There was a time in video games where female characters were just delicate princesses, a damsel in distress, and had to be saved by a hero. I'm looking at you, Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda. If not a damsel in distress, they were served as eye candy to please the male-dominant gaming space.
But ever since then, video games have come a long way. The new-age video games have witnessed the emergence of heroines who aren't delicates damsels in distress. Heck, even Princess Peach and Princess Zelda have developed so well as independent characters in their universe.
Today, in the spirit of International Women's Day, we're celebrating the most badass video game heroines.
It's worth noting that we're only including the canon playable characters on this list, so you won't find any NPCs or true RPG characters where you can configure the gender of your characters, such as Mass Effect or Fallout. We know that we'll miss out on awe-inspiring characters such as Kassandra from Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Yennefer from the Witcher 3 and Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But we are looking for the most inspirational, badass and OG heroines from the world of gaming, and that's exactly what you'll find here.
Aveline de Grandpré from Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Aveline de Grandpré was the first canon Assassin from the Assassin's Creed franchise. Although Aveline was born free, being a mixed-race girl in the 18th century New Orleans was no easy task, but Aveline braved it all and dedicated her life to save her fellow men from the shackles of slavery. She can dawn on the Assassin Gear and beat up a group of dozen slave owners without breaking a sweat and the next moment she can change into her 'lady' persona and blend in with the gentry. All her disguises are deadly in their own respective way and allow her to access different parts of the city and the social hierarchy, making her one of the best Assassins ever!
Evie Frye from Assassin's Creed Syndicate
You may think I'm an Assassin's Creed fan for two consecutive entries, which is not far from the truth, to be honest, but Evie Frye deserves a spot on this list despite the fact that she shares the spotlight with her twin brother in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. While Jacob was the brute who liked to go head-on and get his fists bloody, Evie was the more sophisticated and Elegant twin. Her combat moves were smooth and had a certain finesse to them, but don't count that as a sign of weakness, oh no. Evie Frye could go down in the bare-knuckle boxing ring and takedown men double her size.
Samus Aran from Metroid
Samus was probably the very first female protagonist in a video game, but Nintendo kept that fact hidden behind Metroid's end game. Players didn't know Samus was a female and, back when the video game scene was dominated by males, sent an important message. Metroid made a statement about how a character's gender doesn't affect their abilities, and hence, women should be treated fairly and equally as their male counterparts in video games.
Alloy From Hozion Zero Dawn and the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West
Alloy is the perfect model of an exemplary female character in a modern video game. Born as an outcast and raised an outsider, there's more to Alloy's story than simple butt-kicking. She is defined by her curiosity of her origins and her bravery in the post-apocalyptic wildland. She's completely self-sufficient, crafting and gathering hunting material from the wilderness. Her story is so well written and acted out, making her a compelling and memorable character. I can't wait to play Alloy again in the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West.
2B from NieR: Automata
Before I dive any further, I want to say that I know 2B was sexualised by the community, but that's not even the tip of the iceberg. 2B is a combat android who brave, compassionate and willing to sacrifice herself. Despite being in tough spots, which literally means under attack by gigantic mecha-monsters, she keeps up her calm and composure. Despite the fact 2B is just an Android, she managed to show off humanity that was far beyond that of an average human. I wish I could say more in her praise but I can't do so without diving into the spoilers. NieR: Automata is a game that you must play by yourself.
Amicia de Rune from A Plague Tale: Innocence
Bravery isn't always defined by killing the bad guys, it's better defined by protecting the weak and the innocent. Amicia de Rune from A Plague Tale: Innocence is the perfect example of the statement. She's not a deadly character nor a strong brute like all the others from the list, instead, she's a timid little teenager who has to drape in a persona of bravery for her little brother. Alone in a world riddled with plague-infested mouse and soldiers who want to kill her, Amicia is on a journey to save her brother. Her story is of bravery is inspiring and, when paired that with an amazing voice cast, you have one of the bravest female characters from recent video games.
Bayonetta from Bayonetta
At first glance, Bayonetta may seem like a classic example of a female figure created just to appease the male fantasy, but on a deeper look, she's hands down the most badass heroine from a video game. There, I said it, she's better than Lara Croft in all imaginable aspects. You quickly grow over her proportions and fall in love with confident, hilarious, witty and brave women underneath the skin. Coming from a hack-and-slash franchise, Bayonetta controls are the most fluid which further adds to her persona of a badass heroine.
Amber from Genshin Impact
There were so many amazing women from Genshin Impact that I wanted to list, but in the end, I stuck with Amber. For starters, she's the only female canon character you are 'guaranteed' to get in the early game. Despite her young age, she's the best glider in Mondstat and the only remaining Outrider of the Knights of Favonius. She's an energetic personality that's always full of life, that's part of the reason I'm an Amber main in Genshin Impact. Amber is always a step ahead when it comes to helping the people of Mondstadt, whether it's a simple task like giving them directions or clearing hilichurl camps outside the city.
Senua from Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
There's no debate over the fact that Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a fabulous game, and a part of the reason is Senua's inspiring story. Senua was born was a 'curse', for which she was physically and emotionally abused by her father until Dillion entered the stage. Dillion saw her 'curse' as a blessing, as something that made her special and hence the two fell in love. But the happy days don't make a good story. Dillion dies and Senua sets out on a journey to bring him back from Helheim, battling physical and psychological monsters in the journey. What makes Senua special is her vulnerability. She's not a fearless warrior who can brave through any danger, instead, she is on a journey to self-discovery and redemption. So, you see her develop into a badass heroine through the course of the game.
Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise
No list of badass video game characters can be complete without the OG Lara Croft. Lara has undergone several iterations and makeovers, thanks to dozens of games, a handful of movies and a few full-length novels as well. At first, we knew Lara as a total badass who ventured into hidden temples and fought T-Rexs with a Glock. However, thanks to the 2013 reboot of the series, we got to know the origins of the Tomb Raider. She wasn't always a T-Rex fighting badass with a huge mansion. There was a time when she was scared and vulnerable but through the course of the reimagined trilogy, we witnessed the 'Rise' of the Tomb Raider.