2014 was the year that Ubisoft told us female characters are too hard to animate and E3 was overwhelmed with stubbly white guy syndrome. Fortunately, 2015 saw a shift in attitudes, which was a breath of fresh air, after the horrors of gamergate. One thing I took away from E3, this year, was the wealth of female protagonists. Let me remind you, dear play chums.
Faith from Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
It’s great to see Faith return in this prequel to the original Mirror’s Edge, which showed a lot of promise, alongside its flaws. She’s one of the coolest looking characters and this game focuses on her martial abilities. She’s not just a gun-toting badass with boobs. In fact, Faith doesn’t use guns, which is refreshing in itself.
Lara Croft from Rise of the Tomb Raider
Now, for the original badass with boobs, Lara Croft. She’s back and she’s actually er…raiding tombs. It’ been a while. The Lara reboot gives her a story and a personality, rather than just the sizeable assets of the 90s.
Joule from Re-Core
The trailer for this game feels like the opening of Star Wars, as Threepio and R2 cross the desert, only to be set upon by Jawas. This time, we’ve got a gearpunk girl and her robot dog.
Joule is kitted out in buckled up, sturdy boots, a leather waistcoat, helmet, greaves and goggles. She’s the most shapely of this year’s characters, but the team still gets extra points for neglecting the obligatory cleavage shot. Instead, we’re shown that she can handle a gun and has some tech skills.
Mystery girl from NeiR 2
From the people behind Bayonetta, it’s no surprise that this character has more of an anime feel to her styling. She’s definitely more gothic lolita – black Baroque dress, thigh high boots and a sword. She’s also a doe-eyed, blonde ingenue. However, in this short teaser, she did stand on her own terms. She wasn’t a sexy side-kick or love interest for a man, which is all good.
Woman from Adr1ft
This indie title is basically Gravity the game. You play a woman who is fighting for survival on the wreckage of her space station. It’s 2037, you’re floating high above earth, with only voice recordings and the ship’s systems for company.
Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn
It’s nice to see the Killzone team hit us with something new. Aloy is a low tech hunter, with complex braids in her hair, worthy of an episode of Vikings. Thankfully, there’s isn’t a fur bikini in sight. She’s in practical trousers, boots and lots of layers. The trailer shows that Aloy has a certain level of empathy with the machines she kills. Add the mystical, tribal feel to the excerpt and it’s looking like an interesting game with an intriguing character.
Rae from Beyond Eyes
This game features a little girl who is blind. Using touch, smell and sound, you guide Rae, as she braves the outside world to find her cat. Beautiful, watercolour style, plus diversity equals win.
Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
It looks like Ubisoft has recognised the error of its ways and responded with the first female lead for the Assassin’s series. Okay, she has to share the limelight with her twin brother, but I’m going to take what I can get.
What’s to love about Evie? She cuts a dash in a velvet hood and she’s a sword in a cane wielding assassin, in London 1868. Sign me up.
Emily Kaldwin from Dishonored 2
In this sequel to the steampunk stealth-em-up, you can play as Emily, the girl you rescued from the first game. Only this time, she’s doing the rescuing and she’s rescuing a kingdom because it’s rightfully hers. I love her androgynous look and frock coat, plus she’s got supernatural assassin powers. You can also play as Corvo, but hats off to Bethesda, who chose to focus on Emily in their trailer.
Senua from Hellblade
Senua is no sex goddess. She’s a raw, wild, muck under her fingernails, Celtic goddess. The game sees her struggle with mental illness, as she descends into hell. A compelling and layered female character? This keeps getting better.
Alongside these characters, traditionally male gaming strongholds, such as Gears of War, FIFA and Tom Clancy’s The Division all added women to their character line-up. It’s a small and obvious step that could have happened sooner, but at least it’s happening. In addition, characters such as Senua, Rae and Faith add to the diversity of gaming protagonists.