The main Story in The Surge takes place in a heavily dystopian future as Earth nears the end of its life. Those who remain in the overpopulated cities must work to survive as social programs become saturated by an ageing population and increasing environmental diseases. As the intelligence of technology incrementally increased over the years, many jobs for the human race had been made redundant, forcing Earth's citizens to head out into the suburbs seeking labor, aided by exoskeletons to improve their efficiency. The world of The Surge offers a very grim vision of the future, where the evolution of our technology, our society and our relation with the environment led to a decadent state of the Human civilization. The events of the game's progression will be recorded chronologically here once more is known.
From a developer interview with Deck 13: "The world is messed up. Ecological problems have progressed, and it's gotten really bad. Global governments have fallen, there are failed states, the normal people are just screwed. The company that you're an employee of is trying to fix this by putting satellites into the atmosphere. Their mission is to seed the atmosphere to heal the world's ecology and to do this they have to invent new technology. They have to “dig too deep” in certain ways. You arrive here as just a regular guy who's happy to have a job, but stuff goes super bad. A big part of the game is discovering bits and pieces of the scenario as you play through. It's a bit of a mystery, they're developing new technology to do this and like in so many stories when a group is extremely oriented and centered on achieving certain results sometimes there is a dark side to this process."
You (Warren) are a paraplegic in a wheelchair, on your way to the Creo facilities to begin as an exorig worker and regain your ability to walk. While on the train, you see a rocket launching into the sky.
As your rig is being mounted, something goes wrong. You don't get sedated and you pass out because of the pain.
You wake up in a wasteland with a robot trying to take your rig off. Beside you are dead bodies with rig connections on their body, but no rigs attached. All around you are signs of a violent unknown event, with graffiti, bodies, crumbling infrastructure, etc.
At the nearby OPS station, a woman named Sally contacts you and explains that a shock went through the whole CREO system. As a result, most sectors are under a security lockdown and most rig workers' cortical implants have fried, leaving them aggressive and unresponsive. She tells you there are survivors in the executive boardroom, and begs you to help those who are inside.
The lockdown prevents you from taking the direct route, so you detour through the abandoned production facilities, past a malfunctioning PAX security robot, a malfunctioning Firebug, and a malfunctioning Big Sister platform constructor, learning along the way about the various crises facing Creo, including Project: Resolve, an attempt at reversing widespread ecological damage.
You find your way to the Resolve Biolabs, where you meet the renegade Dr. Chavez. She tells you that Project: Resolve is toxic, Creo had covered it up for years, and even though she was fired years ago, she is still working in secret on a non-toxic solution.
She gives you a USB drive with important information on it and tells you to deliver it to a member of the executive board, an old friend of hers who is sympathetic to her cause. In her hidden lab, you find a drone upgrade that grants you access through more maintenance tunnels heading to the Executive Forum.
As you approach your destination, the floor collapses and you fall several stories down, into the eerie Research and Development sector. At approximately the same time, security personnel begin to clear the Creo facilities of defective rig workers and contain the growing chaos at any cost. Since you and Sally are trying to end the lockdown, their mission is incompatible with yours and they refuse to negotiate with you. You are forced to kill any security officers you come across.
You meet Dr. Gene Barrett, a visionary nanotech scientist working on a nanite solution to Project: Resolve, named Utopia. You also discover his hobby project: he knows Utopia will cause massive casualties, so he plans to transform/replace human beings with cybernetic neural skeletons (Homo machinalis). You can't stop him, but he inadvertently helps you by lifting the security lockdown over R&D. His machines are allowed to escape, and the path to the head of security is opened.
After you kill the head of security, the Black Cerberus, and take his security exorig, you're finally able to lift the security lockdown over the entire facility and clear the way to the Executive Forum.
When you get to the Executive Forum, Creo's problems are on full display. The board is on the verge of a takeover, the CEO is about to take drastic action, Creo's head of PR has killed himself to escape the massacre (and in his suicide note he admits he knew about the issues with Project: Resolve), security forces are apparently complicit to a cover-up, and you are not the only person Sally has tried to guide to the board.
Inside the executive boardroom, you find the mutilated bodies of the board members absent the CEO, Jonah Guttenberg. Sally reveals herself as a holographic AI and explains what she knows: during the Utopia launch vote, The Surge overloaded the eight board members' implants, killing and incapacitating them before the vote was completed, 4-3 in favor of the launch. Sally desperately kept the remaining board member (Dr Chavez' contact on the board) alive, defibrillating him despite brain death, in order to buy time for someone to 4-4 deadlock the Utopia launch. As he dies, the Utopia vote is confirmed at 4-3, and Sally despairs at her futile efforts, sputtering and crashing, finally overtaken by the fire in the server room.
If you now backtrack to Chavez, you tell her about the board and she tells you that there is still a chance to corrupt the Utopia protocols, even if you can't stop the launch. She urges you to go directly to the Nucleus launch site and assist in the attempt to upload the virus to the rocket core.
You find Chavez' courier, dead only steps away from the rocket core. At this point the decision to upload the virus is yours - Utopia is projected to kill 95% of all life on the planet, but corrupting the protocols is an unknown, because there wasn't enough time to fully test its effects (a running theme of Creo's projects).
Through audio logs, it seems likely that the nanite payload of Utopia was responsible for The Surge: for a long time now, it has been slowly gaining sentience as it consumed tech, people, and data until it reached a critical mass, exploding and awakening the nanotech present in the Creo facilities and the support structures of Creo World.
As you fight your way to the launch site, it becomes clear that Jonah Guttenberg has interfered somehow with the launch abort failsafes, and perhaps separately, something is clearing the rocket for launch.
When you reach the rocket, you encounter what defends it: a gigantic nanite monstrosity named Rogue Process. It intends to spread across the earth, like Jonah intended for Utopia, and sees you as an obstacle to that end. As you fight it, it seems to invoke memories and voices of the people it has consumed.
When you beat the boss, the rocket launches despite your best efforts. You are knocked out, and when you awake, it appears your exorig is no longer functional; you crawl toward a wheelchair.
In NG+, the story is the same but there are signs before Warren's rig augmentation that things have already started to unravel: bloodstains leading to a ventilation shaft hint that the sentient nanites, Homo machinalis, or demented workers are already killing.