Dr Vahlen.jpg
These weapons... these abuses of science, we still have an opportunity to use them for a greater good.

–Dr. Vahlen

Dr. Moira Vahlen is the Chief Scientific Officer, an astrobiologist by profession, attached to XCOM who oversees the project's research laboratories.

XCOM Database[]

Dr. Vahlen is the Chief Scientist assigned to the XCOM project. She leads the Research Team's efforts with great enthusiasm, as her particular interests lie in finding ways to adapt the alien technology to advance human scientific developments.

– XCOM Database, XCOM: Enemy Unknown


Dr. Vahlen appears to be German (or potentially Austrian or Swiss) based on her surname and accent. During particularly tense moments, she has been known to exclaim in strongly accented German before lapsing back into English.

Player Interactions[]

Dr. Vahlen provides medical information and linguistic assistance to Delta Squad during the tutorial mission.

Following the tutorial, she introduces the Commander to the research laboratories and on occasion advises the Commander with some helpful tips about alien specimens and how to capture them, and also asks that explosives not be used so that materials and weapon fragments are preserved rather than destroyed outright.

She also oversees all alien interrogations and autopsies. In the later stages of the game, she advises the Commander in the use of psionics and observes The Volunteer when he or she activates the Gollop Chamber.

In XCOM: Enemy Within, Dr. Vahlen helps unlock the secrets of Meld and advocates for using the substance to perfom genetic modifications to XCOM's soldiers.

In XCOM 2, Central Officer Bradford will occasionally mention Vahlen, talking about how she went missing, and report picking up "broken transmissions in what could be German", which are implied to be Vahlen.

In the Alien Hunters DLC, it is revealed she managed to escape aboard the Skyranger. She, and a number of other people, stumbled upon an abandoned Alien Genetics Lab, contained three cyrogenically frozen specimens that Vahlen began to genetically experiment on. As a result of her modifications, the specimens eventually became the Viper King, the Berserker Queen, and the Archon King, who eventually broke free and overran the facility. Vahlen's fate afterwards is unknown.


In addition to preparing written research reports, Dr. Vahlen offers advice, information, speculation, and commentary concerning a wide variety of subjects throughout XCOM's efforts to combat the alien threat.

Click a tab (above) for dialogue spoken by Dr. Vahlen.

Note: Some content was extracted from the ChiefScientistWaveData.int file and may not appear in-game.

SSSpoiler Icon.png WARNING: This article or section may contain spoilers!

Alien Artifacts

Artifact Dialogue
Alien Food "What could they possibly be storing in those tanks?"
Alien Stasis Tank "They're holding tanks of some kind. As repugnant as the thought may be... this is most likely how they keep their latest test subjects alive."
Alien Surgery "I didn't want to believe it... but it's clear the aliens have been experimenting on the abductees... what could they be hoping to accomplish through this?"
Ethereal Device (1) "Commander! That device... it seems to be of great importance to them. Retrieving it for further study should be our highest priority!"
Ethereal Device (2) "An object of immense power. Think of all we could do if we unlocked its secrets."
Ethereal Device (3) "It's clear that the alien device will not respond to attempts as physical interaction. However, if we can find a soldier with strong enough psionic abilities, we may be able to activate it."
Hyperwave Beacon "The existence of this artifact, which we believe to be a communication device of some kind, begs the question-- If the Sectoid Commander was the alien leader, then who, or what, was it communicating with."
Outsider Shard (1) "I believe we may have found the source of the strange readings we picked up when we first encountered it. [...] It's organic in nature yet highly magnetized. And it appears to resonate, very faintly, within a specific electromagnetic spectrum."
Outsider Shard (2) "The methods involved in creating these "crystals"... an organic machine capable of complex communications. We could spend years studying this technology."
UFO Flight Computer "The alien flight computer could prove to be useful in our own research. Please take great care in returning it to the base in one piece."
Weapon Fragments "Their weapons appear to self destruct when the operator dies. We should look closely for any fragments that could be salvaged for our own development programs."

XCOM Facilities

Facility Dialogue
Alien Containment "Though I do not always agree with Dr. Shen, he has a point in this case. Now that we have the potential to capture an alien subject alive, we do need to construct a containment facility before we attempt to bring one in."
Hyperwave Relay "The risk was worth the reward. If we hadn't pushed on, there's no way we would have gotten this information."
Psionic Labs "We can now submit our soldiers for testing within the Psi-Lab. Once we have a complete report, I'll notify you with the results. Our current research implies a strong link between a candidate's willpower and their psionic potential. We're hoping that one or more of our existing soldiers will meet the necessary requirements."

First Events

Event Dialogue
Alien Captured (1) "Excellent! Now we can begin preparing for the interrogation."
Alien Captured (2) "I know it wasn't easy, but this could really be a turning point in our research! Not only can we interrogate the subject, but bringing an alien back alive provides us with a much better understanding of their physiology. Impressive work indeed. Preparations in the containment facility are well underway."
Alien Captured (3) "We should begin interrogating the alien subject immediately. I'm confident we can safely house it within the containment facility, but I can't say for how long."
Alien Encounter "...alien life on Earth... we're witnessing something never before seen in recorded history!"
Alien Interrogation "Before the creature expired, I was able to extract some new information from it. [...] When you have access to a creature's brain, certain patterns can be discerned. Recent images and thoughts."
Captive Alien Dies "Unfortunately, without an available containment facility, the subject you brought back to HQ expired before we could gain anything of value. You should speak to Dr. Shen right away."
Crash Site Mission "To withstand an impact like that, at such a velocity... the materials used in that vessel's hull must be at least an order of magnitude beyond any element we know of."
Mission Complete "...If I may, Commander. The labs are on high alert, teams are standing by for your orders. We can begin researching the newly recovered artifacts immediately."
Outsider Stunned "Excellent work! We'll begin analyzing this new artifact as soon as you return."
Psionic Testing, Negative Results "We still haven't had a candidate respond positively to the testing. We'll have to continue evaluating the remaining troops from the current pool."
Psionic Testing, Positive Results (1) "We may be on to something, Commander. Our latest candidate is... different. We're picking up levels of psionic energy unlike any we've detected in the previous tests."
Psionic Testing, Positive Results (2) "Ever since mankind first looked up at the stars, we have wondered what lies beyond. So very few have dared to look inward... The depths of the human mind hold more secrets than we can possibly imagine. How ironic that the means to defeat our enemy comes not through weapons or machines of war, but from within. And if we have succeeded... we will have gained a glimpse of what we are to become. We will have created something... extraordinary."
Research Labs Visit "Hello, Commander. My name is Dr. Vahlen. I oversee the Research Labs. This is where all of XCOM's research and development takes place. We have already begun analyzing the artifacts recovered from our first encounter with the aliens. Based on our preliminary findings, we believe we can use them to develop some new equipment for our soldiers. With your approval, we will begin immediately."
Research Project Changed "Commander, we've already committed resources to a previously assigned research task, which is not yet complete. Though I consider it counterproductive, I suppose we could move on to something else if you prefer."
Return to HQ "The recovered artifacts are being unloaded and the Research Team is awaiting your orders. We'll get started as soon as you give the order, Commander."
Soldier is Mind Controlled "Incredible! That alien seems to have... taken control of that soldier somehow. All of the advances we've made so far... they would be useless against this type of power."
Terror Mission "I just don't understand... why use such advanced technology against innocent civilians?"

Alien Invasion and Human Implications

"I'm still having a hard time grasping what it is the aliens are hoping to accomplish here. Are they studying us? Why abduct humans seemingly at random? There must be a pattern that we haven't established yet."
"We're gaining a better understanding of the alien technology with each passing day, but the task of actually reproducing their equipment will be difficult, to say the least. Still, with each new discovery, I find myself wondering how far our research could advance the cause of human scientific development. To think, that despite whatever sinister motive brought the aliens here... that their own technology could actually bring about a positive shift in human society...."
"I've always thought of science as a way to improve our everyday lives, to answer the long-standing questions of scientific history. The aliens, though... it's obvious now that they consider science simply as a means to an end, using and discarding life as needed to reach their goal... whatever that may be."
"I have difficulty understanding how such an advanced species could show so little empathy for the lives of other sentient beings... It goes against everything we have ever imagined. The technology is there, but with it comes a callousness we would never have expected. What could have brought them to this..."
"There's no way the aliens could have predicted this outcome - we've crippled their entire support network. Of course, this isn't the end... We have no choice now but to take it further. We have to find their remaining ships, and finish what they started."
"Nothing will ever be the same. The work that we've done here - to adapt the technology of a hostile enemy force - has advanced the scientific progress of mankind by untold generations. These weapons... these abuses of science, we still have an opportunity to use them for a greater good. We have paid a heavy price, but our efforts have not been in vain."
"With each of our major victories, we have encountered incrementally more powerful aliens. After the first alien craft was shot down, they began a campaign of terror. The alien forces were led by a Sectoid Commander, a powerful Psionic creature. Upon capturing the Hyperwave Beacon, we detected a cloaked ship carrying a being of incredible Psionic power. Having captured the device it sacrificed itself to protect, an immense alien ship has now appeared within our atmosphere... We can only assume that a being of even greater Psionic power is onboard this vessel. We have already pushed human evolution sooo faaaar... and I fear where the next step will take us... But our enemy leaves us with no other choice. A new type of weapon is required."

Research Labs and Projects

Subject Dialogue
Assign Ethereal Device "I accept that there... could be risks involved in studying this new alien device, but the enemy leaves us with no other choice."
Assign Hyperwave Communication "We've certainly had an influx of new developments recently. While the Sectoid Commander is an intriguing subject, I have to admit... this device has also captured my attention."
Assign Project (1) "Interesting choice... I'm expecting some exciting new developments in this area. I'll have a report sent over as soon as we've completed the research."
Assign Project (2) "This technology has a number of potential applications. I'm sure the science team is eager to begin. I'll notify you as soon as we have have something significant to report."
Assign Project (3) "I expected that would be a priority research task, Commander. I'll begin allocating resources to the project immediately."
Assign Project (4) "Understood, Commander. I'll contact you when I have a report available."
More Scientists Needed (1) "It seems the complexities of our latest research projects are overwhelming the current staff. I hope you'll consider seeking out additional scientists to bolster the team."
More Scientists Needed (2) "Commander, if we don't address the lack of available scientists in the lab soon, we run the risk of falling behind on our research."
More Scientists Needed (3) "We are in dire need of additional scientists in the lab, Commander. Now is not the time to cut back on resources dedicated to our research projects."
New Scientists Arrive "I appreciate your efforts to support the Research team, Commander. I've already put the new recruits to work in the lab."
Project Changed (1) "Although I would prefer to continue focusing on the current project, I can see why you would consider alternative research choices. What would you like us to do?"
Project Changed (2) "Understood, Commander. I'll ensure the project is given top priority in the labs. I will notify you directly once we've finalized our research."
Project Changed (3) "I understand you'd like to reassess our current research priorities. Just let me know where you'd like us to direct our efforts and we'll get to work."
Project Changed (4) "The Research team will begin work on the new project immediately. Once we have something substantial to report, I'll send word."

Alien Species

Alien Dialogue
Berserker "That alien there... it's not carrying a weapon like the others... what could it be doing?"
Chryssalid "This negates any hope we had of finding a clear pattern of behavior among the alien species. This specimen is nothing like the others..."
Ethereal "This is unlike anything else we've previously identified. Based on its physical appearance, I would assume this alien doesn't rely on brute strength. I recommend the troops exercise extreme caution, Commander."
Floater "This is a disturbing sight, to say the least. It's hard to differentiate where the organic material ends and the machine begins."
Heavy Floater "Although similar to the other floating specimens, this one seems to have much heavier armor."
Muton "With what we've seen so far, it was only natural to assume the aliens would have something specialized towards front-line combat. This hulking creature appears to be that unit."
Muton Elite "Just as before, we're seeing a gradual progression in the development of the alien subjects. That heavy armor look to be near impenetrable."
Outsider (1) "Our readings can't be right. If they were, that's a being of almost pure energy."
Outsider (2) "That's the alien we're looking for... Try to capture it alive. As we observed the first time we saw it, it's not very fond of bullets."
Outsider (3) "We should make every attempt to capture one of those creatures using the Arc Thrower - there doesn't seem to be much left when we attack outright."
Sectoid Commander (1) "That alien is clearly different from the others... It's wielding a power unlike anything we've previously encountered."
Sectoid Commander (2) "Yes... It almost looks like a larger version of the Sectoid... but something is different... what is that energy?"
Sectoid Commander (3) "I believe this is indeed the same creature we encountered when we made first contact with the aliens. As we have observed, it is somehow capable of using its mind as a weapon. If we were to study this specimen's brain tissue, perhaps we might be able to adapt this ability for our own purposes."
Sectopod "The aliens seem to be fielding mechanized units more frequently, and with a much greater range of firepower. How are we going to combat something of that size?"
Thin Man "That alien is unusually human in its appearance - they could be using it as an infiltration unit of some kind. I'd recommend capturing it for further analysis."
Zombie "As unprofessional as it sounds, the bite seems to have turned him, into... a... zombie."


Subject or Event Dialogue
Abductor "Could this be the ship responsible for the attacks taking place during the alien abductions?"
Alien Base (1) "I can only imagine what the aliens might be doing in an underground facility..."
Alien Base (2) "Well, it looks like we've found where they've been taking the abductees, but that still doesn't explain what the purpose of all this is."
Alien Capture (1) "Is it too much to ask, trying to bring back a alive alien subject? I would hope our soldiers at least understand our reasoning."
Alien Capture (2) "Another live capture? Please give my thanks to the men, Commander, I know it can't be an easy task trying to bring them in alive. You can trust that the Research team will make it worth the trouble."
Alien Capture (3) "Your men certainly seem to have a knack for capturing alien subjects alive. I only hope they realize how important their work is in relation to ours. Please pass on my gratitude to our forces."
Alien Capture (4) "Excellent work, Commander! Capturing the alien subjects alive allows for a much wider range of experimentation versus the expired specimens."
All Soldiers KIA (1) "If only there was something we could have done... Some aspect of our research that we perhaps overlooked..."
All Soldiers KIA (2) "Such a terrible loss of life... If only there was some way we could have helped them..."
All Soldiers KIA (3) "I thought we had done all we could... but now, I'm not so sure."
All Soldiers KIA (4) "We'll have to redouble our efforts. We cannot let this happen again..."
All Soldiers KIA (5) "Could we have prevented this tragedy? Perhaps we need to refocus our research efforts."
Captive Alien Dies (1) "Commander, perhaps I wasn't clear in my earlier report. Without a containment facility to house the alien captive, they will continue to die before an interrogation is possible."
Captive Alien Dies (2) "We really have no use for these alien captives without a containment facility, Commander. If you'd like to build one, perhaps we can finally begin the interrogation process."
Captive Alien Dies (3) "Commander, you're wasting valuable resources by continuing to order the retrieval of these living subjects. As I've told you repeatedly, we require a containment facility to house the alien before we can start an interrogation."
Construct Alien Containment and Arc Thrower "We've assembled everything we need to capture and house an alien for interrogation, Commander. The rest is up to our forces on the ground."
Explosives (1) "Commander! You may want to instruct your men to exercise restraint when using explosives... while certainly effective at killing aliens, they also destroy the artifacts we're hoping to recover from the bodies. Just something to consider."
Explosives (2) "Commander, I realize our troops have to put their own survival first, but every alien we use explosives against is one less opportunity to recover new artifacts."
Explosives (3) "I'm still hoping to recover some additional artifacts from the aliens, Commander, but our troops should try to be more careful with their explosives."
Injury-Free Mission (1) "An exemplary performance! Let's hope all of these operations go as smoothly as this one did."
Injury-Free Mission (2) "Our troops really came through on this one. I'm glad everyone made it back safely."
Injury-Free Mission (3) "Excellent work all around. Another impressive effort from our troops."
Injury-Free Mission (4) "A flawless effort... Not a single casualty."
Injury-Free Mission (5) "Great work, Commander. I hope all of our deployments go this well."
Injury-Free Mission (6) "I'm continually impressed by the work of our soldiers. They seem to be extremely efficient."
Injury-Free Mission (7) "Another successful mission. Excellent work, Commander."
Injury-Free Mission (8) "Not a single casualty. I'm certainly impressed by our soldiers' combat abilities."
Injury-Free Mission (9) "We can only hope that all of our future developments go as well as this one did."
Injury-Free Mission (10) "Not a scratch on anyone! The troops are better than I thought!"
Outsider Killed (1) "Commander, killing these particular aliens gets us nowhere. Our troops should focus on capturing one of them, not killing them."
Outsider Killed (2) "We can't afford to squander these opportunities, Commander. Please make every effort to stun this particular species of alien using the Arc Thrower."
Outsider Killed (3) "We don't have time to spare, Commander. We need to capture one of these strange aliens... We already know that killing them won't provide anything of use to us."
Overseer Ship "If the aliens have reserved this 'cloaking' technology specifically to hide this ship, we can only assume it is carrying something extremely valuable."
Psionics "These advancements could completely change the course of scientific progress... a new, untouched field of study, just waiting for able minds."
Soldier can use the Ethereal Device "This is it... Once our volunteer enters the chamber, there is no turning back. This is what we've been working towards this whole time. We likely will not be able to make any developments beyond this point."


Dr. Vahlen appears in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and is voiced by Moira Quirk as the main research head.

In the novel XCOM: Resurrection, Dr. Vahlen has taken refuge in a sleeping volcano on an icy island where she is conducting further research on live specimens of the aliens. Her efforts are thwarted however when the island gets invaded by ADVENT forces. Whilst Amar and his squad try to fend off the alien forces, Dr. Vahlen activates the self-defense system of the volcano, which boils the aliens in lava. Nothing is heard from Dr. Vahlen after that event.

In XCOM 2, her role has been taken over by researcher Richard Tygan. She is stated to be 'missing', with several clues about what happened to her, such as Lily Shen talking about seeing notes written in English and broken German.

Dr. Vahlen is a major driving force in the Alien Hunters DLC for XCOM 2. After XCOM was disbanded, Dr. Vahlen escaped to a facility in which she studied defect aliens, and performed particularly unethical research; it is apparent in her dialogue during the story mission that she had created or otherwise assisted in the uplifting of the Alien Rulers. After one of her test subjects escaped, the facility had become overrun with Vipers, and all of the facility personnel were presumed killed.

The whereabouts and status of Dr. Vahlen and where she found staff for the facility are unknown. Her voice lines are substituted for Dr. Tygan's during the autopsies of the Alien Rulers.


  • Dialogue can be found in the game files for XCOM: Enemy Unknown which indicates that alien flora was removed from the game. Dr. Vahlen would have commented, "Another intriguing discovery... that appears to be a form of alien flora. This could imply the aliens are attempting to establish a long-term habitat on Earth, with conditions more suitable to their physiology."
    • However, in XCOM 2, alien flora is present near the Psionic Gateway, and is mentioned by Dr. Tygan in a similar manner.
  • In the original cut of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Dr. Vahlen and Dr. Shen were to be married. The development team even went to the length of creating a wedding ring for Vahlen.[1]
  • The XCOM archives in XCOM 2 reveal her first name to be Moira, a name shared with her voice actor Moira Quirk.
    • Moira Quirk is originally from England, and her native accent slips through in several of Vahlen's voice lines in Enemy Unknown. The most obvious is an early-game line about beginning the first few research projects which is spoken entirely in her English accent. Some fans noted her German language lines are grammatically correct but not pronounced correctly; additionally her accent sometimes lapses into what sounds more like French. Bilingual people do tend to switch between accents in conversation, so this may have been intentional.