6 Most Iconic MMO Characters
by Tyler Edwards, April 17, 2013
To keep the focus on players, MMOs generally don't put a lot of effort into their NPCs. They exist to provide quests or be killed for loot, not to be deep and memorable characters. But despite this bias of the genre, some MMO characters have risen to greatness. Whether they're especially well written, have special historical importance, or have just been given a lot of marketing, they're icons of the MMO industry, and even people who've never played the games in which they appear probably recognize them.
6: The Statesman:
The Statesman was one of the main characters from the dearly departed City of Heroes. He appeared prominently in the game and was used in many of its advertising materials.
The Statesman was the first superhero to arise in the game's setting of Paragon City. A veteran of the First World War, he gained superhuman powers by drinking from the mystical Fountain of Zeus and used them to confront the crime and corruption that riddled his beloved city.
His example inspired many other superheroes to rise up against the evils of the world. Many of them joined him in an organization that would become known as the Freedom Phalanx. Together with the Phalanx, he would go on to defeat countless villains and evildoers, from the Nazis to the alien Rikti.
The Statesman may have disappeared along with the game he called home, but as the most notable hero from the world's first and longest running superhero MMO, he's definitely earned his place as an icon.
5: Destiny's Edge:
Destiny's Edge is not actually one character, but a group of them: five heroes who form the most famous adventuring guild in the world of Guild Wars 2. Each represents one of the five playable races of GW2 and serves as a mentor to low level players of that race.
The noble guardian Logan Thackeray represents humanity. Caithe, a skilled thief, hails from the plant people known as the Sylvari. The ranger Eir Stegalkin guides young Norn with the help of her loyal companion, the wolf Garm. The mighty Charr warrior Rytlock Brimstone and the cunning Asura elementalist Zojja round out the group.
When players first encounter Destiny's Edge, they find that the group has suffered a falling out and become too caught up in their personal rivalries to complete their mission of defeating the Elder Dragons. This resulted from events prior to the game, depicted in the tie-in novel Edge of Destiny, that involved the tragic death of a previous member of the guild, an Asura named Snaff.
The story of their attempts to reunite, mainly driven by the efforts of Caithe and Eir, is told through the game's dungeons. Eventually, they are able to put aside their differences and work together in the final battle with Zhaitan, the Elder Dragon of death.
4: Asha Catari:
As the leader of the Defiant faction and star of much of the game's advertising materials, Asha Catari is probably the best known character from Rift. Asha, also known as the Rift Walker, is a bit of a departure from the standard "knight in shining armor" fantasy hero. She's more intense, more reckless - bordering on "anti-hero" status. She's also a female hero in a genre usually dominated by male characters.
A descendant of the sorcerer lords of the city-state of Catari, Asha is a gifted mage and warrior, but she became something of an outcast by going beyond the generally accepted boundaries of study. Her pursuit of forbidden knowledge resulted in her being expelled from Quicksilver College and disowned by her father.
Unfazed, she used her knowledge to battle the dragons of the Blood Storm, eventually losing her life in the struggle. The dragon of death, Regulos, granted her spirit great power in an attempt to make her his champion, but she refused.
Before Regulos could destroy her, her mentor, Orphiel Farwind, used his mastery of the technology of her ancestors to resurrect her. Her recklessness now tempered, Asha used Orphiel's discoveries to found the faction known as the Defiant.
New Defiant players encounter Asha in a far flung future where the dragons have proved victorious. Asha will sacrifice herself to allow players to travel back in time for a chance to prevent such a terrible future - a refreshing change of pace from how most MMO faction leaders use the players do all their dirty work.
3: Satele Shan:
Satele Shan appears in Star Wars: The Old Republic as the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. She serves as an important character in the storylines for Jedi players, and also appears in several flashpoints.
Satele appeared heavily in promotional materials leading up to SW:TOR's release. She was a major character in the Threat of Peace webcomic, and has appeared in several other comic and novel tie-ins for the game. She also starred in the two of the three cinematic trailers for SW:TOR, Return and Hope, in which players got to see her transition from a mere Padawan to a Sith obliterating badass.
She also serves as a connection to Bioware's previous Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic. She is the descendant of two of KotoR's major characters, Bastila Shan and Revan.
Like Asha Catari, Satele Shan is an interesting departure from the stereotypes that usually dog the MMO world. Rightly or wrongly, MMOs are seen as a genre dominated by male players, and prominent, well written female characters tend to be hard to come by.
Satele bucks this trend. Not only is she an iconic symbol of the game she stars in, but her importance is entirely due to the strength of her personality and her abilities as a Jedi warrior. She is not a glorified Barbie doll, and she seems to have dodged the dreaded "female armor" issue.
2: Lord British:
In the lore of Ultima Online, Lord British was the ruler of the nation of Britannia. In addition to being an important figure in the story, he was also the in game persona of Richard Garriott, the creator of the Utlima series.
Aside from being an important character from one of the oldest and longest running MMOs in history, Lord British is an icon of the MMO industry for being the victim of what is perhaps history's greatest gank.
Lord British, under the direct control of Richard Garriott, had appeared to players as part of an in game event near the end of UO's beta to thank them for their support. British was supposed to be invulnerable, but Garriott had forgotten to set the invincibility state before logging on, and so when a player decided to play a prank and cast a fire spell on him, British dropped dead.
Anarchy ensued. UO's developers retaliated by unleashing a number of demon mobs on the crowd, resulting in the in game deaths of many innocent players. The player who had assassinated British, known as Rainz, was banned, though this was supposedly due to other exploits he had participated in rather than because he murdered the lead developer's character.
To this day, the death of Lord British is often cited as an example of how MMO players will break or destroy anything or anyone they can, simply because they can.
1: The Lich King:
The Lich King, title villain of World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion, is easily the most iconic villain in the history of WoW and one of the most recognizable characters in the MMO world - and, indeed, the world of video games in general.
On paper, the Lich King may seem a fairly generic villain. An undead sorcerer of incredible power, the Lich King is the master of the nightmarish unliving army known as the Scourge. His goal is simple: end all life.
The strength of the Lich King is his history. In many ways, his story is the story of the entire Warcraft universe.
The Lich King was created by merging the souls of two other characters. The first, Ner'zhul, was an Orc who sold his people's souls to the demons of the Burning Legion, kick starting the Warcraft storyline. The other, the fallen human prince Arthas Menethil, was a fan favorite and star of Warcraft III.
Even if you never played the games that came before WoW, you can see the influence of the Lich King everywhere. The Forsaken, a playable race of undead, are an offshoot of his Scourge. Another playable race, the Blood Elves, took their name after being nearly wiped out by the Lich King. He's the reason the Plaguelands are plagued and the Ghostlands are ghostly.
For being the most influential character in the most well-known MMO, the Lich King earns the top spot on our list. For in the final hour, all must serve the one true king.