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Which games have the best companions. What makes them good?


Best Companions in what games?  

158 members have voted

  1. 1. Select games (or series) with GOOD companions (multiple choice)

  2. 2. The game (or series) with the BEST companions. Just the very best.

    • Ultima
    • Baldurs Gate
    • Fallout
    • Planescape Torment
    • Knights of the Old Republic
    • Jade Empire
      0
    • Dragon Age
    • Mass Effect
    • Neverwinter Nights
    • Final Fantasy


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Trying to doublepoll. Somewhat interested in seeing if the first and second question give similar or different results.

 

Try your best to differentiate between quality of the game, the gameplay and stuff like that (which is not being polled and the companion quality (which is).

Feel free to value, depth, quality, amount of companions, whatever you feel like valuing.

 

NWN means also NWN 2 and the Mask of the Betrayer. Fallout also means FO3 and New Vegas.

Feel free to elaborate why you picked what.

 

Some games with companions were left out, including Arcanum and Skyrim. There's only 10 choices available.

So sad. Please give input even if your favorite didn't make my horribly biased cut.

 

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Ultima.

 

They were basically puppets and you had full control over their (very limited) development, inventories and combat behaviour (although in U7 they could run away and drop items! Forsooth!). IOW, they weren't much in the way of companions. That's how I like it (if I don't get to create my own).

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I voted BG as Viconia was in there and that was the most enjoyable Romance and interaction I have ever had in an RPG

 

But I also liked the various character in DA1&2, NWN and Planescape so it was difficult to decide :unsure:

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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mass effect is the best one in that regard, all the way, not the slightest doubt about that

after that it gets more difficult, couldn't say which one is second

except ultima, the characters are barely worth the name, as sacred_path has said they are puppets, and that's the worst thing you can possibly say about a character

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mass effect is the best one in that regard, all the way, not the slightest doubt about that

after that it gets more difficult, couldn't say which one is second

except ultima, the characters are barely worth the name, as sacred_path has said they are puppets, and that's the worst thing you can possibly say about a character

 

I also don't see what is interesting about puppets?

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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I also don't see what is interesting about puppets?

And I don't get what's interesting about a Fighter offering deep insights like "I am Remond of the Nine Hills and I hate Orcs! Hurrrrrrrr. Feed me strawberries to keep me happy."

 

;)

 

The Ultima companions were a compromise between interactivity (they offered some unique dialogue every now and then) and leaving all strategical aspects to the player.

Edited by Sacred_Path
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I also don't see what is interesting about puppets?

And I don't get what's interesting about a Fighter offering deep insights like "I am Remond of the Nine Hills and I hate Orcs! Hurrrrrrrr. Feed me strawberries to keep me happy."

 

;)

 

The Ultima companions were a compromise between interactivity (they offered some unique dialogue every now and then) and leaving all strategical aspects to the player.

 

 

That post made me laugh but can you Romance puppet characters ( come on I had to ask :biggrin: )

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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I.... I don't know.

 

Neverwinter Nights had some god awful followers in their original campaigns, but then they also had expansions like Hordes of the Underdark and Mask of the Betrayer, which introduced better writing and far more interesting character designs. Mask of the Betrayer probably has one of my favourite cast of characters to date... All incredibly unique with fantastic dialogue to boot...

 

But then, Planescape has an incredible cast of unique characters and fantastic dialogue as well.... I don-... just...

 

*Falls over*

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I.... I don't know.

 

Neverwinter Nights had some god awful followers in their original campaigns, but then they also had expansions like Hordes of the Underdark and Mask of the Betrayer, which introduced better writing and far more interesting character designs. Mask of the Betrayer probably has one of my favourite cast of characters to date... All incredibly unique with fantastic dialogue to boot...

 

But then, Planescape has an incredible cast of unique characters and fantastic dialogue as well.... I don-... just...

 

*Falls over*

 

Another post that made me laugh :biggrin:

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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Fallout: New Vegas or Knights of the Old Republic II had the best companions I've seen.  Dragon Age: Origins' were well done, dialogue was awesome, but the concepts weren't as interesting and didn't seem to involve the themes/world as much.  They also fell into (bad) cheesier writing more.

 

Fallout 1 didn't have bad companion characters, but there wasn't a lot to 'em; haven't played enough of Fallout 2 to comment on that.  Fallout 3's are pretty bad, or they have the same problem as Fallout 1.  Fallout: New Vegas did a good job with character conflict and evolving them from the rest of the world (or adding to the world through the characters) . They had great concepts and generally good development; awesome dialogue.  I'm impressed that they managed to give Ed-E some character/background, e.g. the history and battle tunes.  Veronica is one of the few female characters I've seen that is actually interesting and not irritating.  A lot of cool, small details, too - like Boone's remarks on the NCR's mercy kills or Caesar's death.

 

Knights of the Old Republic I had decent characters, but fell into some bad writing.  I liked that the characters interacted/fought (and with the PC, who otherwise gets the god/messiah treatment), and played into the PC's story or the dark/light side ideas.  Jolee, Juhari, HK-47, and Bastilla (though more could have been done with her concept) were good.  

I think its sequel is generally better, however - more interesting and fleshed out concepts that messed with what the Force is, exactly, and how it relates to everything else (e.g. non-Jedi, like Atton and the handmaiden), and the ethics were far more gray (your companions aren't completely good, perfect people, and don't go on about how evil past actions were).  The fact that it discusses the Jedi's flaws and nasty implications more is awesome.  Kreia is probably the best of them.  A bonus: T3 actually has a character in the second game.

 

I think both Fallout: New Vegas and KoTOR II did awesome in that the characters feel more like individuals, rather than just tropes (not to say that they don't come from tropes or that tropes don't apply).

 

Need to play Planescape: Torment, BG II, Neverwinter Nights II, and Jade Empire.  BG's characters had less to them than Fallout 1's, though.

Edited by Tick
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Planescape: Torment defenitely had the best written and most memorable companions IMHO, though all of the Bioware games on the list have fairly good ones as well, Baldur's Gate least so.

You can say a lot about Bioware games, but since Jade Empire and KOTOR, they've been excellent at writing companions, and the companions in Dragon Age 2 was actually one of the only really good things about the game.

Fallout did have some memorable ones (mostly due to shooting me in the back Ian) and Fallout 2 had some good ones too, some I actually loved to hate.

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I think this is an impossible choice in many ways simply because its by *series* and not comparing game to game.

 

Final Fantasy is up there - two games where you create your party and two MMOs across 14-15 games that have at least 80 joinable characters (more if you count the spin-offs) vs Planescape Torment with what 7 characters and that's it? Talk about imbalance...

 

*waits for everyone to chime in and say the 7 PST characters were written better than all 80 FF characters*

 

Now that that is over with, I think it'd be easier to talk about what I have liked (at least from a "how it worked" perspective, not from a "was the dialogue worthy of Proust" perspective). I think the Tales games did a good job of creating characters who interacted with each other and the protagonist. BG2 also did this; I think its fun when the characters in your party react to each other as well as the PC. Makes the characters feel a little more "real".

 

I liked how Star Ocean 2 and the Tales series had it possible to break the team up when you hit town so that you could have some out of party dialogue with your characters. In someways this is similar to Dragon Age's camp, but I felt it was handled more naturally in other games happening in towns, at inns, etc. I'm not as crazy when the Tales series forces character in/out of the party though. DA2 had a bit of this by having you go to certain places with NPCs to trigger dialogue.

 

I liked how each of the PST characters had a huge amount of back story and it took some work to get it out of them. They didn't just offer every dialogue they had in quick succession and you couldn't bribe them to be your friends. It made it so if you didn't care about it they were meatshields, but there was layers in the onion if you wanted to peel away.

Edited by Amentep
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I think the most important factor in whether I like a companion or not is if the interactions with the companion bring strong emotions.

 

Exactly which emotion can be quite varied; Here are some of my favorite companions and why I liked them:

 

Dak'kon - Talking about Torment companions is hard because there's so much to like about all of them, but my favorite part about Dak'kon was listening to him talk about Githzerai society in Limbo and the tale of Zerthimon. If I ever met him in real life I could sit and ask him questions for hours.

 

Ignus - Once again, difficult to summarize, but my favorite part about Ignus's design is that I felt, well, responsible for what he became. What I wanted more than anything was some way to help him, and that's something difficult to achieve.

 

Varric - His lines are (usually) actually laugh-out loud funny, and his snarks never really feel out of place or against the tone the scene is trying to set. I dragged him around everywhere because I just liked hearing what he had to say about stuff.

 

Alistair - Not ashamed to admit, I thought Alistair was adorable: I just wanted to hug 'em. He's like a kitten who can talk. He's basically what they were trying to do with Imoen and Dawn Star except, you know, actually successful.

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Baldur's Gate (especially 1) and Planescape: Torment both had very well made characters. The characters in BG were very zany and you would always be listening carefully to what they had to say. Torment had very well thought-out characters in general. I like that in a game.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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Curse of Monkey Island, for the brief moments you roll with Murray.

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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I want to say KotoRII or New Vegas in addition to others, but both of those are lumped together with games that have lesser or bad companions. Not to mention the fallacious implication that only RPGs can have great companion characters.

Edited by AGX-17
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Planescape: Torment.

 

Well nuanced with great motivations and just all around fantastic writing.

 

I actually put Ultima as well, but more specifically because of U7 and Serpent Isle (and some of U6 too, I suppose).

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Mass Effect arc, for sure.  They were well written, highly detailed, voiced personalities with their own stories to be told.  It's tough, I think, to bond with a character unless you believe in them on multiple levels.  That's difficult with non-voiced, text-based games-- but it can be done.  In place of voiced dialogue, you then need to increase the frequency of conversation as it's the only way to get enough of a sample to form your own "version" of that NPC in your head and then maintain that foundation of who they are throughout, perhaps months, of gameplay.  And certainly in all cases, writing becomes paramount.

 

And if truth be told, I've found that it's important, as a male, to be at least somewhat attracted to them (female NPCs) on a primitive level.  Most of the female NPCs of the ME series struck that attraction chord quite well without being overbearing.  Intelligence, combat effectiveness AND physical attraction goes a long way with me when it comes to female companions.  As for males, they really just need to shut up, take orders, and save my ass every once in awhile.  Unfortunately, male companions have to appeal to female players, which is too bad as I often find them obnoxious or annoying whereby I leave them on the bench.

 

As much as I love Fallout NV, probably my 3rd favorite game ever, the companions kinda sucked.  Even when they were with me, I felt I was alone as they just didn't "sell me" on being real beyond the first few minutes you meet them.  It's a long game and eventually they become mutes since there's just not enough dialogue.  I can't imagine how tough it would have been to properly voice companions in a game that large, but it really is the only way to keep from growing distant with them.  You have to realize, people play games for a few hours, then perhaps not for several days, then come back.  After several months, you really start to lose the bonds you have with companions unless you can continue to interact despite time (like normal friendships, actually).  

 

Mass Effect kept me engaged, over time, with cutscenes and continued story during the down periods on the Normandy.  The Normandy was basically just another play on the camp system like in Dragon Age.  It helps to have that base of operations to come back to for many reasons, but primarily for reminding you that your companions are still there and still have their own personalities.  In a game like Fallout NV, because it was so large and open, increasing voiced dialogue would probably have been very expensive and a logistical nightmare.  But you can cheat by offering dialogue with text-only interactions, since you already were given enough voiced stuff to have a good idea who the writers meant the characters to be.  This is what we see on a micro-scale with games like Baldur's Gate where we're given just a few lines of voiced dialogue to keep us going on what theme/personality this character was meant to have, yet 90% of the rest of the interactions are text-based. 

 

But frequent interactions, in general, are the most critical for remarkable and memorable companions.

Edited by Chaos Theory
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Since I ripped on Obsidian for their Fallout: NV companions, I'll give them props for Neverwinter Nights 2.  Neeshka, for whatever reason, remains one of my favorite all-time companions (I still don't get why she turned on me though), and Khelgar was the only dwarf I ever really liked in a game as a companion.

Edited by Chaos Theory
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Most of these franchises have a likeable NPC or 2 but planescape had the highest percentage of likeable NPCs.

What makes them good though? I'd say it's depth combination of depth, realism, familarity, and nostalgia. 

Nostalgia wise some characters I like from older games probably aren't as well written as them seem when I'm looking back. I'm not going to go back and check because I've already got a huge backlog of games and if they are written poorly I don't want to disillusion myself.

For familarity when I look at the cast members I like from ME I find myself pretty much liking almost the entire crew from the first game but only 1-2 from the second and third game so I'm not sure if they're better or more believeable or if it's just because they've been around longer so I'm sort of attached to them. Familarity also plays into cliche's a bit as well. There are sometimes I see a character and I hate them/love them right away because I recognize the type of character they are and know from past experience that it's the sort of thing I dig or they drive me up the wall.

Of course depth and realism is usually just up the quality of the writters. Do these characters have more than 1 side to their personality? Are their motivations, recations, opinions, ect all believable, at least within the setting? Do they have a decent amount of converstions, banter, and so forth so we can get to know them? The more of these a character has the more I tend to like them as a character even if I don't like them personally.

Edited by Pshaw

K is for Kid, a guy or gal just like you. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up, since there's nothin' a kid can't do.

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