EDIT: A great WIRED article that summarises much of the point I'm trying to make: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/aliens- ... -confusion
First of all, the term "xenomorph" - what does it actually mean, in the game?
The word itself obviously derives from Greek and translates simply as "strange/foreign [life] form". When I first heard it back in 1986, I just took it as a scientific term for "ET" - any unspecified life form of non-terrestrial origin.
Thus, any "extra-solar species" would by definition be a "xenomorph".
But the game seems to make a distinction between "extra-solar species" in general, and "xenomorphs" in particular; the latter specifically denoting the creatures deriving from the ALIEN mythos?
If so, I have a hard time making sense of it "in-world". In the movie, the establishment - in this case as represented by Lt Gorman, using the term - at the point it's dropped does not believe in The Alien. Gorman is simply stating that the colony has become incommunicado, and it's been suggested that some kind of alien life form (as in animal) could be the cause of this. Cpl Hicks immediately deciphers this: "it's a bug hunt" - i.e. clearing out xenomorphs is something these Marines have done many times before.
So ... why would they make up a term to describe a specific class of extra-solar life form that nobody is known to have encountered, and nobody even believes in?
I know that fandom has in the intervening decades latched on to the word as specific for the Aliens, but looking beneath the surface - as this game has a golden opportunity to do - does it really make sense to jump on that bandwagon?
Second, I'm trying to identify the various "xenomorphs" with the variants we're seeing in the movies.
This is what I'm surmising:
- Stages I-III are self-explanatory
- Stage IV SCOUT - "dog alien" from Alien3
- Stage IV DRONE - "Big Chap" from ALIEN
- Stage V SOLDIER - "Warrior" from ALIENS
- Stage V SENTRY - "Warrior" from ALIENS
- Stage VI QUEEN - "Queen" from ALIENS
If so, I am again a bit at a loss...:
At the time Alien3 was made, the clearly stated "production intent" was that the morphology of the creature would inherit traits from the host life from; hence, this creature was smaller, had digitigrade hind legs, etc. But this has now been dropped in the game, making that morphology a unique subclass, not merely a "dog-ified" version of the same creature? (If so - good; I'm just looking for confirmation.)
(I was never comfortable with the idea anyway - if the emerging creature lends traits from the host life form, where did the Big Chap's dorsal tubes, barbed tail, six fingers, etc., etc., etc., come from? Or is there something about Kane we don't know...?)
The terminology is also a bit confusing: To me, a "drone" is a male bee whose only role is to fertilise the queen. It has no stinger, has no role outside of the hive, and isn't generally all that capable.
The "drone xenomorph" by contrast, is the polar opposite of that - a solo player, the first to enter any new scene, and arguably the most cunning and dangerous of all the subcategories. Shouldn't this more appropriately be called a "scout"?
The difference between the "soldier" and the "sentry" ... the warrior costumes and props used on-set on ALIENS differed in details, but with no particular intent from the production. Is this an attempt to rationalise these differences into different subcategories, or where does this stem from?