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5 video game characters that have changed massively since their debut 

(Image via gamesknit, sony)
(Image via gamesknit, sony)

Video game characters, much like characters in books or movies, must go through events and changes that define their arc. One of the most gratifying things for an audience is to witness the growth of a beloved character and follow their evolution over time.

Video game developers often tend to take massive risks by taking characters in a way that fans might not see coming. But a well-defined and engaging story certainly helps the audience get an idea of how events have shaped their favorite characters. In some cases, the change has been visual or cosmetic, while in others, the changes are deeply rooted in their personality.

Here, we take a look at the latter and see how some of the most beloved characters in video games have changed drastically since their debut.

5 video game characters that have changed massively since their debut

5) Kratos- God of War

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When gaming audiences first meet Kratos, the demigod is the embodiment of rage, murder, and ruthless vengeance. The character seems to always hold a perennially angry tone throughout God of War.

The simple truth was that Kratos, as a character, had run its course and towards the end of his run had, more or less, become a parody of himself. The character eventually lost steam and Santa Monica needed to go back to the drawing board.

In 2018's God of War, Kratos is much older, with a stronger grip on the rage that defined his past. However, Kratos' attempt to be a good father and teach his son the ways of a god make up the most emotionally impactful moments of the game.

Kratos becomes unrecognizable from how he was first seen and is perhaps one of the most well-crafted character arcs in the history of gaming.

4) Lara Croft- Tomb Raider

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The Tomb Raider franchise is steeped in the history of video games. However, the franchise was able to mount a major comeback with 2013's Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic's Tomb Raider.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why Tomb Raider and Lara Croft didn't exactly hit it off with fans in the 2000s is due to the evolution of sensibilities of the audience. In a post-Uncharted world, fans had a lot more appreciation for vulnerable and real characters as opposed to the conventional "hero."

Lara Croft from the earlier games was the antithesis of that archetype. The sense of invincibility around her character perhaps worked against her favor, and Crystal Dynamics had to shake things up with the reboot.

2013's Lara Croft was an amateur just starting out and forced to deal with situations she isn't all that equipped to deal with. Through the game, players saw Lara evolve from a frightened, amateurish explorer to a hardened and capable hunter.

Lara, as a character, was far more vulnerable than her previous iteration and had a lot more humanity to her. This made her instantly more relatable and breathed new life into a franchise and character.

3) Dante- Devil May Cry

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Dante is, hands down, one of the most endearing video game characters of all-time, having gone through several iterations and still remaining as popular as ever. Dante, as a character, didn't exactly have the most nuanced of backgrounds, with most of his personality boiling down to one-liners and quips.

However, games like Devil May Cry 2, and even Devil May Cry 3 to some extent, attempted to look beyond the pizza-eating Demon Hunter's performative exterior. However, perhaps the biggest re-design and re-telling of the character came in the way of 2013's DmC Devil May Cry, developed by Ninja Theory.

Although the character wasn't received too positively at first, it was perhaps the deepest deep dive into Dante's personality more than any other game in the franchise.

Dante in the 2013 title wasn't the uber-confident demon hunter we'd seen in previous games, but a delinquent upstart with little care for much. He starts off as somewhat unlikeable, but his arc through the events of the game sees him become a compelling character.

While CAPCOM dialed back the ambition and went back to the familiar version of Dante with Devil May Cry 5, it is a shame that fans couldn't see more of Ninja Theory's vision of the Devil May Cry universe and Dante.

2) Chris Redfield- Resident Evil

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From what players have been able to gaugue from the somewhat cryptic appearances of Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 7 and the trailer for Resident Evil Village, it does not look like he's there to help.

Chris Redfield isn't exactly the most beloved Resident Evil protagonist, purely down to the fact that he was at the helm of one of the most poorly received games in the series: Resident Evil 5. One of the biggest reasons why fans aren't particularly receptive to him is the fact that he represents the misguided action-heavy side of the franchise.

However, his latest appearances seemed to suggest that there is far more to Chris Redfield than big muscles and grunted one-liners, as his character takes a dark and sinister turn.

It is safe to say that fans have never seen Chris in an almost villain-like role before, and it will be very interesting to see where CAPCOM takes this character next.

1) Ellie- The Last of Us

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Video game narratives have often, despite their clear evolution in complexity and nuance, been considered inferior below TV or movies. However, indie studios, and even AAA studios like Naughty Dog, have been pushing the boundary with each game and showcasing just how well-written games can be.

One of the best examples of a compelling character arc and the devolution of a character into an almost villainous territory is in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II. When the players meet Ellie for the first time, she practically lights up the room with her energy and has a solid quip loaded up her sleeve at all times.

After a traumatic event at the start of the sequel, the player sees her character devolve into the depths of humanity and commit one violent act after another. Humorous quips and moments of levity are replaced by acts of ungodly amounts of violence and a singular thirst for vengeance.

With every act of violence, players witness Ellie's humanity slip away from her. The character is almost unrecognizable from the version of her we see in the original 2013 title. While that tonal shift could have just as easily alienated audiences, due to the quality of the writing, it felt like the most logical evolution of her character.

Edited by david.benjamin
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