6. Capt. Martin Walker – Spec Ops: The Line
If you haven’t played Spec Ops: The Line, do it. Play it now, I’m serious. People who went into this game expecting a standard Modern Warfare-style shooter will have been surprised by one of the darkest and most captivating examples of video game storytelling in recent memory. The entire narrative of the game hinges on the actions of Captain Walker, and how they subsequently catalyse the gradual descent of his physical and mental well-being. To describe his character arc here would be too much of a spoiler – just play it. Trust me.
“The truth, Walker, is that you’re here because you wanted to feel like something you’re not; a hero.”
5. Ezio Auditore da Firenze – Assassin’s Creed II
Though my personal favourite game in the series was the swashbuckling pirate antics of Black Flag, it was Assassin’s Creed II that really struck gold with its protagonist. Seeing Ezio start off as a confident and playful young man, then develop and grow though trauma and hardship into a master assassin was an enthralling journey. To me, he is one of the finest examples of a character who is masculine yet also shows real emotion and passion for the people and principles he cares about. The compelling story and pure charm of Ezio carried him through three whole games, the only character of the series so far to be given direct sequels.
“I thought… I thought I was beyond this. But I’m not. I’ve waited too long, lost too much. Requiescat in Pace, you bastard.”