5 fan-favorite NPC side characters in video games
NPC side characters exist in games as a way of fleshing out the world players interact with. They are there for a different perspective on things and often act as plot devices to forward the main narrative.
Open-world games are filled to the brim with NPCs, whereas narrative-driven linear games tend to have fewer such characters. Whatever the case may be, additions like NPCs are important to make the world feel lived-in and larger than the game has the capacity to show visually.
When done right, these NPCs can become near and dear to players' hearts. Sometimes these side characters become an archetypal part of a game, while others may even attain a near cult-like following. So here are 5 (+1) NPC side characters that have become fan-favorites.
5 fan-favorite NPC side characters in video games like Lydia, Patches, and more
1) Lydia - Skyrim
In Skyrim, players play as the all-powerful Dragonborn, able to destroy enemies with their very voice. However, at the start of the game, players are quite weak to take on the wilderness all on their own. But a little ways into the story, they are introduced to their first housecarl Lydia, an NPC companion who will follow the Dragonborn anywhere and fight alongside them.
Thus begins the most beneficial of relationships, as Lydia is quite the experienced warrior and can be very helpful in a pinch. She has better stats than the then-noob Dragonborn and will even carry players' excess baggage when asked to.
Players have loved Lydia as she is the first NPC companion they meet, who is also quite adept at tasks. She also has some of the best dry humor in the game. After all, the line “I am sworn to carry your burden,” has become an honest-to-goodness meme.
2) Claptrap - Borderlands
While this robotic companion has a divided fan base, there are a significant number of people who enjoy the Borderlands games all the more because it’s in it. Claptrap (CL4P-TP) is a robot that first appeared in the original Borderlands, greeting the vault hunters and introducing them to Dr. Zed. Since then, this lovable character has become a mainstay in later installments.
Since then, people have appreciated the comic relief it provides in the world of Pandora (or Elpis) where most things are out to kill the player. The NPC is the perfect foil to the (sometimes) serious vault hunters the players play as, playing many roles throughout the games. At times the court jester, while other times the damsel in distress, and yet sometimes being useful as well.
The robotic NPC was popular enough that it made an additional appearance in the standalone tabletop RPG-inspired spinoff game Tiny Tina’s Wonderland.
3) Diana Burnwood - Hitman
Hitman, or Agent 47 to his friends, has had many outings in the last two decades, with the first game being Hitman: Codename 47. Alongside the master assassin, however, debuted another side character who has since become an integral part of the series: Diana Burnwood, his handler.
Over the years, Diana has always been a voice in 47’s ear as well as his eye in the sky. If agent 47 is the sword, then Diana Burnwood is the hand that wields it. The players, over the course of the games, have become quite used to Diana providing them with intel and hints on how best to take out a target. So pivotal was she to the entire Hitman experience that no player can imagine a game without her.
Diana played an important role in the story herself, in the most recent game, and finally appeared as a physical NPC in the final open map of Hitman 3. Developer IO knew that fans would appreciate this move and thus even allowed Agent 47 to have a formal dance with his lady in the chair.
4) Donald and Goofy - Kingdom Hearts
The Kingdom Hearts series is a much cherished collection of games, especially for Disney lovers. These games allow players to travel to various worlds that Disney has created in the past and take part in their stories.
However, these games also provide an experience that, for many disney fans of old, would have been a childhood dream. Said experience is being able to partner up with many of Disney’s iconic characters. Out of all the ones players can meet in this game (and there are quite a lot), two stand out amongst the rest: Donald and Goofy.
Aside from being some of the most famous Disney characters ever, Donald and Goofy are a pair that appear throughout the entire series, paired with long-time protagonist Sora. In a game that deals with a lot of death and loss, these two bring some much-needed moments of lightheartedness and levity.
5) Patches - Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Elden Ring
Patches is an NPC that many people initially hated. He first appeared in Demon Souls as a character who would kick the player down a long drop in an attempt to kill them. The player would later meet him, which would have him cower in forgiveness. If forgiven, he would then serve as a merchant.
He appears again in all three Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, serving the same purpose as he did in Demon Souls. Over the years, fans of the Soulsborne series have gotten used to Patches, to the point that he is now a fun Easter egg that players look to encounter in forthcoming games.
As such, many were disappointed when there was no direct counterpart to him in Sekiro. But they didn’t have to wait long, as he was back again in Elden Ring. First available as a boss to fight, and then later on serving his function to kick the player down a long drop. He can even be summoned for the Radahn boss fight, where he will stick around for a few seconds and then teleport out. Ah, good ol' Patches.