He is called the Ethereal, and is the most formidable alien you encounter in the game. I will not go into the story details here, but suffice to say, this guy's incredible psionic powers make him the ultimate adversary.
We wanted him to be graceful yet threatening. Regal yet full of malice. He does not need physical prowess to dominate you. His race has evolved beyond physical strength and into pure psionic death.
(Images Created by: Piero Macgowan for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. ©2012 Firaxis Games/Take Two Interactive)
|Really, really early sketches of the Ethereal. These were part of the first artwork I did for XCOM.|
|Initially I was thinking the head could have some sort of psionic power gem, but then I thought that might make him too regal, and take away from his creepy vibe.|
|After fellow concept artist Bryce Homick did a bunch of sketches for the Ethereal's overall shape, I was inspired by his designs and made this concept, which minus a few changes, is what you see in the game.|
|headpiece design sketches.|
|Fellow concept artist at the time Kenji Bliss made some amazing designs for the elder's head and headpiece, which unfortunately did not make it in the game. These borrow from his aesthetic, as well as the Ethereal's body below.|