You may be spoiled on a few big games while reading this! Fair warning!
Darth Vader (Star Wars Battlefront)
Darth Vader is one of the greatest movie villains of all time. He inspired fear in a generation of children and blew their minds with just a handful of words. His fall from grace is one of the best twists on mythic destiny to ever happen in film.
Whether you’re controlling him, fighting alongside him, or avoiding his lightsaber, there’s no denying the impact that Vader has, even on the gaming side of the Star Wars franchise. Playing as him, you feel like the deadliest person in the galaxy and ready to cut down anyone who stands in your way. Fighting with him, it feels like the tide of the battle is changing for the better. And against him, well…you better back away while firing your blaster. Unless you’re Luke Skywalker, in which case, time for a rematch.
Cortana (Halo 5)
Gaming is all about bonds, and the Halo games are defined by the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana. Over the past decade and a half, players have grown attached to their AI partner, and when she sacrificed herself to stop the Didact in Halo 4, fans were wondering if she actually was gone for good. Sure enough, she’s back in Halo 5, but not in the way people were hoping for.
All AI suffer from the seven stages of Rampancy, and when you first hear her voice again, she says that the Forerunner world Genesis has cured her. Which would sound like a good sell, if it weren’t for the fact that she’s activating powerful Guardians that wreck the planets they’re buried under. Even before you actually meet her in her new and improved form in the penultimate mission of the game, it’s clear that she’s more dangerous than she let on. Her fall from hero to villain is compelling, and it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in future games.
Mr. Jefferson (Life is Strange)
As kids, we’re taught that most teachers are our friends. That they’re people we can come to for anything, be it help with homework, or troubles at home. Anyone who’s willing to be a shoulder to cry on gets respect and admiration pretty quick, especially if they’ve already got a reputation for being a nice person.
That’s what we get with Mr. Jefferson. He’s That Teacher, the cool guy who tells you to pursue your dreams and follow your heart, unlock your full potential. You can count on him, right? Especially if you’re a girl with an abusive family. Yeah, no. Jefferson’s a complete scumbag, kidnapping abused girls, raping them, and taking photos of them. But you wouldn’t know that based on how cool and laid back he is! He wouldn’t be responsible for at least 10 people dying! He can’t be a bad guy…right? Betrayals in games are nothing new, but the reveal of Jefferson was really well done. The reveal comes out of nowhere, hits you like a sucker punch, and makes you wonder if it was staring you in the face all along. Jefferson shows that villains don’t always have to have freaky eyes or claws, they can be someone who just pays attention to you.
The Joker (Batman: Arkham Knight)
The Joker is the most iconic Batman villain of all time, and he’s got one of the most fascinating relationships with his nemesis ever. When he died in Arkham City, a lot of fans were wondering if Rocksteady would actually commit to this, and they did, sort of. His role may not have been all that needed compared to the previous entries in Rocksteady’s gaming franchise, but there’s no denying that Mark Hamill’s excellent in the role.
The death of the Clown Prince of Crime in Arkham City doesn’t stop him from coming back through Batman’s slowly corrupted mind, and he’s having a blast torturing you over the course of the game. Whether its hellish nightmares of what could be, reminding him of some of his greatest failures in life, or taking Batman’s body for a violent joyride, Joker’s final appearance adds some dark humor to the grimness of this final Batman outing.
The Wendigos (Until Dawn)
Nobody really knew what to expect when Until Dawn rolled out. All that was known was that it’d be about 8 people trying to not die in a horror movie setup, but we weren’t sure what the whole deal was going to be. In come the Wendigos.
Their origin is shrouded in a Native American curse and miners from the 1950s going feral as a result. Their real terror comes in their hunter mentality, tracking down their prey solo and mimicking the voice of whoever they hear. These things are sadistic killers, gouging out their victims’ eyes instead of just merely hacking them to death with their claws. If you see one, don’t run–stand still. Every horror movie needs a good villain, and with the Wendigos, Until Dawn has one you’ll dread having to play against.
D’Vorrah (Mortal Kombat X, Gaming’s Creepiest Baddie)
Fighting games have to include new characters with each installment, and Netherrealm struck gold when they added new characters to Mortal Kombat X. While there are plenty of old villains like Shinnok and Mileena for long time fans to love, it’s new baddies like D’Vorrah who steal the show.
While she’s fantastic in the story mode, her true calling comes when you get to control her in the online gaming modes. From her creepy appearance to her layered voiced, the insect woman just screams “creepy” from the moment you meet her. Bugs are creepy already, but a woman made of bugs? Yeah, that’s fucking gross. Her array of moves like pincers coming out of her back or releasing a swarm of wasps from her hands just make you dread having to go up against her. Plus, y’know, she gets to first base with people and causes their faces to get consumed by her mouth maggots. *shudders*
Oryx (Destiny: The Taken King)
Like movies and comics, gaming demands a great villain, and this is something that Destiny was lacking. Sure, there were the Vex, Cabal, and Hive, but they didn’t feel threatening in a story context. Their numbers were numerous during gameplay, but the story never really supported the claims that these were soldiers of The Darkness. That all changes when you’re finally introduced to Oryx.
You killed his son, not to mention hundreds of thousands of his kind during playtime. If you thought Crota was bad, his dad Oryx is even worse, and he’s pissed at the Guardians. A giant, three-eyed bat god with a huge sword would be scary, but being able to control enemies for his own personal army makes him downright terrifying. There’s an undercurrent of darkness throughout the whole Taken King campaign, one that feels very real thanks to frequent appearances by the titular villain before the final face off. That, combined with his first display of power–killing Queen Mara Sov, wiping out her Awoken fleet, and creating a permanent hole in the ring of Saturn–make Oryx a threat you don’t want to mess with.
As the first Hunter in the Bloodborne mythology, players have a certain attachment to Gherman. After all, he gives them advice, trains them, shows them what they could be with hard work…and lots and lots of dying. To have him help you uncover the mystery of this dark world is some welcome assistance.
Until you get to the end and learn that it’s him behind everything going on in this hellish nightmare. The only way he can free you is to kill you, or you can try to take him on and see that he’s more than just a guy in a wheelchair. His role as the guardian of the Great One makes you wonder if you’re truly the hero you think you are. Maybe the Great One is doing the right thing in sending these creatures out to kill you? It’s open to interpretation, but there’s no denying how great of an ally turned enemy that Gherman is. And man, is he a pain to fight.
Gaunter O’Dimm (Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone)
The main antagonist of The Witcher 3’s first expansion looks like a normal guy, and that’s the point. He is That Guy that you’d pass by on the street and pay no attention to; no one would blame you if you saw Gaunter just hanging around in cutscenes and just thought him a random NPC you’d see while gaming, no big deal. But he’s much more than what you’re expecting.
Turns out, good ol’ Gaunter has the power to do basically anything and grant wishes to whoever asked. Sounds cool, right? Except for the part where he’s a human Monkey’s Paw and the wishes he grants don’t work out well for whoever came to him. It’s all a game to Gaunter, but don’t break his rules, or he’ll break your face. His unpredictable nature makes him a formidable foe for Geralt. You just have to pick him out of a crowd first…
Gaming used to be all about murder and violence, but other games these days try to get you to take a break from murdering everything in sight. Toby Fox’s Undertale is one such game, showing you that you can end a battle with no bloodshed and everyone gets to keep all their limbs. While some people go this route, others are less inclined and decide to slaughter everything in sight. Like you, for instance.
You, yes you. You monster. These people showed you that there’s more to life than ending everyone who looks at you funny, and this is how you repay them? By getting tempted by Chara, by murdering Flowey? What the heck is wrong with you?!
Seriously, dude…you done screwed up.
Who were your favorite gaming villains of 2015? Let us know in the comments below.