Rejoice ladies and gentlemen, it looks like the following two years are shaping up to be a highlight for female characters in gaming! From what we have seen so far, male and female gamers alike have much to look forward to after this year’s 2015 E3 presentations, including a wealth of strong female protagonists making their way into some fantastic looking upcoming games and sequels.
Whereas it all started with the likes of Samus Aran in the Metroid series and Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, the expansion of female characters in big games has now, thankfully, been steadily on the rise in recent years; be it in huge expansive RPGs - such as last year’s Dragon Age: Inquisiton - that allowed you to play as both female and male characters (and without the tiny bikini armor), or in story-led franchises like the aforementioned Tomb Raider and Mirror’s Edge.
So, what games with those all-important strong female characters from this year’s E3 should be on your radar?
Let’s begin with a personal favorite of mine, Dishonored. Since its release back in 2012, developers Bethesda Softworks and Arkane studios impressed with their mesmerizingly good stealth action-adventure game set in the grimy, plague-ridden city of Dunwall. Boasting a first person perspective and some truly awesome gameplay mechanics, along with a great twisted narrative, Dishonoured received critical acclaim across the board. For these reasons it is a game I have been eagerly awaiting a follow up for.
At E3 2015 we were treated to the first cinematic trailer for Dishonored 2 and I’ve got to say, it looked amazing. Boasting some awesome looking new features and settings, along with the addition of new dark magic powers, the game looks just as enjoyable as the first. But perhaps the most interesting change has been the switch from main character Corvo Attano, to the now grown up Emily Kaldwin, daughter of the assassinated empress in the first game. Of course, in the DLC we got to play as master of assassins, Daud; a great switch in perspective and wonderfully enjoyable, but I am thoroughly excited to play through as Emily. From the looks of things Miss Kaldwin has followed in the footsteps of her old protector and certainly shows no diminishing of skill, her character displaying some serious moves in the cinematic. And as any who have played the first game well know, all the amazing things we see in the cinematic are entirely possible within gameplay; part of the reason why it was such an incredible game.
Dishonored 2 is set for release sometime in 2016 and will most definitely on my short list. Don’t miss out on this one! All I can say is, go Emily!
From dark magic assassins to dynamite adventurers, our next female character is none other than the infamous Lara Croft! The announcement of the sequel, Rise of The Tomb Raider, second in the popular rebooted franchise starting with Tomb Raider in 2013, which received high praise across media channels, was met with much praise and excitement. Building off of the survival aspects of the open world island, Rise of The Tomb Raider is set to be an ambitious and visceral experience especially now that Lara is more steadied in her Tomb Raiding role (expect a serious increase in the level of badass). If you like the Uncharted series, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up, and for those girl gamers, this is one strong, intelligent and resilient character that you can most definitely get a bearing with.
Release is set for late 2015, so pick your copy up when you have some time to play through all its glory.
Next, comes another great series that I have been awaiting a sequel for a while now; Mirror’s Edge. Simply one of the best free running/parkour experiences out there, Mirror’s Edge (released 2009) was a perfect step away from the generic combat shooter games that had been steadily pumped out like milk from an overly plump cow. The sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst which returns us to epic parkour tracer, Faith in an origin story is looking sharper, more deadly and heaps more parkour action related fun than ever.
If you want something a little different, with awesome gameplay mechanics and a dicey female lead, pick this up. Release is set for February 2016.
Everyone loved Ygritte from Game of Thrones, the no-nonsense, tough as nails redhead wildling girl that kicked serious ass with a bow and arrow. Now, feast your eyes on Aloy, a young outcast from a tribal society living in the ruins of a forgotten civilization where nature has taken back its hold and huge incredible machines stalk the lands. That world is Horizon: Zero Dawn. Coming off the back of the Killzone series, Dutch based developers Guerilla Games have set out to create an ambitious lush open world action RPG. Young Aloy has learnt to hunt the machines that remain in her world using a host of unique weapons and tactics. Seeking to unravel the mysteries surrounding these machines, her story will lead you on a quest of discovery of not only the stunning world Aloy lives in, but her own destiny also.
From what we have seen in the trailer, gameplay looks to be varied and entertaining, in a gorgeous landscape no less. Machines are diverse and dynamic, travelling in herds, while the beautiful environment offers a variety of tactical gameplay options. And of course machines aren’t the only thing Aloy has to contend with. The key to your survival will rely on employing all of Aloy’s skills of cunning, agility and stealth, while adapting to the situations the player is presented with.
This is one game I will definitely be keeping a close eye on and you should to. Release is set for some time in 2016.
To finish up one can’t help but mention the long running franchise Assassin's Creed, which with its new release AC: Syndicate, puts players in charge of twin brother and sister Jacob and Evie Frye. Set for release in October 2015, AC: Syndicate offers players a chance to explore Victorian London, amassing renown and support through the infamous street gangs in order to bring down the corrupt Templar elite. The game’s combat has been refined for more brutal, fast paced close quarters hand to hand and short weapons, whilst adding new traversal options such as the rope launcher and horse drawn carriages. Main characters Evie and Jacob are given specialized traits and unique personalities, with Jacob being a hot headed brawler and close quarters combat fighter while Evie is the more cunning, relying on her keen mind, stealthy abilities and wit (though that isn’t to say she can’t handle herself in a fight if the cinematic is anything to go by).
While Syndicate looks interesting and Victorian London is a location I have long clamored for, the Assassin's Creed series has of course been suffering of late with relatively stale gameplay and some serious issues with performance and glitching. These issues are at the forefront of many gamers minds and with good reason. Nevertheless the introduction of a strong female character like Evie is a welcome change of pace for powerhouse developer Ubisoft who despite introducing some female characters with the likes of Assassins Creed Chronicles: China; the skilful female ninja assassin Shao Jun, have focused mainly on male protagonists.
To round up our stunning female cast, these are some of the other upcoming games that allow for a choice between a male and female character; Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Fable’s Legends, Fifa 2016, Call of Duty Black Ops 3.
All look to be very promising games and I can bet a substantial amount of gamers will invariably be spending much of the year fully immersed in these worlds.