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Tear Jerker / XCOM 2

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  • Shen Sr.'s death is sad within itself, but his final action was building the Avenger, the ship you are now in control of. Not only does losing mean losing the planet to the aliens, but rendering Shen's final efforts moot.
  • For all of their atrocities, and for all of the deaths they've caused, the aliens have cured cancer and eradicated most diseases, and all of their work is ultimately directed at trying to save their dying race. Granted, their methods are brutal, but at the core, they're fighting for survival just like we are.
    • Unfortunately, any sympathy for them is killed when you take into account they didn't think of humanity as people, but as resources to use for their own ends. What makes it sad again is that if they had only asked for help, maybe they could have gotten it another way.
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    • To say nothing of all of the other alien races that they have enslaved, genetically modified and/or sterilised. Presumably, these were the dominant species on their respective planets, like humanity on our own.
  • The dying screams of unfortunate XCOM operatives are even more likely to tug at the Commander's heart strings, as their screaming is both more realistic, and sometimes includes Famous Last Words. One standout line has an operative beg "Tell my kids I..."
  • Near the end of the game, you get a message directly from the ADVENT Control Network. The Informant himself is risking everything he has to give you what you need to take it down, and one of his last requests to the Commander is to reveal the truth of ADVENT's lies to the rest of mankind. Towards the end of his communication, ADVENT forces start breaking into his room. The last you see is him taking out a pistol and trading fire with them before the feed cuts out. Every end-of-the-month report afterwards is silent.
  • As awesomely apropos as some of the randomly generated Operation names can be, they can be just as appropriately tragic:
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    • Operation Poisoned Dirge: soldier killed by Viper venom.
    • Operation Silent Vengeance: XCOM squad sent to rescue refugees fails to save anyone, leaving behind only corpses of the aliens they have killed in vain
    • Operation Broken Savior: for context, this Blacksite mission was completed after the Spokesman/Informer went down fighting. Along with Central, this guy has been on your team since the beginning, so his loss is a big deal and a heart-wrenching moment. Granted, it combines with Awesome and Heartwarming, but you can find those on their respective pages.
    • Operation Dismal Widow: A retaliation mission in which one of the female civilians murdered by ADVENT croaks out as she dies "Tell my. . . kids. . . I. . . " Though this same mission also saw the Repeater Execution of the previously-encountered Berserker Queen, so. . .
  • If a soldier is the lone survivor of a mission, they'll put their head in their hand in mourning on the skyranger mission screen. If a squad returns home while missing people who were KIA or left behind because Firebrand was forced to leave by incoming ADVENT interceptors, the mood aboard will be very somber and no-one will be smiling or joking.
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    • If you have a particularly bad mission that results in the entire squad getting killed or captured, you're rewarded with seeing the skyranger's empty passenger bay as it returns to base.
    • Sometimes, the bad missions come not from a Total Party Kill (though, this being XCOM, that is still extremely likely), but from failing the objective. The VIP you were sent to bring back alive is killed, the data tap you were trying to protect gets destroyed, the aliens send out the distress signal, whatever. The mission gets scrubbed, and the squad has to come back to The Avenger with their tails between their legs. The looks on their faces on the ride back as they hang their heads in shame says it all. Which is probably why the post-mission debrief will say nothing at all.
    • If a soldier dies in battle, you may see another one sitting dejectedly next the memorial in the bar. In fact, the game tracks the relationships between each each soldier and assigns social behaviors on the Avenger to friends. That crying soldier next to the memorial likely was a genuine friend to the deceased who fought by their side.
      • War of the Chosen takes this to a new level with an explicit Bond mechanic that formalizes these relationships. Soldiers who lose their bondmate on the battlefield may go berserk, and if they survive the battle, won't be able to bond again for the rest of the campaign.
  • Overwatch does not discriminate mind-controlled squadmates from aliens. Imagining that you have made a plan to save your controlled soldier, you are about to execute it in the next turn, then suddenly one of your overwatched soldiers kill the mind-controlled squadmate in the transition. It is tough telling yourself that it was necessary when you are just so close to saving your soldier.
    • Mind control does not remove overwatch. So if your guy on the overwatch was mind controlled, there is reasonable chance to eat unhealthy amounts of plasma at close range as his squadmates try to save him.
  • Watching a "Gravely Wounded" soldier return from a mission, stagger out onto the deck of the Avenger, then collapse to hands and knees. They've made it this far on iron will and sheer determination. . . now they need surgery.
  • The random civilians in cities are occasionally annoying - they hide behind cover you want to hide behind, and they can alert the aliens to your position if your soldiers move too close (easy to do when the civilians are inside a building next to a window). But it's still somewhat heartbreaking to fire off an AoE effect like a grenade or Void Rift, take out a couple of aliens... and discover to your horror that you caught an innocent civilian in the blast as well.
    • All civilians have unique names, which the game notifies you of every time they are killed. This is bad enough, but if you're unlucky the random name generation results in a civilian with the same name as a beloved family member or friend, who is then unceremoniously gunned down.
  • This fanmade trailer, especially the first minute or so. Really shows just how epically XCOM must have failed originally for this game to take place, and how dramatically uphill their battle now is.
  • This fanmade trailer not only captures the feel of XCOM beautifully, it does it in a haunting way with lyrics that have a double meaning depending on whom you think is doing the singing.
  • This fanmade trailer, which takes the XCOM 2 footage and uses the audio from the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer. While awesome in how well the lines work despite the differences between the game and the movie, the context of how they work emphasizes how more grim the situation is in XCOM than Independence Day: while Earth has to fight off another alien invasion in Resurgence, Earth has already LOST to the aliens in XCOM 2, with a brutal police state ruling the world, and XCOM now branded a terrorist organization, while ADVENT is universally idolized by their human citizens. It even teases at the idea that The Commander is a Shell-Shocked Veteran through the usage of flashbacks of the initial invasion, and their capture by the aliens.
  • One of the scans on the map has the Furies from EW. The ship was too badly damaged and XCOM was not able to remove them from their Stasis pods before the security liquified them.
  • Like mission names, the names of resistance outposts in XCOM 2 are randomized. One of the possible names is "Humanity Falls"; while it probably refers to a nearby waterfall, it can pessimistically be read as conveying the hopelessness the civilians must be feeling as they die to the aliens.
  • One of the new scans added in the Alien Hunters DLC (the scan that starts the new content) is the crash site of Big Sky, the pilot responsible for flying the Skyranger in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Yet another member of the original XCOM confirmed dead.
  • Shen's final message and gift to Lily.
    • Crossing over with Heartwarming Moment, Shen Sr. tells Lily she herself is his greatest gift to humanity. Even with the engine's limitations you can see the tears in her eyes.
    • If a player saves and quits during the "Shen's Last Gift" mission, the menu screen is achingly poignant.
  • In a way Julian's entire existence is one long string of these. First his "father" dies, then he gets captured and mindraped by aliens who he was designed to combat, his own desires are manipulated by everyone to get them to help him, he eventually goes completely ax crazy and wipes out his captors but by that point his mind is so broken he can't hope to serve his original purpose. Even when he finally finds the only family he has left he can't help but try to murder them repeatedly even though he explicitly needs Lily Shen alive. He may be a terrible sentient being all around but you have to feel a little pang of sympathy for how he ended up the way he is, especially when he repeatedly takes the time to muse about what might have been if things had been different.
    • It rolls into Heartwarming, however, if you put Julian into SPARK anyway. Yes, he's enforced into obeying XCOM, but Lily never removed his personality, and let him keep all of his memories. Julian is angry, but he is given the body he always wanted and he's still Julian.
  • For all his flippant behavior, the Hunter expresses disbelief that his siblings died the way they did if he's the last one standing.
    Hunter: My siblings and I have had our differences, but still, I would never have expected either of them to go down like this...
  • All of The Chosen deaths reveal that they really didn't like their masters at all, and genuinely hope you go kick their ass as they die.
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