Villains are always an interesting and entertaining bunch to play as. Understandably, some people might turn red at the idea of playing as the bad guy, but it’s honestly a great way to shift perspective. There’s no harm in turning to the dark side once in a while, right? No seriously, we’re asking, we just don’t know.
So if you’re looking for some games where you end up playing as the bad guy in one way or another, you’ll love this list of playable video game bad guys.
This list is presented in no particular order and is by no means a complete list of every playable bad guy, just some of our favorites.
Shinobu Jacobs | No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
A character you will get to fight in the No More Heroes franchise, she returns as a playable character in the sequel to the game. She’s the number eight hero in the world and the youngest member of the United Assassins Association. She also happens to be one of the few characters that Travis seemed to have spared in the game.
In a way, you will get to experience a different fighting style than the aggressive and wild combat that Travis has perpetuated. Shinobu’s fighting style is more composed, and she has some decent aerial attacks up her sleeve. In the game, her section plays with some platforming elements where she will need to jump and attack enemies that come at her.
Once a rival to Travis, she now sees him as a Master with the potential to teach her to be a better assassin. We see her return as a grown-up in No More Heroes 3, but not as a playable character.
The Arbiter | Halo 2
You get to play as a disgraced commander of the Covenant Elite turned Arbiter, Thel Vadam. All Arbiters are intended to die in service, but his character somehow survives all the missions given to him, and eventually even the Prophet’s betrayal of his species.
This is the first time an Arbiter is playable, and it brings a whole lot of insight into the Covenant and its hierarchy. A little backstory, Thel Vadam was branded as a heretic due to his failure to protect the Halo rings from the SPARTAN elite soldiers and is now sentenced to become an Arbiter and carry out suicidal missions for the Covenant.
As the Arbiter, your mission is to assassinate the Heretic Leader on a gas mine in Threshold. You’ll be neutralizing the Heretic’s forces while fighting Sentinels and flying some cool Covenant and Sangheili aircraft. Quite literally the full Arbiter experience right there.
Goro Majima | Yakuza 0
After ten years, we finally get to play as the Mad Dog of Shimano, Goro Majima. He appears a lot as a supporting character or as a boss of some of the games over the years, and even a protagonist in some.
But Yakuza 0 is the first time he is released as a playable character, and now he is playable in Yakuza: Dead Souls and his very own mainline game Yakuza Kiwami 2’s Majima Saga. A well-accomplished Yakuza with a missing left eye, Goro Majima is a charismatic and interesting personality to behold.
Since Yakuza 0 is the prequel to the franchise, we get to see a young and more serious Majima and how his sadomasochistic behavior was formed. His fighting skill is pretty unique, one even featuring some breakdancing techniques. A must-play character in my book.
Vergil | Devil May Cry 3
You can unlock his playable character once you’ve finished the main game in Devil May Cry 3. Vergil is a recurring antagonist in the Devil May Cry franchise, appearing in Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening and Devil May Cry 5. He also happens to be the twin brother of Dante, the main protagonist of the franchise.
Even if they are twins, their fighting styles and moralities are complete opposites. Where Dante prefers the light, his brother prefers the darkness. Nonetheless, Vergil’s combos and sword skills are among the best you will get to experience and he has now become a fan favorite amongst players.
His character development and changes are what make him a valuable character to the franchise, even as an antagonist.
Jetstream Sam | Metal Gear Rising Revengeance
As part of the Metal Gear Rising Revengeance DLC, players get to play as Jetstream Sam aka Samuel Rodrigues, and discover his origins. It’s pretty cool because it’s not every day you get to find out what made a cyborg swordman turn evil. Sam is also one of the toughest bosses to beat in the main game, so a little insight into what fuels him is definitely welcome.
Jetstream Sam is a cyborg mercenary that has made a name for himself in the criminal underworld, but he still holds the way of the samurai. He used to uphold some form of justice but has since turned his back on it. The DLC uncovers the reason behind this.
The Jetstream Sam DLC is pretty standard, and a short playthrough when compared to other DLCs, which is a little disappointing. Sure, there are new things, but it does feel too similar to the main game. Either way, you get more insight into his character and another perspective on Raiden.
Dr Ivo Robotnik / Eggman | Sonic Adventure 2
Better known as Dr. Eggman in the Sonic universe, this is the one constant antagonist you’ll meet for most of the series. You get to go from fighting him to being him, which is an interesting change of pace. In Sonic Adventure 2, you’ll get to put on Dr. Robotnik’s mecha suit and go to town – blasting through secret military bases in order to take over the world.
So far, the Dark campaign under Sonic Adventure 2 is the only moment where you get to take control of Dr. Robotnik, which is a shame. He holds a lot of potential for a good time with his mech suit and various machines that go undiscovered.
His part focuses mostly on multi-directional shooting, but it’s fun to be able to be in a mech suit shooting and hovering over others. You also get to play Shadow and Rouge The Bat in this game, so more villainous fun!
Abby Anderson | The Last of Us Part 2
A little on the grey area with Abby here, but she is undoubtedly one of the most disliked characters out there. She is technically seen as a villain because she killed off Joel, even if the game tries to make you understand her skewed motives. Sure, Joel isn’t exactly a spotless character either, but he is a beloved character in the franchise and one that we have all grown to love.
Anyways, you get to play as Abby for a good 10 to 15 hours as she rediscovers herself and her purpose in life after she has gotten her revenge on Joel for killing her father. Ironically, this only cements everyone’s hatred towards her character, which is the opposite of the original effect as intended by the devs. That’s what you get with bad writing, folks!
It may take a long while for everyone to properly accept her character or to empathize with her, so let’s circle back to this in a couple of years.
Harley Quinn | Batman: Arkham Knight
Harley Quinn is playable for the first time as a DLC in Batman: Arkham Knight as part of the franchise’s Arkham Episode. You get to play as Harley as she breaks into the police department to rescue Poison Ivy as part of her ploy to destroy Batman. All of this takes place before the events of the Arkham Knight game itself.
By now, Joker is dead and Harley is motivated by revenge, gathering all the people she can while taking control of Joker’s gang. You’ll be fighting through a ton of police officers and eventually Nightwing as he tries to prevent you from reaching Poison Ivy.
She’s a fun character to play, mirroring the psychotic elements of Joker, and fueled by revenge. You’ll also be teaming up with Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and Penguin in a plan to ruin Batman once and for all.
Darth Vader | Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
It would be a criminally underrated lie if you’ve never wanted to try playing as Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. In The Force Unleashed, you get to go on a mission as Darth Vader as he searches for a Secret Apprentice to train in the Dark Side.
The mission is at the start of the game and takes place on the Wookie homeworld, where you will be able to choke some Wookies with the force and swing your lightsaber around. As a formidable boss in the game itself, at least you got a taste of him as a playable character and his capabilities before having to go head to head with him.
The irony is, in the main game you play as the protagonist – which happens to be the Secret Apprentice aka Starkiller that Vader has taken up to train. Basically, Starkiller turns his back on his master in the end.
Bowser | Super Mario Odyssey
Yes, this is not the first time you will get to play Bowser, there are many instances where you get to take over his character and wreck havoc. But Bowser in Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best showcases of his power. As we switch to his body, breaking through everything is a breeze and getting out of the collapsing caverns is like child’s play.
We all know Bowser is strong, but it’s always nice to feel the might of his power. It also makes sense that he’s a recurring villain in all of the Mario games, this is one creature that is hard to beat permanently. And sure, there is a grey area when it comes to Bowser’s morality, but there are games where he’s on Mario’s side, so he might not completely be a bad guy.
He’s always a treat to play as that’s for sure.
Before we go, here are some honorable mentions – God of War, Carrion, GTA, and even Plague Inc. These are games where you get to be the bad guy from the beginning, without ever having the chance to feel like a protagonist. At least with the games, we’ve listed, you’ve had a go at the hero life before filling in the shoes of the villains.
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