In the Mass Effect series, the player can romance several non-playable characters (NPCs), depending on the gender of the player-character and the sexuality of the NPC.
Male Shepard can be sexually fluid due to game restrictions on relationship partners. In the first two installments, male Shepard can only be heterosexual, although it is possible to perform other sexualities through gameplay without engaging in actual romance or creating fictional romance from the game interactions. For instance, it is possible to develop a “bromance” relationship with Garrus. Fans of the ME franchise desired a gay Garrus-Shepard romance, and a glitch in the game allows those with some hacking expertise to fulfill said wish. This can be seen in the following video:
In the third game, male Shepard gets two official gay romances: one with Kaidan Alenko and one with Steve Cortez (described in more detail below).
Female Shepard can either be lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual in all the games. However, it is only in the second game and third games that female Shepard can engage into same-sex relationships with the human species. Female Shepard has more possibilities for same-sex relationships (6) than male Shepard (2), which are described in more detail below.
In the first games of the series, romance options are limited: both male and female Shepard have two romance options. Male Shepard can romance the human female NPC Ashley Williams.
Female Shepard can romance the human male NPC Kaidan Alenko.
However, because the voice actors recorded all the lines for both romances (to correct a programming issue), players are able to unlock same-sex relationship scenes with both of these characters. Here are videos for the FemShep and Ashely and the MaleShep and Kaiden options.
Both male and female Shepard can romance the asari NPC Liara T’Soni. Liara is coded as feminine, but asari are a monogendered race. Liara’s lesbian relationship option with a female Shepard reportedly led the game to be banned in Singapore. Regardless of who they choose to romance, at the end of a successful romance the player is rewarded with a sex scene and the Paramour achievement. This video shows all of the romance options and sex scenes in the game.
Playing as male or female Shepard, players also can have an optional sexual encounter with Sha’ira, a feminine asari consort.
Mass Effect 2
In the second game, heterosexual romance options increase. Playing as male Shepard allows players to romance human Miranda Lawson, human biotic Jack, and quarian Tail’Zorah nar Rayya.
Female Shepard can romance human biotic Jacob Taylor, turian Garrus Vakarian, and drell Thane Krios.
A video of all of the above relationship pairings is available here.
Female and male Shepards can also romance human NPC Kelly Chambers (video with FemShep here), or the asari characters Morinth (video with FemShep here) and Samara (Morinth’s mother, FemShep video here). However, no Paramour achievement is granted for these romances.
If the player romanced Liara in the first game, this relationship can continue in the DLC “Lair of the Shadow Broker” for ME2.
There are no same-sex relationship options for male Shepard in ME2. There are, however, mods that allow for them, including the one shown in this video that allows male Shepard to have a relationship with Jacob. In addition, there is at least one fan video that imagines a queer relationship between Miranda and Jack, two female characters whom male Shepard can romance. Using existing videos from the game that portray this romance, a fan created a video showing their love affair.
Mass Effect 3
The third game has more romance options, several of which carry over from prior games and some of which require continuing the romance from ME2. Male Shepard can romance Miranda Lawson, Tail’Zorah vas Normandy, Jack, Ashely Williams (all pictured above), and a human male character named Steve Cortez.
Female Shepard can romance Thane Krios, Garrus Vakaraian (both pictured above), and a human female character named Samantha Traynor.
This game has five options for same sex relationships, with Liara T’soni, Samara, and Kelly Chambers as follow-up romance from previous games; and Samantha Traynor and Diana Allers as new romance possibilities. In ME3, the two first “genuine” lesbian and gay characters appear, Samantha Traynor and Steve Cortez. Every other same-sex relationship character is considered bisexual.
Male and female Shepards can also romance Kelly Chambers and Liara T’Soni (pictured above). Kaiden Alenko (pictured above) is available for a same-sex relationship, though he was not in earlier games. Players can also have sexual interaction with human character Diana Allers.
Players have also modded the game to allow for other relationship combinations, including this video for a FemShep and Ashley romance.
In the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC, players can continue the romance with Samara from ME2. Also, there are two additional relationship options for female Shepard: prothean Javik and human James Vega.
In all of the above games, it is also possible to perform asexuality, to an extent, as both romance and sexual activities are optional for the player.
LGBTQ references in this game:
- arik701. (2010, February 20). Mass Effect 2: Gay Romance with Jacob (Mod). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrMMOteSqOE
- Asari. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Asari
- Ashley Williams. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Ashley_Williams
- Calibrations never seem to end. (2010, August 24). Mass Effect 2: Miranda loves Jack. YouTube. Mass Effect 2: Miranda loves Jack. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO0lihHFVXA
- Cohen, D. (May 16, 2011). Mass Effect Fans Worry That Expanded Gay Options Will Create Inconsistencies, Alter Canon. Retrieved from http://kotaku.com/5802371/mass-effect-fans-worry-that-expanded-gay-options-will-create-inconsistencies-alter-canon
- Commander Shepard. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commander_Shepard
- Comprehensive guide to romancing Kelly! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/944907-mass-effect-2/53455594
- DanaDuchy. (2012, September 8). Mass Effect 3: FemShepard/Ashley romance. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6cDPREUOzM
- dasickgamer2. (2011, March 29). Morinth vs. female Shepard (Mass Effect 2). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oik1ht8ikZI
- DeusEx4Ever. (2012, February 16). Mass Effect 2 Femshep and Kelly Chambers romance scene. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QSMo1uYMJo
- Diana Allers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Diana_Allers
- Game Politics. (2007, November 14). Report: Singapore Bans Mass Effect Over Lesbian Love Scene. GamePolitics.com. http://gamepolitics.com/2007/11/14/report-singapore-bans-mass-effect-over-lesbian-love-scene/
- GamesRadar_US. (2010, Janaury 29). Mass Effect 2 Romance Guide. Games Radar. http://www.gamesradar.com/mass-effect-2-romance-guide/
- Garrus Vakarian. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Garrus_Vakarian
- Gay Option. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GayOption
- Jack. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Subject_Zero
- Jacob Taylor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Jacob_Taylor
- Kaidan Alenko. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Kaidan_Alenko
- Katheryn S. (2015, February 9). Mass Effect- FEmShep/Samara Complete Romance Part 1. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISCNJvyUgcA
- Keel, F. (2013, September 7). Mass Effect 1- All Romances/Sex Scenes. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHqDEYvg_do
- Keel, F. (2013, September 7). Mass Effect 2- All Romancnes/Sex Scenes. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHYJ1XQzWQ0
- Kelly Chambers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Kelly_Chambers
- lasangreal. (2010, January 18). Male Shepard and Kaiden romance. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPMOlEfhWGE
- lasangreal. (2010, January 18). Female Shepard and Ashley romance. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mwiqq-Y5r4
- LeJacq, Y. (2015, June 26). A Brief History of Gay Marriage in Video Games. Kotaku. Retried from http://kotaku.com/a-brief-history-of-gay-marriage-in-video-games-1714251913
- Liara T’Soni. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Liara_T%27Soni
- LuuciaYoanne. (2013, May 23). Mass Effect 2: Kaidan Gay Romance #1: Meeting Kaidan in Horizon. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NShM8zuhT0M
- Mass Effect 2 – Romance Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ign.com/faqs/2010/mass-effect-2-886317-romance-guide-1073005
- Miranda Lawson. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Miranda_Lawson
- Morinth. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Morinth
- Narcisse, E. (May 7, 2012). Mass Effect 3 Writers Didn’t Want Same-Sex Romance to Be “a Straight Guy Writing Lesbians for Other Straight Guys to Look at.” Retrieved from http://kotaku.com/5908313/mass-effect-3-writers-didnt-want-same-sex-romance-to-be-a-straight-guy-writing-lesbians-for-other-straight-guys-to-look-at
- N7Valentine. (2013, Dcember 20). Mass Effect- FemShep/Ashley Complete Romance. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NagLZIOnZ0A
- 0notashamed0. (2012, November 10). Mass Effect 3- Jack and Femshep Lesbian Romance Part 1. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPXPufApAA0
- Phoenix-force411. (2014, July 9). Mass Effect 3- Male Shepard- Garrus Romance- Citadel Date. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-HfqI5ZiHM
- Romance. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Romance
- Romance. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ign.com/wikis/mass-effect-3/Romance
- robsonhexacorde1. (2011, January 27). Mass Effect 2: Kelly Sex Scene with all flirtings. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL2qwmDdDnU
- Samara. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Samara
- Samantha Traynor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Samantha_Traynor
- Sha’ira. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Sha%27ira
- SpeedexUltimate. (2012, September 12). Mass Effect 3 All Romance/Sex Scenes Male Shepard. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGB4THgKm7E
- SpeedexUltimate. (2012, September 12). Mass Effect 3 All Romance/Sex Scenes Female Shepard. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXzJ9OUP-3I
- Steve Cortez. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Steve_Cortez
- Tali’Zorah nar Rayya. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Tali%27Zorah_vas_Neema
- Thane Krios. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Thane_Krios
- Tollto, S. (February 28, 2012). Why A Video Game Blockbuster Will Finally Allow You To Be A Gay Man. Retrieved from http://kotaku.com/5888909/why-a-video-game-blockbuster-will-finally-allow-you-to-be-a-gay-man
- Weekes, P. (May 7, 2012). Same-Sex Relationships in Mass Effect 3. Retrieved from http://blog.bioware.com/2012/05/07/same-sex-relationships-in-mass-effect-3