Beware of unmarked spoilers!
Vek Threat: Unstoppable
The race of giant bugs out to destroy all mankind.
- Absurdly Sharp Claws: Leapers get in the most damaging attacks in the game. They're based on praying mantises.
- Acid Attack: Centipedes attack with acid vomit that splashes acid onto adjacent tiles upon hitting.
- Action Bomb: Blast Psions turn all other spawning Vek into this, exploding and damaging all adjacent squares upon death.
- Airborne Mook: Hornets and Psions are flying enemies, allowing them to move over any terrain tile. This also means you can't off them by pushing them into water, lava, A.C.I.D. Tiles or chasms, unlike most other non-leader Vek.
- Always Chaotic Evil: They attack humans, or more specifically, human settlements, for no apparent reason — not to eat, only to destroy.
- All Webbed Up: Spiderling eggs engulf all adjacent tiles in webbing, preventing normal movement. Which is bad enough, but Scorpions and Leapers (mantids) can web up their targets as well. Webbing prevents affected units from moving normally, but can be broken by pushing the Vek or its target out of reach, or by mech weapons which allow the mech to move as part of the attack.
- All Your Powers Combined: Psion Leaders buff all other Vek with the effects of the Soldier, Blood, and Blast Psions' capabilities, all at once.
- Anti Escape Mechanism: All Scorpions and Leapers have the ability to web units they are about to attack, preventing them from moving until the Scorpion or Leaper is killed or either the Vek or its target are forcefully moved.
- Area of Effect: Crabs, Centipedes, and Blobbers all have ranged/projectile attacks which also hit adjacent squares. Diggers and Scorpion Leaders can hit all adjacent squares in melee. Burrowers will attack the square in front of them as well as those to the left/right side of it.
- Asteroids Monster: Each time a Large or Medium Goo is killed, it splits into two smaller goos.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Regular Vek are already big enough to take chunks out of buildings, but the Vek Leaders gain the Massive trait, meaning they're even larger, with more HP and — significantly — the ability to walk through water without drowning.
- Bee Afraid: Giant hornets capable of mowing through multiple city blocks at once.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Kaiju-sized insectoid monsters.
- Blob Monster: The Goo (Large, Medium, and Small), one of the potential Vek leaders. Rather than merely dealing a set amount of damage to a building, each goo can move straight into its square, destroying it completely.
- Boss Battle: The final level of each island has a Vek leader appear and head straight for the island's Corporate HQ. Bosses vary from heavily upgraded versions of regular Vek, to a city-sized Blob Monster and a rogue Pinnacle robot which has somehow gained control over the Vek.
- Bug War: Humanity is locked in a war for its very survival with the enormous insect-like Vek.
- Burning Rubber: Beetle Leaders leave a trail of hazardous fire whenever they charge.
- Close-Range Combatant: Scorpions, Leapers, Spiderlings, and Diggers can only attack adjacent squares.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: All grounded Leaders have the "Massive" ability, which prevents them from drowning in water or A.C.I.D. tiles.
- Cowardly Mooks: Burrowers will immediately cancel their attack and retreat back into the ground if they take any damage, preventing them from further harm. They only pop back up on the following turn.
- Creepy Centipedes: Spit up A.C.I.D. vomit that splashes onto the two horizontally adjacent tiles wherever it lands.
- Damage-Increasing Debuff: Doubles all damage while in effect and can only be removed by repairing. A.C.I.D. enemy subtypes layer this onto their regular attacks. Centipedes' attacks apply A.C.I.D. by default.
- Damage Over Time: Psion Tyrants deal damage to all hero targets at the start of the round and only appear in the Volcanic Hive.
- Degraded Boss: In the Volcanic Lair, each of the 2 maps will start out with one Leader-class Vek. It's purely optional to kill them, however.
- Delayed Reaction: A key part of the strategy in dealing with the Vek: they telegraph their attacks at the start of the round, and are seemingly unable to change course even as their circumstances change: they'll attack whatever's in front of them, even if they're pushed or teleported or if another Vek moves into their path.
- Developers' Foresight: Normally, remaining Vek will retreat into the ground when the player completes the level. However, if the level ends with Hornets or Psions above a tile that would be lethal for grounded Vek to stand on, they will instead fly upwards offscreen.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Diggers are pillbug-like Vek which start each turn by creating a ring of boulders to protect them, then attacking all adjacent squares. This makes them that much more difficult to root out when they sidle up against a grid building.
- Elite Mook:
- Alpha Vek have more health and do much more damage than basic Vek. To a lesser extent, each island will have one kind of Psion and one or two special mid-tier Vek which can appear in both varieties, and are more dangerous even in their basic forms than standard Vek. These include beetles, centipedes, diggers, spiders, burrowers, and the projectile-launching crabs and blobbers.
- Tyrant Psions are only found in the final area of the game, the Volcanic Lair. Their ability is definitely a threat, as they cause 1 damage to all player-allied units at the end of a turn.
- Escort Mission: An odd case with the Volatile Vek, which is still hostile, but if it's killed will render an entire area uninhabitable. Fortunately it has a robust 4 HP and only deals 1 point of damage. Unfortunately it can be a nuisance by webbing up your mechs.
- Flying Seafood Special: The octopus-like Psions hover in midair.
- Fragile Speedster:
- Basic Hornets have 2 HP and deal 1 damage, but have a move speed of 5 and can fly over terrain.
- Basic Leapers combine this with Glass Cannon. They have only 1 HP, but their hop is basically the equivalent of the Flying trait while they're moving, allowing them to ignore blocking terrain. They also hit for 3 damage in a game where no mech's base HP is higher than 3.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Why are they here? What do they want? ...Who cares? More pressingly — how do we kill them with minimal casualties?
- Giant Enemy Crab: Crabs are effectively an upgraded version of scarabs, with projectiles that hit two tiles in a row instead of only one.
- Giant Squid: The battle sprite for the blobber seems to suggest they're some sort of nautilus-like creature, although it's hard to say what they were going for with its portrait.
- Glass Cannon: Leapers combine this with Fragile Speedster. The basic variants have only 1 HP but deal a huge 3 damage. Their Alpha variants deal a massive 5 damage, but their 3 HP is low compared to all other Alpha variant standards. Both variants have a large movement of 4 and can leap over terrain to reach targets.
- Hive Mind: Implied by the Psions, floating telepathic creatures which provide passive bonuses to all Vek other than themselves. Like Starcraft's Overlords, they resemble a cross between jellyfish and octopi.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: While Vek usually can't be hit by their own attacks, a few units are able to doom themselves in other ways: Beetles and Alpha Beetles can be lured or redirected into charging into water/A.C.I.D. tiles/chasms/lava which instantly kills them, Blobbers can be pushed near and subsequently blown up by their own explosive blobs, Diggers can be damaged by pushing them into their own rock walls, the Beetle Leader leaves a trail of fire which it can later end up standing on or being pushed into, while the Blast Psion that turns all other Vek into Action Bombs will often get damaged or killed by an exploding Vek, especially if someone shoves a fragile ally (such as a Leaper or Hornet) into it.
- Immune to Flinching: Burrowers are invulnerable to forced movement. However, this doesn't help them too much, as they will immediately burrow underground until the next turn if they take any damage.
- Insectoid Aliens: One possibility, although nobody is entirely sure whether they're aliens or something else.
- Instakill Mook: Goos of all sizes will instantly destroy whatever they attack, no matter the HP.
- It Can Think: Pilot Harold Schmidt notes that the Vek don't attack civilian buildings to eat the occupants, suggesting that the Vek are at least aware that their enemies need the power grid.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Alpha and Leader Hornets. A good turn of speed, flight, capable of attacking multiple tiles in a line for solid damage for a combination of melee and ranged effectiveness.
- Japanese Beetle Brothers: One is a charging stag beetle, the other is a projectile-lobbing scarab, but given the subject matter of the game it's hard to imagine there wasn't at least some indirect inspiration that crossed over.
- Lightning Bruiser: Beetles only move 2 tiles by default, but their charge attack crosses the map. Alpha Leapers have all the advantages of basic Leapers, but with 3 HP and an attack that deals 5 damage.
- Kaiju: Enormous insects. The biggest of them have the Massive trait, which means they're as big as your mechs — the size of skyscrapers.
- King Mook: Most Vek Leaders are just bigger, tougher versions of regular Vek, and tend to have better range on their attacks.
- Lethal Lava Land: The Volcanic Hive, their final refuge and largest lair.
- Long-Range Fighter: The various ranged and projectile Vek.
- The goo-lobbing Crabs and Blobbers act as an upgrade on the basic Scarab, each attacking more squares. Crabs hit two tiles in a row, while Blobbers launch blobs that explode during the Vek's action phase at the end of the turn, damaging all adjacent squares.
- Fireflies, meanwhile, shoot in a straight line, which makes them fairly easy to block or push out of position, but they start with 3 health, which is enough that most mechs can't take them out in a single round in the early game; the Alpha Firefly also deals enough damage to one-shot any starting mech just for funsies. The Firefly Leader, meanwhile, attacks in two directions at once for significant damage.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Bot Leader can hit up to 3 tiles at once with its missiles.
- Maximum HP Reduction: Inverted with Soldier Psions, whose presence gives all other Vek on the battlefield one extra Hit Point. Played straight when it is killed, causing all other Vek to lose that one extra HP, killing those at one HP when it happens.
- Mighty Glacier: Centipedes, presumably for balance reasons given their ranged attack, only move 2 squares per round. If you've ever seen a centipede move in real life, you're probably grateful for the inaccuracy.
- Mook Commander: All Psions except Tyrant Psions provide a Status Buff to all other Vek, as long as they're on the battlefield.
- Mook Maker:
- Spiders do nothing but launch sticky eggs which eventually hatch into (relatively) tiny spiderlings.
- Rogue Robot Factories on Pinnacle will pump out a robot or two every round. Unfortunately, the mission condition is to protect the factories so Zenith can restore them, so the best you can do is blow up the robots as they come online (or freeze the factories, if you have a weapon that can do the job).
- No Ontological Inertia: Psion boosts disappear the moment the Psion dies. This can turn large numbers of Vek with only 1 HP left into a Keystone Army if they're being kept on life support by a Soldier Psion's health boost.
- No-Self Buffs: Psions buff all other Vek on the battlefield with their presence. Thankfully, this excludes themselves.
- No-Sell: The Bot Leader can put up one of Pinnacle's shields to prevent all damage from any one attack, the same as your mechs. What's worse is that if you can't kill it in that round, it will heal all the damage you've done.
- One-Hit Kill: Goos attack by moving into an adjacent tile, instantly squishing and destroying anything in it.
- One-Hit Point Wonder: A few examples.
- The mantis-like Leapers start by hopping over intervening terrain, ignoring your defensive strategy. Then they web targets, potentially locking down your response units. Finally, they hit hard, dealing 3 points of damage, which is enough to kill any un-upgraded unit and destroy two grid buildings in one go.
- Spiderlings have only 1 HP and don't do much damage but can hatch into large numbers if the mother Spider isn't dealth with. They can still destroy buildings and tend to scatter all over the map, which means killing them can take precious time away from handling more dangerous enemies. Something similar can be said for the 1 HP blobs fired by blobbers, which can take out all adjacent squares and potentially end a run in one fell swoop if not destroyed.
- Palette Swap: Alpha Vek are purple; Vek Leaders are pink; and the Volatile Vek from some missions is yellow. A.C.I.D variants are green, and each flavor of Psion's nodules are a different color.
- Projectile Webbing: Several breeds of Vek spray their targets with immobilizing webs at close range, including creatures whose normal-sized counterparts do not produce silk at all, like Vek scorpions and the mantis-like leapers. Vek spiders, meanwhile, launch blobs of webbing across the map, which not only hatch into spiderlings after one round, but also web up all adjacent enemies until they do.
- Ramming Always Works: Beetles resemble stag beetles, and attack by charging across the map and crashing into things. The Beetle Leader leaves a trail of burning tiles in its wake. One of the easiest ways to deal with basic and Alpha beetles is to bait them into charging into water tiles, which kills them instantly, but like all Vek leaders, the Beetle Leader is big enough to avoid drowning. It can still push other Vek to their deaths, of course.
- Regenerating Health:
- Soldier Psions increase all living Vek's max and current HP by 1 when they appear — this hit point is lost when the Psion dies, which can cause affected Vek to die along with it. Blood Psions cause all Vek to heal 1 HP at the start of each subsequent turn.
- If the Bot Leader has taken any damage, at the start of its turn it hunkers down and shields itself. If it isn't taken down by the end of the round, it heals back up to full HP.
- Required Secondary Powers: Averted. Centipedes are not immune to the own A.C.I.D. vomit they spew out, and Beetle Leaders are not immune to their trails of fire.
- Sand Worm: Burrowers, which can bypass obstacles by tunneling, are immune to forced movement including teleportation, hide underground when attacked, and attack in a 3-tile wide swath in front of them.
- Scarab Power: Scarabs are relatively weak Vek who toss globs of unidentified matter across the map and are easily avoided simply by moving the scarab or targeted unit out of the way.
- Scary Scorpions: The basic scorpions aren't too bad, apart from locking down enemies with webbing. The Scorpion Leader, however, webs all adjacent scquares before attacking each of them in turn. This is pretty bad if it happens to your mechs, but if the boss starts hitting grid buildings, it can end your game in a hurry.
- Shoot the Mage First:
- It is recommended to kill Spiders and Blobbers ASAP, as they spawn an obstacle that hatches into another enemy or explodes all adjacent squares respectively.
- Tyrant Psions are a high priority enemy to dispatch as they cause 1 damage to the mechs and the Renfield Bomb every turn.
- Shoot the Medic First: Psions tend to be a priority enemy as they have low health and no attack, but buff all the other Vek on the screen making them harder or more dangerous to defeat.
- Shrouded in Myth: Are they aliens? Mutant insects? Nobody really knows.
- Slaying Mantis: Leapers are giant in size and able to kill most units in a single hit. As an added bonus, somebody gave them the ability to shoot webs. Have fun.
- Spider Swarm: Spiders as a unit do nothing but launch eggs, which web all adjacent targets before hatching into independent spiderlings after one round. Add to that the Spider Leader launching two (sometimes three) eggs per round and starting with two eggs already on the map and you have a recipe for this trope.
- Status Buff: The various Psions can only move around the map and cannot take any actions, but other than the Tyrant Psion they provide various passive bonuses to other Vek: Soldier Psions (provides 1 bonus HP), Blood Psions (all other Vek regenerate 1 HP per round), Shell Psions (grants the Armored trait), and Blast Psions (Vek explode violently upon death). The Psion Abomination provides all of the other Psion's bonuses, with the merciful exception of the Shell and Tyrant Psion's.
- Super Drowning Skills: All Vek that aren't either flying or have the "massive" trait (exclusive to leaders) will drown in water.
- Support Party Member: Almost all Psions have no combat capability whatsoever, but their mere presence will give a Status Buff to all Vek on the battlefield. The one exception is the Psion Tyrant, whose support ability deals 1 damage to all mechs at the end of a turn.
- The Swarm: Their numbers are seemingly limitless.
- Taking You with Me: The Volatile Vek unit, if killed, will create an explosion so powerful it can render an entire region uninhabitable.
- The Dreaded: The Vek are a world-ending calamity that are met exclusively with horror by civilians, and with weary disdain and hatred by the Rift travellers, some of whom have been trying to fight them off for centuries.
- Tunnel King: One of the Vek's main mechanics is them burrowing through the battlefield to spawn in. In combat, the Burrower Vek fulfills this role, moving underground then reemerging to attack.
- Weaponized Offspring: Spiderlings hatch after one round and attack independently. They don't do much damage individually — the problem is the way they scatter themselves around the map if you don't keep them under control and finish off the mama spider.
- Wormsign: Tiles where Vek are about to emerge show up as large, deep craters, the ground visibly churning above them. These can be blocked by placing any unit, including other Vek, on top of that tile, which blocks the emergence for one round and deals 1 damage to the blocking unit.
- Zerg Rush: Zigzagged on higher difficulties. While Vek wil still stumble into mines, they're smart enough to avoid placing themselves in clusters or lines if they can avoid it. Ranged units will stay near the bottom of the map when they can help it, with melee units blocking chokepoints even if it means not attacking. They're still unable to prevent themselves from attacking each other if moved out of position, but the positions they do take up will make that more difficult than it might otherwise be.
In GeneralThe following tropes apply to most or all pilots:
- Ace Pilot: Each pilot can handle any type of Mech given to them with equal skill, although some special abilities might be a better fit for a given Mech than others.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Anyone you send back in time is the leader by default, and as an ace, they'll be a step above the generic pilots. All the more so if they have a previous timeline under their belts.
- Featureless Protagonist: The player takes on the role of the ill-defined "commander" the pilots take their orders from, but by design will come to identify more with the pilots your squad picks up.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Bethany, Harold, and Lily, most prominently, but all of the pilots do have to maintain and repair their own Mechs, and the level up skills could be interpreted as them tinkering with them to make them run that much better, as well as shoring up the Grid during downtime.
- Humongous Mecha: Pilots of these, with some of the Mechs being more humanoid than others.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: The +1 Mech Move skill probably falls under this.
- Level Up: Pilots start with 0 XP, level up once at 25 XP, then again after another 50 XP (75 XP total). Each time they gain a level, the pilot also gains one of four abilities, randomly selected:
- Made of Iron: Mechs can gain up to +4 additional HP, +2 from the pilot, +2 with a reactor core.
- Meta Mecha: Any AI pilot is this by default.
- Personality Powers: Everyone's special abilities are meant to say something about their character.
- Player Character: Every pilot, essentially. You get to choose one to send back in time, are assigned two from the present-day Corporate Islands, and can stumble upon other escapees from other timelines in the time pods you recover over the course of each run.
- Player Punch: The game gives the pilots just enough characterization to make you feel something when they die — even the generic ones, even the artificial ones. The music and dialogue add a surprising amount of pathos to what could otherwise be a fairly slight strategy game.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Inverted. When your pilot's HP drops to 1, their portrait glows red and camera red-eye shows up in their pupils (those that have them). They have a unique dialogue blurt as well, giving you plenty of warning to be careful, lest you lose that mech for the rest of the mission, and that pilot for good.
- Skill Scores and Perks: Reactor cores serve as perk points, being required to activate mech weapons and their upgrades. They're part of the game's loot system, and can be found in time pods, chosen as rewards for completing all optional objectives on an island, or purchased using Reputation after saving an island.
- Status Buff: A pilot with the +3 Grid DEF skill passively increases Grid Defense just by being on a mission.
Unlike the specifically named ace pilots with unique abilities, these guys have no special skills and start off with randomized names. You get 2 generic pilots when you start a new timeline. They come in four varieties, one for each corporate island. The corporate pilots have unique personalities:
- Archive pilots are not mech pilots as a first choice, occasionally mentioning that they originally joined Archive as historians. They are the The Generic Guy turned Badass Bookworm, unsure of their skills but willing to fight for their families and defend Earth.
- R.S.T. pilots are eager soldiers, no strangers to combat and taking orders. They are aggressive and rough, slinging insults toward the Vek much more frequency than other pilots do.
- Pinnacle pilots are a somewhat basic form of AI, using Robo Speak peppered with technical terms and long synonyms. They are more advanced than mere autopilots, but those advances don't extend to colorful personalities like those of the unique Pinnacle pilots.
- Detritus pilots are reluctant to abandon their prior job's principles, having a near-obsession with safety (as one would need while working with Hollywood Acid), and making trash puns in the meantime.
- Desert Punk: R.S.T. pilots wear keffiyeh-style wraps over their helmets.
- Robo Speak: Autopilots communicate in a plain fashion, reporting on the situation without any personality to color it. Pinnacle pilots' dialogue sounds a bit like computer code and is shown between [ square brackets ].
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played straight. Since these guys aren't special, they all wear the same opaque helmets instead of having unique faces.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Detritus pilots wear them, and the R.S.T. head wrap gives off a similar vibe.
- Verbal Tic:
- Just like HK-47, the Autopilots often preface statements with its connotation. This is often something like "Warning:" or "Alert:", but "Retrieving compliment:" is seen when it praises another pilot's kill.
- Try counting how many times your Detritus pilot says "safety" in a single playthrough.
Special Ability: Experienced (+2 extra XP per kill)
- Boring, but Practical: +2 extra XP for every kill is a huge boost in the early game, allowing him to level up much faster than other pilots.
- Crutch Character: +2 extra XP for every kill is a huge boost in the early game... but once you hit Max Level, it's just taking up space, and he's technically no better than a generic starting pilot.
- Don't trade away that crutch just yet, though. If you're coming out of a bad mission/run with a low-level pilot (or no pilot at all), a high-level character in the early game can make a major difference in achieving optional objectives, which can help you stockpile reactor cores, shore up your grid defense, and gain additional pilots by running early islands perfectly.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Has seen countless timelines lost to the Vek, and has yet to save even one of them as of the start of the game.
- Determinator: Has devoted multiple lifetimes to saving the world from the Vek — and kept on fighting, even after watching all of those worlds eventually fall.
- Eternal Recurrence: Even after you've beaten the game, unlocked all the squads, recruited every time traveler, and saved all the islands and the world countless times, some version of Karlsson will always be standing in the ruins, looking out across another dead world, starting all over again.
- Here We Go Again!: Highlighted by the very first image you see in the game. Standing among the wreckage of another ruined timeline in the intro to the game, talking to the mech's artificial pilot as he prepares to jump back in time, setting the tone for the entire game. It helps, if help is the right word, that the same image of Karlsson's mech is there every time you open the game.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Still fighting the good fight, but it's definitely worn him down over the years.
- Mythology Gag: Less obvious than some cases — but here we have another Chris Avellone character who's been around for who knows how many lifetimes, broken and scarred by war, re-remembering old memories.
- Never Be Hurt Again: Refuses to get attached to other pilots, since he knows that they will eventually die in battle. He's seen it happen to all of them before.
- Old Soldier: His greatest asset is his experience, as represented by the speed with which he earns levels... as well as the ways in which others eventually surpass him as they start hitting max level, too.
- Overrated and Underleveled: Justified, in a roundabout way, given his age and the ravages of war. He's probably quite literally forgotten more about war than most of his juniors will ever know. This means he quickly regains his old skills, but it takes active combat (and confirmed kills) to regain what he's lost. His special ability allows him to quickly regain that knowledge with every Vek he kills.
- Putting the Band Back Together: Karlsson has met and fought alongside alternate versions of every other time traveler well before you manage to find them all. He's seen all this happen before.
- Really 700 Years Old: He's actually fought for the equivalent of several lifetimes, although thanks to time travel he doesn't show it physically.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What Karlsson is setting out to do every time you start up a new game profile.
- Shellshocked Veteran: Multiple lifetimes spent fighting what amounts to a Forever War across countless timelines will have that effect.
- Taught by Experience: Karlsson has a vast amount of experience already, which is why he's able to level up so quickly — he's not learning it for the first time, but rather remembering something he already knows.
- Triple Shifter: Rarely sleeps, since that's precious time which the Vek might use against humanity. He can sleep when he's dead, or when the Vek are.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Crutch Character or not, there's something to be said for showing this broken old man that the world can be saved from the Vek.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Said to have been this. Once.
Special Ability: Frenzied Repair (pushes adjacent tiles when repairing)
- Absent-Minded Professor: A harder take on this. Harold only cares about his work, which can actually make him a danger to others, by negligence alone. This actually ties in neatly with his special ability, since, as most novice pilots will learn, it's easy for a push in the wrong place to inadvertently send Vek or fellow mech crashing into grid buildings and each other.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Subverted. His eccentricities actually lost him his job at Detritus, and he never made it past the psych exam at Pinnacle. He was content toiling in relative obscurity at Archive, Inc., but jumped at the chance to work more closely with Mech technology... where he is, in all fairness, unlikely to be the strangest ace on your roster.Harold: [in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon] We can't let Dr. Renfield's bomb be destroyed... Even if it doesn't go off, at least I can study it.
- But Now I Must Go: Remarkably blasé about leaving behind timelines, win or lose.Harold: Looks like I'm off again... new timelines, new discoveries!
- Companion Cube: Prefers tinkering on machines to having to actually having to talk to people.
- The Engineer: Both his career and his passion.
- For Science!: The only thing he cares about is his work. Killing the Vek, saving humanity, keeping himself alive — it's all secondary to what he can learn, both from the Mechs and from the Vek. If he dies in the line of battle, his only concern is that, if you meet one of his alternate selves in another timeline, would you be so good as to pass along his notes?
- Lack of Empathy: People find his indifference to others a little unnerving, which is why he couldn't find a place in the fairly dangerous conditions of both Detritus and Pinnacle — they weren't worried he'd hurt anyone, just that his being less aware of the wellbeing of others might increase the risk of accidents.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Comments on the game-like nature of his mission. He also lampshades how you can make Vek attack each other, asking if they can't change their minds once they've decided to attack.
- No Social Skills: Good with machines. Bad with people. He finds the latter hard to understand, and they simply don't hold his interest.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Inverted. Harold prefers the company of machines to humans, and treats even non-sentient machines with greater care than his fellow man.
Special Ability: Armored (Mech gains the Armored trait)
- Boring, but Practical: His special ability is always useful, but tends to fade into the background. His personality tends to make up for it.
- Corporate Samurai: R.S.T. CEO Jessica Kern's black bag man. Much of his dialog recalls samurai and yakuza stories and Japanese proverbs.Abe: A blade must be sharpened, but not enough so it will break.
- Determinator: He wasn't even a trained mech pilot when he escaped his original timeline, but he was determined to survive and go on to fight the Vek, even if he couldn't save his own world.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has a deep, villainous Y-shaped scar across his cheek and the bridge of his nose, and he is kind of a jerk. However...
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he can definitely be pretty callous, there are hints that he's not as heartless as he seems — like Kern, Abe is about saving all of humanity, not individuals. For example, if given a shield, he may sometimes comment that the civilians need it more than he does.Abe: Our war is not yet won. Keep traveling. Keep fighting.
- Made of Iron: His special ability makes his mechs into this. It's implied that he's no slouch outside of his mech, either, by that scar if nothing else.
- Mangst: Textbook. He seeks revenge for the deaths of his wife and children, who he'll occasionally mention upon entering a new timeline.
- Master of Disguise: As a corporate spy for R.S.T., he underwent frequent plastic surgery to go wherever Kern needed him.
- Meaningful Name: Isamu means "courage" or "bravery". Fitting for someone who is stoic under pressure and focused only on fighting the Vek.
- Moral Pragmatist: Whatever it takes to kill the Vek. Whatever it takes, even if that means sacrificing civilian lives to achieve mission objectives. This is war, after all, as Isamu himself says.
- No-Sell: His basic ability is simply the Armored trait, which reduces all weapon damage by 1. This means he can shrug off most basic Vek attacks and ignore the self-damage of various mech weapons.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: All the pilots look pretty grim when they're down to 1 HP, with the warning lights glowing on their faces, but Abe looks practically diabolical. Worth noticing: he actually starts smiling.
- Revenge: Against the Vek, for the deaths of his family in his origin timeline.
- The Stoic: Stern and coldly pragmatic, speaking little and rarely raising his voice.
- Terse Talker: Short sentences, pithy remarks, harsh sentiments.Abe: [killing a Vek] Die.
- Token Evil Teammate: For a given value of evil, but if a dog needs to be kicked or if there's dirty work in need of doing, expect Isamu to be the one to do it. He's also completely dismissive of teammate or civilian deaths, even when he's the one causing collateral damage.Abe: [destroys a building] They should have evacuated weeks ago.
Special Ability: Starting Shield (starts each mission with a shield)
- All-Loving Hero: Less wide-eyed and more realistic about it than Lily, however. She's among the pilots who express remorse over killing the rogue machines on Pinnacle, for example.
- Barrier Warrior: Her starting shield absorbs a single attack, and also protects her from status effects like frozen, burning and A.C.I.D. Beth has incredible synergy with the Frozen Titans squad for this reason — her starting shield means she doesn't need to freeze herself when piloting the Ice Mech, for instance. In-story, she was one of the primary researchers on Pinnacle's shield tech.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: She'd save everyone if she could, and takes it the hardest out of anyone when she can't.
- Half-Identical Twins: With Isaac, although neither one realizes this in the starting state of the game.
- The Heart: She's this among the pilots, putting the people of the timeline first. Her dialogue shows the most concern when grid buildings are destroyed, with the attendant civilian casualties.
- An Ice Person: Indirectly, but she's mentioned as loving snow and winter, hails from the permafrost conditions of Pinnacle, and synergizes well with the shield-and-ice-happy Frozen Titans squad.
- No-Sell: Starts each mission with a single-use shield.
- Opposite-Sex Clone: In a sense — she and Isaac are actually twins, except each was born and raised in a different timeline where the other died in childbirth. Aside being the opposite sex, they also have opposite personalities, even though both eventually became scientists at Pinnacle.
- Separated at Birth: Again, sort of — they would have been twins, except only one of them lived in each of their respective timelines.
- Temporal Sickness: Gets headaches from time travel, but still has it better than Isaac.Bethany: Temporal mechanics used to make my brain hurt. Now they do... literally.
Special Ability: Maneuverable (able to move through enemy units)
- Badass Boast: A big part of his dialogue — for example, this sign-off line from when you make it through Volcanic Hive:Henry: Tell them to build a monument for me. I'll be back one day to check on it.
- Blood Knight: Treats the whole war as a game and loves every minute of it.
- Bond One-Liner: Occasionally, although nothing terribly witty as a rule.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He was a relative nobody at Detritus Disposal, consigned to low-level work thanks to his recklessness. It turns out that same recklessness feeds his skill as a mech pilot.
- Eager Rookie: One of the younger pilots, but he makes up for it in sheer drive.
- Foil: To the straitlaced, professional Chen Rong, and fellow eager recruit Lily Reed, who lacks his arrogance. Their abilities similarly play off of Henry's — Chen is a careful tactician who manages to step out of harm's way after performing a maneuver, while Lily has a great knack for being in the right place at the start of combat, but doesn't have Chen's consistency or Henry's recklessness.
- The Gift: Henry never amounted to much, until it turned out that his personality and skillset made him a natural-born mech pilot.
- Glory Seeker: A key part of his personality. After winning a campaign, Henry says he hopes they'll erect a statue to him in this timeline.
- The Hero: Very much the way he sees himself, and to some extent it's even true. It's actually his absolute confidence in his own abilities that makes him so effective.
- Hot-Blooded: Every inch the stereotypical hotheaded anime mecha pilot.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: His special lets him move through enemy spaces unimpeded, no matter how big or slow his mech might be. This can, of course, put him in dangerous positions if he doesn't have the movement to get back out the other side on his next turn.
- It's All About Me: He's the hero of his own story. All the rest of us are just sidekicks.Henry: This is it, Time Travelers. Protect that bomb and I... we... save the world.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Henry might be a braggart who complains every time he has to repair his mech himself, but he's deeply committed to the cause of fighting the Vek and, if you make it to the final battle, admits he enjoyed being with his squadmates.Henry: Until next time? Don't forget me. Or what we did here.
- Jumped at the Call: He's found his calling as a mech pilot and knows it, and he wants to make sure everyone else knows it, too.
- Keet: He might have a big head, but his enthusiasm is catching.
- Lightning Bruiser: Combined with his special ability, with a fast enough mech, he can easily cover most of the map from turn to turn.
- Rookie Red Ranger: An arrogant, reckless newbie, but undeniably skilled, and there's nothing stopping you from sending him back in time as the leader of your squad.
- Stock Shōnen Hero: High-energy, low work ethic, Book Dumb but unusually gifted, spiky-haired youthful hero? Check, check, check...
- What the Hell, Player?: Having him destroy a civilian building will make him say, "Did you seriously just do that?"
Special Ability: Preemptive Strike (can deploy anywhere on the map, damaging any adjacent Vek and starting fires; must be powered)
Note that given the recent rise in prejudice against the Pinnacle robots, Gana has suffered similar discrimination and several officers have questioned if Gana's "sanity" in case he may malfunction like the Pinnacle robots.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rants about how a failing mech is disobeying his orders, tells upgraded systems he'll put them in for promotion, and tells the Vek that interfering with his work is illegal. Still a very effective pilot.
- Companion Cube: Gana refers to all machines as if they're fellow soldiers, right down to their base components. He's not overly sentimental about their deaths, but he takes pride in their accomplishments. For example, upon another pilot levling up:Gana: [name of Mech] has taught its pilot well.
- Death from Above: Preemptive Strike allows Gana to deploy anywhere on the map, rather than within the usual drop zone, dealing damage to adjacent enemies and mountains (but not buildings or allies) and lighting fires.
- Dynamic Entry: Doesn't get much more dynamic than a colossal mecha smashing down in the middle of a cluster of kaiju.
- Expospeak Gag: Inverted. Gana talks about mech components as if they're flesh-and-blood soldiers.
- Hold the Line: When he drops to 1 HP, Gana says this word for word to the components of his mech.
- It Has Been an Honor: In his own way.Gana: It has been efficient to have repaired this timeline with you, [squad].
- Malaproper: As explained above. Other examples include: when being upgraded, telling the remainder of his systems to let that be an example to them, or saying that the inefficient operations and components have been rounded up and executed, and so on.
- Meaningful Name: Gana is a Sanskrit/Pali word meaning, per The Other Wiki, "flock, troop, multitude, number, tribe, series or class." In Hinduism, they are the attendants of Shiva. Their leader is Ganesha — or, as he is also known, the "remover of obstacles." Very fitting, given Gana's construction background, and current work in... demolition.
- Terse Talker: Speaks in a clipped, semi-robotic, Mildly Military fashion, avoiding unnecessary articles.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Gana and Prospero are frequently on the receiving end of some fears about whether or not they'll eventually go on a rampage, like the robots at Pinnacle. Gana doesn't particularly seem to mind, but this same eccentricity and singlemindedness only adds to those fears.
Special Ability: Flying (Mech gains the Flying trait; must be powered)
Much like Gana, Prospero is viewed with some suspicion due to the robot uprising, but like Gana, Prospero follows orders and has proven itself on many occasions. When traversing to a new timeline, Prospero seems to actively avoid returning to Detritus. The reason for this is unknown.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Just a mild-mannered gardening robot — who killed a whole host of Vek when they threatened said garden, then went straight back to work as if nothing had happened.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Like Gana, Prospero has a tendency to mix metaphors into its speech — in its case, talking about everything in terms of gardening, refering to the deaths of Vek "nourishing the soil" and complaining that time pods ruin the microbiome where they land.
- Catch Phrase: Refers to battling Vek as "Vekticide".
- Deadpan Snarker: Very deadpan, to the point where it could almost pass for non-snark. Except he keeps doing it.Prospero: Chance of Vek evolving gills before it drowns: 0%.
- Expospeak Gag: Occasionally, when the situation overlaps with his very specific areas of botantical/ecological expertise, such as when a Vek is dropped into water:Prospero: Vek has changed biomes.
- Flight: Prospero's special ability grants the Flying trait to any non-flying mech.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Nobody told Prospero to fight the Vek — it simply expanded its existing programming (protecting and nurturing its garden in Archive) to defending said garden from the attacking Vek. And then turned out to be very good at it.
- Meaningful Name: Stop me if you've heard this one: a seemingly innocuous hermit turns out to be a powerful sorcerer, fending off invaders to his island sanctuary with almost supernatural ease. (And then he frees a spirit from a tree, for good measure.)
- Personality Powers: Chris Avellone has said that he wishes Prospero's power lined up more closely with his eventual personality, although at the very least you could draw a line between flight and The Tempest, with the element of air connecting them.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Originally programmed for gardening, Prospero turned out to be remarkably effective in combat.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Like Gana, Prospero receives its share of this, due in part to its very narrow set of interests and somewhat skewed priorities.
Special Ability: Impulsive (gains +3 Move on first turn of every mission)
- All-Loving Hero: Everyone and everything except the Vek, of course.
- Companion Cube: She fawns over any mech she pilots like a beloved pet.
- Crazy Enough to Work: After her first temporal reset:Lily: It worked! We didn't blow up time or anything!
- Cuteness Proximity: The girl loves her mechs, as her entry quote shows.
- Eager Rookie: Among the eagerest. She had just started her job at Archive, Inc. when she volunteered for mech training, sped through the training, and is now one of the youngest active mech pilot, having been assigned to only one previous timeline at the point when you recruit her.
- Foil: Like Henry Kwan, she's an eager young rookie who Jumped at the Call, and like Harold Schmidt, she's very fond of machines. Unlike Henry, she doesn't have quite as much to prove, and unlike either one of them, she actually seems to be able to get along with other people and work well within a team.
- Genki Girl: Always energetic, her dialogue shows she's eager to get things done fast.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Washed up on the shores of Archive and was raised by the company, where she's made a happy home for herself.
- Here We Go Again!: Lampshaded.Lily: Here we go! Another chance to save the world!
- Jumped at the Call: She was only too happy to help out her fellow Archivers.
- Lost at Sea: A part of her backstory: she was found on a makeshift life raft out to sea from Archive.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Nothing seems to get her down for long — not even seeing whole worlds fall to the Vek.
- Wrench Wench: A perky young engineer, complete with a grease spot on her cheek.
Special Ability: Sidestep (after attacking or repairing, gains 1 free tile movement)
- Awesome by Analysis: How his special ability works — he's just that good at predicting the chain of events, and using that awareness to keep one step ahead of the Vek.
- Badass Normal: He has a lesser version of Archimedes' special — Archimedes being a hyper-advanced AI. And it's not even a case of special training, but rather based on his exceptional skill as an administrator and the equivalent of traffic control for Detritus's waste pipelines.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Very smooth. Of all the characters who seem to style themselves as soldiers — Ralph, Abe, and Camila — the others come off as varying shades of rough compared to Chen's pure professionalism.
- Foil: To arrogant, glory-seeking newcomer Henry Kwan, as a high-level career Detritus man who joined the mech pilots out of a sense of duty.
- It Has Been an Honor: Word for word, when the team triumphs and must go their separate ways.
- Nonchalant Dodge: His expert timing allows him to seize on an advantage before stepping just out of harm's way.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Conducts himself as both at all times. Even before he was a soldier, he was a loyal, diligent upper manager with Detritus.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Cares for the people under his command and the civilian lives the mechs are intended to protect.
Special Ability: Evasion (cannot be webbed, and can still attack in smoke)
- Action Girl: Even before she became a mech pilot, she was out scouting the far reaches of R.S.T. and helping to test the company's terraforming technology — by trying to survive in the landscape it created, a job which managed to kill everyone else on her team.
- And This Is for...: During the endgame:Camila: ...This is for every timeline they've destroyed.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Her comments when dodging Vek webbing or smoke occasionally enter into this. She's all business when addressing her men, though.
- Happily Adopted: By, of all people, CEO Kern of R.S.T.
- Nerves of Steel: When down to 1 HP, Camila's portrait barely changes, apart from the set of her eyebrows becoming a little more determined.
- Never Say Goodbye:Camila: No goodbyes. Other timelines need us.
- No-Sell: Camila cannot be webbed (though the Vek will still try) and can still attack in smoke. This makes her useful in all squads, but especially valuable in squads that generate a lot of smoke themselves, like the Rusting Hulks.
- Nonchalant Dodge: Keeps snapping off insults and taunts while staring down an Alpha Scorpion or Leaper.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Having already lost her birth parents, not being able to save her adoptive mother in her original timeline weighs heavily on her.
- Sergeant Rock: Her general attitude is to put the mission first — achieve any mission objectives, protect the civilians and the grid, worry about any mech pilots and time pods second. Upon victory, she may even state that there's no time for goodbyes — other timelines need them.
- Sole Survivor: Of her scout unit in R.S.T. Made more poignant if it happens again, should you fail to save a timeline and opt to keep her as your Last Traveler for the next run.
- Super Reflexes: Her special ability comes from an instinctive danger sense, honed by her years scouting out the constantly shifting terrain of R.S.T.
Special Ability: Temporal Reset (able to Reset Turn one additional time per mission)
While he and Bethany are technically brother and sister, there hasn't been a timeline where they both were alive to realize this (either Bethany dies at a young age, or Isaac dies - only one of them could be saved in the womb because of a chronic medical condition their parents had). He respects machines and sees them as equals due to being raised on Pinnacle (he has faith in Zenith, perhaps too much as he feels she's too intelligent to do anything wrong).
Isaac is as much of a genius as his sister, although self-doubt weakens him. He has considerable knowledge of aeronautics, physics, gravitation theory and manipulation, and a number of other fields. It is likely Isaac could master any science he chose to, his only block is his own perceived limitations.
- Butterfly of Doom: The main difference between Bethany and Isaac's respective timelines is which one of them lived and which one died. Bethany seems to have had a much happier childhood and adult life than Isaac, although the exact circumstances haven't been revealed so far.
- Crutch Character: Once you get a feel for the game, Isaac's second reset is significantly less useful than other characters' abilities. It's still pretty valuable if you're still getting used to a new pilot or a new mech squad, or trying a new tactic or going after a specific achievement, however.
- The Eeyore: Constantly expresses his worries that everyone is doomed.
- Half-Identical Twins: With Bethany, although neither one realizes this in the starting state of the game.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Not quite word for word, being separated into a few separate lines, but Isaac is a scientist, not a soldier. He'd much rather just go back to his lab.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Aeronautics, physics, gravitation theory, mechs, the Vek, the Breach... Not quite every science, but he's getting there. As mentioned above, Word of God has it that Isaac could master any other field if he so chose, but is hampered by his own doubts and poor self-image.
- Opposite-Sex Clone: As noted under Bethany's section, because only one of them has ever lived in all the timelines where they've been born, the differences in their lives tend to add up to this.
- Separated at Birth: Separated by a fork in the timeline, actually, where one lived and the other died, making them a fairly dark example of this.
- Speech Impediment: Has a stutter, though the devs state that it is a consequence of traveling back in time too often, having studied the Breach more closely than anyone.
- Stutter Stop: His stutter briefly vanishes after destroying the Volcanic Hive and saving a timeline, as does his lack of confidence. Both come back with a vengeance a short ways into the next timeline, however.
- Temporal Sickness: His stutter is apparently a symptom of too much exposure to the Breach. An offhand comment by his sister suggests the effect is specifically the result of too many localized breaches, meaning that his research and special ability have both only exacerbated the effect.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: As seen under Omnidisciplinary Scientist, a good deal of Isaac's limitations are the result of a lack of faith in his own abilities.
Special Ability: Double Shot (can act twice if Mech does not move; must be powered, requiring two cores)
In "his" original timeline, Silica was responsible for first detecting and studying the Vek, and eventually was modified to investigate their hives... this nearly ended catastrophically, and Silica was recovered and his programming altered from terraforming to terraforming-based-combat... the concept of using the existing terrain and shaping it, exploiting it, and using the surrounding region as a weapon against the Vek.
When Silica jumped timelines, his original programming was unknown to every subsequent timeline, and they have seen him only in his role as a environmental tactician, designed to help the islands defeat the Vek.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Silica's special ability requires you to put the majority of your cores into a single Mech, between powering his ability and powering his weapons, each of which is a core you can't use on another Mech. How worthwhile this is ultimately comes down to the RNG for that particular run.
- By-the-Book Cop: Most of Silica's dialogue consists of observations on the "unauthorized" nature of the Vek's actions. A good deal of it consists of snark, though, so it's hard to tell if this is merely an affectation.
- Difficult, but Awesome: It can be tricky to predictably set up a situation where Silica has a clear line of sight to use both weapons to maximum effect in the same turn, but anytime it does happen, it's magnificent.
- Expospeak Gag: His thing, done by misinterpreting the obvious in overly technical ways.
- Magikarp Power: Has one of the most powerful abilities in the game, but it costs two cores to activate, plus whatever it costs to activate and upgrade any second weapon he might possess.
- Meaningful Name: Silica, otherwise known as sand (or at least a common component thereof). He's a terraforming AI.
- More Dakka: Or Beam Spam, or Macross Missile Massacre, depending on what weapons Silica happens to be packing. Easily wins the award for the most dakka in the game, potentially allowing you to kill bosses in a single turn if you're positioned well.
- Spock Speak: Speaks in a dry, technical manner, usually about such-and-such activities being "unauthorized."
- The Stoic: Seldom speaks about anything other than mission probabilities.
- Verbal Tic: The first thing Silica notices is anything "unauthorized." Which is funny, because Silica's special ability is a Game-Breaker.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Does not apparently suffer this to the same degree as the other AIs, perhaps due to lacking their more obvious quirks.
Special Ability: Fire and Forget (gains a second move after repairing or attacking; must be powered)
Zenith has refused to allow Archimedes access to her network, for fear that his directives may corrupt programming on Pinnacle (if this occurred it would be inadvertent, but it is a possibility). Archimedes believes the rioting behavior of the robots on Pinnacle is due to either (1) a contradictory directive they are attempting to follow or reconcile, or (2) the possibility that the arrival of sentient pilot variants from other timelines may indeed be interfering with the natural programmatic order on the island.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. Archimedes is a genuinely benevolent AI, even if his brand of protecting humanity comes off as more than a little smug. He is aware, however, that it's possible that the various rogue intelligences in Pinnacle have specifically gone berserk because the presence of free AIs in the timeline, like Archimedes and the others, has somehow overturned their programmed hierarchy.
- Androids Are People, Too: A big proponent of this. When his mech receives an upgrade, he congratulates it on evolving further toward sentience, and like Zenith, he's not happy about having to destroy the rogue machines on Pinnacle.
- Captain Obvious: Archimedes occasionally pulls this as part of his general condescension. As far as he knows, you might not be able to figure this stuff out with your primitive meat brain.Archimedes: Vek are about to emerge. They are likely to be hostile and will try to kill us.
- Condescending Compassion: Towards all humans. He announces he's there to protect civilians by recommending they remain in their "safety pens," for starters.
- Deadpan Snarker: Skilled in the art of backhanded compliments and eloquent on the subject of machine superiority.
- Death Notification: Upon civilian buildings being destroyed:Archimedes: Tabulating a list of the casualties' extended families and dispatching consolation letters.
- Expospeak Gag: Occasionally enters into this, just to make sure you don't forget how smart he is.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: His special ability means he excels at this.
- Insistent Terminology: He's not a robot or an "artificial" intelligence, he's a Sentient.
- Insufferable Genius: Humility is apparently not among Archimedes' expert systems, at the very least when it comes to his belief in his innate superiority over humans.Archimedes: My new tactical algorithms have compiled. I am now more superior than ever!
- Meaningful Name: Named after Archimedes of Syracuse, one of antiquity's greatest mathemicians, scientists, and polymaths.
- Meta Mecha: All of the AIs are this, but Archimedes seems to be blurring the line between which body he considers to be his own:Archimedes: [at 1 HP] My outer shell... er, Mech... is failing.
- Smug Super: The most advanced robot character in the setting, and he's not about to let you forget it. Especially if he's doing something he considers beneath him, like repairing his own mech or blocking an emerging Vek.
- Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Somewhere north of Rank IV, but short of being a fully godlike AI.
- Super Speed: Archimedes thinks fast and moves fast, and his special ability reflects that.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Apparently less a victim of this than Gana or Prospero — it's hard to argue that Archimedes isn't at least as fully self-aware as any human pilot, if not more so.
In GeneralThe following tropes apply to all three secret pilots:
- The Cameo: All three are members of alien races from Subset Games' previous title, FTL.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: You could make a case for Mafan's shield or Kazaaakpleth's inability to repair his mech, but there's no real reason why the abilities of the secret pilots should translate to mechs hundreds of times their size other than because it makes them more interesting to play.
- Guide Dang It!: To unlock them, you must find one of their beacons, usually buried underneath a mountain or visibly glowing under a patch of ice. The following turn, an escape pod will fall — just like a time pod, you much protect that pod until the end of the level. And if you uncover the beacon but don't pick it up, or pick it up just before ending the level so that the pod doesn't have time to fall, it doesn't count.
- Humanoid Aliens: To a greater or lesser degree.
- Secret Character: Only hinted at by the presence of the "Distant Friends" achievement.
Special Ability: Mantis (a 2-damage melee attack (which also pushes) which replaces Repair)
- Absurdly Sharp Claws: So sharp they somehow grant a melee attack to a mech hundreds of times his size.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Gives up the ability to repair his mech in favor of his claw attack. Seemingly a small difference, but it can have a major impact on how he plays.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Roughly human-sized.
- Blood Knight: Enjoys the thrill of the hunt and is particularly fond of killing other Mantis.
- Bounty Hunter: His profession before touching down on Earth.
- Glass Cannon: To some extent, particularly if he's piloting already low-durability mech which wouldn't otherwise be able to wade into the fray.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: As explained above. Though since there are no other Mantis about, he makes do with killing Vek, since at least they're roughly the same.
- Insectoid Aliens: From a species of alien mantids.
- Intelligent Gerbil: The Mantis are simply very large, intelligent preying mantis aliens.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Replaces the ability to repair his mech, which every other mech has, with a melee attack that deals 2 points of damage and pushes the target — sacrificing defensive versatility for additional offense. This can be very useful for artillery or science mechs that don't fare well in close combat. (Or in the case of most science mechs, don't have any offensive capability whatsoever.)
- Slaying Mantis: The Mantis in general, natch. Kazaaakpleth is even an unusually vicious representative of his people.
- Third-Person Person: Although his speech is untranslated, most of his vocal barks include his own name. It's probably meant to be interpreted as boasting and gloating over the Vek he defeats.
Special Ability: Rockman (+3 HP and immune to fire)
Rockmen who do not conform to their species stereotype (say, rebelling against religion or by being simply... different) can be found amongst the stars, and several instances of Rock pirates and warriors exist in the Big Black (they are known to cover their ships with "outcast decorations"). Ariadne (female of the species) was fleeing a pre-arranged marriage to a Basilisk Chief (see FTL) when the beacon diverted her vessel. Her crime prevents her from wanting to return to Rock space even if she could... but is uncomfortable among the many cultures on the new planet she has found. She is vaguely curious what time travel/breach technology could possibly do to erase her crime and the events leading up to it, allowing for a fresh start.
- Arranged Marriage: Was escaping one of these when she picked up the beacon that led her to Earth.
- Made of Iron: Made of living rock, actually, but the result's the same. She grants +3 HP to any mech she pilots, on top of any piloting or mech reactor boosts. This means she can max out at 10 HP with the right mech (11 with the Networked Armor passive) , in a game where most units start with 2 or 3 HP.
- No-Sell: Like all rockmen, she's immune to fire, as is her mech.
- Rock Monster: From a race of alien rockpeople.
- Runaway Bride: She ended up on Earth while on the run from an unwanted marriage to a Basilisk chief.
- Silicon-Based Life: Rockmen, being primarily made up of stone.
Special Ability: Zoltan (+1 Reactor Core; reduces Mech HP to 1, but gains a shield every turn)
Mafan was on a pilgrimage when the beacon summoned it. It finds the idea of the breaches to be akin to enlightenment along the lines of Groundhog Day although it finds them surprising it considers the two week "recycling" of the self an opportunity to reflect on one's actions forever within an enclosed temporal loop. It considers the Vek to be an obstruction to this enlightenment, but also a necessary part of the phenomenon that keeps sparking the breaches to be made. (More specifics about the tone and intent of each of the lines below can be found in the Writing Style Guide, broken down line by line, if curious - it gives more information on how Mafan and the Zoltan might perceive certain events.)
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Zoltans as a species believe they're on the verge of this. Mafan believes the Breach itself may be a path toward this ascension.
- Energy Being: From a race of energy beings.
- Force Field: He can extend a force field around his mech, granting him a free shield at the start of each round.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Having only 1 HP, but gaining a free shield at the start of each round, means you have to play Mafan quite differently from any other character — he can take any amount of damage, but only once per turn, which means you need to be on guard for any potential chain reactions.
- No-Sell: Gains a free shield at the start of each turn. Since shields negate any amount of damage, this can make him remarkably durable, despite his lack of HP. He's also immune to fire and freezing while the shield is up, making him very strong in the Ice Mech (which normally freezes itself with its weapon).
- One-Hit Point Wonder: Reduces the HP of any mech he pilots to 1, regardless of what it was before.
- Power Glows: Has a unique green shield bubble, as opposed to the transparent blue shield of most other characters.
The following tropes apply to multiple squads:
- Area of Effect: Various Ranged-class mortar attacks, which affect squares in various directions around the target zone. A few Mechs have AoE effects which center on themselves and affect adjacent squares.
- Cast From HP: Many Brute weapons deal damage to the mech in exchange for hitting that much harder.
- Cephalothorax: Most Primes are roughly humanoid, but with a large glowing eye in their chest or abdomen rather than a distinct head region.
- Chicken Walker: The Primes for Zenith Guard and the Hazardous Mechs.
- Close-Range Combatant: Prime weapons tend to work best up close. The map-crossing Burst Beam loses a point of damage for each tile it travels.
- A Commander Is You: Not that you can play as the Vek, but humanity as a whole are the Elitist Faction to the Vek's Spammer Faction, by necessity.
- Cool Plane: Only one proper plane Mech, the Rusting Hulks' Jet Mech.
- Cyber Cyclops: All the Primes other than Laser Mech, plus Swap Mech as well. The Pulse Mech and Charge Mech have One Way Visors instead.
- Deflector Shields: Supplied by Pinnacle and granted by various Mech abilities, able to absorb a single hit before shutting down.
- Fragile Speedster: Flying mechs have much greater maneuverability even when they don't have higher speed, but none of them has more than 2 starting HP.
- Friendly Fireproof: Many AoE weapons can be upgraded to negate the damage they would deal to structures and/or allies.
- Glass Cannon: Ranged Mechs tend to fall under this. Many of them start with only 2 HP, and ranged weapons are frequently expensive to upgrade, so you might find you have better things to spend your power on than HP. The best armor is to keep out of range, of course.
- Hover Tank: The Ice Mech is both a hover tank and a spider tank. The Nano tech is mostly just three A.C.I.D. reservoir tanks in the back and a huge nozzle in the front.
- Humongous Mecha: The giant fighting robots, tanks, and jets built to take on the similarly giant insectoid Vek are all referred to as mechs, but only the Prime mechs are roughly humanoid.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Prime Mechs are generally designed to perform best at close range — the more targets the better. They have a good mix of damage, durability, movement, and light control abilities.
- Straight-ahead projectile weapons can cross the whole map, only stopping when they hit something, but they actually work just as well up close.
- Long-Range Fighter: Ranged Mechs, naturally. Lobbed artillery projectiles can arc over buildings, but require the mech to maintain a distance of at least one square between them and their target, however, meaning they can't fight back if cornered or webbed.
- Palette Swap: Before starting a run, you have the option of switching the colors of your mechs to the paint job of any other squad you've unlocked.
- Spider Tank: The various mortar-lobbing Ranged mechs.
- Squishy Wizard: Most Science-class Mechs are weak on both defense and offense, but have unique abilities to manipulate the battlefield.
- Stone Wall: Brutes and Primes tend to focus on durability if they're not set up for damage.
- Support Party Member: Various Mechs which can't deal damage by themselves, along with whichever mech in a squad gets to hold onto the squad's passive ability, if any.
- Tank Goodness: Every Brute-class Mech bar one, which is a Cool Plane instead.
Rift WalkersThese were the very first Mechs to fight against the Vek. They are efficient and reliable.
The first and only squad unlocked at the start of a new game profile.
- Boring, but Practical: No gimmicks — just a solid squad.
- A Commander Is You: The Generalist Faction, with a straightforward mix of abilities and no real weaknesses. In particular, all three Mechs can both deal damage and push enemies, which doesn't sound like much, but adds up to some round-by-round versatility that more specialized Mechs don't have.
- Dash Attack: An upgraded Titan Fist allows the Combat Mech to dash across the map before punching their target.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Whether they're tank and artillery shells or giant robot fists.
- Lightning Bruiser: The Dash upgrade turns the Combat Mech into this.
- Megaton Punch: The Titan Fist could just as easily be called this, as one of the few 4 damage attacks in the game (when fully upgraded) which also knocks its target into the next tile back.
Rusting Hulks:R.S.T. weather manipulators allow these Mechs to take advantage of smoke storms everywhere.
- A Commander Is You: A combination of Guerilla and Ranger Factions. Speed, smoke, and the Pulse Mech's ability to push all adjacent units all work to prevent enemies from ever landing an attack.
- Confusion Fu: The squad relies on smoke attacks and pushing enemies out of position while wearing them down from round to round. There's a reason the "Perfect Battle" achievement, awarded for finishing a battle without taking any Mech and Building damage, is on the Rusting Hulks' short list.
- Cool Plane: A building-sized jet, with the highest base speed in the game, which can mount the various Brute-class tank cannons.
- Crippling Overspecialization: As a defensive squad, they start light on direct offense and can have a hard time taking down enemies with a large amount of HP. Since smoke prevents mechs from attacking or repairing as well, this can leave them without a place to attack and no way to save themselves on the off chance they get cornered.
- Damage Over Time: The squad's Storm Generator means that Vek in smoke tiles not only have their attacks canceled, but they also take lightning damage round after round.
- Death from Above: A combination of Jet Mech's bombing runs and Rocket Mech's air strikes.
- Fragile Speedster: The Jet Mech has a base speed of 4, as fast as any Mech in the game, plus Aerial Bombs which allow it to leapfrog over other units, escaping webs and canceling attacks. Its HP starts at only 2.
- Geo Effects: Smoke tiles prevent units from acting, and in the the Rusting Hulks' case, also deal Damage Over Time.
- Gradual Grinder: Of the Death of a Thousand Cuts variety. The squad is best at dealing light damage to multiple targets across the map.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: Jet Mech's specialty, and, by default, its only means of attack.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: A fragile, speedy Brute, a durable, frontline Science-class Mech, and a Ranged with a useful close range effect. This makes for some interesting permutations with their standard class weapons.
- One-Way Visor: Pulse Mech has a Samus-esque green visor.
- Shock and Awe: Rocket Mech's Storm Generator passive deals electrical damage to enemies caught in your smoke clouds.
- Smoke Bombs: Aerial Bombs deal damage as well, but their main function is to kick up thick clouds of electrified smoke. Rocket Mech's rocket leaves a carpet of smoke behind the mech, enough to do a NASA shuttle launch proud.
- Stone Wall: The only base squad without a Prime, the Hulks have the next best thing: the Pulse Mech. Its starting weapon, Repulse, doesn't deal any damage by itself, but it knocks back all adjacent enemies. Its first upgrade grants the Pulse Mech a shield, making the Mech very effective at guarding chokepoints. When fully upgraded, it shields friendly adjacent units and buildings as well, severely hampering the Vek's ability to damage anything if they can even manage to get a shot in through all the smoke.
Zenith GuardDetritus' Beam technology and Pinnacle's Shield technology create a powerful combination.
- Chicken Walker: Laser Mech closely resembles Metal Gear REX.
- A Commander Is You: The Brute Faction, with the single biggest gun in the game and a tank that specializes in crashing straight into things.
- Deflector Shields: The Defense Mech's Shield Projector allows it to lob shield bubbles across the map, protecting buildings and allies, up to a 5-tile cross when fully upgraded.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Just the one, but it's more than enough.
- Friendly Fireproof: Burst Beam can be upgraded to ignore allies.
- Lightning Bruiser: As long as there's a straight line between you and your target. Zenith Guard can run into trouble on uneven terrain, when the enemy or the grid is scattered.
- One-Way Visor: Charge Mech has a bright red one.
- Ramming Always Works: The Charge Mech's Ramming Engines allow it to cross the whole map in one go, slamming into its target, pushing it, and damaging them both.
- Shout-Out: In addition to the Laser Mech's resemblance to Metal Gear REX, there's these two achievements:
- Splash Damage: The Burst Beam starts out with 3 or 4 points of damage but loses a point of damage for every tile it travels through.
- Support Party Member: The Defense Mech starts with both slots filled, and like many Science Mechs, has no actual damage capability — other than pulling its target directly into its fragile 2 HP pod.
- Tractor Beam: Defense Mech again. A projectile weapon which pulls enemy targets 1 tile. Handy for pulling Vek into water.
- Wave-Motion Gun: Laser Mech's namesake Burst Beam. It crosses the map in a straight line until it hits a structure, passing through units without stopping. It deals massive damage up close but tails off for each tile it passes through.
- Wave-Motion Tuning Fork: The Laser Mech's side-mounted main gun is a huge two-pronged beam weapon.
BlitzkriegR.S.T. designed this squad around the mass destruction capabilities of harnessed lightning.
- Chain Lightning: The core mechanic of the squad is the Electric Whip, which deals damage to an initial target, then chains to each adjacent target, and so on and so on. It can be upgraded to deal more damage and chain through buildings (without damaging them). Used effectively, it can devastate Vek ranks, cleaning out any or all weaker Vek in a single turn.
- A Commander Is You: The Unit Specialist Faction. You can use Boulder Mech to deal damage, but where this squad really shines is setting up massive chains to take full advantage of Electric Whip's ability to hit multiple targets.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Even more than most squads, Blitzkrieg is built around their Prime mech's gimmick. Their relative lack of single-target damage also needs to be overcome.
- Chain lightning can be... problematic when it comes to defense missions, since Electric Whip will damage anything that has HP.
- Grappling Hook pulls enemies into range, but with no way of dealing direct damage itself.
- Rock Accelerator's persistent boulder has a great many uses, but makes Boulder Mech even more dependent on positioning than other Ranged Mechs.
- Friendly Fireproof: Electric Whip can be upgraded to chain through buildings while dealing no damage to them.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Blitzkrieg is German for "Lightning War", the Nazis' military doctrine of breaking through enemy defenses using a fast attack by a concentrated force of armored, mechanized forces as the tip of the spear. Sound familiar? It's also the name of one of Blitzkrieg Squad's achievements, awarded for beating the first two Corporate Islands in under 30 minutes.
- Rock Beats Laser: The Boulder Mech launches rocks, which deal more damage than many conventional weapons, have a unique ability to push targets on either side of it but not in front of it, and if they don't hit anything, leave a 1 HP boulder which can block attacks and emerging Vek — as well as creating another target for Electric Whip to chain through.
- Shock and Awe: Right in the name of the squad and the squad's Prime. R.S.T. is fond of this, as the Rusting Hulks also show.
- Spider Tank: Boulder Mech, looking a little like a Protoss dragoon.
- Whip It Good: Lightning Mech has electrified whips at the end of its arms.
- You Will Not Evade Me: Hook Mech comes equipped with a Grappling Hook which it can use to pull enemies adjacent to itself. What makes this particularly useful is that Hook Mech is Armored, so it can sit in the middle of Lightning Mech's chains while shrugging off a portion of that damage.
Steel JudokaThese Mechs specialize in positional manipulation to turn the Vek against each other.
- A Commander Is You: A Unit Specialist/Gimmick Faction, requiring a good grasp of the various enemy units, since the Mechs' abilities are primarily defensive in nature and highly positional when it comes to both the Vek and the Mechs themselves. The squad relies on Forced Friendly Fire between the Vek to deal most of their damage for them.
- Barefisted Monk: Judo Mech is the Humongous Mecha equivalent of this.
- Crippling Overspecialization: You really need to be able to line up the Vek with each other. If you can't funnel them together, you're going to have some trouble dealing enough damage to take them down.
- Forced Friendly Fire: Explicitly a part of the intended strategy for the squad, per the in-game description.
- Friendly Fire Proof: The Siege Mech's Cluster Artillery deals no damage to the targeted tile, damaging and pushing all adjacent tiles. It can be upgraded to make grid buildings completely immune. In addition, as usual, Armored works just as well against Mech weapons as it does against the Vek.
- Grapple Move: Judo Mech is a mech that does Judo. It manages this through the use of its starting weapon, Vice Fist, which tosses a Vek to the square behind the Judo Mech, dealing a single point of damage when it lands.
- Gravity Master: Gravity Mech, as the name implies, uses this as its starting weapon, the Grav Well. It's a tad underwhelming, between the name and the Mech's downright ominous appearance: a bubble that can be launched across the map, but only tugs the target a single square and can't be upgraded. Fittingly for a gravity-themed unit, and moreso than most launcher characters, the Gravity Mech can benefit from being near the center of most maps.
- Lightning Bruiser: No Mighty Glaciers here. Judo Mech is tied with Jet Mech for the highest base speed in the game. It can't necessarily deal much damage itself with its base weapon, but there's nothing stopping you from upgrading it — or giving it the various other Prime weapons, provided you can get your hands on them.
- Long-Range Fighter: The only squad with two launcher mechs. As such, neither the Siege Mech nor the Gravity Mech can attack adjacent squares. Averted with Judo Mech, of course.
- Made of Iron: Judo Mech starts with the Armored trait, making an entirely valid strategy out of tossing a Vek over your shoulder and then simply letting it hit you, since you can completely negate the damage of any basic Vek.
- Opposites Attract: Siege Mech pushes the Vek out, but Gravity Mech keeps pulling them back in.
- Pheromones: The Gravity Mech's Vek Hormones passive incites Vek aggression, causing them to deal increased damage to other Vek, although still they won't target each other without a push in the right direction.
- Recursive Ammo: Siege Mech's Cluster Artillery. It deals no damage to the tile it lands on, but the bomblets damage and push all adjacent squares.
- Stone Wall: The Judoka's raison d'etre, as the most purely defensive squad. True to trope, they don't have much in the way of direct damage.
Flame BehemothsInvincible to flames, these Mechs aim to burn any threat to ashes.
- A Commander Is You: The Technical Faction. In another game, the fire-based team might be the most aggressive and straightforward, but in a game where your primary objective is defending buildings, the Flame Behemoths tend to reward careful play, steadily whittling down units with Damage Over Time, funneling enemies along paths that haven't been set on fire. Since Vek will also avoid being set on fire if they can, the squad is also very effective at area denial.
- Battle Amongst the Flames: Most battles involving these will end up with lots of the tiles on fire. The Flame Behemoths are immune to the flames thanks to Flame Shielding, the Vek are not.
- Crippling Overspecialization: They're slow to set up and lacking in direct and single-target damage, to the point where they can seem fairly underwhelming until you get a handle on how to play them.
- Damage Over Time: They rely on it more heavily than any other faction, since the squad's only direct damage ability only deals damage to targets that are already on fire. Once they build up momentum, however, most Vek will be set on fire as soon as they emerge, meaning most minor Vek can be ignored the turn after they appear.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Watching a whole map full of Vek wither away from burning damage and blocking emerging Vek without even having to lay a finger on them. Those are good rounds.
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: Fire attacks will automatically break ice tiles, dropping the Vek above straight into the water.
- Firebreathing Weapon: The Flame Mech's Flamethrower fires a video game-style gout of flame.
- Flamethrower Backfire: Averted, but the Meteor Mech's Vulcan Artillery can be upgraded to set fire to the tile directly behind it, giving it a melee attack of sorts.
- Friendly Fireproof: Fortunately grid buildings don't take damage from fire, which means the Behemoths can shoot straight through them without fear of collateral damage. Sadly this is not the case for some of the other friendly units you're meant to be defending during missions.
- Geo Effects: Tiles set on fire remain on fire for the rest of the match, unless hit with another Geo Effect, like ice or A.C.I.D. Control of this is the Flame Behemoths' primary advantage.
- Gradual Grinder: A DoT-heavy team with a lack of direct damage capability, but one whose slow burn can kill multiple Vek per round by the later turns of the match.
- Kill It with Fire: Their specialty. Something of a subversion, however, as rather than putting down single targets relatively quickly, the Flame Behemoths focus on a slow burn that takes down multiple targets in later rounds.
- Long-Range Fighter: All three units start with what are technically ranged weapons, even if the range on Flame Mech and Swap Mech is very short. The upgrades for both their base weapons simply extend their range by 1 tile per upgrade. It adds up.
- Required Secondary Powers: Flame Shielding gives the whole squad immunity to fire, meaning they can walk over burning tiles with impunity.
- Swap Teleportation: Swap Mech's Teleporter allows it to trade places with a single unit. Despite its relatively short range, it's one of the more versatile position-affecting weapons, and pays dividends when more powerful Vek start showing up in larger numbers.
- Video-Game Flamethrowers Suck: It's one of the trickier weapons to use well, requiring an additional step before it can deal direct damage. If you're patient, however, once the whole map is burning, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to targets.
Frozen TitansThese Titans rely on the Cryo Launcher, a powerful weapon that takes an experienced Pilot to master.
- Barrier Warrior: The Aegis Mech gains the ability to shield itself every time it attacks when upgraded, but the real standout is Ice Mech's ability to freeze itself and any other unit, structure, or water/A.C.I.D. tile each round.
- A Commander Is You: The Technical/Gimmick Faction, each mech having a weapon with a slightly unusual mechanic. They specialize in locking down enemies and preventing damage through timely deployment of shields and barriers.
- Crippling Overspecialization: The Titans are all about keeping tight control of the map and have the versaility to do it, but they also have to juggle a lot of variables at once. If they lose control and start getting overwhelmed, they're not great at getting that control back.
- As the in-game description mentions, the Cryo-Launcher is extremely versatile, protecting units or structures, locking down Vek, blocking emergence points without taking damage, etc. — but prioritizing your targets and getting the right order of operations down will make or break the squad.
- The Mirror Mech's double guns double the damage you can do per round and are relatively cheap to upgrade, but do present a fair-sized risk of collateral damage. If you can't hit Vek with both shots, this can be blocked by the other mechs in the squad or by freezing buildings.
- While it's great when you can make use of all three, the Aegis Mech often has to choose between its solid damage output, Spartan Shield's unique ability to flip enemy attack direction, and its durability.
- The Titans are very good at preventing Vek reaching the surface at all, but rely on their defensive abilities too much and you can start to lag behind in terms of experience. Frozen Vek can't attack, but also aren't worth any XP.
- Deflector Shields: The Aegis Mech, per the name, starts out with a physical, metal shield, and gains the ability to throw up one of Pinnacle's energy shields each time it attacks.
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: Cryo-Launcher can be used to put out fires and freeze water tiles, but freezing is negated by lava tiles. Since Ice Mech is a Flying mech, this can be used to your advantage in the Volcanic Hive, freezing your targets while remaining mobile yourself.
- Geo Effects: Water and A.C.I.D. tiles can be made walkable. Frozen units block all non-flying units, including allies.
- Glacier Waif: The Ice Mech has only 2 HP, but is one of the most durable mechs in the game, thanks to its default loadout of the Cryo-Launcher, which freezes both the mech's target and the mech itself, encasing both in solid ice. This might sound like a liability, but in practice can be used as a powerful makeshift shield, guarding both the Ice Mech and a building, or taking an enemy out of the fight entirely, since Vek can't break out of the ice without another Vek attacking them.
- Doubly the case if the Ice Mech in question is piloted by Bethany Jones, since her shield means she can fire the Cryo-Launcher without freezing herself.
- A Head at Each End: The Mirror Mech's Janus Cannon is basically two huge cannons facing in opposite directions mounted on a set of treads. It can, and indeed, must fire both guns at once whenever it attacks.
- Hubcap Hovercraft: The Ice Mech has Spider Tank legs like all Ranged mechs, which it folds up around its body at all times, since it also starts with the Flying trait.
- An Ice Person: An ice-themed squad, as the name suggests, with a pale blue color scheme and a glass/mirror theme. The Cryo-Launcher can freeze units and structures, which acts as a shield but prevents actions and can only be removed by damage or repairing.
- Instant 180-Degree Turn: The Aegis Mech's Spartan Shield has the unique ability to reverse the direction of Vek attacks.
- Lightning Bruiser: Like its fellow defensive Prime Judo Mech, Aegis Mech has a base speed of 4. It tends to be used for running from one threat to another rather than charging toward the front lines, however.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The Aegis Mech's enormous metal shield is visible in its sprite.
- Mighty Glacier: Generally averted for the individual mechs, but the squad as a whole is better at taking out single targets and guarding chokepoints than they are at taking out large numbers of enemies at once. Their strategy tends to be slow and steady.
- Ice Mech can completely neutralize a powerful Vek one turn, but may need to spend a turn frozen or repairing if they aren't able to line themselves up with an attacking Vek or Mirror Mech's blowback.
- More Dakka: The Mirror Mech's double guns can deal heavy damage and are relatively cheap to upgrade.
- No-Sell: Masters of this, between Aegis Mech's ability to flip enemy attacks and Ice Mech's ability to encase targets in ice, locking enemies down and protecting friendlies from damage.
- Shield Bash: The Aegis Mech's Spartan Shield weapon deals a solid 2 points of damage and flips the target's attack direction, an ability unique to it. When upgraded, it also provides a single-use energy shield.
- Stone Wall: The last of the three defensive squads, focusing on avoiding enemy damage altogether, freezing dangerous targets and blocking surfacing Vek. They have reasonably good damage output as well, but can be stretched thin if too many enemies end up on the field at once.
- Theme Naming: The squad is armed with a Spartan Shield, the Janus Cannon, and their signature Cryo-Launcher.
Hazardous MechsThese Mechs have spectacular damage output but rely on nanobots feeding off dead Vek to say alive.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Because attacking will hurt you, but actually finishing enemies off will also heal you.
- A Commander Is You: The Ranger Faction, with their considerable advantages in speed and range, and — technically — Technical, since they rely heavily on A.C.I.D. as a debuff, with the added wrinkle of healing from every kill. In practice, they tend to be fairly straightforward, tactically: a high-damage, high-speed, high-risk high-reward squad, which tends to swing quickly from victory to the edge of defeat and back again.
- Cast From Hit Points: Several of their weapons will deal damage to themselves, in exchange for high damage to enemies.
- Crippling Overspecialization: That moment when you realize that you can set up a killzone where you can take out half a dozen Vek with a single use of Hydraulic Legs — but it's going to get your Unstable Mech killed during the Vek's action phase to position them just right.
- Damage-Increasing Debuff: A.C.I.D. doubles all weapon damage dealt to the target. The Hazardous Mechs are not immune to this effect themselves, and this includes the damage their weapons deal to themselves when they attack. Each unit killed while inflicted with A.C.I.D. leaves an A.C.I.D. spill on the tile where they dropped, quickly covering the map in green puddles.
- Death-or-Glory Attack: The intended strategy for the squad is an ongoing series of these. It's entirely possible for an attack to take the Mech to 0 HP, simultaneously kill multiple Vek, and bring you back up to full health all in the same action. This can be deeply cathartic.
- The squad also generally doesn't have the health to block many emerging Vek, but this can actually work out in their favor if they can use the Vek's numbers to set up Vek traffic jams and kill them by bumping them into each other from all sides.
- Fragile Speedster: Both the fastest and most fragile squad in the game, with two units with base speed 4, two units that damage themselves when they attack, and a map that will typically be covered in A.C.I.D. before the end of the mission.
- Hollywood Acid: Detritus's own patented A.C.I.D., although it's actually said to be composed of nanites — still green and able to eat through just about anything, though. It's supposed to be used for disposing of waste material.
- In a Single Bound: At first it looks like the HMs don't have a ranged launcher Mech — which is fine, two straight-ahead projectile attacks still isn't bad — but then you realize Leap Mech is both the launcher and the projectile, pushing and damaging all adjacent squares at its impact point while being able to reach almost any square on the map.
- Nanomachines: The squad makes substantial use of these, both to damage enemies and to repair themselves. Both are supplied by the aptly named Nano Mech.
- Regenerating Health: Of the restore-health-upon-making-a-kill variety. The Nano Mech's Viscera Nanobots passive causes the Hazardous Mechs to regain health upon a direct kill — this includes Vek that are pushed into each other or are drowned or pushed into pits, but not Vek that take damage from burning or blocking emerging Vek.
- Self-Destructive Charge: Leap Mech and Unstable Mech (per the name) have attacks so powerful that they risk shaking the Mechs to pieces every time they use them.
The Secret SquadHumanity's last hope are a blend of Machine and Vek created to defend Earth.
Each of the three has the same special ability and the same class (Cyborg):
Special Ability: "Vek" Normal Pilots cannot be equipped. Loses 25 XP when the unit is disabled. In addition, cyborg units must spend one additional reactor core to equip any weapons other than their default loadouts.
- Area of Effect: When upgraded, Taaxetizl and Xakran's attacks have the ability to target multiple tiles in a row. Since Xakran's lobbed explosive goo also pushes, this gives it one of the largest push radiuses in the game when fully upgraded, outdone only by the Hermes Engines, a rush attack which doesn't deal damage.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Like all Vek.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Technically they are playable, but the only way to unlock them requires fulfilling basically every achievement in the game, with all the runs that entails.
- A Commander Is You: Another Generalist Faction to cap things off. All three units can both damage and push enemies, and Techno-Hornet and Techno-Scarab can be upgraded to hit multiple squares for heavy damage. They don't have quite as much staying power as the Rift Walkers, but deal more damage when upgraded.
- Cyborg: Vek with mech parts implanted to bring them under human control.
- Fragile Speedster: Taaxetizl has a base speed of 4 and 2 HP. When fully upgraded, he can attack up to 3 tiles in a line for 3 damage.
- Kaiju: Like all Vek.
- Magikarp Power:
- They don't deal much damage when first starting out, but get them to full level and they can deal 3 damage to multiple squares per round, plus any bump damage they rack up along the way.
- Their shared "pilot" ability means that they have less to fear from being disabled than a human pilot. 25 XP is still a fair amount, but especially as you get closer to the maximum of 75, it's considerably less of a concern than losing a pilot and having to start over from square one, or worse, falling back on an artificial pilot.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Vek are effectively their own pilots, gaining XP and abilities over time. They require an additional reactor core to enable any weapon other than the ones they start with. If a Vek is disabled, it loses 25 XP but still returns in the next battle.
- Monster Allies: Tamed Vek, fighting to save humanity instead of destroy it.
- Ramming Always Works: Kxlatl, as one of the Vek's stag beetles, has a charge attack. Ramming Speed is weaker than Charge Mech's charge, but doesn't damage Kxlatl, and can be upgraded to leave smoke behind your starting tile.
- Secret Character: Only unlockable after all other squads are unlocked and all achievements are completed. Most other squads cost between 3 and 6 coins, earned by unlocking achievements; the Secret Squad costs 25.
- Squishy Wizard: Xakran is a ranged unit with only 2 base HP, who focuses on AoE damage and pushing enemies.
- Strong and Skilled: When fully upgraded, they can deal 3 damage to multiple tiles per round while retaining an extensive ability to push enemies.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: Despite being grounded Vek, Kxlatl and Xakran don't die if they enter the water unlike their enemy counterparts.
- Token Heroic Orc: The only heroic Vek in the entire game. Justified, as their cyborg implants bring them under human control.
- The Unpronounceable: Their names are vaguely Aztec-sounding consonant mashups. That they have names at all begs a few questions as to what degree the Time Travelers have been able to communicate with the Secret Squad.
- Weak, but Skilled: They start out only being able to deal 1 damage each, but have good map coverage and control effects. Graduate to Strong and Skilled if you can fully upgrade their starting weapons.
Four corporations safeguard and govern the last survivors of humanity against the seemingly unstoppable forces of the Vek. The following tropes apply to all four corporations:
- Benevolent Boss: All of them care about their people and have put profit aside in favor of doing whatever must be done to win the war against the Vek.
- Escort Mission: Protecting the trains on each island, the various Old Earth war machines on Archive, and the attacking robots on Pinnacle. Frequently a One-Hit Point Wonder. The train has 2 HP, but is disabled after the first hit, turning it into a Protection Mission instead.
- Honest Corporate Executive: The CEOs all seem well-intentioned and genuinely heroic. They're the last enclaves of humanity, and while they operate on corporate lines, their bottom line is saving the world and preserve what little is left, not concern about any future profit.
- R.S.T. CEO Jessica Kern used to be an absolutely ruthless businesswoman, and not above employing corporate espionage to stay ahead — see Abe Isamu's backstory for details — but the war with the Vek has changed her priorities, as well as making her methods seem that much more reasonable when used against the Vek.
- Mission Control: Each CEO serves as this for their island. Jessica Kern is also this during the endgame attack on the Volcanic Hive.
- One Nation Under Copyright: A benevolent example, a fairly superficial distinction between forms of government, under the circumstances. All other governments have passed away with the rest of Old Earth. The islands each bear the name of their patron corporation, and are ruled by their CEOs.
- Protection Mission: A common side objective is to protect the various special grid buildings, most of which are One Hit-Point Wonders, though the various functional buildings will usually have 2.
Archive, Inc. rules over an island designed to look like Earth as it once was, temperate and scenic. They also maintain a number of examples of Old Earth technology.
- Arcadia: Downplayed, but Archive's lack of advanced technology, green forests, and unspoiled waters stand out compared to the other islands, basically because Archive's island is apparently like a national park where parts are intentionally left undeveloped.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: By the standards of the futuristic setting, the fact that Dewey Alms wears a 20th century suit and works in a wood-paneled office full of dead-tree books certainly stands out.
- Born in the Wrong Century: CEO Dewey Alms calls himself a relic, but doesn't look that old. Still, he certainly can't be faulted for being a fan of what Archive does, given the state of the rest of the world.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: In different missions Archive fields antique fighter jets, old tanks, and missile artillery to support the player. It's all surprisingly effective.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A whole corporation built on preserving history seems a bit strange, compared to the the primary industries of the other islands. All you can really say is that Archive seems like a pleasant, possibly even somewhat dull place to live and work. When you reach the other islands, you can see what an achievement that is.
- Cool Train: An old diesel locomotive. Well, Dewey thinks it's cool, alright? And he calls it Horace.
- Family Business: Dewey frequently mentions his grandfather when speaking of his duty to history and Old Earth.
- Fan of the Past: It's the future and unbelievable technologies might exist, but Archive does everything they can to turn their island into a living museum of the past. Given that the whole of humanity has been reduced to living under constant attack by the Vek, it's hard to blame them.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The Tidal Wave hazard turns any tile it hits into water, including reducing mountains to rubble. Luckily Archive's buildings are built to take it.
- Green Hill Zone: The first island you're required to save, and full of verdant parkland as opposed to the desert, tundra, and industrial wasteland of the other islands.
- Land Mine Goes "Click!": Overlaps with Incredibly Obvious Bomb — the mines are gigantic and highly visible even if they didn't also feature flashing red lights. The Vek still don't seem to notice them, however, nor do they seem to be able to avoid the blast zone when Archive launches a satellite.
- Lethal Joke Character: Their ancient tech is unreliable and none of them are really trained in how to use it — their air strikes are a menace, and everyone seems to know it. Yet they're also seemingly the safest island, and for every danger they pose to the unwary Mech pilot, double that for the Vek. It's remarkable how much help those old bombers, tanks, and artillery pieces can be.
- Making a Splash: Has more water, fresh and salt, than any other island. Bursting dams and incoming tidal waves can make a mess of earthbound Vek.
- Ragnarök Proofing: While they can't stand up to direct Vek attack, Archive's buildings have stood for centuries and can take hits from tidal waves that submerge whole mountains.
- Ye Goode Olde Days: A whole island dedicated to preserving their memory.
R.S.T. rules a desert island ravaged by their use of terraforming techologies against the Vek. Their island is constantly at risk from extreme storm conditions.
- Big Good: CEO Jessica Kern is the Mission Control for the Volcano Hive assault, and R.S.T. provides the Renfield bomb needed to stand a chance of destroying the Volcanic Hive.
- Bottomless Pits: A combination of the constant terraforming and the Vek's tunneling has opened a great many of these across the island. The Cataclysm mission hazard involves half the map falling into an enormous sinkhole, a product of runaway terraforming, at a rate of one row per round.
- Catch Phrase: Any time a grid building is destroyed, or an objective is failed:Kern: ...Careless.
- Deadly Dust Storm: R.S.T.'s desert tiles turn into smoke/dust clouds when attacked. Hindering giant Mechs and Vek as much as they do, one can only imagine what they'd do at a human-sized scale.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Their specialty is terraforming, which they can do on the fly: leveling mountains, filling in chasms, and turning any terrain into barren desert over the course of a single round.
- Going Down with the Ship: When the grid goes offline...Kern: It is over. Escape if you can... I will die here, with my people.
- Good Is Not Nice: Jessica Kern is an unyielding, suspicious, hypercritical Moral Pragmatist and Perpetual Frowner, but she's willing to do anything to stop the Vek, and won't run or shirk her responsibilities to the very last.
- Hostile Terraforming: Able and willing to turn what few patches of greenery remain on their island into desert and demolish entire mountain ranges if it means one less foothold for the Vek.
- Hostile Weather: Lightning strikes will kill any unit they hit.
- I Did What I Had to Do: The corporation as a whole has a reputation for this, with CEO Kern and Abe Isamu being prominent cases.
- Iron Lady: The supremely self-assured Kern is the oldest CEO: tough, sharp-tongued, and generally dismissive of the player from the time they arrive.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: CEO Kern openly doubts you're from the future and strongly criticizes you for any failed objectives. She still helps you without prior promises, and later proves key to defeating the Vek even if you haven't saved her island that playthrough, praising you (albeit grudgingly) if you impress her.
- She won't make light of deaths, including your pilots — she'll berate them while they're alive, but swear to avenge them if they die. Part of the reason she's so hard on you is because the stakes are humanity's very survival — you might be able to time travel away, but the rest of them can't.
- Further evidence of these tendencies can be read in Camila Vera's backstory — she apparently adopted twenty kids.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. If the Renfield Bomb is destroyed in the last mission, Kern reveals that R.S.T. did the smart thing and built a large supply of backups, though it adds more turns to the countdown due to needing more time to arm the new bombs.
- Protection Mission: In addition to the usual types, R.S.T. has an Earth Mover, which will fill in a large Bottomless Pit over the course of a mission, and a Terraformer, which is used to destroy the surviving greenery on R.S.T. as well as killing any surviving Vek.
- You may also need to protect two prototype Renfield Bombs, a Call-Forward to the final mission, where you'll need to protect the real thing until it detonates, blowing the Vek's Volcanic Hive sky-high. The protoypes have only 1 HP each — the real bomb has 4.
- Shifting Sand Land: The island is mostly sand, bare rock, huge dunes, plunging canyons, and mountains.
- Shock and Awe: Not only does their island have unusually powerful lightning storms stirred up by their constant terraforming, but the mechs in R.S.T. squads are also usually armed with lightning weapons.
- Terraforming: The corporation's business is the wholesale re-landscaping of what little remaining land mass exists on Earth.
Pinnacle Robotics fights both against the Vek and rogue robots of their own design on an icy island. Their CEO is Zenith, herself an advanced artificial intelligence.
- All-Loving Hero: Believes that humans and sentient machines are equally important, and that the Vek are a threat to all life.
- Androids Are People, Too: Zenith hopes you accept this, and several Pinnacle objectives are about sparing and/or defending sentient machines who've gone rogue. Most humans from Pinnacle feel the same way, and the generic pilot from Pinnacle is an AI.Zenith: These machines are not currently themselves. Look past their malfunctioning aggression, and see them as living beings.
- Artificial Intelligence: Zenith isn't just the CEO of Pinnacle, she's also a product, being an AI herself.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Many rogue war robots are loose on Pinnacle's island. One possible boss for their island is also a rogue robot that's managed to control some of the Vek. Pinnacle CEO Zenith comments that if they could figure out how it did it they could finish the war tomorrow. Averted in the case of Zenith, who's an AI herself, but no less determined to save humanity, and other life, from the Vek.
- Deflector Shields: Shield technology was developed here first (Bethany Jones was one of the project leads), before it spread to the rest of the islands. Both Zenith Guard and the Frozen Titans make use of it, as does (unfortunately) the Bot Leader boss.
- Freeze Ray: Some of their squad's weapons are ice-based and in some missions you may be assisted by Pinnacle tanks with freeze beams.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming:Zenith: My creator did not seek to teach me 'vengeance'... but she did not have to see the horror of the Vek.
- Hologram: Zenith's avatar is a light blue hologram.
- Hologram Projection Imperfection: Zenith's holographic avatar lacks a lower half and is even more pixelated than the rest of the art style, represented by monochrome hatching rather than multiple shades of blue.
- Hostile Weather: The Ice Storm hazard freezes all units and structures in a 3x3 grid.
- Innocently Insensitive: Zenith mostly avoids falling into the smugness of fellow AI Archimedes, but she does occasionally say things which might seem a little... condescending. She presumably means it kindly:Zenith: [a pilot levels up] Humans gain knowledge more slowly than machines, but it is worthy of celebration when you do!
- North Is Cold, South Is Hot: Subverted. Pinnacle is north of the searing desert of R.S.T., but south of the temperate Archive. All four islands are stated to have artificial climates.
- Land Mine Goes "Click!": Much the same as Archive's mines, except Pinnacles are being actively laid by malfunctioning robot mine layers and freeze the target rather than destroying them.
- One-Hit Point Wonder: Pinnacle's various berserk robots. This can be a problem when your mission is to try and protect them.
- Prescience by Analysis: Zenith again:Zenith: Excellent news: my prognosticator sub-process has dramatically increased the odds of our survival based on your victory.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snowy plains, frozen rivers, and buildings and enemies encased in ice.
- Theme Naming: The company's name is Pinnacle, and the CEO's name is Zenith. Zenith also lends her name to the Zenith Guard Mech squad.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The robots on Pinnacle have gone berserk, some blindly pursuing their programmed functions, some mindlessly attacking — although given their armament, one might amount to the same thing as the other.
- This is also implied to have happened in the backstory, with the end result being that Sentient robots were given equal rights as humans.
- Weather-Control Machine: Zenith mentions that they keep the weather cold to help with hardware overheating problems.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: CEO Zenith is an AI herself, but assures you that she cares for her mechanical and organic employees equally. She will sometimes request you to capture rogue robots instead of killing them, and considers killing them unethical.
Detritus Disposal is a waste processing and recycling corporation, and as a result, their island is ash-grey and covered in rivers of corrosive acid.
- Beam Spam: The Zenith Guard squad is said to use their beam technology, and that squad has both a Tractor Beam unit as well as a ridiculously powerful damage beam unit (balanced by its equally ridiculous potential for friendly fire).
- Benevolent Boss: CEO Vikram Singh is seemingly very hands-on when it comes to the safety and happiness of Detritus personnel, based on his dialogue.
- By-the-Book Cop: Safety and efficiency are Vikram Singh's watchwords, a trait he seems to pass along to his employees. Fortunately he also knows when to bend the rules:Singh: While teleporting biomatter is prohibited by the Corporate Accords, I can make an exception for you — and the Vek.
- Dark Is Not Evil: They have the gloomiest island and specialize in use of A.C.I.D and poison in their mechs. Their CEO is also a Benevolent Boss and it treats his workers like family.
- Death Notification: When civilian buildings are destroyed in Detritus, Vikram says he'll inform the family himself. Generic Detritus pilots will actually say the same thing on other islands.
- Down in the Dumps: Their island to a tee.
- Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: Vikram's office has this aesthetic, right down to his laptop being a very clear faux MacBook. The rest of the island...not so much.
- A Father to His Men: The generic Detritus pilots mention Vikram in random dialogue quite a bit, and some of their comments echo things he says to you. Funnily enough, Singh seems to be the youngest CEO, with frequent mention of his predecessor in dev comments.
- Hollywood Acid: Called "A.C.I.D", puddles of it cause units that stop their movement in it to take additional damage. Just as green, flowing, and glowing as you'd expect. It's apparently comprised of nanites.
- Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: A feature/hazard of some Detritus maps, marked by handy arrows and activating automatically on the environment phase.
- Mordor: You could make a case for R.S.T. as well, but Detritus has the color palette of Minas Morgul and is the last island you unlock. Subverted, however, in that Detritus is apparently a great company to work for, and produces considerable loyalty in its employees.
- Protection Mission: A helpful case with the Disposal Unit, which has 2 HP and launches volleys of A.C.I.D. which can reduce mountain ranges to rubble, along with killing off any Vek who happen to get in the way.
- Ramming Always Works: Zenith Guard features a (presumably) Detritus tank that initially can only attack by ramming, but does a fair amount of damage to its target (and a bit to itself).
- Slogan:Singh: To quote our corporate motto, 'Detritus is at your disposal'.
- Swap Teleportation: Teleport pads on Detritus's company island will swap two targets occupying connected pads, which are indicated by having the same color. Teleported targets also maintain orientation.
- Teleporter Accident: Mostly averted — objects on opposite pads will swap places, no Telefragging here — but as Archimedes mentions offhandedly:Archimedes: These last-gen teleporters have been known to cause occasional DNA damage.