' treatment of him is at least partially responsible for how messed up he is (and raises disturbing question of what they might have done to the Commander if they hadn't settled on the "dedicated tactical biocomputer" idea). He himself muses on this in one of his taunts, which does have some weight behind it, given how ADVENT treat their organic slaves....
  • Shout-Out: He's named after Julian Gollop, one of the creators of the original X-Com.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He's an asset in XCOM's war against ADVENT, but he would quite happily kill off everyone in XCOM if he wasn't prohibited by his programming.
  • The Unfavorite: Downplayed. He resents the late Raymond Shen's affection for Lily, but still believes that he is the favored son. He is shocked and outraged when he discovers Raymond built the Spark to protect her and not as a body for him.
  • We Can Rule Together: At one point he offers to fight by Lily's side against ADVENT, if she would allow him to take the SPARK body. As he's tried to kill her several times prior to this, she doesn't dignify the offer with a response.

Julian's Forces
  • Action Bomb: Probably their most frequent action is to prime their self-destruct system, then charge your operatives in their next turn to try and blow them up. Taking out a primed MEC before it can explode awards what must be the easiest combat-related achievement in the game.
  • BFG: Just like their later models, Julian's MECs wield heavy autocannons that resemble hilariously oversized assault rifles only marginally smaller than themselves.
  • Dynamic Entry: Most MECs enter the battle via dedicated cargo elevators, but some will also start dropping down from shafts in the ceiling once your team draws near their mission objectives.
  • Elite Mook: At the end of the DLC mission, Julian downloads himself into a Sectopod with buffed stats (80 HP, 5 Armor points) in order to fight you personally. To finish, you have to destroy it.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Probably owing to their age and deterioration, Julian's MECs and turrets have abysmal aim. It's their sheer numbers, coupled with their habit of trying to suicide-bomb your soldiers, that make them a threat.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Julian's goons are exclusively robotic in nature, making Bluescreen munitions of all kinds insanely effective against absolutely everything you encounter during the mission.
  • Skele Bot 9000: The Derelict MECs have heads that are Terminator-style skulls, as opposed to the featureless ones of normal MECs.
  • We Have Reserves: The Derelict MECs may be low on health, but they can be recycled an infinite number of times. According to Julian, he's been operating the facility at 93% efficiency for the past 20 years, so he has no shortage of reserve units to send your way. Every battle in his mission is a contest to see how long it takes to get to the end before you're overwhelmed by robots.
    • Red Shirt Army: The MECs count as this, especially if you've upgraded your troops with either Magnetic/Gauss weapons, or given them Bluescreen rounds, as either of these will allow your troopers to One-Hit KO them.

    SPARK Troopers
SPARK-001's default appearance.
Shen's titular last gift. In this timeline, Shen never built the MEC troopers seen in Enemy Within. Instead he worked on the SPARK, fully robotic soldiers that ADVENT would copy with their ADVENT MEC. Equipped with an advanced learning AI, much like that of Lily's unique Gremlin ROVR but capable of talking. SPARK troopers, like their MEC Forebears of Enemy Within favor heavy weapons and lack the ability to use cover. Unlike their predecessors, they are fully mechanical and do not require a live soldier to be created. Each SPARK is accompanied by a BIT, a spherical robot that acts similar to a Gremlin. The BIT can hack targets, and also carry a heavy weapon or powered weapon, like EXO armors and WAR Suits.

  • Ambidextrous Sprite: The texture on SPARK-001 is symmetrically mirrored, causing it to have the number "01" printed on one shoulder, and "10" on the other.
  • Anti-Armor: The Heavy Autocannon's attacks shred armour by default, making them like Grenadiers with the Shredder perk.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The non-Julian voice sets are exceedingly polite for something installed in a hulking Killer Robot, and some of their lines are actual apologies to their targets for being forced to shoot them (in a "you leave me no other choice" kind of way).
  • Attack Drone: While they are robots themselves, they also carry BIT drones themselves, in a similar manner that Specialists carry GREMLIN.
  • A-Team Firing: SPARK have a low aim stat at maximum rank (77), with no ability to increase it via PCS or Weapon mods. Since Overdrive lets them take multiple shots (and they used automatic weapons to begin with), this tends to happen. This is further enforced since without the "Adaptive Aim" skill, each shot after the first while on Overdrive takes a stacking -15 aim penalty. Thankfully, the War of the Chosen DLC allowed them to upgrade their cannon with mods, making this issue slightly less glaring, but a SPARK will still never be able to rival the marksmanship skills of a human operative.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: SPARKs are certainly fun to use every now and then, but their combat capabilities will never reach what your human operatives can achieve, and their unique abilities are either weaker variants of similar human skills, or they sound great in theory but aren't that useful in practice. One outstanding example for the latter would be their ability to provide high cover to their human squadmates. Enemies are coded to target clustered XCOM forces with grenades, so hiding a human behind a SPARK practically waves a large "throw grenade here" sign at ADVENT. Unless you mod the hell out of your SPARKs to bring them on par with their human buddies, chances are they'll be collecting dust in the Avenger's armory most of the time once you hit the mid-to-late game.
  • BFG: Their standard weapon is a massive autocannon that must weigh more than the average human, and it only gets bigger from there.
  • Cast from Hit Points: "Nova" releases an explosion centred on the SPARK that has no cooldown, but every use after the first will damage it.
  • Dynamic Entry: Wrecking Ball allows a SPARK under the effect of Overdrive to burst through walls. This combos with the Strike ability that grants the Spark a Ranger-like melee attack.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Like the Psi Operatives, this time based on medieval knights: Squire (Squaddie), Aspirant (Corporal), Knight (Sergeant), Cavalier (Lieutenant), Vanguard (Captain), Paladin (Major), and Champion (Colonel).
  • Imprinting: Explicitly stated to happen between the prototype and Lily as part of its activation procedure. Seeing how said prototype's one and only purpose was to protect her, it's entirely justified. Turns into a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation when you realize SPARK 001 is never again seen in her company unless it needs repairs after a combat mission.
  • Killer Robot: Shen Sr. didn't directly intend them to be this, but he certainly made sure they can act the part quite effectively, and XCOM isn't going to let their combat potential go to waste once they get their hands on the prototype. Becomes especially pronounced if you install Julian into one due to his hatred of everything organic.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Their "Overdrive" ability lets them have three actions. And no action automatically ends their turn while active. They do suffer an aim penalty, but a later promotion can counter this. Combined with their high durability, innate Shredder and heavy weapon slot, they can move, tank and attack better than any meatbag until lategame.
  • Master of None:
    • They have a BIT and can remotely hack like a Specialist,though their Hack stat is terrible. Repair is a bit like Gremlin Heal, but only works on robotic allies, limiting its usefulness. Bombard sends the BIT out to make AOE explosions at range, something like a cross between Combat Protocol and the Grenadier's Grenade Launcher, but it doesn't shred or ignore armor. Hunter Protocol is a bit like Ever Vigilant and Guardian, giving a percentage chance for free Overwatch shots on revealed enemies, but the SPARK's poor accuracy makes it mediocre at this and it can't have its magazine size increased with mods or have the Specialist's ability to Critical Hit on Overwatch shots.
    • They can shred armor like a Grenadier with Shredder can, and Bombard, as mentioned, is much like a Grenadier's Grenade Launcher, but without access to specialized grenades or the Grenadier's advanced attacks and debuffs.
    • With Strike they get a melee attack like a Ranger, but unlike the Ranger's upgraded swords, they can't deal status effects, nor can they mimic a Ranger's advanced melee skills. Strike also deals much less damage and has an arduous four-turn cooldown, unlike the Ranger's melee attack that can be used at least once per turn.
    • Overdrive, by giving three actions that turn, allows them to simulate the various "two moves and an attack/Overwatch" abilities like the Ranger's Run and Gun or attacking thrice in a turn like Sharpshooters, but without the high aim stat or other supporting abilities that make those shine, and tying all of it to one lengthy cooldown doesn't help.
    • The SPARK also has its own unique weapon and armor upgrade tree, requiring the player to spend even more resources to keep their gear updated if they want to field any. Said weapon can't be improved with mods either.
    • Last but not least, while SPARK have an innate heavy weapon slot like EXO or WAR Suits and "Rainmaker" improves the damage and AOE of that, they don't have item slots, meaning they can't carry utility items, grenades or special ammo.
  • No-Sell: Being mechanical, SPARK are immune to poison, panic, disorientation, burning and mind control.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The SPARK prototype stood motionless in an abandoned factory complex that was being reclaimed by nature for twenty years, yet it immediately operates at peak efficiency as soon as Lily powers it up. Unlike Julian's decayed MEC drones, the SPARK shows absolutely no signs of wear and tear, not even a spot of rust. Either Shen Sr. really built things to last, or Julian took pains to maintain his desired body over the decades in the hopes of finally claiming it one day.
  • Robo Speak: Unlike the one with Julian installed, most of the others you manufacture speak this way.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • SPARK-001 was build by Raymond Shen to protect his daughter, Lily.
    Dr. Shen: Though the unit is not ready for manufacturing, this prototype has been coded with one specific task: It will protect you, perhaps better than I ever could. For all I have seen and accomplished in my life Lily, there is one thing that I know for sure: You are my greatest gift to this world.
    • The SPARK has one itself: The BIT, which acts similar to how a gremlin interacts with a specialist.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Their default head, resembling a gremlin's body, makes them look like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.
    • The plated armor version of the same head resembles Roberto, the stabbing robot from Futurama.
  • Super Prototype: SPARK-001 far outclasses any of the ADVENT MEC based on it. Shen Sr. also states explicitly that the model wasn't yet ready for production when he was forced to shut it down during the initial invasion, and that he rushed the completion of the one existing prototype for the sole purpose of protecting his daughter, so it only makes sense that he beefed it up as much as he could.
  • Sixth Ranger: During Shen's Last Gift, SPARK-001 joins your active team even if you've already bringing the normal maximum of six troopers. Also can apply in a different way if they're the sixth class you unlock.
  • Stone Wall: Perhaps their one unique trait and potentially greatest advantage. Although they cannot use cover, SPARK can get very thick armor. In combination with their immunity to fire, poison, and panic, this makes a SPARK a very effective point man for the squad, capable of shrugging off blows that would fell their flesh-and-blood brethren.
    • In addition, SPARKS can also function as literal walls, providing full cover for your troops should they hide behind the SPARK.
  • Took a Level in Badass: War of the Chosen gives them a few much-needed buffs, such as the ability to apply weapon mods to their cannons, as well as being incredibly handy against the Warlock. They're also immune to the expansion's new fatigue mechanic, which allows them to be deployed as many times in a row as you wish, whereas your other soldiers will need to rest for several days after as little as two consecutive deployments even if every mission is Flawless.

War of the Chosen

The Chosen

     The Chosen as a whole
A trio of alien siblings deployed by the Elders to capture the Commander and destroy XCOM once and for all.

  • Achilles' Heel: They all have randomized weaknesses which XCOM can exploit. Like vulnerability to Melee attacks, or being easier to hit from elevation.
  • Adaptive Ability: They will gain new abilities in response to XCOM's actions.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: If one of the Chosen gets enough Knowledge from your troops, you will have to face them in a special Avenger Defense mission. Reversing this and invading their strongholds is the only way to truly finish one off.
    • If you start a new game with Lost and Abandoned disabled, your first encounter with a Chosen will almost always be during the first Retaliation mission.
  • Arch-Enemy: Each serves as one to a randomly chosen resistance group, who gets a damage bonus against them in combat. If the player wants to find a Chosen's stronghold they'll need the help of that group.
  • Boss Banter: They'll comment on every little action you do; in-combat and outside. Such as chiding you for grenade spamming or employing psionic powers on them, also on developing events such as the Avatar Project's progress or their siblings current rate of success on you.
  • Chewing the Scenery: They really love the sound of their own voice, gleefully chewing apart any scenery that your battles against them have left standing. The Warlock in particular is a ginormous ham that talks in nothing but pompous religious sermons and the occasional temper tantrum.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Immune to flashbangs and mental debuffs, and resistant to the freeze effect by default. Depending on RNG, they can potentially be immune to explosions and/or melee attacks.
  • Cowardly Boss: Cause enough damage and they will teleport back to their stronghold in order to lick their wounds.
  • The Dragon: To the Elders, who created them to be their enforcers. Anyone of them who are not defeated before the final mission will show up and must be fought before reaching the final boss.
  • Enemy Civil War: It's made clear right from the start that the Chosen absolutely hate one another, and rather than work together to take down X-Com, they actively compete against one another to see who can destroy them first. When one is killed the Ethereals can actually sense a small bit of joy in the other two and are not happy about it.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Averted. All three of the Chosen have names, but they're given new randomized names at the beginning of each campaign. As such, it's easier to refer to them by the names given here.
  • Evil Counterpart: Each of them is a twisted take on one of XCOM's soldier types, and drops extremely powerful weapons for that class when finally slain.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Each of the three specializes in a different combat style. The Assassin prefers close combat, the Hunter attacks at long range, while the Warlock uses psionic abilities.
  • Flunky Boss: They always have the ability to summon basic mooks, but they can also learn to summon more powerful types if you fight and defeat them often enough. Comes to a head during the assaults on their strongholds, where waves of ADVENT forces keep joining the battle every round in addition to the mooks the Chosen summons personally.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted; the female Assassin is the melee specialist, while the two males are ranged fighters.
  • The Heavy: The three take an active role in stamping out the resistance.
  • Hero Killer: They are deployed by the Ethereals specifically to hunt down XCOM and the other resistance groups.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Again, the Chosen regularly send taunting messages to the Commander about how it is useless to fight and how the humans should just give into the Elder's will.
    Bradford: As if the aliens didn't have enough annoying spokespeople, now we have these Chosen running around lecturing us day and night.
    Volk: Maybe the Elders' hoped the constant jabbering would drive us to surrender without a fight.
  • I Want Them Alive: While they can and will use lethal force, they will prioritize stunning XCOM soliders so they can interrogate them and find the location of the Avenger.
  • It Only Works Once: Each stronghold mission can only be attempted once, as failure results in the defenses improving and whatever weaknesses or vulnerabilities XCOM exploited to get in being removed, which prevents any further attempts.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: It's possible for them to gain immunity to certain attacks. Preview gameplay footage has shown the Assassin with immunity to explosives and not triggering reaction fire, for example.
  • No Fair Cheating: If you use console commands to add their weapons to your armory before you've legitimately claimed and unlocked them through the appropriate research, their weapon mods simply won't work, leaving you with admittedly powerful but neutered gear. It's one of the very few instances in the game where its cheat codes don't take full effect until you've put in at least some token effort to "earn" the reward.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Not normally (not that they have a choice in being blatant or not, it's impossible to miss their teleportation beams) but if they fill their Intel gauge, they figure out how to track the Avenger reliably. At that point the gloves come off: expect to see them sooner rather than later, and when they come, they're going to come with everything their can get their hands on in a bid to end your campaign.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Minor example, but any Chosen you haven't put down for good when you launch the final mission will wear a slightly different, more heavily armored outfit when they warp in to defend their bosses' sanctum, subtly telling you that yes, you're in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The Assassin actually shows up wearing a gas mask of sorts for no apparent reason, and the Warlock puts on some elaborately gilded armor.
  • Quirky Mini Boss Squad: Ever wonder what happens when this trope is powered by Nightmare Fuel? Well, The Chosen is what happens.
    • The Hunter is an Axe-Crazy Blood Knight who just loves killing people. He'll occasionally lament the lack of sport in his current duties, but as long as he gets to kill some people, he's happy. He's basically what you'd get if you take the Predator and remove any sense of fair play.
    • The Assassin is cold, calm, and methodical, going about her business with bone-chilling efficiency. Her business just happens to be destroying everything you've worked for. And she's a Knife Nut whose knives are big enough to be swords for your Rangers.
    • The Warlock is a rage-fueled psionic religious zealot, who does everything he does out of the honest and sincere belief that the Elders are gods, and he's serving their Will. Despite his vast psionic power, he's also the largest and most brutish Chosen, with bulging muscles all over his body.
  • Recurring Boss: They have a chance of showing up on missions that take place in their territory until the player kills them off for good. If they are not dealt with beforehand, they will even show up in the final mission.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Each Chosen has a "Sarcophagus" which collects and uses psionic energy to revive them and must be destroyed before they can be permanently killed.
  • Shielded Core Boss: While fighting the the Chosen in their stronghold, the Sarcophagus will teleport them out and heal back to full health within a few turns rather then taking them out of action till another mission like standard. While the the Chosen is out healing, the forcefield around the Sarcophagus is dropped allowing the XCOM forces to damage it. Once the Sarcophagus is destroyed, they can be killed off for good.
  • Sibling Rivalry: They are actually competing against each other for getting to the Commander first, since whoever does so gets command of Earth. They do have their own individual motives for their dedication to the search, though, and at times the "contest" incited between them by the Etherals seems like a secondary consideration behind the Hunter's bloodlust, the Assassin's drive to find redemption, and the Warlock's zealous loyalty.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Periodically, some of their messages veer off into more trivial matters, usually to complain about their siblings or dab into philosophical concepts. The Hunter is especially prone to this.
  • Was Once a Man: If the in-game archives are true, all three were once human and were created by the Ethereals as their personal hitmen.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: They really don't get along, to the point of only rarely sharing their intel with each other. The Chosen mending their ties enough for an exchange of information to take place is so uncommon that it's a potential Dark Event.
  • We Have Reserves: They don't care how many of their troops die in order to complete their mission.
    Hunter:"Don't worry about them, the Elders have plenty more to spare."
  • Worthy Opponent: They compliment the Commander's skills and blame themselves every time they lose.
  • You Have Failed Me: All three of them aren't in their bosses' best graces for the theft of the Commander happening under their noses. Said bosses make clear that the losers of their competition to reclaim the Commander will be sent to the gallows. It's implied by the Assassin this fate befalls all three of them should the Avatar project complete before one of them captures the Commander, musing that time for the both of them is running out if the Avatar Project is nearing completion.

    The Assassin
Voiced by: Lani Minella

  • Always Accurate Attack: Her sword, which is claimed and can be used after her defeat.
  • Arch-Enemy: She hunted Betos relentlessly after her implants failed and she went rogue, and still wishes to kill her.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Her sword also ignores 5 points of armour, making it capable of completely bypassing the armour of all but the toughest enemies on the highest difficulties.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Not only is she always vulnerable to the stealthy, almost-impossible-to-find Reapers, she's also really bad at fighting them, having no way besides sheer luck to find them before they shoot her.
  • Baddie Flattery: One of her bits of radio chatter.
    Assassin: There is no shame in admitting my admiration for your resolve in the face of insurmountable odds. I was born of battle, of the desire to face my enemies in combat and surrender to no one! In you, I see a shadow of my own creation.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Though she's not completely helpless at range, she favours using her katana in melee.
  • Dark Action Girl: The female Chosen is also the melee specialist and most athletic.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Well love is a strong word. While they hated each other and is more than happy to see them go, she admits that she will mourn her brothers if either of them are killed.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Ranger class. Employing a shotgun and sword, while favoring melee and stealth. One of her possible Strengths is Shadowstep, and works exactly like the Ranger skill of the same name, making it so that she doesn't trigger reaction fire. Once defeated her weapons are the best available to them as well.
  • Famous Last Words: "You have fought well, XCOM. May you reclaim this world for your own."
  • Graceful Loser: She takes being beaten, both in the field or in her stronghold, surprisingly well.
    Assassin: It is rare to find an opponent worthy of my skills, rarer still to find one capable of besting me more than once.
    • Her final line upon being killed has her be this to the bitter end.
    Assassin: You have done well, XCOM. May you retake this planet as your own.
  • I Am the Noun: "I am the blade of the Elders!"
  • I Call It "Vera": Her shotgun is named "Arashi", which translates to "Storm" using the hiragana writing system.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Her sword, which doesn't really look like a Katana at all, is nonetheless named as such. Whatever she wants to call it, it's far superior to anything XCOM can construct themselves, sporting guaranteed hits, massive damage, and the ability to all but completely ignore enemy armor, outdoing the plasma blade in every way possible save lacking the plasma blade's ability to ignite enemies.
  • My Greatest Failure: Its her job to eliminate dissidents and traitors. So when Betos was able to evade her and form an entire faction of ADVENT deserters, she was blamed for it.
  • Ninja: A stealth expert, and uses a custom Katana in battle, and appropriately commits Seppuku when she is defeated for the final time.
  • Not So Different: Another of her speeches.
    Assassin: We are not all that dissimilar, Commander. We have both lost, and in turn caused great loss for others. I shed blood in my masters' name, just as you send others to shed blood in yours. There is a fine line between honor and hypocrisy.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The most martially focused and honorable of the chosen, being the first to recognize your strength and becoming excited by you putting up a fair fight despite what her title suggests. In her Avenger Assault mission, she sounds more pissed about being underestimated than by how annoying it is to capture the Commander. Tygan even notes she bears a resemblance to the warrior queens of Earth history.
  • The Red Baron: "Butcher of Free Advent," "The Unrelenting One," "The Elder's Assassin."
  • Seppuku: Does this to finish herself off once she's beaten for good.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Her Arashi shotgun is her backup weapon and hits harder than an XCOM-built Storm Gun. It also comes included with more mods than you can fit on a weapon. Luckily for players, she doesn't use it often. Specifically, Arashi is fitted with superior versions of;
    • Hair Trigger, granting a 15% chance that any shot taken is a free action.
    • Expanded Magazine, increasing ammo capacity by 3 (for a total of 7 shots).
    • Laser Sight, increasing base critical chance by 15% and granting a further bonus when close to enemies.
    • Stock, ensuring that even misses deal 3 damage.
  • Stealth Expert: Can turn invisible to sneak up on XCOM troops.
  • Sword Beam: One of her attacks is using her katana to fire off a wave of psionic energy which can potentially hit multiple units at once if they are grouped together.
  • Villain Respect: Initially she think XCOM is just a worthless rabble, but after defeated several times, she praises XCOM for their skill and determination against stronger opponents. Once her sarcophagus is destroyed, she is grateful for the final battle to feel how it's like to be in XCOM's shoes.
  • Warm-Up Boss: She's the first Chosen you encounter if you do the tutorial, and due to being in the middle of a Lost-infested city and not even being there for XCOM, she runs early.
  • Was Once a Man: Ambiguous. While the Other Chosen are definitively former humans, the Assassin may either be a former human, or a clone.
  • Worthy Opponent: As the game goes on, it becomes clear that she has this attitude toward XCOM and the Commander.

    The Hunter
Voiced by: Nolan North.

  • Affably Evil: He seems to be the most polite and sympathetic of the Chosen towards humans. The Ethereal calls out the Hunter as being "corrupted" by interaction with humans.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The Hunter's rifle shot against his marked target will hit, regardless of how far they are or what's in the way.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: His pistol, the Darkclaw, penetrates armor. Even the hardened shell of a Sectopod or Gatekeeper won't slow it down.
  • Berserk Button: Doesn't really lose it, but his Affably Evil demeanor takes a noticeable turn for the vicious when you break the "rules" of his little game by bringing the fight to his stronghold, and he warns you in no uncertain terms that he's not playing around any longer.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Hunter is a brilliant tactician and expert marksman, make no mistake, but he's also loopier than a rollercoaster. The intel available in the Skyranger suggests he's prone to talking to himself even when nobody is listening, and he took to hunting some of the lesser Aliens because he was bored. The Ethereals were... displeased, when they found out.
  • Cargo Ship: In-Universe example. His most common entry cutscene shows him fondling his rifle in a way only the most hardcore gun nuts on Earth might possibly replicate.
  • Crosshair Aware: Once he marks a target, a wide 'line of fire' becomes visible to them. If the target ends their turn within the line, he'll fire a shot that will hit the target no matter what they hide behind.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The guy even mouths off to an Ethereal.
  • Evil Counterpart: To the Sharpshooter class. Utilizing the same sniper rifle and side arm combo, with a long range fighting style.
  • Fallen Hero: According to the in-game archives, the Hunter was one of the best operatives the Reapers ever had.
  • Famous Last Words: "I have to admit, I didn't see this one coming. So this is what it feels like to be afraid. Not... my style..."
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Apparently this has annoyed his handlers in the past.
    Hunter: The Elders don't make a habit of looking for me, we haven't been on the best of terms since they found out I had been hunting some of their pets in my spare time. It's so hard to find a challenge these days, I just thought I'd come up with something new.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: He thinks that hunting XCOM is this, seemingly in large part because by now he's already had a turn at killing just about anything on the planet worth hunting.
  • I Call It "Vera": His rifle and pistol are named "Darklance" and "Darkclaw" respectively.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He can shoot soldiers from across the map, and has an unnatural ability to call his shots. The Reapers have intel stating that he once shot a man from a mile away, and must have fired before the target started moving. The Avenger crew suspects his rifle must have something to do with. A theory which is proved partially right when Tygan finds an advanced targeting system on it, which supplemented his already outstanding aim.
  • In the Hood: Mirroring the hoods the Reapers wear.
  • Instant Sedation: He can fire tranquilizer darts from his pistol, although it's also compatible with regular magnetic slugs as well. He uses the tranqs as a primary attack when he sees a good opportunity, then switches back to slugs for his all-too-frequent Pistol Overwatch.
  • Kick the Dog: Some of his comments if he's taking part in a Retaliation attack.
    Hunter: Looks like it's time for a little target practice. [...] I hope at least a few of them down there know how to fight, there's no sport in shooting fish in a barrel.
  • Lured into a Trap: Subverted when you launch an attack on his stronghold.
    Hunter: I'd like to say you're walking into some sort of elaborate trap, but then I'd be lying. To be honest I never thought anyone would walk into this place willingly.
  • Long-Range Fighter: He specializes in long range combat using his rifle.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Even when you've destroyed his sarcophagus and put him on his last legs, he continues to quip.
    Hunter: Now that wasn't supposed to happen! And just when I was starting to like you! You're the reason why this world can't have nice things.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: He uses a variation of the line if he sees a Ranger use melee. Amusingly, melee attacks are one of his most frequently occurring weaknesses, to the point that a Blademaster-Ranger wielding the Assassin's Katana against him can potentially take off 60+% of his health in one hit even on Commander difficulty. Even without the explicit weakness, attacking him in close combat is a good tactic due to sniper rifles' inherent damage and accuracy losses at short range.
  • Noble Demon: He explicitly says there's nothing fun about bullying humans who aren't Worthy Opponents and is polite to the Commander in his trailer.
  • Not So Different: If your soldiers kill large amount of enemies, he mentions that they are as much cold blooded killers as he is.
  • Psycho for Hire: He openly admits that he's doing it all for the thrill of killing rather than devotion to the Elders during his Stronghold mission. Intel states that he's hunted other aliens in the past just to placate his boredom.
    Hunter: I should probably start going on and on about how I'm going to defeat you for the glory of the Elders, but let's be real - I just like to kill things.
  • The Strategist: He was designed to be an expert tactician and field commander.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: You didn't beat him, you just made him make a "tactical retreat."
  • Villain Respect: Should you drive off or kill an Alien Ruler, he might drop a message commending you and state how difficult it is to track those things. He does the same thing after you kill your first non-plot-related Codex.
    • Even though he's slightly pissed off when you destroy his sarcophagus and has no intention of letting you live, he expresses gratitude for severing his connection to the Elders. Mostly because they were just that annoying to him.
  • Was Once a Man: Information in the archives implies him to have once been a member of the Reapers - or at the very least, good enough to be one of them if he weren't one of the Chosen.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Following his defeat, the Hunter calls his newfound fear not his style.
  • You Are Already Dead: He makes this boast when you first enter his fortress, as he starts talking about activating its defenses. It's a bluff, as seen in Lured into a Trap above.

    The Warlock
Voiced by: Darin De Paul.

  • Action Bomb: Some of his psionic constructs can be rigged to explode manually or upon death.
  • Ax-Crazy: He is by far the most unhinged and feral of the Chosen. Tygan theorizes its due in part to overexposure of his immense psionic power.
  • Berserk Button: Take your pick. He is batshit insane after all.
    • While he considers most ADVENT forces disposable, he does not react very well to the deaths of Priests.
    • He also isn't very fond of humans using Psionics against his masters, lambasting you as a bunch of hypocrites.
    • He gets angry if a soldier kills something using another Chosen's weapons.
    Warlock: In your hands, the weapon of a Chosen warrior is nothing more than slag and spoil.
    • And finally, he completely loses it when you destroy his Sarcophagus, severing his connection to the Elders in the process.
  • BFG: He carries the unique Disruptor rifle, a heavy assault rifle that always inflicts critical hits on psionic targets and comes pre-equipped with four superior weapon mods. Like the Assassin's shotgun, he very rarely uses it, but it makes a powerful addition to XCOM's armory if you can take him down for good.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: According to the archives, when he underwent the procedure that turned him from a human child into what he is now, he blew up the lab with his psionic powers. Leads into a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation because he doesn't have access to any direct-damage abilities like Null Lance, Void Rift or Dimensional Rift when you fight him.
  • Dirty Coward: Like the Hunter, he attacks at range, but the Warlock hardly moves at all from his spawning point, preferring to summon Mooks at every turn, all the while hiding behind cover, even when directly engaged.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: More than any other psionic in the setting, especially since he makes heavy use of the most loathsome techniques there are, such as necromancy and Mind Rape.
  • Easy Level Trick: As much as anything in XCOM can be called "easy", but the Warlock's abilities are by far the easiest to counter. High will scores or a Mindshield will No-Sell almost all of his dirty mind tricks, leaving only his mooks and the odd Disruptor rifle burst to worry about.
  • Famous Last Words: "At long last... I hear their voice... unobstructed. They... they are so near. They are everywhere! They come for me..."
  • The Fundamentalist: He essentially worships the Ethereals and has the demeanor of a religious zealot.
  • Horned Humanoid: Has a pair of psychic amplifiers attached to the sides of his head that resemble the horns of a cape buffalo.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: One of his odder statements, a Mythology Gag to the previous game and its expansion.
    Warlock: The unknown enemy is within.
  • It's All About Me: His rants essentially cover three topics: 1) He is awesome. 2) The Elders are awesome and he's their favorite child. 3) You suck because you disagree with both.
  • Large Ham: He's the most emotional of the Chosen, especially when extolling the virtues of the Elders and marveling at his mental strength.
  • Mage Killer: His Disruptor rifle always deals critical damage to psionic targets. While this can be bad if he happens to shoot your Psi Ops (which tends to result in a One-Hit Kill), it's much more powerful once the weapon ends up in XCOM's arsenal because unlike the Warlock, they actually make heavy use of it.
  • Meat Shield: Of the Stone Wall variety, in a sense. His dreaded Spectral Army ability summons several psionic Stun Lancers (up to half a dozen, depending on campaign progress and difficulty setting) that act just like their organic counterparts. While that alone would qualify for the trope, the real threat is that as long as even one of these things is alive, the Warlock is completely invulnerable, which marks the one instance where killing the summoner to kill the summoned creatures doesn't work.
  • Mind Control: He's one of the most powerful psionics in the setting. Of course he can turn your own soldiers against their friends and comrades.
  • Mind Rape: His Mind Scorch attack violates its victims' mind so hard it puts them in the Dazed state, which requires another unit to snap them out of it, and even then they remain Disoriented for multiple subsequent turns. Worse, Mind Scorch chains from the initial target to up to two others in the vicinity, potentially disabling half your team in one fell swoop.
  • Mook Maker: He'll use his powers to summon enemies during combat. Unlike his siblings who generally summon generic Advent Troops, he takes it a step further in summoning psionic constructs. He likes to summon zombielike constructs to harass XCOM as they move through the map toward him, and when pressed, can summon an army of spectral ADVENT troopers that fuel a stasis shield around him while they're alive.
  • Psychic Powers: His primary weapon. Like the Assassin, who won't use her shotgun unless forced to do so, the Warlock will usually only ever use his rifle if a Chosen perk gives him reaction shots.
  • Psycho Supporter: Extremely loyal to the Ethereals, to the point of calling them gods and proudly boasting how loyal he is to them.
  • Slasher Smile: Sports one of these when he sees The Hunter get punished for getting smart with an Ethereal.
  • Smug Snake: While all Chosen has traits of this, the Warlock is the most prominent example by far. Always praising the Elders, insulting XCOM at every turn, and taunts you all the way whilst cowering at the opposite end of the map, letting his Mooks do the dirty work until a soldier gets close enough.
  • Superpower Meltdown: Getting fatally injured after his sarcophagus was destroyed apparently caused his psionic power to petrify him.
  • Taken for Granite: Seemingly turns to stone upon his defeat, exclaiming that he can finally hear the voice un-obstructed. That they are both near and around him, and that they are coming for him. It's unclear if his body petrified because of his genetic mods being unstable or his vast Psionic power simply collapsed on itself when he died.
  • Throat Light: Whenever he uses his psionic abilities
  • Villainous Breakdown: After his sarcophagus is destroyed, severing him from the voices of the Elders, he totally loses it.
  • Was Once a Man: The Warlock was a child with enormous psionic potential that ADVENT took from a civilian enclave. His potential was so great that the recovery team suffered over ninety percent casualties and had to use mechanized units.
    Warlock: To think, I once considered myself a part of your race. You seem so small. So narrow of purpose. You do not deserve the Elders' attention.
  • We Can Rule Together: Alone of the Chosen, he tries to talk you into returning to the Elders' side.
    Warlock: The Elders have chosen me, just as they have chosen you, Commander. We are both destined to serve at their side, to bring their vision to this world and beyond. Come, allow yourself to be reclaimed.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Tygan theorizes that constant exposure to vast psionic energy has warped his mind.

Enemy Units

    ADVENT Priest 
Clerics preaching the word of the elders who use psychic powers to supplement ADVENT troops. They fill a role not unlike the original Sectoid, but their additional abilities tend to make them relatively more threatening than the original invasion's Sectoids were.

  • Achilles' Heel: Like most psionic enemies, priests can't use their numerous abilities while affected by a flashbang grenade, making them much less of a nuisance. It even seems to block their supremely annoying Sustain ability.
  • Assist Character: They fulfill the same battlefield role as the Sectoid, only better. Priests will rarely deal any direct damage to XCOM, but they're very good at disabling your troops, turning them against each other, buffing their own comrades and soaking up disproportionate amounts of firepower. They can also spell doom for timed missions due to their Sustain ability that keeps them alive for one more turn after they should be dead already.
  • Badass Preacher: They certainly play the part, using religious posturing when they're encountered, while also being equipped with Psi Amps and battle rifles. They're also as durable as their other specialist counterparts.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Like the XCOM Psi Ops, priests have access to the Sustain ability that gives them a chance to go into stasis when they would take lethal damage, although unlike the Psi Ops' version it isn't guaranteed to trigger.
  • Light Is Not Good: They wear all white armor, but are just as evil as everything else about ADVENT.
  • Man in White: They wear all-white armors.
  • Mind Control: One of their abilities.
  • The Necromancer: Another one of their abilities.
  • One-Hit Kill: Notable for being the only enemy type with a high chance to avert this. Their Sustain ability has a trigger probability of 20-66%, depending on the priest's rank, making it highly likely that an Elite Priest survives hits that would turn a Sectopod into slag. If that happens while the priest is standing on the Avenger's ramp during UFO Defense missions, you're screwed.
  • Psychic Link: Their Holy Warrior ability allows them to mind-merge with another ADVENT unit like the Sectoids from the last game, buffing the target unit's health and accuracy but killing them both if the priest is killed while the link is active.
  • Shoot the Medic First: They don't actually heal their comrades, but their defensive abilities can make them (and themselves) much more durable while their offensive skills can sow considerable chaos in XCOM's ranks very quickly. If even one priest is loose on the battlefield, you'll want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: They're essentially the mid-to-late game upgrade to the Sectoid, with the same abilities plus a few new ones, decent armor, and much more health.

    ADVENT Purifier 
Advent Soldiers equipped with flamethrowers to purge the Lost.

  • Ammunition Backpack: Although their flamethrower seems to run on an internal ammo supply, they do carry medium-sized hexagonal fuel tanks filled with pressurized gas on their backs. It's probably what causes their potential on-death explosion.
  • Anti-Armor: Indirectly. Their own weapons are useless against armor, but a Purifier's on-death explosion shreds several armor pips of whatever gets caught in the blast radius.
  • Covered in Scars: Their bodies are covered in burn scars, some of them appear to be purposely inflicted.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: They only carry flamethrowers and incendiary grenades. They are thus unable to harm units who are immune to fire such as Psi Ops with Fortress, SPARKs and units with hazmat vests.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Purifiers have a 50% chance to explode upon death, dealing significant damage to anything close by. They're not true Action Bomb types as the blast is merely a side-effect of their flamethrower fuel tanks, not an actual attack strategy.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Killing them has a chance of detonating their fueltanks, blasting anyone nearby. That includes XCOM forces so watch out no troops are nearby when they go up. Unfortunately, an exploding Purifier is a problem even without any XCOM operatives caught in the blast radius because the loud noise will attract large Lost swarms quickly. Worse, they can destroy mission objectives if they're too close when killed.
  • Kill It with Fire: Even though they were originally made to torch Lost, they'll turn it on you without a second thought. With the War of the Chosen's change to will and panic, they can cause panic to fatigued troops who aren't ready to be lit on fire.
  • Unfriendly Fire: It's not uncommon to see them torch their own buddies whether intentionally or not. Vipers in particular are at risk when a Purifier decides to attack the XCOM soldier the Viper is currently constricting. And of course there's the always entertaining "open the battle by exploding the Purifier in the middle of its pod" tactic.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Their main weapon has very short range, only hits a medium-sized area and deals surprisingly low damage. It's also fairly easy to give your soldiers complete immunity to fire damage, and anything mechanical is immune by default. All that "will probably explode upon death with a variety of bad consequences for everyone in the area" also doesn't help to make the Purifier profession more appealing.

     The Lost 

A new faction of zombie-like beings created when humans were exposed to the green gas from the alien pods from Enemy Unknown. No friend to the aliens, they will attack both Advent and XCOM alike.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Their flailing claw strikes punch straight through armor, probably as a balancing mechanism to make up for their low base damage.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Ultrasonic Lure is a special grenade that lures any nearby Lost to the impact point where the zombies then proceed to attack whatever's inside the area of effect. It doesn't matter whether the affected Lost were currently idle or about to gnaw your operatives' faces off. If a lure goes off in their vicinity, they'll drop everything they were doing to charge the new target instead.
  • Body Horror: The Lost are covered in glowing green pustules due to exposure to the chemicals that made them the way they are. Tougher Lost tend to have larger, swollen pustules. Their corpse's flavor text also mentions that once they're killed, their bodies rapidly break apart and turn into unidentifiable piles of desiccated limbs.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Killing a Lost with a headshotnote  will restore an action.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Individual Lost don't do much damage. But the sheer volume of them means that light damage can add up quickly if one is swarmed over. They also don't care about your armor and will happily ignore it.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When their pod is activated, the leading Lost has a disturbingly high chance to turn around and stare directly into the camera before growling aggressively at the player. Sleep tight.
  • Fragile Speedster: Lost Dashers are the fastest subtype of their ilk by far, but have extremely little health. Any weapon that isn't the Sharpshooter's basic handgun can reliably one-shot them.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Although the Lost attack ADVENT forces once battle is "officially" joined, they can sometimes be spotted standing right next to alien troops without either caring about the other. Seems to happen most often to pods that are very far away from your operatives yet still visible, like when a Reaper is scouting far ahead or the mission has the Location Scout sitrep.
  • Gang Up on the Human: The Lost have a 70% chance to target XCOM troops instead of the aliens (rather than 50% that you might expect), leading to these particular units to sprint past nearby aliens to swarm XCOM units miles away. Changing this to a fair 50-50 chance was among the first mods to appear after War of the Chosen was released.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Lost eyes glow an intense green. The glow seems to disappear when they die, leaving only empty sockets behind.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The chemical weapons used by the aliens succeeded in wiping out many major population centers... but left them infested with highly-durable zombies drawn to the sounds of battle. Mox mentions that ADVENT have been trying to exterminate the Lost for years, yet they continue to endure and even thrive.
  • It Can Think: After analysing their movement pattern, Tygan comes to the conclusion that they are not as mindless as they appear.
  • Hive Mind: Tygen theorizes that they may have one, though whether or not they actually have one is unknown.
  • Kill It with Fire: They can be panicked with fire attacks.
  • Kill Streak: The only thing that keeps the Lost from overrunning your troops is their unique headshot mechanic that should result in this trope, provided you choose your target sequence with care. As long as your standard weapon shots keep killing Lost in one hit, you can continue shooting them until you miss or run out of ammo. The Reapers resistance order Between The Eyes turns every hit on a Lost into an automatic kill, which often results in hilariously high body counts for Sharpshooters because their handgun doesn't need to be reloaded. The devs even dedicated an achievement to this mechanic that unlocks after headshotting 15 Lost in a single turn (which tends to be harder to facilitate than it sounds).
  • Let's You and Him Fight: They attack members of any other faction that they see. However they are programmed to favor attacking XCOM over ADVENT, although there is a throwable item that can be obtain after autopsying a Lost corpse which will cause the Lost to target anything caught within its area of effect.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Pure Lost missions are fairly rare. It's much more common to encounter them alongside ADVENT forces, which usually results in chaotic three-way battles despite the Lost's skewed targeting priorities.
  • No Body Left Behind: Played with for the active Lost that attack you on sight; they do leave corpses behind, but those quickly fall apart until all that remains are chaotic piles of desiccated limbs. However, the abandoned cities are littered with victims of the gas bombs that were turned into Lost but died in the process, frozen in the moment of their death. Touching these poor souls results in their remains crumbling to dust in an instant.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Surprisingly averted. Both Shen and Bradford explicitly call the Lost zombies on multiple occasions. Only Tygan avoids the term.
  • One-Hit Kill: The whole point of the headshot mechanic - kill a Lost in one hit and your action gets refunded, allowing you to shoot again. Keep this up and your team can wipe out dozens of Lost in a single turn. Becomes more difficult once the advanced versions with more health show up, but that's what the Between The Eyes resistance order is for.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Well, not exactly one hitpoint, but basic Lost have exactly 2 HP, the lowest value in the game. Advanced versions have 4-6 HP, which is still low enough to get them killed in one shot from almost any XCOM weapon. Only the much more durable elite version, the Brute with its 14+ HP, tends to avoid this.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Of the humans-exposed-to-alien-chemicals kind.
  • Outside-Context Problem: In the midst of a rebellion against the ruling Alien government, a zombie apocalypse manages to get itself in the middle. Occasionally lampshaded by Bradford when your squad returns from a mission in Lost territory.
  • Stone Wall: Contrasting the Dashers, Lost Brutes are just as slow as their regular buddies and hit barely harder, but have comparatively massive health pools that make it extremely difficult to one-shot them and keep the headshot Kill Streak going.
  • Technically Living Zombie: It's complicated. There's clearly something that's keeping the Lost alive and active although their desiccated bodies should be nothing but dust by now. They're explicitly not psionically reanimated corpses, having been created in the early days of the invasion by what Tygan assumes were chemical weapons, not biological agents, so there's probably no virus involved, either. In the end, nobody seems to know for sure what exactly the Lost are and how they're still alive, for a given definition of "alive".
  • Why Won't You Die?: Species-wide example. Mox states that ADVENT has been sending Purifier teams to purge the abandoned cities of the Lost for years, yet they show no signs of slowing. In some cases, they're even thriving.
  • Zerg Rush: Their main tactic. The Lost appear in much larger numbers than other enemy groups, with more showing up over time in missions where they are present. With the exception of their introduction mission Lost And Abandoned, their numbers are literally endless, so don't even attempt to Kill 'em All.
  • Zombie Gait: Played with. They tend to shamble like stereotypical zombies in their pod activation scenes, but move at a much quicker pace in actual gameplay. Lost Dashers in particular break into an all-out sprint. That said, any Lost that isn't a Dasher has abysmal movement range (roughly 3-5 tiles per turn), so no matter how fast their walking animation may be, Lost are still far and away the slowest enemies in the game.


Black humanoids capable of creating "dark copies" of XCOM soldiers.

  • Achilles' Heel: Similar to the Codex, Spectres can't be hacked but still count as mechanical units for the purpose of Bluescreen munitions damage calculation.
  • Dodge the Bullet: They have the Lightning Reflexes ability that makes the first Overwatch shot against them automatically miss.
  • Mirror Boss: Spectres can create a copy of soldiers with all their weapons and abilities, while incapacitating the real one.
  • Nanomachines: They at first appeared to be nanomachine swarms, but dissecting one reveals that this isn't the case. In fact, the Spectre Autopsy doesn't actually yield any answers as to exactly what it is other than a possible relation to the Codex.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Killing a Spectre causes it's Shadow Clone to disperse and the Shadowbound soldier to recover unless the Shadow Clone has some sort of sustain ability which will kick in and save it at one hit point.
  • One to Million to One: Whilst moving, Spectres turn into a swarm made up of their components which makes them immune to the first Overwatch shot and highly resistant to any follow-ups. It also allows them to bypass otherwise impassable terrain like Bottomless Pits.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In a sense, they upgrade the Codex, being durable biomechanical entities with highly unorthodox movement methods and powerful disabling abilities. They also take the same increased damage from Bluescreen rounds.

Resistance Factions

    Resistance Radio 
An independent pirate radio station introduced in War of the Chosen that brings news of XCOM's exploits to the rest of the world. It seems to be operated by a single male host and can be listened to by visiting the Avenger's bar.

  • Bi the Way: When he talks about his crush on the Commander, he also mentions not knowing their gender, which doesn't seem to bother him at all.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: He's not exactly running on all cylinders, but that only makes his comments that much funnier.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: He has some rather strange ideas how XCOM sympathizers could support XCOM. Like approaching their nearest peacekeeping officer and shooting him in the face.
    RR Host [cheerfully]: Do your part today!
  • Comic Relief: RR's broadcasts are almost always hilarious, which brings some welcome humor into an otherwise pretty dark game.
  • Downloadable Content: Part of the War of the Chosen DLC.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: One of his broadcasts covers an old story about himself and Bradford, with the latter's name switched out for a barely different one for "discretion", despite knowing Bradford wouldn't approve of this. He still slips back to calling Bradford Bradford at least once anyway. His next broadcast after that is basically an awkward public apology after Bradford predictably called him and tore him a new one offscreen.
  • If Only You Knew: Some of his conjectures, rumors and jokes about ADVENT (usually the particularly grim ones) are a lot closer to the truth than he probably suspects, or he wouldn't act so cheery. Also doubles as Foreshadowing if you discover said truths after you heard him talk about them.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: He admits to developing a serious crush on the Commander because of all the alien ass (s)he keeps kicking day in, day out.
  • Large Ham: He obviously loves his job and is a huge XCOM fanboy.
  • Mysterious Past: No details are given, but it's clear him and Central are old acquaintances, if not even friends.
  • No Indoor Voice: Sometimes one could think he's trying to reach all of Earth by the sheer volume of his voice alone. If he suddenly starts talking more or less normally, you know he's about to cover some serious subject.
  • No Name Given: The feed is simply titled "Resistance Radio"; we never learn the host's name.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: He can get positively ecstatic when you tune in after you just blew up an ADVENT blacksite. Guy really loves his explosions.
  • Stylistic Suck: He occasionally plays commercials with extremely cheesy jingles in between his normal broadcasts, including one for ADVENT burgers for some reason.
  • Voice of the Resistance: As literally as it gets, including appeals to his listeners to join XCOM or at least support them in any way they can. And if that's still not obvious enough for his listeners, he outright name-drops the trope to introduce himself.

The Reapers

     Reapers as a whole 

A faction of stealthy survivalists and guerilla fighters.

  • Action Survivor: The Reapers were formed from survivalists who went off the grid after the alien's victory, hiding from Advent in the wilderness and abandoned cities.
  • Army Scout: Reapers are the perfect scouting unit due to their high mobility and extremely small detection radius. Even if they end up not killing a thing during the mission, the intel on enemy positions and movements they can gather in no time more than makes up for it.
  • Aura Vision: A first person view shows that their masks tint everything a pale yellowish-green, while highlighting enemy silhouettes.
  • Badass Longcoat: Their silhouettes are defined by their Longcoats.
  • Cold Sniper: Reapers that directly fight for XCOM are essentially an offshoot of the Sharpshooter class, with weaker weapons but much more mobility and greatly enhanced stealth skills.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Their Remote Start ability amps this up from the base game, all it takes to explode any vehicle (or other environmental hazard) is a single shot from their rifle.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Their leader Volk outright says in his Establishing Character Moment that "aliens are food". Their introduction missions shows a chryssalid head roasting over a camp fire, and there's nothing to suggest they don't eat the other aliens as well if need be. It doesn't get much more omnivorous than a diet composed of species that hail from several different planets.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: They fill the Thief roll of the three factions with their stealth skills.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: Their default appearance has them wearing gas masks and outfits that invariably sport badass longcoats, making them look like veterans of WW I's infamous trench warfare.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The Reapers' longcoats and glowy visors should make them stick out like a sore thumb anywhere, and particularly in ADVENT city centers where folks wear either ADVENT armor or civilian clothing, but as far as the bad guys are concerned, they're the least visible entities in the game by a huge margin.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Their Banish ability sees them unloading their entire magazine into the target, until either it's dead or they've run out of ammo. With a superior extended mag, they can fire a full seven shots into a target, which is enough to kill pretty much anything that isn't a top-level boss. With an upgrade they'll even continue firing at nearby targets after the first is dead.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: They eat aliens to survive. Including the sentient ones. Granted, with the Elders slaughtering all domestic earth animals, they probably found chrysalids a lot more plentiful a food source than cows.
  • Rock Beats Laser: They're explicitly mentioned as rejecting all the advances that came from ADVENT, using old-school sniper rifles. Considering those advances came at the cost of a planetary occupation, it makes sense, but this doesn't stop the troops they give to you from picking up advanced versions of their weaponry.
  • The Spartan Way: Their training is compared to theirs in game. With only the strong making it through to the end.
  • Stealth Expert: Even moreso than Rangers, as they have abilities that allow them to kill with a limited chance of breaking Concealment. They also gain a large boost to movement while hidden, can only be detected by enemies directly adjacent to them, and the lieutenant-level skill Silent Killer even allows them to kill any number of enemies without revealing themselves. Their special Guerrilla Tactics School bonus ability makes them invisible to sensor towers as well. A properly built Reaper can easily run mission after mission without ever being detected, reliably killing one or more enemies every turn in the process.
    Volk: "Covert is our specialty. Lets just hope your people can keep up."
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • Despite being the stealth experts, Reapers are the only class other than the Grenadier to carry explosives as their trademark secondary weapon. Their claymore mines can be thrown without revealing the Reaper and appear as targetable objects on the battlefield, allowing other units to detonate them at the perfect moment.
    • Some of their skills revolve around blowing up explosive world objects like fuel barrels, munitions or cars with twice their normal power and radius from far away without revealing themselves, giving them some nice (albeit situational) crowd control capabilities.

     Konstantine "Volk" Volikov
Voiced by: Jonathan Frakes

A Russian-American survivalist whose parents fled to Alaska during the early days of the invasion, Volk fought tooth-and-nail to protect his home during the final days of the war, eventually linking up with Bradford and what remained of XCOM. When the world governments declared a cease-fire, he left for the wilderness in disgust along with his men, continuing the fight as the leader of the Reapers.

  • Badass Beard: Sports a nice one.
  • Battle Trophy: Volk contacts XCOM from a room decorated with the heads of aliens.
  • Cincinnatus: Implied. Volk claims to have no interest in governing a freed earth, just in restoring humanity’s freedom.
    Volk: The Reapers have no interest in leading the world into a new age - not under my watch, anyway. The aliens took everything from humanity, and we aim to take it back. It's that simple. What people choose to do with their lives beyond that point is up to them.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Alone among the game's characters, he bears a certain resemblance to his voice actor, Jonathan Frakes, including the latter's iconic beard.
  • My Way or the Highway: He states that his people will follow the Commander's orders whether they like it or not. The Reapers even say "Volk says I am to obey" when given an order on occasion.
  • Rebel Leader: The Head of the Reapers.
  • Sour Supporter: Downplayed. He's the first faction leader to be contacted by Bradford, and just as loyal as the other two, but he's also by far the most critical of them all. Betos and Geist shower you with praise and proclamations of support almost constantly whereas Volk's comments have a good chance to passive-aggressively rip into you for the decisions you made during crucial missions (that is, "decisions" the player had no actual hand in).

    Elena "Outrider" Dragunova
Voiced by: Marina Sirtis

The representative the Reapers send to negotiate with the Skirmishers. She is also the Reaper seen in the opening cinematic who found The Commander.

  • Badass Boast: She has some of the best lines in the whole game, usually after she killed an enemy.
    Outrider: Tell your gods I'm coming for them.
  • Cold Ham: Most of her lines are said in a low, chilling tone that befits her profession as a Cold Sniper and conveys her utter hatred towards the aliens.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Installing the War of the Chosen DLC adds a new portion to the intro, where Elena infiltrates the clinic the Commander is held in, and confirms that they're being held there for XCOM.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Kracsad" seems to mean "(Elder) puppet" in the Elder language. She derisively hurls it in Mox' face during their first meeting, which angers him enough to draw steel on her immediately. It's one of the very few Elder words in the game to get an actual translation.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Mox. They're ready to kill each other when they first meet, but fighting the Assassin and Lost on their way to extraction smooths over whatever animosity the two had.
  • Gun Nut: According to her comments when she's told to reload, she hand-loads her cartridges herself, which requires both intimate knowledge of, and considerable dedication to, her rifle.
  • Little "No": Does one when she witnesses Mox being abducted by the Assassin right in front of her at the very end of the Lost And Abandoned mission.
  • Meaningful Name: "Dragunov" is the name of the russian sniper rifle that the Vektor is based on.
  • Never My Fault: Sometimes when her Shadow ability fails, she'll blame the rest of the squad for blowing her cover, even if it was because of her missing or failing to kill her target. There’s exactly one case where another soldier can blow her cover, triggering a pod and one of them scampers to an adjacent tile.
    "That must have been one of you!"
  • Not So Different: Part of what smooths tensions between Mox and Outrider is the realization that both of their respective factions are being hunted by The Chosen.
  • Stab the Scorpion: During a tense negotiation with Mox, it looks like Outrider is going to try to kill him. It ends up being a shot aimed at the Cloaked Assassin who was standing right behind Mox.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Greets the XCOM team by appearing with her team right next to them once they approach the campfire, demonstrating the Reapers' talent for stealth.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: She gets off to a very rocky start with Mox due to their respective factions' decades-old enmity, but they can eventually grow to become Fire-Forged Friends. However, she also doesn't seem to be too thrilled about working for XCOM, if one particular line of hers upon being given an order by the player is anything to go by.
    Outrider: Volk says I am to obey.

The Skirmishers

     Skirmishers as a whole 

A faction of ADVENT defectors who have escaped via defective and damaged control chips.

  • The Atoner: They regret what they did while serving the Elders, and seek penance by aiding the resistance.
  • Battle Cry: "Vox Tala For Ten!" Don't ask what it means; it never gets a translation.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They each have a pair of retractable blades mounted on their forearms for melee.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Skirmishers defy their creators by showcasing that they are, in fact, individuals rather than the mindless slaves the Elders want them and created them to be.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Their bullpups use the same aim bonus tables as shotguns and pistols, while their Ripjacks are melee blades that can pull enemies to them or themselves to enemies. All this emphasises their being meant for CQC.
  • Counter Attack: "Reflex" gives them an additional action for each enemy that attacked in the previous turn.
  • Covered in Scars: Because they are all identical, the Skirmishers engage in ritual scarification as a means of distinguishing themselves from each other.
  • Double Agent: One of their Resistance Orders lets you start missions with a randomly-chosen ADVENT trooper on your side.
  • The Engineer: Their strategic bonuses are generally focussed around construction and research times. Other potential tactics involve reducing the hack score on all enemy machines or actively sabotaging the Avatar Project at the beginning of each month.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Take the fighter role among the resistance groups with their combat capabilities.
  • Good Counterpart: A high level skill, "Battle Lord", gives them a free action for every enemy movement, essentially making them a player-controlled Alien Ruler. In the case of Rulers, however, it will trigger only on the first Ruler reaction, meaning that it's not possible to have an extended "duel" of reactions between a Skirmisher and a Ruler.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: They have grapples that they can use to pull enemies to themselves or vice versa.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Skirmishers are defectors from the ADVENT ranks, and share their genetic alterations.
  • Heel–Face Turn: One of their strategic bonuses is adding a small chance that some advent units will be defectors and join the player's side during missions.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Their abilities give them quite a bit of mobility, in addition to their combat skills.
  • Mercy Kill: Skirmishers view killing their mind controlled ADVENT brethren as freeing them from the enslavement of the elders as is best displayed in Mox's introductory scene when he kills an ADVENT Purifier.
    Pratal Mox: She is free of the impostor gods.
  • More Dakka: Their bullpup rifles aren't exactly powerhouses, but Skirmishers can use any number of their actions for shooting, potentially putting a lot of bullets downrange in a single turn. At the very least they can shoot twice each turn if they remain stationary, the only class capable of doing so other than the Sharpshooter, and the only one that can do it with their primary weapon. There's an achievement for having a Skirmisher perform three offensive actions against the same target in a single turn.
  • One-Man Army: In their introduction video, after giving a description of their Battlelord skill which gives them an action every time an enemy move, Bradford states "A single Skirmisher is an army of its own".
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: A fur collar is one of their customization options. It creates a nice contrast between the Skirmishers and their more elegant looking ADVENT counterparts.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Like with Rangers' swords, upgrading their Ripjacks from tier 2 to tier 3 discards the stun chance in favour of a burn chance. Since stun applies to almost everything but much fewer strong foes can be burned, this is a downgrade. Fortunately, there's a mod for that.
  • Static Stun Gun: The "Whiplash" ability lets them use their grapple launchers as a stungun weapon once per mission. It damages and has a chance to stun living opponents, but also does major bonus damage against mechanical ones.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Damaged and defective control chips, coupled with a blanket order by ADVENT to execute any troopers who were being disobedient, led to the Skirmishers turning against their creators.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Their "Justice" ability pulls an enemy to them so they can hit them with a melee attack. Inverted with their "Wrath" ability, which pulls themselves to the enemy.

Voiced by: Denise Crosby

The first of her kind, Betos was just another cog in ADVENT's military until her control chip began to malfunction. With her thoughts no longer suppressed, she was able to see the world around her for what it was - a false utopia built on lies and slavery. Freeing those she could and carving a swath through those she couldn't, she fled her former masters and rose up in rebellion as leader of the Skirmishers.

  • Arch-Enemy: To the Assassin, who hunted her relentlessly. Betos takes a lot of pride in having survived, and pleasure in knowing how frustrated the Assassin is that she got away.
  • Bald of Awesome: A former ADVENT soldier and now the leader of a major resistance movement, who is also physically incapable of growing hair.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Never shown wearing a helmet.
  • Rebel Leader: After all, she is the commander of an entire faction of rebel ADVENT.

    Pratal Mox
Voiced by: Michael Dorn

A member of the Skirmishers, who had developed a reputation as one of ADVENT's most brutal commanders prior to being freed from their control.

  • Badass in Distress: Is guaranteed to be captured by the Assassin at the end of Lost and Abandoned.
  • Clones Are People, Too: While Mox is himself a clone, he also shows sympathy for ADVENT Soldiers that cannot be liberated from ADVENT control.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Aside from the incident mentioned under Gameplay and Story Segregation, Mox's most impressive cutscene shows him blowing up a full-health Purifier in one burst from very far away. His bullpup rifle's short range and below-average damage make a feat like this extremely unlikely in actual gameplay.
  • The Dreaded: He was ADVENT's most brutal captain before his defection, with numerous Reapers having been killed by his death squads. Elena is none too pleased when she learns he's the Skirmisher's representative.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He ambushes a group of Purifiers, and pulls one into a smoke cloud, then removes his helmet to examine her before executing her with his wrist blades.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In his Establishing Character Moment, he melee-kills a purifier to convey that Skirmishers are close-combat specialists. Do not attempt to replicate this feat during gameplay: it'll likely blow up in your facenote .
  • Mercy Kill: He seems to consider every death of an ADVENT soldier to be this as it frees them from the control of the "impostor gods", AKA the Elders.
  • Not So Different: Part of what smooths tensions between Mox and Outrider is the realization that both of their respective factions are being hunted by The Chosen.
  • The Worf Effect: Fitting for a character voiced by Michael Dorn, Mox is captured by the Assassin to demonstrate how the Chosen will capture your soldiers.
  • That Man Is Dead: He considers himself not to be the same being as he was under the control of ADVENT.

The Templars

     Templars as a whole 

A rebel faction of psionic warriors formed by the remnants of XCOM's psionics projects during the first war. Unlike XCOM's psionic soldiers, Templars focus heavily upon melee with psi-blades and gain momentum throughout a battle by powering up for every enemy they kill.

  • A.K.A.-47: Their autopistols strongly resemble the Uzi line of submachine guns, with a side of MAC-10 thrown in for flavor. The magnetic version in particular is essentially a Micro-Uzi with a rectangular barrel.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Rend and Volt always hit.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Like all psionic attacks in the game, their offensive abilities aren't deterred at all by armor. Unfortunately, their Psi Blades aren't considered psionic for the purpose of damage typing, probably to keep this already powerful weapon from becoming outright game-breaking.
  • Barrier Warrior: They use psionic shields to defend themselves when using "Parry" and "Deflect". With "Pillar" creating an obelisk which acts as cover.
    • Attack Reflector: "Deflect" has a chance of sending a shot back to the attacker with the "Reflect" upgrade.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They spawn immaterial Psi Blades from their Shard Gauntlets that are about as long as their arms.
  • Chain Lightning: The Volt ability hits more targets if charged with more focus.
  • Counter Attack: Upgrading Parry gives them a chance of hitting an enemy for the same amount of damage they blocked.
  • Cult: They're described as one. Their primary goal for fighting the aliens is their belief that the Elders are somehow perverting the Earth's psionic power for their own devices.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Volk comments on their strange outlook and behavior stating that he's never met one he'd consider normal.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: For all their weird mysticism, the end cutscene reveals that they know more then they've been letting on. Being aware of the psionic breach at the ocean's depths and preparing for whatever is to come.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Their Amplify ability causes the target to take considerable bonus damage from all subsequent attacks for a number of turns.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Their Ghost ability allows them to create a psionic duplicate of themselves.
  • Dual Wielding: They spawn Psi Blades on both their arms and always wield them in tandem.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: They strongly believe that fighting together can create a strong bond between people.
  • Firing One-Handed: How they fire their autopistols.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Their entire combat style is built around this concept due to Momentum, an innate ability that grants them a free move action after every attack with their primary weapon. A Templar either fires off some devastating psionic attack from afar, or they charge in, hack something to pieces and retreat to safety immediately afterwards before surviving enemies can retaliate.
  • Large Ham: Like any other psionic in this setting, and second only to the Warlock, their avowed rival.
  • Laser Blade: Well, it's technically focused psionic energy instead of coherent light, but the visuals and effects of their Psi Blades are the same - a crackling, glowing blade of Pure Energy.
  • Magikarp Power: Without Focus, they're among the weakest soldiers on the battlefield; with lots of it, they're among the most dangerous. In a larger sense, Templars don't fully begin to pull their weight until the later features in their tree like Deep Focus, Arc Wave, and Ionic Storm, at which point they jump straight into excellence with very little in-between.
  • Magic Knight: Psionic warriors who can use energy swords for melee. Their armor further empathizes this.
  • Mage Killer: Their Volt and Ionic Storm abilities do double damage to psionic targets. Psionic units also have a higher chance of dropping Focus when killed.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Templars utilize a "Focus" resource to activate their abilities, which become stronger the more they have.
  • More Dakka: When they need a bit of reach or need to deal with a melee-resistant or immune enemy (eg. Mutons and potentially the Chosen), they carry a machine pistol sidearm for that purpose.
  • Out of Focus: They are not as fleshed out as the other two Resistance Factions, being left out of the scripted introductory mission, and with what little is known coming from idle dialogue and in game archive files.
  • Psychic Powers: Like the Psi Operative.
  • Recruitment by Rescue: One of the stock backgrounds for Templar units.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Templars were founded by the surviving psionic soldiers from the original XCOM project and have since become independent.
  • Shock and Awe: Their abilities include shooting bolts of electricity, and summoning a lightning storm to strike every enemy in range.
  • Shrouded in Myth: They're a group of psionics, and that's about all anyone knows about them.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Their Rend attack uses a pair of swords formed out of psychic energy called Psi-blades.
  • Stab the Sky: Used during their Ionic Storm ability.
  • Support Party Member: Their strategic bonuses can increase experience gain, will recovery, buff the Avenger's power stores and reduce the duration of mental debuffs. Scanning at their HQ also speeds up healing.
  • Teleport Spam: Their "Invert" and "Exchange" abilities allow them to switch places with enemies and allies.
  • Volcanic Veins: They all have glowing purple veins on their arms.

Voiced by: John de Lancie

Little is known about the man who calls himself Geist. Rumor has it that he was an XCOM field operative who volunteered for a psionic experiment just before the organization was destroyed, only to be struck with amnesia when he awoke in the middle of an attack. All that is certain is that he commands the loyalty of the Templars through a combination of charisma and sheer psionic power.

  • Amnesiac Hero: He was one of the original XCOM's first psi-soldiers, and was undergoing a delicate procedure when the XCOM base was attacked, causing him amnesia. Despite this he was able to survive the base's fall and go on to form the Templars.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Geist" is German for "ghost". Since he's neither invulnerable nor intangible, undead, spooky or particularly stealthy, it's a fairly Non-Indicative Name. However, it might just be a very subtle Shout-Out to another game that fields psionically gifted operatives named Ghosts.
  • Creepy Good: Definitely. He speaks in such a way that makes him sound more like a supervillian then a Resistance Leader, which suggests he's...
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: He's quite proud of his psionic abilities, to say the least.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: As a psi-soldier from the first XCOM he was already an elite soldier before his psionic potential was discovered and his powers developed.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: When he appears among his followers in the end cutscene he wears gold armor.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: In the ending is heavily implied to know something about whatever the ominous glow under the sea was and is preparing to fight it off already.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted. While he goes unmasked in his dialogue pop-ups on the Avenger, his sole cutscene appearance (pictured above) has him wearing a full-face helmet during a field operation.
  • Rebel Leader: Naturally, being the leader of the Templars.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He leads the smallest and most obscure of the three resistance factions by far, yet is so full of himself he can easily cover for Volk and Betos, who are much more down-to-earth. Geist is the only one to talk mostly about himself instead of his outfit during his introduction monologue, including assuming that you already knew him anyway because "word of [his] deeds tends to spread far and wide". Blame it on the usual psionics-induced megalomania.