The Ceph, short for Cephalopods, also known as the Charybdis, are a group or race of technologically advanced aliens and represent the primary antagonists of the Crysis series. They are hostile towards humans and are waging what appears to be a war of extermination against them. Their probable origin is likely to be in the Triangulum Galaxy or also known as the M33 galaxy, located in the constellation Triangulum, 4 million light years from Earth. They had been on Earth for at least 2 million years in a dormant state until Jacob Hargreave in 1919 set in motion events in Tunguska that led to the Korean People's Army awakening one of their installations.
During Crysis, the Ceph (though not referred in name) were first "officially" discovered in the Lingshan Islands by a CIA-tracked archaeological expedition led by Dr. Rosenthal, who had unearthed fragments of their technology in other parts of the world. Subsequently, the North Korean government became aware of the alien technology and dispatched the Korean People's Army to secure the Lingshan Islands in an attempt to appropriate it. In turn, the United States, after being urgently contacted by Dr. Rosenthal, also sent American military forces backed by the USS Constitution carrier group in for a rescue mission and to prevent the KPA from acquiring the artifacts. Inevitably, the Koreans under General Kyong succeeded in activating the structure (which Kyong called a "temple") and inadvertently awakening the Ceph, who shortly thereafter deployed an "ice sphere" which flash froze most of the island and killed everything that was within range.
Robotic Ceph forces overwhelmed American and Korean forces remaining in Lingshan, forcing them to evacuate. The United States sanctioned a limited nuclear strike against the ice sphere, but instead of dispersing, the sphere absorbed the nuclear explosion and expanded, prompting the Ceph to send a massive counterattack that sank the entire U.S. carrier group.
The Lingshan Cephs were composed almost entirely of robotic units or heavily armored weaponized "exosuits". Weapons seemed to follow a pattern of ambient energy absorption: practically all units had the ability to drain nearby electrical sources, and more direct weapons came in the form of freeze rays and high-powered icicle launchers, as well as energy-based explosives and more "traditional" energy beams.
During the Crysis Comic, the bipedal Ceph exoskeletons used in the New York Incursion 2 years later seem to be available on Lingshan as well. However, the tentacles are black and the armor seems be slightly different than what's seen in New York. Other variants are also seen, such as a small drone-like walker and a giant bipedal exoskeleton. There are also living tentacles inside the alien ship, which no longer has an anti-gravitational field. The ice sphere is notably absent in the comic, though it is possible for it to be simply out of view.
The Ceph in Crysis 2, which still relate to the aliens from the original games, appear to employ different strategies and technologies than the group at Lingshan, as well as having a different morphology. They seem to have gone so far as to actually mimic human combatants, relying of more "conventional" forces such as dedicated infantry, armor and air units. They have replaced their hovering trooper automatons with cybernetic soldiers composed of what appears to be an alien being encased in a suit of armor that grants it mobility, agility, great strength as well as a diversity of weapons. These weapons appear to function via some kind of projected energy; however they might as well be a sort of projectile, since they are referred to as "shells" in Crysis: Legion.
These soldiers come in Grunt, Stalker, and Heavy classifications, as well as some Command variants. Their Hunters and Scouts have been replaced with huge, heavily-armed tripod tanks known as Pingers, and gunships armed with missiles and rapid-fire weapons that mimic human military helicopters. Troop deployment is done via the use of specialized dropships, to transport and deploy troops via drop-pods.
The Ceph that emerged from underneath New York City also deployed what appeared to be a weaponized plague against the inhabitants. This "spore" was invariably fatal upon even the most limited contact, and was generally deployed via massive mechanical "spears" that emerged from underground, disseminating a thick cloud of nanite-viruses into the air. Crysis: Legion, however, reveals that the "Manhattan Virus" functioned as far more than a bioweapon for the aliens. Most of their technology was covered in receptor proteins for the spore; it is described as an "antibody system" that makes a desired area of the Earth suitable for alien habitation by eliminating hazardous macrofauna (humans), and the Nanosuit 2 was eventually modified to re-program the spore to attack the alien biology.
Their purpose is also expanded upon in the novel. Hargreave speculates that, since the Ceph have such advanced technology that can create practically anything they can think of, their sole interest is in the things they can't think of, namely surprising proteins and organisms that evolution gives rise to over millions of years of adaptation. If this is the case, then the Ceph stationed on Earth are only an automated system programmed to wake up every once in while to scout the planet for scientific data that might be useful.
After the events in Crysis 2, Cephs from the various hideouts across the globe attacked on humanity, but mostly beaten back by the modified nanites. With the Alpha Ceph caged and harvested for energy by C.E.L.L., Cephs in general lost the guidance of the central hivemind, their activities were largely reduced and some, like the Stalker units, reverted to animalistic behaviour. Such inactivity led to humanity at large believed the Ceph threat is over. However, further research by C.E.L.L. the true nature of the Ceph's activities finally revealed that the Ceph are staging a planetary colonization process for Earth.
The Ceph colonization process takes place in three stages:
Stage One would be like those who were found on Lingshan Island, identical to their homeworld in the M33 galaxy, units largely reliant on the mothership for energy, meanwhile techno-organic units fan out to harvest energy - any and all kind - to give birth/create/awake an central intelligence, the "Alpha Ceph". With the nuclear strike in Crysis, the Alpha Ceph came to being, and the Ceph proceed into Stage Two.
Stage Two Cephs, as seen in Crysis 2 and Crysis 3, are no longer as reliant on the mothership for energy supplies, with their units largely adapted to deal with local environment and native species' resistance. Such learning and adpotations goes beyond exoskeleton and platform designs, but devices that's analogue to those use by the local species, like auto turrets and "smart" landmines.
If local resistance proved too resilient for Stage Two Cephs to deal with, Stage Three with commence - the Alpha Ceph, with its immense energy supplies, opens and maintains a wormhole in the planet's orbit. This wormhole is connected to the Ceph's homeworld in the M33 galaxy, and from there comes forth their warrior caste - Cephs dedicated purely to warfare - to completely annihilate any and all species that stands in the Ceph's way.
In the course of Crysis 3, Prophet would unwittingly released the Alpha Ceph from its confinement, but ultimately killed it in battle inside its underground lair; then in orbit, Prophet commandeered an Archangel defense satellite, used its energy beam to take down the massive Ceph warship coming through the wormhole. The warship's subsequent detonation closed the wormhole, and supposedly ended the Ceph invasion.
The Alien army encountered at Lingshan consists almost entirely of autonomous or semi-autonomous machines, most of them making use of a kind of anti-gravity technology to fly through the air. They make use of ice- and energy-based weapons, and are capable of draining energy from almost any nearby source in order to power and repair themselves. The only biological aliens seen are inside the main alien structure.
- Naked Alien - The Alien creatures encountered inside the mountain structure.
- Alien Trooper - A small Alien robotic infantry unit.
- Alien Scout - A highly maneuverable flying Alien machine.
- Alien Hunter - A large four-legged Alien machine armed with multiple weapons, making it highly dangerous. The one seen in Crysis is protected by an impenetrable shield, while others, seen in Warhead, are more easily defeated.
- Alien Warrior - A massive and heavily armed Alien warship.
- Alien Spaceship - The massive Alien construct from which all the other Aliens come from.
- Guardian Trooper - A small Alien unit used for shielding generic Troopers.
- Leader Trooper - Alien unit equipped with MOAR, plays a leader role.
- Orange Scout - Flying Alien unit serves as a bomber.
- Container Scout - Alien unit that did not self-destruct, kept in a container designed for nuclear warheads.
- Red Hunter - Large 4-legged Alien used as heavy assault unit; appears to be a more heavily-armed variant of the "regular" hunter.
The Ceph somewhat resemble the Naked Aliens from the first game and appear to in fact be them. It would seem that they have begun to adapt to the gravity of Earth through the use of armoured exoskeleton suits. This allows the 'leg-less' alien to move about freely in an environment they are not adapted to. They wear a sort of mask, or helmet, that covers their "face". Their weaponry is built into the exoskeleton and cannot be picked up by the player. Most "humanoid" Ceph also have some kind of sharp claw mounted on one of their arms. They also seem to have replaced their cold-based weapons technology with what appear to be plasma weapons, as well as a semi-biological "spore", which seems to serve the same area-denial role as the ice sphere at Lingshan.
- Ceph Assault Units, nicknamed Grunts. These are fairly tough opponents with moderate armor that prefer to take cover from enemy fire. Their mobility and armor are in between that of Stalkers and Heavies.
- Ceph Devastator Units, nicknamed Heavies. These are currently the largest and most durable of the Ceph infantry. On one arm, they have a weapon that resembles an energy-based rocket launcher. The other arm is equipped with an energy-based chain gun. They are usually delivered at the site of Ceph installation via drop-pods as soon as an enemy intruder is detected.
- Ceph Organisms, nicknamed Stalkers. These highly agile soldiers seem to prefer close-range engagement with enemies, using their complement of arm-blades and short-range energy weapons in hit-and run ambush attacks. They can scale walls and perform long jumps, but are generally less durable than other alien infantry.
- Ceph Commanders appear to be high-ranking "officers" directing squads of their lesser brethren in battle. They are equipped with more powerful weapons, as well as energy shields (visible as a red shimmer around the exosketelon), which they switch on the moment an enemy is detected in their vicinity (by either them or their subordinates). As such, the most efficient way to kill them is to use a stealthy takedown while they are unaware of your presence and their shields are inactive. They come in Grunt and Stalker varieties.
- Ceph Guardian Units are advanced infantry units. They are as durable and powerful as Devastators and as nimble and intelligent as the Stalkers, if not more so. The appear to follow Alcatraz throughout his journey through New York, and confront him at the entrance to the Ceph lithoship in Central Park. They have a cloaking ability similar to the Nanosuit's and a characteristic appearance: their organic parts are black instead of pink or red, and the "eyes" on their masks are white. It appears that their role in the Ceph army is that of a powerful defender for critical installations, like the primary Spear in Central Park.
- The Ceph Tick is a small, insect-like semi-robotic unit that the aliens use to dissolve and transport the remains of the virus-infected humans, in order to minimize the bioweapon's ecological impact. It has a hypodermic needle which it uses to inject dead bodies with enzymes, turning the flesh into a fluid. This is in turn stored in a vesicle on its back, and transported to a collection point.
- The Ceph Gunship is a powerful air unit armed with a rapid-fire energy gun, as well as what appears to be a missile battery. It is extremely durable and maneuverable, requiring multiple anti-air rockets to take down, and can eliminate scores of human combatants within seconds.
- The Ceph Dropship delivers infantry units on the battlefield via "drop pods". Two types of dropships have been seen so far: the "usual" type, which is seen several types reinforcing alien positions throughout Manhattan, and a rarer, larger version that sports the Gunship's circular propulsion systems. One of these is shot down by CELL helicopters and is revealed to have been carrying not alien soldiers in its pods, but the dissolved remains of virus-infected humans.
- Pingers are a type of massive tripod drone armed with powerful energy weapons, EMP emitters and a sonic pulse device that seems capable of severely disabling unprotected humans. They are extremely well-armored, being able to shrug off multiple anti-tank rounds with ease. Their only known weakness appears to be a red section (perhaps a power source or generator) located in the back of their "head".
In Crysis 3, most of the Ceph are carried over from Crysis 2 in that only a small fractions of their forces are new. Since they are still part of the Ceph Stage 2 invasion, they use mostly the same tactics as their Crysis 2 counterparts.
- Ceph Grunt - (Ceph Infantry Unit) They are the backbone of the Ceph armies. Just like in Crysis 2, they use the Pinch Rifle along with energy grenades. Their organic bodies appear to be orange red in color.
- Ceph Reaver - (Ceph Assault Unit) They support the Grunts and appear much less frequent. These guys charge the player and always use the secondary / spreadfire mode of the Pinch Rifle along with energy grenades. Their shots resemble the Crysis 2 Grun Commanders in that the fire rate is slow but very accurate. They are not commanders and have relatively the same amount of durablility as the Grunts. Their organic bodies appear to be purple in colour.
- Ceph Shadow - (Ceph Long Range Unit) These guys serve as the snipers for the alien army. These guys are only encountered in the last two missions and are fought usually at long range. They carry the Bolt Sniper weapon and do alot of damage per shot. Their organic bodies appear to be a green blue colored resembling the colour of the Naked Aliens in Crysis 1.
- Ceph Stalker - (Ceph Shock Unit) They prowl the forested / tall grass sections of the Liberty Dome. They are the only Ceph units that can operate without the hivemind / Alpha Ceph. Their exosuits appears to be upgraded from Crysis 2 as they have longer blades and spiked armor. They utilize a technology which blocks the Nanosuit's Nanovision and the Visor so the player cannot track them. As a tradeoff, they can no longer can fire the short range energy blasts as they did in Crysis 2. Mobility wise, they are similar to their Crysis 2 counterparts.
- Ceph Spotter - (Ceph Scout Drone) They fly around the battlefields detecting enemy forces. Once they see an enemy, they deploy EMP grenades and call in reinforcements. They do not have any weapons of their own and can be easily taken down or hacked.
- Ceph Devastator - (Ceph Mobile Heavy Unit) they act in a heavily armored support role. Just like in Crysis 2, they carry the Reaper Cannon in one arm while the other utilizes the X-PAC. They act more or less the same as they did in Crysis 2 and can be deployed via drop-pods.
- Ceph Scorcher - (Ceph Incinerator Drone) These guys have heavy armor that walk on four mechanic legs. They use the Incinerator and can kill enemies very quickly. Once shot at, they transform to armor mode where they can only be hurt by shooting at their sides. They can be hacked which prevents them from transforming into armor mode and as a result, can be easily destroyed. As a last resort against the enemies, they blow up in a large explosion once killed unless shot by an electric arrow which disables their self destruct sequence.
- Ceph Sentry - (Ceph Defense Turret) These mobile mechanic units of the Ceph army serve a defensive role. They can be deployed via drop-pods from Dropships at strategic locations. They fire a large amount of plasma energy shots in rapid fire and can be very dangerous is proper cover is not utilized. They can be hacked and behave much like the C.E.L.L. counterpart, the Sentinel. Their turrets turn a 360 degrees angle looking for enemies.
- Ceph Pinger - (Ceph Sentry Drone) These large tripod mechanic machines are back and act more or less the same as they did in Crysis 2 and are equipped with the same types of weapons. In mission 4, the player can hack one and use it against the Ceph. They seem slightly weaker than in Crysis 2 requiring less shots from explosive weapons to take it down.
- Ceph Gunship (Ceph Air Assault Unit) These air units are armed with a rapid-fire energy gun, as well as what appears to be a missile battery. It is extremely durable and maneuverable, requiring multiple anti-air rockets to take down, and can eliminate scores of human combatants within seconds. They behave much like their Crysis 2 counterparts.
- Ceph Dropship (Ceph Troop Carrier) They deliver infantry units on the battlefield via "drop pods". Only the smaller type is seen in Crysis 3 and they are frequently found to deploy Ceph Sentries or Devastators to the battlefield.
- Ceph Mastermind - (Ceph Field Commander) These are extremely powerful Ceph units that serve as commanders in the battlefield. They are much higher ranked tha the Ceph Commanders from Crysis 2 in that only one is encountered in Crysis 3 at the end of mission 6. The Mastermind serve as a boss and has extremely high amounts of armor and health comparable to a Pinger. Their main form of attack is telekinsis where they use the bodies of dead Ceph infantries as temporary flying weapons that shoot laser and plasma at the player.
- Alpha Ceph - This is the leader of the Ceph forces on Earth. According to the intel documents, this Ceph was created after Stage 1 was initialized in Crysis 1 where the nuclear bomb was dropped at the ice sphere. This granted the Ceph enough energy to create the Alpha Ceph. The Alpha Ceph serve as the hivemind of the entire Ceph Stage 2 invasion force and has the power to open a wormhole to the Ceph home planet to bring their Stage 3 warriors to Earth.
- Molecular Accelerator (MOAC) - This weapon never runs out of ammo and shoots ice shards.
- Molecular Arrestor (MOAR) - This weapon shoots out a powerful freeze ray.
- Singularity Cannon - This weapon takes several seconds to charge, but its blast causes a massive explosion.
- Gravity Bomb Launcher - Found in Warhead. Used by the Orange Scout, slow but can inflict serious damage.
- Smart Missiles - Used by Red Hunter. Automatically guide themselves to the target with a great accuracy.
- Alien Beam - An unnamed beam weapon found in Warhead. Used by Red Hunter and Scout.
- Ceph Plasma - Ammo for ceph weapons featured in Crysis 3.
- Pinch Rifle - An assault rifle that can also be used as a shotgun.
- Reaper Cannon - A minigun like weapon for the ceph.
- Bolt Sniper - A sniper using electricity which can kill most enemies in one shot.
- Incinerator - The only flamethrower that appears in the entire series.
- X-PAC - A kind of grenade laucher with a secondary fire of an RPG
Ceph StructuresCrysis revolved around the discovery of an ancient alien structure in a mountain on one of the Lingshan Islands. Once "awakened", the structured generated a massive energy-draining "ice sphere" which flash-froze a good portion of the island. It also deployed an army of Ceph machines to cleanse the surrounding environs of any remaining human forces. A nuclear attack on the structure simply resulted in the absorption of the blast and the enlargement of the ice sphere. The interior of the strucure was devoid of gravity and a large storage and assembly facility full of alien robots; it also contained multiple biological alien beings, which were in the process of emerging from what appeared to be cryo-hibernation. It is unknown what happened to this structure after the evernts of the game; it is mentioned in Crysis: Legion, however, that one of the involved parties "glassed the entire island", although who this party was is unknown.
In Crysis 2, the Ceph deployed a virus (called "Manhattan Virus", "spore", "God Bug", "Softball virus" or "RapCer" by humans) which resulted in a large-scale infection of many New Yorkers. The virus is generated and released to the atmosphere via large spire-like structures which emerge out of the ground as part of the underground alien structure that Nathan Gould calls the "lithoship". It is revealed that, in addition to the Lingshan and New York structures, the aliens have others built all around the planet, and that all are connected in a sort of network.
At the end of Crysis 2, Prophet revealed a map of Ceph points of interest, which include:
- Lingshan Islands, Philippine sea
- New York City, United States of America
- London, Great Britain
- Moscow, Russia
- Cairo, Egypt
- Hawaii, United States of America
- Hong Kong, China
- Shanghai, China
- Sydney, Australia
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Almost all Aliens can be easily defeated with the Gauss Rifle. Smaller ones can be cut down in seconds by the Shotgun, SCAR and the FY71 with the Incendiary Ammo. Larger and more powerful aliens like Scouts and Hunters require LAW, Hurricane and the Gauss rifle to take them down.
In Crysis 2, the Ceph aliens can be easily taken down with some firepower from almost every weapon, such as the SCAR and the Jackal. The more heavily armored and larger variants are more difficult to take down and require heavy weapons, such as the Mk. 60, the detachable HMG, and the JAW, to be taken down. Most Ceph units can also be grabbed and thrown, killing them instantly.
Most Cept units made their return in Crysis 3, and they can be similarly dealt with as in Crysis 2. The addition of mechanical units - mobile or stationaty - can be exploited to your advantage via the Nanosuit's hacking ability - minefields and turrets can make to turn against Ceph units, tougher mechanical units can be termporary "shocked" and reveal unarmored side vulnerable to attacks. Boss units like the Mastermind and Alpha Ceph requires more than just brute force and firepower, tactfully and patiently destroy their various weakpoints is the way. Availability of Ceph's energy-based weaponry is another plus, they're rechargeable by Ceph's energy cells and if properly exploited, can give you nigh-infinite supply of suit energy and firepower to wither down almost all kind of Ceph's onslaught.
- It is revealed in Crysis: Legion that the official designation humans have given the species is "Charybdis". "Ceph" is a moniker given to them due to their resemblance to earthly cephalopods.
- The feet, specifically the talons, of the exo suits and Pingers used by the Ceph in Crysis 2 bear a resemblance to those of General Grievous, a character in the Star Wars franchise.
- Ceph face without the head gear in Crysis 2 and 3 has resemblance to Deadpool mask from Marvel universe.