As we look back over the PC games of 2020 and bestow awards upon our favorites (opens in new tab), we're filled with fond memories of our protagonists and their heroic, world-saving deeds.
It's a tricky thing judging which hero is the best, though. Is it the Doom Slayer ripping into scores of demons, Alyx Vance taking on the Combine, or Sam Porter reuniting the country by carrying stacks of supplies over treacherous terrain on his back? You could make a case for almost any hero being the best without ever coming to any real concrete conclusions.
Unless we measure them by something much easier to quantify: their names. Just their names! So that's what we did. Here are 15 PC game protagonists of 2020—ranked only by their names from worst to best.
15. Sam Porter Bridges (Death Stranding)
Sam Porter Bridges is a porter who works for a company called Bridges and his biological mother's surname is Bridges and his adoptive mother's first name is Bridget. This is the worst protagonist name. Not just this year. Maybe ever.
14. Fenyx (Immortals Fenyx Rising)
It's bad enough the game used to be called Gods & Monsters, which is a bluntly serviceable game name. But you're going all edgy by using an F instead of a PH, and then eliminating the OE and replacing it with just an E—you should savor the chance to cram vowels together. And then it uses a Y instead of an I, which I have more thoughts about in another entry. This name has five letters and I hate three of them.
13. Bell (Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War)
I really like short last names. My last name is three syllables, and I hate talking, so having a short last name would save me several literal seconds of time and anxiety per annum.
So, I think Bell is a great last name! But the problem with Bell is, it's not a last name. It's a codename. And if you're gonna have a codename it should be a cool one. Storm. Lark. Frost. Vow. Wren. Lock, or even better, Locke, with an e, which is extra badass. Wolf, for god's sake! Wolf! You could do so much better than Bell, even if you add the word Taco in front of it, as many players did.
12. V (Cyberpunk 2077)
I think referring to someone as a single letter is a killer move. This is Q. Meet D. Hello, X. It's just neat and makes the person sound like they're simply too rad for a full name. "How's it going, B?"
But I don't think you should refer to yourself that way. If your name is Quint, but people call you Q, you should still introduce yourself as Quint. V, whatever their actual name is, should go by that. Let people call you V, but don't call yourself V.
11. Doom Slayer (Doom Eternal)
I'm not gonna pull the cranky old guy card and claim things were always better "back then." I'm open-minded and I embrace change! Doomguy is now Doom Slayer, and I can accept that. I'm just saying Doomguy is a way goofier, and thus way better, name than Doom Slayer. That's all.
10. John Cooper (Desperados 3)
For an Old West name, John Cooper feels appropriate. At the same time, there's a lotta pop-culture cowboys with awesome names, like Rooster Cogburn, Boss Spearman, Vin Tanner, William Munny, Josey Wales... hell, Django. You gotta up the ante or a decent name like John Cooper just starts to feel dull. Even the man with no name was called The Man With No Name. That's way better than John Cooper.
9. Alyx Vance (Half-Life: Alyx)
There was a time when having a Y in your name instead of an E was probably pretty slick, but I feel like that time was the 1990s and we should just go back to using the regular letters. This isn't Alyx's fault, of course. It's Eli's, whose parents didn't replace his I with a Y and are therefore better parents than Eli is.
8. Eivor (Assassin's Creed: Valhalla)
I'm pretty on board with Eivor as a name. I looked up the name's origin and it may stem from the Proto-Norse of "good luck," "island," "careful," or "defender." A lucky and cautious defender of an island, then. Works for me, even if Eivor went ham all over England. Plus, the Old Norse form was Eyvǫr or Øyvǫr, both of which have Ys, so I'm happy to see Eivor with an I. When I started this article I had no idea how much I hated the letter Y, but I'm learning things about myself.
7. Stella (Spiritfarer)
Stella is a solid name. That is all.
6. Ana Spelunky (Spelunky 2)
We finally learned that Spelunky Guy is actually named Guy Spelunky, canonically. Seems a bit on the nose for a spelunker, but in the real world you will occasionally find dentists with names like Dr. Pullman, so I guess it's okay. Anyway, Ana is a fine name, though I worry she may have been taunted with cries of Ana Banana growing up. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger—appropriate for a roguelike.
5. Zagreus (Hades)
I'm probably not gonna be picky about a name from Greek Mythology—the best of the mythologies—especially when we're talking about the son of a death god. Zag makes a decent nickname, too. Great name for a dog! Zag. I would name my dog Zag.
4. Ichiban Kasuga (Yakuza: Like a Dragon)
Not much to say, and certainly nothing to criticize. It's a great name for a great guy. Wouldn't change a thing.
3. Manal Awad (Watch Dogs Legion)
Names are randomly generated and there's no single protagonist of Watch Dogs Legion, but I did recruit a 76-year-old adult film star named Manal Awad. It's not quite Seymour Butts, but it'll do just fine.
2. Lady Love Dies (Paradise Killer)
I mean… come on. That's an awesome name, especially for a detective. Most people shorten it to LD, but if I had a name as cool as Lady Love Dies, I would insist everyone use it, in full, whenever they spoke to me. I'd probably do nothing but go around introducing myself to people all day, just so I could say it out loud. Lady Love Dies. Perfect.
1. Sam Porter Bridges (Death Stranding)
Sam Porter Bridges is a porter who works for a company called Bridges and his biological mother's surname is Bridges and his adoptive mother's first name is Bridget. This is the best protagonist name. Not just this year. Maybe ever.