This is all about a game’s cast. It isn’t limited to the main character, but also includes party members, named enemies, and NPCs that have an influence on the story. Having only one great character won’t land a game on this list, but in the same vein, having a lackluster lead isn’t necessarily disqualifying — assuming the other cast members are awesome. Dialogue, writing, vocal performance, and motion capture obviously have a large impact on the success of a character, but I also want to highlight unique characters, ones with an interesting backstory, and well-developed character relationships.
There aren’t a ton of characters in Control, but they’re all brimming with unique (and weird) personality.
Kingdom Hearts III
Sora, Donald, and Goofy are back and that’s at least one thing I love about Kingdom Hearts III.
You’re far less isolated this time around, and the broader team you explore with are brimming with personality.
The fact that I didn’t finish Afterparty is not the fault of the characters. Lola and Milo are a hilarious, sarcastic team but still feel like individuals. Ashly Burch does a fantastic job as Sam Hill, who ferries Milo and Lola around Hell with her down home, innocent personality. Wormhorn is the personal demon assigned to torment Lola and Milo, and she takes her job much too seriously (in a funny way). I unfortunately didn’t get far enough to meet Satan, but I have no doubt that Dave Fennoy crushes it.
4. Borderlands 3
The Borderlands games are always a little tough in a category like this, because you only really see more than one of the main characters if you have multiple playthroughs. I played through the entirety of the game solo as FL4K, and his no nonsense dryness was a perfect foil for the insanity of the other characters. I also played a few hours as Amara in co-op, but she seemed a little more straightforward. The main baddies are livestreamers that definitely bring the cringe (in a mostly good way). Plenty of familiar faces return. Some are great (Lilith) and some are not so great (Tiny Tina).
3. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Cal Kestis is an awesome character. Not only is he worthy of carrying a story-focused game like Jedi Fallen Order, but he ranks up there with some of the best Star Wars protagonists. I really hope we get a sequel to this game because I think there’s plenty more growing for his character to do. The biggest reason Jedi Fallen Order didn’t land higher on this list was just that there aren’t many characters of note in this game. Greez is great, Cere is okay, Nightsister Merrin is okay, and then you’re down to underdeveloped villains like Taron Malicos and the Second Sister.
2. The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds earns its spot high on this list for the sheer quantity of great characters there are in the game. Most of them certainly don’t have as much depth as you’d get in a more story focused game, but even the one-off vendors and city locals usually have something funny to say. The biggest bummer for me is that only half of the companions are great. I typically rolled with a twosome from Nyoka, Parvati, and Ellie because the two dudes are forgettable at best. SAM is great, but at the end of the day he’s just a robot one-line deliverer. Phineas Welles and ADA are also pretty damn good.
1. Life is Strange 2
Much like the first season of Life is Strange, many of the side characters are painted with a very broad brush. There’s a racist dude in the second episode that was laughably on the nose. I’m surprised he wasn’t wearing a MAGA hat. But to be fair, I did like many of the side characters that pop up for an episode or two, like Brody, Cassidy, and Joey. Plus, main characters Sean and Daniel have so much depth to them that it overcomes the occasionally lame writing of the supporting cast. These brothers go through so much during the course of the game, and it’s truly exceptional watching Sean never give on their dream of Mexico.
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