XCOM: Enemy Unknown Research Guide

In-depth guide to Research - Xenobiology, Engineering and Weapons manufacturing in XCOM Enemy Unknown.

When you’re dealing with an alien invasion, you’re bound to find some weird technology that would water the mouths of those researchers and scientists. Thus, it’s important in XCOM: Enemy Unknown to research whatever alien-related stuff you find. This essentiality is actually a large part of the development system of the game.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Research

The Research and Engineering of XCOM allows you to develop new weapons, create badass defense armors, attain credits, and much more. But because of the risks, you’re best doing so with a guide to get aid from, and we have exactly that.

For more help on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, read our Class and Builds & Progression.

Story Related and Utility Research

There a few researches in the game that are story related and/or prerequisites for some of the more rewarding researches.

Experimental Warfare
Unlocks: Foundry facility, Phoenix Cannon, Alien Grenades project

Weapon Fragments
Requirements: 5 weapon fragments
Unlocks: S.C.O.P.E. item (+10 aim), S.C.O.P.E. upgrade project (Foundry)

Alien Materials
Requirements: 5 weapon fragments
Unlocks: Nano-Fiber Vest item (+3 HP)

UFO Powered Source
Requirements: 1 salvaged UFO Power Source
Unlocks: Elerium Generator facility

Requirements: 4 Sectoid corpses
Unlocks: Alien Containment facility

Arc Thrower
Requirements: Xeno-Biology research, 10 weapon fragments
Unlocks: Arc Thrower item (stuns enemy for interrogation)

Outsider Shard
Requirements: Xeno-Biology research
Unlocks: Skeleton Key (story-related item)

Requirements: 1 salvaged UFO Power Source, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Improved Arc Thrower project

Alien Nav Computer
Requirements: 2 salvaged UFO flight computer
Unlocks: Satellite Nexus Facility, Stealth Satellites project

Hyperwave Communication
Requirements: Alien Nav Computer research, 1 salvaged Hyperwave Beacon, 30 alloys, 30 Elerium
Unlocks: Hyperwave Relay facility

Ethereal Device
Requirements: 1 salvaged Psi-Link from Ethereal UFO
Unlocks: Gollop Chamber facility

Meld Recombination
Requirments: Recover Meld during a mission
Unlocks: Cybernetics lab, Genetics lab, MEC-1 Warden


Weapons in XCOM are researched by finding alien weapon fragments during fights. It’s thus essential not to sell them on the Grey Market, and opt to fight all the battles available to attain as many fragments as you can.

In addition to simple fragments, you may need specific materials, such as alloys or other weapons. Some researches have to be carried out before the next ones can as well.

The following are the researches and their rewards.

Note that stats for the unlocked weapons are displayed as: (Base Damage, Critical Chance [%], Critical Damage)

Beam Weapons
Requirements: 10 weapon fragments, 5 alien alloys
Unlocks: Laser Pistol (2,30%,3), Laser Rifle (5,10%,7), Improved Pistol II

Heavy Lasers:
Requirements: Beam Weapons, 5 Weapon Fragments, 5 Alien Alloys
Unlocks: Heavy Laser LMG (6,CC0%,9), Laser Cannon (Interceptor), S.H.I.V. Laser Project

Precision Lasers:
Requirements: Beam Weapons, 5 fragments, 5 alloys
Unlocks: Scatter Laser Shotgun (6,20%,9), Laser Sniper (6,30%,9)

Light Plasma Rifle:
Requirements: Salvaged Light Plasma Rifle, 40 fragments, 10 alloys, 5 Elerium
Unlocks: Light Plasma Rifle (5,10%,CD7)

Plasma Pistol
Requirements: Salvaged Plasma Pistol, 40 fragments, 5 Elerium
Unlocks: Plasma Pistol (3,20%,4), Improved Pistol III Project

Plasma Rifle
Requirements: Salvaged Plasma Rifle, 40 fragments, 10 alloys, 5 Elerium
Unlocks: Plasma Rifle (7,10%,10)

Heavy Plasma
Requirements: Salvaged Heavy Plasma, 40 fragments, 10 alloys, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Heavy Plasma LMG (9,0%,13), S.H.I.V. Plasma Project

Plasma Sniper
Requirements: Plasma Rifle or Heavy Plasma, 50 fragments, 10 alloys, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Plasma Sniper Rifle (9,35%,13)

Alloy Cannon
Requirements: Plasma Rifle or Heavy Plasma, 40 fragments, 25 alloys, 5 Elerium
Unlocks: Alloy Cannon Shotgun (9,20%,13)

Guided Fusion Launcher
Requirements: Salvaged Battleship Class UFO Fusion Core, 75 fragments, 20 alloys, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Blaster Rocket Launcher

Armor Research

Armor researches work in a similar manner to the weapons one. However, instead of weapon fragments, your focus is mainly on general material and lower-grade armors for advanced researches.

Carapace Armor
Requirement: Salvaged Alien Materials, 10 alien alloys
Unlocks: Carapace Armor (HEALTH +4), Alloy S.H.I.V.

Skeleton Suit
Requirement: Carapace Armor, 15 alloys
Unlocks: Skeleton Suit (HEALTH +3, grapple hook, increased movement)

Titan Armor
Requirements: Carapace Armor, 15 alloys, 5 Elerium
Unlocks: Titan Armor (HEALTH +10, poison immunity, flame immunity)

Ghost Armor
Requirements: Titan Armor, Hyperwave Communication (see “other”), 15 alloys, 15 Elerium
Unlocks: Ghost Armor (HEALTH +6, Ghost Mode ability, grapple hook)

Archangel Armor
Requirements:  Titan Armor, New Fighter Craft (see “other”), 15 alloys, 15 Elerium
Unlocks: Archangel Armor (HEALTH +8, flight mode)

Psi Armor
Requirements: Ethereal or Sectoid Commander interrogation, 10 alloys, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Psi Armor (HEALTH +6, Will increase of 30 for psi attacks and defense)

Interceptors Research

Interceptors are basically your anti-UFO fighters to keep your satellites safe. As you progress onwards, you’ll fight against tougher UFOs. Thus, it is extremely essential to research and upgrade your Interceptors as soon as you can.

Here are the different researches you can do to unlock weapons for the Interceptor and also new models:

Note that stats are displayed as:
(Hit Chance [%], Range, Fire Rate, Damage, Armor Penetration)

Heavy Lasers
Requirements: Beam Weapons, 5 Weapon Fragments, 5 Alien Alloys
Unlocks: Laser Cannon (85%,Short,Rapid,Low,Medium)

Phoenix Cannon
Requirements: Experimental Warfare research
Unlocks: Phoenix Cannon (95%,Short,Rapid,Low,Low)

Plasma Cannon
Requirements: Light Plasma Rifle, 30 fragments, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Plasma Cannon (85%,Long,Medium,Medium,High)

New Fighter Craft
Requirements: Salvaged Alien Nav Computer, UFO Power Source, 75 fragments, 10 alloys, 10 Elerium
Unlocks: Firestorm Interceptor and Hover S.H.I.V.

EMP Cannon
Requirements: New Fighter Craft, Plasma Cannon, 20 Elerium
Unlocks: EMP Cannon (100%,Short,Medium,High,High)

Interrogations and Autopsies

One awesome thing you can do in XCOM is capture new enemy types, have them interrogated, and then get the staff to do an autopsy on it!

Though it may sound morally grey, this fun method of research can earn you some unlocks for Interceptors to other utility-based equipment. Each enemy type has unique research results from Interrogations and autopsies.

So start asking questions, and then chop ‘em open!

Interrogation: Beam Weapon research credit
Autopsy: Unlocks Uplink Targeting for Interceptors

Sectoid Commander
Interrogation: Psionic research credit, Psi Armor prerequisite
Autopsy: Psi Lab available for construction

Interrogation: Armor research credit
Autopsy: Unlocks Defense Matrix for interceptors

Thin Man
Interrogation: UFO Technology research credit
Autopsy: Improved Medkit project (+50% to Medkit healing)

Interrogation:  —
Autopsy: Unlocks Chitin Plating item (+4 HP, reduces melee damage sustained)

Interrogation: Plasma Weapon research credit
Autopsy: Ammo Conservation project

Muton Berserker
Interrogation: Armor research credit
Autopsy: Unlocks Combat Stims item

Muton Elite
Interrogation: All weapon tech research credit
Autopsy: Plasma Weapon research credit

Heavy Floater
Interrogation: Flight research credit
Autopsy: Advanced Repair project

Interrogation:  —
Autopsy: Drone Capture project

Autopsy: Unlocks UFO Tracking for purchase for interceptors

Autopsy: Advanced Construction project

Interrogation: All tech research credit, Psi Armor prerequisite
Autopsy: Unlocks Mind Shield item

Autopsy: Unlocks Shaped Armor, Advanced Servomotors

The Foundry

The Foundry in XCOM is a special research facility that heavily depends on Engineers and credit costs. The latter varies according to your progress in the game and the satellite coverage bonuses, but the former (engineers) is really essential.

Here are the projects you can run in the Foundry:

Heavy Weapons Platform
Cost: 5 engineers
Result: Combat drone for use in battle

Alien Grenades
Cost: 20 engineers, 20 weapon fragments, 25 alien alloys, 10 Elerium, 1 salvaged Alien Grenade
Result: Alien Grenades

Improved Medkit
Cost: 15 engineers, 20 fragments, 4 Thin Man corpses
Result: Medkits heal 50% more

Improved Arc Thrower
Cost: 10 engineers, 20 fragments, 20 alloys, 20 Elerium, 4 Drone wrecks
Result: Increases Arc Thrower stun rate

Advanced Repair
Cost: 20 engineers, 30 alloys, 10 Elerium, 4 Heavy Floater corpses
Result: Reduces repair time of interceptors and S.H.I.V. units

SHIV Laser
Cost: 10 engineers, 15 fragments, 30 alloys
Result: S.H.I.V. miniguns replaced by laser guns

SHIV Plasma
Cost: 20 engineers, 30 fragments, 45 alloys, 30 Elerium
Result: S.H.I.V. weapons replaced by plasma guns

SHIV Repair
Cost: 10 engineers, 15 alloys, 15 Elerium
Result: Arc Throwers can repair S.H.I.V.s mid-combat

SHIV Suppression
Cost: S.H.I.V.s gains Suppression ability
Result: 15 engineers

Drone Capture
Cost: 10 engineers, 20 fragments, 4 Drone wrecks
Result: Arc Throwers can control Drones for the remainder of mission

Ammo Conservation
Cost: 15 engineers, 20 fragments, 90 alloys, 6 Muton corpses
Result: All weapons carry more ammo

Advanced Construction
Cost: 30 engineers, 20 fragments, 50 alloys, 30 Elerium, 2 Sectopod wrecks
Result: Faster construction of vehicles and facilities

Advanced Flight
Cost: 25 engineers, 50 alloys, 50 Elerium
Result: Flight time of Hover S.H.I.V.s and Archangel Armor increased

Improved Pistol I
Cost: 5 engineers, 5 fragments
Result: Critical hit chance of pistols increased

Improved Pistol II
Cost: 10 engineers, 25 fragments, 20 alloys
Result: Aim of pistols increased

Improved Pistol III
Cost: 20 engineers, 50 fragments, 10 alloys, 10 Elerium
Result: Max damage of pistols increased

Stealth Satellites
Cost: 20 engineers, 20 alloys, 20 Elerium, 3 UFO flight computers
Result: Reduced chance of UFOs finding satellites

S.C.O.P.E Upgrade
Cost: 10 engineers, 15 fragments
Result: Critical hit chance increased

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