I love pets in video games. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a key ring full of Tamagotchi and Giga Pets. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had at least one real pet in my house—if not half a dozen at times. Or maybe it’s just because in video games, life is so packed with action and stress, it’s comforting to have an animal companion to face the horde with me. If that animal can also fight dragons, so much the better.
I’m sure you have your list of favorite video game pets, and it may well differ from mine. But here are my top 5 video game pets—and I mean animals I really consider pets rather than accomplices, which is why the awesome Yoshi from Super Mario doesn’t make the cut here, for one. These are the animals who have helped me traverse rendered landscapes and fight my enemies in-game.
Hit the break for the list!
5. Pikachu (Pokémon)
He’s Pokémon’s mascot, and no list of game pets would be complete without this little yellow creature. At first glance, he looks harmless, but don’t be fooled by his innocent appearance. His bunny-like cuteness is trumped by his ability to spew lightning at enemies—a useful skill in the mad world of Pokémon. But as soon as he scares you with the damage he deals, he’ll probably wave his hands back and forth in the most adorable victory dance ever.
4. Mabari War Hound (Dragon Age: Origins)
Whether you first meet him as your family pet or when you’re healing him at the king’s camp, the mabari hound is your loyal companion in Dragon Age: Origins. At first glance, he looks and barks like any other puppy, but up close he’s a muscular war beast built for combat. You also get a chance to personalize him with a name, which you type in. (I name mine Viggo, but that’s another story.)
For the rest of the game, you can include your mabari on your team anytime—a smart idea when you’re entering a new room, as his howl can stun enemies. Once the fighting starts, he’s all strength. If you let him mark his territory on landmarks as you travel, he’ll gain confidence in those areas, just like any dog would.
Best of all, you can play as your mabari hound whenever he’s with you. He’ll even fight in the arena with you during the Orzammar Proving. And during that jail break quest, when you get to choose 2 of your companions to help break you out of your cell? You know who I chose to get the job done.
3. Epona (The Legend of Zelda series)
With a name based on the Celtic goddess of horses, you know Epona from The Legend of Zelda series is going to be an epic animal companion. You first encounter her when she’s a filly in Ocarina of Time; the child Link learns a song to summon her. Once Link is an adult, he can return and race to win her. There’s something magical about playing the song for the first time on Lon Lon Ranch and seeing Epona rear up in recognition.
Once Link wins her, Epona is fiercely loyal to Link and only comes to him because he knows her song. In Twilight Princess, you can even speak with Epona when Link is in wolf form.
Sure, Epona is mostly there for quick transport around the game, but when Skull Kid steals her in Majora’s Mask and then has the nerve to call her a “stupid horse,” it hurts a little inside. And really, few moments in video games have felt as sweet as being reunited with Epona.
2. D0g (Half-Life 2)
A robot may not be an animal, but I’m pretty sure it can still be a pet. And in that case, D0g from Half-Life 2 is probably the most lovable robot in Imaginationland. He seems to burst at the seams with personality, playing fetch with you and your gravity gun and rising up on super long legs to fight enemies. He’ll even throw cars at people for you.
Originally, Eli Vance built him as a meter-high puppy to protect his daughter Alyx. But she started improving him, building him bigger and adding parts until he reached his current height of about 8 feet. It’s no wonder he can rip enemies to shreds now.
Whether he’s playing fetch with you or engaging enemies in scripted combat sequences, it’s all part of the bonding experience between you and this adorable killer robot dog.
1. Agro (Shadow of the Colossus)
There’s something lonely about the quiet, unpopulated world of Shadow of the Colossus, which is why having the horse, Agro, as your sole companion feels so valuable. Your character, Wander, has to be riding Agro to raise his sword and find the next Colossus to battle. Agro also helps Wander speed away from enemies or catch up to them, while Wander slings arrows at the ancient giants that inhabit the in-game world.
What makes Agro especially realistic is how he tires. When he’s galloping, he breathes harder and sometimes slows. Feeling his fatigue and wanting him to rest adds to the game’s depth. It’s definitely an emotional journey with this one.
And now for the big spoiler: Before facing the final colossus, Agro whisks Wander across an ancient bridge that begins collapsing behind them. When it becomes clear they won’t make it across, Agro bucks Wander from his back to save him before falling into the abyss. This sacrifice—paired with the surprise ending, which I won’t give away—makes Agro the most epic animal companion in any video game.