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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Editorial: Top 10 Most Useless RPG Party Members, Part 1: 10-6.

This week's Kamen Rider Drive is subbed and out, so that review will be up tomorrow for sure. Unfortunately, it wasn't subbed and out when I started working on today's post, so there's a bit of schedule swappery afoot.

Editorial: Top 10 Most Useless RPG Party Members
Part 1: 10-6.

It's an unfortunate fact of role-playing games that the demands of story and character often exceed the ability of gameplay to accommodate them. Players want a diverse range of characters that flesh out the world and the cultures within it, and developers want to stretch their writing muscles by penning the interactions of a ragtag group of conflicting personalities and viewpoints (for preference including at least one fluffy thing, robot, and child - seriously, think about it, KOTOR, Jade Empire, Persona 3, so on, so forth), which is difficult to do if you only have about three characters to work with.

Gameplay, however, demands that each of these characters play differently, and that almost never works out, inevitably resulting in characters that either have severe overlap with their colleagues, do the same thing as someone else but worse, or, worst of all, have some kind of ridiculously overly context specific talent set, such as possessing a range of abilities revolving around killing spiders and clowns.

We're counting down our top ten most useless RPG party characters in two parts, so here's part one, 10-6.

10. Solas, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Nobody in Dragon Age is really useless, but with that positive and life-affirming statement in mind, let's face it, Solas is pretty useless. 

While Vivienne can function as both a long range attacker and a warrior, using her unique skillset to switch between two different paradigms; and Dorian is a master of status effects and damage dealing tactics; Solas is just kind of there, and the best thing that can be said about his unique skills is that he can drag enemies in close for other people to hit them with area-effect attacks, and battles are rarely spread out enough that you need to do that.

This is only exacerbated by mage being the most popular class for players, meaning that if you really want Solas' Fade Mage skills, you can just learn them yourself and avoid all the kerfuffle of dealing with a misanthropic bald elf.

9. Rikku, Final Fantasy X.

Okay, this isn't entirely fair. With the right materials, Rikku's overdrive, Mix, can become a gamebreaking skill, allowing your entire party to deal 9999 damage with every hit, turning skills like Tidus' multi-strike overdrives into instant boss destroying skills. That alone should secure Rikku a place not on this list, right?

Well, no, not really. I mean, unless you have a walkthrough, you may never learn how to make Rikku's more powerful items, and without that ability, it's difficult to see what point she serves - Tidus already fills the position of 'the fast one', and he does it while having more health, better defences, and a higher attack than Rikku. Rikku has the ability to steal, but you'll so rarely use that that it may as well not be there.

What makes this worse is that there are battles for which you have to have Rikku on your team - any underwater battle requires that you use Tidus, Wakka (who is also pretty useless, since Lulu is a much more effective ranged attacker), and Rikku, meaning that it's pretty much just Tidus tugging two dead weights along with him.

8. Teddie, Persona 4.

Teddie is actually considered to be nigh-on unbearable (do you - do you see what I, um, did ... there) as a party member by some, due to the excruciatingly irritating walking noise he has, but this isn't about that.

No, the real problem with Teddie is that by the point you get him, he's superfluous. While Teddie can learn higher level healing magic, so can early party member Yukiko; and while he can learn higher level ice spells, you already have Chie learning mid-level ice spells, and have reached the point in the game where most bosses don't have elemental weaknesses anyway.

Teddie's only real use comes when your facing an enemy that does so much damage that you need to proverbially stack the deck and flood your party with healers - but that point will likely never come, as almost as soon as you get him, Yukiko is learning spells that heal your entire party to full health.

7. Canderous Ordo, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. 

Canderous, one of the soldier class, arrives in your party on Taris, where you'll also be getting Carth, a soldier who specialises in ranged weapons, and Zaalbar, a hard-hitting Wookiee scout who can hit harder than Canderous in melee and is just as good with guns. Later on, you'll pick up HK-47, a party member who relegates Canderous to guarding the ship even more by being better with guns and possessing the wacky droid powers previously limited to your small tin bucket droid.

Worse still, while most of the party has some kind of character arc and/or a special connection with the planets you're going to, Canderous absolutely doesn't, and so just spends most of his time arguing about etymology with people and suggesting that you always pick the most evil option possible.

Bafflingly, he's one of a few returning characters for the second game in the series, and he isn't any more interesting there.

6. Goofy, Kingdom Hearts. 

What does Goofy even do? Donald has multi-target spells and can heal you if you're injured, but in Kingdom Hearts, Goofy seems limited to bashing people with his shield and hoping for the best, and not only is Sora much better at that, but I also don't think I've ever actually seen Goofy successfully destroy a Heartless. He seems to work best as a kind of happy diversion, drawing attacks onto himself to slightly lessen the heat on Sora.

Let's not forget either that in storyline terms, when Goofy destroys a Heartless it just disperses, effectively removing any chance you have of saving that poor, lost soul from an eternity of being a ravenous shadow monster.

Thanks, Goof.

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