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Characters / XCOM 2

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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 of other psionics 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 yourself (or as close to it as possible) on the battlefield.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The final mission has the Commander control an Avatar to fight alongside their soldiers.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Commander is modeled in-game as a bulky self-contained stasis 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 an androgynous albino with a faceplate that never speaks on its own. However, when hit, the Commander's Avatar screams like an 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 more like an Armchair Military with a kick ass 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: To the resistance movement, allowing them to finally rise 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).
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Although the Commander is confirmed to be psionically gifted, they were never mentioned to have undergone psionic combat training, yet when they assume control of their Avatar body, they instantly gain access to Null Lance and Dimensional Rift, the game's most powerful psi attacks. Once the Final Battle is won, they not only know that they can stabilize the Elders' Portal Network with their powers, they even know how in an instant. Then the entire Elder Council, the most powerful psionics known to mankind, engage them in a Beam Of War, which the Commander handily wins despite no known training whatsoever.
  • Rebel Leader: The Commander of XCOM and organizer (but not creator) of the Global Resistance.
  • 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. ADVENT are implied to have captured you and integrated you into their network early on, so you are 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 that takes 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.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Their Psyonic abilities are completely untrained, but they can use it to best the entire Ethereal Council in a Beam-O-War.
  • Walking Spoiler: The Commander is central to the plot this time instead of a Non-Entity General, and most of their part in the story is grounds for spoilers.
  • Wetware CPU: After being captured, the Commander was put into a stasis suit, with their brain getting implants to transfer tactical data of their 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 ADVENT's tactical data decayed, making the Commander a not absolutely crucial, but certainly integral 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.

  • Ace Pilot: Inverted. He is responsible for piloting the Avenger, however atmospheric comments from various characters imply that he's actually a really awful pilot it's just that the auto-pilot is even worse and no one else wants the job so Bradford is stuck with it.
  • 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, when he's playable, he has that same rifle and you can see it's modded to the point of absurdity: it's outfitted with advanced versions of all six available weapon mods, making it the most comprehensively upgraded weapon in the game. It is named the "Multipurpose assault rifle".
  • Berserk Button: There'll be hell to pay if he finds whoever's been leaving Advent Burger wrappers lying around the command center.
  • 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 he was a clean-cut, upstanding, by-the-book Boy Scout of a second officer that cracked a quip every now and then, but his experiences following the fall of XCOM and the rise of ADVENT have left him bitter, jaded, cynical, and world-weary. Also, he's much more fond of close range than he used to be.
  • The Creon: Bradford isn't cut out for the job of leading mankind's scattered anti-alien resistance to victory against a vastly superior foe like ADVENT, and he knows it. Managing the logistics and day-to-day minutiae of the war is what he's good at, so the moment the Commander returns to reassume command of XCOM, Bradford all too willingly steps down to go back to being their Number Two. In fact, good ol' Central spent years focussing most of his efforts on finding the Commander precisely because he knew that only they have the tactical and strategic brilliance that would be necessary to win this war.
  • 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, and 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 of an assault rifle with more mods than it is actually possible to have on a gun unless you mod the game, he's the cornerstone of the team's survival. The reaper skill in particular is ideal to deal with all the low health-enemies on the mission.
  • Death Seeker: He was never outright suicidal, but in the first TLP campaign, Bradford admits that in the early days of him running around, skirmishing with ADVENT alongside some other troublemakers, he didn't have any sense of self-preservation, he was just focused on doing as much damage as he could.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Four-Star Badass: He led the fight against the ADVENT from the frontlines for two decades before the commander's return.
  • 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, and rolls his eyes during one of the Speaker's broadcasts. One of his dash responses in battle is to complain "I'm getting too old for this."
    From the Intro mission:
    Shen: She's calling for reinforcements! Stop that-
    Shen: -transmission.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Played straight in the Alien Hunters DLC. Subverted in the Tactical Legacy Pack missions (see Saved by Canon below).
  • Hero Unit: Downplayed in the Alien Hunter and Tactical Legacy Pack DLC. In the former, he's a Colonel-ranked soldier long before you're likely to have one normally, he carries an assault rifle with more mods than can normally be added to a weapon, and his death is an instant game over but he's otherwise no different from any other Colonel-rank Ranger. In the latter, he can gain access to the Chosen Assassin's weapons and his inability to die (instead being knocked unconscious at zero HP) has a few handy side effects: He can be revived from otherwise fatal damage, he's not harmed by explosives going off near his body, he can't be turned into a psi-zombie, and he'll always be usable on subsequent missions; unlike the rest of the squad, for whom Perma Death is still in play.
  • Heroic BSoD: The defeat of XCOM left him wandering aimlessly for two decades, until a currently unspecified incident broke him out of it.
  • 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 mag rifle, 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, whereupon he'll have even more).
  • 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 Menace 1-5 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 after Gatecrasher; before that, he did his best to be the leader himself.
  • Old Soldier: At 55, 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.
  • Serious Business: His sweater. The Tactical Legacy Pack has a mission to rescue Bradford's old sweater from ADVENT that involves fighting four Avatar pods, two of them simultaneously, but when you see his goofy smile upon being reunited with his beloved sweater, you can tell he considers the grueling battle totally Worth It.
  • Saved by Canon: Bradford can't die during the Tactical Legacy Pack missions; instead, he's rendered unconscious when his HP hits zero. Even if he just fell two stories after being vaporized by a sectopod's Wrath Cannon.
  • 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 during the Base Defense, but here he personally takes to the field to rescue you in the tutorial mission, and even takes a bullet while carrying you to the evac zone.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When he narrates the Tactical Legacy Pack missions, he admits that it's been years since the events took place and he might be remembering things wrong, which might excuse his team's access to top-tier equipment as they fought enemies that Bradford doesn't recognize in the main campaign. That said, Bradford does insist that he fought an Avatar, or something like one, years before he learned of the Avatar Project.

    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, 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 that 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.
  • Badass Bookworm: While her biggest role is that of Chief Engineer, she's perfectly capable of holding her own in the field. As shown in Operation Last Gift, she's almost the same as a colonel-rank Specialist.
  • 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 Rov-R, her unique GREMLIN, 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 almost instantly. It's probably not a coincidence that she followed in his footsteps as XCOM's Chief Engineer as soon as she was able.
  • Data Pad: Uses one to interact with the Avenger's systems every now and then.
  • 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: Chief Engineer for XCOM, just like dear old Dad.
  • Exact Words: She takes advantage of this during one of her Avenger Assemble missions. She knows Central would never give her permission to make a scan of an alien CPU to install on the Avenger, but he did order her to capture a crashed UFO and recover useful technology from it...
  • Gadgeteer Genius/Wrench Wench: Her introduction scene has her tinkering with her personal pet GREMLIN, Rov-R.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: The mission fails if she's killed during the Shen's Last Gift DLC.
  • 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.
  • 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 fit as she may be, one person alone simply can't move something that heavy without help.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Her personal knowledge of XCOM's operations and backstory indicates that she was in close contact with her father during the initial invasion, most likely even on-site at XCOM HQ, yet she was never mentioned in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Although it's nice to have another Shen around after the old man passed away, her inclusion in the story out of nowhere can come across as a bit jarring to players familiar with the preceding game.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • She 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 even 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, that equates to Lily taking a failed Robot Buddy and turning it into a successful example by using another Robot Buddy as the shell, which in turn has its own Robot Buddy in the BIT drone.
  • 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 jobnote  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.
  • Air Quotes: Does this in a cutscene while mentioning the alien unit XCOM soldiers call "berserkers".
  • The Atoner: He regrets his part in advancing ADVENT's sinister research and spends the campaign making up for it with his scientific 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.
  • Data Pad: Like Dr. Vahlen before him, Tygan is almost always holding a tablet computer.
  • 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. The one thing he misses from it is the ADVENT Burgers.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In Legacy Ops, we finally get to see Tygan's callsign, which is... Hamburgler.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Having worked for XCOM's archenemy for quite some time, Tygan had to fight an uphill battle from the moment he joined XCOM. Bradford doesn't fully trust him but mostly keeps his counsel, Shen makes no secret whatsoever that she doesn't trust him either, and it generally doesn't seem like he has a whole lot of friends on the Avenger or beyond. That said, most of XCOM values his undeniably crucial scientific support, and much of the distrust dissipates over the course of the campaign.
  • 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'd worked on during his time with the Gene Therapy Clinic.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: If playing War of the Chosen with Alien Hunters content enabled, XCOM will find the latter DLC's prototype weapons in a cache in the field. Tygan's research notes dismiss the possibility of replicating these weapons, because they're too far outside his expertise.
    Tygan: I am a biologist, not a blacksmith or a bowyer.
  • 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. 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: Downplayed. Tygan's mainly a biochemist, but he has a not-insignificant amount of knowledge on biology and mechanical engineering, going by his dissections of dead enemies and computer science with his help in the Codex and Avatar projects. That said, when examining mechanical enemies he mentions getting Shen's opinion (and indeed most of the autopsies of mechanical enemies are signed by her), 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In the Alien Hunters DLC, once he finishes the autopsy of The Berserker Queen, the normally unflappable Tygan is clearly pissed off at Vahlen's experiments, and comes close to outright yelling about the risk to humanity and her recklessly ambitious scientific work.
  • 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.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Tygan has a very precise, extremely formal way of speaking, expressed in sentences much longer than those of anyone else in the game.
  • The Smart Guy: To be expected from XCOM's Chief Scientist.
  • Techno Babble: Veers into it from time to time. His autopsy report on the Faceless is a particularly noteworthy example.
  • 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, almost mechanical cadence to it, and he's very fond of the word "intriguing", which gets lampshaded 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.

  • Badass Baritone: One of the baddest in the business. He is still voiced by Jon Bailey, after all, and each and every "HELLO, COMMANDER." is just as imposing as the last.
  • Bald of Awesome: Just like when he was with the Council.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: He always encourages the Commander that they need to keep up the fight against the aliens, and that they can lead XCOM to victory. When ADVENT comes for him, he engages this trope himself by taking out a mag pistol to blast as many ADVENT Troopers as possible before, according to his VA, escaping and laying low.
  • The Faceless: His face is constantly hidden in the shadows cast by the two spotlights behind him, revealing nothing but the vaguest of impressions of his features.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Near the end of the game, he's forced to hack the ADVENT Control Network directly due to the fact that ADVENT is now trying to process all humans (instead of select ones like before) due to the death of an Ethereal (caused by Menace 1-5 killing an Avatar), which alerts the aliens to his position. He indicates he knows very well this will be his last message... and yet the guy STILL makes it outta there, according to his VA Jon Bailey.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When the intensely secretive Informant contacts XCOM directly from within the ADVENT Control Network without making any attempt to disguise his transmission at all, Bradford instantly realizes that something must be very, very wrong.
    • The Informant is usually quite talkative in his mission debriefings, and the better you did, the more praise he heaps on you. However, if you fail a mission, he greets you with nothing but disappointed silence that can hurt more than the defeat itself.
    • Another notable example is his posture. The Informant almost always delivers his briefings with his hands folded on the table in front of him, with exactly two exceptions: his very first appearance, and his very last.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The Informant is flanked by separate orange and blue lights, casting each side of his body in a different colour and his face in deep shadow.
  • Mysterious Informant: As he did in the first game, he provides information and resources to XCOM while remaining as mysterious as ever.
  • Reverse Mole: It's heavily implied that he holds a fairly high-ranking position within the ADVENT administration, and is using his connections there to aid XCOM.
  • The Stoic: Shows virtually no emotions at all no matter the situation, even when ADVENT troops are about to kick down his door and kill him after he willingly blew his cover for an emergency broadcast to the Resistance.
  • Uncertain Doom: Contact with the Informant is lost when stray gunfire from the attacking Advent Troopers hits his comms equipment. In a couple of YouTube comments he posted, voice actor Jon Bailey stated that the game's creators told him the Spokesman did indeed survive the assault.



The Skyranger pilot responsible for ferrying soldiers to and from missions.

  • Ace Pilot: Given that she is able to escape from ADVENT Interceptors 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 (or nutjob) 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. As a Continuity Nod/Mythology Gag, her helmet looks identical to the Hyperion helmet model from Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within's Elite Soldier Pack DLC.

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 a sniper rifle or up close and personal with a pistol.
  • Achilles' Heel: Armoured foes for Gunslingers, as pistols don't have any armour piercing or shredding. If you don't have AP Rounds equipped, better have fellow troopers able to shred their armour first, or all he's going to do is Scratch Damage. The Hunter's Darkclaw mitigates the problem. Movement is this for those who stick with using the Sniper Rifle; Codex bombs are especially infuriating for these soldiers. Having to use an action point to move is also a detriment to Sniper-build Sharpshooters, since they need both action points to fire their rifle (grappling to a high point with the EXO/Wraith Suit or using the Icarus Armor to fly to a spot mitigates this as they are free actions).
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The Shadowkeeper flintlock pistol, which only Sharpshooters can equip. Downplayed when you upgrade it to fire magnetically-accelerated slugs or plasma beams.
  • 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: Sniper-oriented 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: Like in Enemy Unknown, pistols never need to reload, so the Sharpshooter can fire at will with them. Especially notable if you have a Lost swarm in front of them and they use Faceoff.
  • 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 eponymous 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 and can be fired after moving. 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 massive magnum revolver they start out with. The other hand is busy holding the rifle.
  • The Gunslinger: Exactly the name of one of their skill trees. 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, 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. They're the only ones that get to use pistols, too.
  • 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 incarnationnote . Compensated for, however, with the Sniper tree skills: they ALL make Squadsight more dangerous. As much as Aim is the One Stat to Rule Them All, this is especially true for Sharpshooters, as most of their skills are reliant on it in some way.
  • 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 at extreme ranges, 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, they begin to show how dangerous they really are. It gets even more glaring with if you spec the Gunslinger build: the basic pistol isn't even guaranteed to one-shoot the weakest Advent Troopers, so 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 and 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 game's strongest weapons in terms of base damage. This is worsened by the fact that, unlike Snipers, they don't get to learn Snap Shot to allow them to move and fire on the same turn. The Major skills reinforce this: Steady Hands grants an Aim and Critical Hit bonus for not having moved in the previous turn, while Aim grants a bigger Aim bonus for ending the previous turn with Hunker Down. It's downplayed if they have the Darklance, the only Sniper Rifle that can be shot after moving.
  • More Dakka:
    • A Gunslinger-focused Sharpshooter is focused on lots of free shots at lots of enemies with their infinite-ammo sidearm. 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 counter attacks with it, an extra ability that lets you take a free-action shot once every four turns, and the ability to shoot everything you see once every few turns.
    • 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.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: With judicious use of Ability Points, a Sharpshooter can be as lethal with their rifle as they are with their sidearm, and a tornado of death at close, medium and long range.
  • One-Man Army: A base game Sharpshooter can become one with the colonel-level skill Serial and some clever targeting, 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, while 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. 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-action shot every four turns. "Face Off" fires the pistol once at each enemy in range, and finally "Fan Fire" fires the pistol three 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, as the Sharpshooter can pick off the airborne Archon, overcoming it's evasive nature with their high aim, while the Archon's flight above the terrain makes getting a line of fire between your Sharpshooter and an enemy Archon easier than with other Aliens. They themselves are poorly-suited to fighting Chryssalid, whose mobility and ability to pop out of seemingly safe areas allow them to jump on your isolated Sharpshooters and rip them apart.

    The Grenadier 


Analogous to the Heavy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Grenadier deploys grenade launchers and other area-denial weapons to fight the ADVENT threat. Their ability options are Demo Expert, which focuses on blowing up multiple enemies at once with grenades and area-of-effect attacks, and Heavy Gunner, which focuses on wearing down powerful single targets with their autocannon.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The "Hail of Bullets" ability allows them to perform an attack with 100% accuracy at the cost of using three ammo pips.
  • Anti-Armor: 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 beam 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. One is their Chainsaw Grip BFG, the other one is their Grenade Launcher.
  • Can't Catch Up: 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. More specific example: of the two Corporal-rank abilities, "Blast Padding" adds 1 armour point but, unlike "Shredder" that does scale with weapon tier, it doesn't scale with the tier of your armour, which means it eventually loses out. Fortunately, you can go around that with a Game Mod.
  • 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 (though not for much) with explosives, and 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. Grenadiers fire them with a greater blast radius, from a farther range, and get a free one, so you should be able to see how they're pretty advantageous 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 late game, with neither them nor their launcher having a third tier upgrade without game mods. Grenadiers themselves also suffer from their upgraded weapons requiring a separate research and purchase, whereas Rangers can make do with the same rifles Specialists use 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 the target by 3, along with shredding armor as usual. In addition, this attack is a guaranteed Critical Hit.
  • Gatling Good: Their primary weapon, the Cannon, is a three-barreled Gatling, that in tier 3 is plasma-based. Averted with the tier 2: the Nordenfelt-like mag cannon's four barrels are fixed.
  • 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 Cannon skills, due to their ammo costs combined with the low ammo of said Cannons, including a few that use all they havenote . Toss in some expanded magazines their way, however, and you can wipe out entire armies or whittle down extremely tough single targets 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 or Sectopod's armor points, leaving them vulnerable to attack from other foes. On the other hand, they themeselves are vulnerable to the Archon, whose high defense makes the low-aim of the Grenadier a marked disadvantage, and their aerial positioning makes actually hitting them with Grenades a difficult proposition.
  • 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 a -50 aim penalty over the original -30. Like before, it includes an automatic reaction shot against the target in case it's stupid enough to try and move.
  • Stone Wall: If you forgo "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, especially if you use the Scalable Blast Padding Game Mod.
  • 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 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 (and it's been buffed from +10 Aim to +15).

    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 with a chance to stun and the latter able 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, they also make good use of a blade in melee combat.
  • 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.
  • Flaming Sword: Of sorts. The Plasma-tier melee weapon is the Fusion Blade, which has a chance to set whatever it hits on fire, assuming that the target survives the sword slash.
  • Foil: Rangers appear to be designed to be the hard counter to Sectoids, who are extra-vulnerable to melee attacks and often die in one good sword strike. With the Fusion Blade and Bladestorm, they also hard-counter Chryssalids. On the other hand, they're countered by Mutons.
  • 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 flick the blood off the blade first.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Bladestorm comes pretty close. It's a free attack on ANYTHING that gets into or moves out of 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 kinetic projectiles.
  • Machete Mayhem: The default melee weapon for the class is an oversized machete.
  • The Musketeer: Rangers use a blade and a shotgun, but not at the same time.
  • No-Sell:
    • With the Untouchable skill the Ranger can ignore the first attack against them after they get a kill, that includes enemy explosives and Psionics. This goes in conjunction with Bladestorm: enemies trying to use 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. Suddenly, those hatchling 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. Lightning Reflexes makes the first reaction shot miss, perfect to disable a one-unit Overwatch trap.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: The standard animation that plays after shooting the shotgun, like the Assaults of decades past.
  • One-Man Army: As mentioned in Kill Streak, "Reaper" can potentially allow Rangers to clear whole pods by themselves.
  • 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, or is it to load an extra charge of pellets? Who cares, the One-Handed Shotgun Pump is awesome.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: They wield shotguns as their 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 two thirds of the Ranger's sight range, especially the Arashi.
  • Takes One to Kill One: Rangers with the Bladestorm ability are extremely effective against melee enemies who are dumb enough to cross their comfort zone, including the similar ADVENT Lancers.
  • 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 the rest of the squad 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 their GREMLIN drone. Their ability options are Battle Medic and Combat Hacker.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The "Combat Protocol" skill allows them to send the GREMLIN to the opponent and zap them for low but certain damage that deals extra damage to mechanical targets. The biggest drawback is that the Specialist can only use it twice per mission.
  • Attack Drone: The GREMLIN, though it seems much more a floating support unit like the old alien Drones instead of the heavy-duty S.H.I.V.s. The Gremlin is 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 (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 Overwatch killstreak. With a bit of luck, your Specialist can end up having a kill count 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 severely wounded enemies or break 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 unconscious ones to boot.
  • Deflector Shields: Instead of throwing smoke grenades like the old Support, a Specialist's first ability is to use "Aid Protocol", which makes one ally harder to hit by sending the GREMLIN to deploy one of these, raising their defense 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 if specialized in that manner.
  • Hack Your Enemy:
    • A major reason why it's strongly recommended to bring a Specialist on most missions. While any soldier can get close to an objective and hack it with a Data Pad, a Specialist can do the same from the distance using the GREMLIN, a critical advantage on timed missions. Minor bonus perks include higher Hack scorenote  and the ability to hack lampposts 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. The Skulljack also boosts the user's hack stat. 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 the squad's action points this turn, intel on what the Aliens are up to, improved scanning speed on the Geoscape, and even permanent upgrades to the Specialist's 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.
  • No Experience Points For The Medic: Averted in a way. The Specialist requires the least amount of kills to get a promotion, and can still get experience from teammates and support contributions.
  • 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 their 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 upgradenote , they 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 attack off.
  • Support Party Member: They heal soldiers, hack targets, secure objectives, and many more. This puts them squarely into Boring, but Practical territory. It is telling that as the Specialist's rank rises, their body count decreases.

    The Psi Operative 

Psi Operative

Instead of the system from previous game, where every soldier had a chance to develop psionic abilities, Psi Operatives are a separate class. Their abilities have to be learned via the 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 both at once), while defensively they can become immune to most status effects and damage types and also boost their allies.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Although not game-breaking, the top-tier Alien Psi Amp provides a significant boost to their psi strength stat. However, unlocking it requires autopsying a Gatekeeper, an endgame enemy that won't show up until the campaign is almost over, and once you've unlocked the tech, you must defeat yet another Gatekeeper in a mission that allows for salvaging its corpse (read: nothing that involves extracting your team at the end) in order to commission the actual upgrade in Engineering. It's entirely possible to only unlock Alien Psi Amps right before the final mission, or even not at all, depending on your luck with the RNG.
  • 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. Also, as detailed below, their other offensive powers, especially the heavy hitters Null Lance and Void Rift, will never miss as long as your own aim is true.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack/Always Accurate Attack: One of the PsiOps' most distinctive trait is that all their offensive powers ignore any and all defenses. Full cover? Super heavy armor? Neither will 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!".
  • Crutch Character: Downplayed. They can and will still be effective lategame, but they will never match a Ranger or Sharpshooter's killcount, with their Bladestorm and Death From Above + Serial shenanigans. On the other hand, their Non Standard Skill Learning allows them to level up to an equivalent of a Colonel in the early game, where turnover rate is still high, and a lot of their skills can be used to soften the enemies and provide protection for the Rookies.examples 
  • 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 the PsiOp, 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 themself immune to psionic attacks aside from raw 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 at Magus rank and knowledgeable of every single power in their skill tree.
  • 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 through elerium infusion and not-entirely-painless training.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The "Null Lance" ability fires a powerful beam of psionic energy that can hit multiple enemies in a straight line and ignores cover.
  • Large Ham: A side effect of their psychic powers is increased grandstanding, apparently.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The "Sustain" ability allows them to enter Stasis and survive otherwise lethal hits with one HP, just like ADVENT Priests.
  • 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. Both can be changed back to their original colors in the customization 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 XP in battle. Additionally, the abilities they 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.note 
  • Mind Control: The "Domination" ability. As opposed to its Enemy Unknown counterpart, it can only succeed once per mission and failure puts the skill on a four-turn cooldown, but in exchange, if it succeeds, it's permanent. Insanity and Void Rift can also randomly put an enemy under mind control, but that's only one of its possible outcomes, and it's temporary if it happens.
  • Mystical White Hair: When one become a psi operative, their hair will turn white, though it can be changed back in the customization options.
  • Necessary Drawback: In addition to the typical cooldowns on all their abilities (some as long as 6 turns), Psi Ops have a number of other drawbacks that can make them more difficult to use. Namely:
    • They can only equip rifles, and have lower-than-average aim.
    • They don't get as many hit points when leveling up, and a Magus always has fewer hit points than a Colonel (though armor helps).
    • They advance randomly, as opposed to being on a specific advancement track like the other classes.
    • They don't have access to the Advanced Warfare Center / Training Center, which precludes them from learning additional abilities from other classes. Given their already vast array of abilities, it's probably for balancing reasons.
    • Unlike other classes, they are capable of learning every ability as a Psi-Op, but this requires a significant amount of time invested in training. However, PsiOps in training can go on missions at any time and will resume their training as soon as they're back and uninjured, so it's not like they're unavailable for months until they're field-ready. They just become more powerful over time without having to kill things.
    • Most importantly, they do not gain experience from combat missions, meaning that taking them along on a mission both doesn't help their advancement, and forfeits the experience that another soldier could have gotten.
  • 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 and psionic damage. No wonder ADVENT troops have a noticeable habit of prioritizing shooting XCOM PsiOps over almost anything else on the battlefield.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Fuse allows them to detonate explosives remotely, including the ones on the enemy, living and dead.
  • 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.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Once they've learned most or all of their abilities, PsiOps will only use their rifles when their powers are either on cooldown or unsuited to the situation, the latter of which tends to be rare indeed. There's almost always something useful a PsiOp can do that doesn't involve pulling a trigger.
  • Sixth Ranger: Has shades of it. The research requirements mean they won't be joining the team until a while in, and 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, No-Sell-ing 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 to remotely detonate any explosive objects on the battlefield. This includes explosives carried by dead aliens. Unlike normally-used explosives, though, explosions caused by this (somehow) have a chance to 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 PsiOps, 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, though that can be customized afterwards. 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.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Detonate the explosives the enemy is carrying with Fuse! Mind Control the enemy and send them to kill their own teammates! Or command them to throw a grenade on their feet!

    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. Subsequently, as a result of her exploits across multiple missions she becomes known as the "Hero of the Resistance" with a reputation second only to the Commander himself. Bradford notes that even the Chosen are wary of her.

  • Action Girl: As a field operative who actively participates in battle, she definitely qualifies for this role.
  • Action Survivor: Given her history as the leader of the Resistance group "Children of the Earth", the role she played in the Lazarus Project and the amount of firepower sent her way during Gatecrasher, she easily qualifies.
  • Fighting Irish: Is of Irish descent, and as competent at it as any other soldier.
  • 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 careless or unlucky. 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 for that campaign. You can, however, play the tutorial and then save her to your character pool for deployment in any future campaigns.
  • 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: She's 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 along with it. 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 X-4 charges she planted in Operation 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 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 because he just saw Ana gunned down before his eyes.
  • Ascended Extra: They only appear in the main game if the player chooses to play the tutorial, where they die. In the Tactical Legacy Pack's Project Lazarus missions, they're given more of a backstory along with Jane Kelly.
  • Anyone Can Die: If you're new to the game and play the Tactical Legacy Pack before the main campaign, Ana and Peter serve as a grim example of the dark turns this game can take. They're built up as major characters for any future campaigns, only to get killed off abruptly in the flippin' tutorial mission.
  • 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 the game.
  • Cold Sniper: Ana becomes a Sharpshooter after you rescue her in TLP.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Averted for Ana. While she's definitely a survivalist who retreated from society well before the aliens even arrived, according to Bradford, she never became the typical crazed loner one usually associates with this type of people. She's fully socially adept and has absolutely no trouble integrating into XCOM when they team up.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The Tactical Legacy Pack paints Peter as the reckless Leeroy Jenkins type and Ana as the calm, tactical-minded one. It's the complete opposite of how they're acting in the tutorial mission. Also, there's no real explanation why both downgrade their high-ranked TLP classes (Grenadier and Sharpshooter, respectively) to basic Rookie for the Gatecrasher mission. Even if they ditched the big guns to sneak into the city center, the loss of all their skills and resilience is purely for the tutorial's sake.
    • If you skip the tutorial mission, the cutscene right before your campaign's randomly generated Gatecrasher mission still shows Ana and Peter sitting in Firebrand's passenger compartment, only for completely different rookies to jump out once the mission begins.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Tactical Legacy Pack reveals that Peter used to lead the "Wrecking Crew," a resistance cell almost as effective as XCOM. Meanwhile, Ana spent years training guerilla fighters for her personal underground war against ADVENT.
  • 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 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.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Peter becomes a Grenadier after you rescue him in TLP.
  • 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 and a selectable hair option in Enemy Unknown.
  • 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 solely run by the Japanese government instead of a multinational effort.
  • 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 Body Armor in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.


Major Advent Figures

    The Speaker 

The Speaker

Voiced By: Brandon Keener.
"A small number of dissidents again repeat the mistakes of the old world. Striking as we celebrate a benevolent savior."

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 than when the Hunter mouthed off to her.
  • Big Bad: The main antagonist of XCOM 2.
  • 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 and berated for several seconds.
  • 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 first one that XCOM eliminates.
  • 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 in a Psionic BeamOWar - 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.
  • Voice of the Legion: When she is angry she shouts in a collection of multiple voices, as if all the Ethereals are speaking through her.
  • 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 with only their mouths visible.

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 Priests, wielders of psionic powers offensive and defensive alike, and Purifiers, who use flamethrowers and incendiary grenades to set targets on fire.

  • Alien Blood: They bleed orange, as a first sign that they're not as human as ADVENT propaganda says.
  • 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 discernible reason besides game balancenote .
  • Artificial Human: It's eventually revealed that they were never fully human, but human-alien genetic hybrids manufactured from scratch and activated when necessary.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Taking cover behind cars that are about to explode, charging forwards to hit the Mimic Beacon despite the soldier 'standing right next to them'... the list goes on.
  • Body Horror: Beneath their face-concealing helmets, ADVENT soldiers have snout-like noses, oversized eyes and a heavily creased forehead, making them look Sectoid-like.
  • Boring, but Practical: Statistics show that the humble ADVENT Troopers actually count for 17% of all kills, globally. To put in reference, the next highest kill count goes to Mutons, at 9%. And it makes sense; they don't waste time doing fancy Psionic moves that ultimately do nothing like the Sectoid. All they do is shoot, and maybe throw some grenades. But really, that's all they need.
  • 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: 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.
  • Dumb Muscle: Implied by the research report when decoding an ADVENT Datapad. It says that these devices are very simple and easy to use after you get past the alien encryption system, and that may tell something about the intelligence of ADVENT troops outside of tactical combat.
  • 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 with few differences, but they always have upgraded health, firepower, and accuracy to contend with your own troops' upgrades, making them threatening even when faced with your Magnetic/Beam-equipped soldiers.
  • Evil Counterpart: To XCOM agents. They come in distinct classes, like the Stun Lancers contrasting the Ranger. War of the Chosen adds the Priests, contrasting the Psi Operatives, and Purifiers, flamethrower users like E.X.O. and W.A.R. Suit users (or the Technicals from Long War 2).
  • Faceless Goons: They wear helmets that leave nothing but their human-looking lower jaw and mouth visible. That's because everything above the mouth has been obviously genetically modified, and the helmets conceal 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 Enemy Unknown. 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 how 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 arriving on Skirmisher grounds and willingly laying down their arms and helmets on Betos's order.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: ADVENT Troopers are known to simply aim and shoot at a soldier, although in the beginning their aim is abysmal. If you hit them with a flashbang, it doesn't look like they're even trying. Their aim gets slightly better if an Officer Marks a target, but even higher-level troopers have fairly poor aim.
  • 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 wear black, while Shieldbearers and Priests are clad in white and Purifiers wear orange.
  • Magikarp Power: At the beginning of the game, they have only '3' HP, and abysmal aim. However, as the game progresses, they improve, being replaced by Advanced and Elite troopers with grenades.
  • Magnetic Weapons: They wield magnetic weapons, in contrast to the actual aliens, who all use Plasma like in the initial invasion. The weapons are initially weaker than the assault rifles XCOM wields, for game balance, but they increase as the game goes on.
  • Police Brutality: Unlike what their propaganda says, 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 and rarely used in that role. In-game, the "stun" lances can, in fact, stun a target that the attack doesn't kill, but that's mostly a side effect.
  • 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 in the game 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, armor points, 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's Sectoids (same Aim, Health, Mobility and average damage) with some minor variations by difficulty that tend to make them slightly less powerfulnote . The similarity lessens later on, as while Sectoids 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.
    • They are also similar to Enemy Within's EXALT troops in that they are humanoid enemies, who use similar powers and abilities as XCOM.
  • 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.
  • We Have Reserves: If the ADVENT stasis trains and gene clinics are anything to go by, ADVENT has millions of Troopers ready at their defense.
  • 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. Tygan and Central note that Stun Lancers are an odd case in the ADVENT program's history, where the early units were actually better than the ones fielded later, as if the aliens had lowered the level of genetic invasiveness for some reason. Probably because the aliens were saving the best genetic materials for their own use.

  • The Berserker: Stun Lancers are extremely aggressive and will make every effort possible to get into melee range to use their lances. This also makes them predictable and exploitable, if still dangerous: if a Stun Lancer can charge a soldier in melee, they will, which can force them into a disadvantageous position. While they are smart enough to not charge ahead if they can't follow the charge with an attack, that opens up their second weakness: their subpar aim.
  • Elite Mooks: Stun Lancers are 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 dealing considerable damage with high accuracy. They're also the second-most common type of ADVENT unit, right behind Troopers.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Their stun batons deal high damage by default and can kill a weakened soldier, but their most dangerous trait is their chance to knock the target unconscious even if it had plenty of health left after being hit. An unconscious XCOM soldier is essentially dead unless revived by a Specialist.
  • 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 and any non-deadly incapacitation is merely a bonus.
  • Psycho Serum: According to their autopsy report, Lancer bodies are flooded with combat drugs. It also notes that their lips curl back in a psychotic sneer upon death.
  • 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 targets out cold, permanently taking them out of the fight unless a Specialist revives them. That said, they're not inherently non-lethal – they deal high damage and can definitely kill an XCOM trooper with low health.

    ADVENT Shieldbearers 

  • Barrier Warrior: They can spawn a shield barrier to give themselves and any allies in the vicinity an extra layer of health. It's likely their first move in a fight.
  • Deflector Shields: Their main gimmick is spawning such shields for themselves and their allies.
  • 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 Andromedons, Sectopods and Gatekeepers have 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.
  • Stone Wall: Their defenses are way up there and their mobility isn't too shabby, but their damage output is among the lowest of all ADVENT, moreso because they prefer supporting other troopers than shooting at targets themselves.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Shieldbearers can be countered by killing them, obviously, but their shields are pierced by Bluescreen Rounds: a sniper with Bluescreen Rounds and a good position can take out a shieldbearer with a single shot, even with shields up. Given the prevalence of powerful units that are also weak to Bluescreen Rounds by the end-game, even Elite Shieldbearers are more of an annoyance than a genuine threat, especially when you factor in their less-than-stellar combat skills.

    ADVENT Officers 

  • Alpha Strike: They can mark one of your troops (which also increases the aim of anything trying to shoot at them) by yelling at their troops to concentrate fire. Every trooper in the area will concentrate their fire on that soldier.
  • 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: Marking a target increases others' aim against them, much like Holo-Targeting.
  • Keystone Army: Implied with the officers: they can direct ADVENT troopers to perform better and seem to have better AI decisions than the basic troopers. When they are killed, the other ADVENT troopers are more likely to perform worse and make poorer tactical decisions, which makes them easier for you to kill.
  • 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 (and since it's an instant kill if it lands, it's a useful way to take out the high-health Advanced and Elite versions).
  • 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 green and gold instead. They are referred to by Central as ADVENT Generals, and they have all the abilities of the other Officer variants, as well as a guaranteed spawn of at least Advanced Troopers.
  • Mook Commander: Their main role is to lead other ADVENT troops in battle, most often by assigning targets for them to focus fire on. They also can be issued Plasma Grenades later on, to destroy cover and peel off Grenadiers' armor.

ADVENT Mechanical Units


Similar to the XCOM's MEC Troopers from Enemy Within, MECs are hulking mechanical exo-armor used for heavy support. This time, they are created and deployed to oppose XCOM.
  • Anti-Armor: The basic model's autocannon shreds your soldiers' armor by one pip, and 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 explosive 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 minor, 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, that have higher stats and red armor.
  • 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 defining features.
  • In a Single Bound: Much like their Enemy Within XCOM counterparts, MECs can leap up several stories with jetboots.
  • 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 grenades. They are also vulnerable to being hacked by your specialists.
  • Mini-Mecha-Mooks: Humanoid mechanized troops that stand twice as tall 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 of 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 cybersuits.

    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.
    • 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 unless it's shredded by someone else.
    • Like all robotic enemies, they can be hacked by your specialists. While they are quite hard to take control of, they are fairly easy to knock out using Haywire Protocol.
  • 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.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: XCOM can deploy their own turrets in Avenger Defense missions. The main difference is that your turrets have blue highlights whereas ADVENT's are red.
  • Sentry Gun: Turrets are immobile, making it possible to bypass them by simply going around their attack radius, and you don't need to kill turrets to complete "kill all enemies in the AO" objective. To balance this out, turrets have heavy armor for when they absolutely must be faced.
  • More Dakka: They can shoot twice a turn. This can get very painful, given their accuracy, height advantage and infinite ammunition.
  • Weak Turret Gun: At least the early-game variants, which have little health, very little armor, 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 fist 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.
  • Anti-Armor: Every hit from their main weapon shreds two armor pips.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Explodes when killed, doing damage and ruining cover in its vicinity.
  • Dynamic Entry: Walls mean nothing to the Sectopod, as it can walk through them like a mechanical Kool-Aid Man. That goes double when it stands tall, as it can take out the floor above it as it marches.
  • Giant Mook: The new model can stand at two or three stories tall, with equivalent height advantage boons.
  • 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. It gets even leaner when it extends its legs.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Sectopods are armed and armoured to their non-existent teeth, get three actions per round, don't end their turn by firing, aren't impeded in the slightest by terrain, buildings or cover thanks to their legs, can assume a high stance freely which gives them height advantage bonuses with no downsides, and have a nasty line-of-effect attack in Wrath Cannon. It's not hard to believe Shen when she says Sectopods trounced Earth's armored units in the first war.
  • Mechanical Monster: Much like their previous iteration, Sectopods are exceptionally nasty robotic mooks that should never be taken lightly.
  • Nerf: Although they're still the nightmare of any XCOM operative, ADVENT Sectopods are significantly easier to neutralize than the invasion-era model from Enemy Unknown and especially Enemy Within. Specialists in particular have multiple abilities that can lock down a Sectopod for up to three turns, if not outright take control of them. AP Rounds make a mockery of their heavy armor while Bluescreen rounds deal massive bonus damage to them, to the point that a properly skilled and outfitted Grenadier can reduce a mint Sectopod to almost dead in a single attack. There are numerous additional options available to effectively counter a Sectopod, and if you know what you're doing, chances are the ugly trash can won't even get to fire its weapons.
  • 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, an AoE electric shock that extends outwards from their legs, dealing damage and potentially stunning what it hits. Even a Templar's Parry won't protect them from that.
  • There Was a Door: They tend to crash through obstacles they can't simply step over. As with Andromedons and Gatekeepers, they're not averse to wrecking buildings they're meant to protect by walking through them and sending their own units plummeting down by breaking the floor under them. They can even cause missions to fail for XCOM because they destroyed something they had to protect (such as a workstation or secure container) by accident.
  • Transforming Mecha: They have two stances, a taller, thinner form and a lower squatting stance.
  • Tripod Terror: Technically bipedal, 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, Wrath Cannon, deals massive damage to all targets in a straight line. It takes a full turn to charge, during which the Sectopod will have its front open and emitting red light beams.

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.
    • They take extra damage when hit by melee attacks. A Ranger's Slash is almost guaranteed to kill one if it connects.
    • They practically lose their special abilities when dazed by a flashbang, which will also interrupt Mind Spin and dispel any status effects they had on your soldiers (including mind control). The psi zombies they revive will drop dead immediately as well.
  • 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 psi zombies reanimation, and incapacitating part of your squad with Mind Spin.
  • 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, such as the shape of their heads, large eyes and lack of ears.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Implied: they seem to have more human-like features this time around, such as mouths with teeth and a much larger size.
  • 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 can randomly do this, disorient the target or simply confuse it into a panic.
  • The Necromancer: Can use Psi Reanimate to resurrect dead civilians and soldiers (XCOM and ADVENT alike) 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, Sectoids tend to waste turns 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 controlled 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: Like the old Sectoids, parts of their body, especially their ribcage, glow from the inside when they use their psionic abilities.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Sectoids are the 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 and psionic focus.
  • 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 more dangerous, even being capable of mind controlling your operatives from the very beginning. To compensate, there's no elite variant to them like the Sectoid Commander.


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 Hunters DLC demonstrates that Vipers have both sexes, and that regular Vipers are all female.
  • Battle Harem: Applies to the Viper Nest in the Alien Hunters DLC. The population of the cave includes the only male Viper (the King), 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 same way he attracts and communicates with female Vipers.
  • Breast Plate: The exotic alien body-armor a Viper wears visibly emphasizes its Non-Mammalian Mammaries.
  • Friendly Fireproof: A variant. Other enemies can blow away an XCOM trooper caught in a Viper's coils without hurting her at all. Also applies to the Lost if they target the soldier she's constricting.
  • Explosive Breeder: They show sign of this, as a single male Viper produces a ton of progeny out of three to four females. Dr. Vahlen guesses the elders may have done their Gendercide as a form of population control.
  • Gendercide: Alien Hunters 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 cover 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 Ethereals wouldn't want male Vipers who could have control and authority over the females and possibly go rogue.
  • Hartman Hips: Have a notably flared "pelvis" at the bottom of their humanoid torsos, which helps give them a more human-like silhouette.
  • Human Aliens: While all the other alien races were humanized by the injection of human DNA, the Thin Men of the first game went the other direction, becoming more obviously non-human than their appearance in the first game. However, the addition of Non-Mammalian Mammaries implies that there's still quite a bit of human floating in their DNA.
  • 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: pulling enemies out of cover.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Physically, Vipers are a gender-swapped variant of the Snakeman enemy from the classic X-COM – possibly not even gender-swapped, as the autopsy of classic Snakemen reveals 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 from the previous game, allowing them to catch hold of, immobilize and eventually fatally crush an operative unless shot off.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: A soldier who gets bound until their health drops low enough will get knocked unconscious. If you don't have the means to revive them, they're essentially dead until the mission ends.
  • Non-Mammalian Mammaries: Despite their reptilian nature, they have a pair of breasts. Justified as these pectoral developments being venom glands, according to Tygan's autopsy records; having the venom glands in their chest allows the Viper to spit up a cloud of the venom at enemies at range via compression of the presumably powerful pectoral muscles. As he begins his autopsy, Tygan mentions it's rather off-putting to see obviously reptilian aliens sporting "such human features", and he's not referring to them having arms. The Viper King has them too.
  • 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 Vahlen's 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, a 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 (that can be mitigated by armor) 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 take an opportunistic kill shot 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. Hell, despite having large and solid fangs, they can't even bite.
  • Snakes Are Sexy: They might be serpentine Beast Men, but many fans became 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.
  • Super Spit: 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.
  • Unblockable Attack: The tongue grab deals no damage, so it can bypass a Templar's Parry.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: They can use their long tongues to drag humanoid targets out of cover and into melee range. It's a free action, but has a two-turn cooldown.


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 when hit, 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 rounds. A Grenadier with Volatile Mix and EMP Bombs can one-shot whole squads of them.
  • Animated Armor: They appear to be an upgraded form of the Outsider, being a central component (their skulls in this case) that animates a hard light-like form around it.
  • Asteroids Monster: Summons a clones of itself upon taking damage, splitting all remaining health between both clones.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The first time you successfully skulljack an ADVENT officer, you unlock access to the Avatar Project's "Codex". A Codex appears and, if you're still stuck on Tier 1 ballistic weaponry, you're effectively in a mini-boss fight against a surprise enemy with a lot of abilities you may not be ready for.
  • Breast Plate: Codices have a distinctly feminine physique, unlike the Outsiders before them. Possibly indicative that they're not simply machines like it was thought of Outsiders.
  • Cyborg: Downplayed. They're mentioned to have biological components, but unlike the Archons and Gatekeepers, 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 every time they are hit, unless they get stunned by flashbangs.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The cutscene after Operation 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 early on, they have a potent defense, and killing one reveals a valuable resource, screwing up the Avatar Project and giving you more time to counter it.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: In gameplay, they can be defeated, and it gets easier as you get more advanced technology. But hooking up the Codex Brain to the Shadow Chamber quickly reveals that it's still alive, even when it's only reduced to a brain, making all those brains you're mounting in the Armory a potential case of And I Must Scream.
  • 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 and collapsing in on itself in the next turn damaging everyone inside it, discouraging clumping your troops and forcing them to scatter. The teleportation means cover is nearly useless. 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 hard light 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 have an Elite version.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Despite all the genomic changes their race was put through since the first game, Mutons still maintain their tribal culture, as indicated in the flavor text of their corpses.
  • 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: 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 massive as the old crop, but possess increased agility and intelligence as a result of the genetic tampering and are equally as tough as their former selves.
  • 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.
  • One-Hit Kill: They can use "Execute" on a stunned target, a death sentence where health doesn't matter.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: Their aggressive combat style, their oversized gun including a 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 Features: 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. It can also trigger explosive objects like propane tanks and cars.
  • 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 entire stories to assault XCOM soldiers.
  • One Of These Is Not Like The Others: One can spot hidden Faceless in non-Retaliation missions by their behavior: 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. Just don't be near anything explosive when one approaches.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: They have pinkish-red eyes.
  • Regenerating Health: They regen each turn, which means they're a pain to kill with low-tier weapons unless you concentrate fire on them.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Somehow they disguise themselves as perfectly ordinary-looking humans, despite being simply huge in their true forms. There could be a case on their bodies' density, but Tygan never remarks on it.
  • 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 forces them into the open if they're within range, however, and a Battle Scanner thrown near them blows their cover.

    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, everything else is bare hide.
  • 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.
  • Flower Mouth: And full of teeth. It's especially visible when they first get Enraged. Whether they share this anatomy trait with Mutons is unknown.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: As with regular Mutons.
  • Ground Punch: Their default melee technique, usually with both fists simultaneously. It can stun or disorient whatever's caught by it.
  • Light Is Not Good: Much of their bodies is coloured a bright white. It's unclear if that's armor, leather or sinewy tissue over their muscles.
  • 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, maybe due to lacking the human DNA infusions that made Mutons smaller but smarter.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Not outwardly visible, but their roars reveal that their flower-like mouths are studded with rows upon rows of sharp teeth.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Much like the Stun Lancer, the Berserker's stunning attacks have a chance to knock their target unconscious, but it's far from a Berserker's primary goal.
  • Roar Before Beating: They usually roar when their pods are encountered, when they're attacked, and when they're enraged.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: If you can hurt a Berserker without being seen (such as Sting or Remote Start from a Reaper), sit back and watch as she lays waste to her podmates in blind rage.
  • Smash Mook: A Berserker lives and dies smashing all perceived threats to paste under her enormous fists.
  • 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 her own pod in blind rage, assuming no XCOM troops are closer than the closest pod member.
  • Unstoppable Rage: So unstoppable in fact, that an enraged Berserker 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.
  • Attack Animal: The Ethereals never managed to give these monsters intelligence on par with their other servants, so they basically gave up and just deployed them as expendable attack crawlies to terrorize their enemies.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: They're an aggressive, six-limbed insect species whose warrior clade stands at least as tall as the average human.
    • Giant Enemy Crab: The It Came From The Sea mini-campaign features Chryssalids leaping out of the ocean, implying that they're crustacean in nature. The fact that the ADVENT beacons The DJ was using as radio transmitters were meant to lure them out of the ocean causes Bradford to muse about just what the Chryssalids actually are.
  • Explosive Breeder: Chryssalids are not only 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 by kicking with their frontal pair of claw-like legs.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Although Chryssalids have found their niche in the Ethereals' armies, they're far from what the Ethereals had in mind when they began to uplift them. They were looking for an intelligent servant race with a keen psionic aptitude, but instead they just ended up making a lethal mindless predator even more lethal and uncontrollable.
  • 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 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 are a good way to make them harmless for a couple of turns if killing them is out of the question.
  • 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 yours; you aren't controlling them, only their parent.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Arm a Bladestorm ranger with a fusion blade and send them into a suspected Chryssalid burrowing ground. Watch the Chryssalids beeline towards them, only to be hacked apart - and the survivors being set on fire and thus unable to attack. If the Bladestorm Ranger has the Assassin's katana, any and all Chryssalids will be dead when they get into melee range.
  • Poisonous Person: As most of the fluff likes to remark, Chryssalids are exceptionally toxic to the point of their corpses having to be sealed off individually. All of their attacks can inflict the Chryssalid Poison status on victims, and said poison doesn't wear off unless treated. Anything that dies from their poison turns into a cocoon that'll spawn up to 3 hatchlings. Another kicker is that even poison-immune organic targets will still be poisoned, though they won't take damage.
  • 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 burrowing is their own form of going into Overwatch, so if you move within one's sight radius, it'll rush in to claw-kick you.
  • Uplifted Animal: The Chryssalids were deadly, relentlessly aggressive animals when the Ethereals found and uplifted them, which turned the critters into... the even deadlier and even more aggressive animals XCOM now has to deal with.
  • 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. Their look is also very reminiscent of an Egyptian god's.
  • Angry Fist-Shake: If you hit them, they recoil, then do this at the attacker while howling in rage.
  • Airborne Mook: Naturally, given that they're an evolution of the Floater.
  • Bishōnen 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.
  • 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: That staff they carry can shoot plasma beams and be used to whack a target in melee range.
  • 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 several targets in an area beneath it with multiple missiles. It takes a full turn between the missiles being launched and them hitting the targets, and they have enough splash effect to explode volatile cover like gas tanks.
  • 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, or a godlike halo.
  • Light Is Not Good: Just because Archons look angelic doesn't mean they not still the same bloodthirsty, calculating killing machines that they always were as Floaters.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They move faster and farther than any other enemy type, and can deal incredible damage if not put down quickly. They also have over 20 health on Legend.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The "Blazing Pinions" ability involves firing a barrage of missiles skyward, that then one turn later turn around and bombard the ground where the Archon designates. Needless to say, this absolutely wrecks cover and anything caught inside of it. It can trigger explosives too.
  • Shout-Out: Their weapon looks suspiciously like a somewhat smaller and more elegant Necron warscythe.
  • Stripperiffic: The Archon is 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: They've sure come a long way from being one of the wimpiest units in the franchise.
  • Turns Red: When an Archon is wounded, it goes into a Battle Frenzy that grants additional actions and starts lashing out in melee range.
  • Unstoppable Rage: As mentioned under Turns Red, Archons grow vastly more aggressive the more damage they take. When hit, they howl while shaking a fist at their aggressor, then often activate Battle Frenzy and drop the tactical use of Blazing Pinions air strikes in favor of lashing out with their staves. Taken Up to Eleven by the Alien Hunters-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; 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 like the old Cyberdiscs did. 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 X-COM: 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. It 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 literally anything else in the game. Opening its shell halves its armor value, but three pips (on Normal) are still nothing to sneeze at. Shredding is essential when fighting them.
  • 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's killed by it.
  • Light Is Not Good: Like most psionic alien units, Gatekeepers are shiny white and gold on the outside, and sociopathic murder machine on the inside.
  • The Necromancer: Capable of raising dead humanoids 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!: They're 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. As a twist, the shell works as an eyeball for the creature inside, who has no sensory input on its own.
  • Power Floats: One of the most powerful psionic units in the game, and the only one to float without obviously technological levitation or propulsion.
  • Psychic Powers: One form of its attacks involves firing psychic energy in forms very similar to an Ethereal's.
  • 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 self-propelled pearly white wrecking ball with how it gladly obliterates whatever terrain and cover 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.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: While immune to hacking, the Gatekeeper's reliance on mechanical life support means that they're vulnerable to EMP grenades/bombs, Bluescreen Rounds, and Combat Protocol/Capacitor Discharge, all of which ignore their otherwise prodigious armor.


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, and the plasma gun loses effectiveness.
  • Animated Armor: Once you kill the pilot, the armor will start attacking on its own, mostly by punching stuff but also by using the rifle it's carrying.
  • 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.
  • Enclosed Extraterrestrials: Because they can't breathe Earth's atmosphere, and whatever they do breathe is toxic to humans, they are completely sealed inside their Powered Armor.
  • 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 – in fact, it'll be gone entirely.
  • 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: Zig-zagged. Silly things like walls and trees will not stop an Andromedon: it'll walk though stuff during combat and even in idle patrol. It can get a bit silly on Alien Facility missions, where its idle patrolling can demolish half the very-important-to-ADVENT building before you even get there.
    • Amusingly enough, they will still 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 form.
  • 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 destroy cover just like Faceless do.



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 and Mind Control, and carry both a psionic repeater and a psi-amp.

  • Ambiguous Gender: It's quite hard to tell what gender most Avatars are, and it's even remarked that they're androgynous in appearance. The one created for the Commander seems to be male, judging by the bodyscan.
  • Anime Hair: Their white hair stands up on end. It helps emphasize 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 outside of the consciousness that's already mind-controlling the Avatar.
    • In War of the Chosen, they're more resistant to being frozen: it simply them one action point rather than actually freezing them for multiple turns, just like Alien Rulers.
  • Easy Level Trick: Although "easy" might be a bit of a stretch, all three Avatars that participate in the Final Battle are always the first enemy to move, both from their pod and on the whole map. So, if you managed to set enough of your soldiers on Overwatch before you trigger their pod, chances are the Avatar goes down without getting a single shot off. You "merely" have to survive long enough to make it to Turn 5 without losing too many soldiers to their alien reinforcements. Their spawning is also very predictable (every other turn, at predetermined locations that never change between campaigns), which makes this strategy even easier to apply from your second campaign onwards.
  • Evil Counterpart: To XCOM's Psi Ops. They even have similar equipment loadout (assault rifle + PSI amp).
  • Empty Shell: The bodies act as a vessel for their Ethereal masters, and little else. It's 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: A result of splicing human and Elder DNA.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: The Elders have one of their own Avatars turned against them by XCOM in the endgame: Tygan uses the 'blank' template body from the Forge and the Blacksite genetic sample vial, plus cooperation from the Commander with the stasis suit they were wearing when they were rescued in Operation Gatecrasher, 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 Null Lance and Dimensional Rift attacks. The size of the map will make it difficult for the escorts to reach you before you've disposed of the Avatar. It's also not rare for them to teleport into very easy-to-flank positions.
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy: They will keep summoning reinforcements, so you have to hurry and kill them before your troops get swarmed and overwhelmed.
  • Lightning Bruiser: More or less. They have a massive HP pool, considerable 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. However, at this point in the game, they are not really that big of a problem, because XCOM has faced worse. Mind Control is a waste of their turn if there's a PsiOp with Solace nearby, and while Rift hurts, it does the same damage as a regular grenade. To boot, while a flanking soldier with Rapid Fire or Chain Shot does not One-Hit Kill them, it comes damn close, and they can't teleport until the second shot is fired since mechanically it's a single action. The best they can do is stay the hell away from your soldiers, drop the occasional Dimensional 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 their mind control cannot be interrupted since aliens don't have Solace available and you are likely to open with Null Lance. Enemy avatars do have Null Lance, but it's very low on their priority list.
  • 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 whether the battle itself caused catastrophic damage to the base, or 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. And since Avatars have flashbang immunity, it can only be broken by killing them, freezing them, or through Solace.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Avatars are the only enemies that are immune to flashbang grenades, resilient against the Frost Bomb's freezing effectnote , and almost immune to the ADVENT Priest's Holy Warrior feedback damagenote . In short, they're virtually impossible to disable or cheese to death. The only thing that works against them is pure firepower and the Repeater weapon mod.
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: For the final level, the commander controls an Avatar psionically. It's offensively as powerful as normal Avatars in psionic powers, regeneration and immunity to all status effects, though it has lower health and no armor, and has to survive the mission. 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 deadliest and highest ranking of the ADVENT forces look like androgynous humans wearing face masks. 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. As a silver lining, you don't have to worry if the Commander's Avatar takes some Scratch Damage.
  • Taken for Granite: Downplayed, but during autopsy, their faceplate turns stonelike. Possibly due to psionic power meltdown as they die.
  • Teleport Spam: Elder-controlled Avatars will teleport to reposition themselves whenever they take damage, making it difficult to pin them down.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: white alabaster locks on bodies that contain the minds for the rulers of the alien's ruling caste. Averted for the Commander's Avatar, who's as good as the Commander themself.
  • 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 either the Elders 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 an action for every action your team makes (dubbed "Ruler Reaction"), meaning they can attack or move far more times than they should have any right to. Combined with their greater durability and new abilities, they 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 free-action abilities, 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 off 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.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Ruler health pools range from 50 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, though you don't have to do all of it in one go.
  • Demoted to Extra: The rulers will appear in War of the Chosen if you have Alien Hunters, however they take a backseat to the titular Chosen, 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.
  • Developers' Foresight: If you have War of the Chosen, don't worry about having to face a Ruler and a Chosen in the same mission, as they will never under any circumstance spawn together.
  • 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 Their Own Petard:
    • As ChristopherOdd's awesome first-encounter kill against the Berserker Queen demonstrates, the Ruler Reaction mechanic that makes them such a nightmare to fight also causes Damage Over Time effects to proc with every reaction.
    • An achievement can be earned by using any one ability granted by an armor made with a Ruler's remains on another Ruler.
    • All three weapons introduced in Alien Hunters - the Bolt Casternote , the Hunter Axe and the Shadowkeeper pistol - gain considerable buffs when used against the Rulers. For instance, the Bolt Caster's 20% stun chance increases to 50%.
  • Human Popsicle: 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.
  • King Mook: They are souped-up boss 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 of a Metal Slime. The reward is new research options to create new armor suits with special powers out of their bodies.
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Unlike any other status effect, Stasis actually works for a full turn on them. Sure, it doesn't allow you to hurt the Ruler, but it gets you a full turn to regroup. It's an enormous advantage.
    • Also as described above under Hoist by His Own Petard, Alien Rulers take exceptional amounts of damage from Damage Over Time effects.
  • Marathon Boss: There's a reasonably good chance to kill the Viper King when he first pops up, 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: Accidentally made by Vahlen.

    Viper King 

Viper King
Codenamed "Subject Gamma", the Viper King is the third of Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects, and the first one fought by XCOM. 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, by lashing out with the suit's grapple. 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.
  • Badass Cape: Wears a little half-cape similar to the ADVENT Officers' over his left shoulder.
  • 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, that's even higher if it's used to shoot another Ruler.
  • 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 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: "His" 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.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: When coiling around a target, Subject Gamma has a 50% chance of knocking the target unconscious or dealing damage.
  • Personal Space Invader: Can tongue-grab and bind enemies just like the females, though his bind deals more damage over time and has a chance to knock the target unconscious at every turn.
  • 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 the second Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects, and likewise the second that XCOM encounters. 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 appearing so early. 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 King Mook 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.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Unlike regular Berserkers, she has a chance to knock targets unconscious at any given time.
  • Power Fist: She dual-wields enormous piston-driven pile drivers the size of fridges.
  • 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 rush-and-punch attack that's weaker than the Ranger's basic sword slash. Plus it looks kinda goofy. At least the punch is a free action and allows traditionally non-melee units like Grenadiers and Specialists a chance to relocate if things get too hairy.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Even worse than "normal" Berserkers.

    Archon King 

Archon King
Codenamed "Subject Alpha", the Archon King is the first of Dr. Vahlen's three test subjects, and the third and final one faced by XCOM. 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 inevitably 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 equivalent, Devastate, impacts the next Ruler Reaction, so once he fires his missiles, you have one move to decide which lucky soldier gets to avoid the overlapping explosions with enhanced radius. The only way for other soldiers to escape is if they can use a free-action ability to move away. Luckily the explosion's base damage is quite low, but it can inflict status debuffs and it'll destroy the floor under a soldier's feet if they're above ground level.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: In contrast to his pseudo-angelic white and gold underlings, the Archon King's color palette makes no secret of his bloodlust and insanity.
  • Spinning Piledriver: The King can grab one of your soldiers, rocket upwards with them and smash them on the ground the next turn. Fortunately, if you interrupt the grab, the soldier takes no fall damage when he drops them.
  • That One Attack: Devastate, the Archon King's favorite action. Unlike Blazing Pinions, you can only move one soldier away from the missiles' marked impact area.

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 a SPARK's body, 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 Raymond's SPARK robot 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. You can avert it if you use him in a SPARK by giving him a head with two or more eyes.
  • Deadly Gas: After Shen activates the SPARK, he throws a trantrum and floods the facility with toxic green gas.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He mostly 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 his only means of protest.
  • Developers' Foresight: 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.
  • Foreshadowing: His distinctive interface appears briefly on Shen's monitors during the cutscene aboard the Avenger that kicks off the Lost Towers mission.
  • 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. It's best to copy the save file to a separate folder as a backup before starting the mission, just in case.
  • 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.
  • If I Can't Have You...: He says this near verbatim about the SPARK just before the final battle with him, fully prepared to destroy it as he uploads himself into a Sectopod body.
  • 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.
  • Not So Above It All: If he's loaded into a SPARK, most of his lines retain his Deadpan Snarker tone, except sometimes when you activate the Overdrive ability...
    Julian: OVERDRIVE!!... Sorry.
  • 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 reconfigured 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 that 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 an achievement.
  • 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, incliding Julian himself.
  • SkeleBot 9000: The Derelict MECs have heads that are Terminator-style skulls, as opposed to the featureless ones of normal MECs. You have the option of cuztomizing your own SPARKs with one of those.
  • 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 Kill 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, a fully robotic soldier equipped with an advanced learning AI, much like that of Lily's unique GREMLIN, ROV-R, but also capable of speech, that ADVENT would copy as a base for the MEC. SPARK troopers, like their MEC forebearers in Enemy Within, favor heavy weapons and lack the ability to use cover to boost defense. Unlike their predecessors, they are fully mechanical and don't 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 E.X.O. and W.A.R. 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: Shots from the Heavy Autocannon shred armour by default.
  • 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, in a similar manner that Specialists have GREMLINs.
  • A-Team Firing: Without War of the Chosen, SPARKs 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 allows them to upgrade their cannon with Gun Accessories, 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 and are a good slot filler if too many soldiers are tired, 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. The Metal Over Flesh Game Mod strives to make SPARKs more versatile and viable through several Proving Grounds projects, mostly giving them abilities of the old MEC Troopers.
    • Besides their limited skills, SPARK have the worst aim growth in the game. Unlike Grenadiers, they cannot mitigate it using weapon mods or ammos either. Also, damaged SPARK can only be repaired one at a time, and that process cannot be accelerated, while human soldiers can use the infirmary to heal faster, and all heal simultaneously.
    • War Of The Chosen adds other drawback to the SPARK. They cannot go on covert missions. Covert missions hand out a ton of bonuses, from immediate promotions (great to circumvent the high XP requirement at higher rank) to various permanent stat bonuses. The SPARK can never get any of those, meaning it's stuck with whatever mediocre stat it has, and must grind out promotions the ol' fashioned way. SPARK also cannot form bonds with other soldier, which further locks them out of many abilities.
  • 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 the SPARK.
  • Chicken Walker: They have digitigrade legs.
  • 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 rush-and-melee attack: with Overdrive, the SPARK has much easier access to targets and can destroy their cover while softening them up for its squadmates to finish off.
  • 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: Raymond didn't directly intend for 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 Adaptive Aim, a later skill, 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 the late game.
  • Master of None: The SPARK's versatility comes at a hefty cost.
    • 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 explode with an AOE effect 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 or aim increased with accessory mods outside of War of the Chosen, and they don't 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 unless War of the Chosen is installed.
    • Last but not least, while SPARKs 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. There are Game Mods that change that, though.
  • No-Sell: Being mechanical, SPARKs are immune to poison, panic, disorientation, burning and mind control. They're a wondrous counter to the Warlock in War of the Chosen.
  • 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.
  • 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 in 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 mass-produced ADVENT MECs 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. XCOM can make more SPARKs just like the 001 prototype, but they come at a hefty cost and long production time and can only be built one at a time.
  • Sixth Ranger: During Shen's Last Gift, SPARK-001 joins your active team even if you're already bringing the normal maximum of six troopers. Also can apply in a different way if they're the sixth class you unlock, such as before getting a Psi Operative or Templar. In War of the Chosen, they can be the sixth team member in case you don't have enough non-tired soldiers to go on a mission.
  • Spock Speak: Any SPARK with a non-Julian voice pack speaks this way.
  • Stone Wall:
    • Perhaps their one unique trait and potentially greatest advantage. Although they cannot use cover, SPARKs 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 with the Bulwark skill 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 to be at top condition 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 a vulnerability to melee attacks or several attacks in one turn, or being easier to hit from elevation. However, they are always weak to attacks from their opposing faction (the Assassin could have weakness to attacks from the Skirmishers, for example). This can be hilarious if the weaknesses synergize: if the Assassin is weak to explosives and the Reapers, and the Reapers are equipped with claymores...
  • Adaptive Ability: They will gain new abilities in response to XCOM's actions, which come with alternative armoured appearances that develop as they receive more and more Strengths. The Assassin actually starts wearing a gas mask of sorts, the Warlock puts on some elaborately gilded armor, while the Hunter does the same as the Warlock but also with darker clothing.
  • 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 the Chosen's arch-nemesis group.
  • Boss Banter: They'll comment on every little action you do, such as chiding you for spamming grenades or employing psionic powers on them. That extends to 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: All of them are 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.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Conversely, because they can't be killed permanently and know it, they tend to act with somewhat reckless abandon: while they fight to win, they don't particularly care if they lose, and may take dangerous actions to try to win even if their sarcophagus is destroyed.
  • The Dragon: To the Elders, who created them to be their enforcers. Any who are not defeated for real before Operation Leviathan will show up and must be fought off before reaching the final arena.
  • 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 XCOM, 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 stomping out the Resistance.
  • Hero Killer: They are deployed by the Ethereals specifically to hunt down XCOM and the other resistance groups, and they're always a tough cookie to chew.
  • I Shall Taunt You: 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. The Warlock is especially fond of this.
    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. The kiddy gloves are off during a Stronghold assault, though.
  • It Only Works Once: Each stronghold mission can only be attempted once, and failure results in the defenses improving and whatever weaknesses or vulnerabilities XCOM exploited to get in being removed, which prevents any further attempts. In that case, the Chosen will stick around until you finish the game, and are guaranteed to appear in the final mission.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: It's possible for them to gain immunities to certain attacks, like explosions or melee.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The Hunter (as a twisted Friendly Enemy example), Warlock, and Assassin, respectively.
  • 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 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 their more heavily armored, upgraded outfit that they get from growing stronger when they warp in to defend their bosses' sanctum, subtly telling you that yes, you're in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Quirky Mini Boss Squad: Ever wonder what happens when this trope is powered by Nightmare Fuel and kicked Up to Eleven in threat level? You get the Chosen.
    • The Hunter is an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight who just loves killing things. 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 what you'd get if you took 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 and religious psionic 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, built like a Muton 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 you to damage it. Once the Sarcophagus is destroyed, they can be killed off for good.
  • Sibling Rivalry: They are actually competing against each other to see who gets to the Commander first, since whoever does so will be given 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.
  • Starter Villain: The first Chosen encountered in a game only occupies two territories, which includes the starting area of the game. The other two patrol practically two halves of the globe apiece.
  • 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.
    • With the release of the comic, this has been confirmed for the Hunter.
  • 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 katana sword, which can be used after her defeat by a Ranger. It's hard-coded to never miss. Her Arashi shotgun, with its Superior Stock attachment, guarantees a minimum of 4 damage on whoever she shoots with it, even on a miss.
  • Arch-Enemy: She hunted Betos relentlessly after her implants failed and she went rogue, and still wishes to kill her. This is true even if her adversary in-game isn't the Skirmisher faction.
  • 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 by default 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. If both the Assassin and a Reaper are in the same area, unless they try to hide behind the same bit of cover, the Reaper is always going to spot the Assassin first.
  • 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 thanks to her Arashi shotgun, she favours using her katana in melee.
  • Dark Action Girl: The female Chosen is also the melee specialist, and the most athletic of them.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Well, love is a strong word. While they hated each other and she's 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, that works exactly like the Ranger skill of the same name, making it so that she doesn't trigger reaction fire. Once she's defeated, her weapons are the best ones available to Rangers.
  • 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.
    Assassin: You have done well, XCOM. May you retake this planet as your own.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In one of her "The Reason You Suck" speeches to XCOM, she tells them that fearing the Elders as cruel, despotic tyrants is just the result of XCOM projecting their own humanity onto themnote .
  • 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.
  • Invisibility Cloak: She can vanish at will, making just finding her part of the challenge. Mechanically her cloak works the same way as your own XCOM's "Concealment" ability, so flanking her usually reveals her.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Her sword, which doesn't really look like a Japanese 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 ability to ignite enemies.
  • My Greatest Failure: It's her job to eliminate dissidents and traitors. 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 Girl: 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.
  • Razor Wind: Though usually limited to melee attacks, she can use her blade to throw disorienting wave at your troops.
  • The Red Baron: She has several nicknames, such as "Butcher of Free ADVENT", "The Unrelenting One", and "The Elders' Assassin".
  • Seppuku: Does this to finish herself off once she's beaten for good.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Her Arashi shotgun hits harder than an XCOM-built Storm Gun, but uses an assault rifle's accuracy table, making it effective at a surprisingly long range. It also comes included with more mods than you can normally fit on a weapon, with a superior Hair Trigger, Extended Magazine, Laser Sight and Stock. Luckily for players, it's her backup weapon and the Assassin will only use it if a melee attack is impractical.
  • Stealth Expert: Can conceal herself to sneak up on XCOM troops, and often has Shadowstep, so reaction abilities don't help. The same rules of concealment you face apply to her, so if you're close enough and flank her position, she's revealed.
  • 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, and daze all of them.
  • Villain Respect: Initially she think XCOM is just a worthless rabble, but after being 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 enhanced 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 whatever'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: Even when you've destroyed his sarcophagus and put him on his last legs, he continues to quip. The guy even mouths off to an Ethereal.
    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.
  • 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..."
  • Fights Like a Normal: While ostensibly gifted with the same telepathy and teleportation the other Chosen have, he prefers to do all his fighting with advanced, but relatively mundane weapons like his pistol and rifle. His special attacks are usually just him loading a tranq dart into his gun or throwing a disorientating grenade.
  • 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. Even more pronounced in that XCOM can and does hunt and kill him right back.
  • 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 it, a theory partially proven right when Tygan finds an advanced targeting system on the Darklance, which supplemented his already outstanding aim.
  • In the Hood: Mirroring the hoods the Reapers wear.
  • Instant Sedation: He can fire Daze-inducing tranquilizer darts from the Darkclaw, although it's also compatible with regular magnetic slugs. 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, but he's certainly capable of bringing the pain with his pistol at shorter ranges.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: He uses a variation of the line if he sees a Ranger use a melee attack. 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.
  • Slasher Smile: His default expression, made particularly creepy by his shark-like teeth and nonexistent lips.
  • 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 may 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.
    • The comic confirms that the Hunter is a former Reaper named Tomko.
  • 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.
      Warlock: I will not allow you to continue pilfering the gods' power!
    • Similarly, he's not a fan of the Templars.
      Warlock: When you are embraced by the void for your crimes against the Elders, the Templars will find that nothing but eternal darkness awaits them.
    • He gets angry if a soldier kills something using another Chosen's weapons.
      Warlock: Defiler! The weapons of the Chosen are sacred objects!
    • He finds it contemptible if you use a SPARK against him, seeing as they're mechanical and thus are not able to partake in the Elders' "Gift" of Psionics. The Warlock is just as likely to get the "Mechlord" strength as the other Chosen, which lets him summon robotic units onto the battlefield.
      Warlock: A pale imitation of life, programmed to serve the most fruitless of endeavors.
    • 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 equivalent in power to XCOM's Plasma rifle that always inflicts critical hits on psionic targets and comes pre-equipped with four superior weapon mods (Scope, Hair Trigger, Stock and Expanded Magazine). 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. That said, he lacks a direct-damage ability 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. It's exceptionally rare for him to use his Disruptor Rifle.
  • 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. Soldiers with high Will scores can shrug off most of his tricks, while Mind Shields or a PSI Operative's Solace aura will completely No-Sell most of the Warlock's repertoire, and SPARKs have nothing to fear from him but summoned Mooks and the rare Disrupter rifle burst. However, the Warlock hates to interact with your squad directly, and summons psionic creatures to attack you instead. If he spawns on the far side of the map, you'll have to endure a slog through whatever enemies are on the field to start with, along with regular waves of exploding psi-zombies provided by the Warlock, then a fight with the Chosen himself. And since fatigue is a factor determining Will, he's wearing you down to make your troops vulnerable to his attacks... or forcing you to run away.
  • Enemy Summoner: 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 spectral zombie-like 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.
  • 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 Op (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 against Priests, Sectoids, Gatekeepers and especially Avatars.
  • 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. There are only three ways to remedy that: killing him, freezing him, or Solace.
  • 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.
  • 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 or if there are no targets vulnerable to his Psionic attacks in range.
  • Psycho Supporter: Extremely loyal to the Ethereals, to the point of calling them gods and proudly boasting how loyal he is to them. Late in the game, however, he starts to express belief in the idea that he will inevitably surpass them, if he hasn't already.
  • 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, hyping up his own abilities, insulting XCOM at every turn, and taunting 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.
  • Stone Wall: 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 by being in a Stasis-like field, which marks the one instance where killing the summoner to kill the summoned creatures doesn't work.
  • Superpower Meltdown: Getting fatally injured after his sarcophagus is destroyed apparently causes his psionic power to petrify him.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Several lines of dialogue hint that he considers himself to be stronger than the Elders, or at least on the path to overtaking them. Going along with this, the Ethereal who appears whenever a Chosen is killed accuses him of feeling arrogant following the death of his "sibling".
  • Taken for Granite: Seemingly turns to stone upon his defeat, exclaiming that he can finally hear the Elders' voices unobstructed, 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.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Some of his geoscape chatter offers a hint as to what's got the Ethereals so worried.
    Warlock: I have glimpsed the power that awaits the Elders, whether they realize its intent or not. This entity is cut of the Gods' own cloth. It is as they are, a power beyond perception. I cannot judge our fate, but it is assuredly intertwined with the void that approaches.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After his sarcophagus is destroyed, severing him from the voices of the Elders, he 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 convince, rather than coerce, 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 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.
    • If they're set on fire, they'll tend to shoot with their rifles instead of using their psionic powers
  • 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 Sustain, 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.
  • Expy: Of the old Sectoid Commander, being a reasonably competent and durable psionic unit that can either harass your squad or provide support. They don't carry a grenade, but the firepower of their rifles is higher.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Like the XCOM PsiOps, Priests have access to the Sustain ability, that gives them a chance to go into stasis at 1 health when they would take lethal damage, although unlike the PsiOp's version, it's not guaranteed.
  • Man in White: They wear all-white armors...
  • Mind Control: One of their abilities.
  • More Dakka: An aesthetic example. When they fire their rifles, it's always in a long and fast 6-round burst instead of the "4 then 2" of other ADVENT troops and XCOM with magnetic rifles.
  • The Necromancer: Raising psi zombies out of corpses in the field is one of their abilities.
  • One-Hit Kill: Notable for being the only enemy type with a high chance to avert this. Sustain 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 a UFO Defense mission, you're screwed.
  • Psychic Link: Holy Warrior 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 automatically killing them both if the Priest is killed while the link is active.
  • Shoot the Mage First: 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: The flavor text about their corpses remark that their bodies are covered in burn scars, some of which appear to be purposely inflicted.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: They only carry flamethrowers and incendiary grenades, and are thus unable to harm units who are immune to fire such as PsiOps with Fortress, SPARKs and units with hazmat vests (though the latter will take damage from an exploding grenade).
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Purifiers have a 50% chance to explode upon death, dealing significant damage to anything close by. And no, melee attacks are no exception.
  • Faceless Goons: Even more than other ADVENT. Their helmets also cover their mouths, for obvious reasons.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: Killing them has a chance to detonate their fuel tanks, blasting anyone nearby. That's more of a backfire to XCOM, for a few reasons:
    • Purifiers tend to be in close range to your troops when they're killed, so the explosion catches your squad more often than it does ADVENT;
    • An exploding Purifier attracts large Lost swarms quickly just like other explosions;
    • It can destroy mission objectives if the Purifier is too close to them when killed.
  • Kill It with Fire: Even though they were originally made to torch the Lost, they'll turn it on XCOM without a second thought. With the War of the Chosen changes to will and panic, they can cause panic to fatigued troops.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Mox shoots an unfortunate Purifier in their fuel tank during Operation Lost And Abandoned, the Purifier immediately knows what's about to happen, and everything they do in the few seconds they have left practically screams "Oh god, someone get this damn thing off my back before... BOOM".
  • 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 when you have enough firepower to one-shot them.
  • 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. Of course, that's because they were never meant to face XCOM; in the job of purging the close-range and fire-vulnerable Lost, which is what the Purifiers were meant to do, they excel.

     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 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. The Lost 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.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: About half of the Lost wear the tattered remains of shirts and/or trousers. Those that don't lack any potentially scandalous attributes, so it doesn't matter anyway.
  • 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 corpses' flavor text also mentions that once they're killed, their bodies rapidly break apart and turn into unidentifiable piles of desiccated limbs.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Invoked. The "Fire Weapon" action automatically turns into a "Headshot" action when the target is a Lost, and a killshot is a free 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 happily ignore armor.
  • Foreshadowing: They're alluded to in the Resurrection prequel novel before they appeared in the DLC.
  • Fragile Speedster: Lost Dashers are the fastest subtype by far, with a movement range just shy of a Chryssalid's, but have little health. Any weapon that isn't the Sharpshooter's basic handgun can reliably one-shot them.
  • Gang Up on the Human: The Lost have a 70% chance to target XCOM troops over advent, leading to swarms sprinting past nearby aliens to swarm XCOM units miles away. Changing this to a fair 50-50 chance was among the first Game Mods to appear after War of the Chosen was released.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The regular Lost's eyes glow an intense green, Dashers' a baleful orange. The glow seems to disappear when they die, leaving only empty eyesockets 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.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Not a very good idea to use one against the Lost. Explosions reduce the time for a new swarm to appear.
  • It Can Think: Downplayed. After analysing their movement patterns, Tygan comes to the conclusion that they are not as mindless as they appear, though they're still pretty dumb.
  • Hive Mind: Tygen theorizes that they may have one, though whether or not it's true is unknown.
  • Kill It with Fire: They take extra damage from burning, and will get a free move when set aflame. ADVENT knows this: it's why the Purifiers exist.
  • Kill Streak: The only thing that keeps the Lost from overrunning your troops is carefully setting this up. The Headshot mechanic makes a regular shot that kills a Lost a free action, so 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' "Between The Eyes" resistance order turns every hit on a Lost into an automatic kill, which often results in hilariously high body counts for Sharpshooters because their sidearm doesn't need to be reloaded. The developers 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, but are programmed to favor attacking XCOM over ADVENT at a 70-30 ratio. You can force it with the Ultrasonic Lure, a throwable that will lure the Lost to its area of effect and target anything inside it.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Pure Lost missions are fairly rare and are only guaranteed with the "The Horde" mission sitrep; 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 according to flavor text, 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.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Lost in a nutshell. There's a lot of theories thrown around - maybe they're the result of the chemicals in the alien assault probes from the invasionnote , maybe they're just walking corpses animated by some weird psionic energynote , maybe they can see or hear really wellnote  - but, no one really knows what the Lost are, why they're around, or how to stop them permanently. The fact that they're clearly former humans just makes things worse.
  • 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: Dealing one of these to a Lost makes the shot a free action. Doesn't matter if it was at max health or was softened up beforehand by other means, if it's a single shot killshot, it's a free action. Doesn't work for special abilities or melee strikes, though.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Of the humans-exposed-to-alien-chemicals kind. To complicate it further, a dead Lost can be raised by a psionic as a zombie.
  • 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. Should the Lost World Dark Event be active, then there's a sizable chance that swarms will appear in any mission. This extends to missions in ADVENT city centers, raising questions about how safe they really are.
  • Stone Wall: Contrasting the Dashers, Lost Brutes are just as slow as their regular buddies and barely hit harder, but have massive health pools that make it extremely difficult to one-shot them and keep the headshot Kill Streak going without using someone else to soften them up.
  • 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".
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Most of them, and decidedly of the Fan Disservice variety for a number of reasons.
  • We Have Reserves: No matter how many you kill or how many are present, a new swarm will show up every few turns, with an explosion of any sort cutting down on the timer by one turn. It's literally impossible to clear the whole map of them and keep it that way.
  • 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 the first part of their introduction mission, Operation 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 during cutscenes, but move at a much quicker pace in actual gameplay. Lost Dashers in particular break into an animalistic loping sprint when on the move. That said, any Lost that isn't a Dashernote  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 the extra damage from Bluescreen Rounds.
  • Dodge the Bullet: They have Lightning Reflexes, so the first Overwatch shot against them automatically misses.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Not nearly as obvious as ADVENT's MECs, but the game considers them mechanical units for all intents and purposes except hacking, lending some credit to Tygan's initial nanobot theory about their nature. If a mission has the Automated Defenses sitrep (mechanical units only), Spectres are likely to show up, and they're just as susceptible to Bluescreen ammo as any other bot on the map.
  • Mirror Boss: Spectres can copy a soldier with all their weapons and abilities with Shadowbind if they can get within melee range. The real one remains unconscious until the Shadow made out of them is destroyed, either by direct damage or killing the Spectre that created it.
  • Nanomachines: An odd example. They at first appeared to be swarms of these, given by how they seemingly dissove when moving and creating a Shadow, but they stay as a solid corpse when taken out, and dissecting one reveals that this isn't the case as far as Tygan and Shen can tell. In fact, the Spectre Autopsy doesn't actually yield any answers as to exactly what it is other than having a possible relation to the Codex.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Killing a Spectre causes any Shadows to disperse and the Shadowbound soldier to recover unless the Shadow Clone has some sort of Sustain-like 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're an upgrade to the Codex, being a durable biomechanical entity with highly unorthodox movement methods and powerful disabling abilities. They also take the same increased damage from Bluescreen rounds.
  • Tron Lines: A handful of glowing green lines are the only parts on their bodies that aren't shiny black.

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. The Tactical Legacy Pack expands upon his backstory and connection to XCOM.
  • 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.
    The DJ [cheerfully]: Do your part today!
  • Comic Relief: The broadcasts are almost always hilarious, which brings some welcome humor into an otherwise pretty dark game.
  • Escort Mission: His mini-campaign in TLP contains several of them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": On the Avenger, the feed when he speaks is simply titled "Resistance Radio," and in the TLP mini-campaign that revolves around him, Bradford only calls him "The DJ." His name is actually listed as Jake Levy when you get to control him in a mission, but this is easy to miss since the game interface focuses more on callsigns than soldier names.
  • 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 an awkward public apology after Bradford predictably calls him and tears him a new one offscreen.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The "clickity clack" sounds running Chryssalids make seriously freak him out, especially while he's still unaware of the real horror he's dealing with.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: In-Universe, Bradford considers him to be one.
  • Large Ham: He obviously loves his job and is a huge XCOM fanboy.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: His tendency to charge into danger without any regard for his safety or that of the people trying to protect him causes Bradford (and through him, the player) no end of grief in his TLP mini-campaign.
  • The Load: In the TLP mini-campaign, it's not enough that he provoked a Chryssalid swarm and has to be rescued (twice!), but he will not shut up even while being escorted through dangerous territory. Even when he's sent to safety and only contributing to giving Central's strike team directions to the next objective, Bradford compares the DJ to a broken GPS.
  • MacGyvering: Somehow he managed to rig his pirate broadcast into various pieces of ADVENT technology that even military scientists of the time didn't understand. It's implied he didn't really know what he was doing, either.
  • Mysterious Past: No details are given in the base game, but it's clear that him and Central are old acquaintances, if not even friends. The only other fact he mentions about his past is that he used to work for ADVENT Burgers until they let him go. The Tactical Legacy Pack later introduced a whole mini-campaign that revolves solely around him and how he came into contact with XCOM.
    The DJ: Ha, I bet the Elders are still regretting that decision...
  • No Indoor Voice: Sometimes one could think he's trying to reach all of Earth by the sheer volume of his voice. If he suddenly starts talking more or less normally, you know he's about to cover a more serious subject.
  • No Sense of Direction: When he's guiding Bradford's squad, his directions are imprecise at best, and confused at worst. Bradford compares taking directions from him to consulting a broken GPS.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When he tries to recount a tale about Bradford without revealing the latter's identity, he changes "Central Officer Bradford" to "Middle Official Stanford". Naturally, no-one who knows Bradford is fooled by it, Bradford himself included.
  • Skewed Priorities: Considers saving his old pre-war records more important than the lives of himself and the people trying to save his hide from ADVENT and an army of rampaging Chryssalids. Bradford is not happy about this.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": He's only ever known as "The DJ", and even that only in his TLP mini-campaign.
  • 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. That he used to work for them may have something to do with it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In the early days of the Resistance, him setting up broadcasting stations along the coastlines had the nasty side effect of luring hordes of Chryssalids from the depths of the ocean, which the resurgent XCOM then had to deal with to prevent entire coastal settlements from getting slaughtered by the critters.
  • 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 Elders' victory, hiding from ADVENT in the wilderness and abandoned cities.
  • Anti-Armor: They can take up Shredder as an XCOM skill.
  • Army Scout: Reapers are the perfect scouting unit due to their high mobility and extremely small detection radius while in Shadow. 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 Boast: They have some of the best lines in the whole game, usually after getting a kill.
    Outrider: Tell your gods I'm coming!
  • Badass Longcoat: It defines their silhouettes.
  • Cherry Tapping: Their Vektor rifles don't do too much damage compared to an XCOM sniper rifle, but their Blood Trail ability increases the damage they do to units that have already taken damage that turn, so the most economical use of Reapers is to finish off weakened enemies. If they also have the ability to stay in Shadow when they perform killing blows, they can theoretically keep finishing weakened enemies for an entire mission.
  • Cold Sniper: Reapers have a distinctly colder personality compared to the more generic units, at least when they're acting in Shadow. Should they get revealed, they talk in normal tones.
  • 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, and it'll explode for double the radius and damage.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Their leader, Volk, outright says in his Establishing Character Moment that "aliens are food". Their introduction missions shows a Chryssalid's head roasting over a campfire, 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.
  • Fog of War: Defied. One ability lets them mark enemies permanently so that they stay visible even if they move out of vision range.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: Their default appearance has them wearing gas masks and outfits that invariably sport trenchcoats, making them look like veterans of World War I's infamous trench warfare.
  • Gun Nut: According to their comments when told to reload, they load their cartridges themselves, which requires both intimate knowledge of the Vektor rifle and considerable dedication to it.
  • In the Hood: Reapers have their coats' hoods up by default. You can customize them to pull it back and show their head.
  • More Dakka: Unexpectedly for a stealth class with a not-exactly-rapid-fire weapon, they can pull this off with the Banish skill: they fire everything they have into a target until either it's dead or their rifle goes click, invariably revealing them. With a superior expanded magazine, they can fire a full seven shots into a target, which at high weapon tiers is enough to kill anything short of a boss. With the Annihilate Colonel-rank skill, they'll even continue firing at nearby targets after the first is dead, and that goes until the Reaper's out of ammo or there are no living hostiles within their sight range. With a Repeater of any quality, the Reaper can rack up an absurd amount of kills.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: With the Elders presumably slaughtering all domestic Earth animals, they probably found Chryssalids a lot more plentiful a food source than cows. Volk explicitly refers to their enemies as food.
  • Rock Beats Laser: They're explicitly mentioned as rejecting all the advances that came from ADVENT, using old school ballistic sniper rifles. Considering those advances came at the cost of a planetary occupation, morally it makes sense. That said, your Reapers will happily use magnetic or beam versions of their rifles if you give it to them, likely because they were developed by XCOM and not ADVENT.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Vektor, that seems to be inspired by the SVD Dragunov, is the Reaper's main weapon. Unlike Sharpshooter rifles, it gets an aim bonus at closer ranges and can be fired with only one action point, but like Sharpshooters, they can be fired from Squadsight if you buy it for the Reaper.
  • The Spartan Way: According to the description of a covert action, their training is compared to the Spartans', with only the strong making it through to the end.
  • Stealth Expert: Almost to Crippling Overspecialization. Reapers rely almost entirely on their Shadow concealment to be effective in combat: they gain a large boost to movement range while hidden, can only be detected by enemies directly adjacent to them if they haven't taken a shot with a chance of detection, and they have a chance to stay undetected even after taking two standard shotsnote . Rank-related skills amplify that: at Lieutenant, Silent Killer makes a killing shot not increase the detection chance (if it's the first shot, it's a guaranteed non-reveal); at the same rank, Distraction makes it so that an exploding Claymore puts the revealed Reaper back into Shadow; at Captain, they can take a single standard shot with no reveal chance with Sting. Their Guerrilla Tactics School bonus ability makes them invisible to sensor towers as well.
    Volk: "Covert is our specialty. Lets just hope your people can keep up."
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Despite being the stealth experts, Reapers revolve a lot around explosives.
    • They carry a Claymore (a bomb without a fuse) that they can throw and shoot in the same turn without revealing themselves. At later ranks, Homing Mine means the Claymore can attach to an enemy and will explode when said enemy takes damage.
    • Remote Start, a Squaddie skill, allows them to shoot and blow up explosive objects like fuel barrels, munitions or cars, with twice their normal power and radius, without revealing themselves, giving them some nice albeit situational crowd control capabilities.
  • Technicolor Ninja: The Reapers' longcoats and glowy visors should make them stick out like a sore thumb anywhere, 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 unless they took one or two shots and weren't outright revealed.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Reapers are among the best marksmen in the game, but every shot of their fairly weak sniper rifles runs the risk of breaking the Reaper out of Shadow concealment, the state in which they're most useful. Less pronounced once the Reaper learns skills to attack without leaving Shadow like Silent Killer, Sting and Remote Start, but until you get there, every enemy encounter is a Sadistic Choice between dealing some damage or staying in Shadow for eventual scouting duties later on in the mission.

     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 secretive Reapers.

  • Badass Beard: Sports a nice full one that looks a lot like his VA's.
  • Battle Trophy: He 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.
  • Meaningful Name: "Volk" is Russian for "Wolf" - perfectly suited to hunters like him and his Reapers.
  • 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 in Operation Lost and Abandoned. She is also the Reaper who found the Commander, as seen in the opening cinematic.

  • 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: 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 for XCOM that they're being held there.
  • Emotionless Girl: She has exactly one moment in the whole game that resembles a furious outburst, and that's when she learns that she's about to be forced into an alliance with Pratal Mox of all people. Apart from that she's the most emotionally stunted character in the cast, with even Tygan and the homicidal AI Julian being vastly more emotional than her.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Kracsad" seems to mean "(Elder) puppet" in the Elder language. She derisively hurls it in Mox's face during their first meeting, which angers him enough to draw his ripjack 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 eventually smooths over whatever animosity the two had between them. The player can even make this trope official by bonding Mox and Outrider.
  • Little "No": Does one when she witnesses Mox being abducted by the Assassin right in front of her at the very end of Operation Lost And Abandoned.
  • Meaningful Name: "Dragunov" is the name of the russian sniper rifle that the Vektor is based on.
  • Never My Fault: Sometimes when she gets revealed, she'll blame the rest of the squad for blowing her cover, even if it was because of her missing or failing to kill the target. There’s exactly one case where another soldier can blow her cover: by triggering a pod and one of them scampering to a tile adjacent to Elena.
    Elena: 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 the Elders' control by damaging or removing their control chips.

  • The Atoner: They regret what they did while serving the Elders, and seek penance by aiding the Resistance.
  • Battlecry: "Vox Tala For Ten!" Don't ask what it means – it never gets a translation.
  • Bald of Awesome: As ADVENT soldiers are physically incapable of growing hair, they're this when they have no helmet on.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They each have a Ripjack, a pair of retractable blades mounted on their forearms for melee. It can only be used in conjunction with their grappling hook, though, until they reach Major rank and can use it alone, and even then it has a cooldown. Some people weren't happy with that limitation and modded a Ranger-like Slash from the start.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Skirmishers defy their creators by showcasing that they are, in fact, individuals rather than the mindless slaves the Elders created them to be.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Their gear and skills emphasize close range by a lot. Their bullpup rifles use the same aim bonus/penalty tables as shotguns and pistols, while their Ripjacks are melee blades with a grapple hook that can pull enemies to them or themselves to enemies, or grapple to distant locations as a free action like XCOM's Spider and Wraith Suits.
  • 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 move around, or pull human-sized enemies to themselves or themselves to any sort of enemy, in both cases accompanied by a Ripjack strike.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Skirmishers are defectors from the ADVENT ranks, and share their genetic alterations.
  • Heel–Face Turn: One of their strategic bonuses, Double Agent, is adding a small chance that some ADVENT units will 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 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 that "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.
  • Spock Speak: They all speak in very formal and slightly electronic-sounding voices, but unlike SPARKs, they're capable of inflection.
  • Static Stun Gun: Whiplash lets them use their grapple launchers as a stun whip once per mission. It damages and has a chance to stun living opponents, but also does major bonus damage against mechanical ones.
  • Training from Hell: Implied Trope and Deconstructed Trope. One covert ops you can send soldiers on while the rest of XCOM is doing their thing is go to train with them. While the mission is always a success, sending a lone soldier has a moderate chance of bringing them back injured enough to need hospitalization for a few days (sending a scientist with the soldier negates this risk though). It is a Reconstructed Trope as well since while training is harsh enough your soldiers can get injured, they know when to stop and never kill your soldiers in a training accident, and the soldier sent for training gains a permanent increase to their skill point gain chance.
  • 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: Justice pulls a humanoid enemy to them so they can hit them with a melee attack. Inverted with Wrath, which pulls themselves to the enemy no matter its size.

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.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Never shown wearing one, and being the leader of the Skirmishers, she's definitely a hero.
  • 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: Guaranteed to be kidnapped by the Assassin at the end of Operation Lost and Abandoned, to introduce the player to the expansion's new capture and rescue system.
  • 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 an intact 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, and spits that fact in his face when they meet, to which he responds that he's not that anymore.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He ambushes a group of Purifiers, pulls one into a smoke cloud, then removes his helmet to examine her before executing her with his Ripjack.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Outrider. They're ready to kill each other when they first meet, but fighting the Assassin and Lost on their way to extraction eventually smooths over whatever animosity the two had between them. The player can even make this trope official by bonding Mox and Outrider.
  • 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 . Also, Mox is just a Squaddie when that happens, and unless you mod the game, a Skirmisher can't use the Ripjack as they see fit until they reach Major rank.
  • 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", the name that the Skirmishers call 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.
  • That Man Is Dead: He considers himself not to be the same being as he was under the control of ADVENT.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mox's tactic for dealing with a small army of Purifiers in his introduction mission marks the one and only time that Central can be heard shouting in anger.
    Mox: It's the Lost. The sound of combat excites them. They are drawn to it.
    Central: And you just blew up a fuel truck?!
    Mox: There was no other choice.
  • The Worf Effect: Fitting for a character voiced by the original Worf, Mox is captured by the Assassin to demonstrate how the Chosen will capture your soldiers. All bets are off after you rescue him, however.

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 on melee with psi-blades and gain Momentum throughout a battle by powering up for every enemy they attack.

  • 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 looks a lot like 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, probably for balance reasons, their Psi Blades aren't considered psionic for the purpose of damage typing.
  • Barrier Warrior: They use psionic shields to defend themselves when using "Parry" and "Deflect". "Pillar" creates an obelisk that 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.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Their autopistols, like Sharpshooter pistols, never need to reload.
  • 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. They are completely correct.
  • 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.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Amplify causes the target to take considerable bonus damage from all subsequent attacks for a number of turns.
  • Defend Command: Parry, an alternate use of Momentum after they attack with Rend. Instead of moving, the Templar stays in place and negates the first damaging attack against them with a psionic shield.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: By far the most difficult of the three Resistance classes to use effectively: Templars have to get in melee range to be most effective, but they don't have good survivability at close range. At low levels, their lack of multiple abilities is a severe detriment, and with the sheer number of enemies that punish melee (Mutons, Gatekeepers, Sectopods, Purifiers), a Templar can find themselves fighting ineffectively at range with a weak and inaccurate pistol. But if you're able to pick your targets carefully, build up Focus from kills, and position them effectively, Templars can run roughshod over the battlefield, darting in to assassinate a dangerous foe, boosting their power, and then running away to blast everyone else with psionic energy. Colonel Templars are potentially more devastating than a Magus Psi Operative, but have a much harder learning curve. This effectiveness increases when supported by a good squad using crowd-controlling abilities like Suppression or Overwatch to keep enemies from flanking the Templar when they fall back or stripping armor with grenades or armor-piercing ammo and passives to maximize the effectiveness of Rend.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Ghost 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. Averted with the pistol, they only carry one of those.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Unlike the other two resistance factions, Templars don't fit into a proscribed role. While they have the Mage abilities (with enough focus), their melee style is more akin to Fighters, and their hit and run tactics favor Thieves.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: They strongly believe that fighting together can create a strong bond between people.
  • Firing One-Handed: How they use their auto pistols.
  • 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 Psi Blades. 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: 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 inbetween.
  • 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, generated from melee kills (or with a class-specific skill, by picking up "residual psionic energy" from killed foes), 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 situations where melee combat is no good (e.g. a pod of Mutons, a large swarm of the Lost and potentially the Chosen), they pull out their machine pistol sidearm. They can get Faceoff for truly ridiculous amounts of dakka.
  • The Musketeer: Just like Rangers, the Templars have both a melee and a ranged weapon, though they never use both at the same time.
  • Out of Focus: They are not as fleshed out as the other two Resistance Factions, being left out of the scripted introductory mission. What little is known comes from idle dialogue and the in-game archive files.
  • Psychic Powers: Like the Psi Operative, but with a melee option, a power-up mechanic, and much worse ranged capabilities.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Their machine pistols are far from being a powerful weapon, but it's what they have to deal with what they can't use melee or psionics on.
  • 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 with Volt, and summoning an Ionic Storm to strike every enemy in range. That said, it's not true electricity, and neither ability affects robotic enemies.
  • 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: When using Ionic Storm.
  • 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.
  • Sword Beam: The major-level ability "Arc Wave" generates a wave of directed psionic energy every time the Templar uses their Psi Blades in melee. The wave's damage isn't spectacular even with three bars of Focus, but it has decent spread and can soften up whole squads of clustered enemies when aimed correctly.
  • Teleport Spam: Invert and Exchange allow them to switch places with enemies and allies respectively.
  • Volcanic Veins: They all have glowing purple veins on their arms.
  • Warrior Monk: While we never get to see their lifestyle, their mysticism, mental discipline, martial capabilities and attire all evoke this.

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, escape 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 psionics left him rather megalomaniacal.
  • 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.
  • Good Counterpart: Mannerisms-wise, he's essentially the Chosen Warlock on XCOM's side.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: When he appears among his followers in the end cutscene, he wears gold armor.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: In the ending, it's heavily implied that he knows 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, like all other Templars.
  • 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 both the more Down to Earth Volk and Betos. 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". You could blame it on the usual psionics-induced megalomania.

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