Predictable protagonists: Cliches abound at E3 2016 (pictures)

Last year, E3 had a solid showing for lady protagonists. This year, not so much.

Michelle Starr
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
1 of 36 Activision/Infinity Ward

CoD: Infinite Warfare

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (AKA CoD goes to space) hasn't outlined its plans for multiplayer just yet, but the single-player campaign puts you squarely in the driving seat as tall, dark and handsome Captain Nick Reyes.

2 of 36 EA/DICE

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is set in WWI, but that's not why it has no women in it. It's because their inclusion wouldn't be "believeable," said former DICE coder Amandine Coget, even though women did serve in combat roles.

3 of 36 Capcom

Dead Rising 4

The first three Dead Rising games all had different protagonists, Frank West, Chuck Greene and Nick Ramos respectively. For Dead Rising 4, Frank West is making a comeback.

4 of 36 Ubisoft

For Honor

Hack-n-slash title For Honor features three different factions, the Samurai, the Vikings and the Knights, all of whom wear pretty intense helmets. More heroes are to be announced, but we're expecting the entire thing to be pretty dudely.

5 of 36 Microsoft


Keiji Inafune, the genius behind Mega Man and Onimusha, is working on post-apocalyptic ReCore, starring a young lady by the name of Joule Adams, accompanied by a robot dog that helps her save the world.

6 of 36 Kojima Productions

Death Stranded

The first game from Hideo Kojima with full creative control stars naked Norman Reedus bearing what seems to be a caesarion scar. Yes, we know men don't get pregnant, but come on... it's Hideo Kojima.

7 of 36 Square Enix/Eidos Montreal

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided sees the return of tall, dark and handsome protagonist Adam Jensen.

8 of 36 Bethesda/Arkane Studios

Dishonored 2

For Dishonored 2, players can choose to play as returning tall, dark and handsome protagonist Corvo Attano, or new playable character Empress Emily Kaldwin, who, let's be honest, looks all kinds of badass.

9 of 36 Microsoft/The Coalition

Gears of War 4

Gears of War 4 stars J.D Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix, protagonist of the first three games, and NPC Anya Stroud. J.D is accompanied by Del Walker and Kait Diaz, both of whom become playable in multiplayer mode along with Kait's mother Reyna.

10 of 36 Ubisoft

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

The materials seen so far for open-world tactical shooter Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands seem to be fairly masculine, but according to PCGamesN, there will in fact be the option to play as a woman.

11 of 36 Sony/Santa Monica Studio

God of War 4

Kratos is getting on in years, but there's fight in the curmudgeon yet. He's making a return in God of War 4 as a dad who could probably use a parenting class or two. The big surprise is that there is only one child.

12 of 36 Playdead


From Limbo developer Playdead comes puzzle platformer Inside, the story of a young boy trying to stop an evil that is conducting experiments on humans.

13 of 36 Square Enix/Avalanche Studios

Just Cause 3

Action-adventure game Just Cause 3 stars Rico Rodriguez, hell-bent on stopping an evil dictator set on a course for world domination.

14 of 36 Sony/Fumito Ueda

The Last Guardian

Finally, finally, finally we've seen a release date for Ico developer Fumito Ueda's The Last Guardian, the story of a young boy who befriends a giant horned skypuppy. The boy doesn't have a name, but the skypuppy's name is Trico.

15 of 36 2K Games/Hangar

Mafia III

Mafia III is essentially The Punisher. Vietnam war veteran Lincoln Clay (tall, dark and handsome, naturally) is taking revenge on organised crime for killing all his friends.

16 of 36 BioWare

Mass Effect: Andromeda

As always, BioWare is letting its players choose and customise their main characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda. This is how it's done, kids.

17 of 36 Sony/Guerrilla Games

Horizon: Zero Dawn

We first laid eyes on Horizon: Zero Dawn at E3 last year, a lush post-apocalyptic action adventure game starring Aloy, a badass, red-headed hunter, outcast at birth and seeking answers.

18 of 36 Square Enix

Final Fantasy XV

After the all-female team of Final Fantasy X-2, Square Enix is going the other way on Final Fantasy XV with a team of all men, of varying degrees of darkness, tallness and handsomeness. The most disappointing thing is that they're not a boy band.

19 of 36 SIE Japan Studio

Gravity Rush 2

Gravity Rush 2 brings the series to PlayStation 4, putting protagonist Kat into a much larger, more fleshed out world of gravity manipulation, picking up where the first game left off.

20 of 36 Bethesda/Softworks


Upcoming FPS Prey is not a sequel of the 2006 game, but a reboot of sorts, a sort of "space horror version of 'Groundhog Day'." It stars Morgan Yu, an experiment subject on a space station becoming overrun by aliens.

21 of 36 Microsoft/Platinum Games


Scalebound is a game where you play as a man named Drew, who goes on an adventure with his dragon friend named Thuban.

22 of 36 Rebellion Developments

Sniper Elite 4

Third-person tactical stealth shooter Sniper Elite 4 stars OSS agent Karl Fairburne.

23 of 36 Koei Tecmo/Team Ninja


Samurai action game Nioh is based on the story of William Adams, who in the 17th century became one of Japan's first western Samurai.

24 of 36 Marvel Games/Insomniac


Is Spider-Man's Peter Parker tall, dark or handsome? Does it really matter?

25 of 36 Lego

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Like all Lego games, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens will have multiple playable characters. Rey is probably the main one though. Just call it a hunch.

26 of 36 Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 2

Action shooter Watch Dogs 2 has a new protagonist, hacker Marcus Holloway. His handsomeness is yet to be determined.

27 of 36

We Happy Few

We don't know much about the playable characters in survival horror We Happy Few other than the fact that there are three of them, and two of them need to be unlocked. At any rate, it looks delightfully twisted.

28 of 36 Sega

Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is a prequel for Sega's series, and follows series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as has makes his ascension through the the Yakuza's ranks.

29 of 36 Playtonic Games


Like its spiritual predecessor Banjo-Kazooie, open world game Yooka-Laylee sees you controlling two characters, chameleon Yooka and bat Laylee. Yooka's a boy and Laylee's a girl.

30 of 36 Suda51

Let It Die

Let It Die started its life as a game called Lily Bergamo with a female lead, but it turned into the free-to-play action survival game it is today. It has asynchronous online multiplayer, but what form your character takes hasn't really been clarified.

31 of 36 Sony/Santa Monica Studios


Bound feels like an indie game, but it's being made in-house at Sony's Santa Monica Studio. The dance-based puzzle game stars a ballerina (her movements were motion-captured from dancer Maria Udod) revisiting her childhood memories. It looks so beautiful.

32 of 36 Sony/Bend Studios

Days Gone

Open-world adventure game Days Gone stars bounty hunter and outlaw biker Deacon St. John, going up against zombies. Well, they're called Freakers, but we all know what they really are.

33 of 36 Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Much as we'd love to see "female" as an option for Link in a main series Legend of Zelda game, that will not be happening today.Hope, however, remains eternal...

34 of 36 Spiders

The Technomancer

The Technomancer is set on Mars, where the battle for water is fierce. You play new technomancer Zachariah, on the run from the secret police. You can customise Zachariah's hair and skin, but there's no female option available.

35 of 36 Neocore Games

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor -- Martyr

In Warhammer 40K canon, Inquisitors are usually male, so it's a good bet that the playable characters in open-world Inquisitor -- Martyr are probably just men.

36 of 36 Sony/Quantic Dream

Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human is inspired be developer Quantic Dream's short film "Kara," and will feature several playable characters. Two androids have been announced so far: Kara herself, and tall, dark and handsome police force android Conner.

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