If you’re looking for a PC RPG where you can play a female character, you have lots to choose from. Sometimes the choice is significant, meaning that the protagonist is voiced and the viewpoint is third person, so you see them a lot.
Other times, there’s little difference between playing a female or male. Perhaps the protagonist isn’t voiced, the viewpoint is always first person (meaning you never see your character), or it’s a party-based RPG and the game doesn’t focus on your character much.
I’ve listed games where it does make a difference first, and those where it makes less (or no) difference last.
1. Dragon Age
There are three games in the Dragon Age series. Origins, the first game, doesn’t have a voiced protagonist, but the camera viewpoint is third person and you can romance companions. Also, your character is referred to in later games in the series (they might even appear in the game), so your choice matters for later games.
The second two games (Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition) feature a voiced protagonist and romances. The choice of female vs. male really matters for those games.
As I’ve mentioned, the Dragon Age games also include companions, and some of these companions are females and play key roles in the story. If you enjoy strong female characters in general, this is a good series to pick up.
2. Mass Effect
This is the second BioWare series in the list, and it won’t be the last. BioWare has always offered great female protagonists (and LGBT protagonists too). Mass Effect is a science fiction RPG series.
In the first three games, you play Shepard, a member of the military. The female Shepard is sometimes referred to as FemShep. In Andromeda, the latest game in the series, you can play a character named Sara Ryder (if you choose to play as a male, you’ll play Scott Ryder).
All the games in the series feature a voiced protagonist, and there’s a third-person camera. Also, you can import your character to subsequent games in the series (except Andromeda), and your choices in an earlier game can influence who you meet up with in the next game. It’s likely that you’ll use the same character for the first three games, so you’ll want to get the character creation for the first game right.
The choice of female vs. male really matters for this series.
3. Assassin’s Creed
You can play as a female in later games of the Assassin’s Creed series. The early games aren’t RPGs, but the latest games in the series are. I’m not a fan of the series, so I’ve only dabbled in it. I know for sure you can play as a female in Odyssey and Syndicate. From what I’ve read, you can sometimes play as a female in some other games, but only as part of a DLC or for certain parts of the story. Origins falls into that category.
Playing a female makes a huge difference in Odyssey (I can’t speak to the other games). You see your character and she’s fully voiced.
4. Dishonored 2 and Death of the Outsider
You can play as Emily in Dishonored 2 (Emily is the daughter of the murdered empress in Dishonored). Because the character is voiced and you see her in cut scenes, and you also see her hands quite a bit, playing the female protagonist does make a difference.
In Death of the Outsider, you play a female. I can’t speak to this one, because I haven’t played it, but the protagonist is voiced. I think this is one of those rare games where you have to play as a female.
5. Divinity: Original Sin
You can play a female in both Original Sins, and it makes a difference because you’ll see your character a lot and sometimes say things. In fact, you can play two females in the first game. You only control one, but unless you’re playing with someone else in co-op play, you’ll take over dialogues and choices for another character in your party. You can also make that character female, if you like.
6. Knights of the Old Republic
Another BioWare series, this time an older one. You can play a female in both Knights of the Old Republic games. It does make a difference because you see your character, so if you’d prefer to see a female while playing these rather long games, you can.
Because they’re older games, I’d recommend buying them at GOG. That way you can be confident you’ll be able to run them on a modern system. I originally bought them at Steam. The first game ran okay, but I ran into problems with the second one and ended up buying it at GOG (and now own both of them there).
7. Nier Automata
Nier Automata is on my wish list (I’m waiting for a sale), so I haven’t played it yet. It’s another rare RPG where you must play as a female. The protagonist is voiced in dialogue, and the viewpoint is third person.
8. Outer Worlds
I haven’t played this one yet. At the time I’m writing this, it was only recently released. Because of that, I can’t comment on how much of a difference it makes to play a female. I checked out a couple of gameplay videos on YouTube, and it looks like the protagonist isn’t voiced and it’s a first-person viewpoint, so from those perspectives, it doesn’t look like there’s much of a difference. But not having played it, I can’t say more except that yes, you can play as a female.
9. The Elder Scrolls
You can play a female in the Elder Scrolls series. The protagonist isn’t voiced, except for combat grunts and other sounds along those lines. You can adjust the camera and play in first person (meaning you don’t see your character). Also, there is romance/marriage in the game, but it’s superficial. But you can romance and marry whomever you want, without regard to gender.
Because of that, the choice of male vs. female doesn’t matter as much. However, I often adjust the camera to play in third person, and when grunting or yelling, I prefer a female voice. It can make a difference.
Most MMORPGs offer a choice of gender. I can personally vouch for The Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 1 and 2, and Lord of the Rings Online, but there are many others. If you’re wondering about an MMORPG, check out reviews and forums to see if you’re offered the choice.
The games I’ve mentioned will get you started, but there are more. However, in many of them, playing a female vs. a male doesn’t make much of a difference.
Most of the time you’ll see your character as you’re playing, but the character might not be voiced, there might not be romance options, dialogue might not change, etc. I haven’t played all the games on the list (but I’ve played most of them).
- Pillars of Eternity
- Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (older, so buy at GOG)
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
- Neverwinter Nights (both games)
- Baldur’s Gate (the second one has romances)
- Icewind Dale
- Shadowrun (all games)
- Dragon’s Dogma
- Dark Souls
- Fable 3 (You must play a male in the first game, and Fable 2 isn’t available on PC)
- Tales of Berseria
- Torment: Tides of Numenera
- Tower of Time – you don’t really get to choose who you play. There is a male and female lead.
- Shadows Awakening (character is voiced and it’s a third-person view)
- Jade Empire
Thoughts on Female Protagonists in RPGs
When I first started gaming, you were rarely offered a choice when it came to playing a male or female character. Yes, there were party-based games that let you create the party leader as female, but it didn’t make a difference. In games where it mattered, you usually had to play as a male. The Elder Scrolls games offered you the choice of female vs. male, but they were the exception, not the rule.
When the first Tomb Raider was released, a huge fuss was made over the fact that you had to play a female, because female protagonists were so rare (regardless of genre), and when they did exist, you had to deliberately choose to play a female. Forcing everyone to play as a female was unheard of at that point.
Things have changed since then. It’s not unusual to be offered a choice of male or female during character creation.
Unfortunately, in RPGs where you don’t have that choice, the default option is still overwhelmingly male. RPGs are lagging behind other genres in this area. There are a few cases where you must play a female in an RPG, but they’re a tiny minority.
I always want to scream when I see an RPG game’s sales page saying something like, “Choices really matter in this game,” except they don’t offer you one of the most fundamental choices when it comes to building and role-playing a character: whether to play a female or male. In RPGs especially, the player should always be able to choose which gender they want to play.
Lots of male gamers say they’d never play as a female, and that’s fine. But imagine for a moment if you were a female gamer who didn’t like to play someone of the opposite gender. Imagine the situation for us. We often have to play as the opposite gender, whether we like it or not, and that sucks, because some of us would much rather play our own gender. But in many AAA games, we can’t.
I don’t buy the argument that adding the option to play a female would be too expensive, or not allow the developer to tell a deep story with consequences. There are great games that offer the choice of female or male, have fully-voiced protagonists, and have an interesting story with consequences.
If these excuses are in fact real, it still doesn’t justify always defaulting to a male. If a developer only has the resources to have one gender, why not choose female occasionally? Probably because another excuse, namely that games with female protagonists don’t sell as well, will be trotted out. I say excuse because there are games with female-only protagonists that have sold just fine.
Of course, there are male gamers who enjoy playing female characters, and female gamers who enjoy playing males. The important thing is that players be offered the choice. When it comes to RPGs and character creation, it’s all about choice. Not offering the choice of gender means that the player has been deprived of a fundamental role-playing choice.
It’s fantastic that so many RPGs offer the choice of female/male these days, but there are still too many RPGs being released that default to a male protagonist.
Other RPG Games
I’m sure I’ve missed some PC RPGs that give you the choice of playing as a female. If you know of an RPG that qualifies, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.