Top 5 nameless protagonists in video games

Protagonists are the foundation of any medium, especially video games, wherein players experience the narrative through the protagonist’s worldview. It is unnatural for game developers to have nameless protagonists as it elevates the player’s expectations from other game departments to compensate for the nameless hero.

However, a handful of protagonists have managed to enhance the games they are featured in. Some have become legendary icons, thereby intertwined with the franchise’s identity. Nameless protagonists can immerse players better as most other game world characters address them directly.

Disclaimer: This listicle is subjective and solely reflects the writer’s opinions.

Playa and four other best nameless protagonists in gaming

1) Slayer (Doom 2016)

Id Software brought the Doom franchise back into the spotlight with their fantastic reboot of the series in 2016 titled Doom. Players step into the shoes of a man called Slayer, who is affectionately called Doomguy. Not only is he devoid of any name, but he also has no voiced lines in the game.

Players, however, can feel the grit and fearless demeanor of the Slayer through his in-game actions. The same is evident in the game’s beginning level when the Slayer rips apart the computer console in the middle of a mission briefing as he is only concerned with slaying demons.

2) New Kid (South Park: The Stick of Truth)

South Park: The Stick of Truth is based on the popular long-running animated series South Park and features a bunch of kids dealing with school life. The series often parodies pop culture, political issues, and other real-life events. Players can create their character in this turn-based adaption of South Park.

Stick of Truth parodies all fantasy movies as the kids of South Park roleplay like wizards, druids, dwarfs, and other races. The player’s character is a new arrival in the town, referred to as the New Kid. Despite no dialog or significance to the plot, the New Kid gets embroiled in many hilarious events in the game.

3) Hunter (Bloodborne)

As is the tradition with From Software games, players are expected to learn from every encounter and defeat the bosses with appropriate weapons. The player is referred to as the Hunter by the inhabitants of Yharnam. The sheer hardships the Hunter endures to defeat the beasts make them one of the best nameless protagonists.

Bloodborne is an iconic soulslike game from From Software that outdid their beloved IP, Dark Souls. Players can make their own male or female characters and rid the streets of Yharnam of infected civilians and a myriad of beasts. The Hunter is also featured on the game’s cover, and their outfit has become synonymous with Bloodborne’s identity.

4) The Courier (Fallout: New Vegas)

The Courier is the protagonist of Fallout: New Vegas (Image via Bethesda Softworks)

Fallout: New Vegas is a fan-favorite Fallout game developed by Obsidian and has been revered by RPG fans. One can create their characin this post-apocalyptic game called the Courier. What begins as a simple delivery quest to New Vegas evolves into a tug-of-war between factions aiming to take control of one of the last human settlements.

However, players feel more immersed in this RPG when playing it in First Person. However, they can quickly switch to Third Person perspective as they wish. Players are given tremendous freedom to pursue any faction storyline, further enhancing their connection with the world. Players often forget they are in control of the Courier, one of the best nameless protagonists in gaming.

5) Playa (Saints Row: The Third)

The Saints Row series is known for its outlandish missions, quirky gameplay mechanics, and parodies that poke fun at pop culture. The game refers to the protagonist as Playa, part of the 3rd Street Saints gang. One can easily customize the Playa’s appearance, adding an immersion factor to the game.

One can choose from many styling options that enable the creation of hilarious-looking characters that justify the themes of the Saints Row series. Despite being a light-hearted open-world game, one can participate in a wide variety of activities, from the likes of Tank Mayhem, Heli Assault, Insurance Fraud, and many others.

Saints Row: The Third’s Playa is one of the best nameless protagonists featured in this list due to the game’s other solid aspects, like fun storytelling, entertaining side missions, and quirky characters.

My favorite characters from Saints Row are:
Playa/The Boss/The President (SR4 was my favorite iteration of them)
Johnny Gat (SR1 was my favorite iteration)
Zimos (Saints Row The Third)
Zinyak (Saints Row IV)

Protagonists often make or break a game, and having a nameless central character is a risk any developer or publisher takes with the hopes of delivering a robust narrative and gameplay experience. One can check out this list of video game heroes that are loved and despised.

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