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Grays are genetically-engineered creatures appearing in Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War.



Grays were the products of experiments undertaken by Majestic 12 at Area 51. These experiments were collectively known as the "bovine manipulation project," which was underway by 2029 or earlier.[1][2] As a type of transgenic creature, grays were created by crossing the DNA of different creatures, presumably including cattle (bovines).

Grays have a silvery-gray complexion and are hairless. They also have enlarged heads, dark eyes, and long, gangling arms and legs. Grays have the ability to "spontaneously generate radiation as a form of attack," and are highly resistant to a number of harsh environment conditions.[1] Grays thrive in frigid or radioactive environments, but they are also capable of living in warm and non-radioactive environments.

Their appearance closely resembles the popular depiction of aliens, resulting in speculation that grays were produced from cells of aliens that crashed at Roswell.[3] In actuality, grays are fully engineered transgenics, and are not aliens.[4] Nonetheless, their alien-like appearance was exploited by the Illuminati and Majestic 12 as a propaganda tactic in diverting attention away from actual research at Area 51.[5] One Area 51 worker speculates that grays are monkeys genetically engineered not to have hair.[6] However, the involvement of monkeys in the creation of grays has not been specifically confirmed.

When the bovine manipulation project was first undertaken, the gray lifeform was viewed as a failure. However, DeBeers suggested to Bob Page the idea of using them to protect MJ12 facilities and taking advantage of their physical appearance as a tool for misdirection.[5] By 2052, grays were being used to guard top secret MJ12 facilities, including Area 51. Grays were also produced by the universal constructor in Area 51.[7]


Following the destruction of Area 51, which resulted in the collapse, JC Denton took care of the grays in Antarctica. In return, the grays helped maintain JC's sanctuary while JC went into stasis. Thus, the grays became a key ally of ApostleCorp. The grays in Antarctica were originally brought there by VersaLife to test their reactions to extreme conditions. They were created to be a new generation of hardy troops, but were also made to be sterile as a safeguard measure. Some were engineered for combat, while others were engineered to be leaders.

In 2072, the grays in Antarctica are attacked by the Templars, who are opposed to ApostleCorp.


Deus Ex[]

In Deus Ex, grays are part of the Animal class of scripted entities. They are always hostile to the player whenever encountered. Grays have full immunity to multiple damage types: Stunned (riot prod), TearGas (pepper gun and gas grenade), HalonGas (fire extinguisher), PoisonGas (from poisonous barrels and other environment features), Radiation, Flamed (flamethrower), and Burned (plasma-based weapons). However, they are fully susceptible to Tranquilizer Darts, which will kill them outright because Animal-class entities cannot be rendered unconscious, and which allow the player to take them out from a distance without entering the radioactive aura. A single tranquilizer dart, with the pistol skill at "trained" or higher, is enough to take out a Gray. When shot, the creature will still give chase to the player but get constantly stunned as the drug takes effect until it finally dies.

Grays have three attacks:

  • A swipe attack (WeaponGraySwipe).
  • A ranged attack (WeaponGraySpit) that inflicts radiation damage.
  • An aura-type effect that inflicts continuous radiation damage to the player, with a base damage of 10, if the player is within a distance of 256 units (16 feet) from the gray. The aura-type effect is a hard-coded effect and is not implemented in the form of a weapon. It also damages only the player, and does not damage any non-player characters or other objects in the game environment.[8]

Despite being somewhat humanoid in appearance, damage multipliers that apply to human NPCs do not apply to grays. Therefore, the headshot multiplier (8x damage) available against human NPCs is not available against grays.

Deus Ex: Invisible War[]

In Deus Ex: Invisible War, grays are able to communicate with Alex Denton, and are also very friendly to any ally of ApostleCorp. The intelligence of the grays in Invisible War is explained by their leader in Antarctica, who reveals that some grays were engineered for tasks like combat, while some grays were engineered to be leaders. The gray leader will also explain their origins to Alex:

We were the next generation of a project launched in Roswell. We were to be unstoppable ground troops, unfazed by cold or radiation. In other cases, our DNA was to be harvested to create biomodifications for humans, so that they could survive the aftermath of a nuclear war.

To prevent us from overpowering our masters by sheer numbers, we were created unable to reproduce. That is why the Templar threat to us is so dire — we are all that remains.

— Gray leader in Antarctica, in Deus Ex: Invisible War

Due to their lack of biomod infusions, grays cannot go through the portal, and so must be transported the long way to the ApostleCorp facility in Trier.

Grays will readily attack any enemy of ApostleCorp, including the player (Alex Denton), if he or she is affiliated with another faction in the endgame. Because grays are genetically-engineered, the Knights Templar attempt to kill them whenever possible. In the Templar ending, a gray can be seen hanging from a noose.

Development history[]

Origin story concept[]

Design document v. 13.12 includes the following backstory on the origin of the grays. In a pre-release backstory concept, the grays originated from an unsuccessful attempt to create a new form of soldier. The project was not successful in its original objective, but it resulted in the creation of a new life form, the grays. Although the grays were not aliens, they were readily perceived by the public as aliens, thereby allowing the Illuminati to exploit them as a cover for developing Majestic 12.

By 1946, Illuminati-backed scientists at the Area 51 research facility had managed to manipulate human DNA in ways no one imagined possible. At the time, the effort was focused on creating a soldier more capable than any ordinary man could be. Though they failed to accomplish this they did create what amounted to a new life form – something that, when it escaped from the lab, would be perceived by the world as the “gray alien” being of UFO legend. It wasn’t much of a soldier – the first grays could barely survive – but it changed the course of human history.

A year later, inspired by advisers covertly on the Illuminati payroll, and believing the world to be in imminent danger of attack from outer space, President Truman created the top secret organization called Majestic 12. Its official purpose, known only to a select few, was to act as liaison with the aliens supposedly visiting our planet and to take advantage of their wondrous technology. In reality, and known to even fewer people, the goals of the organization were both more mundane and more fantastic than that.

There were, in fact, no alien visitors, no flying saucers, no extra-terrestrial technologies. There was only a conspiracy increasingly convinced that in technology lay the future of mankind and in control of technology lay their best hope of continued power.

— Design document v13.12, "Backstory" section

This origin story does not explicitly appear in the finished game or the Deus Ex Bible, although it would be compatible with the in-game portrayal of grays.

The design document also states that Grays were created from "the genetic material of abducted humans and mutilated cattle," suggesting that grays are also based on human DNA in addition to being based on cattle (bovine) DNA. However, basis in human DNA is not canonically mentioned in either the Deus Ex Bible or any title in the series.

Archetypal “alien.” Actually genetically manipulated creatures created by Majestic 12 over the years from the genetic material of abducted humans and mutilated cattle. First experiments were accidents but when a few of these creatures escaped from Majestic 12 labs in black copters, and people began interpreting their existence as proof of extraterrestrial life, Majestic 12 exploited human gullibility to distract mankind from what was really going on.

— Design document v13.12, description of Grays in the "Augmented Creatures" section


  • In the official strategy guide for Deus Ex, the gray's ranged attack is named "psionic blast," but this description is not used in-game or in any other source. In the corresponding strategy guide for Invisible War, the attack is simply named "radiation attack."



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gray Project Schedule" (email on the VersaLife Leve 1 labs computer).
  2. "Progress Report" (email on VersaLife corporate vault computer).
  3. Conversation with mechanic in Area 51 ("They SAY from cells they got at Rosewell...).
  4. Deus Ex Bible; see also Alex Denton's dialogue in Invisible War ("So you're fully engineered transgenics, not aliens").
  5. 5.0 5.1 "RE: Bovine Manipulation" (email on Area 51 computer).
  6. Conversation with mechanic at Area51 ("...but how do we know? They could have just engineered monkeys to not have any hair.").
  7. As seen in the final mission of Deus Ex.
  8. Gray.Tick in DeusEx.u.