Archons are first deployed in mid-June (late July on Legend) as pod leaders for ADVENT or weaker aliens. They will continue to be deployed this way until the end of the game, but pods with multiple Archons can appear in mid-August (late October on Legend). This is also the time when Archons start being used as support for Andromedons (and a bit later for Gatekeepers).
The Archon's appearance substantially differs from its grotesque Floater predecessor in order to reduce the negative response from humans. The visual design of the Archon is based on the Egyptian gods, featuring ornate gold armor, a wreath-like design for its levitation jets and a muscular physique. It possesses more regal, refined movements than the spastic Floater, particularly while flying. Its polearm weapon can be used both in melee and from a distance by firing a plasma beam.
While the Floater was an aerial scout unit, the Archon has been refined and improved to the level of a battlefield commander or captain. This is potentially due to both its new status as a godlike figure of authority to humans (and, for appearance's sake, ADVENT soldiers) and its significantly improved abilities.
- Airborne: Much like their XCOM: Enemy Unknown counterparts, Archons can fly up into the air to gain a height advantage.
- Blazing Pinions: Once airborne, the Archon is able to activate its "Blazing Pinions" ability, which launches a barrage of explosives that comes crashing down into the ground after a turn of delay, doing 4-7 points of damage to anything in a 3x3 square (the center being case targeted by the laser) and destroying all obstacles and covers. Killing the Archon does not cancel delivery of this attack since the missiles are launched when the ability is activated : immediate relocation of all marked soldiers is advised.
- Battle Frenzy: An injured Archon enters a "frenzied" state, receiving one extra action point for the next two turns. This skill can be triggered multiple times per turn, but it does not stack.
- Immune to EMP grenades.
- Like other units who do not make use of cover and possess inherent Defense bonuses, the Archon cannot be flanked. Combined with its non-negative Dodge statistic and a relatively high Health pool, this enemy can be particularly difficult to kill when using Aim-reliant abilities.
- An Archon that is outdoors and has line of sight on multiple XCOM operatives is very likely to use Blazing Pinions, provided no other active Archon has already done so. Baiting this move is an occasionally effective, if unreliable, way to control an enemy that may otherwise shoot or melee.
- Unlike most flying enemies seen on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Archons do not possess the Evasion trait, meaning that units targeting it from below suffer no Aim penalties. Units targeting them from above, however, fully benefit from elevation bonuses.
- Archon is a Greek word, translating to "ruler" or "lord". In ancient Athens, an Archon was a magistrate, usually a wealthy aristocrat, elected by the upper class to serve as a judge, military commander or head of state.
- Archons may still melee despite being on fire.