Companions. They are the friends that have our back, the party members who heal and protect us, and the mages who ensure we can always exploit an elemental weakness.
Role-playing games are long, sometimes arduous journeys, and it's never fun to go off on those undertakings alone. The role of your party members has expanded from the days of Red Mage or Warrior to being characters that have dialog, special quests, loyalty, and even romance. You know, companions.
With BioWare's recent concept art drop for the upcoming Dragon Age, I was reminded of how the companions we take with us shape our journeys and make them so memorable. (Sometimes for the wrong reasons, Solas.) So I thought I'd ask: who's your favorite companion?
Axe of the Blood God listeners know that I'm enormously fond of Final Fantasy 8, and that my one of my all-time favorite characters is Selphie. Boundlessly bubbly with her yellow dress and unique hairstyle, she wields nunchucks and is capable of killing even powerful bosses in a single hit with her Limit Break. She leads the Balamb Garden Festival Committee, runs the school website, and is generally there to lighten the mood. Some may find her irritating, but I always make sure to have her in my party. Otherwise who would be there to sing the train song?
Let's see, that's a hard question. Do I go with the more endearing, annoying, or sadistic? Or perhaps the ones I romance time and time again in BioWare titles? I'm going to throw one out at random and say Auron from Final Fantasy 10. Without going too deep into his awesome backstory, I just think he's such a striking figure in Final Fantasy lore overall, even if he's one that isn't repeated across games like Gilgamesh or Ifrit. He also captures that mix between fantasy, real-world historical, and modern aesthetics, something I feel like Final Fantasy should play around with more often.
There is only one answer and y'all know it. Garrus Vakarian starts out Mass Effect as just some disillusioned C-Sec officer with a penchant for breaking the rules. Interesting, but not groundbreaking, and certainly not the companion he is by the end of the trilogy.
By Mass Effect 3, Garrus is inseperable from Shepard. His time as Archangel, the questions he has to answer for himself, and the journeys onboard the Normandy are critical to developing your own version of Shepard. He is the ultimate sniper pal, the Turian with reach, and the companion I'd stare down any galaxy-ending scenario alongside.
In a very close second place though, I have to shout out Kim Kitsuragi, the perfect foil to an absolute disaster of a human being. I'm not sure Disco Elysium's many choices and branching paths, or even personal revelations, would have landed as hard without Kim.
Super Mario RPG was one of the very first RPGs I ever played, and as such Mallow will always occupy a very special place in my heart. There's a part of me that still hopes we'll see him (and Geno!) return in some kind of proper sequel or spin-off someday, but with each Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi game—they're great, don't get me wrong—that seems more and more like a remote possibility. Just tell me my cloud prince buddy's doing okay!
My favorite companion is Jollibee, my Chocobo in Final Fantasy 14. See, not only do you ride Chocobos in FF 14, but your faithful mount can also fight beside you. And if you train up your 'bo properly, you can wind up with a hell of a powerhouse. I've spent a lot of time and in-game money, but now I have a rank 12 sidekick whose feathers I died blood-red so he looks all the more awesome when he kicks the living Jesus out of my enemies. I'm also training him to tank and heal. When a mob sets upon me, Jollibee becomes my best friend and my lifeline. We're bros. We're totally bros.