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Video Game / Generation Zero

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Generation Zero is an open-world First-Person Shooter designed for co-op play. It was developed by Avalanche Studios and released on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One on March 26th, 2019.

It is set in the developers' native Sweden, in the alternate version of The '80s where Swedish military grew paranoid about the potential Russian invasion, and chose to counter it through accelerating robotics research and secretly constructing an army of robots. You (along with your friends in the co-op mode) are youths who came back from a vacation to stumble into the aftermath, when there are no more humans left, and only the killer robots roam free.

No relation to the Valiant Comics comic book.


Generation Zero provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Bomb: Military and FNIX versions of the Ticks will self-destruct upon receiving too much damage.
  • Action Survivor: Your character isn't a hardened soldier, just a high school teen coming back home from vacation (because Sweden has a universal draft you do know how to use a gun and can even play as a teen military recruit, but it's unlikely you've had more than basic training). As a result, the game heavily encourages guerilla tactics since a straight standing fight against the robots, who are purpose-built military war machines, will generally end badly for you.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The reason for the events of the game. Though subverted in that the AI that started the rebellion was based on a human.
  • A.K.A.-47: All of the guns have slightly modified names of their real-world counterparts. For instance, Granatgevär m/49 rocket launcher may sound unusual, but is only a number away from the real-world Granatgevär m/48, better known as Karl Gustav.
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  • Alternate History: Referenced from the first moment with the Opening Narration.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Heavily encouraged, as anything larger than a Runner takes an obscene amount of damage to bring down unless you destroy their weak points. Even Runners take quite a lot of bullets to kill if you don't target their weak spot.
    • Runners are instantly brought down by a shot or two to their fuel tank.
    • Similarly, the Seekers are instantly brought down by a shot to a thruster, while a shot to the sensors in the "head" or to the alarm module renders them absolutely useless.
    • A rifle shot to the fuel tank won't destroy a Hunter, but will weaken it significantly; Hunters are also vulnerable in the exhaust ports in their chest. Unfortunately the Hunter's fuel tank is more heavily armored than the Runner's, and detonating it will require multiple hits from anything smaller than a .50 BMG sniper rifle.
    • Harvesters have 3 fuel tanks in a large cargo rack on their back; destroying all 3 tanks will take out about 80 to 90 percent of the Harvester's health. After that you can finish them off by targeting their missile launchers as well as the power panel on their upper back.
    • Finally, with the June 2019 heavy Nerf to explosive weapons, the only real way to take out a Tank now is to destroy all of their weak points (the two tanks on their shoulder joints, the power panel on their upper back, the small "head" above their guns, the large head above that, and the fuel tank on their back). It's a good idea to destroy their weapons first to make targeting their weak points much less frustrating.
  • Attention Deficit Oh Shiny: The robots' targeting systems are easily fooled by things like thrown flares or fireworks; tossing a flare in the middle of combat will often cause robots to stop shooting at you and target the flare instead.
  • Ascended Extra: Uncle Calle, a local conspiracy theorist farmer mentioned in a couple of sidequests who mistook the robot invasion for an alien invasion, becomes a major NPC in the FNIX Rising DLC. In fact several characters mentioned in logs and messages appear in person in FNIX Rising, including major character Veronika Nielson, and a few minor characters like Alexander the exchange student.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The rocket launcher was heavily Nerfed in the June 2019 update; even a Prototype Tank requires 10 to 15 rockets to bring down (depending on the gear level of the rocket launcher), and even a Hunter won't be brought down by a single direct rocket hit. Ammo for it is still as rare as it was before, though (it takes hours of scavenging to stock up a dozen rockets), making it feel kind of pointless.
  • Badass Bookworm: One of the side missions involves investigating the lighthouse home of one of the FOA53 scientists. Searching the house, you'll find over a dozen dead Military Runners scattered throughout the house, and the corpse of Dr. Pettersson barricaded in a room clutching a revolver. When they came for him he definitely did not go quietly.
  • Brain Uploading:
    • The leader of all the rebellious machines, FNIX, is a brain upload of Von Ulmer, the former lead scientist of the project, before he got mortally ill with AIDS-related pneumonia. For its part, FNIX seems to recognize that it was created from Von Ulmer, but seems to consider itself to be a new and distinct being. In FNIX Rising it even scornfully refers to what it inherited from Von Ulmer as "borrowed memories".
    • A series of security screens in the final area imply that FNIX has kidnapped dozens if not hundreds of civilians, likely including all the civilians who were supposedly evacuated to the mainland, to build itself a larger neural net in order to expand its power and capabilities.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Seems to be played straight, as the head is frequently one of the machines' weakpoints. However, it's still much less of a weak point than other areas, such as the fuel tank or exhaust ports.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: While the game's world is enormous, there's barely a handful of structure types, and entire villages may consists of one-two houses. Worse, their internal layouts are also identical, with only the loot inside the containers being randomized. The random cut-and-paste design also results in a number of houses with no bedrooms.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Enemy's tier level is denoted by color. Prototypes are factory-machinery orange, Military units are green, and FNIX units are black and red.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Von Ulmer seems to have been an overall normal and decent guy. FNIX, not so much. Upon gaining sentience FNIX's first action was to assassinate everyone who knew of its existence, including Von Ulmer's co-workers and best friend. FNIX does seem to imply it considers itself a new being created from Von Ulmer rather than a direct continuity of Von Ulmer's consciousness, though.
  • Elite Mooks: The FNIX versions of the machines are these to the Prototype and Military versions. They are better armored and often feature additional weapons: while Prototype Runners only have an SMG, and Military version adds a Shotgun and an armor plate covering their weak point, FNIX Runner sports a Rocket Launcher as well.
    • The "Alpine Unrest" DLC adds "Apocalypse" class robots, which use powerful area-of-effect chemical weapons and are up to 3 times as durable compared to even FNIX class robots.
  • Enemy Summoner:
    • The Seeker drones summon enemies through their alarms.
    • Military and FNIX versions of the Hunter and FNIX versions of the Tank and Harvester will drop Ticks during combat, in addition to their other attacks.
  • Excuse Plot: Because of the game's heavy shared-world co-op focus, the game's "story" is more of a series of breadcrumbs to encourage you to move deeper into the open world, rather than a fully fleshed-out plot like in a game like Far Cry or S.T.A.L.K.E.R..
  • Explosive Barrels: Fuel tanks will instantly explode when shot. You get to carry them and set them down yourself, in preparation for fighting the robots.
  • Expy: The general robot designs resemble the works of Swedish sci-fi illustrator Simon Stålenhag (as seen in books like Tales from the Loop) so much that a short-lived urban legend that he was involved in the game blossomed until Stålenhag made clear on Twitter that he wasn't (and while he's not going to sue the producers, he is kind of annoyed by it).
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: All intact cars will explode quite spectacularly after several shots; detonating them is a good way to take out Hunters and hurt Tanks, but Hunter and Tanks have an annoying habit of pro-actively blowing up cars in order to do the same to you.
  • Giant Mook: The large, bipedal Hunters fulfill this role, with the much larger Harvesters and Tanks serving as Humongous Mecha. They're pretty heavily armed and the Military and FNIX versions can take up to several dozen rounds of automatic weapons fire or anywhere from several up to a dozen shotgun blasts, depending on gear level and enemy rank.
  • The Ghost: Similar to Fallout 76, the game is completely devoid of NPCs besides other players. The presence of other humans is occasionally hinted at, but these never bear out anything. You do make contact with a couple of characters over radio during the main quest, but that's about it.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Played absolutely straight, and it is in fact the only way to pick locks.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: This essentially happens to the entire country of Sweden, as they built all the robots themselves in the belief it would defend them from the Russian invasion, only to see them turn on themselves.
  • Hollywood Hacking: One of the skills allows your characters to hack into the robots. The first level causes enemies to freeze for several seconds, while the upgraded version actually causes hacked robots to attack other robots (though this is heavily bugged to the point of being almost useless).
  • Incredibly Durable Enemies: Unless you deliberately aim for the weak points, enemies can survive ungodly amount of punishment. Considering the weak points are something players have to figure out on their own by trial and error (unless reading a guide, that is), combat can be incredibly frustrating. On the other hand, once weaknesses are targeted, the combat becomes incredibly dull, one-shotting most of targets.
  • King Mook: The October 2019 "Rivals" update adds a Rivals system inspired by the likes of the minibosses from Diablo and the Nemesis system from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Special named machines will appear through the game world as you progress through the game, and level up as they kill players or the player kills other machines in their region. Rivals have more health and deal more damage than regular machines (a Level 4 rival has almost 3 times the amount of health a regular version of that enemy has), often have an entourage of other combat machines to defend them, and at higher levels they have a chance to drop special 6-star experimental weapons.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Hunters are heavily armed, very tough, and insanely fast. A single Military or FNIX Hunter is about as tough and even faster than a Bioshock Big Daddy, only instead of facing one at a time you'll often be facing squads of several of them at once. If a Hunter squad ambushes you on open ground you're very likely screwed, especially if you don't have any speed upgrades and/or they're equipped with railguns or fletchette rifles.
  • Meaningful Name: The robots are led by the AI named FNIX, an abbreviation which obviously resembles "Phoenix". This refers to the AI actually being an upload of the leader of the project. FNIX itself is a reference to the real-life DNIX, a UNIX variant used by the Swedish government in the 1980's.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: Generation Zero is heavily built on pre-existing assets from TheHunter: Call of the Wild. The whole conception behind the game was to have a small team take the systems and environments Avalanche Studios had already made for TheHunter and make a Wide Open Sandbox FPS out of them.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted after the June 2019 patch, which added bikes as the only working vehicles in the game. They're good on roads, but poor off-road and absolutely horrible trying to go up even a gentle slope. They're also a lot easier to spot from a distance by the robots.
  • No Ending: The game ends with you infiltrating the FOA 53 bunker and blowing up what you believe to be the FNIX mainframe. The game makes it clear that FNIX is in another castle (presumably having transferred its neural net into the hundreds of civilians it's captured and turned into a processing network) and ends with "the war has only just begun" after the credits roll.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Unironically invoked in the "diary" entry for Tank: "The robot started shooting at us with some kind of automatic machine gun, hitting the ground, nearby cars and even a few of us. Thankfully mostly flesh-wounds."
  • Perpetual Beta: The game's Swedish development studio apparently has a very anti-crunch work culture, which, while certainly admirable, also results in a very buggy game with wonky balancing, infrequent patches, and patches that often create as many bugs as they fix.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: The game's players are high school teens who were vacationing on a nearby archipelago when the robot uprising went down, and come back home Late to the Party. During character creation you select from a variety of 1980's high school teen tropes, including punks, metalheads, nerds, jocks, etc.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Typical for a survival game. You don't have to worry about food or water, but ammo and health item management is fairly crucial. Loot containers do respawn loot (items laying around not in containers don't seem to respawn), but the reset time is very long compared to most other games in the genre, so especially in the early game you'll going to have to manage your resources carefully due to being unable to farm items. Combat encounters with anything larger than a Runner are also very taxing on your resources, so it's often better to avoid combat unless you're very well equipped and leveled.
  • Resurrective Immortality: FNIX Rising reveals that FNIX has this, thanks to multiple backup drives of its program, which is why it wasn't at all concerned about the bomb from the final mission of the base game.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: .44 Magnus is the most powerful handgun-type weapon in the game.
  • Sequence Breaking: Due to the open-world structure, it's possible to complete both the main and secondary missions out of order. Usually, the game will take this into the account, but some missions can be rendered broken by going to a location Y before receiving a clue to go there from location X.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: You can get the robots to shoot each other by scrambling their targeting sensors with fireworks, tossing a sticky flare onto the robot you want everyone else to shoot, or using the hacking specialization skill. None of these methods are particularly effective due to flaky programming (by the developers, rather than in-universe), but when it works it's pretty cool.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A Dark Souls bonfire can be found on the south coast of the starting island, just before the bridge to the first town. Instead of a sword, the bonfire will have a .270 hunting rifle which you can pick up.
    • The DeLorean from Back to the Future can be found in a barn just north of the Uttern Bunker in the Mountain region. Pressing a button on the back will cause it to fly off into the sky.
    • The A.K.A.-47 name of the AK-74 assault rifle, AL-76, is possibly a reference to the Isaac Asimov short story "Robot AL-76 Goes Astray", about a robot who gets lost in the rural countryside and starts causing havok, which would certainly fit thematically with the game.
    • The "Alpine Unrest" DLC has numerous references to The Shining.
  • Sniper Pistol: The .44 Magnus revolver can be equipped with a 2x-4x scope for sniping. It one-shots Runners with a hit to the fuel tank just like the hunting rifles do, though it is somewhat weaker than a hunting rifle against Hunters.
  • Sniper Rifle: There are two types of hunting rifles in .243 and .270 caliber, and also a semi-automatic .50 BFG military anti-materiel rifle.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The lower-tier Harvester and Tank robots can do this. More advanced versions have a poison gas attack instead.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Scattered notes and recordings are the only form of storytelling for nearly the entire runtime of the game, with the only exceptions appearing in the final missions.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Stepping into water deeper than knee-high will cause you to immediately sink straight to the bottom and respawn back on shore. Somewhat justified in that you're likely carrying a large rucksack's worth of guns, ammo, and supplies.
  • Super Prototype: Averted. Prototypes are the basic, weakest and most frequent versions of all the robots, and they often come with the glaring design flaws, like the completely exposed fuel tank on the back of the Runners. The Military versions are better armored in general and make an effort to better protect their most exposed areas.FNIX versions are better. Overall Prototype robots are about half as durable as Military ones; FNIX robots are only slightly tougher than Military robots but tend to have much better weapons.
  • Surveillance Drone: The Spotters, which cannot do anything besides sounding the alarm to summon actual fighting drones.
  • The Three Trials: The game's main missions consist of 3 basic branches; investigating the deaths of the FOA53 scientists, investigating the shipment crates the robots originated from, and shutting down radio jammers to make contact with the outside world. Completing all 3 sets of missions leads you to 3 key items needed to access the final area and end the game.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The robots were originally intended to defend Sweden from a Russian invasion. Instead they end up invading the country themselves.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Because of poor programming, it's actually fairly easy to break the scripting in missions and render them impossible to complete, i.e. by picking up a note or keycard before the game tells you to. Because there's no way to save or load the game, it's possible to create a situation where the game becomes unbeatable if this happens during a main mission, with the only solution being to manually delete your profile file (which you may have put dozens of hours into) and start a new game.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: At the end of the game, FNIX informs you that the Russians lied to you and that their device is a bomb and not an EMP. He warns you to run, wishing for you to survive. Possibly downplayed in that, based on his wording, it's possible he somehow expects to survive the explosion in some form, while it would kill you for certain. Also, the robots continue trying to kill you if you continue playing after the credits. FNIX Rising shows that FNIX still wants to kill you, and merely considered you dying to betrayal rather than to his robots to be an unfitting dishonorable death.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The game has been described as DayZ with robots. Other than the rather major distinction that it lacks Humans Are the Real Monsters PvP, that's not a bad description. Even the "main campaign" is more of a suggestion than being particularly core to the overall experience.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Two separated quests involve local residents who mistook the robot uprising for an alien invasion. The farmer in question becomes a major NPC in FNIX Rising and continues to refer to the robots as aliens.
  • You Are Too Late: As the game has no human NPCs, whenever you receive a quest involving searching a location for human survivors, you can guarantee that said survivors will either be dead or missing by the time you get there.
    • Averted in the "Alpine Unrest" DLC's main quest, where you actually meet and help defend a group of human survivors. Played straight with the rest of the DLC's side quests, which follow the same "everyone's already dead by the time you arrive" formula.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The FOA 53 bunker where FNIX is supposedly located is completely undefended; even the FOA Institute on the surface where the bunker entrance is located may or may not have robots patrolling around it, based purely on random generation. Once you get inside the bunker you have a clear run to the end of the game.


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