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Neutrals, Critters, and Creeps

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Non-faction units in strategy games are placed there as either an obstacle to the player, or as set dressing. These can range from a stumbling block (ex, they block a building footprint) to a mighty Beef Gate keeping you from the best stuff. Creeps will attack you (and no, you can't make nice outside of a set of very specific circumstances, although at least they hate all factions instead of just the players), while critters will ignore you, even if you've just parked a tank next to them. Halfway between are Neutrals, who won't start a fight but they'll do their best to finish it (and in rare cases, you can bribe 'em to fight for you). In 4X games, critters are often a capturable resource. Sci-Fi 4X games have a propensity to make their creeps Space Pirates. Very rarely, there will be entire neutral countries, who don't try to win. Note that creeps are not to be confused with slimeball characters. See also Hard-Coded Hostility.



  • AI War: Fleet Command and the sequel AI War 2 can have entire factions of these, depending on the settings. Be it the piratical, extragalactic Marauders, the all-consuming Nanocaust, the opportunistic Zenith Trader, the dormant Dark Spire, the metal-eating Macrophages, the migratory Neinzul Roaming Enclaves, the isolationist and easily angered Dyson Sphere fleets or the merely omnicidal Devourer Golem, they're considered just another factor in the mutual war between you and the AI, rather than groups that can win or lose.
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction has docile, cow-like oswocs, hostile scorpion-like krilitics, and neutral, wolf-like kurn. Humans can largely ignore all of them (unless they piss off a pack of kurn or a krilitic for some reason, or want to deny enemies resources), while the others use them to generate resources in their own way (infestation or trophy hunting).
  • Age of Empires:
    • In the series, some wild animals can attack without provocation (wolves, lions, alligators), other attacks only for defense (boars, elephants) and other doesn't defend themselves. Scenario makers can also put neutral units and buildings on the map, which will be taken over by the first human played civilization to find them. All those belongs to a Gaia faction.
    • In III, these units can be set as guards for treasures on the map.
    • In Age of Mythology aside from the usual animals, you can also find hostile Skraelings (neutral Ulfsarks) in the Vindlandsaga map, shades and cobras in the Erebus map and Bandit Migdol fortresses in the Valley of Kings map. Aditionally, the Chaos god power turns a random number of enemy units into neutral, agressive units and the Tartarus Gate power summons a gate that periodically spawns neutral Tartarian Spawn who will attack any player that they find (including the one that summoned the gate).
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  • Alpha Centauri features Mind-Worms, anneloid psychic creatures equivalent to neutrophils in the Planet's immune system that attack anything not native to Planet, including all the human factions (and both Progenitor factions in Alien Crossfire.) As the game progresses, you come across water-adapted Mind-Worm clumps called Isles of the Deep, and even airborne Worms - the Locusts of Chiron. Alien Crossfire introduces Spore Launchers, which have long-range artillery.
  • American Conquest has various wild animals depending on the climate being depicted; some, like elk or buffalo, won't attack people unless they were attacked first or people walk directly next to them, while others such as alligators and pumas will attack any people who get anywhere near them. Most of these creatures can supply food in the form of meat if a hunter is used on them.
  • In The Battle for Middle-Earth II, there exist goblin caves and troll dens, which certain Evil factions (Mordor, Goblins, and, if you have the Expansion Pack, Angmar) can take over with the "Untamed Allegiance" Support Power.
  • Civilization:
    • Barbarian Tribes. These cavemen can last well into the Modern eras if you take pity on them, and in some installments, they change with the times as well.
    • In Civilization V, they spawn to represent rioters/rebels if a city's Unhappiness gets above 10.
    • As for critters, it has paddocks full of cows, which can be harvested for food.
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth has Wolf Beetles, Siege Worms, Drones, Sea-Dragons, and Kraken. Rising Tide adds Makkaras, Rippers, and Scarabs. Wolf beetles even have nests, which can be blown up for the Xenomass they guard. There's also a kind of beetle that can be harvested for chitin (its implied your colonists harvest their castoff shells). If a faction researches enough of the Harmony Tech Tree, they can field squads of tame creeps, called the Xeno Swarm, and ride tame Razor Bugs into battle. You actually can become friendly with wild wolf beetles if you refrain from killing them on sight. Eventually, they acclimatize to your presence and become Neutrals. However, if you antagonize the alien Hive Mind enough, it starts spawning the wolf beetles Lightning Bruiser cousins, Raptor Bugs, and Manticores, a bigger, longer-ranged version.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • In Command & Conquer: Generals, some maps have a civilian presence, who begin panicking once the fighting starts. The GLA Terrorist has the ability to jack a civilian car as well, giving him extra hit points and armor.
    • The Counterstrike Expansion Pack for Red Alert has a few missions against the giant ants from Them!
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has civilians on some tropical maps. These are a great way for Yuri (the Gimmick faction, whose hat is Mind Control) to get some extra dosh.
    • The original Tiberian Dawn has wild visceroids that spawn in Tiberium fields.
    • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has a whole mutant ecosystem, featuring visceroids, veinhole monsters, floaters, tiberium fiends, and mutant humans. One Nod mission even involves surviving for 20 minutes against nothing but hostile mutants who would like you to go away right now please. On some maps, you can lose to the environment without ever seeing the enemy.
    • Red Alert 3 mostly does away with civilians save for vehicles that exist to be run over, but the Kodiak Lake map features Ursa Major, bears the size of Apocalypse Tanks that (unlike their regular counterparts) can and do attack buildings and vehicles with the same efficiency as bears one-shot infantry. IT's entirely possible for the AI to kite one of these monsters into its base and or the player to win the game without ever seeing the enemy AI.
  • Dune II (and Updated Re Release Dune 2000) has massive Sand Worms that attack ground units that idle in the desert. The special abilities of the Fremen infantry unit are 1) to Walk Without Rythm to avoid calling attention to themselves, and 2) to set up a "thumper," which summons one that they can catch and ride into battle!
  • Empire at War (a Star Wars game) has native populations who are aligned with either the Empire or the Rebellion, and will either help or hinder the player's army.
  • Empire Earth:
    • In the first game, terrestrial animals can be used as a food source, but several of them can fight back. Strangely enough, some of them attack but the game doesn't automatically make them hostile (that is, your troops won't shoot it without a direct order), so you may end up losing a worker or two to an enraged walrus.
    • The second game features animals to use as prey (predators give less food and are mostly used to harass isolated workers), but added the ability to put neutral tribes on the map. These neutral civs don't take territory and never evolve past the copper age and can be allied with, providing your troops with unique bonuses like increased sight ranges or healing. Destroying their city center turns them permanently hostile.
  • Europa Universalis has rebel armies popping up on the map whenever the population of a province is left unhappy for some time. They tend to stick to a handful of provinces (sometimes just the one they were created in), and will only rarely move from one country's territory to the other's. They don't actively seek out enemy units - not even units of the country they're rebelling against. They will, however, fight with any army they encounter, regardless of whose army it is. Killing your own rebels is a great way to eliminate unhappiness in the region for many years. Entering a neighbour's territory (legally) to kill rebels over there is a good way to get a small relationship bonus with that neighbour.
  • Fire Emblem
    • Some games have a green Neutral army, in contrast to the player's blue and the enemy's red. If they have a unit portrait, they can be recruited if you complete a secondary objective.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has Rare Monsters as Creeps in side missions, where they can and will attack your units, but will also pick fights with the bandits or thieves that form the bulk of the enemy forces. They drop Rusted weapons which can be forged into better weapons when killed, and drop additional resources when their barriers are broken, making them a good source of loot for players looking to level grind.
  • Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords has the requisite fleets of Space Pirates (either spawned during galaxy creation or due to the "Prison Break" event), as well as a fleet of Living Ships piloted by Abusive Precursors who broke out of their Can of Evil. Furthermore, there are Minor Civilizations, who can show up randomly on that juicy new planet you had your eye on (or, if you're especially unlucky, a few of your old ones). These are usually neutrals.
  • Certain Halo Wars maps have Flood nests (guarded by flood forms, spore launchers and tentacles), others have Forerunner fortresses (guarded by Sentinels), and still others, primarily those set on human colonies, have rebel camps (guarded by rebel squads). These usually guard capturable structures, such as base sockets, resource extractors, Mook Makers, or power plants.
    • Halo Wars 2 has Forerunner power nodes guarded by neutral Sentinels, who are purple. They only attack when provoked or if a player-controlled unit tries to take the power node.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • Neutral units in the series mostly belong, appriopriately, to the neutral category. They will not make any moves to attack any of the players, but when approached they will start a battle and do their best to finish it, unless the player's army is vastly superior or the commanding hero gets lucky with their diplomacy skill (the third game allows changing this for specific neutral stacks — the default is the aggressive "may join", but it is possible to make them more or less likely to join, up to and including never or always offering to join). Neutral units in the fourth installment are the exception, as they will actually move to attack the players given enough time.
    • Prior to the first expansion of III, elementals were neutral, not available to any faction unless temporarily summoned with magic or purchased from randomly-generated dwellings. The Armageddon's Blade expansion added the Conflux town, which pads out the ranks of the formerly neutral elementals into a fully fleshed-out faction.
  • Master of Orion has Space Monsters which are big threats for early civilizations. These are the Amoeba, Space Dragon, Space Eel and Squid. Then of course there's the Guardian of Orion itself which acts as a Beef Gate. In the latest incarnation of Master of Orion, there are now pirates as well.
  • Mobs in Minecraft are subdivided like this. The basic categories are "Passive" (can't even fight back, includes bats, cats, and pigs), "Neutral" (will attack if provoked, includes dolphins, wolves, and pandas), and "Hostile" (attacks on sight, includes creepers, skeletons and chicken jockeys).
  • In Perimeter's Story Mode, the Scourge take this role (they're strictly Harkback Attack Animals in Skirmish/ multiplayer). Borne of the interplay between the unique noospheric conditions on each planet and human emotion, they range from tank-eating Giant Spiders to structure-ruining wyrms. There are several missions that involve surviving long enough to power up another stargate and escape. The Harkbackhood actually studied them enough to weaponze them.
  • Pharaoh: Wild animals can be found on nearly every map, serving as resources or hazards (but just hazards if game meat isn't an available resource). Hyenas, scorpions, lions, crocodiles and hippos will wander around the map and attack any walker they see, and only hunters, cops and soldiers can fight back against them. Gazelles, ostriches and flocks of birds serve as food sources but can only be gathered by hunters.
  • Rise of Legends has partially-random multiplayer/skirmish maps with neutral structures guarded by their inhabitants. For example, a tavern guarded by Condotierri mercs, an abandoned forge tended by Scrappers, or a cave guarded by a huge bat. The exact location and availability varies each time one plays. These can be aquired into a players army through trade (they generate Wealth each time a trade caravan gets there and back, and apparently accrue debt as their purchase price drops by a fraction each time untill you get them free), Neutral guards and all. This can happen with whole cities as well. However, the Cuatol uses a different system, where they drop a bomb on the neutral structure and own the ruins, and what's left of the creep guards.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has Space Pirates, who actually can be made nice to. For about an hour if you give them a "Begone" Bribe bigger than someone else's (they are aware of what a steamroller they are, having traded shield generators for More Dakka, and Zerg Rush to compensate). If the "Space Pirate Raids" option is turned off, they camp out with a huge fleet to guard a single, low-habitability asteroid base at a crossroad of Hyperspace Lanes. In the Rebellion expansion, TEC Rebels can make them permanent allies, and even hire them through their Broadcast Station buildings. Each neutral world also has Hard-Coded Hostile fleets consisting of a handful of weak units that are never replaced. However, they at least stay home, unlike those bloody pirates.
  • Stellaris:
    • A hazard tile on arid planets represents hostile wildlife with a puma-like alien monster. It also features their diminutive, friendly cousins with a Cute Kitten badge ("Alien Pets") under the Resource Modifiers section.
    • Fallen Empires are very powerful remnants of Precursor civilizations who have reached their twilight years. While they generally won't start anything, they each have a Berserk Button that will goad them into conquering you (such as encroaching on their territory or researching the technology that destroyed their empire).
    • It also has the requisite roving bands of space pirates. An early-game quest involves locating and destroying their space station.
  • StarCraft has alien wildlife, such as Scantids and Rhinodons. These can be parasitized by Zerg players for a free Animal Eye Spy, as the AI ignores them. They also (harmlessly) explode into a mushroom cloud if clicked too often.
  • Stars in Shadow has Star Furies, the shark to the classic Space Whale. They're hostile, metallic creatures evolved into something like Space Fighters, and have plasma (in the state-of-matter sense rather than biological sense) for blood. They can even form "nests" out of hyperspace bubbles.
  • Startopia has Memau which board your station through the docking port and are harmless until they eat enough trash and infect someone with a Skrasher egg which becomes dangerous if not immediately treated. Vermin start appearing in areas with a lot of trash and debris and any peep that interacts with them will get sick. Finally, be it through rival players or by chance depending on the mission or sandbox settings, you can have an agent infiltrate your station either as an obvious tip-toeing spy or an undercover agent disguised as a regular alien (there is a difference between criminals which are normally detained/deported and agents which are always hostile, your cursor changes to the attack crosshair when moused over) which can either murder visitors and residents or plant a bomb.
  • Sword of the Stars calls them "Menaces", and they range from rogue asteroids to self-replicating attack ships.
  • Total War series:
    • All games have "rebels", weak bands of hostiles who hold, but don't conquer, territory. They can also be spawned through random events, taking over a handful of towns (hence the title of "rebels").
    • In Medieval II: Total War, their religion is "Heretic", and they can gain enough influence to convert one of your Generals through their special Heretic unit (similar to the Preist). Eventually, they can spawn covens of witches as well.
  • Universe at War also has civilians and animals (specifically cows). However, these are a packet of 75 or 500 resource credits respectively to Heirarchy players.
  • Valheim: The game is a good case of Everything Trying to Kill You except birds, deer, and Leviathans. However, sometimes the enemies fight each other (mostly separated by biome: greydwarves in the forests, skeletons in forest and swamps, undead and surtlings (who also hate each other) in swamps, goblins in plains, wolves and dragons in mountains) which can be used to your advantage if you run into one while fleeing another.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft I has a rudimentary version of this, as Dungeon missions contain hostile units that cannot be built or summoned by either faction: Ogres, Slimes, Brigands, Dungeon Skeletons, and Fire Elementals.
    • Warcraft II has critters that spawn randomly on each map. Each tileset has their own kind: sheep for Forest, Boars for Wasteland, seals for Snow, and demonic boars for the Orc's world. The Mage unit can transform an enemy into a tileset-appropriate critter permanently. Also, rapidly clicking on critters will cause them to explode.
    • Warcraft III has small bands of monsters to act as XP bubbles to grind a Hero Units character level as well as collect loot from before fighting the enemy proper. A full list of Creeps can be found here.
      • The game also has a number of critters that wander the map. These can also be made to explode with rapid clicking, but unlike the previous game they won't deal damage when doing so.
      • The Polymorph and Hex spells turn a unit into a critter (always a sheep for the former, with wing if necessary) to neutralize it, but unlike the previous game it's temporary and only serves to neutralize a unit (including heroes in the latter case).
  • Warhammer 40,000: Gladius has Chaos and Genestealer cultists (who are still hostile if you're playing as factions that can canonically ally with them. Understandable for Chaos Marines, who are, of course, Always Chaotic Evil and revel in violence and strife to entertain the Dark Gods, but not so much for the Tyranids, who are the Greater Scope Villains behind a 'Stealer cult's shenanigans), psychneuein wasps, catachan devils (X-Box huge scorpions who can eat tanks for lunch and then eat your soldiers for dessert), Kastelan robots (plus heretek caretakers), ambulls, Traitor Guardsmen, and insane Necrons. Crazy Necrons are usually only spawned by quests, however, since they're so damn difficult to put down. It also has paddocks of Grox (imagine a lizard the size of a cow, and treated much the same way), which increase food/requisition. Certain DLCs introduce a Daemon Engine, and Vaul Sentinels, (Old One tanks that look just like the Artefacts dotted around the map), and a tyranid splinter.