There is only one month left until the release of the highly anticipated sequel, God of War Ragnarökwhich is slated for release on November 9. Fans are undoubtedly replaying the critically acclaimed classic, God of the warwaiting to see where Kratos’ journey takes him next.
Kratos is a complex protagonist with a tragic past, which is why it’s no surprise that Redditors usually mention him when discussing the video game characters with the best stories. Other protagonists include Joel from The last of us and Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn. These characters almost always have mysterious, sad, or complicated pasts that influence their main storylines in games.
Joel – The Last of Us Part I (2022)
The Last of Us Part I follows Joel’s experiences and interactions with Ellie, who is a crucial part of the Fireflies Rebellion. He is tasked with delivering her safely to an extraction point while protecting her from infected cannibal and military patrols along the way.
User BlackbirdTango admits he’s a “sucker for a father/child story” and appreciates how Joel ultimately displays “sensitivity and emotion”. The initially jaded character is pessimistic due to his painful separation from his wife years before the outbreak. As a single father, his daughter Sarah meant the most to him, so her death at the start of the apocalypse affected him throughout the game. It’s obvious that Ellie reminds him of the father he used to be, making their relationship even more emotional.
Jin Sakai – Ghost of Tsushima (2020)
The visually stunning game, Ghost of Tsushima, centers on Jin Sakai’s journey following the Mongol invasion of his home. Players take part in his inner conflict over whether he should choose to fight honorably or be more violent and cunning like the enemies.
Redditor PanamanCreel thinks Jin as a “character is well-acted and has many believable moments” from his arc that “can tug” players’ “heart strings.” Jin carries the childhood burden of being unable to defend his father when he was murdered, which is a crucial part of what motivates him to save Lord Shimura.
Ellie – The Last of Us Part II (2020)
Set after the events of First part, The Last of Us Part II dives into a messy tangle of conflict and revenge plots that reveal more about the characters. It focuses on Ellie’s storyline after Joel’s shocking and gruesome death, which comes at a time when their relationship isn’t at its best.
A post from Bahammed1 features an image of who he says are the “best written video game characters,” which includes Ellie. His turbulent backstory is already established by this point, with the heartbreaking breakup with Joel only further influencing his character to become more bitter, guilty, and enraged.
Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)
The stylistic and often dark acting, Infernal Blade: Senua‘s sacrifice, follows the titular warrior’s journey to Helheim. She is determined to save the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela and must overcome otherworldly adversities along the way.
User adamant2009 doesn’t need to say much more than “Senua” in a thread about notable protagonists. Her story plays a vital role in her actions, as her traumatic experiences with her parents continue to influence her view of the psychosis she still lives with. Her mother’s death at the hands of her violent father haunts her and contributes to her belief that her “sight” is a curse.
Geralt of Rivia – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
Geralt of Rivia’s quest to find his adopted daughter is central to the main storyline of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. As a witcher, Geralt has special abilities when it comes to tracking, combat, and general survival where others wouldn’t.
In a thread about “Best Written Video Game Characters”, NiIus mentions “Geralt”, and for good reason. His chilling past revolves around the grueling and inhuman training of wizards, as well as the discrimination he faces from civilians, even when he tries to do the right thing. Geralt has to overcome a lot and put aside the jaded aspect of his personality to be able to truly support Ciri.
Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn (2017)
Horizon Zero Dawn There’s no shortage of characters like Sylens and Avad with excellent storytelling – none come close to the protagonist, Aloy, though. As she uncovers more about her past, the increasing machine violence around her community begins to make more sense.
User R4theF0NZ writes that he “likes” Aloy’s “backstory” because of the “depth and arc of character development”. Indeed, Aloy’s backstory is inseparable from her present-day experiences, as she must unravel the mystery of her birth and learn her true purpose before she can heroically save the day.
Arthur Morgan – Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
The enduring popularity of Red Dead Redemption 2 can largely be attributed to its incredible story and character design. It centers on a gang of outlaws, of which the protagonist Arthur Morgan is a part. Players must battle against other gangs, the authorities, and Arthur’s would-be comrades as the way of life in the Wild West continues to decline.
Redditor TyChris2 particularly appreciates Arthur’s “slow build to understand and realize what’s most important in life.” His story leads to Arthur’s initially pessimistic outlook on the world, as his neglectful father and deceased mother push him into Dutch’s arms. It was the painful death of his son and his ex-girlfriend followed by the betrayal of his closest friend that really changed him.
Deacon St. John – Days Gone (2019)
The fact that Redditors are still waiting for a Days gone sequel testifies to the popularity of the game. Days gone depicts a post-apocalyptic scenario where the country has been overrun by cannibalistic “Freakers”. It follows the experiences of Deacon St. John after discovering that his wife Sarah might still be alive.
User Vanilla_Euphoric shares how they “really like ‘Deacon’ because of his backstory with Sarah and how it drives him to find her.” As players discover more about Sarah, flashbacks depict her whirlwind romance with Deacon and how their unlikely partnership became a source of strength and inspiration for both of them.
Sam Porter Bridges – Death Stranding (2019)
The mind-blowing title Dead standing, takes place in an apocalyptic United States where the eponymous event caused “Beached Things” to begin to roam the earth. The scattered human camps that have survived the catastrophic “vacuums” they create depend on porters to deliver and receive essential goods.
In an article about games with the best “character” arcs, MMEYER-BTW “personally” thinks it’s Sam Porter Bridges. Details of his confusing past are slowly revealed throughout the story, and the protagonist soon discovers his terrifying role in the apocalypse. His messy family relationships soon start to make sense as players progress through the game.
Kratos – God of War (2018)
God of the war breathed new life into the franchise by portraying the mighty Kratos as a father struggling to connect with his son, Atreus. After the mysterious death of Kratos’ wife, the duo embark on an eventful journey to Jotunheim to scatter her ashes. They encounter unexpected enemies and encounter new allies along the way.
A deleted Redditor sums up Kratos’ backstory by detailing how they “helped him find redemption and revenge over the past 11 years.” Kratos’ tragic past is full of pain and violence, as his involvement with the gods resulted in the deaths of his loved ones. It continues to stick with him today and informs his decisions with his son, who has barely scratched the surface of his father’s sad story.
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