Exploders are specialized Necromorphs that act as "suicide bombers," much like Crawlers. Their most prominent feature is the large, glowing pustule attached to their left arm, which is filled with a highly explosive chemical substance.
Exploders appear to be created from a single human host. The cranium of the host is split open vertically, with the brain cavity being filled with connective tissue that allows the two halves of the head to serve as "jaws." The left arm of the creature has become stiff, no longer having any articulation points except for the shoulder. A large pustule, filled with a glowing yellow chemical, has developed at the arm's end, making it very heavy and unwieldy. This substance is extremely reactive to blunt force, resulting in a powerful explosion when the force applied on it surpasses a certain threshold.
To counter the weight of the left arm, the Exploder's right arm and legs have been transformed in a way that moves the creature's center of mass away from the massive pustule, thus allowing the Exploder to walk - albeit very clumsily.
The right forearm has been extensively modified, with the right hand and foot fused together and extended in order to act as a leg, while the original legs and left foot have become fused and twisted to form a single muscular limb. Although Exploders move sluggishly in general, they are capable of displaying surprising bursts of speed after they have closed the distance between themselves and their intended targets.
Once an Exploder is within striking range, it will swing its pustule into its victim or the ground, resulting in a deadly explosion for anything caught in the blast radius. The blast produces enough force to dismember a human victim, and usually results in the destruction of the Exploder itself.
Due to their suicidal attack and relatively slow movement, they often attack in large groups in an attempt to overwhelm their target. Their presence can be easily detected by the distinctive cackling sounds they make when they are in the vicinity.
Dead Space 3 features a slightly altered, more deadly form of the Exploder, where it appears to be crawling, moving much faster than its upright counterpart. The signature pustule is still present, and still quite deadly in close quarters. To make matters worse, it seems to be dragging behind the Exploder's body, making it tougher to shoot at. It may be wiser, if not ammo-conserving, to fire away at the body rather than risk it getting too close before one can make the shot.
- It is imperative that Exploders be taken out at long range as their suicide attack is extremely dangerous. Exploders make their signature sounds when they are encountered and their pustule glows from a distance, making them easy to spot. Use this warning to get rid of them before they become a threat.
- The arm that carries the pustule is very weak, and can be easily cut. Kinesis can be used to throw the pustule at other enemies.
- A lobbed pustule inflicts more damage than any of the weapons in the game. It is even capable of killing Brutes on one successful hit.
- The Force Gun's primary fire does not detonate the pustule even if shot right on.
- If an Exploder gets too close to safely destroy its pustule, shoot it in the body to knock it backwards a considerable distance.
- As a last resort, use Stasis (which automatically recharges in Dead Space 2 or later) on an Exploder, and then run past it. This triggers its attack animation so that once the Stasis wears off, it'll destroy itself and anything close by.
- The Exploder can live after the pustule is detached from it, in which case it will approach you and perform a rather weak head-butt. However, the threat of the creature is reduced by an extreme degree without its pustule attached.
- It should be noted that the blast radius from the Exploder in Dead Space 2 has been drastically increased from the first Dead Space, even to the point where Isaac can take massive damage when the pustule is detonated several meters away. This blast is deadly on Hard Core mode, as Isaac can die instantly when the pustule explodes near him. As such, the best tactic is to immediately put them in Stasis, run a considerable distance away, and then shoot it to detonate it from safety.
- Be especially wary of Exploders or Crawlers alike in rooms containing a decompression window. In these scenarios, it's best to sever the pustule and leave it be. It's easy enough to get dangerously close to a window during these moments, and detonation will often break the window and leave Isaac no time to close it.
- If at a distance, shooting the pustule attached to the Exploder's arm will instantly detonate it, killing the Exploder and any other Necromorphs caught within the blast radius.
- Accurate weapons, such as Plasma Cutter, Javelin Gun and Ripper are best to dismember, or even kill an Exploder without destroying its pustule.
- In Dead Space 2, an Exploder's pustule is great way to kill Enhanced Necromorphs, especially Pukers without wasting valuable ammo, on higher difficulties.
- In Dead Space 3, Exploders can move much faster than past iterations, crawling low on the ground instead of limping slowly toward targets. This means that Exploders can pose much more of a threat than before, especially if approached from behind.
- In all 3 games an Exploder will suicide if it survives its hand and foot getting dismembered but leaving the Pustule attached. It will fall to the ground, look to the left and right, then ram its Pustule into the ground.
- It is unknown why so many Exploders are encountered in the USM Valor. There is no other justification than the difficulty gameplay purpose.
- Exploders will sometimes mumble to each other when in groups and alone. This shows that Exploders still retain some of their humanity in the way of trying to communicate with one another.
- There is new type of Exploder in Dead Space 3. This variant can no longer walk, instead they seem to crawl using their left and rear limbs while dragging the explosive pustule behind them. Aside from this, they have the same basic attacks seen with the normal Exploders. The original version of the Exploder is also randomly encountered through the later portions of Dead Space 3 as well.
- In Dead Space 3, crawling Exploders have a quick time event for the first time ever. But when it happens, it doesn't make any sounds.
- The pustule's range and damage seems to have been lowered in Dead Space 3, taking nearly 4 explosions to kill Isaac/Carver on Hard difficulty with no RIG upgrades.
- A rare glitch can occur in Dead Space when an Exploder bursts near Isaac and tears off his top half and his head, leaving his bottom somewhat intact and still able to walk around holding a gun.
- The Exploder was the very first Necromorph to appear in a gameplay preview of Dead Space 2.
- An Exploder observes Isaac behind a window in Chapter 10 of Dead Space, although it fails to break through to get to him, instead retreating into a nearby vent. Curiously, it does not pursue Isaac afterwards.
- A very, very rare glitch has happened to where if you shoot off the explosive sac at the same time an Exploder swings it, it is cut off, doesn't detonate, but the explosion scene still happens, and oddly enough, does nothing.
- In Dead Space (mobile), you can hear the exploder say Neglected.
- Enhanced versions are encountered in the mobile game, appearing darker in color with a dark orange color pustule. It is not encountered in any other game however, even though it takes place on the Sprawl.
- The Exploder's head is similar to the creature in the movie The Thing, where the first corpse has a split head. This however could have been a complete coincidence.
- Regardless of how skinny they look, a single Exploder can withstand a lot of damage. If shot at the body, they might survive even a direct hit from a fully upgraded Contact Beam.
- In Dead Space 3, hitting one with stasis, running past it, and making it explode while still in stasis will make the screen shake around the area until the stasis wears off.
- There is no specific death scene animation for the Exploder, but Isaac is blown into pieces if a pustule's explosion kills him.
- The Exploder will "bite" pieces of Isaac off using the flaps of its head if its pustule has been removed.
- If a crawling Exploder pins Isaac or Carver in Dead Space 3, and the player fails the QTE following afterwards, it will disable his arm pushing it back by chewing on the shoulder (but not biting it off) and proceed to bite his head off.