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Humans Are Special / Video Games

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Humanity being special in video games.

  • In Advent Rising the human race is presented as being the closest to perfection; a race of latent demigods. This leads to humanity being the center of attention of many alien races and near-extermination. One of two surviving humans then proceeds to open a can o' whup-ass on the genocidal aliens with the above-mentioned demi-god powers.
  • In Callahans Crosstime Saloon, our universe is the only one in multiversal existence that has humor. (It's not specified if other species besides humans have it.)
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  • In the Conquest: Frontier Wars manual, one of the Celareon (energy beings) gives a long speech about humans and their virtues ending with "They may not look it, but they are a formidable enemy from the rest of the galaxy."
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante makes a speech to this effect after defeating Agnus. Agnus points out some partial hypocrisy, as Dante isn't fully human himself. In a bit of a twist, Dante doesn't reveal precisely why humans are special. He considers it obvious, and withholds the answer so that Agnus dies in ignorance, as a final insult to him.
    Dante: You gave up your humanity. It's that simple. You've always started from the assumption that humans are weak. Ok, sure, their bodies lack the physical capabilities of a demon... but humans still possess something that demons lack.
    • Nero may have provided the answer to that question:
      Nero: I never could take those legends too literally. But I do know that Sparda had a heart. A heart that could love another person, a human. And that is what you lack!
  • Downplayed somewhat in the Diablo universe, where this trope applies only to a small percentage of the most powerful humans. These humans, known as "Nephalem", are not compelled to any kind of behaviour (unlike the demons and angels who sired them), have the potential to surpass the demons and angels in power, and are Immune to Fate. Originally all humans were Nephalem, until the Worldstone was created to act as a Power Limiter. While only a few Nephalem have appeared since the Worldstone was destroyed at the end of the second game, eventually all humanity will regain their original power.
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  • Lucasarts' The Dig uses this trope. The aliens who Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence as immortal Energy Beings eventually find that they are doomed to be mere observers for all time without physical bodies. They want to come back home, but can't find the way, and the only surviving alien is certain that if the humans open the gateway, they too will find themselves unable to tear themselves away from the beauty of Spacetime Six and ultimately be trapped as surely as the aliens were. Fortunately, Humans Are Special and have Heroic Willpower (or sheer bloody-minded stubbornness) that allows them to resist the siren's song and hold the gate open for the aliens' return.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Though lacking the longer lifespans and natural talents in various types of magic inherent in the races of Mer (Elves), it has been the races of Men who have forged four empires (one by the Nords, three by the Imperials) which dominated Tamriel for the better part of the past 3000 or so years.
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    • It helps that the races of Men, especially the Nords and Imperials, seem to have the favor of the Divines, as well as the spirit of Lorkhan/Shezzar/Shor and, more recently, Talos, who have intervened directly on their behalf (subtly or otherwise) in their conflicts with the Elves through the ages. Perhaps the clearest example comes from the 1st Era Slave Revolt of the Nedes (human ancestors of most of the modern races of Men) under the leadership of St. Alessia. The Nedes were infamously enslaved by the Ayleids (Wild Elves) of Cyrodiil, who were needlessly vile in their torturing of the Nedes. Alessia, an escaped slave, prayed to the Aedra for aid against the Daedra-worshiping Ayleids, and the Aedra who would go on to become the Eight Divines responded, sending aid (directly and indirectly) to the Nedes in their revolt that would, eventually, drive the Ayleids to extinction as a unique race. In the words of one of their own, the Divines are said to "belove" the races of Men in particular, who find "strength-in-weakness" in their mortal forms (as opposed to most of the Elves, who feel that the mortal world is a prison) and who live with passion and hope despite always being doomed to death in the end.
    • The Altmer call Stendarr, the Aedric Divine God of Mercy and Justice, an "apologist for Men", and Stendarr has intervened directly on behalf of mankind when they are threatened. Some Altmeri religious sects do not consider him worthy of veneration for this reason.
  • Endless Space has five human factions each covering a humans in sci-fi trope. The United Empire is Humans Are Warriors and Humans Are the Real Monsters, the Sheredyn is the United Empire taken Up to Eleven (as they are basically the Waffen SS in space), the Vaulters are Humans Advance Swiftly, the Pilgrims are Humans Are Diplomats and Humans Are Good, and Horatio is also Humans Are the Real Monsters but focused on sheer narcissism.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: It takes a little help from aliens, youkai, a fish person, a homunculus, etc, but the prevailing theme is that humans are special, and it's through the power of the humans of Earth that Dark Force's galactic invasion was finally brought to an end.
  • In the Backstory of Galactic Civilizations, it was the humans who have managed to develop a hyperdrive, thus allowing them to travel anywhere in the galaxy, as opposed to the Portal Network used by every other race. Then some idiot decided to transmit the findings to everyone else.
    • The Word of God states another reason why humanity is unique - in their adaptiveness, they can splendidly get along with the good races, but if pushed, they can be as cruel and ruthless as the Drengin.
  • Played straight on the 3 campaigns of Guild Wars since the Player Character can only be human, the lore mentions that when humans appeared they had no thick hides, sharp claws or fangs to defend themselves from monsters, but they worshipped the gods who created Tyria and in turn those gods gave them the gift of magic to defend themselves, thanks to this, humans were able to dominate the 3 continents, it is also mentioned that the humans's comings and goings are of great interest to said gods althought they no longer directly intervene. It is also human heroes the ones who defeat the fallen god Abaddon and it is the human Kormir the one who consumes his power and ascends to goddess.
    • From Eye of the North onward this is been steadily subverted with the introduction of several races like the Asura, Norn and Sylvari, the Charr had already been introduced on the first campaign, Prophecies, Guild Wars 2 is confirmed to have all of those as playable races, details on the story show that humans have been pushed back because of the emergence of ancient dragons allowing other races to gain foothold on previously human-controlled territories, as it is mentioned "all races are now on equal footing".
  • Halo also contains this; as it turns out, humans are almost genetically identical to the Forerunners, the precursor civilization that was god-like technologically and is actually worshiped as gods by the genocidal Covenant. While not direct descendants, humans are the officially designated "Reclaimers" to the Forerunners' legacy; as such, they are the only species with full access to Forerunner technology. In fact, the last act of the Forerunner leader known as the Librarian was to save humanity from certain death, precisely because she strongly believed this trope to be true.
    • The Forerunner Saga takes it even further: Humanity was a major space-faring power back when the Forerunners were at their prime, and a combined Human-San'Shyuum (Prophet) alliance was able to drive back the Flood (though this is later subverted; the Flood just wanted to troll everyone). Humanity was also on the verge of understanding Precursor tech (the Precursors were... well, Precursors to the Forerunners), which had stumped the Forerunners for millenia. The only reason humanity isn't a Sufficiently Advanced Species is because their civilization fought a war against the Forerunners and lost (in part because humanity was also busy fighting the Flood); the victorious Forerunners de-evolved the losers and quarantined them all on their apparent homeworld of Earth, essentially "resetting" humanity's development. Holy... crap.
    • Pretty much everything before the release of Halo 4 hinted that Humanity and the Forerunner were one and the same. This was hinted at through all kinds of ways throughout Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and the Expanded Universe - especially in Halo: Contact Harvest when 032 Mendicant Bias states "This is Reclaimer... and those it represents are my Makers". The conclusion came when Guilty Spark finally proclaimed in Halo 3, "You are Forerunner." This was later retconned after 343 Industries took over the series and the first of the Forerunner Saga books was published in 2011.
    • The Forerunner Saga also reveals that the Precursors (basically, the forerunners of the Forerunners) had decided 10 million years ago that humanity was more worthy of the Mantle than the Forerunners, kicking off a chain of events responsible for the very state the galaxy is in today.
  • Big Bad Allied Mastercomputer from the videogame adaptation of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream deeply envies humans because they can experience life in a way that AM, despite all its power and knowledge, can never hope to know. AM can't really see, taste, smell, move, or touch anything, and is a prisoner of the miles of circuitry that make up its physical form. Ironically, in the Bad Endings of the game, just like in the original story, AM inflicts a similar fate on the sole surviving human by turning them into an immortal blob.
  • In The Journeyman Project: Legacy of Time, the actions taken by both the series' hero and the series' Anti-Villain characters are shown to be the reasonable responses to the still-kind-of-violent races of the Symbiotry of Peaceful Worlds. The actions of the humans, who have gotten over their petty squabbles faster than any other race in the galaxy, grant them the privilege of protecting the Legacy, until the other races can prove themselves worthy of it.
  • League of Legends is usually pretty impartial to humans; what normal Runeterrans can do is impressive, but there are simply greater beings (benevolent or otherwise) that they cohabit the universe with, often looking puny and insignificant by comparison. However, this trope is a major conceit with the resident War God Pantheon — or rather, Atreus, a mortal soldier whose body was once hijacked by Pantheon but has since inherited the position and his divine power, and did so after managing to survive being nearly cut in half by a different Physical God, outliving the god in his body, then rising up on his own to defeat their opponent as a mortal. With his newfound divinity, the new Pantheon chooses to prove that humanity is much stronger than any greater powers are let on to believe, fighting alongside his mortal brethren not as a god, but as a man.
  • Humanity in Mass Effect have started numerous colonies across the galaxy and have taken a large role in galactic politics in less than thirty years. This has lead to resentment from many aliens, most notably Saren.
    • However, Mass Effect also subverts this trope in a rather clever fashion. Not only does Kaidan lampshade it when he mentions that other races are just as varied - "They're like us." - but it's implied that Earth is itself in the early stages of becoming a Planet of Hats (the hat is tenacity) as a result of its tentative acceptance into a larger galactic community. (Captain Anderson is in fact British, according to the first novel, but Earth is monocultural enough that this is not readily apparent.)
    • It's confirmed in Mass Effect 2 that humanity really is special compared to the other races of the galaxy. Considering that this judgment is made by a monster that has chosen humanity as the centerpiece of its plans... this is one of those occasions where being special is not a good thing. It is made clear that humans have a LOT more variance and flexibility in their genome, and therefore a lot more potential for mutations and evolution. Better, at least, than the other known races and the Protheansnote .
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers have the perfect plan to exterminate all galactic sentience that they have executed possibly hundreds (or even thousands) of times (use a Reaper vanguard to open the citadel), but is foiled by humans. Then their backup plan (build a new Reaper out of humans to open the Citadel) is also foiled by humans. Then their backup backup plan (in the Alpha Relay) is also foiled by humans. So they abandon their well-laid plans that have worked for millions of years and just Zerg Rush Earth. That is how much humanity has outright pissed off the Reapers. Sure, you could capture the Citadel and use it's control over the relay network to cripple galactic transit, but humans are that much of a threat that they have to be eliminated first.
  • Zig-zagged in Master of Orion series. Humans managed to dominate the Orion Sector twice and claim to be the direct descendants of the Precursors. However, their backstory states that they actually were created by another ancient race as a specialized bioweapon. Moreover, their creators were disappointed with the result, so the first humans were sent away into some backwards corner of the galaxy and quickly forgotten.
  • Mega Man Zero explores this. The Big Bad of the first game, Copy-X, although technically a Reploid himself, favors the survival of humans over his own kind, leading to the main conflict in the series. However, freedom fighter Zero, who directly opposes Copy-X, holds this view as well, thinking that, as a machine designed solely to wage war, he cannot change the world, but instead believes in the humans who can.
    • Though, humans have not that much competition with only Reploids being a rival 'race.' And some as Copy-X are programmed to serve/support humans so it's not their choice to do so.
  • The world of Nexus Clash has plenty of superbeings far more powerful than the player characters, whether set up as GMPCs or NPC boss fights, which represent greater agents of the Powers That Be. However, it's made clear that only player characters are able to influence the outcome of the Cosmic Chess Game that drives the series. This puts the Powers in a bind, since they can't promote their most successful agents to a higher power tier without negating their effectiveness.
  • In Nexus: The Jupiter Incident , humans are set up by the remains of the Precursors to enable the destruction of the monsterss they have created. Slightly subverted in that the majority of humanity is out of commission, and it falls to a Lost Colony to aid the protagonist. Humans are far from being the strongest race here. The Noah colony is much more advanced than Earth simply because they were given this technology by the Vardrags to fight the Gorgs. The Vardrags consider humans useful because Humans Are Warriors.
  • Explored (and often combined with Humans Through Alien Eyes and Humanity Is Infectious) in NieR: Automata. The machine lifeforms, after many millennia of occupying the Earth and being exposed to past human records, have taken to trying to mimic human behavior, and through doing so have even developed emotions and self-awareness, and Grew Beyond Their Programming. Note that this happens only when they're exposed to human records, rather than due to the alien invaders that created them. In fact, the machine lifeforms ended up killing their alien creators, and Adam describes them as primitive, almost like plants in comparison to the complexity of humans.
  • Somehow, no matter how powerful, intelligent, or awesome a Pokémon is, it always has to obey the human who captured it. Especially when that human is a random child. A few different canons have offered a variety of explanations, with one explanation taken from the reactions of the hyper-intelligent Pokemon Calyrex to human inventions like seedbags and the reins that let Calyrex access its full power being that humans are more inventive and creative than Pokemon, which allows them to not only be the dominant life form on the planet but also make Pokemon themselves more efficient than they'd otherwise be on their own.
  • Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar: The protagonists learned something in their quest: Humans are DINO-TASTIC!
  • A major recurring point of Shin Megami Tensei is the differences that really make humans stand out from demons, angels, and gods. One of the major themes of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is how humanity's power of observation (i.e. understanding) is what allows gods to exist, which is why gods are so keenly interested in convincing humans to believe in them; sure, gods can war with one another, but it's humanity deciding what's real and what isn't that decides which gods live and die.
  • Indicated in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, in which the arrival of humanity is the only thing that can break the Planetmind's tragic cycle of nearly coming to full sapience, and then killing off most life on the surface in the process. Then contra-indicated by Alien Crossfire, where the Progenitors's backstory and actions make a decent argument that it's really only circumstance that marks out humans — humans happen to be there, and unlike the Progenitors they don't have the hang-ups and social conflicts caused by having created the entire Planetmind/Manifold system and having it go horribly if undetailed wrong on another world. Even so one faction of the Progenitors still want and can break the tragic cycle — there's just somewhat greater tones of doing it for themselves.
  • SimEarth: The PC version seems to favor mammals achieving sentience, at which point they will resemble humans. Right after one sentient species leaves or goes extinct, if mammals are evolved enough, they will reach sentience in no time flat, even if other species are at the same level as well.
  • Starbound: Humanity's first decision upon joining the galactic scene? Form the Terrene Protectorate, reach out to the other races, and work to make the universe a better place. By comparison, the other races are extremely isolationist, or in the case of the Florans, mostly hostile. They're not regarded as particularly better than anyone else (although their scientific progress is mentioned to outstrip that of the Apex, who has science as one of their hats), but their helpfulness and friendliness certainly wins approval with others.
  • StarCraft has a somewhat complicated relationship with this trope, simultaneously averting, deconstructing and playing straight this trope.
    • Played straight: the Terrans are the descendants of Earth's unwanted sent on rickety colonisation ships to the toughest corners of the galaxy. Basically, Australians in space, these folks are an incredibly divided Ragtag Bunch of Misfits surviving on leftover junk and brotherhood while fighting the Zerg, the Protoss and each other. Yet, they hold their own.
    • Deconstructed: Terrans are special because they have the potential to develop psychic abilities (something only the Protoss are capable of so far in the setting), and some of them already have started. Which means they got the attention of the Zerg, who wish to assimilate them to get an edge on the Protoss. Basically, Humans got attacked by a Horde of Alien Locusts because they are special, in a Loophole Abuse way: they have the potential to become a psychic species like the Protoss, but unlike them aren't immune to the Zerg's infestation, making them an ideal substitute.
    • Averted: both the Zerg and Protoss were created by the Xel'Naga, an ancient race of god-like beings, who gave them the "purity of essence" and the "purity of forms", respectively. This background serves as the Myth Arc of the franchise, and as a result the overarching plot of the game has Zerg and Protoss take center stage, while Terrans, being the only one of the three races to not be related to the Xel'Naga, are demoted to supporting roles (Meaning no Humans Are Leaders here). In the Bad Future where Amon wins, they have been casually exterminated offscreen before the final battle. It says something that the two human characters who end up being truly relevant to the plot are Jim Raynor, the Protoss' human friend, and Kerrigan, who has been modified by the Zerg to the point that she hardly qualifies as human anymore.
    • Played straight: In Legacy of the Void it turns out that the Xel'naga do not, in fact, interfere with the evolution of sapient species after creating a universe. The uplifting of the Protoss and Zerg was performed by a rogue faction of Xel'naga who wanted to use them to wipe out the rest and destroy all life. The two species that combine to form the next generation of Xel'naga are supposed to achieve Purity of Form and Purity of Essence on their own. Amon's Protoss/Zerg hybrids are false Xel'naga and the only being who can become a true Xel'naga is Kerrigan, a Terran fused with Primal Zerg essence.
    • The final deconstruction comes from the fact that the Terrans are special because they're not special, basically making them The Unchosen One. Because they're the only race of the 3 major powers that don't have a monolithic control mechanism like the Khala or the Overmind, likely due to being the only race of the three that Amon did not interfere with, Amon is unable to perform a mass Demonic Possession on them the way he can on the Zerg or Protoss. Narud was able to enslave Moebius Corps through more traditional means, but beyond that, the Terran Dominion remains defiant in the face of Amon, spending most of the campaign engaged in a Great Offscreen War with the Golden Armada.
  • Sort of the case in Stellaris. Humans get two preset empires, the xenophilic United Nations of Earth and the militaristic and supremacist Commonwealth of Man, with pre-designed starting systems and a diverse array of portraits. The Commonwealth of Man also has the distinct honour of being the only preset empire to have a unique story event chain, detailing how they became a Lost Colony in the first place. If you're not playing as humans and neither human empire spawns in the game, chances are good Sol III still exists somewhere in the galaxy as an Easter Egg; you can encounter the Earth during the medieval ages, you can crash into World War II, or you can find it an irradiated wasteland populated by semi-sentient mutant cockroaches (who are prime Uplifted Animal candidates because they are the only reliable way to get a Tomb World species).
  • Explored in several of the Super Robot Wars games, most prominently the Alpha and Original Generation series. In addition to the more run-of-the-mill conceit that humans are supposedly an aggressive and warlike species (given our history), the aliens often hang a lampshade on the fact that Earth is home to a suspiciously large number of WMD-class Humongous Mecha (because the games are a crossover between different mecha anime series). This may lead them to believe that Humans Are the Real Monsters, which usually doesn't end well.
  • Despite getting its ass kicked pretty hard in Universe at War, the Masari attest to the potential humanity possesses. Now all it has to do is restore that 90% of its lost population.
  • The early Warcraft games used this especially Warcraft: Orcs and Humans where everything else on Azeroth was Always Chaotic Evil. Even in Warcraft II the humans were the most heroic of the races of the Alliance. Later games went on to show some humans could be pretty villainous and orcs could be heroic.
    • Humans can use arcane magic (and even demonic magic in some cases) freely, without becoming truly addicted or falling into a blood rage, as the various elven races, orcs, or draenei do. Humans are also some of the strongest wielders of holy magic, with only the Naaru (who are the physical embodiment of the Light) and the Draenei (who spent millennia being specifically trained by the Naaru to wield holy magic) rivalling them in their power.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, corrupted humans are capable of far greater terrors than orcs or even the demonic Eredar are capable of, as shown by Arthas. Not to mention, corrupted humans that use Holy magic have a frightening tendency to retain their abilities as long as they perceive themselves to be good, which explains the Scarlet Crusade. Or Archbishop Benedictus.
  • In the X-Universe series, the Earth State (colloquially known as the "Terrans") have superior technology compared to the other races, they're the only Type 1 species on the Kardashev scale that managed to independently develop FTL travel (the other capable species are at least Type 2), they have the largest navy, and the most well defended sectors. Earth is guarded by a massive space station wrapped around it in geosynchronous orbit; the Torus Aeternal has massive guns, and you can see thousands of capital ships orbiting the Earth behind the Torus. The Argon Federation, a Lost Colony of humans and the largest human faction, lacks the Terrans' technological superiority, but they still manage to win huge areas of space despite their (usually) inferior capital ships.
    • Also worth mentioning: Humans in general were recognized by the Ancients as being so intelligent as to pose a threat to their long-term plans. The Ancients reacted by rearranging the gates near Sol to trap the Terrans in a closed loop of systems with no native intelligent life. The modern Aldrin region is part of this loop. Oddly, it ended up being Earth's accidental creation of the Xenon that derailed their plans. The Ancients created a second closed loop to contain the Xenon, inadvertently enclosing the Argon, Boron, Paranid, Split, and Teladi as well. So humanity is indirectly responsible for the very creation of the X-Universe.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, humanity is able to match the alien invaders in direct combat and technological prowess by reverse-engineering their tech, and ultimately is able to develop Psychic Powers through studying psychic aliens. This is, in fact, the Ethereals' entire goal: looking for a species with both great physical ability as well as great intellects able to use psychic powers. Unfortunately for them, their effort to bring about humanity's potential worked a bit too well.
    • To clarify, unless you screw up everything and the Aliens win, There are no Ethereals anymore. An X-COM Psionic literally tears the kingpin for their Hive Mind out, and everything dies as a result of the psychic whiplash.
    • In XCOM 2, where the XCOM project has failed early, the aliens are still interested in humans, since a highly modified human body can serve as a perfect host for the dying Ethereals.