10 Most Complex NPCs In Video Games

When side characters are better written than the heroes.

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CD Projekt RED

When talking about complex characters all of the love tends to go towards the protagonist. However, a good story rarely only includes one character, and like the Robin to your Batman, NPCs - short for Non-Player Characters - rarely get the love that they deserve.

Encompassing any characters within a game that are not, as the name suggests, controlled at any point by the player, these can range from background characters that exist purely to fill the game world, to integral characters that accompany the player throughout their adventure. In a wider sense we can even include enemies, so long as they are not controlled by another player.

When referring to NPCs in a video game here, the word "complex" can take on a number of meanings.

It can refer to the artificial intelligence behind an NPC's decision, or simply mean that the character is multi-faceted and intriguing. The latter will be the primary interpretation, however the former may also be mentioned on occasion if an NPC also has intelligent AI.

Let’s take a look at the most complex NPCs in video games.

10. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Cicero

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Found alongside his broken down cart just north of Whiterun, Cicero is dressed as a jester, transporting the remains of his “mother”.

Upon first meeting, all seems relatively normal - if a little eccentric - as Cicero asks you to speak to a nearby farmer to help get his cart back up and running so he can bury his “mother” in a new crypt.

If the player chooses to steer clear of the Dark Brotherhood, this will be the extent of your interaction with ol’ Cicero and it will be little more than a strange encounter. However, if you join the Dark Brotherhood or choose to take them down, you will gain access to the Falkreath sanctuary and with that, Cicero's Journals.

Chronicled within is the story of the Cheydinhal sanctuary and the death of its head "Listener". It becomes apparent upon reading that Cicero has well and truly gone mad following his final kill, from whom the assassin adopted various personality traits from, as well as his appearance.

The eccentric killer appointed himself keeper of the Night Mother and decided to transport her to Skyrim, explaining the encounter with him near Whiterun.


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