The ten best female-led videogames you need in your arsenal

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Would you look at that? Women’s month is almost over, and to keep the hype going, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite female-lead videogames. 

Turns out some of the most brutal and insightful games feature female lead characters, and we’re here to celebrate a few great horror games, shooter games, fighting games and even platformers. All with one thing in common. Badass women.

Check out our top ten female-lead games:

10. Life is Strange

Starting out this list is also the outlier of the bunch. Life is Strange is a heavily narrative-led game that features some deeply relatable female characters. Made by Square Enix, this is an episodic adventure game follows Max Caulfield, an 18-year-old photography student who discovers she can basically control time. Each choice, naturally, triggers a butterfly effect that influences the future — so make a wrong decision and trigger the butterfly effect. The first episode in a series on five is free to play on both mobile and console, after which other episodes can be purchased. You make the choice, we guess. 

9. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Now look, you could play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey as Alexios but you’d be missing out on a lot. It’s widely agreed that Kassandra is the better character with the game’s narrative and character interactions having more impact when she’s at the core. Oh, and her voice acting and mannerisms are just so much better than Alexios’. It’s also cool that she’s built like a small bulldozer and Spartan-kicking haters off a cliff is just so much more satisfying when Kassandra is driving the sandal. Definitely worth a play if you’re keen on large game world, lekker fighting and some decent adventuring. 

8. Alien: Isolation

Continuing the trend of badass female protagonists that the original film so wonderfully established, Alien: Isolation focuses on Amanda Ripley, daughter to the iconic Ellen Ripley, as she endures the horrors her mother went through years prior to find out what exactly happened on the Nostromo. Not many people are able to go toe-to-toe with a Xenomorph but Amanda outwits and outplays the monstrosity at every turn, and squeezes out some real cool one-liners while she burns it to a crisp and destroys one of the most vicious predators ever conceived. Like mother, like daughter as the saying goes.

7. Uncharted 4, Lost Legacy

A spin-off of Uncharted 4, Lost Legacy pairs fan favourite character Chloe with the newcomer to the franchise Nadine as they go off on their own treasure hunting adventure without the cheeky Nathan Drake slowing them down. Both characters come into their own in a game that’s arguably tighter and more engaging than Uncharted 4 yet still has plenty of softer moments that really let these two tough women reflect on their lives and the difficulties they’ve faced. Just try and ignore Nadine’s accent; Laura Bailey is a great voice actor but her South African needs a lot of work.

6. Bayonetta (1 and 2)

Likely one of the most badass women on two (very long) legs, Bayonetta (real name Cereza) is the eponymous main character of the Bayonetta series. Being a witch, Bayonetta traverses the world, capable of shapeshifting and using various firearms. She possesses magical attacks, and she can use her hair to summon demons to dispatch her foes. The game features some of the most insane combat gameplay for its generation, with a lit soundtrack that’s bound to get you ready to destroy angels. Equipped with firearms, even on her shoes, Bayonetta can face just about any heavenly creature in close- or long-range combat.  Both games (1 and 2) launched on the Nintendo Switch in 2018, so you have no choice but to try it out. 

5. Metroid

Who would’ve thought the first female lead game would launch in 1987? Yep, 33 years ago the people at Nintendo released Metroid, the first game in the franchise, and the first game ever to feature a strong-willed woman as the main character. It was never the developer’s best title, with Mario and Zelda obviously taking the crowns, but Metroid plays a special role in gaming history. If you play through the whole platformer, you’ll encounter a shock revelation about the game’s butt-kicking hero. Metroid features an intergalactic bounty hunter called Samus Aran, who you initially believe to be a man, according to in-game documents, but play far enough and Samus removes her helmet, revealing she’s in fact, a woman. 

4. Tomb Raider

Odds are, you don’t even need to play video games to know who Lara Croft is. She’s one of the most recognisable game characters in history, largely due to the fact that her first appearances were… well, they were less than flattering. Yet the 2013 reboot of the franchise did wonders for her character, taking a woman known more for her skin-tight clothes and bombastic chest size and turning her into a stone-cold survivor. The recent Tomb Raider games are all about personal reinvention, a journey that sees Lara grow from a plucky student into the titular, intimidating and empowered Tomb Raider.

3. Horizon Zero Dawn

This is where this list becomes harder to formulate. But this list would mean nothing without the brilliant Aloy in the Horizon Zero Dawn title that launched on the PS4. This game’s narrative is interesting in the fact that the world is run by a controlling and slightly evil matriarchy in a post-apocalyptic world taken over by machines. Aloy is a young woman in this newfound world full of dangerous machines. Raised an outcast, she has never known her true parents or why she was cast out as a child so her journey is one of self-discovery. Now we wait for the highly-anticipated sequel coming with the PS5 system. 

2. Resident Evil 3

While the games may be about horrific bio-weapons, terrorism and viruses, Resident Evil has always made a point of placing strong female characters at the centre of the franchise… most of the time. Characters like Jill Valentine and Claire Redfield have always been badass protagonists, slaying hundreds of zombies, cultists and parasites in their pursuit to take down Umbrella Corp and end world-wide bioterrorism. The series may have lost its way in the mid to late 2000s but with the recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 bringing even more depth to Jill and Claire, it’s clear who’s really supporting one of the most iconic horror franchises today.

1. The Last of Us Part II

While we’re on the AAA bandwagon, we can’t but mention the big Naughty Dog title launched this year. The game features not one, but two protagonists (initially it looks like one of ‘em is the antagonist), batting debilitating cycles of revenge. One of the most intricate and intense narratives a game could deliver, The Last of Us Part II follows Ellie’s travels in adulthood, facing difficult challenges while dealing with a zombie apocalypse. Even though the game received quite a lot of hate online, it’s still a beautifully written game with powerful characters that find you bawling your eyes out at certain points. Give it a go, if you haven’t yet. 

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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