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  • Spec Ops: The Line: First there is the Damned 33rd, who can only maintain order in a crumbled society through draconian martial law; then there is the Exiled 33rd, rebelling against a leadership they view to be suicidal and insane; the Emirati insurgency, defending their people against what they see as murderous invaders; the CIA, who on Riggs' side attempt to prevent a larger war from breaking out at the cost of ending this one, and on Gould's side prioritize rescuing the populace; and of course the player's faction, Delta Squad, who are only trying to "save the day". Unfortunately, the conflicting interests of all these groups will result in almost everyone getting killed, in no small part due to your own actions.
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  • Welcome to The Secret World, who would you like to side with? The ultra-capitalist, power-brokering Illuminati? The militant, overzealous Templars? Or perhaps the chaos-theory-chasing, 'interpretive terrorist' Dragon? And then there's the NPC factions, which are arguably better and/or worse, to varying degrees.
  • Brink: The developers said they wanted to avert both La Résistance vs The Empire, and good cops versus evil terrorists. And did they do it well! To illustrate, their respective leaders, Chen and Mokoena, are both decent and morally dubious alike in their own way. They both have noble goals: Chen wants to send a scouting party to find land and have equal resources and rights for Guests and Founders, and Mokoena doesn't want the Ark to descend into anarchy and wants them all to work together, and is just trying to keep the ark safe. And its also made clear that the Resistance and Security have their fair share of the "I'm doing what I have to" and "total bastard" mentalities.
  • EVE Online has the major (and the minor) groups exhibit this trope in droves. The capsuleers, on the other hand, have Blue and Orange Morality as a result of being immortal spaceship pilots neurally connected into their very ships and being subjected to an unending cycle of being killed and resurrected in a clone.
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    • The Gallente Federation are all about freedom, democracy, and self determination. Except when they brutally crack down on dissent in the wake of the Empyrean Wars, turning into a brutal police state. Also, their conflict with the Caldari really only started when they forced them off their homeworld for wanting out. Also, they're French.
    • The Caldari State is a ruthless, hypercapitalistic society run by Corrupt Corporate Executives where you are a citizen of your megacorporation, not the state itself. They also have this nasty militaristic tendency. However, all their militarism is motivated by their desire to reclaim their homeworld from the Gallente and they are the one true meritocracy with actual social mobility in New Eden.
    • The Amarr Empire bring order, civilization, and progress to a desolate galaxy. They also bring enslavement, indoctrination, and religious zealotry in their fanatical belief that conquering New Eden is their destiny.
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    • The Minmatar Republic are former slaves who overthrew the chains of repression and are fighting to free their brothers and sisters still trapped under Amarrian tyranny. Which would be great, if it weren't for the fact that they are a fractious, bickering group of tribal peoples with a standard of living along the lines of a third world country.
    • The Angel Cartel appear to be this, too. They are competent (more so than the Republic) and they are quite popular wherever they rule. A storyline event even involved a group of Minmatar systems voting to be moved to under the control of the Cartel. However, they are still a criminal organization with their fair share of dirty laundry, engaging in slavery, drug-trading, kidnapping, and terrorism in general.
  • In the story of Warframe, the Tenno first seem like the saviors of a system in terrible need of them, fighting against the corrupt Corpus and the imperious Grineer. Looking closer at their objectives, however, reveals that the factions all have their reasons for wanting to succeed. The Grineer want to control the system with the rules and boundaries that fell apart after the Orokin empire's fall, while the Corpus want to revive the fallen Orokin technology and bring mankind back into prominence. The Tenno even get a case of What the Hell, Hero? when it's revealed that they are the ones who destroyed the Orokin empire in the first place and so caused the system to fall into its disrepair.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: The conflict between Freedom and Duty is this, combined with Order Versus Chaos. Duty are a faction of grizzled ex-military types who believe The Zone is an abomination that threatens the world and should be destroyed. Freedom are a group of anarchists and thrill-seekers that believe The Zone is a miracle that provides beneficial eldritch artifacts and therefore should be freely accessed by the public. Neither is especially nicer than the other, and they both have their share of dicks and nice guys.
  • This is a major theme in Pokémon Black and White, which pits the protagonist, Unova Gym Leaders, and other characters (united by their love of battling) against the Animal Wrongs-leaning Team Plasma. Each side decries the other's morality as misguided and hypocritical, and many fans found themselves siding with Team Plasma - or at least against the "good guys."
  • The Succession Crisis in Dragon Age: Origins. The Dwarf origin stories give you some pretty clear reasons for supporting each. Commoners would want to support Bhelen because he fights to end the oppressive caste system and wants to open the country more to the outside. Nobles would want to support Harrowmont because it's their father's wishes and he's more "Traditional". You also have a personal reason for doing so, Harrowmont is a very nice guy and a Reasonable Authority Figure, as he fights hard to make sure the dwarf noble is given a fair trial. Bhelen meanwhile fights hard to get to the throne...to near sociopathic levels, as he's rightfully suspected of killing his older brother and getting his other sibling blamed for it. note  To a Commoner, Harrowmount is a classist asshole to you while Bhelen is not only polite and respectful, he's your sister's loving fiance (and later husband). Oh, and to keep things up, Bhelen, if chosen, becomes a dictator who leads his city into a new era of prosperity. Harrowmont meanwhile dies partly due to the stress of ruling and causes Orzammar to fall into decay while expanding its isolationist practices.
  • Just about all of Dragon Age II which manages to be even grayer than its predecessor. The mages, chantry, and qunari are ready to tear each other apart and all of them have good people and bad people or have different morals all together. All have good reasons to be pissed at the others and all have their own major flaws. It gets very difficult to see anybody as a major villain because there is really no white or black. Though all sides are closer to the black on the gray scale. To fully lay out the rock-paper-scissors of insanity:
    • The Chantry and their affiliated Templar Order are simply executing its position of keeping mages in check, given that mages in this game have completely unpredictable degrees of power and are walking demon magnets. They do so by setting up their Circle (barracks for their Templar Order and a mage prison in all but name) in the former SLAVE PITS oh so quaintly named "The Gallows". The "alternative", in their opinion, is a fate like the Tevinter Imperium, which is ruled over by Magisters who thoroughly abuse their magic to stay in power.
    • The mages are rebelling against the overt cruelty of the Templars, seemingly worse in Kirkwall than anywhere else, up to and including making mages Tranquil for such things as talking about someone ELSE'S escape attempt. Of course, halfway through the game you learn about a significant mage rebellion in the works which, while in response to this abuse, is shown to be willing to sacrifice - sometimes literally - any number of innocents to achieve its goal.
    • The Qunari follow the Qun, a set of ideals wholly separate from every other nation. They are as confused by the way the "bas" (their term for non-Qun-followers, literally "things") run around all willy-nilly without a "purpose" in life: that "purpose" being a singular role assigned at birth with literally no deviation until you die. Even so much as wanting to retire from the life of a soldier is considered equivalent to heresy and treason rolled into one. They won't hesitate to kill if they feel it appropriate, but will also show respect to people with strong personal convictions. Act 2 ends with the Qunari holed up in Kirkwall getting fed up of the "chaos" around them and trying to take over... and very nearly succeeding.
  • Fire Emblem
    • Daein and Crimea engage in this for most of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (taking it so far that you, the player, actually control a party from each country at different points, even when those two parties fight each other) before finally banding together against the unequivocally black morality of Begnion's corrupt senate.
  • When it comes to player races, World of Warcraft is surprisingly nuanced in terms of morality. Not only do all of the races indulge in truly unpleasant spin-off factions that can be killed by both sides, but you'll also find yourself accidentally doing unpleasant things for your allies, who often turn out to be sadists, murderers and major, MAJOR extremists who wipe out villages, torture prisoners and murder the innocent.
    • With hindsight, you've probably helped to destroy a few small and insignificant outposts yourself in the name of preventing further expansion.
      • In one example in the Stonetalon Mountains, you join Krom'Gar's army and work your way up through his ranks. He then murders some innocents and drops a nuke (kind of) on the land. He's executed, and you nearly get executed by Garrosh too for all the help you inadvertently gave him while questing eagerly for ranks. Whenever you realise that you've been helping a total psycho, it's something of an Oh, Crap! moment.
    • This is actually a result of lore development. In the original Real-Time Strategy games, Warcraft was a pretty bog-standard Black and White Morality setup; you had the orcs, who were battle-crazed monsters who invaded from another world, and you had the humans, who were just trying to defend themselves from a surprise attack. In the second game, the orcs added the Dumb Muscle Ogres and the cannibalistic Hollywood Voodoo-practicing trolls to their armies, whilst humans forged a mutual defence pact with the peaceful elves, dwarves and gnomes. It wasn't until the third game that things became more morally complex, with the orcs being revealed as a once-peaceful, shamanistic race corrupted by dark magic and demonic influence into the monsters of prior games, and the Alliance being revealed as having thrown the surviving orcs into brutal internment camps after defeating them.
  • In Odin Sphere, none of the principle protagonists are evil, but many of them staunchly oppose one another for various reasons, and all of their assorted actions lead to The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Battle for Wesnoth has this in the campaign Descent into Darkness. You control a young mage apprentice who takes up dark magic (read: animating corpses) to defend his town, and is exiled. His sister, the town guard, holy knights who show up for no reason but to piss you off in the hardest mission of the campaign all wish to have him killed. He takes revenge on them. In the end, it's mostly black versus black or black versus grey (with you playing the part of a very borderline black) but until they drop an anvil on you and have you fight endlessly repeating (and rather easy) battles against random commanders, you never genuinely know who to root for.
  • This is the theme of the Tales Series series. Ever since Phantasia, the seemingly vilest of antagonists has at minimum a lofty goal in mind, and the most noble of protagonists is either hiding something, misguided, or aiding and abetting someone who is either hiding something or misguided.
    • Phantasia: Dhaos only wanted to revive his dying world of Derris-Kharlan using the mana seed of Aselia, but his brutal methods and refusal to explain his side until it was too late is the only thing keeping Cless and his allies from becoming Villain Protagonists.
    • Destiny 2: Fortuna isn't all that evil. She wants to give eternal happiness to humanity. At worst, she has Blue and Orange Morality, being a goddess. She has two saints, one wanting humanity to decide how to best make its own happiness and the other being a Well-Intentioned Extremist who thinks Brainwashing for the Greater Good is the only answer. They both want to save the world, they just have very different ways of going about it. The heroes aren't all squeaky clean either- While Kyle genuinely wants to be a hero, Judas was a nasty traitor in his past life and Harold is a Comedic Sociopath who joined the quest for kicks, while Loni's a Noble Bigot. Also, while Elraine's methods are over the top, the people in her cities were happy with their lives.
    • Symphonia: Mithos simply wanted to save the world from its own racist self by holding back progress and running "human ranches", and everything else he does is either for this for for Martel's sake. Lloyd's actions lead to much death and destruction as he changes the system, and Mithos's fears of technological abuse is proven right, as the next 4000 years between Symphonia and Phantasia can attest to.
    • Abyss: Van only wanted to Screw Destiny and destroy the Score, the near-mindless obedience of which has caused the destruction of his native Hod. Mohs is determined to follow it to the letter, believing it to be the Auldrant's only path to progress. On the heroes' side, Luke is a Jerkass extraordinaire, Tear keeps to herself all the time, Guy trusts Van, Jade was once a morally-ambiguous scientist, Anise is a gold-digger with good reason, and Natalia is revealed to be an adopted commoner. The only thing that kept Luke and company with A Lighter Shade of Grey is Character Development (especially Luke's traumatic transformation from Spoiled Brat to Nice Guy).
    • Vesperia: Alexei wanted to use Zaude to force the world to stop its reliance on blastia which is slowly killing it — unaware that it is actually the seal to an Eldritch Abomination. Yeager is an amoral mercenary who gives his earnings to an orphanage and has adopted two girls to be his sidecicks. On the heroes' side, Yuri is more than willing to stain his hands with blood in the name of justice, while Flynn believes in the power of law and order to the point of overlooking the basics of morality. As for the overarching plot, it comes down to a debate between preservation of nature at humanity's expense versus alteration of nature to suit human needs at expense of other lifeforms.
  • The war between the Messians and Gaians in Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II works a little like this, if you don't see it as Evil: the former are basically a well-meaning, Lawful Good people ruled by a group of genocidal Knight Templars, and the latter are mostly a bunch of Chaotic Evil anarchists ruled over by a few wiser demons that either want to stop the Messians from carrying out their Utopia Justifies the Means plan or wish to achieve true freedom from the oppressive reign of God. The closest thing to a compromise that you can achieve is deciding to destroy both groups.
    • In Devil Survivor, it gets even more complicated. Agree to serve God, and you bring about world peace and freedom from sin by going Knight Templar on humanity and eradicating sin. Become the King of Demons, and you lead demonkind against God, but risk the annihilation of humanity should you be defeated. Or you can give the power of Bel to humanity as a whole, leading the world into a technological revolution powered by enslaved demons, or abandon the throne and return the world to normal. So long as you make a choice and don't shirk your responsibilities, no choice is the wrong one.
  • In the first Deus Ex, while the Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive with A God Am I complex Bob Page is definitely evil, the ending has you choose to follow the advice of one of three opposing factions, each insisting that their plan is for the best and that the other plans have major drawbacks. And they're all, to an extent, right.
    • In the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, while certain factions may come across as more or less positive, all have philosophies it's possible to sympathize with, while also being somewhat morally dubious. In the end you must pick between them, with no defined "good" or "bad" choice. You can also follow your own path and kill everybody, which backfires horribly (duh).
    • The prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution continues the tradition by asking you to side with one of three competing viewpoints regarding human augmentation and subsequently nudge the public interest in that direction... But you also get a fourth choice where you can refuse all of them and leave the world's to decide it's own fate (of course being a prequel to the first Deus Ex, the results are pretty much foregone no matter what you decide).
  • The three player factions (Humans, Mutants, and Biomeks) of Auto Assault were set up to be like this, but when you really look into it the Humans turn out to be the biggest bastards of the bunch, even if they were originally doing it to ensure their survival.
  • Command & Conquer started off with GDI as heroic good guys fighting against the evil Nod. However, later games revealed that Nod actually has reasons for fighting, and a number of the higher-ups in GDI are rather dodgy.
    • There's a major What the Hell, Player? moment in C&C 3, as if you're playing as GDI (the "good" guys), on the last mission you can choose to use a bomb that will kill hundreds of millions and destroy all of Europe. For this, the rational General who seemed like a pretty stand-up guy resigns in disgust, and the slimy politician (whose incompetence was all part of Kane's Plan) promotes you.
  • Ace Combat series:
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War features a war between Osea and Yuktobania… until it becomes known that the Belkans had been infiltrating high-ranking positions on both sides, essentially setting up a war of mutual destruction as vengeance for losing a previous war. By the end, both superpowers team up and collectively beat the tar out of the interlopers.
    • For Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, while the Belkans do not seem to have overt good going for them, Cipher can slide along the scale of greyness depending on how many crippled or civilian targets he goes after. A World With No Boundaries are Well-Intentioned Extremists who seek to bring about a One World Order and eliminate the political boundaries that lead to fighting... It's a pity they have to use a nuke to do so.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri isn't so much about "being neutral" as about "being way too worried about surviving in this Death World of mind raping worms and deadly fungi." However, the playable factions in the game run through the entire gamut of Character Alignment; according to those pages, the dominant alignment is True Neutral (with a total of 4 factions), and frequent references are made to factions being forced to forget morality when it comes to survival, despite the character being a good governor and caring about their people.
    • Attempting to lump any of those factions into anything resembling an alignment has more to do with the player's agreement with that faction's rhetoric than actual in-game observation. Example: Lady Deirdre Sky and the (supposedly) peace-loving tree huggers actually breeding and using said mind-raping worms as a military, or Chairman Yang really just promoting social harmony. Once you've played a game where Brother Lal (leader of the so-called "Pacifist" faction) or Lady Deirdre are that game's evil empire who starts dropping planet busters on you when you start picking apart their faction (a war which almost invariably occurs because -they- declared war on you for not giving in to their extortion demands), you begin to understand that Alpha Centauri truly does live this trope.
      • Indeed, every faction represents a rather broad philosophy on human kind, and every faction will use evil strategies particularly against a rising faction who's philosophy they see as evil. The Peacekeepers for instance favor diplomacy and democracy, so they're inevitably against you having any government (no matter how effective and moral) except democracy, and if you don't they're willing to massacre your people to change your regime by force. If you're not a police state, the Hive will be against you because they think religious states are stupid and that voting power in the hands of the weak masses leads to decadence, chaos and corruption. If you're not a theocratic state the Believers are against you. If you're not using the capitalist economic model Morgan Industries will think you're stifling economic progress and you need replacing. If you're not using a green economic model then the Gaians will treat you like you're exploiting and destroying the oh so pure environment and are evil. The Spartans will only respect people who value power and the University will only respect those who value knowledge. No matter what, some factions will dislike you and thus insult, harass, threaten, demand, and even attack you. You have to find deal with them one way or another. None of the core factions are necessarily bad, even the Hive can be very good for humanity, it's just a tightly controlled harsh parenting sort of good. Certain factions lend themselves better towards doing particular evil things because they get better bonuses (or less penalties) for those things, the Hive easily can and usually will default to wicked self interested tyranny rather than being some kind of ethical enlightened philosopher king. But even the most noble seeming factions can and will support their leader ordering outrageous and evil things, and they will be an asshole to you if you're not on their side. Even the most evil seeming factions, or the factions most dead set against you can be peacefully negotiated with, appeased and won over through multiple nonmilitary victory conditions.
  • The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games break away from the typical Black and White Morality of the Force, especially in the second game, leading to plenty of Alternative Character Interpretation. On one hand, the Jedi, while trying to do the right thing, have a well-deserved reputation for being manipulative, closed-minded, and paralyzed with indecision in the face of crisis so soon after the previous one where they made a lot of mistakes. On the other, the Sith were led by a man who Jumped at the Call to protect the innocent, then (according to one untrustworthy source) "sacrificed himself" to the Dark Side and launched his own invasion as part of a master plan to provoke the Republic into preparing for some of the really evil things out there.
  • The Fable series plays with this Trope, especially with the character of Theresa. Played straight with Logan in the third game who, like Revan, became a vicious tyrant merely because he wanted to strengthen his country to fight The Crawler.
  • Depending on how you count, there have been between 7 and 12 playable factions in the five Geneforge games. All except Rawal and the Barzites can make a decent argument for themselves, and all except arguably the Awakened have Kicked the Dog at least once.
  • Xenosaga explicitly invokes this trope. Both The Federation and the Corrupt Church have a significant amount of innocent blood on their hands. Shion and her allies are frankly little different than Margulis' crew, all the Testaments believe they are bringing about a perfect universe for humanity, and Wilhelm manipulated all of history into a Stable Time Loop in order to keep the universe from dissipating entirely.
  • The companies Reliable Excavation and Demolition and Builder's League United in Team Fortress 2 are an interesting case - the motives and morality of both sides are identical. It isn't grey-on-grey, though because the motives and morality of both sides seem to be "World Domination", and "In The Gutter", respectively, making it black-on-black.
    • Considering the Evil Overlady announcer voice is identical for both sides, there is a potential possibility — later eventually confirmed by official tie-in comics — that both teams are working for the same boss.
  • The Suikoden series, most notably Suikoden II, is praised for this trope, presenting the characters as humans in a compromising situation, instead of personifications of good or evil. It is very rare to find a hero who is completely morally sound (except possibly the main characters), yet it is also rare to find a most malicious villain who is purely and irredeemably evil (...except Luca Blight). While this keeps the stories from becoming too simple or cliche, it also gives an interesting human perspective to the bizarre and often supernatural happenings that occur.
  • In Yggdra Union, every major army is neither wholly good or evil — even the bandits are just taking advantage of others to survive, the Big Bad is a Well-Intentioned Extremist and a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and the society that broke him so happens to be a bunch of Knight Templars being manipulated by a Villain with Good Publicity. The Royal Army, despite being the heroes, are not exempt from this — they commit several atrocities over the course of the game, just to hammer home the point that War Is Hell. The only unambiguously good character is Yggdra, the heroine, and even then she has severe naivety issues she has to work on.
  • Sigma Star Saga has this in spades: you, the heroic human character, are ordered to do some pretty horrible things by your superior, while the Krill, supposedly aliens hell-bent on Earth's destruction, are actually pretty decent people (with a few glaring exceptions) who harbor no particular ill will towards Earth at all. Turns out that there's a couple of Government Conspiracies on both sides of the conflict who are the truly evil ones, and the vast majority of both humans and Krill are good.
  • Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica is a great example. Despite the fact that almost every character holds the same moral stance from beginning to end, pretty much every antagonist in the game will be considered a valuable ally at some point and nearly every ally gets a respectable stint as an antagonist. Even The Hero is arguably a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and the closest character to true evil is a foreigner trying to save his homeland.
  • Halo probably qualifies:
    • The UNSC is fundamentally well-intentioned, but somewhat heavy-handed with its colonies, and willing to resort to questionable methods for survival. Up to and including the abduction, conditioning, and armament of the children of its own citizens, completely incognito of course.
    • The Insurrectionists had legitimate grievances with the authoritarian facets of the UNSC's administration of the colonies, but an extremist methodology, which includes nuking civilians, puts them squarely in the terrorist camp.
    • The Covenant's highly corrupt (and in some cases, possibly borderline insane) ruling class is conducting a war of extermination against humanity, but the rest of its members are either misguided by religious fervor, expendable slaves for all intents and purposes, otherwise coerced into serving the Covenant, or simply mercenaries with no real grudge against humans. Even the Brutes, who tend to be relatively aggressive and violent by nature, have been portrayed sympathetically in a number of expanded universe works. Indeed, once the Covenant falls apart at the end of Halo 3, a number of its former members go on to happily work with humans.
    • The Forerunners did mostly genuinely believe in the Mantle, their core ideology that revolved around protecting the galaxy and its inhabitants, but their technological superiority eventually turned them into arrogant, socially-stagnant imperialists who kept their client species weak and subservient, and when the Flood came knocking, they could ultimately only protect the galaxy by wiping out all unindexed life in the galaxy in a desperate last resort plan — which could be interpreted as a Heroic Sacrifice or the cost of their foolishness, depending on how idealistic/cynical one is.
    • The Flood had killed and infected trillions of people, but their leading hive mind, Gravemind, sincerely believes that he simply bring peace and prosperity to a galaxy which simply doesn't understand the Flood due to ignorance and fear ...though The Forerunner Saga muddles this somewhat by directly noting that the Flood were created in part to be a revenge against the Forerunners by their own Precursors.
  • Der Langrisser definitely falls into this trope. No matter what side you choose you'll end up fighting for peace while doing awful things in the way. There's no possible path that spares you the dramatic scene and the guilt of killing someone decent. You kill Vargas, who's just had a little daughter, and get to watch Leon tell his wife the sad news in the Light path, and you slaughter Scott and his father, in a rather cruel fashion in all others.
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, despite the many changes in the story's overall tone over many games, one theme remains constant: no one faction is exclusively good or evil. Wei appears to be antagonistic, but Cao Cao is a pragmatic, Affably Evil chessmaster backed by warriors of laudable personal qualities. Shu is the nominally more heroic faction, but Liu Bei has done some things worth calling out, such as usurping his relative Liu Zhang Because Destiny Says So as well as his assault on Yi Ling, and Dynasty Warriors 7 in particular plays with Alternative Character Interpretation of his strategist/chancellor Zhuge Liang. Wu is the "opportunist" state which takes advantage of the chaos to do as it pleases, but their royal familynote  is depicted as a tight-knit family backed by Sun Ce's sworn brother Zhou Yu and veterans from Sun Jian's days. Flaws aside, each kingdom has their fair share of heroic warriors. Even Zhang Jiao comes off pretty sympathetic, and in his ending he keeps his word in steering his new nation through the "Way of Peace". Even Dong Zhuo, the unambiguously evil Fat Bastard he is, is shown in his Campaign Mode to be desperately trying to salvage his rightful claim as Han emperor from the usurpers taking advantage of his realm's collapse. The Empires games take it a step further — you start out dead-center neutral with whoever you play as, and it's entirely up to you how good or evil your reign is. Of course, part of the reason is that, historically, none of the kingdoms succeeded in unifying China (that would be some last-minute Jin opportunist named Sima Yan), so it's impossible to say who the "hero" or "villain" really was.
  • Speaking of Dynasty Warriors, its Sengoku-themed sister franchise Samurai Warriors, especially the second title, also focuses on this at the battle of Sekigahara. Ishida Mitsunari's side portrays him as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who tends to snark a lot but nevertheless believes in the value of friendship and honor, while showing his opponent Tokugawa Ieyasu as a Fat Bastard who wants to usurp the shogunate from Toyotomi Hideyori. Conversely, Tokugawa's side portrays him as A Father to His Men and a Reasonable Authority Figure, while accusing Mitsunari (especially his ally Naoe Kanetsugu) of hypocrisy, using the words "honor" and "justice" for unsavory ends and ultimately stealing people's freedom. In fact, Samurai Warriors is much grayer than Dynasty Warriors; the only more Obviously Evil character is Fuuma Kotarou, and even he's still grayer than Dong Zhuo.
  • MGS4. The Beauty & Beast Corps are war-scarred women outfitted with advanced nanotechnology and Liquid Ocelot is Good All Along (relatively), is actually the Ocelot from MGS3 pretending to have assimilated Liquid Snake's personality, and is stopping the Patriots' plans. On the good guys' side, Roy Campbell's marriage to Raiden's wife Rosemary was a facade meant to protect her and their supposedly-miscarried son Little John from the Patriots while Raiden is out fighting, and Rat Patrol 01 is the Patriots' Unwitting Pawns — their acronym ("RAT PT 01") can even be rearranged to spell "PATR10T" — who are meant to eliminate Ocelot before he foils their plans — they simply never expected Old Snake to destroy more than just Ocelot. It also turns out that the black-morality Solid Snake-era Patriots are nothing more but a faulty AI system developed by Zero long after he lost faith in humanity following Big Boss's departure, which deviated from the vision of Big Boss, Zero, SIGINT, Para-Medic, EVA and Ocelot — the original Patriots — and built an economy based on warfare, with Zero blissfully unaware (not to mention conveniently catatonic) of what he had wrought.
  • Ditto for the Legacy of Kain series. By the time Defiance rolls around, you're never really sure who's supposed to be the good guy and who the bad guy.
    • The Hylden have a single redeeming feature? Or are we just talking about freakish abominations not imprisoned in another universe?
      • Easy to believe that they were the victims until you realize that their genocide machine was in development before they got banished.
    • The Elder God is a real piece of work too. He's responsible for everything Nosgoth has suffered.
  • In Way of the Samurai, the player is often offered a spot on each and every side of whatever conflict happens to be occurring in the area he's found him/herself in.
    • In the first game, the choices given are to help the Kurou family, who, while admittedly driving an entire town out of their homes in order to sell the land to the government, are really only doing so to ensure their clan's future stability and who generally care about one another; the Akadama group, who are trying to overthrow the government to restore a caste system they pretty much know nothing about and who have no problem kidnapping and extorting to try and get their way, but who are bound by ties of honor and friendship and really are quite noble; and the remaining townsfolk, who are simply trying to survive, but who are willing to stoop to theft and opposition of government officials to achieve said goal. The only truly evil characters in the game are general Tamagawa, who has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, and his ninja subordinate Hyuuma, who is pretty much just a jerk because he can be.
    • The second has even more moral ambiguity. We're given the choice between the Aotou Gang, who are run by an Obviously Evil Jerkass but whose rank and file are shown to be likable fellows who are easily swayed; the town magistrates, who act like the Knights Templar, but truly love their town; and the town militia, who are the working stiffs just trying to live their lives, but who are also involved with prostitution and minor drug dealing. On the other hand, Kyojiro Kagenuma really IS as insane and just plain evil as she appears to be. That she has her own ending (and it's a major Kick the Dog one) is telltale.
  • Final Fantasy XII. To elaborate, on the villain's side we have the machivellian, Affably Evil Prince who wants to become the emperor and restore order to the empire, the Well-Intentioned Extremist Mad Scientist who's working with his demigod Spirit Advisor to overthrow the Jerkass Gods, the Judges who bar one are well-intentioned tools devoted to protecting to law, and the Emperor himself who is trying to keep the Senate from turning his youngest son into a puppet heir while preventing the empire from collapsing into civil war. On the good guys side we have a vengeful, stubborn princess who will stop at nothing (including genocide) to regain her kingdom and pay back the empire for her dead husband, and who nearly becomes the willing puppet of the aforementioned Jerkass Gods to achieve this, a pair of sky pirates who are just in it for the treasure (and one of them knows exactly what the princess is trying to do and where it would lead), an old soldier who's willing to do anything to protect the princess, and finally two slightly naive teenagers, one of whom is a petty thief. In between this lot we have a Marquis-cum-Resistance leader who plays permanent double agent and who's loyalties depend on who is winning, a Rebel general who's willing to sell out his own princess if it means his country will be restored even if it's in name only, an ex-Judge who destroyed an entire city and now resorts to piracy to make up for his sins, and an imperial prince who is caught between caution and preemptive assault in the protection of his nation. The only good character is really the youngest prince, and he suffers from a bad case of naivety and idealism.
  • In Assassin's Creed, both the Assassins and Templars seek a peaceful world, they just apply different methods, and neither side are purely good guys or bad guys. Supposedly. The success Ubisoft had in actually implementing this has been...mixed.
    • In the first game, the overarching theme (which is echoed by Lucy in the present day) is that while the Templars' goals are honorable, the methods they go about attaining them are unacceptable, and thus it's up to the Assassins to thwart them. The entire game is Altair taking out a series of Templar agents, all nasty at best and murderous at worst, each of whom, in dying, tries to convince Altair that he was in the wrong (unsuccessfully), interspersed with a series of conversations with Al-Mualim which reveal little. In the end, it turns out that Al-Mualim was secretly a double agent who had Altair kill the Templars to prevent them from recovering the Apple of Eden, which he uses to enslave the entire population of Masayaf. (He did genuinely want to bring an end to the Crusades, but Altair believed it was wrong for him to do so through the illusion of brotherhood when the assassins had spent the whole time leading him to wisdom without needing mind control.) In the end, none of the unequivocally evil Templars are vindicated in any way, and Altair not only fully redeems himself but completely patches things up with his rivals and eventually succeeds Al-Mualim as grandmaster.
    • Subversion in the three Ezio games. Rodrigo is a blood-drenched tyrant, Cesare is an outright psychopath, and most other Templars are butchers, extortionists, corrupt officials, thieves, usurpers, or shady schemers. There are some exceptions such as the lawyer who acted against his friends out of fear of the Medici, more humble Tragic Villain, and Revelations provides a bit more grey with the more mild minded Palailogos who wants to regain his throne or the more noble intended Ahmet who was "tired of divisions". There's also mentions of how assassin noninterference with overarching politics lead to some defections in the ranks. But overall, the templars are not portrayed in a very positive light. Meanwhile, Ezio originally joined the assassins for revenge, but grew into their talks of freedom and equality over the course of his life. And not only proves his heroism countless times and transforms Rome from a broken-down slum to a beautiful, thriving metropolis pretty much singlehandedly, his Brotherhood becomes a force of good throughout Europe and much of Asia, promoting science and the arts, defending against invaders, and undertaking numerous public works projects.
    • They finally got right in the third game. Ubisoft carefully crafted a balanced outlook of all four factions in The American Revolution (Assassins, Templars, British, and Patriots) in the face of widespread criticism. The British of course have their share of Evil Brits and atrocities, but want to hold their empire together more than anything else, while it's made very clear that the Colonials want freedom, but don't really care for Connor's freedom, and in fact Connor points out the hypocrisy of wanting freedom while owning slaves. Then there's George Washington destroying several native villages, including Connor's home village, which is Truth in Television.
      • The Assassins were Knight In Sour Armor at first in the colonies, while Conner is a man of principle who nonetheless often gets accused of extreme naivete for killing first without thinking of larger context. On the other hand though, he's a generous and protective man, bringing tens of new assassins into the order with promises of safety and prosperity.
      • The templars meanwhile have a variety of motives in being part of the order, but all of them end up having at least something worthwhile to say when discussing their motives and plans. Haytham in particular is a cynical but pragmatic leader who wants to create an order under the templars of equality and peace, but does so in so many unsavory and manipulative ways that he ends up driving his son away from him.
      • Finally, this game introduces a bit of 'Black' into the mix: Juno, who manipulated Assassins and Templars alike to bring about her own resurrection so she could conquer humanity.
    • Black Flag took a step backward. At first the Templars are seen to be participating in activities that, while unsavory by today's standards, were fairly typical for privileged men of the era. (One even chides an associate who expresses disgust at his dealing in slaves, asking how subjugating black men is morally worse than subjugating all men.) Edward becomes a privateer and later pirate for the sole purpose of getting rich, and he's point-blank about this to everyone he meets. There are a few lines he won't cross...he reacts very negatively when someone asks if he's thinking of taking of slaving, for instance...but otherwise has no qualms of sacking ships, putting innocent sailors to the sword, and plundering warehouses, like any other good 'n hearty freebooter. When he meets the Assassins (whom he learns absolutely nothing about beforehand), they're portrayed as stubborn, unpleasant, highly territorial recluses. However, through a series of mutual struggles, Edward becomes sympathetic to the Assassins' cause, ultimately adding their symbol to his flag, and learns that the Templars intended to use the Sage as part of a plot to take over the English government. There's also a bit of greying in that some of Edward's pirate friends are more rambunctious than he is, showing that he keeps problematic company. And some of the pirates even defect to the templars, believing either that the templars at least would take care of them compared to the chaos of striking on their own, or that the experiment of the Pirate Republic showed that the world needed to order Templars offer. So while there are seductive points to these templars, overall Edward concludes that as bad as he's been, what the templars are doing is even worse.
    • Rogue made a huge turn to the point where it almost qualifies as role reversal. Achilles is a problematic Mentor who makes an error in judgment, but who refuses to see his actions as problematic. The other Master Assassins are either too stupid to see the problem or too blinded by loyalty to call him out. He makes no attempt to cool off Shay after the highly traumatic destruction of Lisbon, leading to his defection. The lower-level Assassins have degenerated into criminal gangs whose sole purpose is to extort the populace and kill anyone who tries to root them out. Meanwhile, Shay gets won over by a wealthy Templar who seeks to rebuild parts of the Colonies ruined by war or neglect, and he takes on Christopher Gist, a charming, humorous rogue, as his quartermaster. Haytham, while cold-blooded as ever, never harms anyone who isn't already an acknowledged enemy. Not only don't we see the Templars do anything overtly evil, Shay performs some of the same tasks as Edward!
    • Unity gets back on track, but in a controversial way. The Continental Assassins are so wrapped up in arcane rules, methodology and hierarchy that they butt heads with Arno who favors more direct actions against enemies.(In one revealing scene, he brings Belloq to justice after Belloq murdered their Mentor, for which he's punished.) The Assassins fail to prevent a bloody revolution, protect their most powerful ally, the King, or stop any of the atrocities that happen after his death. Meanwhile, the Templars have split into 2 sides. One wing bears some similarities to the Assassins in being more moderated in their approach to influence government, and the Grandmaster of this branch was nice enough to take an assassin under his wing to care and then indoctrinate him gradually to their ways. But their being cozy to power itself leads another branch to create a complicated scheme to portray the King as an out-of-touch petty tyrant so that the people will overthrow him, which will lead to chaos and teach them to hate that kind of chaos. Then once things settle down, the people will desire order above all else from structures rather than power, thus putting the Templars into power as the solution. Arno thwarts several of their plans, and despite the fact that he isn't popular at all within the Assassin organization, the revolutionary templars don't try to win him to their side. Ultimately their plan succeeds, but unfortunately their long term success is hampered after the death of their leader. As for Arno himself, he starts out as a good-for-nothing young punk a la Ezio and gets drawn into the Assassins out of a desire for revenge, but never truly embraces their way of thinking and is motivated primarily by his love for Elise (which...doesn't end well).
    • Syndicate is also grey, but in a different sort of way. The templars in this game are captains of industry, science and power. In a sense, none of them are the Visionary Villain of older generations, but are just trying to make their way in London area. Of course, this involves things like worker exploitation, human experiments with lethal consequences, trade monopolies, robbery, government assassination attempts and running city gangs. That being said though, their leader is a cool headed and even somewhat compassionate Benevolent Boss who loves his family, loyal underlings, and even raises wages to counter inflation during a financial crisis. The assassins meanwhile have been trying to work around London for generations, while our player characters are 2 kinds of problems. The male twin Jacob is a Destructive Savior who often causes problems for ordinary people as he goes around killing templars, but at least he's trying to move forward with generally improving the city. The female twin Evie meanwhile is more interested in going after the Pieces of Eden and learning more about London before helping in, but her tunnel vision can sometimes bring out frustration from her brother on her perceived lack of action. Both however DO want to help out the masses, and both in the end are shown to be hopeful, strong assassins who are all about saving lives, just with different emphasis on how to do that. Near the end of the game, their roles even switch for a time, with Jacob wanting to sit back and wait while Evie wants to bust heads.
  • City of Heroes new expansion, Going Rogue, runs on this.
    • On one side is Emperor Cole (a.k.a. Tyrant) and his underlings whose philosophy is something like, "Order at any cost." If the player joins the Loyalists, he can then use the power of the Praetorian Empire to either protect its citizens or advance his personal power.
    • On the other side is the underground Resistance whose creed is "Freedom at any cost." If the player joins them, he can either work to free the people of Praetoria or can act as agent of chaos.
  • Infinite Space has several instances of this, although nothing in the game tops the long-running conflict between Kalymnos and Nova Nacio. This is especially apparent during the Irvest Sector War, with the so-called People Committee of Kalymnos attempts to obliterate the residents of an entire planet owned by Nova Nacio by crashing its satellite to win the war, while Nova Nacio has been secretly developing a very powerful weapon on the same planet under the cover of colonization project.
  • During the stealth tutorial for Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Sam Fisher lampshades this trope:
    Enemy soldiers? They're not my enemy; they're just doing their jobs. Light is the real enemy.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics. In the beginning, two princes are fighting each other for the throne. Since it is basically the War of the Roses in the form of Final Fantasy, neither side is really good. Later in the game it becomes more like Black and Gray Morality once the Church and Delita start playing more significant roles in the war. Delita, while he ultimately does stop the kingdom from falling into complete chaos, uses any and every Machiavellian method available to him in order to accomplish his goals. The Church is basically controlled by Satan. The only white to be found is Ramza and his fate is to become a footnote in history.
    • Deconstructed: While Ramza's actions are covered up by the Church for centuries, he is eventually vindicated — and his morally white actions do save Ivalice. Meanwhile, the Church's power is shaken, and Delita, the poster child for the game's Grey and Gray Morality, ends the game miserable, wounded, and utterly alone.
  • Used heavily in the Golden Sun games, though it doesn't quite become apparent until The Lost Age, where all the antagonists of The Broken Seal are revealed to have been working for good ends, and trying to defy a system that if left in place will result in the decline and ultimate end of the world of Weyard, but whose supporters (rightly) fear the abuse of Alchemy unleashed.
    • In Dark Dawn, the effects of releasing Alchemy are starting to take hold, the world is being reshaped, some heroes of the earlier games are reviled for their efforts, and the heroes of this game have to stop and debate whether or not to rescue a known criminal from a Cruel and Unusual Death. In the last instance, Karis has to explain this trope to Amiti (who really is just that naïve).
      • Really, there is only one truly evil character in the whole series. Too bad that he's The Chessmaster... And even then, Alex isn't exactly evil, just self serving. He manipulates to his own ends, but he never shows any actual malice towards the characters. The only time he ever struck against a character was when they attacked him, and it was only to stop their attack.
  • In Rift, you've got the oh-so-devout Guardians versus the innovative and self-reliant Defiants, trying to thwart each other at every turn. Both sides have skeletons in their closets, both sides are ostensibly trying to hold off The End of the World as We Know It, and it's even difficult to point out either side as the darker or lighter gray.
    • The moment that time travel gets involved at the end of the respective factions' intro zones, who's "right" and "wrong" goes out the window. The Guardians are rightly angry at the Defiants for (inadvertently) siding with the Big Bad and using technology that drains the power of the Veil, the only thing holding back a massive invasion of the Elemental Planes and forces of the Dragons. After the initial wave is stopped and the PC is thrown forward in time, the Guardians spend the next X years throwing everything they have into a genocidal war against the Defiants, instead of working WITH them to stop the forces of the Dragons. Because of this, any hope they had of using Defiant technology to fix what it broke in the first place is lost, leading to the Defiant intro happening right at the climax of The End of the World as We Know It, and you get to time-travel back to stop it from happening. Upon returning back and delivering news of what's to come, and the schematics of technology that can stop it, the Defiant leaders try and figure out how to use the tech to finally defeat the Guardians, and deal with the planar invasions later.
  • Wings portrays the Allied perspective on WW1 if you play as them, or the German perspective if you play as them, but doesn't seem to take sides overall.
  • None of the three main factions in Sins of a Solar Empire can be considered truly good or bad. The Trade Emergency Coalition appear to be just Technical Pacifists trying to fight off the "evil" Vasari and the vengeful Advent, but the reason the Advent are vengeful is because the traders exiled them from their homeworld 1000 years before for having different ideas about social norms. The Advent may have legitimate grievances against the traders, except the ones who actually exiled them died a long time ago, so they're trying to punish people who didn't do anything to them. The Vasari used to be a vast empire and still follow similar policies in terms of enslavement and locking down colonies, but they're just the remains from a single colony that have been fleeing an unknown enemy that has destroyed the rest of the empire for tens of thousands of years and are conquering trader worlds only to get enough resources to be able to continue their flight.
    • All three sides engage in a total war against their enemies, nuking planets from orbit until everyone is dead.
  • All of the major organizations in Lusternia. Despite their underlying themes, they are only as good or evil as the individual characters that dwell there. The city with all the trappings of a Lawful Good federation has zealot Knight Templars galore: the city with all the trappings of a Lawful Evil empire has mutated, undead family men and pacifists among their Nazi-inspired troopers.
  • Might and Magic VIII is full of this: it features a Big Bad whose only reason for being that is that he can't stop once he has started (no matter how much he wants to)note , a conflict between dragon hunters out for profit and xenophobic dragons that see nothing wrong with eating other sentients, and a war between the Necromancers' Guild of Jadame (who, in the modern day of the game, are a fairly laid-back bunch, mostly wanting to keep to themselves) and the Church of the Sun (who came to Jadame to wage war on Necromancers without provocation, and are somewhat corrupt and self-serving).
  • In Avadon, both Redbeard and the Duke have both positive and negative traits that can make it hard to decide who to side with.
  • In Dark Souls, the central conflict in the game is extremely lacking in details, but what details we do know ultimately make it an example of this. The conflict between Fire and Dark seems clear-cut at first, but we're shown numerous instances of how Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil throughout the games. On the other hand we're also shown numerous instances of Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil at the same time. The message of the games seems to be that both sides have their place in the world, and are capable of good things, but both can also be a destructive, corrupting influence if taken too far.
  • PlanetSide. Three factions endlessly fighting over a tiny ball of rock god-know-where chuck full of alien technology, using respawning technology to keep the war going. The Terran Republic established a thousand years of peace on Earth - while sacrificing freedom. The New Conglomerate rebelled for more personal freedom, but they are backed by by large corporations and mercenaries). The Vanu Sovereignty wants to uplift humanity to the status of the ancient Vanu - but possibly at the cost of your identity and freedom.
  • Alien vs. Predator: While the leaders of that big corporation are a bunch of greedy assholes, most of the employees are just people doing their work or innocent victims who haven't done anything bad. The marines are usually well-meaning if slightly hardballed with their work. The Xenomorphs are obviously nasty bastards but in the video games, it's their territories that are being invaded and their queen violated, so in all rights they're fighting an war of self-defence against the humans and the yautjas, thought with rules that aren't exactly what the Geneva Conventions would allow. The Yautjas no doubt starts wars and deaths for no actual good reason but they do have standards on which things the hunters are allowed to kill; women, children, sick and old are forbidden to hunt but for the rest, it's a free game with whatever nasty and violent way they want to use.
  • The Last of Us features a lot throughout the course of the game. The trailer basically sums the trope in this game: "You either hang onto your morals and die or do whatever it takes to survive."
    • The end has a large conflict featuring Ellie. Marlene planned to use Ellie to create a vaccine to cure the Infected, which would ultimately result in her dying. Joel, because he saw her as another daughter, saves her before the Fireflies perform the surgery, thus wasting the chance to save the human race. If you were in Joel's shoes, would you do the same or would you let Ellie be used for a cure to save humanity?
      • This is thrown into more confusion when it is implied that there have been several other people immune to the virus and that engineering a cure from them has failed. This information is only heard from a lone Firefly talking to himself, so it is unclear how valid this is.
  • Supreme Commander. All sides have sympathetic ideals, if not necessarily ideal means to practice them, and are composed of a mix of fundamentally good people who follow those ideals, and bad people who ignore them. The narrative doesn't seem to really take any sides either. Your choices are a) a human Racial Remnant that wants to rebuild the old Earth empire and reassert humanity as the leaders of the galaxy no matter what, but are depicted as the universe's Only Sane Man, b) an aggressive religious movement that fights to achieve peace and harmony and is led by a kindly Messianic Archetype, or c) a La Résistance movement for oppressed cyborgs that employs questionable methods but fights for freedom nonetheless.
  • At Freelancer most factions except the Xenos (who are obvious xenophobic omnicidal maniacs) and the Liberty Police (defending the land of freedom and whatnot) are somewhat guilty of this, ranging from farmers turned into terrorists, tree-huggers turned into terrorists and hackers turned into terrorists to tyrannical and corrupt regimes and corporations that would sell their mothers for money -and eventually causing said mothers to go terrorist-. Special mention goes to the Corsairs and Outcasts faction, whose mothership lost contact with the others during travel, forcing them to go outlaw in a way or the other, and the other factions subsequentially shoot upon them. Apparently diplomacy is an unknown concept to this universe.
  • Moral ambiguity in Emerald City Confidential is a given, based on its Film Noir tone. Although Petra is the protagonist, she isn't always morally upstanding. And although Queen Ozma is first seen as an antagonistic and oppressive ruler, she turns out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who's trying to save Oz from an even worse threat.
  • In spite of the very clear divide painted in the promotional material, neither of the factions in WildStar are not entirely good nor evil. The Exile "heroes" are basically criminals and terrorists, and sink to some serious lows to have a fighting chance, the Dominion "villains" provide a highly tolerant, well-educated, and prosperous and free society to their citizens. On the other side of the coin, many Exiles are also refugees and innocent hopefuls who want to start a new life on Nexus, while the Dominion demands unconditional servitude and obedience from it's citizens when called upon to serve the Empire.
  • In Papers, Please, there are virtually no "right" or "wrong" decisions. Over the course of the game, you'll have to face ethical dilemmas whether or not you should obey the rules or sympathize with the entrant. Heck, even the border guards and your supervisor will make requests that is considered to be morally grey in the eyes of the player. Thus, this is why the game has Multiple Endings.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Daggerfall is full of this. About the only morally unambiguous choice in the end-game is to aid the Underking, and then only because his goal is to finally die rather than to actually use Numidium. There are several candidates for worst of the worst, and you will aid at least one of them out of your own free will, without being fooled, over the course of the main storyline. A note on Daggerfall: it turns out that due to an event called a "Dragon Break", in which time flows in a non-linear fashion, somehow all the choices you're able to make ended up happening at the exact same time. This would be known as the "Warp in the West", and resulted in having every single nation in western Tamriel (there were a lot) turn into two provinces and swear loyalty to the Empire.
    • Morrowind. Although the main quest appears to be black-and-white (though if you really dig into the backstory, the Big Bad has some Well-Intentioned Extremist and Villain Has a Point aspects that can move him closer to a "dark gray", and the wannabe Big Good Azura has a ton of skeletons in her closet), the politics in Vvardenfell are very clearly Gray And Gray. House Hlaalu, for example, is open-minded but corrupted, House Telvanni is honest but elitist, House Redoran is strong but xenophobic, the Empire often ranges from oppressive to a little bit too lax, the Dunmer Temple is kind and charitable but has Knights Templar (the Ordinators) and is to some degree a Corrupt Church, and the three god-kings to which it is devoted are, respectively, benevolent but pathologically dishonest, egotistically psychotic, and completely withdrawn from the affairs of mortals. House Dagoth are portrayed as evil, but still remain somewhat gray. At most the main quest is closer to Black and Gray Morality.
    • The fifth installment, Skyrim, takes place in the middle of a civil war: the Empire, after losing a war against the Aldmeri Dominion, was forced to outlaw the worship of Talos and are generally viewed as cowards who oppress the citizens of Skyrim instead of resisting the Dominion's rule. They however believe it was a war they couldn't win, and was necessary to save Skyrim and the rest of the empire and buy time to prepare for future war with the Dominion. The Stormcloak Rebellion wants an independent kingdom and freedom of religion, but they don't consider the possibility they might have to work with the Empire to defeat the Dominion, and are also ultranationalists who dangerously border outright racism and confine the Argonians, Khajiit and Dark Elves to slums. In the defense of that last point, the Argonians and Dunmer are ancestral enemies (indeed, the former recently conquered the homeland of the latter, and the latter was enslaving the former for generations), so their desire to keep the Argonians and Dunmer apart may be in the interests of preventing a race war in their capital.
  • In Fallout 3, the Tenpenny Tower quest has this. On one hand, you have the residents of Tenpenny Tower, who are (mostly) a bunch of arrogant bigots... but, they have a point that ghouls are generally dangerous and unpredictable, and this band in particular are hardened raiders from the Wasteland; how do they know it'd be safe to let them in? On the other hand, you have Roy Phillips and his ghouls, ruthless raiders who do have a point that they are being held at bay from living in a safe, comfortable environment purely because they're not exactly human anymore. Both sides are perfectly willing to bribe the player into slaughtering the other for them. And if the player negotiates a truce, the ghouls promptly take advantage of having been allowed inside to murder all the humans for themselves, even those who support their entry. It's not a very well-handled example, and has attracted a lot of scorn from players.
    • In the DLC "The Pitt", the two factions the Lone Wanderer encounters fit this trope. Wernher, leader of the slave rebellion, wants to steal the cure to the mutations that ravage The Pitt to use it as a bargaining chip for the slaves' freedom. Even when he finds out what that 'cure' is, he's still determined to exploit it, no matter what. Ashur, ruler of the Pitt, considers his Raider army and slave workforce necessary evils that gave The Pitt safety and industrial power; he hopes to use the drug to cure his constituents (a cure taken from his own daughter, who was born immune to the radiation), allowing them to bear healthy children which would grow to eventually replace slave labor with a homegrown workforce. The player can side with either faction. Like the Tenpenny Tower quest above, fans generally find it very hamfisted in its handling.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has this, hard: The New California Republic are well-intentioned and filled with good people, but are ruthless expansionists, suffocated by bureaucracy and corruption, and would be spread way too thin to bring true safety to the Mojave Wasteland. Mr. House is genuine in his desire to rebuild lawful civilization and has the intelligence and resources to do so, but only cares about New Vegas and enforces his laws with an iron fist, ruthlessly executing anyone who opposes his rule. The Legion are a group of regressive, misogynistic and violent Slavers who are held together by one intelligent man, but are the only group capable of enforcing genuine security within the Mojave Wasteland and would actually be a boon to travelling merchants. The Wild Card route allows the Player Character to take over New Vegas themselves, but this requires the murder of Mr. House and there is nothing to indicate that they can succeed where the other factions would fail.
    • At least, the developers' intentions were that it'd fall under this. In practice, the Legion is presented in such an awful fashion that it's more a case of Black and Gray Morality.
    • There's also the main struggle in the DLC "Honest Hearts" between New Canaanitesnote  Daniel and Joshua Graham. Both are guardians of a relatively "innocent" tribe that is under attack by an old enemy of the New Canaanites. Daniel wants to withdraw the tribe to where their enemies cannot follow, out of guilt over the situation the New Canaanites have brought upon them. Graham wants to teach them to fight and destroy their enemies, both as a just thing to do and to assuage his own personal demons, of which there are many.
  • And, of course, the tradition continues into Fallout 4. The Brotherhood of Steel have reverted back to their former conservatism, becoming arrogant, xenophobic, tech-grabbing conquerors who are pushing their way into the Boston region and who are characterised by extreme Fantastic Racism. However, they also dedicate themselves to wiping out real threats such as feral ghouls and mutants (as well as synths and non-feral ghouls) and actually have the military power to ensure security. The Minutemen are unambiguously good guys, but are notably inefficient, to the point of being virtually extinct at the game's start. Also, with the player character at the helm early on, ultimately the player's motivations dictate the course of the faction. The Institute are xenophobic manipulators who want to destroy all remnants of the "old world" and reshape the Commonwealth into what they want it to be — but who prize innovation and scientific discovery, and want to create a world superior to the old one. Lastly, the Railroad seem to be good guys who oppose the slavery and oppression of Synths, who they believe are sentient beings, but they care very little for the Commonwealth as a whole and the methods they'll use and the lengths they'll go to in order to achieve their goals are a little extreme... There's also the fact that the only ending in the game which doesn't involve you betraying and killing your Big Bad son is through siding with the Institute, and doing so will mean you'll have to wipe out the sympathetic, helpful Railroad who helped you find him.
    • There's also the conflict between Honest Dan and Covenant. Dan is a mercenary simply trying to rescue Amelia per his contract, but the Covenant citizens are survivors of synth assassins, who infiltrated their families and friends and killed them. As a result, they're attempting to develop a psychological exam to help spot synths, but are unfortunately torturing a lot of innocent people in the process too. Helping Dan requires the deaths of everyone in Covenant, however.
    • The game also takes measures to humanise the previously Always Chaotic Evil Raiders through Enemy Chatter and What Measure Is a Mook?. Some are psychos who enjoy their line of work, and some are obviously strung out and tormented by what they have to do to survive. Shooting Raiders dead will sometimes cause their allies to cry out in anguish and horror.
    • The Expansion Pack "Far Harbor" continues with the tradition: The synth refuge of Acadia is genuinely peaceful but it's leader DiMA has committed some terrible crimes to protect it and will need to commit more for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The town of Far Harbor is wary of outsiders but that's mostly a product of their circumstances with them nearly being driven off the island by the fog. The local Church of the Children of the Atom is "very" antagonistic towards nonbelievers and is planning to wipe the other two factions out, but this is due to the influence of their (sincere) current leader. The majority of the cult is genuinely devout and has nothing to do with the fogs' behavior.
  • No character in Mount & Blade is entirely good, at least not by modern standards. Lords are generally overbearing and arrogant, scholars are constantly insulting anyone who isn't another scholar or arguing with other scholars, peasants possess very loose morals, professional soldiers and mercenaries tend to be the type to enjoy violence, and even you will probably be some sort of pragmatic Anti-Hero, if not by choice then by necessity.
    • Many of the multiplayer characters are, according to their back-stories, either greedy sellswords or criminals.
    • Throne claimants each have their own backstory about why they should be king/queen. The current monarchs will actually have their own sides to the story and their own reasons, so you're left to decide who's story is worth more. For example, Arwa the Pearled One of the Sarranid Sultanate claims that Sultan Hakim is an Evil Uncle who illegally usurped the throne from her, but Sultan Hakim counters that she is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and that he has a more legitimate claim due to his royal heritage (while Arwa is an adopted peasant girl). The only claimant/monarch conflict where one side is definitely more sympathetic than the other is Swadia, which pits the competent and reasonable Lady Isolla against the incompetent and tyrannical King Harlaus; really, when you ask for Harlaus' reason for exiling Isolla and denying her claim, his argument basically amounts to "she is a woman and therefore won't rule well".
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth has this in spades. None of the factions or leaders have been presented as entirely good or evil, but instead as various nations with their own traits, strengths, and weaknesses. Also true for the three Affinity choices: Harmony, Purity and Supremacy all have their good and bad points, and are incredibly divisive to the point where even the developers themselves argue over them. Two of the hybrid choices in Rising Tide, Supremacy-Purity and Purity-Harmony also have their pros and cons, and there's even something to be said for Supremacy-Harmony, though the other factions all think they're a bit nuts.
  • In Catherine, as mentioned by Trisha, the choice between Katherine (law) and Catherine (chaos) does not represent good and evil, as the two both have their merits and flaws. Catherine is physically abusive and pushy, while Katherine is controlling and overbearing, but they both genuinely love Vincent and want what's best for him. It depends on the player and their own sense of morality to choose what's best: Katherine, Catherine, or neither.
  • The conflict between the Humans and the Beta in Grey Goo (2015) comes down to scared survivors making bad decisions with bad intel. As it turns out, the Grey Goo is just trying to become strong enough to protect humanity from the Silence. It fights the other factions because the Beta aren't human (and thus aren't protected by its core directives) and the humans use unmanned drones (that the goo doesn't realize come from the humans).
  • The world of Senran Kagura runs on this. The "Good" and "Evil" in a Shinobi's alignment are all but meaningless since both do all sorts of dirty wetwork. The only difference is that the former take orders from the government while the latter take corporate contracts (and as one of the manga shows, this sometimes ends up with both sides chasing the same target). Evil Shinobi can have loved ones and standards, and Good Shinobi can be assholes. However, the strong tradition around Shinobi training mean both sides are trained to hate the other on principle, despite knowing how thin that line is. The first game is about a class of each learning about this and coming to terms with it. The second focuses on the reactions of a group of fanatics from both sides to some of their own being "corrupted".
  • Almost everyone is this in War of Omens. Even the current Campaign protagonist, Listrata, tends to be extremely harsh when quashing dissent.
  • Ingress: The Enlightened want to infuse humanity with the Exotic Matter coming out of mysterious portals, as they have good reason to believe it's what gave humans creativity and ideas themselves, and direct exposure would uplift them to their full potential, while cutting them off completely would lead to the end of creativity itself. The Resistance believes this is a lie, that it's truly the beachhead for an alien invasion, and that the Exotic Matter allows them to take over minds, or even breach this dimension to invade it, so it must be shut off and destroyed. Both sides believe they're doing what is the right thing to do, both resort to underhanded tactics when they must, and both have good arguments and proof that their view is correct. But never enough to truly decide who is actually right in this conflict.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X takes a very "choices and consequences" approach to morality in its many, many sidequest dialog options, and the road to hell is truly paved with good intentions - sometimes being a dick is the only way to minimize the body count, and the people involved may or may not sympathize with this after the fact. This comes to a head late in the plot when Elma points a gun at a traitor and Rook, unbidden by the player, will join Lin in standing between them because they find said traitor's story sympathetic. The thing is, the player might very well be on Elma's side, and a very strong case can be made that it's irresponsible of everyone involved not to put a bullet in the traitor on the spot when you weigh one tragic story against humanity's survival. And to cap it off, what at the time is an ambiguous situation or message about humanity proves Elma completely right when the traitor's actions later compromise or destroy the subject of humanity's entire efforts thus far.
    • Although Xenoblade Chronicles averts this at least once Zanza gets involved, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does show quite a few shades of it. Mor Ardain is aggressively expansionist and has a few corrupt officials running around but they're only expanding to find a new homeland as their Titan is dying and the king who runs the whole thing is a good man. Uraya seems to be better than Mor Ardain, but they seem unusually reluctant to cool tensions between the two nations even aftr negotiations in Indol, the people of Tantal are starving to death and their rulers (who are descendant from Addam) aren't even descendant from Addam, but they're having to pay off debts to Indol and keep Ophion in check so no one can repeat what Amalthus did and grab an Aegis. Torna runs the gamut from Omnicidal Maniac (Malos) to Well-Intentioned Extremist (Jin), and the good intentions of the heroes are massively offset by the fact that they're purely on their journey because Pyra and Mythra want to die. The only truly good or bad groups are the heroes, Amalthus and Malos, and the latter villain's case is purely because of the former.
  • In regards to the conflict between the five main factions of Battleborn, each faction is nuanced in general.
    • The UPR are altruistic soldiers dedicated to rescuing and protecting refugees fleeing from the Varelsi threat. However beneath this otherwise good face, the faction has a dark side, one which is steeped in bureaucracy, draconian law enforcement, and even forbidden genetic experimentation and clone soldier production. This has led them to doing some hard and questionable decisions such as an forceful attempt to set a base on Ekkunar in the past until they were driven off by the Eldrid. Furthermore, where the other factions can be characterized by their position on how to save Solus, the UPR's focus is squarely on the preservation of life, no matter the cost even if the star is lost.
    • The Eldrid are firm believers of being in harmony with natural laws of the universe. They prefer to simply observe, preserve, and catalog all that they can find and be one with nature rather than impose upon it. Although that maybe the case, their beliefs at its core are more the reverence of the natural order of the cosmos itself and less of life. They believe that the universe should be left alone to run its course even if it means natural death and entropy. As such, they greatly oppose anything that would disrupt the natural order of the universe even going so far in some cases as to attack or sabotage the efforts of certain other factions regardless of whatever these factions' motives may be.
    • The LLC are a aristocratic merchant class focused solely on making a profit even at end of the universe. They sell weapons and such to the other factions regardless of the cost as long as they get paid. On top of that, even the kindest of the LLC members have an air of aristocracy, entitlement, and affluence that cannot completely be shed; whether that means a daily assumption that someone is there to clean your dress, or firmware-held beliefs that all beings of lesser classes must be eliminated to raise the value of the remaining universe. While they certainly wish to preserve the universe, if it were to come to a sudden and dramatic end, the LLC would be the group selling tickets to the live stream to watch the last battle.
    • The Rogues are the truest form of outcasts, rejects and wanderers from every civilization and walk of life. They are vagabonds, pirates, raiders, mercenaries, hermits –beings who value personal freedom over anything else. For some Rogues, that freedom means a life of freeing possessions from other people. For other Rogues, it just means living in isolation, free from the rules, restrictions, and conflict of the rest of the universe. While not every Rogue is a criminal, certainly there are a few who just want to be left alone, but most Rogues value freedom and pleasure, sometimes in that order. The Rogues are wild, weird, and individualistic however despite their differences, the Rogues share one thing in common: They do want to survive. They have all spent their lives trying to avoid capture or destruction, and now that their home, the Last Star, is threatened, many of them will put their criminal empires on hold in order to turn their attentions to the real enemies – Rendain and the Varelsi.
    • The Jennerit are the bad guys among the five factions. They're pragmatic and ruthless, more than willing to manipulate and control anything and everything to accomplish their goals and achieve what they view as perfect. They even go so far as to bend the natural laws of the universe in order to gain things such as immortal life. What they can't control or fix to fit their concepts of perfection, they destroy. The Jennerit are in essence everything associated with a stereotypical evil empire. Despite this however, they are not necessarily "the bad guys". Although they fit the bill, not all of them are evil. It's just that they're not nice and have rather "flexible ethics". The Jennerit did ally with the other factions against the Varelsi as the strongest military force before Rendain betrayed everyone and decided to have the Jennerit switch sides. Even then though, the Jennerit are split within Rendain's Imperium between those who follow him and those who rebel against him. In fact, Rendain himself is not exactly evil as he's ultimately driven by a desire to save something of the universe from what he perceives as inevitable even if it means screwing everyone else.
    • Also a Deconstructed Trope since the quirks and traits of all of these factions are what forced people like Trevor Ghalt and the titular Battleborn on trying to stem the tide of Valresi rather than entering in pointless war against each other out of both resources and bitterness.
  • Both sides of the human-monster war in Evolve.
    • The humans are... well, humans. They've had hundreds of years of wars, charities, and everything in between, while individuals run the gamut from paragons of virtue to vicious sociopaths, but they band together to prevent the slaughter of their race.
    • The monsters, while being exactly what they sound like, are still on equal moral footing with the humans. They massacre humans and raze worlds because that's what the humans have been doing to them, albeit unintentionally, for hundreds of years. Trying to judge them at an individual level falls flat because of the vast differences between their own nature and humans, let alone the differences between them and anything that naturally has a physical form.
  • In Foxhole, despite resembling the Allies and Axis of World War II, the Wardens and the Colonials are both morally grey and neither is the "hero" or "villain" of the story. If anything, the Wardens are the current aggressors in a war to retake territory from a previous conflict.
  • NieR has this. The protagonist, Nier, and the antagonist, the Shadowlord, are two incarnations of the same man who both have sympathetic yet mutually exclusive goals — Nier wants to save his daughter from the Shadowlord, who wants to sacrifice Nier's daughter so he can save his own. Both are also willing to commit morally questionable acts to achieve their objectives.
  • Mark of the Ninja. Your opponent, Hessian Services, starts out attacking the Hisomu clan, leading them to send you to take out their leader, Count Karajan, in retaliation. Karajan's Establishing Character Moment shows that he's not a particularly good person, showing little concern for the survival of his guards. And then you find out the whole thing was a False Flag Operation; Hessian only attacked the Hisomu because they stole from them, and then the leader of the Hisomu used that as an excuse to send the protagonist - empowered with special tattoos that would give him superhuman abilities but eventually drive him insane and force him to commit seppuku before he lost his mind completely - to assassinate Karajan so the clan could finish swiping their technology to use for themselves. And then you find out that, as dickish a move as that was, the leader of the clan believed it was the only way for the clan to survive in the modern era, as the plant they used to create the ink for the tattoos has since gone extinct, robbing them of their secret weapon. It doesn't help that by the time these revelations comes about, the protagonist is well on his way to going insane, impairing his judgement on how to deal with it.
  • Ikemen Sengoku: Nobunaga Oda and his warlord allies are willing to kill countless people, but do it to fulfill their larger ambition to unite Japan and bring lasting peace to the country, and they also believe in modernizing Japan and eliminating class-based discrimination. Shingen Takeda, Kenshin Uesugi, and their followers all want to kill Nobunaga, but their reasons for wanting to do so are quite understandable (most of them lost many loved ones because of Nobunaga) and they join forces with Nobunaga's allies on multiple game routes after a third party resorts to dishonorable tactics in combat that neither of them approve of. Kennyo is the one character who comes the closest to being "black", often serving as the role of the aforementioned third party that unites the Oda and Takeda-Uesugi forces against him, but even he gets Sympathy for the Devil moments as a once-kind monk who hates Nobunaga for killing his monk friends.
  • The Deadfire Archipelago in Pillars Of Eternity II Deadfire is a mess of morally grey factions, pretty much all of whom have high ideals but ask for Dirty Business before they trust the player.
    • Queen Onekaza II of the Huana is trying to keep the peace in the Deadfire while maintaining her people's traditions. However, the injustices of the Huana caste system cannot be denied (though Onekaza is a cautious reformer), and she's happy to engage in Dirty Business for her people.
    • Director Castol of the Valian Trading Company believes that luminous adra and animancy will change the world, but he's also an agent of the profit-driven Vailian Trading Company, which tolerates slavery (all slaves must be from outside the Deadfire, as a concession to the Huana), although there's some room to change the latter.
    • The Royal Deadfire Company wants to peace and stability to the region with their advanced technology, but that will likely mean war and the erasure of Huana culture — both the good and the bad parts.
    • The Principi are a band of cutthroat pirates, but there are ideals of freedom and independence. Aeldys may be brutal, but she's been fighting against the slavers longer than anyone else.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, pretty much everyone involved (with possible exception of Crow, whose motivations are unknown) only does questionable things because they have no other choice, and none are truly evil. In truth, the darkest shade of gray might belong to you, the man who killed out of grief.
  • Technobabylon revels in this. While the protagonists are a shade lighter than most of the other characters, they're still pressured or even forced into committing morally dubious acts, while there are plenty of other characters with good intentions that go to horrific lengths to achieve their goals. Even the single most morally black character in the game only exists to tempt the player into framing him for murder in a To Be Lawful or Good choice.

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