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Video Game / They Are Billions

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"Oh my God! Infected coming from every direction! THEY ARE BILLIONS!!!"

They Are Billions is a Post Apocalyptic Steampunk survival real-time strategy game by developed and published by Spanish independent studio Numantian Games, known previously for the Lords of Xulima. The game was initially released for PC on Steam's Early Access in December 2017 with survival mode. The full game was officially launched with the addition of a "New Empire" campaign on June 18, 2019. Ports for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 followed on July 1st, 2019.

In the 22nd century a Zombie Apocalypse has destroyed civilization and nearly the entire human population of Earth. Technology for those who survived has regressed to late 19th century levels with the collapse of civilization. General Quintus Crane is attempting to establish a new Human civilization capable of withstanding zombie attacks and slowly reclaiming the planet. You are one of his field commanders, tasked with reconquering lands from the Infected and building new colonies.


The game is noteworthy for the sheer number of Infected units on screen and their ability to swarm over base defenses.

The game contains examples of following tropes:

  • After the End: The game takes place after a zombie apocalypse has caused the nations of Earth to collapse.
  • The All-Seeing A.I.: A mild version, as the AI knows the entire map's layout and will send any hordes on a path toward your command center while bypassing dead ends.
  • Antagonist Title: The "billions" in the title are the Infected.
  • Apocalypse How: Straddling between Class 1 (Societal Disruption) and Class 2 (Societal Collapse) as the surviving civilization settled inside a massive crater was able to recreate an infrastructure in a 19th-century technological base.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: Averted, as the survivors have regressed in tech but have started manufacturing new equipment roughly at the late 19th, early 20th century level. There are some tactical missions in the campaign with the goal of obtaining advanced technology from the ruins of the old Human fortress and cities.
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  • Army Scout: Your Ranger units. They are some of the fastest units in the game with a long sight radius and pack a steampunk bow so they can kill small groups of the infected without alerting a large horde.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Unless one your combat units aggro some infected, their default behavior, once they make a beeline to your colony, is to attack the nearest unit or building, even if it is a wall or an empty tower. So it is possible for zombies to stupidly strike your walls and ignoring the very obvious gaping hole nearby. Even the Infected Venoms will stupidly try to attack your walls rather than a building behind it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Top tier units are spectacular to look at in action but also cost more to maintain than standard units and require a constant supply of oil which is the least common resource. The Lucifer gets a double helping as its flamethrower is great at clearing large groups of infected but it also can't fire from behind walls, leaving it vulnerable.
    • The Executioner is the most powerful turret but it also has the highest maintenance cost at 50 gold, where the ballista it upgrades from only costs 12. Most players hold off on upgrading their ballista until the final wave to avoid tanking their economy.
    • The Titan is hit particularly badly with this; incredibly expensive just to unlocknote , it's expensive to build, has a high upkeep, and its damage output is comparatively weak in comparison to all the money and other resources you spent getting the thing. They can't even gain experience and become veterans like your other troops.
  • Baseless Mission: There are some campaign missions in which you will only control your hero unit and maybe some units you find during the mission and have to accomplish specific goals like obtaining technological advances from the ruins of the old human fortress and cities.
  • Booby Trap: You can build these. Examples include spike traps and land mines.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Snipers use these, potentially killing elite zombies in one shot.
  • Boring, but Practical: The most basic unit, the Ranger, will do most of the work, and do so efficiently. It is quickly and cheaply built, doesn't need special resources, is the fastest unit in the game and its silence makes it less prone to gather unwanted attention.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed. Units do reload, but they never run out of ammunition to reload with.
  • Cannon Fodder: Your Soldier and Ranger units are the default infantry units and will likely make up the bulk of your army. Rangers in particular are dirt-cheap and easy to spam in large numbers.
  • Cassette Futurism: The ruins explored in the campaign's tactical missions date to the late 21st century, but have a very 1980s aesthetic to them. They feature desks with paper documentations and no workstation, green-on-black computer displays, and slide projectors instead of flat screen displays.
    • The historical documents recovered on said missions are also presented in the style of a printed newspaper, though this may just be a framing device.
  • Citadel City: The game allows you to build a Steampunk version.
    • The Great Crater in campaign mode is this Up to Eleven. It has held fast for two centuries, while attempts to settle beyond it have failed constantly for 13 years.
  • Clown Car Base: Ignoring the player's colony, Villages of Doom have a big case of this when disturbed. A small house will spawn a dozen or so zombies while a Town Hall will spawn hundreds.
  • Cold Sniper: The flavor text for your Sniper units specifically says "this sadistic killer would be in jail in times before the apocalypse." They are slow to move and reload but have a very long attack range and are extremely accurate. Their attacks are pretty powerful too since they can kill most of the infected with just one shot.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Nothing gets built unless you order it but the colonists harvest resources automatically.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: You will be building a lot of worker tents and cottages before a game is done. Not to mention buildings that supply energy and food.
    • Power Plants may require additional stone and wood harvesting buildings as they consume those resources. If a plant will leave your production rate in the negatives, it cannot be built.
    • Mechanized units reduce your oil production rate and cannot be built if that would lead to negative oil production, requiring additional oil refineries.
  • Crapsack World: Well what can you expect from a zombified world?
    • Even the pre-apocalypse Earth wasn't rosy either. The population of Earth by 22nd century has peaked around 90 Billion, majority of whom lived in crowded Mega City with increasing shortages of arable lands to feed the populace. As basic necessities became harder for the majority of citizens, the scientists turned to Human Protein Processors with criminals, infirmed, and the homeless serving as "raw materials". Three decades after the implementation of technology, a rabies-like disease—implied to have come from food sources made from Human Protein Processors—began to spread among the populace that led to the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Dead Weight: The Infected Chubbies move as fast as Infected Fresh but are massive in comparison. They are also the most durable type of zombie.
  • Difficulty Spike: In Survival there is a massive difference in the size of the second-to-last and last hordes.
  • Disaster Dominoes: If even a single, slow-moving zombie is able to attack one of your buildings for long enough, it will break in and turn the colonists inside into fast zombies, which then in turn spread out and attack all other buildings in reach. Given that space is limited and players tend to put buildings close together...
  • Elite Zombie: Having an easy enough time dealing with the regular Infected? Don't worry! The game will soon start throwing increasingly tougher varieties at you. Some examples include:
    • Infected Fresh and Colonists, which are just as weak as regular Infected but much faster.
    • Infected Executives, are a tougher and harder to kill variety of fast Infected. They have a nice suit, too.
    • Infected Chubbies, which are massive and extremely durable.
    • Infected Venoms, which have a powerful area-of-effect ranged attack.
    • Infected Harpies, which are extremely fast and can jump over walls.
    • Infected Giants, which are the strongest of all the Infected.
  • Elite Mooks: The soldiers fulfill that role, being stronger than the rangers, but still being basic infantry.
  • Expy: The Infected Chubbies are obvious one for The Tank and to some extent Abominations. The Harpies are basically The Witch (in particular the one from The Passing), and the spitting zombie is an expy of the Boomer.
  • Faction Calculus:
    • Crane's forces are Powerhouse. Their forces are nowhere near as large as the zombies but on an individual basis they are much stronger. They also have better ranged attacks and are backed up by powerful defensive structures and fixed artillery emplacements.
    • The zombies are the Horde. They are all about using massive numbers of weak, easily massed units to overwhelm enemies through sheer numbers.
  • Flavor Text: Most of the units and buildings have a paragraph description of what they do in-game.
  • Fog of War: Of the standard variant, with the map being completely hidden until you map it out and any zombies only showing up when units or buildings can see them. Lookouts remove larger portions of the fog than standard buildings, while Radars reveal even more; this is useful for last minute unit adjustments when a horde arrives.
  • Fragile Speedster: Rangers are the fastest infantry unit you can build early on but they have smallest health pool (60 hp) of any of your units.
    • Harpies, considering what they are expies of run extremely fast, can jump over walls, and have very deadly attack. However, they are only slightly tougher than an average zombie, 2 shots from your snipers will put them down for good.
  • Future Imperfect: Shows up in the campaign on a few occasions. For example, the Statue of Liberty is called the Goddess of Destiny in one mission.
  • Gatling Good: Titan mechs are armed with dual gatling guns, and the Executioner, the most powerful defensive turret, mounts a truly huge gatling gun that chews through zombies.
  • Garrisonable Structures: You can build guard towers as part of your base defenses and they can be garrisoned with up to four soldiers.
  • Glass Cannon: Calliope, one of the two heroes chosen at the beginning of the campaign, has a high movement and attack speed, but a much smaller hit point pool than Caelus.
  • Gradual Regeneration: Units that have been wounded heal gradually over time but buildings have to be repaired manually.
  • Hero Unit: Introduced with the campaign mode. Currently there are Caelus, a Mighty Glacier, and Calliope, a Glass Cannon.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: A preferred way to clear out the map is to send a small raider group to aggro a bunch of zombies from the main horde, fall back with them pursuing you, than halting and wiping out the pursuers. This allows you to thin the massive hordes outside your walls without getting overwhelmed. Rinse, lather, repeat.
  • Hold the Line: The objective of the survival campaign is for your colony to survive for a certain number of days, with 100 being the default setting, against waves of undead hordes. Alternatively, defeating the final horde will automatically count as a win.
    • Note that difficulty is increased by reducing the number of days, as it will just spawn the same amount of zombie hordes, faster.
  • Hopeless War: Since Quintus Crane commenced his speech on reclamation of zombie-infested Earth two centuries after building up an entire civilization inside a crater, the entire liberation efforts experienced constant failures within 13 years. The players themselves are the latest among the lines of generals who had either died or driven insane from the disastrous results of their campaigns.
  • Human Resources: The lore on the 22nd century, two centuries before the game's present time, had Human Protein Processors, where the "undesirables" were turned into food products to cope with overpopulated Earth. It is implied that the "Zombies" are caused by mutated rabies-like diseases from food made from this process.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Played with, the zombies can infect your buildings and turn the occupants into more zombies, but otherwise your colonists cannot be attacked while walking around.
  • Incongruously Dressed Zombie: Zombie Executives wear a nice suit while Harpies wear immaculate white dresses. Harpies also stand out due to having bright red hair, while the other zombies are largely greyscale.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Titan units are steampunk mechs armed with dual gatling guns.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: All forests in the game are impassable for both your units and the zombies.
  • Kill It with Fire: Lucifer units are heavily armored soldiers armed with flamethrowers.
  • Large Ham: Judging by the unit dialogue about half your army is this.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Titan mechs pack a hell of a lot of firepower, are extremely durable, and are almost as fast the Rangers.
    • On the infected side you have the Infected Chubbies which move as fast as Fresh Zombies and are also the most durable Zombie unit.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Survival mode can go very well or very poorly depending on a few factors.
    • The resources that are available near the starting point have a huge impact on how quickly you are able to gain access to higher tech trees.
    • Local terrain features may or may not include several natural choke points, which can greatly improve your ability to defend against large hordes.
    • The choices of mayor that are made available at each population tier are completely random. Some of them come with amazing benefits such as reduced build times or reduced research costs. Others may only offer you a couple of bonus rangers or extra wood.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Lucifer troops, heavily armored soldiers armed with powerful flamethrowers, have a large pool of hitpoints (600) and a powerful area-of-effect attack that allows them to kill multiple zombies at once very quickly. They are also extremely slow. They are best used as a slightly mobile base defense force to be deployed in front of your defensive lines when dealing with horde attacks.
    • Thanatos troops have slightly less hitpoints than the Lucifers (250) and are not much faster but they have a powerful long ranged missile attack and are capable of meleeing any zombies that get too close.
    • Caelus, one of the two Hero units chosen at the start of a campaign, is this. He one-shots most basic Infected, but attacks and moves slowly. Contrast with Calliope, who is more of a Glass Cannon.
  • More Dakka:
    • Soldier units are armed with rapid-fire sub-machine guns.
    • Titan mechs are armed with dual gatling guns.
    • The Wasp is a automated machine gun turret that is very cheap to build and easy to spam in large numbers.
    • The Executioner is the most powerful turret in the game and mounts a truly massive gatling gun.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Some, okay almost all, of your high-tier units have sinister and intimidating names. Lucifer, Thanatos, Titan, etc...
  • Nintendo Hard: The game is pretty damn tough even on the default difficulty settings for the survival campaign. Don't be surprised if you lose your first colony. Or your second. Or third...
  • Nonindicative Name: The Peaceful Lowlands, as the description warns, house multiple Villages of Doom which will unleash a small horde if disturbed.
  • Not Hyperbole: While a single player will most likely never face such numbers, the game can track a total of Infected killed across all players, and the developers revealed that, as of July 2nd, a total of 44 billion infected have been struck down. So yes, They are, quite literally, Billions.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: In-game, zombies are referred to as "the infected".
  • One-Hit Kill: Your Sniper units are capable of doing this to most zombie variants. Just watch their reload time.
  • Only in It for the Money: Soldiers will abandon the colony if you can't pay their wage.
  • Plague Zombie: And they will merrily spread the infection to your colonists. If one manages to get to your housing area it is pretty much game over.
  • Private Military Contractors: Background material, and some of the unit dialogue, on the game states that most of your army is composed of mercenaries.
  • Rain of Arrows: A preferred way to clear out sections of the map to expand your colony, especially early on, is to use a group of Rangers as showering the undead with arrows generates much less noise and attracts less attention from other zombies than the gunpowder units.
  • Real-Time with Pause: The game allows the issuing of orders during paused mode, including ordering building and unit construction in addition to move and attack orders.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Research options at the wood and stone workshops, and the foundry, have to be purchased and re-purchased for each scenario.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: As usual for a Real-Time Strategy game. A large town with a population of a couple of thousand people and large defensive fortifications along with an army can be built from scratch in less than one hundred days. Gets even more ridiculous if you get a mayor who reduces build time.
  • Schizo Tech: Justified since it is the future after civilization collapsed. You are only able to manufacture new lower tech equipment and utilize high-tech items, such as night-vision goggles, found in the old world cities.
  • Settling the Frontier: Every survival game has you attempting to establish settlements in the zombie wild-lands and pacify the surrounding territory.
  • Scenery Porn: The game is actually quite nice to look at.
  • Scoring Points: Survival maps have a final score based on a number of factors including: Number of infected killed; maximum colony population; and number of colonists infected. An overall score modifier is applied to this score based on the difficulty settings.
  • Shock and Awe: The aptly named Shock Tower which discharges a massive electrical burst in a wide area of effect that can kill dozens of the weaker zombies at once. The downsides are its short-range, slow recharge rate and power consumption.
  • Siege Engines: The first weapon tower that you can build in the game is the Great Ballista. It is very effective and will serve you well for a long time to come.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Ranger is the only female unit in the game.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: The Sniper units you can get are implied to be Ax-Crazy and would have been in jail if not for the situation.
  • Starting Units: In the survival campaign you start the missions with four Rangers and a Soldier.
  • Steampunk: Justified as the game is actually set in the future so they have three centuries after the 19th century of advanced engineering knowledge to fall back on.
  • Super Soldier: Mutants were originally created by the National Infectious Diseases Institution's Project Phoenix to to combat the zombies. You eventually get the ability to restart production of them. They have a massive HP pool and powerful area of effect melee attack but very slow health regeneration. They are also extremely expensive.
  • Technically Living Zombie: According to the journals, the zombies in They Are Billions are humans infected with rabies-like neurological disease.
  • Tesla Tech Timeline: In addition to the overall Steam Punk tone, there are also hints of Tesla Tech. Tesla Towers transmit wireless energy to all buildings with their range. The Shock Towers also look closer to a Tesla invention than Steam Punk.
  • Title Drop: When the adviser warns you of the final horde approaching, he mentions "they are billions".
  • Tower Defense: A more complex version than most but building layered defenses with various types of guard and artillery towers to withstand massive attack waves is a core game-play mechanic. Yes, you slowly expand and clear out the map but roughly eighty-percent of the time you are focusing on base defense rather than on offensive actions.
  • Undead Child: One of the weakest zombies you encounter.
  • Unlockable Content: In Survival Mode only one map type is available immediately. Additional maps are unlocked by successfully completing Survival games with a certain score modifier.
  • Veteran Unit: Units that manage to kill enough zombies get a veterancy upgrade, which results in a stat boost and a new skin so you can tell them apart from regular troops.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If the Command Center is overrun it's an instant game over, even if the rest of the colony is still intact and fighting.
  • We Have Reserves: The zombies definitely do but many players so far seem to spam Rangers and Soldiers, grab a large group of them (say 20 or so), and set them on chase mode outside the base without caring whether they survive. And while the first group is busy clearing out the surrounding terrain another group is being queued up.
  • Worker Unit: Colonists, who work, gather resources, transport goods and are used to train soldiers. You don't actually control them because the developers stated that large numbers of them would bog the player down in micromanagement.
  • You Have Failed Me: Downplayed. The emperor tells the general to succeed in his mission or not to return.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Actually, you require more gold, wood, food, energy, stone, iron ore, oil...
  • Zerg Rush: Default tactic of the zombies, so much so that this game could be considered a master-class in defending against zerg rushes.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: And you are in charge of undoing the damage.
  • Zombie Gait: What the regular Infected do, as their bodies have decayed too much to move faster. The elite infected variants are little bit more varied.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: There is a ranged Infected variant that has this as a base attack. Can be shot over walls and infect buildings.


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