Fanbyte Game of the Year: Best New Character 2018

Another year, another set of great games. 2018 sort of petered out there towards the end (Fallout 76, anyone?), but there were still some true standouts. To acknowledge that fact, the Fanbyte staff has put together a big list of games — and things in games — stood out to us in one way or another.

And one thing we got a lot of this year was great characters. Some of them were returning favorites (e.g. Kazuma Kiryu from Yakuza). Others were brand-new stars (Luna-Terra from Heaven Will Be Mine comes to mind). But two characters in particular stood out to the entire staff this year. Here they are, in all their glory, along with a few words of appreciation.

Android 21 Game of the Year

Runner-Up: Android 21, Dragon Ball FighterZ

Akira Toryiama has largely checked out of the Dragon Ball franchise. That’s with good reason! The man put an ungodly amount of time into writing and drawing a weekly manga for decades. When its popularity exploded, the world (and Toriyama’s publisher) demanded even more… forever. He’s earned his rest at this point.

But every once in a while, someone trots the man out to put his stamp on some new character designs or story concepts. They’re not always great, but we do get the occasional standout. One such creation is Android 21: the antagonist of this year’s unexpectedly brilliant Dragon Ball FigtherZ.

The conflicted doctor fits well into the established universe. She incorporates elements of every villain in Dragon Ball Z history. That’s perfect for a game that’s mostly a well-designed nostalgia trip. She also has a simple, stylish design — in contrast to some of Toriyama’s messy throwaway designs on later projects. You could easily see her being the big bad of a major arc from the anime.

Android 21 only suffers from a tortuously slow, convoluted story mode. Most of her pathos gets absorbed (pun intended) by arduous hours spent fighting mindless clones. A tighter, more cinematic narrative might have propelled her to the top of this category.

-Steven Strom, Managing Editor

Kassandra Game of the Year

Best New Character 2018: Kassandra, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Kassandra is, frankly, so good that she elevates an entire mediocre game around her. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is… fine… no matter which of the two playable protagonists you embody. But Alexios has nothing on his self-satisfied sister.

Kassandra doesn’t just radiate subtle sexual energy with every romance-able NPC. She feels self-aware in a way most Assassin’s Creed heroes since Ezio have not. Seriousness worked in last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which was as interested in the culture of its setting as the usual conspiracy plot, but it would feel out of place in this more action-oriented project.

Odyssey is a mindless content bucket. You go around murdering one of five different things for experience points, for several dozen hours. It’s a Ubisoft game! Kassandra’s unspoken acknowledgment of that silly fact makes the formula go down much smoother. The world around Kassandra simply isn’t interesting. But directing this bisexual war machine from bandit camp to bandit camp, hidden blades in hand, is at least dully satisfying.

-Steven Strom, Managing Editor