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    Council and rank 
  • Why does the Council reduce your monthly rank every time you fail to shoot down the Overseer UFO? The damn thing has always been there, it's just your radars couldn't pick it up until the plot upgrade; so essentially they're saying "you can now detect this new UFO. We're VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU."
    • There is a known UFO. Just because you didn't know about it before is no excuse. Essentially, each month you are letting that UFO go, you are giving that UFO free reign over humanity. You could make same claim that "UFO were zipping over country X until you got a satellite over it, guess we can forgive you not intercepting them now".

  • Is it a good idea for XCOM to welcome a Triad member into their ranks? Buddha only knows what Zhang has done in his criminal career before he found this alien artifact that XCOM was desperate to get their hands on.
    • XCOM really isn't in any position to be turning down qualified soldiers because they may have done horrible things in their past. Not with the fate of the planet at stake.
    • A skilled and effective soldier willing to work with them is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you're facing the end of the world due to an alien invasion.
    • Especially one who took the initiative to successfully hunt down a black-ops group like XCOM.
    • HE contacted XCOM offering an alien artefact free of charge, and then offered his services. Whatever he did before, he's clean as snow for xeno-busting duty.
    • Keep in mind that Zhang himself acknowledges that he's crossed many lines in his life. He's admitting that he's done bad things, but also saying that he wants to make up for it and help defeat a common foe to atone for his past crimes.
  • Why is Zhang a heavy? I wouldn't think the Triad has a lot of use for rocket launchers and M60s. It'd make more sense for him to be assault or sniper class.
    • Especially since he one-shots a Sectoid with a conventional pistol in his introduction, something only a Gunslinger-specced Sniper should be capable of.
      • Depending on the difficulty level, sectoids only have two health, which is as much damage as a pistol deals on a non-critical hit.
      • Sectoids have 3HP on all but Impossible difficulty, where they have 4.
      • Also, it was a headshot.
    • Or he is part of the Southeast Asian Triads, where they tend to fight pirates and coast guards armed with military grade guns.
    • He might also be ex-military (Matching his higher starting rank). Not unheard off for ex-military types to join criminal organizations.
    • More annoying with Enemy Within, because you can't send him on infiltration runs, even though that's something he should be very good at.
      • Considering who he's betrayed, his old employers have no doubt been looking for him and sending out feelers on that front, and the aliens through the thin men. He's too (in)famous to keep a low profile.
      • Zhang's a Heavy soldier, and no heavy can go on infiltration missions because heavies can't use pistols.
    • Zhang is a Heavy because he didn't come from a military background and there was no time to give him the same amount of training the other soldiers have. Don't give him an assault rifle or a sniper rifle that takes a lot of skill to use, give him a big machine gun and tell him to spray and pray.

    Alien Motivations 
  • What did the Uber Ethereal want to happen in the final mission? It seems dismayed when you kill it, but it also sounds like it expects you to win and says it's doubting if you're worthy when it kills someone. What part of the final mission didn't the uber ethereal expect to happen?
    • Presumably, the part where XCOM keeps trying to kill them even after the true purpose of the invasion is revealed and they're offered top lackey status. I'm guessing they simply expected humanity to submit to their rule after our importance to their plans is revealed.
    • Well there's apparently another threat coming, and the Uber Ethereal was counting on humanity's assistance against it. Killing it and destroying the Temple Ship may have been our Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! moment.
    • It is clear that all of the rooms leading up to the final chamber are part of some sort of "murder your worthless predecessors" test; perhaps the Uber Ethereal expected XCOM to cease firing once they finally met face-to-face. Alternatively, being a hive-mind, the Ethereals see humans as interchangeable, and are only interested in XCOM proving humanity's worth, rather than specifically setting out to abduct whatever team you send against them. Once you kill all their underlings, the Ethereals intend to wipe XCOM out in the final confrontation, and are obviously dismayed to have underestimated their enemy's strength.
    • In the vein of "underestimating their enemy's strength", it could be that the Big Bad expected to be able to mind-control the Volunteer, only to discover that, ha, no, humanity is stronger than that. Subjugating species doesn't seem to be a difficult thing for them, after all.
      • Perhaps the Volunteer was being helped by Asaru.
  • And why are the Ethereals so determined to "collect" a species that has both Physical toughness AND Psionic powers if the whole point is for them to "transcend" beyond the former anyway?
    • They're searching for the perfect species to use against the "Greater Threat," whatever that means. Their "uplifting" is us joining them as their servants; we'd still be gaining access to the benefits they have to offer us, which they consider a fair trade for our servitude.
  • And while I'm at it, why don't they just use the Sectoids for whatever they have planned? They're capable of using Psionic powers, and despite what the High One claims, they're actually about on-par with humans in terms of toughness, as while they do have less health than your troopers, your troops are armoured and they're not. Unarmored humans (like Regular civilians) have the same amount of health as a Sectoid.
    • That Sectoids have the same health as an unarmored human proves the point. Remember that the Sectoids have been taken by the Ethereals and physically and mentally enhanced as far as they could go. If the best results they get after all their experimentation is comparable to human noncombatants then it already proves that humans are superior.
    • Not to mention, they only have as much health as an unarmored CIVILIAN, XCOM soldiers start at three times the health of a Sectoid.
    • The Sectoids are extremely physically frail; they'd never be able to lift more than like 60 pounds and are useless without their psionics. Humans are by far the superior species, as they combine their strengths (strong psionic potential) with none of the weaknesses). All they need is to be tamed, as the other species were.
      • Also, they are very cruel and cowardly, unlike humans, who are (usually) compassionate and are capable of feats of selfless bravery, as many unlucky aliens have found out. The Uber-Ethereal specifically gives this as a reason why they're unsuitable.
    • This goes for other species as well. Thin Men are physically and mentally adept, but have no psionic potential. Besides the fact that Mutons aren't gifted, they're pretty much Dumb Muscle and are incapable of brilliance, requiring constant supervision. Chryssalids are little more than animals, and the mechanical troops lack the ability to operate autonomously. The Ethereals are looking for a species that is both physically and psionically strong and can operate independently, as they hope to just give them the tools, point them at the enemy, and have them win. The whole invasion is testing if we fit the bill, and considering the success of XCOM, we do. It's just that the Ethereals won't be there to watch.
    • It isn't an issue of simple physical ability and psionic power. The Sectoids didn't succeed at the Ethereals' trials, so they were a failure.
    • As posted by somebody else in the Fridge Brilliance page:
    Somebody else in the Fridge Brilliance page: It becomes less weird when you realize that they don't need the Volunteer alive. They don't need any humans alive. All they need is a sample of the Volunteer's genetic code, and they can clone a human soldier who is massively psionically gifted and ostensibly one of the finest soldiers humanity can muster. The aliens have already proven that they can clone entire armies - the Sectoids are all genetically identical, implying that they're cloned.
    • XCOM 2 clarifies the Ethereals' intentions here. They wanted something that was physically strong enough and smart enough and had enough psionic potential that they could adapt into new bodies for them to inhabit, as their old bodies were dying. Most of the other species didn't fit one way or another; Mutons were strong physically but weak mentally, while Sectoids had some psychic potential but were frail. Chryssalids were of animal intelligence, Thin Men/Vipers didn't have the psychic capability, and so on. Humans were adaptable enough and strong enough that the Ethereals could make them into hybrid avatars with even greater psionic capability to house their consciousnesses. The rub, of course, is that the Ethereals would have needed to process massive amount of human genetic material to find a suitable genetic combination to produce such an avatar. The difference between the two timelines is that in XCOM:EU, the Ethereals let humanity do some of the grunt work for them, and XCOM got lucky enough to find some strong human psychics. When the Volunteer showed up, the Ethereals basically got exactly what they were looking for this entire time: a powerful human psychic ideal for them to base their avatars off of, only they didn't need to spend decades processing millions of human bodies to find the right genetics to build one.

     Operation: Devil's Moon (Tutorial Mission) 
  • In the tutorial mission, at one point you encounter a brainwashed German soldier. The curious thing is, it seems to be a normal Sectoid doing the brainwashing, and not a Commander. Aren't the Commanders the only Sectoids capable of brainwashing?
    • All Sectoids are psychic in the remake.
      • That is a commander, the good doctor infers the second time that you meet a commander and get to kill it at the alien base that they may be one and the same. Only commanders have mind control (the rest can just link minds with another sectoid to beef them up.)
      • It's very clearly a commander. They have a more veiny apparent, their cranium being all red streaked and having a blood colored glow, while the conventional ones are pure smooth gray with a more yellow inner glow.
  • The Sectoids are probably the least problematic part of the first tutorial. What are Bradford and the men thinking? Rushing into fog of war, not using flank protection, approaching an armed and unresponsive man? The calamity that was the first mission could've been wholly avoided.
    • In regards to the "approaching and armed and unresponsive man", at this point there is absolutely no reason to believe in mind control, psionic powers, or any of the other science fiction gimmicks. At this point, as well, Germany is at least a member of the X-Com program. Also, he is not unresponsive (They get Vahlen to translate his cries for help) and none of the team members are shown to speak German. So is it normal in the real world to treat an allied, likely injured, foreign language speaking, ally calling for help as a hostile combatant?
    • They were using flank protection; the first soldier to get killed is the one covering the left flank. They approached the "armed and unresponsive" man because he was both calling for help and they didn't know about Sectoid mind control at the time. They also wisely kept the rest of the team back to cover the soldier moving to assist the German soldier, but the Sectoids attacked at the same time as the mind-controlled soldier opened fire.
      • No they quite blatantly were not using flank protection. They might have killed the man *on* the left flank, but said man was never *covering* it with the intention of shooting any flankers (which is basically what Overwatch *is*). Secondly, not knowing about Sectoid mind control is one thing. Approaching an armed, unresponsive man from the front while throwing out all doctrine and training is another. For all they knew, he could've been suicidal or in shock and liable to snap and kill anyone approaching (which was more or less what happened, if not by his choice). Also, while I can give them props for holding the rest back, they were in no way covering him because-again- of the lack of Overwatch.
      • Bradford is never given command of another mission after Berlin in the tutoral, it's all in the hands of the commander. He is apparently a good administrator and awful at tactics.
      • Lack of Overwatch is more of a result of moving in too quickly. Not moving into Overwatch is, in the abstraction that is the game mechanics of the game, a result of the soldiers spending too much time moving and not enough time stopping to cover their flanks. If it were all happening in real time, what we would have seen would be the soldiers advancing, and right as they get to cover the soldier would open fire and the sectoids would jump out and start shooting. Note that Bradford never explicitly orders the soldiers to run out like that; the tutorial forces them to move in that manner, while Bradford actually gives the squad explicit orders to be cautious. So the blame for the poor tactics would likely fall on the soldiers in question, not Bradford himself. (so, in traditional X-Com fashion, the rookies got themselves killed.)
      • That all being said, the aliens' movement in the tutorial wouldn't have triggered overwatch anyway. The alien stops at the corner of the boxes, which would be just within your soldier's view. If the alien moves from there, then overwatch would trigger, but not otherwise. It's likely just an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation, where they're not teaching you Overwatch mechanics just yet, but the soldiers are assumed to be doing it.
    • X-COM may have not entirely been in the mindset of a war, that is, not expecting everything suspicious to be a threat, ROE and all that
      • This is so wrong on so many levels. Not the least of which being it's not just *war* that discourages you from doing things like running up to an unresponsive armed person in distress. Secondly, X-COM is not merely a military outfit, it is a special operations outfit activated only to deal with potential alien attack. They should not have any other mindset than war. Thirdly, they just stumbled across *Dead, Mutilated German Bundsheer* 'all around the outside.' If they weren't on a war footing then, they damn well should have been by the time they saw those.
      • X-COM isn't military, they're paramilitary.
  • Now, I could be wrong, but isn't Bradford a communications officer? Who put Nyota Uhura in charge of tactical?
    • Bradford is the second-in-command of XCOM, not a communications officer.

  • I understand that this is for the sake of gameplay, but still: How does my Skyranger, after flying half-way across the world (and perhaps me dallying around a bit in my base), always manage to show up for bomb defusing missions just in the nick of time?
    • I'd love to know how they built a VTOL craft with the aerodynamics of a good sized barn that can cross the world in about three hours, loiter, and then return, on one tank of gas. Without alien tech, to boot.
      • Aerial refueling and Lockheed C-130 Hercules. However scrambling the tanker on a moment's notice and VTOL part is indeed stretching it... but once those are solved it can be done.
      • Tankers on alert status can be in the air in the time it takes to get the crew onboard (who are waiting on standby close by), start the engines, and taxi to the runway. Stands to reason any Council nation that has tankers keeps some on alert during the events of the game, specifically for XCOM or for their own use.
    • Perhaps the aliens attempt to activate the bomb early when they see you land?
    • Considering the whole point of the game is a test for humanity, it's not unthinkable that they intentionally use a system that has exposed, distant, power nodes that they activate soon before you land to give you a chance to stop them.
      • You'd think the aliens would want their test subjects to be able to respond to a system that DOESN'T have exposed power nodes.
      • Why? If the bombing operation is a test, they'd want to give their test subjects a chance to succeed. A bomb that is impossible to defuse would be pointless.
  • For a multilateral intelligence agency with a strike force apparently comprised of the most elite soldiers, why in the world can X-COM only afford a single Skyranger?
    • Just making a wild guess here, but perhaps there's literally only one Skyranger in existence? Given its capabilities, it might be a Super Prototype built in one of the Council nations. XCOM probably doesn't have the facilities to build more inside their underground HQ and its Council nation of origin isn't building more due to alien attacks or because the production line intended for the Skyranger was used for something else. Still, this is a wild guess with no real evidence to back it up.
      • OK, but XCOM's purpose is reverse-engineering alien tech, and even the most basic UFOs have the same capabilities as the Skyranger. Even if they can't build another Skyranger, they should be able to build something like it at some point in the game.
      • For that matter, once you get the Firestorm, why not a troop-transport equivalent? Sure, the Skyranger does its job just fine, but Dr. Shen certainly doesn't seem the type to let something go at "just fine."
      • The simplest explanation is that whatever makes the Firestorm useful as an interceptor precludes that design from functioning as an effective troop transport. Most likely there's just no way they're able to engineer a safe troop transport with their current understanding of the alien aircraft. For example, the majority of the Firestorm's mass could be devoted to just housing a containment system so that the elerium power core doesn't fry the pilot for the brief flight time.
    • Governments tend to be very wary of letting anything that isn't a government use military force—that's why the UN doesn't have its own army, for example. Maintaining support for XCOM already requires serious political maneuvering by member nations' heads of state, which is why member states are so willing to leave when they don't feel XCOM is serving their interests well enough. Letting an NGO maintain *one* high-tech, hypersonic troop transport is already a huge strain; giving them a fleet would just be unthinkable.
      • For a good idea of how dangerous XCOM could be if they went rogue, imagine fighting basic EXALT soldiers with the best you have to offer. Conventional armies wouldn't have a ghost of a chance. The one bit of control the governments have is that X-COM only has one Skyranger.
    • My assumption was that it was a prototype from some earlier project, that was cancelled for being too expensive before XCOM was activated. Someone lost the building plans, leaving only some spare parts left over, and there is no time to take it apart to see how to build another with an actual active alien invasion.
  • Here's my question...why the HELL didn't they give it a nose gun? Or a tail-gun? Some sort of mounted weapon, like on a UH-60 or similar modern-day transport helicopter? The thing's big enough to house a Mark 19 grenade launcher in the nose...surely the troops being deployed from it could have used a bit of covering fire.
    • While it's certainly possible, XCOM's mandate isn't the indiscriminate destruction of alien troops. Not to mention that, while collateral damage isn't a big concern, you still don't want to be firing 40mm grenades or .50 caliber rounds in an urban setting. It would do more harm than good. XCOM is about saving the world, not destroying a significant part of it. Leave that for the aliens.
      • Also it could lead to friendly fire, as air-launched weapons tend to be significantly more volatile than infantry weapons. There's the issue of keeping the game balanced (being able to call in a Fusion Lance strike from your Skyranger would be a game-breaker) and then there's the fact that even a single modern air-launched anti-tank missile like a Hellfire would blot out a huge swath of land, which would be impractical on most of the maps.
    • I wondered the same thing... but then I played the Tank Depot mission, and even a few missed Light Plasma shots exploded a tank. If the pinnacle of conventional armor tech can't protect a tank from the weapons that 70% of the aliens can outdamage, imagine what a sitting duck a huge target like the Skyranger would be. EXALT meanwhile has tons of rocket launchers. That's literally the soldiers' only lifeline out, and XCOM doesn't seem to have any replacements, so it's best to drop off soldiers and then stay out of the way.
      • Although, in associated fanfictions, I have seen Skyrangers supporting the soldiers they drop off with cannons and grenade launchers ...and often being shot down.
      • That one of the stronger reasons not to outfit the Skyranger with guns. If the aliens go and blow up the Skyranger, they get nothing at all (apart from killing a pilot and forcing XCOM to spend a bit more of their resources, but hardly more than a standard interceptor). But if you go and equip the Skyranger with a gun, things change, and that HUGE target turns to something to be taken down... and most likely a couple of shots with a plasma pistol will do.
      • What about later game, when you get the Firestorm and can therefore build much more resilient aircraft?
      • The weapons mounted on the Firestorm are powerful enough that firing them at the ground would likely kill everyone in a couple of city blocks.
    • Perhaps it is easier to keep things semi-secret if the Skyranger is not obviously armed. Something that looks like a transport aircraft will not attract much attention. Something that looks like an armed military aircraft without the markings of our airforce and obviously not of a types used by our airforce will attract a lot of attention. It is also possible that the council countries accept air-to-air fighters engaging alien craft in their skies and accept a squad of X-com troops acting on their soil but do not approve of them bringing air-to-ground ordanance into their airspace.
  • Why don't the aliens ever aim for the Skyranger? Surely they'd be able to make the connection between this ship flying into a place and their plans at that place suddenly coming to a halt.
    • That would be relevant if A) there was ever a UFO in the air when the Skyranger lands at a ground op and B) the alien's overarching plan partially runs on the idea of their troops fighting XCOM on foot to begin with.
    • While some council or story missions do mention alien craft as a handwave why all those aliens are dropping from the sky, it's far more likely that the Ethereals simply ordered them not to do so. They consider every mission as a test, and they don't want to interfere with the delivery method of their test subjects. The reason why no alien does so anyway depends on their species, (Sectoids to afraid to risk the Ethereals' wrath, robots programmed not to, Mutons and Thin Men too loyal to disobey...)
    • If I was the Uber Ethereal, I would consider having to deal with enemies shooting down your dropships as a very important thing to teach their trainees to avoid.
      • Except that's not the point. The point isn't to teach humans basic airmobile warfare tactics. The point is to test XCOM's ability to stand up to the Ethereals' ground troops.
    • But why doesn't EXALT target the Skyranger? Their goal is apparently to defeat XCOM, and the one thing the entire XCOM plan hinges on (skyranger) shows up every time they meet in combat. Double considering that about 25-33% of them have rocket launchers.
      • Presumably, they don't know its showing up until moments before it lands, which is too late for them to get a Heavy in place to shoot a missile at it.
      • By the time EXALT shows up, XCOM will at least have Carapace tier armor. As such, it's not too much of a stretch at all to assume XCOM has integrated said capabilities into the Skyranger's armor. Since this would make it capable of (at least) taking a few Plasma shots, a conventional rocket wouldn't even scratch it. Even if that wasn't the case, the two mission types where EXALT appears both have EXALT distracted or flat-out not present in the area when your troops are inserted; in Extraction missions they're busy hunting down your operative, and in the other mission type there are only a few scattered troops in the area, with the rest coming in to reinforce the existing ones.
  • Forget laser weapons, plasma rifle and the Titan armor. I want to know what kind of vehicle can make Moscou-Beijing in less than two hours. And i want it.

     Game Title 
  • So, uh, why is it called "Enemy Unknown"? We know who the enemy is pretty much the whole game.
    • The whole game is about understanding the invaders to defeat them. At the start all you know is that they are hostile and from space. Then you find out it's a group of genetically altered creatures.. The rest is spoilers, but enough said that you constantly learn more about the threat as the game goes on.
    • In meta terms: the original game was named "UFO: Enemy Unknown" in Europe, and "X-COM: UFO Defense" in the US. The remake combines both titles in a nice Continuity Nod.

     Thin Men 
  • How are the Thin Men supposed to be infiltration units? They would stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd with those Men in Black suits and odd proportions.
    • As the Men in Black movies/shows discuss, basic dress-suits are visually generic and lack unique identifying traits for witnesses.
    • As for their proportions, what's important to realize is that the Thin Men's odd posture and proportions only stick out because we're seeing them in the context of a conflict. Being genetically-modified Snakemen, they have to really work on acting like humans when they need to blend in. When XCOM shows up and guns start lighting up, though, the Thin Men can drop all pretense, and act/move how they feel comfortable, which look odd to us.
      • Confirmed by MythBusters (indirectly): as long as you act appropriately, keep your distance and don't talk, you can pass yourself off as another specific person, not just "one of us".
    • Moreover, it is entirely possible that thin men are only "prototype" infiltration units.
    • The Thin Men might also be what some call a "50/50 paint job," i.e. "looks fine from 50 feet away going 50 miles an hour." They may not be intended to walk up to a person on the street and have a long and detailed conversation with them without arousing any suspicion, just to deploy quickly into an area, achieve a given objective, and get out again without people running away shrieking "OMYFUCKINGGODALIENS!!!"
    • It is also a good camo technique to be unusual, generally the opposite of blending in is to be so obviously different that people will generally avoid you, and looking like a slim version of lurch with shades is pretty unusual, if a dude like that was in the area "normal" people would generally avoid them, especially in dark areas.

     Council Missions 
  • So how, exactly, does the Council get information on these bombs being placed? I could understand X-COM itself having information on the abductions, landings, and terror attacks - that's what all the bridge bunnies are presumably scanning for - but why on earth would the Council be the first to know about these things?
    • Because it's their country that's being attacked. They generally know what's going on, even if they can't do anything about it. It's implied that the member nations are the ones who usually alert you to alien activity; Bradford frequently mentions during loading screens that you've received a "request for assistance" from whichever country you're heading in to.
    • Satellites only scan for UFOs. You can still find abductions and terror missions outside of your satellite range (and, indeed, can't find abductions inside your range) at any point. Assuming that the information on these missions doesn't come from the satellites, it probably comes from on-site contacts - police or civilians reporting abduction attempts, or news reports on terror strikes (as how the first terror mission is discovered).
  • Why are the member countries so outclassed that they need a single overworked strike force to clear out heavily populated centers which you would expect to be guarded? From the looks of things, it seems to take only a minor grasp of tactics and numbers to deal with the aliens. Is it that each countries' armies are actively tied up with the invaders and just need the occasional help?
    • The requests for advanced weapons and equipment from the Council nations that you can get does imply they're busy fighting the invaders. One of the maps (a badly wrecked tank depot with the corpses of soldiers scattered about) implies it's not going too well for them.
    • Keep in mind that Bradford's commentary while going into abduction missions is usually some variant of "[Country] has requested our help...." which indicates less that they absolutely need your help to fight all of the aliens but rather are calling in XCOM because conventional forces are overstretched, underequipped, or otherwise unable to get to the site to deal with it. Considering the scale and mobility of the aliens, it's not surprising that the funding nations would be having trouble covering all their bases.
    • Do you REALLY think that the aliens are launching coordinated, planned out attacks on an incredibly large population center, and only sending in 10, 15 troops? Hell, the military probably doesn't even need to show up to deal with those. Local shopkeepers could take them out with whatever weapons they had on hand. You're the best of the best, who can move quickly and flexibly. You don't have to deal with borders or national pride. For instance, how likely would Poland be to request military aid from Russia or Germany? You show up at a scene, go the the worst of the worst, and support local forces, rather than replace them. For things like abductions, crash-landings, and bomb defusals, it's halfway in between the country saying "We should just let the experts take care of it" and XCOM picking up radio chatter and saying "We're in charge now. We have incredibly advanced armor and plasma rifles. Anyone have anything to say about that?"
    • If you're talking about late game terror missions, conventionally equipped soldiers would be slaughtered. Note that even XCOM rookies are supposed to be "elite" soldiers, so I'd expect ordinary soldiers to have even less aim and will than a rookie, and be equipped with conventional gear to boot. They might be able to handle sectoids just fine, but floaters and particularly thin men would cut through them like a hot knife through butter, given that both would generally kill said soldiers in one hit, often take dozens (2-3 bursts) of conventional bullets to bring down, and are vastly more mobile than humans in general. That's not even getting into mid game aliens, most of which take at least two anti-tank missiles to bring down, and all of which have weapons with minimum damages high enough to guarantee a one hit kill on humans in conventional body armor. While I could buy conventional militaries gaining access to laser weapons and carapace armor by the time the late game hits, by that point, most of what the aliens are fielding would still kill them with single shots, and have armor more than capable of taking laser weaponry.

     Raven Landing Process 
To launch your Ravens, you need essentially to catapult them into the sky, through a very narrow tunnel hundreds of feet long, which is incredibly difficult. Thing is, there's no way they'd be able to land that way. So, just how do they get a Raven back into the base, considering the map shows the Raven returning to it?
  • Probably a runway outside the base, and they're then just transported back in.
  • If you look at the Raven's in the hangar, you'll see that it has a tilt-wing mechanism similar to a V-22 Osprey, with its wing engines pointed to the ground. This suggests that Ravens have VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) capability for use in landings. As to why they don't use said ability for takeoffs, military V/STO Ls (vertical/short take-off and landing) take off normally when laden with full combat loadout.
  • The real question is when you move a plane to another hangar, why can't you fly the thing itself? You've got a perfectly functioning plane capable of circling the world in three hours, and it has to spend three days on the road to get from North America to South America. If it has to be transported illegally through non-council nations or something, flying at Mach 20 is statistically infinitely safer than any kind of underground smuggling route
    • You're not just transferring the plane. The plane has munitions, supplies, fuel, personnel, off-shift pilots, and a whole support infrastructure surrounding it that also needs to be shifted as well. Each plane has its own associated maintenance cost, which means that each plane has its own dedicated crew and logistics setup, and those have to move with the plane. And not only is it time in transit, its also time spent packing up the logistics component, transporting it, and getting it unpacked and ready for action at the new location. Not to mention that since you're transferring personnel and equipment between continents, the new arrivals will have to get brushed up on local protocol, language, and so on. In short, moving the plane itself? Cake. Moving everything needed to keep it from being a big, multimillion dollar paperweight? Not cake.

     EXALT defeated forever? Warning: Spoilers 
So, when you finally track down the EXALT base, you begin a raid that leaves with you capturing the base and eliminating its defenders. But wait, there are a few parts missing. What happened to their commander? The rest of the base personnel? Where are their genetics labs? You've taken out their command, sure, but apparently their leaders all escaped and the facility that produced the soldiers is still functional. Considering the resources of EXALT, it shouldn't be too long until they have another headquarters up and running. Sure, the files on their computers may have helped track down additional members, but considering how protective of secrets EXALT is, the files would likely have been wiped the moment XCOM breached the perimeter. So, I have to ask, how is this raid the final effort to kill EXALT for good?
  • Its not. Bradford explicitly says that there are remaining EXALT forces, but that taking out their headquarters has driven the survivors underground that they don't appear to be a threat any longer. More likely than not, whatever leadership remains (there's not likely much; the EXALT guys you kill at their headquarters likely are the entire leadership) either decided to lay low and try again at their goal later on, or they started fighting among themselves for control of the organization. If the organization is as centralized as the aftermath of the raid implies, taking out the organization's leadership likely fractured it, either fatally, or at least to the point that it can't do anything further during the course of the war.
    • True, but as I mentioned, it didn't seem like any of those EXALT operatives were their leadership, just regular combat personnel. Surely an organization as stately as their base implies wouldn't have their non-combat base staff dressed in combat gear, and it seems like the non-essential staff and leadership handily evacuated before XCOM landed, meaning that the leadership is still functional. The base that XCOM destroyed seemed to be only their command center; lacking their gene-lab, motor pool, or barracks, it's safe to assume that they're somewhere else and still functional. Of course you do disrupt their operations, but certainly a few more cells ought to pop up again.
    • They could go back at annoying XCOM, but at that point that line of action would be pure folly. Even if the player isn't really aggressive against them and made a lucky guess without many hints, they were defeated a number of times in open field, and then their base got raided. It'd take a LOT of time to regain the infrastructure they had before, and by that time, they'd be back to laser at best, with XCOM fielding psionics, plasma, all mutant teams, or paladin ME Cs, if EXALT is constantly outclassed by XCOM, at that point the difference would be suicidal to take on.
    • Ah, I see. Finally learning that Bullying a Dragon is a bad idea after finally being shown just how out of their league they are. Even with their fanaticism, they realize it'd be best to lie low now and try again later.
      • That's a good point: It could be that EXALT isn't going to be a problem for the rest of this war. But if the aliens show up again...
      • Even if they don't, they'll have gone underground for a time to rebuild. And after the war, they'll probably scoop up tons of alien corpses, artifacts, and weapons, giving them large amounts of resources that they can use along with XCOM designs to make themselves even more dangerous.
      • Also, XCOM could have picked up a few records from EXALT. The only way EXALT could operate in plain sight like that would be if they had accomplices in the Intelligence networks, the governments, and so on of each the council nations... Who says XCOM couldn't have picked a rooster of their accomplices and forwared it to the various Gov't? How could the CIA, NSA (to name a few), and every Intelligence agency in the world miss an operation of that range (remember that they are specifically on the lookout for that and can claim to be taking emergency measures that would be revoked as soon as the war is confirmed to end) without a few moles at key posts?
  • On that note, why does checking for EXALT's base in the country it isn't in piss off that country enough to make them leave the council?
    • No one likes to be accused of something they didn't do.
    • You're not just pointing fingers, you're preparing to launch an assault on that country's soil. As implied in other areas, the nations trust XCOM only with responding to alien activities, and are (rightfully) terrified of what damage you can do if you were to go rogue. So if you're accusing that nation, you're pretty much saying "expect an attack on some 'civilians' soon." If you're correct, the country begrudgingly allows you access, and if you're wrong, you both just threatened a country with your super-army and proved that you aren't as reliable as advertised, so they decide XCOM is a loose cannon they want no part of.
    • You're also accusing them of being complicit in treason against the whole human race. That's... kind of a big deal.
    • Also, how does XCOM finds the EXALT HQ? Even the smallest country has a lot of square miles of ground to cover, and does XCOM knew the HQ was in a skyscraper in the first place? Locating EXALT's HQ involves invasion of privacy in a massive scale (Taping into bank records, flying drones over the area, that sort of things...). Civilians are bound to notice, believe their government have been spying on them, and demand answers. The government can cover up the story saying they had information about alien infiltrator and it was a last resort option to find them. Regardless of whether the civilians noticed or not, there is no way the government didn't, and you can bet they are going to demand answers as to why XCOM has been spying on them (warning the government means that EXALT could learn about the attempt beforehand. All it takes is a single secretary on EXALT's side, and the secret is blown). After all, XCOM has enough tech and experienced soldiers to invade their country if they go rogue, so the government is obviously going to get a bit riled up... So XCOM acts without any official authorization to launch a fast large scale spying, and if they find the HQ, they storm it the same day before EXALT can evacuate. If XCOM can show them the bodies, weapons, intelligence data and equipment located at EXALT's HQ, they can show their actions were justified as they took down an organization of spies and terrorists that was responsible for at least one terrorist action (if the player systematically makes Intel scans and destroy cells before they act, they can prevent every of their terrorist actions except the first, when the Council and XCOM learned about them), so the gov't can begrudgingly accept XCOM's actions as justified. If XCOM finds nothing... The nation accuse them of espionage and treason and withdraws from the project.
  • The real reason EXALT is considered defeated after the assault on their headquarters is, of course, that mopping-up actions after the climatic fight would be anti-climatic.
  • As for why there are no base staff, lab techs, etc, most likely Firaxis didn't want to deal with the can of worms that is dealing with hostile "civilians". Having power-armored soldiers mow down scientists at their benches would be a bit sinister for the "heroically save the world" theme the rest of the game has, and the Skyranger can't fit a skyscraper's worth of prisoners. So they just cut that bit out and left it to our imaginations.
    • More likely, the building was simply the command center, and was a treasure trove of intelligence. XCOM yanked every piece of intel they could and used that to have regular military and police roll up the rest of EXALT's operations. The exact same thing happens when you complete a normal EXALT mission, just with the local EXALT cell in that particular country.

     Switchable Gene-Mods and non-switchable MEC Upgrades 
  • So, Gene mods can be switched out, but attachments to MEC troopers can't. What kind of logic was used with that idea? MEC troopers' upgrades are things mounted on the exterior of their armor, so unless the designers did something stupid like welding instead of bolting them on so they can switched, like on a modern military vehicle. And the Gene mods, which involve adding Meld to the soldier's tissue, can switched out without any serious harm? Huh?
    • Likely for gameplay reasons. MEC Troopers can freely switch between any MEC in XCOM's inventory, while Gene-modded troopers only have their own body. If gene-mods could not be switched, they're stuck with what you picked for the entire game, which would discourage experimentation with the brand new feature. As for in-universe, there's likely a whole lot of things involved in upgrading a MEC beyond just attaching the new system, like wiring, heat/EMP shielding, enhanced servomotors, stuff like that. For gene-mods, perhaps MELD also makes it easy to detach already connected alien materials from human tissue.
      • This seems accurate. The Kinetic Strike Module text mentions that the entire MEC suit's frame had to be reinforced to accommodate the sheer force it could swing with. Swapping that out for the flamethrower and associated systems wouldn't be practical even with Meld to smooth the process. Presumably, swapping a healing mist system - which would presumably be spread throughout the entirety of the suit - out for a grenade launcher and a shock system for a proximity mine launcher would be equally impractical.
    • Genetics are already modified by meld and they are passive. They are already fairly involved and involve growing new organs. Meanwhile many of the MEC mods must interface with the brain of the soldier. While adaptive the brain isn't quite so replaceable.

     XCOM Base Security 

  • Here's something that's been getting me. Look at the XCOM Base Security Personnel. They're rookies with stock assault rifles. While in Gameplay terms, this basically means you have bullet sponges for the assault, in lore terms, this makes absolutely no sense. EXALT is constantly trying to pick away at XCOM, Aliens are all over the place and eventually break in. They're aware of this, and yet, as they create more and more technology, they don't think to at least arm their personnel with at least laser weaponry? Not only are these conventional firearms basically spitting thumbtacks at the aliens, if anyone internally were to snap due to the intensive genetic/physical modifications or stress, they'd essentially be useless.
    • Laser weapons are expensive. The United State's total monthly contribution to the X-com project is §70 and rifles cost §25. That's got to be at least several thousand dollars. Add that to the not easily replaceable alien alloys needed and equipping general security staff with them would be horribly inefficient.
    • By the time this troper was in the base invasion, there were ME Cs, and plasma weaponry on XCOM's side. Now, unless the weapons are sold, why don't they just use the spares you made? The expensive point is fair enough, but they more than have the resources by the time the event happens, to justify laser weaponry in the hands of the security personnel.
    • They're security personnel, not tactical troops sent out to fight in the field. They're armed with standard-issue weapons because they're internal security. Also keep in mind that the power in the base is knocked out and that's apparently sealing off sections of the base. That would mean that the security troops can't get to the armories to get to any more powerful kit. Your tactical teams have their gear on hand and ready to go so they're armed and outfitted with the high-end stuff, but the security guys have to make do with what they have on hand while being unable to get to the main armory in the barracks. That and, really, there isn't any in-game guarantee that they have any laser weapons on-hand to equip the security troops with. You can easily complete every objective needed to attack the alien base without ever having gone past ballistics.
      • If you didn't equip your XCOM operatives beforehand, they're also stuck with bullets and body armor - effectively being glorified (and more highly-trained) base personnel. That would indicate that the armory is completely cut off aside from what's already in their bunks. Whoops...
    • Likely beyond the scope of this, but here goes. A great opportunity was potentially missed to expand the available "tiers" of weapons, so that your troops don't have the best guns they're ever going to get by mid-game. Say, "Basic Laser" (uses alien knowledge but earthly materials), "Improved Laser (uses alien materials, and when you have it, all ballistic weapons are replaced with basic laser weapons), and maybe even "Basic" and "Improved" plasma weapons along the same lines. Then you could have had the XCOM base personnel all carrying basic laser weapons, if you had enough tech researched.

     Cybernetics Eat Your Soul? 
  • Why do MEC troopers talk in a robotic monotone and dryly report their kills instead of quipping like everyone else? From my understanding MEC soldiers have their limbs amputated and their bodies are given cybernetic implants and encased in an armoured shell. Their vital organs receive mininmal augmentation and their heads are left perfectly intact. The montotone can be hand waved by saying that the respiration augments mess up their lungs, but if their brains only receive augments for alertness and such, why can't they use PSI or talk normally?
    • Makes identifying them easier and gives the unit their own 'feel'. I don't think there's any real story basis for it, Firaxis just decided to make one of the key parts of the expansion stand out in such a way.
    • MELD, most likely. MELD is not kind on the body and is an alien mutagenic substance that is doing nanotech-ish things to the entir ebody, not just the parts that were replaced.
    • Considering that we see that they have an heads-up display apparently projected in front of their faces and that most of the voices we hear seem to be over the radio, it's entirely possible that they talk normally, but we're hearing a synthesized voice via the implants.
    • The MEC trooper's brain is likely used as a wetware CPU for the suit, which takes up a lot of "processing power". Brain functions less vital in a combat situation (like emotion) are probably suppressed during that time to make room for the piloting the MEC. Outside the suit the troopers most likely act "normal", which makes sense seeing as how we can watch them in the ant farm view talking, exercising, and visiting wounded comrades.

     HEAT Ammo's Effectiveness Against Floaters 
  • It makes sense for the completely robotic enemies to be affected by a Heavy's HEAT ammo, such as Drones, Cyberdisks, Seekers, etc. However, given Dr. Vahlen's comments about Floaters and Heavy Floaters (i.e. cyborgs), why aren't they affected? They're armoured, sentient, only slightly organic jetpacks with guns for crying out loud!
    • The only cybernetic components in the originals were their jetpacks and the equipment to move them and let them breathe. The latter versions are pretty much the same but with armor on top. They've still got a significant amount of organic components that are crucial to their functioning.

     Sectopod Defense 
  • Why are Sectopods so hard to shoot? They generally have less chance to be hit than a sectoid out of cover, but they're easily the biggest targets in the game besides UFOs.
    • Their armor might be heavy enough to make most hits against them completely ineffective, and only some small or hard-to-hit spots are vulnerable.
    • Yeah, think of it as an abstraction of their armour and defense, with the damage reduction they have just a further indication of how solidly constructed their armour is. Probably would have been very fiddly to make attacks hit but cause zero damage without messing up some equation elsewhere in battle.
      • Sectopods also seem to be pretty nimble, judging from their "missed" animation. It's not hard to think that the difficulty of hitting them also stems from them dodging your shots.
      • Also, look at the way they're built. The armor is all grand, sweeping curves. It's really hard to get a straight shot on a curved surface without a round deflecting off, and laser and plasma weapons may have similar limitations. Their Defense could be noting that the armor is not only tough, but designed in such a way that glancing blows, which would normally inflict some harm, instead glance off harmlessly.

     Fandom squeamishness regarding gene mods vs augmentation 
  • From a cursory browsing of the internet, players who are squicked out by the new options in Enemy Within often by far are referring to the amputations needed to make a MEC trooper. Thing is - why? We have amputees right now that are able to approximate normal lives with just the prosthetics technology we have, and given all the cool toys XCOM has access to by the end, MEC troopers are probably wearing things equal to if not better than what Oscar Pistorius has. Yet this is treated as OMG HORRIBLE while stuffing your soldiers' DNA full of alien wing-wong isn't. Unfortunate Implications much?
    • Most amputees don't deliberately get their perfectly healthy limbs chopped off just to stick mechanical replacements on. Gene mods probably don't get the same reaction because the side effects (if any) aren't as obvious. Sure, they may be part alien on the inside now, but they look and behave wholly human, and it doesn't involve people irreversibly losing parts of their body.
      • Exactly. Genetic modification is improving the soldier on a base level, giving them incredible powers and breaking their human limitations. ME Cs are being asked to voluntarily sacrifice a massive amount of their body to be strapped into a war machine, and would have to undergo severe changes to live any sort of normal life. While the genetic modifications are going to alter someone, they can still go along just as they always did.
    • I suppose it is a "how will they fit into society again?" question. Cybernetics will always be visible. The gene mods might not.
      • Also, ostensibly the gene mods could easily be removed, either surgically or using more Meld to return the soldier's genetic code to normal. You can't exactly Meld a limb back on, unless XCOM had all those extra arms and legs stashed in a freezer someplace.
     Aliens and genetic modification 
  • The stated motivation of the aliens is to find a species that is both psionically gifted and physically strong. The Sectoids were rejected because they were physically weak, while the Mutons were rejected because they were psionically weak. The only problem is, the Ethereals have the capability to perform enormous genetic and cybernetic modification, as proven by the Thin Men and the Floaters, respectively. If they can make a snake alien look (almost) human, why can't they simply modify the Sectoids until they are suitably powerful for their purposes?
    • Too wasteful, presumably. Slapping in a couple of super strength augmentations would improve the Sectoids' strength, but then they'd need to have their intelligence and durability engineered, which will then lead to other aspects of them needing improvement, etc etc. Humanity is solid in all respects, fulfilling the Ethereals' needs, while retaining independence and scope for future improvements. Note that while the Ethereals' main force is engineered to an astonishing degree, the units are also extremely specialized. Humanity are much more flexible while having the psionic potential.
    • The Sectoids have already been modified about as far as they can take them. What we see in-game is about the extent to which even the Ethereals' extreme genetic technology can take the Sectoid species and still have it be useful. Also keep in mind that the Uber Ethereal points out the limitations of the Sectoids were physical and mental, and unable to be overcome: frailness and cowardice, which combined to make them cruel, and thus useless. Apparently, all their experimentation just resulted in a smart but brutal and cowardly species, which was entirely unsuitable for their purposes.
    • They tried. Unfortunately, the sectoids we see in game are what they produced. Genetic engineering can only go so far, and what they really need is DNA that they can merge with another species' to transform them. That's why the sectoids in XCOM 2 are physically much larger and stronger with greater psychic ability, but that psychic ability stemmed from humans. It was only in humanity that they found something suitable to merge with their own DNA to create new avatars, and even then it took them twenty years and processing millions upon millions of humans to build what they needed to make the perfect bodies.

     X-com's genetic modifications 
  • Giving any human a genetic modification that gives them and people nearby a rush when they kill someone seems like a really bad idea. Giving it to a soldier who is under very stressful circumstances (underground, out of contact with his loved ones, fighting a terrifying enemy, on constant alert and seeing his friends die) seems like just asking for trouble
    • And yet the soldier remains calm and completely under control while under the effects of the rush in question.
      • That he remains under control is of course nice, but the real, long-term problem is that anything that gives you a rush, is potentially addictive (ask any expert on addiction). So you are potentially making him an addict to killing, and people standing near him addicted to watching him kill. As long as there are plenty of aliens to kill this might not be much of a problem but when these people have to spend a lot of time out of combat or when peace comes...
      • There's no evidence that the rush is addictive.
      • Like I said: everything that causes a rush can be addictive. If XCOM leadership does install something that has the potential to addict someone to killing people and keep it in until they have clear evidence that it actually is addictive, then that is a clear case of them being jaw-droppingly, headscratchingly stupid. Are the genetic modifications even reversible?
      • There is the matter of there being an alien invasion going on, and gene-mods can be switched (at least in gameplay). In any case, people naturally get adrenaline rushes during stressful situations, and soldiers (especially elite special force ones that supposedly even the Rookies are) are trained to stay focused even in the middle of one. It's unlikely that someone with the self-discipline to be a SF operator would flip out and start murdering people for kicks, it's more likely that they'll just enjoy being In Harm's Way.
      • This, pretty much. XCOM probably does have some concerns about the modifications possibly having some addictive qualities, but those are ignored because the tactical applications outweigh the drawbacks, and there's the issue of the massive alien invasion ongoing at the moment. They can deal with any addiction issues or psychoses resulting from the modification after all of humankind has been saved. And that is if it actually has addictive properties and actually has a violent or dangerous impact on the soldier's mental state, which is never indicated in-game.
    • Still, a solid bit of Fridge Horror there. I know I'll be thinking twice before I slap that gene mod on in the future.
      • It's likely, considering that gene mods can be swapped, that Vahlen has some way to turn that thing off.

    Soldier panic 
  • When your soldiers panic and become useless, why are they left unpunished? They can and should be court-martialed on grounds of cowardice for not doing their duties. Please note i am looking at this from a lore standpoint.
    • I don't think 2014 court martials take alien races and genetically engineered super terrorists into account...
    • There's a pretty big difference between willful dereliction of duty under fire and a panic attack due to being shot at by giant green beams that can kill tanks from guns the size of your entire body being wielded by massive aliens in gigantic green suits of powered armor, while being backed by creatures capable of mind-altering psychic attacks, while your buddies are being ripped apart by giant insects and being turned into zombies. If someone not instantly obeying orders due to enemy fire suppressing them were enough to get someone court-martialed, just about every soldier in history would be in prison or discharged. XCOM is clearly intelligent enough to recognize that the soldiers might freak out a bit when fighting giant killer space aliens.
      • Okay, but even when they kill another soldier they are left unpunished.
      • They only go "unpunished" if you let them. You can choose to dismiss that soldier from duty or confine them to base if you wish, restricting them from carrying out any missions. After all, you're the commander. If you think the soldier should be punished, you can remove them from XCOM service.
      • Yet there is still no actual trial, which would make the process of punishing them seem a little under-the-table.
      • In case you haven't noticed, XCOM is all "under-the-table." It has an exceedingly streamlined chain of command, only a few hundred members at most (and the majority of those are civilian) with usually a combat force about the size of a platoon, and also features a commander who is painfully aware of everything going on both in and out of mission. There's no need for a trial when you can make the call yourself and have the absolute authority to do so, as you're the overarching commander of such a small force. There is actually precedent for this; in the Navy there is a process called "captain's mast" where the captain of a ship makes an immediate call on punishment for crewmen who do something unacceptable but who cannot be shipped for court-martial. Considering XCOM's covert nature, the XCOM Commander makes any and all judgment calls on behavior and punishment.

    Squad Leader 
  • Considering the fact that Squad-Leaders don't do much too lead the squad in the operations.(That's your job as Commander.) Why does XCOM have a Squad-Leader in every squad?

    X-COM's competence and the rest of the world's incompetence 
  • While the purpose behind X-Com is somewhat clear (specialised combat and in-depth analysis of the extra-terrestria aggressor), and they are probably the only ones who have alien security clearance granted to them by the world's CN member states,... there are some points where their necessity is not very convincing. In firefights, they can easily retain the upper hand with their default armour, wielding their default human firearms and throwing their default pineapple grenades. The question is, what can they achieve what any of the millions of professional soldiers out there (who most definitely have access to the very same equipment) can't?
    • Regular soldiers are almost certainly actively fighting the aliens. The thing is, XCOM can accomplish a mission with fewer casualties, more effectively, and likely with less of a mess than conventional troops. Most of the early missions are XCOM being called in to help resolve a problem that, presumably, the local forces are either too stretched to handle or don't have the capability to immediately resolve without suffering massive losses. I.e. most of the abduction missions, the terror missions, etc. There's also indication that while conventional units are fighting the aliens in abduction and terror missions, XCOM troops were being brought in to one of the ugliest parts of the battlefield. Also, XCOM gear is not standard issue, even standard body armor and firearms. Alien plasma weapons that would hurt a conventionally-kitted XCOM trooper will blow apart concrete walls or, int he mission at the military base, destroy tanks. Whatever armor XCOM equips their troops by default is vastly superior to conventional armor. So, yes, conventional units could win, but they'll suffer expensive losses in the process. Better to let someone else who can act faster, fight more effectively, and complete the objective with fewer casualties, go in and deal with it. If they lose, then at least they killed some of the aliens for you.
    • If you accept The Bureau as canon, then XCOM being called on to fight these missions makes absolute sense; they have doctrinal, operational, and tactical experience beyond what conventional forces would have in fighting the aliens, on top of definitely superior technology, even at the baseline ballistic/body armor tiers.
    • General Van Doorn will always say he's never seen your kind of gear before. The equipment you have is far from accessable if a UN official's never seen it. Not to mention that the rest of Van Doorn's unit sounds like it was rather easily obliterated by the thin men, so conventional weapons and training just isn't enough to take down an alien squad.
  • One assumes X-COM operatives can shoot a little straighter (not that it's in any way apparent in-game), seeing how they're the cream of the crop and all, but why are they portrayed as the only ones who could possibly end a terror! campaign or abduction halfway 'round the world, when there probably are many more local soldiers who could handle it just as easy, if not easier? They too have elite task forces. Plus, they must have cavalry, heavy rolling armour, artillery and airstrikes at their beck and call. You, on the other hand, don't. And you're just six people at best.
    • There's no indication that they are the "only" ones who can end terror missions. In fact, there's indications of heavy fighting going on in all the terror missions. It's just that XCOM are the best, and the funding nations expect XCOM to show up to help fight the aliens. Even if the funding nations can fight off the aliens themselves, if XCOM doesn't show up to throw in and assist in an attack on their civilians, the funding nation is going to seriously question why they're throwing all this money at XCOM and pull out.
    • Given that a stray plasma shot can blow up a TANK on maps where they're present, it makes perfect sense that they wouldn't want to send in a bunch of soldiers who would almost certainly get mopped up. As for airstrikes and the like, the collateral damage from carpet bombing the whole place would kill the civilians too.
  • The same goes - if not more so - for EXALT missions. EXALT operatives are little more than domestic terrorists and militants, collaborators with some decent heat. Why does it take bothering an X-COM team into bringing them down, and not, say, a good old-fashioned SWAT or military police squad? If it's because of their highly classified possessions... why not just send in an X-COM rep to bag up the evidence?
    • Because XCOM can get troops in there far faster, and with better weapons, than local military or police. Also, EXALT's covert and far-reaching nature would likely mean that local police or military would have spies or informants for EXALT within their ranks, who could tip them off with warning of a raid (a very common issue in real life). XCOM is unlikely to tip them off, being a covert agency with vetted personnel. They can get in, carry out the objective, and be gone very quickly, without risking alerting EXALT that they're on the way like a police or military force would.
    • One can also safely assume that there are other groups tackling EXALT; in fact, the decription for the EXALT gear you can sell explicitly state that other nations are fighting them. However, keep in mind that the missions where you fight EXALT all involve covert agents either being extracted or hacking data. These are time-sensitive missions (meaning the Skyranger is ideal) that involve XCOM personnel and sensitive EXALT data, both of which are best handled by XCOM troops due to them being vetted and trustworthy. Since you don't actually carry out raids on local EXALT bases or cells, such actions likely involve conventional units, probably using the intel that you've acquired. The raid on EXALT HQ would involve XCOM because only XCOM agents can be trusted to hit such a vital target without tipping EXALT off.
      • After completing an EXALT mission, one of the post-mission reports by Bradford will explicitly state that the intel gathered by the operatives led to dismantling the EXALT cell in that area. So it is very safe to say that XCOM teams get the intelligence, and then conventional police/military forces move in and roll up the remaining members of the cell, likely picking them up in their civilian identities.
    • Also, sending in an XCOM rep to "bag up the evidence" would be a horrible idea if you're trying to keep classified materials out of someone's hands. The aftermath of a battle is a very chaotic environment, and unless you have an XCOM rep on-site the moment the shooting ends, then the locals will have total access and control of the site and will be able to make anything they want quickly disappear. (and if you've got a rep on-site that close to the fighting, you've defeated the point behind using locals) The only way to make sure you have total control of the site is to have your armed people with your authority to operate on-site controlling the area.
  • Way I see it, XCOM's just a token show of good faith mixed with Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder. Sure, the Council Nations (only 16 of them, so not the whole UN) send some decent soldiers (not their elite though, as they give you highranked soldiers as mission reward sometimes) and gear, and they have a technically valid mandate to operate in the Council Nations to stop aliens incursions but hear that out: UFO are never shot down due to Jurisdiction Friction (with the UFO deliberately flying near borders) that only XCOM technically valid mandate can get over, and XCOM's called is as cannon fodder before risking the real soldiers/saturation bombing the area. They just worked better than actually expected.
  • One of Bradford's lines when you're responding to an abduction is him saying that local government forces are reporting a coordinated attack on a population center and are requesting XCOM assistance. Which implies that the various militaries are definitely fighting the aliens and that they request XCOM assistance when they're stretched thin or just want to minimize their own losses.
  • The aliens aren't a conventional army. They can be anywhere, strike from nowhere, have technology that isn't like anything on Earth, and tend to target either remote settlements or urban centers. XCOM is a mobile, precision task force meant to rapidly deploy to locations and complete time-sensitive objectives that conventional armies couldn't in a time effective manner. XCOM is meant to counter the aliens on an objective by objective basis, not engage in a prolonged war of attrition.

    EXALT Tech 
  • The only reason you don't have access to the same gene-modding tech as EXALT is because Dr. Vahlen states it's immoral to do gene-modding on that level. However, i don't see what she is saying because EXALT Elite Operatives have only 1 gene-mod, whereas XCOM can have up to 5 gene-mods on their solders, along with the fact that a lot of EXALT gene-mods aren't too far of a stretch from what XCOM can do (With the exception of Iron Skin).
    • I believe she might be talking about genetically modifying troops without the use of MELD. There's no sort of harmony between the modifications and a soldier's body judging by how badly EXALT's tech seems to warp its members' physical appearance. By comparison the use of MELD enables comparatively 'clean' modification that doesn't carry the same sort of disfigurement and ethical baggage.
      • Not actually the case, since Vahlen will actually say "EXALT must have a source of MELD as well" when you encounter their Elites for the first time.
      • Yet EXALT gene-mods can be done just as easily with MELD if not more so than they can without, considering both XCOM and EXALT can use the depth-perception gene-mod
      • ...yes, that's the point. If they're done with MELD they bypass the whole 'horrific disfigurement and ungodly science' aspect, retaining the soldier's humanity.
      • Then explain why I can't give my soldiers regeneration-pheromones, adrenaline surge or iron skin if EXALT gene-mods can be done with MELD.
      • Because the modifications Vahlen is responsible for vastly outweigh those EXALT carry. Those which aren't improved upon have a technological equivalent within XCOM.
      • While that explanation would work for adrenaline-surge, there is no equivalent to Iron-skin and regeneration pheromones would be better than adaptive bone marrow since it works on surrounding units instead of the singular unit.
      • Iron skin is the armour improvements and regeneration pheromones are outclassed by both medkits and MEC cloud sprays. Either way, it's obvious that Vahlen doesn't need to resort to the same methods as EXALT. Trying to split hairs over specific modifications is just being incessantly pedantic.
      • i see, given XCOM has a limited source of MELD and non-MELD alternatives that would seem logical.
      • Considering when you first see an EXALT soldier, Vahlen mentions that they're "quickly integrating the alien substance into their physiology", it really doesn't make much sense to assume that their gene mods don't use MELD. I believe that EXALT Gene Mods are simply too dangerous. I mean, look at the Elite Heavies! And their other unique Gene Mods too: Adrenaline Surge: Keeps all the adrenaline inside instead of releasing them like Adrenal Neurosympathy, which can lead to heart failures. Regenerative Pheromones: Rapid cell regeneration can cause cancer.
    • Back to the point, Vahlen specifically points out the how EXALT's modifications look hasty and rushed. XCOM does do like the above, putting a fair amount of time and care into their gene mods to make sure they come out well. EXALT seems to rush their members through the gene modification procedures while cutting corners to get quantity over quality which is what she's warning against.
  • Another good question is how does hacking ONE Com-Relay mess up all their guns? They're not that disorganized are they?
    • It doesn't mess up their weapons, it just messes up communications. In game, that's abstracted as distracting them for a turn as they fix their comms.
      • But it's only their guns, rocket launchers and grenades will still be functional.
      • As the guy said, it's an abstraction. The hack is not literally messing up their weapons, it's a quick visual representation of their command chain and communication getting screwed.
      • Or EXALT is using some fancy high tech weapons that can only fire for their registered users, and are connected to some form of HUD or other way of quickly analyzing factors such as ammo remaining, heat levels, and things like that. And when the covert operative hacks the comm relay, he makes sure to use that connection to completely crash the system, forcing EXALT operatives to do a hard reboot if they want to be using their guns again. Rockets and grenades being disposable one shot weapons, it would be too expensive for EXALT to equip such a system on them, and as such they aren't vulnerable to a system crash.

     Volunteer (and whole squad)'s powers in the last level 
  • this is actually a few headscratchers.
    • Where do the "Rift" power come from ? Does the Volunteer gets it in the Gollop chamber or is it a "gift" of the Uber Etheral ?
      • It's probably from interfacing with the Ethereal hive mind using the Ethereal Device, allowing the Volunteer to learn a new trick. Alternately, it's a Schrödinger's Gun situation and anyone powerful enough to be selected as the Volunteer would have developed that ability naturally.
      • When you first use it, the Uber Ethereal basically says "Oh, good, it worked! You've surpassed all of the previous subjects!" Presumably, XCOM was always meant to find the Ethereal Device, and using it successfully was the final psionic test for humankind (the entire last level being the final physical test/combat test).
    • How is the Volunteer able to move the temple ship ? from what I understood, psi power only affect mind so telekinesis is not one of them.
      • The controls are likely designed specifically so that only psionic beings can operate them. If it was telekinesis, the Volunteer probably wouldn't need to step up to that console thing.
      • Also, Telekinesis is a psi power. You can get a Telekinetic Field that is clearly deflecting incoming plasma shots on a miss on allied troops over a wide area. It's the alternative to Mind Control.
    • I had the impression all the soldiers in the last level were more powerful than normally. Is it also a "gift" or was I just very lucky ?
      • Probably a combination of the fact that you're probably bringing your best and brightest and kitting them out to the nines because this is the final mission and there's no need to hold back anything, and more than a little luck.

    Underground Satellite Dishes 
  • The satellite uplink facilities are, obviously, radio dishes which receive data from your orbiting satellites. Said dishes are installed in the base... Indoors... Several hundred metres underground... Am I the only one who sees the problem here?
    • They might be built inside underground silos with hidden elevators that let them rise above ground to link up with the satellites.

    Psionic Testing 
  • How soldiers are tested for psionics appears to have them sealed in chambers for 10 days, no wires or other devices seemingly attached to them, which begs the question of how keeping them in the sealed chambers for that long does any good for developing mental powers.
    • Maybe the science team discovered that psionics reacts to certain chemicals and the 10 days delays is to test if your guys react to those chemicals and then make them learn to use their power ? I mean, your soldiers had to learn Mindfray from somewhere.
    • ....yes, and? The way those machines work is apparently how you test for/activate psionic powers in the XCOM setting using the technology available to XCOM, because those are the machines being used to do that. I certainly am not aware of any real-life psionic testing/activation machinery that we can actually compare them to, unless you have some knowledge we're unaware of regarding psychic powers.
    • Some parapsychologists believe that mild sensory deprivation is beneficial to telepathy. You can look up Ganzfeld experiment in the other wiki. However, these experiments were about relatively mild sensory deprivation (not a sealed chamber) and certainly didn't last for ten days. We could perhaps imagine that X-com is doing a more extreme version of this.
    • Soldiers do not necessarily stay there for the entire time. It might be that psionic testing requires test subjects to be in a controlled environment with predictable levels of stress - and thus, while they would be able to go around the base, preparing them to go into battle would ruin the entire test.

    Annette's shockwave 
  • When you rescue her, Annette create a shockwave powerful enough to distabilize your soldiers. Is this a form of psionics? And, considering at this point she hasn't been trained to use them, is she just that strong ?
    • Yes. Remeber that before this she mind controlled a large majority of the XCOM staff into attacking one another during the base defense, so creating a psionic shockwave isn't completely unbelievable.

    Annette's kidnapping 
  • So, the first EXALT mission happensquite early in the war. The question is, how did EXALT knew of her psionic potential months before XCOM? And how did the aliens discover that she was an Amplifier Artifact? And why was she being escorted by the French military?
    • While XCOM is an alien-fighting organization, they're not omniscient, and EXALT has had much more time to develop intelligence-gathering resources and infiltrate governments. Presumably, the French government knew about Durand's psionic capabilities, probably through EXALT in the first place, and may have even been moving her to a secure location for the government to decide what to do with her (either giving her to XCOM or using her for their own benefit against the invaders) and EXALT ambushed the convoy.

     Why doesn't XCOM support its infantry with tanks, artillery, or ground attack aircraft? 
  • Why is XCOM entirely reliant on infantry and small drone vehicles? Surely main battle tanks, artillery, helicopters, and bombers would help out a lot more. I suppose I can understand why they aren't used in terror missions because they are trying to limit collateral damage to civilians, but aliens abduction, operations against EXALT, and UFO capture missions don't have that excuse. For example, an Apache helicopter, even one armed with conventional earth weaponry, would probably be more effective at killing aliens than six infantrymen would.
    • Artillery in real life is meant to crack hard targets with low mobility such as tanks, bunkers, etc. Artillery is thus ineffective against the aliens as they are too small and mobile.
    • Tanks are unable to gather intel quickly, and hard to actually deploy in the field. They do not have the rapid response of aircrafts, and cannot go in difficult terrain. Plus, a map actually takes place in a tank depot, and a ballistic minigun using a cover busting ability, a stray rocket, laser or plasma pistol shot can destroy them. They may fare better with alien alloys, but Earth simply do not have enough alloys.
    • Ground attack aircraft are even more fragile than tanks, and their airborn nature and noisy engines makes them sitting ducks.
    • XCOM is a special unit meant to perform surgical strikes while working to reverse engineer whatever the enemy is bringing to the table. Tanks, artillery, and ground attack aircraft are all occupied with the rest of the war effort going on off screen where normal militaries are holding the bulk of the aliens at bay. The 8-20 groups we see in urban areas are small isolated groups that have been purposefully cut off from their main forces so that XCOM can do its thing while recovering materials.

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