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A game is only as good as its villain/s

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This saying isn't always true of course but more often than not it is what takes the game from great to fantastic.

The most memorable villains for me in gaming were, without a doubt, Dagoth Ur from Morrowind and Sephiroth from FF7. In the case of Sephiroth, CDPR actually did a good job in The Witcher 3. What do these villains have in common (Sephy and Eredin)?

1) They both had good introductions into the narrative
2) You got to learn a lot about them, making it more personal
3) The narrative humanized them by showing their other qualities, their ambitions, their personalities, their goals/dreams
4) They both affected the player directly (good and bad)

In CP2077's "Corporate structure" A Dagoth Ur like villain might serve a better purpose though. Why? What made Dagoth Ur such a good villain?

1) Dagoth Ur had a seemingly impenetrable fortress as a base, established early (He lived in a friggin blight infested volcano fortress)
2) Seemingly untouchable. With an army protecting him, even the land (blight, Ash) protected him. This could be translated well into the corporate jungle in CP2077
3) Arrogant, hubris, demigodlike. A similar approach could go with CP2077

So where am I going with this?

Good villains can make or break games imo. And is almost as important, if not more, than our actual character. In a big game like CP2077 this doesen't need to be a singular person or organization, hell it SHOULDN'T be even. Lots of games also has really fleshed out and awesome "Penultimate villains". Take Sion from Knights Of The Old Republic. Also recurring villains that often escape and you have to chase down is a trope, sure. BUT... it is a very satisfying. Think Piety from Path of Exile, or Murdoc from the TV show MacGyver. Here you have villains you chase.

As with any good RPG, it would also be awesome if you had options to:

1) REDEEM a villain
2) Solve an issue with a villain (peace or NAP through diplomacy and other non violent means)
3) Lastly... I don't see this in many games. Last saw it in NWN where you could JOIN Mephistopholes! That was friggin awesome.

So to conclude. I'd like to hear what your favorite villains in games were? What made them the best villains? How Important are the Villains you face in a game for you?

I don't really doubt CDPR will deliver. If anything, hopefully this is a reminder to any devs reading this how much of a narrative importance good villains makes for a game. A non-memorable villain/s in a game for me personally, will always struggle to be more than mediocre.
 
3) The narrative humanized them by showing their other qualities, their ambitions, their personalities, their goals/dreams
I think this is the most important factor, games should avoid typecasting characters as villains (all the time), they need to be complex. If the character is good the player will enjoy learning more about them, the game shouldnt reveal too much at once. Hopefully the game makes the player feel conflicted about some characters and presents some difficult decisions that have to be made.
 
Eredin was not a great antagonist IMO specifically because it did not humanize him at all or attempt to explain his motives other than a few lines from other NPCs (Ciri and Avallach).

Gaunter O'Dim was a great antagonist though.
 
Can't really think of a villain at the moment, But in general I think they should have an agenda that make sense from their point of view to add complexity, so its more than just "I do evil things because im evil".
 
Agreed on all counts.

The better villains in RPG's have motives behind their actions. These motives and reasons may not line up with the moral compass of the player character but they should exist, be explored and, ideally, take time and in-game events occurring to become known to the player. Some of the examples provided in this thread did an exceptional job with the last part.

It really could be taken a step further. The antagonists don't necessarily need to be power hungry, damaged or "evil". They can fall into a moral grey area or perhaps even be justified in their actions (could be argued TTO from PS:T fits here). Perhaps they just happen to be on the wrong team, so to speak, and opposing the goals of the player character. CP likely has a lot of freedom to do something similar to this given the setting.

So yeah, an equal amount of thought, effort and story telling need to go into the antagonists as the player character.

Unfortunately, I'd have to disagree on Eredin. Effort and thought clearly went into him, as well as the wild hunt. I don't think he was a villain with a great deal of depth, however. He was essentially a prick through and through :). There was very little reveals on his motives, or evolution of his motives, as the game progressed. For the entire game it was basically catch Ciri to exploit her, like nearly every other antagonist, and enslave/conquer everything in his path (take out the white frost and he would have still probably taken this approach).
 
Eredin was crap. This is a good villain:

I agree that Letho was cool. However I wouldn't go as far as to say "Eredin was crap". His motivations were understandable : sacrificing Gerald's world to save his own by taking from Gerald what was the most precious person in his life which was Ciri
 
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Hi,
It really could be taken a step further. The antagonists don't necessarily need to be power hungry, damaged or "evil". They can fall into a moral grey area or perhaps even be justified in their actions (could be argued TTO from PS:T fits here). Perhaps they just happen to be on the wrong team, so to speak, and opposing the goals of the player character. CP likely has a lot of freedom to do something similar to this given the setting.
I think that this is good in overall, but it is also getting kinda cliche - or like... model for creating open world rpg.
Like - tutorial -> chapter 1 ->chapter 2 -> boss fight -> ending dependent on outcome of the boss fight. mix it all together... ba dum ts.. and call it AAA.

I would like to see something new.
Maybe "empty" ending, which would bring up controversy if it is really ending, and let the player find out that there is "no more main quest"...
Maybe it would be nice if the ending would be player realizing just who might be the villain (call it for CP 2078 :D)
Maybe some outro, which would somewhat sum player's playthrough with some ending - you know - it is the path what is important, not the end of it.
Or something completely new.

I am kinda tired of blasting ends with boss fights and final decisions, which ultimately overweight all the previous decisions.

For example, I think that in Witcher 3, Ciri-witcher or Ciri-queen were the best endings I have seen in a long long time. It just took time and was opened really nicely.
 
Other then psychos (and even then their justifications usually make sense to them if no one else) everyone has motivations they consider valid for their actions. Look at Thanos in "Infinity War", he was saving the universe from itself (we won't get into if that made any sense). A pretty classic case of "The needs of the many" (or half in his case).
 
This saying isn't always true of course
Yeah, it isn't. It relates more to storytelling (and there more specifically to movies and books).

A multifaceted and comprehensive gameplay is at the heart of games and RPG's, and it's that gameplay that can turn even a lousy story (and a vapid villain) into an enjoyable experience, but even good stories and awesome villains can be a chore to crawl through if the gameplay is bad and uninteresting.

That said... Here's one of the best villains I've encountered in games (well written and acted, not black and white, has a believable agenda, is smart enough understand his flaws, can be dealt with in a number of ways):

 
However I wouldn't go as far as to say "Eredin was crap". His motivations were understandable
How were they understandable? Based on his actions prior to the White Frost incidents, what makes it reasonable to assume he gave two shits about his own world? Eredin was a stereotypical villain. Compare and contrast his character to, say, Irenicus in BG, TTO in PS:T, Sephiroth in FF7, etc. Those characters had story and depth behind them. Eredin was like Kefka from FF6 (best insane antagonist ever, btw) without the comic relief. He was the bad guy because the story needed a bad guy. W3 did a lot right but Eredin wasn't one of those things.
 
Well, I guess we could argue about "the best (or more memorable) villain" until the sun swallows Earth, but since this is subjective a lot, I'd generally try to describe more general aspects.

But on that note, Dagoth Ur is among the memorable ones for me. There are surely a hand full of others, but also a lot of really cliché generic enemy antagonists.

The more cliché and generic, the worse in my book. The cheesier it would get. Or maybe even lackluster. If antagonists are more integrated into the story dynamically, explored, shown potential motivations or reasoning and MIGHT perhaps even be sided with, then that's more memorable to me on average.

I say on average intentionally though, there can be exceptions. Sometimes you just need a very dead-set antagonist that is clearly the antagonist and won't also be reasoned with.

And furthermore, we should also not ignore that not all antagonistic entities or forces need to be "personalized", like embodied in one single person that impedes your progress or leads the enemy faction.

Sometimes those people can be rather hidden in a plot, as background forces that command the forces that impede your progress in turn. This can sometimes work very well or better than a personalized cliché antagonist that you directly interact with. Think of a hidden hand that is only referenced at best, but you never see it directly or interact with it directly, other than reading up on it, seeing pictures, etc.

So an antagonist can also turn into a faction or group of people - or even ideology. Although it appears that if you present a personal villain, it can help many to focus on a plot more, or make it more dramatic perhaps.

After all, it all makes it more personal.

I could go on about my ideal imaginations and whatnot, but let's just say that a "generic enemy" is usually not helpful and that it is also something we likely won't see in CP2077.

Maybe it'll be more about factions and power, no huge super villain. Maybe we will see 'super villains' in terms of scope they go for. But I doubt they'll be cheesy and lackluster.
 
Yeah, it isn't. It relates more to storytelling (and there more specifically to movies and books).

A multifaceted and comprehensive gameplay is at the heart of games and RPG's, and it's that gameplay that can turn even a lousy story (and a vapid villain) into an enjoyable experience, but even good stories and awesome villains can be a chore to crawl through if the gameplay is bad and uninteresting.

That said... Here's one of the best villains I've encountered in games (well written and acted, not black and white, has a believable agenda, is smart enough understand his flaws, can be dealt with in a number of ways):

@BluPixel ?

I knew it.
 
My hope is that the game will have a great villain, someone who is ruthless and calculating and it really seems like everything wrong is influenced or driven by this character. A villain challenging enough that when you do finally bring him down it feels right to have V take a minute to celebrate & reflect.

Then during that moment it should be made clear that the villain is just an artifact of the world, it isn't the mad scientists, psychos, gang bosses, or the CEOs its the governments, corporations, even the wage slaves; it's the whole damn enchilada, stop trying to save everything and go get a fork.