Non-Player Companion
Computer-controlled aide to the player character.


(permanent link) added: 2013-04-02 13:08:31 sponsor: Koveras (last reply: 2013-04-15 12:39:06)

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A Non-Player Character who sticks with the Player Character throughout the game and usually has complementary skills (e.g. if you handle all the fighting, they may be a Stealth Expert or a Science Hero) and a contrasting personality to the player character.

You usually cannot control them directly, but they are nevertheless the key to beating the game, as you either need their skills to fix Broken Bridges of all kinds or can call on them for Combination Attacks to bring down powerful bosses. When you have to defend them, the entire game can turn into a continuous Escort Mission; when given Gameplay Ally Immortality, on the other hand, they often seem to be escorting you.

Their role in the story can fall anywhere from Plucky Comic Relief Sidekick and Exposition Fairy, through Deuteragonist, all the way to relegating the player to Supporting Protagonist. Regardless, they often receive the most Character Development in the game and tend to facilitate the same in the player character via Dialog During Gameplay and other interactions. They also tend to be taken away from you at some point in the game--usually temporarily, in order for you to better appreciate their presence and help. Ultimately, they commonly end up on the receiving end of the Video Game Caring Potential.

RPGs often (but not always) allow you to recruit an entire Player Party of AI companions and to control them directly when needed; in other genres, you can usually (but not always) only have up to one at any time. In games with Co-Op Multiplayer, the second player may be allowed to take over the AI companion's controls--or the AI companion may be just a stand-in dummy for another player.

Super Trope to Manual Leader, AI Party. See Companion Cube for when the "companion" is an inanimate object (and hence has little AI); Attack Drone for when the AI ally lacks personality and only has combat functions; and Robot Buddy for actual in-universe artificially intelligent Sidekicks.

Examples:

Action-Adventure

First-Person Shooter
  • Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite can open tears in the reality, keeps you (as Booker) supplied with ammo, health, and salts, and provides emergency resuscitation if you die. Oh, and she is the bona fide Deuteragonist of the game.
  • Alyx Vance starts off as an occasional ally in Half-Life 2 but grows more and more into the role of consistent companion in Episode 1 and particularly 2.
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood plays with this trope by allowing you to choose whether to play as Thomas or Ray before each level, while the other brother is controlled by the AI. Both are equally important to the plot.
  • Daikatana has two computer-controlled sidekicks, and they both suffer from the same horrible AI, made even worse by the fact that they have to survive or the level is failed.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando has not one, but three stable AI companions, each with a unique specialization and abilities (demolitions, sniper, and hacker).
  • Similarly, Spec Ops: The Line has two AI companions following the player, one specializing in explosive ordnance and one, in marksmanship.

Simulation Game

Role-Playing Game
  • Diablo II introduced the henchmen system, which allows you to hire a companion in all but one towns, though only one can follow you at any time. The companion can Level Up and be equipped with better gear, but does not replace the Player Party, which consists of other players' characters online.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has five unique companions in each class-specific storyline. Although they are discovered and recruited akin to a Player Party in single-player games, you can only bring one along at any time.
  • Similarly, in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, you can recruit several AI companions but can only bring one with you, while the rest wait for you at the hub locations. In New Vegas, you can additionally have a pet (a robotic dog or an eyebot).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has NPC followers on multiple quests. You can tell them to wait for you, but arming and armoring them beyond any equipment they start with is only possible in the PC version and then only by console commands. The exception is a mercenary you can hire in the Tribunal expansion, who is available at any time and has accessible inventory.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has NPC followers mostly in quests, though reaching the highest rank with the guilds usually grants you access to at least one follower available any time (in the case of the Arena, it's The Adoring Fan). They have a strong tendency to be Leeroy Jenkinses, but quite frankly the biggest hazard to their health is you since they love to run directly between you and the enemy.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the player has the option of inviting certain NPCs to travel with them after befriending them. They can carry the player's gear and will travel with them, following their lead (if the player sneaks, they'll sneak as well), and they can be given commands such as to wait or to pick something up. The NPC's personality will determine how they react to some things--for example, if the NPC has a high morality level, if the player tells them to attack someone they'll refuse, or if they see the player commit murder they'll turn on them. The player can only have one follower at a time, though some quests will have another person travel with them temporarily without all the regular follower options. In addition to a human follower, they can also have a creature follower at the same time: they can get a dog or buy an armored troll.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 has a standard Player Party, but the second expansion Storm of Zehir allows you to add "cohorts" to the Featureless Protagonist party you built during character creation. The cohorts are all unique and range from a hammy druid with a deinonychus companion to a batshit insane Bare-Fisted Monk who never stops laughing.

Will go under the Video Game Characters index.
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