Best Protagonist: Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 3)

Whether your Shepard is male or female, this Alliance officer has earned a place among the most legendary RPG heroes. Standing up to the Reapers, mending old grudges, and saving entire races is just part of Shepard’s resume. The way players direct Shepard’s actions changes the tone and context of many situations, but Shepard never comes out of it looking any less awesome.

Best Villain: Caius (Final Fantasy XIII-2)

Most RPG villains have cartoonishly evil reasons for wanting to destroy existence, but Caius is an exception. Fueled by a surprisingly noble goal, Caius is one of the rare villains that regularly outsmarts the heroes and stays a step ahead. Caius’ machinations regularly subvert your expectations, and that unpredictability is one of his greatest strengths.

Best Sidekick: Pawns (Dragon’s Dogma)

Most sidekicks are useless at worst, and comic relief at best. Dragon’s Dogma breaks the trend by making pawns an invaluable asset in your adventures. They evolve over time to support your playstyle, share wisdom about different creatures and areas, and can even learn new info by venturing into other players’ games. If only all video game companions were this handy.