2016 was a fine year for female characters in video games. Between stealth sequel Dishonored 2, parkour prequel Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and hack ‘n’ slash hit Severed, there were plenty of opportunities to play as female characters throughout the year.
But 2017 will be even better, with an astonishing amount of games through the year set to feature women and girls in lead roles. We’ve managed to get the list down to 20 games with female protagonists that we’re looking forward to and you can check out the choices after the jump.
Mass Effect: Andromeda (Windows PC, PS4, Xbox One – Early 2017)
Like all of the Mass Effect games before it, BioWare’s next space RPG Mass Effect: Andromeda will allow people to play as a male or female protagonist. As they find a new home for the human race (and its allied species), players will have access to all sorts of combat powers, weapons and special abilities.
Moreover, the player character can be a person of colour if players so choose and Mass Effect: Andromeda will feature same-sex romances too, making the upcoming title one of the most inclusive games around.
Sundered (PC, PS4)
The game is described as a replayable Metroidvania title and is partly inspired by Left 4 Dead. It also offers corruptible abilities and has several different endings.
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4 – February 28)
The most highly anticipated PS4 exclusive of the year, Horizon Zero Dawn‘s female protagonist Aloy has a big task ahead of her. Living on Earth after it has been overrun by huge mech-robot dinosaurs, the open-world action RPG allows players to go on quests and both battle and tame these creatures.
Not much about the game’s plot is known at this point, though, as Aloy is inquisitive and there are clearly plenty of secrets to be uncovered about the game’s world, Horizon Zero Dawn looks set to intrigue and entertain in equal measure.
Grand Values: Monaco (PS4, Xbox One)
With lead character Amy, stealth/jewel heist game Grand Values: Monaco wants its female protagonist to subvert tropes. Amy is the brains of the thieving outfit as she has to loot a whole lot of riches to get her and her crew out of trouble.
The game is set to release in three parts, with part one set to launch on PS4 and Xbox One in early 2017.
Nier: Automata (PS4 – March 7, Windows PC – Early 2017)
Nier: Automata‘s female protagonist is an android named YoRHa 2B. Taking place in the “distant future,” after Earth has been invaded by machines, the “level-headed” lead of this action RPG is one of few battle androids left.
YoRHa, with the help of her giant sword, must fight back against the mechanical invaders and take back the planet.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Windows PC, PS4)
Titular character Senua is a hardened warrior going into the depths of the underworld. The enemies of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice won’t be easy to defeat and developer Ninja Theory has said that the game will look at the physical, mental and emotional trials that its female protagonist faces.
Quietly delayed out of 2016, unfortunately Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does not yet have a specific release date other than ‘2017,’ though the game is expected to launch on PC and PS4 at the same time.
Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone’s Conspiracy (3DS, iOS, Android – Early 2017)
While Professor Layton is the best-known member of the family, in 2017 it’s the professor’s daughter who will get a chance to shine. Upcoming game Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone’s Conspiracy sees Katrielle Layton solve mysteries around London and the title promises more humour than previous games in the series too.
It should be noted that although the game is scheduled to release in early 2017 on Nintendo 3DS and on iOS and Android devices in Japan, it’s currently unclear if or when the game will be released in the west.
Prey (Windows PC, PS4, Xbox One – Early 2017)
Allowing players to choose either a male or female protagonist (both called Morgan Yu), Prey is a sci-fi thriller from (Dishonored developer) Arkane Studios. Players are on a spaceship that has been overrun with an alien entity that’s upset that humans have been performing experiments on them in an effort to harness their powers.
In addition to powers (such as the ability to ‘mimic’ and turn into inanimate objects) and weapons (such as the Gloo cannon), Prey offers a crafting system too.
Children of Zodiarcs (Windows PC, Mac – Early 2017, PS4 – TBA)
When JRPG Children of Zodiarcs launched its crowdfunding campaign last year, it became the most successful Square Enix Collective project ever. And it’s not hard to see why.
The game, which stars a young girl and her best friend as they fight back against oppression, features turn-based gameplay and card-based combat. Its art style is also magnificent, so consider us excited.
Mages of Mystralia (PC, PS4)
In Mages of Mystralia, players assume the role of Zia, a young girl who has just discovered her magical abilities. But magic is banned in Mystralia – the kingdom where this action adventure game is set – and so it’s up to Zia and Zia alone to figure out how to use her magic.
The game also boasts a ‘make your own spells’ feature, with players able to combine runes in “millions of different ways” to take down enemies and solve puzzles.
Knights and Bikes (Windows PC, Mac – Early 2017, PS4 – TBA)
Like Children of Zodiarcs, Knights and Bikes is another beautiful game about two best friends (it was also a huge crowdfunding success). Being developed by former LittleBigPlanet devs, Foam Sword, the game offers co-op gameplay as Nessa and Demelza uncover the truth behind medieval legends.
The island that the game is set on is also described as being in “financial ruin and literal destruction.” As the two best friends can find a “hero” for the island and “inspire” its inhabitants, Knights and Bikes sounds fabulously heart-warming.
Celeste (PC, PS4)
Being developed by the creators of TowerFall, Celeste‘s female protagonist is simply trying to climb a mountain. A platformer, there are various methods that players can use to keep on climbing, including dashing about as they try to reach another hold.
The game doesn’t have a more specific release date other than ‘2017’ but Celeste Classic (the project Celeste was based on) can be played in-browser here.
Syberia 3 (Windows PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One)
Syberia 3 follows female protagonist Kate Walker as she goes on her “most dangerous and wonderful” quest yet, once again battling to evade her pursuers. Players will also team up with the friendly Youkol people from Syberia 2 (released in 2004).
Delayed from its initial December 2016 release date, the point and click adventure sequel will hopefully live up to fan expectations when it arrives sometime this year.
Gravity Rush 2 (PS4 – January 20)
Following the success of (PS4 and PS Vita game) Gravity Rush, Gravity Rush 2 again lets players test the limits of gravity. Female protagonist Kat (and her friend Raven) star in the sequel, as they investigate a gravity-related disturbance.
With the Lunar and Jupiter gameplay mechanics, players can control how hard Kat’s attacks are or whether she needs to move that bit quicker and jump just a little higher. The game offers a variety of enemies to take down (including humans in mechs) and destructible environments.
Tokyo Dark (Windows PC, Mac – Early 2017)
Another crowdfunded hit supported by the Square Enix Collective program, Tokyo Dark from Cherrymochi is a macabre point and click adventure that follows Detective Itō after her partner goes missing.
With a story based upon a Japanese urban legend, that touches upon the issues of mental health, sexism and nationalism too, this game could be as smart as it is sinister.
Ever Oasis (3DS)
One of the most pleasant surprises from E3 2016 was Ever Oasis, an upcoming RPG for the Nintendo 3DS. Set in the desert, players control Tethu (who can be male or female) who is the leader of the oasis.
In addition to the usual questing, as well as exploring dungeons, caves and taking on puzzles, Ever Oasis players will also get to meet and recruit new characters, battle “possessed” monsters and even set up their own shops.
Tacoma (Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One – Early 2017)
The Fullbright Company, which also developed Gone Home, is currently working on its next game, Tacoma. Tacoma follows female protagonist Amy Ferrier as she arrives for her first day of work on a space ship only to discover that she’s the only one there.
Amy, aided by the ship’s AI (ODIN), will have to investigate what happened to the crew, making use of recordings and a rewind feature to hear conversations between them and retrace their steps.
Eitr (Windows PC, Mac, Linux, PS4)
Starring a mysterious female protagonist who goes by the name of The Shield Maiden, Eitr is a Norse action RPG that’s inspired by both Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
Announced at E3 2015 and scheduled for a 2016 release date, it was disappointing to hear that the game had been delayed until 2017. However, we’re still looking forward to taking on its tough as nails enemies at some point this year.
Nancy Drew: Midnight In Salem (Windows PC, Mac)
When the Nancy Drew: Midnight In Salem release date was pushed back so that the team at Her Interactive could bring the long-running Nancy Drew series to a new game engine, many fans were disappointed but hopeful.
There’s little to go on about Midnight In Salem at the moment but the next game, which sees the titular sleuth head to Salem to rescue a woman accused of being a witch, could look better than ever thanks to that new development strategy.
Prey for the Gods (Windows PC – December 2017, Mac, PS4, Xbox One – TBA)
Rounding off this list is Prey for the Gods, another crowdfunding success story. Developer No Matter Studios raised just over half a million dollars to create the game, which has been described as a spiritual successor to (PS2 classic) Shadow of the Colossus.
The game’s female protagonist is currently unnamed but with humungous boss battles, survival elements (such as dynamic weather) and a mysterious narrative (the game is set in a “dying world”) there are plenty of other features to learn about about before fans are formally introduced.
Which games with female protagonists are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.