It’s no secret that the video games industry could do more to be inclusive to all of the different kinds of people who play games. But progress has been made and we are now seeing more female characters, characters of colour and characters that identify as LGBTQ+ than ever before.
2016 is a real example of that, with quite a few games featuring diverse leads. So, to highlight the ones that we’re most excited to play, we’ve put together this list! Read on and let us know what other games you’re hyped for in the comments.
1. Mass Effect: Andromeda
In the Mass Effect series of games, not only can the player character be female and/or a person of colour (per the plentiful options for character customisation) but they can also have same-sex romances.
Although we don’t even know the name of Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s lead, BioWare previously confirmed (all the way back in 2013) is that the game will feature LGBTQ+ stories and multiple gender options for the main character. Andromeda’s gameplay designer has also been outspoken about gaming’s need for diversity, so naturally, we’ve got high expectations for its 2016release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Action RPG EITR stars ‘The Shield Maiden’ as she sets off on a quest to discover her fate and to discover exactly why she’s immune to the corruption that Loki has spread all over Yggdrasil. Inspired by Dark Souls and Bloodborne, EITR will likely be incredibly difficult when it arrives on PC and PS4, but the promise of high-stakes combat and an intriguing story makes it one of the games we are most looking forward to.
Hellblade, Ninja Theory’s upcoming PC and PS4 action adventure, follows a warrior named Senua as she battles through a ‘hellish’ underworld. Initially scheduled for release in 2015, Hellblade is still high on our wishlist as not only has Ninja Theory done their best to make sure that her body type is that of a former warrior (e.g that she’s muscly and toned instead of being typically slim) but Senua also experiences anxiety, depression and psychosis, making it one of few games to ever tackle mental illness
4. Read Only Memories
Read Only Memories is set far in the future, where people can identify as whatever gender or sexuality they feel comfortable with and no one will bat an eyelid; it even asks players their pronouns when the game begins. Developed by GaymerX organiser MidBoss, Read Only Memories gets major kudos from us for that, but the game’s sci-fi setting, puzzles and promise of choices also make this one to watch. (It’s out on PS4 and PS Vita in 2016 though it’s already available on PC).
5. Horizon Zero Dawn
Also flung far into the future is Horizon Zero Dawn, the upcoming PS4 exclusive from Killzone developer Guerrilla Games. In Horizon Zero Dawn, players will assume the role of master hunter Aloy as she hunts, crafts, loots, quests and discovers exactly why dinosaur mechs have replaced humans as the dominant dwellers on Earth.
Although it’s often overlooked, the PlayStation Vita is a great console with some great games heading to it. Joining Read Only Memories on the list of fab games coming to Sony’s handheld is Severed, a game starring a one-armed woman of colour who must slash her way way to freedom as she gets lost in a “fantastical world”. Severed will be released sometime in early 2016.
7. Mafia 3
Set in New Orleans in the 1960s, a time of much prejudice and anti-war sentiment, you might say that Mafia 3 is stoking the pot a bit by starring a mixed-race Vietnam War veteran.. Developer Hangar 13, however, says that the racism won’t be ‘sensational’ and instead they aim to get people thinking.
With the latest footage showing some seriously violent battles and car chases, we’re not sure how much time for thinking there will be, but we’re excited to see how it pans out when Mafia 3 releases on PC, PS4 and Xbox One later this year.
Coming to PC and Mac sometime this year, 18th century-set CCG (collectible card game) ShadowHand has quite a few things to be delighted about. An aristocrat by day, at night, protagonist Lady Darkmoor ditches tradition by masquerading as a highwaywoman. Secondly, Lady Darkmoor will be saving her family and safeguarding “a woman she holds dear” (we can always support female friendships). And finally, ShadowHand‘s battles are “solitaire-style” which means it’ll be easy to get used to.
9. The Walking Dead: Michonne
When people write female characters (especially black women), they often write them as strong, unemotional, and unaffected and so we crave for well-rounded character who isn’t just strong but is much more than that. Characters such as Michonne. The Walking Dead: Michonne aims to explore her “untold story”, where she copes with “unimaginable loss and regret”, away from the rest of her “trusted group”.
Telltale Games delayed The Walking Dead: Michonne as the project grew from a mini-series into a “standalone three-episode series” so we’ll have plenty to look forward to when it lands on PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS and Android in February.
10. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Given that we kicked off this list with a game that everyone’s been chomping at the bit for, it’s only fitting that we close it out with one too. Starring free-running woman of colour, Faith, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is the adventure that fans have been waiting for almost an entire decade.
Looking absolutely gorgeous thanks to current-gen visuals and with a prequel story that promises to make up for the narrative wrongs of the first game, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst could be well worth the wait when it comes to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in May.
Which game from the list are you most excited for? And which games did we forget to mention? Leave a comment and let us know.