Entertainment

10 Games To Play Now On Xbox Series X, Feat. Strong Female Leads

As Lana del Rey once said, "Go play your video games."

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November heralds a big decision for console gamers — Xbox or PlayStation? Many will be sticking with their OG console line, while others might see this as a great opportunity to try something new. Inadvertently, I've fallen into the latter. Thanks to Microsoft, my next-gen experience is with the Xbox Series X and it's library of games featuring strong female leads.

I was lucky enough to get early access to the Xbox Series X, so I've spent the last two weeks finding out just how immense its capabilities are. The latest console certainly sets the bar high for graphical power and processing speed, but as the launch of its exclusive title Halo Infinite has been pushed back to 2021, it's difficult to forecast exactly how the Series X will change the gaming landscape. For now, what it does provide is a welcome lack of loading screens, infinitely faster frame rate, and the "quick resume" ability to jump in and out of games.

What else can players look forward to with the Xbox Series X this month? Well, you can play optimised versions of titles that are also being released on Xbox One – Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, and Watch Dogs: Legion are the major pulls here. Both games do feel seamlessly smooth and visually stunning on the Xbox Series X, despite not being specifically built for the console.

The Xbox space for girl gamers is also starting to feel more inclusive, with strong female characters taking charge and leading narratives in many games. With my 12-month Game Pass Ultimate, I've discovered that the library of favourites is enormous, and includes some of gaming's most empowered women – my top picks include Mass Effect and Control.

Here's my shortlist of the top 10 games to play now on Xbox Series X, featuring inspiring female characters.

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

The Assassin's Creed franchise has been around since 2007, but it was only in 2015 that players could choose between a male or female protagonist in Syndicate. This gameplay mechanic has remained, and will continue in the latest instalment, Valhalla.

In Valhalla, players will take on the role of a Viking warrior called Eivor, who retains the same name regardless of gender. The story begins in 873 AD England, as the Vikings try to conquer the country.

As Dusk Falls

This interactive drama tells the story of two families across 30 years, and how the choices you make can result in dire repercussions. As Dusk Falls is one of a handful of games to feature a Black female protagonist.

Watch Dogs: Legion

If taking back control of a dystopian UK capital wasn't exciting enough, you can now do so alongside some pretty hardcore female Londoners. Led by hacker group leader Sabine, you'll join forces with an intriguing selection of women, from a rugby player "who completed a marathon with a broken ankle", to a babysitter "banned for life from London Zoo".

Forza Horizon 4

On the surface Forza Horizon 4 looks like a conventional racing simulator. However, the game revolves around a festival involving some very important women, including festival organiser Keira, professional driver Rebecca, YouTuber LaRacer, and business owner Isha.

There are plenty of presets when it comes to character customisation too, and the characters only ever refer to you by the nickname you choose and never by gender.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 & 2

When Tony Hawk's Pro Skater first debuted in 1999, Elissa Steamer was the only female skateboarder on the roster. Fast forward to 2020, and she's now joined by three more kickass womenAori Nishimura, Lizzie Armanto, and Leticia Bufoni. They are all representing their home countries at the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics, where skateboarding will debut as a sport for the first time.

The remaster also features Leo Baker, the first non-binary skateboarder in the series. They began their professional career in 2006, winning gold at the 2014 Summer X Games in Austin.

Control

Deemed one of the top games of 2019, Control follows Jesse Faden as she infiltrates a government agency who kidnapped her brother several years prior. What she finds is beyond comprehension, taking influence from series like Lost and Twin Peaks, as The Verge notes.

Fallout Series

Spanning over two decades, the Fallout series imagines a post-apocalyptic America set in the 22nd and 23rd centuries. In this alternate future the threat of nuclear annihilation is ever present, and the atom-punk aesthetic of the 1950s lives on.

In each game you can play as male or female, but Fallout 4 has the most fleshed out character development for the protagonist through customisation and voice acting. The game also features prominent female characters such as journalist Piper Wright, cage fighter Cait, and railroad leader Desdemona.

The Outer Worlds

Set in an alternate future where mega-corporations have taken control of a distant solar system, The Outer Worlds lets you fully customise your character down to individual skills and dialogue decisions.

Developed by the original creators of Fallout, it brings many of that series' aspect into its gameplay mechanics — including strong female leads you can take on your journey, like mercenary Ellie Fenhill, game hunter Nyoka, and mechanic Parvati Holcomb.

Mass Effect series

The Mass Effect series follows elite soldier Commander Shepard as they stop a galactic invasion. In every game since its 2007 debut, players have had the choice of playing as a male or female Shepard.

Halo series

The release date for Halo Infinite may be up in the air, but thanks to Game Pass you can experience past games in the series. While there isn't an option to choose your gender as the protagonist, the Halo series is full of powerful female characters who are often more skilled than their male counterparts.