With all the controversy surrounding the over-sexualization of female characters in the gaming industry these days, it’s worth noting a few women who made themselves memorable through their strong characterizations and not just being a piece of eye candy for games. Also yes, the year is far from over and it is more than likely a few more characters deserve a place on this list. Oh, almost forgot that there are SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.
Sarah Kerrigan from StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Not really a new character by any means but the campaign in the expansion pack StarCraft II:Heart of the Swarm saw the “Queen of Blades” as a really fleshed out character driven by her own agenda of revenge and arguably being one of greatest villains of computer gaming. After the events of Wings of Liberty ended with Sarah returning to a mostly human form, Heart of the Swam begins with her in captivity and with her struggling internally as her formal personality as the Leader of the Swam becomes hellbent on vengeance. Even though she is a villain, Sarah is a fierce, strongly driven albeit emotionally scarred woman torn between her role as the “Queen of Blades”, her feelings of love towards Jim Raynor and her hatred for Emperor Arcturus Mengsk.
Lara Croft from Tomb Raider
Also not at all a new character but the reboot by Crystal Dynamics saw Lara Croft almost completely re-imagined from her previous incarnations. The reboot features recent university graduate Lara on her first ever expedition as she sets to make her mark on the world however the ship is hit by a violent storm and shipwrecked on a mysterious island forcing Lara to save her fellow crew all the while being hunted by occult members and trying to solve the mystery of the island. The original Lara Croft was established as a confident, headstrong yet spoiled rich girl who trained to be an adventurer from a very young age but the new Lara however, while still a spoiled rich girl, has to learn the hard way on how to be a survivor. Put through tremendous amounts of physical and emotional trauma, she turns from a young, insecure girl into the cold hearted, persevering woman we’ve known for many years.
“Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” is what former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt is told when he is contracted to go to the floating of Columbia and “rescue” a young woman named Elizabeth. Liz is one of the most unique, useful and memorable gaming companions of recent years, opting away from the usual norm of female companions and actually staying away from danger during a firefight, assisting the player through the use of her “tears” and overall being one of the most advanced AI characters in gaming. However where she truly shines is in her personality and the character development she goes through during the course of the game. Initially starting off as quick witted, naive and almost childlike due to her being locked in captivity for her entire life but as the story progresses and the more secrets about Columbia are revealed, Elizabeth quickly becomes a mature, determined and sympathetic young woman and by the end of the game, she becomes a fully fledged, omniscient and terrifying force to be reckoned with.
Naughty Dog are no strangers to making interesting, fleshed out characters but Ellie is easily one of the best they have ever created. The world of the The Last of Us is dark and bleak, the entire story itself is one of the most emotionally moving experiences ever found in a game and Ellie is the perfect character to go with it. Kind of like that kid sister a person never had, her potty mouth is as quick and sharp as her skills with her switchblade but under all that vulgarity is a vulnerable, insecure, young girl who has the very relatable fear of being alone. Throughout the course of the 14+ hour storyline, it’s hard not to care for this character and one particular sequence where Ellie, after an attempted implied rape, proceeds to violently hack away at an antagonists face in self defense before she is eventually comforted by Joel, the main protagonist, personally almost had me in tears but was just enough to make me turn off my console and walk away, having to calm down.
The year is far from over and as far as high profile titles go, several characters could still join this list including Jodie Holmes from Beyond: Two Souls and Clara Lille from Watch Dogs. Let us know in the comments below if you feel that there was anyone we missed who you think deserved to be on this list.