They’ve haunted your dreams, you’ve fought them across time and space, they killed your parents (or dog, wife, siblings, best friend, etc.) and victory over them tasted ever so sweet. We’re talking about villains. Every great story needs an obstacle to overcome, and what an obstacle these guys were. This year was a great year for games and the baddies were the baddest they’ve been in a long time.
We’ve narrowed the list down to the three worst and most criminal scallywags that this year had to offer. Some of them followed the traditional villain archetype and some of them broke the mold, but all of them were incredibly fun to fight against and were part of what made their respective games something special.
1. Obergruppenführer Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse, Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order revitalized the series after the letdown of 2009’s mediocre Wolfenstein. A key component of what made the game so great was General Deathshead and his portrayal of the stereotypical “evil Nazi scientist” trope. During the first mission in the game, Deathshead making you choose between your two fellow soldiers, which one lives and which one dies, and his subsequent vivisection of the loser in front of your eyes, established just how dangerously insane he was, and also gave a weird feeling of complicity in the murder of your friend.
After waking up from his shrapnel-induced coma in the 1960’s, B. J. Blazkowicz’s only driving force is to kill Deathshead for his transgressions against humanity. That opening scene was so effective at provoking a feeling of vengeance in players that General Deathshead doesn’t even need to be seen until the end of the game. Although you’ll hear his voice in propaganda broadcasts, we consider him to be iconic in that Blazkowicz goes 24 years without a conversation with the General and somehow the narrative still makes their conflict very palpable. This, in addition to his perfect simplicity as a villain (he’s just evil, we don’t have to talk about his childhood, or how the war made him the way he is,) makes him our #1 — he distills all that is villainous and executes it to perfection.
2. The Uruk, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Most games have a very static relationship between the hero and the villain, but Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes things to the next level with the Uruk. The “nemesis” system in Shadow of Mordor spawns randomly-named enemies as a part of Sauron’s Army. With every new playthrough, you’ll find your own nemesis outfitted with its own personality and will climb the social ranks in-game as you progress — thus, the Uruk. Not only do you have to contend with orcs who want to kill you, but your actions in-game directly affect them as well! And the worst part? They keep coming back, unless you dispose of them in the correct way, that is. Talk about having a bone to pick with Talion. These guys are no joke, and that’s what landed them on this list.
3. The Alien, Alien: Isolation
In space, no one can hear you scream. It’s the same with video games. Didn’t you know? The xenomorph of Alien: Isolation is aware of your every move as you creep along in-game. It’s aware of your patterns, just as you’ll become acclimated to its breathing, screams, and footsteps against the many vents you’ll be forced to travel over. Alien: Isolation is a deadly cat-and-mouse game that unfolds across each level like a macabre ballet, and it’s all due to the bloodthirsty monster that is be tracking you down every step of the way. If you want an experience true to the movies, you’ve got it. If you want vicious, look no further than this lumbering beast, who made many a gamer wet their pants this year.
Which games featured your favorite villainous scum this year? Who did you love to hate? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t be afraid to get a little grimy. They’d probably like it that way.