This year, video games finally figured out the majesty of Dog. You don't need a degree in marketing to notice that including a dog in your game (or even just in a trailer) leads to instant player love, especially when the dog's heart-meltingly cute. Man's best friend has been a part of games for years, but their innate wonderfulness is finally being fully realized.
Of course, things could have easily gone differently. Gaming is almost inexorably linked to the internet, and what does the internet love? Cats. Cats inherently make just about anything better through a combination of cuteness and heinous black magic, and gaming isn't absent their influence. It makes you wonder how gaming would be if all its best dogs were envisioned as feisty felines, with all the appropriate changes in personality. The end result is hilarious for us, but maybe not so great for their servants--I mean protagonists.
D.D. (Diamond Dog) from The Phantom Pain
As a dog: Growing from an adorable puppy into a still-adorable killing machine, D.D. helps you track enemy combatants, sniffs out supplies and weapons, and will absolutely knife someone on command if you arm him properly.
As a cat: Diamond Cat may like the thrill of the hunt, but focuses almost entirely on small desert creatures to the detriment of the team (and refuses to share his spoils). He also has a habit of sleeping during the day, only to sprint frantically through a enemy base and alert all guards during night missions. He will, however, still definitely knife someone, but it'll probably be you. Why just puke in your shoes when he can murder you instead?
The Dog (Dinki-Di) from Mad Max
As a dog: After losing a fight against Max (and knowing what's good for it), The Dog quickly makes itself useful as a mine-sniffer, helping Max dismantle landmines hidden in the wasteland's most attractive scrap heaps.
As a cat: Dinki-Di finds a nice warm spot in Chumbucket's buggy and sunbathes through every wasteland excursion Max takes him on. He can sniff out the landmines just fine, but keeps that information to himself, and is nonplussed when his nap is disturbed by explosions and flying meat.
Riley from Call of Duty: Ghosts
As a dog: A K-9 with the Ghost squadron, Riley is as much a trained soldier as anyone else on his team. Decked out with a bulletproof vest, he is often sent in ahead of his human teammates to attack unreachable enemies, do reconnaissance, and find secret paths his allies can take during stealth missions.
As a cat: Riley is an expert at infiltrating enemy camps and barricading himself in a bathroom by closing the door and pulling opening an adjacent drawer. He then uses his ultimate distraction tactic - clawing at the enemies' hands as they try to get the door open with a coat hanger - allowing American soldiers take the camp unnoticed. He doesn't do it on purpose of course. It just kind of works out that way.
Dogmeat from Fallout 3
As a dog: A bit of a lone wanderer himself, Dogmeat joins the Lone Wanderer when they cross paths in the depressing and barren wasteland. He helps guard the Lone Wanderer from enemies, but is even more effective as a tracker, disappearing for days on end to uncover items at his master's request.
As a cat: Catmeat refuses to retrieve anything on command, but he does leave the corpses of mangled birds, lizards, and other small creatures in the Lone Wanderer's backpack. That isn't so bad when you're wandering the desert without food, but it'd be nice if he'd make sure they're fully dead first.
Angelo from Final Fantasy 8
As a dog: Angelo serves as Rinoa's loyal companion and primary weapon. All of her special limit break attacks incorporate the canine in some way, and Angelo can serve as everything from an emergency medic to an oversized projectile.
As a cat: Angelo refuses to respond to any commands, being a cat. But he still acts as an effective weapon when Rinoa uses her ultimate limit break and drops him on her opponent's head. Which he falls onto right-side up, naturally.
Chop from Grand Theft Auto 5
As a dog: Originally trained to be an attack dog, Chop is left in Franklin's care by impulsive gangbanger Lamar, and turns out to be the world's biggest sweety. He regularly goes with Franklin on car rides, and can help defend Franklin in times of need.
As a cat: Chop is perfectly happy to hop in the car (preferably by dropping through the sunroof) but immediately goes into panic mode once the vehicle is mobile. Driving down the highway with Chop in tow unlocks a new minigame where Franklin struggles to keeps the feline from crawling under the brake pedals.
Koromaru from Persona 3
As a dog: The most quadrupedal member of the Persona team, Koromaru is a loyal and highly intelligent animal that loves movies and hanging out in the team dorm. He's also fearsome in battle, and has taken down Shadows without an evoker, using only his intellect fancy knife skills.
As a cat: Koromaru is able to hold his own against Shadows with the rest of the team and kill as necessary, using his ultimate attack: exposing his belly and hypnotizing enemies into petting it, like a furry bear trap.
Hewie from Haunting Ground
As a dog: Fiona's canine escort, Hewie acts as her primary means of defense. But more than just commanding him to attack an assailant or fetch items for her, Fiona can train Hewie into an obedient, loyal, and courageous guard dog intent on keeping her safe.
As a cat: While Fiona screams for help and flees from her attackers, Hewie is too busy with a fascinating dustball he found in the corner of the hallway to notice, and will be preoccupied for the next several hours. Fiona can take care of herself, and when's she going to get around to feeding him, anyway? Food, human. That is what you are good for.
The unknown dog from Resident Evil 4
As a dog: This cute fellah is already pretty cat-like, since you only see him for a second or two before he darts away into the forest, only to be found when he's good and ready. But his dogly nature comes out after Leon saves him from a bear trap and, out of gratitude, the dog helps Leon fight El Gigante.
As a cat: He does just as much disappearing as you'd expect, but he's not nearly as grateful or willing to help Leon in battle. He mostly just eats all your green herbs and throws them up on the carpet before disappearing into the night.
Duck Hunt Dog from Duck Hunt
As a dog: Easily one of the most despised characters in gaming history, Duck Hunt Dog has no qualms about rubbing your nose in even the slightest failure. He's all cheer and happy faces when you shoot down his dinner, but let a single fowl get away and expect to get a good, long look at his overly-amused mug.
As a cat: He doesn't even bother to mock you. He just stares at you with eyes full of derision, pressing the weight of your failures down upon your fragile human soul.