In recent years (possibly even recent decades), the idea that a video game hero or lead character has to be a male has changed. Going back as far as the original Metroid with Samus, we’ve had some really strong female leads across a variety of different genres. That is a real sign of progress that I, for one, am really happy about. There are some great role models in video games for my daughter.
So, I wanted to show my admiration for this trend by listing off my top 7 female video game lead characters!
8. Claire Redfield
The first female lead character on this list has to be Claire Redfield, first introduced to the world in Resident Evil 2. However, rather than a lot of female characters in the genre (outside of the Last Girl trope in movies), Claire starts off strong and just grows from there. She never backs down from adversary, even when facing off against the likes of Birkin or Mr. X. From there, Claire goes off to Europe to take on Umbrella and search for her missing brother entirely alone.
If you ever need to understand just how incredible Claire is, you just need to watch the intro video of Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Claire infiltrated a guarded Umbrella complex, takes out a bunch of guards and outruns a helicopter that is shooting at her!
7. Lara Croft
Naturally, Lara Croft was always going to be on this list, wasn’t she? I mean, how could she not be? Lara is the poster character for strong female leads in video games. She’s done it all, including going up against Egyptian gods, a T-Rex and a supernatural Japanese goddess as well. Lara has travelled across the world, taking on countless enemies and creatures along the way.
She has famously been a badass in both movies and games, so she definitely makes it onto this list of my top female lead characters. However, there are a few female lead characters that I think deserve a bit more attention than her.
6. Samus Aran
Whilst Lara is the most famous big-name female lead character in video games, Samus got the most memorable moment of an introduction, or rather “reveal”. Players went through the entirety of the original Metroid, a science fiction platforming shooter with massive exploration, assuming that they were playing a male character. I mean, at the time, that was just the way it was. However, once you finish the game you are treated to a scene where it is revealed that you were playing as a female character all along.
This one moment broke the trend of video games at the time, showing that a female character can be an absolutely amazing and super strong hero as well. Because of that, Samus gets a place on this list above Lara. Lara is famous, but Samus largely opened the door for strong female lead characters in video games.
5. Commander Shephard
Sticking with the science fiction genre for this entry, Commander Shephard is next. Yes, you can play Shep as a male, but you can also play as the nicknamed Fem-Shep without any of the action and adventure being toned down. Shep manages to save the galaxy on more than one occasion, and even death couldn’t stop her! She is able to negotiate any problem through both diplomacy and the barrel of a rifle.
On top of that, Shep ends up taking it on herself to stop the Reapers from destroying all sentient and intelligent life in the galaxy, becoming a true legend throughout the stars. She is incredibly powerful, both in terms of her smarts, wit and skill in battle.
Easily the youngest character on this list, Ellie starts off The Last of Us as someone you have to escort. Initially, you feel like she is going to be a burden, like Ashley from Resident Evil 4. However, that idea is quickly destroyed and shattered into pieces by her demeanour and abilities. Ellie is a more than capable fighter, no matter whether she is up against humans, clickers or any other mutation caused by the cordyceps virus.
Plus, from what we have seen of The Last of Us Part 2, she has become even more independent, able to take on waves of fully armed people with her whits and combat ability. Ellie is an amazing and inspirational character who more than deserves to be on this list.
No list of amazing female leads would be complete without Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn. Starting out the game as an outcast, she trains herself up to earn a spot within a tribe, dealing with robot dinosaurs and madmen with Gatling guns to do so. She explores the ruined, post-apocalyptic world that has been infested with these robots entirely on her own, hunting and scavenging all the way.
She knows and trusts herself, which is a great mentality for a role model to have. Aloy is strong, fast and really clever, making her own way in a world that constantly wants to push her back down.
2. Koudelka Iasant
For those of you who have come to know me and my taste in games through this blog, it might come as a surprise that Koudelka isn’t in the number one spot. However, she is still one of my favourite examples of a strong female lead character. Koudelka takes charge throughout the game, constantly putting both James and Edward in their place. She is also the strongest human character in the game with her psychic abilities.
Koudelka has gone through some terrible events in her past, overcoming them all to turn into a strong and fiercely independent character who can more than handle herself in almost any situation. If that’s not a great example of a powerful female lead, I don’t know what is!
1. Aya Brea
So we come to the number 1 slot, and you were probably wondering who could beat Lara Croft. Well, there are just some characters that I feel are stronger than she has been overall. Obviously, Lara is incredible and that’s why she is on this list, but Aya Brea has been a badass since the very beginning. Starting off her adventures against the Mitochondria monsters of the Parasite Eve games as a rookie police officer in New York City, she has experienced some true horror!
The first game had her fight off the birth of what is effectively a God amongst men, dealing with the murder and mutation of hundreds of people and overcoming her own inner demons along the way. Then, the second game featured giant monsters with flamethrowers in their mouths, betrayal, super soldiers and even more! Aya pushed through all of this to always come out on top, and she did it almost entirely alone!
And That’s All Folks
That was the list of my 8 favourite strong female lead characters in video games. There are, of course, a whole host more that could have been mentioned in this but these 8 amazing characters get the top spots for me, personally.
Who are your favourite female characters in video games? Let me know in the comments below!