#1 Edited by Animasta (14719 posts) -

Okay, so, my favorite character in a video game is PROBABLY Nier from, well, Nier, but he doesn't really change much from the beginning to the end of the game. So I wondered who had the best character development...

(put all spoilers in tags, if you would)

Mine, just from thinking about it for 10 minutes, is probably Dan from Binary Domain? It was a little hamfisted, but his interaction with Cain and then when Faye turns out to be a hybrid, he has learned that robots can be people too, but it was done subtly and I really appreciated it. It reminded me of the first book with Olivaw and Daneel from Asimov's robot detective series.

Alternatively Lightning from Final Fantasy 13, but that's more of a joke answer considering how 13 starts and how 13-2 ends:

13 start: she's a fantasy cop.

13-2 end: she is basically a god

I just think it's really funny I don't know

Online
#2 Edited by Sploder (917 posts) -

First thing that springs to mind is how Altair developed throughout the course of the first Assassin's Creed. It was really deftly done and probably one of my favourite things about that game.

#3 Posted by Daneian (1251 posts) -

I tend to not recognize too much with characters that greatly develop ofver a narrative. I tend to connect more with characters that know who they are, what they want and what they need to do. See Shepard, James Bond, Geralt of Rivia and Spike motherfuckin' Spiegel.

#4 Edited by connerthekewlkid (1843 posts) -

I do remember how in Lost Odyssey that the main villain at first seemed like a scheming under the shadows guy, but by the end was just a raving lunatic who had destroyed half the planet and wanted to conquer the rest, which I almost like in a way.

#5 Posted by mwng (955 posts) -

I enjoyed how Aigis in Persona 3 was handled in terms of development.

Though I suppose robot trying to be human is a pretty easy get out when it comes to development.

#6 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19388 posts) -

Won't say best, but Neku from The World Ends With You goes through a very notable, important character change throughout the course of that game and fits right in with the main theme of the game.

Phoenix Wright from the first Ace Attorney trilogy also evolves as a character. From a bumbling, nervous attorney who lacks confidence in himself in the first game to a force to be reckoned with in the third game.

#7 Edited by Cold_Wolven (2295 posts) -

On the top of my head the first character I thought of was Groose from LoZ: Skyward Sword, when he's first introduced he acts like the tough gang leader picking on Link but then something happens over the course of events that dampens his pride and so he instead puts his engineering skills to work and builds the rail system to help Link defeat the giant monster. There's probably better character developments that I can't think of right now but that one stands out as how I felt about his character changed by the end of the game.

#8 Posted by SunBroZak (1350 posts) -

@sploder said:

First thing that springs to mind is how Altair developed throughout the course of the first Assassin's Creed. It was really deftly done and probably one of my favourite things about that game.

Interesting that you said Altair. I felt Ezio was a better character, and a good example of strong character development. Watching him grow from troublemaker young adult, to old and wise master assassin was really powerful.

It was harder than I thought, coming up with good examples. There's a lot of well designed characters out there but not many go through what I would consider meaningful development. John Marston (Red Dead Redemption) for example is a believable character but he doesn't really so much change in how he acts by the end of the game. We just see more layers to that character. So yeah, notable examples (in my opinion) would be Cole MacGrath from Infamous, Ezio from Assassin's Creed and Martin Walker from Spec Ops: The Line.

#9 Posted by Jojojimmeny (60 posts) -

I definitely have to agree with this:

@sploder said:

First thing that springs to mind is how Altair developed throughout the course of the first Assassin's Creed. It was really deftly done and probably one of my favourite things about that game.

I also quite liked the way Ezio developed throughout AC2, but his transformation was kind of forced upon him due to the early events of that story, whereas with Altair it felt like a much more natural evolution.

#10 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Damn it. There are just so many to choose from. It's like choosing which of my children is favorite if I was a slutty queen ant.

#11 Posted by GIyn (202 posts) -

Master Chief

#12 Edited by Laiv162560asse (487 posts) -

Interesting question. Planescape is a bit of a cop-out, default answer in any game discussion about writing but I'll give my vote for The Nameless One anyway. As TNO, you're not only given insight into your own past, but also a host of different personalities who comprise the person you've lived as. You can choose your own motivations, you can choose which of your past incarnations you most sympathise with, and you can decide which aspects of TNO's personality most shape your incarnation in the present day. These choices form a naturally developing character arc as you're exposed to more info about yourself and your situation. Granted, some/much of it takes the form of dialogue choices that have zero to little impact on the game world, like 'my motivation is [pick from list of motivations]', but at least that list is there and it's extensive.

Damn, I've been racking my brains to come up with a second choice and it's a tougher question than I realised. I thought there would be a wealth of stuff to choose from but there really isn't. Uh, maybe Dak'kon from Planescape also? Guy rules.

@daneian: Actually I quite like Geralt's implied arc, moreso in the first Witcher than TW2. He starts off feeling like a bit of a man out of his time, a monster hunter in an age where people don't really need them, since religious fanatics and scientific obsessives will kill monsters for free. He agonises over the moral justification for killing humans when, down to his very genes, he is a creature designed to protect humans. This leads him to wonder whether or not certain humans can be figuratively called monsters and therefore legitimately become his targets. He stresses over his sterility and wonders whether or not he should try to settle down and be a family man in spite of it.

Of course, regardless of what happens, he ends up in the same place at the start of TW2 so that all went out the window. Regardless, I like that it was injected into many of his convos in TW1.

#13 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@animasta: I actually like Lightning's development. Yeah, it has a crazy jump in there, but you actually see her growth overtime from being overprotective of Serah and cold toward her allies to having honest respect for them and being accepting of the idea of Snow as Serah's fiance. And then she gets thrust into a crazy different situation because of Etro and she's forced to adapt. I'm really, honestly curious to see where and how she ends up at the end of Lightning Returns.

Otherwise, my first answer would probably be Lenneth from Valkyrie Profile. The way that the game handles her development is kind of bizarre and convoluted; you can go through the game from start to finish and not actually see her develop one bit. You have to jump through like twenty-seven hoops to unlock the path for the best ending, and its that path that actually allows her development from Odin's toolbox to goddess of creation. And even those twenty-seven things you have to do actually play into her development, as it all involves having to find that even split between following Odin and Freya's orders and allowing Lenneth to follow her own path.

#14 Posted by TheHT (11781 posts) -

The best example I've seen is probably Walker from Spec Ops The Line, but most of the other good ones I can think of are across games, rather than just within one. Hal Emmerich, Ezio, Liara T'Soni, Raiden, Max Payne, etc.

My favourite has got to be 47. Sure, the dude goes from cold killer to even colder killer, but the snippets of conscience as he comes to terms with what he is has always stood out to make him far more interesting than I ever would have thought.

Would games where you're making choices that change character development count? Walking Dead for example is mostly character development, and damn good stuff too, but does that variability but it in some grey zone? Because holy shit Kenny changed a lot over that season. My Shepard changed across that trilogy too.

Man, this question kinda racked my mind. I need to play more RPGs or something.

#15 Posted by TobbRobb (4841 posts) -

Asura goes from being pretty fucking pissed to REALLY GODDAMN FUCKING RAGING!

And that is all the character development I wanted. 10/10

#16 Posted by CreepyUncleBrad (176 posts) -

Ezio springs to mind, however I felt like they sort of undid it in Brotherhood. (Never played Revelations)

#17 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@hailinel: oh sure, but if you look at it from an angle where you haven't played the games, it's fucking ridiculous and also really funny.

@theht I kinda don't think so... at least with as many decisions you make as Lee or someone similar (such as Shepard, Thornton from AP, even Hawke). but then you're talking about Kenny, which I'd say counts. You may be making decisions to impact yourself, and other characters, but you don't necessarily know how that's going to impact other characters as much as yourself.

Online
#18 Edited by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@animasta: You could say the same about a lot of things where you don't know the details. The characters and plot of Nier can sound bugfuck stupid if you don't include all of the details.

#19 Edited by Daneian (1251 posts) -

@laivasse said:

@daneian: Actually I quite like Geralt's implied arc, moreso in the first Witcher than TW2. He starts off feeling like a bit of a man out of his time, a monster hunter in an age where people don't really need them, since religious fanatics and scientific obsessives will kill monsters for free. He agonises over the moral justification for killing humans when, down to his very genes, he is a creature designed to protect humans. This leads him to wonder whether or not certain humans can be figuratively called monsters and therefore legitimately become his targets. He stresses over his sterility and wonders whether or not he should try to settle down and be a family man in spite of it.

Of course, regardless of what happens, he ends up in the same place at the start of TW2 so that all went out the window. Regardless, I like that it was injected into many of his convos in TW1.

I think it could be argued that conflicting stances, desires and morals can be characteristics of a largely static character as long as their actions remain consistent to them. Batman is another great example. He's conflicted, but knows what he wants and what he fights for.

Now that I think about it, I guess it really depends on the type of development the character I'm watching is going through. I may have a tendency to associate character development with the process of becoming self aware and forming their own identity, which is hardly the only type. I have very little interest in characters who are on the path of individual discovery because they end up feeling like a kind of coming of age who have yet to mature in some way.

@tobbrobb: Asura's Wrath is a great example because his arc is about understanding why he's so angry, a fact that both he and the audience discover together. Thank you for reminding me that i need to play that again. I love that damn game.

#20 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

The best character development in the history of video games is Sonic the Hedgehog. At first he was a two dimensional character that didn't have any ambitions other than running to the right and jumping occasionally. But over the years he's started talking a lot, had interspecies sexual relations, and he's made some really cool friends. One time he even became a werewolf!

A true renaissance man. Or hedgehog.

#21 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6143 posts) -

Delita is the objective best; sister gets murdered and he becomes a super ambitious mastermind who manipulates everything to his own advantage and wins, what a guy. Albedo's arc is pretty great as well; as is Lukav's from Front Mission 3.

#22 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5818 posts) -

Probably the cast from Persona 3. I like how at first everyone is sort of distant from each other, and then a few months later everyone is eating or studying together downstairs every night.

I'm not gonna lie, I was genuinely sad for a couple of days after I finished the game and had to say goodbye to those characters.

#23 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4701 posts) -

The main cast of Persona 4. As individuals and as a group. Bonus points for linking character growth in the story with growth in the gameplay as well.

#24 Posted by Slag (4864 posts) -

Not sure I really have one

but if I have to pick one I'd say John Marston from Red Dead Redemption. His VA/MOCAP actor, Rob Wiethoff did amazing work bringing real depth to his character. He felt genuine to me in a way no character really has before or since.

#25 Posted by JeanLuc (3608 posts) -

I really like Liara T'Soni's development throughout the whole Mass Effect trilogy. When you first meet her she's basically an anti-social nerd that's more interesting in digging up ruins then interacting with people. By the 3rd game she's the most powerful information broker in the galaxy. Really broke out of her shell with that one.

#26 Posted by mrfluke (5341 posts) -

ill probably go ezio (but i guess thats not fair since he had 3 games)

and asura from asuras wrath, very beginning of that game he came off as the very stereotypical japanese god of war, but at the end of that game once you realize whats going on, your cheering right along with him when your getting the revenge.

#27 Posted by Turtlebird95 (2609 posts) -

I'm not sure if it's my favorite but I'm just gonna go with either Niko Bellic or John Marston. Damn you Rockstar.

#28 Posted by Quarters (1861 posts) -

I really like the character development of most of the main cast of Metal Gear. Solid Snake in particular I enjoy, especially the arc he goes through in MGS4. His ending was a pretty powerful one for me thematically.

I actually like how Isaac develops throughout the Dead Space games. His struggles with his sanity and stuff I feel come off really well, and I like the stuff with him and Ellie and how it has evolved.

I've always had a soft spot for Squall from FFVIII. For some reason, his transformation felt more real to me than a lot of his contemporaries from FF as well as other RPGs.

Also have to give a shout out to Garrus from Mass Effect. Seeing his transformation from edgy cop to the biggest bro in all of gaming was great.

#29 Posted by The_Ruiner (1139 posts) -

Tali over the course of Mass Effect 1 and 2. And Morrigan in Dragonage Origins, if you choose to interact and build a relationship with her she really feels like you've softened her cold heart just a little. Especially in the final moments of the game.

#30 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1819 posts) -

Luke form Tales of the Abyss springs to mind, even if the last third of the game kind of felt like it was dragging its feet. Heather's lack of development through Silent Hill 3 also sticks out to me, but it's a very good thing despite how it sounds.

#31 Posted by BeachThunder (12411 posts) -

Great question. The first thing that springs to mind for me is Beneath a Steel Sky.

#32 Edited by TheBluthCompany (423 posts) -

@immortalsaiyan: @fancysoapsman: Both of these are true. Also, I really like the Persona 3 Sun Social Link. That character was really well developed.

#33 Posted by Demoskinos (15143 posts) -

Its not even remotely a "good" development but I thought it was always pretty fun that Gloria in Devil May Cry 4 was actually Trish in Disguise the whole time.

I also thought Merril from Dragon Age 2 was a pretty interesting character because she has a good heart with good intentions and then ends up dabbling in some stuff that goes so sideways that it makes her a pariah among her people.

#34 Posted by Miyuki (177 posts) -

The Persona games kind of own this thread for me, especially characters like Kanji in Persona 4. I really loved the way that he came to terms with who he was and where his talents lay... not what I was expecting when they introduced the character.

#35 Posted by McGhee (6075 posts) -

Squall Leonhart comes to mind. Also Snow from FF13.

#36 Posted by HappyCoin (4 posts) -

Several people have mentioned Lightning's development in the FFXIII games, and even Snow, but no one has mentioned Hope's transformation from an extremely whiny and annoying teenager to an actually tolerable adult.

#37 Posted by NoMoreMutants (66 posts) -

All of the Mass Effect cast, specifically Mordin.

#38 Posted by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

max payne

#39 Edited by LackingSaint (1854 posts) -

This might be a weird one, but I think Jak in the Jak & Daxter trilogy (meaning not including any games past Jak 3) had a wonderful character arc. Across the three games, you really got this sense of progression to the character, and it reflected immensely in the design and look of each entry.

In the first game, everything's very simple and the world is bright and colourful, and it's never really in question who the good guys and the bad guys are. Reflective of that, Jak is a very simple kid with little reason to question much. In Jak 2, as Jak enters his mid-teen years, the world takes a very gritty turn and mechanically it has greater complexity (the addition of weapons, more vehicles, the board, Dark Jak, a wider variety of enemies); you start accepting missions from multiple sources, some of whom wind up stabbing you in the back. Then comes Jak 3, in which Jak becomes an adult. Pretty much everything in that game is reflective of age; you spend most of your time in a desert littered with ancient ruins, inhabited by dinosaurs. Mechanics continue to grow in complexity, the theme of responsibility becomes very apparent on Jak, it really ties up this feeling that it's a character's journey from childhood to teenage years to adulthood.

Maybe i'm overthinking it, but i've always felt it was a very interesting thing to think about, and as I went from a child to a teen playing those games it meant a lot to me.

For a more recent example, Ellie went from coming off as an obnoxious, uppity child-character to one of my favourites this year. I guess I just like the way Naughty Dog develops characters!

#40 Edited by konig_kei (669 posts) -

BIG BO!!!

He's big, black and likes the ladies. What's not to like?

#41 Posted by audioBusting (1672 posts) -

I like all the character arcs in Mother 3 and Psychonauts.