"Scientia Potentia Est" ~ Knowledge is Power; emblem motto in EXALT HQ.
EXALT is a new global human threat introduced in Enemy Within DLC. EXALT is a paramilitary secret society that seeks to use alien tech to enrich and technologically change themselves and gain world domination. They will carry out anti-XCOM operations until their base is found and destroyed.
EXALT wants the aliens to genetically perfect mankind and sees XCOM as an obstacle to that. While EXALT agrees with the aliens, it will avoid working with them and disrupt XCOM efforts's to fight the invasion instead. Despite sharing some common goals, the Aliens and EXALT will not cooperate together and appear together on any mission. EXALT will even try to outsmart the aliens during Operation Progeny in order to gain access to a high value weapon.
The nature of EXALT's threat is similar to the one posed by the Cult of Sirius in X-COM Apocalypse. However, one major difference between the two groups is that the religious structure of the Cult speaks of humans subjecting themselves to their new alien overlords, while the extravagance of the EXALT Headquarters suggests powerful people in black market and clandestine circles, groups whose interests tend to lie in acquiring power for themselves.
EXALT always starts its operations at a random date in May, with the possible variation between dates dependent on the game's difficulty level. On Easy/Normal difficulties the day can vary between the 12th and the 24th, while on Classic/Impossible it can start anywhere between the 6th and the 24th.
On the day EXALT starts its operations it will place 2 cells, one of which will immediately perform an anti-XCOM operation and become exposed. The 2nd cell will remain hidden and can be exposed through an Intel Scan. Afterwards EXALT will periodically keep placing new cells until it reaches the limit of active cells (10 for all difficulties) or its HQ is eliminated.
EXALT can place a new cell after a placement cooldown period, which can vary between 12 to 24 days (Easy/Normal difficulty levels) and 6 to 24 days (Classic/Impossible). Each cell consists of a number of EXALT agents and their precise numbers will depend on the map where the covert mission takes place.
After the cooldown period reaches 0, EXALT will make a list of Council countries that don't have EXALT Cells already assigned and give them a score based on several factors:
- Panic Levels - countries with panic levels from 2 to 4 have a bigger positive modifier added to the score.
- XCOM HQ's location - countries on that continent will have a negative modifier.
- Satellites - countries with satellites deployed will have a negative modifier.
- Continent has no EXALT cells - countries will have a positive modifier.
- All countries in continent are still in XCOM - country gets a positive modifier.
- Single country in continent without satellites - country gets a positive modifier.
- Only 1 country in continent still in XCOM - country gets a negative modifier.
- Continent has left XCOM (continent bonus no longer active) - country gets a negative modifier.
- Country has left XCOM - no modifier.
The values for the modifiers can change between difficulty levels, see Game Data Sources for the precise numbers.
Afterwards, EXALT will randomly choose 1 country from the list, with countries with bigger scores having better chances of being chosen. It will then make a final roll to determine if the cell has been successfully placed, using the following modifiers:
- Base Chance (can vary on different difficulty levels between 0,9 and 1.1)
- Satellite present (can vary on different difficulty levels between -0.2 and 0)
- Stealth Satellites - developing this Foundry project gives a -0.35 modifier, on all difficulty levels.
If the new cell is placed successfully there will be a cool down period for placing the next new cell that is determined randomly and can vary between 7 and 11 days, depending on the difficulty level.
EXALT cells can have two statuses: Exposed and Hidden.
- When initially deployed or move to another country EXALT cells will be hidden.
- Only Hidden EXALT cells can conduct XCOM operations.
- Each Hidden EXALT Cell will only take actions after a number of certain days/conditions have passed.
- After its initial deployment or relocation to another country, the date for its next anti-XCOM operation is randomly determined, with the range of values dependent on the difficulty level (7 to 21 days on Easy/Normal and 7 to 15 on Classic/Impossible).
- If the date of the next operation is reached and enough days have passed between different cell operations (the limit depends on difficulty level), it will perform an anti-XCOM operation and become exposed.
- Otherwise, the cell will remain hidden and move to another country, using the placement score described above.
- After an existing cell relocates itself, there will be a cool down period for placing a new cell that is determined randomly and can vary between 7 and 11 days, depending on the difficulty level.
- Cells will be exposed after completing an anti-XCOM operation or if an Intel Scan is conducted from the Situation Room.
- After a number of days have passed (4 to 7 days on Easy difficulty, 2 to 5 on all other difficulty levels, an exposed EXALT cell will relocate itself to another country and become hidden.
- However, the cell will stay exposed if XCOM deploys a Covert Operative and until the covert deployment ends.
- The cell will immediately relocate and hide if the mission is a failure or the Covert Operative isn't extracted.
Hidden EXALT cells can conduct 3 types of anti-XCOM operations and will randomly choose 1 of them:
- Increases Panic on the targeted country.
- The amount of panic applied to the country varies between difficulty levels (1 on Easy, 2 on Normal/Classic, 3 on Impossible).
- On Impossible difficulty, there's also a panic penalty of 1 applied to all other countries in the continent.
- XCOM's credits (§) will be reduced by a certain value.
- The reduction is determined using either 1 of 2 predetermined constants, MinSabotageCashAmount (in §) or SabotageCashPercentage (in %).
- If the total number of credits to be stolen using SabotageCashPercentage is bigger that the MinSabotageCashAmount, the game removes the SabotageCashPercentage value.
- Otherwise the game removes the MinSabotageCashAmount, unless there are no sufficient existing credits, in which case the game will remove all credits available.
- Slows down XCOM's current research.
- Research Hacks will only be performed if the research progress percentage of the current project has advanced past a determined limit, defined by the game's difficulty level. The values are 30% (Easy) and 50% (all other difficulties).
- The amount of research lost is calculated using either the MinResearchHackDays or the ResearchHackPercentage values.
- MinResearchHackDays reduces research by 5 full days while ResearchHackPercentage reduces research by 30% or 50%, depending on difficulty level. The game will calculate both reduction values and apply the biggest reduction.
- Building Labs can provide a guard against Research Hacks. Each Lab provides a 20% reduction on the time lost.
Finally, it appears each hidden EXALT cell has a 50% chance of increasing panic by 1 point in the country where it is active. It isn't clear though when the game checks for this condition to happen (could be at the end of a Abductions/Council mission or at the end of the month).
Anti-EXALT operations are accessed through the Situation Room, through the Covert Operations tab. It will display the map and the presence of any discovered EXALT cells and allow to conduct Intel Scans and perform Covert Operations to eliminate exposed EXALT cells.
EXALT operations will only cease when the EXALT base is successfully assaulted, which will result also in the elimination of all existing EXALT cells. Similar to Alien Base Assault or other Storyline missions, the EXALT Base Raid will stay available until XCOM decides to deal with EXALT, once and for all.
After their base's destruction, EXALT will no longer have the capacity to carry out operations against you, and the Covert Operations option will be removed: EXALT is as good as dead - for now. But with no confirmation on who their founders or leaders are, let alone if you've neutralized them, there's no telling if they're gone forever, or if this is just the advent of a new threat...
If the Progeny campaign is selected and Annette is rescued, Dr. Vahlen will reveal that Annette was originally captured by EXALT and given to the aliens. Later EXALT will revert on their decision and try to get Annette for themselves. It is possible to see a picture of Annette during the EXALT Base mission.
XCOM 2 established that in the canonical timeline XCOM was defeated very early in the first war. The developers confirmed that due to this EXALT was never formed. Hence, they do not appear in subsequent XCOM games.
Game Data Sources
|Table Values: DefaultGameData.INI|
Game Mechanics: XGExaltSimulation class at XComStrategyGame.UPK