In Natural Selection 2, you can play as just about anything. Gigantic pairs of teeth with tiny feet attached, mutant god elephants, space pterodactyls, scythe-armed devil wraiths, and, you know, men. But not human women. At least, not yet. Thankfully, that's all about to change, as Unknown Worlds has unveiled a female marine design that's, well, pretty freaking great. Better late than never, I suppose. So hurrah! Details after the break.
I'll never stop feeling a bit sad when I have to celebrate the fact that someone in the gaming industry designed a female character model that's merely inoffensive, but here we are. NS2's female marine is armored for battle - not titillation - and it definitely shows. Here's what Unknown Worlds had to say about her:
"The game industry has a history of depicting female characters inappropriately. Often, they are stylised to such a degree that they become sexual objects: While their male comrades are clothed, armed and armoured to fight, the female character is notable for the lack of any clothing at all."
"This is not good enough, and it’s not a trope Unknown Worlds will entertain. Games are legitimate cultural influences, and game developers are responsible for the message they choose to convey to players. The Natural Selection 2 female marine is first and foremost, like her male colleague, a soldier. Her armour puts function before form, while adopting the science fiction, melee combat aligned design ques that have made the male marine so uniquely recognisable."
Bravo! This isn't just some throwaway one-off deal, either. The female marine comes in multiple variants (some only available to buyers of various special editions), with custom first-person view models to match. She'll join the menfolk in NS2's terror-ridden alien organo-swamps toward the end of August or beginning of September. For free!
Less heartening, meanwhile, was Unknown Worlds' explanation of the wait, which basically boiled down to time and resources. In other words, the female marine was a priority, but not enough of one to charge straight onto the frontlines at launch. That kind of thinking is, as ever, saddening, but NS2 is also a first-person shooter and - brilliantly tactical though it might be - still aimed primarily at a traditional FPS audience: dudes. But hey, baby steps. This is progress, and I definitely can't complain.
Now then, how about a female Onos? I mean, everybody's been asking for one. Obviously. (Or maybe the Onos is already female? I am unsure. Also, very frightened.)