One of my favorite parts of single-player games is the memorable characters that a lot of them perpetuate. Be it HK-47 or even Tingle (yes, Tingle) a lot of single-player games have the ability to offer us truly weird, funny, loveable, or reviled characters. But MMOs are not without their own fair share. Though until recently the focus of MMOs hasn’t really been on story, that doesn’t mean that the worlds built around a shared player experience haven’t been home to some of gaming’s most feared villains. So with that in mind I felt like this week’s List should be devoted to some of MMO gaming’s most notorious bad guys. Whether they were bosses at the end game or just memorable foes from the early levels of your character’s life, consider this my own personal list of favorite MMO baddies in no real particular order.
Be sure to add your own in the comments below!
The Goonswarm – EVE Online
I know that the Goons aren’t exactly a traditional “Bad Guy”, as the rest of my list is littered with NPCs. But the fact of the matter is that in a sandbox game like EVE someone has to be the bad guy. The Goons are sort of known for serving that role in just about any game they take part in. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, chances are you’ve heard of them if you've played EVE. I’ve only ever dabbled from time to time in CCP’s epic space simulator, but even in my short time with the title, I came to know the Goons well. What’s more, apparently their own members can’t really trust one another in a game that readily promotes sabotage and treachery. In the early part of this year one of the Goons’ own leaders allegedly took everything from the alliance and Goonfleet funds and put it all into his own wallet. It’s also alleged that the player in question destroyed the entire fleet to collect the insurance into his own wallet. Bad guys? Yeah, the Goonswarm certainly can fill that role for EVE.
Hogger – WoW
As the first of two Warcraft baddies included on this list, Hogger holds a special place in my heart. In the early days of WoW, back when I was finally (or so I thought) ready to form and organize my own guild, we often held Hogger raids for all of our lowbie characters. Hogger and his proximity to the ravenous bunch of other Gnolls in western Elwynn Forest was a nightmare mob for the unprepared folks who were new to WoW or MMOs in general. I lost count of how many times I watched someone saunter up to him at level 8 or 9 thinking they could take him only to learn painfully quick what an Elite mob really was. I miss those days, the early days of exploration in Azeroth. Anyone wanna go on a cross-faction Hogger raid with me soon?
Curt Schilling – EQ2
By now, you might start to see a trend with this list. None of these enemies are really big bosses or end-game foes. Yet they all stand out in my memory for one reason or another. This particular baddie does so because of its absurdity. A couple years back Curt Schilling made a guest appearance in EQ2 as a special named mob. In an effort to raise money for the ALS Association, for every player that beat the Red Sox hurler, SOE donated $5 to the ALSA (up to $10,000). I’m fairly certain he even remains to this day as a high level encounter though I could be wrong. Now if only someone would put CC Sabathia or LeBron James in their MMO so I could /kick him in the nuts, I’d be all set.
Foxbat – Champions Online
Say what you will about Champions Online and the whole C-Store thing, but the IP has its own flavor when it comes to characters, chief among them is Foxbat. The guy is sort of a cross between the Joker and Batman, or maybe a villainous Die Fledermaus from The Tick. He has a gun that shoots pies for crying out loud. He’s so annoying that even his fellow villains like Dr. Destroyer have come to loathe his existence. But he’s probably the best example of using a silly bad guy as comic relief in an MMO. There’s a chain of quests in CO that leads to a private encounter at a television news station where parodies of the cast from Anchorman are under assault from Foxbat who plans to use the broadcast for… something. I’m not quite sure what his goal is exactly, and that’s the beauty of the villain. His goals really only make sense to him, and he winds up being more of a nuisance than a real threat. But he sure is fun to watch.
Van Cleef – WoW
When I think of all the bosses and encounters I’ve had in my ten plus years of MMO gaming, none stick out quite like Van Cleef in the early days of Azeroth. The whole zone of Westfall was masterfully directed towards this one boss encounter at the end of the Deadmines instance. Almost every single quest in that zone has some tie in to the Defias and their master, so that when you finally come to face him you’re charged with energy and the build-up of some pretty great story-telling. In fact, I still maintain that Westfall is WoW’s best example of cohesive design. I wish every zone in that game was built with the same care and attention. I almost felt like after Van Cleef, the rest of the game was downhill. But still to this day, every time I roll a new character in WoW I make sure to go through the Defias quest chain. Perhaps this is why Blizzard is re-making the dungeon for high level players in Cataclysm?