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*** This can be partially circumvented using the Ghost Armor, or, in ''Enemy Within'', the Mimetic Skin gene mod or the Ghost Grenade. Any of these allows the cloaked unit to discover alien pods without automatically granting them their move to cover. Now, if you have a Heavy or grenade-launching MEC-trooper in range, you can remove those annoying packs of floaters and thin men in their entirety as they stand about, or give a Squadsight Sniper a free shot to pick off a dangerous unit standing out of cover.
*** Melee aliens often won't use it to get into cover; they use it to get closer, even if they used their turn to get into visual range. If you're extremely unlucky, you'll spot them on the final move of your turn, and they use their free move to get very cozy with their next victim. [[ThisIsGonnaSuck Cue 'Alien Activity']]...

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*** This can be partially circumvented using the Ghost Armor, or, in ''Enemy Within'', the Mimetic Skin gene mod or the Ghost Grenade. Any of these allows the cloaked unit to discover alien pods without automatically granting them their move to cover. Now, if you have a Heavy or grenade-launching MEC-trooper in range, you can remove those annoying packs of floaters and thin men in their entirety as they stand about, or give a Squadsight Sniper a free shot to pick off a dangerous unit standing out of cover.
***
cover. Melee aliens often won't use it to get into cover, because they ''cannot'' take cover; they use it to get closer, even if they used their turn to get into visual range. If you're extremely unlucky, you'll spot them on the final move of your turn, and they use their free move to get very cozy with their next victim. [[ThisIsGonnaSuck Cue 'Alien Activity']]...'ALIEN ACTIVITY']].



** While they generally manage to rein in the AI's knowledge of your position, certain enemies like Thin Men seem to have the uncanny ability to run exactly the right distance to enter your field of view (and subsequently, theirs) to fire on your troops ''without'' provoking Overwatch shots, which only trigger when an enemy in sight ''leaves'' the square they are currently in.
** A strange case can be seen in Terror missions. Depending on sound cues, line of sight quirks and cloaking (especially notable in Enemy Within due to the early game option of Mimetic Skin), you might be able to "know" where untriggered and non-patrolling enemy pods are in relation to civilians, yet civilians can still die seemingly at random. That's because civilians in the fog of war have a chance of dying (and even getting zombified) if enemies are merely present even if not actually attacking, and the higher you set the difficulty, the more civilians die each turn. Normally this AI shortcut would not be too noticeable, but there are cases where your entire squad could be covering all routes of entry for an enemy yet a civilian mysteriously dies in the fog of war behind a wall or something. Can be particularly nasty if a zombie sneaks up on you from behind this way.

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** While they generally manage to rein in the AI's knowledge of your position, certain enemies like Thin Men seem to have the uncanny ability to run exactly the right distance to enter your field of view (and subsequently, theirs) to fire on your troops ''without'' provoking Overwatch shots, which only trigger when an enemy moves from a tile in sight ''leaves'' the square they are currently in.
to another tile in sight.
** A strange case can be seen in Terror missions. Depending on sound cues, line of sight quirks and cloaking (especially notable in Enemy Within due to the early game option of Mimetic Skin), you might be able to "know" where untriggered and non-patrolling enemy pods are in relation to civilians, yet civilians can still die seemingly at random. That's because civilians in the fog of war have a chance of dying (and even getting zombified) zombified should Chryssalids be present) if enemies are merely present even if not actually attacking, and the higher you set the difficulty, the more civilians die each turn. Normally this AI shortcut would not be too noticeable, but there are cases where your entire squad could be covering all routes of entry for an enemy yet a civilian mysteriously dies in the fog of war behind a wall or something. Can be particularly nasty if a zombie sneaks up on you from behind this way.


** [[http://www.2kgames.com/blog/xcom-enemy-unknown-release-date-special-edition-and-more The pre-order bonus]] and the ''[[{{DLC}} Elite Soldier Pack]]'' includes a blonde dude with a humongous flat-top, as well as a [[VideoGame/TeamFortress2 TF2]] Hat depicting the same hairstyle. In the original game, all X-COM soldiers had this same haircut.

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** [[http://www.2kgames.com/blog/xcom-enemy-unknown-release-date-special-edition-and-more The pre-order bonus]] and the ''[[{{DLC}} Elite Soldier Pack]]'' includes a blonde dude with a humongous flat-top, as well as a [[VideoGame/TeamFortress2 TF2]] Hat depicting the same hairstyle. In the original game, all the sprites for male X-COM soldiers soldier had this same haircut.haircut, and this was one of the four available in-game art for male soldiers.


* DifficultySpike:
** Normal? Not too hard. The next difficulty up, Classic? Murder. Aliens are all professional snipers and your rookie soldiers aim like they're blind, which makes getting them ''beyond'' rookie rather... difficult.
** Even Impossible is a gigantic leap up from Classic. Sure, if you can beat Classic you know how to properly play, but now the Sectoids are too beefy to be killed by a single grenade, not to mention your soldiers are now frail enough to be killed by a single plasma bolt. Likewise, the Thin Men and Floaters are now also too tough for the Shredder Rocket to kill them anymore.
** The first Terror mission is a massive leap in difficulty from anything that has come before, especially if the player has no upgraded weaponry or armor yet.
** Your first encounter with the sheer power of enemy Psionic abilities (outside of the "Mind Merge" ability of Sectoids, which only affects them, as well as Mechtoids in ''Enemy Within'') sets the stage for the second half of the game. Now, not only do you have to upgrade your weapons and armor to stay relevant against increasingly better armed and armored enemies, but you also need to quickly develop Psionic abilities of your own if you want to stand a chance. [[spoiler:Of course, this was the entire reason behind the invasion.]]
** In the early game, the rush becomes to get as many satellites as possible up in the air, so that you can stop running out of credits. When you finally manage to do so, you quickly find out that ''you can no longer launch satellites to lower panic''. This can result in extremely tense moments, waiting for a Terror mission, or hoping that the next abduction doesn't include one of the countries already on the brink of panic.
*** This is a somewhat odd case, as satellite coverage also prevents abductions, so long as the satellites have been protecting the country since the start of the month. Thus the real danger from this comes in the time between when you start getting significant satellite coverage and when you get universal satellite coverage, usually a month or two later. It also depends on how far you've progressed in the game; if you have beaten the first alien base, it generally is easier to control panic levels.

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* FromZeroToHero: Every soldier in the game is recruited as a level 1 newbie with no special qualities, but in the final act, one of them will become the Volunteer, the most powerful human psychic on the planet who [[spoiler:sacrifices themselves]] to thwart the ongoing alien invasion.

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* CanonDiscontinuity: ''VideoGame/XCOM2'' revealed that [[spoiler:XCOM canonically lost the war, quite early on at that, meaning that if you managed to win, it doesn't really count]]. However, that really only counts as CuttingOffTheBranches, and ''XCOM 2'' also provided the in-universe explanation that [[spoiler:a successful campaign was a simulation happening within the Commander's head while a prisoner of the aliens]], so [[AvertedTrope the game itself is still actually canon]]. On the other hand, ''Enemy Within'' and everything that came with it (namely EXALT and Meld, but also additional enemy types such as Mechtoids and Seekers) was simply retconned out of existence and is never referenced again, even when you'd expect it would be. The only exception (and even that is theoretical) is [[spoiler:the base assault mission, failing which is hypothesised to be what actually led to XCOM's defeat]].


* YouHaveResearchedBreathing: Your supposedly elite soldiers need promotions just to acquire basic abilities that any real life soldier fresh out of basic training has, such as the ability to carry multiple grenades or use a first aid kit more than once in a mission

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* YouHaveResearchedBreathing: Your supposedly elite soldiers need promotions just to acquire basic abilities that any real life soldier fresh out of basic training has, such as the ability to carry multiple grenades or use a first aid kit more than once in a missionmission. The use of suppressing fire to prevent an enemy from maneuvering or returning fire is one of the fundamentals of infantry tactics, but only two classes of XCOM soldiers are capable of doing this, and those classes must gain multiple promotions first.


** "Telekinetic Field". You have to forgo the more interesting "Mind Control" ability to get it, but it gives a Defense bonus equal to full cover that stacks with other Defense bonuses for all soldiers within its wide area of effect, including Smoke Grenades.

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** "Telekinetic Field". You have to forgo the more interesting "Mind Control" ability MindControl to get it, but it gives a Defense bonus equal to full cover that stacks with other Defense bonuses for all soldiers within its wide area of effect, including Smoke Grenades.Grenades. Additionally, the field isn't Will-dependent like Mind Control, and the area it covers is ''massive'', though unlike the UI representation it only works as a flat disc that doesn't affect units in a different vertical level than the userf.



** Grenades and even alien grenades pale in comparison to the advanced tech you can have later on, but they remain a consistent method for clearing cover, mopping up weak or nearly dead enemies, or weakening a capture target just enough to use the Arc Thrower reliably on.

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** Grenades and even alien Damage-wise, explosive grenades pale in comparison to the advanced tech you can have later on, but they remain a consistent method for clearing cover, destroying cover and opening sightlines, mopping up weak or nearly dead enemies, or weakening a capture target just enough to use the Arc Thrower reliably on.on. With Damage Rulette in play, their fixed damage is handy when you don't want to risk a standard shot dealing only ScratchDamage.



** Mind Damping, one of the genetic modifications, stuns any soldier that the aliens attempt to mind control, forcing them out of your control for a turn. Given the massive disadvantage mind controlled soldiers cause, this is a far better alternative than fighting against them for 3 turns or being forced to rush to kill the controlling alien.

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** Mind Neural Damping, one of the genetic modifications, stuns any soldier that the aliens negates an otherwise successful MindControl attempt to mind control, by stunning the soldier, forcing them out of your control for a turn. Given the massive disadvantage mind controlled soldiers cause, this is a far better alternative than fighting against them for 3 turns or being forced to rush to kill the controlling alien. It also prevents panic, so it's a double bonus for low-Will units like the resident ShellShockedVeteran.



** {{Downplayed|Trope}}. Your squad members have infinite ammo supplies, but they have to regularly reload their primary weapons. Ammo is not tracked 'per shot', but in chunks - and certain abilities (such as Suppression, Flush and Collateral Damage) use up more ammo than a normal attack. Played straight with [[EmergencyWeapon pistols]], that never need to be reloaded at all.
** Played straight visually when using "[[PinnedDown Suppression]]". Until the turn is over, the soldier/alien using it won't stop firing, even if they've fired more than the magazine/powercell can normally allow. This is especially obvious with the "Training Roulette" Second Wave option from ''Enemy Within'', where [[ImprobableUseOfAWeapon Sniper Rifles and Shotguns]] can be used to suppress enemies.

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** {{Downplayed|Trope}}. Your squad members have infinite ammo supplies, but they have to regularly reload their primary weapons. Ammo is not tracked 'per shot', but in chunks dependent on the weapon[[note]]by default, rifles and shotguns have 4 chunks, LMG's have 3, and MEC Trooper weapons have only 2[[/note]] - and certain abilities (such as Suppression, Flush and Collateral Damage) use up more ammo than a normal attack. Played straight with [[EmergencyWeapon pistols]], that never need to be reloaded at all.
** Played straight visually when using "[[PinnedDown Suppression]]". Until the turn is over, the soldier/alien using it won't stop firing, even if they've fired more standard shots than the magazine/powercell can normally allow. This is especially obvious with the "Training Roulette" Second Wave option from ''Enemy Within'', where [[ImprobableUseOfAWeapon Sniper Rifles and Shotguns]] can be used to suppress enemies.



*** [[BlindedByTheLight Flashbangs]] greatly reduce enemy's movement and aim, as they stumble around blindly.

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*** [[BlindedByTheLight Flashbangs]] greatly reduce enemy's movement and aim, as they stumble around blindly. Psionics are immune.


[[quoteright:250:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/XCOM_Enemy_Unknown_Game_Cover_9093.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:From the makers of ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}''... comes a game about civilization's last stand.]]

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[[quoteright:250:https://static.[[quoteright:350:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/XCOM_Enemy_Unknown_Game_Cover_9093.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:From
org/pmwiki/pub/images/xcomeu.png]]
[[caption-width-right:350:From
the makers of ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}''... comes a game about civilization's last stand.]]

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** Unique council missions, such as ''Confounding Light'' have to be accepted and completed within days of being offered, or else they will go away and never come back. Skipping or failing a unique council mission also causes the player to lose the opportunity to participate in all future missions in its quest chain.


** Dr. Vahlen asserts that the hulls of alien ships must be at least an order of magnitude stronger than any currently-known material. They are easily destroyed by garden-variety hand grenades.

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** Dr. Vahlen asserts that the hulls of alien ships must be at least an order of magnitude stronger than any currently-known material. They are easily destroyed by garden-variety hand grenades. She also seems to neglect that interceptors are capable of shooting the UFOs down with conventional earth weaponry.

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** Furthermore, the entire game is basically an example of "hold the line", as the player is required to fend off endless waves of alien assaults until he can find and assault the alien command ship. This is particularly true early on, as the player is in a desperate struggle to keep the panic rating of council nations low and handle the constant alien abduction missions until they are all under satellite coverage.


** The limit is upped to 7 members in ''Enemy Within'', but only during Covert Ops missions where you can send a full squad to extract the single unit infiltrating EXALT.

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** The limit is upped to 7 members in ''Enemy Within'', but only during Covert Ops missions where you can send a full squad to extract the single unit infiltrating EXALT. Furthermore, your operative on the Covert Operation has only a pistol and no armor, making them more of a liability than an asset, especially since you fail the mission if they die.


* WeAllLiveInAmerica: No matter which country you deploy in, the buildings and cars (especially the yellow cabs) will often look like American cities or towns, not to mention the complete lack of accents for your soldiers prior to ''Enemy Within''. Occasionally, you'll also find maps which are inexplicably European or Chinese urban areas. Since each map is hand-crafted, however, this is understandable.

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* WeAllLiveInAmerica: No matter which country you deploy in, the buildings and cars (especially the yellow cabs) will often look like American cities or towns, not to mention the complete lack of accents for your soldiers prior to ''Enemy Within''. And while EW does offer a new language customization options, all troops start out with English as their default language, and the language of many nations, such as Japan and Egypt, are not available. Occasionally, you'll also find maps which are inexplicably European or Chinese urban areas. Since each map is hand-crafted, however, this is understandable.

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* StarerEquipment: XCOM starts the game with awful conventional earth weapons. While they are passable on easy and normal difficulties, they are hopelessly outclassed by the aliens on Classic and Impossible, routinely requiring multiple shots even to kill the lowly sectoids.

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