These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternate Character Interpretation: There's a positive or negative interpretation possible for every faction in the game, even if one accounts for the limits of their ideologiesnote The diversity of Social Engineering options for each faction even allows them a little leeway in-game, although all factions are typically prevented from choosing at least one civic that runs completely against their stated philosophy. — even those of the Hive or the Believers:
Commissioner Pravin Lal: An honest politician who wants everyone to be equal, to spread democracy and freedom, and to end all wars. Alternatively; He never really does step down as the leader of his faction, so obviously there are no elections, or he just rigs them in his favour. He also is pretty prone to eliminating anyone who doesn't agree with his values of democracy and libertarianism. His government is so plagued with excess bureaucracy and absurd amounts of gratuitous voting that nothing ever gets done.
Pravin Lal is the perfect embodiment of ethical integrity until one little quote in regards to genetics concerning his wife who was shot in the back by Santiago's men on the Unity.
Sister Miriam: Promotes traditional values, religion and culture, and opposes the evils of Science! Alternatively; She isn't above ruthlessly murdering anyone she dislikes in the slightest, usually people who are different and intellectuals.
CEO Morgan: Champion of free market economics, hard work, oppropriate reward, individualism, and friendly competition. Alternatively: Owner of human history's single most powerful economic monopoly, ever, of all time... ever! He is essentially abusing his anarcho-capitalist society as his own private cash farm. There's also his unhealthy obsession with personal wealth and refusal to commit to any sort of charity. The title of his seminal work, "The Ethics of Greed", plays to a number of interpretations.
Prokhorov Zhakarov: The most brilliant scientist to ever grace our universe. He is single mindedly devoted to advancing technology and uncovering all of the universe's secrets. He also runs a technocratic society and government. Alternatively: Zhakarov has this thing about experimenting on live test subjects without their consent (or tricking them into it). He would blow up Chiron if he thought there was something valuable to discover in doing so.
Chairman Yang: Firm believer in community, self sacrifice, and true long term engineering of pretty much everything from eating schedules to full scale social engineering and even eugenics. This is the guy who wants to bring humanity to its true potential via socialism and dictatorship, and does it with honesty too! Alternatively: Yang likes to sacrifice people for the greater good. If it means advancement towards a better tomorrow, Yang will most definitely feed you to a shark or something. Also, the collectivist nature of his state really doesn't give people much incentive to work hard, get rich or do more than their share, as tall poppies aren't rewarded.
Colonel Santiago: Survivalist, social darwinist, and general all around bad ass. Santiago intends to make all mankind strong, both mentally and physically. The master species of all species. If you live under her rule expect strong discipline, high morale, and a body so fit you could crush a brick wall with your face. You will probably have the proudest and most awesome military ever imagined to boot! Alternatively: Santiago mandates that you must prove your right to live. The weak are... weeded out. The slightest sign of sickness in a newborn is grounds for such a fate. Also, her faction is brutally militarist to the point that almost no funding at all is invested into culture, science, education, or even basic housing; You have to do that all by yourself. After all, the strong should be able to build a house and live in it under the most brutal conditions, right?
Lady Deidre: Environmentalism and sustainability is her hat. Deidre seeks to build a society which lives in perfect harmony with nature and has probably even mastered the elements. Under her carefully guided economic management, industry has no pollution and every product is wholly recyclable. Alternatively: Deidre is quick to tame local wildlife and use it to eliminate pretty much anyone who is even the slightest bit wasteful. Her total intolerance for other ways of life pretty much guarantees that her faction will never fulfill the full potential of any of their technological advancements. Heck, without the use of highly advanced and pollution heavy factories, the Gaians have to build everything, from shoes to communication satellites, with their bare hands!
The Manifold Caretakers and the Manifold Usurpers are considered overpowered in multiplayer, where the restrictions on diplomacy and win conditions no longer outweigh their numerous practical advantages.
Cloudbase Academy, a Secret Project that gives a free Aerospace Complexnote A building that gives extra movement to all flying units supported by (built in) that particular base. in each base of the faction that owns the project's home base. For economic benefit, this also means that a player's entire empire suddenly has full benefit to any satellites that have been launched. In multiplayer, of course, the usual response to someone else developing it is to nuke the base from orbit.
Colony Module + Paratrooper = dropping colonies anywhere you want anywhere on the planet.
Hilarious in Hindsight: A planet only a bit bigger than Earth has been discovered in the Alpha Centauri system... that's as close to its sun as Mercury is to ours. Dammit.
Well, it orbits Alpha Centauri B. Chiron (fictionally) orbits Alpha Centauri A. There's still hope!
Magnificent Bastard: Sheng-Ji Yang. He cheated on his psych evaluation (using knowledge he obtained via having a PhD in psychology) to get on board the Unity as its executive officer and quite possibly (never confirmed) assassinated Captain Garland.
Memetic Mutation: "Please don't go. The drones need you. They look up to you."note Drones are working class citizens who will revolt if they become too numerous. The line is sometimes said by the narrator when quitting the game.
AND THEN THEY WERE EATEN BY MINDWORMS!note A nod to the Space/Science victories in the Civilization games, which involve sending a starship to Alpha Centauri. Needless to say, the colonists would be in for a surprise.
Player Punch: When you first create a Mind Worm boil, you'll be treated to an interlude where your faction leader dispatches a trusted aide to become the boil's controller. If that first boil gets destroyed in combat, another interlude will appear where your faction leader is looking upon the scorched remains of said aide, and is quite distraught by the sight.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Miriam. War in 4X games built on the civilization model, like Alpha Centauri, is a costly and time-consuming endeavor, and without proper preparations it can quickly become long-winded war of attrition with no end in sight. Miriam is aggressive and therefore extremely annoying, should one end up with a common border or insufficiently large body of water as a buffer. Playing as Miriam is even worse, because the AIs are suddenly as aggressive towards her as she usually is towards everyone else. All six of them.
Many are unhappy with the new factions in the expansion, believing them much more powerful than their counterparts in the original game. The aliens get hit particularly hard with this, since their primary disadvantage (their inability to properly form alliances and launch diplomatic programs) isn't a factor in multiplayer games.
The Woobie: Pravin Lal, whose sole goal is to preserve the original Unity mandate of creating a peaceful settlement for mankind on another planet and must now watch as that dream falls apart through factional infighting. He can become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, however, depending on how the game unfolds.