Messing about with sliders to get the perfect cheekbones, finding the one hairstyle that doesn't look awful, and then having to do it all again after the tutorial because as soon as you see your creation in action they're actually a monster. (Or if it's a Saints Row game we're talking about, they're not enough of a monster.) It's a common enough experience, in everything from RPGs to wrestling games.
But some character creators are better than others. City of Heroes let players make superheroes and feel like kids doodling in the back of schoolbooks, and Dragon's Dogma let people make weird celebrity stunt doubles. Our latest weekend question is this: What's your favorite character creator? Let us know in the comments.
Lauren Morton: Code Vein
I imagine that Black Desert Online is going to get multiple shoutouts here. I remember when the character creator got released prior to the full game and everyone went nuts for about a week making celebrity faces and characters from other games. This week I've been playing a lot of Code Vein and although it doesn't have the same level of facial feature editing as BDO or, say, Fallout 4 or The Sims, it does have a ridiculous number of custom pieces that you can cobble together. There are only a few preset faces but there are, and I'm pretty sure I'm not exaggerating, hundreds of eyebrow choices. There are accessories galore (including a wearable mini coffin?) and options to edit the specific placement and rotation of everything from cat ears to ponytails. I can wear cat ears on my thigh, for some reason? I don't know why I would but now I sort of want to see a revenant hacking their way through the vampire apocalypse with accessories jammed in all the wrong places. I've been lacking in enough creativity to push Code Vein's customization options to their full limit, but I did make Prince Zuko in Earth Nation and Fire Nation variants.
Morgan Park: Monster Hunter World
I'm hesitant to declare a definitive best character creator because of my lack of experience in big RPGs. I understand that Black Desert Online has one of the most impressive character creators around, but I've never played it. My favorite in recent memory is Monster Hunter World. Character models look really great, which makes it kinda hard to make myself look truly horrifying. Your hunter is so present at all times that you really get the benefits of investing time to create someone you like. This is also helped by Monster Hunter's armor looking incredible, but the best part by far is the ability to customize your Palico cat companion. You can choose between a bunch of different fur patterns and colors. My little guy was so adorable that I wanted to play as him instead. Later on, you can also build armor sets for your Palico, which is just the best.
Jody Macgregor: Spore
I'll always have a soft spot for City of Heroes because it let me make a superhero who was a circus bear in a hat named Insane Clown Fozzie, but I'm gonna give some props to the character creator that let you be Lisa Simpson, complete with saxophone. With mods Spore's creature creator got even better, as you can see with that cool dragon above.
But Spore went beyond messing with sliders until you got something that looked a bit like a wang, because the first three stages of the game were all character creation, taking you from a single cell to a planet-spanning civilization. It was like the lifepath systems you got in tabletop RPGs such as Cyberpunk or Traveller, rounding out your creation with a backstory and a personality before the actual game began.