Video games have evolved into immersive storytelling experiences that feature strong characters. However, unlike the stereotypical and frankly misogynistic portrayal of female characters that used to plague the late 90s and early 2000s, female characters in 2023 are ambitious, powerful, smart, adaptable and, for lack of a better word, simply badass.
These characters have broken through traditional gender roles, offering compelling narratives and showcasing extraordinary abilities that inspire players around the world. From battling ancient tombs to saving entire galaxies, these women have left an indelible mark on the gaming industry. So today, we honour some of the best female video game characters while also highlighting the developers who brought them to life.
From Lara Croft’s adventuring spirit to Samus Aran’s intergalactic heroism, each of these characters has left an indelible mark on players through their unique stories, incredible abilities and the boundaries they break. As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, these strong gaming characters serve as a reminder of the strength, resilience and depth that female protagonists possess. They also inspire players to embrace their own power and challenge societal norms, fostering a more inclusive and diverse gaming community.
Here are the 10 best female video game characters
The inclusion of strong and empowering female characters in video games has transformed the medium, allowing players to connect with narratives that defy stereotypes and reflect a more diverse reality. Here are our top 10 picks.
1. Lara Croft, ‘Tomb Raider’
Lara Croft has become synonymous with the action-adventure genre, captivating gamers since her debut in 1996. Developed by Crystal Dynamics, the Tomb Raider series has showcased Lara’s evolution from an intelligent, athletic archaeologist to a resilient survivor. Armed with her iconic dual pistols and a sharp intellect, Lara fearlessly explores ancient tombs, solves intricate puzzles and battles enemies to uncover long-lost treasures. With her unwavering determination and resourcefulness, Lara Croft has secured her place as one of the greatest female game characters in video game history.
2. Samus Aran, the ‘Metroid’ series
Samus Aran, created by Nintendo, has captivated gamers since her first appearance in the Metroid series. Clad in her iconic power suit, Samus battles space pirates and extraterrestrial threats with unparalleled skills and precision. Breaking gender norms, her identity as a woman was revealed as a groundbreaking twist, showcasing the strength and complexity of her character. With her arsenal of powerful weapons and agility, Samus Aran stands tall as one of the most powerful and influential female characters in video games.
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3. Aloy, ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’
In Horizon Zero Dawn, developed by Guerrilla Games, we are introduced to Aloy, a skilled huntress navigating a post-apocalyptic world dominated by colossal machines. Aloy’s journey is one of self-discovery and uncovering the truth about her world. With her exceptional archery skills, intelligence and resourcefulness, Aloy fearlessly challenges the dangers that lie before her. As she explores lush landscapes and confronts mechanical beasts, Aloy’s unwavering determination and compassionate nature make her one of the most powerful female characters in video games.
4. Commander Shepard, ‘Mass Effect‘
Commander Shepard, the customizable protagonist of BioWare’s Mass Effect Trilogy, is a legendary figure in the gaming world. She brings an added layer of depth and charisma to the epic space opera narrative. Shepard’s journey also takes players on a quest to save the galaxy from imminent threats, a quest that requires diplomacy, strategic decision-making and commanding a diverse team. Her leadership, courage and unwavering dedication to the cause make Commander Shepard a true icon of female empowerment in video games.
5. Ellie, ‘The Last of Us’
Ellie, a central character in The Last of Us franchise developed by Naughty Dog, embodies resilience and survival in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by infected creatures. From a young age, Ellie learns to navigate the harsh realities of a broken society, developing resourcefulness, combat skills and emotional resilience in the process. Her journey alongside Joel, her mentor, also explores themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and personal growth. Ellie’s tenacity, wit and fierce determination to protect those she cares about make her a memorable and beloved female character in the world of gaming.
6. Bayonetta, ‘Bayonetta‘
Bayonetta, the titular character of the Bayonetta series developed by PlatinumGames, defies conventions with her confidence, sensuality and incredible combat abilities. As a powerful witch with control over dark forces, Bayonetta effortlessly dispatches enemies with her stylish and acrobatic moves. Her sharp wit and unapologetic personality challenge traditional stereotypes, making her one of the most iconic protagonists in video games.
7. Jill Valentine, ‘Resident Evil’
Jill Valentine is a significant character in the Resident Evil series, known for her bravery, resourcefulness and unwavering determination. Created by Capcom, Jill first appeared in the original Resident Evil game released in 1996 and has since become one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the franchise. Jill’s role as a member of the elite Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) showcases her exceptional combat skills, intelligence and ability to handle high-pressure situations. Her expertise in lockpicking and bomb disposal adds to her utility as a capable survivor in the face of the bio-organic threats that plague the Resident Evil universe.
8. Lightning, ‘Final Fantasy XIII’
Lightning, the protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII developed by Square Enix, is a determined and disciplined warrior with an unwavering sense of justice. As a former soldier, Lightning possesses incredible combat skills and wields a powerful Gun Blade. Her stoic personality hides a deep emotional core, and her journey of self-discovery and personal growth resonates with most players. Lightning’s unwavering dedication to her cause and her loyalty to her friends also make her one of the most beloved characters in the Final Fantasy series.
9. Jade, ‘Beyond Good & Evil’
Jade, the main protagonist of Beyond Good & Evil, is an intrepid investigative journalist on a quest to uncover a government conspiracy. Armed with her camera and staff, Jade fearlessly exposes corruption and fights for truth and justice. Her courage, intelligence and unwavering determination to expose the truth make her a standout female character. In addition to her skills as a journalist, Jade is also an adept fighter who is proficient in martial arts and acrobatics. What’s not to love?
10. Alyx Vance, ‘Half-Life 2’
Alyx Vance, a supporting character in Half-Life 2, is a resourceful and skilled resistance fighter. Living in a dystopian world, Alyx becomes a crucial ally to the game’s protagonist, Gordon Freeman, as they battle against the oppressive Combine forces. Her expertise in hacking, engineering and combat makes her an indispensable asset in the fight for humanity’s freedom. As the daughter of a prominent scientist, Alyx also possesses a sharp intellect and a deep understanding of the technological advancements of her time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– Who is the best female video game character?
Determining the ‘best’ female video game character is subjective and can vary based on personal preferences. However, some iconic characters like Lara Croft, Samus Aran and Commander Shepard have had a significant impact on the gaming industry and are widely recognised as strong and influential female protagonists.
– Who is the most powerful female video game character?
The title of the most powerful female video game character is open to interpretation. Characters like Bayonetta, Aloy and Samus Aran are often considered to be among the most powerful due to their exceptional combat skills, intelligence and abilities to overcome formidable challenges.
– Which games have female main characters?
Numerous games feature female main characters, showcasing the diversity of storytelling in the gaming world. Some notable examples include the Tomb Raider series (Lara Croft), Metroid series (Samus Aran), Horizon Zero Dawn (Aloy), the Mass Effect trilogy (Commander Shepard), The Last of Us franchise (Ellie) and the Bayonetta series (Bayonetta).