Monday, 21 November 2016

8 Video Game Supporting Characters Who Deserve Their Own Game

So I find that in the video games I play, I usually love a good story, and with a good story I also like good characters. That said, I occasionally run into the situation where I find I enjoy the supporting cast more than the actual protagonist. Even when there is a great protagonist (or protagonists, in some cases) that doesn't occasionally stop me from being interested in the storylines of supporting cast members. So I thought I'd make a list of ten supporting characters I have encountered in video games who I would want to see take a starring role.

Now admittedly, my knowledge of gaming is not without its limits. I can only go on games I've actually played, which makes it harder to decide. I've also never been good at ranking, so I decided instead to sort these roles alphabetically. So here are ten video game supporting characters I'd be open to seeing take a starring role in their own game.

Claudia Auditore (Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood)

The Assassin's Creed games have generally had a very diverse array of female characters, even if most of them only filled supporting roles. The series has even managed to have two female protagonists so far, the first of which was also black (and possibly lesbian or bisexual, given the subtext between her and √Člise). However, special mention goes to Claudia, whose story ended at a point where it was getting really interesting. She proves herself to be a strong woman throughout Brotherhood, first running a small town, later taking charge of a brothel, single-handedly killing several guards, and finally becoming an assassin in her own right.

That last part, however, only occurs at the very end of the game. We see her acceptance into the Assassin Brotherhood, but I'd love to see more of her actual career as an assassin. If Ubisoft ever wanted to revisit the setting of Renaissance-era Italy, a spin-off featuring Claudia as the star would be a really good idea. We could get to know her on a more personal level, perhaps getting a better sense of her psychology and her methods.

Chloe Frazer (Uncharted)

Okay, let's face it, Chloe was probably the best character in the entire Uncharted series. She's strong, witty, can handle herself in a fight, but also human. I'd be lying if I said I never had moments where I played Uncharted 2 wishing I could be her instead of the actual protagonist (Nate's fun, but I personally found Chloe a more interesting character). Sure, Elena's okay, but Chloe is so much cooler. I loved her role in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and was so excited when she returned for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (then disappointing when she left abruptly partway through). A lot of the best parts of the Uncharted games were the ones where you're working with Chloe.

So if why not give Chloe a spin-off game of her own. After all, getting her point of view would probably allow a chance to explore the character on a level not possible when her whole story is seen through Nate. We could get a much deeper look into her psychology and personal life, as well as her career as a thief (everyone always talks about how she is "the best driver in the business," something that generally goes unseen).

Father Mathias (Tomb Raider)

Okay, this was totally Lara Croft's story and she was an amazing character in the game, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a worthwhile supporting cast as well. Most of them could have their stories explored in future Tomb Raider games, but one story that is only hinted at is that of its main antagonist, Father Mathias. Not much is revealed about him in the game, beyond that he was also a castaway stranded some time before Lara's arrival, and his desperation to leave has led him to the conclusion that he must revive the Sun Queen and started a secret brotherhood that murders outsiders. It could be interesting to explore what happened to Mathias and to get a more detailed look into his mental processes. I could see him being a tragic figure, initially a well-intentioned man who got stuck on the island and gradually turning into the fanatic Lara encounters as he grows more desperate to return home.

Janey Springs (Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel)

It's hard not to enjoy Janey's appearance in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, in which she assists the player character over the course of the story as well as providing side quests (usually by assigning overly complicated tasks for the player to accomplish something straight forward). Then there's the less-than-kid-friendly "kids books" she is fond of writing. There could be some fun potential to explore her character in more detail in a spin-off, which could make use of her crazy personality and her tendency to get into bizarre situations (and find equally bizarre and overly-convoluted ways of dealing with them). There would also be room to break ground by introducing an openly gay protagonist, something which to my knowledge has yet to happen (at least not in the form of anything beyond including an option for gay romance).

Dr. Penelope Young (Batman: Arkham Asylum)

Batman: Arkham Asylum is definitely intense. It's amazing how much it can do with so little (although it's also very easy to get stuck for the same reasons). That said, there isn't much to Batman himself, and a lot of the more interesting roles are in the supporting cast. Dr. Young proved a good character and I was disappointed to see her die so early. I think there may still be more material to cover which could be accomplished by giving her a starring role. Dr. Young is depicted as a complex character who can seem cold and calculating but also not without a conscience. Her psychology alone could be worth exploring in more detail, but also her career presents some interesting narrative possibilities.

Placing Young as a tragic hero would allow Gotham to be viewed from a perspective other than Batman's (which would be refreshing), and it could allow an opportunity to see how ordinary people are affected by people like the Joker. It could also open up more room to explore what goes on at Arkham Asylum when Batman isn't there. Sure, making a story that isn't about Batman in which he may only be a supporting role could be seen as a huge gamble, but I think there's some good potential.

Tali'Zorah (Mass Effect Series)

For some reason, everyone seems to think it's Garrus who should have his own spin-off, but I don't think I'd want to play as him. Mass Effect is first and foremost an RPG, but if they wanted to deviate from using a player-customized role, Tali seems like a good choice. She played a crucial role across the Mass Effect trilogy, appearing in all three games and her relationship to Shepard being among the most touching of the various sub-plots the games have to offer.

A spin-off focused on Tali could deal with her adventures after the events of Mass Effect 3, and how she has been shaped by her experiences. After all, in Mass Effect she started as a teenager trying to figure out what to do with her life, and with Shepard as a mentor she went on to assist in destroying the Reapers and saving the Galaxy. Following Tali would allow the player to explore in greater detail the aftermath of the Reaper invasion (which could be affected differently depending on Shepard's actions in the previous games). Shepard was very much a mentor towards her, so following her new adventures would allow us to see how Tali has grown as a result.

Tess (The Last of Us)

The Last of Us had an assortment of interesting characters and roles, some arguably much more interesting than the actual main character Joel. Special mention goes to Tess, an NPC who accompanies Joel through the first act of the game, only to get killed early on. This is rather unfortunate given she is such a great character and we find out so little about who she is. From what we do see, she is quickly established to be a strong, capable survivor who knows how to handle herself as well as being a fairly effective smuggler. All we really get to know beyond that is that she has apparently been a criminal partner to Joel for some time.

If Naughty Dog ever wanted to produce a follow-up to The Last of Us, it could be worthwhile to try and explore Tess's story in more detail. Who is she? How did she get involved in the world of post-apocalyptic smuggling? How did she and Joel end up working together and why does she start out the game wanting to kill Robert? We don't get much of an opportunity to really explore Tess's mind, and with such a great character so underused in the first game, it would be really nice to see a prequel that can explore her story in more detail.

Whiptail (Heavenly Sword)

Heavenly Sword definitely gives us a very bizarre and over-the-top world. The setting alone (the aesthetic of which can perhaps be most easily described as a mix of Celtic and Ancient Chinese, with elements of various ancient mythologies also thrown in) is odd enough, and then of course there are also the various strange characters we meet over the course of the story. One of the most peculiar individuals we meet is the Medusa-like General Whiptail, a strange fish/snake lady warrior who serves as the game's first boss. Of course, she isn't in the game very long, and dies early in the narrative, but that doesn't mean there aren't aspects of her character still to explore.

Theoretically, this game would have to be a prequel unless they wanted Whiptail to somehow come back to life (which could open up some interesting possibilities with a redemption story, but would probably be harder to pull off convincingly). It could function as a chronicling of the rise to power of the main antagonist, King Bohan as seen through her eyes, and delve more into their relationship as well as showing how she became one of his top generals and such a dangerous warrior. This approach could also have the interesting effect of making Whiptail into a tragic figure, especially if we can get into her psychology.

So those are some of my ideas. This is naturally limited to games I've played, but what video game supporting characters would you like to take control of?

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