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The 9 best dogs in PC games

One Off The List

Featured post A screenshot of the interior of a helicopter from Metal Gear Solid V showing snake, with his cool eyepatch, kneeling inside. Behind him, his cool wolf dog Diamond Dog has turned to snarl at the camera.

All dogs go to heaven, we have heard it said. But what about videogame dogs? By the virtue of their non-existence you may suspect they are refused entry. However, after contemplating the issue for some time, our finest minds in the listicle archives have concluded that, yes, even videogame dogs go to heaven. What a relief. Here are the 10 goodest boys in PC games, all approved for divine ascendence.

Barbas – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

A screenshot of Barbas from Skyrim, a shaggy Irish wolfhound, looking at the camera with sad eyes.

Barbas is a magic talking dog with the voice of a New Yorker who has fallen down a manhole. He got into an argument with his master and was turfed out on his tail. As the only person in popular Norway simulator Skyrim who ever does any bloody work, you are the one Barbas comes to for help to reconcile with his owner. The catch: his master is Clavicus Vile, the demonic prince of trickery. Classic canine misadventures ensue.

Phogs – Phogs

A screenshot from Phogs, where a bipedal monster man with red skin is sitting by a tent in the background. A speech bubble shows that he wishes for some popcorn. In the foreground the Phog, a dog with one head at either end of its body, is trying to heat a brick oven, by means of one head eating from a chilli plant, thus causing the other head shooting flames from its mouth.

Anyone who survived the cartoon wars of the late 90s may remember a feverish vision appearing on their television of a cat who was also a dog. A “catdog”, some have termed it. Phogs removes the feline from the equation to create the ultimate companion animal. A dogdog. This is a co-op game in which each player controls a side of the stretchy furrball, clearing obstacles and doing puzzles. It does not answer the question that has been waking cartoon veterans in a cold sweat since 1998. Namely, how does this animal poo?

Dogmeat – Fallout 4

A screenshot from Fallout 4 showing the vault dweller, in their blue and yellow jumpsuit, and Dogmeat, a scruffy Alsatian. They are standing in a blasted, iradiated wilderness, but looking at each other fondly.

A realistic dog who gets in the way, realistically.

Diamond Dog – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

A screenshot from Metal Gear Solid 4 showing Solid Snake holding a puppy Diamond Dog - a scruffy little grey and white wolfy scrap. Snake looks very happy.

Puppies sprout fast, as any dog grower will attest. None more so than Diamond Dog (DD to his friends) who goes from wild pup to perfectly disciplined attack dog in a matter of days. He can spot enemies, fetch equipment from afar, and sneak up behind soldiers with a knife in his mouth to shank them stone dead like some unknown breed of fuzzy ninja. He has an eyepatch over one eye, which makes him look like a husky pirate. He is a known killer. Imagine if they filmed Beethoven with this dog instead of a St Bernard. Please, two minutes. Just sit there and imagine that.

Dog – Half-Life 2

A screenshot from Half Life 2 showing Alyx Vance, a normal human woman, with her dog Dog, which is a giant robot that stands on two feet and rests its big robot knuckles on the ground. It is not a dog.

A loyal companion to resistance warrior Alyx Vance, Dog is the plainly named pet who resembles famous helper dog Lassie in every way. The deep concern for human life. The jovial spirit of a contented playmate. The bulging metal chassis capable of withstanding 50 caliber bullets. Truly, he belongs on this list of goodest boys.

Amaterasu – Okami

A piece of art for Okami, showing a montage of characters with Amaterasu at the centre - a beautiful white wolf-type dog with swirls of red on her face and shoulders. She trails a nimbus of fire.

And goodest girls. Look, it is Amaterasu, the dog from Okami. She is both dog and sun goddess. As often happens to dogs, she has been asleep for 100 years. On waking she discovers that the land is cursed and she must paint it back into good health using celestial brushes. Dog, deity, artist. She would destroy the competition at Crufts.

JPEG dog – Ace Combat 7: Unknown Skies

A screenshot from Ace Combat 7 showing three women, one a young girl holding a toy, another perhaps a teenager, and the third an adult woman in a beige skirt two piece. They are standing on a runway in front of the nose of a plane. Next to the adult woman, a golden retriever sits on the ground.

This golden retriever shows up in a cutscene of ridiculous aerial warfare glamoriser Ace Combat 7, wherein he does not move in any way, unlike his fully CGI animated co-stars. He is frozen in a state of dippy happiness, a JPEG embedded into the scene like a distracting cardboard cutout. It was pure meme fuel, until the sad truth was revealed. The dog was the pet of a developer, and died shortly after that image was taken. At least now he has his own cutscene monument. All dogs go to heaven, but some get to live forever.

Sif – Dark Souls

A screenshot of a giant dog resembling a Husky. It is six meters tall and is carrying a correspondingly huge sword in its mouth. It is crouched to attack, and the ground before it is littered with the discarded weapons, armour, and bodies of its previously defeated opponents.

Sif is six meters tall. He holds a sword in his mouth that is 10 meters long. Your sword is one meter long. I will allow you the time to study that arithmetic as I explain the origin of this righteous animal. He is the familiar of the legendary knight Artorias, and has been lying forlornly at his master’s grave for untold years, evidently putting all his energy into bulking up and getting more swole than a household animal has any right to be. He knows how to fight and he loves his dead owner. He will kill you just for being here.

Roach – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

A screenshot from The Witcher 3 showing Geralt of Rivia astride a white horse. A horse is not a dog.

Looks a bit weird but that’s fantasy RPGs for you.

One Off The List from… the best magic spells

Last week we dusted off the arcane tomes and uncovered the 9 best magic spells in PC games. But one of these dread magicks fizzled out in your fingertips. It’s… branding orcs in Shadow Of Mordor.

A screenshot from The Shadow Of Mordor showing an orc being 'branded'. The camera is over the shoulder of the player character, who has pressed his hand to the orc's face, and it burns with white magic. The orc looks, it is fair to say, distressed.

“I dispute the addition of ‘branding’,” says magic policer “Samvega”, who takes issue with the corporate nomenclature of this process. “The clue is clearly in the name. It’s called branding. What elf zombie is actually doing is wielding high brand synergy to convince the orcs through sophisticated marketing techniques… Vertical integration in the form of managerial hierarchies which the orcs duly submit to because, in the end, don’t we want a hard-as-nails boss who imparts the fear of cold steel sliding into our nethers?”

A sound argument, and professional use of the rhetorical question. Right, that’s all. We’re going monthly with this column from now on, so hunker down and I’ll see you next time, list goblins.

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