The 15 burliest beefcakes in Xbox history

Video game characters are typically 'larger than life', though some take this ideal to extremes and turn the heft-o-meter all the way up to eleven. From deliciously plump to grotesquely hench, here are 15 of the huskiest heroes to ever grace an Xbox with their vast, inconceivable bulk.

15. The Iron Bull – Dragon Age: Inquisition

Never satisfied with the ordinary, BioWare is great at doing complex big guys. The Iron Bull is a grand example. At first he’s terrifying – the sort of team member you’re reluctant to recruit in case he trips over in Skyhold and accidentally knocks down a turret. But get to know him and he’s a fascinating companion with a complex, engaging storyline. He’s also deliciously open minded, so you get to ‘ride the bull’ regardless of your gender, which makes sleeping with him sound like a fairground ride of pheromones and broken bones. Which is about right.

14. Roadhog – Overwatch

Roadhog is a veritable mountain of flesh. He can tank reasonably well, but is put to better use yanking out crucial enemy heroes with his whopping great hook. Because the only thing worse than being skewered by an airborne sickle is being dragged uncomfortably close to a man who cleans himself with a rag on a stick. There are a few hints to suggest he’s a Kiwi, rather than an Australian – not that it makes much difference, as he probably intends to kill you whether or not you misidentify his accent. Hurrah!

13. Eddie Riggs – Brütal Legend

Eddie’s not the biggest guy on this list, but he wins hunk points for having stubble like iron fillings, a massive axe – burliest of all the weapons – and the ability to fix anything mechanical. Fixing stuff, as everyone knows, immediately grants you +10 machismo. The star of Tim Schafer’s heavy metal-themed action game, Eddie is a roadie (another +5 machismo) who reluctantly inherits the task of saving the world. He’s also voiced, with surprising nuance, by Jack Black, which is enough for everyone to want another Brütal Legend game despite it just being okay.

12. Brick – Borderlands

You have to be tough to exist in the gun-obsessed world of Borderlands and rely upon your fists rather than an elaborate shooter. Brick is the proof. While he’s handy enough with rocket launchers and shotguns, he’s most potent with his weapon holstered and his gloves raised. As if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about him, one of his dislikes is apparently ‘things that don’t explode when punched.’ Think about the process for discovering that, then resolve to avoid Brick at all costs.

11. The Heavy – Team Fortress 2

The Heavy from Team Fortress 2 is the sort of big guy that you love seeing on your own team, but who will fill you with dread in you’re facing off against him. So a bully, then. A big, terrible bully. He carries a minigun, which shoots about $50,000-worth of bullets every second, and moves at the speed of a dragged cabinet – both staples of the brutishly huge. How did he get so big? The humble sandwich, apparently. We don’t know what you could possibly put between two pieces of bread to get this big, but it’s obviously working.

10. Double H – Beyond Good & Evil

Double H is heroic, anvil-jawed, and dim but well-meaning. He remains dedicated to Jade from the moment they meet in Beyond Good & Evil, and forms the perfect foil to her challenging, anti-establishment attitude. Proof of his burliness – apart from the fact he’s huge – comes from his bull rush ability, which he uses to clear obstacles using his head. It’s a charming display of a self-destructive loyalty which also explains why he’s no longer capable of independent thought.

9. Black Whirlwind – Jade Empire

It’s a staple of every martial arts film that one of the characters has to be huge with terrible manners, and Jade Empire recreates this trope brilliantly. Black Whirlwind is a huge, legendary brawler, with the all the social graces of a toad. He’s so immeasurably dim that he has no concept of his own limitations – a disaster if you want him to perform a task requiring nuance or modesty – but perfect if you want him to single-handedly hold off an entire army. Good news, considering that’s exactly what you have to do when you finally get to control him.

8. Barry Burton – Resident Evil

Barry is the feckless uncle of the S.T.A.R.S team, complete with unfashionable fishing gilet and horribly timed jokes. (After his teammate almost suffers an agonising death by crushing: ‘You were almost a Jill sandwich!’) In the first hour of Resident Evil alone, Barry asks ‘what is it?’ no less than five times. He’s more capable these days – the beard has thinned and the paunch lessened – but ol’ Barry is still a special forces sausage roll. He deserves a place on this list if only because he makes us feel like even we could get into S.T.A.R.S.

7. Tusk – Killer Instinct

Prospective parents take note: calling your child ‘Tusk’ only works if they grow into a hulking, hirsute barbarian who makes Thor look like a sugar sculpture. Luckily, that’s exactly how it turned out for this ancient warrior from Killer Instinct, although strictly speaking his name is Tunth-ska (which is equally threatening, to be honest). Some bad news for anyone looking to ride the Tusk train to romanceville, however: as an immortal warrior who’s lived on Earth for tens of thousands of years, human life now feels fleeting when set against his existence of endless combat. *Swipes left*

6. Executioner Smough – Dark Souls

There’s a degree of speculation here, since Smough is entirely encased in fat-man armour. You can’t even tell which bit is his actual head (there are at least three bits that could be his eye holes, and it’s almost certainly not the bit with the human face). But it’s a fair assumption that anyone who wields a hammer the size of a hippo can probably bench press a bit. He doesn’t even need the hammer – his vast ass is enough. Ask anyone who finished off Ornstein first, only to be pulped under Smough’s unspeakably threatening buttocks.

5. Hammer – Fable 2

Who says only boys can be burly? Maybe the dictionary, but let’s ignore that for now. Hammer from Fable 2 – or Hannah, to use her real name – is a brilliant example of a big guy who’s actually a girl. She’s the Hero of Strength, for starters. You can’t argue with that. And as you may have already guessed from the name, she swings a gigantic stone hammer which she ripped straight off a statue. Hammers are inherently burly – why stab when you can crush? – but being named after one you stole from a graven image is even more impressive.

4. Jorge-052 – Halo: Reach

Alright. Technically speaking, all the Spartans are burly – but Jorge-052 embodies everything you want in a stereotypical big guy. At 7’4” and 320lbs, he’s the biggest unit in Halo: Reach’s Noble team and, at the risk of making him sound like a monstrous turkey, he comes with all the associated trimmings. He’s the heavy weapons specialist – standard video game practice – but he’s also a gentle giant. Because if being massive teaches you anything, it’s that it’s perilously easy to crush all the things you love.

3. Zaalbar – KOTOR

Everyone has a friend like Zaalbar. Not just seven feet tall, illiterate and furious, but someone you like who comes packaged with someone you like slightly less. In Zaalbar’s case, it’s the relentlessly chipper Twi’lek known as Mission Vao. We still can’t resist forcing Zaalbar to murder her when the chance arises in KOTOR, forcing him to honour the life debt he owes Revan. In terms of Sith-level, Dark Side evil, it’s right up there with leaving the little plastic top from the milk on the kitchen work surface instead of throwing it away. But what’s the point of having a Wookie who owes you a life debt if you’re not going to use it? Dance for me, Big Z. Dance!

2. Zangief – Street Fighter 4

There are bigger Street Fighter characters – Rufus is heavier and the mighty Hugo dwarfs ’Gief – but there’s more to being burly than simple mass. It’s about being burly inside. We don’t mean literally (although Zangief probably has hairs on his lungs), but the state of being that denotes unwavering dedication to largeness. Simply put, The Red Cyclone is testosterone shaped like a man. He fights bears wearing only his underpants. Hell, even his beard can probably lift. With other big characters, their size feels incidental, but Zangief’s iron body is defined by it. A marvel of creatine and crunches.

1. Augustus ‘Cole Train’ Cole – Gears of War

Picking the beefiest character in Gears of War is like picking the right kind of anvil to squash a vole. Just look at them. They’re all overqualified for the job. The Gears aren’t so much people as muscles gifted the power of semi-independent thought. But even so, Augustus ‘Cole Train’ Cole makes his teammates look like hipster cereal poets.

He’s a former thrashball player, which sounds like a more violent version of American football because it is, and has rejected promotion throughout his career because the only thing he wants to do is kill Locust. He’s the big guy on a team entirely composed of big guys, but it’s his relentless, violent cheerfulness that truly marks him out as the best burly boy of all.

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

Matt Elliott
Matt is GamesRadar's senior commissioning editor. His ideal game would be a turn-based beat 'em up set in Lordran, starring Professor Layton and Nico from Broken Sword. There would also be catapults and romance.