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The best heroes in video games

The best heroes in video games can mean so many things to so many people. Maybe the protagonist is someone you aspire to be like - with truth, justice, and the greater good always on their mind. Perhaps the main character is endearingly flawed and all the more relatable for it, acting as a mirror for the imperfect humanity we all share. Or it could be that they're just an uplifting power fantasy you can come back to time and again. Whatever the case, the following heroes have all made their mark as some of the greatest characters that games have to offer, inspiring us to see their stories through to the end at any cost. Once you've perused our personal favorite video game heroes, show some love for your picks in the comments section, and be sure to shout out anyone whose heroics should've made the list. If evil's more your thing, you'll want to read up on the best villains in video games

30. Dante (Devil May Cry series) 

Cocky, sarcastic, and confident: all apt descriptions of Capcom's half-demon hero. Dante's been charming us for over a decade (even in the regrettable Devil May Cry 2), whether it's in his own games or as cameos in others. And Dante's got the tight gameplay to match all that charisma, able to bust out ridiculous attack strings with his many outlandish weapons when controlled by the hands of the highly skilled. Whether it's Chibi-Dante (a la Viewtiful Joe on PS2), Marvel vs. Capcom Dante, or even the new-look Dante in DmC, he's a guy who you'll always have a hell of a time playing with. 

29. Hunter (Bloodborne) 

The protagonists of From Software's legendary action RPGs are all defined by their actions more than their words - but there's much more of a unifying theme to Bloodborne's Hunter compared to Dark Souls' Chosen Undead. For starters, every Hunter is adept at wielding an assortment of impressively lethal, dual-form Trick Weapons, instantly boosting their cool points. Same goes for their gothic threads, which mesh Victorian fashion with fight-to-the-death function. But what really links every players' custom-made Hunter is their thirst for power. Bloodborne's story is one of avarice for almighty abilities that lie beyond the normal limits of humankind, and truly devoted Hunters can go so far as to be reborn as a Lovecraftian horror known as Great Ones. Whatever grim path you guide this hero down is up to you, but the singular Hunter is arguably the most intriguing protagonist the Soulsborne games ever gave us.     

28. Jade (Beyond Good & Evil) 

Armed with a camera and a big stick to administer beatdowns, Jade is not your typical video game heroine. Shes strong, smart, classy, and above all, she's relatable. As a photojournalist, Jade risks her life to expose corruption within the government, and when she's not busy documenting the truth, her time is spent taking care of young orphans. In some ways, Jade set the precedent for the many strong female leads we get to enjoy in modern gaming, serving as a good role model without the hot pants or booty shorts that were all too common in gaming circa 2003. 

27. Abe (Oddworld series) 

One of the unlikeliest heroes in history, Abe manages to go from janitor to savior for his entire race via pure pacifism. Well, not exactly - his psionic powers let him possess those nasty Sligs and force them to explode, which is always a hoot. But Abe's strength lies in communication: despite his limited vocabulary and rudimentary social skills, he's able to lead his Mudokon people to freedom from the misery of slave labor. Gentle, intelligent, and somehow able to make fart jokes funny again, Abe is the kind of game hero we'd want to befriend in real life. 

26. BT-7274 (Titanfall 2)  

Can you still be a hero if you're technically programmed to be stubborn, brave, and self-sacrificing? Yes. Yes you damn well can. Despite the fact that he's literally built to destroy, kill, and liberally use bullets, BT still radiates innocence throughout Titanfall 2: gingerly mimicking your thumbs up, not quite understanding sarcasm, that kind of thing. It's not just about following protocol for BT-7274: his dedication to protecting the Pilot makes us question whether there really is a difference between being programmed to save someone and having an emotional attachment to them that forces you to do exactly the same thing. There's not. That hunk of metal and bolts is the link between humans and technology, his empathy and tactical mind showcasing the best of both. Far from being just a vessel for destruction, BT-7274 shows the kind of unconditional selflessness that's usually reserved for family. But the biggest bit of proof that BT-7274 is a hero? When he says "Trust me," we do. It's that simple.  

25. Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog series) 

Sonic is a champion. He stands up for the little guy and frees the oppressed from the clutches of a genocidal maniac. He's eco-friendly, a natural leader, and uses his superspeed for altruism across space and time. Sonic doesn't even ask for anything in return, although he wouldn't say no to a chili dog or two. And above all, he always manages to keep such a positive outlook - the trait that no doubt inspired lifelong loyalty from Tails, Knuckles, and the whole gang of anthropomorphic animal pals. People may still debate Mario versus Sonic, but no matter where you stand, you have to agree that the blue blur deserves to be on this list. 

24. Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island series) 

Few video game heroes get their names botched as often as Guybrush Threepwood, but that doesn't stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a mighty pirate, nor risking his life to save his lady love. Making his video game debut in The Secret of Monkey Island, he didn't exactly make a good first impression with the governor Elaine, but he managed to win us (and her) over with his charm and youthful exuberance. He's not only an unlikely pirate, but also an unlikely hero. Through the series he's grown and matured, but we'll always remember him as the eager, young man with simple dreams, whose only goal was to become a swashbuckling pirate. 

23. Gordon Freeman (Half-Life series) 

How does a character without a single line of dialogue become so iconic? Easy. In Half-Life, and especially Half-Life 2, you don't play Gordon Freeman. Gordon Freeman plays you. That's the narrative genius of Valve's sequel. Among the fantastic characterization, the affecting writing, the brilliant performances, there's a very clever thread of pacing, thematic escalation, and carefully curated emotional stimulus that slowly, steadily encourages the player to imprint themselves upon Gordon completely. Never breaking from first-person, and barely ever taking away control, Half-Life 2 ensures that you experience every moment, from wide-eyed, terrified stranger in a strange land, to steadily empowered transgressor, to rebel and leader. This many years on, the game's structure and intensification represent a still-unbettered deftness and understanding of the player experience, creating in Freeman one of the most welcoming, receptive, and unobtrusive vessels for the player id ever put in an FPS.  

22. Bayek (Assassin's Creed Origins) 

What makes Bayek such a great character is his humanity. He's an actual person outside of his Assassin role - a father, a lover, a friend, and an adversary. As you explore ancient Egypt with Bayek, it becomes clear that he's part of the world, bumping into old buddies and sparking off against people he's had a grudge with in the past. His personal story is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and his wit and conversation adds a genuine warmth to almost every interaction. It all makes Assassin's Creed Origins feel like you're living Bayek's life, not just ticking off a series of fetch and carry quests, and Ubisoft deserves massive credit for that. 

21. Clementine (The Walking Dead series)  

Kids can be irritating, annoying, wonderful bundles of unexpected humanity and warmth. Clementine is all of those things. Yes, as a kid she's even annoying (remember her putting that bug on Duck's pillow? Very mature, Clem). Even before the zombie apocalypse really sunk in, she was a mature child, her time spent with Lee turning her into a moral compass for the foreseeable future. Clementine's greatest strength is that no matter how many times she sees those she loves die (and then rapidly reanimate), she still gets up each morning. Not that she spends her time picking flowers and trying to make everybody get along. Optimism for her doesn't mean that she sees the good in everyone. She's more inclined to be suspicious of newcomers, showing us a different kind of hero - one who perseveres for the right reasons, but not necessarily always in the right way.