XCom: Enemy Unknown - floater concept art by Piero McGowan - front

Generic Floater



The infelicitously named “Floaters” are a specialized type of alien combat cyborg, featured in the 2012 XCom video game.

Unless you’re well acquainted with this setting, we suggest reading our XCom Project article first.

Concept art by Piero MacGowan .


Powers & Abilities

Floaters are advanced alien combat cyborgs. However, they do not seem to have been a wholly successful enhancement project.

They normally come armed with the same sort of plasma rifle wielded by Thin Men aliens, and usually operate in pairs.

Their most salient characteristics is that they don’t have legs. Instead they have anti-gravity systems and a sort of built-in jetpack. They thus constantly hover – giving them an extra dimension for evasive manoeuvres, which they are good at using. They also can engage their jets to make big jumps.

XCom: Enemy Unknown - trio of floater alien cyborgs

Click for a larger version.

Floaters thus tend to go for flanking manoeuvres. This is doubly true if they can leap to some sort of elevated cover from whence to rain plasma fire. There are even occurrences of them leaping above the enemy to land behind them.

These tactics are probably deadly against unprepared troops under the effect of psychic static. But against trained, careful and prepared XCom commandos, over-aggressive flanking often goes poorly.


Between the autopsies and the telepathic rantings of an alien general, one can gather a few facts :

  • Floaters “failed to evolve”, which presumably means that genetic manipulation to have them develop psionic  powers failed.
  • They also seemed to have been a test run for the “Muton”-type aliens, which didn’t quite pan out either. The cybernetics are similar, but Floaters don’t seem… finished and are clearly less powerful.
  • They might be of the same species as Mutons, except the enhancement process didn’t work. Perhaps they are binned  Mutons ?

XCom: Enemy Unknown - captured floater alien

Floaters get deployed as scouts and high-mobility troops. They came a few weeks after the Sectoids and the Thin Men, though many XCom troopers consider them less dangerous than Thin Men.

It seems likely that studying the extraordinarily advanced meld of biological and artificial component within Floater bodies was a major source of knowledge for the MEC technology developed by XCom.


According to some observers, the floaters seem in constant pain or discomfort.


Floaters are very aggressive, especially against civilians. They can be irrationally bloodthirsty against defenceless people. However if their “wingman” is killed they’ll often fall back.

XCom: Enemy Unknown - trio of floater aliens scrambling

According to XCom scientists, Floaters are but pre-sapient .

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Generic Floater

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 05 Motivation: Slave species
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Slave species
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 01 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 008 HP: 000

Air-walking: 02, Jumping: 04, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Air-Walking is sufficient to benefit from Evasion.

Acrobatics (Dodging): 05, Evasion (Aerial only): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Iron Nerves.

Usually none.

Serious Rage. Probably others, but it’s impossible to tell from the material. Floaters’ movement speed would be 0 if their Powers were somehow disabled.

Light plasma rifle [BODY 03, Energy blast: 07, Security system: 04, Sharpness (Energy blast): 01, Misc.: Security systems shatters the weapon if its wielder is killed].

Psychic static

Like all aliens, Floaters emit “psychic static” – our proposed rationalisation for certain XCom gameplay conceits. See the entry for Thin Men for an extensive discussion of those, and our XCom setting article for in-universe explanations.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: XCom: Enemy Unknown video game.

Writeup completed on the 3rd of January, 2016.