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  • 8.8:
    • XCOM 2 got an average of 9 from most reviewers (with Eurogamer giving it a Essential 10/10). EGM Now gave it 7.5, citing its difficulty for the lowered score.
    • Giant Bomb also caused some minor backlash with Dan Ryckert's 3/5 star review, citing technical issues of which a great many do exist, and for the reviewer himself, appeared to be a constant thorn in his side. Many complained about him playing on the easiest difficulty, although it wasn't a sticking point in the review.
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  • Accidental Innuendo: The PsiOp's line "My lance pierces all!", occasionally shouted in all its hammy glory when they use their Null Lance ability, may elicit a chuckle or two if the PsiOp in question happens to be male.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: As a reddit post points out, XCOM are now either a heroic resistance against earth's occupation, or a terrorist organization who, while having noble goals, will stop at nothing to see them through, collateral damage, civilian casualties and ensuing chaos be damned.
  • Annoying Video Game Helper: Bradford just won't shut up, interrupting you to tell you when civilians are dying during retaliation missions, confirming that the thing that's your objective is your objective, and stopping your scanning dead for a good twenty seconds to tell you that the Avatar Project is progressing. An entire mod called "Shut Up Bradford" was released to get him to talk less during missions, but he still interrupts you whenever the Avatar Project progresses. The game in general feels like you're constantly being interrupted when you're on the strategy layer, and the repetitive dialog from Bradford, Tygan and Shen does not help this one bit.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: Just like in the previous game, a good number of soldiers die in the scripted tutorial to demonstrate the high stakes of the game. This time, it isn't Bradford's fault, and they die out of their own carelessness.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Ready For Battle;, the Squad Loadout theme, perfectly describes where you'll fight for the future of Earth and mankind.
    • Avenger Defence, which plays during the optional missions where you have to destroy a jamming device so that the Avenger can take off, all the while holding off waves and waves and waves, of foes. The tension is indescribable. Known as "New World Order" on the soundtrack.
    • Ambush is an extremely tense combat theme that gives winning a tough battle some extra punch.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: If you're in a good position, with plentiful upgrades, experienced soldiers or all of the above, it's possible to annihilate an Alien ruler or Chosen within a single turn... Which is just as well as you still need to complete the rest of the mission.
  • Breather Level:
    • Any mission with "The Horde" SitRep (meaning that only the Lost will show up, no ADVENT) can become this, especially if you have the "Between The Eyes" resistance order active that makes every shot against them a One-Hit Kill. Your squad can dawdle through the mission casually blowing away dozens of Lost every turn with little risk to themselves. Just bear in mind that this does not prevent the Chosen from showing up if they're present in the sector.
    • Any mission with the "Location Scout" SitRep can also be this, as the entire map is revealed, and with it, all enemy groups, making it easier to determine where enemies are and how risky it will be to engage.
    • The Gateway mission can be this with the right setup, with a Blademaster Ranger, Templar, or SPARK, as the mission is more or less populated with Chryssalids and little else. Just be sure to pack some medicine to combat the Chryssalid poison.
      • Be careful, though: if you've dawdled enough that a Gatekeeper has shown up in a previous mission (which is likely with War of the Chosen), then you'll get your standard complement of Chryssalids and a Gatekeeper...and a bunch of other alien races besides! In War of the Chosen, the occupying Chosen will also be guaranteed to appear if it hasn't been killed beforehand, just like with the other story-based missions.
  • Broken Base:
    • Some people dislike the game taking place in an Alternate Timeline after the first game and would have preferred for it to be a direct sequel like how Terror From The Deep and Apocalypse were, especially as the former also has XCOM lose support from world governments before the events of the game. Others however are fine with the decision, as it allows for a Vichy Earth scenario to be developed without turning the first game into a "Shaggy Dog" Story, as well as being in line with the difficulty of the first game... making most campaigns canon.
    • The prevalence of timed missions with limited turns is also a point of contention. The two usual camps have been set up, one saying it is key to the tense mood of the game, the other an annoying Scrappy Mechanic that should be at least be made optional to turn off. Also, one of the intentions of introducing turn limits was to discourage players from turtling up and crafting elaborate overwatch traps and just sitting and waiting for the aliens to come to them, which they often did in EU and EW, but many fans complain that enforcing a more-aggressive playstyle in such a ham-fisted way is needlessly-restrictive and clumsy.
    • The Alien Hunters DLC introduces the three "Ruler" aliens, that act differently than every other enemy in the game. While some players like the addition, because it requires you to be careful and much more proactive to not get utterly destroyed by them, others despise it for the exact same reason because it essentially locks you into one style of play (at least until the Rulers are all dead).
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • A new feature in XCOM 2 is the ability to customize your troops so that they can appear as either VIPs you have to escort and save... or Dark VIPs you have to locate and kidnap or assassinate. People already name XCOM soldiers after themselves and their friends, and you now have the ability to mark people who you dislike as in-game enemies (just remember that capturing them alive yields more rewards than killing them).
    • Defeating each Chosen for the final time can be this, as they more or less taunt you throughout the game, especially the Warlock. Shutting them down permanently feels good.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Psi Operatives and SPARK take a while to become available. Even after they become usable, players might already have gotten used to running with the standard four classes and neglect to put them in the team. It's even more displaced in '"War of the Chosen'', with the trio Resistance faction soldiers thrown into the mix.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • ADVENT Stun Lancers are an early-game bane as they can incapacitate squad members in one hit, leaving you down a member for the rest of the mission. What makes it worse is that they don't care about overwatch at all and will gladly risk running it so they can stab you in the face. And since you can melee attack after dashing, Stun Lancers have a MASSIVE threat radius. Furthermore, they have enough HP that, for how early they show up, starting weapons and frag grenades just won't cut it for a One-Hit Kill.
    • ADVENT MECs are another early game threat, since they're one of the first enemies you encounter that have armor, and therefore won't really bat an eye at regular ballistic weapons. They also have a mini-missile attack that's not very damaging, but destroys cover and can set your troops on fire.
    • Codices. Oh dear lord, Codices. You'll most likely meet your first one purely by mistake, as Skulljacking an advent officer has "Activate Advent Codex" as the default hacking option and not only can they teleport and clone themselves, they also have a psionic attack that disables your primary weapon (you can still use secondaries like pistols, swords and GREMLINS) and, if soldiers don't leave the radius of this attack by the next turn, it explodes dealing upwards of seven damage.
    • Archons are almost as bad. They're some of the only flying units in the game, and can go up to absurd heights, making them nearly impossible to hit by all but sharpshooters. On top of that, they can unleash a Macross Missile Massacre on your troops that waits one turn for you to get out of the way, but even then, it chews up cover. Thankfully, you encounter a fair few of them indoors, where vertical space is limited and they can't use that attack without destroying the terrain.
    • To top that, the Gatekeeper leads them all. They use an AOE psionic attack for great damage (7-10) that also reanimates zombies, they have the greatest armor in the game, being a whooping six points in commander difficulty, also they're tough to hit, destroy cover, and when they die they cause another explosion, that may create new zombies, should the explosion kill any XCOM soldier.
    • And then there are the classic Chryssalids. First and most important, changes to melee mechanics (allowing melee units to attack after making a run move) completely negated their weakness from Enemy Unknown where they would often use both actions to run right up to one of your soldiers then just stand there in literal point-blank range without being able to attack. While their melee attacks aren't nearly as lethal as before, they will still automatically poison their targets. In addition, instead of making zombies, when a Chryssalid kills a person, it turns the corpse into a cocoon that if left alone lone enough, will hatch into three more Chryssalids! And to make them even worse, not only are they just as fast and nimble as last time, but they can burrow now as well, letting them ambush unwary XCOM soldiers that wander too close. Finally, they can use their melee attack when they are revealed, requiring you to move very carefully when they are around so you don't give them a double attack because you also ended your turn without killing them. Also, they seem to be behind one of the worst Game Breaking Bugs that can be encountered, and just saving on a map with them can stop an Ironman run from progressing.
    • Andromedons are large, heavily armored aliens that love launching acid bombs that deal heavy damage both up front and over time. Also, when you kill them them first time, the suit's AI activates, meaning you have to kill it again. Leave the empty Andromedon suit alive for too long, and it will track deadly acid puddles everywhere it walks and it still has a devastating melee attack.
    • Sectopods are somehow even scarier than they were in the last game, with insane hp and armor and extremely powerful weapons that can potentially wipe out your entire squad if they are too close together.
    • And by far the worst are Avatars. The Ethereals skimped on nothing when designing their new bodies, being highly mobile, regenerating Lightning Bruisers who possess incredible mind control abilities that, oh yeah, aren't broken by flashbangs. Is it any wonder the mass production of these things is the aliens' win condition?
    • Specters come in with War of the Chosen, and they themselves are a nasty piece of work. They avoid the first overwatch attack directed at them, can drain health, and themselves have a lot of health, but what truly makes them tough is the Shadowbound ability. A move that disables a friendly operative, taking them out of the battle until the Specter or duplicate is killed or a revive ability is used, and creates an exact duplicate of said operative that fights for the aliens. If a Specter catches you off guard, that move can easily turn the tide of battle against you.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Much like the lesser Vipers, the Viper King sometimes gets this treatment. He gets a lot of sympathy from the fact that he appears to be sentient, was held captive and experimented on by Dr. Vahlen, and that "The Nest" story mission requires killing hordes of his offspring and his mates. This interpretation tends to gloss over the fact he and his offspring are instantly hostile to any and all humans, and that his cave easily has over a hundred human skulls on display, far more humans than Vahlen ever had assisting her.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Vipers, for their fairly unique and cool design. Also for... some other reason. This is likely why the Alien Hunter DLC largely revolves around them.
    • Jane Kelly, the unique Ranger that you gain after completing the tutorial mission is very popular among the fanbase. Besides being a pre-made character who survives the tutorial mission (like Delta-2), that may have something to do with her Irish descent.
    • Of all of the Chosen, the Hunter seems to be the most popular so far. A combination of him considering the XCOM Commander to be a Worthy Opponent, his Brutal Honesty compared to his other two peers, and his Deadpan Snarker attitude that leads to him mouthing off to the Ethereals.
  • Evil Is Cool: ADVENT has taken over the world with the power of alien invaders. They have conducted inhumane experiments upon humanity. They have killed countless members of XCOM. They will kill countless more in-game. But damn, if those looks and their tactics aren't badass.
  • Evil Is Sexy: The opinion amongst many regarding the Vipers.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Sneks, Snaketits, and Snayykes for the Vipers.
    • Ayybominations/Pectoids/Pillar Sectoids for the Sectoids; Ayys for the aliens in general.
    • Gatekeepers have been dubbed the 'Psiberdisk' and 'balls of "NOPE"'.
    • The Speaker, given his resemblance to a Thin Man, has been jokingly dubbed Thomas H. Inmann by some fans.
    • Andromedons are often called "Big Daddies" due to their similar design, being big, bulky environment suits filled with... something.
    • Tattle tales for civilians since they reveal the squad to the ADVENT forces if they spot any to them.
    • "Super Saiyans" for the Avatars, due to their spiky Anime Hair and glowy psionic superpowers.
    • Meme Beacon for Mimic Beacons. The meme probably being their effectiveness on the game's release.
    • Fun Lancers for Stun Lancers, punning on their name and being "fun" for how much of a pain they are.
    • Water World, the final level which is revealed in the boss chamber to be underwater.
  • Game-Breaker: Like always.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • The AI's animations while moving in squares that have multiple elevation levels can get a bit confused.
    • Ever see a Ranger strike an enemy down with their sword from a floor above them?
    • The AI in general can't handle elevation well. If a MEC alerts to an XCOM member while jumping upwards in elevation, they can sometimes get stuck in the sky box (the alerting doesn't cause the bug so much as the immediate overwatch MEC's usually take right afterwards, freezing their animation). They even ragdoll back to the ground if you manage to kill one while it's still floating.
    • It is possible to complete the Avenger Defense scenario successfully by getting a Code Black after destroying the Disruptor and making sure no aliens breach the Avenger. You will end up with an empty roster.
    • A pathing bug can animate your soldier just going out for a jog across the entire map rather than taking the direct path to the ordered location. Fortunately, it's just an animation bug rather than them actually running around the entire map to activate any other aliens they would logically come across.
    • Reanimation leads to a bevy of issues:
      • Sectoids can reanimate your dead soldiers, and for whatever reason, deactivated Mimic Beacons count as this. Coupled with how Beacons manifest as a holographic clone of their user, that soldier is now facing the morbidly hilarious situation of fighting their undead duplicate.
      • Gatekeepers also think dead Codices can be reanimated, and will gladly target one instead of other dead enemies.
    • It is possible for a Gatekeeper to be afflicted with Chryssalid poison and die. This results in a Chryssalid Cocoon forming that uses the Gatekeeper's model for its graphics, with a bugged death animation for when you kill it.
    • Rangers have a skill called Bladestorm in the assault tree that allows them to Counter Attack anything that comes in Melee range, from an Archon going through their square to do a Blazing Pinions attack to an Andromedon coming through to Bayonet Ya. Things that can trigger this is a Viper pulling a ranger into range to Bind it- the turn temporarily hangs when this happens, but about 30 seconds later, the Ranger will be free of the clutches of the Viper, and yet still look like they've been bound!
    • The bug of sniper rifles being fired like pistols returns from the first game, only now Up to Eleven since pistols are fired one-handed.
    • There is a similar bug with Rangers firing their swords.
    • A repeater gives a chance for an insta-kill with every attack... including when burn or poison damage from the weapon's ammo is applied at the beginning of the following turns. Sadly patched out.
    • Watchtowers don't need their legs to stay upright. Just the ladder will suffice.
    • The enemy AI is generally unable to handle being unconscious, something that rarely comes up because XCOM doesn't have any abilities that can knock enemies out. But ADVENT does. If you manage to temporarily control an enemy and something like a Muton or Lancer knocks that convert out, the AI has no idea what to do with that unit when it returns to its command, and will end its turn once it realizes it has no option. It basically reduces every enemy that would move after the sleeping soldier into a catatonic target dummy.
    • Normally, SPARK take forever to repair. They do not benefit from the AWC's faster healing, and can only be repaired one at a time. To mitigate this, the game allows you to redeploy damaged SPARK. Previous damage and repair time are completely removed when SPARK accomplishes a mission. For instance, if the SPARK which is damaged by 5 accomplishes a mission while damaged by 2 from enemy fire, repair time will be as much as 2 damage. Previous 5 damage of SPARK body and 5 damage repair time will be removed.
    • It's possible for a retaliation mission to end as a missed Faceless is revealed. While this would normally be good, Faceless are relatively harmless due to their low mobility and poor attacks, and their corpses are the sole ingredient for the very powerful Mimic Beacon.
    • It's possible to get the David and Goliath achievement/trophy by mind controlling a Berserker and having it be melee killed by an alien not under your control.
    • War of the Chosen is a significant rebase of the entire game's code, which leads to performance increases and some... interesting... new animation bugs. Now, Overwatch/reaction fire slow-downs can last much longer than intended (sometimes an easy 2 or 3 seconds watching a unit reload their shotgun after already shooting), and occasionally XCOM units will shoot with their gun pointed the completely wrong direction (resulting in a bullet shooting from a 90 degree angle of a rifle like a trick shot).
    • Purifiers spraying cubes instead of fire.
    • Retaliation Missions with only Faceless.
    • A Shieldbearer's shield affects everything that isn't XCOM or Lost. If an untriggered (therefore officially neutral) VIP or soon-to-be-rescued XCOM operative is standing in their AoE when they raise the shield, the neutrals will benefit from it as well until the Shieldbearer is killed. The additional hitpoints can be quite useful to get the VIP to safety.
  • Goddamn Bats:
    • Faceless aren't particularly dangerous, as their melee attacks aren't very accurate. However, what they are good at is having the potential to break stealth, drawing overwatch fire away from more dangerous enemies, and their attacks always destroy terrain, even if they miss their target. They always spawn in retaliation missions too, making even the act of saving civilians far more dangerous.
    • Sectoids have an array of nasty psionic powers that can panic, disorient, or even outright mind control your troops. They can even resurrect slain allies as zombies to further harass you.
    • ADVENT Shieldbearers don't have a powerful attack, but they have the highest armor out of any regular ADVENT enemy and can give nearby allies a powerful defensive shield that protects them from damage.
    • Vipers have the annoying habit of yanking your troops out of cover and then disabling them by constricting them. It doesn't help that they can do this in a single turn, and that the range of their tongue yank is pretty much as far as they can see. Unless you are expecting it and purposedly put only a Bladestorm ranger in their view, even then they may opt to use poison or RNG just screw you over by making the attack miss.
    • Even the bread and butter ADVENT Troopers can be this. Unlike nearly every other enemy in the game, they only really concern themselves shooting at you or Overwatching, instead of wasting special abilities; in the early game on higher difficulties, where a Sectoid is no concern due to their frequent overuse of Reanimate, Troopers can kill scores of XCOM operatives if they get continually lucky with their shots. This isn't helped by the fact that they come in squads, and are usually led by Officers, whom have double the health, and can give them an aim bonus. It gets even worse late-game; where troopers get health, damage, and accuracy upgrades, not to mention grenades which they will gladly use against bunched-up soldiers.
    • Introduced in War of the Chosen are the ADVENT Priests, whose abilities can make things problematic. They can sometimes enter stasis upon taking lethal damage, possibly taking up more turns to defeat them and causing you a game over if they do so on the Avenger's ramp in an Avenger Defense mission.
    • Also introduced in War of the Chosen are the Lost, zombies that can show up on any mission. While they are very weak and a successful kill shot doesn't cost an action, the problem is there are so damned many of them, and they never stop coming. Depending on what else you're fighting these things can prove to be a fatal distraction.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the previous game, after researching Xenobiology, a cutscene would play in which Vahlen explains the mechanism of the Arc Thrower: going into close range and stunning the alien. Bradford reacts to this with a bewildered, "Close range?!". Fast forward to this game, and the Assault class's successor, the Ranger, is The Musketeer with a sword. The Spiritual Successor to the Arc Thrower, the Skulljack, has to be used like a melee weapon (the soldier stabs it up through the target's head up from the bottom). And taken even further in the DLCs, where Bradford himself is playable for the one mission of Alien Rulers as a sword-focused Ranger, and even grows as this in the Tactical Legacy Pack campaigns he appears in.
    • Long War had Gauss weapons before XCOM 2 was revealed to have magnetic weapons. Bonus points in that the Gauss weapons in Long War used the Reaper Rounds' firing effects to distinguish them from ballistic weapons; in XCOM 2 magnetic weapons had a similar firing effect added about half a year before XCOM 2 was announced.
      • In addition, the "boss" version of the Heavy Floater in Long War was called the Archon. Guess what's the name of the new floaters in XCOM 2.
    • Early promotional footage had fans Rooting for the Empire, only for that reaction to die down when the stuff the aliens have been doing was actually revealed. In other words, the alien propaganda worked on fans much like the in-game citizens.
    • The release of XCOM 2 is close to the sequel of another alien invasion classic, with this mashup trailer lampshading it.
    • In the previous game, when you found the alien device in the alien base, Shen said "At least they're not playing videogames". In this game, we learn that the Commander spent the intervening twenty years running battle simulations for ADVENT. For bonus points, it's heavily implied that, in this timeline, the events of the first game were one of those simulations.
    • In the French and Polish versions of Enemy Unknown, due to not having a word for an exact translation, Heavies were instead named Grenadiers. Now Grenadiers are a class in their own right that succeeds the Heavy class.
    • On FanFiction.Net, the most popular crossover for XCOM is Mass Effect. Now, this game arrived, and we have:
      • A music score which is often similar to that of Mass Effect.
      • A Skulljack similar to the Omniblade.
      • The Mutons in very Krogan-like armor.
      • The Atlas-like Andromedons, plus the name – where does the next ME game take place?
      • The Codex, a strange female-looking creature teleporting around the battlefield like the Banshees.
      • The Oculus-like Gatekeeper.
      • Facilities processing human beings into liquid the aliens need for creating ultimate life forms.
      • The aliens talking about how extreme measures are needed for saving some menace which destroyed many worlds, while using very Reaper like rhetoric.
      • The Foe Yay tones of the Ethereals when talking about the Commander, same as Harbinger's.
      • With War of the Chosen XCOM is teaming up with Reapers to fight Spectres.
      • The Speaker's VA is Brandon Keener, who is best known for voicing Garrus.
    • The game's expansion pits XCOM, which travel around in a carrier called "Avenger", against the Chosen, a "family" of gray-skinned aliens who serve as elite warriors for a faction of galactic conquerors, and each have their own distinct powers and equipment, as well as ominous monikers. In Avengers: Infinity War, Earth's mightiest heroes are pitted against the Children of Thanos, a "family" of gray-skinned aliens who serve as elite warriors for a galactic conqueror, and each have their own distinct powers and equipment, as well as ominous monikers.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While some disliked changes made to the gameplay, for example how capturing live specimen and intercepting UFO are no longer common gameplay staples, others lamented that the game could have made much better use of the new setting and have you running an undercover guerrilla operation against aliens that the public has accepted, but instead you are still openly airdropping fully equipped soldiers into combat zones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the biggest change the Long War 2 mod made to the game experience, requiring you to insert squads into an area ahead of time to prepare for their mission and emphasising stealth over open combat.
  • Ho Yay: "War of the Chosen" introduced soldier bonding, which can happen regardless of gender differences or similarities, and doesn't help that you always optionally prompted to make a poster to celebrate it.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Comparisons of XCOM to ISIS are very common, especially on 4chan, though it may be a case of being Distracted By The Hot Snake Ladies.
    • "Snake people, or sneople, control our government at the highest level."
    • The new design for Bradford has been nicknamed Punished Bradford (A man deprived of his sweater) by some of the fans.
    • Players often joke that they would spend hours customizing the Soldiers, only for them to die right in the next mission
    • Did you just get a game over in XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Congrats, your playthrough is now canon. Explanation 
    • DMX's song "X Gon' Give It To Ya" has gained some notoriety in the XCOM community due to "X Gon'" being a Mondegreen for "XCOM", and has been used in several fan videos. This is a prime example. A mix has also emerged. Then someone merged the two.
    • The plot similarities with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain haven't gone unnoticed, such as the main character having been on a coma (induced or otherwise) for two decades, only to be rescued from a battlefield by an old war buddy, who later brings them on board their new base and to the armed group they raised in the player's absence. Interestingly, what the aliens did to the commander seems to be the inverse of what Ocelot and Zero did to The Medic while he and Big Boss were in a coma. Either way, jokes about the two games "having the same plot" abound in discussions of it. See also "Punished Bradford" mentioned above.
    • "Hug that shit" Explanation 
    • Some players joke that ADVENT Burgers are made of Soylent Green.
    • Tygen's intriguing Verbal Tic intrigues people on the intriguing /r/XCOM subreddit.
    • "Jake, fix your game/bullshit.": The cry of players annoyed with the innumerable unfixed bugs in the game.
    • Among the new Chosen enemies, the Warlock's fanaticism and his declaration that he's THE ELDERS' MOST LOYAL CHAMPION has made him very memorable, especially among the fanbase on 4chan.
    • Almost as soon as the Templars and their Psi-Blades were revealed, fans started making Starcraft jokes.
    • War of the Chosen's "bond" mechanic, in which soldiers who deploy together can unlock special abilities when they fight with their bondmate, has led to jokes about the game being "Fire Emblem with guns."
    • Joking that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the newest DLC or XCOM 3.
    • "Ravely wounded", when the post-mission return to Avenger screen shows your troopers as "gravely wounded" but the G gets scrolled offscreen, often leads to jokes about dancing too hard.
  • Narm: When Shen, Tygan, Bradford or the Speaker, in the last mission talk, they're presented on-screen as fragmented video feeds jerking about in an attempt to simulate the fact that they're talking, without having to lip synch. It looks absolutely silly when Bradford is jerking between two facial expressions when informing you that your objective is running out, or when Shen is talking about her father's legacy.
    • Archons are an endless source of unintentional humor thanks to their facial expressions and body language. They start out calm and regal, then get angry when they spot XCOM, immediately go back to calm and regal, completely flip their shit every time they get hit, only to go back to calm and regal yet again. Rinse and repeat several times per mission.
    • The Tactical Legacy pack has a series of prequel story missions taking place shortly after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which includes aliens not present in that era, including Codexes, Faceless, Archons, Andromedons, Gatekeepers, and Avatars. This makes Bradford, Shen, and Tygan's voice lines when these aliens first show up in the base game hilarious, because either they've forgotten that these aliens exist, or they're feigning surprise.
    • Much, if not most of the dialogue in the "Lost and Abandoned" mission sounds incredibly silly because the delivery is so stilted and sincere without even a hint of levity or irony. Outrider is such an Emotionless Girl that anything she says, whether it's a death threat or an offer of cooperation, sounds like she really couldn't care any less about it.
  • Nausea Fuel: Tygan's alien autopsies are... not for the squeamish. That every other movement of his splatters the camera with orange blood isn't the problem, but the disgusting "squish" sounds the corpses make constantly, interspersed with the snapping of bones, can be hard to stomach.
  • Paranoia Fuel: A particularly nasty Game-Breaking Bug provides a meta example by randomly crashing the game after completing any mission. The bug has never been patched, it has no known trigger that could be avoided, no known fix to combat it, and it retroactively corrupts every single one of your save files, irrevocably destroying your entire campaign when it occurs. It has been reported to show up in modded games as well as virginal, freshly installed ones. If you happen to witness it once or twice, you'll come to dread the end of every single mission from then on, and with 50+ missions per campaign, that's a lot of anxiety to endure.
    • With War of The Chosen DLC, the above bug might be gone, but it introduce another new bug that there is a chance that unique (in-game) modded weapons or unique weapons disappear after an upgrade, which chance increased if one mod the game.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
  • Rooting for the Empire: Subverted once more was revealed about the game; from the initial previews that had been shown up to that point, it seemed like ADVENT's rule wasn't really all that horrible. Even the seemingly intrusive bodyscans and checks are apparently only happening because XCOM is performing attacks on gene clinics. Given the apparent toothlessness of ADVENT's "oppression" and the numerous boons offered by the widespread alien technology, it was often joked that XCOM had become a terrorist group. Come along the actual game, with the reveal they're melting humans into goo, ADVENT's willingness to attack peaceful communities who just don't happen to be in their nexus of control to lure out XCOM, and the cover art of XCOM 2 being a sectoid head made of human skulls, this interpretation has died down.
  • The Scrappy: The Warlock is probably the most universally hated out of the three Chosen. His insufferable demeanor, cliched fanaticism, loyalty to an obvious villain, and pretentious preaching are pretty much all that define his personality (compared to the stoic, neutral statements from the Assassin and brutal, somewhat charming honesty of the Hunter), no to mention that his Knight Templar attitude hits a bit too close to home for some. This also factors into his Dirty Coward gameplay strategy, as he almost never moves from his spawning point, which is at the opposite end of the map with the most cover, and constantly spawns Mooks that are more capable of slowing soldiers down compared to the Assassin's and Hunter's single strikes. This however, has the unintended benefit of making The Warlock the most satisfying of The Chosen to kill, aided by his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Timed missions, to a significant portion of the Steam forums. While many people love the sense of mounting tension it brings to most Guerilla Ops missions, there's a reason one of the first fan mods released is to lengthen or remove the timers (or at least get Bradford to stop verbally fretting about it ticking down). In War of the Chosen, there are four different natively-supported ways to extend timers (two gameplay options to double everything including timers, and a basic timer increase; two covert ops to pause timers while concealed and to increase timers by 2 turns). The Chosen are even nice enough to pause timers while they're directly engaged with you!
    • Dodge. It gives some enemies (and XCOM soldiers with the right gear) a percent chance to take partial damage from an attack. But that this chance isn't shown, and it takes priority over critting. So, even if you have a 100% chance to hit and crit, you may only end up doing a tiny amount of damage. And did we mention the Asteroids Monster that splits when it's non-fatally shot has this power? Oh, and there's no way to mitigate it in the base game except using explosives (which are limited), Combat Protocol, or psionic powers. Alien Hunters gives us the Bolt Caster...and that's it. That's the only weapon in the game and DLC that can't be dodged. Some people say they'd rather just miss. Firaxis eventually acknowledged the problem and patched out Dodge on 100% hits and shots from concealed soldiers.
    • Enemy units pointing. Specifically, at the end of the enemy's turn, a random enemy points towards the XCOM soldiers. The player cannot take any actions during this time. It gets really bad when a Faceless points, as its animation is by far the longest.
    • The fact that Ruler Aliens move after each soldier's turn. Fire at it, it moves. Throw a grenade, it moves. Take out another ADVENT troop? Moves. Like the timed missions above, there's a mod on Steam to remove this mechanic from the expansion because it ticks so many people off; it's cited as a detriment in a large majority of negative reviews on Steam.
    • Missions with fixed evac points, usually VIP retrieval missions. The point is invariably somewhere isolated near the objective. Emphasis on "isolated", such as the top of a very tall building. Also, if the terrain the evac point is on is compromised (i.e. an alien troop is standing in the zone, or the terrain around it breaks), it will randomly move to another location, sometimes far less advantageous.
    • The resistance fighters present in some "War of the Chosen" missions are surprisingly good combatants and can do a lot of work in fighting the aliens. Unfortunately, their competence extends to gunning down any XCOM troops that get mind controlled, as well as Codices that haven't had their cloning ability countered, resulting in them duplicating like rabbits.
    • The Chosens' ability to gain advantages as fought can get annoying as they stack on all kinds of immunities and abilities. Immunity to Overwatch, immunity to explosives, inflicting Will loss on XCOM troops attacking them, gaining defence for every miss... these are just a handful of the potentially extremely aggravating abilities they can gain.
    • The Lost, natively, have a 70% of targeting XCOM troops and only a 30% of targeting the aliens. One of the most popular gameplay mods within a week of launch changes this to a flat 50-50.
    • The Lost have cutscenes which start whenever XCOM reveals a pod. Sometimes ten to fifteen pods of Lost get triggered at a time, which can eat a whole minute between the cutscenes and the actual moves. Like with the targeting, one of the most popular mods on the workshop removed the pod cutscenes for Lost.
    • The fatigue system. Using the same soldiers consecutively brings down their current energy levels, which can take a while to recover. Being at 2/3rds of their energy makes them more susceptible to panic and other mental penalties if a teammate gets hurt/killed. Reaching 1/3 of their energy makes them shaken and possibly adds a negative trait that can only be cured at the Infirmary. It takes a long time for soldiers to recover completely. The system also does not play nice with the Shen's Last Gift DLC mission, since due to its multi-part nature, your troops will be reduced to panicking wrecks by the time you get to the roof (the final map of the mission). No wonder there's an entire guide to removing this!
  • Squick:
    • The way Tygan extracts the implanted chip from the Commander is worthy of a wince. From your point of view, Tygan picks up the appropriate surgical implement that resembles the strange spiky tool Thin Men carried in the first game, brings it below your point-of-view (most likely sticking it in your mouth!), engages it, and pulls. Ouch. In addition, the same cutscene includes a flashback to a Thin Man using a similar implement to shove the chip into your brain through the mouth, all while having a Slasher Smile. Double-ouch.
    • The Faceless, in their undisguised form they're 3 metre tall monsters that look like they might be melting, and according to Dr Tygan during the autopsy cutscene, they start to decompose soon after death and they absolutely stink too.
    • For some, the Trophies added by the Alien Hunters DLC. While some of them, like the Gatekeeper or the Sectopod, are undeniably cool others are rather disturbing. Stand out examples include Andromedon suits being propped up with the glass riddled corpse still inside, the upper torsos of alien units nailed to a wall, and the heads of "human" units mounted on pedestals. "Behead those who insult XCOM" indeed. Even the Chosen get added to the trophy room after defeat. With their entire upper torsos being bolted to the wall like some grotesque center piece.
  • That One Achievement: "Exquisite Timing". Complete the final mission by June 30th. On Commander or tougher. You start on March 1st. The description says July 1st, but if the ingame calendar actually hits that, the Achievement won't pop, Getting this Achievement is most certainly dependent on Random Number God giving you early and frequent Engineers or Scientists, as well as the needed resources, to build the necessary facilities and complete the plot-advancing research in time. And even when you make it, the tight schedule means you'll have to take on the final mission with tier two gear at best and possibly not a full squad of Colonels. The final mission is difficult enough with full upgrades and promotions as it is, never mind being underequipped and underleveled. Oh, and just to make it perfect, you have to be playing on Commander difficulty or higher. And if you have the War of the Chosen addon installed, chances are you don't have the time and resources to take out the Chosen before your final assault, which means you'll have to fight all three of them as well before you even reach the Final Battle.
  • That One Boss: The "Ruler" Aliens added in as part of the Alien Hunters DLC. Take everything you hate about the enemies they're based on, change or turn those up to 11, give them significant armor and health, more than even a Sectopod potentially, and oh yea, give them a reaction half-turn for every single action your troops take (aside from "Free Action" attacks and abilities). And you can start seeing them within the early months once you run the side mission, when you're still sporting basic gear and just beginning to get Gauss weapons and Predator armor. To make matters worse, the missions they can appear in are completely random, and they all have the ability to use the "Summon Gate" Psionic power to flee the battle. Thankfully, at least they only have whatever health and armor they had remaining from previous encounters when you find them again.
    • Subject "Gamma", the Viper King. In addition to everything you hate about Vipers already, namely the tongue grab and constriction, the regular poison cloud spit attack is replaced with an Area of Effect Freeze status debuff akin to a larger area Frost Bomb. A fight with him and his fellow Viper followers can quickly become a battle between whoever can lockdown the other in crowd control effects.
    • Subject "Beta", the Berserker Queen. Because a regular Berserker wasn't quite bad enough, Dr.Vahlen (and the development team) decided it would be a good idea to give a hyper aggressive biological death machine even more an urge to horribly beat your squad to a pulp. The Queen's upgrades include a map wide panic-check inducing roar, heavy melee damage, and a ground pound which destroys cover, can knock squad members unconscious or stun them, and inflicts damage as well. Nothing like having to carry a quarter of your squad as fast as possible to the extraction zone because they got knocked out by the Berserker Queen before she escaped.
    • Subject "Alpha", the Archon King, actually has a slight nerf from the regular Archons, as it doesn't have Battle Frenzynote , a small blessing given the bonus "Ruler Reaction" after all your squad's actions. Of course, what he does have is Devastate, an even nastier form of "Blazing Pinions" since you'll only be able to move 1 squad member at most out of danger. The Archon King will also occasionally grab one of your squad members and fly high up into the sky. Your squad has one chance to successfully hit the Archon to safely release your held squad member, other wise he'll slam them into the ground for high damage.
    • From the Shen's Last Gift DLC, Julian's prototype Sectopod. While it's missing some abilities and doesn't do as much damage compared to normal Sectopods, it has a massive health and armor pool that you need to burn through... using ballistic weapons (unless you deliberately put off the mission until later). And in addition, endless waves of Derelict MECs will continue to spawn every single turn until it's destroyed. This comes after a Marathon Level of two previous floors, of which you're likely to be in low health and also have exhausted your consumable items. You'd better hope that you have multiple sources of Shredder (either via Gunners, or extra grenades) or get lucky from a Repeater shot, or else you're in for a really hard time. And if Shen or the Spark dies, it's all over.
    • While they aren't that bad until they really start ramping up their advantages, fighting the Chosen in their Strongholds becomes very nerve-wracking very quickly. Besides having to negotiate a (blessedly small) ADVENT base to get to them in the first place, once you reach their inner sanctum they attack with all of the abilities they've gained over the course of the game...and once defeated, their Sarcophagi are so close they they revive almost immediately, reinforcements being summoned all the while they're regenerating. To finally beat them, you need to break the Sarcophogus, except it's only vulnerable while the Chosen is healing to begin with, and even once you finally manage to bust it open, the Chosen comes out (albeit with a blessedly smaller health bar) for one last hurrah. To add further injury to injury, you can only attempt a Stronghold infiltration once, and if you fail, the Chosen will be right there till the end of the current game.
  • That One Disadvantage:
    • There are some very unpleasant Dark Events such as one that has the UFO chase the Avenger (and often being the cause of That One Level, see below), Avatar breakthroughs (which can often cause permanent time loss to the Avatar timer), Viper Bullets for ADVENT soldiers, and cutting the next month's supply drop in half.
    • The Scramble Sensors dark event is an absolute bitch to deal with, as it nearly doubles the time it takes to scan and complete tasks on the world map, cutting your ability to get things done in half, and this can last for 6 weeks.
    • In War of the Chosen, a new Dark Event makes the Black Market unavailable for 6 weeks. That's already a sizable disadvantage, but even worse, when it resurfaces, you have to re-scan the location. Because it's now a scanning location, the Chosen can kick you in the teeth further by extending this scan to eleven days with their Chosen sabotage action.
    • The "Made Whole" Dark Event completely remove all of the Chosen's weaknesses while active, taking away what little advantage the player had or could exploit. If the "Grim Horizon" modifier is on then this can last the entire game, if it is not stopped.
    • Zig-zagged with the Alien Cypher Dark Event, which increases intel costs by 100% for a whole month, which can set a run back up to months if it arrives at an inopportune time, such as when you're about to make a push forward or need to rush somewhere to destroy an alien facility and need to spend intel. If it shows up when you're in a comfortable position to just clean up everything you already have unlocked, it's utterly harmless.
    • Several Dark Events in War of the Chosen are odd cases— several of them lose any weight once one or more Chosen are taken care of, and the game fails to remove them from the Dark Event pool, so you can still get The Collectors (the Chosen will attempt to capture soldiers at every opportunity) and Made Whole even if they're all dead, meaning that they're a non-factor. There's a mod on the workshop that fixes this which removes such events from the pool and prevents them from showing up again for the sake of consistency.
    • An inversion of a strange variety (that's still as frustrating as an example being played straight), the Chosen weakness "Groundling" makes it easier to land a hit from shots taken from above. This does not affect damage output whatsoever.
  • That One Level: The final two stages have huge jumps in difficulty.
    • For the mission to attack the ADVENT communications network, you are only allowed to bring 3note  troops instead of the regular maximum of 6, which means you have to play far more carefully in order to achieve the mission objective.
      • Or alternatively, you can sneak straight through it without firing a single shot.
    • The final mission involves you having to fight your way through a massive map holding a whopping 20+ enemies (most maps on their hardest difficulties only have 11 or so enemies). Not only that, but when you trigger the final boss fight, you have to kill not one, but three Avatars who will constantly be teleporting around the map and spamming psionic abilities. Meanwhile, the portals in the room are constantly spawning endless waves of enemies every turn, meaning that if you take too long to kill the Avatars, you will eventually get overrun through sheer numbers. The only real stopgap you have against such odds is the Commander himself in an Avatar, wielding a devastating Psionic Rift attack that can catch and severely damage huge numbers of enemies at once, and even this is hampered by its lengthy cooldown time.
    • Operation Gatecrasher, the very first mission in the game that you play when the tutorial is turned off, is almost universally detested. You start off at a disadvantage with four rookies in basic gear against a larger and better-armed group of ADVENT soldiers, including an officer (impossible to kill with one shot from starter rifles even with a critical, equipped with grenades, and able to mark one of your guys to make them easier for his flunkies to hit, which pretty much guarantees they're dead even if they're in cover). On higher difficulty levels, green troops are prone to panicking and dying from one shot, which means that things can rapidly spiral out of control for you if even one guy dies. Success is largely determined by how good your opening attack goes, as well as how well you use the terrain to your advantage, because you have no advanced equipment or special abilities to fall back on. But since the map is randomly generated, there's a good chance you simply won't have decent terrain to work with, making the level a Luck-Based Mission that a lot of players end up having to repeat, particularly when trying to go for a Legendary/Ironman playthrough. War of the Chosen mitigates this, by letting you choose which faction you start with at the new game selection, and consequently which faction hero you'll go with on the mission.
    • UFO Defense missions are extremely difficult in the early game, and aren't that easy in the late game either. The main objective is to destroy a structure far out in the wilderness, far away from the starting point. If any enemy reaches the Avenger (the starting point) and stays there for a turn, it's game over. Enemies are limitless, so it'll take a considerable amount of investment in both offensive and defensive tactics to simply get out of this mess. There's a reason why injured soldiers can participate in this mission as well as there existing a facility dedicated to making this easier (adding defensive turrets to the mix).
    • Added in War of the Chosen are variants of Supply Raids, where XCOM must mark supply crates before ADVENT takes them away. Until now, Supply Raids were completely free of time restraints. The (relatively) high chance of The Chosen (or Alien Rulers) appearing during these skirmishes certainly doesn't help matters.
    • Some SITREPs in War of the Chosen can turn any mission into this. Of particular note are Surgical (restricts you to three troops) and Low Profile (prevents you from taking soldiers above Sergeant), which in the endgame are basically guaranteed to result in a bloodbath.
    • From the Tactical legacy Pack DLC, the very first mission of "Avenger Assemble" on Nightmare difficulty. You only have four soldiers with relatively little firepower against three pods of four enemies each (plus a turret), and finishing the mission without any wounds or deaths is almost sorely a matter of luck.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The complaints over how many missions now have limited rounds to complete is vociferous, to say the least. People were quick to mod them to reduce their severity or outright remove them.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • There are many who consider the Skirmisher the weakest of the three WOTC faction heroes. Reapers and Templars have ability combinations that allow them to wipe out whole pods or bosses by themselves. Skirmishers don't. Their Bullpups have one less max damage than Assault Rifles but use the range tables of Shotguns or Pistols, something that shooting twice doesn't entirely mitigate. Many of their more powerful abilities are charge-limited, restricting their uses per mission. Their supposed signature ability, Battlelord, that was claimed to make them equivalent to an Alien Ruler is nothing of the sort; instead of letting a Skirmisher instantly take an action whenever a foe does, it merely grants an extra action for every enemy that moves, and only after the aliens' turn, though this was later changed to work exactly the way Rulers do, albeit with a nerf so it's only one for every alien's turn instead of one for every alien's action. Given the Rocket-Tag Gameplay, having to wait for the aliens to move in order to benefit is counterproductive.
    • The biggest advantage of the Skirmisher is their mobility: all of their abilities are geared towards movement, or disrupting enemy formations, with a number of damage-dealing abilities added. While Templars and Reapers are deadly no matter where they are, Skirmishers have to work for it to become deadly, moving to the right position for a flanking maneuver, or exposing an enemy for the rest of the squad to take out. As a result, the Skirmishers are actually support characters rather than the (situational) damage-dealers of the other two forces, and it shows to the point where Reapers are better than them at support. It's little wonder why they tend to have the most "fix" mods on the Steam workshop to make them more viable.
  • Ugly Cute: Even with the intimidating or outright grotesque appearance of the aliens, forcing them to panic sends them scampering and ducking in a rather endearing manner. For example, Vipers huddle down, peeking their heads around and waggling their tails in fright, and even the otherworldly Gatekeeper nervously shifts its armor plates and starts acting more like a Personality Core than an Eldritch Horror.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The Speaker's limbs are a little too thin and long to be considered human. However, this appears to have been invoked as he seems to be a "perfected" Thin Man.
    • The faces of ADVENT troopers can still look a little strange from certain angles, even with their helmets designed to omit the horrific-looking changes made to their face. Again, this was likely invoked.
    • During the Viper autopsy, Tygan notes In-Universe that the combination of reptile and human features is surprisingly unsettling.
    • Despite the aliens' attempt to avert this, the Archon's expressionless face and empty mouth just look wrong. Additionally, the sheer dissonance of Archons looking like beautiful living statues and still behaving like Floaters only serves to make them even more unsettling.
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