Who Do You Most Regret Killing In A Video Game?

Who Do You Most Regret Killing In A Video Game?
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We’ve killed a lot of things in a lot of video games over the years. But not all video game deaths were created equally. Some make us feel like powerhouses, while others fill us with shame. What’s the one act of virtual killing you wish you could take back, and why?

I started thinking about the issue of troubling video game deaths this morning after seeing a thread on NeoGAF that asked an interesting and unsettling question: “What’s the worst you’ve felt after killing someone in a game?” A vivid moment from Mass Effect 3, one of my favourite RPGs, came rushing back to me. But I’d like to hear from all of you as well. So let me give my deepest moment of guilt-ridden video game violence below as a template we can all follow.

Game: Mass Effect 3

Victim: Legion, the sentient Geth (read: robot) character who can first join Commander Shepard as a party member in Mass Effect 2.

Why I Felt So Bad: This requires a teensy bit of explaining to help understand why I felt terrible for killing Legion in Mass Effect 3. So terrible, in fact, that I reloaded and tried every possible dialogue option to see if there was another way to complete the quest. See,Commander Shepard ends up in a tight spot at one point in the Mass Effect 3 campaign. I’ll save us all the trouble of rehashing the entire backstory, but basically the situation is that the Geth and Quarian, two rival civilizations, are squared off against each other for a final showdown. This being an RPG, the choice of who to save is in your hands. The geth spaceships are sitting dormant since you just destroyed the Reaper that was commanding them via a signal, which places them in a uniquely vulnerable position that the Quarian are eager to exploit. If you direct Legion to transmit a certain string of codes to his Geth peers, they will become self-actualizing and immediately retaliate against the Quarian. Since the Geth fleet is a lot more powerful than the Quarian one, that means the Quarians will be annihilated. If you agree with your Quarian party member Tali’Zora and order her people to attack the Geth while they’re still in stasis, on the other hand, the Geth will be annihilated instead. Tali and Legion are both just standing there the entire time, each nudging you to save their preferred civilisation from complete and utter destruction.

I originally chose to side with Tali, for an entirely arbitrary reason: I thought she was a more useful party member to have around for the final section of the game. Once I gave her the go-ahead to destroy the Geth, however, things got a bit more complicated. Here’s how it went down in one similar playthrough:

I watched the scene play out, and defended myself against Legion when Mass Effect 3 prompted me to. But afterwards, I realised something didn’t feel right about what I’d just done. The Geth were a bunch of evil robots for most of the Mass Effect series, sure. But Legion was offering me a tangible opportunity to rehabilitate them. Who was I, to offer such a harsh rebuke in the face of such genuine contrition?

“Please,” Legion had implored me, “this is not justice.” The more I thought about it, the more I realised he was right. I was supposed to be fighting to save the universe from a bunch of evil squid monsters, and here I was letting an entire civilisation die just because I didn’t need another guy who was good with sniper rifles in my party? Who did I think I was?

I reloaded, and tried again. And again. Eventually I realised that I had to have completed one very specific quest in Mass Effect 2 if I wanted to have them both survive, so I opted to save Legion instead. Sorry Tali, but the robot just had a stronger argument at the end of the day.

UPDATE (3:50 pm): Some Mass Effect-playing readers in the comments reminded me that Legion actually ends up dying no matter what you do. This makes the conflict even more emotionally fraught, in my opinion: especially if you feel like saving the Geth is the “right” thing to do but don’t want to lose two quality party members in the process of making your choice.

Mass Effect 3’s tragicLegionepisode is just one emotionally fraught example of when killing a character in a video game didn’t play out as smoothly as I expected. Tell me about your favourite moment of soul-searching in the comments below.

Comments

  • I remember sneaking up and silently killing a guy in The Last of Us & Ellie said “shit Joel…” in a quiet voice. I stopped & thought ‘What am I teaching this girl’. After 20+ years of video games, it was the first time I had ever had genuine emotions about my actions in one.

  • There’s probably been a couple, but at the moment the only one that’s coming to me is Handsome Jack.

  • That bloody dog in Fable 2 that I choose not to bring back to life. Didn’t really kill it though.

  • Sif. Damn adorable dog.
    Edit: Part of the reason I felt so bad was the orchestration accompanying the fight, complete change of gear.
    Agro from SotC
    I know that Agro doesn’t technically die and that I didn’t kill her/him. However, the death of Agro, one players are lead to believe is legitimate, was brought about by the Wander’s vendetta against the world.

    • Definitely agree with this. Agro was the player’s last sacrifice, even if unintended. Whatever was left of his humanity died in that chasm.

  • Mordin Solus, also in Mass Effect 3. He was my favourite character, but when he was trying to climb the tower to cure the Genophage, to clear his own conscience, I felt so strongly that the Krogan couldn’t be trusted, that I shot him in the goddamn back!
    The first time a video game has actually made me tear up.

  • In State of Decay you start out with a main character then when you meet up with other survivors and become their friend you’ll be able to use them. So after a few hours or so, I thought this game was pretty easy, never bothered to check my surroundings. I was using this female character with dreadlocks if I recall correctly, and out of nowhere a feral type zombie appeared and disemboweled my character with one swipe. This game has an autosave on, and I was saying “nooooo” at that time while trying to kill the game by going to the task manager and killing the process. It didn’t work, the game saved and I that survivor. After that, I never lost another survivor again. I learned.

    Another one was in Dark Souls 2. In that annoying swamp section, you can save the three sisters who have been hollowed. I’m a mage, I turned Affinity on(hex virsion of Homing Soulmass) and when I opened a door to the hut, it homed on one of the sisters who was hollowed.

    • State of Decay totally! The way they die is so brutal. I found myself even feeling bad for the survivors I was deliberately killing.

      • Oh yeah, remember your friend? He got sick and you had to find a doctor? I failed that mission so we went in the woods. I kicked him in the head and his head exploded.

        • Lost it at that last sentence =)
          I do remember that mission. I think I let him die while I was out scrounging for supplies though so I missed the head explosion.

          (Side note: have you played Lifeline?)

          • I think that’s more cruel than just aiming for his head 😛

            I haven’t yet, is it good? I plan on doing so. I skipped Breakdown because I read it’s just a neverending cycle, I’m no masochist.

            State of Decay is one of the IPs that’ll surely make me buy an Xbox One someday.

          • Yeah you didn’t miss much with Breakdown… I played through two runs on the town then got bored…

            Lifeline on the other hand is really quite good. They’ve done a solid job of differentiating it from the original with the whole ‘this time, you’re the military’ thing. Main mission triggers are VIPs that need to be airlifted, the city is almost completely overrun with zombies (and navigated by driving around elevated highways) and the base building aspects are completely different… Well worth the pocket change they’re asking for it!

            I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to upgrade my 360 to a One or jump ship to the PS4 but I’m with you; pretty sure once they announce an X1 State of Decay title my decision will be made =)

          • Other than the Definitive Edition? That’s already out for the Xbox One, but since now that they have financial backing from Microsoft it’s almost sure that State of Decay 2 will appear.

            The games that’ll surely make me get the Xbox One are this and Phantom Dust, hope they’ll both turn out great.

            By the way, it’s almost surely happen that the sequel will appear on the PC too.

          • Well I only lost one survivor in my first playthrough but after I’d finished the campaign I decided to replay it and go all out, voluntarily killing off any survivors that didn’t have any valuable skills and concentrating on building the best damn team of survivors this side of the Monroeville Mall… Worked out well in the end but I sacrificed a few people in the process. It was still hard to watch even the rejects get torn apart by zombies though =P

  • John Marston, while he did not die at my hand. Having been told he does eventually die, i put off actually returning to the ranch that one last time and set out to complete every single side mission and quest ( gun slinger, collecting herbs, Treasure hunting etc.) The feeling…With a lump in my throat once there was nothing left for him to do. I slowly road my horse to the waypoint of Johns unavoidable death, was like betraying a friend. is the first time a game made me feel sorrowing emotions….. man dem feels

    • Oof, I’m glad I didn’t have the ending ruined for me (even though I didn’t play it until last year). Such a fantastic ending! RDR3 had better be in the works!

      • I sat in silence for a good ten minutes just not knowing what to do with myself. So many hours and he was gone. Good life lesson but jesus it was a harsh “ending” to the game. When you continue as Jack I just had lost interest initially. I hadn’t developed a relationship with Jack so the attachment of accompanying him on the continued adventure couldn’t be built the same as it was with John. I got revenge with Jack but didn’t follow on with any of the other stuff as I didn’t care to continue with a guy I didn’t know.

    • I didn’t know it was going to happen but it kind of felt like it was going to anyway and given the way the story went, it really had to to be a satisfying ending. I’m glad it wasn’t a happily ever after. It’s not a proper rockstar game without some kind of screwjob at the end.

    • yeah, i think its the first time ive shed a tear in a video game – im a 29yo male. i was 25 or 26 at the time of the playthrough.

  • It would have been killing any of the main characters in GTAV, so I chickened out and let them all live.

    • I tried save/load to see a bunch of the different endings and oh my god does the game go out of its way to make you feel like the most enormous shit-heel on the face of the planet.

      • Yeah, I played three different main endings I think. I did the two kill endings first, and Kill Michael was just horrible.

    • I killed Trevor just so I could see people’s reactions when I tell them I killed Trevor. I may be slightly psychotic now that I think about it.

      • How Trevor treated Johnny in his first appearance made me want to hate him with every fibre of my being, but even I felt dirty about the kill Trevor ending (even though I went back to check it out, rather than it being my ‘proper’ ending choice).

    • I thought of this too, I figured he was a scientist so he could get through the damn Tunnels…. Those damned tunnels

    • Wait… did you kill him, or was it just his death? If you killed him… you…you’re a… you’re a MONSTER D:

        • IT HAD TO BE ME… oh now I’m sad 🙁

          My brother stone cold shot him in the back in his playthrough, and I couldn’t talk afterwards.

    • its better that he died in ME2 than 3 the part in 3 is probably the saddest moment ever in gaming for me

  • Killing Wrex in ME1 I feel like I missed out on one of the games best characters. And a key part of the story in the mass effect universe.

    Which is a really tricky wicket. Because by sacrificing Wrex I managed to set the tone of the other games by keeping my favourite character Mordin alive and he survived mass effect 3 and I didn’t have to loose him there. Otherwise I’d have been heart broken. One could sat I felt Wrex was a worthwhile sacrifice

  • Walking Dead season 2 spoilers ahoy

    I killed Kenny at the end, even though we had been through so much i just felt like he had seriously lost it, he was hyper aggressive, and seemed to have serious trust issues. However i still feel bad about it. However i also left that other girl (i forget her name) after i found out she was lying about the kid. so now i think i may have made clementine into a person who doesn’t trust anyone anymore.

    • I’ll give you that one, also Lee at the end of the first season too. Actually there are a fair few moments that would classify as regret killings in TWD.
      I’ll argue a case for killing marlene at the end of TLoU too, It wasn’t really a choice but you understood her cause and what she was trying to do, you just felt for Ellie more.

    • Same series, different character.

      After the events almost immediately at the start of Ep3, my judgement was especially harsh and I kind of regret it.

    • I have to agree. Felt bad having to kill him but thought I didn’t have much option (same reasons as you already mentioned).
      But when I found out Jane lied to trigger his response, I wish I had the option to ‘stick with her, but let her know that I hate her for it’.
      I didn’t choose the leave her option because I being with someone capable in that kind of world (especially with the bub) is better than being alone.. Felt kinda wrong following her though.

  • Probably the 30 or so pigeons in GTA Liberty city (?) something about killing animals i find hard. Except those dogs in MGS snake eater those things needed to be killed for being pains in the ass.

  • Paarthurnax. It was in my bad-girl Skyrim playthrough, and I really wanted to join the Blades, but man, it was still awful.

    All my ME2 squadmates survived, so I was gutted when some of them had to die in ME3, no matter what. 3

  • Now, I know I may be laughed out of here with all dignity gone but the feels I had when I shot Alex Mason in COD: Black Ops 2.

    DAMN YOU NORIEGAAAAAAA

  • The only characters I ever regret killing are the ones I didn’t intend to kill, typically innocent bystanders. Of course, if their idiotic AI decides to wander into my line of fire, that’s a whole other problem.

  • I have two.
    Sniper Wolf. Amazing emotion from such a short amount of screen time.
    Another ME one. Killing my favourite Krogan during an ‘evil’ playthrough. I actually felt that one.

  • Oh yeah. Death Metal, Dr. Peace, Shinobu, but particularly Holly Summers. I forget why with her though, just a vague memory.

  • Monster rancher on the PS1, i had this dragon imp chick thing, took me 4 months to breed her to be the perfect weapon, smashed every tournament we entered… in the end she was dying of old age, instead of freezing her to be used as s gene splice i decided she could go 1 more Battle… she did me proud then died… i was GUTTED!!!

  • I know this isn’t directly my choice in the game – But Chopper from Ace Combat 5. My inability to shoot down all enemy aircraft, Seeing him get hit, having to listen over the comms how all his systems were fried and couldn’t eject, then watching as his plane hits the ground after is last snarky quip. Still gets to me every time I replay the game.

    Oh!
    And killing Liquid ocelot at the end of MGS 4, learning he was just a spy to try a destroy the patriot system from the inside. It was a heart felt fight between Adversaries.

  • Mowing down the mob of civilians in the refugee camps in Spec Ops: The Line……………I still feel bad about that one.

    • Oh, that was so hard. I actually tried to progress while doing the right thing. I found it was not possible, and yet, I never asked myself “Why am I still playing this?”

  • The pregnant favela woman in max payne 3… went back to the last save so I could let her live the second time around but always felt bad about my initial choice to be a dick.

  • The only character I regret killing was Mordin Solus in ME3. The basic bonus you get for doing so meant that it was the most attractive option but was still a wretched kick in the guts to do so because he was such a brilliantly rendered character.

    to be honest, I don’t remember playing many other games where you have the choice to kill or sacrifice other characters outside of villains where I actually took that option.

  • I have 3 regrets

    1. The Sasquatch in Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare – yeah I felt bad after killing him…

    2. Lee in The Walking Dead Season 1 – yep sure you’re going to die anyways but I let Clementine shoot Lee…should have just let him bleed out

    3. Maurice in Watch_Dogs – He’s was mumbling and yelling and screaming…so I said F**K You! and shot him…Currently replaying this (completed the first time as a Menace and shot Maurice…now want to do it the other way round now)

      • The problem was that the first time round I didn’t listen to the audio logs…Now I have…listened to them…it made me realise that I shouldn’t have

    • Can’t remember the specifics, but I was going to walk out but something made me (note: I sometimes try to channel the character I’m playing in situations like this, what would they do, etc.) turn around and cap him in the face.

  • I tried not to, but ended up killing the entire Quarian race. Ta’li then killed herself. Felt pretty bad about that.
    To make it worse, didn’t get any nookie from her, and the other ladies weren’t super keen for it after that.

  • It was a weirdly retroactive one for me, it was Jim Fitzgerald in GTA4. He was just another target in a bike chase when I killed him as Nico to retrieve the diamonds but then when he died in The Lost & Damned, I realised who exactly it was (easy to mistake given that it was a totally different character model) and immediately felt like an arsehole because I really liked him.

    Whilst I wasn’t exactly in control of the actions at the time, I really hated Trevor in GTA5 given who he killed in his intro because again, a character I really liked…

    Most recently I had a weird amount of regret when my reprogrammed discobot got destroyed in the prison raid in Wasteland 2. Brave little doofus sped ahead to blind as many Red Scorpions as he could, I just couldn’t keep pace and he got shot to crap. I’d had that little guy for ages and he’d been doing a sterling job of rolling about being generally useless and uncontrollable but he pushed his little robot luck once too often and is now in silicon heaven with all the calculators.

  • Fire Emblem: Awakening.
    All those characters I couldn’t save on Hard with permadeath turned on (especially that weak little country bumpkin Donnel).

    I’m finding it hard to kill some of the guys in Shadow of Mordor too.

    • I cant deal with characters dieing in fire emblem, I restart every time it happens…..

      especially after having the children come back I don’t think I could deal with them losing their parents again

  • Spoilered in Heavy Rain. Just… I still can’t get over it.

    OK, this one’s a little obscure… that defenseless creature in Dark Souls 2, down in New Blighttown (or whatever it’s called) with all the darkness and torches. It doesn’t fight back. It doesn’t drop anything. I don’t know what killing it does, but I kind of regret doing it.

    …Plus pretty much every NPC who you’re forced to, in Dark Souls, after learning of their stories and getting to kn ow them. So brutal. So hollow.

  • Walking Dead Season 1: – Ben. That stupid kid was weighing the group down but I regretted my decision as soon as I had made it. Still feel bad about it to this day 🙁

  • going to the dark side and zapping half my companions to death with force lightening in KOTOR. I don’t really regret it but I still remember it.

  • I feel bad killing the Rieklings in Dragonborn. Little weird blue halflings. At first I thought they were annoying as hell, then I found out they actively pray to some sort of christmas-moose god they made themselves out of cart parts, armor and a deer skull. Now I just can’t be mad at them anymore and feel terrible when fighting them.

  • At the end of Spec Ops: The Line, basically everyone. At the time though, certainly the mother and infant child killed by the white phosphorous.

    • +1

      It becomes exhausting having to shoot everyone while you question their motives, but I guess that was kind of the point of the game. Losing your teammates was probably the hardest part.

  • Going to sound super lame, but the robot, Beepy in Nier.
    First time through I just didn’t give a shit, it’s a big dumb robot, but then second playthrough they show that it has a story and a voice and god damn game making me feel like a monster :’D
    You could just say any monster in Nier, but Beepy made me feel a lot of guilt.

  • I played through the Bioware games and I’m happy with my decision. I tend to regret dudes I didn’t kill. In GTA4 after that maggot Dmitri double crossed me I swore I would catch up with him at some point. But then at the end Roman convinced me to let it go, that we should just take the cash and enjoy Vice City (shows the emotional power of the game) so I listened to him and regret it immensely, because obviously Roman dies.

  • Walking dead season 1 spoilers …….

    The walking dead (Telltale) season 1, kicking Lilly off the RV and leaving her by the Roadside only to find out later that she wasn’t entirely nuts. Man, I’ve never had to make so many moral and emotional decisions in a game story than in the Walking dead.

    • Almost every Colossi, especially the flying one! Those ancient things were just minding their own busniess and I couldn’t get over my girlfriend. The things I did in the name of love! Regret is part of what made that game amazing!

  • Legion lasted in my party for about half an hour. We hauled his robot butt out of some kind of machine. Then he acted like a jerk, so I shot him and we went back to the ship for a beer.

  • Fallout New Vegas

    I’d sacrificed Rose of Sharon Cassidy to the Van Graffs and did not regret it until her ending slide. But then….

    In fact there were a few slide at the end that made me regret game choices (fun though they may have been)

  • Andre the blacksmith; my 4yo grabbed the controller when I was Attending something else and had picked a fight with Andre – I had no idea about absolution or anything so I had to take him out – now I’ve severely limited my weapon choices and all these boss souls I’m getting are bloody useless! 🙁

    The lesson – don’t agro NPCs in Dark Souls

    Except for Petrus of Thorolund – kill that loser

  • I realise this wasn’t about me killing her directly. but I couldn’t keep playing The Darkness after sitting and watching To Kill A Mockingbird with Jenny Romano. I knew she would die if I kept going, so I stopped playing the game entirely. I didn’t want to see what would happen, so I left it at the end of the movie and considered the game complete.

  • Mass Effect 3 spoilers… Funnily, the worst death for me was Tali, in Mass Effect 3. I’d liked Tali for a long time and made what I thought was the right choice. I knew Tali wouldn’t like it but it was for the greater good, I thought. But she took it harder than expected and took her life. So that’s when I stopped playing. My Commander Shepard ended his life in guilt there and then I guess. I might go back to the game some day.

  • Kenny from The Walking Dead Season 2 He made me do it, he was like the dog at the start of the game, which I also kinda regret……

  • I regret the times when I made a bone-headed decisions that killed my veterans in XCOM or the RNG stuck it in my butt. “How the #$&* did I miss?! That was like 90% to hit! @$#* you alien #^&@s.” RIP—Colonel Jacques Cuvelair.

    And I always felt bad about failing to save all the survivors in Dead Rising, but #$*& Capcom for building in a mechanic that was practically impossible to accomplish if you’re not Rain Man or a surgeon or a 14 year old with nothing but time on his/her hands. “For @#&*sake, stop running into the zombies and getting stuck on the smallest of objects and being generally retarded [adjective 1. made slow or late: a drought producing a retarded crop. For all the PC knee-jerkers out there.].”

    I think I also felt bad about killing NPCs in COD Black Ops when you’re presented with alleged story changing decisions, but it kind of gets lost in the COD-saminess haze, so I dealt with it.

  • The joys of a paragon playthrough. I managed to keep the Geth, Quarians and Tali all alive. Legion’s sacrifice was sad, but a beautiful moment.

    Damn those games were good.

  • My wife was doing her renegade runthrough of ME3 and had already murdered Mordin to stop the cure of the genophage. A little while later she had to go to the bathroom and was on one of the random decks on the Citadel so she gave me her controller and asked me to use the time to return her to the Normandy.

    Well, when you return to the Normandy on the Citadel after sabotaging the genophage mission, you are confronted by Wrex, who is less than happy with Shepherd’s betrayal. You then have a series of QTE events where you have no choice but to kill Wrex. And not just kill him, but hurl him against a window then open fire on him with your sidearm, sending his bullet-riddled corpse through the glass to a demise several decks below.

    As a dedicated paragon player, I was horrified. My wife came back from the bathroom just as the scene ended, looked at me, and said “oh my god. I’m so sorry”.

  • I let Tali’zora die, because in my ME she was exiled and couldn’t take the co-exist option…. the quarians were always annoying anyhow.

  • I killed Moira Brown, I killed Three Dog, I killed Grandma Sparkle, I killed Amata, and even unleashed the FEV into the water. No regrets. Then I accidentally Fat Man’d Dog Meat. Dem feels…

  • Zaalbar and Mission from SW:KotOR. Mission defied me at the end, so I ordered Zaalbar to fulfill his life-debt to me and end her life. Wasn’t until the fight started that I realised I’d unequipped his weapon, so not only had I asked him to kill his friend, but to do it with his claws.

    Also… John Marsden 🙁

  • ‘Would you kindly?’
    When it was happening I was like ‘wait, no…no I don’t want to do this. Stop it. No, why?’
    Sufficient to say I wasn’t expecting it and I still regret having to do, even though I had no choice.

  • Surprised no-one mentioned her: The Boss from MGS3. Really hit me at the time.
    Also, losing various characters in ME2 just because I didn’t realise it was time-based or upgrades mattered.

  • I was amazed how guilty I felt killing after killing General Tullius in Skyrim, but killing Easy Pete for no good reason in New Vegas takes the cake! Also Garry’s Rattata if that counts (Pokemon Red/Blue/Fire red/ Leaf Green)

  • Vaas and Haytham Kenway are up there for me due to how awesome they were portrayed. Way to shit on me Ubi, they didn’t have to die, they’re just the bad guys

  • Mordin Solus I didn’t feel too bad, he was stubborn, refused to listen to reason and decided his own fate. However there was this side quest in Mass Effect 2 where there was a guy called David Archer who had been strung up into this Geth-controlling machine by his own brother.

    I was a renegade through all that game without concern but this was the first time I felt bad for ‘not’ killing someone, I left him there for research purposes, all these pipes and screws and computer wires running into his body. As we walked away he was all like “please no, help meee” in a messed up robotic voice. Intense stuff.

  • I have two and they’re both animals and both from assassin’s creed
    – the guard dogs in assassin’s creed III. It was the worst. I would try and stealth to get the chests they would guard or my objective behind them and they would always see me cause they were so cute and clever and good at their jobs and then I would have to kill them or be caught by like 50 guards.
    – I originally wrote the white tiger from ac IV, then I changed it to any ocelot, then I remembered the whaling in that game. The whaling was brutal. You’d see a huge white whale hanging off the side of the jackdaw and just feel terrible cause IN REAL LIFE THIS HAPPENS AND WHALES DIE AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN DO ANYTHING.

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