Top 10 Latest Games Featuring Female Protagonist
Over the past years we’ve seen a great number of female characters take center stage in action-packed video games. Whether it’s a tale of survival, rags to riches, or one where you defeat hordes of enemies to avoid an apocalypse, gamers have been given the opportunity to take on the role of mighty heroines in a whole variety of worlds—unlocking their true potential and discovering more about the characters within. As always, the indie scene is also doing a fantastic job of providing us with layered and flawed characters of both sexes. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 of the latest and greatest games that feature female protagonists.
1. The Last of Us Part II
The sequel to The Last of Us features two female protagonists: Ellie, known from the first game where she was a central character, and Abby, a soldier and the main antagonist in the new story. In The Last of Us Part II, the story focuses on Ellie’s struggles to accept the brutal reality of the new world, with players also getting to spend quite a bit of time in the shoes of Abby. Some of the events in the game didn’t sit well with everyone, nor was Abby a particularly popular character. Even so, her inclusion allowed the developers to tell a very different type of story than the one found in the first game, with viewers encouraged to reflect on their thoughts about Ellie and Joel, the previous protagonist. Perspective is important, and that’s definitely the case when looking at events through Abby’s eyes. Gameplay-wise, it’s once again a mixture of action-adventure, survival horror, and stealth, with an added dash of crafting and some improvements over the original.
2. Horizon Forbidden West
Horizon Forbidden West is the direct sequel to the critically acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn. The sequel builds up on the success of the first game, with players following machine hunter Aloy, who was also the protagonist in the previous game, as she travels into the Forbidden West to take on an urgent and unknown new threat that could spell the end of all life on Earth. Players are taken deep into a postapocalyptic future, where tribal human communities must coexist with awe-inspiring yet deadly machines. The presence of numerous monsters in Forbidden West’s unique setting coupled with the expansive world of ruins make for an interesting gameplay experience, and Aloy is great as the protagonist.
3. Metroid Prime Remastered
Bounty hunter Samus Aran, the star of Nintendo’s Metroid franchise, is one of the first female protagonists to have appeared in a video game. When Metroid debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986, Samus was depicted simply as a cybernetic-suited hero. It was only at the end of the game that players learned the person behind the helmet was a woman. The intergalactic bounty hunter was in fact recognized at the time in the Guinness World Records, with Samus winning the title of “first playable human female character in a mainstream video game.” Genetically enhanced, Samus uses her cybernetic Power Suit and primary Arm Cannon to protect the galaxy from pesky Space Pirates trying to harness the power of the parasitic Metroid creatures, as well as fighting off a few nasty space monsters along the way. Metroid Prime Remastered, released in early 2023, is a faithful beat-for-beat recreation of the original GameCube classic with a comprehensively polished visual makeover.
4. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade’s titular protagonist Senua is one of the best female protagonists we’ve seen in a long time. An intriguing and risky character, Senua was intelligently designed by developer Ninja Theory, who worked closely with both professional consultants and people with lived experiences to create a thoughtful depiction of psychosis within the context of a video game. Players are immersed in the mental landscape of Senua—a woman who is both mentally ill and a hero—as she overcomes the challenges of the spiritual and physical worlds while battling her way through the Orkney Islands in the late 8th century. As voices in her mind play tricks on her and lie to her, demons manifest out of thin air and attempt to halt her progress, and the world around her shifts and changes, denying her the use of her senses and her logic, Senua must battle her way into Helheim. Her journey is the fight against her own demons, and the game never makes it clear if they truly are demons or are just ones of her own making. Either way, her ability to survive them makes Senua a female protagonist to be studied and learned from for years to come.
5. Bayonetta 3
Although she might be all skimpy clothes, suggestive comments, and the occasional streak, Bayonetta is undeniably a tough woman. In Bayonetta 3, the titular angel-hunting witch must face against man-made bioweapons called Homunculi and an entity known as the Singularity that threatens to destroy the multiverse. She is assisted by an ensemble of characters, including a coven of alternate-universe versions of herself, and a new witch-in-training named Viola. As a mystical being, Bayonetta can use magic to do everything from transform into various animals, contort her hair into a demon-chomping dragon, and transcend the physical restrictions of space. The Bayonetta series, first introduced in 2009, took something overdone and hypersexual and kept it that way. In the games, Bayonetta’s posh English accent and librarian glasses wonderfully juxtapose her frantically murderous actions, making this a fun game at every moment.
6. A Plague Tale: Requiem
Amicia de Rune was already a great deuteragonist in A Plague Tale: Innocence alongside her brother Hugo, but the sequel hit it out of the park with the way the story is told and how the characters’ fates entwine. In A Plague Tale: Requiem, players are put in the shoes of Amicia once again as she looks after Hugo and seeks a cure for his mysterious affliction. Gameplay-wise, it’s mostly a stealth game, although new combat options are available. Amicia gets new tools, too, including a crossbow that rapidly becomes amazingly useful, and Hugo can use his powers to help Amicia solve puzzles and take out enemies—the soldiers of the French Inquisition. In the game, Amicia is called to make ever more difficult and desperate choices, all while grappling with the burden of declining mental health. Amicia is eventually tasked with the impossible job of ending her brother’s life, which players can decide not to do, only for Lucas to do it in the end. It’s a unique game with a slight twist on the action-adventure genre.
7. Half-Life: Alyx
Released in 2020, Half-Life: Alyx is a first-person shooter VR game in the popular Half-Life series that follows Alyx Vance as she returns to explore the eerie dystopia of City 17 and the events leading up to Half-Life 2, the second game in the series. As Alyx, humanity’s only chance at survival, players help the resistance take down the Combine once and for all. Alyx will need to team up with her father, Dr. Eli Vance, and many other allies, some familiar and some new. As a VR game, Half-Life: Alyx immediately engages players as they enter City 17. You don’t just absorb the impressive environment by looking at it but can actually run your virtual fingertips across surfaces and move your head to fully take in the sights. Alyx is voiced by Ozioma Akagha, and as in Half-Life 2, remains a source of humor, determination, and empathy, and players will feel amazed to be able to inhabit her body and walk in her shoes rather than just spend time with her as in a non-VR game. Half-Life Alyx received critical acclaim for its graphics, writing, and voice acting, and, like most Half-Life titles, has also been host to a thriving mod scene.
8. Control Ultimate Edition
Remedy Entertainment’s 2019 title Control, and its one-year anniversary edition, Control Ultimate Edition, which contains the original game plus various DLC and updates, revolves around Jesse Falden as she works to defeat the Hiss in a bizarre and hidden supernatural world. As the new acting director of the Federal Bureau of Control, an agency committed to containing and studying paranormal phenomena, Jesse has to deal with a lot of odd stuff during her first day of work. Equipped with newly discovered psionic powers and a very versatile gun, she has to face a problem that may destabilize the entire agency. That’s a harsh first day on the job, but it’s fun to follow as she adapts and potentially thrives. The game earned Game of the Year awards at multiple publications in addition to various other accolades, making it a smash hit and one of Remedy’s best-reviewed games to date, alongside their popular series Alan Wake.
9. Resident Evil 3
Special Operations Agent Jill Valentine has appeared in a number of the Resident Evil games over the years, including Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Resident Evil: Revelations, and Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, with her most recent outing in the survival-horror franchise being in Resident Evil 3, the 2020 remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999). Now with new looks and a new voice actor bringing her to life, Jill must once again go through the nightmare of escaping the dreaded Nemesis and flesh-eating zombies populating the streets of Raccoon City. She’s a natural-born survivor, and despite her brief evil stint in Resident Evil 5 when she was under the control of Albert Wesker, she has always had her teammates’ backs when the going got tough. In Resident Evil 3, Jill takes the lead role alongside Carlos Oliveira. The game is about Jill’s escape from Raccoon City and the pursuit by Nemesis that almost kills her.
10. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
A conclusion to the reboot trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider once again pits Lara Croft against Trinity. This time, Lara ventures to South America, trying to prevent the apocalypse she has accidentally set off while doing her thing. Thankfully, she’s now more experienced and hardened than she has ever been. Although Shadow of the Tomb Raider doesn’t offer anything new to the trilogy in terms of gameplay, it certainly boasts impressive visuals and action scenes, making it a fitting conclusion to Lara’s story.
These top-notch titles are proof that games with female protagonists can be wildly successful. Video game developers should take note that games with strong female leads have great potential to perform very well.
Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.