XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
XCOM: Enemy Unknown Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Thrilling sci-fi strategy game with violence and gore.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

While elements of XCOM: Enemy Unknown focus on strategic thinking and self direction, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive Messages

On one hand,  XCOM: Enemy Unknown pits humans against an evil alien force, which is a good message about working together to protect innocent people -- but the game is extremely violent and gory so it cannot be considered having a very positive message.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each of the humans who work toward destroying the aliens have his or her own personality and specialty, but you don't get to know any of them well enough to judge their character -- and if they're role model material. They do defend humans against an alien invasion but they are killing with force at the same time.

Ease of Play

The game can be a bit challenging for those new to the strategy genre, but the thorough tutorial and good pacing layers on the difficulty gradually. Experience with the original XCOM game is ideal, too.


XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a very violent strategy game. Players use all kinds of weapons to destroy alien invaders, including guns and bombs, and both sides can be bloodied, blown up into bits, and impaled. Cut-scene sequences also depict violence and gore. Humans could also be implanted with alien eggs in their head, which explode.



The game has occasionally strong swear words, including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." You don't hear it often, but the profanity is strong.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while XCOM: Enemy Unknown might be a strategy game, it's a "Mature"-rated game because of strong violence, gore, and blood. Players can kill or be killed in a graphic manner. There is also strong profanity in the dialogue sequences, and the online multiplayer matches support open-dialogue between gamers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysadfjsdkfkdjfaj... April 30, 2019

its good but tough

be ready to ask for a refund if you dont know how to play
Adult Written byPun_Lover March 10, 2019

Extremely Well-made Tactics and Base-Management Strategy game

Violence: Moderately bloody violence against aliens, blood is yellow. When your soldiers are killed there's a brief splash of red blood. No injury detail.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySquirrelOnToast September 21, 2015

The rating on this game is too damn high

Having played this entire game through twice, I find the ratings on this game absurd. This game is a tactical turn-based strategy that pits an alien force again... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBob says hi March 22, 2013

Graphic but OK

Very strategic strategy game although it's very graphic, it's not much worse than a shooting game with blood if you child can handle language and what... Continue reading

What's it about?

Earth is under an extraterrestrial attack and so the Earth’s governments unite to form a paramilitary organization, known as XCOM, to fight back against this unknown enemy. You're in control of this elite squad of super soldiers, to battle the aliens on our turf and prevent them from taking over the planet. Gamers do this by creating and defending an operational base, researching alien technologies, and planning and executing turn-based attacks against the aliens (including the deployment of air units like the Interceptor and Skyranger). Despite some differences in control, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC versions of the game play out the same.

Is it any good?

XCOM: ENEMY UNKNOWN is a refreshing change compared to most other games available today. From Firaxis, the award-winning team behind Civilization, comes this action-heavy strategy game that delivers thrills and spills. The turn-based strategy spans more than 70 missions around the globe, which keeps things fresh, but choosing the right man or women for the job can be just as critical as following through with tactical combat. While the graphics can sometimes be a bit glitchy, the pacing and progression, single and multiplayer maps, and thoughtfully designed soldier depth all add up to an engrossing strategy game worthy of your time, attention, and money.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it's a good idea to resurrect older computer game franchises, like XCOM, and create a new experience for the modern age. Or should classic games be left as is, and game developers should move onto new intellectual properties (IPs)?

  • This game contains a lot of violence and gore. What is the impact of this kind of violence on the player?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy and action games

Themes & Topics

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