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The most overpowered characters of 2019

The tale of the overpowered video game character is likely as old as the industry itself. As far back as the days of coin-op classics, developers have created characters (antagonists and protagonists alike) who were decidedly skewed towards the far end of the difficulty spectrum. Whether or not this was a shrewd business tactic to gobble up a few extra quarters in the arcade or a clever way to arm underdog players is a debate for the ages — but the debate rages on.

With the release of FromSoftware's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in March of 2019, there's been a renewed and accelerated fervor for those age-old discussions about balance, difficulty, and what it means to face overpowered odds. No longer the stuff of mere heady philosophy, these notions of difficulty and balance are beginning to drive changes in the marketplace — for better or worse. Whatever truths surface from our post-modern search for fairness and perfection, one thing's for sure: that OP struggle is real. So, with a few new games under our belt and a newfound appreciation of easy street, we decided to take you on a guided tour of the most overpowered video game characters of 2019.

Erron Black is the deadliest in Outworld - Mortal Kombat 11

"The deadliest outlander in Outworld" is back from Mortal Kombat X to reprise his glorious debut, and fans and pro players alike have been lining up to sing his praises as one of the most overpowered characters among Mortal Kombat 11's impressive roster of tournament fighters. By all accounts, Erron Black — the best shot in Texas — is also the best contender in the latest bloody installment of NetherRealm's beloved action series. And outside of the game's epic narrative, Erron's "ultraviolent dreams" are made manifest with his unbeatable moveset.

As reported by EventHubs, Erron Black was the most popular character among the top MK 11 players to compete at Battle Arena Melbourne 11 by a wide margin. Meanwhile, AllGamers puts Erron Black squarely at the top of their Mortal Kombat 11 Tier List, with an "S" rating alongside other popular favorites like Geras, Sonya Blade, and Scorpion. This high demand for Erron Black in tournament play is all thanks to his impressive list of combos and their incredibly high damage output. Reddit user AlgaeEater tells it like it is: "It's obvious why [pro tournament player] SonicFox uses him. Insane Frame Data Advantage. Better frame data recovery than any other character."

Bangalore controls the battlefield - Apex Legends

Since its February 2019 release, Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends has been a major player in the ongoing battle royale renaissance. Naturally, a competitive environment like the squad-based free-for-all of Apex Legends is a breeding ground for imbalance and the denouncement of OP characters. And while a few of the Legends on the game's relatively short roster are distinctly more powerful than others, the smoke-slinging soldier known as Bangalore is arguably the most powerful of all. The reason for Bangalore's popularity is no riddle: she's the only character in the game with the Smoke Launcher tactical ability. As PC Gamer points out, "The ability can be combined to great effect with any Digital Threat optics, which highlight enemies in smoke." And if the Smoke Launcher isn't enough for you, her Rolling Thunder ultimate ability makes mincemeat of concentrated enemies (like the kind that made Respawn Entertainment famous in Modern Warfare). And a passive buff to her speed while under fire? Best in class.

The experts at GameWith offer a succinct recap of the benefits that earn Bangalore her "S" rating: "Bangalore's smoke launcher ability is versatile in every situation, may it be reviving allies, evading enemy fire, flanking enemies, and even retreating. Plus, its fast cooldown time allows you to use the ability frequently, and turn around disadvantageous situations."

Hayabusa lives up to the hype - Dead or Alive 6

With a storied past in the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, Ryu Hayabusa is arguably one of the most famous characters in video game history. It's only natural that his latest incarnation carries with it a certain amount of distinction, namely, a litany of overpowered combos and attacks. Dead or Alive 6 from Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo has reintroduced Hayabusa and his eponymous Hayabusa Style Ninjutsu — to the elation of some players and the chagrin of many others.

Attendees of EVO Showdown and the Tokyo Game Show were treated to sneak peeks of the game build in 2018, and since the game's official release in March 2019, the Hayabusa of DOA 6 has proven to be a decidedly powerful iteration of the character. "[Hayabusa's] strength has been recounted in numerous tales," according to the official description, and Team Ninja community manager MASTER told one of those tales himself with his jaw-dropping performance of Hayabusa's prowess during his peerless tournament gameplay at EVO Showdown.

On top of lip-service from fans, fighting game community sites like RankedBoost and AllGamers have put Hayabusa at the top of their tiered lists of ranked characters. And these speculations seem adequately supported by the word on the street — as DOA competitor and fighting game enthusiast Blackberry tweeted, "Ryu Hayabusa is so good that he can be in a Dead or Alive where it's his worse version, but still be top tier."

Isshin, The Sword Saint, makes you get good - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Variety's Steven T. Wright calls FromSoftware's Sekrio: Shadows Die Twice "an exquisite action game worthy of your time and money." He also refers to it as "a deeply unfair and punitive experience ... that seems tailored to those whose eyes begin to turn a crimson hue when anyone suggests the concept of an 'easy mode.'" But, despite the grueling difficulty of their games, FromSoftware's distinct blend of esoteric lore and razor-sharp mechanics keeps bringing fans back for more. Having already spawned a legendary meme, Sekiro will likely go down as one of the most difficult games in the history of the medium — and boss fights like the duel with Isshin, The Sword Saint are part of its uncanny recipe.

Not entirely dissimilar to Bloodborne's Gehrman, Isshin is a non-player character you'll counter several times throughout the game who reveals his true and final form during a harrowing (and somewhat optional) endgame fight, one that "will truly test your samurai abilities." Boss fights in Sekiro depart from the classic FromSoftware formula, with mechanics like Deathblow and Posture in play. Isshin, The Sword Saint takes advantage of these nuances with a slew of overpowered attacks utilizing the second Mortal Blade, an oversized spear, and the elements themselves. It's the hardest fight in the hardest game of the year. Polygon's Jeffrey Parkin maintains that with The Sword Saint, "finding ways to not get hit — even if you're blocking or Deflecting — is more important than ever with Isshin and his devastating attacks."

Mr. X is an uncanny adversary - Resident Evil 2 remake

The Resident Evil 2 remake from Capcom is one of 2019's critical darlings, with outlets like The Guardian and GameSpot referring to the remastered release as "horror game design as true craft" and "a terrifying experience like no other." Indeed, part of what makes the Resident Evil 2 remake such a hit with critics and fans alike is its reverence for the original RE2's distinct blend of hard-core action, horror, and science fiction. These horror elements, in particular, are galvanized by a rogues' gallery of oppressive undead monstrosities and other mutagenic nightmares. One such adversary is the Tyrant T-103 known as Mr. X — an overpowered baddie is there ever was one.

Based on the toughest enemy from the original Resident Evil, the tall, trench-coated Mr. X is a nigh unstoppable killer that pursues our hero Leon Kennedy throughout RE2's twisting narrative. Prior to your final encounter with the fiend, each run-in with Mr. X only produces two outcomes: death or escape. To put it simply ... this dude is so OP, you spend most of the game running away from him. And once you finally can stand your ground against the final form of this hulking mini-boss, it takes a surreptitiously-timed rocket launcher drop from your beloved Ada Wong to actually put the invulnerable Super Tyrant in his place.

In the end, Mr. X makes for a decidedly fun, yet frustrating, centerpiece to Resident Evil 2's feast of terrors.

Dark Inferno is too hot to handle - Kingdom Hearts 3

The long-awaited third chapter in the Kingdom Hearts saga from Square Enix tells the story of Sora, a young boy and unknowing heir to a spectacular power, and his perilous adventure to save the universe along with a dear group of Disney and Pixar friends. As you might imagine, on their way to stop the Heartless from invading and overtaking the universe, our heroes find themselves in some hairy situations against some of the Kingdom Hearts series' most impressive antagonists. Enter the Dark Inferno, Kingdom Hearts 3's Secret Boss and ruler of Battlegate 14.

Dark Inferno is an extremely agile enemy, capable of crossing the entire battlefield in an instant, but the biggest hurdle in this fight are the enemy buffs. In addition to his three main attacks, Dark Inferno will power up twice during the fight. The simple but effective rub is that Dark Inferno becomes faster and more agile each phase (and more capable of evading your own attacks). The cooldown time between his attacks also diminishes rather significantly, making for one truly OP secret boss if ever there was one. The gameplay experts at IGN recommend going into this fight "with a ton of healing items, a Kupo Coin, and your best Keyblades, preferably upgraded to the fullest."

Ash Titan is a titanic hassle - Anthem

Anthem from BioWare and EA puts players in control of powerful jet-powered exosuits to co-op their way through a few dozen missions. Memorable characters include the enemies and mini-bosses scattered throughout Anthem's sci-fi sandbox full of massive multiplayer events. And by all accounts, it seems like we'll be remembering Anthem's Ash Titan for all the wrong reasons.

In his game diary titled "Anthem's Worst Boss Is So Bad It's Not Even Worth Fighting," Kotaku's Ethan Gach penned a virtual manifesto about this dreadfully difficult NPC and offered up explicit details about what makes the Ash Titan so monstrously overpowered. In short, "Ash Titans have very few weak points, can take a ton of damage without dying, and carry around with them a bag of tricks so cheap that it feels sometimes like they might be broken."

Fortunately, the experts at EA had enough insight to roll back the Ash Titan's lethality, instituting significant changes as early as Patch 1.03 — including adjustments to weakpoint timing and damage dealt. But even with these changes on the table, considering the ubiquity of these untoppable enemies in Anthem's ongoing world events, a few tweaks aren't enough to bump the Ash Titan from our list of 2019's most overwhelming adversaries.

Abyssal Princess always gets the final word - Etrian Odyssey: Nexus

Etrian Odyssey: Nexus from ATLUS offers players more classes and characters to choose from as they explore more gameplay systems and labyrinths than any other title in the series to date. Difficulty is another element of Etrian Odyssey that's been inflated for Nexus, and it shows. Kotaku's Natalie Degraffinried even waxed poetic about the tweaked difficulty settings of this latest journey to Lemuria in a candid game diary, confessing that the Heroic-level gameplay left her "feeling a little trapped." It stands to reason that the boss battles of Etrian Odyssey Nexus would prove to be the most difficult challenges to overcome, and no other boss proves that theory better than the Abyssal Princess, the scourge of Labyrinth 14.

Abyssal Princess is the Super Boss of Nexus, which means defeating her in combat is necessary to achieve the game's final ending. And what makes Abyssal Princess so OP is her staggering array of combat skills. GameFAQs user Illuminoius sums it up nicely, asserting that "if you don't abuse its AI, [Abyssal Princess] is extremely obnoxious and has a lot of nasty tricks up [her] sleeve that can randomly screw you over." Abyssal Princess is easy to bind, but she's able to remove those binds and other buffs and debuffs every time her turn is up. Meanwhile, skills like Unholy Light and Undead Regen — along with her randomization during nighttime battles — add up to make Abyssal Princess the most overpowered boss in the entire Etrian Odyssey series.

Geras has all the right moves - Mortal Kombat 11

The time-bending automaton known as Geras is another Mortal Kombat 11 character who easily makes the list of 2019's most OP — no small thanks to his game-breaking special moves and killer combos. And hiding behind the mystique of this enigmatic mini-boss lurks the right stuff to make him a serious contender in the realm of competitive kombat.

Polygon's Michael McWhertor was an early enthusiast of Geras' distinct set of time-shifting abilities; he says Geras is "easily the game's most intriguing character, thanks to his ability to manipulate time — including the power to influence the in-game timer." Indeed, the two new powers Lost Time and Spare Time allow players to subtract and add 30 seconds to the clock, respectively. And if you've ever actually played a few rounds of Mortal Kombat, you can probably imagine how effective these powers would be when victory is on the line.

According to the statisticians at EventHubs, Geras ranked highest among professional competitors at Stunfest 2019 in Rennes, France, overshadowing other OP characters like Sonya Blade, Kung Lao, and fan-favorite Liu Kang. (Interesting to note: infamous powerhouse Erron Black didn't even make the list, one assumes, due to the inherent shame incurred from competing with MKX's most notoriously cheesed-out character). Come what may, this new addition to NetherRealm's impressive list of kombatants is off to a killer start.

Lifeline keeps the party going - Apex Legends

Not all loadouts are created equal in Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends, and combat medic Lifeline was the first to prove that axiom to incredible effect. Lifeline "isn't someone you would expect to find in the Apex Games," according to her official bio — but once you've see her in action, this statement is read as a cheeky expression of Lifeline's versatility, and a testament to her dominance as a healer in a game full of tanks and bruisers. And it all comes down to a delicate balance of passive and active abilities.

As InvenGlobal puts it, "The second part of Lifeline's passive, 'Healing items are 25% faster to use,' is one of the core reasons why Lifeline's fragging capability is so great despite the fact that she's a support character. During a gunfight, she can patch herself up quickly in tight situations — especially if you use your drone in combination with your healing items, allowing for an aggressive type of gameplay." As a result, Lifeline has been occupying a top slot on the Tier Lists for several outlets since the launch of Apex in early February.

Wolverine never says die - Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 - The Black Order

Infamous mutant and erstwhile superhero James "Logan" Howlett (aka Wolverine) is back and better than ever in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 – The Black Order on the Nintendo Switch. Like its predecessors, this third installment in Marvel's fan-favorite beat 'em up franchise allows players to assemble their ultimate team of heroes from the Marvel Universe to take on the forces of evil. And, by all accounts, it looks like Wolverine offers a little more "ultimate" than the rest of the roster.

Wolverine has an impressive set of powers, including superhuman strength, stamina, and reflexes; heightened senses; and (most importantly) a regenerative healing factor that allows him to recuperate over time. As Game Informer puts it, "Wolverine has a lot of health and durability as well as a natural healing ability that makes him an ideal tank. He loves to mix it up close range, but he also has a few moves that allow him to dart across the battlefield. This knucklehead is great for managing large groups of enemies and giving other players some room to breathe." No matter how you slice it, Logan's healing factor is the one ability that puts him a cut above the rest of the class.

Byleth brings the heat - Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses from Intelligent Systems is a turn-based tactical RPG that follows in the footsteps of the dozen or so Fire Emblem games that came before. This time, players take on the role of a professor in the Church of Seiros' prestigious Officer's Academy, where they'll lead their students on a variety of academic and military adventures.

Critics have derided Three Houses for its lack of difficulty when compared to previous entries in the series. For instance, USgamer's editor-in-chief maintains that "a huge portion of the early game is spent on building up weapons specializations; choosing the right classes, and grinding for XP. When the actual battles come, you can pretty easily travel in one big ball of death and grind your way to the boss."

That being said (and almost by default), the best character in the game becomes absurdly overpowered without warning. On top of having the most aggressive stat upgrade path in the game, Byleth is a bearer of the Flames Crest, which occasionally restores HP equal to 30% of damage dealt. As a result, Byleth is consistently rated as the best character Fire Emblem: Three Houses has to offer.

General Lothar is a lethal frustration - Wolfenstein: Youngblood

The original Wolfenstein 3D — with its desperate final battle against a bionic Adolf Hitler — was a literal game-changer. It should come as no surprise, then, that a latter day installment in the series lives up to the original game's nail-biting reputation (and then some). Wolfenstein: Youngblood from developers Machine Games and Arkane Studios bills itself as "the first modern co-op Wolfenstein adventure," but at what cost? For some, the price of co-op gameplay means a heightened (read: impossible) difficulty; and it seems Youngblood's final boss — SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer Lothar Brandt — is an overpowered monstrosity of the highest magnitude.

Fans are in concert about their frustrations. And USgamer's Caty McCarthy took Lothar to task: "I've had moments in past games where bosses have held me up. Sometimes I'm reviewing them in a vacuum with no guides, and I just have to muster up the strength to push through. Other times it's more a skill I'm not clicking with. Youngblood's last boss was neither of those things. While the difficulty had been spiking up for some time, this was a special kind of cruelty. I imagine beating it solo with just the AI companion would be close to impossible."

The Kansas City Chiefs dominate - Madden NFL 20

Madden NFL 20 from Electronic Arts takes some bold steps forward to distinguish itself from previous titles in the series, including a game mechanic called Superstar X-Factor, "an abilities progression system that reveals special abilities for today's most exciting NFL stars." Unsurprisingly, when it comes to Madden 20's most competitive team — the Kansas City Chiefs — their star player plays a major role.

Bleacher Report's Chris Roling calls it like it is: "Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes might be one of the most overpowered NFL players in a video game since Michael Vick in the mid-2000s." During initial reports, the Chiefs boasted an overall team rating of 84 (five points under the top spot championed by the Philadelphia Eagles). But the team's rating isn't everything — success in Madden NFL 20, after all, relies on star power.

QB Patrick Mahomes is rated at 97 and sports a variety of NFL Superstar features including "perfect accuracy when throwing across his body and extra yardage on deep throws." Add other star players like Tyreek Hill to the mix and the Kansas City Chiefs quickly become a force to be reckoned with during Madden 20's year-long life cycle.

The Matriarch is one bad mother - Gears 5

Since its early September release, Gears 5 has steadily gained a reputation as one of the most difficult installments in the series. VentureBeat doesn't beat around the bush: "In a couple of the boss fights and even some of the battles with the waves of enemies, the odds of survival are not good." And according to Kotaku's Maddy Myers, the Matriarch of Act 2 — a genetic crossbreed of the Locust Queen Myrrah and Sire DNA — is "by far the most difficult battle of the game." We put these accolades to the test, and found out for ourselves that the Matriarch of Gears 5 has more than earned her way onto this list of OP characters.

You'll encounter the Matriarch at the conclusion of Act 2 of the Campaign, as well as during random boss waves of Horde 4.0. If you're fortunate enough to have a friend play as Del during co-op Campaign gameplay, you should be able to handle this boss battle with relatively little fuss. Alone, on the other hand, you'll likely find yourself scrambling for cover while you wrack your brain for decent strategies — especially on the game's higher difficulties.

Moze the Gunner has the means for destruction - Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 from Gearbox Software introduces four new Vault Hunters to the franchise's menagerie of post-apocalyptic, gun-toting maniacs — and, based on early reports of character performance and skill tree synergy, not all Vault Hunters are created equal. Moze the Gunner, "a battle-hardened former Vladof army soldier who specializes in mechanized combat," has seemingly taken her place as one of the most OP Vault Hunters in Borderlands history.

While there are a multitude of ways to play Moze in combat, some elite strategies from players like YouTuber Adam D have surfaced, revealing one ultimately overpowered way to take Moze into the battlefield and emerge victorious every time. Namely: constantly regenerating shields and continually outputting damage with grenades utilizing a "Shield of Retribution Demolition" variation of the skill tree.

Even an attempt from Gearbox to recalibrate the OP character build in early October couldn't slow down Moze's awesome unstoppability. As Adam D proclaims in his comments section, "Gearbox attempted to nerf this build on 10/3. Gearbox didn't realize Moze is an UN-NERFABLE GOD and that the Moze gang CAN'T BE STOPPED. Grenade regen nerfs did absolutely nothing. Keep fragging people!"