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Nightmare Fuel / XCOM 2

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He can see you, but you probably won't see him at first.

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  • Imagine what it's like to be an XCOM agent in this world; you're vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the aliens, forced to live constantly on the run, knowing that you're always at risk of being tracked down by the aliens. Hope seems almost lost. To make matters worse, you're seen by almost every other human in the world as the enemy, while the true monsters enjoy a huge amount of popular opinion. Also, as part of your efforts, you often have to undertake missions that are, really, little better than terrorist activities. Like bombing what are, publicly, hospitals that are treating once-incurable ailments. Not only does that give your enemies better ammo with which to paint you as the bad guys, really, what does it say about you that you're willing to do something like that?
    • Not to mention a significant number of XCOM tactics would probably qualify as war crimes. Using toxic gases, incendiary explosives on living targets, corrosive acids, etc are all pretty bad on their own. It only gets worse though if you consider how easy it is to accidentally cause civilian casualties or willingly blow up one civilian to kill a group of Advent troopers. If not for the aliens being much, much worse all of this would be very questionable.
  • How about what it's like to be a civilian in this world? You live under the benevolent rule of the ADVENT, your alien saviors, but a bunch of armed lunatics are running wild all over the globe, so caught up in their insane conspiracy theory that they're willing to assassinate beloved leaders, bomb genetic modification hospitals, murder anyone who supports the ADVENT as part of its ranks, and generally commit all manner of atrocity. And worst of all, they're actually right, but you won't know about this until it's too late, and you're being murdered as part of some inscrutable alien plot.
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  • Chryssalids are back. And they can bury themselves in the ground now to hide from sight, and they can even sense Phantom Rangers through their stealthiness, popping up to rush in and claw at you and breaking your concealment. You can never know if you're clear of a Chryssalid threat anymore (At least not without scattering Battle Scanners across the AO).
  • The Faceless is a species of Voluntary Shapeshifters that disguise themselves as ordinary civilians whose true form towers nearly one story tall and looks like the lovechild of a Resident Evil game and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, with the face to match. Their claw attacks are powerful enough to collapse the rooftops of the civilian buildings in the Retaliation Mission AO, meaning they can not only hit you hard, but cast you down to ground level at the same time, exposing you to other enemies.
    • Given that the cutscene that introduces Retaliation Missions ends with a civilian transforming into a Faceless, imagine living in a Resistance Haven and suddenly seeing someone you know transform into a horrific monstrosity that attacks your would-be saviors. How long ago was that person replaced with an ADVENT infiltrator?
  • The new cover art for the game is incredibly unsettling, being a picture of the new and improved Sectoid that is made out of a mountain of human skulls. The implications of the true number of lives lost to the invader's machinations make this worse.
  • ADVENT's winning condition, the Avatar Project, has a lot of unpleasant implications. Knowing the Ethereals' goals in EU, this project's goal may be to allow the Ethereals to possess all of mankind. One thing is certain, XCOM can only delay the project, not stop it.
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    • The sheer number of people taken and sacrificed by the aliens for their Avatar Project is an immense number that horrifies Bradford, Lily Shen, and Tygan, when they finally complete the Shadow Chamber project to analyse the vial that you retrieved during the Blacksite Facility Raid. Thousands, possibly even millions, of humans, found by Gene Therapy Clinics to be compatible with the Avatar Project for various reasons, all abducted and processed for their genetic material. Lily Shen condemns the Project as a form of genocide immediately, Tygan cannot fathom the nature of any kind of research that would require that magnitude of death, and Bradford angrily insists that you follow the coordinates revealed by the analysis as soon as possible.
    • Then we discover what it's for; treating the health problems of the Ethereals. They killed thousands, if not millions of humans purely so they could live a little longer.
    • Finally, in the endgame portion of the narrative, the Informant discovers a horrible truth about the escalation of the Avatar Project, a truth urgent enough that he willingly sacrifices himself to alert XCOM; the aliens have decided, with the death of one of the Elders who was controlling the Avatar your operatives slew in battle, to start "processing" all "non-essential" humans, by inviting them to the Gene Therapy clinics for a "promised reward" for the twenty years of obeying their ADVENT masters. Lily begins the cutscene snarking about the Informant, only to be struck speechless by the suddenness of the reveal.
    • This results in a pretty grim reveal for the civilians when you successfully perform the Tower Raid and reveal the lies of ADVENT through their global announcement - the so-called volunteers for ADVENT's security troopers are factory-grown inhuman hybrids, the escalation of anti-terror measures was the draconian slaughter of refugees who refused ADVENT's iron rule, and the Gene Therapy Clinics were a front for the horrific abduction of the Avatar project. Imagine being told that everything you believed about your new masters was but a lie. No wonder humanity as a whole revolted against ADVENT after the broadcast - you can see the shock, horror, and disgust on the faces of the civilians as they see the truth behind ADVENT's lies.
  • Sectopods have returned. Die properly.
  • Gatekeepers. There's the psionic Combat Tentacles. And the armored shell that can make them harder to kill than Sectopods - at least it's hard to miss Sectopods with their size. If you're in a city, they'll casually fire into groups of civilians to reanimate them as zombies, just to have something more to throw at your team.
  • Game Over in this game by losing to the Avatar Project is same as it is if you get killed while shot down. There's no explanation, the Speaker just smugly shows off the crashed Avenger with no indication anything but a normal military defeat happened. That should raise some alarm bells right there. Later on in the game, you discover what Avatars are, and suddenly, the last line of his speech makes a lot more sense-and holds a lot more menace. "Long live the Elders" indeed...
  • The surgery to remove the chip itself. Tygan admits that there was always the risk of complications during the surgery, while Bradford insists that it had to be done. All the while, given the point-of-view from inside the containment suit, you as the Commander are clearly conscious and aware enough to see Bradford, Lily Shen, and Tygan talking over you as they prep for the operation, and then Tygan picks up the implement to remove the chip and you have flashbacks to the time a Thin Man shoved something similar in your mouth to stick the chip inside in the first place, smiling wickedly as he examined his handiwork. It's a major relief that it ends smoothly, with Bradford welcoming you back.
  • The cutscene that plays when ADVENT launches Retaliation Missions for the first time. Bradford is talking with the manager of a settlement unaffiliated with then Vichy Earth about replacing their water purification system, when suddenly, the Speaker overtakes the TV network for one of his speeches-specifically, his announcement of a new security initiative to "overcome these radical elements"...with the dropships advancing on the camp in the background. Bradford desperately tries to warn the den mother, but the Speaker's signal interferes with the XCOM transmission enough for the ADVENT forces to move in, and they begin to shoot everything in sight. Keep in mind said community, while technically Resistance affiliated, was a refugee camp. If you dare to exist outside the ADVENT's area of control, they will kill you.
  • One of the ADVENT blacksites you can visit as part of the narrative is a facility with hallways full of ADVENT Troopers slumbering in stasis. Have fun worrying about whether these guys will suddenly wake up while you investigate and attack you from behind. They don't.
  • Some of the ways soldiers can die are pretty messed up. Getting shot in the face is downright merciful compared to the slow death through simultaneous poisoning and Man on Fire.
    • And let's not forget the wonderful death VO. Which may include the tired old "Tell my kids..." or your trooper gurgling as they drown in their own blood.
  • The Volunteer from the last game was hailed as humanity's greatest champion, correct? Not anymore, the Avatar Project's aim is to create an army of super-soldiers that would surpass the Volunteer in raw power. Now think about what the aliens could possibly use an army like that for...
  • During the final level, the Ethereals imply that they were simply trying to recruit humanity to prepare for a greater threat. Said threat has apparently destroyed the planet of every alien race you've fought in the game. What happens to you now that you're alone against this threat?
    • It gets worse. The final cutscene shows the wreckage of the Avatar base at the bottom of the ocean, and purple swirling energy rising from a fissure in the ocean floor. Either something of the Etherals survived and is still plotting, or the threat the Ethereals have been so worried about is on its way.
  • Andromedons are pretty frightening on their own, being aliens in heavily armored Power Armor suits that can plow through walls. But then you kill it, and things get so much worse. There is just something incredibly unnerving and creepy about watching the battle suit twitch its way back to "life" with an alien corpse hanging out of the shattered cockpit.
  • From Alien Hunters, the mission "The Nest." Vahlen tried to reverse-engineer some species that the Elders genetically engineered the traits out of, and you discover why they did for good reason. You stumble upon a Viper King, the first male you've seen of the species, and it's been breeding like crazy. It's not apparent just HOW crazy until you're halfway through the level and hordes of (armed) baby Vipers start crawling out of the walls on every side.
  • The Alien Rulers themselves are walking, raging, flying and breathing Nightmare Fuel. They are unforgettable boss fights that can come at any time and turn a successful operation on its head. Your squad's been through Hell, is battered and tired, running low on ammo, and making the last dash to the extraction point... and then they turn a corner and crash into a giant Viper that spits ice, an earth-shaking Berserker that makes ordinary Mutons run for their lives, or an Archon that can unleash an impossible-to-dodge bombardment.
    • And on that topic, wearing the armors unlocked by killing, autopsying, and experimenting on these monsters makes the XCOM agent wearing it In-Universe Nightmare Fuel for aliens of that same species. Vipers, Mutons, Berserkers, and Archons can be sent into a panic just by seeing those armors.
  • If you equip a Spark unit with the "Julian" voice you find out what Lily did to him after discovering the copy of his mind in her personal gremlin. He's been partially lobotomized so he can't remember certain bits of information and mind raped into obedience. Now granted he is a murderer but it's still really disturbing to see such a nice person do something like that apparently without feeling at all bad.
  • The description of the Advent Stun Lancer Corpse. It says that when the body stiffens upon death, the facial muscles curl up into a grin due to high injection of stimulants pre battle. Apart from the grinning part being creepy to imagine, that could mean that not only where these troopers not afraid of you, but they were enjoying the fight throughout.
  • The Avatar itself. For starters, if you're even slightly ill equipped to deal with the Avatar, expect your squad to be retired permanently within a few careless moves. It teleports every time you hit it, it is capable of healing itself every turn, its plasma rifle can easily decimate your soldier even with good armor, and its psionic abilities will easily turn your own soldiers against you, or obliterate them through multiple obstacles. Even when dead, the corpse is capable of causing auditory hallucinations to anyone passing by. No wonder this enemy is the key to Advent's victory.
  • The Lost from War of the Chosen. We never saw the purpose of those strange gas-leaking containers from Enemy Unknown, they were just scenery for abduction missions. Turns out they were a biological weapon used to wipe out entire cities by transforming their inhabitants into rampaging hordes of gray mutants studded with green tumors. The abandoned cities are eerie, perpetually-overcast places full of derelict cars, empty shops, and the echoes of creaking metal... until someone makes a loud noise, attracting the Lost, who come charging out of nowhere in a shambling swarm. Perhaps the worst part is the number of truly dead bodies frozen as they were at the time of the invasion two decades ago, dead on their feet in the act of taking out the trash, or helping someone into an ambulance. Or maybe the worst part is that ADVENT sends regular Purifier patrols to try to keep the Lost under control, and in all the years of their occupation, they still haven't made a dent in their numbers.
    • The Lost themselves aren't that hard to kill... at least, individually. The problem is that they are literally endless, like to attack in huge mobs, and every time you resort to a grenade to handle the current wave, you attract another. And all it takes is one missed attack to break the chain of headshots, and suddenly you're being overrun. Oh, and you're lucky if you're fighting only the Lost, it's more common to have to deal with them at the same time you're fighting ADVENT forces, or even one of the Chosen.
  • Out of all The Chosen, the Warlock is perhaps the most frightening of them all. Not due to being able to appear from nowhere to strike like his sister, or due to being able to blast your troops away from across the map like his brother. No, the Warlock is horrifying because of his extreme zealotry and how much he goddamn hates you. He's at his worst during your assault on his stronghold as he preaches the Elders' praise and curses you for not revering them as he does, and when you destroy his Sarcophagus and sever his link to said Elders, you get to see him well and truly pissed for the first time.
  • The Tactical Legacy Pack DLC introduced four Interquel mini-campaigns of seven missions each, connected by short video clips and voice-over narration between the missions. None of these videos are pleasant to look at, but the ones from the second campaign, It Came From The Sea, are downright horrifying. Probably the worst one shows a terrified civilian cowering behind a car at night while Chryssalids stalk the streets only a few meters away, killing everything and everyone they see indiscriminately. Chryssalids are bad enough news for armed fighters who know what they're up against, but imagine you're a clueless civilian just living your life away from ADVENT as best you can, only for hordes of Big Creepy-Crawlies with Glowing Eyes of Doom to suddenly emerge from the ocean and overrun your village. Worst of all, we never learn what happened to the person in the vid after the last thing we see is a Chryssalid taking an interest in the car...
    • It Came From The Sea also brings up the rather horrifying point that there could be thousands, tens of thousands, hundred of thousands, or an even greater number of Chryssalids hiding just off the coastlines. An army of Explosive Breeders roaming and ravaging places we know less about than we do about Outer Space, filled with a countless number of countless species. And at any moment, with people swimming in the oceans or taking cruises, could they bring attention from a Chryssalid swarm to themselves. Or even worse, imagine if just before we defeat the Ethereals, they decide to pull a Taking You with Me, to have the last laugh using the Chryssalids as an Insurance Policy: Just one call from them and every landmass on Earth could be overrun before the end of the week. It makes you wonder just truly how many Chryssalids are there, why they are down in the Ocean, and just what have they've been doing for the last 20 years.
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