A Bioware RPG just wouldn’t be a Bioware RPG without a heavy dose of romance. Giving the player a choice of potential lovers creates an additional sense of attachment hard to replicate with a preordained courtship. The following five characters are your best bets for a virtual romantic encounter you won’t soon forget.
“In truth, for a chance to be by your side I would storm the dark city itself. Never doubt it.”
5. Zevran, Dragon Age: Origins – The silver-tongued Antivan Crow is quite the charmer. This is the guy you want as your wingman when you cruise the Hanged Man for action on a Saturday night. If you’re into elves, you can’t find one with a better sense of humor or a bigger collection of tall tales. He might seem a bit crass and overly focused on the physical side of his relationship with the Warden at first, but Zevran’s awkward responses to questions of true love reveal that he’s got a heart after all.
“There’s something compelling about you, Shepard.”
4. Liara, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 3 - Non-gamers who might know Liara simply for the massive hubbub caused several years ago by her bare blue ass might think Shepard’s asari lover is just another video game skank designed to titillate a bunch of teenage boys. That couldn’t be further from the truth; Liara’s got some real depth to her character, and she’s probably the closest thing the Mass Effect universe has to the girl next door. She’s a little awkward and a little shy, but she will ramble forever about people and things she’s interested in or cares about. Liara grows up a lot throughout the Mass Effect series, transitioning from a naive scientist into the head of a galaxy spanning information network while facing down her own corrupted mother. She’s a steady, powerful companion who just wants what’s best for the people she cares about.
“Forgive the insubordination, but your boyfriend has an order for you: come back alive. It’d be an awfully empty galaxy without you.”
3. Garrus, Mass Effect 2 and 3 - Of course Garrus is on this list! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to build any sort of top five list relating to Mass Effect without including everyone’s favorite Turian? Typically a bad ass with a bit of a dry wit, Garrus gets downright awkward around an interested Shepard, complimenting the player character on her nice hair and very supportive-looking waist. Turns out the spiky tough guy feels a bit alone in the universe, and rightly so; things went bad with his C-Sec career, than with his crew of vigilantes. Shepard’s all he’s got left. The best part? During a later conversation with Mordin about Shepard’s romance with Garrus, the ship’s medic recommends that the main character be careful about chafing and forwards information packets regarding appropriate humanitarian positions to Shepard’s room. If braving the scrapes and rashes that come with making out with a spiky alien isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
“What could I possibly be suggesting? I mean, a young woman gets rescued by a dashing commander who lets her join his crew and then goes off to save the galaxy? How could she possibly develop any kind of interest in him?”
2. Tali, Mass Effect 2 and 3 - Everybody remembers that point in Mass Effect when they began to wonder if they could romance Tali rather than focus on one of the more obvious options. Her accent’s pretty hot, after all, and DAT ENVIRONMENTAL SUIT. Players start dating Tali in the hopes that they’ll get to see what she looks like under all of that concealing gear, but they stick around because the Quarian’s one of the most courageous, principled characters in the Mass Effect universe. She genuinely cares about her people’s plight to the extent that her entire life is focused on ending the battle with the geth and finding a new homeworld for her migrant culture. The final reveal of Tali’s face is appropriately subtle and understated, if a little disappointing because Bioware simply Photoshopped a model’s glamour shot rather than building Tali a unique face of her own.
“You see, sweetness, men are only good for one thing. Women are good for six.”
1. Isabela, Dragon Age 2 - I might be biased here because I’ve always wanted to date a swashbuckling pirate lady with fiery eyes who can drink me under the table, but this is my list so it’s following my rules. The very definition of a free spirit, Isabela does what she wants, when she wants, with whoever she wants, and she usually steals something in the process. Her scandalous behavior and lascivious tongue clearly make many of the game’s more conservative characters uncomfortable, often to humorous effect. Complicating her relationship with Hawke is her desire to acquire a new ship and sail the world. At one point, she does just that, stealing an important Qunari relic in the process. When she returns, Hawke’s got a big decision to make: does he fight for Isabela’s life (possibly tainting his standing as a paragon of honor and justice) or does he hand her over to the Qunari so they can punish her (thereby betraying their relationship). Isabela’s that rarest of all Bioware romance options, the genuinely funny character that also adds a legitimate level of complexity to the story when pursued.
Honorable mention: Jacob Taylor, Mass Effect 2. We don’t often wax poetic on the podcast, but Jacob inspired a love poem of such majesty that I have to include him here despite how boring I personally think he is.
Dishonorable mention: Diana Allers, Mass Effect 3. Anybody else think she looks like she’s made out of butter?
Check out episode 128 of the D Pad D Bags podcast, featuring Dead Space 3, Minecraft, and Portal 2.