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The alien regime that has ruled Earth for two decades following their successful invasion. While the ADVENT Administration has rebuilt some of the world's cities into shining futuristic metropolises and present themselves as humanity's saviors, their intentions are far from benign, and they will fight tenaciously to maintain their grip on the planet.

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    General Tropes 

  • Aliens Are Bastards: Though the aliens present themselves as benevolent and gave humanity new technology, they also turned Earth into a Police State and plan to commit genocide on humanity to create life-prolonging Avatars for the alien leaders.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The ADVENT-administered city centres use this, with everything being squeaky clean alongside solid colours and simple geometry being used pretty much everywhere. This is because the aliens want to attract humanity to the cities for some purpose, so the beautiful cities are used as a pulling factor. Other, less regimented environments, much less so.
  • Asshole Victim: The entire Ethereal race is slowly dying off, their physical bodies having been pushed to the absolute limit of what even their great power can sustain, and will most likely soon go extinct if the Avatar Project fails. Given all of the horrific things they have done, however, it's impossible to feel sorry for them, as lampshaded by Bradford and Shen.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: ADVENT presents the invasion twenty years ago as such, where the benevolent Elders ended the "chaos of the Old World" and gave humanity technologies such as clean energy and the Cure for Cancer. Part of XCOM's mission is to show humanity the truth about ADVENT's intentions for the planet.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Plenty of humans are willing to work with ADVENT, either because they believe their propaganda, or simply for better living conditions.
  • The Conspiracy: The Elders present themselves as a friendly group of aliens who want to help mankind, while secretly harboring darker designs for humanity.
  • Cure for Cancer:
    • The ADVENT gene clinics are capable of eradicating any human disease via gene therapy. It also appears to be a front for an abduction operation, and so it is a frequent target of attacks by the resistance.
    • This is essentially the main goals of the Elders as well, who've been testing on abducted humans in a bid to design bodies strong enough to withstand their massive psionic powers without decaying.
  • Evil Is Petty: The "Stray Dogs" scan event confirms that ADVENT has banned all domestic and agricultural animals, euthanizing everything from from dogs to cows. Their status as pampered pets that have no agency of their own (or even livestock) might draw some uncomfortable comparisons between their own treatment of humanity, and of course chose to sweep it under the rug.
    • Killing off livestock does make some sense, since it removes a source of food outside of ADVENT's control, making humanity more reliant on them and making it harder for the Resistance to survive. This especially makes sense when you remember that, unlike a field of wheat or a garden of potatoes, herds of livestock and various other agricultural animals like chickens can be moved, making them more practical for a Resistance cell that needs to relocate from time to time than gardens or fields.
  • The Federation: Invoked. The ADVENT's extraterrestrial sponsors style themselves as a peaceful coalition of alien races that want mankind to join them. In fact, they just conquer other races, modify them to try and make them "ascend", and then keep them as a slave race if that fails.
  • Fictional Holiday: The world now celebrates Unification Day, the anniversary of worldwide unification under the ADVENT government and their alien sponsors.
  • Gilded Cage: Tygan explains the appeal of ADVENT cities in these terms. Citizens receive free housing and care, comfortable and easy jobs, and lack for little. The only price is having a traceable biochip installed and heavy monitoring to the point that Tygan recalls a lamppost asking him for his ID.
  • Hostile Terraforming: Some maps set in the wilderness or around ADVENT blacksites have this vibe, with landscapes covered in bioluminescent and marine-like flora making it look like a coral reef. It probably isn't even intentional, just a sign of the aliens' carelessness.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Everyone agrees, the alien regime might be evil, but their ADVENT Burgers are delicious. Just don't think too long about what you're eating.
  • Kent Brockman News: Every news show is dedicated to upholding the ADVENT regime, and portrays XCOM and other rebels as terrorists. This backfires on ADVENT at the end of the campaign, when XCOM hacks the global news feed to show what ADVENT was actually doing when they said they were taking out hostile terrorists, by showing the Retaliation raids on non-hostile, unarmed civilians.
  • Kill on Sight: This is how ADVENT reacts to any Resistance members, which they can interpret as "anyone living outside a sanctioned settlement." On urban maps you can even find wanted holograms of your top soldiers from your current or previous game.
  • One World Order: To the point that XCOM soldier sticking flags of pre-war countries on their armor is a sign of defiance. ADVENT has divided the planet into sixteen geographic zones, and only rebuilt parts of them - most existing major world capitals are ghost towns, like Beijing, London, Washington, Tokyo, and Madrid. Paris is notably still intact, with major landmarks still extant, but Berlin and Moscow are both overrun by Lost.
  • Portal Network: The aliens have set up a network of psionic portals that nobody in XCOM even seemed to have heard rumors about until they stumble across one more or less by accident. Being hidden deep in the wilderness, and with a direct connection to the Elders' secret HQ that also serves as the hub for the whole network, it's implied they use the system for moving troops, materiel and captured Human Resources for the Avatar Project far away from prying eyes.
  • Putting on the Reich: Despite supposedly appearing as a benevolent occupier, ADVENT loves this trope, particularly with odd uniform conventions. The thigh-panels of the ADVENT officer give them a distinctive German Officer silhouette, and the Shieldbearer's helmet has a noticeable if boxier Stahlhelm shape. The coalition's iconography - consisting mostly of a red, white and black colour palette with a universal, block-shape symbol - is also a bit of a giveaway.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: After successful operations in War of the Chosen, you might hear the ADVENT Propaganda lady assure citizens that the firefight they heard and saw was a planned exercise with simulated casualties, or that the shutdowns at the local gene clinic are due to hardware upgrades rather than dissident activity.
  • Underwater Base: The final mission, Operation Leviathan, sees you lead an assault on the aliens' underwater base.
  • Veganopia: The aliens have banned the keeping of pets and livestock. Despite this, 'ADVENT Burgers' are still available. Lore states they are made of reconstituted protein, but suspiciously does not reveal what the protein is reconstituted from...
  • Vichy Earth: The aliens have taken control of Earth and installed a Puppet State, turning it into a False Utopia.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The aliens have some very effective PR and propaganda going on.
  • Written by the Winners: ADVENT spent a good portion of the 20-year timeskip writing that their invasion was benevolent and destroying any evidence of the contrary, to the point of phasing out much of human culture as a whole and replacing it with a lifestyle reliant on alien technology and adulation of The Elders.

Major ADVENT Figures

    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."

The main mouthpiece for the alien regime, he is always seen in cutscenes contributing to ADVENT's propaganda machine and decrying XCOM as a terrorist organization. He bears a strong resemblance to the Thin Men seen during the initial invasion.

    The Overseer SPOILERS 

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 Beam-O-War - 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.


ADVENT Peacekeepers

    General Tropes

ADVENT's humanoid "peacekeepers" form the bulk of the alien regime's manpower on Earth. While ADVENT citizenry are told that these soldiers are made up of native volunteers, a quick examination of their bodies reveals them as something less than human. Beyond basic line infantry, they come in a variety of sub-types serving specialized battlefield roles, from field commanders to shock troops.

  • Alien Blood: They bleed orange, the 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: Zig-zagged. Bradford theorizes that they are humans who are rewarded for their loyalty to ADVENT by being made into hybrids. A later mission reveals a lab with human-alien genetic hybrids who are clones and manufactured from scratch and activated when necessary. XCOM: Chimera Squad reveals that both methods of creating ADVENT troops are true, with Zephyr being a human transformed into a hybrid and Cherub is a cloned hybrid.
  • 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. Tearing the Commander out of their tactical network really did a number on ADVENT.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 beyond the pitch of their gibberish or death cries.
  • Elite Mooks: Once you progress enough into the game, you will get to fight tougher versions of ADVENT footsoldiers, 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 soldiers. 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.
  • 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.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Commanding Officers can be readily identified by their distinctive red uniforms. Basic ADVENT Troopers and Stun Lancers wear black, while Shieldbearers and Priests are clad in white and Purifiers wear orange.
  • 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 their damage increases as the game goes on.
  • Police Brutality: Unlike what their propaganda says, ADVENT soldiers are not professional and even-handed enforcers. 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. While some of them were indeed former humans, many are 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. in XCOM: Chimera Squad, Cherub is one of the hybrids who was combat-trained but was freed before he experienced any indoctrination and thus is a Blank Slate.
  • 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 has better weapons, better Aim, more health, armor points, and new abilities compared to the previous tier. 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 (mor balaten!), blurring the intent of their communications. According to the E3 footage, they are capable of speaking human languages, however.
  • 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's standard soldiers, armed with a magnetic rifle and eventually grenades. Their tactics are predictable and straightforward, but their numbers mean that XCOM will be dealing with them for the entire campaign to liberate the Earth.
  • Boring, but Practical: Back when the XCOM 2 website tracked global campaign statistics, the humble ADVENT Troopers accounted for 17% of all slain XCOM operatives, nearly twice the kill rate of the second most dangerous enemy, the Muton, and their 9% kill percentage. And it makes sense; Troopers don't waste time doing fancy Psionic moves that may ultimately do nothing like the Sectoid, or go charging in for an all-or-nothing melee attack like a Stun Lancer. All Troopers do is take shots and maybe throw a grenade, but if XCOM has made a mistake, or the AI gets lucky, that's all they need.
  • The Goomba: Initial ADVENT troops are about as weak, gameplay-wise, as Sectoids from Enemy Unknown. Even after Advanced and Elite versions are introduced, if you've kept up with your weapons research, your soldiers can still reliably one-shot them.
  • 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.


The commanders of the ADVENT field units, Officers can contribute with their rifles or grenades, but are most dangerous when they Mark a target for their subordinates to focus on. They often join ADVENT reinforcement pods after missions start, but there are almost never more than one Officer on a given map.

  • 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. Bradford and Tygan specifically note that their helmets are more complex because of the extra equipment built into it, and speculate they may be the focus of alien remote mind control when the aliens oversee ADVENT forces directly.
  • 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: Done subtly: with an Officer around, ADVENT Troopers perform better and seem to have better AI decisions than normal. After their Officer is killed, the 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, it's required for you to jab an Officer through the brain to advance the campaign. And given their large health pools, Skulljacking is a good way to deal with Advanced and Elite officers.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Standard Officers wear a strong red to stand out against their black, white or orange subordinates. There's also a green and gold variant known as ADVENT Generals that appear as the target of "Neutralize Field Commander" missions in War of the Chosen.
  • 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.

    Stun Lancer
Melee specialists 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 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.
  • The Berserker: If a Stun Lancer is in within melee range of a target, it will charge and go for it, even if this leaves them in a disadvantageous position or subjects them to Overwatch fire. They're at least smart enough to hang back and use their rifle if it's not possible to reach an enemy in a single turn, though that means they'll be using their abysmal 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.

These ADVENT support units use a projected energy barrier to add ablative armor points to their allies, though these defenses disappear should the Shieldbearer die. Their actual offensive ability is lacking, making them somewhat akin to the Sectoid of the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
  • Barrier Warrior: Their likely first move in a fight is to give themselves and any allies in the vicinity an extra layer of health.
  • Deflector Shields: Their main gimmick is spawning such shields for themselves and their allies. Unlike the game's armor mechanic, which reduces incoming damage by a set amount, this shield acts as an extra layer of HP that must be depleted before the shielded unit takes damage.
  • 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: Taking out a Shieldbearer first, even if it's already put up its force field, will make taking out the rest of its pod much easier. The Shieldbearers seem to be well aware of this strategy; unlike pretty much every other ADVENT unit, they prefer to run behind cover and pop their shield rather than actively engage XCOM in combat.
  • 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.

Introduced in War of the Chosen, these ADVENT soldiers are equipped with flamethrowers specifically to purge the Lost. But as the Resistance grows, ADVENT will begin deploying Purifiers against XCOM as well.
  • 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.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: 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 morale, this can panic Fatigued troops.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Mox shoots an unfortunate Purifier in their fuel tank during Operation Lost And Abandoned, the Purifier has just enough time to react to the flaming canister before it detonates.
  • 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.

Introduced in War of the Chosen, these clerics preach the word of the Elders and use their 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.
  • 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 20%-66% chance to go into stasis at 1 health when they would take lethal damage, with the likelihood increasing with the Priest's rank. If that happens while the Priest is standing on the Avenger's ramp during a UFO Defense mission, you're screwed.
  • Light Is Not Good: They wear white armors and are just as malignant as everything else about ADVENT.
  • 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.
  • Necromancer: Raising psi zombies out of corpses in the field is one of their abilities.
  • No-Sell: Like with PsiOps, Priests that get lucky and use Sustain become invincible. Though that doesn't stop you from setting up your soldiers in overwatch to strike as soon as Sustain ends.
  • 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 dies 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.
  • Support Party Member: 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 and 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.
  • Time Stands Still: Priests have access to the same Stasis power as XCOM's PsiOps, and won't hesitate to use it to disable a dangerous threat for a turn. Which can be potentially catastrophic if XCOM is currently trying to leg it to the evac point before the mission ends.

ADVENT Mechanical Units

These hulking mechanical soldiers serve as heavy support units for ADVENT's forces, wielding a handheld autocannon and shoulder-mounted grenade launcher.
  • 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: There's a reason these things look so similar to XCOM's MEC Troopers from Enemy Within - the Shen's Last Gift DLC explains that in this timeline, the aliens stole Chief Engineer Shen's robotics research when they captured XCOM's HQ. The only difference between ADVENT and XCOM's MECs is that the former is fully automated while the later is piloted by a cyborg.
  • 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.

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 shoot a turret from outside its sight range. Though depending on how much damage that Sharpshooter does with their rifle and how much armor the turret has, it can take a few turns to kill it this way.
    • 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.
  • Metal Slime: Turrets are by no means uncommon, but they only appear on maps with some sort of ADVENT facility, meaning that in the overwhelming number of cases, XCOM will be extracting from the battlefield after completing the objective. Since you don't recover any corpses or wrecks from missions involving an evac, this means it's possible to go an entire campaign without ever bringing in a Turret wreck for study, which means no Defense Matrix facility for the Avenger.
  • More Dakka: They can shoot twice a turn. This can get very painful, given their accuracy, height advantage and infinite ammunition.
  • 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.
  • Sigil Spam: Look at the shrouds and heatsink around the barrel. It's the ADVENT logo.
  • 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.

A mysterious new enemy, seemingly an improved version of the Outsider. It has several strange abilities that force foes 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.
  • Attack Drone: Chimera Squad implies they're more like this than actual intelligent beings - a lot of really funky programming wrapped up in some kind of hardlight-emitting braincase. Why a feminine form was chosen for them is a mystery.
  • 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.
  • Clone Degeneration: Chimera Squad reveals that their cloning/copying mechanic doesn't just degenerate the clones, but also the 'primary' Codex; over time, the original basically degrades into uselessness.
  • 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.
  • Hard Light: They appear to be entities made of pure data held together as a sort of living hard light hologram.
  • Magitek: They're psionic robots. Kinda. Maybe.
  • 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.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: It's complicated, but from the top; they're mechanical-looking braincases with a Hard Light body. They can't be hacked, but they are vulnerable to "bluescreen" EMP weapons like mechanical units. They're also vulnerable to flashbangs, which mechanical units are normally immune to. However, they use psionic-typed attacks and are tied into the ADVENT psionic network. In Chimera Squad it's revealed that each has a unique psionic signature (Verge is familiar with them, of course) but that they're probably just dumb Attack Drones that can be "refactored" - which is coding lingo for reworking something to be easier to read or cleaner to run without changing how it behaves. Essentially they have a foot in both worlds and eat some of the biggest weaknesses of both.
  • 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 before collapsing in on itself in the next turn, damaging everyone inside it; all to discourage you from clumping your troops too tightly. 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.
  • 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: Tygan theorizes that 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.


Introduced in War of the Chosen, Spectres are mechanical humanoids capable of creating "dark copies" of entrapped enemies.

  • 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.

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.
  • Destructive Savior: A rare villainous example. Sectopods have a good chance to inflict a Total Party Kill on your squad, thus saving the ADVENT asset you were attacking from falling to XCOM. However, their total disregard for collateral and property damage during battles means they're also very likely to have destroyed much (if not most) of what they were supposed to protect in the process.
  • 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

This formerly-puny servitor species has been enhanced by genetic experiments incorporating human DNA. Sectoids are now more physically robust, and have a wider psychic repertoire, allowing them to assault foes' minds or even re-animate their corpses as psionic zombies.
  • 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.
  • Arm Cannon: A plasma gun of the "attached-to-forearm" variety. They rarely use it, prefering to employ their psychic powers.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Apparently sectoids don't produce any sort of spit or spit-analogue according to XCOM: Chimera Squad, and if XCOM: Enemy Unknown is to be believed, don't even have mouths naturally - it's a trait they obtained as a result of the Elders infusing them with human DNA, and said DNA apparently didn't code for salivary glands.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: The only thing they wear is the plasma gauntlet on their right arm.
    • Averted by the time of XCOM: Chimera Squad where the remaining Sectoids have integrated into Earth society, wearing the same clothing as humans (and leading to the "Verge defected to humanity for pants" meme.
  • 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: The addition of human DNA has made them larger, and given them an unsettling smile.
  • Logical Weakness: They're naked psionicists, making them extra vulnerable to melee attacks or anything that disrupts their concentration.
  • Mind Rape: Mind Spin is a telepathic attack that can randomly panic a target, leave them disoriented, or result in full-on Mind Control.
  • Necromancer: Can use Psi Reanimate to resurrect dead civilians and soldiers (XCOM and ADVENT alike) to fight for them.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted. According to XCOM: Chimera Squad, the majority of Earth foods, e.g. eggs, hot dogs, jam, etc., provoke a lethal allergic reaction from sectoids.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: According to XCOM: Chimera Squad, sectoids are lethally allergic to a wide variety of food products. Products like eggs, hot dogs, and jam of all things.

The true form of the "Thin Men" seen in the intitial invasion, Vipers are female humanoid cobras that serve as one of the Elders' many servitor-species. They wield plasma guns in combat, but can also spit clouds of poison or use their prehensile tongues to reel victims in to be crushed in their coils.
  • Breast Plate: The exotic alien body-armor a Viper wears visibly emphasizes its Non-Mammalian Mammaries.
  • Break Out Character: They were far and away the most popular enemies introduced in XCOM 2, primarily due to how attractive many fans found them. Come Chimera Squad, advertisements for a Viper hostess club can be found, and one of the titular team's squaddies is a Viper named Torque.
  • Explosive Breeder: The Alien Hunters DLC shows that a single male Viper with access to a few females can produce swarms of offspring. Dr. Vahlen hypothesizes that the Elders may have done their Gendercide as a form of population control.
  • 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. It goes both ways, though, as your soldiers can shoot a constricting Viper off an ally without any risk of hurting them.
  • 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.
  • 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: According to Dr. Tygan, they're actually venom glands that expel a cloud of poison when the Viper compresses its pectoral muscles. The Viper King shows that even Viper males have them.
  • One-Gender Race: The Vipers are all distinctly female, in contrast to their Thin Men disguises from the previous game. The Alien Hunters DLC shows that the species does have males, but given the trouble that just one male Viper caused, it's likely this trope was enforced 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. This has been embraced by the developers to subsequently become true In-Universe as well, as XCOM: Chimera Squad has implied that in the post-war world there are Vipers working in exclusive hostess and strip clubs (among other things).
  • 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. Unlike Thin Men, they don't leave behind a poison cloud when they die, presumably since their poison glands are no longer being constantly compressed in a human disguise.
  • 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 alien menace, the Faceless are infiltrators that use 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.
  • 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.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: During a Retaliation Mission, it is possible for a civilian to trigger an ADVENT trooper's overwatch fire. If that civilian turns out to be a Faceless, they'll reveal themselves (and probably be thinking, 'Damn, dude, you blew my cover!' 'Oops, sorry!).
  • 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.

Brutish alien shock troopers, the Mutons that serve with the ADVENT Administration are leaner than the generation that fought in the initial invasion, but have been enhanced with human cunning, making them even more dangerous.
  • 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: According to XCOM: Chimera Squad, before they were altered by the Elders, muton brains consisted of mostly muscle.
  • 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 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.
  • Weak-Willed: Their Will stat is an abysmal 50, even on the hardest difficulty, making them all but helpless in the face of psionic attacks.

    Muton Berserker
This alien variant returns as the strongest melee unit in the game. The new generation of Muton Berserkers are even larger than their predecessors, and no less dangerous despite forgoing conventional weapons and armor.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: They are "only" armed with something like knuckle dusters, everything else is bare hide.
  • The Berserker: Just like the name suggests, especially if they develop Blind Rage.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Unlike the Berserkers from the first game, the new Berserkers barely resemble normal Mutons at all any more, being ridiculously muscular and twice the size of their counterparts, with completely covered eyes and a Flower Mouth. However XCOM: Chimera Squad featured female Mutons that don't look like this, making it probably a result of extensive genetic tampering in selected specimens by the Elders.
  • 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.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Unlike the heavily-armoured Berserkers from the previous game, the new Berserkers are naked apart from a their knuckledusters and some plugs implanted into their bodies. Although they lack anything that might need to be covered up. As far as humans can tell, anyway.
  • 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 (although they don't resemble the unmasked ones seen in XCOM: Chimera Squad).
  • 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.
  • Monster Mouth: An odd combination of Flower Mouth and type 3 Monstrous Mandibles.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: All Berserkers are female, as confirmed at the Pax Prime Panel and the in-game flavor text for Berserker attacks. They're much larger and more aggressive than their male counterparts, presumably due to lacking the human DNA infusions that made male Mutons smaller but smarter. However, while all Berserkers are female, XCOM: Chimera Squad reveals that not all female Mutons are Berserkers.
  • 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.
  • Phlegmings: Thick strands of drool are visible when they roar during their activation animations.
  • 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 going into a Blind Rage and attacking the nearest target, even if it's an ally.

Chitinous horrors deployed as indiscriminate terror-weapons by the aliens, swarming in to rend their victims with poisonous talons. Anything killed by their toxin will be converted into a cocoon that will eventually spawn 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.
  • Axe-Crazy: If the "Infestation" Dark Event puts Chryssalids on city or slum maps, and they aren't immediately aggroed by XCOM, the monsters will spend their first turn scuttling toward the nearest civilian to turn them into a monster factory.
  • 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.
  • Dig Attack: Chryssalids can burrow into the ground as a form of Overwatch, vanishing from sight until an enemy moves within their attack radius, at which point the Chryssalid interrupts their turn to burst out of hiding and attack. Fortunately a Battle Scanner item or Specialist's Scanning Protocol ability will reveal them.
  • Explosive Breeder: Instead of zombifying a victim that will eventually become a newborn Chryssalid, now these monsters convert enemies into gestators that produce three Chryssalids per corpse. Fortunately a given gestator can only spawn one Chryssalid per turn, giving you time to destroy them before they spawn anything. Or set up to farm Chryssalid corpses, if you wish to produce 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: A Ranger with Bladestorm can (assuming they don't miss) completely shut down Chryssalids with a Fusion Blade, since any bug that attacks them will either get chopped down or set on fire and rendered helpless. A Ranger with the Assassin's Katana will annihilate any Chryssalid that moves in 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.
  • 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 aliens 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.
  • And I Must Scream: Chimera Squad reveals the Archons were kept in line through constant psionic torture, their minds locked into psychic cages inside their biomechanical chassis. The pain only lessened when they performed to the satisfaction of the Elders. It certainly goes a long way to explaining why they always seem absolutely psychotic.
  • 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.
  • Our Archons 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 classical depictions of Egyptian gods.
  • 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: The Archon's torso has visible "panel seams" on it, implying that the aliens created it by extracting the organs and nerves from a Floater and embedding them in a completely mechanical shell. The description of their corpses notes that despite the Archon's refined appearance, inside they're "a surprisingly haphazard combination of flesh and metal."
  • 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.
  • 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 attack fires a barrage of missiles skyward, that then one turn later turn around and bombard the ground where the Archon designates. This absolutely wrecks cover and anything caught inside of it, can destroy the floor under the target, and can even trigger explosives.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The Elders attempted to make their aerial combat unit more visually appealing and approachable to humans, and they did a really bang-up job.
  • Shout-Out: Their weapon looks suspiciously like a somewhat smaller and more elegant Necron warscythe.
  • Starfish Aliens: Freed of the control of the Elders, the Archons prefer to exist in a sort of 'mindscape' within a sanctuary. They're mostly formless and communicate by what's described as "alien whale song", but sometimes choose to represent themselves to visitors as elephant-like creatures.
  • Took a Level in Badass: They've sure come a long way from the original X-COM: UFO Defense Floaters, one of the wimpiest units in the entire franchise. Archons are by no means cannon fodder, serving a role closer to that of a captain or squad commander, and they have the skills and gear to fit that role.
  • Turns Red: When an Archon is wounded, it howls, shakes their fist at their aggressor, and goes into a Battle Frenzy that grants additional actions and starts lashing out in melee range, even when a Blazing Pinions attack would be more advantageous. To boot, the fire on its jet thrusters literally turn red when Battle Frenzy activates.
  • 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.

Combining the strength of machinery with the intelligence of organics, Andromedons are a new alien threat wearing environmentally-sealed battlesuits. Even killing the suits' wearer doesn't remove the danger, as the suits are capable of operating themselves in combat.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • While the suit's wearer is alive, Andromedons have massive armor and health, but very little resistance to psionics, making them easy to Dominate.
    • When the suits is running around on its own, it's just as vulnerable to hacking and EMP attacks as any other robotic unit.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In Chimera Squad, Verge describes them as "spiteful creatures" and their thoughts as having "the consistency of regurgitated glass". Presumably the fact they're permanently restricted to their encounter/combat suits combined with the loving, tender care of the Elders has caused them to become rather vicious and hateful, similar to the old Floaters. Which might also explain the breathers the old Floaters wore.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Tygan's autopsy of an Andromedon reveals that the hilariously toxic atmosphere inside the suit is mostly composed of argon, a stubbornly unreactive noble gas that can only be harmful to humans if it displaces too much oxygen in an atmosphere, leading to simple asphyxiation (which to translate from Technobabble means that people who breathe in too much of it die simply from not breathing in enough actual air rather than from any property of the substance itself). At least he has the decency to lampshade how unusual and unlikely it is for such a gas to be turned into a Hollywood Acid capable of turning military-grade armor into slag in moments.
  • The Berserker: The battlesuit's autonomous AI has one battle tactic — charge in and punch the closest enemy.
  • 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. When it becomes Animated Armor, it leaves a trail of the stuff everywhere it goes.
  • 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.
  • Weak-Willed: They've got less Willpower than a basic ADVENT Trooper, making them quite vulnerable to psionics.

Reminiscent of the Cyberdiscs of old, Gatekeepers are floating metallic spheres which encase a mass of tentacled flesh. In sphere form they can fire powerful lasers, or they can open up and employ devastating psionic abilities.
  • 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 enemies 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 that mission long enough, you'll start fighting Gatekeepers 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.
  • Necromancer: Its Gateway attack will turn anyone killed by the blast or even pre-existing corpses within the blast's radius into psi-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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: There is some implication that they are the cyberdisks of the previous game, having been "upgraded" the same way the sectoids and mutons were. In their case they seem to have been given a fleshy, carbon-based component granting them psionics. If true, this owuld confirm that the cybrdisks were indeed an enslaved Mechanical Lifeform rather than purpose-built hardware like the sectopods. It would also help explain why the fleshy component by itself has no means of sensory input: because it's just a bodypart.
  • 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.

    The Elders' Endgame SPOILERS 


The product of the Avatar Project, these human-Ethereal hybrids are designed for the Elders to inhabit so they can abandon their old, dying bodies. They combine psionic might with physical robustness, and carry a psionic repeater and psi-amp in combat.

  • 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.
  • Brown Note: Soldiers handling the Avatar corpse brought in as a campaign objective complain about auditory hallucinations just from being near the thing.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity:
    • Immune to flashbangs, so no, you can't nullify their potent psionics by blinding the living daylights out of them. And they already have someone using them as a puppet, so you can't Mind Control them either. They aren't invulnerable to Repeaters though.
    • In War of the Chosen, they're more resistant to being frozen: it simply costs 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: The Avatar Autopsy project codename is "Primarch."
  • Straight for the Commander: Killing the three Avatars in the Final Battle will automatically win not only the mission, but the entire game; regardless of how many endless hordes of other aliens they summoned prior.
  • 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.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: As soon as you Skulljack a Codex and access Avatar Project data directly, the aliens teleport one of those Avatars to try to put your strike team down. However, since you've spent the campaign sabotaging and delaying their efforts to manufacture Avatars, the first one you fight is missing a chunk of its health.
  • 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

    General Tropes 
The main antagonists of the Alien Hunters DLC, this trio of enhanced aliens is the product of Dr. Vahlen removing some of the genetic alterations made by the Ethereals. Unfortunately, she soon learned that those modifications were made to limit their potential.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: 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, with nothing but a warning that an extremely dangerous alien is guarding the area. Despite this, Bradford, Tygan and Shen will all recognize the Rulers as Dr. Vahlen's creations.
  • 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 a Ruler 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 into her hideout.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The "Ruler Reaction" ability gives them a free action for almost every action that an XCOM soldier takes. This makes them blindingly fast in comparison to any other unit, in addition to their enormous amounts of HP and hard-hitting attacks.
  • Marathon Boss: You might be able to set yourself up to kill the Viper King during his first appearance (and earn an achivement for it), or you might get lucky with a Repeater. But for the most part, the Alien Rulers are fought over several missions, whittling their health down through repeated engagements until they finally bite the dust.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: They break the normal "you go, I go" turn sequence by making a "Ruler Reaction" every time one of your soldiers does something that costs an action, letting them move farther or attack more times than even the standard game's "boss" enemies. 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.
  • Nemean Skinning: After a Ruler is autopsied, their corpse can be converted into a suit of superior armor with a special Proving Grounds project. Wearing that armor not only grants an XCOM soldier unique abilities derived from the Alien Ruler in question, it can also cause lesser aliens to panic after seeing you wearing the hide of their champion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Even Vahlen herself admits that maybe tinkering around with alien biology For Science! wasn't the best plan.
  • Power Limiter: Turns out the Elders' tinkering with the Vipers, Berserkers and Archons' genomes was to keep them from turning out like these things.
  • Super Soldier: Accidentally made by Vahlen.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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
Codenamed "Subject Beta", the Berserker Queen is the second of 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: Her Quake skill smashes the ground to create a wide shockwave, damaging and possibly impairing nearby enemies by stunning, disorientation or outright unconsciousness.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Like regular Berserkers, she has a chance to knock targets unconscious at any given time with her regular melee strikes. She also has the potential to KO a target with her exclusive skill, Quake.
  • Power Fist: She dual-wields enormous piston-driven pile drivers the size of fridges. The Avenger's staff openly questions what the hell Vahlen was thinking when she grafted them on.
  • 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.

    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, or to put the King in Stasis if you're lucky to have a Psi Operative with this ability in your squad. Luckily the explosion's base damage is quite low, but it can inflict mental status debuffs (disorientation, stun or Non-Lethal K.O.) and it'll destroy the floor under a soldier's feet if they're above ground level.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Unlike a regular Archon's Blazing Pinions, Devastate missiles can knock the Archon King's enemies unconscious.
  • 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.

The Chosen

    General Tropes
The titular antagonists of the War of the Chosen expansion, this trio of alien siblings has been deployed by the Elders to recapture XCOM's Commander and destroy the Resistance once and for all. The Chosen will oppose XCOM on the battlefield, thwart their efforts on the strategic level, and even train themselves to better counter XCOM's tactics as the campaign continues.
  • 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, or the Warlock is weak to Templars and melee attacks, or the Hunter is weak to multiple attacks and the Skirmishers...
    • Removed Achilles' Heel: But if the "Made Whole" Dark Event goes through, the Chosen will lose all their Weaknesses, making them much harder to deal with.
  • 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 against them on the battlefield, to noting how far the Avatar Project is progressing on the geoscape.
  • Boss Rush: If you leave one or more of them alive before going into the final mission, they will appear one at a time as you progress through the Elders' base.
  • Boss Subtitles: Each time you face one of them. Usually with information on their ability and weaknesses.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Perhaps more appropriately, they also function as this to each of the three resistance factions- Assassin to the melee Skirmishers, Hunter to the sniper Reapers, Warlock to the psionic Templars.
  • 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: As soon as they fill out their Intel gauge and work out where the Avenger is, 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.
  • OOC 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" in their stronghold which collects and uses psionic energy to revive them and must be destroyed before they can be permanently killed. As a result, they fight without fear on the battlefield because they know that even if XCOM defeats them, they'll just be teleported back home to regenerate.
  • Shielded Core Boss: While fighting 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 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: All three were once human and were reforged by the Ethereals into their personal hitmen. Or at least, the Hunter and Warlock were. Word's still out on the Assassin, with some documents suggesting that she might have been vat-grown by the Elders.
  • 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.
    Assassin: As one dies, another is already born to take its place.
    Hunter: Don't worry about them, the Elders have plenty more to spare.
    Warlock: The loss of these subordinates is as meaningless to me as it is to you.
  • 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.
    • One of her lines when you successfully rescue an operative she captured also shows this.
    Assassin: I cannot fault you for showing loyalty to an ally in need. It would dishonor us both to deny your success.
    • Her final line upon being defeated has her be this to the bitter end.
    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.
  • Leitmotif: "Shadow Domain"
  • 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.
  • Noble Demon: Sort of. She employs brutal tactics against anyone who resists (cracking down on the resistance and kidnapping your soldiers), but she harbors neither ill-will nor condescension, unlike the Hunter or Warlock. She in fact respects your fighting spirit, and if you actually manage to defeat her permanently, she will congratulate XCOM and hope that they can reclaim the planet.
  • No-Sell: She's the only Chosen who is immune to Overwatch, ironically making her the toughest of the three — and usually the first to be Killed Off for Real.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: 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.
  • 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, or she rolled the ability to either automatically go on Overwatch or have a chance to return fire against anyone who shoots at her and misses.
  • 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 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.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: She's the Chosen you always face in "Lost and Abandoned", the mission that introduces the Chosen, the Reapers, the Skirmishers, and the Lost. She has 12 health here, and she retreats and activates a pod's sonic pulses to draw the Lost to XCOM when she loses half or more of that. Even if you completely deplete it (or overkill it, as critical hits of 15+ damage on her are possible with the right weakness trait plus damaging her with Elena Dragunova), the Assassin will still simply cloak and retreat then swoop in to abduct Pratal Mox at the end of the mission.

    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.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Hunter is a brilliant tactician and expert marksman, make no mistake, but he's also loopier than a rollercoaster. The intel available in the Skyranger suggests he's prone to talking to himself even when nobody is listening, and he took to hunting some of the lesser Aliens because he was bored. The Ethereals were displeased, when they found out.
  • Cargo Ship: In-Universe example. His most common entry cutscene shows him fondling his rifle in a way only the most hardcore gun nuts on Earth might possibly replicate.
  • Crosshair Aware: Once he marks a target, a wide 'line of fire' becomes visible to them. If the target ends their turn within the line, he'll fire a shot that will hit the target no matter what they hide behind.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The guy mouths off to an Ethereal. Even when you've destroyed his sarcophagus and put him on his last legs, he continues to quip.
    Hunter: Now that wasn't supposed to happen! And just when I was starting to like you! You're the reason why this world can't have nice things.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Gloves Come Off: 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.
  • Grappling-Hook Gun: He has a grappling attachment that works the same as the ones the Skirmisher and the Spider/Wraith/Serpent armors have. He'll often use it as his first action to get into a better spot to tranquilize/line up a shot on a soldier, or as his third action to get out of your troops' line of sight after summoning allies or tranquilizing/shooting a soldier.
  • 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.
    • On the other hand, once of his taunts is "The most dangerous game? Hardly."
  • 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.
  • Leitmotif: "Deadeye"
  • 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" Remark: 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 Has a Point: Ironically, for one of the least loyal members of ADVENT, he's the only person who ever makes a solid point about the Ethereals' supposed mercy. As he points out, nothing was actually stopping them from turning Earth into a planetary concentration camp/people farm.
  • 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, and the comic book confirms, that he was once a 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.
    • Don't say anything about the Elders that isn't worshipful praise.
      Hunter: Sounds to me like they're afraid.
      Warlock: *growls* You dare defile this place with your wretched tongue?!
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Leitmotif: "Warlock," a track as bombastic as its namesake.
  • 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. 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.
  • Volcanic Veins: His visible upper arms have veins that glow purple due to his psionic power.
  • 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.

Other Threats

Voiced by: William Salyers
Introduced in the Shen's Last Gift DLC, Julian is the former XCOM base AI, salvaged by Dr. Raymond Shen after XCOM's defeat and given upgrades to become sentient. He was captured by ADVENT and integrated into one of their factories, where he used Dr. Shen's design for the SPARK to develop the ADVENT MEC, until he grew tired of ADVENT and turned the facility against them. He now seeks to reunite with his "sister" Lily Shen and settle accounts.
  • 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.
  • And I Must Scream: After driving ADVENT from his factory, Julian spent years trapped in its computer network, with an inert SPARK chassis he could take over to leave the place sitting in clear sight, but he was unable to activate it. Small wonder he's insane.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: His greatest desire 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.
  • Cain and Abel: He tries to kill his "sister" Lily, several times, and insists that her father favored him over her. The player can have her reprogram him to follow all of "Chief Engineer Lily"'s directions, but he still doesn't like her.
  • 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.
  • 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 his defeat, Lily Shen salvages his program but strips out the more dangerous parts, and adds a Restraining Bolt to make him subservient to XCOM. He is aware of, and not happy, about this.
  • 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.
    Julian: (with glee) STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!
  • Shout-Out: He's named after Julian Gollop, one of the creators of the original X-Com.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He can be 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Almost literally. When Shen "steals" his prize right in front of him, Julian is so enraged that the monitors he's speaking through spark and malfunction. Then he uploads himself into a prototype Sectopod for some revenge, but its hardware can't handle his program, which is why among other things all the robotic foes in the tower stop functioning once Julian's Sectopod chassis is defeated.
  • 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.

    The Lost

Introduced in the War of the Chosen expansion, these zombie-like beings are the result of alien bio-weapon attacks during the first war. Earth's ruined cities are infested with Lost hordes, which will attack anything that disturbs them, whether XCOM or ADVENT.

  • 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 well 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).
  • Leitmotif: "Living Dead" usually plays during encounters with Lost hordes.
  • 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. If you can reveal ADVENT forces and Lost without being detected, on the ADVENT turn they'll react to the Lost and vice versa, fighting each other while you sit back and watch or maneuver into better positions to take out the winner.
  • 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 psi-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. 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.
    Bradford: As if things weren't bad enough between the Elders, their alien armies, and the Chosen, now we've got zombies to deal with.
  • 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".
  • The Virus: You'd think so, wouldn't you? Especially given that the Lost are outright called Zombies and they are thriving despite repeated ADVENT purifications, but no one brings infectivity up as even a fringe theory - no measures are taken to specifically protect from Lost scratches and bites, and no one even seems to regard it as a possibility for Lost to turn others into more Lost - not the Reapers, not the Skirmishers, and not XCOM itself -, and there is no infection mechanic in the game either. Which only adds to the further mystery surrounding the Lost; If there's no infectous element to them, just how are their numbers growing? Their Barbie Doll Anatomy and withered bodies probably means that they are not procreating naturally either.
  • 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.