10 Female Video Game Characters Who Are More Than Just Eye Candy
Female video game characters don’t generally enjoy the best reputation, and to a certain extent, this is deserved. Characters like Lara Croft aren’t exactly known for displaying deep and well-rounded personalities. But that doesn’t mean that all women in video games offer nothing but visual appeal. Some of them manage to break the mold and establish themselves as well-written and interesting characters in their own right.
Lady Montbarron, also known as the Farmer, would enjoy a higher standing on this list, but points were subtracted because she didn’t technically appear in the game she originated from.
Allow us to explain. The original Dungeon Siege was one of those role-playing games where the player could design his or her character any way they chose. It was always a farmer forced into a heroic adventure to save the Kingdom of Ehb from danger, but other than that, everything was up to the player. However, in promotional materials, the game generally used a tough-looking, red-haired woman as its protagonist.
When Dungeon Siege III decided to follow up on the original’s story, it had to go back and create an official version of the Farmer, and it choose the red-haired woman. But despite the fact that we never got to play as her per se, Lady Montbarron is nonetheless an impressive figure: a humble farmer who rose to become a hero of Ehb, defeat the evil Seck and their demigod general, and found a noble line of 10th Legion members who would continue doing good for centuries to come.
Sylvanas Windrunner is one of the most impressive entries on the list for sheer intimidation factor and badassery. Once the brave ranger-general of the High Elves, Sylvanas led a guerilla war against the corrupted prince Arthas Menethil and his undead Scourge, but was ultimately defeated.
Tortured, killed, and then raised as an undead slave, she eventually broke free of Arthas’s control and established her own army of the undead, the Forsaken. Sylvanas has been driven mad by her ordeals, and she’s now as evil as her creator, but she’s evil on her terms, and no one else’s.
Sylvanas is a slave to no one, and she fears no one. While her goals and tactics may be reprehensible, one cannot help but admire her spirit.
A foul-mouthed and violent criminal, Jack doesn’t seem like a particularly likable character at first. But there’s more to her than meets the eye, and one considers her past, she becomes easier to understand.
Jack has led a life of constant suffering. Abducted as a small child for her biotic powers, she was tortured and experimented upon by those who sought to turn her into a weapon. Even once she escaped — after killing everyone in the facility — she continued to suffer abuses from various individuals.
But Jack is a survivor. She keeps fighting despite all she’s been through, and she can be a loyal companion to those who earn her trust.
Said to be the “mother” of US Special Forces, the Boss is as tough as they come. Not only was she a female soldier all the way back in the ‘40s, but she also led the invasion of D-Day (while pregnant, no less), and gave birth on the battlefield while wounded.
She seems to be a villain for much of the game she stars in, but as she is also the protagonist’s mentor, so she is afforded a great deal of respect, and in a twist, it is revealed at the end that wasn’t really a defector but had in fact been under deep cover. When things went wrong, she allowed herself to be killed in order to prevent a war.
Despite being often described as identifiable “girl next door” character, Jade is definitely one of the more unusual ladies on the list. For starters, she lives in and operates and lighthouse/orphanage on an alien planet.
But hey, nothing wrong with having a weird house, and Jade is definitely an admirable person. While freelancing as a photojournalist to fund her orphanage, Jade uncovers a secret alien conspiracy, human trafficking, and other assorted nastiness, which she promptly sets about defeating.
Bright, curious, and capable, Jade is definitely more than a pretty face.
Players of Half-Life 2 and its expansions will quickly become attached to Alyx Vance, as she accompanies and assists the player through a wide variety of missions. Unlike similar helpers in other games, though, Alyx is not dead weight or simply for show and can often be quite useful in completing the game’s objectives.
This is not just a gameplay element. It speaks to Alyx’s toughness and competence as a person. She is skilled in fighting, hacking, and robotics, and has even constructed a gigantic, cybernetic “dog” to help protect herself.
Tough and quick-witted, ‘60s super spy Cate Archer is a character as charming and entertaining as the games she starred in.
Cate is a female operative in a time where women where hardly trusted to be anything more than secretaries, let alone given the responsibility of saving of the world. She has to battle gender stereotypes as much as she does her opponents, the mysterious terrorists of H.A.R.M. But she handles both with equal skill, deflecting all criticisms with her acerbic wit as easily as she dispatches her enemies with her weapons and gadgets.
Cate Archer is as attractive as any Lara Croft type, but unlike those characters, she doesn’t need her looks to be likable. Her personality is all that she needs to shine.
Often considered one of the greatest video game characters of all time, Sarah Kerrigan is a woman with a long and tragic history.
Abducted at a young age for her telepathic abilities and inducted into a nightmarish training program, Sarah become a ghost, a type of psionic assassin, for the Confederacy of Man. She was eventually freed from this bondage by the rebel leader Arcturus Mengsk, but when he finally defeated the Confederacy, he left her to die at the hands of the alien Zerg.
But Kerrigan didn’t die. The Zerg took her and modified her body and mind, making her into one of them. She became the Queen of Blades, a godlike being of pure hatred and sadism. She served the Zerg Overmind as its most powerful agent, and when the Overmind was killed, Sarah took its place as head of the Zerg Swarm, eventually becoming one of the most feared figures in the galaxy.
Whether as a heroic ghost or as an alien monster, Sarah Kerrigan is one of the most fascinating and terrifying characters ever to set foot in a video game.
Intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran spends most of her time in an androgynous “Power Suit,” which led most gamers to believe the character was male. Imagine their surprise when the suit finally opened to reveal an attractive young woman.
Starring in the famous Metroid series, Samus is one of the most iconic video game characters of either gender. But while she is shown to be quite beautiful when she finally takes offer her suit — something which has become a tradition at the end of these games or when the player accomplishes special feats — she doesn’t rely on her looks for her fame. She is a skilled warrior and accomplished athlete, and capable of defeating all manner of aliens and space pirates.
As much as pre-established characters have their place, video games as a medium are ultimately about immersion, about throwing you into the action. Thus, the greatest video game characters are the ones you create yourself.
Whether you’re carefully designing your avatar in a massively multiplayer game or guiding a character through the branching missions and conversations of a game like Mass Effect, the love you put into your characters ultimately makes them more real than any character made by someone else.
This level of devotion automatically makes the character much more than some pretty pixels on a screen, and the more thought you put into your decisions and role-play, the more alive and well-rounded the character will be. The sky is the limit, and this is why the characters you create are #1 on this list.