Long Term Fate of a Xenian Invasion

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    • Long Term Fate of a Xenian Invasion

      Ok, I don't have any formal training in tactics or military history, but I'm wondering about whether, even if the Lambda scientists didn't destroy the Nihilanth, Xen would actually have been able to succeed in an invasion of Earth.

      We know that in Black Mesa the human military was losing by the end of the game, but there's a number of factors that I think make the incident not representative of human-Xen warfare as a whole:
      • The Resonance Cascade itself filled Black Mesa with large reserves of pre-existing dead bodies for headcrabs to parasitize- I really don't think zombies could ever present any serious threat to trained soldiers, especially if the latter are free to move about and stay out of the way of their claws, but they do require some expenditure of ammo to bring down and can push squads out of safe or valuable positions.
      • The military seems to have almost as difficult a time moving around the facility as the player does, while the Xenians can teleport basically anywhere within it.
      • I don't think Freeman was singlehandedly responsible for the military pulling out or anything like that, or for that matter have any real effect on their numbers, but he did seem to have a tendency to smash right through fortified positions, blow up walls, collapse tunnels, activate dangerous machinery, and just in general wreck any attempt at a coherent battle plan.
      • For that matter, they were also facing reasonably organized resistance from the BM security staff, who aren't terrible combatants and are a little better able to actually navigate the place.
      • Perhaps most importantly, up until the very end of the game the military seems to want to secure different important objectives inside of Black Mesa- possibly they're trying to get weapons research, etc., possibly they actually think they can clean out the facility and get it operational again. Either way, that means both that they have objectives they need to worry about other than the Xenians, and that they have to hold back for fear of further damaging the place. The airstrikes don't happen until they've been routed on the ground, after all, and if they'd started out using their air power to its full effect things may have gone very differently.

      I think that in a straight fight out in the open desert, the Xenians would actually end up losing quite handily. It seems as though their biotechnology never actually developed effective explosives, and while their "heavies" (gargs and flyers) certainly seem impressive from Freeman's scale I don't think they're quite competitive with human tanks, etc. in terms of maneuverability, actual damage-on-targets, or availability. For that matter, those manta flyers don't seem to have very effective air-to-air weapons, so human air forces might be able to pretty easily get control of the airspace- and furthermore, that electrical attack seems to work pretty well on large, slow-moving targets, but I don't think it has the broad, infantry-killing area of effect that human explosive bombs do. Add to all of this the fact that Xen has to push into human territory where we just have to defend, and the fact that I doubt they can teleport in ready-made fortifications, and I'd conclude that even with a significant numerical disadvantage overall human military forces would be able to push a Xenian incursion back.

      Of course, all of this is predicated on one assumption, which is implied but never confirmed- that the Xenians can only teleport into the area around Black Mesa. If they can go anywhere on the planet, unless they were very stupid and expended all of their forces on a single assault I could only ever see the humans losing outright or managing an extremely Pyrrhic victory where major population centers end up under 24-hour armed watch for additional incursions.

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    • I think the Xenians could only teleport in Black Mesa while the Nihilanth was alive basically, when the incident happened he took the opportunity to "escape" from the Combine, he was controlling that rift. When Freeman killed him, he lost controll over teleporting the Xenians, wich led to uncontrollable portal storms occurring ALL around Earth. As the seven hour war does not occurr right after the destruction of Black Mesa, there was basically an invasion wich may have weakened the Human forces, this was going on for a while, then the Combine came and finished everything off. But yeah, I agree, the military probably did not thought that these things can teleport any time, anywhere many of them was not even told what are they going in for.
    • First the "xen" army is a running force not an invading one, that said they are still full out military forces. The major advantage the "xen" soldiers have is from the facts that the military has no idea on numbers for the "xen" forces and the fact that the "xen" forces can thereticly teleport in anywhere.

      As for why the military loses control nihilanth the is not only keeping the cascades portal open, but also forcing its holes wider. The reason the military starts to lose is not because of logistics or lack of gear it is because every moment the area that the "xen" lifeforms can teleport in randomly or other wise is getting larger and at one point hits their forward bases. in teh uncut we see one of these bases just as it is being abandoned the lines are shifting there is no front line meaning that military tactics start to fail.

      That said the "xen" army likely did a number on the US forces sent in which was just a minor clean up crew sent in to clear and retake the facility before things got worse.

      Now for the seven hour war, this is a big one in the canon it happens anywhere between a few hours and a few months after half life(little knowledge is from valve off handedly mentioning it need to find my old sources) during the time before that war portal storms hit, throwing the remaining "xen" wildlife as well as wildlife from the vortaguants home dimension, which is likely where the combine was setting up shop as we can guess from what is mentioned by mossman in half life 2. (they can not go back when they get some where, and the last race they took over was teh vortigaunts and nihilanth)

      Yeah I can ramble a lot, but the "xen" lifeforms them selves do nto have the military might to take on the world military forces combined. Even in known canon the xen lifeforms only made it as far as black mesa before it got nuked. the actions of freeman and the nuke caused the portal storms which alerted the combine who invaded the now ravenged earth. likely using things like crab synths, striders, gunships, and mortor synths along with vortigaunts and what ever remains of the controllers and a-grunts.
    • I think they didn't use their whole air-power in fear to not make this incident public, and the same applies to HECU amount.It would be hard to rotate thousands of soldiers without the"leaks".Also since we don't know exactly when the incident was happened,it was 20xx.So,probably many people had cameras on their phones if it was year 2007-2009 and they can "track" their huge convoys.

      About Freeman's responsibility on HECU withdrawn,I think it does affect them a lot since in all wars the partisans had at least 2nd role in military loses and Freeman was a typical partisan since he wasn't able to fight them 1vs100.He coordinated securities,scientists,killed many HECUs,helicopters,tanks.Also he has a responsibility for make them out of position in fights with Xenians(garage battle,helipad battle),you can see it on surface tension example or On a Rail chapter.They could achieve more wins if there was no Freeman behind their backs.Also they've rotated a lot of their soldiers in order to catch him instead of helping their soldiers in tough fights.Than more soldiers you have than more strategic "aces" you will have.

      Regarding the Pyrrhic victory.It's not possible to win that war without the killing Nihilanth that is not possible without the hundreds of jetpacks from Lambda Core and even then you will fight with thousands of xenians and let not forget about those creepy platforms when you can simply fall from them.So they have to produce thousands of them first and then kill Nihilanth or not to kill.I still think that Freeman did more bad things than good.Just imagine how usefull the captured Nihilanth could be.....At least it will be a holy ground for scientists,especially if public will aware of what happening in Xen,just imagine 20 years of science before the Combine arrival.We could probably even won the war then.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Nova Terra ().

    • Very interesting topic. I like it!

      One of the good (or bad, depending on how you look at it from a story perspective) things about the Xenian invasion's portrayal in HL1/BMS is that there's a lot left to the imagination. This throws a spanner in the works with regards to answering the question of whether the Xenians would have actually been able to achieve anything or not, if their goal was to actually conquer Earth.

      We never really find out what the reason for the Xenian invasion was, whether we were experiencing the full extent of their military might, tactics, etc. In fact, in an alternate universe, I could have pictured HL2 taking the Freespace 2 route ("Remember the deadly, unknown alien race from the first game which nearly wiped out your entire species? Well, they're back, and they're wondering what happened to their scouting party!")

      The unexplained elements would answer your question. For example, how precise/coordinated actually is the Nihilanth's teleportation capabilities? We see the Xenians making some pretty damn precise and coordinated seeming jumps in places, and then also really random and spurrious ones. Is that all part of their plan? Or not? Why? Is it limited to just Black Mesa? Who knows? It's very open ended. If the Xenians had very precise teleportation and a coordinated plan, they could wipe the floor with the earth mililtary, pretty much no matter what. It's the ultimate overpowering weapon, really. You know that super fortified, top secret base you're keeping all your dudes and equipment in? It's now full of aliens! You want to use your air superiority to drop bombs on the Xenians? They're teleporting in next to your dudes, so you'll be killing your own men and destroying your own assets. You know that tank you're using to fight Xenians? There's now a Vortiguant inside it; good luck!

      And then there's the question of numbers. How many Xenians are there? It's pretty horrendous to fight an opponent with seemingly limitless numbers. Especially given the fact that the Xenians can literally produce Alien Grunts on a factory line. Also, regarding your stance that Zombies wouldn't be an actual threat to trained soldiers - no, they wouldn't. But then I don't think the Zombies are really the intended threat to begin with - they're the effect. The Headcrabs are the threat. It's why the Combine dropped Headcrab pods on people instead of Zombie pods. Becoming a Zombie is likely a fate much worse than death. Watching your allied soldiers and friends get turned against you, suffering a fate worse than death? Now that would be the ultimate demoralisation! I wouldn't want to fight that! I'd be terrified of that!

      Basically I guess, my answer is that a Xenian invasion would ultimately amount to nothing if what we see during Black Mesa is the main extent of what they are capable of. Yeah, they'd get crushed by a coordinated military. But there are too many unknowns to say for sure whether what we saw during BMS was what they are fully capable of, in basically any way. So I don't think there's really an answer. But it sure as hell makes for an interesting fan debate!
      Chon Kemp - Level Designer and Community Manager
      Creator of the Black Mesa "Uncut" Mods - Surface Tension Uncut and
      On a Rail Uncut
      My dev blog on the development of dm_gasworks
    • When we talk about Xenians, we are referring to vortigaunts agrunts and their ilk, correct? Xen being a border world, and not nessesarily the original vortigaunt homeworld, I think a human victory is the more probable answer. Had the Xenians had any world conquering sized forces, the Nihilanth would have been much, MUCH better guarded, I think. If I remember correctly, Freeman more or less barges through the front doors of their factory, marches on up to Nihilanth and whoops his ass. I think it is a probable assumption that they would have been able to take a reasonable portion of the Central America region and then attempted to coordinate a truce. Failing that I think they would have been wiped out by human technology and coordination. I just don't think The Xenians would have had the numbers (or resources to manufacture the numbers) to win a "War of the Worlds" type scenario.

      The Xenian fauna, such as headcrabs/bullsquid/houndeyes/tentacles however, I could see some of those species quickly becoming invasive and intigrating with disastrous levels of success.
    • Lest we get completely off-track, I was specifically referring to the Xenian invasion/attack depicted in Half-Life 1 / Black Mesa, not anything to do with the Combine. We already know that the Combine was able to win super-easily in Half-Life 2 due to their logic-defying villain-Stu powahs massive synth forces- I'm more interested in the situation with just humans and Xenians, where the Combine doesn't show up to cut things off early.

      A couple of people have made good points about how little we actually know about the size and capabilities of the Xenian forces, or even really what they want- back when I was playing Half-Life 1 the first time, I assumed that the first few teleportations were purely by accident, and then the Xenians started sending forces through to investigate the "abductions". Additionally, I'd very much like to have a had a closer look at that dogfight in Forget About Freeman- we see human fighter jets and Xenian mantas duking it out, but nobody is ever shot down and no weapons are exchanges that we can see, making it rather difficult to determine who actually has the upper hand in the air (my conclusion that the mantas don't have air-to-air weapons comes from the fact that Xenian electrical weapons are very visible even at long distances while bullets would not be, but it's always a terrible idea to interpret graphical limitations as 'canon').

      (rot) makes a good point about the xenofauna- just by putting NPCs in a map and watching them fight, I think bullsquids are actually way more effective against Marines than the alien grunts are. However, they're also animals, and wouldn't know to secure areas or take cover when the artillery comes out. If they're just out in the desert they wouldn't be that hard to contain, but if they started teleporting into other areas they'd pretty quickly displace the local wildlife- they seem to be able to eat damn near anything and they're always hungry, which I've seen in more Wikipedia articles on invasive species than I can count.
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    • The way the whole invasion is presented in HL1/BM is something that made me wonder about these very same aspects after I started playing it more serious and pay even more attention to the story than I usually do.

      But the thing is, first of all, that there is no way we can know the actual numbers of the Xenians, nor the most important point, what they actually tried to achieve with all the destruction. The whole invasion was just chaotic. They were being teleported with great accuracy sometimes, and the others at apparently completely random spots.

      Xen, from the little shown in the original, is divided in more dimensions (some which don't seem to be inhabited at all), so if we're to make assumptions, should they attempt to conquer Earth, then probably the military forces would mop the floor with them. Although at least one type of Xenian can be created in factories, but of course they wouldn't rely only on them.

      And there aren't only Xenians invading BM. Let's not forget about the Race X. Where they came from and why, no idea.

      Then there's also their technology, and from what was shown, seems to be pretty limited. Mantarays don't even have other guns beside the belly cannon, which would be effective when attacking vast amounts of ground forces, but otherwise, not so much.

      My assumption is that what was shown in the games acted like some sort of diversion for much greater plans, which we sadly, will never know. This seems to be hinted at by Nihilanth short lines which can be heard on Xen (the captions mod for HL:S seems to have proven useful).
    • Another good theory is, that the Xenians were just scared to hell when they got sucked in to the rift, thus killing because of fear but fear or not, they will still kill everything because they were slaves back then. As for Race X, the wiki says it all: Race X was attracted to Black Mesa by the Portal Storms resulting from the Resonance Cascade. They utilized their teleportation skills to discover Xen and began using the rifts between the borderworld and Earth to quickly establish a presence on the planet. Race X creatures act independently from Xen units and are not participants in the conflict between the Combine and Nihilanth's forces. Instead, they act motivated by a biological function, intending to set up Gene Worms that would assimilate the planet's natural resources for their own needs. This plan is brought to a halt when Adrian Shephard defeats the initial Gene Worm attempting to emerge from an alien gate powered by Sprites, thus ending Race X's invasion. And ever since then we haven't heard from them.
    • please do not bring oposing force into this. It is a great game but half of it isn't even canon acording to valve.

      only things canon from it are aparently the follow. (most old sources are gone or down so yeah grain of salt here)

      Shepard: valve have stated tehy want to use him again, and that he is canon.

      the nuke: also canon

      the black ops teams: we see a part of them in standard half life.

      things which might be canon

      vortigores: as the antlion gaurds take a lot from them

      pit drones: concept art shows tehy where thought about for half life 2.

      the rest isn't canon. teh story its self is barrely canon, apparently everything upto the point where you start fighting race X military is canon, but after that it gets spotty, the displacer is likely canon, as well as the weaponized barnacle(some sorces say that is one of the inspirations behind teh gravity gun). I do know for a fact that race X is not concidered canon unless valve backtracks on things. Though the look of the gene worm for all we know is the look of a matured combine adviser.

      Which is something people haven't really thought about or asked about. What if race X was teh combines attack force?
    • I quite honestly am more willing to consider Opposing Force in this analysis than I am HL2, simply because Opposing Force actually has more to do with Half-Life 1.

      However, in that analysis I'd say Race X is similar to Xen in a lot of ways and would probably share a similar fate- their biotechnology seems to be mostly electrically-based and doesn't have powerful explosives, and while they have a good borderline armored vehicle equivalent in the Voltigores, but they also seem to lack any sort of air unit that would allow them to deflect military bombing runs. They'd add numbers to an invasion, assuming they even want to invade, but they'd also split the Xenian focus between themselves and the humans.

      Of course, we know even less about Race X than we do about the Xenians- their numbers and their teleportation abilities are a complete mystery, and their appearance in the game is so small I feel like we're really not seeing every type of military unit they can deploy.
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    • yeah the only things they gave us that are KNOWN, canon as I mentioned are the nuke, Adrian shephard, and the black ops teams. race X is questionable at best, valve stated that if they find a way to use them they will but that is unlikely. And shephard is something even valve has stated tehy want to use but can't find a reason. Keep in mind he is in temporal cryo do to gman.
    • (rot)(fodder wrote:

      Remember what Gearbox did to the Aliens canon? Gearbox does not come into this discussion.
      Please don't remind me about that abomination X_X. I had such high expectations due to the E3 presentations only get a painful slap over my face. Oh and btw, they also own DN now, which you surely know, to make matters worse, and apparently are working on a new version of DN3D. For some reason I expect their port to be a total disaster.

      Like, literally, I think the only games they still know how to make are Borderlands and maybe HL expansions (well OP4 and BS were good).

      darkone wrote:

      yeah the only things they gave us that are KNOWN, canon as I mentioned are the nuke, Adrian shephard, and the black ops teams. race X is questionable at best, valve stated that if they find a way to use them they will but that is unlikely. And shephard is something even valve has stated tehy want to use but can't find a reason. Keep in mind he is in temporal cryo do to gman.
      Sorry for bringing OP4 into the discussion in this case. To my knowledge, both BS and OP4 were entirely cannon, but I guess I was mistaken.

      That's basically just an intention. Given how much interest they've put into HL in the past decade, I find it hard to believe that will ever come to fruition...
    • Opposing Force and Blue Shift are canons since we have a nuke,Barney from Blue Shift that were used in HL2 plot.So,we can assume that the whole OpFor and Blue Shift games are canons,especially since we heard a conversation in Blue Shift about the dirty work that Shephard can't do and it would be strange to have Barney,nuke in sequel and deny existence of A.Shephard,X-Race etc.Only plot hole that I can't accept about OpFor that we didn't kill the scientists and securities aren't immediately shooting us because they have no idea are we good or evil.Shepard didn't recieve an order to kill them because his commaner died in helicopter crash is BS since we have enough soldiers in facility which can tell us about the order.
    • Ehh OP4/BS are kinda hit or miss for canon bits. They've never confirmed nor denied the entire plot lines for those games, but they've admitted a couple bits are ok.

      As for my opinion- I feel that if you placed a unit of Xenian combatants (likely 3 vorts, 2 grunts, 2 squids, and a small group of zombies) against a unit of HECU/DOD troops (similar numbers, but obviously they're all multi-skilled and such so there isn't "classes"), the HECU/DOD troops would win, with maybe a couple casualties.

      Howeveeerrrrrr....Nihilanth is able to basically put his guys wherever the hell he wants in a specific area, and I believe as the game goes on that area grows. That's what gets the attention of the Combine (that's all I'm saying on them, I know this is about xenians, but I just remembered reading about how they took notice of the growing portals on earth and took advantage.)

      Anyways, with that ability, like TextFamGuy said, it makes it hard to coordinate counter-attacks and even assaults against enemy positions. Imagine trying to plan an attack on nothing in the hopes that SOMETHING appears. Basically, that'd be our tactics.

      If Nihilanth and the Xenian forces (of which we can see no direct example of how many there are, but we can see they're "expendable" and easy enough to make more of) went head to head directly against the DOD and HECU's, I believe that the Xenians would win with their Gurilla style teleporting in and out and their cannon fodder/easy to replace with new grunts abilities. Not to mention, like TextFamGuy said, watching your buddies get zombified would be fucking gross and terrifying and very, very demoralizing to see, so that wouldn't help.

      BUT. If the teleporting was taken from the aliens, this would probably be a much different fight, one we'd likely win.
      But...will it blend?
    • Wow.

      I wanted to limit the thread to the events of HL1 specifically to prevent this from happening...

      Anyway, it looks like there's a general consensus that the deciding variable is the ability of Xen to teleport. If they can only do it around Black Mesa, the humans win, and I'd say that holds true even if Xen's numbers are vastly superior- they can only fit so many forces into BM at once, and the humans can put nukes and walls and all sorts of things around that specific area. If they can teleport anywhere, the humans lose- either they're defeated outright, or the need to guard every square inch of space against teleportations fundamentally alters the world economy as we know it.

      Race X really is very similar to Xen in its hardware (wetware?) and tactics, so I don't think it would really alter the results one way or another.

      Not sure what to go on from here, I was expecting there to be more debate over whether the Xenians would actually be able to win. However, as Cyan pointed out, I think the "feeling" I get regarding teleportation is that the area where Xen could actually do it was slowly expanding (possibly, larger and larger things could be sent through as well)- that means that if Lambda Core was not around to shut down the whole process, the situation would have ended up very much like the default Xenian victory condition.
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    • My theory is still that the Xenians were (in their minds, at least) counterattacking due to perceived abductions and incursions from Earth- after all, the Lambda Team had been going there for years already. I don't think they would have stopped at Black Mesa, though. They probably considered humans enough of a threat to completely wipe out (plus they just in general seem pretty trigger-happy), although they may have drastically underestimated the size of the planet and the number of humans on it.
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