The Praetorian is one of the final stages in the Xenomorph life cycle, and arguably the most common and widely-acknowledged form of Xenomorph to emerge from the numerous expanded universe castes. Praetorians serve as guards to their Hive's Queen and unlike other Xenomorph types Praetorians rarely operate outside their Hive grounds. They are among the largest and most powerful Xenomorph strains. Visually, Praetorians resemble a Queen, though smaller in size (although they are still far larger than typical Xenomorphs), typically standing at least 10 feet tall.
With the possible exception of the Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Praetorians have not been seen on film but have regularly been encountered in the expanded universe, first appearing in the 1999 video game Aliens versus Predator. They have gone on to be a staple feature of the numerous various video games based on the Alien vs. Predator universe.
A Praetorian's most distinguishing feature is its large head crest, similar to that of a Queen, which they will often employ to ram targets in a charging attack. Unlike Queens, however, Praetorians do not possess a second pair of arms on their chest. Like Queens, their dorsal tubes are typically longer and end in a sharp point when compared to other Xenomorphs that possess these appendages. Praetorians are dark in color, typically black but sometimes black-blue, and stand over 10 feet tall, towering over their fellow Xenomorphs on the battlefield. Despite this size, they are almost as fast and agile as their smaller Xenomorph siblings, although Praetorians seem to remain in a permanent bipedal position, and owing to their bulk, they cannot scale walls or ceilings.
As is befitting of their size, Praetorians are incredibly strong and their thick skin, known to be bulletproof in some cases, enables them to shrug off damage that would be terminal several times over to most other Xenomorph castes. They are capable of defeating entire squads of human Marines single-handed and are even a match for Predators in close-quarters combat. Praetorians can spit acid in far larger quantities than other Xenomorphs, and will also use their claws and long blade-tipped tails as slashing and stabbing weapons, making them deadly at any range. In Aliens vs. Predator, the Praetorian's upper jaw protrudes slightly, giving them an overbite.
Praetorians are smarter and more cunning than typical Xenomorphs. However, owing their size and strength, Praetorians simply have no need for stealth and tactical movement in most cases and will simply attack targets directly. Owing to their role in protecting the Queen herself, they will ferociously combat any threats without concern for their own safety or survival, making them dangerous opponents. Despite this, some Praetorians have been known to emit a deafening screech that will summon additional Warriors to their aid; the Praetorian itself will then hold back while the lowly Warriors attack the target.
There is much speculation on how Praetorians come into being. Arguably the most widely accepted origin is that they evolve from Warriors. The exact manner and cause of this evolution are unclear, although one stated possibility is that the change occurs when the Queen selects a Warrior from her brood to become a Praetorian. The chosen Warrior would begin to produce a pheromone that would cause the rest of the Hive to turn against and attack it. This process would result in the deaths of most such individuals. However, for those that survived and escaped, the ordeal would serve to strengthen the individual. Now away from the Hive, the pheromone would begin to initiate physical changes in the individual, causing them to grow into the Praetorian form. Once the change was complete, the pheromone would cease to be produced and the new Praetorian would return to their Hive and take their place beside their Queen. Specimen 6 is seen briefly as a Praetorian at the conclusion of Aliens vs. Predator, before molting into a Queen. There is evidence in-game that Specimen 6 was originally intended to be a Praetorian for at least some of the playable Alien campaign, although this was ultimately dropped.
It is also possible that the Praetorian could be an intermediate stage in a Queen's growth cycle. As a Queen molts from its Chestburster stage, it may mid-metamorphose into a Praetorian, only fully changing into a Queen later depending on whether another Queen is already present. Some sources, meanwhile, simply depict Praetorians as being created from birth by Praetorian Facehuggers, similar to the Queen in Alien3.
It is further debated whether a Praetorian will adopt genetic traits from its host, as with most other Xenomorph castes. To date, every Praetorian seen has looked the same, although it is impossible to say for sure whether all were birthed from the same species of host. If Praetorians evolve from lower castes, as is commonly stated, it seems likely that a Praetorian evolved from a Runner Xenomorph (which is essentially a quadrupedal Drone) would differ from a Praetorian spawned from a human Drone/Warrior. Indeed, it has been theorized that the Crusher from Aliens: Colonial Marines is in fact a Praetorian evolved from a Runner, as it shares distinct similarities with both.
However, if Praetorians are created from birth through Praetorian Facehuggers, it would be equally possible for the resultant creature to have no special variance based on the genetic makeup of its host. This is shown to be the case in the video game Aliens versus Predator: Extinction, where Praetorians are said to be pure Xenomorphs that do not alter their appearance based on the host creature's form, and will therefore always look the same.
Similar to how Praetorians are said to evolve from Warriors, Praetorians themselves are often said to evolve into Queens. In the video game Aliens vs. Predator, Specimen 6 ultimately evolved into a Queen from the Praetorian stage.
Praetorians are among the rarer castes of Xenomorph, and due to their tendency to remain inside the Hive, they are not often encountered by outside forces.
Aliens versus PredatorEdit
The Praetorian first appears in Aliens versus Predator. Praetorians are fought in the Marine level "Tyrargo" and the Predator levels "Vaults", "Fury 161" and "Caverns". They are also seen in Skirmish mode/Cooperative mode.
Aliens versus Predator 2Edit
According to Aliens versus Predator 2, the Praetorian is the next step in a Warrior's life cycle. It is a larger, bulkier version of the standard Alien, with a head crest similar to that of the Queen. They are the second most durable of the playable Xenomorph types (the first being the Queen), but are also slower than usual and lack the useful pouncing and wall-crawling abilities of other forms; however this was considered non-canonical.
Praetorians are confronted in the Marine levels "A Long Detour", "Loose Ends" and "Savior", and in the Predator levels "Hunt", "Old Debts" and "Trophy". In the Primal Hunt expansion pack, Praetorians are encountered in the Corporate levels "Severance" and "Zeta Site" and the Predator level "Legend".
Aliens versus Predator: ExtinctionEdit
Praetorians appeared again in Aliens versus Predator: Extinction, where they are created from Praetorian Eggs, from which come Praetorian Facehuggers. They had 750 hit points, were available on every level, and could morph into larger and more dangerous Aliens in later levels.
Aliens vs. PredatorEdit
In Aliens vs. Predator, a Praetorian and several Warriors (summoned by the Praetorian's screeches) ambush Dark in an ancient Yautja Combat Arena. Despite this, the Predator was able to kill the Warriors and the Praetorian in single combat. The Predator's overseer remarks on the rarity of encountering the "higher echelons" of the Xenomorph hierarchy, suggesting that Praetorians are fairly uncommon. During the fight, the Praetorian demonstrated the ability to spit acid from two chambers in its mouth, causing twice the damage of a Drone's normal acid attack. It is also seen to produce a deafening scream which summons Warriors to its aid, an ability that Corporal Tequila witnessed first-hand when she was captured and cocooned. Rookie, another Marine, also encountered at least three Praetorians on BG-386: one in the Weyland-Yutani labs and two more on the bridge leading to the Predator Pyramid. Upon being captured by Karl Bishop Weyland's men, Specimen 6 also transformed into a Praetorian and killed the crew of a cargo ship before nesting and molting into a new Queen.
Praetorians also appear in the game's Survival mode, starting at around wave 6. The Praetorian is a multiplayer skin, unlocked when players reach Rank 19. For gameplay reasons, the Praetorians in Survival and multiplayer modes are the same size as regular Drones or Warriors, although in Survival they are significantly tougher than the standard castes.
In AVP: Evolution the Alien player can buy the Praetorians head, body, and tail with enough Xeno Points. When playing as a Praetorian you can climb on walls like other Aliens, but your movement speed is reduced. For gameplay reasons, player-controlled Praetorians are the same size as regular Drones.
Super Predator controlled Praetorians are confronted in the Predator level "Power Out" and the Predator side mission "Spin Blade".
- The name Praetorian is derived from the Latin word praetor, the title given to certain high-ranking officials. The Roman Praetorian Guard were the personal bodyguards of Roman emperors.
- Praetorians constitute one of the six "boss" characters in the video game Aliens vs. Predator (designated by an on-screen bar showing their health during the player's battle with them). The others are Wolf, the Matriarch, an unnamed Predator, Karl Bishop Weyland and the Abomination. The Praetorians are notable in that they are the only boss character to be fought in more than one of the game's three campaigns — both Rookie and Dark fight a boss battle with a Praetorian. In fact, the Rookie fights a further two Praetorians near the end of the Marine campaign, after his initial boss battle with one, although these latter two are not considered bosses.
- Due to a Praetorian's head crest resembling that of a Queen, they are occasionally mistaken by some for Queens.
- The Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is speculated to be a Praetorian.