The 15 Greatest Women in Video Games

12.  Aveline de Grandpré (Assassin’s Creed: Liberation)

T3oZfgzI feel a little dirty including a game from the series that has become so bland and stretched out that generic-brand taffy would be jealous, but Aveline is one of very few AC protagonists too unique to ignore. An African/French daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and a slave mother in 18th-Century New Orleans, Aveline joins the heroic Assassin Brotherhood in order to free slaves and battle the Templars (a conflict that, in the fiction of the series, has existed in every age of civilization, and is mostly waged for magic macguffins left by an ancient race of glowy people who speak as if they were written by a teenager plagiarizing Shakespeare). This seems like a rash decision for someone who leads a life of privilege, but Aveline sees the bigger picture; in fact, her stepmother, Madeleine, under the code name “The Company Man,” is the leader of the Templars in New Orleans, and is really, really not a nice person.

Aveline can single-handedly tear through armored enemies with a blade and a flintlock pistol, and although that’s what constitutes most of the gameplay, it never quite seems like what’s most important. She’s a confident action junkie, but she doesn’t dislike wearing dresses. She’s intelligent, has real conversations about slavery, and is dangerously savvy about what to expect in both the danger-laden bogs and the fortresses of her enemies, but she’s not emotionally infallible, nor is she so overtly masculine that she might as well be one of the interchangeable white male Boring Heroes of any other AC game. Here is a character who is who she is for a reason, and the authenticity of her characterization highlights just how much of a travesty it is that a series comprised of twenty-six games only features one with a woman protagonist (and it’s a spin-off).

Ignoring the fact that the AC games are essentially the video-game version of Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler (the player plays a player playing a video game, which is the exact game the player is playing, in which the player navigates the supposedly real memories of the Assassin, but the fictional game developers attempt to frame the Templars as the good guys and the Assassins as haphazard killers), Ubisoft has created in Aveline an intrepid, bog-jumping heroine whose fearlessness and conviction still leave room for depth. And she’s pitted against another woman who is disillusioned enough to think she is that person.



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