Companions have always been a real gamble in the realm of gaming. More often than not, having a side character constantly attached to the player can become a real hassle. This comes in the form of the dreaded escort mission or NPC who consistently gets in the way of the player’s actions.
This really makes a good sidekick stand out to gamers. Fortunately, developers have seemingly found the secret to having a good partner in their games. Over the last 20 years, players have been treated to quite a few sidekicks worthy of praise. So why don’t we take a moment to shine a light on these fantastic NPCs?
Clank (Ratchet & Clank)
Hailing from the classic days of PlayStation 2, the duo of Ratchet and Clank have always been great. While the player typically controls Ratchet, the funny little robot Clank pulls his weight during gameplay as well. Beyond the gameplay perks, Clank is also an immensely entertaining and cute character.
Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)
This mysterious lady trapped in a tower high above the clouds made for a great companions in gaming. While her story is interesting, Elizabeth is also helpful whenever she finds items for the player. Plus, she’s magic and can make a robot George Washington fight for you. So, that’s neat.
Agro (Shadow of the Colossus)
Shadow of the Colossus is a simple game with surprising depth. This depth expands to NPC interactions, particularly with the player’s horse, Agro. The player doesn’t exactly control the horse, but rather they control the main character. Said main character, Wander, then directs the horse to move a certain way.
Beyond that, Agro does his own thing. He behaves in a certain way independently, even when being ridden. While this can lead to some intensely annoying moments, the relationship between the player and Agro was pretty innovative for 2005.
Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect series)
Garrus Vakarian wasn’t much different from other members of Commander Shepard’s squad. At least not from a gameplay perspective. However, the factors that made this character so endearing were his personality and voice acting.
He can be a true, loyal friend, as well as a meaningful romantic pursuit. While he establishes himself as a meaningful ally to the player, Garrus has tons of memorable moments. They range from funny to heartfelt to overbearingly cool. As they happen so often, it was inevitable that Vakarian would become a fan favorite for years to come.
Victor Sullivan (Uncharted series)
The life of Nathan Drake is a risky one. The fortune seeker is constantly putting himself in bad situations, often times for little reason. A character like that always needs a voice of reason to ground them.
Enter Victor Sullivan, Nate’s father figure and aging treasure hunter. Sully knows his stuff, as well as how to handle himself. However, he isn’t afraid to let it be known that a stunt is foolhardy.
In gameplay, Sully can really be a lifesaver on harder difficulties. A good deal of his usefulness comes in narrative form, though.
Dogmeat (Fallout series)
Wandering a wasteland can be lonely in most cases. When the situation boils down to a player versus the elements in a cruel world, a friend always helps. While companions come in all shapes and sizes in the Fallout universe, the best always takes the form of a dog.
The player typically stumbles on their canine friend while adventuring. From then on, most people decide that they’re partners for life. Although, in earlier games there is a real chance that you will lose your fuzzy buddy forever. That dynamic added quite a bit of weight to the relationship that the player develops with Dogmeat.
Alyx Vance (Half-Life series)
Half-life 2 released in a time when game companions weren’t very welcome by anyone. This makes the fact that Alyx Vance was such a reliable NPC to work with so important. Alyx was helpful in combat, useful for lockpicking, and provided some much needed personality to the game.
While bouncing off of the quiet and personality depraved Gordon Freeman, Alyx presented a character that the player could really become attached to. Even years after the last outing in the Half-Life universe, players are eager to take control of the character in the upcoming title Half-Life: Alyx.
Clementine (The Walking Dead: Season 1)
While this character did eventually become the main protagonist of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, her initial debut as a companion is unforgettable.
Playing as escaped convict, Lee, the player must protect the young girl at all costs. The way that Clementine is written, acted, and programmed, it’s so easy to develop a feeling of protectiveness over her. This gives the player a driving force to do their best in the game while delivering a truckload of feels simultaneously.
Atreus (God of War)
As far as companions go, it’s difficult to find a sidekick that the player can lean on harder than Atreus. The son of Kratos is no pushover when it comes to combat and can definitely save the day in each battle on harder difficulties.
While his gameplay contributions are huge, he’s also a great character. As a foil to the grumpy, ever serious Kratos, this young kid manages to bring out the best in his father. In doing this, Atreus helps craft a story of redemption and forgiveness that is definitely worth experiencing.
Ellie (The Last of Us)
Just like our previous entry on this list, Ellie is an incredible character. Capable in combat, as well as entertaining and fascinating during quiet moments of the game. However, The Last of Us is an immensely different game than God of War, despite the glaring similarities.
In the name of survival, the duo of Ellie and Joel bring out both the very best and the absolute worst of their partner. It’s a dynamic that has players begging for the story to continue in The Last of Us: Part II.
Who are your favorite video game companions? Sound off in the comments below!