A single-player game is often a solitary journey through a digital world to save a princess, stop world destruction, or find one’s self. However, sometimes, developers are able to do the impossible and create a companion that accompanies the player on their journey and is actually enjoyable to have around. This traveling buddy helps to progress the story and aid in combat, but the best ones lend their personality to the game.
They transform the experience from one of isolation to one of comradery. Some of these games would have felt significantly more hollow without the presence of these characters. Entire plotlines could have been lost, and my interest dissolved because these characters helped to keep me invested in the universes of these games. So please let me introduce to you some of my favorite companions in video games.
BD-1 – Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
I had my doubts about this cute droid when my adventure started with Cal, but BD-1 consistently proved itself to be one of the best little helpers. Whenever you need a quick jab of health, BD-1 is there. Whenever you need help to get through a door, BD-1 is there. He will even tell Cal jokes. What can’t this little droid do?
I became more attached to him than any droid in the Star Wars universe by the end of my Jedi journey, and I have very fond memories of exploring planets with him sitting on my shoulder like a mechanized parrot. I just wish he didn’t want to collect dozens of images around the universe; that achievement takes so much time.
Alyx – Half-Life
Alyx is the original best companion. At the time, she was impressive to fight alongside of, and she had interesting things to say about the world. Alyx is the daughter of Dr. Eli, so she is heavily involved in the resistance efforts. She hates the Combine (probably even more so after the events of Episode 2), and she gives the player insights into the world that they would otherwise not get because Gordon is a walking cardboard cutout.
She even could keep things light with a little bit of humor. She wasn’t one-dimensional but felt like a person who was doing their best in this crazy future dystopia. In 2004, she felt the closest we had ever gotten to fighting with an AI that felt like playing with a real person.
Cortana – Halo Series
There are few duos as iconic as the Master Chief and his AI companion Cortana, and there is a good reason for that. Master Chief didn’t talk much at all in the original games, so the player relied on Cortana to communicate what was happening in the game world and to talk to friendly forces.
She was the brains while Chief was the brawn, and in Halo 1 and Halo 2, she had quite a few memorable quips. Without Cortana’s presence in Master Chief’s head, things can feel a little shallow. Like something is missing in the overall atmosphere of the game. Maybe that’s the real reason I didn’t care for Halo 5 all that much.
Dogmeat – Fallout Series
There is no better companion than man’s best friend. It seems like every good boi in the Fallout universe is named “Dogmeat,” but the best one has to be in Fallout 3. Dogmeat can be found in the Capital Wasteland Scrapyard if the player is observant enough and can be brought along on their journey. He will help find hidden items and will give the player a heads up if enemies are nearby by growling.
However, Dogmeat can die if he is left to fend for himself for too long, which only adds to the level of care that you need to take with this pup. He is the companion that I always hunt down first when I venture out into the wastes, and I hope that he continues to appear in future Fallout games.
Dom – Gears of War Series
The Gears of War series is one of those rare trilogies that was able to wrap up an entire arc on a single console platform. We were able to watch the members of Delta squad fight and grow together against the Locusts. Dom is, for all intents and purposes, Marcus’ right-hand man.
He’s the one who rescued Marcus from the prison he was holed up in and who always had his back. We learn that Dom has a wife that he is desperately trying to find and follow him to several leads that he has acquired, but in Gears 2, we finally find her.
She had been badly mutilated, and Dom had to kill her to end her suffering. This destroys Dom, and by Gears 3, he is a different character altogether. He’s quiet but with a short fuse where he’s ready to argue at a moment’s notice. Dom would eventually find a way to end his life while giving service to his friends, and it’s still one of the saddest scenes in the series ten years later.
Elizabeth – Bioshock Infinite
Elizabeth is introduced more as an escort mission with some gameplay mechanics at first. She can bring things into the world for Booker to use to help in combat, and she’ll throw health, ammo, and coins his way for additional support. However, her growth throughout Infinite and its DLCs fleshes out her character considerably and makes every interaction with her all the more impactful.
It’s heartbreaking to see her situation and even makes me dislike the character that I am actively playing as. She livens up the game world and even makes Booker begin to feel more alive than he ever did, drinking himself into debt and death back home.
Atreus – God of War
The 2018 release of God of War was more than just a continuation of the long-beloved series. It was a chance to not only soft reboot the gameplay mechanics but also humanize Kratos a little more, and there was no better way to accomplish this than to give him another family. He remarries and has a son, Atreus, who will become Kratos’ traveling companion. He gives Kratos a new moral compass that decides his actions.
Kratos is trying to teach his son now to fend for himself and imbue the lessons that he learned over the course of his own life. Atreus doesn’t take everything sitting down, though. He challenges Kratos and makes him communicate in a way that he never has in a God of War game before. He may not be the fighter Kratos is, but he makes the story of God of War the best that it has ever been
Epona – The Legend of Zelda Series
Zelda is a series that is filled with constants and variables as it can have some pretty drastic changes between entries. Like we all know that Link will find a Master Sword but will he fight a Ganondorf that looks like a boar? And will he find his trusty steed Epona? Epona only appears in a handful of Zelda titles, but the most famous is in Ocarina of Time.
Epona can be rescued from Lon Lon Ranch after it has been taken over by Ingo. Once Epona is free, Link is able to call her whenever using the Ocarina, which makes traversing the dangerous Hyrule Fields and surrounding areas so much easier. Epona is the one friend Link has in a world of uncertainty.
Pavarti – The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds introduces a lot of interesting characters, but none of them come close to the genuine nature of Pavarti. She joins in your adventure pretty early on after you ask for her help in the cannery. She is smart, kind, and a little clumsy, but that’s okay. She has a ton of personality, and it honestly felt like I was traveling the planets with someone right by my side.
She even has a cute little quest where you help her arrange a date between her and a famous engineer. She made a huge difference in my initial playthrough because I never wanted to disappoint her. She trusted me to come along on this journey, and I wasn’t about to forfeit that trust.
9S – NieR: Automata
We can’t forget about 9S, the android that was assigned to help 2B from the beginning of her plight. At first, he may come off as a little too spunky for his own good, but he is the only entity that is willing to make 2B begin to obtain a little humanity.
He is consistently asking 2B to be more empathetic toward some of the enemies, and though he too has his moments where he adheres to “protocol,” he largely is more human than he even gives himself credit for.
I loved the moment when he askes 2B to call him Nines, and while 2B is reluctant at first, she eventually begins to slip it into conversation every now and then. For a little android who is okay with throwing his life away for a species that could care less, he has so much heart and personality.