A few weeks ago, we presented you with our list of the most beloved Non-Player Characters in our new NPC Hall of Fame. It was a hall filled with the most loveable and fun characters we have ever had the pleasure of virtually encountering. And we felt good, great even. But now it’s time for some good old fashion masochism to balance things out. Here come the annoying NPCs.
To every yin there is a yang, and for every favourite NPC, there is a least favourite. Whether it’s simple dialogue, dislikable character traits, or the unwelcome real-life repercussions that some annoying NPCs can provoke...the characters on this list have earned themselves universal disdain. And it’s high time they were called out for it.
Unlike our Hall of Fame, some NPCs in this list take a more prominent role in their stories. But as we all know, humility is a virtue - and some of these blowards are anything but humble. So we’re more than willing to give them their crown. A crown of shame.
WoW - Nathanos Blightcaller
There are many reasons why so many dislike the unapologetically villainous Nathanos. Not least of which being that he is just very, very mean. As gamers, we are a spoiled bunch. We’re so accustomed to being hailed as the most powerful, beautiful, indestructible, and simply godlike being alive, that when a cheeky S.O.B. like Nathanos comes along with his relentless put-downs, the words cut us like no enchanted blade ever could. Well screw you, Nathanos, and your ungrateful tone.
The widespread hatred for Nathanos was perfectly encapsulated when, in the lead-up to the Shadowlands release, players rejoiced at the opportunity to finally kill big-talking Blightcaller. Even when a bug caused him to spawn early with no loot or cinematic - some adventurers took their chance anyway. Because sometimes, no amount of loot can match that sweet, sweet taste of revenge.
There were other less thin-skinned reasons to hate Nathanos, however. After all, WoW lore aficionados may have found his character to be admirably consistent, given that he was always a bit of an ass to his allies. But when plot-armour played its part in his incredibly mismatched bout with Tyrande Whisperwind (allowing him to fly away largely unscathed from a god-empowered Tyrande and god-knows-what-empowered adventurer) many of us felt cheated.
Then there are those that simply don’t appreciate his incessant gushing over antihero supreme, Sylvanus Windrunner. Sure, they’ve got a thing going on, and Windrunner is one of the most fearsome, powerful, and infamous characters in all of WoW but sheesh...get over it, Nathanos. D*ck.
Maplestory - Donald
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To be fair to Maplestory, the real-life character that Donald was based on was so far from being *that guy* at the time he was introduced that the devs couldn’t possibly be blamed for the drama that he may have sparked later on. But they certainly can be blamed for the botched damage control.
For many people, having IRL politics invade their favourite game worlds is an unforgivable sin. Sometimes, be it through parody or inherent plot-points, it does regardless. And yes, that will spark debates and stress in equal measure - but for those games, that’s kind of the point.
For fun-loving 2D anime side-scroller, Maplestory, however, we’d wager that wasn’t the intention. Hence the headline-breaking removal of their blonde-haired delivery man back in 2017, which achieved a perfect example of the Streisand effect when the Maplestory message boards and community erupted.
For the most part, Donald as a character didn’t spark half as many arguments as his removal might have suggested. So it makes us wonder, would it not have been better to keep him in his largely uneventful role?
For a character that wasn’t even as interesting as his dodgy-dealing predecessor, Duey, his mere presence - or lack thereof, more accurately - sparked far too much toing-and-froing for our liking. So it’s what Donald represents that earns him his crown of shame.
In any case, the moral of this (maple)story is that it’s probably best to leave politics out of any massively multiplayer game entirely.
Speaking of which…
Star Wars: The Old Republic - Leontyne Saresh (Spoiler Alert!)
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As one outraged player once put it, Saresh is the true villain of SWTOR. As we’ve already seen, there’s nobody more capable of drawing collective ire than a power-hungry politician. And just as an extra twist of the light-dagger, it didn’t always have to be this way with Saresh.
Saresh is another NPC that has sparked heated discussions within the SWTOR community. Some aren’t happy with the way that Saresh descended so drastically from a paragon of righteousness to villainous tyrant. But others believe that she’s been a thoroughly dislikable megalomaniac from the start.
While Saresh wasn’t always the most likable of characters, even in her days as a Governor of Taris, many speculate that her drastic decline to the darker side of her personality was simply a convenient plot point to help add more depth to the goody-goody Republic. And sure, it could be argued that this bit of character development was somewhat hamfisted. But when so many of us took the opportunity to bring our ham-fists to her face, you can’t deny that it was a successful move from the writers.
In the end, Saresh became a vile cocktail of condemnable character traits: tyrannical, tricky and, above all, treacherous. Scheming involves a lot of risk-taking. But when that ‘risk’ is the seemingly immortal main character of a swashbuckling space opera - that would be where you call it quits. Guess nobody gave Saresh the ‘don’t mess with the Outlander’ memo.
Lord of the Rings Online - Sara Oakheart
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If we were being honest, this section of the list would go to all escort quests. We probably don’t need to explain why. But, as this is a Hall of Shame and we have but five crowns to bestow, we’ll settle with an escort quest figurehead. Well, Sara Oakheart is that figurehead.
But why this unassuming old woman who simply begs that you save her from imminent peril? Sure, most of us aren’t the biggest fans of watching our charge put themselves in harm’s way over and over again. But for a little old lady? Surely there are better, more pigheaded targets to disdain. But make no mistake - Sara is no little old lady. Sara is a troll.
Put aside the fact that Sara finds herself in tight spots a little too frequently for a frail old woman that should arguably be a little more cautious of her hazardous surroundings. It’s more about ‘old’ Oakheart finding it necessary to move at a snail’s pace one minute, then hightail it faster than Shadowfax to the nearest spot of danger the next. That’s one hobble too far.
Before we hear the cries of more LOTRO lore-savvy players telling exactly why we had to endure the sluggish Sara in so many instances, rest assured that we know. But no lore-based salve can soothe this irritation. Sara Oakheart remains the queen of escort quest frustration. For that reason, she has earned her place in this hall.
Elder Scrolls Online - Stuga
[caption id="attachment_383929" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image: The Elder Scrolls Wiki[/caption]
Stuga is an NPC who spawns upon the player’s purchase of the Orsinium expansion. She’ll pop up in one of the starting cities, invitation in hand, to trigger the Invitation to Orsinium questline. But oh how we wish it was delivered by a bird, or magic, instead.
If you’re an avid roleplayer who likes to immerse themselves fully in the intricate lore and mechanics of the Elder Scrolls series, then Stuga’s the NPC version of a troll that pulls you right back out. Sneaking up on an enemy, dagger poised, silent as night and channeling Nocturnal herself? Well, up barrels Stuga yelling ‘Do you know how long I’ve been looking for you?!’ anyway.
The Elder Scrolls universe is no stranger to characters that will stop at literally nothing to get to you. Just take the Courier who braves the most treacherous mountains and dungeons of Skyrim (or even the afterlife) just to deliver the message that some random NPC you spoke to once has left you 100 gold (before tax, of course) in their will. Thanks, I guess?
Of course, the remedy for shutting Stuga up is simple: just accept her quest and be on your way. But an open world MMORPG is all about freedom, and I’ll be damned if I can’t freely ignore a pushy orc without being accosted and stalked at every turn. Even if I did buy the expansion.
“Do you know how long I have been looking for you?” Not long enough, Stuga. Not long enough.
And so we reach the end of our Hall of Shame, home of the annoying NPCs that we were all probably better off without. If you’ve reached the end with slightly higher blood pressure, well then we’ve done our job. Or more accurately, they have.
Of course, there may be many more annoying NPCs that we failed to list here. So if you feel that your NPC nemesis deserves their own spot, well there’s only one thing to do. Make sure to let us know by commenting on our socials. Who knows? Maybe there were more anger-inducing NPCs than we gave the MMO-verse credit for.
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