The gaming industry does not have any shortage of video games with appealing storylines. In fact, the top rated and highest grossing entertainment products are single-player games with strong narrative elements. As I’ve mentioned before, a video game with strong narrative needs to have an appealing protagonist and an antagonist. Even though it’s mostly the actions of the antagonist that sets the course of the storyline, it is the protagonist who takes us through it. Our entire perception of a game and it’s narrative depends upon the protagonist and their actions. It is through their eyes that we see the in-game world and experience the game’s features.
We’ve witnessed numerous protagonists over the years who happened to be the core reason as to why some games received world famous accolades. Even though some video game series have come to an end, there are some heroes who will always have a special place in our hearts.
Master Chief – Halo series
One of the characters who truly deserve our respect is Master Chief from Halo franchise. Master Chief is a cybernetically and biochemically enhanced super soldier. As part of the SPARTAN-II project, a classified military super soldier project, Master Chief was made, raised, and trained to be a soldier.
He is the protagonist of almost all the games in the Halo franchise, first appearing in Halo: Combat Evolved. Very little is known about the character’s backstory, including his real name. However, on few occasions, he has been referred to as John-117. One of the most defining features of Master Chief is the fact that we, the players, have never seen his face. He always wears his combat armor and his face is covered with a helmet. Even when he removes the helmet, the camera angle is adjusted to conceal his face. Master Chief is a man of few words and focuses on action instead.
For years, the Halo franchise have been exclusive to Xbox platform and the last time PC gamers got to play as Master Chief was when Halo 2 came out for PC. However, fans can rejoice as the Halo franchise will hit the PC market very soon. Master Chief was always on our list of video game heroes whom we’ll never forget, but it looks like Microsoft is re-releasing the game, this time on PC, to rejuvenate our memories of Master Chief.
Prince – Prince of Persia trilogy
When it comes to the Prince of Persia franchise, more than one protagonist can be referred to as the Prince. While it’s more or less the same person, the character and it’s backstory varies with the respective game. Here, we are referring to the protagonist of the trilogy – The Sands of Time, Warrior Within, The Two Thrones.
Over the course of these three games, we have seen a significant change in the overall tone and style of the character. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time portrayed the Prince as a proud and hopeful warrior who thought he could fix everything. Warrior Within, on the other hand, takes place seven years later where the Prince travels to the Island of Time in a last desperate attempt to stop the Sands from ever being created. The Two Thrones portrayed a Prince who attempts to kill the Vizier, who became immortal after creating the Sands by killing Kaileena.
The Prince is an expert combatant and does not hesitate to slay his enemies. He, however, cares for his people and their well-being is his primary concern. Many fans have requested Ubisoft to reboot the series as they want to play as the Prince once again. Even though it’s highly unlikely that we’ll get to see another Prince of Persia game, the Prince will be forever remembered by gamers.
Geralt of Rivia – The Witcher trilogy
The one and only, Geralt of Rivia, is one of the most honored, yet deadly video game heroes. As the name of the game suggests, Geralt is a witcher, people with extraordinary abilities who track down and hunt monsters. He was raised and trained to be a witcher at the Wolf School of Witchers where he underwent several experiments which resulted in him developing enhanced mental and physical abilities.
Similar to the Prince’s transformation in the Prince of Persia franchise, fans have witnessed significant changes in Geralt over the course of The Witcher trilogy. Even though Geralt was never interested in politics of royal families, circumstances eventually led him to perform missions which directly/indirectly did benefit monarchs. Another notable change is his affection towards Ciri. He initially began searching for Ciri on orders from Emperor Emhyr, but later, makes it his personal mission as he feels responsible for her.
Since The Witcher III: Wild Hunt brings a conclusion to the trilogy, it is unlikely that we’ll ever see the character again. Geralt has, however, appeared briefly in a Monster Hunter: World – The Witcher crossover event this year which was met with positive reception from fans. Given that CD Projekt is pursuing other projects, Geralt of Rivia will forever be a treasured memory for The Witcher fans.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze – Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, Revelation
Ezio Auditore da Firenze is perhaps the most loved protagonist in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. He is also the only protagonist who appeared as the main character in more than one Assassin’s Creed game. In fact, due to his appearance in Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations, the entire collection of these three games are collectively referred to as the Ezio trilogy.
When it comes to character development among video game heroes, Ezio would be one of the prime examples. Ezio initially begins his journey and goes on a quest to find the ones responsible for falsely accusing and executing his father and brothers. His investigation eventually results in him crossing paths with members of the Assassins Brotherhood. He is eventually inducted into the Brotherhood, and later becomes their Mentor. Ezio’s ideas eventually starts taking a much nobler form as his mission changes from personal revenge to the freedom and well being of his people. He dedicates his entire life protecting pieces of Eden from the hands of the Templars and overseeing the growth of the Assassins Brotherhood.
It’s been quite a few years since the Ezio trilogy came to a conclusion. Even though we know for a fact that we’ll probably never see Ezio again, he will remain to be the face of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Kratos – God of War series
Perhaps the most fiercest of all is Kratos from God of War franchise. Kratos first appeared in God of War (2005) and has been the main protagonist for all subsequent games in the franchise. Whether Kratos should be considered as a hero or not is a matter of debate, given his actions and motives.
Unlike most other protagonists who fight for the protection the mass populace, Kratos’ motives are solely driven by vengeance and hunger for power. Kratos seeked to destroy the Olympian gods as they were responsible for killing his brother Deimos. Kratos has been considered by many as an anti-hero given his personal motives and the fact that his combat tactics are bloody and gruesome. God of War (2018) shows Kratos finally trying to embrace his good side, however, he gets dragged right back into what he tried to avoid as he must battle gods and monsters to cure his son.
Given the ending of God of War (2018), it is possible that Kratos’ story will continue in a future sequel. Since the franchise has taken a turn from Greek to Norse mythology, we’ll get to witness Kratos battling more Norse gods, probably Thor himself.
When it comes to appreciating video game heroes, the list of protagonists is a pretty long one. It is quite difficult to choose the best ones from the list. We’ve seen several other video game heroes such as Max Payne, Agent 47, Alex Mason, CJ, and many more. As I’ve mentioned before, each and every famous video game franchise has a protagonist who, in some way, affects our entire perception of the game. However, the above characters are praised by gamers all over the globe and will forever be remembered.
I've been in love with video games ever since I developed consciousness and that love is what drives me. I enjoy playing games that have good narrative and gameplay, and occasionally join in for co-op sessions with friends. My goal is to become a QA Tester for any AAA game development company and I hope to make it there someday.