Top games of the decade are cool but it's only time we offered recognition to the well-written, iconic or otherwise notable characters that made certain great games even better. Here are 7 video game characters that should be remembered for decades to come.
Top lists are always picked subjectively and this one is not an exception, especially since it doesn't just feature the high profile characters but also has some whose significance is only seen after digging deeper into the in-game books, notes or paying attention to the game world. Another disclaimer is that this is obviously an opinion piece but had to be filed under news at the time of writing, which will be rectified in the future. Oh, and there will be some spoilers since some characters are key to the plot.
That said, let's dig into some of the best video game characters not only of the 2010s but ever created. They are not placed in any particular order.
Varian Wrynn (World of Warcraft)
It is not every day that a young human king gets kidnapped by people who rebuilt his capital, escapes, loses memory, gets enslaved by the Horde, serves as a gladiator, becomes a champion, escapes, regains his memory, figures out a dragon created his duplicate to be her puppet king, overthrows her and reunites with himself as the king of Stormwind once again.
While the short description above does not do Varian's story justice, every World of Warcraft player grew a degree of respect for the human king during his reign as he wasn't just hell-bent on winning the war against the Horde. His stoic composure would at times be replaced by moving moments of compassion . While the king appeared before this decade, he would serve as the face of the Alliance up until Legion.
Honourable mentions: Koltira Deathweaver & Thassarian
Enemies in life, brothers in death. Thassarian initially killed Koltira who was subsequently raised as a Death Knight by the Scourge. Similar fate followed Thassarian soon after but instead of bickering, the two formed a lasting bond that prevailed even after the Lich King's demise and Battle for Andorhal.
Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2)
Handsome Jack is a psychopathic douchebag and barely anyone will say otherwise. Granted, he has had a rough life that shaped him into what we encountered in Borderlands 2 but the point still stands. Still, his superficial charm grabbed countless players' attention as we played through the Vault Hunters' adventures in anticipation to see what shocking thing Jack might do next.
Enslaving one's own daughter is extreme but hardly the most surprising thing this villain pulled. However, his superficial charm kept the scales balanced and he was simply a character we all loved to hate. A captivating villain is a strong driving force and Handsome Jack certainly fills that role. Bonus points for giving the players a quest to kill themselves and actually paying them upon completion. Still a jackass though, pun intended.
Honourable mention: Mr Torgue
Borderlands 2 was all about connecting the unconnectable personality traits it seems. Mr Torgue is a foul-mouthed brute that is just adorable for some reason. Might be because of his powerlessness with the built-in language filter or his inability to understand what inuendos are.
Morrigan (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
In truth, Morrigan's most captivating moments were in Origins but that game was released just two months before the decade started. We'll give it a slight pass but Morrigan's sarcastic charm persists in Inquisition and it's safe to say she didn't lose any character. She did go from hanging out in a swamp to becoming the Orlesian empress' advisor in the span of two games which was oddly befitting, given her abundant intellect that Morrigan doesn't flaunt around. Unless Alistair is present, that is.
Not being fond of someone or seeing yourself as their superior but still being able to accept their advice when appropriate is a telltale sign of a strong personality. In the case of Morrigan, she didn't get along with Leliana in Origins but obviously didn't underestimate the latter's strong suits, like fashion advice. Dark red velvet with gold embroidery and low cut in front is exactly what we find her dressed in during the events of Inquisition.
In the end, Morrigan's withdrawn personality didn't stand in her way of becoming a reliable ally. She is an extremely rare example of a mage not giving in to demons' temptations while also strongly opposing the oppressive means of controlling the magic-gifted individuals. She never flinched in the face of danger and aided both the Hero of Ferelden and the Inquisitor by putting herself on the line with means of defeating the ultimate antagonists that were experimental at best.
Honourable mention: Josephine Montilyet
While Josephine's romance path could be dull at times, she is one of the more intricate characters in Inquisition. Always gently diplomatic when possible, she does not hesitate to turn verbally aggressive when necessary which made her an invaluable addition to the whole organisation. She also mostly kept politicians at bay so we didn't have to deal with these sleazebags directly.
Christine Royce (Fallout: New Vegas)
Christine appears in Fallout New Vegas somewhat briefly as her physical presence is limited to Dead Money DLC. However, despite Sierra Madre adventures being generally rated the lowest among New Vegas' expansion packs, the former Brotherhood of Steel assassin made it much more interesting.
She is initially mute, meaning we had to deal with indirect dialogue as we tried to figure out what Christine's gestures meant, adding to the character's depth and feeling of connection. Additionally, she is one of only four characters in Dead Money that we can talk with. Dean Domino is a scumbag, Dog a mentally unstable Super Mutant and Elijah a crazed old man. Christine was the only one you could truly trust not to stab you in the back and ironically the most mentally stable of the four, despite being locked for weeks in an Auto-Doc that ripped her vocal cords out. The only way to turn the temporarily-mute ally into an enemy is to be a jackass to her which doesn't really count as doublecrossing the Courier.
Overall, in a DLC that not many liked and fewer replayed, Christine was a shining point as her intricate character made the heist attempt more interesting and less of an anxiety inducer which earned her a spot on this list.
Honourable mention: Yes Man
In the seat of greed, Las Vegas itself, Yes Man is literally the only character that is not looking to further their own interests. He doesn't have a choice in the matter but still. With his upbeat personality that contrasts the bleak Mojave Wasteland, Yes Man made the day of many Couriers as both the one to cheer them up and give them the ability to usher a new era of a truly independent Vegas.
Iris von Everec (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
Iris von Who?! Yes, I understand that might be what some readers will ask or why she is on the list of top video game characters of the decade but Iris is a great example of exquisite writing that managed to provoke feelings of empathy toward a pile of pixels.
She is the late wife of Hearts of Stone character, Olgierd von Everec. Initially a young couple from two noble houses, their love was forbidden as Olgierd's family lost their wealth. It took Olgierd a literal deal with the devil to bring it back which looked like a fairytale ending for Iris at the time, only for her to discover she walked straight into a nightmare. Iris' sad tale is told through the game's background mostly and we encounter the talented painter only briefly during a single main story quest in Hearts of Stone.
In case you didn't go through it, this is definitely a story you want to experience. Grab The Witcher 3 on a 70 per cent sale and it will practically be a steal for all the amazing content you will get, including one of the saddest but also the best short stories told in a video game.
Honourable mention: Anna Henrietta
The vast majority of characters in The Witcher 3 have a dark side to them, including Geralt and Yennefer. However, these are more pronounced in the characters we meet, such as the Red Baron who is both a good and a terrible human being and the same seems to be the case for all the rulers we meet. In short, we've come to expect it from The Witcher's characters in power. However, Anna Henrietta absolutely sold us on the picture of a decisive but fair ruler with an interesting personality to boot.
It was her integrity that was at the epicentre of the earthquake caused by certain plot twists and seeing the consequences was as captivating as Blood and Wine expansion itself.
Lord Shaxx (Destiny & Destiny 2)
PvP in Destiny & Destiny 2 is a fast-paced endeavour which also means a lot of salty moments are on the line. It certainly isn't fun when you get instantly popped by a melee-happy Titan, Handheld Supernova or one of the worst abominations in recent memory - OEM Titans with Recluse and Mountaintop.
This is where Lord Shaxx comes in with his endless optimism. If you happen to be on a roll, you will hear Shaxx singing your praises. Not really singing as he's very shy, but his upbeat voice is certain to make the experience more enjoyable. Even when losing, Shaxx isn't chastising players but trying to rally them. Shutting down a Super sends the handler of Crucible into an ecstatic frenzy.
Bottom line, Shaxx is designed to make players feel better about their PvP experience and is one of the few voiced NPCs that don't vex the Guardians, unlike a certain relative of Fenchurch.
Honourable mention: Cayde-6
Vanguard are supposed to be cream of the crop that other Guardians look up to. You don't expect them to beg players to take them along on a journey. It's exactly what Cayde did and he rarely took things seriously. Even in his last moments, he cracked jokes at his assailant. Best in-game robot ever, solid 5/7. Oh, and did you notice Nolan North voiced him in Forsaken? Bonus points for amazing voice acting.
Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect 2 & Mass Effect 3)
Despite saying there is no particular order for the characters on this list, I definitely saved the best for last. This is the single best bro character in any game to exist in any universe, ever. The deadeye Turian believed in Shepard from the get-go, provided some of the best banter seen in video games and was there for the Commander through thick and thin.
Even in Shepard's absence, he didn't waste time and decided to go on a crusade against crime in Omega, the probably most crime-infested place in Milky Way. Besides bearing the titles of certified badass and best bro, he is also known as the eternal calibrator of weapons.
Garrus may be the best-written companion to the main character in any game, but he is also one of the most useful. Are you having trouble with those pesky Harvesters on Insanity? No problem, let Garrus take care of it.
Honourable mentions: Liara and Thane
Video games that have romance mechanics tend to be all or nothing. If you don't romance a character, you don't get much interesting input from them. This is not the case with Liara T'Soni, who proved to be the best friend Shepard could hope for, even making sure the Commander's legacy doesn't get forgotten in case of losing the war against the reapers.
Thane is a repentant assassin we meet in Mass Effect 2 and gives his best to help Shepard both there and later in Mass Effect 3, despite being on his deathbed. He serves as a great portrayal of a badass character whose qualities don't just stop there as the writers weren't afraid of exploring more than the surface level of the race previously unseen in the game series.