The portrayal of female characters in video games is often criticised. Game developers are blamed for sexualising female video game characters to the point of nothing more than just eye candy. While this may be true in some cases there are plenty of badass female game characters that break that mould. Being that everyone’s opinion of the “best” female protagonists differ, our list of the Top 10 Best Female Protagonists in Video Games includes characters for varied reasons. Check it out:
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10. Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn
Aloy is often considered to be one of the best written, crafted and voiced female protagonists ever. She is born into a beautiful post-apocalyptic world inhabited by robot dinosaurs. Her path reveals mysteries of the past as she discovers herself and must conquer the land. While she is, more or less, the typical stalwart saviour of the fantasy world, Aloy is not fetishised, patronised or unnecessarily sexualised in any way. This along with being the clever, strong, charming, tenacious and powerful woman she is makes her oh so appealing and every moment of her time on screen worth it.
9. Bayonetta from Bayonetta
Only a few games are named after their female protagonists and Bayonetta is one of those in this coveted group. Bayonetta is strong in battle and has several immense powers. She has a cool and collected personality and is easily one of the most awe-inspiring heroines in the recent past. The bullet-slinging Umbral Witch is stylish and unafraid. She laughs in the face of danger, then kicks its ass in high heels – which are also guns and sometimes swords. Skills, personality, the ability to fly, that outfit and the fact that she has a game titled after her makes Bayonetta an obvious choice for best female protagonists in video games.
8. Alyx from Half-Life: Alyx
Half-Life: Alyx follows Alyx Vance, who was previously a supporting character in the popular Half-Life series. It is a virtual-reality game set between the first and second Half-Life games. Alyx helps the resistance defeat the Combine and is humanity’s only chance at survival. As a player, you control her as she teams up with her father, Dr. Eli Vance and other allies. Alyx is friendly, optimistic and caring. Although she’s survived some dark stuff she remains upbeat and is very loyal to her father and the Resistance. Even to the extent of sacrificing her own life for the good of the earth. Additionally, what makes her one of the best female protagonists in video games is her ability to balance being a badass that packs a punch with being sweet and sensitive around her family and friends.
7. Kassandra from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Set in the historical times of ancient Mediterranean, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was a very successful game. It happens to be one of the few in the franchise that allows you to pick your protagonist. You get to choose between Kassandra and her brother Alexios. Both of whom are tough, resilient Spartan soldiers. Kassandra is, hands down, the more popular of the two. She’s a strong woman with great character design and voice acting. She also seems to be a trend setter for Ubisoft. It is speculated that the success of having a woman protagonist for the entirety of the game led to the follow-up instalment – Assassin’s Creed, Valhalla – featuring a female lead as well. What’s more, Odyssey even introduces romance options allowing your character to be part of the LGBTQ+ community if you should so choose it.
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6. Samus Aran from Metroid
The Metroid series has been running from 1980’s. It is known to have delivered one of the best reveals in the history of gaming. This being when Samus Aran removes her helmet at the end of the game and players found out she was, in fact, a woman – thus an icon was born. While Samus may not be the best character in terms of development and dialogues, etc. she is nonetheless considered to be one of the most dependable female standouts. The bulky suit this time really plays to the saying that it’s the inside that’s beautiful. Samus Aran’s developers have never sexualised her and have used her femininity as a strength. She often succeeds where her male counterparts fail and that to some (including us) is just hot!
5. Faith Connors from Mirror’s Edge
In a sea of buxom females that lead the gaming world, Faith Connors is a beautiful rarity. She’s on several lists of best female characters in video games for a reason. Her anatomy is entirely human and she relies on her wits, as opposed to weapons, to survive. Faith is a former thief turned “Runner”, meaning she transports necessary items and messages to groups trying to bring down a corrupt government. Roaming the streets and skyscrapers of a future in peril in a Cyberpunk world, she is a good example of a positive female character in video games. Instead of being oversexualised and ruthless she’s athletic and intelligent and that’s one of several reasons why Faith Connors is one the best female protagonists in video games.
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4. Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect
Miranda Lawson was first introduced in Mass Effect 2. Initially her character was a little patronising and standoffish making her a bit of a badass female. As her character evolved she became more enjoyable and one of the more obvious choices for romantic explorations. The Mass Effect series lets you woo all kinds of women including space marines and female alien species. Yet, Miranda Lawson stands out as one of the most enticing of them all. Her ability to fight, her capabilities as a leader, her skin-tight black and white combat suit all makes her one of the hottest leading female characters.
3. Senua from Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Senua is seen fighting her own mental health issues which challenges her progress into Helheim. This titular female character is worthy of both praise and sympathy. Her biggest battles are her own demons and as a player it is unclear if some of them are real or just her own creations. Nevertheless, she is one of those characters that make it worthwhile to study and learn from. Her abilities to fight, defeat them and stand tall despite all odds make her one of the greatest female protagonists around.
2. Ellie from The Last Of Us II
In part one of the The Last Of Us, Ellie is more of a secondary character. However, in the game’s second part, she takes centre stage. The fourteen year-old Ellie provides a fresh point of view to a genre that isn’t really new. Her conflicted, human approach along with survivor’s guilt makes her quite endearing. In this tale of revenge and tragedy, she is required to navigate other groups of survivors, zombies and monsters to exact vengeance. She must also push through her feelings of inadequacy to help keep her new-found family alive. The fact that she is a gay teenager in a post-apocalyptic world only makes her character that much more grounded. The photorealistic characters, cinematic experience and powerful storyline adds depth to the experience of The Last Of Us. The great response and success the game received led to a Sony and HBO collaboration to make it a TV series executive produced by Craig Mazin – creator of the acclaimed miniseries Chernobyl.
1. Lara Croft from Tomb Raider
Adventurer, Tomb Raider, Lara Croft has been around since 1996. She was first introduced to the world as a pixelated voluptuous gun toter with ambition and strength. A few years later she was revamped with better, more realistic proportions. She also evolved from the typical strong female protagonist to being a more rounded character. While she continues to be beautiful, smart and athletic, Lara Croft 2.0 is flawed, takes risks, and makes mistakes. Much like her developers themselves she too learns and grows. The new and younger Croft is not yet a confident explorer and is still building her own identity. Her cinematic adaptations have lent to Lara Croft being one of the most recognised heroines of the gaming world. Her evolution over the years makes her one of the most beautiful women in gaming and very often sits atop lists of best female protagonists in video game history.
Honourable mentions for Best Female Protagonists in Video Games
We know there are more names that could be added to this list. While we didn’t add them to our “Top 10” we do feel they deserve a mention nonetheless. Kicking it off we’d like to name Kasumi from Dead Or Alive. The DOA series has been around from 1996 and has several badass, attractive women. Still, Kasumi has managed to become a mascot of sorts and main protagonists for the series. Next, we’d like to include Evie from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (she almost made the list). This British Assassin has ingrained herself in the memory of those that enjoy the Assassin’s franchise. Jill Valentine from Resident Evil 3 has been a popular character for a long time now. The relatively new first-person shooter game Bright Memory features a beautiful Science Research Organisation worker called Sheila whose goal is to prevent a military organisation from resurrecting the dead!
Lastly, we’d like to give props to Halo’s Cortana. Technically she isn’t even human but she is an AI creation that identifies as female. This could be interpreted as a progressive message. Cortana grows though the series and oftentimes displays empathy and humanity where actual humans compromise. Her message is that humanity is what you choose to be and not necessarily how you came into being. Further, in the development of our world, Cortana may actually be the future of female empowerment – in gaming and beyond.
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