Last week, I published the first installment of my top 100 video game characters list, a massive endeavor I've spent months planning and curating.  The initial response was uplifting and I truthfully appreciate the kind words that were left in the comments section.  However, the list has only just begun and it's time to continue the forward momentum and release my second installment.  The following ten characters are ranked just a bit higher than last week's, and I hope you'll enjoy reading about them as much as I did writing about why they resonated with me.  So without further ado, let's continue the list!

90) Reinhardt Wilhelm

Appeared In:  Overwatch

"Justice will be done."

As I pointed out in my top 10 games of 2016 blog (yes, I will continue to shamelessly plug old blogs of mine for the duration of this list), Overwatch was one of my favorite games of a year already packed with great games.  In part this was due to the game's excellent design that satisfyingly rewards teamwork and has mechanics that are simple enough for anyone to learn, yet complex enough to allow for a competitive scene to flourish.

However, the true reason I value Overwatch as much as I do is because of its endearing and downright lovable cast of characters.  While most gaming new outlets have focused on the diversity of the cast in terms of their countries of origin, I think an even more important aspect to the roster is the diversity of their personalities.  From the comically, over the top edgy Reaper, to the cold emotionless sniper Widowmaker and the suave cowboy cosplayer McCree, every character in Overwatch's roster oozes a unique and charming personality that, while somewhat one-note, has captured the hearts of gamers the world over.  Because every character has very different personality traits, behaviors, and interactions with the rest of the cast, I think it's fair to say that everyone will gravitate towards one hero over the others.  For me, that hero is Reinhardt.

Reinhardt is my favorite Overwatch character for a trifecta of reasons - his design, his play style, and his personality.

First, Reinhardt's design is one of my favorite in a game that's full of characters that are destined to become iconic.  He's a tank hero meant to take numerous hits for his teammates and his design reflects that.  Reinhardt is incredibly tall and bulky, built like a brick house.  And even though the world of Overwatch takes place in the future, he dons robotic knight armor and his weapon of choice is a comically oversized hammer.  Reinhardt's design perfectly reflects his playstyle, the protector of his team.

While Reinhardt can deal substantial damage with thrusts of his hammer, in Overwatch his primary role is deploying a massive shield in front of him and either charging into the front lines or holding a choke point while his team hides behind him.  And just as his design reflects his playstyle, Reinhardt's playstyle reflects his personality.

Overwatch's official character bio describes Reinhardt as a "champion of a bygone age, who lives by the knightly codes of valor, justice and courage."  Reinhardt is a moral paragon who was a founding member of the original Overwatch team, a global force comprised of heroes to protect the helpless and keep the peace.  Reinhardt was in many ways the heart of the operation, serving as a guiding moral compass for the group, and took great pride and enjoyment out of getting to protect his comrades in battle.  In matches of Overwatch, this element of Reinhardt's personality comes out, as he joyfully cheers his friends on in combat while insisting that he will "be their shield."  It's worth noting that Darin De Paul, Reinhardt's voice actor, absolutely owns the role.  You can tell he's having a lot of fun voicing this jolly oversized German hero, and this is instrumental in Reinhardt being a very fun character to both play as and be around.

In the Overwatch lore, Reinhardt is ultimately forced to retire from military service due to his age and can only watch with despair as Overwatch, once the pride and joy of his life is shut down.  Refusing to quietly age away on the sidelines, even at the ripe age of 61, Reinhardt dons his armor once more and takes up the life as a travelling adventurer, roaming across the German countryside to find and help those in need.

Reinhardt is such an infectiously uplifting character to play as.  His design exudes power and strength.  Protecting one's team with his mighty shield is always a very fun experience.  And his optimism and respect for justice make him almost insufferably endearing.  In an industry that tends to only depict Germans as Nazi fodder to kill, having a hero like Reinhardt around is a welcome breath of fresh air, and he'll be my go to hero in what is probably my favorite FPS for years to come.

89) Nigel West Dickens

Appared In:  Red Dead Redemption

"This is America, where a lying, cheating degenerate like myself can prosper."

Red Dead Redemption has one of my favorite supporting casts in gaming for one simple reason - all of your allies are extraordinarily incompetent, and sometimes even despicable people.  They range from a lazy sheriff and incompetent deputies, to an insane grave robber, and a cowardly, borderline useless drunk.  Yet the miraculous part of being surrounded by all these characters is that they all play a part in a plan that somehow, against the odds, is successful in taking back an abandoned fort from a gang of dangerous criminals.

In Red Dead Redemption, protagonist John Marston's family is kidnapped by the U.S. government, and will not be released until he hunts down and brings in the members of a gang he was a part of in his youth.  One such member has holed himself up in a fort, and together with his cronies, it proves inpregnable.  However, thanks to a man named Nigel West Dickens, Marston is able to infiltrate the fort and make progress towards reuniting with his family.

Dickens fits neatly into the "snake oil salesman" trope in Westerns.  He is suave and older gentleman who proudly proclaims to be a man of science and offers mysterious and supposedly miraculous elixirs to the ignorant masses of New Austin Texas, making a substantial amount of cash while doing so.  Dickens is a deplorable man who seeks to rip off people who already have little to begin with, but I couldn't help but consistently smile while he was around.  Dickens embraces the fact that he's a slimy jerk, and is extraordinarily witty, crafting the perfect comments and comebacks to suit the situation on hand.  Coupled with some excellent voice work from Don Creech, Dickens had me cracking up more times than I care to admit.

The ironic thing about Dickens is that he is actually the mastermind behind the brave and stupid plan to infiltrate Fort Mercer.  Even though he is an unreliable and disgraceful person, this plan is actually a great success, and Dickens really puts himself out there to help John Marston.  Dickens drives his cart into the fort, offering to sell his wares to the thieves within (even though they could easily gut him if he rubbed them the wrong way), while Marston and his clumsy allies ambush them and defeat the thieves within.

Throughout Red Dead Redemption's campaign, the blunt and sarcastic Marston loses his patience more than once having to deal with Dickens constantly putting off the plan to invade Mercer, insisting he doesn't have enough funds yet to do so and tasking Marston with cheating in horse races and the like to procure them.  However, when push comes to shove, he is arguably the most clever and capable of Marston's unlikely allies, and John himself seems to be aware of this.

He is the only of Marston's allies from the first act of the game to return in the final few chapters, where he is seen arrested by the government for fraud.  Here we see that in the end, Marson may have had just an iota of respect for Dickens and the aid he provided him after all, as he requests the government officers pardon him for the help he provided in Marston bringing his former gang members to the law.

It's difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why I enjoyed Dickens character so much, especially because by the standards of convention morality, he's a real jerk.  He's basically a real life Wario whose greed causes a lot more harm than his cartoonish counterpart.  However, Nigel's suave mannerisms and style of speaking, coupled with the fact that somehow, the humorously terrible plan he concocts to invade Fort Mercer is actually a success makes him a deplorable man I'm not ashamed to say I enjoyed having around.

88) Midna

Appeared in:  The Legend of Zelda:  Twilight Princess

"Well... I guess this is farewell, huh?"  Light and shadow can't mix, as we all know.  But... never forget there's another world bound to this one."

As anyone who has dabbled in even the tamest of video game memes knows, many Legend of Zelda games pair up the protagonist Link with an insufferably annoying companion.  And frankly, the complaints these legendary jokes are founded on are justifiable.  Navi, the first of Link's many companions from Ocarina of Time, is an annoying fairy that belts out the same tutorials no matter how many times you replay the game.  She undergoes virtually no character growth and is most noteworthy for shouting "Hey listen!" in a high pitched voice ad nauseam.  The game's sequel, Majora's Mask, features a fairy companion named Tatl, whose lack of voice clips and mocking of Link make her more tolerable, but still far from a fully fleshed out character with growth over the course of the game.  And perhaps the worst of all is Fi, a sword spirit who accompanies Link on his journey in Skyward Sword.  She was intentionally designed to be devoid of a personality, and does nothing but remind players how low the charge on their Wii Remote batteries is until the end of the game, when we're supposed to be upset that she has to leave Link's side.

While I am clearly very salty towards some of the companions The Legend of Zelda series has thrown our way through the years, they aren't all terrible.  In fact, Twilight Princess' in particular was well written and likable enough to find her way on this list.

Link first meets Midna early on in his quest, when he is transformed into a wolf and thrown into the dungeon of an odd castle.  Helplessly changed to the ground and not used to his new form, the mysterious imp Midna appears and offers to help him escape and find his kidnapped friends, but only if he agrees to do everything she says from now on.  Literally unable to say no, Link is forced to take her up on that offer, and what follows is a unique twist on the hero - partner dynamic of Legend of Zelda games, as Link finds himself at Midna's mercy while in wolf form to survive.

From this point on, Link adventures across the land of Hyrule collecting cursed artifacts known as "Fused Shadows" for Midna, so that she can use them to defeat the evil entity known as Zant, who is responsible for plaguing the land of Hyrule with shadows and transforming Midna into an imp.  However, unlike prior Legend of Zelda companions, Midna oozes a unique personality.  She's playfully malicious and bossy to Link, and she doesn't really hide the fact that she's essentially using him and throwing him into harm's way for her own benefit.

However, over the course of their travels together, Midna's personality slowly changes as she comes to appreciate Link.  As he continues to throw his life into every danger that stands between him and the Fused Shadows, she begins to feel bad for manipulating him as much as she has, even outright apologizing for everything he's been through after the game's third dungeon.

However, the turning point in Link and Midna's relationship comes immediately after this.  Zant ambushes the duo, transforms Link into a wolf once more, and mortally wounds Midna.  What follows is one of my favorite moments in gaming history, as a downpour begins to fall, a dramatic (and now iconic) theme plays, and the transformed Link struggles to keep his dying ally alive.  With the help of Princess Zelda, Link is able to revive Midna and regain his proper form, and from this point on Link and Midna enjoy a more healthy dynamic, regarding each other as genuine friends who share the same interests, with Link fully committed to assisting Midna in defeating Zant, and later the true mastermind Ganondorf.

At the end of the game, Midna is able to regain her true form as Princess of the Twilight.  Her character design I feel is one of the strongest in the Zelda series, so it's a pity she doesn't get much screen time, it being the end of the game and all.  Heck, it's even implied that Link developed a bit of a crush on her at this point.  However, Midna returns to her proper home after this, the Twilight Realm, but not before first shattering the Mirror of Twilight.  This completely severs the link between Midna's world and Hyrule, and while this means she'll never get to see Link or Zelda again, she can also take solace in protecting both lands from a similar tragedy as the one they had just overcome repeating itself.

Midna is simply one of the Legend of Zelda's greatest characters.  Her growth from begrudging and manipulative ally to genuine friend with Link was very slow and felt both believable and natural.  I actually enjoyed rather than dreaded her dialogue and while almost every Legend of Zelda game ends with Link saying good-bye to his travel companion, Midna's farewell scene at the end of Twilight Princess was one of the only ones that made me sad to see her go.

87) Toranosuke Yoshida

Appeared In:  Persona 5

"Does anyone out there have something they aspire to do?  I met a certain young man...  Through a method that differs from mine, he was trying to reform the world.  As you know, that is a very large mountain to cross.  Unfortunately, I am unable to travel the same path as him.  ...However, I will not say goodbye.  Because we will surely meet at the peak.  He is desperately doing what he aspires to do.  So I encourage you all, please find what it is that YOU aspire to do.  And I will support you.  Because that is what I aspire to do.

On top of providing plenty of unforgettable characters who found their way on to to this list, Persona 5 did the impossible.

It made me like a politician.

Toranosuke Yoshida is a perfect microcosm of one of Persona 5's main themes - the importance of being true to one's values regardless of how society will judge you for them.  He's a washed up politician that delivers speeches almost every night at Tokyo's Central Square, pouring his heart out on issues genuinely passionate to him to an audience that could actually care less, or even despises him.  Twenty years before the start of the game, Yoshida was an up and coming politician in Japan's National Diet, but a series of stumbles born from being somewhat vain, including misappropriating party funds made him fall out of favor with the Japanese people.  He was labeled "No Good Tora" and forced out of politics.

As he matured, Yoshida realized the folly of his ways and how misguided his intentions as a politician were.  With age, he realizes the importance of running on a platform that stays true to one's values while genuinely helping the people, but as he attempts to spread this message, he is only met with disinterest and shame.  I myself initially brushed him off when I first met him in Persona 5.  I only returned later to begin his confidant link because his public speaking advice to the protagonist improves his shadow negotiation abilities, allowing him to acquire new personas and more cash with greater ease.

However, the more time I spent with Yoshida, the more I grew to care for him as a character.  Away from the bustle of the public, you find he truly is shameful of the mistakes he made in his younger years and earnest in his values.  There's a quiet passion to Yoshida's character, and it burns brighter the more the protagonist is there to cheer him on.  I always found friendships that transcended age gaps to be very endearing in fiction if done right, and Yoshida's relationship with the protagonist is a good example of that, as all Yoshida needed to reclaim his confidence and win back public support was someone there to believe in him even when no one else would , himself included.

Yoshida's confidant link is a satisfying one to watch progress, as Yoshida overcomes his mopiness and self-loathing, along the way rebuking any halfhearted offers to get him back into politics.  Some of his politician friends offer him a position as his assistant as a means to attempt to win back party favor for example, but Yoshida refuses.  He won't take shortcuts.  He wants to be a full fledged Diet member again, and that conviction was really inspiring to watch.

In the end, it turns out that Yoshida never misappropriated party funds, as he was a scapegoat for his mentor, a much more powerful politician.  Yoshida was merely quietly enduring this false accusation for years.  Even after the culprit is revealed to him, Yoshida refuses to make an announcement saying as much, as he wants to be re-elected on the merits of his values rather than drama.  However, this information leaks regardless, and the public comes around to admiring Yoshida for silently accepting the blame for a crime he never committed.  It's never formally revealed to the player, but walking past Station Square towards the end of the game reveals Yoshida delivering a speech thanking the public for his re-election and vowing to uphold his campaign promises.  Helping Yoshida back into his prime and seeing his dream accomplished was an undeniably satisfying moment, and one of the most uplifting parts of Persona 5.

Yoshida especially shines in the late game.  Like the other non-party Persona 5 confidants, he pieces together than you are a Phantom Thief, but unlike the others, he figures it out all on his own.  The others merely deduced it because you changed the heart of someone whose name they only shared with you.  Though a connection with a wanted criminal is dangerous to him, Yoshida refuses to turn you in, instead expressing his full support for your endeavors, as you both yearn to reform society, albeit by different methods.  And when the protagonist is unfairly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit at the end of the game, Yoshida is livid, furious that the man who helped him regain his confidence is being unfairly punished, and he boldly urges the Diet to mobilize and help him.

To be honest, I'm not sure if many politicians like Yoshida really exist, and that's part of his charm as a character.  I initially brushed him off as a boring politician, but by sticking with him, I formed a rewarding friendship and gained the satisfaction of helping a genuine and earnest man slowly find his confidence and passion once more.  There was something really endearing about the way Yoshida's confidant progressed, and helping him finally accomplish his dream of becoming a Diet member after decades of him also suffering from the effects of a crime he didn't commit was one of the most satisfying things I've done in a video game.

86) Doug

Appeared In:  Telltale's The Walking Dead:  Season One

"Anything I'd like to contribute needs batteries or tools I just don't have...  I feel worthless on watch because I'm not wild about guns, and I just wish I was more helpful."

There are a number of themes that are brought up (or recycled, depending on your level of cynicism) frequently in The Walking Dead fiction, one of the most interesting ones being social Darwinism.  Early in The Walking Dead's chronology, right after the outbreak, all sorts of survivors of different age groups, combat skills and personalities can be found.  However, as time goes on and the post-apocalyptic world continues to grow harsher and more inhospitable, the weak are weened out.  Children and the elderly are seen less and less.  Those without much combat training begin to die out.  And kind souls often meet their end at the end of an axe or with a bullet in their brain after "helping" the wrong bandit.  This is precisely why I found Doug to be such an interesting character.

In the first episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead (back when the series was actually fresh and interesting), players met and got to know a pair of characters, Carley and Doug, who couldn't be further from one another personality-wise.  Carley was a confident and attractive reporter who was capable with her gun and sharp witted.  Doug was a meek IT technician who was skilled with technology, kind and well liked, but also bumbling in just about every other category.  Frankly he's a dork.  He even says "Pardon my French" before cursing.  In the world of The Walking Dead, it should be easy to tell who normally would last longer, except the game lets you decide this.

In a moment of peril, both characters find their lives in danger and players only have the time to help one.  While most players (roughly 75% to be exact) chose Carley for obvious reasons, I instead couldn't bring myself to ignore Doug.  Frankly, that's because I have a lot more in common with Doug than Carley, and wouldn't want someone to leave me to die just because my survivor skills weren't as sharp as others.  In the aftermath, it's revealed that Doug had feelings for Carley (feelings that the player knows are reciprocated through earlier dialogue) and laments that you chose saving him over her...  It's a rather somber scene.

In the months to follow, Doug's once cheerful demeanor is met with in an increasing decline in his sense of self-worth and depression.  Unlike his fellow survivors, Doug isn't handy with guns and doesn't fare well under pressure.  He's a genius when it comes to the sciences and technology, but these skills seldom see practical use in a time when fighting and scavenging are necessary to survive.  In spite of this though, Doug provides great comic relief, with his dorky mannerisms and social awkwardness being a nice foil to the hardened survivors around him.  And he does find hilarious ways to be useful regardless, like temporarily blinding a villain with a laser pointer so the player can beat the snot out of him.

Ultimately, Doug meets his end at the end of a gun barrel.  One of the most memorable moments of the series is the one players encounter if they save Carley; one of your unhinged group members, Lily, shoots her in cold blood.  In my playthrough however, having saved Doug, she instead tries to shoot another survivor named Ben.  Desperately trying to save the life of his friend, in an instant and without second thought, Doug immediately pushes him out of the way, taking the bullet instead.

I was furious at my friend having died so suddenly.  I had a strong connection to Doug's character, having related to him, and going went out of my way to save him earlier in the series.  I was so upset that I abandoned Lily on the side of the road without second thought.  However, in hindsight perhaps such a quick death was a merciful one for Doug, as in the long run, he very well could have easily ended up as walker food instead.

I've since replayed Season One of Telltale's The Walking Dead to try out some alternate choices, but I just can't bring myself to let Doug die.  His kindness and dorkiness make him a nice foil character in a game full of grizzled survivors, and his decreasing sense of self worth was an interesting concept to explore in game.  Telltale's The Walking Dead is still an ongoing series, but its characters are growing increasingly "same-y" and forgettable.  But I also blame the strong impression the original cast made, as well as the fact less "Doug-like" characters are around later in the series chronology for this as well.

Check out the next page to read about the next five characters!