Live Alien Research

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Researching live aliens will provide a variety of information. The type of information revealed is usually dependent on the alien's rank (or type).

Here is an overview of the research each alien type can produce:

Researching a live alien will produce a "live alien" entry and can sometimes produce other UFOpaedia entries or even unlock new research topics, as detailed above. The first live alien of any type you study will unlock the Alien Origins topic. Researching an alien will often produce no new UFOpaedia entries, if everything that could be learned from that alien type has already been discovered.

Most of the UFOpaedia entries generated by studying live aliens are of no intrinsic value, although sometimes they will provide insight into in-game alien behavior or characteristics. Sometimes the information provided is misleading. If nothing else, though, they are fun to read.

Each alien species (including autopsies), alien mission, or alien ship entry added to the UFOpaedia will earn the player 50 points.

Alien Types

There are 29 different alien race/rank combos in the game:

  • Sectoid Soldier, Medic, Navigator, Engineer, Leader, or Commander
  • Snakeman Soldier, Navigator, Engineer, Leader, or Commander
  • Ethereal Soldier, Leader, or Commander
  • Muton Soldier, Navigator, or Engineer
  • Floater Soldier, Medic, Navigator, Engineer, Leader, or Commander
  • Celatid Terrorist
  • Silacoid Terrorist
  • Chryssalid Terrorist
  • Reaper Terrorist
  • Sectopod Terrorist
  • Cyberdisc Terrorist

One does not need to capture all of the alien-rank combinations to produce every possible UFOpaedia entry in the game. Enough Medics, Navigators, and Engineers of any sort will eventually fill out your UFOpaedia completely (although you must study at least one Leader and Commander, as detailed above).

Alien Missions

These UFOpaedia entries will be generated by researching alien Navigators. Captured Navigators may give information on mission types other than the type they were engaged in when captured.

Alien Ships

These UFOpaedia entries will be generated by researching alien Engineers. They do not unlock any technologies, but they do give detailed information about the performance characteristics of each ship, which can help players tailor their interception strategies. Captured Engineers may give information on ship types other than the type they were found on.

Alien Species

Studying any captive alien will produce a "live alien" UFOpaedia entry on that species, unless that entry already exists. Researching an alien corpse will produce an "Alien Autopsy" UFOpaedia entry on its species.

Researching alien Medics can produce "live alien" and Autopsy entries on species other than their own. (However, if the entry on live Ethereals is produced in this manner it will not unlock the Psionic Laboratory research topic -- you must still study a psionic alien directly.)

There are 11 different alien species in the game, and 11 different Live and Autopsy entries can be generated. (Zombies can be thought of as a 12th alien species, although neither a corpse nor live specimen can ever be collected, and a UFOpaedia entry can never be generated on them.)

The two robotic units (Sectopods and Cyberdiscs) cannot be captured alive or studied directly; there isn't even a RESEARCH.DAT entry for them. To generate a live alien UFOpaedia entry on them, you must research alien Medics of any other species.

Minimum Alien Research

This section applies to research on aliens themselves (dead or alive), not alien equipment

As shown above, some aliens can divulge more than one research project. What's the most efficient way to research them, if one wants to complete all research? Opportunities and concerns for efficiency are:

  • Species research on some races can be gotten while researching specific ranks
  • Live terrorists (4 x 170 average research days) and all corpses (11 x 180) need less time when directly researched, compared to research via medics (192 hours each)
  • Your first Navigator will reveal the Hyper-wave Decoder in addition to an alien mission, but you have to specifically research a leader (LDR) or commander (CDR), and then a CDR, to get the two core strategic missions. Since Ethereals don't have any ranks besides LDR and CDR (and soldier), one of the LDR/CDRs should be Ethereal. For maximal efficiency, the other can be a Sectoid CDR (190 hours). Either way, the first reveals the Psionic Laboratory.

To make a long story short, the minimal alien research is:

  • 4 live terrorists (x170=680)
  • 11 alien corpses (x180=1980)
  • 8 navigators for Missions* (x192=1536)
  • 8 engineers for Ships* (x192=1536)
  • 2 CDRs or 1 LDR and 1 CDR, where one is Ethereal and the other a Sectoid CDR (192+190=382)
  • 2 medics, only after all 11 corpses and the 9 other live aliens are done, leaving only the live Sectopod and Cyberdisc (x192=384)

*Navigators and engineers should be picked to get Floaters, Mutons, and Snakemen

That's 4 terrorists, 11 corpses, and 20 aliens for a total of 6498 research days, on average. That's about a fourth of all research in total.

See Also

UFO Badge X-COM: Enemy Unknown/UFO Defense
Research:BasicsPopular Sequences and TipsTreesLive AliensTechnical Details