298: Who Needs Friends?

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kman123:
Holy shit this was an amazing read.

Agreed 100%. More 'friendly' interactions=more emotional input. If a character dies, so what? If a character dies that you previously had interaction with, much more different.

The Darkness has one amazing example that I always pull out of my ass. It concerns your girlfriend Jenny...and it's an incredibly simple yet emotional scene where you spend the night with her. You can choose to leave early, choose to tell her what you really do, or choose to sit down with her and watch an entire movie. It's epic, and it's what makes the game so powerful.

That was a beautiful scene.

OT: The excuse I see for this most often is that the player is supposed to be more able to project onto a blank slate than a well developed character. I think it's kinda BS though. I totally project more onto well developed characters in books and movies, why should it be any different in games?

ZeroMachine:
I have to say, I disagree about Desmond Miles being an example of a disconnected character being a bad thing... because he is. He was kidnapped. Considering that in the first game all he could do was walk from room to room, and in II and Brotherhood they were trying to stay hidden, it isn't that far fetched that he wouldn't come across any childhood friends.

Furthermore, he does actually grow into familiarity with the other assassins he's hiding with. I think my favorite dialog in the game was:
Desmond: Whats-a-matter-you Altair?
Rebecca: Thats Racist!
Desmond: You're Racist!

It was nonsensical, but exactly the kind of silly nonsense that makes characters seem real.

On the other hand, Desmond doesn't really seem to miss, or mention, his former life, aside from a few references to "the compound". I think it would have been nice if that had come up at least occasionally.

"Why must so many characters be without friends, without family? Why are they, metaphorically speaking, Ronin-Ninja-Without-Clan?

Answer: They don't need to be."

True, but that's so much cooler sometimes. If I wanted friends, I'd socialize more in real life. Games are an escape, sometimes you WANT to be anonymous and known by reputation. Master Chief is cool specifically BECAUSE he's so ridiculously badass that he doesn't need or want friends. He just does his thing. Who would respect him as a character if it turns out he's just like the average SUPERBORING Joe?

EDIT: Also, am I the only one to often mix in my own imagination when I play a GOOD game?

I don't get this article. The situations described in the first half happen all the time in videogames. Has this writer actually played any?

Honestly, I don't see the same problem in most games. There's usually a reason the character doesn't have any friends to start, a reason they have to forge relationships in the course of gameplay (and you do know the Courier in Fallout: New Vegas is from California, right?)... it's the same as the old DM trick of starting your players off on the road, all from the same faraway land, exploring a new and foreign place.
That makes it a hell of a lot easier to invest in a character than starting you off next to an NPC or three that you're supposed to care about for no immediately apparent reason. So... this is my wife and kids... and their names are..?

Ugggggh! I completely identify with this commentary! This is actually only an issue for me in games that are so good that I don't have other issues bogging down my immersion... but that's why I feel like it's crucial!

It honestly would upset me in Dead Space being treated like an errand boy.

In Oblivion I felt so lonely, thinking that I had to buy my own house, that essentially there was no one there that wanted nothing from me.

Like a child in Fable 2, I chose to save my dog, because we had been through so much, and I felt like everyone was being selfish to ask anything else of me.

In Mass Effect 2 I really wanted there to be more dialogue options, to create things that felt like the close friendship my Shepard seemed to have with Wrex in the first game, or even Garrus.

In AC:Brotherhood I delighted in training my fledgling assassins. Zita (if you got her) became my favorite, was the one I worked on the most. I picked different colors for each of them, had them come in for training... I REALLY felt like I was Ezio, sort of like a grandfather. They made me feel /pride/ when they were higher up in levels, able to protect themselves, jump in and out without breaking a sweat.

I want more games to illicit a feel of togetherness... of a specialness and community. I'm not saying that it won't be hard... but it feels so wonderful to have it realized.

The one game that could really tackle the bonds of friendship in a warzone, IMO was Call Of Duty 2: Big Red One for the PS2. I really became close to those guys, and felt sad every time when one of my squadmates got killed. Hell, even in the ending you can notice how happy their are and realise the long way you had gone to that exact point. And not only I cared for my squad, but always got the feeling that they felt the same way about me.

And that's what friendship is.

It's an excellent point, and something that I hope is rectified in the next few years.

Oddly enough, the game character I've felt the most friendly connection with was Baurus in Oblivion. He accompanies you for only three missions and spends the rest of his time standing around in Cloud Ruler Temple, but there was a certain sincerity about him that made it actually seem like he liked the player and saw them as a friend and companion. The fact that his voice acting was excellent, and very natural-sounding, definitely helped.

Yes.
But what to do?

Hope that people take note?
Wile the video game industry does take note more than say Hollywood.
How can you make the industry change?
The reason I ask is it seemed alot like a statement of common sense.
I know they say common sense isn't that common but none the less.

So what to do?

Has the writer played GTA 4?
There IS a reason why video game characters do not have friends, and I believe that it is perfectly explained in GTA 4.
Never I would have thought that friends could be interpreted in that way. After playing that game, I was enlightened why many games don't do the friends shit.
(This of course is a half joke, but the gta 4 shit is to be given a thought)

Great article. I know Mass Effect 2 has already been mentioned a few times in the comments, but I just have to reiterate what an amazing feeling it was to meet back up with old comrades from the first game.

However, I think this is also a shining example of how it means more if you go through the trouble of creating a bond of friendship yourself. Writers can put unseen connections between characters in a game, but the past really becomes ancillary to the present if you have no basis other than a few sentences and forced laughing.

Excellent article!

Perhaps one reason games do not give their protagonists friends is that the players may not identify with their friends in a way that the character would. After all, who's to say that the players would be interested in hanging out with the same people their character does? The developers are then forced to choose between creating a protagonist with personality, backstory, and social interactions (and risk the player feeling disconnected) or creating a blank-slate character (and risk the player being unable to identify with the game world).

An interesting compromise between the two extremes can be seen in The Witcher. Your character, Geralt, is a recognizable figure in the world with many friends and rivals. There are several scenes in which Geralt comes across an NPC he clearly has a personal connection to. In most games, I would just be expected to follow along with whatever social expectation the game has for Geralt's friend, whether I want to or not. But Geralt also has amnesia, so he is at much of a loss for how to feel about this person that I am. The disconnect I felt when an elf approached me saying I changed her life is the exact same disconnect Geralt is feeling at that moment. The player then takes an active role in re-establishing the relationship (or neglecting it, or betraying the former friend in some cases) giving a much deeper connection to what's happening in-game.

Is a good read, though I still think the nature of games makes fluent stories with protagonists that have relations tough.

The big issue with video games (or gameplay specifically) is that most people just have the notion of winning, beating, completing, or just achieving things within them.

Where as story telling has nothing to do with winning or achieving anything. It's merely a form of expression. As soon as a story tries to achieve something with the audience, rather then tell the story, the story tends to feel like it's, to use Extra Credits terming, "beating you with the "point".

Video games are a mix of both gameplay and story-telling, which are simply at odds with each other. This is much like the Comic's dilemma in that comic books are a form of both expression through artwork and expression through words (that are, again, at odds with each other).

In light of this, adding connections and relations to a character in a game is pushing away the "gameplay" crowd; and taking away those connections and relations is pushing away the "story" crowd. In the end, we get a situation where either way, we're losing something.

I actually got to thinking about this a lot because of the recent movie Sucker Punch and Duke's upcoming return. After seeing Sucker Punch it reminded me a bit of the cinematic/gameplay/cinematic/gameplay/etc. kind of situation that games are in and how that negatively impacts peoples feelings about games in the way the movie did with reviews (with pacing and such); and the duke's controversy got me thinking about how upset people get about games that don't value story-telling in favor for (stupidly ridiculous, in this case) gameplay. Both of these also make me wonder why so many people are against movies/games that exist as a form of escapism (like Sucker Punch and Duke) rather then needing every one of these to have some empathetic meaning or bond with your life.

Okay, I'm just rambling and going off-topic now. :P

TL:DR

My conclusion about it is that while I do think there is a large lack of games trying to simply tell stories; branding story telling in games as some better or higher kind of video game just feels pretentious to me (though I guess that's sort of what art is), and that games that focus solely on gameplay still have a valuable place in the medium. Losing the CoD/DotA/SC games would be a sad loss in my opinion.

So if there are some protagonists in games who are loners with no connections it shouldn't make the game worse; it's just a different kind of game.

The one reason why many games don't include friends for you is the reason its hard to make a friend that everybody will like.

Look at the recent RPG's by bioware. For every person that likes character A, two people hate them. You still have one or two that a larger group of the player base my like - but still not liked by everybody.

I suppose the easy route would be to include a bunch of "random" friends who all are your buds but also know that you are a simi-loner. They "know" you'll go to them if you want their help; but also they know you'll ignore them if you don't desire their help - which would a logic break; why are you "friends" with all these people of many of them you could ultimately careless about. Unless they are friends of your family, then I suppose there they could have strong reasons to care about you too, even if you don't respond likewise.

Or perhaps all these friends could be part of your family, brothers/sisters/1st-cousins/etc/etc/. They are your "friends" & reasons why they are in your life, but just as in all family, not all family members are close friends; kind of like your younger/older brother whom you vocally wish would just die and fall of the end of the earth, but you know deep down that you would be ultimately deviated if anything bad actually did happen to them.

A game that did this well was Saints Row 2. No joke, I played this with out playing the first one (which I've heard called inferior, or atleast quite different) and already somebody's asking if I remember his brother who I used to roll with, this guy called Johnny Gat acts like we grew up together and people are generally happy (or in some cases unhappy) to see me. Seeing as the first thing you do is break out of prison, I felt it was good for the realism of the game (something it famously lacks) that people already knew you and treated you differently based on existing relationships.

Well, at least someone acknowledges that games are a storytelling medium on par with the other media.

brumley53:

Burck:
I think this article explains to me why Persona 4 came across as so different. That game was based on friendships.

Yeah, I liked how in persona 3&4 you slowly become friends with people when you want, instead of the regular JRPG which sets a specific time for them to dump their backstory on you.

I don't know, I had a problem with the way Persona had you make friends. Like with many JRPGs it just seems so easy how the main character runs into his best friends forever crowd. I have rarely experienced mess like that. Most of the time you walk into somewhere new and you're just that other person from somewhere. People have their own developed relationships and many see no need to reach out and communicate with the new kid. As a result you just sort of haphazardly push yourself into making aquaintences. Hoping all the while that you'll have a true friend come out of it.

In some cases this backfires and the more you get to know the people you've somewhat bonded to the more you realize what assholes they are. Then you end up back at square one. Looking for more potential friends. Bully, though ridiculous in many ways, did capture this much better I think.

I may be in the minority, but I don't trust video game writers. They may be competent enough to populate and flesh out a story, but for the most part they're hacks when it comes to writing reasonable, believable characters.

I didn't particularly think much of the family in Dragon Age II, and the father in Fallout 3 was nothing more than an objective on my map.

I happen to like my cypers, gives less baggage to work through when exploring a world. There's also the matter of the Fish out of Water story, where the average Joe ends up adrift in a completely foreign place, seen in movies such as The Last Starfighter, Rambo, Even ET. \

The main characters in these movies have maybe a paragraph worth of backstory. Each one is made by their actions, not their past.

I honestly believe all games can benefit from a bit of "reality" in regards to how people interact with each other, even the story-light FPS games which you mentioned in this article.

It's not just friends, even though they're an important element of making a character human.
Faults, imperfections of character, you're not playing Perfect McRoidRage.

For instance, your character is in the middle of a battle and suddenly their aim starts going all to hell, you duck down behind a wall and your character start striking up a lighter and jamming a white stick with a yellow tip on it into their mouth... your character's got nicotine addiction.
His friend over to the right yells "what the fuck, Dimitri, we're in the middle of a fight" and your character just yells back "I can't focus without a smoke, man" and then you're back to shooting and it only took about 10-30 seconds to establish three things: Your character is addicted to a substance, his name is Dimitri and he's friends with someone who doesn't think he should be stopping to light up on a battlefield.

That sort of thing is what we need more of.

Anthony Burch made a good rant kind of about this a while back. Even if the character does have a network of friends and family around him, we as players are likely to not give a single fuck about them or their well-being because they are not our friends or family.

Burch's main example of this was in Infamous where you had to try to save Cole's girlfriend. I know that when I played, I seriously didn't care about either of them.

I think the bigger problem here is shallow characters, not their lack of friends.

qazmatoz:
Anthony Burch made a good counter argument to this a while back though. Even if the character does have a network of friends and family around him, we as players are likely to not give a single fuck about them or their well-being because they are not our friends or family.

Burch's main example of this was in Infamous where you had to try to save Cole's girlfriend. I know that when I played, I seriously didn't care about either of them.

I think the bigger problem here is shallow characters, not their lack of friends.

Counter-argument: Hire better writers.
They had random encounters where food thieves were about to be stoned to death in Infamous... and saving your girlfriend was balanced off against saving a number of doctors.
Like some sort of evil genius challenge to the "meddling hero".

Upgrade the writing team and I can bet you that the character depth will improve.

Hmmm, I think this is a poorly written article because the guy doesn't understand what he's talking about. Before you can deconstruct or reconstruct something you need to understand it first and why it's like it is. I think we're dealing with an author that sees an issue in his mind but hasn't really though about why things haven't developed along those lines to a greater extent, or the problems inherant in doing so.

The reasons why gaming has turned out the way that it has, is because it's differant from other mediums with the player directly putting themselves into the role of the game's protaganist. A lot of people don't seem to get that without this kind of immersion gaming just becomes another video. This is one of the big arguements about storytelling in games is that the kinds of devices a lot of people, especially casual gamers, want, just don't really play to the strengths of this paticular genere. Having tons of connections attached to a player character doesn't usually work out too well because the more you flesh out that character the less the player feels that they are the one in that role and controlling what is going on. What's more, you really don't know these people, so if someone comes running up and rambling for the sake of immersion in a lot of games, that's going to actually annoy the player who wants to get on to doing something. What's more such connections by their very nature sort of mandate a connection to the universe that the player does not have, the lack of connections is in part so the player can gradually learn the enviroment as the character does. What's more it works out better when you get to know characters from the beginning in a game, especially if you have some choice in whether you want to hang out with them.

To put things into perspective, it's not like various games have not tried the elements we're seeing here, this ranges from RPGs to action games. The number of successes are greatly outweighed by the failures. I think the games "Infamous" and "Grand Theft Auto IV" sort of define the problem. Infamous gave you a best friend that is present throughout the game to try and ground the character and give you some feeling of him being connected to the world. The character in question however strikes 90% of the players as being an annoying dweeb and has been mocked in connection to an otherwise solid game constantly. "Grand Theft Auto IV" tried something similar by giving your character a cousin who was integral to the plotline, as opposed to doing missions for a succession of kingpins that do very little in the end besides give missions and move the story along. While a well rated game, constantly being spamed by phone calls every 15 minutes, and having to roll this lardo's butt accross town
for a burger periodically as an almost nessicary gameplay mechanic hardly endeared anyone to what was an otherwise solid game.

In general I think games have already hit a pretty good balance between connection and immersion in most cases, and there is little to be gained by messing around with it too much. Simply put, as soon as you start attaching too much personal baggage to the player character, your going to find 90% of the people wanting to inflict greivous bodily harm on whomever is involved for actually detaching them from the game, even if they don't really know how to express it other than "annoyance".

Also, some of the examples like marines chatting or whatever already come up in games.

Simply put I think gaming is fine in this paticular area, and when you look at the pros and cons, as well as all the attempts to go futher with this kind of thing and how those aspects of the game turned out... well, I don't think there is much room to criticize.

... and trust me, as far as it goes for most games of the sort that can be criticized (RPGs being an exception of sorts here, as they routinely include a lot of backstory and networks of character relationships) the ones that do feature close in character connections tend to see it being the subject of massive mockery. I mean, how many jokes are there about Marcus and Dom from "Gears Of War"? :P

-

Oh and as far as being a sociopath goes, understand that the point of video games is to get away from reality. It's about escapism, and in general most people socialize constantly, and part of the point of going to game is to get away from a lot of that for "me time". Again, it comes down to wht things developedto be the way that they are. It's not even broken. I mean sure, having a sick mother that guilts you for not visiting her more often might add some depth to a character, but most people have to deal with that kind of crap to begin with, and it's hardly escapism to have to deal with it in a game.

Actually, the character having emerged fully formed out of thin air when the game began sounds like a pretty cool idea for a plot twist.

Burck:
I think this article explains to me why Persona 4 came across as so different. That game was based on friendships.

I'm playing through Persona 4 for the first time at the minute, and the social interaction is so good. I don't think I've ever cared so much about every character in a game. If I can't find someone, or they don't ring me on my days off school, it genuinely disappoints me, and when I say the wrong thing it's just horrible.
I think having your character move town at the start of the game was a good way of dealing with the problem of having friends from the beginning of the game, and lets you make new ones and act the way you want to. Although the options can be leading sometimes "Stay and help, or, be an ass and leave." Well how can I pick leave without feeling guilty now?

I think this article raised an interesting point when it asked whether it made it easier to kill other characters by making the character a loner. I believe that could be a major component of it. It's easier for the player to ignore that they are usually playing a murderer for hire when you remove all the connections from them.

I've experienced this myself while playing Fallout 3. I believe the only area where I didn't perform acts of murder, theft, and general immoral mayhem was in Vault 101. In fact, Vault 101 was the only settlement I ever turned around and HELPED. I felt some sort of duty to stand by those I was connected to, which was not felt during missions. Creating connections in games could significantly reduce the pile of dead allies due to my betrayals in games, at least it would for me.

A lot of games are essentially adventure stories, and a lot of adventure stories quite intentionally either focus on characters that are, to some degree, asocial (NeverEnding Story comes to mind) or involve taking a character out of one context and into a new, strange one. I find it odd that frames of Fallout 3 are used to illustrate this story, because that game does exactly this.

You start out as a child in a Vault with friends and a father figure. The game establishes those relationships, then purposefully takes them away, and pushes you out in the the DC Wasteland, where if you want friends, you make them yourself. If you want to be a demented asocial loner, you can do that. If you want to be friendly, solve problems with a minimum of violence, and take on multiple companions (human or not) you can do that as well-- but if you do it that's your choice.

I don't necessarily subscribe to the philosophy of making game characters blank slates-- but on the other hand, when a character jumps onto the screen and presumes familiarity that I, as a player, don't feel yet because I don't have the background experiences that the character does, it tends to annoy me. Even so, plenty of games also do exactly that-- look at the relationship between Marcus and Dom in Gears of War, for instance, or between the Master Chief and Cortana in Halo.

Other games get to build on relationships in past installments, even while introducing new friends, like Mass Effect 2, which brings back some familiar faces from Mass Effect 1 (to varying degrees, depending on your choices in that game) but also introduces new ones.

I suppose you can cherry-pick a selection of games that doesn't ram companions down your throat, but I honestly don't see such a plethora of games that deprive the player character of any opportunities for companinship, warranting this kind of a call-out. Many of the games that do lack any such opportunities-- like Bioshock, for example-- are banking on the player's isolation and confusion in (apparently) unfamiliar surroundings; as such, friendly faces, new or old, are counterindicated.

Hey guys! Remember Dead Space? Where the game tried to assume that you had this huge emotional connection to your missing wife? Remember how a lot of people wound up just not giving a fuck about her?

That's what happens when you try to mix the 'self-insert' character with friends/family. When you introduce a friend to that type of character, you are trying to tell the player that it isn't just his character who is friends with that person, but that the player himself is. But we have no point of reference for this person. We don't remember what he's talking about, and probably don't care. That is a HUGE breakpoint for a lot of players.

If you want the player to have a friend, you need to actually work to establish them as such during the game, not just annoy the player with 10 seconds of irrelevant dialog that goes nowhere and means nothing.

HG131:
Actually, there's a good reason John-117 (Master Chief) seems so friendless: The last of his friends all died in the last month or he believes they're dead. The Rookie, well, he has the excuse of being new to the squad, and all his friends have recently died as well. Noble Six has been isolated from people most of his life. Plus, you know, he and John are super soldiers kidnapped (or, in 6's case, recruited) at the age of 6. But yeah, alot of characters are oddly friendless.

I remember reading a long while ago that Master Chief's face was deliberately left blank so the player could project themselves onto him, and gain more immersion into the game. I can only imagine the other Halos follow this trend, especially considering you can fully customize your Spartan in Reach.

*back on topic*
Really good read, and I agree.
At first, when I read the first page of the article, I was immediately tempted to post "well no, I can think of at least a dozen RPGs that actually make you give a damn about the characters" but I can see that you know that =)
For me, the two games that made me care about the characters the most, are Fire Emblem and Phantasy Star Universe.
Whenever a character died in Fire Emblem, I actually had emotions about it. I was sad when some heros that were allied to me (but I didn't directly control) died, was "YES! DIE YOU ASSHOLE!" when I killed people like Sonia and Nergal, and could not stand letting anyone I controlled, die. Not only because it was smart of me to keep my soldiers alive for the next game, but because I really cared about them!
And in Phantasy Star Universe, I was sad for a week when

So yes, I think just a little bit of extra effort to make us give a damn about the character, would make games alot better.

BUT! I think it really depends on the game.
Scorpion requires no backstory about how he used to have friends but killed them all, he is simply there to kill shit.
And I don't think the main character of any GTA game needs to get friends and such, because his story always ends with him either killing everything, owning everything, or dying.

(can't think of any other examples because most of the games I play, I actually care about the characters :D)

I agree with your conclusion, that better human connections make better games, but I refute every premise that leads up to it. Games are not devoid of human connections: you just didn't find them in the ones you played.

Soap and McTavish, growing to be brothers in arms.
The Spartans were as well.
Every JRPG ever made since FF1 was about how friendship helped the characters cope with struggle.
What keeps people playing MMOs are the human relationships that keep them together. Even the act of making people earn "reputation", where they end up being "exalted" in a game world is just as much about the emotional rewards of group approval as the physical ones.
Mass Effect 2, where the entire purpose is to earn the loyalty of your squadmates so that they participate in a nearly impossible battle.
Just about any product ever released by Bioware, except maybe Lionheart or Fallout Tactics.
Even some fighters involve friendships- but you are right, most are just psychotic excuses to punch people.
Bioshock.

You are right that more, and even stronger, human connections will make games better. But when you say that connections are absent all you really said is that you didn't find the ones that exist.

Actually in FO:3 you do have a childhood friend who later refuses entry back to your home because of political reasons. so you know that's at least one right there

Video game chareceters do have friends it's just they're usually used as a plot device for their inevetible death.

Bam, i just spoiled 100 games in under 20 words. Fear my awesome might.

Excellent read. This is one of the reasons why games still can't be considered art or be taken seriously as a medium to tell stories. This and the fact that we are forced to take a violent path in games. Skyrim is a good example.

It is even more shameful that RPGs fail in this. If there's some kind of games that should allow for non-violent, diplomatic solutions to conflicts and having friendships, not just followers with no personality, then that kind of games is RPGs.

Bioware includes some characters which you can befriend during the game, but I still think it's not totally satisfactory. I think adventure games had some good examples, like Glotis in Grim Fandango. Now that's a real friend!

Shellsh0cker:

This. Another great example? Star Wars: Republic Commando. The members of Delta Squad--ironically, given that they're clones--feel more like real people than many video game characters because of their personal connection. There's no way to not love Sev and Scorch constantly jabbing at each other while Fixer tells them to shut up and focus on the mission. The end of the game hit me really hard because I'd grown really attached to the characters.

Plus, the moments where you go down fighting a miniboss, and your squad brings it down without your help. Or the moments when you're all incapped on the ground except one guy, who manages to go all one-man-army and bring down a droid platoon single-handedly.

Dark Souls had/has elements of this: you're a forsaken undead in a land of things wanting to kill you. And you will live for the NPC interactions. Sure, some of them are dicks, but there's something rewarding to fight your way through an army of horrible monsters, only to return to Firelink and have Griggs and Laurentius there waiting for you.

I may be nigh-on a year late to reading this article, but that shall not stop me from saying that the paragraph(s) comparing Fallout 3's Lone Wanderer and New Vegas' Courier and their place within their respective environments is a point I have thought/nattered on several times myself. The author did a fine job articulating the point I have in the past tried to make.

One of the main problems that the video game industry has is that they are attempting to get the people emotionally connected into the story.

*SPOILERS* That's why in quick games like COD or Modern warfare that introduce a gruff PFC Donaldson who "makes a bet to drink you under the table" ends up dying in a brutal and terrible way of, (Clink clink) Grenade! Boom! Donaldson!!!

Introduction of characters and later taking them away after no emotional bonding within the next 10 minutes of gameplay allows for the player to think, "F*ck the NPCs". Because they will usually end up dead in the end of the game.

Now, I am only familiar with a few games but one game that I didn't think would destroy me emotionally would be Gears of War. Damn it, when I saw Dom die that brought a tear to my eye.

Another example on the most extreme side would be Halo: Reach. Hell, everyone knew they were going to die, and they did in eloquent cutscenes. (Except for Jun)

Mass effect attempted the fact with having sex with several of the other NPCs. The way you get emotional depth, is to make the two people go through some serious battles instead of, oh, there you are character I am supposed to be emotionally invested in.... Oh, you died, meh, moving on. Depth, is the one thing that is missing many times in videogames.

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