The Ethereals are deadly alien enemies from the XCOM video games. Though gaunt and physically frail, they possess great psionic powers which they wield to great effect, using them to impair the combat effectiveness of human soldiers or to turn them against each other. The Ethereals, or Elders as they are otherwise known, are the leaders of the alien invasion force.


Ethereals are tall, thin bipedal beings with four arms. They wear flowing red robes and ornate headpieces that conceal their frail forms. Biologically, Ethereals are extremely weak: their bodies have atrophied to a severe degree, having very little muscle tissue and underdeveloped sensory organs. Though physically infirm, Ethereals have highly-developed psychic capabilities. They communicate via telepathy, can shield themselves with psychokinetic barriers and can control the minds of others, bending enemies to their will and forcing them to attack allies.

All of the aliens encountered by XCOM are subservient to the Ethereals and are the products of extensive genetic manipulation and forced evolution. The purpose behind the Ethereals' conquests of these races was to find or create a physically advanced being that could serve as a host for an Ethereal mind, allowing the Ethereals to cast off their own withered bodies in favour of strong, superior forms. Their previous experiments all ended in failure and they have since targeted humanity as potential new hosts.


  • Harden - Though physically weak, Ethereals have a health pool comparable to Mutons. This is due to their extensive psionic prowess which they use to harden their bodies against physical impact. It also makes it extremely difficult for enemies to inflict critical hits.
  • Mindfray - A psionic attack that leaves a human combatant with diminished ability to fight, suffering severe penalties to aim and willpower.
  • Mind Control - Ethereals can seize temporary control over enemy combatants, forcing them to attack their own allies.
  • Psi Lance - A powerful blast of pure psi-energy.
  • Psi Drain - An Ethereal can drain the health from an enemy to restore its own health.
  • Rift - A devastating storm of psychic energy that can rip targets apart. Targets with high willpower take less damage.