Everyone’s favorite story about humans, aliens, those other aliens, and those other, other aliens finally came to an end with last month’s release of StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. StarCraft II’s plot matters to a lot of people (myself included), and it’s because its characters, who are mostly fleshed out by pre and post-game briefings, made the story worth seeing, even if you thought the whole thing felt like a contrived combination of Starship Troopers and Warhammer 40K. It’s produced some truly memorable characters, and the ten best of them deserve nothing less than to be ranked in order.
Artanis displays all of the traits necessary to be a leader: the strength of conviction needed to carry out plans when all of the options at hand look murky, and the open-minded nature of someone who understands that existence is about learning new things, not proving your old habits. In StarCraft, Artanis was one of the few Protoss connected to the Khala (a sort of communal state of mind that allows everyone in it to share thoughts and feelings) who was willing to work with the Dark Templar (a contingent who shuttered their connection to it). By Legacy of the Void, Artanis has everything he needs to make the right decision to destroy the Zerg, but instead chooses pride, and spends the rest of the game carrying the burden of his decision. It’s a strong start, and shows that true strength comes from learning from our mistakes rather than avoiding them.
9. Edmund Duke
Edmund Duke isn’t exactly StarCraft’s most important character. He’s an underling of the Dominion, both before and after Arcturus Mengsk’s takeover, and he generally carries a snarling, dismissive and downright shitty disposition. But he’s got a great cartoonish Southern accent, and that alone has made him one of the characters from the original StarCraft I most vividly remember. I find myself thinking about and quoting the line “I’m a general, for god’s sake!” more often than I care to admit, and when I watch the above clip where he chews scenery back and forth with Alexei Stukov (who carries a thick Russian accent), I can’t help but smile.
It’s unfortunate that Raszagal, Matriarch of the Dark Templar, ended up as a plot device to further Zeratul’s revenge against Kerrigan, a way to make the circumstances of the StarCraft: Brood War campaign seem more dire. In a game lacking more than one powerful woman, Raszagal was almost a necessity, and made her case for being one of the best new characters in Brood War in the scant few minutes she got in the limelight. Her dialogue and voice acting weren’t always great, but her position as Matriarch was one of the ways Blizzard showed the Protoss were a distinct race of advanced aliens, and she portrayed an aura of someone not to trifled with.
You don’t get your entire race to turn you into a farewell in the likes of “go with God” without doing something right. “En taro Tassadar” means “Honor to Tassadar,” and he earned this by saving the Protoss (and humans, for that matter), from the Zerg Overmind, sacrificing himself and his enormous ship in the process. Like most Protoss, he was honorbound, and saw his commitment to the end. Even after all these years of being dead, he’s popular enough among fans to earn him a spot on Heroes of the Storm’s roster, so in a way, his messianic sacrifice is honored among humans (or Terrans, as they’re called in StarCraft) as well.
StarCraft still revels in the nostalgia of its past, to the point where many of the newer characters just don’t have the appeal of older favorites. Abathur is one of the few exceptions. His succinct speech patterns, single-minded dedication to making the Zerg armies stronger, and combination of insect and human attributes (putting your hands together in contemplation seems like a distinctly human feature, no?) made him one of the most appealing new characters in all of StarCraft II. And that you got to laugh at the antics of someone who in no resembled a human being speaks to how strong his dialogue was.