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  • Anti-Climax Boss: The final boss, while not the same joke the one in the original games was (which couldn't attack and could be killed before even entering the room it was in), can be taken down in just a few hits if you bring enough snipers. Woe betide the player who incautiously moves their troops into Rift range and fails to kill him, though - he (and his goons) are more than capable of dishing out a Total Party Kill if you let him.
    • One sniper with Squadsight and Double Tap armed with a Plasma Sniper Rifle can take the final boss out in a single turn, before the battle can even begin.
    • You can also ghost in some Heavies and rocket-spam him. He can't handle more than two rockets anyway.
    • An apparent bug can also cause this, skipping the opening speech of the final boss and causing his underlings not to spawn.
  • Ascended Meme: Vahlen's infamous request to avoid the use of explosives where possible was turned into around 5 and a half minutes of scenes of explosives-use and the corresponding request, with 1 minute of that as a Stupid Statement Dance Mix (and a single "Close range?"), on a stream, looped for 24 hours. It also received multiple humorous references in the sequel, such as an official remix.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: While the game itself isn't this for 2K, since Enemy Unknown was started before the FPS was announced, looks like Enemy Within is this for The Bureau. Just when people saw the final game and got angry, Enemy Within was announced and that rage was lessened, since the trailers were really promising.
  • Breather Level:
    • Council Missions once you get far enough into the game. You can be losing good soldiers to Sectopods and Ethereals left and right, and then you're asked to clear a map of Thin Men who were only a challenge back when you couldn't One-Hit Kill them. Those missions are also great for training rookies, as their inexperience is not too much of an issue there. They also make for excellent opportunities to fill in your interrogations - if you didn't put off the base raid for a while, there's a good chance you'll have missed the chance to stun a regular Sectoidnote  or a Thin Man for interrogation, and they more or less stop showing up after raiding the base, which without the Council missions would make the research credits from interrogating them Permanently Missable Content.
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    • Operation Gangplank, the final mission of Slingshot. You're on a Battleship, but unlike late-game Battleships, this one is mostly crewed by Sectoids and Thin Men, and they show up piecemeal. Sure, a Chryssalid, a Muton, and a Cyberdisc show up later on, but those are singular in every instance, and are nothing a good team with Carapace Armor and lasers can't handle, especially when compared with the Muton rush that was Confounding Light, the previous Slingshot mission.
    • Furies, the final mission of Operation Progeny, counts as well. The previous mission, Deluge, often had Mutons and Mechtoids pouring down on the level, all the while being timed. Though this mission is timed too, the only resistance one faces here are Thin Men and the occasional Berserker. The layout is the familiar Abductor ship level too, so there's no way to get lost either.
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    • The Site Recon mission is a Shout-Out to Cthulhu Mythos, and it is a genuine Cosmic Horror Story... if you get it when Carapace armor and basic laser weapons are in development, and you're stuck with body armor and ballistic guns. If it comes up when you have a comfortable amount of Heavy and Sniper Lasers and at least the Skeleton Suit, and especially at the plasma-and-powered-armors stage, it's more like Lovecraft Lite. And the desperate flight ending becomes a bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as your team could keep killing the waves of Chryssalids until the final turn when it's time to leave.
    • If you're competent at rescuing civilians, Terror missions are a breather for the problem of global panic. These missions are not easy in the slightest, but if you manage to save a respectable number of civilians, panic will abate in the country of the terror attack as well as, to a lesser extent, in the entire continent. It's especially important when panic is high on countries you already have satellite coverage over.
  • Broken Base: With a series like this, it was bound to happen. Most of the players can be split into 3 groups:
    • The purists who hate the game because they feel it's nothing like the original X-COM.
    • The fans who love the game and believe that it's a worthy successor to the X-COM name.
    • The moderates and newcomers who don't really care about the history of the franchise but think it's still a pretty good game.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Some possible class skills simply never get picked, due to perceived or actual uselessness. Rarely will you find players with more than two snipers not trained with Squadsight, Supports without Sprinter, Field Medic and Savior, or an Assault without Close Combat Specialist and Close And Personal. Fortunately, Firaxis rectified these issues in Enemy Within, although now the skills to pick are Grenadier, HEAT Ammo (which is absolutely essential for fighting Mechtoids and Sectopods) and Squadsight (again).
    • Some of the new enemy types specifically address the overpowered nature of some class builds. Seekers now actively target isolated soldiers, including Squadsight snipers who normally hide at the very back of the battlefield. EXALT also forces a break from typical tactics, thanks to the fact that large numbers of them will swarm you on maps, reinforcements arrive every turn or so (so you can't simply press forward slowly and trigger one group at a time like with regular aliens) and they use your own tactics against you.
    • As several Let's Players point out, becoming complacent is actually a very bad idea when playing this game. To paraphrase one: "When you're getting complacent, start worrying".
    • "Training Roulette", a Second Wave option that randomizes most soldier skills save for a few (Squaddie class-specific skills and mostly skills inherent to weapons that other classes can't use, like rockets for Heavies and sniper rifles for Snipers), does away with most of this. That said, it's rare to not pick Bullet Swarm, Field Medic, Lightning Reflexes and Sprinter over almost anything.
  • Creepy Awesome: Some of the more unsettling aliens, like the Chryssalids and Thin Men.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Sectopods. Enough health to require almost your entire squad's damage output to put down, high enough Defense to ensure a good portion of your squad will miss anyway, multiple attacks per turn and a free Overwatch shot, the ability to unleash (after one turn) a devastating area attack which, if you're unlucky, you may not see coming. And as a mechanical unit, it is impervious to most psionic abilities, and since it can't take cover, it has innate defense at all times and it's Hardened, so immune to critical hits unless the soldier's chance is boosted in some way like skills or the upgraded S.C.O.P.E.. It gets worse in Enemy Within, where to balance the increase in firepower from MEC Troopers and the versatility of gene mods, they have Reinforced Armor, a bonus that halves all damage taken (rounded up) but doesn't affect Drone repairs, the Heavy's HEAT Ammo only deals 50% bonus damage against robotics, and their death explosion actually deals considerable damage over a wide area, similar to a grenadenote . What's more, in very late game Terror missions, all enemy pods can be Sectopods plus Drones. By the time they start showing up, you better always have a good Field Medic on the team and a setup strategy in mind to dealing with these guys.
    • Chryssalids in the early game. Their very long movement range (complete with In a Single Bound, so you're not safe even on the rooftops) and powerful melee attack (which can zombify any human it kills, to boot - even if it doesn't kill on impact, it's poisonous) makes them insanely dangerous, and they're very hard to kill with ballistic weapons, especially since they're resistant to Critical Hits. In the "Alien Base Assault" stage, they are very likely to appear and close the distance before you even get a turn, and can kill any of your soldiers in two hits at most if you only have Carapace Armors and Skeleton Suits. It doesn't help that they're essentially Big Creepy-Crawlies – almost literally Demonic Spiders, albeit with six limbs, not eight. Fortunately, they have hard counters in the form of MEC Troopers with either level 1 ability (especially the Flamethrower, as it can annihilate an entire pod of them, while the Kinetic Strike Module is a One-Hit Kill on at most two and that's if they surround the MEC), and Scatter Laser-wielding Assault troopers with Close Combat Specialist, and by the time your whole squad has plasma-tier weapons, Titan armor and beyond, they're only really dangerous if they mob a soldier.
    • Thin Men in the early-game on the higher difficulty settings. Incredibly mobile, deadly-accurate, twice as tough as they are on normal difficulty, and able to casually leap to higher ground. Many players have reported getting a Code Black on their first encounter with the Thin Men on higher difficulties. What's worse, they tend to be glass cannons with "Damage Roulette", capable of dishing out up to 9 damage on a non-crit shot.
    • The Mechtoids in Enemy Within are nothing to be laughed at. They have a lot of hit points, are heavily armed, can attack twice in a turn if they don't move, just like Sectopods, you can't flank them and if a normal Sectoid mind merges with it, it gets a psychic shield that allows it to tank damage even better. Killing the Sectoid that is doing the mind merging only does a little bit of damage to the Mechtoid. One exploitable vulnerability since they have to be piloted by a Sectoid, they are still vulnerable to psychic powers, so if you are lucky and mind control one, the tables can change very quickly. Additionally, the Sectoid pilot's cowardly nature will come out if the Mechtoid is wounded and there are several enemies in sight; it will choose to retreat (possibly using both moves) instead of taking down as many as it can, as Cyberdisks or Sectopods would. However, they just as often enter Overwatch the moment they're out of sight, so you will trigger a lethal ambush when you go after them unless you have a soldier with Lightning Reflexes on site.
  • Disappointing Last Level: A major complaint that's been brought against the game is the sub-par nature of the final level. It tends to feel rushed, like it was cobbled together at the last minute by ideas they thought would be cool but came up with late in development, and ends rather abruptly. Enemy Within, which brings so much new content to the game, has the exact same ending – the new alien units don't even feature in it.
  • 8.8: 8.2 from IGN, igniting a mass of muttering and furrowed brows from dedicated fans. Metacritic gives it a solid-ish 89/100, brought down by one 70% review. Even Yahtzee liked the game enough to include it on his top five for 2012.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Evil Is Cool: XCOM is cool, but the aliens are some of the most badass characters in the game. The Thin Men and Mutons are emphasized in this, as demonstrated by their interrogation animations.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • In several communities online, XCOM fans and WH40K fans are one and the same. Expect jokes about the Adeptus Mechanicus and the MEC Troopers, countless calls to Purge the Xeno, and praising the Commander as though he was a Primarch.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Pretty much all of the Hero Units, though this is deliberate.
    • SHIVs. There's three mechanics that make SHIVs exceptionally overpowered: you don't have to pay for their weapons, they get increasingly cheaper from every workshop connection (being completely free at 8 workshops), and in Enemy Within they get continuous healing up until they're critically hit.
    • A sniper with Double Tap, Squad Sight, and a Plasma Sniper Rifle is going to pretty much slaughter the opposition, especially if they have the high ground. In The Zone is also pretty broken, but relies on your sniper being in position to flank everyone, or all enemies being out of cover.
      • A pretty great way to get the high ground is via the Archangel Armor (especially so with the Advanced Flight Foundry project). If you fly high enough with that you're simultaneously unlikely to be targeted while also being likely to be in a good position for squadshotting enemies and providing far-reaching overwatch. A properly equipped sniper can end up being a critical attack fiend and even possibly your squad leader due to racking up kills easily.
    • With a Heavy to clear the aliens' cover and lower their health, an ITZ Sniper can kill all opposition, and still have a turn to spare.
    • Mimetic Skin in Enemy Within. Soldiers with Mimetic Skin have auto-activating invisibility if they move into high cover from outside enemy sight range, and can remain invisible in that position until they move or attack. And it becomes available very early in the tech tree. This enables extremely aggressive and risk-free scouting, ensuring that you will never run into an enemy ambush, and it also allows you to rain fire using a Squadsight Sniper with complete impunity. The fact that it has infinite uses makes it arguably better than Ghost Armor, a very late-game active stealth suit that many considered to be a game breaker to begin with. It can't stack with the Stealth ability from Ghost Armor or Grenade, and the fact that you need full cover can limit its usefulness in some maps... except for Major-ranked snipers and above, thanks to their "Low Profile" ability, which makes low cover count as full, meaning any kind of cover at all can trigger Mimetic Skin. It says something that its cost was substantially raised in a later patch. The only conceivable problem with Mimetic Skin is that it's not a "get out of jail free card" when the operative is trapped by Suppression or will trigger an Overwatch by moving.
    • As noted above, in vanilla Enemy Unknown, the Ghost Armor can be incredibly powerful, as four usages can often be sufficient for most of or the entirety of the map in all but the longest missions. By the time you're going to be fielding Ghost Armor, chances are explosives and destroying alien equipment is going to be less of a concern for you, which is great because ambushing enemies with grenades or rockets becomes significantly more viable. Instead of needing multiple units or multiple turns to take down a single enemy, a lone Heavy or grenade-toting other unit can potentially clear out three or more enemies with a single attack. Chances are you might already have other ability combinations that are pretty powerful, but few things compare to the low risk, high reward strategy of ghosting. In particular, Terror missions become significantly easier when you can save civilians via a de facto victory over clustered aliens.
    • Enemy Within made Snap Shot viable by reducing the Aim penalty after moving, so a Colonel with Snapshot, Mimetic Skin, Low Profile and In The Zone is a walking hurricane of headshots, as they can slip undetected through an enemy line to take cover in the perfect position, then shoot them all dead the next turn.
    • MEC Troopers. Even with their basic starting loadout these guys have a huge minigun that will rip apart most enemies, and their starting MEC gives more health than any of the armor worn by normal soldiers except for the Archangel and Titan Armor, and the only normal armor that gives higher defense is the Ghost Armor. Though the MEC Troopers can't use cover, the Kinetic Strike Module system lets them One-Hit Kill anything short of a Cyberdisk or Mechtoid (and if upgraded, only Berserkers, Mechtoids, Sectopods and Ethereals can survive a hit from it), and its Flamethrower is easily among the best Area of Effect attacks in the game, that causes all organic units to panic if it doesn't kill them. All this before getting any of the MEC upgrades or class abilities, which in the late game can make a single well-used MEC almost unstoppable.
    • With Training Roulette, you can potentially get incredibly powerful characters by mixing and matching certain combinations of skills. How about an Assault class with Sprinter and Low Profile to help them close the distance with a shotgun and then be in decent cover afterwards? Low Profile also pairs well with the Mimetic Skin gene mod, as it allows essentially any cover to trigger the free ghost stealth. You could even pair it with Muscle Fiber Density to leap up buildings or Adaptive Bone Marrow to make sure that even if your Assault does get hit, they'll be able to heal it up over time and likely recover quickly after the mission anyways. If the Assault is also gifted with Gunslinger, he or she is the perfect scout and a Meld-collecting machine, not to mention a superb covert operative. Even with the restrictions that covert operatives can face, with the right set of equipment and abilities it's like EXALT was essentially infiltrated by Superman.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Several in the research project codenames:
      • The Blaster Launcher research project is codenamed "Tunguska", no doubt after The Tunguska Event.
      • The Sectoid interrogation is codenamed "Roanoke". Roanoke Colony was established at the coast of what is today North Carolina in the late 16th century by more than a hundred English settlers. A ship returned there a few years later and found the colony completely deserted, with no signs of struggle, and none of the settlers were found in later investigations.
      • The Sectoid Commander interrogation is codenamed "Voynich". The Voynich Manuscript is a book dating to the 15th century written in an unknown script and language, and no one has been able to decipher it thus far. Experts are divided on whether it some kind of artificial code or cypher, the only specimen of a dead language or mere gibberish.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Units firing may bug out and be shown shooting in a completely different direction... but the rounds will still go right into their target. It's especially notable when a Sniper in cover uses Disabling Shot – they'll actively aim away from the target before shooting.
    • Suppressing melee enemies will have them stand still out of fear of provoking a reaction shot from the ability, and can take no other actions if not adjacent to attackable units because melee enemies can only attack in melee or move. Of course, them standing still for a turn to let the rest of your troops get in position to shoot them to ribbons is more likely to be hazardous to their health than one reaction shot while they run for cover. Fixed in Enemy Within, where they'll either take the gamble and move.
    • Snipers with Squadsight, when put into Overwatch, can take reaction shots at sniper distance even with a pistol (which is incredibly beyond its maximum range). Good pick for taking out a low-health enemy not trapped by Overwatch from a soldier within its sight.
    • Sometimes, when using their sidearm, your soldiers will still keep their primary weapon model on their hands, so this can result in your trooper holding a plasma sniper like a pistol and shooting regular bullets. Typically happens when they get to cover and you give them the command to switch weapons before their animation for settling in finishes playing. Something vaguely similar happens when an EXALT Elite Medic fires off his Regen Pheromones and then uses a Medikit immediately afterwards.
    • The Ethereals' attack reflector has a few setbacks:
      • It doesn't work on missed shots from an Assault's Rapid Fire skill, and if it reflects the first but gets hit by the second, the first shot won't be reflected.
      • They'll reflect the first few shots fired from Suppression. The reflected shots deal no damage, since if the user isn't a Heavy with Mayhem, they're not meant to cause damage.
    • If a Mind Controlled alien is killed, they're treated like a fallen squadmate when it comes to their gear. That is, their inventory is salvaged after the mission, so you often receive bonus Plasma weapons and grenades.
    • At least in Enemy Within, Floaters can now get themselves stuck on terrain, and waste both their moves trying to escape, leaving them sitting ducks for your soldiers.
    • Spontaneously, the weapon camos in Enemy Within can bug out and leave you with the default camo.
    • Occasionally while travelling to the far side of the Earth (e.g. XCOM Europe to Melbourne, Australia), the Skyranger will fly to the north pole and teleport to the south (or vice-versa) and continue on to the destination as if it hasn't suddenly broken all known laws of physics.
    • Related to controls: Using a mouse lets you more precisely aim a grenade or rocket, but using a console controller (e.g. Xbox 360) seems to let you extend your maximum range via analog sticks at the cost of being noticeably harder to aim. Depending on the positioning of enemies, this extended range could be enough to give you the edge on a turn when enemies are clustered but far away.
    • In the otherwise awful Vita port, using an item while in cover makes you get stuck in it... or lets you clip through the wall the soldier is leaning on. Used properly, it can be a get out of jail free card that also allows you to damage aliens/EXALT with a grenade and leave their line of sight.
    • On the PC version of Enemy Within, the game very rarely allows a MEC Trooper to move after using their last action point on a non-movement action. It happens most often (but not necessarily) when the MEC Trooper is the last squad member to act in the turn by killing the last enemy in sight.
    • Rarely, a soldier will have an action after using the grappling hook even if they use it as their second action in the turn (after moving/firing with Bullet Swarm/something else). Typically only a few actions will be available, but if the soldier isn't a Heavy, switching weapons will make all actions that aren't on cooldown (except movement) become available.
  • Goddamn Bats:
    • Floaters: unlike the original game, many players actually hate them now. Their jetpacks mean they'll almost always find exactly the right spot to land in where your entire team is flanked and they're safely behind cover. Heavy Floaters are The Same But More: more firepower (regular plasma rifle, and a grenade to make things worse), more mobility, more aiming accuracy, and more hit points.
    • Thin Men as well, as they're highly mobile like Floaters, and pack the same amount of firepower. Sure they die in one shot (unless you shoot them with your basic sidearm or are playing on Classic or Impossible) most of the time, but they have the annoying poison attack (which reduces a soldier's Aim) that never misses and they explode into a cloud of poison when killed. They're especially good at flanking injured troops at just the right time to deliver a killing blow, which thanks to their considerable aim, almost never misses. Especially with Damage Roulette, they can whittle down even an advanced XCOM team that's having problems moving without ending up flanked or exposed.
    • Drones are a pain. They have very low health and a high aim soldier can waste one easily (in fact, they're always fodder for a Colonel Sniper with In The Zone unless you're rolling with Damage Roulette), but their innate defense and tendency to take flight and gain even more defense from it makes them irritatingly hard to hit for soldiers with middling aim and Assaults with a shotgun-type weapon. In Terror Site missions, they'll forget everything in favor of flying off in search of civilians to kill, and otherwise, they can repair robotic enemies without even needing to be close to them. It's even worse in Enemy Within if they're escorting a Sectopod, as Reinforced Armor doesn't matter for their repair potential.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The game was set in 2015. The sequel was originally set for a 2015 release.
    • 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 utterance of "Close range?!". Fast forward to XCOM 2, and the Ranger class not only uses shotguns, but also a blade that they can use in melee. And even more hilariously, in the "Alien Hunters" DLC pack, Bradford is a Ranger himself while in the field.
    • 2014's Scottish independence referendum ended with Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. In the game's setting, in 2015 Scotland is an independent country.
    • XCOM: The Unknown Menace, a novelization of the original made in 2002, had an Ancient Conspiracy allied with the aliens and trying to hinder XCOM. Ten years later, EXALT was here.
    • There is now an XCOM satellite. Sure, this XCOM stands for X-ray Communications, but it's still the same abbreviation.
  • Inferred Holocaust: On a comparatively small scale, but the mission to rescue Annette Durand from EXALT takes place on a massive hydroelectric dam in France that was heavily damaged before XCOM even got there. There's no uncertainty that the dam will break very soon (part of the mission involves opening emergency valves in order to gain enough time to save Annette before this happens), and given the dam's size and France's population density, countless people will die in a Giant Wall of Watery Doom within an hour of XCOM leaving the AO victoriously. This is never brought up in-game, although that can be justified by even a catastrophe on this scale being largely insignificant when compared to a worldwide alien invasion.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • While Annette is a powerful psionic, her power often get exaggerated to extreme degrees.
    • Already popular for being a clear Four-Star Badass that wants to make the aliens pay for killing his men escorting him, Peter Van Doorn's addition in the Long War mod as a playable soldier led to many players attesting him to be a reliable star player on their team and quickly mutated him into being an unstoppable action hero that only doesn't kill all the aliens by himself because it's not fair if he has all the fun.
  • Memetic Loser: XCOM rookie troopers actually have pretty good accuracy ratings if you compare them to real-life soldiers, but they're mainly remembered for all those times where they missed when firing a shotgun point blank at an alien the size of a bus. "XCOM Rookies" is sort of a byword in many communities for "supposedly elite trooper that can't hit the broad side of a barn."
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Jake Solomon's "That's XCOM, baby!" whenever something goes horribly wrong or wonderfully right despite being very unlikely. Missing with three 95% shots in a row or succeeding with a 10% Mind Control attempt? That's XCOM, baby!
    • SpaceBattles.com and others swiftly took to calling Total Party Kill missions "Code Black", after the E3 2012 trailer ended with "Status Black" for the same purpose.
    • On the 2K forums, any reference to the Blaster Launcher always mentions that it's GLORIOUS.
    • Bradford's bewildered "Close range?" seems to have gotten this a bit too.
    • The development of Enemy Unknown is attributed by some to an epic "BETRAAAAAYAL! BETRAYAL! BETRAYED ME!! THIS GAME SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!" in response to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, then a FPS simply named XCOM.
    • After it was revealed that XCOM 2 follows an alternate timeline where XCOM gets overrun early on, any game that's going particularly badly is occasionally met with "This campaign is now canon".
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Alien death cries, especially Chryssalids when they let out a loud painful shriek when you shoot the last life out of them. Each one you hear means you have successfully taken out something that was trying to kill your men and anything that looks like your men.
    • Your advisers' compliments when you complete a mission without any XCOM soldier even getting injured. Feel proud, you deserve to.
      • Even better than this is the Council telling you what a good job you did if you get an A grade at the end of the month.
    • The Run and Gun sound effect (optionally followed by "Moving at the speed of death" or "Gun 'em down"). Well, except for the times when your Assault charges in to give one hapless alien a faceful of shotgun only to aggro six nearby Mutons (unless you have explosives to blow them up with).
    • Any time you mind control something. The Mutons (any type) in particular make this deafening roar as you do. Given how much of a pain Mutons are, this makes seeing one do some of the work amazing.
    • The Alloy Cannon sound when you fire it. A deep resonating "boom" that is usually followed by the cries of agony of your target.
      • Also, the sound of a Blaster Launcher firing, and the warbling noise its projectile makes. Followed by the sound of something (possibly several somethings) violently leaving this plane of existence.
  • Narm: There are times when the randomly generated operation names can be rather silly. Word Salad Title is the most common form of this, but you'll occasionally see Department of Redundancy Department as well.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Seekers. Once they show up in a mission, you've pretty much got to drop everything and put your entire squad into Overwatch, because they're out there, hunting you, and if you drop your guard for even a heartbeat, one of your soldiers is getting strangled.
  • Porting Disaster: Enemy Unknown Plus on the Vita suffers from a massive amount of issues. Loading can take up to three minutes from startup to actually playing the game, and load times are still pretty long once you actually start playing. There are plenty of graphical glitches, which occasionally include not showing where a character's movement becomes dashing and the smoke from smoke grenades becoming invisible. The framerate also stutters every now and again. Using any item in a soldier's inventory when they're in cover has a chance of them clipping into it and being stuck and unable to move, even with explosives destroying the thing they were stuck on. And lastly, even if you do manage to get through everything, it has a tendency to crash later on in the game!
    • It should be noted that this is after the rather unpopular mobile phone port (despite having Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within released separately) for the same reasons, although the loading time is slightly quicker due to lots of reductions and a far smaller level template is used for the mobile phone port.
  • The Scrappy: Central Officer Bradford is not popular with some fans, probably because the first thing he does in game (at least, if the tutorial is activated) is command the very first XCOM squad to their death leaving only one survivor, and from then on seems to make it a point to act in complete Genre Blindness. He's also a rather generic crew-cut military man, with little characterisation, making him hard to like even disregarding his bad decisions.
    • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: The "Security Breach" trailer from Enemy Within has changed this, though, simply because Bradford is shown beating the crap out of a mind controlled base technician.
      • If you fail the mission where the aliens attack XCOM HQ, a cutscene plays showing Bradford's dead body propped up against the wall and with a pistol at his side. Lying in front of him is a dead Sectoid. The implications are profound.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The Reinforced Armor trait on Sectopods in Enemy Within. This trait halves all incoming damage, meaning that it essentially has sixty hitpoints. The only exception to this is the MEC's Electro Pulse attack, which does a full five damage and stuns. If none of your squad has Shredder Rockets or Heat Ammo, your best strategy is to stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. After the first encounter, it's never a bad idea to go on a non-abduction mission expecting a miniboss.
    • Overwatch is normally a useful ability, but one alien is capable of triggering multiple overwatches at the same time. This means that your soldiers can fire a disproportionate amount of ammo into a single alien, possibly resulting in other aliens being able to move unhindered. This was fixed for the sequel, where overwatch moves are now sequential, and a Game Mod that retrofits sequential overwatch into EU/EW is among the most popular mods out there.
    • Control is completely locked out when it's the aliens' turn. Upon realizing a mistake save-scumming players hate having to wait to load from a more desirable point.
  • That One Level:
    • "Portent" is the first real difficulty spike in Enemy Within. It happens within only two months after the start of the game and if the game didn't introduce the Thin Men before, they will now. Everything about this map seems tailored to the Thin Men's advantage. High ground to boost their accuracy to insane levels, close groups which means you will more likely trigger two or more groups at a time, and your troopers measly health will more likely wiped out in a single shot on Classic or Impossible. This mission is responsible for most early rage quits on Classic or Impossible.
    • The second special Council mission, "Confounding Light", from the Slingshot DLC. You have only ten turns to find and activate four beacons, all of which are heavily guarded by poisonous Thin Men, who start receiving hard hitting Muton reinforcements (who pack full-sized Plasma Rifles instead of the Light ones they normally have early on) after a while. Putting it off until your soldiers have some better equipment is advisable.
    • Enemy Within gives us "Site Recon", which tasks you with exploring an abandoned fishing village that has gone silent after an alleged alien attack. It turns out that the entire town was overrun by Chryssalids and is now infested by Chryssalid zombies. But wait, it gets better. The source of the infestation is a fishing ship with a whale carcass that the Chryssalids are using as a hive. Understandably, Central decides that this entire town can fuck right off and calls for an airstrike to purge the area. From there, you have eight turns to make it back to the opposite corner of the map for extraction while fleeing from an endless wave of Chryssalids spawning from the hive. Unless you can cleverly strategize and get a few lucky rolls, you'll probably lose people, either from the Chryssalids or from simply being left behind. Though if you get this mission late enough, it can turn into cakewalk instead, since no enemy unit can shoot you, Archangel armor can make you practically invincible here. Having a squadsight sniper with Archangel Armor means that they can easily kill any enemies that dare move into his/her line of fire. Power-armored assault troops and well-upgraded MEC troopers can also slaughter the Chryssalids by the dozen in the late game.
    • The XCOM Base Defense mission for those unprepared in "Enemy Within". Players may have heavily-wounded soldiers from the preceding Alien Base Assault mission, if not fatalities, and may be overall lacking in resources to field a proper defense. The justifiable but still very cruel lack of a pre-mission loadout option may also ruin any defenses if the top 4-6 members of the barracks aren't properly outfitted.
      • This mission got added at the same time as the new button to remove all non-default gear from all soldiers not in the current team you're outfitting. This otherwise welcome addition (it saves a lot of tedious searching for who has your good gear before every mission) makes it extremly likely, especially for first time players, that any soldiers that weren't in the last mission you fought have had their gear stripped when this mission unexpectedly pops up.
    • The player's first Terror mission, bonus points if it's their first play through too. It comes early enough in the game where you might not have a lot of upgrades, and is the first time you encounter Chryssalids. That's bad enough, but there's tons of civilians scattered across the map, who are being killed by said Chryssalids, if the player doesn't kill the Chyrssalids and any Zombies fast enough, they'll get swamped as the number of enemies multiply.
    • The level "Street Hurricane" is referred to as "Murder Street" by some players because good cover is sparse, its linear design means there are few flanking opportunities, and the size of the map means activating multiple groups of enemies at once is quite likely. At least until you get Squadsight snipers on the roof of the bus stop, in which case the long distance and poor cover can work in your favor. Made even worse in Enemy Within where it can be a Terror Mission.
      • Street Hurricane is also home to a bug which can cause one of the "pods" to be activated before getting vision on the aliens, likely causing your units to take damage from overwatches that shouldn't be possible.
    • The level "Demolition" was infamous for its design immensely favoring the defending aliens. With the few good covers lumping your squad together as grenade bait and often breaking line of sight, the approach giving the aliens the high ground, and the only flanking route long and tedious with zero cover if you're spotted, players winced whenever they saw the map on the briefing. The map holds the (dis)honor of being the only level so unbalanced that it was overhauled in Enemy Within.

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