Video Game: The Last Federation

The Last Federation is a mixture of Turn-Based Strategy, 4X and Real-Time Strategy by Arcen Games, set in a distant corner of the same galaxy as AI War Fleet Command, a setting also shared by the upcoming Stars Beyond Reach.

You are the last Hydral. The Hydral were the tyrants of the solar system by dint of achieving space flight before anyone else and shooting down space launches by the other eight species in the system. Their empire doesn't last: one race dropped a Depopulation Bomb, another race attached rocket thrusters to a moon and crashed it into the Hydral homeworld. The player, having broken with his people, was away from the homeworld and crash landed on one of the other populated worlds. Biding his time, the last Hydral waits in captivity until the species reaches spaceflight, at which point he steals their unique flagship and escapes.

The player's ultimate goal is to unite the (surviving) species under a federation. While you have no direct control over the eight federation candidates, you can influence their construction, research and and diplomatic agenda, and can also directly involve yourself with their space battles. Combat is turn-based, with everyone's actions resolving at the same time. The player can move and attack, or spend a turn to use a special ability.

Has one expansion pack, Betrayed Hope, featuring two new game modes: Betrayal, where the Last Hydral decides to take over the solar system, wipe out the other races, and recreate the Hydral Empire via cloning; and Invasion, where an extra-solar alien race attacks just as the last Hydral starts to create the Federation.

Tropes that appear in the game:

  • 2-D Space: Combat is held on 2D plane. The strategic map also functions like a 2D map.
  • 4X: No, the game isn't one, it's set inside one. Your job is to ensure that whoever wins gets a diplomatic victory.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Hydrals.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Invoked when trading for Hydral tech on the black market. The text says outright that the traders don't even know what it is, only that it's Hydral, they know you want it, and they're not going to make it cheap.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted. Each species has its own preferred planet type and they might not even start on such, leading one of their early request be for you to deliver them some terraforming tech.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Burlust. They declare a war at drop of a hat, even if they don't have realistic chances to win.
  • A Rare Sentence: The computer's reaction when the Peltians take over a planet.
    Computer: What did... You have to come to see this. Peltians just took over a planet. Looooooool.
  • A Sufficiently Advanced Alien Is You: The game could probably be best summarized as a Vorlon Simulator.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Without player intervention, wars can become eternal stalemates as two sides produce more than they can kill, leading to ever increasing number of ships fighting over a single planet.
  • Asteroid Miners: You can do this to earn money and resources.
  • Black and Gray Morality: About half the races are land-grabbing bastards; the other half, while not particularly evil, can get aggressive, territorial and sneaky - and don't forget that the player character is likely to resort to quite a bit of skulduggery and double-dealing to get their Federation going with a minimum of fuss. The only unambiguously good faction in the game are the Andor.
  • Bullet Hell: There can be dozens of enemy ships throwing hundreds of bullets at you in combat. Your flagship is too big to be threading the needle, but it is sturdy enough to weather the storm if you're smart.
  • Butt Monkey: In-universe, the Peltians. They are always likened to animals ("weak, like animals"), have the weakest armies and can easily be intimidated. When you sell their people to slavery, you can gain positive influence on them because they become so scared of you. They are usually very easily wiped out if the player does not help them.
    • A serious case of Who's Laughing Now? when they research the unique upgrades that give them 125 times the orbital bombardment capability of any other race.
    • It can be very profitable to have a designated enemy, steal all their stuff, blow up their ships for cash, and in the process rack up thousands of negative influence points on a scale where -100 is enough to count as "hatred." The Acutians are in a good position for this on a default start, as they hate your guts already.
  • The Chessmaster: You, if you want to get anything done. Letting public order decay, medical facilities recede to the stone age, and resource run scarce might be bad for a race, but just creates new opportunities for you. Even running a race's influence into the negatives may very well be part of The Plan.
  • Colony Drop: "Protip: watch the sky for any moons you don't recognize."
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each species has its own color.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Acutians, who “acquire” new planets.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The Evucks are an entire species.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: If an anti-federation superpower forms, the player has to break it up somehow, which usually involves completely eradicating one or more of the species that it consists of.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Your computer never misses a chance to snark. The Last Hydral has his moments when directly dealing with alien governments.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Interesting case with the Burlusts. Player can challenge one of their warlords to duel at a whim. Success kills the warlord, winning massive influence with his replacement and a bit with the remaining warlords, AND improving your general reputation with the Burlust.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Last Hydral, which is how he managed to escape the destruction of the Hydral homeworld.
  • Deflector Shields: Almost all ships have them.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Evucks dropped one on the Hydral, reducing the population from billions to a few thousand. It also caused their formerly oceanic world to dry up. They're also willing to do it again, if need be.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: The Hydral apparently, as you are free to approach any government at any time, no matter how much they hate you. Whether you can actually take any (positive) actions while there is another matter entirely.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Acutians did this to the Hydral homeworld, by turning one of their moons into a relativistic kill vehicle. They can be persuaded to do it again. The Evucks also have the technology to turn a gas giant into a fission bomb if they feel cornered.
  • False Flag Operation: You can "expose" a conspiracy by one race against the others. These conspiracies are always created by the player.
  • Heroic Mime: The Hydral has no lines in normal gameplay or the ending. This is par the course for a strategy game, but also weird for a game with such a distinctive protagonist and a heavy emphasis on stories. It causes a curious effect where the player messes with, or even destroys, entire races and plans out the fate of billions without knowing what's going on in their own head(s). The opening, losing screens and one of the trailers give some scraps of characterization, like calling the Peltians pathetic, which would be alarming if it wasn't accurate.
  • Hive Mind: The Thoraxians.
  • Hive Queen: Thoraxian queen. You can assassinate her, at which point the Thoraxian planet will be thrown into chaos until a new queen rises. They replacement also hate your guts, making direct deals with them MUCH harder from then on.
  • Hydra Problem: The Hydrals were giant four-headed snake-like aliens, although there's no evidence that the heads could grow back.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Thoraxians. Nameless monstrosities, refreshing in the way they're completely open about the fact that they're out to eat everyone.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The player can do this. Research/steal technology from someone else, then gift it to someone else. Alternatively, the player can convince one species to give tech to someone else, increasing relations between species and the player's influence over them.
    • In the early game the player can give spacefaring technology to a species, instantly propelling them to space age at the "cost" of allowing them a say in solar affairs.
  • Last of His Kind: The player character.
  • Legion of Doom: If two or more races outside the Federation both have interplanetary empires and like each other, they can form the Solar Axis Pact, one of several potential rivals for the Federation.
    • Also, the Trifecta of Superiority
  • Leit Motif: Each of the races has a specific theme tune that starts playing wherever you enter one of their planets. The tune has elements that fit with the hat of that race. For example, the peace-loving Andors have a gentle, peaceful tune, the Acutians have a tune full of electric chords fitting their robotic nature and the warlike Burlusts are represented by a powerful military march with lots of drums and some fighting sounds in the background.
  • Lost Technology: Hydral technology.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Andors and Acutians.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe: If you talk the Acutians into launching another planet-cracker, don't expect anyone to forgive you. The computer is shocked that you'd even consider it.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much/Token Heroic Orc: The player character was this to the (now extinct) Hydral race. Understandably, none of the other peoples of the galaxy particularly trust them at the beginning.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Very easy to do, helping one struggling species can cause them to suddenly snowball into massive threat to the others.
  • No Item Use for You: During duels with Burlust warlords, your special abilities are disabled.
  • Non-Entity General: Inverted. The player entity pulls a lot of strings, but you're never on one faction's side any longer than a single battle. Thus, it's possible to get a race to do something even if they hate if, if you get another race they like to do the asking. The game calls this "backdooring".
  • No Place for Me There: Once the system is united, the player character sets his ship to leave the system
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Your flagship was the prototype model, and the Last Hydral completely wrecked the R&D facility while getting it. By the time you've installed some Hydral technology that only you can use, nobody else can reverse-engineer it, either.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Acutians. Their leadership is entirely made of CEOs and they change based on the economy.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: When the Skylaxians take over a planet, the computer expresses surprise and wonder out loud if that's against their honor code.
  • Planet of Hats: Acutians are ultra-capitalist, Andors are peaceful and good, Boarines are isolationist and solitary, Burlust will only consider war, Evucks are paranoid and amoral, Peltians are peaceful communists and crap at ground combat, Thoraxians are a Hive Mind and will kill everyone if given a chance and Skylaxians are highly advanced diplomats with a Code of Honour.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Burlusts. They only respond to threats or bribes.
  • Psychic Powers: Evucks ultimate weapon.
  • Raising Sim: Has shades of this. You guide the species and try to unite them... which is easier said than done.
  • Real Time with Pause: The galaxy map works like this.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: While health is restored after the battle, during the battle health does not regenerate while shields do. Player can, however, use abilities to heal himself.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Hydrals were four-headed snake-like aliens... and jerks to the other races.
  • Sinister Geometry: The Obscura's hat.
  • Smart Bomb: Using any of your flagship's special abilities will erase any bullets near your ship and stun small fighters caught in the area. As the tutorial tooltip explain this effect points out, this can be much more useful than what the ability's "primary" purpose was.
  • Suicide Attack: What the Peltians are very good at. Their ground forces are the worst in the game and they can easily be beaten. The Peltians know this... and specialize in suicide attacks and orbital bombing to great effect.
  • Super Prototype: The prototype flagship the last Hydral steals to start the game was already a beast. Once Hydral weapons and abilities are added, it becomes capable of chewing through entire fleets by itself.
  • Space Pirates: They start to pop up as soon as species achieve spaceflight.
  • Sweet Tooth: The "Confectionary" building increases a race's standings with the Peltians... and the Burlusts. The Burlusts also react pretty well to a bribe of high quality chocolate, of all things!
  • Tech Tree: There is a rather extensive Tech Tree. Not all species can research everything, although player can do so. However, not all technologies provide any bonuses for the player, but are useful to the other species.
  • The Alliance: The Burlusts, Acutians, and Boarines can form the Union of Independent States as an alternative to the Federation if the latter is growing too powerful too quickly. The Federation itself also has some shades of this, as it is very decentralized in practice.
  • The Empire: A race with overwhelming power may form the Fear Empire. Unfortunately the game's goal is to unite the solar system under a Federation, so letting these guys win is a game over. The Hydrals also ruled one before their planet blew up.
  • The Federation: Ultimate goal of the game. How peaceful it is depends on what species you can convince to join it and how you guided their development.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Very much averted - all the alien races are essentially playing a 4X game with each other, and you can choose to simply sit back and watch the simulation play out.
  • Tractor Beam: Your ship has one of these during missions. They are used to dock with stations.
  • 2-D Space: Combat takes place in 2D-plane.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Your end goal is to have every living species as part of the federation. What steps you take to achieve this is completely up to you, and judged only by the other races in the system. Even bioterrorism and attempted genocide can have a positive effect on a race's opinion of you, if your targets were on the verge of wiping someone else out.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Hydral Empire is very vestigial.
  • Video Game Time: Averted. No matter what the player does, the time goes on. Entering a combat means that the outside time will advance based on how long the combat took. On the other side of the coin, this means things take a while to happen, but the player is given numerous ways to burn solar months helping their plans along between big events instead of just waiting.
  • Video Game Caring Potential / Video Game Cruelty Potential: Oh, it's there. Player can either try to peacefully unite the entire system, or rescue a planet from an economic collapse... or do everything to make the said species hated by everyone, steal their technology, assist in attacking their homeworld and generally destroying their chance to live.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Betrayed Hope DLC gives the player the opportunity to Take Over the Galaxy by eliminating the other races and reviving the Hydral Empire.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: That would be you. Besides the Utopia Justifies the Means version of the trope that exists in the base game, Betrayed Hope also introduces Invasion Mode, where you now have to eliminate the powerful Obscura by rallying the other races together into a grand alliance using the same shifty methods as before.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: When the Peltians declare war, they talk with glee about how it's their turn to be the aggressors.