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Characters / XCOM 2 The Resistance

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"Vigilo Confidio"

The people fighting against the alien occupation, to expose the truth about the ADVENT Administration and incite humanity to retake their planet. The core of this movement is made up of survivors from the old XCOM Project, but the War of the Chosen expansion shows that they aren't the only groups striking back against the occupiers.

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XCOM Mission Control

    The Commander
Click Here to see the Commander's Avatar 

The Player Character and leader of XCOM. They are rescued from stasis at the start of the game, and proceed to take charge of XCOM's campaign to save humanity.

  • Ambiguous Gender: Their gender is never referred to in-game, allowing any player to identify with them. Even the Resistance Radio DJ mentions that they don't know if the Commander is male or female, and the game goes to pains to never use any sort of gendered pronouns for the Commander, always referring to them as "the Commander" even when "he"/"she"/"they" would be much easier and more natural.
  • Armchair Military: Type 1, although without the negative connotations. The Commander takes to the field in person exactly once, and even then they're largely safe from actual harm because they're remote-controlling an Avatar. They never physically leave the Avenger after the Gatecrasher mission.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The final mission has the Commander take part via their own Avatar, and is more than capable of keeping up with a squad of colonels.
  • Blue Is Heroic: The Commander's psionic aura turns light blue during the last confrontation, in contrast to the purple aura of other psionics as well as the Elders/Ethereals.
  • The Chosen One: The aliens considered the Commander as such a useful asset that they went out of the way to capture them during the intiial invasion, made them the unwitting leader of their entire military, and even after the Commander escapes again, the aliens are intent on recapturing them instead of killing the new leader of the Resistance. It's also because of this that the Commander is chosen as the best possible candidate to control an Avatar against the Ethereals in the final mission, due to their previous integration into the alien's psionic network making them the one most likely to survive the procedure.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Alien Hunters reveals that the Commander served as this to Dr. Vahlen during her time as XCOM's chief scientist, and also shows the consequences of that minder's removal.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Played with. While the Commander is around for the whole game, the final mission is the only time they fight in-person (sort of) on the battlefield.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The final mission has the Commander control an Avatar to fight alongside their soldiers.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Commander is modeled in-game as a bulky self-contained stasis suit that obscures any identifiable features, including gender. The Commander's Avatar looks like any other, namely an androgynous albino with a faceplate that never speaks on its own. However, when hit, the Commander's Avatar screams like an ADVENT soldier.
  • Frontline General: Subverted. After taking control of their Avatar, the Commander, armed with the Avatar's advanced Psionic powers, leads the XCOM squad in the final battle, but their actual body is still (mostly) safe and sound on the Avenger, so they're more like an Armchair Military with a kick ass remote-controlled toy.
  • The Gift: The Commander is confirmed to have latent psi potential like the Volunteer of the first game.
  • Heroic Mime: Continuing the tradition from the previous game, the Commander never says a word.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Letting the Commander die during the assault against the Avatars is grounds for automatic failure.
  • Hope Bringer: To the resistance movement, allowing them to finally rise up, unite and take action.
  • Humans Are Special: In the final battle, the Commander is apparently psionically-powerful enough to defeat the combined psionic power of the Ethereal council in a Beam-O-War duel (though it's mentioned earlier on that the Ethereals are likely weakened from having to maintain the psionic network controlling their army by themselves without the aid of the amplifier device you just blew up).
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: For the final level, the commander controls an Avatar psionically. It's offensively as powerful as normal Avatars in psionic powers, regeneration and immunity to all status effects, though it has lower health and no armor, and has to survive the mission. Your soldiers all have a psionic link connecting them to the Avatar in gameplay, meaning that you, the player, are controlling your troops through the Avatar as well.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Although the Commander is confirmed to be psionically gifted, they were never mentioned to have undergone psionic combat training, yet when they assume control of their Avatar body, they instantly gain access to Null Lance and Dimensional Rift, the game's most powerful psi attacks. Once the Final Battle is won, they not only know that they can stabilize the Elders' Portal Network with their powers, they even know how in an instant. Then the entire Elder Council, the most powerful psionics known to mankind, engage them in a Beam-O-War, which the Commander handily wins despite no known training whatsoever.
  • Rebel Leader: The Commander of XCOM and organizer (but not creator) of the Global Resistance.
  • Rip Van Winkle: The Commander is pulled out of twenty years of stasis to find the aliens in control of the world. A few research projects result in the discovery of information about what the aliens were doing with them while whey were in stasis.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Starts the game imprisoned in a stasis tank, and becomes a Hope Bringer once unsealed.
  • The Strategist: Well, they are you, and you can't really win a Turn-Based Strategy game without thinking a little. Also the reason they were taken alive by the aliens - they spent twenty years running endless tactical simulations for the aliens.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sure, the Commander is still The Strategist in- and out-of-universe, but they also are a latent/untrained psionic that takes direct control of an Avatar body to storm the underwater alien base housing the Avatar project, leading the squad in destroying three other Avatars controlled by the Ethereals, and then fights a Beam-O-War with all five Ethereals and WINS.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Their Psyonic abilities are completely untrained, but they can use it to best the entire Ethereal Council in a Beam-O-War.
  • Walking Spoiler: The Commander is central to the plot this time instead of a Non-Entity General, and most of their part in the story is grounds for spoilers.
  • Wetware CPU: After capturing them in the initial invasion, the aliens plugged the Commander into their military network, running constant battle simulations to study for tactical data. The Commander being removed from that network is used to justify some of ADVENT's Artificial Stupidity, making them Commander a not absolutely crucial, but certainly integral part of the system.

    John Bradford 

Central Officer John Bradford

Voiced by: Brian Bloom

XCOM's second-in-command, who survived the fall of its headquarters during the alien invasion and spent the next 20 years on the run with a small resistance movement. With the return of XCOM's Commander, Bradford resumes his old role of coordinating field operations, logistics, and strategic developments.

  • The Alcoholic: His personnel file implies that he became this after XCOM's first defeat, "continually seeking comfort at the bottom of a bottle." One of his Tactical Legacy Pack missions even takes place because he and his troublemakers are looking for an intact bar. That said, he's still more than capable of handling himself.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Despite his reservations about close combat in the previous game, Bradford has apparently taken to practicing swordplay in the intervening years. His playable character is a colonel-level Ranger who wields their trademark sword just as efficiently as your other Rangers.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the second in command of XCOM and is by the time the campaign occurs, a Colonel Rank Ranger.
  • BFG: His "multipurpose assault rifle," a drum-fed gun with every conceivable weapon mod, making it the most comprehensively upgraded weapon in the game.
  • Berserk Button: There'll be hell to pay if he finds whoever's been leaving Advent Burger wrappers lying around the command center.
  • The Chains of Commanding: For twenty years, Bradford has been in charge of leading a hopelessly outmatched guerilla group in a war he knew he had no chance in hell to win, but he soldiered on regardless. You can tell he paid a heavy personal price for his determination, and the Commander's return, and subsequent successes in rebuilding XCOM, obviously take a huge weight off his shoulders. He doesn't even hesitate to give up command - he's relieved that he can finally do so.
  • Characterization Marches On: In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Bradford was clean-cut, by-the-book, and occasionally naive. The fall of XCOM and the rise of ADVENT have left him bitter, jaded, and cynical. Also, he's much more comfortable fighting at "close range" as he used to be.
  • The Creon: Bradford isn't cut out for the job of leading mankind's scattered anti-alien resistance to victory against a vastly superior foe like ADVENT, and he knows it. He not only steps down to resume his role of Number Two the instant the Commander is rescued, Bradford sought out the Commander because he knew his old boss would be better at the job than him.
  • Crutch Character: In the Alien Hunters DLC, he takes to the field as a melee-focused Colonel-level Ranger, and his Reaper skill makes him perfect for dealing with all the low-health enemies on the mission..
  • Death Seeker: He was never outright suicidal, but in the first TLP campaign, Bradford admits that in the early days of him running around, skirmishing with ADVENT alongside some other troublemakers, he didn't have any sense of self-preservation, he was just focused on doing as much damage as he could.
  • The Determinator: This guy simply won't give up no matter the odds, which is obviously a good thing. Anything less than his total dedication to defeating the alien invaders would've seen what remained of XCOM destroyed for good many years before the events of the game.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Shen and Tygan constantly question Bradford's "skill" at piloting the Avenger. He, in turn, grumps that he'd like to see them do a better job.
  • Four-Star Badass: He led the fight against the ADVENT from the frontlines for two decades before the Commander's return.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a cool, straight scar going down his right cheek.
  • Grumpy Old Man: On a humorous note, Bradford's gotten a bit crotchety in his old age. He grumps about Tygan's personnel files, gets irritated at all the hamburger wrappers he finds on the ship, and rolls his eyes during one of the Speaker's broadcasts. One of his dash responses in battle is to complain "I'm getting too old for this."
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Played straight in the Alien Hunters DLC. Subverted in the Tactical Legacy Pack missions (see Saved by Canon below).
  • Hero Unit: Downplayed in the Alien Hunter and Tactical Legacy Pack DLC. In the former, he's a Colonel-ranked soldier long before you're likely to have one normally, he carries an assault rifle with more mods than can normally be added to a weapon, and his death is an instant game over, but he's otherwise no different from any other Colonel-rank Ranger. In the latter, he can gain access to the Chosen Assassin's weapons and his inability to die (instead being knocked unconscious at zero HP) has a few handy side effects: He can be revived from otherwise fatal damage, he's not harmed by explosives going off near his body, he can't be turned into a psi-zombie, and he'll always be usable on subsequent missions; unlike the rest of the squad, for whom Permadeath is still in play.
  • Heroic BSoD: The defeat of XCOM left him wandering aimlessly for two decades, until a currently unspecified incident broke him out of it.
  • Knife Nut: He's a Ranger, so he carries the usual large blade, but his non-armored outfit also features a combat knife in a sheath on his left shoulder.
  • Made of Iron:
    • In the intro sequence and then the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, Bradford gets hit in the gut by the butt of an ADVENT trooper's mag rifle, buffeted by an explosion that sends an ADVENT squad sprawling, and gets shot while carrying the Commander to the evac point, which on Veteran difficulty leaves him with 1 HP, enough to put him in "Gravely Wounded" status. He then immediately goes to oversee the operation to remove the Commander's implanted chip when they return to the Avenger, and presumably only receives proper treatment for the injuries sustained after the successful operation. Granted, this might explain why he never returns to the field for the rest of the campaign.
    • Zig-zagged when he appears in the first mission of the Alien Hunters DLC, where he can have anywhere from 5 (about as much as Squaddie-ranked Ranger) to 11 HP (slightly more than usual Colonel), depending on your difficulty level (and assuming you didn't research better armor before the mission, whereupon he'll have even more).
  • Meaningful Name: His first name, John. At first glance, just a very common first name, but in the context of being the best friend and number two to the leader, well....
  • Mission Control: Although Shen or Tygan may chime in during missions, it's primarily Bradford's job to update you on new developments. He's also the one to give Menace 1-5 the rundown of their current assignment while they're en route to their destination aboard Firebrand.
  • Noble Bigot: In an archived commutation between him and Jane Kelly in Chimera Squad, he balks at Kelly integrating aliens into the titular squad and the Reclamation Project, believing them untrustworthy. Jane meanwhile counters that if the Elders ever were to return, Humanity would need all the help it can get, and thus took it to the Commander, who approved of her idea. Given that he'd been fighting the aliens for literally decades, it's understandable that his adjustment to the new circumstances is taking more time than others, and to his credit, he tells Kelly he "gets it" and doesn't raise much more protest of it.
  • Number Two: Returns in this role to the Player Character after Gatecrasher; before that, he did his best to be the leader himself.
  • Older Than They Look: He's looking damn good for a 55-year-old alcoholic fugitive. No grey hair, a six pack... the only sign of his age is his crow's feet. He doesn't even have the lines around his mouth like his younger self had, or if he does they've gotten lighter.
  • Old Soldier: At 55, he's easily the oldest person aboard the Avenger, but still fully capable of taking names and kicking plenty of alien ass. That being said, he does show some signs of PTSD.
  • Perma-Stubble: Wears a constant five-o'clock shadow.
  • Rousing Speech: Gives a weary but still pretty epic one before your team embarks on the final mission.
  • Serious Business: His old sweater. The Tactical Legacy Pack has a mission to rescue Bradford's old sweater from ADVENT that involves fighting four Avatar pods, two of them simultaneously, but when you see his goofy smile upon being reunited with his beloved sweater, you can tell he considers the grueling battle totally Worth It.
  • Saved by Canon: Bradford can't die during the Tactical Legacy Pack missions; instead, he's rendered unconscious when his HP hits zero. Even if he just fell two stories after being vaporized by a sectopod's Wrath Cannon.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Bradford has seen the worst of both the violent alien invasion and their oppressive occupation, and it occasionally shows through the tough act he puts on in front of his subordinates. He grows noticeably wearier as the campaign progresses and the casualties pile up, and his official bio makes no secret of his heavy drinking. Still, he'll neither rest nor hesitate until Earth is free once more.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He did have his own badass moment back in Enemy Within during the Base Defense, but here he personally takes to the field to rescue the Commander in the tutorial mission, and even takes a bullet while carrying them to the evac zone. Half of the Tactical Legacy Pack DLC is more or less "Grandpa Central's War Stories," describing his battles with the alien occupation between XCOM's fall and resurrection.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When he narrates the Tactical Legacy Pack missions, he admits that it's been years since the events took place and he might be remembering things wrong, which might excuse his team's access to top-tier equipment as they fought enemies that Bradford doesn't recognize in the main campaign. That said, Bradford does insist that he fought an Avatar, or something like one, years before he learned of the Avatar Project.

    An-Yi "Lily" Shen 

Chief Engineer An-Yi "Lily" Shen

Voiced By: Carlye Pollack

The daughter of Dr. Raymond Shen, who carries on her late father's legacy as the new head of XCOM's engineering department.

  • Ace Custom: Her unique Gremlin, ROV-R, has a higher Hack bonus than even a GREMLIN MK-III.
  • A Taste of Power: While she doesn't have the advanced Overwatch tricks of a proper Colonel Specialist, her moveset otherwise has most of what one can do and then some. If you start Shen's Last Gift as soon as it's available, you almost certainly won't have another Colonel Specialist available yet.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Lily is the chief engineer of XCOM, and has the stats of a Colonel Specialist, with access to skills that are otherwise mutually exclusive (and thus would be bought by ability points). Also a single medkit gives her 5 charges of Healing Protocol, as opposed to a regular healing Specialist's 3. ROVR meanwhile behaves as a Gremlin MK 3, even if the player has yet to unlock those.
  • Action Girl: She's as capable in combat as any of your soldiers when she takes to the field in Shen's Last Gift and the Tactical Legacy Pack missions.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Not outwardly nerdy, but still, Chief Engineer of XCOM.
  • Brainy Brunette: Black-haired and hands-on tech expert.
  • Crutch Character: For Shen's Last Gift. Lily is equivalent to a late-game Specialist, and her unique GREMLIN gives her a huge bonus to hacking, convenient when all the enemies are mechanical. And like other examples of the trope, relying too much on her will mean losing out on EXP for the rest of your troops, especially since she can't be used in combat again afterwards.
  • Daddy's Girl: Positive example. It's abundantly clear that she deeply loved and admired her father even though she didn't see him often. Watching his final video message to her during the Shen's Last Gift mission is enough to choke her up almost instantly. It's probably not a coincidence that she followed in his footsteps as XCOM's Chief Engineer as soon as she was able.
  • Data Pad: Uses one to interact with the Avenger's systems every now and then.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She's not averse to some heavy sarcasm every now and then.
    The Informant: ...I only wish I had better news for you.
    Shen: (under her breath) When does he ever?
  • Disappeared Dad: She didn't see her father at all for the duration of the first alien war, and he passed away before the second could begin in earnest.
  • The Engineer: Chief Engineer for XCOM, just like dear old Dad.
  • Exact Words: She takes advantage of this during one of her "Avenger Assemble" missions. She knows Central would never give her permission to make a scan of an alien CPU to install on the Avenger, but he did order her to capture a crashed UFO and recover useful technology from it...
  • Gadgeteer Genius/Wrench Wench: Her introduction scene has her tinkering with her personal pet GREMLIN, ROV-R.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted with not Lily but ROV-R during the scene where Lily and Tygan send it through the Psionic Gate. The scene is just screaming that ROV-R is going to accomplish its mission but be destroyed in the act, with Lily expressing concern for it and reassuring it that it needs to just go through the gate, take some readings and then come back again, and indeed the Gate rejects ROV-R, violently throwing it back out, but as it turns out ROV-R only receives minor damage from the shock and Lily repairs it quickly
  • <Hero> Must Survive: The mission fails if she's killed during the Shen's Last Gift DLC.
  • Hypocritical Humor: She says "Keep up, ROV-R!" when told to relocate, but like all Specialists her Gremlin zips to their destination almost instantly, arriving long before its master does.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: When usable in Shen's Last Gift, she has a combination of skills that includes those you can't normally have on Specialists at the same time, as well as unlimited uses of Combat Protocol and Capacitor Discharge.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Her personal knowledge of XCOM's operations and backstory indicates that she was in close contact with her father during the initial invasion, most likely even on-site at XCOM HQ, yet she was never mentioned in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Although it's nice to have another Shen around after the old man passed away, her inclusion in the story out of nowhere can come across as a bit jarring to players familiar with the preceding game.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • She has a GREMLIN drone she calls "ROV-R", and treats it more like a pet than a non-sentient machine.
    • The SPARK prototype was built by her father to be this and a bodyguard for her. It's even possible for you to double down on the Robot Buddy here by implementing the Julian AI into the original SPARK you get from the mission. If you do install him, that equates to Lily taking a failed Robot Buddy and turning it into a successful example by using another Robot Buddy as the shell, which in turn has its own Robot Buddy in the BIT drone.
  • Saved by Canon: Like Bradford, she cannot die during the Tactical Legacy Pack missions where she's playable. Any damage that would normally kill her will simply knock her unconscious.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Her outfit lacks sleeves on both her shirt and overlapping jacket.
  • The Smart Girl: All those fancy toys your troops use? Her work, directly or otherwise.
  • Those Two Guys: Has this dynamic with Tygan.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: If you start a campaign with the tutorial mission enabled, your first mission after that is to secure a massive ADVENT power converter for her to get the Avenger up and running. She positively squees when she sees it and immediately tries to push the trolley to her workshop on her own, but the thing barely moves at all. As fit as she may be, one person alone simply can't move something that heavy without help.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Seems to prefer doing her job - and judging by her upper arms, working out - over silly little things like "wearing makeup".
  • The Workaholic: Her "Meet the Personnel" bio describes her as unable to be complacent, considering time where she isn't working to be wasted.

    Richard Tygan 

Dr. Richard Tygan

A biochemist formerly in the employ of ADVENT, now working for XCOM as head of its research department.

  • Admiring the Abomination: He can get quite excited during alien autopsies, although others seriously freak him out.
  • Air Quotes: Does this in a cutscene while mentioning the alien unit XCOM soldiers call "berserkers".
  • Black and Nerdy: Bradford calls him one of the brightest minds on Earth.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Formerly the head of an early gene therapy clinic. He also has a scar on the back of his head from when he had to remove his own chip.
  • Data Pad: Like Dr. Vahlen before him, Tygan is almost always holding a tablet computer.
  • Defector from Decadence: Tygan enjoyed the creature comforts and shining cities that ADVENT introduced to Earth for a while, but the oppressive surveillance eventually drove him to leave the fold. The one thing he misses from it is the ADVENT Burgers.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In Legacy Ops, we finally get to see Tygan's callsign, which is... Hamburgler.
  • For Science!: Averted, unlike Doctor Vahlen. He does mention he was like this in his ADVENT days. But nowadays Tygan shows a far more caution approach than Vahlen did, and he's horrified by the experiments she did that lead to the Alien rulers being made. His invention of the Skulljack for example precludes the need to bring living aliens on board. Not that this doesn't stop him from exploding the Shadow Chamber at least once. Also unlike Vahlen, he tends to defer far more to Shen's opinion. They both work in the Shadow Chamber and they collectively come up with the plan to merge the Commander with the Avatar.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Having worked for XCOM's archenemy for quite some time, Tygan had to fight an uphill battle from the moment he joined XCOM. Bradford doesn't fully trust him but mostly keeps his counsel, Shen makes no secret whatsoever that she doesn't trust him either, and it generally doesn't seem like he has a whole lot of friends on the Avenger or beyond. That said, most of XCOM values his undeniably crucial scientific support, and much of the distrust dissipates over the course of the campaign.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Defected from the ADVENT Administration after he was disturbed by ADVENT's increasingly controlling nature. He also feels a little responsible for the matter of the implant chip he removed from the Commander's head, as it was clearly based on technology he'd worked on during his time in a gene therapy clinic.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: If playing War of the Chosen with Alien Hunters content enabled, XCOM will find the latter DLC's prototype weapons in a cache in the field. Tygan's research notes dismiss the possibility of replicating these weapons, because they're too far outside his expertise.
    Tygan: I am a biologist, not a blacksmith or a bowyer.
  • Non-Action Guy: The only member of the command team to never take to the field in a combat role.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Zigzagged in that he actually is a Biochemist and Medical Researcher, he's not actually that well practiced in actual medicine. He even comments that the autopsies he performs help his surgical skills, much to the relief of XCOM's soldiers.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: If it's a field of research, he can muddle his way through it even without additional lab space or Scientists. That being said, he is not an engineer, so he collaborates with Chief Engineer Shen on projects that require understanding of robotics or mechanics. In fact, most of the research reports on breakdowns of mechanical enemies is signed "L. Shen" rather than "R. Tygan".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In the Alien Hunters DLC, after his autopsy of the second Alien Ruler, he comes close to yelling while ranting about how irresponsible Vahlen was to create something like the Berserker Queen.
  • Self-Surgery: Tygan performed brain surgery on himself to remove his ADVENT chip. It was a success, but he was left with an ugly scar on the back of his head.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Tygan has a very precise, extremely formal way of speaking, expressed in sentences much longer than those of anyone else in the game.
  • The Smart Guy: To be expected from XCOM's Chief Scientist. Tygan is only a biochemist, but he will go to all lengths to research every project the Commander asks of him, including encryption, psionics and robotics, though admittedly with Shen's help.
  • Techno Babble: Veers into it from time to time. His autopsy report on the Faceless is a particularly noteworthy example.
  • Those Two Guys: Has this dynamic with Shen.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Those "damn juicy ADVENT Burgers". They're the one thing about life in the city centers that he misses, and according to a War of the Chosen radio broadcast, Tygan's willing to pay triple their market value to whoever delivers some to a supply drop.
  • Verbal Tic: His speech has a quite peculiar, almost mechanical cadence to it, and he's very fond of the word "intriguing", which gets lampshaded here and there.

    The Informant
Voiced by: Jon Bailey

Formerly the Spokesman for the Council of Nations that funded the original XCOM Project, he now aids the Resistance by serving as an insider and revealing what's going on within the ADVENT Administration.

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

Former XCOM Personnel

    Dr. Moira Vahlen 
Voiced by: Moira Quirk

XCOM's former head of research, the XCOM: Resurrection novel reveals that Vahlen survived the group's collapse and took refuge in a dormant volcano, only for ADVENT to find her base, forcing her to activate a defence mechanism which caused the volcano to erupt. Her fate was left ambiguous, though in XCOM 2, idle chatter on the Avenger and some rumor investigations suggest that she is still alive.

Vahlen finally makes a reappearance in the form of several audio logs in the Alien Hunters DLC, which describes how she managed to set up a new lab and was conducting experiments upon several unique alien test subjects, until these Alien Rulers broke free. While her ultimate fate is unknown, the DLC does reveal that she managed to escape the lab.

  • For Science!: She inadvertently creates the Alien Rulers by reactivating genetic markers that the Elders had previously disabled, just to see what would happen.
  • The Ghost: The only appearance she makes in the base game is in a photo of the original command staff. Lily also mentions reading old research notes written in English and broken German, Bradford mentions strange transmissions in German, and the picture for the Power Fluctuations event has her name scrawled on one of the research notes in the makeshift lab.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: She was unfortunately more interested in the potential positives of weaponizing alien embroes than worried about what might happen if her project went wrong.

    Dr. Raymond Shen 
Voiced by: François Chau

XCOM's former Chief Engineer, who passed away while preparing the Avenger for service. The Shen's Last Gift DLC reveals that he had another unfinished project as well, which might prove just as useful to XCOM, if they're able to recover it.

  • Dead Man Writing: He leaves a video message for Lily alongside the SPARK Prototype, explaining what it is and why he built it.
  • Life Will Kill You: Despite being a major member of XCOM and the Resistence, it wasn't ADVENT or the Aliens that killed him, but old age. Considering the fact that he already had grey hair and was balding in the first game, indicating he was significantly older than the other members of the command staff, this is understandable.
  • Magnum Opus: In-Universe, XCOM's leadership considers the Avenger to be Shen's masterwork. In the Shen's Last Gift DLC, however, Shen describes his daughter as his greatest gift to the world.
  • Posthumous Character: He died of old age after setting up the Avenger, his daughter steps into his shoes. He's often mentioned by her and Central, and the achievement for fully upgrading the Avenger is called "Shen's Legacy."

XCOM Ground Forces

    General Tropes

A new generation of soldiers fighting the alien menace, this incarnation of XCOM operates from the shadows, launching guerrilla operations against the ADVENT occupation. They alone won't be enough to liberate the planet - XCOM's mission is to expose the truth about the aliens' intentions and convince the world to rise up against their oppressors.

  • 24-Hour Armor: Soldiers switch out of armor into jumpsuits when they're off-duty aboard the Avenger, and unlike the previous game are willing to take off their hats and helmetsnote  They also remove unnecessary character customization items like helmets, masks, and bandanas while in the base, but not necessary ones like glasses.
  • A-Team Firing: Not only do Rookies have poor Aim to begin with, but the accuracy bonuses for close proximity are noticeably toned down on non-shotgun weapons, and even in the best-case scenario, they'll only gain a bonus of 20%. Coupled with the various debuffs, your soldiers might have a fair chance of breaking reality just to miss. Even in flanks, it's not uncommon to get a 70% chance instead of 90 or 100. That's XCOM, baby.
  • Blood Knight: Soldiers with the "Intense" personality are always tense and ready for a fight, and by far the most aggressive in their radio responses.
  • Consummate Professional: Soldiers with the "By-the-Book" personality stand rigidly at attention on the squad select screen and maintain their discipline when reporting kills and giving mission updates.
  • The Eeyore: Soldiers with the "Hard Luck" personality are never happy, and even after making a kill will grumble "Big deal..."
  • Former Regime Personnel: Technically all of them that had any military experience from before the invasion.
  • The Generic Guy: Soldiers with the "Normal" personality are... just that, and don't have any real quirks to distinguish themselves compared to their comrades.
  • Improvised Armor: Some of the outfits available in the Resistance Warrior DLC are bulletproof vests strapped over civilian clothing, with some repainted, scavenged bits of ADVENT armor for extra protection.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: In the first war, XCOM's recruits were the best of the best, supplied by the world's militaries to fight the alien menace. In this game, a soldier might have been recruited because they rammed an ADVENT security tower with a truck.
  • Mildly Military: Most of XCOM's guerillas are pretty informal, due to their varied backgrounds and lack of training. Only those with the "By-the-Book" personality come close to a proper soldier's professionalism.
  • Multinational Team: To an even greater extent than the previous game. It's also noted that since ADVENT dissolved the world's nations, XCOM soldiers putting the flags of the Old World on their armor is another sign of defiance.
  • Nervous Wreck: Soldiers with the "Twitchy" personality will constantly fidget and look around worriedly even when standing in the Avenger's hangar.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Unlike the previous game, in which soldiers had class variations of the same basic set of XCOM armor, this time around each armor tier has mutliple torso, arm and leg options that can be mix-and-matched freely, regardless of soldier class - the ony unifying element may be a flag on the back and an XCOM badge somewhere. Anarchy's Children takes this even further with some soldiers choosing to go into battle shirtless or in hot pants.
  • Old Soldier: Some of them are soldiers from before the invasion, making them at the youngest around 38 years old.
  • The Pollyanna: Soldiers with the "Happy-Go-Lucky" personality are almost aggressively cheerful, even in the middle of a firefight.
  • Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: The Anarchy's Children DLC pack is all about this.
  • Psycho for Hire: Some of the randomized backgrounds for the soldiers mention that they may have snapped after the invasion and started hunting the aliens for sport. XCOM needs every fighter they can get.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: With their randomly-generated biographies, differing personalities, and individualized armor, it's clear that getting a squad of XCOM soldiers to function as a team is almost as impressive as uniting scattered resistance cells into a global movement.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors:
  • The Stoic: Soldiers with the "Laid Back" personality are always cool and collected.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: This game makes soldiers insanely customizable, everything from their armor to camo to tatoos and personality.

Analogous to the Heavy of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Grenadier deploys grenade launchers and other area-denial weapons to fight the ADVENT threat. Their ability options are Demo Expert, which focuses on blowing up multiple enemies at once with grenades and area-of-effect attacks, and Heavy Gunner, which focuses on wearing down powerful single targets with their autocannon.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The "Hail of Bullets" ability allows them to perform an attack with 100% accuracy at the cost of using three ammo pips.
  • Anti-Armor: The "Shredder" ability allows them to destroy some of the target's armor with every attack depending on the tier of weapon they're using (1 armor with starting gear, 3 once you reach plasma beam weaponry). This is vital against heavily-armored enemies like MECs or other mechanical enemies. The Rupture ability stacks with Shredder if taken, and makes the enemy take extra damage.
  • BFG: They carry two. One is their Chainsaw Grip BFG, the other one is their Grenade Launcher.
  • Can't Catch Up: Grenadiers as a whole are extremely powerful early in the game with their armor-shredding, cover-destroying, and always-accurate grenades, but their disadvantages rapidly begin to pile on. More specific example: of the two Corporal-rank abilities, "Blast Padding" adds 1 armour point but, unlike "Shredder" that does scale with weapon tier, it doesn't scale with the tier of your armour, which means it eventually loses out. Fortunately, you can go around that with a Game Mod.
  • Chainsaw Grip BFG: The Grenadier's cannons are wielded like this. Interestingly, they are carried in a more traditional fashion with a hand on a standard pistol grip. When actually firing, the Grenadier shifts their grip to the chainsaw position.
  • Critical Hit Class: Both played straight and averted. While the cannon has no innate crit chance, Grenadiers are the only class that can crit (though not for much) with explosives, and they also have a guaranteed critical hit ability in "Rupture".
  • Crutch Character: Grenades are one of the few things available to the players immediately for the game's starting phase that are guaranteed to do damage, and they destroy cover as well as reduce armor. Grenadiers fire them with a greater blast radius, from a farther range, and get a free one, so you should be able to see how they're pretty advantageous when most of your troops will have a not-insignificant chance to miss enemies they're literally next to. In accordance with this trope, grenades don't scale well into late game, with neither them nor their launcher having a third tier upgrade without game mods. Grenadiers themselves also suffer from their upgraded weapons requiring a separate research and purchase, whereas Rangers can make do with the same rifles Specialists use and Sharpshooters unlock their pistol upgrades out of the basic Magnetic/Plasma Weapons research. They're also the only class that lacks a Chosen counterpart for them to acquire an Infinity +1 Sword from.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: With the "Rupture" ability, they can perform an attack that increases all damage dealt to the target by 3, along with shredding armor as usual. In addition, this attack is a guaranteed Critical Hit.
  • Gatling Good: Their primary weapon, the Cannon, is a three-barreled Gatling, that in tier 3 is plasma-based. Averted with the tier 2: the Nordenfelt-like mag cannon's four barrels are fixed.
  • Grenade Launcher: Their namesake signature weapon. Initially, it just lets them lob regular grenades with more range and accuracy than other soldiers can chuck them; later they can upgrade the damage, splash radius and carry multiple grenades.
  • Heavy Equipment Class: Grenadiers have exclusive access to grenade launchers which gives extra range to their grenades and an increased emphasis on More Dakka with their cannons, gaining the ability to shred armor on a successful shot, destroy enemy cover with it, fire so many bullets that they're guaranteed to hit, and use it as an AOE weapon in a large cone.
  • Magikarp Power: At first, you really can't make use of many Cannon skills, due to their ammo costs combined with the low ammo of said Cannons, including a few that use all they havenote . Toss in some expanded magazines their way, however, and you can wipe out entire armies or whittle down extremely tough single targets in a single move.
  • Man of Kryptonite: Grenadiers are your best choice when faced with enemy Gatekeepers. A single Grenadier with the right tools and builds can, in a single turn, tear off all the Gatekeeper's or Sectopod's armor points, leaving them vulnerable to attack from other foes. On the other hand, they themselves are vulnerable to the Archon, whose high defense makes the low-aim of the Grenadier a marked disadvantage, and their aerial positioning makes actually hitting them with Grenades a difficult proposition.
  • More Dakka: Most of their minigun related abilities involve shooting a lot of bullets at enemies.
  • Pinned Down: The "Suppression" ability makes a comeback from the first game, and it's been buffed to grant a -50 aim penalty over the original -30. Like before, it includes an automatic reaction shot against the target in case it's stupid enough to try and move.
  • Stone Wall: If you forgo "Shredder", you instead get "Blast Padding", which soaks up a minimum of 1 damage from all attacks and vastly reduces explosive damage the Grenadier would normally take, making them very tough customers, especially if you use the Scalable Blast Padding Game Mod.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Demolitions Expert skills are all about this. More grenades, better grenades, and more chances to use grenades. With two Demo Expert Grenadiers, things will look like a Michael Bay film. Toss them into a E.X.O. Suit or a W.A.R. suit for even more kaboom.
  • Support Party Member: While they have powerful damage abilities, some of their moves also help other soldiers hit more accurately or deal more damage while hindering the aliens. In addition to some of those mentioned above, "Demolition" and "Saturation Fire" damage or destroy cover, leaving aliens exposed, while "Holo-Targeting" returns from the first game to give allies increased aim against aliens targeted with the cannon (and it's been buffed from +10 Aim to +15).

Analogous to the Assault of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Ranger is a close-quarters combat expert, using shotguns and melee weapons to cut down the alien invaders with a high-risk, high-reward fighting style.
  • Absurd Cutting Power: The Ranger's sword deals equal damage to all enemies regardless of whether they're organic or robotic, which means even the basic machete cuts through armored Killer Robots just as easily as it slices up armored ADVENT squishies.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Rangers use swords for melee combat. Justified by you operating a stealth guerrilla group, that would prefer quiet blades to loud guns in many situations, along with XCOM's general lack of resources.
  • BFS: Rangers use an oversized machete in melee combat. Its upgrades are the Arc Blade and the Fusion Blade, the former with a chance to stun and the latter able to set its victims on fire.
  • Back Stab: Shadowstrike grants a bonus to aim and crit chance when attacking from Concealment.
  • Close-Range Combatant: In addition to the shotgun, they also make good use of a blade in melee combat.
  • Critical Hit Class: A properly-skilled and equipped Ranger can exceed 100% crit chance.
  • Crutch Character: Rangers' shotguns are one of the few weapons available to you in the beginning of the game to do guaranteed damage (at very close-range) and hit hard, making them key for working past your low-ranking soldiers' unreliable accuracy.
  • Dynamic Entry: They can deliver an attack right after a Run, be it with their blade or their Shotgun after activating Run and Gun.
  • Flaming Sword: Of sorts. The Plasma-tier melee weapon is the Fusion Blade, which has a chance to set whatever it hits on fire, assuming that the target survives the sword slash.
  • Foil: Rangers appear to be designed to be the hard counter to Sectoids, who are extra-vulnerable to melee attacks and often die in one good sword strike. With the Fusion Blade and Bladestorm, they also hard-counter Chryssalids. On the other hand, they're countered by Mutons.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Implacable allows Rangers to make another move after getting at least one kill in their turn. Unlike in the first game where going for a kill could leave an Assault in a vulnerable spot, Rangers with Implacable can now make a kill then run to a better position afterwards.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Rangers draw and strike with their swords in one motion, and then sheathe their swords back onto their back. Occasionally, their animation will even have them flick the blood off the blade first.
  • "Instant Death" Radius: Bladestorm comes pretty close. It's a free attack on ANYTHING that gets into or moves out of melee range, even if it's just passing by.
  • I Was Never Here: Sometimes said word-for-word by the ranger when using the Conceal ability.
  • Kill Streak: Their Reaper ability allows them to chain a melee attack into another attack, which can go on for as long as the Ranger is getting kills. To keep it from going too crazy, you do less and less damage with each successive attack, but you can easily clear a pod of weak enemies with this skill. It's brutal against The Lost.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: All three tiers of the shotgun fire solid projectiles, unlike the other weapons that eventually progress to plasma. The Storm Gun uses a plasma pulse for the propulsion but ultimately is still shooting kinetic projectiles.
  • Machete Mayhem: The default melee weapon for the class is an oversized machete.
  • The Musketeer: Rangers use a blade and a shotgun, but not at the same time.
  • No-Sell:
    • With the Untouchable skill the Ranger can ignore the first attack against them after they get a kill, that includes enemy explosives and Psionics. This goes in conjunction with Bladestorm: enemies trying to use tricks that require them to be in melee range will find the Ranger getting their blade swipe in first. This includes Vipers trying to grab the Ranger with their tongue. Untouchable is refreshed if a Ranger gets the kill via Overwatch or Bladestorm. Suddenly, those hatchling Chryssalids don't look so threatening any more.
    • Shadowstep causes a Ranger to not trigger Overwatch or other reaction fire, excellent for charging into melee or making a potentially hazardous flanking move. Lightning Reflexes makes the first reaction shot miss, perfect to disable a one-unit Overwatch trap.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: The standard animation that plays after shooting the shotgun, like the Assaults of decades past.
  • One-Man Army: As mentioned in Kill Streak, "Reaper" can potentially allow Rangers to clear whole pods by themselves.
  • Rule of Cool: Why exactly do the Ranger's Magnetic and Plasma level weapons still have a shotgun pump? Is it a manual cooling system, as someone suggested back during Enemy Unknown, or is it to load an extra charge of pellets? Who cares, the One-Handed Shotgun Pump is awesome.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: They wield shotguns as their primary ranged weapon. Although you can always switch one to a rifle if you prefer long-range combat, these shotguns are still fairly effective at two thirds of the Ranger's sight range, especially the Arashi.
  • Takes One to Kill One: Rangers with the Bladestorm ability are extremely effective against melee enemies who are dumb enough to cross their comfort zone, including the similar ADVENT Lancers.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Some of their abilities favour concealment and stealth in order to gain a better shot. Phantom lets them remain in concealment even if the rest of the squad is blown, or start out in concealment in missions that usually have no concealment. Shadowstrike gives them a bonus to aim and crit when striking from concealment, and another ability, Conceal, lets them manually re-enter Concealment once per mission.
  • Technicolor Ninjas: The Ranger's stealth is in no way compromised by wearing brightly-coloured armour.

Analogous to the Sniper of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the Sharpshooter specialises in picking off enemies with precise shots, whether from afar with a sniper rifle or up close and personal with a pistol.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • Armoured foes for Gunslingers, as pistols don't have any armour piercing or shredding. If you don't have AP Rounds equipped, better have fellow troopers able to shred their armour first, or all he's going to do is Scratch Damage. The Hunter's Darkclaw mitigates the problem, however.
    • Movement for conventional Snipers, as their standard rifles require two actions to use. This makes Codex bombs especially infuriating. Using a Skeleton/Wraith Suit's grappling hook or Icarus Armor's jets to instantly relocate mitigates this, as does the Hunter's Darklance.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range: Sniper weapons are at their worst accuracy if you're too close to the enemy which explains the common rookie mistake of having Snipers on the front line instead of bringing up the rear and providing support fire.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The Shadowkeeper flintlock pistol, which only Sharpshooters can equip. Downplayed when you upgrade it to fire magnetically-accelerated slugs or plasma beams.
  • Art Evolution: The new sniper rifle model vaguely resembles the Barrett M82. Despite its mediocre stats, bringing an anti-materiel rifle to the fight as your starting weapon feels quite good.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sniper-oriented Sharpshooters can fall into this category during timed missions, as the squad must push towards their objective and extraction, leaving little time for the Sharpshooter to set up. Compounded by the fact that they can't move and shoot their rifle in the same turn, forcing them to choose between falling behind or contributing to the fight.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Like in Enemy Unknown, pistols never need to reload, so the Sharpshooter can fire at will with them. Especially notable if you have a Lost swarm in front of them and they use Faceoff.
  • Counter-Attack: With the "Return Fire" ability, they can counter the first attack aimed at them with a pistol shot, once per turn.
  • Death from Above: The eponymous ability gives them back one action after killing an enemy at a lower elevation. Gets ridiculously powerful when combined with the Hunter's Darklance, a unique sniper rifle that only requires one action to fire and can be fired after moving. As long as they keep one-shotting enemies below them, a Sharpshooter with this weapon can keep firing until they run out of ammo.
  • Firing One-Handed: The way they fire their handguns, even the massive magnum revolver they start out with. The other hand is busy holding the rifle.
  • The Gunslinger: Exactly the name of one of their skill trees. It's the only skill tree that can attack a single target five times in one turn (Lightning Hands, Quick Draw, and Fan Fire), and it also fits into all four categories: the Trick Shot for obvious reasons, The Vaporizer due to Fan Fire, The Woo due to the incredible marksmanship with pistols, and the Quick Draw after the eponymous skill.
  • Hand Cannon: Their pistols are way larger (one of models shown had a barrel as long as soldier's thigh) and more powerful than their counterparts from the first game.
  • Handguns: This time, the Sharpshooter gains bonuses to pistols that allow them to become viable alternatives to sniper rifles. They're the only ones that get to use pistols, too.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: The "Face-Off" ability lets them fire their handgun at every enemy in range in a single turn.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The default Sharpshooter skill is now Squadsight, albeit nerfed from its previous incarnationnote . Compensated for, however, with the Sniper tree skills: they ALL make Squadsight more dangerous. As much as Aim is the One Stat to Rule Them All, this is especially true for Sharpshooters, as most of their skills are reliant on it in some way.
  • Magikarp Power: Just like their predecessor in the first game, the Snipers. Their first skills are reliant entirely on their aim, but none of these skills buff that (Squadsight has an aim penalty at extreme ranges, Return Fire is a reaction shot that also has an aim penalty, and Long Watch is just Squadsight Overwatch, meaning it also has an aim penalty). Once the Sharpshooter's aim gets higher via promotions, weapon upgrades or PCS, they begin to show how dangerous they really are. It gets even more glaring with if you spec the Gunslinger build: the basic pistol isn't even guaranteed to one-shoot the weakest Advent Troopers, so armor upgrades and AP or Bluescreen ammo are absolutely vital to survive and do any meaningful damage. A fully-upgraded Colonel Gunslinger more than repays all that investment, as they can solo the fearsome Gatekeepers and Sectopods or clear an entire pod of lesser foes in a single turn.
  • Mighty Glacier: Like their counterparts from the previous game, their sniper rifles take two action points to fire, meaning they can either move or shoot but not both on the same turn, outside certain buffs, compensated by sniper rifles being the game's strongest weapons in terms of base damage. This is worsened by the fact that, unlike Snipers, they don't get to learn Snap Shot to allow them to move and fire on the same turn. The Major skills reinforce this: Steady Hands grants an Aim and Critical Hit bonus for not having moved in the previous turn, while Aim grants a bigger Aim bonus for ending the previous turn with Hunker Down. It's downplayed if they have the Darklance, the only Sniper Rifle that can be shot after moving.
  • More Dakka:
    • A Gunslinger-focused Sharpshooter is focused on lots of free shots at lots of enemies with their infinite-ammo sidearm. While the pistol does less damage than a standard weapon attack, it stacks up fast once you have free shots from the pistol every turn, free counter attacks with it, an extra ability that lets you take a free-action shot once every four turns, and the ability to shoot everything you see once every few turns.
    • The Sniper tree can also do this, albeit requiring more setup. The tree's final skill is Serial, which makes any kill refund your action points. With sufficient aim, and a Superior Auto-Loader, you can usually kill every alien in sight. If there are some in hiding, then Kill Zone will make sure they'll be dead soon, too.
  • Multi-Ranged Master: With judicious use of Ability Points, a Sharpshooter can be as lethal with their rifle as they are with their sidearm, and a tornado of death at close, medium and long range.
  • One-Man Army: A base game Sharpshooter can become one with the colonel-level skill Serial and some clever targeting, but it's War of the Chosen where things get plain ridiculous. The Hunter's Darklance rifle, coupled with the Death from Above skill that refunds one action for every kill from a height advantage, allows one Sharpshooter to wipe out half the battlefield in a single turn with barely any trouble. Sharpshooters generally take a while until they can pull their own weight, but high-ranking examples will quickly rack up more kills than any other class in your roster.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: The two sides of the Sharpshooter's skill trees lead to very different playstyles: the Sniper side is built around being a Long-Range Fighter by using the sniper rifle to deal out strong single attacks from afar, preferably from elevation, while the Gunslinger side, emphasising use of the short-ranged pistol, is a Close-Range Combatant that makes many individually weaker attacks.
  • Quick Draw: One of their abilities. It allows them to fire pistols without ending their turn, allowing them to relocate or shoot again. Another ability, "Lightning Hands", grants them one free-action shot every four turns. "Face Off" fires the pistol once at each enemy in range, and finally "Fan Fire" fires the pistol three times at a target.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: The official page's article on the Archon notes that Sharpshooters are your best defense against Archons, as the Sharpshooter can pick off the airborne Archon, overcoming it's evasive nature with their high aim, while the Archon's flight above the terrain makes getting a line of fire between your Sharpshooter and an enemy Archon easier than with other Aliens. They themselves are poorly-suited to fighting Chryssalids, whose mobility and ability to pop out of seemingly safe areas allow them to jump on your isolated Sharpshooters and rip them apart.

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

    Psi Operative 
Unlike the previous campaign, in which veteran soldiers had a chance to discover and develop their psionic talents, now XCOM has the means to make any Rookie a psychic powerhouse. Sending a Rookie to train in a Psionic Lab lets them learn devastating psionic powers they can use to lock down enemies with status effects, bolster their teammates, or lay waste to wide swathes of the battlefield.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Although not game-breaking, the top-tier Alien Psi Amp provides a significant boost to their psi strength stat. However, unlocking it requires autopsying a Gatekeeper, an endgame enemy that won't show up until the campaign is almost over, and once you've unlocked the tech, you must defeat yet another Gatekeeper in a mission that allows for salvaging its corpse (read: nothing that involves extracting your team at the end) in order to commission the actual upgrade in Engineering. It's entirely possible to only unlock Alien Psi Amps right before the final mission, or even not at all, depending on your luck with the RNG.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Like the Specialist's Combat Protocol, Soulfire deals damage that always hits regardless of Armour or cover. Unlike Combat Protocol, it can't hit mechanical targets, but it's stronger against the organics it can be used against. Also, as detailed below, their other offensive powers, especially the heavy hitters Null Lance and Void Rift, will never miss as long as your own aim is true.
  • Badass Adorable: Can be Invoked. While potentially true with all classes, with the right customization it is possible to have a Psi Operative that is cute as a button with a bubbly personality that is also capable of wiping out half a city block without firing a shot. There's nothing more badass and adorable than a Null Lance wiping out a pod followed by a cheerful "By the numbers!"
  • Crutch Character: Downplayed. They can and will still be effective lategame, but they will never match a Ranger or Sharpshooter's killcount, with their Bladestorm and Death From Above + Serial shenanigans. On the other hand, their Non-Standard Skill Learning allows them to level up to an equivalent of a Colonel in the early game, where turnover rate is still high, and a lot of their skills can be used to soften the enemies and provide protection for the Rookies.examples 
    • With access to Fortress, Solace, Sustain and Soul Steal you end up with a soldier that is all but immune to almost every debuff and damage over time in the game, is immune to explosions, and can heal themselves. And in a pinch they can save themselves from death. Even without offensive psychic skills beyond their starting one, you have an assault rifle using soldier who can weather huge amounts of enemy fire with impunity and can only be brought down by severe sustained enemy fire.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: The upgraded Insanity power, called Schism, applies a debuff increasing all damage taken by affected unit by 2.
  • Emotion Control: The Solace ability creates a psionic shield around the PsiOp, blocking all psionic attacks aimed at troops in range and removing all mental debuffs like panic or Mind Control. This also makes the Psi Op themself immune to psionic attacks aside from raw damage ones.
  • Extra Turn: They can grant one to their ally by using the Inspire skill.
  • Fantastic Rank System: As befitting such a Mechanically Unusual Class, Psi Operatives have a rather different rank system, though it's equivalent to the normal soldier ranks – theirs are Initiate (Squaddie), Acolyte (Corporal), Adept (Sergeant), Disciple (Lieutenant), Mystic (Captain), Warlock (Major), and Magus (Colonel).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The entire training process turns an inexperienced recruit into a super powered badass. It's entirely possible to start training one and not send them on their first mission until they're at Magus rank and have mastered every power in the game.
  • The Gift: Averted. Unlike the last game where only a few soldiers had the potential, any non-promoted squaddie can now become a psi operative through elerium infusion and not-entirely-painless training.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: The Null Lance ability fires a powerful beam of psionic energy that can hit multiple enemies in a straight line and ignores cover.
  • Large Ham: A side effect of their psychic powers is increased grandstanding, apparently.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Sustain ability allows them to enter Stasis and survive otherwise lethal hits with one HP, just like ADVENT Priests.
  • Life Drain: Soul Steal upgrades Soulfire to regain half of the damage dealt as health.
  • Locked into Strangeness: In addition to their eyes turning purple, all Psi Operatives' hair turn white after the initial training. Both can be changed back to their original colors in the customization options, though.
  • Magikarp Power: It takes a long time and some luck to get the good psi powers, but it will pay off by giving you an immensely powerful psychic warrior who has a large variety of offensive and defensive psychic abilities at their disposal.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Psi Operative can only acquire abilities by training in the Psionic Lab, unlike their counterparts who can earn XP in battle. Additionally, the abilities they can access come in random batches of three, so it is possible for your operative to acquire a powerful ability early in training. Furthermore, in War of the Chosen, Psi Operatives cannot make use of the Ability Point-based advanced training facilities and are purely reliant on their training, exchanging ease of learning skills immediately for the potential to unlock all the psychic powers over time.note 
  • Mind Control: The Domination ability. As opposed to its Enemy Unknown counterpart, it can only succeed once per mission and failure puts the skill on a four-turn cooldown, but in exchange, if it succeeds, it's permanent. Insanity and Void Rift can also randomly put an enemy under mind control, but that's only one of its possible outcomes, and it's temporary if it happens.
  • Mystical White Hair: When one become a psi operative, their hair will turn white, though it can be changed back in the customization options.
  • Necessary Drawback: In addition to the typical cooldowns on all their abilities (some as long as 6 turns), Psi Ops have a number of other drawbacks that can make them more difficult to use. Namely:
    • They can only equip rifles, and have lower-than-average Aim.
    • They don't get as many hit points when leveling up, and a Magus always has fewer hit points than a Colonel (though armor helps).
    • They advance randomly, as opposed to being on a specific advancement track like the other classes.
    • They don't have access to the Advanced Warfare Center / Training Center, which precludes them from learning additional abilities from other classes. Given their already vast array of abilities, it's probably for balancing reasons.
    • Unlike other classes, they are capable of learning every ability as a Psi-Op, but this requires a significant amount of time invested in training. However, Psi-Ops in training can go on missions at any time and will resume their training as soon as they're back and uninjured, so it's not like they're unavailable for months until they're field-ready. They just become more powerful over time without having to kill things.
    • Most importantly, they do not gain experience from combat missions, meaning that taking them along on a mission both doesn't help their advancement, and forfeits the experience that another soldier could have gotten.
  • No-Sell:
    • With the Fortress talent, they become immune to acid, poison, fire and explosive damage. If a car gets blown up next to them, a Gatekeeper fires their psychic beam weapon at them, or an Andromedon launches an acid bomb at them, they can completely ignore it.
      • A special mention goes to the ADVENT purifiers, who become unable to inflict any damage whatsoever to a Psyops with Fortress, as their attacks consist entirely of a flamethrower and and incendiary grenades with no regular gun to fall back on, meaning neither weapons nor the resulting secondary explosions can harm the Psyops.
    • Solace creates a field around the Operative that makes both themself and any allies in the vicinity fully immune to mind control and panic.
    • The aforementioned abilities aren't mutually exclusive, meaning a PsiOp with both is a ridiculously versatile offensive powerhouse that's also immune to everything but direct physical and psionic damage. No wonder ADVENT troops have a noticeable habit of prioritizing shooting XCOM PsiOps over almost anything else on the battlefield.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Fuse allows them to detonate explosives remotely, including the ones on the enemy, living and dead.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Unlocking a soldier's Psi-powers turns their hair white, and changes their eye color to purple as well, though both can be changed if you feel so inclined.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: A Psi Operative hardly ever needs to use their rifle when they have multitude attack and support options. As a result, their Aim stat is on par with a Grenadier's.
  • Psychic Powers: As the name implies, all of the Psi Operative's abilities fall under this category in some capacity.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Once they've learned most or all of their abilities, Psi-Ops will only use their rifles when their powers are either on cooldown or unsuited to the situation, the latter of which tends to be rare indeed. There's almost always something useful a Psi-Op can do that doesn't involve pulling a trigger.
  • Sixth Ranger: Has shades of it. The research requirements mean they won't be joining the team until a while in, and when they finally do arrive, they'll be bringing their cool psychic powers to an already experienced squad.
  • Stone Wall: A combination of effects make them very difficult to kill: Life Drain, their ability to enter Stasis instead of dying, No-Sell-ing status effects both physical and mental with Fortress and Solace, and so on. Getting this combination of effects is random, but if you get them all, the Psi Operative is almost indestructible and should last strong through hard missions.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Fuse ability allows them to remotely detonate any explosive objects on the battlefield. This includes explosives carried by dead aliens. Unlike normally-used explosives, though, explosions caused by this (somehow) have a chance to miss.
  • Super Power Lottery: Psi Operatives learn a variety of powers that are unlocked semi-randomly as they gain ranks and experience. This can mean anything from unlocking powerful Rift-style skills as soon as they become PsiOps, or merely getting subtle mindlinking powers as they unlock the upper reaches of their psi-skill. No two Psi operatives learn the exact same set of psi powers at the same time. Played with in that they can learn all Psi skills eventually, but this will take quite a bit of time in the Psi Lab to nab them all.
  • Supernatural Is Purple: All their psionic powers are purple. Their eyes also turn purple after their training too, though that can be customized afterwards. Goes along with Locked into Strangeness above.
  • Time Stands Still: Their Stasis skill immobilizes one unit (friendly or enemy) and makes them indestructible for the rest of the turn. It's good for nullifying the threat of one powerful enemy for a turn while the rest of your team gets set up, or shielding a vulnerable ally who's out of cover.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Detonate the explosives the enemy is carrying with Fuse! Mind Control the enemy and send them to kill their own teammates! Or command them to throw a grenade on their feet!

    SPARK Trooper
SPARK-001's default appearance.
A new soldier type introduced in Shen's Last Gift. In the XCOM 2 timeline, Shen never built the MEC Troopers seen in Enemy Within, that research instead culminated in the SPARK, a fully-robotic soldier wielding a powerful autocannon. Each is accompanied by a BIT, a spherical robot that can hack targets and fire a heavy weapon.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: The texture on SPARK-001 is symmetrically mirrored, causing it to have the number "01" printed on one shoulder, and "10" on the other.
  • Anti-Armor: Shots from the Heavy Autocannon shred armour by default.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The non-Julian voice sets are exceedingly polite for something installed in a hulking Killer Robot, and some of their lines are actual apologies to their targets for being forced to shoot them (in a "you leave me no other choice" kind of way).
  • Attack Drone: While they are robots themselves, they also carry BIT drones, in a similar manner that Specialists have GREMLINs.
  • A-Team Firing: Without War of the Chosen, SPARKs have a low aim stat at maximum rank (77), with no ability to increase it via PCS or Weapon mods. Since Overdrive lets them take multiple shots (and they used automatic weapons to begin with), this tends to happen. This is further enforced since without the Adaptive Aim skill, each shot after the first while on Overdrive takes a stacking -15 aim penalty. Thankfully, the War of the Chosen DLC allows them to upgrade their cannon with Gun Accessories, making this issue slightly less glaring, but a SPARK will still never be able to rival the marksmanship skills of a human operative.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • SPARKs are certainly fun to use every now and then and are a good slot filler if too many soldiers are tired, but their combat capabilities will never reach what your human operatives can achieve, and their unique abilities are either weaker variants of similar human skills, or they sound great in theory but aren't that useful in practice. One outstanding example for the latter would be their ability to provide high cover to their human squadmates. Enemies are coded to target clustered XCOM forces with grenades, so hiding a human behind a SPARK practically waves a large "throw grenade here" sign at ADVENT. Unless you mod the hell out of your SPARKs to bring them on par with their human buddies, chances are they'll be collecting dust in the Avenger's armory most of the time once you hit the mid-to-late game. The Metal Over Flesh Game Mod strives to make SPARKs more versatile and viable through several Proving Grounds projects, mostly giving them abilities of the old MEC Troopers.
    • Besides their limited skills, SPARKs have the worst aim growth in the game. Unlike Grenadiers, they cannot mitigate it using weapon mods or ammos either (although they gained the ability to use weapon mods in War of the Chosen). Also, damaged SPARK can only be repaired one at a time, and that process cannot be accelerated, while human soldiers can use the infirmary to heal faster, and all heal simultaneously.
    • War Of The Chosen adds other drawback to the SPARK. They cannot go on covert missions. Covert missions hand out a ton of bonuses, from immediate promotions (great to circumvent the high XP requirement at higher rank) to various permanent stat bonuses. The SPARK can never get any of those, meaning it's stuck with whatever mediocre stat it has, and must grind out promotions the ol' fashioned way. SPARKs also cannot form bonds with other soldier, which further locks them out of many abilities.
  • BFG: Their standard weapon is a massive autocannon that must weigh more than the average human, and it only gets bigger from there.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Their Nova attack releases an explosion centred on the SPARK that has no cooldown, but every use after the first will damage the SPARK.
  • Chicken Walker: They have digitigrade legs.
  • Dynamic Entry: The Wrecking Ball ability allows a SPARK under the effect of Overdrive to burst through walls. This combos with the Strike ability that grants the SPARK a Ranger-like rush-and-melee attack: with Overdrive, the SPARK has much easier access to targets and can destroy their cover while softening them up for its squadmates to finish off.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Like the Psi Operatives, this time based on medieval knights: Squire (Squaddie), Aspirant (Corporal), Knight (Sergeant), Cavalier (Lieutenant), Vanguard (Captain), Paladin (Major), and Champion (Colonel).
  • Go Through Me: Possibly the most powerful ability of the SPARK is the Champion-tier ability Sacrifice, which generates a protective field around the SPARK which protects all allies within it by making the SPARK take all attacks directed at them on itself. This even extends to AoE effects like grenades, and the SPARK only takes a single hit from the attack regardless of how many allies it was shielding. It also gives the SPARK +20 defence and +2 armour while it's active, which makes it even tankier than it already is and can be stacked with other defensive bonuses like the Specialist's Aid Protocol. Apart from using a Psionic soldier to put an ally under Stasis, there's no better way to guarantee an ally's survival.
  • Imprinting: Explicitly stated to happen between the prototype and Lily as part of its activation procedure. Seeing how said prototype's one and only purpose was to protect her, it's entirely justified. Turns into a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation when you realize SPARK-001 is never again seen in her company unless it needs repairs after a combat mission.
  • Killer Robot: Raymond didn't directly intend for them to be this, but he certainly made sure they can act the part quite effectively, and XCOM isn't going to let their combat potential go to waste once they get their hands on the prototype. Becomes especially pronounced if you install Julian into one due to his hatred of everything organic.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Their Overdrive ability lets them have three actions, and no action automatically ends their turn while active. They do suffer an aim penalty, but Adaptive Aim, a later skill, can counter this. Combined with their high durability, innate Shredder and heavy weapon slot, they can move, tank and attack better than any meatbag until the late game.
  • Master of None: The SPARK's versatility comes at a hefty cost.
    • They have a BIT and can remotely hack like a Specialist, though their Hack stat is terrible. Repair is a bit like GREMLIN Heal, but only works on robotic allies, limiting its usefulness. Bombard sends the BIT out to explode with an AOE effect at range, something like a cross between Combat Protocol and the Grenadier's Grenade Launcher, but it doesn't shred or ignore armor. Hunter Protocol is a bit like Ever Vigilant and Guardian, giving a percentage chance for free Overwatch shots on revealed enemies, but the SPARK's poor accuracy makes it mediocre at this and it can't have its magazine size or aim increased with accessory mods outside of War of the Chosen, and they don't have the Specialist's ability to Critical Hit on Overwatch shots.
    • They can shred armor like a Grenadier with Shredder can, and Bombard, as mentioned, is much like a Grenadier's Grenade Launcher, but without access to specialized grenades or the Grenadier's advanced attacks and debuffs.
    • With Strike they get a melee attack like a Ranger, but unlike the Ranger's upgraded swords, they can't deal status effects, nor can they mimic a Ranger's advanced melee skills. Strike also deals much less damage and has an arduous four-turn cooldown, unlike the Ranger's melee attack that can be used at least once per turn.
    • Overdrive, by giving three actions that turn, allows them to simulate the various "two moves and an attack/Overwatch" abilities like the Ranger's Run and Gun or attacking thrice in a turn like Sharpshooters, but without the high aim stat or other supporting abilities that make those shine, and tying all of it to one lengthy cooldown doesn't help.
    • The SPARK also has its own unique weapon and armor upgrade tree, requiring the player to spend even more resources to keep their gear updated if they want to field any. Said weapon can't be improved with mods either unless War of the Chosen is installed.
    • Last but not least, while SPARKs have an innate heavy weapon slot like EXO or WAR Suits and the Rainmaker ability improves the damage and AOE of that, they don't have item slots, meaning they can't carry utility items, grenades or special ammo. There are Game Mods that change that, though.
  • No-Sell: Being mechanical, SPARKs are immune to poison, panic, disorientation, burning and mind control. They're a wondrous counter to the Warlock in War of the Chosen.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The SPARK prototype stood motionless in an abandoned factory complex that was being reclaimed by nature for twenty years, yet it immediately operates at peak efficiency as soon as Lily powers it up. Unlike Julian's decayed MEC drones, the SPARK shows absolutely no signs of wear and tear, not even a spot of rust. Either Shen Sr. really built things to last, or Julian took pains to maintain his desired body over the decades in the hopes of finally claiming it one day.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • SPARK-001 was built by Raymond Shen to protect his daughter, Lily.
      Dr. Shen: Though the unit is not ready for manufacturing, this prototype has been coded with one specific task: it will protect you, perhaps better than I ever could. For all I have seen and accomplished in my life, Lily, there is one thing that I know for sure: you are my greatest gift to this world.
    • The SPARK has one itself in the BIT, which acts similar to how a GREMLIN interacts with a Specialist.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Their default head, resembling a gremlin's body, makes them look like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.
    • The plated armor version of the same head resembles Roberto, the stabbing robot from Futurama.
  • Super Prototype: SPARK-001 far outclasses any of the mass-produced ADVENT MECs based on it. Shen Sr. also states explicitly that the model wasn't yet ready for production when he was forced to shut it down during the initial invasion, and that he rushed the completion of the one existing prototype for the sole purpose of protecting his daughter, so it only makes sense that he beefed it up as much as he could. XCOM can make more SPARKs just like the 001 prototype, but they come at a hefty cost and long production time and can only be built one at a time.
  • Sixth Ranger: During Shen's Last Gift, SPARK-001 joins your active team even if you're already bringing the normal maximum of six troopers. Also can apply in a different way if they're the sixth class you unlock, such as before getting a Psi Operative or Templar. In War of the Chosen, they can be the sixth team member in case you don't have enough non-tired soldiers to go on a mission.
  • Spock Speak: Any SPARK with a non-Julian voice pack speaks this way.
  • Stealthy Colossus: Yes, they are capable of starting a mission in Concealment with the rest of the squad, justified somewhat by their BIT supplying a mild camouflage field. Just don't expect it to last long, since SPARKs can't properly hide behind cover.
  • Stone Wall:
    • Perhaps their one unique trait and potentially greatest advantage. Although they cannot use cover, SPARKs can get very thick armor. In combination with their immunity to fire, poison, and panic, this makes a SPARK a very effective point man for the squad, capable of shrugging off blows that would fell their flesh-and-blood brethren.
    • In addition, SPARKs with the Bulwark skill can also function as literal walls, providing full cover for your troops should they hide behind the SPARK.
  • Took a Level in Badass: War of the Chosen gives them a few much-needed buffs, such as the ability to apply weapon mods to their cannons, as well as being incredibly handy against the Warlock. They're also immune to the expansion's new fatigue mechanic, which allows them to be deployed as many times in a row as you wish, whereas your other soldiers will need to rest for several days to be at top condition after as little as two consecutive deployments even if every mission is Flawless.

Unique Soldiers


The Skyranger pilot responsible for ferrying strike teams to and from missions.

  • Ace Pilot: Given that she is able to escape from ADVENT Interceptors while piloting a transport aircraft and break contact well enough to avoid leading them directly back to the Avenger, she's presumably an excellent pilot.
  • Badass Normal: ADVENT holds total air superiority in Earth's skies. Only the most fearless badass (or nutjob) would dare piloting an unarmed, completely defenseless dropship full of wanted terrorists right into the heart of enemy territory under these conditions. She does it on a regular basis and always gets everyone in and out safely.
  • The Faceless: Only ever shown wearing her helmet. As a Continuity Nod/Mythology Gag, her helmet looks identical to the Hyperion helmet model from Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within's Elite Soldier Pack DLC.
  • Shout-Out: When arriving at a mission site, she may declare "We're in the pipe, five by five."

    Jane Kelly
Kelly's default appearance.

Appearing in the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, Kelly plays a crucial role during the Commander's rescue, and for her efforts is promoted to Squaddie as XCOM's first Ranger. While she is just as mortal as any other soldier from that point on, Kelly proved extremely popular with players, so the antagonists of the War of the Chosen were given unique interactions with her, and a Tactical Legacy Pack campaign expands upon her backstory.

XCOM: Chimera Squad confirms that Kelly survives the campaign to liberate the planet and goes on to play a major role in Earth's post-war government. See Director Kelly's entry on that game's character page for details.

  • Action Girl: As a field operative who actively participates in battle, she definitely qualifies for this role.
  • Action Survivor: Given her history as the leader of the Resistance group "Children of the Earth," the role she played in the Lazarus Project and the amount of firepower sent her way during Gatecrasher, she easily qualifies.
  • Ascended Extra: While she did have some story importance as a Mauve Shirt for the tutorial, her popularity with fans translated to significantly increased focus - War of the Chosen has unique dialogue for her in certain situations, Tactical Legacy dedicates an entire mission to her backstory, and in Chimera Squad she functions as the titular Squad's commander and is a major character in the game.
  • Fighting Irish: Wears an Irish flag on her armor, and as competent at combat as any other soldier. Oddly enough, she uses one of the American soldier voices, suggesting she isn't a native.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Kelly is already an accomplished soldier and former leader of her own resistance group, and in the Tactical Legacy Pack campaign she features in, advances to Colonel rank. After Operation Gatecrasher, she's suddenly a Squaddie again.
  • Iconic Item: She keeps the baseball cap she's wearing during Operation Gatecrasher even after her promotion to Ranger, and since this item seems to have an exceedingly low probability to randomly spawn on new recruits, chances are she'll remain your only soldier to wear it. You can, of course, switch it out for some other headwear at any time.
  • Living Legend: She was considered one of XCOM greatest heroes to the point even the Chosen are vary of her.
  • Mauve Shirt: Just like all named "unique" operatives before her, she can be killed in action if you're careless or unlucky. She is still acknowledged as her own character, though, and has some minor interactions with The Chosen in War of the Chosen.
  • Nom de Guerre: Her callsign in "The Lazarus Project" mini-campaign is appropriately "Quiet."
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you skip the tutorial, she never joins your team for that campaign. You can, however, play the tutorial and then save her to your character pool for deployment in any future campaigns.
  • Saved by Canon: While she can potentially die at any point in the campaign, XCOM: Chimera Squad confirms that she survived all the way to the end, going on to aid XCOM's post-war alien integration program.
  • The Sneaky Guy: She's first seen blending in with a crowd of civilians, and taking advantage of a distracted ADVENT squadron to secretly plant explosives on their van, before blowing up the van and the ADVENT squad along with it. She also becomes a Ranger, meaning she can also build up on at least some stealth-based perks as well.
  • Sole Survivor: Technically not, since Bradford was also part of Operation Gatecrasher, but she's the only one to see field duty since Bradford goes back to being Mission Control, and the other two members were gunned down by ADVENT.
  • Unflinching Walk: Kelly does this while pressing the detonator for the X-4 charges she planted in Operation Gatecrasher.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Chosen have unique comments when capturing Kelly, showing how renowned she is to the aliens.

    Peter Osei and Ana Ramirez
The other two members from the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher, who attack the gene therapy clinic before Bradford or Jane Kelly. They both die in the process, but help their teammates save the Commander.
  • Action Girl: Ana is a trained combatant, like any female field operative for XCOM.
  • Angry Black Man: Initially subverted with Peter, who is cool and professional when moving on the ADVENT. When he does get mad, it's because he just saw Ana gunned down before his eyes.
  • Ascended Extra: They only appear in the main game if the player chooses to play the tutorial, where they die. In the Tactical Legacy Pack's "The Lazarus Project" missions, they're given more of a backstory along with Jane Kelly.
  • Anyone Can Die: If you're new to the game and play the Tactical Legacy Pack before the main campaign, Ana and Peter serve as a grim example of the dark turns this game can take. They're built up as major characters for any future campaigns, only to get killed off abruptly in the flippin' tutorial mission.
  • Badass Spaniard: Ana is of Mexican descent.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted with Peter, since Ana is killed before him. He doesn't survive Operation Gatecrasher, though, and he is the first male casualty of the game.
  • Cold Sniper: Ana becomes a Sharpshooter after you rescue her in TLP.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Averted for Ana. While she's definitely a survivalist who retreated from society well before the aliens even arrived, according to Bradford, she never became the typical crazed loner one usually associates with this type of people. She's fully socially adept and has absolutely no trouble integrating into XCOM when they team up.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The Tactical Legacy Pack paints Peter as the reckless Leeroy Jenkins type and Ana as the calm, tactical-minded one. It's the complete opposite of how they're acting in the tutorial mission. Also, there's no real explanation why both downgrade their high-ranked TLP classes (Grenadier and Sharpshooter, respectively) to basic Rookie for the Gatecrasher mission. Even if they ditched the big guns to sneak into the city center, the loss of all their skills and resilience is purely for the tutorial's sake.
    • If you skip the tutorial mission, the cutscene right before your campaign's randomly generated Gatecrasher mission still shows Ana and Peter sitting in Firebrand's passenger compartment, only for completely different rookies to jump out once the mission begins.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Tactical Legacy Pack reveals that Peter used to lead the "Wrecking Crew," a resistance cell almost as effective as XCOM. Meanwhile, Ana spent years training guerilla fighters for her personal underground war against ADVENT.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Peter decides to stay outside the clinic to hold off the ADVENT reinforcements so Kelly and Bradford to finish the mission, telling them to go on while he buys them time.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Ana is aggressive in her movements, dashing forward to take out the ADVENT at close range. This gets her killed when an ADVENT Trooper flanks her and guns her down.
  • Mauve Shirt: Their names and appearances are fixed, and both get a chance to take out some ADVENT, but both of them die in this mission.
  • Nom de Guerre: In their Tactical Legacy Pack campaign, Peter's callsign is "Rowdy," while Ana goes by "Skinner."
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Peter gets furious when Ana is gunned down in a flanking attack, and flanks said attacker to give them a taste of their own medicine.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Peter becomes a Grenadier after you rescue him in TLP.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Ana is the very first soldier killed in Operation Gatecrasher, and thus the first XCOM member to die in the game.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Peter tells Bradford and Kelly to save themselves while he holds off the ADVENT reinforcements. His Last Stand doesn't last long, but it buys his comrades enough time to escape.

    The Kiryu-Kai Survivors 
XCOM veterans with improbably-styled hair, wearing aviator sunglasses and tattered versions of XCOM's old uniform. According to their biographies, they served in a number of pre-invasion operations for the unit, including an infamous event known as "Kiryu-Kai Disaster". They are available as part of the Resistance Warrior DLC, and are randomly generated save for their hairstyle and clothing.
  • Anime Hair: They possess the classic X-Com "blowout" hairstyle, seen on male soldiers in the original game and a selectable hair option in Enemy Unknown.
  • Cool Shades: In addition to their old school uniforms, they all sport a pair of wicked aviators.
  • Improbable Age: They're supposed to be seasoned soldiers from the first war twenty years ago, but the randomly-assigned birthdates may mean that they were pre-teens during the invasion.
  • Mauve Shirt: As with all other "unique" soldiers in the series, they are just as vulnerable to death as the next rookie.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never explained what exactly the Kiryu-Kai Disaster actually was in-universe, though if it's anything like what it's a reference to, it wasn't pretty.
  • Shout-Out: The mention of the "Kiryu-Kai Disaster" in their biographies is a reference to this famed novelization/Let's Play of the original X-COM: UFO Defense. This also serves as a shout-out to the timeline of the original series, in which the Kiryu-Kai was Japan's attempt at its own anti-alien task force, which failed miserably and prompted the country to back the multinational XCOM project instead.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Their outfits, which come with the DLC as a customization option for kevlar armor, are tattered versions of the default Body Armor in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Other Resistance Factions

    General Tropes 
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: You won't find any in ADVENT's city centers, but the slums around them have plenty of graffiti, which can include XCOM's logo. Actual Resistance havens are covered in XCOM Sigil Spam.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If you play with the tutorial on, your second mission is securing an ADVENT convoy that local resistance fighters ambushed and disabled. They stopped the transports in their tracks, but died to the last fighting its escorts.
  • Men of Sherwood: The Resistance defenders in the War of the Chosen's Haven Assault missions are susprisingly competent, and on lower difficulties are capable of defeating even Chosen without XCOM's assistance. Just don't let one of your soldiers get Mind-Controlled within their sight...
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Your forces tend to show up when after everyone else has either fled or died, but it's clear that the other resistance cells have been quite active, whether it be setting up data taps to spy on ADVENT, pinpointing strategic targets for XCOM to follow up on, halting enemy convoys, and tipping XCOM off to VIP locations.
    • Somehow the Resistance, which usually only shows up as a ragtag bunch of lightly armed Red Shirts, manages to bring down heavily armed and armored UFOs on a regular basis, leaving the things sitting ducks for you to scavenge for high-level loot. They do often end up dead for their troubles if the mission flavor text is anything to go by, but it remains a quite impressive feat regardless.
    • In War of the Chosen, any op you run from the Resistance Ring certainly counts, seeing how you send a maximum of three operatives to help one of the three resistance factions in kicking some serious alien ass. The missions that reduce the Avatar Project counter are also heavily implied to play out similar to the repeatable Alien Facility ops you can run yourself, and those can get quite tough in the mid-to-late game. Best of all, there's a good chance your soldiers return from the ordeal completely unharmed.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: As Bradford describes the other named resistance groups, "together they'd make one hell of a fighting force - too bad they hate each other." The Reapers despise the Skirmishers over the losses suffered when the latter were still part of ADVENT and hunting the former, the Skirmishers look down upon the Reapers' habit of eating the aliens they defeat, both factions consider the Templars a cult of psionics-obsessed lunatics, and the Templars in turn sneer at the other groups for being blind to the "true nature of the world." They only start working together when the Commander earns the trust of each group in turn.

    Resistance Radio 
A pirate radio station introduced in War of the Chosen that brings news of XCOM's exploits to the rest of the world. It seems to be operated by a single male host, and the Tactical Legacy Pack expands upon his backstory and connection to XCOM.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: He's not exactly running on all cylinders, but that only makes his comments that much funnier.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: He has some rather strange ideas how XCOM sympathizers could support XCOM. Like approaching their nearest peacekeeping officer and shooting him in the face.
    The DJ (cheerfully) Do your part today!
  • Comic Relief: The broadcasts are almost always hilarious, which brings some welcome humor into an otherwise pretty dark game.
  • Escort Mission: His mini-campaign in TLP contains several of them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": On the Avenger, the feed when he speaks is simply titled "Resistance Radio," and in the TLP mini-campaign that revolves around him, Bradford only calls him "The DJ." His name is actually listed as Jake Levy when you get to control him in a mission, but this is easy to miss since the game interface focuses more on callsigns than soldier names.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: One of his broadcasts has him discussing a "Middle Official Stanford" getting depressed after his buddy was captured by the aliens, and nearly slips up and refers to him as "Bradford" before having to hastily sign off. His next broadcast after that is an awkward public apology after Bradford predictably calls him and tears him a new one offscreen.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The "clickity-clack" of scuttling Chryssalids make seriously freak him out, especially while he's still unaware of the real horror he's dealing with.
  • If Only You Knew: Some of his conjectures, rumors and jokes about ADVENT, usually the particularly grim ones, are a lot closer to the truth than he probably suspects, or he wouldn't act so cheery. Also doubles as Foreshadowing if you discover said truths after you heard him talk about them.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: He admits to developing a serious crush on the Commander because of all the alien ass (s)he keeps kicking day in, day out.
  • Jerkass: In-Universe, Bradford considers him to be one.
  • Large Ham: He obviously loves his job and is a huge XCOM fanboy.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: His tendency to charge into danger without any regard for his safety or that of the people trying to protect him causes Bradford (and through him, the player) no end of grief in his TLP mini-campaign.
  • The Load: In his TLP mini-campaign, it's not enough that he provoked a Chryssalid swarm and has to be rescued (twice!), but he will not shut up even while being escorted through dangerous territory. Even when he's sent to safety and only contributing to giving Central's strike team directions to the next objective, he manages to nearly botch that job too.
  • MacGyvering: Somehow he managed to rig his pirate broadcast into various pieces of ADVENT technology that even military scientists of the time didn't understand. It's implied he didn't really know what he was doing, either.
  • Mysterious Past: The Tactical Legacy Pack eventually introduced a whole mini-campaign that revolves solely around him and how he came into contact with XCOM after accidentally summoning a Chryssalid swarm, but about the only other thing we know about the guy is that he used to work at ADVENT Burger until he was fired.
    The DJ: Ha, I bet the Elders are still regretting that decision...
  • No Indoor Voice: Sometimes one could think he's trying to reach all of Earth by the sheer volume of his voice. If he suddenly starts talking more or less normally, you know he's about to cover a more serious subject.
  • No Sense of Direction: When he's guiding Bradford's squad, his directions are imprecise at best, and confused at worst. Bradford compares taking directions from him to consulting a broken GPS.
  • Skewed Priorities: Considers saving his old pre-war records more important than the lives of himself and the people trying to save his hide from ADVENT and an army of rampaging Chryssalids. Bradford is not happy about this.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: He can get positively ecstatic when you tune in after you just blew up an ADVENT blacksite. Guy really loves his explosions.
  • Stylistic Suck: He occasionally plays commercials with extremely cheesy jingles in between his normal broadcasts, including one for ADVENT Burgers for some reason. That he used to work for them may have something to do with it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In the early days of the Resistance, him setting up broadcasting stations along the coastlines had the nasty side effect of luring hordes of Chryssalids from the depths of the ocean, which the resurgent XCOM then had to deal with to prevent entire coastal settlements from getting slaughtered by the critters.
  • Voice of the Resistance: As literally as it gets, including appeals to his listeners to join XCOM or at least support them in any way they can. And if that's still not obvious enough for his listeners, he outright name-drops the trope to introduce himself.

The Reapers

    General Tropes

A faction of survivalists with unmatched stealth skills, able to fight with their light sniper rifles without immediately being discovered by their targets. When subtlety fails, Reapers are also adept demolitionists, using either their own explosives or whatever volatile objects are on the battlefield.

  • Anti-Armor: They can take up Shredder as an XCOM skill.
  • Army Scout: Reapers are the perfect scouting unit due to their high mobility and extremely small detection radius while in Shadow. Even if they end up not killing a thing during the mission, the intel on enemy positions and movements they can gather in no time more than makes up for it.
  • Aura Vision: A first person view shows that their masks tint everything a pale yellowish-green, while highlighting enemy silhouettes.
  • Badass Boast: They have some of the best lines in the whole game, usually after getting a kill.
    Outrider: Tell your gods I'm coming!
  • Badass Longcoat: It defines their silhouettes.
  • Cherry Tapping: Their Vektor rifles don't do too much damage compared to an XCOM sniper rifle, but their Blood Trail ability increases the damage they do to units that have already taken damage that turn, so the most economical use of Reapers is to finish off weakened enemies. Once they get Silent Killer, they can theoretically keep finishing weakened enemies for an entire mission.
  • Cold Sniper: Reapers have a distinctly colder personality compared to the more generic units, at least when they're acting in Shadow. Should they get revealed, they talk in normal tones.
  • Crazy Survivalist: A heroic and sympathetic example; the Reapers were formed from survivalists who went off the grid after the alien invasion, hiding from ADVENT in the wilderness and abandoned cities. They're insular and distrustful to the point of shunning any alien technology, but are still willing to cooperate with others to free the planet. One of the templates for randomly generated Reapers explicitly states that they "lost it" when ADVENT took over and retreated into the wilderness to avoid being found.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A bunch of soldiers wearing dark trenchcoats and masks with a Grim Reaper motif who also eat any enemy they kill, but their goals are simply survival and the liberation of Earth.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Their Remote Start ability amps this up from the base game. All it takes to explode any vehicle (or other environmental hazard) is a single shot from their rifle, and it'll explode for double the radius and damage.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Their leader, Volk, outright says in his Establishing Character Moment that "aliens are food." Their introduction missions shows a Chryssalid's head roasting over a campfire, and there's nothing to suggest they don't eat the other aliens as well if need be. It doesn't get much more omnivorous than a diet composed of species that hail from several different planets. The Skirmishers will sometimes comment upon this, with their tone and words implying they're just a bit disturbed by the prospect that a Reaper might eat their kills-humanoid or not.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: They fill the Thief roll of the three factions with their stealth skills.
  • Fog of War: Defied. One ability lets them mark enemies permanently so that they stay visible even if they move out of vision range.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: Their default appearance has them wearing gas masks and outfits that invariably sport trenchcoats, making them look like veterans of World War I's infamous trench warfare.
  • Gun Nut: According to their comments when told to reload, they load their cartridges themselves, which requires both intimate knowledge of the Vektor rifle and considerable dedication to it.
  • In the Hood: Reapers have their coats' hoods up by default. You can customize them to pull it back and show their head.
  • Kill Steal: Reapers have multiple abilities geared toward attacking already wounded enemies, with one inceasing their damage against such targets and another letting them stay in Shadow mode if their shot was lethal, which becomes increasingly difficult to pull off from mid-game onwards if the target wasn't weakened beforehand. The logical consequence of this is that your Reaper will claim a lot of heads that would rightfully belong to someone else on your squad.
  • More Dakka: Unexpectedly for a stealth class with a not-exactly-rapid-fire weapon, they can pull this off with the Banish skill: they fire everything they have into a target until either it's dead or their rifle goes click, invariably revealing them. With a superior expanded magazine, they can fire a full seven shots into a target, which at high weapon tiers is enough to kill anything short of a boss. With the Annihilate Colonel-rank skill, they'll even continue firing at nearby targets after the first is dead, and that goes until the Reaper's out of ammo or there are no living hostiles within their sight range. With a Repeater of any quality, the Reaper can rack up an absurd amount of kills, or solo an Alien Ruler.
  • Never My Fault: One of their comments when Concealment fails is "It must have been one of you!"
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: With the Elders presumably slaughtering all domestic Earth animals, they probably found Chryssalids a lot more plentiful a food source than cows. Volk explicitly refers to their enemies as food.
  • Rock Beats Laser: They're explicitly mentioned as rejecting all the advances that came from ADVENT, using old school ballistic sniper rifles. Considering those advances came at the cost of a planetary occupation, morally it makes sense. That said, your Reapers will happily use magnetic or beam versions of their rifles if you give it to them, likely because they were developed by XCOM and not ADVENT.
  • Sniper Rifle: The Vektor, that seems to be inspired by the SVD Dragunov, is the Reaper's main weapon. Unlike Sharpshooter rifles, it gets an aim bonus at closer ranges and can be fired with only one action point, but like Sharpshooters, they can be fired from Squadsight if you buy it for the Reaper.
  • The Spartan Way: According to the description of a covert action, their training is compared to the Spartans', with only the strong making it through to the end.
  • Stealth Expert: Almost to Crippling Overspecialization. Reapers rely almost entirely on their Shadow concealment to be effective in combat: they gain a large boost to movement range while hidden, can only be detected by enemies directly adjacent to them if they haven't taken a shot with a chance of detection, and they have a chance to stay undetected even after taking two standard shotsnote . Rank-related skills amplify that: at Lieutenant, Silent Killer makes a killing shot not increase the detection chance (if it's the first shot, it's a guaranteed non-reveal); at the same rank, Distraction makes it so that an exploding Claymore puts the revealed Reaper back into Shadow; at Captain, they can take a single standard shot with no reveal chance with Sting. Their Guerrilla Tactics School bonus ability makes them invisible to sensor towers as well.
    Volk: "Covert" is our specialty. Let's just hope your people can keep up.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Despite being the stealth experts, Reapers revolve a lot around explosives.
    • They carry a Claymore (a bomb without a fuse) that they can throw and shoot in the same turn without revealing themselves. At later ranks, Homing Mine means the Claymore can attach to an enemy and will explode when said enemy takes damage.
    • Remote Start, a Squaddie skill, allows them to shoot and blow up explosive objects like fuel barrels, munitions or cars, with twice their normal power and radius, without revealing themselves, giving them some nice albeit situational crowd control capabilities.
  • Technicolor Ninja: The Reapers' longcoats and glowy visors should make them stick out like a sore thumb anywhere, particularly in ADVENT city centers where folks wear either ADVENT armor or civilian clothing, but as far as the bad guys are concerned, they're the least visible entities in the game by a huge margin unless they took one or two shots and weren't outright revealed.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Reapers are among the best marksmen in the game, but every shot of their fairly weak sniper rifles runs the risk of breaking the Reaper out of Shadow concealment, the state in which they're most useful. Less pronounced once the Reaper learns skills to attack without leaving Shadow like Silent Killer, Sting and Remote Start, but until you get there, every enemy encounter is a Sadistic Choice between dealing some damage or staying in Shadow for eventual scouting duties later on in the mission.
  • Wrote the Book: In a bit of flavor text, Volk boasts that the Reapers "wrote the book on guerrilla tactics. Unfortunately for you, we adhere to the oral tradition."

    Konstantine "Volk" Volikov
Voiced by: Jonathan Frakes

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

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

    Elena "Outrider" Dragunova
Voiced by: Marina Sirtis

The representative the Reapers send to negotiate with the Skirmishers in Operation Lost and Abandoned. She is also the Reaper who found the Commander, as seen in the opening cinematic.

  • Cold Ham: Most of her lines are said in a low, chilling tone that befits her profession as a Cold Sniper and conveys her utter hatred towards the aliens.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The War of the Chosen DLC adds a new portion to the intro where Elena infiltrates the clinic the Commander is held in and confirms for XCOM that they're being held there.
  • Easily Forgiven: Elena goes from "MOX?!?!! HOW DARE YOU?!!!!" to being Fire-Forged Friends with Mox in the space of a single mission. Having to work together to fight a powerful common enemy on the spot is a hell of a bonding excersise.
  • Emotionless Girl: She has exactly one moment in the whole game that resembles a furious outburst, and that's when she learns that she's about to be forced into an alliance with Pratal Mox of all people. Apart from that she's the most emotionally-stunted character in the cast, with even Tygan and the homicidal AI Julian being vastly more emotional than her.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Kracsad seems to mean "[Elder] puppet" in the aliens' language. She derisively hurls it in Mox's face during their first meeting, which angers him enough to draw his Ripjack on her immediately. It's one of the very few Elder words in the game to get an actual translation.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Mox. They're ready to kill each other when they first meet, but fighting the Assassin and Lost on their way to extraction eventually smooths over whatever animosity the two had between them. The player can even make this trope official by bonding Mox and Outrider.
  • Little "No": Does one when she witnesses Mox being abducted by the Assassin right in front of her at the very end of Operation Lost And Abandoned.
  • Meaningful Name: "Dragunov" is the name of the russian sniper rifle that the Vektor is based on.
  • Mirroring Factions: Part of what smooths tensions between Mox and Outrider is the realization that both of their respective factions are being hunted by The Chosen.
  • Stab the Scorpion: During a tense negotiation with Mox, it looks like Outrider is going to try to kill him. It ends up being a shot aimed at the cloaked Assassin who was standing right behind Mox. He immediately returns the favor.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Greets the XCOM team by appearing with her team right next to them once they approach the campfire, demonstrating the Reapers' talent for stealth.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: She gets off to a very rocky start with Mox due to their respective factions' decades-old enmity, but they can eventually grow to become Fire-Forged Friends.

The Skirmishers

    General Tropes

A faction of ADVENT defectors who have escaped the Elders' domination by damaging or removing their control chips. Their combat style is based around tactical movement and close-quarters fighting, whether with their bullpup rifles or Ripjack blades.

  • The Atoner: They regret what they did while serving the Elders, and seek penance by aiding the Resistance.
    Betos: We strike back at our creators, only then can we atone for our crimes against your world.
  • Battle Cry: Vox Tala For Ten! Don't ask what it means – it never gets a translation.
  • Bald of Awesome: As ADVENT soldiers are physically incapable of growing hair, they're this when they have no helmet on.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They each have a Ripjack, a pair of retractable blades mounted on their forearms for melee.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Skirmishers defy their creators by showcasing that they are, in fact, individuals rather than the mindless slaves the Elders created them to be.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Their gear and skills emphasize close range by a lot. Their bullpup rifles use the same aim bonus/penalty tables as shotguns and pistols, while their Ripjacks are melee blades with a grapple hook that can pull enemies to them or themselves to enemies, or grapple to distant locations as a free action like XCOM's Spider and Wraith Suits.
  • Counter-Attack: The Reflex skill gives them an additional action for each enemy that attacked in the previous turn.
  • Covered in Scars: Because they are all identical, the Skirmishers engage in ritual scarification as a means of distinguishing themselves from each other.
  • Double Agent: One of their Resistance Orders lets you start missions with a randomly-chosen ADVENT trooper on your side.
  • The Engineer: Their strategic bonuses are generally focussed around construction and research times. Other potential tactics involve reducing the hack score on all enemy machines or actively sabotaging the Avatar Project at the beginning of each month.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Take the fighter role among the resistance groups with their combat capabilities.
  • Good Counterpart: A high level skill, Battle Lord, gives them a free action for every enemy movement, essentially making them a player-controlled Alien Ruler. In the case of Rulers, however, it will trigger only on the first Ruler reaction, meaning that it's not possible to have an extended "duel" of reactions between a Skirmisher and a Ruler.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: They have grapples that they can use to move around, or pull human-sized enemies to themselves or themselves to any sort of enemy, in both cases accompanied by a Ripjack strike.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Skirmishers are defectors from the ADVENT ranks, and share their genetic alterations.
  • Heel–Face Turn: One of their strategic bonuses, Double Agent, is adding a small chance that some ADVENT units will join the player's side during missions.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Their abilities give them quite a bit of mobility, in addition to their combat skills.
  • Mercy Kill: Skirmishers view killing their mind controlled ADVENT brethren as freeing them from the enslavement of the Elders, as best displayed in Mox's introductory scene when he kills an ADVENT Purifier.
    Pratal Mox: She is free of the impostor gods.
  • More Dakka: Their bullpup rifles aren't exactly powerhouses, but Skirmishers can use any number of their actions for shooting, potentially putting a lot of bullets downrange in a single turn. At the very least they can shoot twice each turn if they remain stationary, the only class capable of doing so other than the Sharpshooter, and the only one that can do it with their primary weapon. There's an achievement for having a Skirmisher perform three offensive actions against the same target in a single turn.
  • One-Man Army: In their introduction video, after giving a description of their Battlelord skill, which gives them an action every time an enemy move, Bradford states that "a single Skirmisher is an army of its own."
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: A fur collar is one of their customization options. It creates a nice contrast between the Skirmishers and their more elegant looking ADVENT counterparts.
  • Power Up Letdown: Like with Rangers' swords, upgrading their Ripjacks from tier 2 to tier 3 discards the stun chance in favour of a burn chance. Since stun applies to almost everything but much fewer strong foes can be burned, this is a downgrade. Fortunately, there's a mod for that.
  • Rogue Drone: An entire faction of them.
  • Spock Speak: They all speak in very formal and slightly electronic-sounding voices, but unlike SPARKs, they're capable of inflection.
  • Static Stun Gun: Whiplash lets them use their grapple launchers as a stun whip once per mission. It damages and has a chance to stun living opponents, but also does major bonus damage against mechanical ones.
  • Training from Hell: Implied Trope and Deconstructed Trope. One covert ops you can send soldiers on while the rest of XCOM is doing their thing is go to train with them. While the mission is always a success, sending a lone soldier has a moderate chance of bringing them back injured enough to need hospitalization for a few days (sending a scientist with the soldier negates this risk though). It is a Reconstruction as well since while training is harsh enough your soldiers can get injured, they know when to stop and never kill your soldiers in a training accident, and the soldier sent for training gains a permanent increase to their skill point gain chance.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Damaged and defective control chips, coupled with a blanket order by ADVENT to execute any troopers who were being disobedient, led to the Skirmishers turning against their creators.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: It takes a Major-level promotion for a Skirmisher to figure out how to just run up and shank someone with their Ripjack instead of using it with their grappling hook, and even then the attack has a five-turn cooldown. Thankfully, a mod provides Skirmishers with a Ranger-like Slash attack from the start.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Their Justice attack pulls a humanoid enemy to them so they can hit them with a melee attack. Inverted with Wrath, which pulls themselves to the enemy no matter its size.

Voiced by: Denise Crosby

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

  • Arch-Enemy: To the Assassin, who hunted her relentlessly. Betos takes a lot of pride in having survived, and pleasure in knowing how frustrated the Assassin is that she got away.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Never shown wearing one, and being the leader of the Skirmishers, she's definitely a hero.
  • Rebel Leader: After all, she is the commander of an entire faction of rebel ADVENT.

    Pratal Mox
Voiced by: Michael Dorn

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

  • Badass in Distress: Guaranteed to be kidnapped by the Assassin at the end of Operation Lost and Abandoned, to introduce the player to the expansion's new capture and rescue system.
  • The Butcher: He was ADVENT's most brutal captain before his defection, with numerous Reapers having been killed by his death squads. Elena is none too pleased when she learns he's the Skirmisher's representative, and spits that fact in his face when they meet, to which he responds that he's not that anymore.
  • Clones Are People, Too: While Mox is himself a clone, he also shows sympathy for ADVENT Soldiers that cannot be liberated from ADVENT control.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Aside from the incident mentioned under Gameplay and Story Segregation, Mox's most impressive cutscene shows him blowing up an intact Purifier in one burst from very far away. His bullpup rifle's short range and below-average damage make a feat like this extremely unlikely in actual gameplay.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He ambushes a group of Purifiers, pulls one into a smoke cloud, then removes his helmet to examine her before executing her with his Ripjack.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Outrider. They're ready to kill each other when they first meet, but fighting the Assassin and Lost on their way to extraction eventually smooths over whatever animosity the two had between them. The player can even make this trope official by bonding Mox and Outrider.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In his Establishing Character Moment, he melee-kills a purifier to convey that Skirmishers are close-combat specialists. In gameplay, this is a very bad idea.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Defied. He flat out says he's not dying today when he tells Outrider to evac first.
  • Mercy Kill: He seems to consider every death of an ADVENT soldier to be this as it frees them from the control of the "impostor gods."
  • Mirroring Factions: Part of what smooths tensions between Mox and Outrider is the realization that both of their respective factions are being hunted by The Chosen.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Has a moment right after Elena pulls this trope, shooting over her shoulder in order to force back a cloaked Assassin.
  • That Man Is Dead: He considers himself not to be the same being as he was under the control of ADVENT.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mox's tactic for dealing with a small army of Purifiers in his introduction mission marks the one and only time that Central can be heard shouting in anger.
    Mox: It's the Lost. The sound of combat excites them. They are drawn to it.
    Central: And you just blew up a fuel truck?!
    Mox: There was no other choice.
  • The Worf Effect: Fitting for a character voiced by the original Worf, Mox is captured by the Assassin to demonstrate how the Chosen will capture your soldiers. All bets are off after you rescue him, however. Not being distracted by a hoard of zombies helps.

The Templars

    General Tropes

A cult of psychic warriors founded by a survivor of XCOM's early experiments with psionics. Unlike XCOM's Psionic Operatives, Templars focus heavily on melee combat with psi-blades, and use Momentum to take actions after striking a foe, while gaining Focus throughout a battle, powering up for every enemy they attack.

  • A.K.A.-47: Their autopistols strongly resemble the Uzi line of submachine guns, with a side of MAC-10 thrown in for flavor. The magnetic version in particular looks a lot like a Micro-Uzi with a rectangular barrel.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Their Rend and Volt abilities always hit. Rend, however, still counts as a melee attack and can be blocked and countered by Mutons.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Like all psionic attacks in the game, their offensive abilities aren't deterred at all by armor. Unfortunately, probably for balance reasons, their Psi Blades aren't considered psionic for the purpose of damage typing.
  • Barrier Warrior: They use psionic shields to defend themselves when using Parry and Deflect. Pillar creates an obelisk that acts as cover.
    • Attack Reflector: Deflect has a chance of sending a shot back to the attacker with the Reflect upgrade.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They generate immaterial Psi Blades from their Shard Gauntlets that are about as long as their arms.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Their autopistols, like Sharpshooter pistols, never need to reload.
  • Chain Lightning: The Volt ability hits more targets if charged with more focus.
  • Counter-Attack: Upgrading Parry gives them a chance of hitting an enemy for the same amount of damage they blocked.
  • Cult: They're described as one. Their primary goal for fighting the aliens is their belief that the Elders are somehow perverting the Earth's psionic power for their own devices. They are completely correct.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Volk comments on their strange outlook and behavior, stating that he's never met one he'd consider normal.
    • The Cuckoolander Was Right: For all their weird mysticism, the end cutscene reveals that they know more then they've been letting on.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Amplify causes the target to take considerable bonus damage from all subsequent attacks for a number of turns.
  • Defend Command: Parry, an alternate use of Momentum after they attack with Rend. Instead of moving, the Templar stays in place and negates the first damaging attack against them with a psionic shield.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: By far the most difficult of the three Resistance classes to use effectively: Templars have to get in melee range to be most effective, but they don't have good survivability at close range. At low levels, their lack of multiple abilities is a severe detriment, and with the sheer number of enemies that punish melee (Mutons, Gatekeepers, Sectopods, Purifiers), a Templar can find themselves fighting ineffectively at range with a weak and inaccurate pistol. But if you're able to pick your targets carefully, build up Focus from kills, and position them effectively, Templars can run roughshod over the battlefield, darting in to assassinate a dangerous foe, boosting their power, and then running away to blast everyone else with psionic energy. Colonel Templars are potentially more devastating than a Magus Psi Operative, but have a much harder learning curve. This effectiveness increases when supported by a good squad using crowd-controlling abilities like Suppression or Overwatch to keep enemies from flanking the Templar when they fall back or stripping armor with grenades or armor-piercing ammo and passives to maximize the effectiveness of Rend.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Ghost allows them to create a psionic duplicate of themselves.
  • Dual Wielding: They spawn Psi Blades on both their arms and always wield them in tandem. Averted with the pistol, they only carry one of those.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Unlike the other two resistance factions, Templars don't fit into a proscribed role. While they have the Mage abilities (with enough focus), their melee style is more akin to Fighters, and their hit and run tactics favor Thieves.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: They strongly believe that fighting together can create a strong bond between people.
  • Firing One-Handed: How they use their auto pistols.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Their entire combat style is built around this concept due to Momentum, an innate ability that grants them a free move action after every attack with their Psi Blades. A Templar either fires off some devastating psionic attack from afar, or they charge in, hack something to pieces and retreat to safety immediately afterwards before surviving enemies can retaliate.
  • Large Ham: Like any other psionic in this setting, and second only to the Warlock, their avowed rival.
  • Laser Blade: Technically focused psionic energy instead of coherent light, but the visuals and effects of their Psi Blades are the same - a crackling, glowing blade of Pure Energy.
  • Magikarp Power: Without Focus, they're among the weakest soldiers on the battlefield; with lots of it, they're among the most dangerous. In a larger sense, Templars don't fully begin to pull their weight until the later features in their tree like Deep Focus, Arc Wave, and Ionic Storm, at which point they jump straight into excellence with very little inbetween.
  • Magic Knight: Psionic warriors who can use energy swords for melee. Their armor further empathizes this.
  • Mage Killer: Their Volt and Ionic Storm abilities do double damage to psionic targets. Psionic units also have a higher chance of dropping Focus when killed.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Templars utilize a resource called Focus, generated from melee kills (or with a class-specific skill, by picking up "residual psionic energy" from killed foes), to activate their abilities, which become stronger the more they have.
  • More Dakka: When they need a bit of reach or need to deal with situations where melee combat is no good (e.g. a pod of Mutons, a large swarm of the Lost and potentially the Chosen), they pull out their machine pistol sidearm. They can get Faceoff for truly ridiculous amounts of dakka.
  • The Musketeer: Just like Rangers, the Templars have both a melee and a ranged weapon, though they never use both at the same time.
  • Out of Focus: They are not as fleshed out as the other two Resistance Factions, being left out of the scripted introductory mission. What little is known comes from idle dialogue and the in-game archive files. This is probably also done intentionally to add to their mystique and make their alluding to a Sequel Hook in the ending much more poignant.
  • Psychic Powers: Like the Psi Operative, but with a melee option, a power-up mechanic, and much worse ranged capabilities.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: Their machine pistols are far from being a powerful weapon, but it's what they have to deal with what they can't use melee or psionics on.
  • Recruitment by Rescue: One of the stock backgrounds for Templar units.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Templars were founded by the surviving psionic soldiers from the original XCOM project and have since become independent.
  • Self-Surgery: One of the stock backgrounds states that the Templar in question may have used themselves as a guinea pig while helping to develop the Templar's Psi-technology.
  • Shock and Awe: Their abilities include shooting bolts of electricity with Volt, and summoning an Ionic Storm to strike every enemy in range. That said, it's not true electricity, and neither ability affects robotic enemies.
  • Shrouded in Myth: They're a group of psionics, and that's about all anyone knows about them.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Their Rend attack uses a pair of swords formed out of psychic energy called Psi-blades.
  • Stab the Sky: When using Ionic Storm.
  • Support Party Member: Their strategic bonuses can increase experience gain, will recovery, buff the Avenger's power stores and reduce the duration of mental debuffs. Scanning at their HQ also speeds up healing.
  • Swap Teleportation: Invert allows them to switch places with an enemy, while Exchange lets them do the same with an ally.
  • Sword Beam: The major-level ability Arc Wave generates a wave of directed psionic energy every time the Templar uses their Psi Blades in melee. The wave's damage isn't spectacular even with three bars of Focus, but it has decent spread and can soften up whole squads of clustered enemies when aimed correctly.
  • Volcanic Veins: They all have glowing purple veins on their arms.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: If they try to Rend a Muton, there's a good chance the Muton will just say "No, You" and instantly kill them (or at least hit them really hard). And Mutons are not rare enemies after the early stages of the game.
  • Warrior Monk: While we never get to see their lifestyle, their mysticism, mental discipline, martial capabilities and attire all evoke this.

Voiced by: John de Lancie

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

  • Amnesiac Hero: He was one of the original XCOM's first psi-soldiers, and was undergoing a delicate procedure when the XCOM base was attacked, causing him amnesia. Despite this, he was able to survive the base's fall, escape and go on to form the Templars.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Geist is German for "ghost." Since he's neither invulnerable nor intangible, undead, spooky or particularly stealthy, it's a fairly Non-Indicative Name. However, it might just be a very subtle Shout-Out to another game that fields psionically gifted operatives named Ghosts.
  • Cold Ham: Like anyone with psionic powers, Geist speaks with a lot of gravitas, but he is much more subdued about it.
  • Creepy Good: Definitely. He speaks in such a way that makes him sound more like a supervillian then a Resistance leader, which suggests psionics left him rather megalomaniacal.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: He's quite proud of his psionic abilities, to say the least.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: As a psi-soldier from the first XCOM, he was already an elite soldier before his psionic potential was discovered and his powers developed.
  • Good Counterpart: Mannerisms-wise, he's essentially the Chosen Warlock on XCOM's side.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: When he appears among his followers in the end cutscene, he wears gold armor.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: In the ending, it's heavily implied that he knows something about whatever the ominous glow under the sea was, and is preparing to fight it off already.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted. While he goes unmasked in his dialogue pop-ups on the Avenger, his sole cutscene appearance (pictured above) has him wearing a full-face helmet during a field operation, like all other Templars.
  • Mythology Gag: His extremely hammy, Palpatinian personality is probably an affectionate jab at XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This is the era of XCOM he hails from, and Psionics in that game will gleefully begin Chewing the Scenery and cutting loose with Evil Laughs the instant they use their powers.
  • Rebel Leader: Naturally, being the leader of the Templars.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He leads the smallest and most obscure of the three resistance factions by far, yet is so full of himself he can easily cover for both the more Down to Earth Volk and Betos. Geist is the only one to talk mostly about himself instead of his outfit during his introduction monologue, including assuming that you already knew him anyway because "word of [his] deeds tends to spread far and wide". You could blame it on the usual psionics-induced megalomania.
  • The War Has Just Begun: While the other factions' ending scenes are optimistic, Geist and his Templars are more concerned with what's coming.
    Geist: We won but a battle... now the real war begins.