A video game protagonist or hero is only ever as good as their villain, but what happens when the villain almost outshines the protagonist? The result is quite favorable as the game ends up feeling a lot more interesting as the player looks forward to another encounter with the big baddy.
For the most part, villains don the role of the primary motivation for the player to get through the game and see them get their comeuppance. However, in a bid to craft a truly memorable villain, the protagonist can sometimes feel a bit neglected and outshone massively.
Yet, just by being the player's proxy in the game world, the protagonist has a better shot at connecting with the player. However, the villain must jump through a lot of hoops for them to become a memorable character in the game.
Here, we take a look at some of the best villains in video game history that perhaps got the spotlight more than the protagonists of the game themselves.
5 best videogame villains that outshone the protagonists of the game
- Frau Engel (Wolfenstein II)
- GladOS (Portal)
- Handsome Jack (Borderlands)
- Andrew Ryan (BioShock)
- Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
5) The Joker (Batman Arkham Series)
The Joker will go down in history as one of the greatest characters of our generation and one that has been successful in every medium he made an appearance in. Whether it be a comic book, a movie, or a video game, The Joker always makes one hell of a racket and draws attention onto himself.
There might not be a lot that the internet can agree upon unanimously, but almost everyone can agree that Mark Hamill's turn as The Joker is second to none. The way the character slips in and out of funny territory and into scary is quite a sight to behold, and the games do a great job at fleshing out his character.
The Joker was perhaps dissected and analyzed to the greatest extent in Batman: Arkham Knight, with him taking over Bruce's psyche and, in turn, revealing his own. Troy Baker famously took on the character in Arkham Origins, and knocked it out of the park as well. For many, the Joker from the Arkham Series has been the definitive version of the character, and rightly so.
4) Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)
Make no mistake. Cloud Strife is a great protagonist, perhaps one of the most quintessential protagonists in video games' history. Yet, anybody who played Final Fantasy 7 came away with an understandable obsession regarding Sephiroth.
The One-Winged Angel, much like the inverse of Cloud, is the quintessential villain of video games. The fact that the character appears so sporadically throughout the game makes his presence stand out, and each time he does appear, the player is but in awe of the pure villainy on display.
Despite committing heinous acts against the player, Sephiroth remains one of the most magnetic characters on the screen. His backstory is wrought with all sorts of incredible feats that the player can spend hours reading about.
Sephiroth will undoubtedly go down in video game history as one of, if not the greatest, villains of all-time.
3) Vaas (Far Cry 3)
There is a reason why Ubisoft, post-Far Cry 3, chose to plaster the villain's face across the game's cover for each subsequent release that followed. The reason being the absolute ball of madness and energy that is Vaas in Far Cry 3.
The man is the embodiment of a loose cannon, with him remaining unpredictable throughout the game. Each interaction with Vaas feels like it could go south at any given moment, at the slightest provocation. He evokes both fear and awe, which is the sign of a great video game villain.
Vaas bursts onto the scene and chews up the scenery in a way that not most video game villains can. Played excellently by Michael Mando, Vaas pretty much stole the spotlight away from the game's main villain, Hoyt, and from the protagonist, Jason Brody, as well.
2) Revolver Ocelot
No talk of great video game villains can take place without mentioning the perennially-elusive and cunning Revolver Ocelot. The character first appeared in Metal Gear Solid as one of the coolest characters in video game history who could wield a revolver in a way that couldn't possibly make sense.
Revolver Ocelot instantly made an impression on players who could never figure out which side he was on as he constantly flip-flopped between the two sides, often playing them against each other.
Even as his backstory and origins become clearer in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and later in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Ocelot remains a mystery to gamers.
Video game villains don't get cooler than Revolver Ocelot, and he will forever be known as one of the most well-written villains of all-time.
1) Dutch Van Der Linde
In many ways, Dutch Van Der Linde isn't even a villain, per se. While, yes, his methods are ultimately wrong and put him in the Pinkertons' crosshairs, Dutch's mission in life is noble, at least theoretically.
Both in Red Dead Redemption and its sequel, characters often remark how Dutch is distinct from the rest of the outlaws in the way that he is almost a teacher more than a killer. The folly of his ways ultimately led him down the path of villainy, however reluctantly.
While in the first game, he remains the big baddy at the end of the journey, the prequel (Red Dead Redemption 2) really fleshes out the character's motivations and personality. Ultimately, he remains one of the most charismatic and complex characters ever seen in a videogame and one that perhaps even took the shine from John Marston and Arthur Morgan.