Note: non-Video Game examples are at the bottom.
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Beat Them All
- While in the seventh Dynasty Warriors, every kingdom gets his own campaign, even the more agressives ones, neither Dong Zhuo nor Zhang Jiao are playable in the Story Mode. They do, however, get one stage each in the Xtreme Legend expansion
- A number of fans were hoping that Dissidia: Final Fantasy would include a story mode for the villains, but it was not to be. You can however play as the villains for the side storylines, Distant Glory and Inward Chaos, but the character you play as has no impact on the plot. The announcement that the sequel would change this caused much rejoicing... except that it didn't and 012 still had no villain campaign.
- Pokémon is especially cruel as you are actually invited in every game to join the antagonist team, and yet you are forced to decline.
First Person Shooter
- Taken to an extreme in America's Army: although the multiplayer element features Americans versus an enemy force, every player is portrayed as American in first-person, with the role of the enemy taken up superficially by whichever side is "not yours". This creates some interesting fractures where, for instance, the "American" player armed with his M16 appears to opposing players as an "OpFor" with an AK-47.
- Which (probably unintentionally) underlines the fact that no-one is evil or unjust in their own eyes, and is also alarmingly reminiscent of the The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Hearts And Minds".
- The Special Forces maps allow players who haven't completed Special Forces training to play as indigenous forces. However, the special operations soldiers on the player's side are still depicted as American Green Berets, while those on the opposing side are portrayed as Spetsnaz.
- The first two Brothers in Arms games, also set during the Normandy campaign, feature campaign play solely from the perspective of U.S. paratroopers, while including single scenarios that can be played as the Germans.
- The Call of Duty games set in WWII allow you to play as a soldier on the U.S., British and Soviet sides - playing on the German or (in World at War) Japanese sides is only allowed in multiplayer. The series strives for historical accuracy; it's essentially a Foregone Conclusion that the Allies win, and your chief aim is living long enough to see it happen.
- Halo 2 has you playing as a Covenant Elite for 1/2 the levels, but you notably never fight against the humans at all. Every Covenant level involves combat against Covenant rebels, the Flood, and ultimately the Covenant itself after your character undergoes a Heel–Face Turn.
- The Covenant is playable in Halo Wars but, sure enough, only in multiplayer. Deleted concept art suggests rebel Covenant could have been recruited by the UNSC.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary, ODSTs were announced to be allies while playing as a Spartan in Firefight. "Does that mean we can kill them as Elites?" is a signature fan statement to any article or video announcing this. No, but why should that stop you?
- Half-Life: Opposing Force worked similarly to the Elite's campaign, with you as one of the marines that invade Black Mesa to cover up the Alien Invasion by killing everyone, alien and human alike. However, your helicopter goes down before you can get your marching orders (and apparently, neither do any of the grunts you encounter later and recruit to help you), so the whole game is just killing aliens, as well as the Black Ops who show up to mop up any survivors from either side. Though there is talk of finding and killing some guy named "Freeman" that you never actually meet... eh, he's probably not important.
- Killzone: You can only play as the Helghast in multiplayer, much to the disappointment of many.
- Subverted somewhat in Killzone: Mercenary where you do fight alongside the Helghast in the campaign, albeit as a Private Military Contractor rather than an actual Helghast soldier.
- Played With in the last level of Shadow Fall. While you aren't playing a full blown bad guy, Echo/Maya Visari is a part of the Helghan regime and she ends up taking down corrupt ISA official Thomas Sinclair.
- Vietcong has only an American campaign following a single character. The sequel has a short Vietcong campaign though.
- In the first Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, the zombies didn't have a proper story campaign to them, although they are playable in Multiplayer modes.
- In the popular MechWarrior video games, most of the campaigns are played in the Davion/pro Davion POV. In Mechcommander 2, Liao and Steiner is seen as cruel tyrants ruling Carver V with an iron fist and Davion wants Carver V to be independent (read: client state), in a galaxy where morality is grey and black, Davions tend to be portrayed in a good way here. The Steiner ending in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is seen as bittersweet as the character abandons his company to become a Clan warrior and is the only time his operator doesn't agree with him. If not, then you are a Davion pilot.
- There is also another ending in which you STAY with your Merc group and set up a base somewhere in the Chaos March, and remain neutral from then on. You DO have to be pro-Steiner for the game to get there, but it isn't bittersweet, ALL endings conclude with a mention of the Word of Blake jihad, and FYI: The MechWarrior games take their canon from the BattleTech books, so you kinda can't fault the games for making Davion win even if you're with Steiner.
- It is more about how Microsoft painted the Davions in a much more white portrayal than Steiner or the other houses. It was subverted in Black Knight where you are a Steiner pilot in a what-if Ian chose to find weapons rather than saving his sister.
- The Inner Sphere as whole gets this in MechWarrior 3, where the Star League-aligned commando team operates against Clan Smoke Jaguar—easily painted as an evil faction after their massacre of over a million civilians at Turtle Bay. No Clan campaign for MechWarrior 3 exists. Subverted with the sequel, Pirate's Moon, where you may elect to play as Susie Ryan's pirate team. As might be expected, the pirates are full of rebellious loudmouths and violent thugs.
- MechWarrior 2 and its sequels have toyed with this trope. The original game has campaigns for both of the central warring factions, Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon. The first sequel, Ghost Bear's Legacy, firmly puts the player on the side of Clan Ghost Bear, but the player's enemies are numerous and varied instead of simply the same faction as per the original game. In the final member of the trilogy, Mercenaries, the player is a mercenary who may elect to take missions for whatever factions offer them. The Federated Commonwealth, Draconis Combine, Free Rasalhague Republic, and even independent factions like corporations and Comstar offered contracts. It was not uncommon for players to spend a few months shooting up Draconis Mechs, then turning around and raiding a Fed-Com chemical plant. When the Clans show up, though, everyone bands together against them and you ultimately fight to save the Draconis Combine capital world of Luthien.
- To be clear, this is not restricted to the video games. The entire BattleTech extended universe paints a few factions as the good guys. Most of the books are written with the Davions or Wolves as the good guys. Of the ones that don't follow them, they usually follow a minor character or mercenary unit who will be important to the main storyline later.
Real Time Strategy
- Aztec Wars has only a campaign for the Russians. None for the villainous Aztecs or the uneasy allies, the Chinese.
- In Brütal Legend, you only play as the Ironheade in campaign mode. The Tainted Coil don't even have a proper battle against you to demonstrate their army's mechanics, but simply spawn basic units directly onto the battlefield. All three factions are playable in multiplayer, however.
- Battalion Wars 2 gives a campaign to 5/6 armies, leaving series main villains Xylvania to be confined to multiplayer (With the servers having been closed in 2014), and one Bonus Mission in the 1st game.
- Very noticeable in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 expansion Yuri's Revenge, despite the title there is no Yuri campaign. You can choose whether he's defeated by the Allies or the Soviets (and once again which ends up dominant over the other) depending on who manages to hold the time machine at the start of the story. You'd think after doing all that work to build a third faction they'd give it a campaign but nope. Rooting around in the game files shows audio files containing briefings for Yuri missions, including one where you play Yuri during one of the missions undertaken in the Allied campaign. There's not enough to warrant a full campaign though, suggesting they ran out of time. That, and the faction is so unbalanced that the campaign'd have been a cakewalk anyway.
- Ground Control and Ground Control 2 both let you control two different factions, in two different campaigns, where one campaign follows on from the other. However, in both games, you are still always the good guys - in the first game, both sides are revealed to be evil (with the exception of the two protagonists and their forces). In the second, the NSA and the Virons are good guys, and hence controllable, while the Imperials are never controllable at any point in the game. Worse, this actually extends to skirmish and multiplayer.
- In the Homeworld franchise you only get to play the Exiles/Hiigarans in single player, but you get to play either side in multiplayer. The first game had an interesting take on this, as you could play as the canonically evil race - but doing so simply made both sides swap roles, so you experienced the exact same story with defence frigates instead of drones.
- Kadeshi and Turanic Raiders are exclusively AI controlled enemies in the campaign. They are completely absent in multiplayer. You can steal some of their ships with salvage corvettes, but that's it.
- In Bungie's RTS series Myth, the player can only play as the Human faction in the single-player campaign mode.
- Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon only allows you to play as the Royal Navy in the campaign, although you can play as other factions in the skirmish mode.
- X-Wing was naturally about the exploits of the heroic Rebel Alliance, and as such featured no campaign for the bad guys. The sequel TIE Fighter, reversed the situation, with a campaign for The Empire and none for the good guys. Most of the time, however, you were actually fighting Imperial traitors, not the actual Rebel Alliance.
- Mario And Sonic At The Winter Olympic Games does not allow you to play as the Rivals at all.
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is pretty much "The One Where You Get To Play As Organization XIII". Double Subverted in the main story, however, since the main character, Roxas, is the Organization's Token Good Teammate who ends up defecting from them by the end of the game.
- Averted in Live A Live, the final chapter allows you to play as Odio and kill everyone else.
First Person Shooter
- Averted in Deus Ex: Invisible War as you can chose to assist any of the power players presented without exception.
- Averted in the Sega Saturn game Iron Storm. There were 3 campaigns one could choose from, the US, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. Surprisingly each one has a Bitter Sweet Ending vibe to it:
- In the US ending, it plays out like in Real Life. The Cold War starts shortly after defeating the Germans and the Japanese.
- In the Nazi Germany ending, Germany conquers the Soviet Union, defeats the US (and takes over the eastern half of it) and then defeats Japan in India once they become a threat. The Third Reich then pretty much rules over the entire world, although it falls apart shortly after someone assassinates Hitler.
- In the Imperial Japan ending, they take over Asia, the western half of the US, and defeat Germany in India to become the dominant power. But then Japan becomes an economic slave to the US due to the American's inexpensive but high quality electronics and automobiles (basically a reversal of what happens in Real Life).
- Averted in a sense in Marathon Infinity. The game has multiple alternate continuities you play through, and in one of them you're an agent of the Phfor. You slaughter your former heroic human allies by the dozens.
- The new Medal of Honor has been criticized because it will let you play as the Taliban. This is no longer entirely true. The Taliban faction still exists in multiplayer, but it's been renamed "Opposing Force".
- Averted in Red Orcestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad where, apparently for the first time, you can play as the German through the battle of Stalingrad and change history by winning the battle of Stalingrad, though it will most likely be a series of maps and some flavour text instead of a full campaign, it's mostly a multi-player shooter after all.
- Averted in the (Czech-made) Vietcong 2, which does have a campaign where you play as the Vietcong, although it's much shorter than the American campaign, and portrays the Vietcong in a reasonably negative (albeit ironic) light. Played straight in the first one though.
- The second Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare game gives both a story campaign mode for both the Plants and Zombies.
- Metro: Last Light released a DLC pack that contained numerous mini-campaigns from the POVs of various heroes and villains from the main game, including members from the enemy neo-Nazi and neo-Soviet factions as well as the fan favorite villain Pavel.
- Most Gundam action games set in the Universal Century feature equally fully-featured Federation and Zeon campaigns, likely due to Gundam's non-machinean morality and Zeon's popularity with fans. A good chunk of the ones that don't have Zeon campaigns usually directly adapt the events of the TV series (such as Journey to Jaburo or One Year War), and may still feature bonus mission where the player can fight for Zeon.
- The Jurassic Park game for the Sega Genesis had a Human campaign and a Velociraptor campaign.
- Sonic Adventure 2 has two parallel campaigns, one for the good guys ("Hero") and one for the bad guys ("Dark"). Once both of these campaigns are beaten, a third "Last" story is unlocked in which both sides team up.
Real Time Strategy
- Averted in Battlestations: Pacific. Not only is there a full Japanese campaign, but it takes a complete Alternate History approach where they go on to win the war. Including an ending where the Americans sign the instrument of surrender on board the battleship Yamato in San Francisco Bay.
- The base Company of Heroes game is a straight example; it contains an American campaign, but not one for the German Wehrmacht. The aversion is in the expansions. Both of the new factions in Opposing Fronts (British for the Allies and Panzer Elite for the Axis) get campaigns, but the Wehrmacht is still left out. The Panzer Elite campaign sticks to history by being set during Operation Market Garden, a historical short-term win for the Axis. In the tank-centered hero campaign in Tales of Valor, the central cast is of course a German Panzer crew (in fact, the same commander from the PE campaign, earlier in his career.)
- Dungeon Keeper is an inversion. The good guys don't get a campaign.
- Averted in Empire at War. You get to play as the Empire, though the ending is non-canon. The expansion, Forces of Corruption, has the Zann Consortium as the only faction available in Story mode.
- Averted in Empire Earth, where both campaigns set in modern times involve the bad guys - the German Campaign leads to Those Wacky Nazis and the Russian Campaign follows an oppressive future Russia which attempts to conquer the world although you pull a Heel–Face Turn later. The former campaign abruptly ends in 1941. Maybe because the final mission of said campaign is carrying out Operation Sealion and bombing Buckingham Palace. There probably wasn't much else to do after that...
- In a particularly amazing aversion, The Battle for Middle-Earth actually features two campaigns. One in which you play as the forces of good and the One Ring is destroyed. In the other, you play as the forces of evil and take control of the lands of Rohan and Gondor, ending with the death of Frodo in Cirith Ungol and the destruction of Minas Tirith itself. The sequel shows what happens in the northern parts of Middle Earth when the forces of evil start to get the upper hand. The campaign ends with Sauron utterly crushing the last remnants of good in Rivendell.
- This trope is almost completely averted in the expansion for the second game, as only the evil kingdom of Angmar gets its own campaign. The good guys do get a playable epilogue however.
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds has campaigns for both evil forces (Empire and Trade Federation) and three of the good forces (Gungans, Rebels, and Wookiees - twice, if you count the tutorial). The only force to not have a campaign is in fact composed of good guys - the Royal Naboo - because the Naboo are mostly nonviolent and only really fight in defence of Naboo itself, although this doesn't stop them appearing on any planet you'd care to name in standard games.
- In S.W.A.T. 2, you can play as the terrorists.
- Notably averted in Warcraft, where not only do the the Orcs get a campaign, their victory is the outcome the sequel follows on from. Said sequel also gives the bad guys a campaign, but it's the Alliance who canonically win. The games do have elements in the loser's campaign that happen (the raid on Medihv's castle by the humans in 1, the orc civil war in 2). From that point on in both the Warcraft and Starcraft series, every faction gets a campaign and they all canonically win their campaigns; each campaign is treated as a single time period in a longer storyline.
- The whole thing gets taken to the next level in Warcraft III, where no matter which race's campaign you get to play in you get to kill at least once race that you were so happily guiding to victory before, with the Night Elves campaign allowing the player to dabble in killing some of all three other major races present in WC III, and then some.
- Averted in tank simulations as a whole since there is something alluring about German armour blitzing though enemy lines.
- Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator trilogy allowed players to fly for the United States, Japan, Britain, and Germany (of course, the actual nations involved in each game differed depending on the game: the first and third games took place in Europe, while the second took place in the Pacific theater). The third game's campaign even allowed players to make changes to history (the campaign starts in March 1943, and it's possible to start an invasion of continental Europe within a few weeks of starting, or even have Germany invade Britain within a few months, depending on how good the player is).
- The World War II combat flight sim series IL-2 Sturmovik and its sequels/expansions allow you to fly not only for Germany and Japan, but also for the minor Axis air forces of Finland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Nearly all countries that participated in aerial combat during the war are present in the games, in one way or another. It's also unusual to have a game that lets you play as the Soviet Union (sort of the Allies' Token Evil Teammate) rather than just the US or Britain, though it's quite unsurprising for a game developed and published by a Russian company.
- The first campaign in Luftwaffe Commander combat air simulation features the Condor Legion, a part of the Spanish Nationalist air force, and the other four let the player fight as a Luftwaffe pilot in different stages of the war. Only the free flight mode allows to fly Allied planes.
- Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea has one campaign for the United States and one for the Soviets (who weren't actually directly involved in Korea).
- Entries two, three and five of the Silent Hunter Series avert this. For similar reasons as the aforementioned tank sims, as Germany placed more emphasis on submarines/u-boats than the other World War II powers.
- SD Gundam G Generation DS has a Villain Route where your forces consist of the antagonists from the myriad Gundam series like the Titans, OZ, and OMNI Enforcer.
- Not averted in the demon path of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters; you don't play the part of the World Eaters, or even the later enemies you encounter, but instead play the hero(ine) as an Omnicidal Maniac hell bent on destroying EVERYTHING. (Though you do get to recruit some characters that are exclusively villains in the normal path.)
Third Person Shooter
- Star Wars: Battlefront's Galactic Conquest mode allows you to play as any faction, though the endings, particularly in II, are No Canon for the Wicked to the point where even the Republic's ending isn't the same as what happened in the movies.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron actually encourages you to play both Decepticons and Autobots - the first half of the campaign allows you to play as Decepticons getting the upper hand, and in the second, you play Autobots trying to foil their plans.
- Transformers: Fall of Cybertron does this as well, albeit with a single campaign that splits its time fairly evenly between the Autobots' attempt to escape Cybertron and the various counter-Autobot missions and factional battles of the Decepticons. Not experiencing the fighting both sides detracts significantly from the storyline's coherence.
- Plants vs. Zombies: The "I, Zombie" minigame lets the player pit zombies against (cardboard cutout) plants.
Turn Based Strategy
- Averted in the Conquests Expansion Pack of Civilization III; you can play as the Japanese in the Pacific theater and there is no European theater scenario at all.
- Spectacularly averted in Hearts of Iron 2, due to it featuring just about every country in existence during WWII and allowing you to control all of them; incidentally, Germany happens to be the most popular nation to play.
- Averted throughout most of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. In the 1st game, there are four available lords to choose from, two of which the game identifies as 'evil' and two which are identified as 'good', though given that the campaigns are identical except for lacking the scenario that is about conquering the lord you play as there isn't much to indicate their actual morals (except for the canonical victor, the Knight Lord Ironfist, which the manual paints in an ambiguous light). In the 2nd game you can play as Archibald Ironfist's top general though it's a non-canon path. The 3rd game and its expansions have quite a few campaigns that let you play around with the evil armies (and those are canon). Mostly played straight in the 4th game; the most "evil" main characters are a half-dead Anti-Hero necromancer who saves the world from a death god, and a pirate who spends most of her campaign fighting even worse pirates and sea monsters. The 5th game and its expansions has only one campaign with an evil main character. It makes up for it by making said character the most evil person in the franchise.
- Sometimes you technically get to play against yourself as the bad guy in a good guy campaign or vice versa.
- Moe Moe Niji Taisen allows you to play as both the Axis (minus Italy) and Allied powers (minus France).
- In the first Panzer General the campaign mode is available only for Germans. In addition, successful campaign may eventually allow very, very minor historical revisionism...
- However, you need to score Major Victories in pretty much every mission to get the Germany Conquers The World outcome. A Minor Victory in just one later mission will end the war in a defeat or at best a stalemate.
- In Panzer General II, there are campaigns for the German, Soviet and UK/US sides. The last of these has identical scenarios regardless of which country you choose, only the units available to you are different. The German campaign is the most elaborate one, with a historical success enabling an invasion to capture Savannah and culminating in an attack on the Oak Ridge facility to prevent the US from completing the atomic bomb.
- Panzer General II also reenacts atrocities under your command. For instance, the first mission is helping out Franco's troops in the Spanish Civil War. If you cursor over it, one of the towns you pass through on the way to the objective is Guernica. Yeah...
- Played straight in Allied General, a sequel released before Panzer General, where only British, Soviet, and American campaigns are available.
- The Steel Panthers games generally let you play with a diverse set of factions (including, yes, the Germans and the Soviets), though only the fairly major ones have their own premade campaigns. You can pit any two factions together in the randomly generated campaigns, though (which are essentially a set of random battles strung together).
- The zombies are fully playable with their own story campaign for the first time on a mobile game in Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes, rather than just being part of a small minigame.
- Dragon Age: Origins has the DLC pack "Darkspawn Chronicles," where one plays as an Elite Mook and "enthralls" other Darkspawn minions.
- Darkspawn Chronicles is interesting in that playing the battle of Denerim as a darkspawn is vastly harder than playing it as the heroes, and the last battle where you protect the Final Boss from the main game's party, led by Alistair is the hardest battle in the game by far.
- It also has Leliana's Song, in which you play through the events that led to Leliana's Heel–Face Turn.
- Triple-y averted in LEGO Batman which has Another Side, Another Story just as long as the three Batman campaigns in which the player gets to take on the roles of all the villains in the game.
- Lego adaptation games like giving you at least one way to play as evil characters; LEGO Harry Potter has Dark magic objects scattered throughout levels that require Dark wizards to handle (although in the first game, this included Snape) and a bonus level where you play as Voldemort and kill Harry's parents.
- LEGO The Lord of the Rings probably comes closest to using this trope, as while evil characters are unlockable they have no storyline and none of them have powers that aren't shared with a good guy or a treasure item. It's entirely possible to play through this one without ever using an evil character (unless you count Shagrat in one story level). That said, because of the treasure items, it's also the easiest to play through as any character, including the wicked.
Beat Em Up
- In Crawl, this is averted as a gameplay mechanic. One player plays the hero, and the other three play as spirits that can possess traps and monsters to kill the hero. The spirit who finishes off the hero then becomes the new hero while the old hero becomes a spirit.
- The Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series allows you to play either side of any (or just about any) battle in Free Mode, but this may be due to the fact that you actually do play with one particular side as the "protagonists" during the Story Mode.
- However, the Crossover series Warriors Orochi doesn't have a campaign for Orochi's side until the sequel.
- Nicely toyed with in Hyrule Warriors. There's a set of Legend Mode missions (added to the game in an update patch) where you play as Big Bad Cia as she builds up the army she pitted against you in the regular story. The last one is her side of the final battle, which ends right before Link and crew turned the battle around in their version of it. And when the game is Hijacked by Ganon, you play as Ganondorf during his Near Villain Victory.
- You can can play as hero and villain alike in Dissidia: Final Fantasy outside of the 'Destiny Odyssey' and 'Shade Impulse' story modes, but only the protagonists have playable roles in those modes.
- In Shin Megami Tensei I, you eventually have to choose between Law, Chaos or Neutrality, picking your own view of "what is right" and imposing it upon the world; all three sides are somewhere between black and gray. However, your character is always going to try to be a moral individual regardless of which side he picks, and prior to finally picking your ending, there are many examples of jerkasses who you cannot deal with diplomatically or ally with, regardless of your side. Also, notably, you cannot choose Yuriko as your romantic partner, partly because her plotline has her acting as a Yandere toward you and that wouldn't work if you could accept, and partly because she's Lilith, you're Adam, and your actual destined partner is Eve.
- In Shin Megami Tensei II, at the end of all three routes, you fight YHVH. Yes, even if you sided with Law, you have to turn on Him.
First Person Shooter
- A minor subversion in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. You get to play one level as the Terminator before he got reprogrammed.
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! would be an aversion of sorts, but for the chronology. It was made after Borderlands 2, but concerns events that occurred earlier. Of the game's four basic PCs, two are bosses who were killed by the heroes of Borderlands 2, and all of them are working as mercenaries under Handsome Jack, the Big Bad of Borderlands 2. The catch is that, at the start of the story, none of them, not even Jack, is wicked—yet. As the plot progresses, some of the characters develop naturally into the forms that the players (and the Borderlands 2 characters who are listening to the story in flashback) recognize: Jack the homicidal megalomaniac, Nisha the sadistic enforcer, Wilhelm the inhuman killing machine. The player gets to participate without completely feeling like they're "playing the bad guy" because Jack is convinced the whole time that he's doing the right thing, even as his methods get more extreme and his motives more selfish.
Real Time Strategy
- Age of Empires
- Age of Empires has a campaign for Rome's enemies in the Rise of Rome expansion.
- In Age of Empires II, There are campaigns for both Genghis Khan (who even manages to invade Europe!) and Attila the Hun, not to mention covering both the Crusades-era Saracens (Saladin) and the Crusaders (Barbarossa). On the other hand, the Britons have only a few scattered missions (while being the adversaries in many campaigns), and you play as the Aztecs rather than the Conquistador Spanish.
- Age of Mythology and Age of Empires III have storyline campaigns in which the adversaries are full-cut villains.
- Somewhat subverted in Battle Realms. Because of the branching story style of the vanilla edition's campaign, it is possible to play as the sneaky, insidious Serpent rather than the honorable and Lawful Good Dragon clan. However the expansion campaign only allowed you to play as the Chaotic Good Wolf clan.
- Averted in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, as all three factions has a campaign. Also, each campaign is canon and occurs in the same timespan, so in a way the player is fighting against himself/herself.
- Inverted in the Kane's Wrath Expansion Pack. While most games in the series have a campaign each for the Good (GDI, Allies) and Bad (Nod, Soviets) armies, Kane's Wrath only has a Nod campaign. Of course, this only makes up half the package, with the brand new "Risk"-Style Map mode being open to all factions.
- But played straight in Command & Conquer: Renegade, a FPS where single player mode only allowed to play GDI and made all Nod soldiers Gas Mask Mooks.
- While both Red Alert 2 and its expansion, Yuri's Revenge, allow you to play as the usually-evil Soviets, the expansion doesn't have a campaign for Yuri's own faction, which was created for it and serves as the main villain in both the Allied and Soviet campaigns. This is probably because the developers ran out of time, as there are files related to a Yuri-faction campaign buried in the files — but not enough to make a campaign out of.
- And when we say "usually-evil Soviets," it's because in Yuri's Revenge, the Soviets are actually portrayed kind of sympathetically, having gotten their asses kicked by the Allies in the main game and having been betrayed by Yuri.
- Played with again in the Firestorm Expansion. While both factions are given a campaign, this was the first game to make it so that both were canon. On top of that, they made a pseudo-third faction, containing CABAL and his Cyborg army. While most of the units are playable in Skirmish (they're all Nod units) they're not during the campaign.
- Command & Conquer: Generals splits the difference: The Ridiculously evil Terrorists Without a Cause the Global Liberation Army get their own campaign and actually create a major Downer Ending by successfully carrying out a biowarfare attack on a major US city, but it's set up as a Sequel Hook... or rather an Expansion Pack hook.
- The actual Expansion Pack brings another campaign for each faction, thus the run of the campaigns in total goes China, GLA, USA, USA, GLA and China again, and the story goes in that order too. So not only did the wicked evil GLA get their campaigns, they actually are canon.
- The Real-Time Strategy Company of Heroes only has an U.S. campaign.
- The stand-alone expansion Opposing Fronts, however, features a single-player campaign for both British/Canadian forces and German armoured forces. The latter is set during Operation Market Garden, which ended with the Allies' defeat.
- Inverted with the expansion pack Tales of Valor which single-player campaign is just about a single German tank crew during the Normandy Invasion. That's right, you're going to cut through waves and waves of Allied forces.
- Granted, Relic can get away with this because it actually happened.
- Dawn of War
- Averted. You could only play a campaign as the "good" Space Marines, but in the Winter Assault Expansion Pack, you could play as any of the races except the Space Marines.
- The Dark Crusade and Soulstorm expansions also averted this, allowing one to play the "Risk"-Style Map as any of the factions involved in the war, though the Space Marine victory is canon.
- Dawn of War II goes full circle, as the campaign is Space Marines only.
- Can be averted or played straight in the first expansion, Chaos Rising, where equipping certain Wargear or taking certain actions corrupts the Space Marines into following Chaos, or one can play a pure-good campaign run.
- Retribution, the second expansion, continues the full circle, as each of the factions have their own campaign. However, it is (mostly, in the case of theTyranids) the same set of missions with the same objectives. The main difference is that you get a different storyline dialogue to justify your actions.
- Double averted in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds. Not only are you allowed to play as the alien invaders, said invaders aren't really evil. The Martians only went to war with Earth because Mars was dying and all efforts to maintain their biosphere had failed.
- Another exception to the rule is the realtime tactical game Soldiers: Heroes of World War II. It features a German campaign in which you control the tank ace Wittmann and his forces during the defense of Normandy, tearing Allied tanks to pieces while hiding from their superior air power. It is notable for depicting the German soldiers you control as basically honourable and "professional" soldiers, rather than as the mindless babykillers more commonly seen. This is even more remarkable when you consider that it was developed by a Russian studio.
- The sequel Men of War does the same, though it is probably not a coincidence that the German campaign takes place in the Mediterranean rather than the Eastern front.
- World in Conflict has a campaign only for the US side, with some missions where the player character commands a coalition of European NATO forces. The Soviets aren't even given any names of note (like commanders that you might face during the campaign), and there is exactly one instance where you actually hear a Soviet character speak: the game intro, where an an officer delivers a very cheesy line about feeding the vultures.
- Zigzagged in Battle Zone 1998. The American NSDF gets a full-length campaign with multiple characters, whereas the Soviet CCA campaign is only about half a long, is relatively unconnected, and doesn't even give the player a name beyond "Comrade". However, the two endings are not mutually exclusive, as the CCA campaign takes place within the middle 50% of the NSDF campaign and its ending doesn't directly effect the protagonist of the NSDF campaign. In the sequel, you start out with the ISDF and in the last third of the game can switch sides to the Scions, though the Scion campaign is roughly twice as long as the remaining ISDF campaign. The various Game Mods that expand the story usually take place after the Scion ending and typically have only one campaign.
- Since it's all about the Allied bomber, B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th only has a campaign for the Americans. However, you can, at any time during the mission, switch from flying the bomber into any other single-prop aircraft currently airborne in the game-world, including the German interceptors launching to take your bombers down. It then becomes a case of playing the enemy within the Allied campaign.
- Averted in Panzer Elite Action: Fields of Glory and Panzer Elite Action: Dunes of War. These are action shoot'em'up games (fairly similar to the tank driving stages in the Call of Duty series), and part of the single player mode are German missions. It's interesting that the briefings and the constant dialogue between the tank crew members paints the German soldiers as normal guys that do their duty, just like those heard in the Allied missions.
- Having been cast as the obvious villains in a Robot War for the past few games, Starsiege finally gave the Cybrids a campaign mode as a counterpoint the human campaign, requiring somewhat different tactics and outlooks in the course of gameplay. The human campaign is still the canonical one though, or else they wouldn't have the spinoff sequels...
Third Person Shooter
- Although Gears of War allowed players to use character skins of the villainous Locusts in Competitive Multiplayer, it isn't until the third game where they can use Locust units in a Co-Op Multiplayer mode called "Beast", attacking AI-controlled human characters. The Downloadable Content "RAAM's Shadow" plays this straight, with its campaign interspersed with segments where players take control of the titular Locust General RAAM and other Locusts.
- Star Wars: Battlefront II only has one story mode, for the clone troopers. They stop being the good guys halfway through.
Turn Based Strategy
- Robert E. Lee: Civil War General provides a single-player campaign only for the South, ending in a fictional attack on Washington.
- Civil War Generals 2, the sequel, averts this, allowing you to fight campaigns as either side.
- The offbeat old Civil War game North 'n South let you play as either side. The game lampshades a Confederate victory by saying, "You obviously didn't take history in school."
- In Silent Storm you have both Alles and Axis to play for but the story has little to do with the mainstream of WWII and instead focuses on investigating and eventually fighting a clandestine terrorist organisation bent on world domination.
- Double Subverted in Vanguard Bandits. You can stay with The Good Kingdom, join up with The Empire or decide to take power for yourself, but as there are heroes on both sides, you end up joining the good guys in whatever faction you join, and you're always fighting against Big Bad Faulkner (the de facto leader of The Empire).
- Fire Emblem Fates is similar to the above. While Nohr would normally be the villainous nation and Hoshido the "good" nation in other Fire Emblem games, every major character in Nohr outside of its main leadership is sympathetic and siding with them doesn't exactly lead to an "evil campaign", as the Avatar only helps them invade Hoshido in order to publicly expose "Garon" as a Fake King. Whereas the Hoshido campaign, despite outwardly seeming to be the "good" one, leads to a lot brutal deaths of sympathetic Nohrian characters including a Suicide by Cop and an actual suicide, making it more a case of Grey and Grey Morality. The only unambiguously evil characters on both sides: Garon's demonically-possessed corpse, Iago, Hans and Kotaro, are fought and killed on all routes.
- Whether or not this applies to the Geneforge series depends on whether or not there are any good guys and bad guys. From the first game there's an air of Gray and Gray Morality, and by the fifth Team Switzerland is arguably as bad or worse than A Nazi by Any Other Name.
- Weakly averted in Fallout: New Vegas. The player character can side with any of three major factions (or none), including the obviously evil Caesar's Legion (who favor subjugation, slavery, misogyny, and crucifixion, among other things). However, none of the recruitable NPCs support the Legion, two will leave the player's service if he/she follows the Legion, and one will actively shoot at Legionaries at every opportunity. Needless to say, diplomacy is impossible at this point. Furthermore, in the Honest Hearts DLC, the player has the choice to choose a violent or peaceful ends to two tribes being forced to deal with the White Legs tribe, who seek to join the Legion, yet no option to assist (or even speak with) the White Legs exists. This is especially jarring for characters who wholeheartedly support the Legion.
- There is an option to assist the White Legs, but it is easily missed: go on a killing spree. If you kill a quest character, you get a quest to find the map you need, allowing you to finish the DLC without helping the non-White Legs tribes out. You won't get as many ending slides, especially if you don't kill both Joshua Graham and Daniel, and you won't get any achievements, but the alternative is there for the Legion-aligned character.
- In Fallout 3, you can't actually side with the Enclave, although you can carry out President Eden's Modified FEV genocide plan for the Wasteland, and call an orbital strike on the Brotherhood of Steel's base after having them help you capture the Enclave base. This is because you are a Wastelander and not a genetically pure human like the Enclave, so their genocidal plan will be harmful and potentially lethal for you.
- Fallout 4 has an inverted example. If you've ever wanted to go Raider ... the Nuka-World expansion is for you. Raider-infested city? Meet the leader. Kill the leader. Start spreading around the Commonwealth once you 'convince' the other Raiders to listen to you. If you're playing as a good character, all that's left for you is to just kill all the Raider heads.
- In the main game, the Institute is set-up as this on account of the number of people they've kidnapped, murdered, and/or mutated. All the other factions despise them because of this, but all they really want is to create a better future with the implication that ,when Shaun dies and hands it over to you, you can help them achieve their goals using much more ethical means. This doesn't happen because when you become their new "leader," you're still more or less just an errand boy. The problem, however, is that a lot of their actions and motivations in-game are rather self-contradictory, so you have no idea if they're really Well Intentioned Extremists or if the Institute is run by morons.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
- While there are a couple of ways to go about completing the main quest, joining Dagoth Ur is not one of them. It was originally supposed to be, and some snippets of script and code from it are still in the game, but time limitations during development forced it to be dropped as an option. (A number of Game Mods have been created that will allow you to join House Dagoth, however.)
- In every other sense, however, the game doesn't judge. You can be a slave-owning, cannibalistic vampire who murders for the sheer joy of finding out what's in peoples' pockets. It's just that if Dagoth Ur wins, you won't be able to continue that carefree lifestyle.
Non-Video Game Examples
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The new edition lists the good and neutral deities up front in the character creation section, while setting the evil gods firmly in the 'know your enemy' part of the book. This, of course, has no effect on some players and DMs, who create all-evil campaigns frequently and with panache.
- Pathfinder Society (a global organized play Pathfinder campaign) explicitly forbids playing characters of evil alignment. It's forbidden to create evil characters for PFS, and if a player character's actions cross the line later, their Game Master can invoke an alignment shift to evil, which renders that character permanently unplayable for all future PFS events, just as their death would.
- Averted in Way Of The Wicked, a six books Pathfinder campaign dedicated entirely to exploring all the tropes associated with being an evil overlord.
- The Dungeons & Dragons based RTS game Dragonshard, has a campaign for the humans and the lizardfolk, but not for the Umbragen.
- BECMI (Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immortal) D&D, Immortals boxed set (1986). Player controlled PC Immortals are forbidden to be from the Sphere of Entropy, because creatures from that Sphere are all evil. All Entropy Sphere Immortals are NPCs.
- The author of a Dragon article on the "Death Master", a necromancy-themed Non-Player Character class for 1st Edition AD&D, introduced it by stressing, thusly, that it was designed for NPC villains only:
"If I ever run into a player character Death Master at a gaming convention, I may turn Evil myself."
- 2nd Edition Advanced D&D
- Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II. Incantifers are creatures that used to be human beings. They were changed by magic so that they can absorb magic and don't need to eat, breathe or sleep (among other powers). They have evil tendencies and Dungeon Masters are warned not to allow PCs to undergo the incantifer-creation process. This is subverted in 3rd edition; Dragon #339 updated the incantifers (now called incantifiers) to a Prestige Class, allowing any character to join them. It wasn't easy, however, as you needed to expend a lot of gold and experience points to transform, and you had to persuade an existing incantifier to transform you, something they were reluctant to do.
- Ravenloft campaign setting supplement Domains of Dread. No PC is allowed to be a domain lord, because long before they could achieve this they would become so evil that they would change into an NPC.
- Council Of Wyrms campaign setting boxed set. PCs may only be metallic (Good) and gem (Neutral) dragons, not chromatic (Evil) dragons. The later book version removed this restriction.
- In two early BattleTech strategy games (the Crescent Hawk duology) the Steiners are the good guys and members of the Draconis Combine are the enemy. In Crescent Hawk's Inception, you play as Steiner pilot Jason Youngblood, and much of the story mode takes place against the Draconis Combine. In Crescent Hawk's Revenge, you again play against the Combine and later the Clans.
- Shadowrun. It is explicitly made clear that PC shadowrunners are not allowed to be genuinely evil.
- The rules enforce this by making Karma synonymous with Experience Points. You can't get XP through doing evil deeds, period, and you can sometimes buy XP by donating money to soup kitchens. This was removed in 4e and returned in a less-emphatic form in 5e (where evil deeds earn less karma than good ones).
- 2nd Edition supplement The Grimoire
- 2nd Edition supplement Awakenings. Players are forbidden to create PCs that are Petro rite houngans or have their PCs practice Petro rites.
- 2nd Edition supplement Aztlan, Blood Magic part of Gamemaster Information section. It is specifically stated on multiple occasions and in large print that Player Characters are not allowed to learn or use Aztlan blood magic or summon blood spirits. In later editions learning Blood Magic instantly turns you into an NPC, no exceptions, because good shadowrunners don't do that sort of thing.
- 2nd Edition supplement Bug City. Game masters are advised not to let Player Characters be insect shamans. The reason: the insect spirits they summon have to possess a human being, which destroys the victim's personality/soul.
- 2nd Edition supplement Threats 2
- "Dissonant Voices". Ex Pacis is a group of corrupted otaku (computer adepts) led by Pax, who once was the lieutenant of the evil Artificial Intelligence Deus. The supplement recommends to the Game Master that PCs not be allowed to join Ex Pacis.
- "The Aleph Society". Player Characters are not allowed to learn or use the Shared Potency metamagic, because doing so requires them to join a spirit pact with the evil free spirit Gaf.
- 2nd Edition supplement Cybertechnology. When a character has too much cyberware implanted in their body, they die. Cybermancy is the technique of using ritual magic to keep such a character alive. It involves dangerous and borderline evil rituals, and it is forbidden for PCs to learn how to perform it.
- 3rd Edition supplement Loose Alliances.
- The supplement recommends that game masters not allow players to have PCs that are active members of fascist groups because of the groups' evil tendencies. It even says that if players favor fascist ideologies that they should stop playing Shadowrun and "have their heads examined".
- Player characters are forbidden to be members of the Desolation Angels. All Desolation Angels are mantis (insect) spirits, which means that they possessed the body of and destroyed the soul of a human being. Other Shadowrun supplements say that mantis spirits are cruel and ruthless.
- 4th edition averts this. Karma is now morally-neutral and can be earned by successful evil deeds, and the rules no longer strictly forbid players from using blood magic or playing toxic shamans, though GMs are advised against allowing it.
- FASA's Earthdawn. In the Earthdawn Gamemaster Pack's "Gamemastering Earthdawn" booklet, it is specifically stated that no Player Character may ever learn or use sacrificial Blood Magic (where an unwilling victim is harmed or killed to gain magical benefit). This is because sacrificial Blood Magic is only used by evil Non Player Characters, such as those corrupted by the Horrors. It further states that FASA will not publish any rules for using such magic.
- Averted in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay sourcebooks, that provide in-depth details for evil classes, and even how to play Skaven, not only Chaotic Evil but also not even human.
- Averted by the Warhammer 40,000 Tabletop Games, Black Crusade is an entire ruleset for playing minions of the Dark Gods.
- World Of Synnibarr. Player Characters can be Bio Syntha Cyborgs (B.S.C.'s) but are forbidden to be Omni B.S.C.'s because Omnis are created only to do evil.
- In The One Ring, player characters who act evil too often will succumb to bouts of madness and eventually become NPCs.
- In TSR's Star Frontiers game, Player Characters are forbidden to be Sathar, the murderous and vicious alien race that is a threat to all civilized races of the Frontier. Sathar can only be Non Player Characters.