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Fridge Brilliance

  • Why do rookies have such terrible aim? They aren't the elite soldiers sent to defend their planet anymore. They are people who probably never held a gun in their life or worse - learned to wield it wrong because no one was there to teach them.
  • The tutorial mission, Gatecrasher, is completely on rails, resulting in your soldiers making some pretty stupid moves and getting both rookies killed. Why? Because you, the commander, are not in control; you are still plugged into the ADVENT network and your soldiers are making decisions on the fly. Which quickly becomes Fridge Horror when you realize that this is likely how your soldiers have been fighting for the last twenty years.
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  • How come the Informant was never busted like the rest of the Council? Whereas the Council members he served as Mouth of Sauron to were part of specific countries and fell with their respective countries, we know nothing about the Informant - his face, his name, his homeland, his location... nothing. No amount of using you as a Wetware CPU is going to help track him down, because you've been just in the dark as the aliens on the matter.
  • Why do the aliens still obey the Sorting Algorithm of Evil this time around? In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it was justified because they wanted to see what humanity was made of, and give us time to prove our worth. But this time, they control the whole world, so why not just send their most powerful units out straightaway to wipe out XCOM? The more powerful the unit, the more likely it is to scare the human populace and make more people question exactly how benevolent the ADVENT administration is, so it makes perfect sense the aliens keep Mutons, Berserkers, Andromedons, Chryssalids, and Archons in reserve for when things really get nasty. Plus, most of the aliens that you encounter later on more closely resemble units from 2015, and even twenty years on, the sight of an alien like that would cause panic. Things like the Viper or Archon weren't around, and so are a lot easier to show off as a "peacekeeping" unit than, say, the Muton or Sectopod, both of whom played a role in subjugating the planet.
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  • Why is the Colonel rank icon no longer that of the skull and wreath, as it was in XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Because that icon traditionally denotes the highest rank attainable, and no soldier ranks higher than the Commander's Avatar.
  • When you read Bradford's personnel file, it mentions that he was born in Manhattan, Kansas. The location of the North American XCOM base in the first game was right in the center of the continent - most likely, Kansas. Put those two together, and the XCOM base in the US was probably built right under Bradford's hometown. No wonder he started drinking.
  • ME Cs:
    • Why do ADVENT have MEC units that closely resemble those from Enemy Within, even though XCOM never developed them in this timeline? More likely than not, the design in-universe originated from the version of XCOM in the simulations that the aliens were making the Commander run, and then ADVENT based their robotic development on those designs. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
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    • Alternatively, MEC units only appeared in Enemy Within, and take far more then two months to access even if the player rushes to them. It's possible that XCOM's MEC's never existed in the first place, and the variant seen in EW is the Advent trying to come up with a reasonable way to factor their MEC units into the tactical data being fed to the Commander without him/her realizing something isn't adding up and rejecting the simulation. Pretty much confirmed by "Shen's Last Gift". The SPARK Autonomous Robotic Trooper Project was a pre-existing side project. In the EW timeline, Shen was able to bring it into production early by using MELD-based cybernetics to compensate for an incomplete/non-functional AI (in the same vein as BGY-11 in Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot). In the XCOM 2 Timeline, Shen barely completed a single proof of concept prototype before XCOM fell, and ADVENT based their MECs on it.
  • Armor:
    • Why do the Warden and WAR suit powered armor sets feel less 'powerful' than the Titan and Archangel? Simple: Lily Shen and Tygan doesn't quite have the kind of resources that Shen Sr. and Vahlen had to make their armor suits in Enemy Within. Given that both the Titan and Archangel effectively have all the benefits of the Hazmat experimental body armor, plus immunity to strangulation, they are clearly more all-encompassing and hardened than the XCOM 2 powered armor sets, even without the armor pips. One of the details that drives this home is that as long as any damage you take while wearing Titan or Archangel does not exceed the bonus health offered by the heavy armor, you don't count as "wounded" after the mission, but a slight nick from chip damage in a WAR suit will still leave you "slightly wounded" afterwards. If you look at the WAR suit in particular, this checks out - it appears to be a series of sleek armor plates over a relatively light (powered) bodysuit, whereas the Titan armor was a thick bodysuit almost entirely covered in either solid armor plating or flexible armor weave.
    • Alternatively, X2 acknowledges that while armor might protect you from the worst effects of being shot, you probably still want to spend some time treating burns, bruises and broken ribs. Kevlar stops 12 gauge, but makes you wish it didn't. And since
    • Compare as well the 'multimillion-dollar' Credits of Enemy Unknown/Within and the generic "Supplies" used in X2 to represent food, medicine, ammo, and raw material stock for fabrication - clearly Vahlen and Shen had such a healthy budget they could afford to make the Titan Armor so much more all-encompassing in its protection.
  • Why do the Scientists in XCOM 2 provide much faster research boosts than in Enemy Within? Simple: Many of these scientists are probably defectees from ADVENT, like Tygan, so if they pool what they know together reverse-engineering ADVENT technology will be even faster than normal. Compare this to requiring insights and research credit acquired by interrogating captured live aliens to speed up research far faster than simply installing more labs and getting more scientists in Enemy Within, where Vahlen gets additional information on alien technology by pulling the information out of the aliens she 'questions'.
  • The Avatar Project logo is a figure of an Ethereal. Cluing you in as to its real purpose. Furthermore the project's entire goal is in its name. An Avatar is an earthly incarnation of a divine being. Who are Advent's gods? The Elders. And Avatar project is just that - new bodies for them to inhabit.
  • The Artificial Stupidity that the ADVENT troopers sometimes display between bouts of tactical skill is directly caused by the side-effects of Operation Gatecrasher: with the Commander removed from the psionic network, their tactical knowledge from the hivemind has either stagnated or even degraded, causing them to make some really bad decisions during firefights with XCOM operatives.
  • Why do Resistance cells cut off contact and funding to you if you fail a seemingly non-critical mission in their jurisdiction? ADVENT spies are everywhere, trust is hard-earned, and XCOM's reputation is that of an elite organization that wouldn't fail a trivial VIP escort. Fail, and for all they know, the 'XCOM' they are in contact with is in reality an ADVENT sockpuppet that is intentionally sabotaging them and stealing their resources. Bradford also notes in the supply raid part of the tutorial that the local resistance put down everything, including their lives, to make the operation work. Without XCOM on site to make it worth the effort, the resistance more or less disbands in that area simply through lack of personnel.
  • It's mentioned in the main page that a lot of the soldiers' randomly-generated biographies give the image of XCOM being a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Bradford is an old-war veteran with alcoholism issues and, supposedly, Drives Like Crazy, supplementary material says Lily Shen is a workaholic to the nth degree, and Tygan explicitly mentions during one of his autopsies that he practices on the ADVENT trooper corpses you bring him, etc., and mentions that this has no bearing on gameplay. It DOES. Rookies have hilariously bad aim, AS USUAL. Your soldiers' deep customization? XCOM is now La Résistance, not a goverment-funded secret project. Your soldiers' varying personalities reflect this. Normal and By-The-Book are your standard soldier and impeccable officer, respectively. Happy-Go-Lucky is the eternally optimistic recruit, Laid Back is the resident cool guy/girl, Hard Luck is the pessimist who's nearing the Despair Event Horizon, Twitchy is the paranoid nut, and Intense is the battle-eager fighter. The more varied gear and appearance is reflective of XCOM's more diverse recruitment pool and desperation; they don't care who you are, as long as you can help kick the aliens off the planet.
  • The Alien Blood of the human-alien hybrid ADVENT troopers is orange. In fact, it is pretty much exactly the same shade as Meld from Enemy Within...the miraculous substance that, among other things, makes LEGO Genetics possible.
  • When you complete the Shadow Chamber project involving the ADVENT Stasis Suit found in the Forge facility, Tygan explains what the content is: a genetic template for ADVENT soldiers, and expounds that the template's genetic code has fragments left open for any genetic material the aliens wish to insert. This explains the heavily differing approaches of the ADVENT troops. Whose to say the Stun Lancers didn't receive Berserker genetic material?
  • Overlapping with Fridge Horror, EXALT is nowhere to be seen in this game, why? Remember how the Commander was put through a Lotus-Eater Machine? The reason EXALT is nowhere to be seen may be because EXALT never existed. The commander fighting a war against EXALT was, in fact, them fighting against black-ops resistance to the alien invasion, finding and stomping out the EXALT headquarters could very well be stomping out the only thing making serious effort against the aliens after the X-COM base was invaded and the commander captured. It's also possible that, due to the EXALT bandanna customization option, EXALT was wiped out along with XCOM, possibly even faster. Considering the "XCOM Base Defense" mission is canon, and considering EXALT appeared in Operation Progeny (with all the members slaughtered except a single survivor), it's possible that the organization got crushed so hard by the aliens that they are reduced to a handful of members, with the survivors getting into Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with XCOM.
  • Why do Thin Men seen in Enemy Unknown/Within spit up poison clouds when they die, but not Vipers? Simple: Thin Men have had their thoraic cavity 'compressed' to produce the slim humanoid male torso, so their venom glands are now compressed tighter. When shot, their death convulsions cause the compressed venom glands to release their contents violently. Unmodified Vipers have their venom glands uncompressed until they do a pec flex, so they don't cough up clouds of poison gas when shot.
  • Why are civilian vehicles more volatile in ADVENT's cities than the ones in Enemy Within? Well, if the Alien's tendency to use Elerium as fuel for everything holds true, the smaller Elerium generators in civvie cars are probably significantly more volatile than anything running on petrol.
  • Dr. Vahlen suspects the Elders did a gendercide on the vipers to limit population growth, but there's another reason. Notice that despite how cold the Viper King's lair is, Earth snakes have flocked to it. That regular vipers will eagerly die to protect the male. Vahlen suspected that the male viper can communicate over distances with females when upon escaping the male immediately seems to find females to breed with. But it's more than that. Male vipers have some sort of control over the females (and snakes in general), and the Ethereals wiped them out because they can't tolerate or risk vipers having divided loyalties.
  • When ADVENT locates the Avenger, why do they use the EMP attacks, rather than blow it out of the sky? In-game, if you get caught by a UFO and watch the cutscene, Central says, "They don't want us... they want the ship"; however, in the endgame, the ethereals are adamant about reclaiming the Commander, whether through persuasion or force. They don't care about the ship, they want the Commander back under their control. Keeping the Avenger intact is simply the best way to ensure that the Commander survives long enough to be recaptured.
  • Muton Berserkers are the rarest enemy in the game. On difficulty settings below Legendary, they only show up for about a month and then promptly disappear for the rest of the campaign. Why is this? Probably because they're as much of a threat to ADVENT forces as they are to XCOM. When they get enraged, and they get enraged very easily, they pretty much attack everything around them in blind anger, even ADVENT soldiers, which every savvy player will take advantage of. It's easy to see ADVENT quickly conclude that Berserkers are a liability to be phased out in favor of more intelligent and controllable units like Andromedons.
  • Unlike the previous games, it takes a while before Chryssalids show up in XCOM 2. This is in large part because the nature of the war has changed. Last time, the aliens were invaders; causing destruction and sewing terror was in their best interests to winning the war (or testing humanity's capabilities), and the Chryssalids were perfect for this, since they could easily turn any major population center into a nest, giving humanity yet another headache to contend with. But now that the aliens are the ones in power, deploying them is a very self-destructive strategy. The majority of the human population is under their control, and letting Chryssalids go unchecked in the wild runs the risk of putting people under their spheres of influence in danger, and dead humans won't do them any good. It goes to show just how desperate ADVENT is getting when they start using these abominations to take out resistance cells.
    • This is further reinforced in the Tactical Legacy DLC, where humans reverse-engineering ADVENT radio technology evidently trigger some Chryssalid's to come out of the ocean and start attacking civilians. Implying the aliens have been keeping them dormant on Earth just in case the resistance starts gaining too much traction.
  • Why is it so much easier to unlock Psionic Potential in all operatives here rather than in Enemy Within? There are some plausible reasons:
    • Two decades of living in a world molded by ADVENT and their alien masters means two decades of being exposed to engineered foodstuffs, with Elerium-enriched meals and drink. That tidbit about spicing up coffee with tiny Elerium flakes was more than a joke. Elerium is consistently portrayed in all intepretations of the XCOM mythos as being a material that bolsters and encourages psionics, rather like the Terrazine gas seen in Starcraft 2. As a result, even humans with less potential for psionics are capable of developing it.
    • Eugenics, for all 'second generation' humans that have known little of pre-ADVENT life. It is highly probable that the Elders and ADVENT have manipulated in mankind's affairs to ensure children with stronger genetic psionic potential are born. Of course, this would mainly apply only to the youngest of XCOM's rookies, and all Old War veterans would be unaffected by this.
    • Two decades of studying Psionic technology, portions of which are developed in Gene Therapy clinics, means that ADVENT defectee scientists like Tygan would be more capable of building the necessary psionic implants needed to fully tap humanity's potential, no matter the strength of the operative's Gift.
  • Alien Hunters and Shen's Last Gift are both designed to match the contrasting personalities of the two missing XCOM leaders, Dr.Vahlen and Dr.Shen.
    • Alien Hunters matches up to Vahlen's destructive, cold Mad Scientist personality by being about her creating a bunch of genetically modified monstrosities that you have to hunt down and kill (it also demonstrates her tendency to push the boundries of what is acceptable, to the point that she actually comments that she wished the Commander had been there to reign her in.
    • Shen's Last Gift matches up to his more moral, constructive personality by being about retrieving a prototype robot he made to protect his daughter and humanity, and allowing you to create more of them.
  • Why do XCOM deploy such a small squad when the Skyranger can carry more soldiers? Because commander would need a data link system to view the battlefield, monitor every soldier's situation, and send orders, all in real time. Such a system may be much expensive and complicated than similar system on modern aircrafts. With limited resource, XCOM can't deploy too many of them. This would also explain why some of the few instances where you can deploy more than 6 soldiers at once are the Avenger Defense missions: Since they take place right outside the Avenger, it's easy for the Commander to get a full overview of the battlefield without the need for remote data link systems.
  • The basic ADVENT trooper Mag Rifle does less damage than XCOM's good ol' fashioned ballistic assault rifle. That's because ADVENT weapons are mass-produced by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and the aliens have been getting complacent. note  By contrast, XCOM has a much smaller number of weapons treated with much more care, which can be modified and customized easily. Quality over Quantity also extends to their forces; shedloads of literally Faceless Goons so disposable, predictable and mechanical that their helmets are the same shape as their vehicles, while XCOM has a small number of quirky, valuable and skilled soldiers.
  • The Commander's Avatar successfully defending itself in a Psionic duel with five Elders makes a lot of sense when you consider the in game mechanics for Psychic defense. It's governed by the Will stat, and the Commander is you. If you made it all the way to the end of the game then you're more likely than not the biggest Determinator in all of XCOM with an insanely powerful Avatar body bolstering that cast iron will.
  • Whichever Chosen wins gets Earth. You win. You get Earth. You even have a cool name and role just like they do...Commander.
  • Why do the Avatars on the last level seem so easy to defeat? They're strong sure but by no means the toughest enemies in the game. Its because they're still unfinished. XCOM has been delaying and sabotaging their efforts to complete them for months. The ones that you face are being deployed in a desperate attempt to stop the XCOM squad assaulting their base.
  • When you start to think about it, the resistance orders that correspond with the three factions make perfect sense when you consider their backstories:
    • The Templar's resistance orders provide increased will recovery, faster healing and more power for the Avenger. Having been part of the first XCOM Geist would naturally know how frustrating it is for soldiers to be sidelined for weeks, and lacking power for facilities. He's doing what he can to alleviate these issues.
    • The Skirmishers resistance orders provide a reduction of the Avatar Progress, increase in mission timers and the disruption of enemies in combat. Since the Skirmishers are ADVENT defectors who are understandably furious with the Elders, they will be more than happy to use their inside knowledge to benefit XCOM and hinder ADVENT.
    • The Reapers resistance orders give advantages to XCOM when in concealment; some of which include turns starting only when XCOM breaks concealment, extra mobility and preventing soldiers from being ambushed on Covert Operations. They are stealth and survival specialists that have been surviving on the fringes of society, and having recognized how important secrecy is under the alien's rule would use these tricks to help XCOM evade detection. Their living in the fringes of society also makes it easier for them to easily help XCOM smuggle in more supplies every month or make contact with Resistance Havens.
  • Why is it that the Chosen Warlock's weapon is just called "Disruptor Rifle" while the other two Chosen's weapons are named? Because unlike the other two who favor marksmanship and swordfighting, and treasure their weapons, the Warlock uses psionics, likely regarding his rifle as a crude instrument of last resort and nothing more.
  • Why are laser weapons no longer a research in the game? Because they were an X-com original creation! The aliens in the first game next to never used laser weaponry, and by the time of Xcom 2 nobody has experimented with lasers, finding Mag and Plasma to be easier to work with, both of which have been demonstrably proven and can be made using pieces of dropped alien weapons, rather than going through the experimental weaponizing of Lasers.
  • During the cinematic in which Dragunova saves Mox from the Assassin Chosen, right after the Assassin disappears, you can see Mox and Dragunova covering the exact same arch with their guns. It might seem like a rookie mistake at first... until you realize that they still don't trust each other enough to turn their back to each other!

Fridge Horror

  • When a specialist dies in combat, it tends to result in their gremlin exploding. It seems odd that XCOM, in the state it is, would allow their gremlins to become nonfunctional like that when the specialist dies instead of re-using them, until you remember Shen's interactions with ROV-R. Gremlins are semi-intelligent and have close bond with their operators. The explosion is likely the Gremlins responding to their operators' deaths by invoking another trope.
  • Dr. Tygan mentions he had to remove his own chip before deflecting from ADVENT. And he did it himself. And we know the scar is on the back of his head (and fairly gruesome according to him). So Dr. Tygan actually performed brain surgery on himself, without anesthetic, and without even being able to see what he was doing without cameras or mirrors. Try to imagine how that felt.
  • ADVENT burgers:
    • Dr. Tygan mentions that the one thing he misses from ADVENT's cities is the burgers. Which are really good. Though he wonders where they found the meat and doesn't like to think about it too much. Other characters will also make mentions of the ADVENT burgers. Then you realize who the aliens have been playing LEGO Genetics and have a thing for Human Resources...
    • Driven home by Lily Shen's comment on ADVENT burgers. "When was the last time you ever saw a cow?"
    • A possible map type is a factory producing packaged meat with no cattle around.
    • A scan event 'Stray Dogs' also states ADVENT has banned Pets and Livestock...
    • Alien Food that was seized during the Alien Base Raid in Enemy Unknown had human genetic markers in it. ADVENT may have converted the Alien Food meat/protein mix into something more palatable to humans.
    • Alternatively, these burgers may be grown in vats for quick and easy mass production. "Test tube" meat is possible in small quantities in the real world, and the aliens liberally demonstrate their use of cloning and genetic manipulation. It still doesn't explain what they're made of, however.
  • Just the fact that ADVENT has outlawed pets and livestock. Not only do a lot of people's livelihood revolve around livestock, but a lot of people rely on service animals (which, granted, gene therapy clinics might render obsolete, but the implication is that not everyone has been to the gene therapy clinics yet.) And how many species are now irretrievably extinct? PETA's got nothing on ADVENT.
  • Dialogue from the final mission implies that the motivation for the invasion was another mysterious enemy that consumed the Ethereal homeworld, which the Ethereals wanted to use Humanity against, matching up with revelations from the end of X-COM: Enemy Unknown/Within. So despite liberating their world from the alien's control, humanity may soon be thrown into another battle for survival against an even stronger enemy that isn't trying to uplift or subjugate them, but consume their world.
  • Project Avatar involves using human DNA to create new bodies for the Ethereals. In the game, you only ever encounter four Avatars. If you remember from Enemy Within, the three Furies and Annette Durand were abducted by the aliens specifically for their psionic potential. And you can find the empty ship, with no mention of bodies.
  • The Viper King and Berserker Queen in Alien Hunters are implied to be the original unmodified version of the alien races that the Elders subjugated. Fighting just one specimen as humans is hard enough, imagine having to fight a planet filled with these creatures, yet the Elders still managed to conquer them. That should make us see just how powerful the Elders and their forces are. Mankind defeat them simply and only because we know how to use Guerrilla tactics to great effect. But the kicker is, the Elders, as powerful as they are, still get their asses handed to them by an even greater threat, a threat that can give a coatlion of Aliens that can conquer the Aliens from Alien Rulers a run for their life. That should get you a nice idea of how screwed mankind will be when the Bigger Bad shows up.
  • Tygan theorizes that exposure to massive amounts of psionic energy warped the Chosen Warlock's mind, and is the cause of his insanity. Who else has been exposed to psionic energy and developed Large Ham personalities as a result? XCOM's own psi-operatives! Whenever one is trained you've been inadvertently warping the volunteer's mind. How are they trained again? By being placed in isolation chambers where they're bathed in psionic energy, a process which is repeated every time they go to learn a new power. Its a wonder they haven't gone nuts by the time they're max rank.
    • Now take the Templars, who are a Cult of such individuals. Whose to say he they don't lure people in with the promise of psi-training, and use the effects to make them more suggestible and willing to join them.
  • The Black Market has long been willing to pay Supplies in exchange for alien corpses. Now that it's known that Reapers eat certain aliens, you have to wonder just why the Black Market wants them...
    • It's probably more likely that the Black Market wants to salvage the materials from the bodies. Each alien body (with the exception of the ADVENT Officer because Gameplay and Story Segregation) is used in at last one Item Crafting recipe, who's to say the black market isn't simply recycling the bodies just like XCOM is?
  • The abandoned cities introduced in War of the Chosen used to be some of Earth's largest, most densely populated metropolis, up to and including Beijing. Now they're apocalyptic graveyards of crumbling buildings overrun by the Lost. The horror creeps in when you remember that Earth has been divided into 16 ADVENT-controlled administrative districts that don't cover even half of the planet's landmass when taken together, and that the zombie-infested megacities are part of these zones. Just how much of Earth's once thriving regions has been left uninhabitable by the aliens' initial invasion? Furthermore, the now-infested cities alone must've accounted for hundreds of millions of casualties when the gas bombs fell. If even half of the victims were turned into Lost, it's no wonder ADVENT has failed to make as much as a dent in their numbers despite their armies of Purifiers. And to put icing on the cake, considering the many bleak comments about "what's left of mankind" one can hear throughout the campaign, there may actually be more Lost roaming the planet than live humans.
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