The RPG dream team

We love squad RPGs here at PC Gamer. We never shut up about them. We argue endlessly about who the best Mass Effect and Dragon Age companions are. We defend our positions vigorously in the great Ashley vs. Kaiden debate. After hundreds of hours of adventure, great game companions leave a strong impression.

So we started thinking about what makes a great RPG party. You need a variety of roles. You need a variety of moral perspectives. You need top banter. You can’t just throw a bunch of fan favourites together because you end up with a horde of witty rogues yammering over one another. 

After some debate we’ve put together this list. Some of the choices are a bit left field, but it’s a collection of heroes from a variety of games that would be great fun in an RPG together. Let us know your own dream teams in the comments.

Varric Tethras

Game: Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Role: Rogue

Who doesn’t love a good rogue? There are loads of contenders for this role, but Varric stands out because he’s more than a joke machine. He’s comfortable on the street and he’ll do a dodgy deal to get by, but he does have values. He has a good heart, and he’ll tell you straight if he thinks you’re making an evil move. The best companions are able to give the player some friction, and I think Varric is the guy for the job. He’ll gently poke fun at other companions too. He’d match Morte line for line in a to-and-fro, and he’d have serious animosity toward HK. He’s a must-take for me. —Tom Senior

Varric would be fairly low maintenance, too. RPG party members can become a little obsessed with their protagonists, but Varric already has a best friend: Hawke. In Inquisition, Varric is a useful ally, yes, but it becomes clear that his true loyalty lies with the star of the previous game. That isn't going to change, no matter what the Inquisitor does. Simply put, Varric's already got his shit together. That's a useful trait, aside from the good bants. —Phil Savage


Game: Anachronox
Role: Planet

Democritus is a planet. More accurately, it's the citizens of the planet's outer ring, who are so thankful that you saved them from robot insects that they shrink their planet down and follow you around. It's an incredibly useful companion, not least because it's stuffed full of weaponry, from ballistic missiles to orbital satellites. Really, though, Democritus provides an excellent motivation for your adventure: celebrity. After all, its inhabitants can simply look to the sky and watch your adventures. When you return, later in Anachronox's story, they'll critique your adventures: both the plotting and the character you play. —Phil Savage

Democritus is a hilarious concept for a companion and the citizens’ judgemental tendency is a good way to poke through the fourth wall, which few RPG characters do. —Tom Senior


Game: Baldur’s Gate 2, Neverwinter Online
Role: Ranger, berserker

I worried that Minsc would be a bit gimmicky. Everyone knows about his space hamster (though of course we’re split on whether the hamster is really from space or not—it is, by the way). Actually his berserker tendencies are much more interesting. Minsc’s unpredictability introduces a fun chaotic element to the group dynamic that could get the party into scrapes. We were looking for a heavy as well who can take a bit of damage in a scrap. Even though he’s a ranger, Minsc fits the bill I think. —Tom Senior

You need that slightly deranged, unpredictable edge to keep things fresh, and to give the more straightlaced party members a comedy foil. This can lead to good hijinks, and what's the point of saving the world if it's not going to get wacky once in a while. Minsc is certainly wacky. He even thinks his hamster is from space (it definitely isn't). Note that we're specifically using the Baldur's Gate II version of Minsc, because we didn't want to bring Dynaheir. —Phil Savage


Game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Role: Murder robot

It’s good to have a straight-up evil character in the party. The potential for betrayal keeps everyone on their toes. Also, arguments are fun, especially when one half of the row is a psychotic robot programmed to kill. HK-47 is very good at killing as well, which is a very useful skill in an RPG party. If you take an outside view, RPG parties tend to be a terrifying collection of warriors who will kill hundreds of bandits and rats in a typical adventure. HK-47 is just really honest about that. —Tom Senior

There's part of me that's pandering to KOTOR fans by suggesting this one. We had to have a Star Wars guy, and I feel like his evil nature will throw everyone off in a way that'll make for interesting party dynamics. —Samuel Roberts


Game: Mass Effect 3
Role: Party member, sometimes spaceship 

She’s a spaceship. And an AI. She can solve tedious dungeon puzzles in seconds, and she can probably pick a lock something fierce. Did I mention she’s a spaceship? It bears repeating. I think that’s as far as our logic goes for this pick? —Tom Senior

I feel this combination of being a solid fighter and an actual spaceship is incredibly useful to an RPG party. She can join us in battle, then cart our arses to the next planet where we're needed. —Samuel Roberts

Every good RPG needs a way to travel from place to place, and why shouldn't your transportation also ask probing philosophical questions about the nature of life, sentience and boning Seth Green? —Phil Savage


Game: Planescape Torment
Role: Floating skull, biter

Morte can’t do much in a fight, but he has other qualities. He’s a fount of sarcastic wit. He has a dark past. He’s aware of how silly it is that he’s a floating, talking skull. Even though he’s kinda evil—he’s done bad things, at least—if he’s on your side he’s a loyal-ish companion with a lot to say. Point him at anything in the game world and he has a quip ready to go. —Tom Senior


Game: Torment: Tides of Numenera
Role: Child

OK, I'll admit: Rhin is pretty useless. She doesn't actually do anything, and, while she does carry a god in her pocket, the god doesn't do anything either. She's not good at fighting, thinking, or talking—the three main skills required of a good Numenera character. She is, however, good at hiding, resourceful and a surprisingly perceptive judge of character. She'll probably outlive everyone in this party, except maybe the planet. She's also loyal—I won't spoil Numenera's end game, but just because Rhin is currently useless that doesn't mean she always will be. —Phil Savage

You'll have to give us more than that, Phil. You told me why Rhin is such a good choice. Is there anything we can hint at as to why she'll eventually save the day? —Samuel Roberts

It involves time travel, a shared consciousness and a dull knife that's also a god. Torment is a weird game. —Phil Savage


Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Role: Black mage

We need a mage, and Morrigan is arguably the sassiest. I do worry that she won't be as interesting without Alistair to bounce off of, but I think Minsc would more than fill the irritating nice guy role that she so loves to chide. —Phil Savage

This one was a toss-up between Morrigan and Lulu from Final Fantasy X. Lulu is possibly the more powerful mage and and she comes in handy if the party is ever short of belts, but Morrigan is cool and mysterious, and still sets things on fire with her mind. She’s in an interesting place on the morality scale too. One one end you have HK-47, on the other you have Varric, and somewhere in between you have Morrigan, who uses dark methods for heroic reasons. —Tom Senior


Game: Dungeon Siege
Role: Silent moral support, carries shit.

Inventory management is the most tedious aspect of any RPG. It’s always boring. Instead of having to constantly rearrange our backpacks, we could just pile it all on a donkey, and what better donkey than Dungeon Siege’s loyal, silent companion. The way he maintains his staunch demeanour in horrible spider caves in Dungeon Siege is inspirational. —Tom Senior 


Game: Torchlight
Role: Economic adviser

Bartering is an essential skill in a good RPG. You’ve got to get bang for your buck when you’re slinging bags of loot you’ve stolen from a dungeon. Who better to take on that role than Torchlight’s excellent dog companion? At the push of a button he runs back to town, does some deals, and returns with the gold. Every party needs one. —Tom Senior

I suggested the Mabari War Hound from Dragon Age: Origins, but I can't deny his skills are more limited when it comes to economic advice. —Samuel Roberts

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