As technology increases and games become even more advanced, game developers have been able to create visually stunning masterpieces. Luckily for players, stories in games have finally started to catch up with the writing fidelity of some of the greatest movies. Although no matter the medium, one often overlooked aspect of great storytelling are, in the case of games, side characters, companions, or as many of us call them, NPCs. I believe now is a good time to look at some of gaming’s greatest companions.

#5 – Cheeseburger – Far Cry 5

Cheeseburger is a bear whose mother was killed by poachers when he was a cub. He was found behind a restaurant chowing down on cheeseburgers and fries, hence the name. As Cheeseburger grew up eating burgers and fries, he became diabetic. In order to gain him as a companion on Far Cry, players must capture a salmon and present it to Cheeseburger (as well as help put him on a healthier diet). Afterwards, he can be called upon at will to help the player through the game.

Cheeseburger is best suited as a ‘Tank’ NPC, since he charges enemies head-on, drawing their aggression and leaving the player a perfect opportunity to finish off the enemies. If players have whittled enemies down, then Cheeseburger will violently murder enemies in a slightly adorable fashion. Players enjoy having unique NPC’s in games and it’s hard to get more unique than a cheeseburger and fry-loving bear.

#4 – Kharjo – Skyrim

Kharjo is a Khajiit warrior, guarding the wandering caravans of Skyrim. When talking to the player, he would rather be in his homeland but is repaying a debt to the leader of his caravan. He will also mention that, during a skirmish, bandits stole his moon amulet given to him by his mother. Players can choose to get the amulet back from the bandits in which, upon delivery, Kharjo will accompany the player when asked.

Kharjo is the greatest NPC follower in Skyrim. I preferred playing as a vampire mage and I appreciated having a warrior style character to help in tough situations. Plus, Kharjo is a giant walking, talking cat decked out in steel plate armor and wielding a steel mace and shield. While wandering about and fighting in the wild lands of Skyrim, Kharjo (along with J’zargo the only other Khajiit follower though he is a mage) will have slightly altered dialogue unique to Khajiit. After too many, playthroughs of Skyrim, Kharjo emits personality that many of the other NPC followers are lacking.

#3 – Tess – The Last of Us

Not much is known about Tess prior to her introduction after the prologue of The Last of Us. It is established that she and Joel, the game’s main protagonist, are black market smugglers of guns, rations and other paraphernalia in the Boston quarantine zone. Tess has a ruthless attitude which becomes extremely apparent when she shoots another smuggler in the face (to be fair, he was a jerk).

What makes Tess a top contender for game companions is not only the solid writing and voice acting of the character, but the AI. There were many times in a fire-fight when the enemy was overwhelming me, especially on the higher-level difficulties, when Tess would sneak up the side of the map and flank the baddies. The only real downside to Tess as a companion is that she would constantly steal kills from me as I withered the enemy down and then Tess would pop up and finish off the bandit.

#2 – Dorian Pavus – Dragon Age Inquisition

Dorian Pavus is a mage and the next in line to take the Archon of Tevinter. When players first meet Dorian, he is a self-described pariah of his homeland as he refuses to follow the status quo of the political situation. Depending on choices made during the course of the game, Dorian can either become a well-respected member of the inquisition or a recluse destined for obscurity.

Dorian is by far one of the most well-written characters in a videogame. Depending on who players take with them when exploring the vast landscapes of Thedas, determines some of the funniest dialogue in the game. Usually, banter among the characters is highly amusing; however, scenes in the game can alter slightly depending on who is in the party. Scenes with Dorian have an unsuspected charisma that other characters in the game don’t offer. Another great aspect of Dorian is his skill set in battle; depending on which class and sub-class players choose, he will greatly enhance the sense of combat in the game.

#1 – Garrus Vakarian – Mass Effect Trilogy

By far the greatest NPC companion of all time and Commander Shepard’s right-hand man (at least in my playthroughs) is Garrus Vakarian. When players first meet Garrus, he is a C-sec officer being saturated with bureaucracy. He joins the Commanders crew and depending on the choices made during the first game, Garrus will either return to C-sec with a new respect for rules and regulations or commit to Spectre training as Spectre’s only answer to the Citadel Council.

As players know, in the second and third installments of the series, Garrus is a no-nonsense but charismatic leader. Though Garrus doesn’t follow any conventional guidelines, he holds a sense of purpose in wanting to help those in need by brutally executing their oppressors. When playing through the Mass Effect trilogy, I never completed a mission without Garrus in my squad. One of the best aspects of the character is his wit and sense of humor while on missions. I laughed a lot while shooting my way through enemy camps.

Conclusion

As games have progressed, developers have created non-playable characters that rival the greatest movies and novels in terms of authenticity. With the advancements made and current technology giving developers the leverage to write NPCs in fine detail, it makes me wonder what the future holds. As processing power and API’s make complex tasks more conventional, writers will need to take on a more integral part of the industry that, despite its evolution, has yet to be realized.

If you have NPCs you wanted to see on this list toss them into the comment section down below. We would love to know who you loved having by your side.

About The Author

Christopher T
Staff Writer

I'm an old timer that started in 1988 with Tempest at the Disney arcade; in 1989 I was given an NES with Contra and Super Contra, thus sealing my fate forever. I moved onto the Genesis, followed by the original PlayStation, PC (mainly just for DOOM) and the N64. I got a launch day PS2 settling for the PlayStation family of consoles until 2015 when I renewed my interest in the PC world. Outside of gaming, custom PC water cooling and car parts are life.