A game is just better when you can have a pet along for your adventure. Someone loyal, someone lovable, and it definitely doesn't hurt if your pet is also useful, pitching in during combat or carrying things around for you.
And speaking of pets—real life pets this time—PC Gamer is happy to announce we have a new sister site that can help you out with your favorite furry friend. Pets Radar has launched, and it's packed with guides and advice written by pet experts. If you're looking for tips or reviews on pet food, pet care, or just some fun animal facts, make sure you check it out and give them a follow on Twitter!
But back to virtual pets, our question for you is this: Who is your favorite pet in games? Dogmeat from the Fallout series? Roach from The Witcher series? Dog from Half-Life 2, the companion cube from Portal, some critter from Monster Hunter: World? We've got our answers and some from the PC Gamer Forums below. Vote for your own favorite pet in the comments below.
Andy Kelly: In Alien: Isolation, H.R. Giger's monster is your tormenter, your nemesis, and also, very occasionally, your friend. One of the most satisfying ways to play with the game's systems is using a noisemaker—a crafted device that emits shrill, piercing static—to trick the alien into doing your bidding. Normally it's used as a distraction to lure the beast away, but you can also use it to get rid of human enemies. Chuck it into a group of gun-toting looters and you can sit back and relax as your faithful space-hound charges in and rips them to shreds.
This is stretching the definition of a pet, but when I do this, I feel like throwing the alien a treat for being a good boy. Except it would murder me if I did.
Robin Valentine: Death's horse in Darksiders II holds a special place in my heart just for his sheer convenience. Need to get somewhere in a hurry? At the click of a button, you leap into the air and an entire ghost horse manifests underneath you instantly. By the time you've even gotten Roach off the roof of a nearby barn, Despair's already ridden you halfway across the afterlife. And that's with half his flesh falling off, bless him.
Jody Macgragor: In the first Fallout you meet Dogmeat after his owner has died. The loyal hound won't move from his spot, preventing a Junktown NPC from getting past, unless you feed him or if you're wearing a leather jacket like the one his previous owner wore. I'm pretty sure I ticked both of those boxes, because who doesn't feed a hungry dog in a videogame, and wear a badass leather jacket when given the opportunity?
He stayed by my side for the entire game, which was made considerably longer because I reloaded every single time he died. Having a pet dog who will run in to bite a raider on the dick three times per turn is great at the start of Fallout, but by the time you're fighting super mutants with miniguns that tactic makes him a bit of a liability. I've gone out of my way to recruit the various pets in the sequels as well, like Rex the cyberdog in New Vegas.
Andy Chalk: Camus is your dog in Cloudpunk, and also your car—he used to be your dog, before circumstance forced your move to the city of Nivalis, and now his consciousness travels with you on a computer chip. Was he actually a dog at one point, his essence transferred to a new body when his flesh and bone failed, or was he always a dog-like AI in a robotic body? That isn't made clear as far as I know, but he's smarter than your average current-day canine—he can converse and follow simple instructions—and he's also the moral center of the game, a gentle, honest soul who helps guide Rania through the hazards of life in the big city.
Wes Fenlon: In the JRPG Tales of Vesperia, one of your optional party members from the very beginning of the game is Repede, who is a dog. Repede is cool. If you want to know how cool: He doesn't speak or any fantasy nonsense like that, but he does smoke a damn pipe. To my recollection, this is never once joked about, commented on, or really acknowledged in the game in any way.
That's just Repede. He hangs out, fights with you, and carries a pipe in his mouth when he isn't carrying a dagger. I guess he doesn't actually smoke it, which is maybe even cooler? He knows it makes him look distinguished, but he also cares about his health. He also wears a holster for his dagger and a bigass chain for a collar, which is effectively intimidating. And because Repede never speaks, he easily ranks in the top 1% of least-annoying JRPG characters.
To quote the Tales wiki: " The interesting thing about Repede in battle is the fact that he is a dog."
My dog Jasper from that time I played Skyrim as an NPC
A while back I played Skyrim like an NPC would—trying to make a living, avoid adventures, and just live a simple but happy life. Along the way I found a stray dog, named him Jasper, and took him along on my non-adventure.
The Elder Strolls, as I called it, was a 10-part diary you can start here (though I don't meet Jasper until Part 6). It doesn't exactly have a happy ending, but I still have fond memories of Jasper. When you've decided to walk through a world as big as Skyrim—not sprint, not fast-travel, but walk—it's good to have a happy, shaggy dog along for the stroll.
Pifanjr: The creature from Black & White is the best pet in a video game by far. It has an own, distinct personality (the cow's being to just eat everything it can get its hands on). It can learn to cast any of the miracles you can, meaning it can care for your villagers or blow up entire towns, depending on whether you raise it to be good or evil. It can learn to catch stones thrown at it and throw them back. It can also do this with fireballs.
It can get stoned off of mushrooms.
It's probably one of the most complex learning AIs ever made for a game and it's almost 20 years old. There's a 6000 word article just on the various ways you can train your creature to do exactly what you want.
Mazer: I'll always carry a torch for my Torchlight 2 pets purely for their ability to slog back to town and sell my crap for me. The only potentially troubling part being that they take a percentage of the profits in exchange for their efforts, and I'm not sure what a panda with a backpack needs money for when I've been footing the bill for all his fish and collar accessories. Does he have rent? Where? As far as I can tell he lives four feet behind my player character, on a pile of corpses.
I Will Haunt You: The sabertooth tiger in Far Cry Primal. Those bad cats are the fastest ride and can kill anything in the game you send it after.
Indecent Louie: Always dogmeat from fallout 3, I spent many nights with that lovable scamp searching for raiders and ghouls. What if he died you ask? An earlier save will be loaded, no matter how many hours ago that was.
Also the beautiful Saber-toothed Tiger from Sacred two. Riding that beast through the Bendaresh Desert was a sight to behold.