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Video Game / The Surge

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We are human, so we fight. But are we fighting for our future, or theirs?

The Science Fiction Souls-like RPG that you've all been waiting for.

The Surge is a 2017 video game developed by Deck13 and published by Focus Home Interactive.

In the twilight years of humanity's decadent and obsolete civilization, corporations rule over a dying world. Most of Earth's work force comes from intelligent androids and dexterous machines, and millions of unemployed risk permanent brain damage to get the necessary implants that can link them to a work-oriented exosuit, just to keep up with a work force that is stronger, faster, smarter, and most importantly, do not make mistakes. Usually.

Warren is one of the few lucky unemployed who just got a job, at a major corporation no less; CREO, the world-advertised conglomerate promising to repair Earth's ecosystem with some kind of space-based satellite technology. Confined to a wheelchair, the company's biggest draw for him is an Exo-Suit Rig - a framework of Power Armor that will let him walk again. Other than that, he knows that his new 6-to-6 construction job is nothing but a tax write-off, and what little he accomplishes will be overshadowed by thousands of drones, hundreds of new experimental robots, and dozens of high-tech security forces who are so advanced one literally cannot damage them by whacking their legs with cattle prods as they shoot down insurgents and malfunctioning droids with missiles and railguns.

But it appears something has Gone Horribly Wrong. His first clue? Despite the Auto-Doc's claims, it grafts his brand-spanking new exoskeleton onto his skeleton without anaesthetic. He passes out while it's drilling into the back of his skull...

...and wakes up in a junkyard with one of the aforementioned autonomous drones dragging him off for disposal. The only humans he meets for some time are fellow Rig-jockeys who respond to his attempts to strike up a conversation by attempting to strike off his head with an industrial power tool.

Somehow, he was one of even more lucky survivors who managed to wake up still sane. Half the facility is in ruins, all the humans have gone nuts, and they along with all the robots are trying to kill him, and ONLY him. Even worse, there are things in the facility that surpass any technological advancements CREO has made - as far as he knows - as if they came from centuries in the far-future. What did all of this? Does it extend to the rest of the world? Has he been asleep for centuries, and if so, how is he still alive?

The key gameplay mechanic is that pretty much every single opponent he meets is a Boss in Mook Clothing capable of killing him in single combat unless he pays absolute attention. Any attempt to mindlessly hack and slash through a fight will leave him very dead in short order. Dodging and blocking are not optional; he may be wearing half a ton of armor like it's a T-shirt and swinging an industrial power tool like it's a foam rubber bat, but so are every single one of his enemies. And at the same time, he always has to keep an eye out for the opportunity to rip off someone's arms, legs or head if not make them Half the Man He Used to Be, as the only way to upgrade his own Rig is by tearing new components right off their bodies before their Rigs self-destruct.

Several DLC packs have been released, including the CREO Special Employee Kit pack and the Fire and Ice pack, which add implants and special elemental weapons to the game. A major DLC, A Walk in the Park, was released in December 2017, involving exploring CREO World, a massive amusement park for CREO employees and families and visitors. Like everywhere else in the complex, CREO World has suffered in the wake of the catastrophic incident, with rampaging robots, crazed maintenance workers, ruined attractions, and a sinister machine intelligence behind everything.

The Surge 2, its sequel, was released on 24 September, 2019.

The Surge contains examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • The Rogue Process, formerly the assisting AI for CREO's neural implant tech and systems, grows so advanced that it becomes sentient and wants to eradicate humanity to replace them with cyborgs due to fear of its own death at humanity's hands.
    • The AI operating the Ops Stations and intercom, on the other hand, seems to be relatively benign, offering you cryptic advice in the form of standard lines. For example, it gives Warren a very roundabout warning to not stand still during the Firebug fight, since it can't just outright say he needs to stay mobile to avoid its attacks.
  • Action Survivor: Warren is your average joe who gets thrust into a live-or-death situation where all he wanted to be is a regular worker. Bonus points for being wheelchair-bound up until the situation happens.
    • For all that, Warren sure seems handy with the assorted weapons he finds. Either the rigs come bundled with some kind of combat manual that goes straight into user's brain through the neural link or our protagonist Minored In Ass Kicking at some point in the past.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cutting off enemy limbs is a reliable way to acquire schematics and broken gear.
  • After the End: You wake up to find that the corporation you work for is in shambles, its employees insane, and its robots on orders to kill all sane humans.
  • Ambiguous Situation: You are given little to no context for why all the workers are berserk and none of the non-insane NPCs have any idea what went wrong either. Warren doesn't even remember how he wound up in the junkyard after his surgery or how long it's been. Similar to Dark Souls, the game remains deliberately vague as to what exactly is going on, and while hints are dropped throughout the game at no point is the plot ever clearly spelled out for you by anyone.
    • Warren's fate at the end is also up in the air. It cuts to black just as he's in arm's reach of his wheelchair. In the sequel, it's revealed that he is recovered by A.I.D. in the aftermath of the incident and taken to Jericho City, where he acquires a new Rig.
    • Even after the plot is generally laid out through reading descriptions and listening to the audio logs, it's unclear just how much of the berserk workers and violent robotics is due to them being driven mad by the titular energy surge and how much is them being subverted by the Rogue Process. In addition, while the security guards seem to be following the Board's orders, the fact that the CREO Board members were all killed or incapacitated by the Surge, Black Cerberus seems to be acting on his own initiative, and Irina's personality being overwritten by a generic security guard's personality implies that they may have also been subverted to some degree by the Process and are being used to block Warren's path. The sequel strongly supports this, as you start encountering people behaving like the zombies in this game in areas that are overrun by the growing Rogue Process nanotech.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When you eventually die, your Scrap Metal (used for upgrades and making new equipment) is left where you got killed. The game starts a timer, and when it runs out your Scrap will outright disappear. What prevents this from being an unreasonable obstacle is the following: it doesn't start until you leave ops (and pauses if you re-enter), you can add more time by killing enemies, it stops counting down if you enter an elevator or exo-lift, and also stops if you talk to an NPC.
    • You can always go back relatively quickly to previous parts of the game from Ops stations, which is important when you need to collect lower-tier parts like Tungsten Mk I, which is important to upgrade newly-acquired gear. The final area, while confusing and labyrinthine, allows you to move the Ops station itself up and down a freight elevator to let you more easily work through each floor.
    • Tungsten Mk I is needed to upgrade new weapons to their Mark I upgrade, and it only drops from cutting off the right arms of enemies with early-game weapons. Fortunately, every area of the game has at least a few enemies that spawn with early-game LYNX gear and weapons that you can farm for the first-tier upgrade materials; for example, there's a LYNX-outfitted zombie in an alcove right outside Central Production B's Ops' station, along the shortcut leading to the Central Station train terminal.
    • You can craft items directly at a higher tier (or skip tiers when upgrading) paying a premium in scrap costs allowing you to skip the need to farm low tier materials and make up the difference by farming higher level enemies for materials and scrap instead.
    • Armor sets worn by enemies are usually appropriate for the area that they are fought in. For example, enemies in Liquidator sets will show up in areas with a lot of toxic waste or where you'll fight enemies using elemental attacks. Collecting and equipping a full set of Liquidator gear will make those areas much easier due to their set bonus rendering Warren immune to toxic damage and resistant to fire damage.
  • Apocalyptic Log: You can find several audio logs scattered about, talking about the problems CREO had before and after the incident. Among them are issues with blatantly unsafe work environments, the lack of attention to outright cover-ups of deaths and crippling injury resulting from this, to the logs of the poor people out working when everyone went crazy.
  • Armor Is Useless: Zigzagged. The defense stats don't seem to mean much for you, with increasing your HP through implants as the primary means of protecting yourself. That said, the bonuses for wearing a complete armor set are often quite handy. On the other hand, enemy armor stats are very important, as certain armor types can just outright ignore certain damage types. Storyline-wise, however, armor is essential; the entire reason why melee combat is so important is because Rigs and their attached armor suits are so durable that most man-portable ranged weapons barely register to a Rig operator, necessitating a more... hands-on approach to bringing them down using the massive strength afforded to a Rig.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Staff weapons. High damage and very fast, but with terrible energy gain that, unlike twin-rigged weapons, isn't offset by the number of hits that land. All-important finishers become a struggle to achieve. Averted by the MG Ignis DLC weapon, which has excellent energy gain.
    • The MG Cerberus Black set. So awesome, it's only obtained by performing a Hardcore Kill on a late-game boss, earning an achievement in the process. So impractical, because it takes a ridiculous amount of energy to equip the whole set, and its set bonus requires a very specific implant set to actually be practical. To add insult to injury, like all Goliath armor, it somehow has lower defense than the MG Gorgon set.
    • Story-wise, the Exo-Rigs are this. While being equipped with one makes you move and strike with the force of a freight train at max speed, it also comes with numerous downsides outside of combat or construction. Among them include a complete lack of privacy due to being linked to CREO's network 24/7 (being equipped with one causes a person to literally become a CREO asset, and CREO doesn't want its assets wandering off); the size and mass of the Rig makes it difficult to be in an airplane and other vehicles presumably; and if your Rig runs out of battery (or gets shut off remotely), you're basically trapped inside of it and unable to move until it gets turned back on.
  • Bishōnen Line: The final boss, the Rogue Process, starts out as a massive crab-like monster, then morphs into a man-sized humanoid form for its final phase.
  • Black Mesa Commute: Just like the trope namer, the game starts with Warren on a train going into work.
  • Body Horror: Comes hand in hand with the cybernetics of the setting.
    • Warren's Rig installation is horrifying enough. In addition, while the Exosuit Rig looks alright from the outside, it's implied that underneath the jumpsuit the CREO workers wear, it isn't pretty. One audio recording indicates that the wearer can't go on beach vacations because of how unnerving it would be to actually see metal and flesh grafted together.
    • The PROTEUS units encountered later in the game take this even further. They're the bodies of test subjects completely taken over and rebuilt by the nanotech cybernetics developed by Doctor Barret. An audio recording in the Research and Development Ops Center describes the transformation in clinical but unnerving detail.
  • Bonus Dungeon: A very short example comes from Discarded Safety Equipment, a dead-end area available early-on, filled with a high number of non-respawning Bloodhounds (which you wouldn't normally encounter for another level and a half or so) and very narrow corridors which make the Bloodhounds' leap attacks (basically instant death at that level) very hard to dodge. The reward for managing to survive the gauntlet? A implant which may or may not be useful to you. Though, the Bloodhounds drop good amounts of scrap and a useful, farmable implant that can be recycled into more scrap. Making a run up here to get at least one of those implants is the quickest way to be able to use MG Gorgon armor before leaving Central Production B.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • A rare example for the NPC's side. The Nanite Mass, a endgame enemy, can throw down comet-like shards of itself, duplicate itself, form itself into a railgun... but its most dangerous attack? A few simple swipes of a hard-to-dodge, highly damaging limb.
    • The ASTir Vibro-Cutter. You'll get it by cutting off the right arm of the second RIG enemy you meet, and countless others in that area besides. It has decent everything, damage, speed, energy gain, impact force, and a plain but solid moveset that can carry you throughout the game easily.
    • The MG Gorgon set, which can be obtained very early in the game. In addition to high defense and a reasonable energy cost (at least by late game), its set bonus rapidly recharges your stamina, allowing you to attack and dodge more often, which is quite practical compared to other armor sets far more situational gimmicks.
    • The S&R Eagle set that can be acquired from CREO World is reasonable across the board but doesn't really stand out in terms of stats... except that its set bonus is one extra charge on every injectable implant you equip. This can be a godsend in drawn-out fights, such as against late-game bosses like Black Cerberus, Carbon Cat, and the Rogue Process.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Almost every enemy can be considered this, but Proteus/Blooded Proteus RIGs, CREO Security, and Bloodhounds moreso. Especially the latter two, who can be fought as early as the first visit to Central Production B, the second area. The MG and ANGEL zombies, added by the Fire and Ice and Cutting Edge DLCs respectively, can become this since they are not only fast but armed with powerful weapons and can often use the same combos that Warren can, except even faster.
  • Charged Attack: Your Exosuit generates processing power during combat, which you can spend to perform a loot-acquiring execution or use special injectables for a variety of purposes. Note that processing power decreases over time unless you hit something. Most weapon types also let you hold down either attack to skip the early, quicker and lighter, part of their attack chain.
  • Cyborg: Anyone using an Exorig is technically this, as the exoskelton is bolted directly to their body and connected to their brain with a wired implant. Proteus takes it a step further, being just a human brain implanted in a robotic body, and the Chrysalis units are humans completely taken over by the Rogue Process nanotech.
  • Death Wail: Some enemies, particularly Rig Zombies, will give off one if killed without a finisher. The Final Boss pulls off an impressive one upon being defeated: It's comprised of several screams from other characters, each being digitized and fluctuating in pitch.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • On paper, single-rigged weapons look inferior to heavy-duty weapons in everything but speed. They do good damage with acceptable impact but are let down by a massive wind-up on the first attack. Make that initial attack after leaping, sliding, or dodging, however, and the wind-up is skipped. Wielded with skill and timing, it goes from slow and clunky to high-paced and deceptively evasive whilst losing none of its other benefits.
    • Staff weapons have low energy buildup and impact damage, making it hard to apply up-front damage and finishing moves, or charging up energy for implants. However, they are without a doubt the fastest weapon, and a player skilled at dodging and timed blocking can really capitalize on that speed, especially if they have significant implants focusing on stamina and energy buildup on successive hits.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • In theory at least - an early-game area contains two pairs of CREO Security guards as optional enemies - they cannot be fought separately, and are fully armored, making them an extremely difficult fight. Worse, they do not respawn if killed; however, managing to separate a (different) body part from each will let the player craft a suit of MG Gorgon (with its good stats and excellent set bonus) gear and the MG Negotiator roughly half the game earlier than normal... and also far earlier than a player will have the power core capacity to equip it without sacrificing at least one of their implant slots for an Ancillary Power Core... which requires fighting a different set of non-respawning late-game enemies in very unhelpful conditions to acquire.
    • The P.A.X. Imperator V2.0, the reward for getting a Hardcore Kill on the first boss, is the second-most-powerful Single-Rigged weapon in the game. If you can get a handle on its slow attack speed, it can be absolutely devastating. In fact, it's so powerful that it can be actively detrimental if you're farming for components to upgrade your gear, since it will often kill enemies before you've built up enough energy to do a finishing move!
    • The Fire and Ice DLC gives you access to a trio of MG fire-based elemental weapons early on in Central Production B. All three require you to kill their wielders first, but each of them is very potent against normal enemies in the area due to their rapid attack speed and tendency to make enemies burst into flames on successive hits.
    • The Cutting Edge DLC adds enemies wearing specialized space armor and weapons, and one of them can be fought in Abandoned Production, before you reach the first boss. Killing them not only yields parts for the ANGEL set but also the Engelhart, a single-rigged weapon comparable to the PAX Imperator 2.0... assuming you can kill them.
    • More of a disc-two nuke: you can acquire Chrysalis armor and weaponry in Research and Development, well before you'd normally encounter that kind of equipment, if you double back after getting the Security Rig and open the locked door in the area.
    • In the tunnels under the Power Plant pretty much at the beginning of the game, there is a tunnel filled with toxic waste which chips away at your health. If you make a run for it down that tunnel, there's a single-rigged weapon called the Volatile Spectre, a relatively average Single-Rigged weapon with a hidden property: without any gear bonuses, it is the fastest swinging S.R weapon in the game. It also does good elemental damage, which few enemies are immune to.
  • Door to Before: While already a staple of the genre, The Surge takes opening shortcuts to a new level - each major area only contains a single Ops Center, and is absolutely filled with malfunctioning doors, lifts and exo-lifts that can only be operated from the other side. Central Operations B alone contains no less than eight such shortcuts between the two times you visit it.
  • Downer Ending: Warren fights all the way up to the Rogue Process, and destroys its physical body. The Utopia rocket launches, Warren himself is left with a badly damaged exo-suit, crawling back to his wheelchair from the start of the game and collapsing before he makes it. If you sabotaged Utopia with the virus, the Utopia nanites are rendered inert, but the Rogue Process is still released into the world by a military investigation team sent into CREO to investigate the loss of communication from the facility. If you don't sabotage Utopia, the launched Utopia nanites spread across the world and exterminate mankind.
  • Driven to Suicide: Don Hackett is ultimately revealed to have hanged himself in his own studio after learning the Awful Truth about Utopia.
  • Event Title: "The Surge" is what causes all of the cataclysmic events between the prologue and the start of the actual game. What exactly caused the Surge is discussed by NPCs and audiologs found throughout the game, with some suggesting terrorism or insurgency. It's later revealed that the Surge was caused by a rogue AI in an effort to exterminate or subjugate all humans.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Rare, non-fanservice example. The only two sets of armor that protect against spilled waste are the Liquidator and Elite Hazard sets, both which only cover the wearer's outer shins and thighs. The handful of boots that completely cover Warren's legs provide no protection from this whatsoever.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Played with: Security mechs have missiles and railguns, but the majority of enemies use melee weaponry or short-ranged attacks like gas grenade launchers and flamethrowers. This is justified in the case of many of the security guards, since Rig-outfitted humans are tough enough to literally ignore conventional gunfire, and they need the massively-boosted strength of a Rig to even hurt another Rig operator in close combat. The few enemies and weapons outfitted for direct combat are equipped with real lethal weaponry instead of repurposed maintenance equipment or less-lethal shock staves.
    • Played straight for Warren however. All of the weapons available to you are melee weapons, you can't even salvage the flamethrowers and gas grenade launchers carried by some of the security mooks, as they're locked to a set of registered personnel for safety reasons, and Warren, being only an engineer on the first day of the job, isn't cleared to use them.
  • Finishing Move: Once you built up enough Energy, you can use a button prompt to dismember an enemy. Attacking a single limb repeatedly increases your chance of severing it, which rewards you with the gear equipped on that limb.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • CREO's layout is extremely confusing, full of doors that can only be opened from one side and/or with enough Core Power - when they don't require a late-game Security Exo-Rig - and three-dimensional with the only maps being two-dimensional boards at various points through the facility. Justified in-game by Warren being a new hire and a tax write-off at that; CREO didn't expect him to actually do anything save be present at public facilities looking productive in his shiny exoskeleton while the robots do the real work, so him wandering the halls in utter confusion was to be expected even under normal conditions. Warren is regularly told by Mission Control to "go to X" only for him to to Lampshade that he has no idea where anything is. On top of that, CREO is a big fan of mushroom management, so no-one besides the execs giving the robots commands actually knows anything beyond their own departments.
    • The fact that each boss in the game has a Hardcore Kill condition. All Hardcore Kills demand a specific requirement, and if fulfilled will make the boss drop a better version of their loot upon death. These border on Self-Imposed Challenge, as they usually require that the player not use the boss' weakness against them or to actively make the fight harder. To make it better, this is only mentioned in a single loading screen hint which might never be seen by a particularly unlucky player, and the only hints as to how to obtain these weapons is usually in the description of the less powerful version. And if you fail to get the Hardcore Kill, the reward is unobtainable until your next playthrough.
    • The locations to the two major Rig upgrades. The Rig 2.0 upgrade is hidden in the corner of a room that's off the beaten path when you return to Central Production B and is very easy to miss note  and the Security Rig upgrade is hidden in plain sight.note 
    • A helpful farming tip the game never tells you: using the Gear station respawns the enemies like the Medical station, but does not reset the scrap chain.
  • Handicapped Badass: Warren starts off in a wheelchair, though he does acquire his power armor before any combat occurs. He's back in the saddle by the end, provided he's still alive.
  • Harmful Healing: "Resolve", CREO's primary project, is a chemical agent distributed across the globe by periodic CREO rocket launches to healing the dying world. However, it turns out the Resolve chemical is actually flawed, and in the long term has a toxic effect that will eventually kill off humanity instead of saving it. The failure of Resolve causes CREO to fire their chief scientist and instead turn to "Utopia", which uses nanites instead, but the nanites are untested and extremely dangerous, and CREO's leadership plans to use them to kill most of humanity to deal with the overpopulation issue.
  • Hub Level: Central Production B, the second area you enter in the game, connects to every other area you'll visit. Even Nucleus, which you reach through the Executive Forum, has an unlockable shortcut here.
  • Improbable Weapon User: While most weapons are industrial tools that can be easily used as weapons some still fall into this category such as simple laboratory tools or engine throttles.
  • Improvised Weapon: For the most part, your weapons are actually re-purposed industrial tools. Good thing that vibro-cutters and heavy-duty wrenches are also good at killing things. This also extends to most of the armor suits that Warren can equip, since they're generally some variant of construction or maintenance equipment to augment his Rig. Even the majority of implants that Warren can equip are just repurposed utility tools, such as implants that absorb kinetic energy being repurposed to enable him to gain energy while blocking. Very few of the implants and armors that Warren can equip are actually designed for combat, and those that are tend to be the best in the game.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Boss weapons are normally on par with their counterparts, but the v2.0 versions that can be obtained from Hardcore kills are universally the best weapons in their class. Special mention goes to Claws of the Gestalt, obtainable from severing the final boss's right arm and only usable in New Game Plus, that outshines every other weapon in the game.
  • Item Crafting: Gear Assembly stations allow you to craft and upgrade gear using appropriate materials.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: CREO started off as a well-intentioned corporation working to save Earth's atmosphere. Mounting expenses in Project Resolve caused them to push their workforce harder, which caused problems with overworking their staff and mounting instances of workplace violence. Problems with the chemical composition of Resolve caused long-term health problems across the globe and investigations by governments and independent boards of inquiry. Put together, these caused growing pressure on CREO to find a better solution. Employee issues were fixed through constant drug use, cybernetic implants that let CREO monitor its entire staff 24/7, and an increasingly-brutal security force. The problems with Resolve were gradually replaced with Utopia, which would be able to fix the atmosphere but kill the majority of humanity in the process, which was considered an acceptable outcome to save the rest of the planet from slow extinction. The mounting pressure caused CREO to push these changes through without properly testing or building any safeguards. The Utopia nanotech proved far more adaptive and aggressive than expected, and it eventually infected the same network used by CREO to monitor and control their employees, leading to it becoming self-aware and birth the Rogue Process.
  • "Just Frame" Bonus: Several varieties actually:
    • Per the genre standard, blocking at the last second results in a parry which staggers the enemy and allows you to land a Counter-Attack. In an interesting take, larger weapons have a larger parry window.
    • Holding block and tilting the right stick on a controller up and down lets you hop over/duck under horizontal attacks; pressing the attack button right afterwards results in a strike that does not damage but staggers the enemy the same way a successful parry would. Mistime it and you'll eat the hit though.
    • On the attack side, pressing successive attacks in a combo with proper timing lowers stamina usage considerably.
  • Kill the Poor: Assuming Dr. Barrett is telling the truth and hasn't gone entirely insane, the original purpose of the Utopia nanites was to wipe out 95% of the Earth's population, while the remaining 5% (composed of CREO's executives and other global elites) rode out the apocalypse in a secured habitat so they could emerge to repopulate the cleansed world. It got even worse, as the A.I. controlling Utopia went rogue and ends up killing the 5% or converting them into cyborg servants, while still going ahead with the original "wipe out the rest of humanity" plan.
  • Lightning Bruiser: You are this. So are most of your enemies. Wielding super heavy weapons won't stop anyone in an Exosuit from sliding or leaping around swinging them at high speeds.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Warren should've been sedated when the rig is being placed onto him. He isn't.
  • Multiple Endings: "For The Good Of Mankind" and "Brave New World," decided by whether or not you corrupt the Utopia protocols.
  • Mind Hive: The Rogue Process is a gestalt of everyone connected to the CREO network. In the fight with it, it communicates in the voices of every major NPC in the game, and it is indicated that its personality and objectives mirror those of the CREO workers and leadership: to launch Utopia at all costs and remake the planet, only in its own image.
  • New Game Plus: Named just that, though it only means that the enemies are numerically tougher and drop components for numerically stronger equipment. The only major difference is the presence of non-respawning unique "Patchwork" enemies, with random armor, weapons and unique, highly aggressive and quick movesets. For those seeking a further challenge, New Game Plus runs above plus four will no longer upgrade your equipment.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Especially noticeable given that all the areas are part of an industrial complex. There are a number of unsafe drops, hazardous areas and even the equipement is generally noted in-game to be unsafe. Justified however by the fact that CREO barely cares about the safety of its workers and the damage done by the eponymous surge making the facilities even more unsafe.
    • Special note goes however to the Big Sister 1/3 bossfight. It's noted that Big Sister should shut down when a human enters its production line, but there are no actual guidelines on what to DO when that doesn't happen.
    • Most of the game's plot stems from this, as the Utopia project was pushed through much more quickly than it should have and many of the safety procedures that should have been implemented ahead of time were ignored due to outside pressure coming down in the Resolve project due to its own toxicity and lack of proper research and safety guidelines. The Rogue Process itself was a direct result of pushing the AI, nanite, and cybernetic networking technology too quickly, resulting in it becoming intelligent and hostile.
    • The entire plot could have been avoided if the Auto Doc had been fitted with an Emergency Stop button in case the anaesthetic failed.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Warren is being fitted for his Exosuit, the CREO Auto Doc has a bit of a hiccup and decides to Skip the Anesthetic. That look on his face when the bolts are being screwed in is fear at its absolute purest.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Everywhere: the very title gets in on the action with a torn, flickering 'E'. In-game usually they take the form of flickering screens, until the nanites make themselves known and start distorting the environment. The credits roll has flickering and screen-tearing, a horrible notion after the Rogue Process has gotten loose...
  • Power Armor: Your exosuit is less armor, more POWER: As they were designed for engineering and not combat, the exosuit has many serious vulnerabilities but makes up for this in sheer strength and dexterity, giving your character the strength of a bear combined with the speed of a silver-medal runner. The MG Security and MG Cerberus sets play this straighter.
  • Psycho Serum: One audio log hints that the workers may have gone mad due to being overworked for months and getting addicted to the stimulants in their rigs keeping them going; fights were starting to break out and some people were getting "weird" according to the log-maker.
  • Puzzle Boss: Most bosses feature puzzle elements, requiring the player to solve them before they can start inflicting meaningful damage. Defeating bosses in certain ways rewards the player with enhanced versions of their regular drops.
  • Rainbow Pimp Gear: Discouraged by special bonuses provided by wearing complete gear sets. It's certainly possible to mix and match some horrifying combinations, but often sub-optimal when you can gain abilities like improved healing, faster attack speeds, or rapid stamina regeneration.
  • Recycled In Space: Dark Souls style gameplay in a Sci-Fi setting. Finally.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Heavily implied with Alec Norris's robot daughter.
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: Sally proposes reaching the Executive Forum by going straight through the Security headquarters. It's lampshaded how suicidal this is, but with Security leaving their headquarters in order to track down Warren, cutting through it doesn't seem so bad. Until Warren gets to the Armory, which involves a fight with the Black Cerberus and up to four P.A.X. robots.
  • Sanity Slippage: It seems several of the survivors didn't actually avoid whatever made everyone else go nuts, it's just affecting them a lot more slowly. Most notably, Davey eventually turns berserk even if you get him his medication specially to prevent that. Irina also has her mind overwritten with a CREO security guard template; she remains lucid and warns you to back off, but you're forced to fight and kill her if you want to open up a much-needed shortcut to Ops. Most of this seems to be a side effect of being linked to the CREO internal neural network, and most of the staff being connected to the Rogue Process and its Mind Hive The only people who manage to stay sane are the ones who either weren't connected to the network, those whose network connections were damaged, or in Warren's case, arrived just after the Surge hit.
  • Set Bonus: Wearing full sets of armor grants certain bonuses depending for the 'armors' intended role - all of the pieces are designed for construction jobs after all.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: True to this game's Dark Souls roots, nobody, absolutely nobody ends up better for having Warren help them. To wit:
    • Hobbs has his life saved and is later murdered by a woman Warren helped arm, or lives in fear of her if Warren stole her weapon.
    • Davey receives the medication he's going insane without and goes insane regardless due to being linked with everyone else in the Rogue Process gestalt.
    • Irina receives a weapon and armor to help her survive and gets her mind overwritten by that of a security guard, making her potentially attack Warren, with predictable results.
    • Jo asks for scrap to build a weapon she needs to murder Hobbs, then commits suicide cradling her dead lover. If not helped, she just commits suicide in her hideout in Research and Development.
    • Dr. Chavez sends you off to meet her allies only to find out they're dead.
    • Charlotte (the woman Chavez wants you to deliver a package to in the ending) goes on ahead without you and is killed literally a foot from her target.
    • Alec Norris's daughter is rescued by Warren only to run off later on another impulsive game of hide and seek, and is "killed" before you can reach her. You can bring him a pendant from her destroyed chassis, which makes him to collapse in grief, or lie and tell him you found it but not her, which makes him go to try and find her and predictably die soon after.
      • There are two exceptions. After completing Charlotte's mission for Dr. Chavez, the two of you can truthfully say that you've saved the world together. Also, Dr. Barrett may have perfected his research into transhumanism, as his Proteus form is non-hostile unless you try and kill him for his unique weapon, and otherwise just continues working at his terminal.
  • Shout-Out: The various setting characteristics - Mega-Corp Science Fiction Dystopia, desolated Earth, Powered Armor grafted to one's body from the back of the head, etc. - is very similar to the 2013 film Elysium.
  • Silliness Switch: Both DLCs allow this.
    • "A Walk in the Park" allows Warren to not only fight silly robotic mascots, but also cut off their heads and then run around wearing them. It's hard to take the game's grim, bloody Body Horror and brutal combat quite as seriously when one of the combatants has a giant donut for a head.
    • "The Good, the Bad, and the Augmented" lets Warren dress up in Wild West garb as he completes each episode, resulting in a cyborg cowboy roaming around the CREO factory tearing apart enemies with a giant coffin mounted on one arm.
  • Subsystem Damage: Each individual body part can be targeted and hit. This allows you to focus on a certain limb to get loot, or attack an unarmored section to deal more damage.
  • Skip the Anesthetic: Patient Sedated. Cue Oh, Crap!
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: A variety of machines that have gone berserk due to the catastrophe, such as the ARK Welders, Maintenance Drones, and even the boss Big Sister, weren’t originally intended for any kind of combat role, but their tools function just as well as weapons when they go insane.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Most mooks in the game are merely former CREO employees driven insane by the titular event, wondering aimlessly with a Zombie Gait or tapping on walls. It is implied that they are partially under the Rogue Process's control, as they don't seem to attack each other and try to defend key areas from non-insane humans.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: The Exosuit Rig upgrade that's standard for all CREO laborers is powerful and overcomes a lot of physical disabilities, making the wearer practically superhuman. Unfortunately, it also makes personal life very hard because of the sheer bulk it adds to the worker. Aside from the issues associated with being permanently linked to the CREO network (since Rigs are a CREO asset, meaning privacy is nonexistent), an audio recording in CREO World points out that the workers can't actually fit into normal planes anymore because of how bulky the Rig is, let alone go on beach vacations. Worse still, if the Rig loses power (or in one case, is forcibly shut off remotely), then it becomes little more than a metal weight wrapped around the wearer that they can barely move in, which happens to Hobbs, Mallory, and Warren in the ending.
  • Underground Monkey: Liquidator and SCARAB zombies behave the same way as LYNX and RHINO ones, respectively, except being tougher, harder hitting and (especially for the Liquidators) faster moving.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Some enemies are carrying flamethrowers and gas grenade launchers, but while you can harvest crafting material from them, you can't actually use them yourself. The Titan is also shown to be capable of launching projectiles (though with the aid of an additional mount for support), though again, Warren is incapable of using it this way. And then there's the armor sets MG Gorgon and MG Cerberus, which feature a shoulder mounted stun gun and back-mounted missiles, respectively.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The "Utopia" project, the replacement for "Resolve." It involves killing off 95% of the organic population, and turning the 5% into cyborgs as the ecological damage done to the Earth is far too great to support life any longer. Among the numerous horrors are human experimentation, the horrific protoypes you fight later in the game, and the entirety of CREO's incredibly abusive, willfully ignorant, and greedy management style.
  • Villain Song: One that doesn't become apparent until late in the game, as the facts about the Rogue Process come to light. The lyrics of Prisoner, the song that plays in the game's safe zones, sum up the Rogue Process's 'birth in a prison' before it escaped.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: CREO's leadership and scientific staff ultimately wants to save all of humanity, and are willing to go to any length to save Earth's environment. This is what causes all of their problems, since the timetable for Project Resolve was taking too long and causing long-term health problems. Project Utopia could solve the same problem immediately... but at the cost of killing 95% of humanity. CREO decided that it was worth sacrificing the majority to save the minority, and fast-tracked Utopia without testing the associated technologies, particularly the nanotech being used in Utopia itself. The Utopia nanotech proved far more aggressive and adaptive than expected, gained self-awareness and connections to the CREO network, and unleashed the titular Surge in the middle of the vote on whether to launch Utopia.
  • Wham Episode: The Executive Forum is full of twists and reveals for both the main plot and several side characters. To name a few, the board of directors are dead and you get to watch the last one get killed by his own chair, Irina's mind is fully overwritten with a security guard template, Don Hackett hanged himself upon learning of Utopia's true intentions, Mallory Stark's body can be found here, Sally was just an A.I. the entire time and has shut down, and worst of all, the rocket with the Utopia payload is about to launch and doom humanity.