The National Emergency Response Organization, commonly shortened to N.E.R.O., is a faction in Days Gone.
During the events of Days Gone, NERO appears to be one of the last remaining active branches of the pre-outbreak United States Government. Even after being largely defeated, remaining NERO personnel continue to investigate the infection, and troops and researchers are occasionally encountered throughout the game. NERO soldiers and other personnel are extremely well armed and equipped, utilizing and maintaining functional helicopters, HAZMAT suits, and machine guns, remaining the most well-equipped faction even two years after the initial outbreak. It is likely that the yellow-suited NERO soldiers encountered in-game are current or former members of the United States military, but it is unknown to what capacity the military or other government entities are still operating, if at all.
Destroyed or abandoned NERO equipment are strewn across the in-game environment, often seen at abandoned NERO checkpoints, research stations, and refugee camps. Corpses of NERO personnel are also occasionally encountered.
Two years ago, during the opening scene, two MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) equipped with Browning M2HB .50 caliber machine guns are seen. They were likely used to protect NERO personnel and the refugees during the evacuation from the city.
Even at the start of the outbreak, the situation was dire, as everything east of the Mississippi River was overrun. As the situation progressively worsened, NERO attempted to stem the tide of the infection by setting up outposts and checkpoints to screen civilians, but by the events of the game most had been completely overrun, as abandoned stations can be encountered throughout the entire game. They appear to have been used as locations to identify and eliminate infected refugees and to redirect civilians to safe zones. While many were set up throughout the wilderness, they did very little to stop the amount of infected and "freakers" in the area. As many as seventeen NERO checkpoints were overrun in less than six hours, according to one recording found. One checkpoint was located at a key train rail to transport corpses easily, which were then taken to mass graves to be buried and burned. At least one train went silent and crashed into a NERO checkpoint. Notably, Refugee Camp Thirteen Delta or "13D", was overrun by a large freaker horde resulting in the deaths of over 3,000 civilian and the destruction of at least four NERO helicopters from other areas in the state that relocated to the camp to reinforce. Although before all camps were overrun or abandoned there were two recordings, 1260 and 1381, found at NERO locations that seem to indicate two things; there was a NERO headquarters located in Portland, Oregon and there was a clear communication line to D.C., accordingly.
NERO camps and checkpoints encountered during the game are noticeably sparsely defended. Walls of sandbags, chained link fences, and jersey barriers compose the majority of defensive structures. Few military vehicles or equipment are seen (with the exception of at least one armored vehicle spotted at the Horse Lake NERO checkpoint). Additionally, there is a distinct lack of military arms, such as machine gun nests, barbwire, or armored vehicles like MRAPs and Humvees, at NERO facilities. Whether its because military support was unavailable, had been overrun, or military forces were just not assigned, is unknown. Local police support appeared to have been meager, as only the occasional police cruiser is seen here and there.
However, on the south side of the game map there are fewer NERO checkpoints, but police, other emergency vehicles, and military transports are much more present throughout the area. In one area, several police cruisers are seen blocking one bridge, but it's unknown if this was the scene of a last stand or just a measure to stop refugees flooding from flooding the area. The checkpoints are significantly more reinforced with police seen as support and littered with the corpses of combat NERO personnel. The largest refugee camp was initially located down south at the Chemult College Campus, and was created before it was known that freaker hordes migrated on the highways, which, unfortunately, the college is located right next to. Despite the fact its perimeter fences were reinforced with objects and planks all around the campus, the facility was overrun by the time the game takes place. The campus has a mountain on the west side has a natural defensive barrier and cliffs everywhere else with only three campus entrances. The football field at one point housed a large number of NERO and military personnel and equipment. A NERO recording found in the MMU on the football field reveals that NERO and other authorized personnel quietly evacuated on six helicopters when satellite footage revealed hundreds of thousand of freakers were coming up Highway 97 and I-5. Over 3,000 refugees were abandoned by NERO and they weren't even warned, not even giving them a chance to escape.
At some point, the situation grew so dire that NERO was forced to retreat completely from the area, abandoning their remaining safe zones and checkpoints to the hordes. Even two years later, NERO helicopters continue to periodically venture into the area, deploying teams of soldiers and researchers to study the progression of the virus. NERO personnel no longer attempt to maintain law and order or even protect remaining civilians, opting to instead monitor the progress of the infection from their safe zones. Many of NERO's researchers, armed and unarmed, had backgrounds in scientific research, be it simply school courses or minor jobs.
It is likely that the NERO soldiers encountered in-game are current or former US military personnel. What role the US military plays with NERO is mostly unknown, but it is very likely that NERO assumed control over it as the situation worsened. NERO soldiers appear throughout the game, accompanying their researcher counterparts as they go about their duties. These heavily armed and armored troops wear yellow hazmat suits with helmets, in addition to an oxygen tank on their backs connected to a breathing apparatus. They are armed with weapons similar to MP5 sub-machine guns, and are authorized under martial law, to shoot any remaining civilians, hostile or not, on sight.
While the armed members of NERO are under orders to shoot anyone on sight, freaker or civilian, there seem to be multiple protocols for NERO personnel to follow. NERO Researchers have been noticed operating under at least one known protocol; Protocol 2-7, which states: "If civilians are encountered, you are NOT to make contact"
The corpses of NERO personnel can be spotted in the remains of NERO checkpoints and helicopters. Despite their uniforms providing a significant amount of protection from airborne infections or blood spatters, they reportedly were no match for a freaker's physical attacks. Although there was a significant amount of NERO personnel located in the area and nearly all of their camps and checkpoints were overrun due to the sheer number of freakers, there are no actual NERO uniformed freakers seen in the game.
- Lieutenant James O'Brian - Researcher
- Lieutenant Booth
- Corporal Harrigan
- H.S Patterson - Soldier (K.I.A)
- G. Hernandez - Soldier (K.I.A)
- Robinson -Soldier (K.I.A)
- Cooper - Researcher (K.I.A)
- NERO is modeled after the real-life Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. The game's creators stated that the organization is added with "a little NSA and CIA thrown in for good measure.". Similar fictional organizations in other video games include FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency) in The Last of Us, CEDA (Civil Emergency and Defense Agency) in Left 4 Dead and CERA (Catastrophic Emergency Response Agency) in Tom Clancy's The Division.
- The acronym N.E.R.O. is a possible reference to the Roman emperor of the same name who was known for "fiddling while Rome burned" during the Great Fire of Rome in July of AD 64, a comparable situation to NERO's dormancy to the Freaker plague. Even further, Nero is widely believed to have started the Great Fire, which is somewhat akin in respects to the Freaker virus having been created in a government lab.
- NERO helicopters and research teams are encountered in-game, but it is unknown where these forces originate from, whether that be a possible military base, operational checkpoints, or other safe zones.
- O'Brian mentions that the setting of the game is within a "quarantine zone," hinting at the possibility that safe zones have been established elsewhere, and that the infection may have been isolated.
- NERO personnel have been engaged previously by the Deschutes County Militia, who have overrun several remaining checkpoints and fired on federal personnel.
- NERO helicopters can frequently be seen patrolling the skies outside of missions during free roam, seemingly following Deacon as if they are keeping tabs on him. If given chase, they will attempt to throw Deacon off their tail by repeatedly changing direction before ultimately disappearing over the mountains.