Created By: Aminatep on August 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Aminatep on April 20, 2013

Gateway Character

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So you want to start playing some sort of a game with wide character selection, but you don't really know what to choose - you haven't figured the controls yet and you can't appreciate the subtle differences between classes any seasoned vet knows by heart. But don't worry! The dev team thought about it for you! Just roll with the Gateway Character!

A gateway character is a character that is specifically tailored to function as the newbies' first choice. Typical traits:

  • The character is usually close to The Mario. You can try anything without failing at it horribly because your character is geared against it.
    • In particular those characters do not die easily.
  • If the game features unlockable content, they will be avaliable at the very beginning, for obvious reasons.
  • There is some sort of a gameplay mechanic that shows people that this character is, in fact, intended as a first pick - typically a "Default" button or something.
  • If there's the Fighter, Mage, Thief spread it will be typically the Fighter.
    • In An Adventurer Is You it'll be the Jack, the Scrapper, the Ranger, the Petmaster, the Wall or the Healer.
  • If there are multiple races avaliable, humans are this.
  • Their gameplay is simple. For example, if we're talking fighting games: no complex mechanics (like stances), and sticking to one or two basic combos might actually work.
  • If there's some sort of a plot, they play a large enough role in it to be very well recognized (for example, being placed on cover art)
  • If the game only partially belongs to a genre, the character will be typical of that genre (For example, in a shooter vith very heavy RPG Elements this character class plays like in a typical shooter).

Not all is well, however: those characters get some flak. First, due to the general straightforwardness they tend to be one-trick ponies of sorts, or, alternatively, suffer from being Master of None. Second, there is a problem with balancing such characters. If character A is a gateway, and B is a "hard" character, there is a certain point of skill level of the players where character B becomes stronger because of its sheer potential. Before reaching it however, funny things tend to happen: for example, player A effortlessly defeating player B despite being of equal skill, or player A and B performing equally despite the latter making much more effort. And, finally, there's Complacent Gaming Syndrome.

All in all, these characters are sometimes seen as Crutch Characters in metagames - some people you probably shouldn't care about will expect you to pick something "not for noobs".


  • Team Fortress 2 examples:
    • The Medic is commonly recommended for newbies because that way they won't rush in headfirst, instead providing some help for better players and watching them do stuff properly.
    • The Soldier has a pretty typical FPS playstyle, and as such is recommended for those familiar with the genre.
    • The Pyro utterly dominates lower level play with W+M1. Many players tend to forget that you have to learn other things, such as spycheck, ambushing and airblasting, however.
  • Street Fighter's Ryu and Ken.
    • By extension, every Shotoclone ever, since that's a standard fighting game character class.
  • Guilty Gear's Kyle and Sol.
  • BlazBlue's TEH ICECAR.
  • Neverwinter Nights has premade character kits (skills and feats), including a "default" kit for each class, as well as a "default" race (human) and class (Fighter).
  • League of Legends has a whole "recommended" tag, listed upon it are Warwick, Annie, and I will remember later when I'll get to launch it.
  • On Starcraft the first race you play is The Terran, which may not produce units as fast as the Zerg}} or be as strong as the Protoss but since their units are cheaper than protoss yet stronger than zerg, and are good at defending, this assures that most players will not die as easilly than they would if they tried with the other races first.
  • Two main races of Galactic Civilizations II are humans and drengin. Humans are average, but they receive large diplomacy bonus, even moreso in the addons, which means the whole galaxy will love the shit out of them; since the addon (in which they got to be protagonists) drengin get free ships every time they are attacked, which kind of completely covers the well known mistake newbies make of not making war ships until it's too late. Krynn would also qualify, in that their ability is useless but the huge morale and reasonable diplomacy bonus will allow one to plow through the game with little to know regard for economy and happiness (just raise taxes as high as you can, receive free infinite money), avoiding the newbie-civilization-killing economy downfall entirely... but they aren't present in the original game.
  • The Archon of Age of Wonders II, since they are less about devious tricks and more about killing stuff to death (this is all the more obvious with their top tier unit: where other races get stuff like stealthy Leprechauns and dominating Sphinxes, Titan is just the most powerful unit in the game). Interestingly enough, not humanity for once in a game with humans present: humans are rather hard to play, and their top unit is a blimp which is worthess as far as units go, the point here is thas it's a cool transport.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • August 1, 2011
    I'm not sure if this is different enough from Crutch Character to justify its launch. I'm no expert, though.
  • August 1, 2011
    Nnnnno, quite different concepts.

    Crutch characters are typically encountered in roleplaying games. They are powerful early in the game, but overshadowed later because their progression is bad.

    Gateway characters are typically encountered in multiplayer games. They are characters that you can learn the game with.

    A character can be both, one or neither.
  • August 1, 2011
    i also think that we may need to make the difference between this and the Crutch Character a bit wider, for the examples you fave i think you may also made a difference that the crutch character only works as a starter this one may still be woth after a while, there are high level players who still using those characters (the soldier while a little slow is a character who still having a descent hp and atack power, ryu amd (specially ken) have good atacks(specially ken's shoryouken wich usually has higher priority than the most others) (see also Shotoclone

    • On Starcraft the first race you play is The Terran, which may no produce units as fast as the Zerg}} or be as [[OneManArmy strong as the Protoss but since their units are cheaper than protoss yet stronger than zerg, and are good at defending, this assures that most players will not die as easilly than they would if they tried with the other races first
  • August 1, 2011
    Would Eddie Gordo from Tekken count as this?
  • August 2, 2011
    Armor role (tanks) in World In Conflict. Also, artillery (Support) seems to be very popular with new players but those who play it all the time are reviled and regularly kicked from public servers
  • August 2, 2011
    ^ I don't know.
  • August 2, 2011
    Shit shit shit shit shit I accidentally deleted the whole "Examples" section. Is there a change history avaliable in YKTTW?
  • August 2, 2011
    ^Try Googling the title and then click "Cache".
  • August 2, 2011
    I notice this leans strongly toward Skill Gate Characters and doesn't make a particular effort to distinguish itself. Is there a noteworthy difference I'm not aware of?
  • August 2, 2011
    Change history is the book icon next to the edit button up top.
  • August 2, 2011
    im not sure how this is different from The Mario, is the point of The Mario the fact that they're straightforward and well balanced so the newbies wont have trouble, veterans might be able to use them well, dont need to be unlocked and they're usually main characters/plot relevant/on boxart/first on the character select screen/humans in games with multiple races?
  • August 3, 2011
    > im not sure how this is different from The Mario

    The Mario is simply the middleground character. Nothing more. Gateway characters are very often marios for the reasons previously stated.

    Look at World of Warcraft's druids. Now that's the mario to end all marios. However, they are the hardest class in the game.

    > Is there a noteworthy difference I'm not aware of?

    Yes, there is a noteworthy difference in that nobody had a fucking decency to point me out this trope exists after two months of me asking on lost and found.

    However, there is another, more major difference. A character that utterly dominates low level play but sucks at high level is one trope. A character that is just convenient for newbies is another trope entirely.
  • April 20, 2013
  • April 20, 2013
    ^If you care enough to bump it, this has been idle more than long enough for you to take it over.
  • April 20, 2013
    • In most Touhou shooting games, Main Character Reimu Hakurei will be the easiest character to use. She has the smallest hitbox out of all characters, slow movement for more precise dodging, and she frequently have homing attacks.