Scientia Potentia Est

–EXALT motto, meaning, "Knowledge is power."

EXALT is a secret human paramilitary society determined to seize power while the governments of Earth are distracted with resisting the alien invasion in 2015.

They are the new enemy faction introduced in XCOM: Enemy Within. They conduct operations targeting XCOM starting in May (the 3rd month of the invasion).


A dangerous new enemy.

While not allied with the aliens, EXALT harbor transhumanist ideals and sympathize with the aliens' effort to evolve the human species; where others fear or resist the alien invasion, EXALT see it as their opportunity to acquire the resources they need to seize power. So, like XCOM, EXALT is operating in the shadows and endeavoring to recover alien technology and develop sophisticated human genetic modification protocols, but unlike XCOM, their ultimate goal is to establish a world government under their control.


XCOM EW EXALT GlobalCells.png

EXALT works to disrupt XCOM's activities as they see XCOM as a rival in the acquisition of alien technology and an impediment to the aliens' human experimentation. To this end, EXALT sets up sleeper cells in Council nations around the world; the cell's hidden presence magnifies the effects of any panic the country may receive. Furthermore a cell can go active, performing one of three different EXALT Operations against XCOM: Sabotage, steals funding from XCOM; Propaganda, increases panic in the country where the cell is located; or a Research Hack, reverses progress on the project currently being researched.

To counter EXALT's activities, the Council provides XCOM with additional resources which can be accessed via a new Covert Operations menu in the Situation Room.

EXALT Agents[]

In addition to the strategic threat posed by EXALT, the organization's paramilitary agents present a very real tactical threat during Covert Operations. The following EXALT soldiers may be encountered in the field:

XCOM EW EXALT SquadHalts.png

These paramilitary agents have abilities and equipment that match those utilized by XCOM. The Elite versions of each class not only have higher stats, additional abilities, and better equipment but also have been upgraded with extreme genetic modifications.

Gene Mods[]

These Gene Mods are unavailable to XCOM soldiers (with the exception of Depth Perception) as they apparently transgress even Dr. Vahlen's ethical limitations on human experimentation. The EXALT gene mods also seem to be crude and less subtle, as some of the Elite agents are shown to have sickly, inhuman skin tones.

Gene Mod EXALT Elite Description
Iron Skin  Iron Skin Heavy All damage taken is reduced by 25%.
Regen Pheromones  Regen Pheromones Medic This unit and all nearby allies (within 3 tiles) are healed by 1 health each turn.
Adrenaline Surge  Adrenaline Surge Operative Confers an additional +10 Aim and +10 critical chance each turn after taking damage.
Depth Perception  Depth Perception Sniper Height advantage confers an additional +5 Aim and +5 critical chance.


All EXALT operatives wear business clothing (white shirts and ties, occasionally a vest, matched with slacks or pin stripe pants) accompanied with gloves, tactical webbing, and red-and-orange striped bandannas that cover their faces. All EXALT agents also have tattoos on their arms; these are more clearly seen on the Elite soldiers who wear their shirt sleeves rolled up. Additionally, Elites can be identified by the chest armor they wear and the higher tech equipment they use. All EXALT operatives visibly carry sidearms, but they are never seen using them. This includes EXALT Heavies, even though the Heavy class cannot use sidearms.

Interestingly, EXALT's bandannas are available as a customization option in XCOM 2.


XCOM(EW) Screenshot13.jpg

When first encountered, EXALT forces utilize conventional weapons that equal those of XCOM. In fact, EXALT weapons retain the same stats as their XCOM equivalents despite their visual differences; EXALT small arms are dark-colored, sleek or angular, and have elements reminiscent of modern real world (mixed western-european) firearms. As the game progresses, XCOM will encounter Elite soldiers who wear armor and utilize laser weapons and equipment that is also on par with XCOM's technology.

Although EXALT weapons have completely the same stats in game mechanics as the XCOM counterparts, they tend to fire in a visually different way like performing a different burst of fire in numbers of shots. This is purely cosmetic.

EXALT weapons can be recovered after a mission to be used by XCOM soldiers or can be sold via the Gray Market. Council members may request a stock of EXALT weapons in return for a larger cash bonus than would be received from a normal sale, similar to requests for pieces of alien technology.

Stat Comparison[]

Stats based on Normal difficulty:

Enemy HP Def Aim Crit % Mobility Will Weapon
EXALT Operative 7 0 50 0 12 50 EXALT Assault Rifle, Frag Grenade
EXALT Medic 7 0 45 0 12 50 EXALT Assault Rifle
EXALT Heavy 8 0 50 0 12 50 EXALT LMG, EXALT Rocket Launcher
EXALT Sniper 6 0 60 0 12 50 EXALT Sniper Rifle
EXALT Elite Operative 9 0 60 0 12 80 EXALT Laser Rifle, Alien Grenade
EXALT Elite Medic 9 0 55 0 12 80 EXALT Laser Rifle
EXALT Elite Heavy 10 0 55 0 12 80 EXALT Heavy Laser, EXALT Rocket Launcher, Alien Grenade
EXALT Elite Sniper 8 0 70 0 12 80 EXALT Laser Sniper Rifle


  • Elite EXALT agents with Alien Grenades will drop Weapon Fragments upon death, as they self-destruct like those carried by aliens; no other EXALT weapons fragment on the death of their wielders.
  • When the player has advanced their arsenal to include heavy powered armors and plasma weaponry, along with developing an experienced crop of Colonels, EXALT becomes more or less irrelevant, as they lack the capacity to compete with Psionic advancements and the heavy firepower of end-game MEC suits and artillery.
  • The fanatical nature of EXALT's operatives is reinforced by the fact that any agent stunned by an Arc Thrower will immediately commit suicide using a syringe of toxin administered to their own carotid artery rather than allowing themselves to be captured. Causing an EXALT member to commit suicide in this manner grants the "Pain in the Neck" achievement.
    • Even though EXALT agents can't be captured alive, they do not have the Stun Immune ability as the Arc Thrower can still be used on EXALT agents. The stun does take effect, but they commit suicide shortly before losing consciousness from the electrical effect.
    • Oddly, the wounded EXALT agent encountered in the Council Mission "Portent" allows himself to be taken back to XCOM HQ; this could possibly have been before (or even the trigger for) the suicide directive being given to EXALT agents. Alternatively, he may have lost his suicide syringe in much the same manner as he did his weaponry.
    • EXALT agents can still be Mind Controlled.
  • EXALT weapons are destroyed by explosives.


EXALT smoke grenade

  • Unlike XCOM's soldier pool, EXALT agents are uniformly white and male.
  • Despite using separate technology, a close up of either EXALT medic shows writing on their smoke grenade that reads: "XCOM SMOKE". This is likely an oversight, but it could imply it may be stolen equipment.
  • The expansion designers decided against giving EXALT operatives a more conventional "special ops" appearance, partially because they felt that look had been overdone in media. More importantly, the designers wanted the look to represent that these men are not trained soldiers but secret agents and fanatics that presumably work day jobs but are ready to respond to EXALT's call at a moment's notice.
  • Although EXALT has an interest in psionics, as demonstrated during Operation Progeny, they do not develop the means to field psionic agents.
  • In contrast to XCOM's futuristic and bulky weapon designs, the basic armaments deployed by EXALT personnel seems to resemble real existing modern day firearms, with an apparently strong preference for European/NATO equipment and gear.
  • The EXALT laser weapons appear with sleek, stylish black outer casings. This is in contrast to XCOM's utilitarian energy weapon designs. The design aesthetic ties in with Bradford's observation, spoken during the XCOM raid on EXALT HQ, where he states that EXALT seems to "prefer form over function".
    • It is possible that unlike XCOM's laser weapons, EXALT's laser weaponries are converted from standard firearms, instead of built from scratch.
  • EXALT may maintain a fleet of helicopters for deploying reinforcements, as whenever more agents are deployed into a fight, a helicopter can be heard.
  • If panicked, EXALT agents stop using the encoded voice chatter and use the same "panicked" sound set as XCOM Security Personnel.
  • The explanation that Dr. Vahlen regards EXALT's gene mods as too radical is odd to say the least, as many XCOM gene mods would require greater physiological changes to implement.
    • Iron skin, for instance, would require only a change in the composition of skin, while bioelectric skin would require the addition of entirely new sensory receptors all over the body, with mimetic skin likely requiring even greater changes.
    • Furthermore, adrenal neurosympathy would require not only a modification of the endocrine system to change the release or properties of adrenaline like adrenaline surge, but also the addition of some way to disperse it to be picked up by nearby allies.
  • Another human organization that opposes XCOM, the Cult of Sirius, appears in the game XCOM Apocalypse. Unlike EXALT, it is a religious organization that believes humanity should submit to the aliens, which they consider superior beings. This makes the organization more similar to the ADVENT regime, which also reigned closer to Apocalypse in XCOM's timeline.