Sometimes, the stories going on around the hero of a video game can be just as interesting as the one you’re playing, if not more so. That doesn’t mean we don’t love our adventures with Nathan Drake or Gordon Freeman, but some of their friends and associates beg for a side story.
Here are some side characters whose points of view we would have loved to see. Keep in mind that we aren’t necessarily suggesting those who deserve their own games; that’s an entirely different list. But we would like to see some existing stories through their eyes and maybe fill in some gaps from the main plot. Here are the 16 Video Game Supporting Characters We Would Rather Play.
16. Jeff ‘Joker’ Moreau – Mass Effect series
Players get a vague idea of what life is like for the Normandy pilot in the third installment of the sci-fi role-playing franchise, in which they must avoid Reaper patrols while traveling between planets and outposts. But that two-dimensional, arcade-style minigame didn’t really do it for us.
It’s especially frustrating in light of all the crazy maneuvers and exciting space action Joker gets up to in cutscenes. We understand that cinematics have a lot more room for creativity because developers don’t have to factor in things like controls or playability, but we would have loved to take the helm during one of the series’ huge, space-borne action sequences. It would have been fun to have full control of the ship during one of the Normandy‘s space battles or daring, high-pressure runs through Mass Relays.
15. Carmelita Fox – Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
Ignoring the fact that every character in developer Sucker Punch’s Sly Cooper series is fodder for a corner of the internet that you do not want to get lost in, it’s a great franchise with a bright, cartoon-inspired art style that we love. And while you end up playing as every major character by the time you’re done with the fourth entry, we still spent most of the debut title wanting to play as Inspector Carmelita Fox.
Sly and his friends are international (but good-natured) thieves, and Fox is the agent out to catch them. She takes the whole thing way more seriously than the criminals, and she has a massive pistol that fires huge balls of electricity or something.
The first game, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, is a bit short, and we think adding playable Carmelita sections would have been great to fill it out and also follow the law side as it pursues – and repeatedly loses track of – the Cooper Gang. It would introduce some cool new mechanics and answer some important questions, like the small matter of how Fox is smart enough to track down Sly everywhere he goes but not fast enough to ever catch him.
14. Tiny Tina – Borderlands 2
On a planet already entirely populated with insane characters, Tiny Tina stands out as the most over-the-top crazy in developer Gearbox’s first-person shooter Borderlands 2. She’s a 13-year-old with a traumatic past and a staggering knowledge of explosives, and she’s one of the most consistently entertaining characters in the series.
Tina has a giant dog-monster partly made of fire that she keeps as a pet. His name is Enrique. She is bonkers.
She’s also the go-to person on Pandora when you need something blown up and don’t care that the casing is mostly a rabbit plushy. We’d love to follow her around on other jobs if only to get more dialogue like, “Gonna eat so many goddamn crumpets, it’s going to be a Crumpocolypse” and “Get outta my shop, or I’ll punch yo’ butt.” We also like blowing things up in games, so it would all be a pretty good time.
13. Pagan Min – Far Cry 4
Continuing the tradition for the series of first-person shooters set in exotic locales, Far Cry 4‘s villain, Pagan Min, is the most interesting character in the game. Sure, he’s an insane tyrant, and he kills a lot of people he shouldn’t while putting down a rebellion against him, but he’s just so darn charming. And he has an understandable appreciation of crab rangoon.
We’re interested in what Min gets up to while hero Ajay Ghale is off fighting the revolution. Odds are it’s a lot of torture and shooting relatively innocent people, but we mostly just want to spend more time with the guy. The game’s story reveals that he has a lot more going on than just craziness and murder, and while his head may not always be the least terrifying place to be, we’re sure it would at least be more interesting than the fairly bland inner workings of our hero.
12. Any Uruk – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Action-RPG Shadow of Mordor, an original story based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, was one of the biggest surprises of 2014, and one of the main reasons was its “Nemesis System.” This mechanic set up a power structure for Sauron’s army and built in promotions based on the results of their skirmishes with the player. If one enemy died, an underling would rise to take his place. But if an Uruk defeats the player, he becomes more powerful. Even more interestingly, every non-player character had a procedurally generated name and individual strengths and weaknesses.
We’d love to see this system working from the inside, and a mode that had us playing as lowly cannon fodder rising through the ranks to become a Warchief sounds like it would be really fun. You could kill puny humans for experience and even face off with the game’s hero, Talion, for a huge payoff. And since Shadow provides an in-universe explanation for Talion’s repeated returns from death, developers wouldn’t have to worry about creating different “Hero” characters like they did when creating the Uruk army.
11. Chloe Frazer – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Frazer joins Nathan Drake’s second adventure, but she’s also a double agent who betrays just about everybody in the game at one point or another. We’d love to see her side of all of that.
Playing as Chloe wouldn’t change the core gameplay at all; developer Naughty Dog created her as a darker counterpoint to Drake’s wisecracking treasure hunter, so she can climb, shoot, and banter with the rest of the crew. But it would be great to see how Among Thieves‘ events unfold from her perspective as her loyalty bounces between the two factions racing to uncover the secrets of Shambhala.
Her story could even extend into the third game, Drake’s Deception, when she abruptly decides to abandon that hunt when a member of her party injures his leg. If we’ve learned nothing else from this series, it’s that even a simple task like driving your buddy to the hospital never goes as smoothly as it should. We’re pretty sure she had to murder like 30 people on the way there.
10. The Witch – Left 4 Dead 2
Players can play rounds as almost all of the monsters in developer Valve Software’s first-person, zombiepocalypse shooter Left 4 Dead‘s multiplayer mode, but the developers left one important character out: the Witch.
We understand why, of course. This particular monster doesn’t do much but sit somewhere in the level and cry until your team’s most foolish or accident-prone member gets too close and startles her, at which point she springs to her feet and kills at least that person, if not everyone. The first part of that interaction doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun – although Witches are way more mobile during daylight hours in the second installment, so that’s the version we’re going with.
But we’re still interested in the backstory of this character since her mutation is so incredibly specific. All we really know is that this version of the infection only affects women, and Witches really like sugar for some reason.
9. Joseph Capelli – Resistance 2
Players get a chance to control hot-headed supporting character Joe Capelli in Resistance 3, but that only made it more apparent how much better the second game would have been if it had been about him.
The hero of the first two installments, Nathan Hale, spends half of his time in Resistance 2 succumbing to a pure form of the alien virus that has devastated the planet (he spends the other half being boring in every way). After he kills the final villain, Hale finally loses his mind, and it falls to Capelli to put him down. And a side character shooting your protagonist in the head is really just the best way to end your action video game, Insomniac.
We would have preferred to be on the other end of that transaction so that the story could end on an equally tragic note but still give players an arc to have followed throughout. Capelli is a tough guy to work with, and he’s constantly insubordinate and belligerent. But his final act is one of mercy and respect, and it would have meant a lot more if he’d been the guy we were following the whole time. It wouldn’t have been hard to switch; Capelli’s present for most of the major events in Resistance 2, and he gets to carry around an awesome, laser-firing minigun the whole time. It’s just a better prospect in every way.
8. Jade Aldemir – Dying Light
We didn’t have any huge problems with playing through zombie/parkour fusion title Dying Light as protagonist Kyle Crane, but he was not the best fighter in his own right. His martial abilities are mostly limited to straight kicks, shoves, and hitting the undead with whatever weapon he’s managed to scrounge up in his travels. Later, he can do some crazy stuff like vaulting over one zombie, landing on one behind it, and smashing its head with a hammer or whatever, but he’s not the first guy you’d call if you were heading for a fight.
Jade, however, is a kickboxer, and even better, she doesn’t spend the whole game running errands for all of the other characters. Sure, she does run to get supplies that the government is dropping into the quarantined city of Harran. But if someone asked her to go to his house because he left a book behind during the evacuation, and he’s afraid he’s going to die before he knows how it ends, she’d probably send someone else to do it because she’s clearly overqualified for that job.
She also disappears for a huge chunk of time in the middle of the game, and we’d like to see what she did during her absence. Considering she’s capable of taking on multiple armed men barehanded and winning, we’re sure that she was doing some pretty badass stuff out there.
7. The animatronics – Five Nights at Freddy’s 2
We could have chosen any entry in this horror franchise because they all have players sitting in a single room and trying to fend off the giant, murderous Teddy Ruxpins that want to murder them up. But we’re going with the second Five Nights at Freddy’s because it features more scary monsters and better options for approaching their quarry.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 introduces a vent system for you to crawl through, as well as three hallways through which to approach the surprisingly easy-to-access security office. You’d also have 11 different murderbots to choose from. And while this sounds like a pretty good opportunity for some online multiplayer, with people controlling both the animatronics and the security guard they’re trying to jump-scare to death, we’d be just fine leaving the defense of the security room up to a clever, computer-controlled character.
6. G-Man – Half-Life series
We’d be happy to get more Half-Life in any form, but in the meantime, we spend a lot of our time with Valve’s first-person shooter series wondering what is up with the G-Man.
We know that he’s creepy, has powerful “employers,” and isn’t opposed to influencing world events. He’s like an even more mysterious version of The X-Files‘ Cigarette-Smoking Man. But even that guy got his own episode. It would probably ruin the fun if we learned absolutely everything about the G-Man, but we’re interested in what he was doing between his background appearances in the first game or his slightly more hands-on machinations in the follow-ups. What is his job, exactly? Who are his employers? Why does he sound like a two-packs-daily smoker recorded his dialogue in reverse, Twin Peaks-style?
5. Nick Valentine – Fallout 4
Though he sounds like a crappy Mad Lib when you try to describe him, Fallout 4‘s Nick Valentine is one of our favorite characters in the game. He’s a run-down android who owns and runs a detective agency (complete with Bogie-esque drawl), and humans either tolerate or openly despise him.
You get to spend a lot of time with him in the postapocalyptic RPG, but we always wondered what he did when the player-controlled Lone Survivor was off shooting bandits and picking up every desk fan they saw so that they could use those precious screws to upgrade their weapons. Clearly, Valentine has enough cases to justify both owning the agency and hiring a secretary, and while the Far Harbor expansion gives us a chance to join him on one of his adventures, we’d much rather have inhabited him. We wanted to choose from his surly, hard-boiled dialogue options and track down leads.
And we want to do all of that while also being a robot in a trench coat and a fedora because among other things, Valentine is a tribute to the last time that wearing a fedora was actually stylish and cool.
4. The Joker – Batman: Arkham City
This is the second “Joker” on our list, but he has a totally different thing going on. While he spends most of developer Rocksteady’s first Arkham game sitting behind the mic at a public-address system, he’s more active in the follow-up, Arkham City.
The second entry features a Joker with an elaborate hideout, goons to send out on missions, and a dastardly plot to organize and pull off. And since the story exclusively follows Batman, we only really know what the Clown Prince of Crime is up to when he deigns to show up and mock the Caped Crusader. We would have loved to take to the streets of Arkham City as Joker, and not just it would present plenty of new opportunities to scare the life out of Two-Face’s and Penguin’s gangs.
3. Cyborg Ninja – Metal Gear Solid
While the playable hero, Solid Snake, spends most of his time in Metal Gear Solid crawling through vents and distracting guards by throwing porn in front of them, the Cyborg Ninja does the exact opposite. At one point, players discover him in the middle of murdering an entire hallway’s worth of soldiers while invisible. It’s like the Ninja turned the place into a live re-creation of Predator. And that’s a game we’d love to play.
We’re also curious what happens between the time that the Ninja fights Snake and when he shows up at the end to help him with the final boss. He pops in from time to time to cut off one enemy’s hand and send weird, cryptic messages, but he has to actually be up to something, right? Developer PlatinumGames’ Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, in addition to having one of the most baffling titles of any video game ever, gives players a chance to play as a cybernetically enhanced ninja, and that’s better than nothing.
2. Pyramid Head – Silent Hill 2
Surreal horror title Silent Hill 2‘s big bad is a manifestation of punishment pulled from the eponymous town’s dark history. But what that means for the player is that every once in a while, a horrifying, large man with an even bigger knife suddenly shows up and either chases you, throws you off of a building, murders your traveling companion, Maria, or some combination of the three. And he murders Maria multiple times because this is a very strange game.
He’s so scary, in fact, that we wanted to be on the other side of that. Imagine playing as the invincible monster, and your job is to track down and/or kill the heroes. The upcoming Friday the 13th game is exactly that, so we’ll get to play a version of this. But having a completely unreliable setting like Silent Hill would provide an even more interesting backdrop for all of this stalking than a non-descript forest.
1. Everyone else – BioShock
The original BioShock has a lot going for it: a great setting in the underwater city of Rapture, a cool art-deco style, and one of the best plot twists in gaming. But what it doesn’t have is a super-interesting protagonist.
It’s not developer Irrational Games’ fault; it’s actually integral to the plot that our hero, Jack, is something of a blank and easily manipulated. But his blah-ness stands in special contrast to the more interesting characters he meets on his journey through the doomed utopia. And we think that a “BioShock Stories” add-on would have been an easy sell.
Players could get looks into the lives of twisted characters like Dr. Steinman, a plastic surgeon whose obsession with beauty, combined with his abuse of the game’s ability-bestowing substance ADAM, leads to some operations that start at “botched” and only get worse from there. Or, players could spend some time inside the head of Sander Cohen, who makes art out of corpses. And let’s not forget Julie Langford, who planted all of the trees in Rapture’s oxygen-creating arboretum, or city founder Andrew Ryan, who hangs out in his office practicing his putt.
Alright, so some of those would probably make better games than others, but they’re all more interesting than Jack.
Were there any other side characters whose stories you’d want to see? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
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