What’s a good video game without an emboldened protagonist, a despicable villain, or a comedic sidekick? Characters are ways for players to feel connected to the story, and a great character can hook gamers and get them invested in the narrative.
Some players see characters in video games as a reflection of themselves or their traits. A gamer identifying with a hero or villain may make the experience all the more enjoyable. And some are so entertaining that it would be a crime not to include them on our list of the best video game characters of 2023.
Link – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Submitted by Laura Gray, Managing Editor
Is it bad if I say Gale again? Okay, if I step away from BG3, I’d pick Link in Tears of the Kingdom. I am always amazed at how deeply I relate to Link as a character, but I also think there is something truly magical in creating a character that so many can understand and see themselves in, and all without dialogue. It gives Zelda a type of magic that only it can capture. While I haven’t been a Zelda fan my whole life, I appreciate the effort, time, and energy that went into turning Link into who they are, and I’ve loved seeing the community react to the next chapter of the story.
Mitch Benjamin – Starfield
Submitted by Zackerie Fairfax, Associate Editor
Starfield’s Mitch Benjamin drove me to the brink of insanity, filled me with hatred, and annoyed me to the point of actually liking him. He is the early 2000s depiction of a nerd personified in a video game, a space where we nerds should feel safe. And we become his errand boy.
So, why is he my favorite video game character of the year if he’s such a nuisance? Well, he’s quirky in the best way. There’s a sort of camaraderie in his social awkwardness. We feel like one and the same. He can’t help that he’s not been able to leave his home world, and you are the hero who can connect a lowly Martian with the one thing he is so passionate about.
Saga Anderson – Alan Wake 2
Submitted by Zack Palm, Senior Staff Writer
My most standout character in 2023 was Saga Anderson from Alan Wake 2. She was one of the two main protagonists in the game and was structured as an FBI agent about to enter the mind-boggling world of Alan Wake. Even though she was an FBI agent, she was extremely open to the supernatural and took every opportunity to keep her mind open, making her a refreshing character about the star in a horror story. She had multiple revelations during the time she spent with Alan and while exploring the Dark Place, and she was a standout character to Alan.
Seyka – Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Submitted by Jamie Moorcraft-Sharp, Staff Writer
Horizon Forbidden West’s DLC is a breathtaking experience made all the better by the only character who can steal the spotlight from Aloy, Seyka. She’s strong, setting herself apart from every other NPC in the franchise as Aloy’s equal from the word go, but she also somehow manages to tame the protagonist through her ability to be fearlessly herself. I adore each moment she and Aloy spend together and want to see more from her in Horizon 3, hopefully saving Aloy from an even more absurd boss fight than the DLC gave us.
Astarion – Baldur’s Gate 3
Submitted by Cande Maldonado, Contributing Writer
Astarion is a conventionally attractive, bad boy, high-elf vampire with questionable morals, and I can canonically fix him. That right there checks off every box on my ‘dream character’ list. But add Neil Newbon’s top-tier voice acting into the mix, and you’ve basically set my list on fire. Astarion’s bond with the tadpole gives his story a unique twist, setting him apart from the other characters by offering a shot at true freedom. Whether you choose to ascend Astarion or let him walk the path of a good guy, every moment spent with him is an absolute treat.
Merrin – Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
Submitted by Alec Mullins, Contributing Writer
I liked Merrin in Fallen Order. I love her in Jedi Survivor. She’s fiery, funny, and more than a match for Cal’s hardheaded nature. Her new look is a bit jarring, but it reflects the experience she’s gained since we last caught up with her. Cere Junda praises her tenacity. Stormtroopers unknowingly whisper about her when they fret over Jedha’s ‘desert ghost.’ She’s so much more than a one-dimensional love interest, and I can genuinely say I’m ready for a Merrin-centric spin-off after Respawn wraps up the current story.