Open-world games have become one of the industry's most well-known genres and no open world is complete without a great mount. But of course, mounts aren't restricted to just open worlds either. Ideally, they're another companion along your journey, usually some unspeaking force that keeps you company and shares your burdens.
The best ones are those you remember long after your journey is over, the kind of mount that exists beyond their purpose and add to the world they exist in. Gaming's had plenty of them and these are just some of the ones that left the biggest impression.
10 Nier – Boars
Most people were introduced to Nier through Automata, the tragic but ultimately hopeful story centered around 2B, 92, and A2 as they journeyed through a far-future planet. In tune with its environmental messaging, there are a few animals around the world that can be ridden.
Funnily enough, these were actually originally introduced in the original Nier. The original game featured boars, stout but powerful little guys who could charge at wild speeds. They returned in Automata as well as Moose which are slower but easier to control. They're one of the few natural things remaining in a world overrun by unregulated industry.
9 D-Horse – Metal Gear Solid 5
The Metal Gear Solid series is known for plenty of things. Its convoluted storytelling that attempts to emulate the propagandized messaging used in warfare, its creation and evolution of stealth in games, and of course its many iconic characters. With Metal Gear Solid 5, the games were brought to an open-world setting, and so several mounts were added as a result.
One of those mounts is D-Horse. D-Horse is a hefty beast, rugged but agile and coursing across the terrain with ease. He's also a stealth tool, letting you hang from his side to move past enemies, or, with a bit more planning, tactically defecate to knock any vehicle off-course.
8 Elder Scrolls – Horses
There can't really be a list about mounts in gaming without at least a passing mention of the Elder Scrolls' horses. After all, we're talking about iconic mounts, not best. The Elder Scrolls introduced horses in Oblivion and became one of the first instances where you can actually ride mounts in first-person. Just ignore the horse armour.
And of course, we've also got the wonderfully clunky horses of Skyrim. They're not functionally great, but what other game so effectively lets a horse climb a mountain through sheer force of will?
7 Epona – The Legend Of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda has pioneered a great many things in gaming, including being one of the first highly-detailed 3D games, having something close to an open world, and giving players the freedom to explore and solve puzzles at your pace. It's also one of the earlier games with horseback riding,
Horseback riding has come a long way since Epona, but so has she. Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild also included her, but this time as a much more responsive beast. Even so, Epona is more than a gaming mount now. She's a symbol.
6 Roach – The Witcher 3
The Witcher has come a long way from its beginnings, but thankfully, the Witcher has always contained Geralt's trusty horse, Roach.
Roach is interesting as a horse because it's more of a title than a character. Every horse Geralt owns he calls Roach. Roach is just an idea, you may never even notice when they change to a different horse. And yet, there's also a shared personality across all these horses. For example, they all love climbing up onto roofs.
5 Mounts – Red Dead Redemption 2
The original Red Dead Redemption is understandably focused on mounts. You're a cowboy, so it's your main mode of transport. But in typical Rockstar fashion, there's a deep detail to them. They veer away from cliff edges no matter what, they get agitated with people behind them, and more. They feel more real than any other game.
Now, of course, they're not all horses. There are some donkeys thrown in there too, as well as um, the Horses of the Apocalypse. And in Red Dead Redemption 2, you have to actually invest in the upkeep of your horses, cleaning them and making sure they're healthy. They're a living creature here, not just a convenient mode of transport. You get back what you put into them.
4 Pokemon – Pokemon
Yeah, just Pokemon. There's a whole bunch of them. But a core part of many Pokemon games is riding your Pokemon. Of course, until Sun and Moon, you couldn't actually see the exact Pokémon you were riding, but you knew they were there. But with Gen 7, HMs were removed and Ride Pokemon added.
This is taken a step further in Let's Go, where you can ride even more Pokemon. Flying on Charizard's back, riding astride Arcanine, and sitting on (in?) Haunter are just a few good examples. Although it took a while, Pokemon is finally celebrating its Pokemon's rideability.
3 Agro – Shadow Of The Colossus
Gaming discourse is a pretty tiresome discussion, and plenty of it centers around the idea of "are games art?", which, obviously, they are. Any creative medium is. But one of the games many will cite as being an example of this is Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Ueda's PS2 classic.
Shadow of the Colossus is a mostly silent game, with next to no words of dialogue shared and all in a unique language. One word is understandable though – "Agro". Agro is your sole companion across the barren wastelands. They hold a presence that is hard to match, even to this day.
2 Chocobo – Final Fantasy
When it comes to gaming landmarks, the Final Fantasy series is impossible to ignore. It's one of the industry's oldest series, revolutionizing turn-based combat and being one of the first to attempt storytelling on a large scale. A series running this long has some familiar faces, including the iconic Chocobos.
They're pretty much this universe's equivalent to horses. They're raised for riding around the many Final Fantasy worlds. Or sometimes they're wondrous summons, like the Fat Chocobo. But these feathered bird-horse-chickens are a mainstay in the series, and one of the most iconic creatures in gaming overall.
Where would gaming be without Mario? Good ol' Jumpman originally debuted in Donkey Kong but has (sorry, Donkey Kong stans) far eclipsed him at this point.
Of Mario's many companions, Yoshi the dinosaur is perhaps the most well-known. Seen now as a Mario Party guest and wool enthusiast, Yoshi actually first began as a mount for Mario in Super Mario World. He fits the criteria for memorable mounts though, seeing as he's remembered better as a character of his own now rather than his humble mounted beginnings.
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