Highlights

  • PlayStation is known for publishing character-driven games with engaging and likable protagonists.
  • Jin Sakai, Aloy, Nathan Drake, and Kratos are some of the best PlayStation protagonists.
  • These protagonists have distinct personalities, goals, and motivations that make them compelling and memorable game characters.

The protagonist is the most important character of any game. Especially if that game is story or character driven. The protagonist, typically the character you play as, is the character you’ll root for, who you’ll spend the most time with. Some games allow you to create your own player character; some push it farther and have you develop their personalities, their choices, and actions. Other games have pre-developed characters for you to play as.

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PlayStation has earned itself a reputation over the years as one of the best companies when it comes to publishing single-player, character-driven video games. Part of this success is due to its creation of engaging, likable, iconic protagonists. Each of their games has a distinct hero in the lead spot, for audiences of all diversities to play as. But some of them are better than others. Here we look at the best PlayStation protagonists we’ve seen thus far.

10 Astro Bot – Astro Bot (Series)

A screenshot showing Astro Bot skating on ice in Astro's Playroom

There are video games for all people, of all ages. Platformers are often considered among the most family friendly, youth appealing genres. They have colourful, quirky locations, puzzles, and challenges, with light combat elements. The Astro Bot series does all these things.

While Astro Bot himself lacks much in the way of characterisation beyond him being a robot, he does exude personality and charm. He’s very likable and endearing, with a cute, fun appearance, enhanced when he’s using creative means of exploration and traversal. In Astro Bot Rescue Mission, we get a sense of Astro’s loyalty and heart when he ventures out to save his crewmates. Astro is a hero.

9 Jin Sakai – Ghost Of Tsushima

Ghost of Tsushima Jin Sakai Cover Art

Jin Sakai is a protagonist with vengeance on the mind, who’s constantly reminded of actions of the past, of the ethics and morals of what he does. Jin is a stoic individual with a clear-cut goal and motivation, who doesn’t once stray from it.

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Jin is a great protagonist in Ghost of Tsushima because of the questions he presents himself. He has concerns over honour, fearing he is letting his family down with every action he takes. He cares for his friends and allies; he wants to do good. Plus, he’s a fan of haikus, nature, and music.

8 Selene (Returnal)

Selene from Returnal

Crash-landed on an alien planet, Selene is an astronaut in search of answers about her predicament, and a way home. Throughout Returnal, you learn more about her as a character, as memories and flashes of her past reveal key details. She is haunted by visions of an astronaut, of a country home and more.

Just as significant is her determination and grit. The very nature of the gameplay showcases just how relentless and focused Selene is. She will not stop; she will not surrender to fate. Trapped in a time loop, she gets up and takes on all opponents because that’s the sort of person she is.

7 Sam Porter Bridges – Death Stranding

Sam holds BB as dark clouds loom over them

Sam Porter Bridges is a courier, tasked with transporting a variety of packages across post-apocalyptic USA. He takes on the dangers of the world, the natural and the unnatural alike. He’s a man who puts duty first. When his adoptive mother tasks him with reconnecting the country, he takes the challenge in Death Stranding.

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On his journey, we learn more about what makes Sam tick. He grows fond of the Bridge Baby he carries, giving it the name ‘Lou,’ showing a depth to Sam previously unseen. While he is often reluctant to take on certain tasks and challenges, the fact that he does so, and eventually saves the world from terrorists displays Sam’s moral standing. He is a complicated character, with depth, and he isn’t afraid to fight or flee when needed.

6 Aloy – Horizon (Series)

Aloy draws her bow and aims an arrow in Horizon Forbidden West.

The clone of one of the last surviving humans, Aloy’s journey across the Horizon series is one of discovery. Not only of the world she inhabits, but of herself. She has no identity for much of her life, only realising who and what she is near the end of the first game.

Due to the slight RPG nature of the Horizon games, much of Aloy’s personality is provided from you. You can make important narrative choices, have her communicate to others in specific ways, and more. Aloy doesn’t always showcase her personality, but she does let her actions speak for her, often diasplaying incredible feats of combat for the people she cares for.

5 Ratchet & Clank – Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart protagonists

Ratchet and Clank are a double act. Where one goes, the other isn’t far behind. Ratchet is a Lombax with desires of exploring the galaxy. His expertise in mechanics allowed him to build a ship top accomplish this task. Meanwhile, Clank is a fugitive robot with a mission. One that he and Ratchet often butt heads about.

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Upon learning the truth about his origins, Clank must make a decision. He chooses to stick with Ratchet, whom he now considers a close friend and ally. Together, with Ratchet’s teen vibes and Clank’s more stoic demeanour, they form an unlikely but charming duo.

4 Nathan Drake – Uncharted (Series)

A wounded Nathan Drake stands in a jungle environment holding a walkie talkie

Designed to be a modern-day Indiana Jones, or a modern-day action hero as seen in pulpy movies of the eighties, Nathan Drake ended up being a bit more than that in the Uncharted games. He’s a thief, having been brought up in an orphanage, then on the streets, and then under the guidance of longtime friend, Victor Sullivan.

While he nearly always mows down dozens of bad guys, ensuring they don’t get their hands on some ancient artefact or civilisation, he often learns a thing or two about himself in the process. Nathan is charming, comedic, athletic, cool in certain regards, and very likeable. His friends and allies bring the best out of him.

3 Peter Parker/Spider-Man – Spider-Man

Spider Man holding up the peace sign as he takes a selfie above city

Peter Parker is a character established in comic books in 1962 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He has a long lineage and history, in comics, movies, TV, and video games. Insomniac’s Spider-Man had the difficult task of redefining and reinventing that character, while also keeping him true to his traditional depictions.

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The result is a slightly older Peter, who works with Dr. Otto Octavius, who’s in a relationship with Mary Jane, and who loves his Aunt May. Peter is fun, charming, sometimes quirky, and awkward. He struggles to put his personal needs aside for the greater good. What makes Peter an iconic character is that he always does the right thing, even if it comes at great cost.

2 Joel And Ellie – The Last of Us (Series)

Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us sitting atop a horse

In The Last of Us, Joel Miller is a middle-aged man mourning the loss of his daughter, an event that scarred and changed him forever. When he’s tasked with transporting Ellie, a potentially immune teenager across the country, in the hopes of finding a cure to the cordyceps plague, he realises there’s more to life than what was lost.

Ellie is a teenager with a destiny. She could save the world, if she were given the choice. She likes a good joke; she wants to explore and learn about the world. She wants to live a life of love and happiness, but that’s just not the world she lives in. She and Joel form a surrogate father-daughter relationship, one that changes them both forever. They are fuelled by events of the past, of deep motivations, of anger. They’re arguably not good people, but they make for compelling game protagonists.

1 Kratos – God Of War

Kratos staring down enemies in the black bear set in God of War Ragnarok the video game

When Kratos was first introduced in the God of War series, he was a womanising, battle-hungry individual. Hardly the most appropriate protagonist for players. As time passed, the games delved deeper into his flaws and morals, revealing truths about his origin and family. In the first games, he seeks vengeance and gets it. It’s not the deepest of insights into Kratos, but it shows his determination.

Then, many years later, he found a new love. Together, they had a son, whom he loves dearly. When his wife died, he and Atreus ventured to the top of the mountain to spread her ashes. They battled evil creatures, angry gods, and they got through Ragnarok and back to earn the peace they so desired. Kratos is one of the best protagonists because of the growth he goes through throughout the series. So much so that he essentially has a different personality in the later games, with a quieter, wiser, more stoic vibe, instead of his anger-filled, vengeance-fuelled ways of earlier games.

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