Having played through The Outer Worlds recently, and having recruited all of the companions it is possible to get, I was reminded once again of how much difference a good non-playable character (NPC) can be to a game. As I’m sure you all know, an NPC is basically being anyone in a game that you can interact with, who isn’t your character. These can be those generic people wandering the streets, quest givers, potential companions or even merchants, and there are many memorable ones to choose from. As everyone loves a list, I’ve decided to have a think about my favourite NPCs from all the games I’ve played, and to scribble down some thoughts for your reading delectation. So come with me as I list 5 of the best gaming NPCs of all time – in no particular order, I might add.
5Parvati – The Outer Worlds
A brand new entry onto my list, Parvati is a mild mannered mechanical engineer in the town of Edgewater, found in The Outer Worlds.
Now, the competition for best NPC is always hot, and in this game it is particularly so, as every companion, and especially ADA, the AI that runs the ship, is quite capable of being named on this list. I’ve chosen Parvati as not only was she the first companion I recruited, but also because her side story is actually really sweet and touching.
I’m not going to go into details for fear of spoilers, but basically we have to try and help Parvati get ready for a big date, and the way she speaks and details her inner turmoil is, well, just very nice. Having to help gather the perfect meal, find the right outfit, and basically almost talk her down off the ceiling as the date gets closer and closer is very involving, and if you can bring the mission to a successful close, there is a great deal of warmth to be had.
It helps that the voice acting is tremendous throughout the game, with the acting and emotion that went into Parvati’s character being a real standout.
4Merchant – Resident Evil 4
When I first came across this guy, way back in my PS2 days when I first played Resident Evil 4, I first mistook him for an enemy, and may have sent a bullet or two his way. But on approach, he growled “What’re ya buyin’?” and that phrase has stayed with me ever since.
Normally, seeing him would signify that there was a boss fight just around the corner, so filling pockets with the contents of his flasher mac soon became second nature. He didn’t have a lot to say for himself if I’m honest, but despite that, he sticks in my mind as an NPC that was interesting, to say the least.
I daresay that this nameless guy is quite possibly my favourite in-game merchant ever, and well as a worthy entry onto the NPC list.
3Io – Code Vein
Io, a vampire, is a potential companion that you can take on missions in Code Vein. She claims to be useless at fighting, so it’s hard to see why you should take her, given that fighting is pretty much all you do!
Her introduction to us is just the wrong side of the delights of Japanese anime too – very much the archetype of anime femininity; enormous heaving bosom, barely covered by a scrap of cloth, big eyes and tiny mouth, short skirt. All that combined means she looks quite a lot like a refugee from Dead or Alive 6.
However, speaking to her in the game hub reveals a depth of character that is quite surprising. With her ability to decode the various memory shards that you find, enabling you to relive the memories of others and reveal a lot more of the back story to the game, she turns out to be a hugely important asset.
To be honest, any of the NPCs from Code Vein could easily make this list, even the merchants that sit around the hub selling things, but Io just edges it as she is with us from the very beginning.
2Dogmeat – Fallout 4
Ah, here we are at number 4 and what this list needs is a non-human NPC. Luckily, despite strong competition from other gaming dogs, like the one from Call of Duty Ghosts, Dogmeat from Fallout 4 gets my nod – mainly because as long as I can remember, my family have always had German Shepherds, and because Dogmeat is the spitting image of my mother’s dog, Betsy.
Dogmeat is the perfect Fallout 4 companion – he didn’t want to chat all the time, there was no backchat, and you could send him off to take things to other settlements in the sure and certain knowledge that he would get through. Losing Dogmeat, as I somehow managed to do in the course of time, still hurts to this day.
God I miss him.
1Solaire – Dark Souls
Solaire of Astora, in the first Dark Souls, spawned a series of memes and saying revolving around “Praise the Sun!”. When we first meet him, just before the bridge with that stupid Helkite dragon perched at the end of it, he is staring at the sun, before telling us “I am Solaire of Astora, an adherent to the Lord of Sunlight. Now that I am Undead, I have come to this great land, the birthplace of Lord Gwyn, to seek my very own sun”.
If you talk to him in the right way, at the right moments, then he is available to summon help with the difficult bosses in the game, including the final one. Now, having helpers when fighting any of Dark Souls bosses is a cracking idea, and Solaire, as a very tanky character, can take a great deal of the pressure off you, making your progress much easier.
Of course, if you don’t manage to keep him sane, he will eventually lose his marbles and attack you, but luckily if you have to kill him it won’t affect your standing with the Warriors of Sunlight Covenant, should you have been invited to join.
Solaire has become a firm fan favourite across the whole of gaming, and even Destiny had an emote that mocked his famous “Praise the Sun” stance.
So, there we go then, my list of 5 of the very best gaming NPCs is complete. As always, these type of articles are designed to be the start of a conversation, not the end of one, so if you agree or disagree with any on this list, please let me know in the comments. Did I miss anyone? Who would you put in? Let us know!