The 15 greatest character creators in Xbox history (and their mutant offspring)

We’ve all played around with the sliders to try and make a super freak, but there are some games that really go above and beyond when it comes to producing user-generated monstrosities. From demon babies, to dreadlocked giants, to ginger-mulleted weirdos, here are the top 15 character creators on Xbox that let you go further than the laws of nature ever intended.

15. Rock Band

Each hairstyle, instrument and item of clothing you purchase in this music party game comes with a brief description offering players a scathing indictment of culture in all its forms. A half-and-half leotard called Beyond the Binary, for example, reads: ‘Because why pick just ONE outfit? You can’t be tied down like that, man’, while an Axl Rose bandana is ‘the roughest, toughest way to show off your pretty, pretty hair’. But we shouldn’t be surprised: after all, there’s no better way to prepare for a gig than getting absolutely deflated by a brutal critique of your carefully constructed image that cuts right to your very soul. Now let’s rock!

14. Rainbow 6 Vegas 2

If this counter-terrorist looks familiar, it’s because he’s wearing the face of this writer. That’s right, you can actually scan your own mug into Ubisoft’s tactical Xbox 360 shooter and run around Las Vegas as a slightly bored operative. All you need is an Xbox Live Vision Camera and good lighting. There’s no facial animation: instead you have a single stoic expression that fails to register so much as a panicked quiver even when you’re besieged by a wave of insurgent. To be honest, that’s ultimately an accurate representation of a Tom Clancy leading man anyway. Just look at Ben Affleck [Whoa, shots fired - Ed].

13. Skylanders Imaginators

A modular monster-maker, this. Slap a tiki head on a robot body, attach snake arms (as in actual snakes) and fill in each component in a different colour. You can also construct meaningless catchphrases out of individual lines, such as “No one expects the Earth!”, and even have a figurine replica sent to you by downloading the Skylanders Creators app. It’s hard to end up with someone who isn’t weirdly awesome, so we take up the challenge and endeavour to make the lamest Skylander possible: Saucepan Man, with the head of a man and the body of a man, and a saucepan on his head. We love him to bits.

12. Watch Dogs 2

Marcus Holloway always comes out of it well no matter what garish getup he wears. We can very easily imagine half a pinstripe business suit, pink boxers and cowboy boots being the look among San Francisco’s underground tech resistance. While you can’t alter Marcus’ face or remove his glasses, a bevvy of clothing outlets ensure plenty of style options: there’s knitwear paradise Plainstock; William Finn for the dapper; Torque Rat for helmets and leathers; Axle Boardshop for beach bums; and Street Flex for the east coast extroverts wanting to rock gold puffers and tank tops covered in dollar bills.

11. Mass Effect 2

BioWare’s space epic starts with your character dead. After paramilitary organisation Cerberus recovers and reconstructs Commander Shepard’s body using the finest plastic surgery credits can buy, you begin again. Once we’re done picking Shepard’s origin (Earthborn, colonist or spacer) and psychological profile (ruthless soldier or war hero?), we head immediately to the facial sliders. After all, it’s what’s on the outside that counts, and what’s outside is a blonde caesar cut with a pencil moustache. We may owe our life to Cerberus but our style is our own. “I’m Commander Shepard, and this is the most potato-like face on the Citadel.”

10. Dark Souls 2

The egotistical use character creators to recreate themselves. The curious swap genders and experience life from the other side. The diabolical (that’s us) are all about constructing the most off-putting avatars humanly possible, with plump noses, rosy cheeks and a thick and proud monobrow. It’s hard to ruin the wonder in an epic game like Dark Souls 2, in which orchestral scores underpin tentative exploration of an atmospheric fantasy world, but panning the camera to reveal your character as a perma-grinning Lilly Savage lookalike just about does it. No one in Drangleic is as grossly incandescent as this.

9. FIFA 17

Everyone knows the smaller you are, the better you are at football. Just look at Messi. Our 4ft-and-a-bit footballer infuriates defences by literally ducking under their challenges like a Barcelona Borrower, and when he scores, he shouts directly into the sideline camera every time. This is a true sporting role model. FIFA’s Be A Pro mode has been a mainstay of the series for years, letting you create footballers and improve them match after match by meeting objectives. It also gets pretty silly when you run up against other Pros online – they’re all tiny, lightning quick and 90 per cent of them inexplicably have massive afros.

8. Fallout 4

Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG brilliantly makes its character-creator in-universe. The game starts with a scene of domestic bliss, you staring into the bathroom mirror prodding wrinkles and angling your chin to look for pimples just like you would any other morning. Only this morning you can tag-in your significant other and customise them, or cover up those bald spots with a healthy head of hair, or make those dark bags vanish instantly. We could have created Abe Lincoln or Walter White, and many have. Instead, you’re looking at The Wasteland’s unhealthiest resident, and we’re counting ghouls in that list.

7. The Sims 3

We’ve built plenty of freaks over the years, but only the most gloriously wrong make our rogue’s gallery. Freaks like The Red Boy here, with his severe crew cut, sunburned skin and pitch-black eyes are the best. He’s basically Damian from The Omen meets Astro Boy. The best part is customising his cotton coveralls with different patterns and materials, from swish zebra print to shiny leather. We’ve plumped for an awesome fire design because baby-blue is for babies (clue’s in the name). EA’s latest, The Sims 4, isn’t available on Xbox One, so you’ll have to crack out your Xbox 360 if you want a Red Boy of your own. It’s worth it; trust us.

6. Dragon Age Inquisition

You start by picking one of four races: craggy human, elegant elf, stocky dwarf, or horned giant (the Qunari). Next, you pick your class, from tricksy mage to direct warrior. Then you go nuts. This is the ultimate in idiosyncrasy, with lone braids hanging down backs, tribal designs tattooed across foreheads and deep facial scarring. Hey, it’s a fantasy game – there’s no point looking sensible. Qunari get the best deal with their range of horn options, including gold-plated, curled and chunky Hellboy-style. But, in the interest of comedy, we’ve created a donkey-faced weirdo for you to look at.

5. Saints Row 4

Some character creators don’t go far enough with the silly factor, in our humble opinion. In Saints Row 4, if anything, you actually have to tone down the shiny chrome skin, luminous beehive hairdos, reptile eyes and clown makeup, otherwise it just looks silly. There’s also a slider option for ‘sex appeal’, which determines the size of your... well, you know. It’s the taunts that make this one special, though, giving you access to Arrested Development’s chicken dance and Ric Flair’s strut. Best of all, you can strip all your clothes off and perform these completely naked if you so wish. And why wouldn’t you? You are the President of the United States, after all.

4. Dead Rising 4

Frank West is willing to wear just about anything. Hey, you can be who you want in a zombie apocalypse. Willamette Megaplex and the surrounding area is ripe for looting, packing pirate outfits, gingerbread costumes, a white cupid nappy, full Santa regalia, and even strength-boosting military exo-suits. The best are cosplay homages to classic Capcom characters, from Mega Man to downloadable Street Fighter skins. Whether dressing like a shark and riding around on a tricycle, or donning a burlap sack and grabbing Hulk hands, this game is about embracing excess. Basically the opposite of Dawn Of The Dead.

3. WWE 2K17

Many features here don’t appear in any other game, probably for good reason. Vein intensity, for instance, determines how much your blood tubes visibly pop from your skin to give the impression your wrestler is constantly straining. It’s gross, and kind of cool. Couple this with another novel option – body grease – and you can reach truly awful levels. For this superstar we use the doughy body of King Kong Bundy, the back hair of George ‘The Animal’ Steele, and the untamed mop of Einstein. He’s going up against Big Baby in what promises to be a slobberknocker. What’s more, you can share your creations online so players from all over the world can download them and recoil at the physical manifestation of the contents of your brain.

2. NBA 2K17

So lifelike is our created character that even he can’t believe how good he looks. Just look at the surprise on his face! And what’s more, this hunk of a man is actually 17 years old. We made him for NBA 2K17’s curated story mode, in which you start as a high school prodigy before choosing your college and finally getting drafted to the NBA’s main stage. In particular, developer Visual Concepts has nailed a variety of hair, with crinkly chin beards and wispy dreads authentically frizzing during matches, and detailed facial animation that sees players eye the ball hungrily. The instant replay lets you see everything, from the court’s reflection in his eyes to the delicate little hairs up his nose. Look out, Lebron.

1. EA Sports Ultimate Fighting Championship 2

The humanity! Just look at that unfortunate-looking mug. And unbelievably, this man/creature/thing hasn’t even been punched yet. When review copies of UFC 2 arrived in the office during March of 2015, we actually drew a crowd of colleagues who observed the mounting irregularities in shrieking horror, from sweat-matted body hair to oily glaze on the cartoon chicken chest tattoo (not pictured, to protect your sweet eyes). In truth we’re at pains to pick just one from the army of fighters we made that day: narrowly missing out was the woman with a chin strap beard that stretched around her whole head, and a guy who looked like a botched Jesus fresco. If we judge character creators on the spit-takes of spectators, there can only be one winner: UFC 2. That would be ten spit-takes out of ten.

This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.

Ben Griffin
In 2012 Ben began his perilous journey in the games industry as a mostly competent writer, later backflipping into the hallowed halls of GamesRadar+ where his purple prose and beige prose combine to form a new type of prose he likes to call ‘brown prose’.