The Commander is the leader of XCOM and the main protagonist of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2. The Commander oversees every aspect of XCOM, including strategic planning, soldier management, logistics, infrastructure, and research. The Commander personally orders soldiers in tactical combat missions.

The Commander in their stasis suit, preparing to Psionically control an Avatar in Operation Leviathan.

The player takes the role of the Commander in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2. The Commander's name, physical appearance and gender are not canonically specified in-game. Other characters address the player directly in voiceovers and cutscenes only as Commander, and most of the Commander's appearances in-game are shown from a first-person perspective. The Commander does not take to the field personally in most scenarios, only being seen on the field twice, the first during the Tutorial, and the second during the final mission, where they psionically control an Avatar to lead the final combat mission of XCOM 2, Operation Leviathan.

The Commander is held in high-esteem by almost every person encountered over the course of the campaign. Fellow XCOM and Resistance veterans like John Bradford, the Spokesman and the now-deceased Raymond Shen address the Commander with deep reverence, and their support staff throughout the Resistance address them with deep respect, while soldiers in the field obey their every order without question, provided a mental affliction such as panic or mind-control isn't interfering with their ability to listen to their superior. This respect goes as far as even the alien hierarchy on Earth, with the Elders regarding the Commander as a great threat to their operations, warning their underlings to not underestimate them.


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Following the discovery of alien life, the Council of Nations installs the Commander as leader of XCOM in 2015, at the start of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Based out of an underground facility, the Commander subsequently leads XCOM in the war against the aliens, only to be overmatched and outgunned. At some point in the conflict, alien forces storm XCOM HQ and kidnap the Commander, effectively shattering XCOM and crippling the organization. Following this, the Commander is implanted with a biological chip and held in a stasis tube that preserves them exactly as they were in 2015, attended to on a regular basis by the staff of the ADVENT Administration, which took over as the dominant government of Earth following humanity's surrender. Utilizing the Commander as a living computer, ADVENT draws on their strategic and tactical expertise when controlling its forces via the network. For the next twenty years, ADVENT uses the Commander to effectively stomp out most resistance on the planet.

Sometime during or prior to 2035, Volk's Reapers, acting on a tip from the Skirmishers, locate the Commander. They pass the intel on to the Spokesman, who in turn contacts the remnants of XCOM, now led by John Bradford. In 2035, XCOM mounts Operation Gatecrasher to rescue the Commander in a daring breakout, storming the heart of ADVENT territory to do so. After Doctor Richard Tygan performs emergency surgery to remove the implant the aliens installed in them, the Commander is personally awakened and attended to by Bradford, who briefs them on the situation regarding the current state of Earth. The Commander is reinstated as leader of XCOM on March 1, 2035. They take charge of XCOM's remnants and lead Earth in the War for Liberation, with the goal of defeating ADVENT and ending alien occupation of Earth.

While the Commander personally leads the war effort from the Avenger, guiding their troops into battle against ADVENT, forging a global Resistance piece by piece and taking the fight to the aliens wherever they can, they also undertake the task of dealing with the alien's esoteric Avatar Project, masterminding several operations dedicated to uncovering the exact machinations of the project. This leads XCOM to recover several crucial items regarding the Avatar Project, with the organization eventually discovering that the goal of the Avatar Project is to forge new bodies for the Elders - as their present ones are currently afflicted by a terminal, irreversible decay that will lead them to go extinct should nothing be done - to utilize, which would effectively make them unstoppable, as these bodies are designed to augment and contain their immense power with no ill-effects. Unfortunately, these new bodies - and the Elders themselves - are somewhere XCOM cannot reach, at least, not until the organization's top leaders determine that an Avatar of their own making would allow them to bypass the Elders' safeguards and storm their headquarters directly. Due to the Commander's previous experience with ADVENT's psionic network, they are the only one capable of manning the Avatar and allowing XCOM to hunt down and kill the alien leadership.

After months of brutal warfare across the planet, killing, capturing, dismantling and destroying every obstacle that gets in their way, XCOM summons, confronts and slays an Elder, an act that frightens the remaining Elders, who now realize that they are vulnerable to attack. Fearful that XCOM will triumph, they order the ADVENT Administration to immediately begin harvesting all human life on Earth, an act that will naturally result in the extinction of the human race. With their hand forced, the Commander orders XCOM troops to storm the ADVENT Network Tower and hijack the broadcast baiting the humans based in the administration's city centers, revealing the truth of the alien occupation to humanity at large, sparking a global uprising.

With the ADVENT Administration busy attempting to contain the violence from a reinvigorated humanity, the Commander personally mans the XCOM Avatar, taking a strike team comprised of their best troops through a recovered psionic gateway and into the headquarters of the Elders. Fighting their way through a literal army of ADVENT, aliens and whatever other monstrosities the Elders throw at them, the Commander and their forces confront and kill the Avatars, destroying the Elders along with them and effectively decapitating the ADVENT administration, ending the war and freeing humanity.

With Earth free and the war over, XCOM transitions to a peacekeeping role, attempting to forge alliances between the human and alien populaces on the planet. At some point, Jane Kelly proposes the formation of the Reclamation Agency, a joint-species initiative to help unite the planet against future threats. Overruling the concerns of Bradford, the Commander authorizes the Reclamation Agency, which takes up residence in City 31 soon after. By 2040, the Commander is still leading XCOM.