Welcome back to the PC Gamer Q&A! Every week we ask our panel of PC Gamer writers a question about games. This week: which game character do you hate? Okay, 'hate' is a strong word, but we all get annoyed by characters in games, for a variety of reasons—bad dialogue, voice acting, or whatever else. Here we've simply spotlighted the characters (and one car) that we can't stand. We'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments, too.
Wes Fenlon: Basically every character in Final Fantasy 8
I feel slightly guilty for writing this, because I know our editor Sam Roberts likes this game (even I won't defend a man with a ponytail wearing a cowboy hat, though, Wes—Sam), but I can't stand pretty much anyone who opens their mouth in Final Fantasy 8. It's been so long since I played it, I'm struggling to articulate the depth of my loathing. But it definitely started with Squall, the poster boy for aloof, emo JRPG protagonists. Aka bad protagonists. At least Cloud had the decency to have a total mental breakdown, turn out to be a total fraud, and find time to say totally out of character dialogue like "Let's mosey." (Thanks, bad translation).
But Squall? He was a boring stick in the mud from the first cutscene, and maybe he had some character growth by the end of the game but I was too busy rolling my eyes and going "UGH" to notice. Then the whole amnesia thing—the worst plot twist of all time outside a Shyamalan movie—made me write off most of the rest of the gang. I do still have a soft spot for Laguna, who was basically Squall's missing personality, and I always kinda liked Zell, who I believe is the character most Final Fantasy 8 fans actually hate, themselves. Looking back, my reason for liking him seems pretty clear—he annoyed the shit out of everybody else, and that made him the true hero.
Philippa Warr: Warren from Life is Strange
The thing about Warren was that his character seemed tangled up in something the developers were leaning towards. I remember a feeling that no matter how many times I, as Max, tried to just be Warren's friend and keep my boundaries set to "we are just friends and that is all we will ever be" the game would then show cutscenes with him sitting close and hugging Max and so on. The sense of a character you get with a game like Life is Strange is built out of how those cutscenes and the actual interactive sections play out and so, for the way I was playing Max, that led to this idea of Warren as a guy who doesn't really understand boundaries and isn't taking hints.
I think there are elements of that in the game deliberately—Warren clearly likes Max as more than a friend and there are resultant awkward encounters and cringeworthy texts and so on—but I'm not sure whether Dontnod actually wanted people to see him as a creep. I see him as a creep. I hated being around him in the game and the more the game didn't give me the freedom to be really clear about where he stood the more claustrophobic and upsetting I found him. Maybe that's the point? It's certainly a horribly faithful part of the teen experience. Anyway. Warren is the WORST.
Jody Macgregor: Ego from The 7th Guest
Henry Stauf is the villain of The 7th Guest. He's the guy who murders someone for 20 bucks, makes toys that kill children, fills his mansion with malicious puzzles. But I don't hate Henry Stauf. I hate the protagonist of The 7th Guest, the disembodied amnesiac spirit trapped in his mansion named Ego, because he will not shut up.
Sometimes while you're solving Stauf's puzzles the old man taunts you with his spooky-dooky voice, all "I wonder if he will get the point of this!" as you solve another dumb puzzle. But it's Ego's narration, which is supposed to be helpful, that's far more galling. "Which way should I go now?" he says, as you move another queen across a chessboard. "That tune seems familiar!" he says as you try to recollect an 18-note sequence on the piano. "Is there a pattern to this?" And every time he talks, the cursor vanishes and you have to wait for him to finish. I've never finished The 7th Guest, always leaving Ego trapped in Stauf's mansion forever, and I'm glad. I hope he rots.
Andy Kelly: Tali from Mass Effect
Look, I know Tali has a devoted fanbase. When she died in his playthrough, former PC Gamer writer Rich McCormick replayed 15 hours to save her. But man, whenever she's on the screen my eyes glaze over. The quarians are an interesting race with a cool backstory, but I wish they had a better representative in my party. I find Tali's overly earnest manner exceptionally dull. And her awkwardness, while probably written to be cute and endearing, just annoys me. In a game stuffed with interesting characters, she's by far the most boring, and I spend as little time with her as possible when I play through the Mass Effect trilogy.
Joe Donnelly: J'Zargo from Skyrim
J'Zargo was the first Khajiit NPC I met in Skyrim. He came with cool fire scrolls and reminded me a little of Tygra from the Thundercats. I was totally into it. Stat-wise he was a beast, and was one of the game's few NPCs without a level cap. Destruction and Restoration spells were his forte which made him best suited to close-quarters combat support. Moreover, after hitting level 50 he maxed out his One-handed and Heavy Armour skills—both of which made him an absolute tank.
But, my god, he was such a pain in the arse. As if constantly referring to himself in the third person wasn't infuriating enough, he was full of irritating self-aggrandising quips—to the point where I preferred fighting flocks of Legendary Dragons on my own, if it meant getting shot of him.
"Oh, but you are wrong. The only reason you could disagree is because you are losing so badly you cannot see it." This was the straw the broke the camel's back. I led J'Zargo deep into a cave full of Draugr and stood back. He died in battle. I resurrected him as a faceless zombie cat. He sauntered off a cliff. I didn't mourn him. Good riddance, J'Zargo.
Samuel Roberts: The DeLorean from Rocket League
I almost picked Winston from Overwatch for this. Not because I have any particular problem with the character's personality or anything, but more the 'wacky' thinking behind the design, that's about as generically 'hero shooter' as it gets. Every game in this genre has at least one novelty character like this—Paladins has a walking tree and Battleborn has (had) a large, armed mushroom, for example. What if a gorilla did science? Woah! What will they think of next?
I like most of the other character designs in Overwatch, but man, it's not too hard to come up with an idea for an animal or plant-related one, or indeed anything that can talk that doesn't in real life. What if a talking mongoose was a political strategist and a support hero? What if a Dutch fox was a taxidermist and was deeply ironic about his profession, but also had a grenade launcher? Hot damn, we've got us a hero shooter! Let's get this baby into Early Access. Pre-order the founder's package now to get the David Schwimmer announcer pack.
I guess Winston is just Beast from the X-Men, really. Anyway, I'm over it.
Instead, I'll pick this DLC car. Back in 2015 when I was deep into Rocket League, I remember being irritated by the seemingly tens of thousands of people who'd bought the DeLorean in Rocket League around the time of the merchandising tat nightmare known as Back to the Future Day. As well as marking a new low for the kind of event you could stick the word 'day' onto in order to sell toys to adults, this car started popping up all over the game, and its '88MPH' acceleration noise seemed to be the only thing I could hear in matches for months afterwards.
I know it's just people trying to have fun in a game they enjoy, by marrying car football with one of the best movies of the '80s. Who could resent that, really? Well, me, apparently.
Phil Savage: You, when you pick sniper
To my mind, snipers are the most irritating class in any multiplayer shooter—and I main Scout in TF2, so I know a lot about what's irritating. Yes, there's some skill in knowing a map's sightlines, and not standing in areas where a sniper might pick me off. But being instantly killed from halfway across the map is, for me, the least interesting interaction I can have in a shooter. In a team-focused, objective-based FPS, snipers seem only to reduce the possibility space in which I can be doing cool things. And for what, so you can squat in a bush, clicking on heads?
As for snipers who aren't killing me—the ones on my team—you're not much better. The requirements of sniping are often antithetical to the objective at hand, and, even in deathmatch, snipers are rarely mobile enough to top the leaderboards. Sniper is a bad class for bad people, and my feelings on this matter have nothing to do with my inability to accurately aim a crosshair. Sniping is for jerks, no exceptions. Except Battlefield: Bad Company 2, where they were actually pretty good.
Tim Clark: Anduin Wrynn in Hearthstone
"Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" complained King Henry II, shortly before some knight bros took this as an invitation to go ham on Thomas Beckett, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. And grim though the Wikipedia entry marked 'assassination' might be, let me also assure you that that fate would be far too good for Anduin Wrynn, Hearthstone's priest hero. Anyone who mains Priest in Hearthstone, unless they use the Tyrande Whisperwind portrait or run a dragon deck, is a despicable degenerate. Combo and control Priest is for the kind of fedora-wearing player for whom it isn’t enough just to win, they have to do it using your cards, over the course of what feels like an ice age. Don’t even get me started on the emotes. One more “Wow!” and I’m sending in the knights.