It’s dangerous to go alone – everybody needs a shoulder to lean on every now and then, right? After all, who’s going to watch your character’s back when you’ve got a horde of abominations nipping at your heels? Who’s going to stick with your character when they’ve hit their darkest hour, pulling them through by the skin of their teeth? Who’s going to follow your character around and try to protect them in spite of the fact that you might as well be controlling them with your foot?
It’s a pretty commonplace thing these days; particularly in RPGs and adventure games: your hero isn’t a lone wolf. They have friends. Allies. Companions. Lone wolves are, by and large, getting scarcer and scarcer. Even Master Chief had Cortana, after all.
Sometimes, the developers don’t quite succeed in giving you a memorable, capable companion. Maybe they’re so incompetent, so wall-bangingly stupid that you’d have more luck toting around a 300 pound invalid gorilla in a wagon. Maybe they’re so poorly written you’d rather take a dip in battery acid than spend any time in their company. Or maybe, in the case of characters like Ashley Graham; they’re some terrifying, nightmarish cocktail of the two.
The characters on this list, however, aren’t those ones. These are the good companions – the ones who actually know what they’re doing, and don’t have a personality like wet dog fur. They’re the men, women, robots, and animals who we remember long after turning off the game; the characters who we’d be glad to have watching our backs in the event that the world went straight to hell. They’re some of the best in-game sidekicks you’ll ever see.
We’ll start with one from recent memory. See, a lot of the in-game followers you can get in Skyrim are…very much a mixed bag. Farkas, for example, has an annoying habit of staring blankly off into space while he’s supposed to be in combat. Mjoll the Lioness repeats her dialogue often enough that you want to play the game on mute, and Lydia, while effectively immortal, is largely ineffective in battle.
Dawnguard brought us Serana: an ancient vampire lass who puts pretty much every other companion in the game to shame (perhaps because she’s simply coded better). She’s deadly in combat, acts in a somewhat believable fashion out of battle, and doesn’t have repetitive dialogue that makes you want to throw her off a cliff (usually). Assuming you can ignore her penchant for reviving dead enemies as meat shields, she’s probably one of the best companions in the game.
Alyx Vance(Half Life 2)
So....crack shot with a pistol, fiercely intelligent, and not even remotely frustrating to have along for the ride? Sounds like a winner to me. One of her biggest defining moments was arguably the reverse escort mission in Episode 1.
The Black Whirlwind(Jade Empire)
Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Of course, in later games, they fleshed out his role, and he becomes absolutely integral in several boss battles…not to mention the fact that, if you know how to aim your jumps, he can actually take out a boss without you having to do any work. So…poor AI aside, he’s actually a pretty damned good follower.
Midna (Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess)
That’s at the beginning of the game.
Over the course of their journey together, Izun matures considerably, maturing and developing a close friendship with the fox god as the journey continues. By the end, he’s almost an entirely different person, having fully accepted his destiny and come to understand his reason for being.
Garrus Vakarian(Mass Effect)
The fact that he’s the closest thing to a sidekick Commander Shepard’s ever really going to have nets him his spot on this list above pretty much every other character in the game.
Your Pet(Torchlight/Torchlight II)
Honorable Mentions: Agro(Shadow of the Colossus), The Weighted Companion Cube (Portal), Cortana (Halo), Otacon (Metal Gear Solid), Luigi (Super Mario Franchise)
Six Of The Most Pigheaded Ad Campaigns In Gaming's History
I may get some flak for this, but I actually admire (most) advertisers. It takes a great deal of creativity to make a product that sells without pissing pretty much everybody off. Of course, some people take that 'creativity' a little too far...
Five Reasons To Love (And Hate) Free To Play
"Free To Play" is the phrase that's been on everyone's lips lately, particularly in the world of MMOs. It's the new business model that every production executive is cooing over; the model that many have come to hate with a burning, fiery passion. But is it really so bad?
Ten Things Rockstar Did Right With GTA Online
So...by now, most of you are probably aware that Rockstar kind of botched the launch of GTA Online. I mean, they seriously botched it. To the point that it was completely unplayable. At the same time, though...they handled the situation masterfully - there's a lot of stuff they actually did right.
Five Reasons To Look Forward To League's Fourth Season
With this year's LCS drawn to a close, a new season of League of Legends is just about upon us. It's bringing with it some very, very big changes. Trust me when I say they're something to be very, very excited for.
Indie Game Of The Week: Magicka
This week, I'm revisiting an old favorite of mine - and one that I desperately hope you've heard of. Magicka tells the tale of one to four homicidal, sociopathic wizards, their not-vampire instructor, and an eldritch abomination that threatens to destroy the whole world. Did I mention you can blow up pretty near anything you've a mind to?
Indie Game of The Week: Huntsman: The Orphanage
This week, I'll be taking a look at Huntsman: The Orphanage; a rather fresh take on the horror genre that manages to convey fear and anxiety without any violence or gore whatsoever. It's actually pretty impressive.
Ten Ways Social Media Has Changed The MMO
Social networks have effectively changed the way we...well, do pretty much everything. We interact differently, work differently, and even view the world differently since the birth of Facebook - there's even talk that it's bringing about a fundamental change in the way we think. It should thus come as no surprise that they've also had a considerable impact on the world of MMOs.
Indie Game of The Week: Outlast
This week, we'll be taking a look at Outlast, a horror game that tosses you into the shoes of independent journalist Miles Upshur as he explores the sinister Mount Massive Asylum. Spoiler alert: it doesn't go so well for dear Miles.
Indie Game Of The Week: The Bridge
This week, we're going to take a look at puzzle platformer "The Bridge," a rather esoteric game about a mad scientist, impossible geometry, and a reckless disregard for the laws of time, space, physics, and gravity. Shall we get started?
League: Ten Tips To Help You Be A Better Support
Historically, support has kind of been the butt-monkey role of League of Legends. In spite of being one of the most valuable and vital roles in the game, few people ever seem to want to play it. As a result...there aren't all that many people who can actually play it well. We need to change that.