Spoiler break starts now. Don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled for Alien: Isolation.
While playing Alien: Isolation, we are always given the impression that there would only be one Xenomorph on board the Sevastopol station. This was very adamantly reinforced by the developers in early previews for the game.
Now we know that the developers were lying. The game’s biggest twist, about 15 hours into the story, is the discovery of an alien nest deep in the space station’s reactor core. Any fan who has watched James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) will immediately be asking themselves: so where is the Alien Queen? Only the Queen is capable of laying eggs, right?
The GameFront article above provides a fairly plausible explanation of how Alien eggs can be produced without the presence of the Queen. It’s actually a homage to a deleted scene from Ridley Scott’s original Alien (1979), where two members of the Nostromo, previously believed to be dead, were actually being turned into eggs themselves.
The mechanics of how humans can be turned into eggs is never fully explained, and to be honest it does not sound very credible in a biological sense. What I think is really happening, is that the captured human is being used a food source in order to allow the egg secretions surrounding them to grow into a full egg. Secretion absorbs the human for nutrients, and when the human has been fully dissolved, the egg and subsequent facehugger inside is able to develop fully.
If the events of Isolation and the deleted scene from Alien are accepted as canon, then this establishes the fact that the Xenomorphs have two methods of reproducing. The first is of course, from an Alien Queen laying eggs. The second, is for a normal Xenomorph to capture other living organisms and use them as a food source for growing eggs.
This revelation does beg one final question: what determines when an Alien decides to kill its victim outright, or to capture it for egg production? I think the answer is: when it feels like it. If it feels hungry, it’ll just kill and consume its victim. If it’s not, the victim is captured. Or perhaps, if the victim is encountered in a convenient location (such as near an air vent), the Alien will capture them since it’s more efficient that way, instead of having to drag an unconscious body from another location across a long distance to reach an air duct.
Isolation isn’t a perfect game, it has some flaws. But it is very respectful to the atmosphere and lore of the first movie. A definite must-play, and I hope that its events are fully accepted as part of the Alien canon.