A bounty hunter in space, apocalypse survivors, a Spartan mercenary—check out this list of the best female protagonists in games.

While some video game developers (cough, Ubisoftcough) have demonstrated an aversion to putting female characters in the lead role of big-budget videogames, a number of top-selling games have celebrated their female protagonists. Here's a list of some standout games with great heroines. 

Horizon: Zero Dawn

horizon zero dawn
Courtesy Guerrilla Games

In Horizon: Zero Dawn, a girl named Aloy is born into a beautiful land populated with an intricate ecosystem of robot dinosaurs. When adventure calls, she embarks to conquer the wilderness, discover herself, and uncover the mysteries of the past. She's a well-written and well-voice-acted character who dodges unnecessary sexualization, and the game she stars in is worth every minute.

Half-Life: Alyx

alyx
Courtesy Valve Corporation

Half-Life: Alyx is a virtual-reality game in the popular Half-Life series, but this time stars the previously-supporting-character Alyx Vance in her fight against alien occupation of Earth. Players control Alyx and see from her viewpoint as she sneaks, shoots, and survives the tyranny of the Combine.

Metroid

samus
Courtesy Retro Studios

The Metroid series is longrunning—since its inception in 1987, to 1994's super-popular Super Metroid, to Metroid Prime 4 probably coming out the end of this year, a constant through it all is the protagonist Samus Aran. She's a spacefaring bounty hunter in a high-tech metal suit and endures as one of the most iconic characters in gaming.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

assassins creed
Courtesy of Ubisoft Québec

Assassin's Creed Odyssey was a smash hit. Set in the historical playground of the ancient Mediterranean, Odyssey lets you pick your protagonist from Kassandra and her brother Alexios—both tough-as-nails Spartan soldiers. While the game's story suffers from a lack of specificity (since it needs to accomodate either Kassandra or Alexios), Kassandra seems to indicate a new trend for Ubisoft. The next installment in the Assassin's Creed series, Valhalla, seems to feature a female protagonist as well.

The Last of Us

ellie
Courtesy of Naughty Dog

The Last of Us: Part II released this year as the hotly-anticipated sequel to Sony's flagship apocalypse-survival game. Ellie, the secondary character in Part I, takes main stage in the return to the dark and tragic world The Last of Us. In a tale of tragedy and revenge, Ellie must navigate other groups survivors, zombies, and even worse monsters and demonstrates the kind of powerful character writing the medium is capable of.

Tomb Raider

lara croft
Courtesy of Crystal Dynamics

Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame has been around in some capacity since 1996 (when technological limitations meant an unfortunately small number of polygons where used for her character model). Then, in 2013, the series had a reboot starring a younger Lara supported by more powerful graphics. Through all iterations, Lara Croft remains a resilient and cunning adventurer and one of gaming's most recognizable heroines. She has some decent movies, too, I suppose.

Bayonetta

bayonetta
Courtesy Platinum Games

The bullet-slinging witch Bayonetta from the games of the same name is bombast incarnate. Wearing a suit of her own hair with guns on her hands and feet, Bayonetta uses magic and gun-fu to fight legions of celestial and demonic badguys. Bayonetta 1 and play like a high-speed fever dream, all led by the over-the-top sass of the Umbral Witch herself. If stylish, frantic action is your thing, check out Bayonetta

Celeste

celeste
Courtesy of Matt Makes Games

Celeste is a beautiful game about a mountain named Celeste and a girl named Madeline who sets off to climb it. Madeline jumps and climbs with very responsive controls as she learns about overcoming personal challenges and making meaningful friends. Celeste made waves as an independent game and remains a classic for those looking to try out an indie studio product.

Surely, many great heroines have been left of this list. Leave a comment with your submissions! Have you played any of these? Who is the most iconic woman in gaming?