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Video Game / The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

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"The nations of the Earth must someday make a common front against attack by people from other planets."
General Douglas MacArthur

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a tactical Third-Person Shooter prequel to the 2012 XCOM: Enemy Unknown by 2K Games, for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. It was released on August 20, 2013.

Turns out that the "Bureau of Strategic Emergency Command" (which would later become XCOM) was established by JFK as a rapid response unit against communist invasion rather than aliens. But when the Outsiders arrive in middle America in 1962 and Sectoids start showing up in the streets, all bets are off and The Bureau reorganizes itself into XCOM to fight back. The game shares much with Enemy Unknown, including art style, cover mechanics, and emphasis on tactical thinking instead of running-and-gunning. Mike Futter of GameInformer compared it to the later Mass Effect titles in feel.

The Bureau had a Troubled Production. When it was initially announced, XCOM: Enemy Unknown had yet to be revealed, so many fans of the X-COM series were appalled to see the franchise revived as an In Name Only First-Person Shooter, leading to massive fan backlash. In response, The Bureau (then known simply as XCOM) was delayed, renamed, and heavily reworked to have more in common with the rest of the franchise. Such changes included a shift to third-person, a greater emphasis on tactics, and the alien antagonists going from Starfish Aliens to Sectoids and other familiar X-COM species. Meanwhile, the entire production was delayed as 2K Marin went to assist Irrational Games with BioShock Infinite.


You play as William Carter, a CIA operative stuck in a desk job thanks to a Dark and Troubled Past that interfered with his otherwise stellar work overseas, who has just arrived at a remote military installation in Groom Range, Nevada with a briefcase in tow, containing a top-secret item that no one else is allowed to handle. Shortly after Director Faulke of the Bureau summons him, he is attacked by the person sent to escort him and choked into unconsciousness. When he comes to, his attacker is dead, but the item has been destroyed. He leaves his room, only to find the base under attack from advanced beings not of this Earth...

A small number of DLC has been released:

  • Hangar 6 R&D: Released on October 9, 2013 for Xbox 360 and November 20, 2013 for PC. A story-based DLC which follows Bureau agent Nico DaSilva shortly before the events of the game.
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  • invoked Codebreakers: Originally a Pre-Order Bonus, it was released on October 15, 2013. A side-mission where Agent Carter is sent out to investigate why a key communications facility responsible for intercepting and interpreting the enemy’s transmissions has gone dark.
  • invoked Light Plasma Pistol: Originally a Pre-Order Bonus, it was released on October 15, 2013. It adds the titular Light Plasma Pistol to the game.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The '60s: The game takes place in 1962 amidst the Cuban Missile Crisia between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Ace Pilot: Barnes, who pilots the Skyranger and later, the Avenger.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: William Carter.
  • Actionized Sequel: The Hangar 6 R&D mini-campaign is heavily combat focused, being a series of 12 prolonged, large-scale firefights in various arenas. It is also much harder than the original campaign, as you end up facing Elite Mooks and mini-bosses right off the bat, and in larger numbers than in the campaign, all while being limited to human weapons until the last few arenas.
  • Adaptational Badass: In Enemy Unknown, Mutons are pretty much Elite Mooks; tough, but your own troops can match them one-on-one at mid-to-high levels. In The Bureau, Mutons are incredibly tough Giant Mook mini-boss enemies, and a single one can lay waste to your entire squad if you mess up. Potentially justified, as these Mutons are professional hired guns rather than brain-dumped slaves.
  • All Deaths Final: An agent who is killed in combat can't be brought back barring Save Scumming.
  • All There in the Manual: The Hangar 6 R&D mini-campaign explains why sleeper agents stop showing up after the first mission (Nico and Dr. Dresner managed to shut down that particular functionality of Mosaic, leaving all infected humans as harmless Sleepwalkers).
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The opening level and the aliens' first move is an attack on Groom Range, an important military and research base.
    • XCOM HQ is attacked and destroyed in the penultimate mission.
    • In Hangar 6 R&D, the Bureau facility Nico and Dresner are conducting the tests in fall under attack at the same time as Groom Range.
  • Alternate Continuity: With the original XCOM series.
  • Alternate History: The game has a full-scale alien invasion taking place in early 1960s America, with the opening attack resulting in the deaths of J. Edgar Hoover and former President Truman among others. XCOM is eventually able to cover up the alien nature of the attack, but only by making everyone believe it was a massive Soviet invasion. It's actually a miracle that by the time the timeline gets to Enemy Unknown, the world's culture and geopolitics are so close to our own.
    • It is not made entirely clear whether Hoover, Truman and other government leaders in fact do survive. The aliens disrupt all long-range electronic communications, which leaves The Bureau operating without any contact to any superior authority. Faulke says near the beginning of the game that as the country is under invasion and they are unable to contact anyone, they are operating under the assumption that the government is gone until proven otherwise.
  • Alternate Reality Game:
    • Project: Enemy Unknown, also known as "InfiniVac", was started up in 2010 to help draw interest prior to the game's official announcement. It was placed on hiatus when 2K began retooling the game.
    • Afterwards, as an attempt to draw much-needed attention through a different approach (i.e., average citizens keeping tabs on strange phenomena instead of The Government doing so via the now-defunct InfiniVac Network), 2K started Citizen Skywatch.
    • Erase The Truth is the latest installment, coinciding with the game's renaming to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
  • Ambiguously Gay: A bit of ambient dialogue in XCOM HQ has an agent speculating that Dr. Weir and his assistant were more than just colleagues and the game goes out of its way to show the two were extremely close. However, Dr. Weir himself never elaborates on the precise nature of their relationship (understandably, given the setting).
  • Anachronism Stew: Unabashedly. The game confines its timeline to 1962 in the cutscenes, and features the '62 Cuban Missile Crisis as an event on the world map, but dates several in-game notes as being written in 1963, despite never jumping ahead a year to justify that date. Additionally, it also features the Vanport Flood as a "recent" event on the world map, despite it occurring as far back as 1948.
  • Anyone Can Die: This game doesn't pull any punches; by the end of the campaign Agent Nils, Agent Kinney, Agent Da Silva (depending on what choice you make), either Agent Weaver, Doctor Weir or Director Faulke (depending on who you choose to play as and to save), possibly Carter (if you choose to kill him), and many other minor characters can either die or are dead by the games end.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The player can only bring along two agents, even if the fate of the world is at stake.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The Russian spy dismisses the notion of alien invaders as mere children's tales, despite having infiltrated a base dedicated to fighting the invaders with their own weapons and there being a live alien in the lab while reports and base personnel talk about nothing but the devastating attacks that have wiped out entire cities.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Lightning Cannon, which you don't get until the last couple of missions, and only if you search for it. You'd think it'd be the best weapon in the game, but it's far from it. You can carry only 4 shots for it at once, and a single shot, while heavily damaging, is not strong enough to one-hit-kill the Elite Mooks who make up most of your enemies in the last missions, let alone a Muton or Sectopod.
  • Badass Bookworm: Doctor Weir has a head full of grey hair, mentions he fought in WW2, and still handles himself well in combat.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Many of the agents sport dapper suits befitting the late '50s-early '60s.
  • Badass Normal: There's an achievement called "Only a Man" in Hangar 6 R&D for keeping Nico as this by not unlocking the abilities originating from the aliens (Lift, Drone and Mind Control).
  • Big Bad: Origin, the leader of the outsiders.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Pretty much everyone at the Bureau knows (or at least thinks) that Faulke has every nook and cranny of the base under electronic surveillance.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The interrogation of the Soviet spy is conducted entirely in pretty decent Russiannote , not all of which lines up with the subtitles, most prominently featuring an apparent Throw It In! Shout-Out to Seventeen Moments of Spring.
  • Blob Monster: Silicoids. They are even referred to as blobs by XCOM agents.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The light plasma pistol can be purchased as a piece of DLC, it's available as soon as you finish the second mission and is significantly more powerful than any of the other starting weapons. The only drawback is how fast it burns through ammo, but given how plentiful ammo is in most areas this isn't much of a problem.
  • Call-Forward: Dr. Weir remarks that he thinks the captured Ethereal is one of a kind, and isn't the precursor to another invasion. If he's the one Asaru chooses to merge with, they will also describe the Ethereals as "good" aliens who want to avoid enslavement.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: When Carter rejects the Ethereal, the game momentarily switches to first person perspective while you play as the Ethereal.
  • Character Tic: Carter has several tics during conversations with dialogue choices, including clenching his right hand into a fist and smacking it into the palm of his left. It carries over to the person you choose to merge with for the final mission, implying that either the tic originated from or stuck with Asaru or they're just Going Through the Motions.
    • Nico does not have these particular animation tics in the Hangar 6 R&D DLC campaign, suggesting it's more a case of the tics being particular to Asaru rather than the animators simply not caring.
  • Charged Attack: The Plasma Sniper Rifle (charged while aiming) and the Lightning Cannon (charged by holding down the fire button) can be fired without charging first, but this heavily cuts damage.
  • Code Emergency: The InfiniVac Network from Project: Enemy Unknown was on "Code Black Lockdown" for quite some time. This may have been related to a possible alien attack on a Russian defector and an XCOM agent who was escorting him; according to the information that was available on the InfiniVac Network, their remains bore evidence that they might have been killed by Silicoids.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A report about the captured infiltrator found in the lab details the the prisoner's legal status. Although technically considered a POW, the Outsiders aren't known signers of the Geneva Convention, so the normal POW protections don't apply. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what is bound to follow...
    • Another recording details surgery that sounds quite painful. Though in this case there was not much choice, as the patient did not respond to any anesthetics.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Multiple reviewers have commented on the remarkable similarity between Agent Carter and Robert Patrick. The voice actor even sounds quite a lot like Patrick.
  • Computer Equals Tapedrive
  • The Conscience: Asaru, the benevolent Etherial, essentially served as this for his host William Carter, curbing the man's self-destructive tendencies and racist paranoia, even though it's implied Asaru didn't even know that he and Carter were different people at first until The Reveal, essentially being born from Carter in a sense.
  • Continuity Nod/Continuity Porn:
    • Many items bear a marked visual similarity with their XCOM: Enemy Unknown counterparts; Medkits are practically identical to their 21st century counterparts. There are also similarities in types of aliens: Sectoids and Mutons are pretty much the exact same, with slightly different equipment, and Sectopods make a reappearance, albeit with a different design.
    • The final cutscene plays part of a track from Enemy Unknown. It also features an unnamed person simply called the "Councilman" in the subtitles.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: The Game, with liberal sprinkling of Un-person on top. It's a major part of the game's promotional campaign (with several trailers showing the creation of such documents), including but not limited to blurring out or blacking out of portions of gameplay footage in the trailers.
  • Crutch Character: Agents Nils and Kinney in the first mission. They're both Level 5 (the max for an agent) and have a full set of abilities.
  • Death of a Child: Kevin, a young boy who featured prominently in some trailers, ends up being killed in an alien attack. He's later revealed to have been the son of one of the Bureau's agents, who after completing his report on the attack begins to write a resignation letter as he's convinced there's nothing left to fight for.
  • Decoy Protagonist: While Agent Carter is the Player Character for most of the game, the real point of view is from the alien Asaru, an Ethereal, who has been controlling Carter's actions throughout the game.
  • Deflector Shield: Used by Elite Mooks and Zudjari Commanders, with the Shield Commander variant being able to project a similar shield onto another unit. XCOM Commandos can also manifest one with a certain ability.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Part of the overall atmosphere, with HQ in particular being seen as a smoking area.
  • Downer Beginning: The Bureau's Groom Range base is attacked and utterly wrecked, with only 6 survivors managing to escape.
  • Enemy Mine: One of the base personnel turns out to be a Soviet spy who got caught up in the whole alien invasion mess. He can be convinced to help fight the invasion (since the aliens are a threat to the Soviets as well), and joins your squad as a high-level operative.
  • Energy Beings: The Ethereals.
  • Energy Weapon: As in other XCOM games, it's the middle tier of weaponry. Unlike them, though, the aliens start off with it instead of plasma.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Axis, but Origin however, has to take the cake with his nigh demonic sounding voice.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Subverted with William Carter; he was ALWAYS a Heel, being all along a paranoid anti-communist 1960's reactionary with anti-social, self destructive tendencies due to personal trauma and the societal trends of the time, and the bonding with the Ethereal Asaru was the only thing keeping him stable in the first place.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Zudjari's motivations, and what keeps most of them fighting even after Mosaic is crippled.
  • Flying Saucer:
    • Despite being a game about an alien invasion, the main flying saucer seen in the game is human in origin and is based on a real-life design.
    • There's also the Titan Attack Drone, a boss who's combat form is disc-shaped.
  • Follow the Leader: Strategy interface aside, many previews of the new TPS iteration point out how Mass Effect-like the gameplay is. It's even got a dialogue wheel now!
    • Though, to make it legally distinct from Bioware's creation, The Bureau's wheel is mirrored, with investigative conversation options being on the right, while the progression-oriented ones are on the left.
  • Foreshadowing: Other characters frequently note that Carter does not act like or is better at his job than his dossier indicates. Also, when the intro cutscene concludes and the player is given control of Carter, there's a strange glow on the edges of the screen. Turns out they both are because he's been bonded with an Ethereal.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: One of the few games to present the notion that the Third-Person Shooter perspective is due to an outside force controlling the player-character. The first time you use the command screen if you're playing as Dr Weir he comments on it, noting that's why Carter was so good at commanding agents - it's another function of Asaru.
  • Gatling Good: The Rotary Plasma Cannon. Inaccurate and with beastly recoil, but it's rate of fire vastly outstrips any other weapon. It's per-shot damage is pretty good too.
  • Genre Blindness: Like the aliens from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Outsider weapons self-destruct when their operator dies. Unlike them, however, the Outsiders sometimes just leave their guns lying around for you to pick up.
  • Giant Mook: The Mutons in general.
  • Government Conspiracy: You play as a member of one. It's pretty much right there on the Tag Line.
  • Hand Signals: Agent William Carter makes a twirling motion over his head to signal his squad to regroup. Otherwise, though, he generally resorts to voice commands only.
  • Healing Hands:
    • Carter gains this ability after his encounter with an Infiltrator in the opening cutscene, apparently due to whatever was in the briefcase he was to deliver. It transfers over to whoever you chose for the final mission.
    • In Hangar 6 R&D, Nico gains it as a side effect from exposure to the gas being used in the tests.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Doctor Weir's assistant, despite being an Outsider infiltrator helps you along with your mission, even making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Agent Dennis Cole has it from "The Choice" trailer onwards. Agent William Carter gets it during "The Aftermath" trailer.
    • Agent Carter had one in his past, due to the death of his father, wife, and son in a fire at his home while he was overseas, blaming himself for not being there to save them.
    • The first "Sleepwalker" XCOM encounters suffered from one just prior to succumbing. As a result, he's stuck in the BSOD for the rest of his life, unless a cure is found.
  • Heroic Host: Origin invented Mosaic with the help of the Ethereal possessing him, and Carter gains Battle Focus, Healing Hands and Mind Control from his, as will the person you chose for the final mission.
  • Heroic Willpower: Strong-willed individuals can resist the Sleepwalker infection ( like DaSilva) or Ethereal possession (like Origin and Carter).
  • Herr Doktor: Seems to be a tradition for the latest iteration, as Doctor Heinrich Dresner alludes to the fact that he was, indeed, that kind of German doctor, saying that Carter could talk to the OSS regarding his "immigration" to the US.
    • However, an audio file found after the first official mission clarifies that he had no hand in the human experiments, and was trapped between a rock and a hard place when he found out about them.
    • Additionally, when Carter captures Origin's Ethereal, Dresner is asked by other scientists if he is planning on studying it. Dresner replies that he has no desire to keep these creatures in cages.
  • Hired Guns: In-universe speculation confirmed by Word of God is that the Mutons you meet aren't Zudjari slaves, but more akin to mercenaries.
  • Hive Mind: The Zudjari via Mosaic.
  • It's Personal:
    • Agent Weaver storms an alien facility working on the "Sleepwalker" virus by herself, against orders, when she finds out her brother is being held there.
    • Carter after he breaks free of the Ethereal possession. He proceeds to try to get revenge, even if it means dooming the whole world in the process.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • We see this being applied to some poor alien on the "The Interrogation" and "The Aftermath" trailers. Fisticuffs are involved.
    • It's an option in the actual in-game interrogation. The alien being questioned is rather docile during the whole thing, though, meaning you can go through it very calmly.
  • Jerkass: The real William Carter turns out to be this.
  • Jetpack: Muton Elites have one. In addition to just moving around, they can use it to perform a powerful Goomba Stomp by jumping into the air and landing near their target, causing a large explosion on impact.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Both companion agents in the first mission wind up dead offscreen. Nils dies in the second mission at the hands of an Infiltrator, while Kinney dies investigating the Zudjari base that's the target of the fourth main mission.
    • Nico DaSilva can killed off for real in the fourth main mission, depending on your choices.
    • The Zudjari Infiltrator captured in the second mission is killed in the penultimate mission after he's reconnected to Mosaic and reveals XCOM HQ's location.
    • Either Weaver, Faulke or Weir will die in the final mission, depending on who you chose to merge with and who you chose to save. Carter may also die, depending on whether you execute him or not.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Depending on who you chose for the final mission.
    • Doctor Weir links up to the Mosaic Core and orders the aliens to surrender. The Zudjari help rebuild the damage they caused and hide any trace of their existence. Earth isn't willing to let them stay, so XCOM returns their mothership to them so they can search for a new home. The Sleepwalkers are cured, and have no memory of what happened during their infection.
    • Agent Weaver links up to the Mosaic Core and orders the aliens to kill each other. All their installations are destroyed, as is the mothership. The Sleepwalkers are Mercy Killed.
    • Director Faulke links up to the Mosaic Core and orders the aliens to surrender. The surviving Zudjari are all executed after they help hide their presence. Their installations and the mothership are destroyed to maintain secrecy. The Sleepwalkers are left in medical care to die from natural causes.
  • Lightning Gun: The secret Lightning Cannon, which is only available in the last couple of missions.
  • The Masquerade: One of the priorities of the titular Bureau is to "Erase" and conceal any evidence of an invasion by extraterrestrials.
  • Mind Control: Available to Zudjari Psion Commanders, as well as Carter at Level 8 thanks to the Ethereal possessing him. It transfers over to the person chosen for the final mission. Oddly enough, in Hangar 6 R&D, Nico can choose to unlock it at Level 9, despite being an otherwise ordinary human.
    • Nico has the Mind Control ability due to hallucinogenic chemical agent pumped into the hangar. He thinks he has mind control.
      • It could also be that, since he is connecting to Mosaic, he is able to influence the hallucinations And when they appear, the actual Outsiders. into attacking each other.
  • Mini-Mecha: Sectopods are the toughest individual enemies in the game (although the Elite Mutons can probably tie with them). You fight one as early as the 2nd mission, and later in the game you'll often have to deal with 2 at once.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Taking the right dialogue choices can convince the captured Zudjari Infiltrator to willingly help XCOM.
  • Mooks: The game hits all the FPS basics when it comes to enemy types:
    • The Goomba: Sectoids are basically the Grunts from Halo (Carter even uses the term 'grunts' to refer to them in the opening mission), Slave Mooks who are individually weak and poorly equipped, but are deployed in numbers to support more high-value units.
    • Elite Mooks: The 3 basic Outsiders types (Infantry, Phantoms, and Snipers) all have Elite variants that are equipped with regenerating energy shields and better weapons.
    • Super Powered Mooks: At least 1 Outsider Commander appears in most encounters; besides having energy shields, they can also use the same special abilities as the player to support their minions; summoning turrets, summoning drones, bestowing shields, or mind-controlling your squadmates. Fortunately, each commander type is limited to one ability, while you as the player can use them all at once.
    • Giant Mook/Heavily Armored Mook: Mutons are huge, walk slowly, are equipped with laser shotguns, and can take more than 200 assault rifle rounds before dropping. They also wear heavy body armor that you have to punch through before you can even damage them properly. Beating one requires a coordinated effort from your squad combined with liberal spamming of special abilities (or later in the game you can just use the Lift + Blaster Launcher combo to beat them quickly). Elite Mutons are even tougher and can use their jetpacks to Goomba Stomp all over the battlefield.
  • Never Trust a Title: Most of the "truth erasing" happens off-screen, your job is mostly just blasting aliens in the face.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Depending on the dialogue choices the player made just before, Carter might break free of Asaru's control and attack Shamash, the captured Ethereal, just as Asaru convinces it to Take a Third Option.
    • Faulke decides to plug the captured Infiltrator back into Mosaic to gather info on Origin's whereabouts. This succeeds, but unfortunately, the Infiltrator falls back under its control and reveals XCOM HQ's location, causing its destruction.
    • At the end of the game, the player ends the invasion and obliterates the Outsider Empire. Fast-forward several decades, and the resulting power vacuum has allowed a new batch of aliens to prepare an even more devastating invasion of the planet. Canonically, the invasion succeeds and Earth is occupied by the Aliens for two decades.
  • Notice This: Items that can be picked up or interacted with will shine a bright yellow.
  • Not Quite Dead: Origin survives taking an Elerium-enhanced nuke to the face in the penultimate mission; it's suggested that he either uploaded his mind into the Mosaic network, ascended into an energy being similar to an Ethereal, or a combination of both. Asaru has to go into the Mosaic network himself to presumably finish the guy off.
  • Not So Different: Director Faulke offhandedly mentions his interest in using Mosaic to control humanity in a similar way to how Origin used it to control his people, only "more responsibly". Carter is understandably unsettled, even comparing Faulke to Stalin.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Crippling Mosaic doesn't cause the Outsiders to stop fighting. Lampshaded by the Infiltrator.
    Infiltrator: One hundred of your years chasing a desperate goal cannot be erased so easily.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Dr. Weir talking to his assistant about how he found evidence of extraterrestrial life and how optimistic he is about it. His assistant, being a Zudjari infiltrator, is very uncomfortable about this.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Averted. The game does a fairly good job in showing that the Bureau has collected scientific experts from various different fields. There's even one NPC who it turns out was brought in for his personal interest in parapsychology and cryptozoology.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The "The Aftermath" trailer provides this to some scenes of the previous live-action trailers. It confirms Agent Dennis Cole's death, for one. It also provides some more clarity to the first live-action teaser, which appears to happen later.
  • One-Man Army: Well, 3-man army, as your 3-man squad will mow through entire armies of aliens while the entire U.S. military gets steamrolled off-screen. It's even mentioned several times how Carter is basically an amazing alien-killing machine, with no other XCOM operative able to come even close to his level of performance. This gets explained later on by it actually being Asaru, aka the Player, being the one really responsible for Carter's success.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Minor operations and dispatch missions, should you choose to take the Major operation without completing them first. The same goes for side quests in the XCOM HQ.
  • Planet Looters: Word of God reveals that the Outsiders' leading race, the Zudjari, are this. Their society is unsustainable to the point where they must constantly invade new planets to drain them of resources and enslave the locals to use in their next invasion. The Sectoids are a previous conquest of theirs.
  • Plasma Cannon: The strongest weapons available to both the aliens and XCOM.
  • Player Character: William Carter. Also either Weaver, Faulke, or Weir in the final mission. In truth, however, you're actually playing Asaru, an Ethereal.
  • Playing with Syringes: The fate of Peter Weaver, agent Angela Weaver's brother, who's spent the last few years Strapped to an Operating Table. The Sleepwalker Virus is brewed up in his chest cavity, and is extracted by a pair of huge articulated syringes.
  • Prequel: To XCOM: Enemy Unknown, by Word of God from Firaxis. In the 2012 game, XCOM as an organization already exists by the time of the invasion, and The Bureau is supposed to be the story of how it got started.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: As in Enemy Unknown, XCOM has Vigilo, Confido on their logo.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Prominently used in a cutscene late in the game. A Psion Commander uses it to force a rebellious Sectoid to shoot itself.
  • Quick Nip: One of Carter's idle animations involves him pulling out a flask and taking a sip.
  • Real-Time with Pause/Ring Menu: Accessing the Ring Menu, called Battle Focus, slows time to a crawl to allow Carter to choose powers and direct his allies to perform various actions. The Ethereal possessing him seems to be responsible, since it transfers over to the person chosen for the last mission.
    • In Hangar 6 R&D, Nico also gains it as a side effect of exposure to the gas being used in the tests.
  • Red Scare: Set in 1962 at the height of the Cold War. Rather than a unit intended to fight off aliens, The Bureau is meant as a counter to the Reds.
    • Apocalyptic Log scattered throughout the game have people believing the alien invasion to be Soviet.
    • Not only that, but one of the side quests involves a captured Soviet agent, whom you have to convince to join the agency.
  • Regenerating Health: To an extent. The health bar for each XCOM agent is divided into a series of pips. If one of these pips is only partially depleted, it'll regenerate, but if it's completely depleted, it grays out and only Carter's Heal or Drone (if the player chooses the Heal Beam instead of the Lift Beam perk) abilities can restore it. It only takes a couple of hits to fully deplete a pip, so you're very reliant on simply not getting hit, or using Carter's healing ability if you do take damage.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction:
    • It's hinted that Faulke was turning the Bureau into one. The group's official mission was to coordinate resistance in the aftermath of a Soviet invasion of the United States. However, before the game even begins the Bureau had switched over to recovering and researching alien technology on Earth such as Elerium. Faulke had also used his high level political connections to pretty much sever the Joint Chiefs control over the Bureau. In the epilogue the chosen host of the Ethereal is debriefed by someone referred to as the 'Councilman', implying the Bureau now answers to a global organization instead of just the U.S. government.
    • Enemy Unknown hints that EXALT is the remnants of the Bureau, making it a splinter faction offshoot of the XCOM project.
  • La Résistance: The original purpose of The Bureau was to serve as an organized resistance if the Soviets managed to successfully invade the US.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Weaver in regards to Axis. She is told to not partake in the mission to retrieve him and also knows he could be a valuable hostage. She ends up stealing a Skyranger to track him and kills him after he's been incapacitated.
    • Carter when he learns about his bond with an Ethereal. Even if Asaru manages to convince Shamash to help the humans, he'll still shoot and kill her, was willing to blow up all of XCOM to prevent from being re-bonded, and even goes on a manhunt against Asaru's new host while they are fighting through the Outsider mothership. Even after his actions get someone killed and the host saves him, he still tries to kill them before they can stop the Outsiders.
  • Revival: How it was originally conceived.
  • RPG Elements: Just like Enemy Unknown, agents level up in one of four classes and pick from a pair of skills at each rank.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The weapon of choice for XCOM Engineers, and they are indeed better in close quarters. Later, you get Scatter Lasers, Outsider versions of shotguns which are favored by their Muton mercenaries. Apparently, the Plasma Assault Cannon is the plasma variant (since it's also available to Engineers) but fires a single blob of plasma instead of a spread.
  • Side Quest:
    • Minor operations don't progress the story, and provide XP and often early or exclusive access to better packs and/or weapons.
    • There are also Dispatch missions, but those only permit fellow Agents to go, and are completed while Carter's team is on one of the full Operations (whether minor or storyline).
    • There are also a few minor events you can do around HQ that can lead to Dispatch Ops opening up, such as finding agents infected with the Sleepwalker Virus in base and having an Op open up where you find out how they got infected while on a mission. Most egregiously, if you choose to have Nico survive for experimentation to try to find a cure for the Sleepwalkers, an event towards the end of the game allows you to actually wake him up and save him. This leads to Dispatch Op where the game tells you that the cure has surely been found! But all this results in, in actuality, is another backpack; the only way for the Sleepwalkers to be cured for good is to choose Weir as the next Asaru host. The aforementioned event chain has does not affect any ending in the slightest.
  • Silliness Switch: On a meta level: the "YOLO" Trailer shows that your characters will die a lot-most probably because of very stupid battlefield player decisions.
  • Sinister Geometry: The object in the trailer is a Titan that's about to fire on a house.
  • Skewed Priorities: A mission to liberate a nuclear warhead facility from the Aliens is classified as being of "minor" importance. Lets restate that: A problem, which not only is proven to be the work of the Aliens but also, if not handled quickly, could very easily result in World War III, is classified as being of the same importance as recovering artifacts and investigating possible alien activity.
  • Slave Mooks: The Sectoids.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Agent Angela Weaver. The only female field agent seen in the main storyline.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Cartoon music sounding over a montage of the devastated town of Pima, a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on an alien, and Agent Dennis Cole being found dead and put on a body bag on "The Aftermath".
  • Sound-Only Death: Agent Dennis Cole, who chases an alien into an ambush and is then surrounded on "The Chase" trailer. We see his body being discovered and being put in a body bag on the "The Aftermath" trailer.
  • Splat: Commando (tank), Engineer (trap-laying rogue), Recon (backstabbing rogue), and Support (Combat Medic healer).
  • Symbiotic Possession: Ideally, this is what happens when an Ethereal bonds with a host.
    • Demonic Possession: If the two don't agree, though, things can get unpleasant, one way or the other. The Zudjari also seem to have this view of the Ethereals in general, since they're repeatedly referred to as "demons".
  • Take Cover!: Features similar cover mechanics to Enemy Unknown: partial and full cover are available, as well as flanking bonuses.
  • Take Your Time: No matter how urgent the mission is supposed to be, you can safely take as much time as you want walking around XCOM HQ or run other, less vital missions in the meantime. The same applies during a mission, feel free to explore those sidepaths.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Said over the PA system several times during the attack on XCOM HQ.
  • Tragic Villain: The Zudjari show signs of this, given that during the interrogation of the Zudjari Infiltrator, it is revealed that they are controlled by Origin via "Mosaic" - and that the Zudjari are mind controlled into doing so. The Infiltrator, now having had his implant removed, is amazed by the freedom of thought it allows. If you use the Nice guy route of interrogating him, he even willingly gives up info, as Carter offers his race a chance at true freedom and peaceable existence.
    • Foregone Conclusion: However, since this game is stated to be the history of XCOM in the Enemy Unknown universe, and we don't see any Zudjari there...
  • UnPerson: On the live-action trailers, it appears to be what XCOM does to any civilian casualties. We see this being applied to an entire town, and clean-up teams torching it to the ground, on "The Aftermath".
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Justified for the same reasons as in Enemy Unknown, they self-destruct if their wielder is killed. One of Dr. Dresner's first inventions does allow it to be averted, but Carter needs to find one that isn't locked to its wielder yet or off an alien that died unexpectedly first.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The game prevents you from shooting allies and civilians by automatically unequipping your firearms whenever they're present. You're free to kill the infected "Sleepwalker" civilians found scattered throughout the game's levels with pretty much every weapon or attack in the game, however.
  • Villain Override: If the captured Infiltrator was talked into willingly helping XCOM, then this happens to him when he gets plugged back into Mosaic late in the game.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Having his physical body destroyed and having to power Mosaic with his own consciousness without Shamash to use as an energy source clearly takes a toll on Origin; his dialogue in the final mission is noticeably crazed compared to earlier, and he completely loses it when you finally break into Mosaic's inner sanctum.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Gunship at the end of the third story mission.
  • Wham Line:
    • Agent Cole mentioning that his own dead wife and child will become UnPersoned as he writes an after action report during "The Choice" and "The Decision" trailers.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Getting hit by the illusionary aliens that represent the Sleepwalker infection's defenses in the Hangar 6 R&D DLC hurts just as much as being hit by the real thing, and can even cause incapacitation and actual death.


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