Best new video game characters of 2016: From D. Va to Professor Willow
More than any other game released in 2016, Overwatch best demonstrates the importance of great characters. In other competitive shooters, each new patch brings fan revolts over things like reload speed and gun damage adjustments. Overwatch patches upset fans because the new costumes aren't good enough.
Great characters can take a game that's merely fun and make it memorable. Here are the best new characters we interacted with in 2016.
Best new video game characters of 2016
D. Va from Overwatch
She's a teenage pro gamer celebrity who was so good at Starcraft that the government made her the captain of a mech battalion. That's perfect. It doesn't get better than that.
Sam Drake from Uncharted 4
While Uncharted series protagonist Nathan Drake is an overly competent smooth-talker who somehow survives against the odds whenever he's in danger. His older brother Sam isn't always so lucky.
We're introduced to Sam in Uncharted 4, and his ne'er-do-well past haunts both he and his brother throughout the story. Sam's kind of a screw-up in ways that adversely affect his arguably too loyal younger brother. The bond between them reveals more about Nate than anything that happens to him in the preceding three games, making Sam a great new character.
Father James from Mafia III
Mafia III is full of incredible characters who push its story of racism and revenge in the Civil Rights-era South toward greatness, but none of them connected quite as well as Father James. The veteran-turned-priest understands protagonist Lincoln Clay's desire for revenge, but won't personally endorse the violence that comes with it.
He also narrates the game's story through a documentary-like framing device, which is helped immensely by the all-time great performance from voice actor Gordon Greene. He's a fascinating, nuanced character who brings everything together.
Marcus Holloway from Watch Dogs 2
The original Watch Dogs was heavily criticized for protagonist Aiden Pierce, a horrendously boring and overly cynical hacker who brought no fun to the table. Hackers embrace chaos for the fun of it, and Pierce didn't embody that at all.
Thankfully, Marcus Holloway from Watch Dogs 2 fixes that problem adeptly. He and his friends at the Dedsec hacker collective are just in it to stick it to the man and have a good time. The game's surprisingly solid understanding of modern fashion makes it a joy to dress up Holloway to your liking. It's also a nice touch that he has to remove his earbuds to talk to people.
He's well-written, too, with voice actor Ruffin Prentiss really bringing it. The scenes where Marcus muses about the lack of black people in the San Francisco tech industry stand out, in particular.
Trico from The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian is the most realistic dog ownership simulator of all time. Trico, the giant dog... bird... thing, is a necessary aspect of solving the game's puzzles, but it doesn't always listen to you. You have to yell at it a few times to get it to do anything at first before it becomes loyal.
The way Trico whines and whimpers when it wants to be fed is so charming that it had to be on this list. What a good dog.
Professor Willow from Pokémon Go
Professor Willow's job is basically to give you candy in exchange for Pokémon you don't want in Pokémon Go. How exactly he does this is never really explained, so if you want to believe he is actually turning Pokémon into candy, you can do that. At that point, he becomes a sinister villain, which the game otherwise lacks.
Delilah from Firewatch
Delilah has the distinction of being the only character on this list who we never see. In Firewatch, your only method of interaction with Delilah is through dialogue choices during walkie-talkie conversations.
She's an utterly incredible character, though. A middle-aged woman who took a job as a national park guard, Delilah spends the early parts of the game grilling protagonist Henry for his personality quirks. She's a great foil for him. Instead of telling you more, I'm just going to ask you to play Firewatch.
Uncle Death from Let It Die
There isn't much to say about Uncle Death from the free-to-play PS4 game Let It Die except that he's a Grim Reaper on a skateboard. Need we say more?
Guzma from Pokémon Sun and Moon
Guzma has become a fan favorite. His tendency to make rap hands combined with his ability to kill it on the dance floor add a ton of flavor to Pokémon Sun and Moon. The leader of Team Skull, Guzma starts off as a villain but sort of comes around by the end of the game.
That doesn't stop us from loving him the whole time, though.
Paul Serene from Quantum Break
Paul Serene is the villain of Quantum Break, as well as the only character on this list to be portrayed both in-game and in live-action, which happens during the game's TV series sequences. Without spoiling too much, Serene uses time travel antics to become the game's villain in a fairly mind-bending way.
He's an effective villain because of Aiden Gillen's performance, as well. Quantum Break wasn't the most popular or warmly received game of 2016, but you can't say it didn't have a solid villain.