Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
Our first heroine is none other than our fiery redhead, Aloy. Not only is Horizon Zero Dawn amazing, but it also presents us with a protagonist that’s likable, grows throughout the game, and is surprisingly relatable.
Without Aloy, Horizon Zero Dawn wouldn’t have that same sort of charm that makes it such an incredible game. Sure, it would still have its gorgeous scenery and unique creatures but the weight of it all would be missed without our darling girl interacting with the world.
We watch her grow into an independent and strong character throughout the story. She initially wants to be a part of the society that shuns and fears her but, as she explores an exciting new world and meets dozens of different people, she develops into a person that realizes she can live wherever she wants and be whoever she wants.
2B – Nier: Automata
Nier: Automata is a game that will throw you so far into your feels that you can’t see a way out. The story is phenomenal, the gameplay is incredible, and the setting is beautiful.
We get to play three main characters but our main heroine 2B takes the award for best Nier: Automata protagonist. All of the characters have a depth to them that makes them all entirely complex but 2B shines here with her personality.
Originally mysterious and aloof, we discover throughout the game that 2B is a passionate and emotional person that is forced to repeatedly do a task she absolutely doesn’t want to do.
Even when she isn’t predominantly in a section of the game or a particular arc, her presence is still felt among the other characters because she’s that influential and important.
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider Series
Technically, Laura Croft has been around a lot longer than the last decade but the rebooted Tomb Raider series brings her back into the action here to light.
Since we also begin with her origins, we learn more about her backstory and what leads her into becoming the badass woman we all know.
Even from a young age, Laura Croft is incredibly strong-willed, determined, fearless, and intellectual.
It’s nice to follow the journey of someone so passionate about the work she does even when it usually doesn’t end up running as smoothly as it should like ships capsizing during a dangerous storm, ancient artifacts turning into powerful world ending tools, and charming doomsday cults that want to use said world ending tools for their own gain.
Clementine – The Walking Dead
Clementine is a fighter. There’s no doubt about that. She doesn’t let anything get her down even when the worst things imaginable are thrown in her way.
Granted, she lives in a literal zombie-infested world where she needs to be tough but she chooses to push past every obstacle and every enemy in her path. The fact that she’s still a kid just makes watching her struggle hurt a lot more.
We’ve also followed Clementine from the very beginning when she was just an innocent little girl stuck in her house. So, seeing her grow and toughen up into a resourceful and fearless person makes her all the more amazing. She goes from being taken care of and watched over to being the caretaker with AJ, bringing her story full circle in a satisfying way.
Tracer – Overwatch
Tracer is wonderfully cheery, incredibly optimistic despite the fact that she’s literally stuck in between time, and a crowning example of a person trying to do as much good as she can.
Not much keeps her down and she doesn’t let anything stand in her way. She took a terrible thing that happened to her and turned it into something she could use to her advantage. She essentially became a time traveling Sonic the Hedgehog.
It’s no wonder she’s one of the main faces of Overwatch. There’s no one as bright, as loving, as British, or as happy as her to take on Talon.
Ellie – The Last of Us
Similar to our darling Clementine, Ellie lives in a world where a kid isn’t allowed to be a kid anymore. So many good things and so many terrible things have happened to her but nothing has dampened her resolve to do good and do the best that she can.
Granted, from what we’ve seen of The Last of Us II, Ellie has hardened into one tough cookie but why and how remains to be seen.
Regardless, the girl we had the pleasure of playing as in The Last of Us could easily put a smile on your face due to either her childish humor, her passionate curiosity, or her feisty fighting spirit.
Of course, none of this keeps her from being a badass when the situation calls for it.
Ciri – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Not only does she have parents-of-the-year that would do anything and everything to protect her, but Ciri is also just as fierce and as passionate all on her own. She’s also surprisingly sweet and emotional despite how cruel the world can be around her.
Like a lot of the heroes on this list, she hasn’t had the best time growing up but that doesn’t keep her from having a good time, having a sense of humor, or being a nice person.
She’s also an incredibly powerful and formidable foe who can swing a sword like nobody’s business. Keep out of her way if you know what’s good for you.
Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Senua is perhaps the most three dimensional and complex character I have personally encountered. Not many video games actually delve deep into the minds of its protagonists especially when they’re grieving and full of so much trauma like Senua is.
Despite the trials and hardships she faces, whether due to her own mental state or the world around her, Senua pushes past every obstacle and terror in her path. She has a true resolve that not many other video game protagonists have.
I mean, she quite literally goes to Hell to try and bring back her dead boyfriend.
Even so, we are absolutely excited for what Hellblade 2 has to offer for Senua.
Kassandra – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Practically everyone loves Kassandra. She’s a lovable heroine, weirdly relatable even though she’s literally living in Ancient Greece, sassy, fantastically tough, and she barely bats an eyelash at all of the big bad enemies she faces throughout the game.
She had a bad childhood (bad being an understatement) but she doesn’t let it define who she is. She’s grown despite her terrible beginnings, becoming one of the fiercest women in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is really great overall and Kassandra’s contribution to it makes the vast and beautiful world we travel in feel incredibly authentic and immersively real.
Commander Shepard – Mass Effect Series
We end this list with the ultimate badass. Granted, Shepard is entirely customizable but no matter what you choose, she will always be one hell of a soldier.
Her responses are also player choice but regardless of what she says or does, nothing changes the fact that she will look in the face of danger and laugh at it.
Arguably one of the most iconic protagonists in video game history, Shepard rolls with the punches, never hesitates, never gives up, and attracts all types of people with her charisma whether renegade or paragon.
Shepard has lived one hell of a life and we only wish we could see more of it.