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Soldier Vs Warrior / Video Games

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  • Carth Onasi of Knights of the Old Republic is not happy to be called a warrior when Proud Warrior Race Guy Canderous Ordo compliments the Republic as Worthy Opponents. In Carth's view, a soldier's job is to protect the defenseless, and they usually have to fight conquering warriors. In contrast, Canderous' people the Mandalorians are a culture where one constantly seeks to test one's strength against the strongest possible opponent (which they see as the Republic and its Jedi peacekeepers, which is why they're usually allied to the Sith), and committed multiple genocides in the most recent war to provoke the Republic to fight them. The Republic ended up winning a Pyrrhic Victory (the circumstances are elaborated in the sequel) that led directly to the current Sith War after several of the Jedi Knights who left to fight fell to the dark side. It was implied Revan exploited the Mandalorian tendency to go full-strength into any fight by tricking them into feints and exhausting their resources by cruel use of We Have Reserves.
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  • This also applies to the distant sequel Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Republic? Soldier through and through. One of the classes you can play is the commander of a special forces unit, and several companion characters of the other classes are also military-based. The Imperial equivalent? The Bounty Hunter, a warrior for hire. (And following in the path of the Carth and Canderous argument above, the Hunter can choose to join the Mandalorians). The Republic takes a lot of heat for being "slow," and "inefficient," but they have a larger population, better infrastructure, and a functional (though far from perfect) government. The Imperials and their Sith leadership are certainly warriors, with a culture of ruthless survival and self-advancement, led by their Ax-Crazy theocratic cabal of Sith, with a massive hit of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. It means that only the strong survive the brutal Training from Hell and the backstab attempts from their peers. So, yes, the average Imperial would be able to defeat the average Republic counterpart. It also leaves them with fewer experienced officers, Force Users, soldiers, scientists, etc. The officer can't trust his underlings (who may be out to murder him for advancement). The underlings can't trust their commanders (who may be advancing himself by sending them into a slaughter). Worse is that the Only Sane Man, their Intelligence Services, get very little respect. Couple that with their Fantastic Racism policies making only two races eligible for citizenship (and a third, the Chiss, nominally tolerated), with everyone else going to the slave pits unless they're Force Sensitive, and their Third World levels of infrastructure, and it's obvious why they were able to do very well with a shock and awe attack on the Republic and make early gains, but run out of steam and be in serious trouble come the Makeb arc. The Knights of the Fallen Empire arc reveals they were set up fail from the Empire's foundation.
  • In Mass Effect, the two different types are reflected in the turian and the krogan races, both examples of a Proud Warrior Race but in two distinct flavors:
    • Turians are extremely disciplined, organized, and collectivist soldiers. They boast the most powerful navy in the galaxy, and every turian is expected to serve in the military once they come of age. Even those that aren't currently serving are taught the importance of following orders, performing your duties earnestly, and both understanding and following protocol. Even their civilian society is Mildly Military in structure.
    • Krogan are walking Berserkers, each one boasting nearly unparalleled strength and toughness. Their culture is extremely Darwinian, with the weak culled either by natural dangers or battle, and leaders typically chosen through Asskicking Equals Authority. They make perfect infantry and shock troops, but with an unpredictable and unreliable nature. Their extremely long lifespan and high fertility meant that they could afford to fight wars of attrition.

      In the Great Offscreen War in the franchise backstory, the turians entered galactic society while the krogan were threatening to overrun the standing government. The turians implemented a countermeasure, the infamous Genophage (designed by others who weren't actually intending the turians to use it), which removed their primary strength (We Have Reserves). Latter-era krogan have adopted more soldier-like traits, emphasizing the battlemaster's leadership and cooperation within the krantt. It's understood that not every krogan can be the best warrior, but every krogan has to have friends who'll fight by his side.
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    • Among the other major Citadel races, the asari are closest to the Warrior, with their focus on elite biotic commandos and the lawkeeper tradition of the justicars. They also have a Feudal Future approach to military requisitions (this despite being governed by e-democracy), with each individual asari republic equipping their commando units and militias from its own funds rather than a single national budget. This results in a chaotic variety of capabilities as a national military, which was among several factors in the rapid fall of asari space to the Reapers, whereas the more organized humans and turians were able to slow their advances on Earth and Palaven for months. On the other hand, the locally-supplied weaponry and powerful individual warriors meant that while an asari world could be conquered, holding it after the conventional military was defeated would be a nightmare due to the ensuing insurgency.
    • The salarians don't fit neatly anywhere on the spectrum. Like soldiers, they avoid direct combat as much as necessary and focus on winning the intelligence war so they can rapidly and surgically defeat any adversary almost before the war starts. At the same time, their military has no concept of "peacetime" and "wartime" (in fact, they consider Declarations of War immensely stupid, there's a saying that the Salarians only declare war when they have already won or were crippled beyond repair the enemy forces), so their intelligence/espionage wars are fought around the clock. They take it upon themselves to deal with threats that other races either don't know about or can't publicly attack; previous persons of interest have a habit of dying from accidents or natural causes, or disappearing outright. This also means that they are constantly trying to maintain a military advantage against everyone, including their "allies".
    • Meanwhile the Systems Alliance (the main human government) are essentially soldiers and use largely 21st-century Earth doctrines ported to space, complete with fighter carriers to get around Citadel restrictions on dreadnought construction. Instead of garrisoning each individual planet, the Alliance stations fleets at strategic mass relays so they can effectively defend a larger volume of space with fewer ships (but as observed in the novel Mass Effect: Revelation, this comes at the cost of slower response time). Only a small fraction of the human population serves in the military, but they make up for it with drone and mech support.
    • Both the quarians and the geth are Soldiers. The entire quarian race turns itself into a navy with all the collectivist doctrine, chain of command, and professionalism that comes with it. The geth mobile platform and runtime architecture is structured such that a few run times might be performing asteroid mining on mobile platforms one day, then operate a dreadnought a different day. This is a big part of why their mutual history is so bloody; neither side has any real concept of "noncombatant", so the line between "military victory" and "genocide" gets kind of murky.
    • The soldier vs warrior dynamic is shown during the Priority Tuchanka mission. The soldiers Shepard, Victus, and Mordin (or Wiks) plan a complicated operation in which Krogan ground forces in Tomkah tanks and Turian fighters launch a combined assault on a Reaper to distract it, while a small team sneaks around it to the Shroud to release the genophage cure. Problem is, the warrior Krogans comprising the ground assault team don't do some basic soldierly tasks, such as ingress route planning, maintaining comms with the fighter wing to coordinate the assault properly, or having contingency plans in case the initial ingress got stalled (things are probably not helped by the fact that the turians and krogan had few reasons to be friends and many reasons not to be before the Reaper invasion). As expected, the combined assault comes undone; the ground attack convoy gets bogged down when a single road gets taken out, but the turian fighters stick to the original plan and attack regardless.
  • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War bases its Karma Meter on this dichotomy, although it further splits the Warrior into two more archetypes: Mercenary (Only in It for the Money) and Knight (Glory Seeker). You conduct on the battlefield decides which type you'll be assigned to, which in turn determines which bosses you face.
  • Star Trek Online puts the Klingon Defense Force, which is no longer all Klingon, on a bit of a spectrum here, which is exemplified by the command crew of the flagship IKS Bortasqu' (the Klingon counterpart to the Enterprise). On the soldier end, we have Doctor Harza-Kull, an Orion, and Lieutenant Commander Tarol, CMO and chief engineer respectively, and who both view "honor" more along the lines of professionalism. On the other end is the tactical officer LCDR. Hark, a straight Glory Hound implied to have his eye on Captain Koren's job.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Humans Are Warriors is very much in effect for the races of Men in Tamriel (in comparison to the races of Mer), and each race of Men has at least a few Proud Warrior Race tendencies, especially the Nords and Redguards. (Even the Uneven Hybrid Mage Species Bretons, while not as great of "pure" warriors as the other races of Men, have a strong chivalric tradition and make excellent Mage Killer Magic Knights.) Nords hail from the Grim Up North province of Skyrim where they Had to Be Sharp merely to establish a culture in the first place. Culturally, they exhibit Blood Knight tendencies and will often put Honor Before Reason. Being a great warrior is even at the heart of their religion, where only those who die a glorious death in combat get into their ideal afterlife, Sovngarde (modeled after the real-life Valhalla). Redguards meanwhile, are some of the finest swordsmen on the continent, being a cultural mix-up of the samurai and the Moors, but also possess an adventurous streak that makes them better as mercenaries, pirates, and adventurers than as rank-and-file soldiers. Where the "soldier" aspect of this trope comes into play is with the Imperial race, who are very much the "soldiers" to the Nord/Redguard "warriors." The Imperial Legions have helped to forge three Empires from their homeland of Cyrodiil throughout history, conquering much or all of Tamriel in each case. They have a heavy basis in Ancient Rome, utilizing similar strategies and tactics as the real-world Roman Legions. Imperials also focus less on the glories of the combat itself, and more on the glories achieved through combat (such as building their Empires).
    • In Skyrim, this is the dynamic between the Imperial Legion (Soldiers) and the Stormcloaks (Warriors). The Imperials are often seen training and performing drills and possess uniform equipment. The Stormcloaks are basically more free-spirited and less disciplined, and there is more variety in weapons they wield — Imperial troops usually have a (Roman Gladius-inspired) Imperial Sword as standard, but Stormcloaks can be armed with swords and axes of one or two-handed varieties. It also reflects in their performance in battle: a lone Stormcloak vs. a lone Imperial usually results in a Stormcloak win, but a bunch of Stormcloaks vs. a bunch of Imperials tends to be a more even fight. Also, the Imperials are unquestionably the better archers, with better bows and greater accuracy.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has several factions which fall along these lines:
    • The NCR are the most obvious "soldier" faction, having based their government and military on the model of pre-apocalypse USA. The NCR is noted to have tons of money, greater numbers, and better equipment at their disposal.
      • After them, other "soldier"-type factions include the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave. Both, not coincidentally, also being remnants of pre-apocalypse American military.
      • Mr. House's robot army is also on the "soldier" side, with the robots' TV screen faces even changing from police officers to soldiers once you upgrade them. Mr. House even has a military-style testing center that looks like a training course in the basement of his Lucky 38 casino. Of course this isn't that surprising, given that they are robots, and are thus programmed to follow Mr. House's orders and fulfill his cause.
    • Caesar's Legion is the most apparent "warrior" faction, even though their culture is modeled upon the disciplined, professional Roman Legions. Legion soldiers aren't much for individual tactics beyond Attack! Attack! Attack!, and they tend to carry much more primitive equipment compared to other factions. Legionaries are also encouraged to show their strength and courage in battle, as seniority means nothing and rewards are given based solely on merit.
      • The majority of other combatant cultures also follow a warrior culture, including the Fiends, the Great Khans, the Jackals, the Vipers, and so forth.
    • The Boomers are kind of a mix of the two. Despite being settled inside of an Air Force Base, and equipped with all sorts of destructive pre-War tech, they have a fanatical reverence for explosives and gleefully use them when given half an excuse. They're considered the ultimate Wild Card, to the point that even the NCR and the Legion are scared of going up against them.
  • Halo plays this multiple ways.
    • Between the humans and the Covenant, humans are the soldier, using an industrialized Western-style Standard Sci-Fi Army and continuous R&D, and frequently switching up their tactics. The Covenant forces (ostensibly) see the war as a religious crusade in service to their Ascent to a Higher Plane of Existence, the Great Journey, and are prone to inflexible tactics and Honor Before Reason. Unfortunately, while Humanity tends to hold the advantage in land battles, the Covenant's supership technology and sheer numbers are such that it doesn't often matter (especially in naval battles: Halo: The Fall of Reach comments early on that every minor ground victory the UNSC wins usually turns into a major defeat in space, since oftentimes if the battle for a certain planet starts turning against them, the Covenant will simply glass the planet and move on), and those Covenant commanders who aren't inflexible tactically, such as Thel 'Vadamee before becoming the Arbiter in Halo 2, are all the deadlier for it.
    • Within the Covenant:
      • The Sangheili/Elites play the Proud Warrior Race Guy to the hilt. In a Halo 2: Anniversary terminal, Thel 'Vadamee is said to have once paused a surprise attack on a human military installation and allowed the Marines to get their weapons together so they could face him in a fair fight (and then he slaughtered them to a man anyway). Surprisingly, however, their strong sense of honor is part of what prompts their Heel–Face Turn in 2: They don't like being lied to, and they don't like being betrayed, both of which the Prophets did.
      • The Jiralhanae/Brutes are chiefly Blood Knights who joined the Covenant because it means they get to kill things. Notably, in gameplay, Brutes are usually slightly weaker individually compared to Elites, but tend to fight in organized squads of several at once, while Elites are usually encountered solo or in groups of 2 or 3 leading groups of Grunts and Jackals.
      • The Kig-Yar/Jackals are mercenaries, a mix of soldiers and pirates who were more or less hired into the Covenant and privately could care less about the Great Journey.
  • In Ultima, this is an important distinction between the fighter and paladin classes: the former fights to fulfill their passion for fighting, while the latter fights to fulfill their code of honor.
  • Crusader Kings II:
    • Most realms rely on levies of warriors for their armies, which are typically dismissed once no longer needed. Tribal governments can also call up large numbers of warriors or raiders with councilor missions or by decision (or by using the Prepared Invasion casus belli if a Germanic pagan), which disperse automatically once the war ends. With the Legacy of Rome DLC, richer, typically kingdom- or empire-tier, realms can afford to create retinues, professional standing army units which are more expensive to create and maintain than levies, but also have higher stats.
    • Also seen in the distinction between "offensive" Pagan realmsnote  and everyone else. Offensive pagans get bonuses to levy size and pay no opinion penalty for raising vassals' levies, but if you're not at war, raiding, or bound by a truce, you lose a considerable amount of prestigenote  each month. Of course, given the fact that raiding is about the only way most pagan realms can support their economy, you'll rarely face this penalty. Incidentally, the Norse culture's unique "Berserker Charge" battle tactic is also considered one of the worst in the game.
  • In MechWarrior, the divide between the Proud Warrior Race Clans and the soldierly Inner Sphere powers is amplified by their Opposing Combat Philosophies. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, Clan vehicles are typically geared for one-on-one combat, often eschewing armor and sensors in favor of more guns and speed. Inner Sphere vehicles, while slower and typically weaker in firepower, pile on experimental equipment, sensor suites, and support equipment; they possess the most advanced scout units in the game and can easily form C3 targeting networks to guide in their indirect Long Tom artillery fire that the Clanners lack, and possess more powerful air support. In the single-player games, the player is sometimes tasked with fighting Clanners. In Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, the mercenary Player Character can either engage a Clan Jade Falcon lance in a prearranged honor duel or bring twice as many mechs and slug it out.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, this is a big part of why Cloud and Barret get on each others' nerves so much. Cloud, a former military member and mercenary, views his involvement to be a job and finds Barret a naive, overemotional blowhard. Barret, an eco-terrorist, views his involvement as ideological, and finds Cloud to be a shallow, stuck-up jerk. Fairly early in the game, Barret changes his mind about Cloud once he realises that Cloud does have deeply-held convictions he'll fight for, and Cloud warms to Barret once he realises how thoughtful and considered he actually is.
  • Tyranny: The two armies Kyros sent to conquer the Tiers embody this. The 'soldiers' are the Disfavoured, a professional full-time Elite Army led by General Graven Ashe, A Father to His Men and brilliant (if very conventional) tactician. In your party the Disfavoured are represented by Barik, a very loyal and professional (if not terribly bright) soldier who believes in Kyros' agenda and war as the means to 'civilize' the southern barbarians. The 'warriors' are the Scarlet Chorus, an Army of Thieves and Whores who gives anyone they capture the choice of Join or Die (and force those who choose 'join' to fight each other to the death for the privilege) and runs on Asskicking Equals Authority and Social Darwinist policies. It is led by The Voices of Nerat, a Mad Hatter Mind Hive who stays on top by scaring the piss out of everyone including its own men. In your party the Scarlet Chorus is represented by Verse, a southerner who joined the Chorus willingly to sate her bloodlust and has no illusions of 'higher ideals' or hypocrisy about her role; she just wants to kill stuff.
  • Present but downplayed in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 with the Charr and Norn. The Norn value personal accomplishments and bravery over anything else. They do not have armies but instead venture out alone or with a few close companions if the enemy is worthy prey. The Charr by comparison place an emphasis on unity, placing the warband and Legion above personal interest. Rather than clashing over these differing viewpoints, the Charr and Norn respect each other for their adherence to honor.
    • A good comparison of this outlook can be seen in the Eye of the North campaign. Recruiting the Charr requires killing their current corrupt leaders, at which point the Legions quickly realign under their new leader. Recruiting the Norn involves a spirit journey and showing one rather boisterous Norn that the enemy is fun to hunt and there are enough to gather a hunting party.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Alliance army is composed of soldiers, and the Horde's is composed of warriors.
  • A common dynamic seen across the Fire Emblem series:
    • The Martial Lord archetype plays the Warrior to the Peaceful Lord's Soldier. Martial Lords are passionate about conquest on the battlefield, either out of personal satisfaction or determination to achieve their goals. Meanwhile, Peaceful Lords are often reluctant to fight, doing so because it's the only solution to the conflict they're faced with. In terms of Character Development, Martial Lords have a Fatal Flaw in their recklessness, and learn to think about their actions by the end of the game; meanwhile, Peaceful Lords become less naive and more intelligent over the course of the game, while still maintaining the values that drive them to fight.
    • Fighters play the Warrior to the Knight's Soldier. The former fights out of passion and might serve a Lord out of happenstance, whereas the latter takes a vow to fight on behalf of their Lord. Knights wear heavy armor that only a state-sponsored army could afford, whereas Fighters charge into battle with only an axe and the clothes on their backs. Fighters may even promote to a class named "Warrior".
    • Myrmidons play the Warrior to the Mercenary's Soldier. The former are dedicated practitioners of the sword, seeking to become masters of the art, whereas the latter uses the sword as a means to an end (which, as their class name implies, is usually to make a living).
    • For (typically) enemy-exclusive classes, Brigands plays the Warrior to, well, Soldiers. The former are fought as nebulous gangs, scaling mountains and ransacking villages, whereas the latter serve The Empire and are supposed to defend said villages. The two both play The Goomba, but for different reasons: Brigands are very strong but can't reliably strike their opponents, whereas Soldiers are Cannon Fodder that struggle against even sword wielders.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake are practically built on this trope both in story and gameplay. The game has the player alternate between its two protagonists, Alm and Celica, each of whom has their own plot, party, and set of maps to clear. Alm's route plays up the soldier mentality. The plot focuses on the war between La Résistance and The Empire, many of Alm's allies are professional soldiers, and his party contains the bulk of the game's playable Knights, Cavaliers, and Archers. Maps on this route tend to be open fields and fortifications that offer minimal cover and the enemy forces are usually similar in composition to the player's own. This forces players to stay in formation to protect their squishier units and avoid being flanked. Celica's route emphasizes the warrior philosophy. The story is about a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits on a Mission from God and the party has a preponderance of Mages, Mercenaries, and Pegasus Knights. Celica's maps are frequently in wooded areas or ruins with plenty of natural cover. Enemies are mostly Cannon Fodder interspersed with a few more powerful foes (who love to summon even more cannon fodder), making units operating solo or in small groups a more viable strategy.
  • Iji: The Tasen are soldiers fighting for the very survival of their species, and have rather professional voice lines when they spot an enemy (such as reporting a "Hostile!"). By contrast, the Komato appear to have the time of their lives fighting, wear helmets with integrated kill counters, and are prone to yelling "Die!" or "Come here!" when they spot an enemy.
  • Discussed in a cutscene of God of War explaining how Kratos became as powerful a warrior as he is. He was a captain in the Spartan army which was legendary for its brutal discipline and regimented tactics producing some of the most elite soldiers in history. He and his army were defeated by a barbarian army of warriors which easily overpowered the Spartan's training and discipline with individual battle prowess and savage ferocity to the point that Kratos' army was slaughtered to the last and Kratos himself only survived by selling his soul to Ares who made him the most powerful warrior on the planet.
  • Stellaris has a variety of Advisors, sets of voice lines reporting on the happenings of your empire. The default Militarist advisor is a raging Berserker, but an alternate advisor from the Humanoid Species Pack is the Soldier.
    "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!" "It is a good day to die!" "Only in battle can the true mettle of any sentient organism be measured. Have at thee!" Militarist Advisor
    "Attention on deck!" "This channel is now under military control. Obey all instructions transmitted here and report any insurgent activity to the nearest occupation officer. Have a nice day." "Hull integrity failing, decompression imminent. It's been an honor Captain!" Soldier Advisor
  • In The Legend of Zelda, Hyrule has castle guards that are almost always depicted as spear-wielding Red Shirts (soldiers) while the Big Bad Ganondorf has an army of specialized monsters and supernatural creatures (warriors).
  • League of Legends depicts this dynamic respectively between the rivalling factions of Demacia and Noxus. Demacia is an isolationist kingdom remarkably disciplined in its military stature in the name of upholding justice and peace, while Noxus is an expansionist empire whose philosophy is rooted deep within seeking individual glory and power over everything. As a result, while Noxus is devastating as a scattershot horde, Demacia has definitively the absolute best-trained and most coordinated army in the game's universe, and the two have been locked in an impressive stalemate for generations.
  • Command & Conquer has traces of this in the Tiberium Universe with GDI versus Nod. Consistently seen as military professionals and formed from the leading nations of Europe and North America, GDI are solidly on the "soldier" side of the equation. Conversely, Nod's mystical trappings and utter devotion to Kane and Tiberium, hem to the idea of being religious warriors.
  • Library of Ruina has this distinction between the floors of Chesed and Gebura.
    • Gebura's floor is the Warrior, with incredibly powerful Abnormality pages that incentivize stacking them all on a single librarian ( specifically Gebura herself, as she's able to use the incredibly powerful Red Mist Key Page). The focus on having a single, super-powered fighter is exemplified by the Mountain of Corpses Abnormality page, which kills all of the other librarians and buffs the chosen librarian based on how many others were sacrificed.
    • Chesed's floor is the Soldier, with many Boring, but Practical Abnormality pages made to incentivize spreading them around and keeping all of your librarians alive. In addition, unlike Gebura's custom Key Page, Chesed is limited to Key Pages that any other librarian could use. This "keep everyone alive" mentality is shown through Courage, which is practically the inverse of Mountain of Corpses - the chosen librarian gets benefits for having more allies alive and is punished for having less than two living allies.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: Interestingly, the Tenakth portray both sides of this in one tribe. As a primitive tribe in a dangerous world, they respect strength and often have duels to determine leadership. However, since they based their culture on a military museum, they have a more regimented command structure than most other tribes. Soldiers who are too eager are kept in check by their squad leader, and the most important ideals of their culture are duty and following orders. Because of all this, twenty years ago when the massive Carja Sundom began raiding all the surrounding tribes for blood sacrifices, the Tenakth were able to quickly unite and fight back against the invaders. Unique against those who suffered in the Red Raids, they actually managed to push back the Carja, despite being outnumbered and outmatched technologically.
  • Seen in the 2008 reboot of Turok, in which the hero defects after his squad mistakenly massacres civilians, while the villain (his commanding officer) just views it as collateral damage and states that he follows his orders like a soldier.
    "You're right Kane, I'm not a soldier. A soldier follows orders, but a warrior follows his heart!"