As you've no doubt already heard, E3 was cancelled twice this year - but this time, it had nothing to do with coronavirus. This was following the social media team's ill-advised decision to share an article from Parade titled "The Games We Play! 25 Online Games That Women Enjoy."
The aforementioned women that enjoy games were surprised to not find some of their favorites on the list, with notable titles such as League of Legends and Grand Theft Auto Online not making the cut, but instead including some cooking simulator and Kim Kardashian's mobile game.
Us lot at GameLuster were also very confused. While there's nothing wrong with playing the titles that did make it, we didn't feel that it was very representative of what we play. So with that in mind, here's some of the favorite titles from the female-aligned writers of GameLuster: Rhiannon, Jess, Kate, Haley, and Elizabeth!
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Kate: Yes, it's true - I, a lady gamer, absolutely love this open world adventure where your only option is to play as a gruff, totally ripped guy who regularly seduces beautiful sorceresses and kills scary giant monsters, often at the same time. Do I like this game because I find the protagonist extremely attractive and like that he starts the game lounging nude in a bath tub? Well, yes. But do I also like it because it's got an amazing story, killer soundtrack, a thoroughly expansive and well-designed world to explore, tons of quests to complete, and tackles surprisingly deep themes including xenophobia, human experimentation and the dark side of politics? Also yes. Both! Both is good! It's okay to like The Witcher 3 for ALL those reasons!
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Haley: Assassin's Creed Syndicate is my favorite game, of all time. It’s set in my favorite era, but being able to play as a female assassin was the most exciting thing ever. Compared to her brother, Evie is a lot more cunning and agile. Her outfit fits the era and aren’t overly feminine. She holds her own with the men and that’s the main reason why I love her so much. She doesn’t let anyone push her around. At every chance I had, I chose to play as her over her brother, Jacob. Ubisoft has brought the ability to choose which gender you’d like to play as in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and, the soon to be released, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I’m excited to see if they continue this in future titles and how they further evolve it.
Zero Escape series
Elizabeth: During the month that E3 shared that in-poor-taste article about "girl gamers", I’ve been binge-playing the Zero Escape series of games on Steam alongside one of my friends, thanks to their recommendations. I enjoy (but am not good at) puzzle games, and the puzzles in this series really remind me of escape rooms, which I’ve missed going to since the start of the pandemic. I also really love games with well-written characters, and the character writing in the series definitely adds to the enjoyability.
The Last of Us Part II
Jess: I’d been eagerly looking forward to playing The Last of Us Part II after finishing the first game several years ago, so I immediately jumped on it as soon as it was released. I’ll keep my opinions to myself for now as I said everything I needed to say during GameLuster’s The Last of Us Part II Spoilercast. Though I have to say it’s the most technically amazing game I’ve ever seen and I hope Naughty Dog win a ton of awards for that alone.
Elizabeth: Xenoblade Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite games. As I said with Zero Escape, I love games with interesting stories and characters, and Xenoblade Chronicles delivers on that front, all while adding a really unique world to explore. After playing the Wii version in a span of 3 days while on vacation, I’ve been taking my time playing the Definitive Edition, taking in the views, exploring every inch of the Bionis, and doing every trivial sidequest I can get my little hands on!
Fallout: New Vegas
Rhiannon: New Vegas is the accumulation of everything that I love about the Fallout series - this one has the most heart. Which is pretty impressive when one of the group is bunch of Roman cosplayers, running around crucifying wastelanders. When I think about New Vegas, I think of the line from the DLC, Dead Money: "Finding it, though, that's not the hard part. It's letting go." That's the ethos of New Vegas. This is a game about the dangers of holding onto a past that never really existed - whether you're an NCR soldier, or fascist LARper. And that's a lesson that really hits home. This is on top of the characters in this game, from Veronica to Joshua Graham, feel so real. This Mojave Wasteland feels so lived in, and playing New Vegas feels like returning home.
Elizabeth: I can’t talk about video games I enjoy without talking about Pokémon. Our neighbors’ kids showed my sister and I the Pokémon anime when we were three years old, and that was the catalyst for us getting into not only just Pokémon, but video games as a whole. 21 years later, I now own just about every game in the series that was released in the States, spending my free time raising Pokémon for competitive battling, or hunting for shinies. My sister also remains an avid fan, and thanks to Pokémon GO, so does my mother - when Pokémon Sword and Shield released, we spent our free time holed up in the same room all playing the games together.
Night in the Woods
Haley: During one college Christmas break, I picked up Night in the Woods during a Steam sale. I was looking for something laid back with an interesting story to it. Night in the Woods has that covered and then some. The main character, Mae, is a college drop-out who returns home, hoping to regain some normalcy within her life. While all the characters are animals, I still felt like I could relate to Mae. I wasn’t focused on what she looked like, rather it was her personality and issues that made me connect to her. Her friends are unique in their own ways, which reminded me of my own. Since the game is exploration heavy, I loved walking around town and seeing the small changes that happened daily. Currently, Night in the Woods sits at the top of my list of games that I should replay. I loved every minute I spent with Mae and her friends.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Elizabeth: I know everyone and their grandma started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons when the pandemic started, but I’ve been a fan of the series since I got the original game on the GameCube as a present when it first released. I’ve put hundreds of hours into not just New Horizons, but each and every other Animal Crossing game as well. I went all-out in New Horizons. It had always been my dream to make a meticulously planned and decorated town in the series, and thanks in part to the pandemic and in part to the game’s new town redesigning features, I finally was able to sink way too much time into reshaping my entire island into something I love. It’s not as artsy and beautiful as some of the towns you see on the internet, but I think I did a great job for my first attempt at least!
Dark Souls III
Jess: Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly making my way through the Dark Souls trilogy for the first time. Although I will go into more detail about my experience in an upcoming throwback feature I’m writing for GameLuster, I have to say completing this trilogy is certainly something gamers who like a challenge should try. There’s a lot of hair pulling and teeth gritting every time that "you died" text appears on the screen, but there’s no feeling better than finally defeating a boss you have been stuck on for weeks.
Kate: Moving away from open world games for a moment, the Persona series is another set of games which make me miss Japan (so much that I actually visited many of the locations from the games while living there). Each game features a group of characters learning to fight via Personas, representations of their own strengths and weaknesses, and forming an unbreakable bond as they fight against evil ranging from petty criminals to the gods themselves. My personal favorite is Persona 4 for its handling of the murder mystery genre and realistic portrayal of small-town life, but Persona 5's crew of phantom thieves fighting inner-city battles are pretty cool as well.
Rhiannon: One of my few favorite online games that did make the list! It's not hard to see why even that list included Overwatch, considering, as of 2017, the game had twice the amount of female players as other FPS titles. What I love about Overwatch is the variety and creativity. Provided you get a decent team, the game isn't just about being able to shoot good, it's about coordination, quick thinking,, playing mind games, and maybe not even shooting at all if you prefer a support role. Sure, sniping with Widowmaker feels cool, but so does shielding your team from a D.Va bomb, rezzing a teammate as Mercy, or sneaking to the Payload and Lúcio.
World of Horror
Haley: I’m not the biggest fan of horror games, but World of Horror is different to me. It is text based with an art style similar to horror manga artist Junji Ito. The soundtrack is eerie and doesn’t rely on jump scares, rather the atmosphere, stories, and artwork to create that horror feeling. In all honesty, I play this game with all the lights on, even during the day. I’ve continued to play it because the cases are gruesome, yet extremely strategic. It has a make your own story aspect to it, which is one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most. I can attempt to give myself some advantages, or make it harder for myself to survive. Unfortunately, I haven’t been successful in solving all the cases and defeating the Old Gods, but I’ll get there eventually.
Kate: Stardew Valley is a relaxing game about running a farm - seems like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it? Chores which might seem difficult and dull in real life become tons of fun as you expand your farm in the beautiful Valley. Go fishing, explore caves, meet the villagers, fight monsters and even discover the secrets of the local nature spirits who protect Stardew and its people. Best of all, this is one of the few games I've ever played where gender doesn't matter. You can play as a boy or a girl, but your gender is purely aesthetic - and the game's twelve eligible bachelors and bachelorettes will love you just as much regardless of how you choose to express yourself.
Dragon Age: Origins
Rhiannon: Women play a lot of Dragon Age. In fact, we made up 48% of those who played the latest installment Dragon Age: Inquisition. However, I had to use this spot to highlight the game that started it all. With six different backgrounds to choose from, and dozens of ways to play your character beyond that, no two playthroughs (or six in my case) are the same. While it may be stereotypical of me to talk about the romantic subplots, I truly think this is where the game shines. Usually, the romantic options for female characters are gruff and serious negging enthusiasts. But here, Alistair, Zevran, and Leliana present us with realistic and diverse choices.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Jess: I have wanted to play Hellblade for a while after being really interested in the concept of a horror game built around mental illness. I finally got started after the reveal trailer for Hellblade 2 and so far I love it. Hearing voices in your head is so creepy, especially when you’re on the edge of your seat whilst looking out for enemies. It’s possible to have a permanent death if you die too many times in Hellblade, which naturally makes you more jumpy and the voices just put a great twist onto this genre as well as helping to build Senua as a really in-depth character, and creating more awareness around illnesses such as Schizophrenia.
Ghost of Tsushima
Kate: Yup, here's ANOTHER game where your only option is to play as a stoic, highly badass dude. And yeah, Jin is attractive - but I love Ghost of Tsushima because it is yet another gorgeously designed open world game, this one set in a beautiful environment that has major emotional significance to me. Set during the Mongol invasion of Japan, Ghost of Tsushima lovingly renders the country and its culture with accuracy and passion that will make anyone who has ever so much as been to Japan immediately nostalgic to go back. It says a lot that this game has only been out for a few months and it's already secured a place as one of my top faves of all time.
Haley: Different from the other games, Two Dots is a simple mobile game. Connect the dots to complete the level and move on to the next. There are some challenges though, as some dots might move around, some could be on fire and others are locked in ice. I’ve been playing on and off for the last five years. It has changed a lot since I first started, but it’s a game that I always have installed on my phone. The colors of the game are bright and vibrant. With the updates, the opening scene of the game changes depending on the season. They do have a couple different modes build into the game, my favorite being scavenger hunt. While offered seasonally, it has the player searching an area for specific objects. It’s a nice break between levels and is loaded with fun pop culture references.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Rhiannon: Another online game I wanted to make the list... even if the online leaves a lot to be desired. Smash Ultimate has to be one of the most content filled fighting games of all time, blowing its predecessors out the park with its line up of fighters, stages, music, and different game modes. I didn't think anything could overtake my love of Smash Bros. Melee, but this manages to balance competitive and casual play so well that it's now my go to Smash title. And it isn't just me - Smash Sisters, an all female tournament, has been running from 2016, and judging from their pictures on social media, manages to draw a crowd.
Collar x Malice
Haley: I have a secret love for a good otome games, but prefer ones with unique stories. Collar x Malice focuses on the mysterious murders of local police and the secret organization that is claiming to have committed them. The artwork is gorgeous and each character provides a different route, so there is a lot of replayability to discover the full story. I love how story unfolds and the romance gradually plays out. With Collar x Malice, though, picking who you want to romance isn’t very easy. I learned that it is best played in a specific order, for plot purposes, and the character I wanted to romance wasn’t available until I went through the storylines of everyone else. Since I picked this one up recently, it will be a long time before I get to romance who I want, but I’m dedicated to the grind. Romancing multiple 2D men is hard work, and I plan on spending the rest of my summer doing exactly that.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Rhiannon: One of my first ever memories is playing the Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! demo on a loop - and one of my happiest gaming memories is finally getting my tiny toddler hands on the full game! So it was no surprise that the Reignited Trilogy made me fall in love with the series all over again. It looked just how my baby brain had imagined the world of Spyro, and the cartoon-y characters remain some of my favorite in gaming (especially Hunter.) There's nothing better than gliding around the beautiful levels, jamming to that killer soundtrack, and going on a pure nostalgia trip with this trilogy. It's so ridiculously charming and lovable.
Jess: After completing the Dark Souls trilogy, I’ve naturally moved onto the next best thing in my FromSoftware binge. I haven’t gotten that far into Bloodborne yet but I already adore the Lovecraftian horror setting and I can’t wait to get my ass kicked all over again.
Kate: The visual novel genre has an unfortunate reputation as being full of nothing but fluffy dating games and explicit sex simulators. However, this generalization causes many gamers to neglect hidden games such as Steins;Gate, a dark mystery/horror/science fiction hybrid about a hapless group of amateur scientists who accidentally discover time travel in the kitchen of their messy Tokyo apartment. Featuring multiple endings and deep, emotional choices, this is one of those games that I found myself able to play for dozens of hours without ever feeling bored. (Plus, it's got a sequel, multiple thematic sequels, and several spin-offs, each of which is just as good)
BioShock: The Collection
Jess: I was just about to buy BioShock: The Collection when luckily it became available as one of the free PlayStation Plus games. It’s been years since I dived into the lore-filled worlds of Rapture and Columbus. The BioShock trilogy is one of the best game series ever made and it has aged so well after all these years. I was just as spooked out yet fascinated with the backstory as I was when I first played it several years ago. Would you kindly play this trilogy if you haven’t done so already?
Anything and everything
The point of this list wasn't to shame anyone for enjoying the titles on the Parade article, we enjoy some of them ourselves! It was to highlight that our tastes vary. We love open world RPGs, simulation games, fighting games - we love it all. Players of different backgrounds bring something new to the title when they pick up a game, and may fall in love with an aspect of it another player hadn't noticed. All these differences should be discussed and celebrated.
So with that in mind, let us know in the comments below what games you have a connection to!