Ah, relationships and romance. The cornerstone of any Bioware game, especially when it comes to Mass Effect, which is why you need a handy guide.
With the release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition, fans and newcomers alike can experience the thrill of saving the universe as their own personal take on Commander Shepard.
That includes choosing which crewmates to romance – a special moment that only adds to the space soap opera tension between the trilogy’s iconic characters.
Relationships have also been a point of contention for the series in the past, and that sadly doesn’t change here.
While you’ve got the opportunity to bang aliens from the first game onwards (thanks, Bioware!) LGBT+ romances are off the table until the third game.
What’s most disappointing is that same-sex voice lines were recorded for the first game but not used. Further, Mass Effect 2 was set to have Jack as pansexual and Jacob as gay but these were removed for fear of upsetting conservatives who wrongly criticised the first game for including alien nudity.
Despite a fan petition to have these romance options reinstated, Bioware has stayed true to the original releases and kept the options the same.
So, after all that, who can Shepard romance across the Mass Effect trilogy? Without further ado, here’s our guide to shagging aliens and being gay.
The first game in the trilogy is the most limited when it comes to romances. There are only two options for both male and female Shepard, one of which is shared.
Male Shepard – Ashley Williams
Female Shepard – Kaidan Alenko
Both – Liara T’soni
What’s also awkward about this first game is how easy it is to slip into an unwanted relationship. There are no clear cut dialogue options to choose a specific companion. Simply being positive to one of these characters is enough to trigger the start of a relationship.
Liara in particular seems very keen, which is flattering and all… but be careful if you’re aiming towards a specific option.
Of course, being an Asari, Liara is technically agender despite being female presenting. It’s clear she’s intended to be the “sexy blue alien” – not least with the Legendary Edition increasing her breast size – but if you’re looking for a human LGBT+ relationship you’re out of luck.
Mass Effect 2
Here the series begins to open up with more options for both male and female Shepard, even if there are still, disappointingly, no same-sex options.
Thankfully there’s a little more to these relationships than before. First you’ll need to complete the loyalty mission for the crewmate you’re looking to woo. Then there are specific dialogue options to choose (they’re fairly obviously flirtatious) that will eventually lock you into that relationship as you share an intimate moment before the final suicide mission.
Those options are:
Male Shepard – Tali’Zorah vas Neema, Miranda Lawson, Jack
Female Shepard – Garrus Vakarian, Jacob Taylor, Thane Krios
The game also introduces flings for both genders, where you can romance a character but they’re not permanent. They also won’t count towards the paramour achievement.
These do include a same-sex option for female Shepard in Kelly Chambers, as well as three Asari options (with Liara returning). But these flings aren’t as fleshed out as the “real” romances. And if you’re a gay male Shepard? You’re out of luck.
Flings – Samara, Morinth, Kelly Chambers, Liara T’Soni
Choosing a fling with Morinth also results in instant death so… probably not your best choice.
Mass Effect 3
Now we’re talking. It took three games over five years but Mass Effect 3 finally brought players the same-sex romance options they were gagging for.
Steve Cortez is a pilot who joins your ship in this game only, so is somewhat underwritten compared with other options.
For female Shepards, Kelly Chambers is your option for lesbian romance, unless you’re happy with a quick fling.
More interesting is Kaidan Alenko: he’s only available for female Shepard in the first game but if he survives the events of that game, he’ll reappear here for either gender to romance. Yep, Kaidan is finally bisexual.
Survival is a big part of the romances in this third game. All of the options, besides the newly introduced Cortez, are returning characters that can only be romanced based on relationships and/or survival in the previous two games. Expect plenty of drama and conflict then.
As with the second game, your dialogue choices will impact your relationship status and eventually lock you in. There remain flings too, if you’re so inclined.
Male Shepard – Steve Cortez, Ashley Williams (if she survives ME1), Tali’Zorah vas Normandy (if romanced in ME2), Jack (if romanced in ME2), Miranda Lawson (if romanced in ME2),
Female Shepard – Garrus Vakarian (if romanced in ME2), Thane Krios (if romanced in ME2), Samantha Traynor (fling)
Both – Liara T’Soni, Kaidan Alenko, Kelly Chambers (if romanced in ME2), Diana Allers (fling)
The Citadel DLC, included in the Legendary Edition, also unlocks three further flings:
Javik (for female Shepard)
James Vega (for female Shepard)
Samara (for both Shepards)
So while Mass Effect 3 does give the option of same-sex romances, they are sadly limited.
Let’s hope any future games in the series are more open-ended and diverse when it comes to romance options.
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