“Please use me as a wall!” – Top 5 Video Game Meatshields
This week I’ve been watching KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World, a short anime series set in a fantasy world that adheres to several RPG tropes like character classes, guild quests and skill allocation, and it’s gotten the old noggin buzzing about various game-related post ideas that I can work on in the near future.
My favourite party member in KonoSuba is Darkness, the masochistic female Crusader who gets a perverted thrill from being hit by attacks, and she got me thinking about similar characters in real video games. Uh, that’s characters who can take a beating, not characters who get off on beatings… So here is a short, slightly off-beat list of the five video game meatshields that first came to mind; those who can take a hit for the party and hopefully give as good as they get.
5) Frederick – Fire Emblem Awakening
Prince Chrom’s earnest and dutiful deputy and one of the first characters you are introduced to in Awakening, Frederick is the first mandatory party member to belong to an advanced class, which otherwise are unavailable for several chapters. He is a Great Knight, a mounted powerhouse in heavy armour who can move further than most characters and use every armament in the weapon triangle, making him a versatile fighter. In the first few chapters of the game Frederick can spearhead the initial charge into the enemy ranks and soak up damage that might otherwise incapacitate your base class units, taking out foes before they can converge on your weak links. As useful a defender as he is however, Frederick’s advanced class can be an unforeseen flaw early on, as not only does he receive less EXP than base class units, but it’s also highly likely that he will end up landing most of the killing blows, preventing other characters from leveling up as quickly. Once I realised this I pulled him from active duty and kind of forgot to put him back into battle for ages afterwards. If you let this happen his high weapon proficiencies can turn him into a glass cannon and that’s why he only makes number 5.
4) Fighter/Warrior – Final Fantasy
One of gaming’s original heavy hitters, Fighter resembles his namesake class from Dungeons & Dragons: a heavy-hitting, high defence frontline fighter specialising in powerful swords and axes. Even at the beginning of the game Fighter takes significantly less damage from enemy attacks than any other class and will probably be the first one to start dishing out multiple blows as he starts to level up. Final Fantasy’s original targeting system gives higher priority to the first party slot, so by putting him in the primary position Fighter becomes the very definition of a tank. He can be an expensive unit to maintain due to the high price of his equipment, but since his tanking abilities take zero effort from the player and his combat options are simply Attack and Item he is an ideal addition to any adventuring party.
3) Horse – Skyrim (no, seriously)
There is something wrong with the horses in Skyrim. Like, seriously wrong; a horse whisperer in Tamriel would be set for life. Even people who have never played this epic adventure know about their frankly unnatural mountain climbing abilities, but Skyrim’s stalwart steeds have also chosen the thug’s life. While perfectly, almost fatally docile with a rider on its back, the moment it is left to its own devices in a combat situation your equine companion will go totally bananas, charging right up to anything hostile and trying to clobber it to death with its front hooves. And while they’re by no means immortal, these guys can tank hits from regular enemies like a champ. Not only that, but if a bandit or wolf starts attacking your horse before they see you they’ll pretty much ignore you until you join the fray (better have a good power attack ready). I’ve even had one instance of a dragon breaking off from fighting me to make fly-bys on my horse. It might even have survived, my memory is fuzzy on the matter. Horses are pricey, but what they lack in speed they make up for in insane Skyrim water cooler banter. Get one.
2) Garchomp – Pokémon
A while back in one of my Nuzlocke updates I mentioned my attempts to finally finish Platinum (which I started playing in 2009), and that I’d hit a major stumbling block. Celia’s Garchomp is that stumbling block, and that’s why this monster makes the list. High on HP, Speed and Attack and possessing a type combination of Dragon and Ground that renders very few moves super effective and reduces most of the Ground type’s weaknesses to regular damage, a well-trained Garchomp will ruin my day, and I wish I had one of my own outside of Pokkén Tournament. Even though it takes quadruple damage from Ice, it is able to learn some nasty Fire moves through TMs to counter this, and let’s not forget that the Dragon-is-weak-to-Dragon thing goes both ways. My post-Generation Two knowledge is pretty holey, so I’m sure there are more sturdy creatures out there now, but as far as I’m concerned Garchomp is a beast that I would be lucky to have at the head of my team.
1) Auron – Final Fantasy X
When applying the “strong, silent type” label to Sir Auron, the “strong” part should be taken literally. This aging, veteran warrior is the main brawn on Yuna’s pilgrimage across Spira and his default stats practically define the word guardian. Relatively slow-moving but boasting very high HP and monstrous Strength growth Auron is one of only two characters whose weapons all have the Piercing ability by default, making him custom built to take down armoured fiends in one hit. Additionally his Sphere Grid path takes in the Guard and Sentinel abilities that allow him to take damage in place of party members, making him far closer to a tank-type character than the others on the list as opposed to a solitary sturdy build. Auron may sometimes spend a little too much time in the party like Frederick does, but unlike Frederick he doesn’t drag the other characters down for your trouble and remains a useful combatant in almost any situation.
This is admittedly a pretty sparse list, so if you have a favourite meatshield of your own send a comment my way and let me know! I’d love to see what else you guys can come up with! And stay tuned for at least one more KonoSuba inspired gaming post very soon!