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Many modern games these days like to gloss over the villain as a mere obstacle to the player’s hero. It’s understandable since the hero is the one in which the player spends most of his / her time with. In recent years I cannot recall any wonderful video game villains at all and most seem to be either mindless world eating threat or a misunderstood grey character in which the character was suppose to pity or redeem. After finishing a modern RPG I would remember some of the companions and some of the more interesting quests but I cannot remember the villain at all. Who was the villain in Oblivion? I think it was a demon thing, but it had a wonderful Dark Brotherhood quest! Who was the villain in Skyrim? I think it was a dragon, but forget about him I can dragon shout people off cliffs! Who was the villain in Dragon Age: Origins? I think it was again a dragon…or was that the villain in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm? Anyways, I can’t think of any real memorable villains in modern times so let’s talk about some villains I do remember and they are Irenicus from Baldur’s Gate 2, Kefka from Final Fantasy 6 and the Joker from The Dark Knight. Spoilers Alert if you haven’t play through Baldur’s Gate 2, Final Fantasy 6 or watched The Dark Knight Irenicus Irenicus does not mess around. He always had a plan and he tortures you in a self-righteous tone asking “You have such…potential.” Even after you escaped the initial dungeon and he is long gone he haunts your dreams with such command. He controls the PC. I can still remember the chilling word, “Stand” or in another dream when he goes on about a story of a woman who works hard to raise her children and then mercilessly kills her “And now she is dead.” Doing all this just to make a point to the PC about the nature of life and how it’s a world of survival of the fittest. I remember an exchange between Imoen and him after he had broken free from Spellhold. “Hello, little one. You and I have a great deal to do.” “Wh-what are you planning?” “Not to worry, nothing worse than what I shall do to your friend.” I remember hating Irenicus but along with that hatred came with certain respect. He was winning and I was always a step behind. I respected his plans, and I respected how he can lay waste to a bunch of mages in seconds. If the boss fight against Irenicus weren’t hard then perhaps that respect would have faded but the fight was hard and you needed to break down his magical defenses to even start damaging him and when he finally dies at the Elf home city, he drags you into hell with him. At the end it was so satisfying finally beating him and watch him rot in hell. He wasn’t going to hurt anyone else anymore and I put a formidable foe away. Kefka This crazy clown is one of the few villains who actually won. Many villains go out there and try to destroy the world. Kefka actually does it mid-way through Final Fantasy VI. Before he destroys the world, he had poisoned an entire town, enslaved Terra, killed General Leo and kicked around his corpse, killed all the Espers and finally betrayed his emperor to become a godlike being. After he already won and reshaped the world in his own image he likes to fire down laser beams on any survivors for a laugh. There was no redeeming quality to him and I loved that in a villain. It was so satisfying to finally put him down after all he did to everyone in Final Fantasy VI. The Joker The Joker from the Dark Knight was great. Even though he was on film and in a different medium he had both the traits of both Kefka and Irenicus. The Joker made plans, a lot of them and he lies how he’s only a mad dog chasing cars which isn’t true at all but with his appearance and chaotic nature it was easy to believe him. The Joker was genuinely funny, who didn’t laugh at least a little after seeing the pencil trick or seeing the irony of ‘let her go’ and his rebuttal of ‘Very poor choice of words.’ The Joker was both endearing in his humor but he was so incredibly intelligent. The Joker won so many times over Batman and only in the very end at great cost to himself was he able to finally put the Joker away. It was a pyrrhic victory, but that’s what made the Joker so memorable. He was a worthwhile foe that both humor and terrified the audience. The traits these three villains shared are that they’re all very intelligent and had plans to get what they want. There are so many times when a villain would allow the hero a chance to escape. Not these villains, they plan for keeps and will get what they want and the hero and his companions must suffer from it. A good villain should be a viable threat that the hero must witness first hand. In Dragon Age: Origins they would build up the threat in the map and you cannot revisit a village because it was destroyed but it would have been so much better to revisit that village and see the destruction firsthand. The hero should see a companion be irreversibly changed by a villain’s evil act. Imoen changed after her encounter with Irenicus and depending on how you played; Celes was going to commit suicide. Villains should also make things personal. I know there’s the old RPG cliché of having a villain burning down your village and you have to go on a quest of vengeance. It’s cliché now but what it did do was to make things personal for a character and provides motivation to pursuit that villain. Above all, a villain should not be a dragon. Dragons make wonderful boss fights and should be included, but for the main antagonist, a dragon is simply too foreign to relate unless he can morph into human being so that’s different. But still just don’t do it. Don’t make another dragon the main villain in an RPG!
Another cup of tea thread! This time it's about relationship between you and your favorite oppositions. If your choice is not included and/or if your relationship is one-sided, feel free to comment