With the release of action game Quantum Break, Game Rant takes a closer look at some of the best action-oriented video game characters that have hit the scene over the years.
Video game thrill-seekers hunting for that next burst of adrenaline need look no further than action games for their fast paced fun and thrilling moments. With Remedy’s latest game, Quantum Break, finally arriving on Xbox One and PC, we’d thought it would be fun to celebrate by taking a look at action-oriented characters that are surely going to get your blood racing.
Whether it’s taking down gods, diving in slow motion, taking out an alien threat, or trying to survive a plane crash, the following action game characters are our favorites.
Bayonetta (Bayonetta franchise)
A relative newcomer to the action scene, Bayonetta is a witch who wields four guns (two being attached to her heels) and can shapeshift with the help of her magical hair. While it may sound a bit odd on paper, the series comes from famed developer Platinum Games, a studio with a pedigree for satisfying action games. The flow of combat in Bayonetta is similar to the Devil May Cry franchise, another series many Platinum employees previously worked on, encouraging players to chain together consecutive flashy attacks without getting hit in an effort to keep adding to a combo meter.
Bayonetta borrows themes from Dante’s Divine Comedy including its settings of Paradiso, where she battles angelic looking creatures, Purgatorio, and Inferno, where the massive infernal demons reside. A witch who uses magic and four pistols to defeat enemies based on the Divine Comedy is certainly a solid recipe for a lot of action.
Max Payne (Max Payne franchise)
Max Payne, the down on his luck New York cop, originally helped put Remedy on the map, thanks to solid storytelling, an interesting character, and some revolutionary third person gameplay mechanics. The series’ success also allowed the Finnish developer to go on and create more action-focused titles like Alan Wake and the aforementioned Quantum Break.
Max Payne’s greatest claim to fame, however, is that it introduced the gaming industry to the concept of bullet time, a feature made popular in movies like The Matrix. When active, players were able to slow down time while diving in order to score precision shots on enemies. Not only was it a vital mechanic in order to progress, it looked incredibly cool seeing a person diving in slow motion while making some ridiculous shots. Naturally, a stunning mechanic such as this became very popular, appearing in a variety of shooter based games like Red Dead Redemption, F.E.A.R., and Mirror’s Edge to name a few.
Dante (Devil May Cry series)
Another game focusing on the battle between angels and demons, the Devil May Cry series stars Dante, a demon-hunting vigilante on a path of revenge after losing his mother and the corruption of his brother. Named after the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, the games tend to focus on fast-paced combat, utilizing combos and a hit counter. Players are encouraged to master the flow of combat and will get a letter grade at the end of each level based on their performance. If there’s a reason the theme seem to hit close to Bayonetta, it’s due to the fact that both franchises were developed under the watchful eye of Hideki Kamiya.
While the most recent game in the franchise, known simply as DmC, may not have starred the version of Dante that every fan wanted, the game very much retained the intense combat and fast paced combos the series is known for.
Nathan Drake (Uncharted franchise)
Famed treasure hunter Nathan Drake is pretty good at getting himself into trouble. With pals like Victor Sullivan, the charming rogue often finds himself trying to get out of precarious situations or shooting his way through waves of enemies and even some mythological creatures as well.
What makes him a great action hero, however, are the intense set piece segments of gameplay players need to find ways to overcome. Whether escaping a cargo plane that’s about to crash, a train that is careening over a mountain cliff, or a helicopter that wants to cut Drake down where he stands, players can rest assured that every Uncharted game will come with a big action set piece involving Nathan Drake.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider franchise)
The other treasure hunter of this group, Lara Croft, has been doing her thing for quite a while, originally hitting the scene in 1996. While the Tomb Raider series seemingly hit a rough stretch towards the mid to late 2000s, it could be argued that she’s as popular now as she’s ever been thanks to two quality reboots from Crystal Dynamics.
The globe-trotting Croft spends the majority of her time investigating and infiltrating mysterious tombs and ruins, usually resulting in the discovery of a larger conspiracy or trouble. Typically, players will need to help Lara overcome numerous obstacles ranging from simple platforming, to solving puzzles, and even overcoming enemies through combat. Lara typically has her trusty bow at the ready, or a slew of traditional firearms to help her power through her opponents. The recent games in the franchise have even added in more cinematic moments, and a renewed focus on supernatural elements such as the Oni and Deathless Warriors.
Master Chief (Halo franchise)
One of the perks for being a super soldier is that the Chief can do a lot of things that a normal soldier just isn’t capable of. Besides being able to run and jump higher than normal troopers, Master Chief has single-handedly eliminated entire groups of aliens, from the Covenant, to the parasitic Flood, and more recently the Prometheans, who evoke much of the Forerunner themes.
A man of few words, Master Chief lets his weapons (or his cybernetic buddy Cortana) do the talking. Whether it be from activating a Halo ring to wipe out The Flood, assassinating the Covenant High Prophet of Regret, or detonating a nuclear warhead inside of the Didact’s flagship vessel, there’s no denying that this guy has a long and badass resume.
Fox McCloud (Star Fox series)
While Fox and his team may be better known for being stuck inside their space ships known as Arwings, the Star Fox franchise does a great job at making players feel like they’re actually the ones piloting the ship, shooting down enemies, dodging structures, and doing barrel rolls. While being an ace pilot and fighting space animals may be his forte, Fox has also been known to step out of his ship on occasion to provide a beat down to other Nintendo mascots.
Sure, the franchise has had some missteps along the way, but there’s no denying that flying your ship through a tight maze of structures, or flying off the planet Venom after destroying Andross provides the rush of adrenaline thrill junkies are seeking. Some would even say he’s pretty much the Fast and the Furry-ious of action stars.
Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem franchise)
While his most recent outing may not have gone over so well, there’s no doubt that Nukem deserves a spot on this list – mainly for the fact that he’s a walking and talking stereotype of most action heroes. When he’s not spouting one liners, the cigar chomping Duke Nukem is putting his boot to alien menaces and using various weapons in an effort to rescue half-naked women.
He may be crass, smug, and a man who enjoys his vices, but there’s no denying that if you have an alien problem, Duke is a name you should call. Just make sure there’s some bubble gum around for him.
Marcus Fenix (Gears of War franchise)
Sentenced to serve 40 years in prison after abandoning his post to rescue his father during the Pendulum Wars conflict, Marcus is later rescued by Dom Santiago, his longtime friend, after the Locust invasion of Sera begins. Through his journey as leader of the Delta squad, Marcus proves to be a pivotal character in stopping not only the Locus horde, but the much more dangerous Lambent forces that appear during the events of the third game.
The character is probably most famous for being voiced by the gruff-sounding John DiMaggio and executing his enemies with the Lancer chainsaw. We’ll see if this badass nature runs in the family as it was recently confirmed that his son, JD, will be one of the protagonists in the next Gears of War game launching later this October.
Kratos (God of War franchise)
While the other characters on this list handle their business with a variety of firearms, Kratos tends to be old school, opting to take down his mythological enemies up close and personal through a variety of melee weapons. Through four main console releases and two handheld ones, Kratos is the only person on this list that can say they’ve toppled an entire pantheon of gods.
Fueled by his anger and grief over the death of his wife and daughter, Kratos charts a revenge course through the Greek countryside, taking down each god one by one until he reaches the peak of Mount Olympus and Zeus himself. While Kratos’ story may be over, Sony Santa Monica is rumored to be moving the series into Norse mythology, so players may be seeing some of the violent ways they’ll be taking out the likes of Thor and Odin very soon.
That’s our list for the top action game characters, though honorable mentions surely go out to Samus Aran from the Metroid franchise and Gordon Freeman from the Half-Life series. That said, what are your choices? Do you agree with our picks? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.