Ethereal (EU2012)

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For the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994) version, see Ethereal
For the version that appears in The Bureau, see Ethereal (Bureau)


The Ethereals are some of, if not the most powerful alien creatures you will ever encounter in the game. These ancient aliens are the true masterminds behind the alien invasion. They are humanoid in form and possess four arms. While they are physically quite frail the Ethereals have the greatest psionic abilities seen in the entire game, using them to obliterate the minds and bodies of your squad.

Dr. Vahlen identifies a specimen to be centuries old. Despite this the Ethereals actually have a ton of health. (20 health points in total on Classic and below difficulties) Do not expect them to turn into a pile of dust when you shoot them. Similar to Cyberdiscs and Sectopods, Ethereals will explode on death, doing light damage to units in adjacent tiles. It will likely not do serious damage, but is enough to kill soldiers that are critically wounded or inches from death.

You will only find Ethereals in UFO assaults or on the final mission. They prefer to send their underlings such as Mutons to do their dirty work. In the Enemy Within DLC, it is possible for Ethereals to appear during Operation Ashes and Temples in the final alien wave.


Ethereal (EU2012).png
1st Appearance Overseer UFO
XCOM Base Defense
HP 20/20/20/25
Aim N/A
Defense 40
Will 120/120/145/155
Movement 12

Ethereal Abilities
Ability Description
Devastate an area with a storm of psi energy. The rift does more damage against targets with low Will, and reduced damage against targets with high Will. 4 turn cooldown.
It has the potential to do from 4 damage (if resisted) to 20+ (to S.H.I.V.s, since they have no will to resist.) Rift will persist on the map for one turn and damage anything that enters its radius.
Psi Lance
Project a bolt of pure psi force at an enemy.
9 damage
Psi Drain
Drain health from an ally.
Mind Fray
Causes the target to lose grip on reality, inflicting penalties to Aim, Will, and mobility, and doing 5 base damage. Robotic units are immune. Lasts 2 turns. 1 turn cooldown.
Mind Control
Very difficult psi technique that, if successful, grants control of the target for 5 turns. Robotic enemies are immune. 5 turn cooldown.
Confers extra protection against critical hits. Enemies suffer a -60% chance to inflict critical hits.


  • Their high Will makes them resistant to most psionic attacks.
  • They have also a chance to reflect physical projectiles back at the attacker. The reflected attack deals reduced damage.
  • Ethereals explode upon death, dealing damage to all units within a fairly small radius.
  • S.H.I.V.s should NOT be used against these aliens since even though they cannot be mind controlled, they are highly vulnerable against their Rift and Psi Lance abilities due to not having the Will to resist them.
  • If killed during a successful mission an Ethereal Corpse will be recovered.
    • Researching an Ethereal corpse will unlock the Mind Shield.
  • If captured during a mission and interrogated afterwards they will provide a bonus reduction on all technology.
    • This usually comes far too late in the game to make a difference, as the player will have likely completed all or most research projects (with some exceptions), although it can help speed up research of the last few endgame technologies.
    • Successfully Stunning an Ethereal will cause it to skip its explosion sequence. Whilst it can be risky to use this as a regular way of disposing them, it can also come in handy if you have a soldier next to the Ethereal that will be killed by the death explosion, if not another alien or an attack from the Ethereal.
  • In Enemy Within, even Ethereals panic to getting a face full of Napalm, so a MEC Trooper with a Flame Thrower can buy you a round of breathing room.


  • The Ethereals of The Bureau may be related to these with the others being the Ethereals that transcended.

See Also

Head red 2.png XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012): Aliens
Aliens:SectoidFloaterThin ManOutsiderMutonChryssalidZombieSectoid CommanderCyberdiscHeavy FloaterBerserkerSectopodDroneMuton EliteEtherealUber Ethereal (*Spoilers*)Mechtoid (EW DLC)Seeker (EW DLC)
Alien Corpses:Sectoid CorpseFloater CorpseThin Man CorpseMuton CorpseChryssalid CorpseDrone WreckCyberdisc WreckSectoid Commander CorpseHeavy Floater CorpseBerserker CorpseMuton Elite CorpseSectopod WreckEthereal CorpseSeeker Wreck (EW DLC)Mechtoid Core (EW DLC)
Data:Overview of AliensAlien StatsAlien ObjectivesAlien Deployment