DJ Arruda ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
As much as we love to play as the main character in our favorite games, the things that often make them special are the supporting characters. The people you and your character meet who stand by your side no matter what, and can even be controlled some of the time. These are ten of the best of those companions, in no particular order.
1. Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect series)
You’d be hard pressed to pick just one member of Shepard’s crew to list as the best. The entire series revolves around the squadmates that you recruit across the galaxy and develop friendships with based on loyalty and sacrifice. Yet when it comes down to it, Garrus is a pretty solid choice. With you from the beginning to the bitter end, this smart talking, sharp shooting Turian is Shepard’s best friend, and potentially even more if you’re FemShep. His arc from C-Sec officer to Archangel to head of the Reaper Task Force is worthy of any story, and as he grows and matures throughout the series you can’t help but love him more. Here’s hoping to meeting him in the bar in heaven.
2. Morrigan (Dragon Age: Origins)
Much like Mass Effect, Dragon Age draws its richness from the cast of characters accompanying the Warden on their journey. Again, it is hard to pick just one, but in the end Morrigan emerges as one of gaming’s most intriguing and complex characters. This young Witch of the Wilds joins you relatively early on your quest, and her wry humor and cynicism provide a world view unique from the rest of the party. Her banter with them reveals much about her, and as the game progresses and you discover more during each conversation, the layers within this young apostate peel away to show just how great a character she is. Her role in the story cannot be understated, and the fact that she will be returning in Dragon Age: Inquisition only solidifies the fact that she is one companion any hero would want by their side.
3. Iorveth (The Witcher 2)
Geralt of Rivia encounters many unique faces throughout his journeys, each helping to paint a picture of a diverse world wrought with political intrigue and monsters. One of the most intriguing characters he comes across is Iorveth, a freedom fighting elven leader whose scarred appearance reflects the cost of his cause. Though at first glance he may appear to be just an angry terrorist assaulting Flotsam, once Geralt meets with him the inner complexities can be seen. Depending on choices made in the first act, Geralt’s relationship with Iorveth changes irreversibly, but as the next two acts go on more is revealed and either way this elven firebrand is not a companion so easily forgotten.
4. Barry Wheeler (Alan Wake)
The wondrous setting of Bright Falls invokes both Stephen King and Twin Peaks. The novels by the former and the cast in latter contain many unique and interesting characters that stick with readers and viewers alike, and Alan Wake creates a crew that is just as engaging. The twisting, dark, sometimes confusing yet always alluring narrative of the game involves the titular novelist looking to save his wife from long awakened evil. And any good author needs an agent, and a best friend. Barry fills both those roles, a New Yorker with allergies who provides both comic relief and a shoulder to lean on in this dark and twisting world. His red coat stands out, as does his personality, and he truly is the friend you would want in this world.
5. Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite)
Booker would never have come to Columbia if it weren’t for this girl: this one character on whom time and space turn. The one who always has a bullet, a coin, or a health pack whenever it is needed. Opening tears to turn the tide of battle, Elizabeth is all of these things. A truly supportive companion who is also complex and intriguing in her own right. The many questions as to her existence and her place in the world build the narrative of this amazing game, and allow players someone to talk to as they guide Booker through the flying failed utopia. She is vulnerable yet strong, dangerous yet hopeful, a character that would be in place in any novel. And the fact that you can now play as her to end the series as we know it, that’s an even bigger treat.
6. Cicero (Skyrim)
Even though you can devour dragon souls and carry hundreds of pounds of equipment, the Dragonborn can still use help from some of the wild characters met in the region of Skyrim. One of the most thrilling companions is the clown Cicero: one part Joker, one part assassin, all crazy. His priceless lines when traveling or giving orders are both amusing and terrifying, as is his signature outfit and deadly efficiency with knives. Though he may be a bit much for some players, choosing to hear him out and bring him out on at least a quest or two will ensure that you get to experience the joy of a traveling, stabbing jester. Trust me, he’s a keeper.
7. Rex (Fallout: New Vegas)
Much like its sister series in The Elder Scrolls, Fallout allows the player to be a one man army, yet there are plenty of followers to break the isolation. Out of the many options, none can beat a loyal canine at your side, especially one that is cybernetic. Rex takes Dogmeat, the loyal canine follower featured through the series, to a new level as an adorable pup who happens to have his brain in a jar in order to preserve it. He’s an old soul, but still packs quite the bite, and the fact that you can change his brain and save his life adds deeper connection for the player.
8. Cortana (Halo series)
From the beginning of the first Halo, players were introduced to Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana. Though she is not a follower in the traditional sense, she is bonded with Chief throughout the series, and their relationship serves as a solid basis for the series. You cannot deny her importance in the narrative from kidnapping to malfunctioning and everything in between, and yet she is always there for Chief when the time comes. There is no Chief without Cortana, and no Halo without Chief, and thus she stands as one of the most important side characters in gaming, to help and guide the narrative and show how deep a relationship can run.
9. Wheatley (Portal 2)
As lovely as GLaDOS is, she is the antagonist to Chell’s protagonist. Her presence is undeniably great, but in the end she would not fit the bill for companion. However, in this sequel, Wheatley becomes just what you want in a companion. Funny, helpful, witty, smart…at least for a while. One cannot deny the importance of his character in this stellar sequel, equal parts maniac, helper, and wild card, and though the tables turned and his role changes, he together with GLaDOS become some of the best and most fun companions encountered in any game.
10. Claptrap (Borderlands series)
Rounding out the list is another non-traditional companion. This smart-talking, sassy, hilarious and sometimes dangerous little robot has become the signature face of this series. His quirkiness, awkwardness, and humor turn this little bucket of bolts into a constant relief in the sometimes dark world of Pandora. His expanded role as the series goes on only makes him more endearing, as he brings laughs to the player and mayhem for the enemy, and overall serves as a great part of the narrative, seared alongside the Vault Hunters but never usurping him. Keep it going, little guy!
Let us know your favorite gaming companion in the comments!