They Are Billions
They Are Billions is a post-apocalyptic steampunk real-time strategy survival video game developed and published by Numantian Games. Available on Microsoft Windows, it was released onto Steam’s Early Access program with a survival mode in December 2017. The game was released with a campaign titled “New Empire” on June 18, 2019. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions were published by BlitWorks on July 1, 2019.
They Are Billions pits the player in a randomly generated steampunk themed, zombie-infested world. The player’s goal is to build a base to protect themselves, by planning the layout and defenses, exploring the map, collecting resources and expanding while fighting the local zombie population at the same time. Infected villages, called Villages of Doom, can be pillaged for resources, although a backlash of zombie swarms can result. There are eight resources that the player must manage: gold, food, workers, wood, stone, iron, oil, and energy. Structures and units, many of different variations and following a tech-tree, will require different materials to be made. Though zombies will attack at erratic, but slow times, at certain intervals throughout the game, large hordes of zombies will attack, focusing on one side of the base until a final wave coming from all directions (and in massive numbers). The player must keep zombies from breaching base defenses and infecting non-defensive structures, especially in tight or overdeveloped areas where a domino effect outbreak can occur. Much like the player has access to different unit types, zombie types are also varied, ranging between slow, decrepit ones, extremely fast zombies called “Harpies”, highly-resistant ones known as “Butchers” and others, including a massive “infected giant” that has high health, speed, and damage that is also highlighted on a minimap, requiring the player to not only have a strong defensive perimeter (with walls, turrets, towers and traps), but also adapt tactics accordingly. While it is a real-time strategy game, players can pause at any time in order to plan future actions and give simultaneous orders.
They Are Billions is set in North America, in the late 22nd century, following a world-wide rabies-like pandemic caused by a mutated strain of rabies called Rabies Z, which has triggered a zombie apocalypse, especially in the world’s megacities. While initially the survivors attempted to establish villages and even fortresses to stave off the zombie hordes, eventually these fall with their technology failing them. However, a few thousand humans survive, united under the leadership of General-turned-Emperor Quintus Crane, and build and shelter themselves in Empire City, built within a crater that the zombies cannot reach. The apocalypse, on the other hand, has caused a severe technological regression, so technology is now at a 19th century level.
The campaign begins 13 years after Quintus announces his intent to expand beyond the crater and create a new human empire. Here, the player is a colony administrator and military commander under Quintus, who aspires to conquer new territory and build well-managed fortified colonies, all connected by a railway network. Across the campaign, which extends from the northern Western Seaboard to the fallen megacity of Mega York (former New York City), the player builds a personal army composed of mercenaries, renegades, and even convicted criminals to handle the zombie swarms.
Meanwhile, with the aid of one of two special operatives, Caelus and Calliope, the player recovers lost technology to restore the technological advancement back to the pre-apocalypse time and gradually learns about the origins of the infection, eventually discovered to be the byproduct of an attempt by the world’s leading scientists in using recycled meat from deceased people in an attempt to stave off an ever-increasing feeding crisis brought by overpopulation, but the resulting infection – which also provoked mutations such as neverending adrenal surges and overgrowth – and irresponsible worldwide distribution provokes a pandemic that the world’s governments attempt to control too late. Any attempts to cure the disease only making things worse as the experimental vaccine called V9 results in the creation of the special zombie type called Harpies. Abandoning any attempt to find the cure, scientists turned to create bio-engineered soldiers called Mutants armed with ultra-sharped claws to fight off the zombie hordes. The campaign ends in Mega York with the player conquering the collapsed Statue of Liberty – now named the Goddess of Destiny – earning Quintus’ respect and securing the Empire’s dominance across North America. Quintus then reminds the Player that there will be more conquests in the future.