(image credit: bioware)

The Most Epic Romances to Experience in the ‘Mass Effect’ Trilogy

Love is in the air. And by, “the air,” I mean the cold vacuum of space.

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No, I’m not talking about Sci-Fi romance novels, NOT EVEN THESE LESBIAN ONES. You know why? Because the only thing better than reading about a sapphic space tryst is being in one. And though I don’t have the Jeff Bezos money to afford to bring myself and a hot lady into orbit, I can do that virtually in a video game. What game(s) is that? Only the legendary Mass Effect Trilogy (sorry Andromeda I don’t like you like that). And the best thing about these particular video games? I can romance space boys too. It’s a win-win situation. But the only bad part (or good part if you’re a “rocket fuel tank half full” person) is that there are too many sexy people and aliens to romance in this particular game. And since I can’t have a polyamorous relationship with my entire crew (as much as I’d like to, think of the morale boost!) I’ve picked the best romance options from Mass Effect. So you only have to play through the games a measly five times to experience them all. A small price to pay for interstellar love, am I right?

Liara T’Soni

Liara in Mass Effect
(EA)

Liara T’Soni is Mass Effect‘s official Best Girl for a reason. She’s the only character on this list who is a romance option from the jump. I’m talking Mass Effect 1, baby. When you set your little commander’s heart on Liara, you get to be with her throughout the entire trilogy. That means that you fight Saren with her, you destroy Sovereign with her, you die and come back to her, you go on the suicide mission to the Collector Base with her, you assemble a galactic army with her. When you reach the end of the third game and make the “final decision” and the flashbacks start playing, you can bet there’s gonna be waterworks when you see her face because of all the history you have with her. If you’re doing 100% completion on each game, you’ve probably spent over 50 hours with her. By that point, you are actually dating her in real life. And why wouldn’t you? She’s beautiful, she’s strong, she’s courageous, she’s sweet, she’s supportive. She is life partner material. And the best part? She’s pansexual, so you can date her whether you are a male or female Commander Shepard. Now THAT is a space lesbian relationship for the ages. The eons. Until the end of time itself. Liara’s romance especially shines in the DLC content Lair The Shadow Broker. It’s a mission that features Liara and Shepard alone, and it’s the ultimate space lesbian story arc to end all space lesbian stories. There’s even a hovercar chase where Shepard takes the wheel and Liara backseat drives in the most adorable way possible. Trust me, get the DLC. You don’t want to miss it.

Thane

Image credit: EA

If you’re into tragic romances that bloom and die as quickly as beautifully as a morning glory, then Thane is your man. Thane is a deep, thoughtful, and spiritual person. He is also father to an estranged son. You meet the tenderhearted drell assassin in Mass Effect 2, where he is suffering from the beginning stages of a degenerative lung disease called Kepral’s Syndrome that only affects his species. Throughout the second game, you woo him, bed him, and repair his relationship with his son (and I guess become a sort of an intergalactic step-mom?) But the good times come to an end after the finale of the second game. Once you pick up the third game, the Mass Effect writers decide to beat the living shit out of your Thane-smitten heart without your consent. Once a fierce fighter in your squad, the advanced stages of the disease leave Thane bedridden in a hospital on the Citadel. All you can do is visit him, and watch him slowly die. It’s tragic, but it is absolutely beautiful. When you meet him for the final time, he greets you as “Siha”, which is the name of a warrior angel from drell religion. If that’s not the most romantic pet name ever, then I don’t know what is. You talk for a little while, sharing fond memories, and then you and his son, Kolyat, say the most beautiful prayer as he slowly passes away. It’s impossible to stay dry-eyed during this scene. And this scene alone makes Thane one of the absolute best romance options in the game. That and the fact that his voice is really sexy. It sounds like a lizard if lizards could purr. I know that doesn’t sound sexy, but take my word for it, it is.

Tali

(image credit: bioware)

Tali is the tech-specialist onboard your ship The Normandy. In a crew made up of only the best of the best, this means that Tali is a total genius. Hot. She is also a quarian, a species of extraterrestrial with extremely delicate immune systems. Any exposure to foreign bacteria can cause a fatal reaction. Because of this, they wear environmental suits at all times that cover their bodies and their faces. Tali becomes a trusted companion of Commander Shepard, and even though you spend countless hours fighting by her side, you never get to see her face.

Unless of course, you romance her.

The Tali/Shepard romance is so beautiful and delicate because there is so much risk and trust involved. In the beginning stages of the romance, Tali leaves a picture of herself without her mask in Shepard’s quarters. She’s beautiful, of course. And it’s a touching display of affection. Tali has never shown her face to anyone else in the crew. Many quarians live their lives without seeing the faces of members of their own species due to their delicate immune systems. It is an honor reserved only for one’s most intimate of relationships. As the romance continues, Tali and Shepard eventually go to bed together, Tali without her suit. She becomes physically ill but tells Shepard that it was “totally worth it” to spend the night together. In Mass Effect 3, she and Shepard are able to make love without complications, as Tali’s immune system has “acclimated” to Shepard’s physiology. Now if that’s not some wildly romantic sci-fi love then I don’t know what is.

Jack

Jack and her tattoos in Mass Effect
(Image credit: Bioware)

Many Mass Effect players believe that Jack is the best romance option in the game, and I can see why. Out of all the romance-able characters in Shepard’s crew, Jack is the character who is the most fundamentally changed by Shepard’s love. Jack is a biotic. The Mass Effect version of a telekinetic. And she is not just any biotic, but one of the most powerful biotics in the galaxy. Her powers came at a tragic cost, however, as she was experimented on as a child by a secret military agency. She knew no love in her childhood, only trauma and pain, and as such, she grows into a callous and cruel adult. Life doesn’t matter to her because her life didn’t matter to the people who were supposed to have been protecting her. She is deeply cynical, and believes that love is nothing more than fantasy.

Until Shepard comes along.

Romancing Jack is a deeply rewarding experience because one can see the healing power of love played out in real time. As Shepard continues to woo her, Jack slowly but surely softens. She learns to trust, to open up, and to love in return. Her character changes from ruthless killer in the second game to a caring teacher in the third, instructing biotic children on how to control their powers in a supportive and positive environment that she herself was never able to receive. By romancing Jack, Mass Effect teaches an important lesson: all people thrive with love. Even the people that love forgot.

Garrus

(image credit: bioware)

Garrus Vakarian. The A-1 since day one. Shepard’s right-hand man. Garrus Vakarian is unequivocally the shit. A military sniper turned mercenary, Garrus is cool-headed, competent, and all-around bad-ass. He’s also incredibly funny and charming, and a completely swoon-worthy hunk of a turian. He’s a fan favorite character, romance or no, but the wonderful thing about a romance with Garrus is that you get to see a different side of a character you love. Garrus is usually rational and sarcastic, the ultimate “cool guy.” But as you romance him, Garrus drops his roguish veneer and becomes a sweet, tender, and sometimes even shy little heartthrob. He feels like such a good romance option because you feel like you can be friends with him first. He and Shepard have similar interests. They’re both high-achieving career soldiers who love shooting things and competition. Their romance feels natural, organic, and fated to happen. It makes their final goodbye in Mass Effect 3 all the more bittersweet. Unlike some of the other romance options on this list, Shepard and Garrus charge into the game’s final battle together. Garrus is wounded in the fight, but refuses to leave his commander’s side. Commander Shepard orders him to evacuate, but not without telling him that she will always love him. Shepard then charges into her ultimate fate, where, depending on your choices, she either dies or crawls out of the rubble. The latter option is technically the “renegade” option, as Shepard has to sacrifice an entire race of sentient machines to do it. But for Garrus? Well, let’s just say I’m not going to leave him alone in the galaxy for some silly robots. Not now, not ever.

Though to be fair, if the Normady‘s resident robot Legion was romance-able, I would all be over them in one beat of their cybernetic heart. Who wouldn’t want to teach a robot to love?

Featured image credit: Bioware


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.