The badass women of E3 2015
With last year's E3 a bit of a mess for several reasons, it's nice to see that E3 2015 began and ended on high notes.
One recurring, stand-out trend was the amount of women present in not one, not two and not three titles, but in 19 games. Eight of these titles featured female protagonists, two offering up options to play the lead as a woman, seven with multiplayer female characters and two had strong women who play an important part of the story.
This, folks, is a huge step forward from last year's Assassin's Creed fiasco where "women were too difficult to animate" and thus not included as a playable option. But there's still a long way to go.
The games industry is largely dominated by men catering to a male audience, but it feels like this has been changing, slowly but surely, for awhile now. There's been a lot of constructive discussions surrounding the treatment of women in games, their physical portrayal and of course controversy about female gamers and games journalists who are women.
You can't talk to a single games writer who doesn't know about the head-scratching, backwards philosophy of GamerGaters or the women who have been the group's targets of abuse.
It will take time, but hopefully this hatred and misogyny will disappear into the nether where it belongs as developers continue to create amazing games with women front and center as essential characters.
With this year's share of better female representation, and the positive response surrounding it, perhaps we'll continue to see more titles crop up to show that yes, women are integral in the gaming world, and yes, both genders will still buy games with female characters even if they're not scantily clad props.
That said, let's take a look at the leading women in their respective games.
Lara Croft - Rise of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft is the most familiar and beloved of the bunch because she's been around a long time. Questionable outfits aside - who can scale a snowy mountain in short shorts comfortably?! - Lara was iconic for being a tomb raider before Nathan Drake was even born. She's the ultimate survivor and in Rise of the Tomb Raider for PS4, Xbox One and PC, I'm sure she'll continue to amaze us with her skills.
Emily Kaldwin - Dishonored 2
Emily Kaldwin from Dishonored 2 is a welcome addition to the world of Steampunk and assassin plots gone wrong. The little girl from Dishonored is gone and replaced with a deadly killer, expertly trained with magic and crazy Steampunk tech. Emily's skill and intelligence really shone through in the trailer as she quickly dismantled a murderous robot. She's also dressed to the nines in an outfit perfectly tailored for future cosplayers to emulate.
Faith Connors - Mirror's Edge Catalyst
After Heavenly Sword was released in 2007 with the kickass, sword-wielding Nariko, 2008 introduced us to Mirror's Edge and Faith Connors. Fast forward seven years, and Faith is getting another title in the form of Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. The hardcore, parkouring lady is back to show us a bit more about who she really is.
DICE senior producer Sara Jansson highlighted nearly a week ago that Catalyst won't just be a sequel. Instead, Jansson promised a game that will push the "boundaries of first person movement and diving deeper into the story behind our heroine Faith."
Evie Frye - Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Assassin's Creed is a long-loved series with a rotating cast of figures from throughout history. Aveline was one of the few women to show up as a playable character, but alas, it was only a DLC. Evie, however, gets to be a part of the Syndicate world as one of the main characters. It's nice to know that Ubisoft is paying attention and figuring out how to better animate female characters.
Aloy - Horizon: Zero Dawn
Perhaps one of the more mysterious women seen at E3, Aloy looks fierce and fully capable of putting 10 arrows in your face, if you're a giant machine, that is. Horizon: Zero Dawn was one of the most exciting games to come out of the show thanks to its combination of lush wilderness, feral-looking people and mechanical beasts roaming the land. Aloy is not only a master hunter, she's also a master crafter. You'll employ both of these skills quite a lot in this upcoming RPG action game.
Joule - ReCore
ReCore's trailer is just as enigmatic as Horizon: Zero Dawn because we don't even learn the name of the woman from Microsoft's press conference trailer. It was only later that we found out the robot engineer is named Joule, a spry and smart person trying to find out what happened to civilization. We don't know much else except the fact she's roaming the desert with her robot dog, Mack, but it's enough to get us excited.
Rae - Beyond Eyes
Smaller indie titles are pretty good at showcasing female protagonists, such as last year's - Child of Light. This year, we saw another beautiful title added to the indie mix. Beyond Eyes centers on a blind girl trying to find her cat. Dutch developer Sherida Halatoe even spoke about her title during the PC Gaming Show, describing how she started working on the game in college to test out her colleagues' senses and perception.
Amy Ferrier - Tacoma
The Fullbright studio is no stranger to creating games with female protagonists. Just like Gone Home, Tacoma is slightly creepy and eerily quiet as Amy wanders the space station trying to figure out what happened to her missing crew. Space with a female astronaut and a hunt for missing people? Sounds like a good time.
Bethesda already lets you create both male and female protagonists in Fallout 3, so it makes sense you get to do it again in Fallout 4. The demo on stage during the company's E3 press conference even emphasized the variations of people you can create to play the already packed game. November 10 can't come soon enough!
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Another game notable for memorable characters? BioWare's Mass Effect series. Who can forget Jennifer Hale's incredible voice acting work as Commander Shepard? We're hoping the next N7 soldier will have the same impact. Actually, we're sure she will.
The next Mass Effect will see our systems "holiday 2016."
Women can fight too
First person shooters have gotten better over the years at incorporating women into their repertoire of characters. Halo 5: Guardians, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Rainbow Six Siege, The Division and Star Wars: Battlefront are the main games from E3 2015 that offer options to play as a woman during multiplayer matches.
FIFA is also now letting you choose women's soccer teams for the very first time where Forza Motorsport 6 is employing female drivers as an option.
Gear of War 4 also showed off Kait, an intimidating ally and perhaps potentially playable character, though we won't know for sure until more details are released. The Gears franchise has included playable women before, so it wouldn't be a longshot to assume one playable female will be an option.
Of course, who could forget the magnificent Angela Bassett? Her role as Agent Six in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is not someone to be trifled with.
This was the first E3 to prominently feature women in almost every game as player one. What's more, even in games where a woman wasn't the protagonist, female characters were featured. It's not much, but we'll take even the smallest victories where we can find them. Let's hope this continues into E3 2016 and beyond.