A handful of video games offer up great AI companions that help the main character, the playable character, on his or her journey. It really takes something special to make a companion that is memorable, helpful, worthwhile, and charming enough to deserve recognition. Almost every game includes AI non-playable characters, but few feature truly amazing companions.
RPG’s such as the Mass Effect trilogy and the Dragon Age series feature such companions, but they come in bulk. In this post I’d like to highlight five individual companions that stand out among all others in the game they are featured in. Companions that shine with their playable counterparts and make their games that much better. These five characters are memorable and helpful, all of them possess charm and wit, and they are entirely worthwhile. Mind you, the characters below are featured in no particular order.
Ellie (The Last of Us)
While players do get the chance to play as Ellie later on in The Last of Us storyline, she remains a faithful companion to the games main character, Joel, throughout most of the game. When Joel first comes across Ellie he sees her as a hassle, someone who is likely to be more trouble that they are worth. Considering that he didn’t know her at the time and the fact that she is a 14-year-old, he had a point. Ellie quickly disproves his notions and stands up tall as a willing and able young girl who isn’t afraid of the world ahead of her. Ellie was born into the dystopian world featured in The Last of Us, she never knew a time when there wasn’t an infection plaguing the world. She grew up fast and she grew up tough, speaking her mind and proving to be very useful in combat or sticky situations. Ellie is a prominent companion, and one that should definitely never be overlooked.
Cortana (Halo Series)
Cortana is an artificial intelligence that guides Master Chief throughout the Halo series. She provides tactical information and back story to Master Chief (ie the player) and eventually becomes more of a companion and less of a program to him as the game series progresses. Cortana develops from an artificial intelligence to a legitimate friend to Master Chief. She has the ability to learn and adapt to any situation presented, making her more than helpful in combat scenarios. Since she is an AI, players cannot play as her or assume her role at any point in the series, but she definitely does a great job of making her presence and influence known regardless. Cortana is one of the most memorable companions to one of the most memorable video game characters of all time, if anyone deserves recognition it’s her.
Elika (Prince of Persia)
Elika is the young princess who the Prince must guide in Prince of Persia, though she is no damsel in distress. Elika is endowed with mystical powers and throughout the game she uses them to help the Prince in combat, as well as save his life. Only her power can save the kingdom in which she lives from an evil entity and it’s minions, and while the Prince is the playable character in the game she is the heart of it. Aside from being smart and strong, she is incredibly skilled in combat, using beautiful flourishes of power mixed with the Prince’s swordplay. Elika also keeps the Prince from dying in the game by catching him if he falls from heights or restoring him if he falls in combat. She is incredibly useful and holds a major role within the game’s storyline and gameplay mechanics. Elika is worthy of note for her skills and wits paired the ability to hold her own and save the Prince for a change.
Tripitaka (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West)
Tripitaka (or Trip for short) is a companion to Monkey, the playable character in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Trip, being a brilliant tech specialist, finds a way to enslave Monkey by hacking a headband and placing him into a controlled state. The headband allows her to cause him pain or kill him if she deems in necessary and she uses it to force him into taking her to her home village. As their relationship develops Trip guides Monkey to their destination, allowing him to do the fighting along the way. Trip is not entirely incapable of helping herself though, she may not be one for heavy lifting or hand-to-hand combat but she is skilled enough to make any electronic device bend to her will. She assists Monkey through creating distractions and upgrading his stats by manipulating his headband. While Trip may seem helpless at times she exhibits human nature and proves to be a welcome companion throughout the game.
Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite)
Elizabeth is the secondary main character of Bioshock Infinite and companion to the game’s playable character Booker DeWitt. In the game, Booker must retrieve Elizabeth from a floating city in the sky called Columbia and bring her back to New York City. What appears to be a classic damsel in distress/grab-and-go mission for Booker turns into something far more complicated and immersive than he ever could have imagined. Once Booker rescues Elizabeth, he realizes she is far from your average princess locked away in the tower. She is cunning, smart, and motivated with a knack for helping Booker in tight spots. In combat Elizabeth will scrounge around the area for supplies such as ammo, health kits, and salts, throwing them to Booker as he needs them. She also has the power to open tears in the universe, making cover and weapons available to Booker. Elizabeth is an outstanding character and a better companion, not backing down from daunting situations and feeling the weight of her actions as a human being.
These five talented ladies really prove that, while they may not always be playable characters, they will stand out just as much as the ones that are. They exhibit intelligence and helpfulness along with a compassionate bond that makes you never want to play a game alone again. For this article I picked companions that stood out in their games, which is why some of the more obvious characters (such as Garrus or Lydia) didn’t make the cut. While I do love the characters from the Mass Effect series and Skyrim, I felt that it was unfair to put just one or two if I wasn’t going to add the whole bunch, so I narrowed it down. A few other runner-ups include Elena and Sully from the Uncharted series and Zeke from the InFAMOUS games. I hope you enjoyed this list, be sure to share who your favorite companions are in the comment section below!