For years, BioWare games have been synonymous for some of the best romantic sub-plots in gaming, so much so that its absence in Anthem was the first sign of trouble for many.
With 10 games full of BioWare babes ready to romance, a debate over who is the best could carry on for years, so let’s put this to rest now. Here is your guide to the best romances BioWare has to offer.
10. Reyes Vidal
Heard of him? Can’t blame you. Reyes has the misfortune of being a diamond in the rough—a good character in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The Pathfinder meets him at Kadara Port, and this Han Solo-esque rogue doesn’t hesitate to sweep you off your feet. We all like a bad boy, and Reyes is a smuggler wrapped in mystery, always charming Ryder, but not making it clear where his allegiances lie. He’s also involved in one of the few interesting quests the game has to offer.
While the romance is perhaps the best Andromeda has, points are deducted for how short lived it is. Apparently, BioWare didn’t think anyone would fall for his charms, because aside from a handful of scenes (and an implied steamy encounter in a cave), you won’t get much bang for your buck here. But hey, quality over quantity.
9. Thane Krios
Staying in the Mass Effect universe, but flying back to the Milky Way, we have everyone’s favorite part-time Dad, full-time assassin: Thane Krios.
It will be a controversial pick to have Thane here representing the Mass Effect 2 fellas, but hear me out: He’s the ultimate combination of what we like in a space boyfriend. Bad boy? Check. Deep and thoughtful? Definitely. Tragic past? You love to see it. Passionate, intense, spiritual… you get the idea.
Shepard enlists Thane for the suicide mission into the Collectors’ base. Thane stands out for his morality, as seen in how he prays for forgiveness, but also for his tragedy. He’s dying of an illness by the time you meet him, making the romance more emotional.
“Time for me is short, siha, but any I have is yours to take,” he says. Bravo BioWare, you got me crying over an anthropomorphic frog.
8. Dorian Pavus
Over to the world of Dragon Age now, and here we have the shining star of the latest installment, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Wit, charm, sarcasm, and the ability to pull off a mustache looking like that, Dorian is a whole lot of fun that will help you get through the lengthy campaign. But it isn’t just that; as well as having the sharpest dialogue of any character the series has seen, Dorian is a man with a whole lot of heart, even if you do have to dig through layers of faux-narcissism.
A nobleman from Tevinter, he comes from a bloodline of strong magic and meets the Inquisitor when you decide whether to side with the mages or templars. At first he just seems like a dispenser of one-liners, but when romanced by a male inquisitor, he proves to be one of the most devoted characters in the game.
7. Liara T’Soni
It cannot be overstated enough how momentous Liara was when she stole our hearts back in 2007. Before the original Mass Effect, cruising around the galaxy and inviting blue babes back to your quarters was just the dream of Star Trek fans, not an accepted feature in a best-selling video game.
Yet it’s hard to see why she was so controversial. Liara is a dorky and adorable Asari archaeologist who falls over herself trying to hit on Commander Shepard. Being one of the few companions to return in all three original games, you watch her grow from a shy and relatively young Asari, to a badass solider who can hold her own.
That, combined with the fact that Asaris are a sci-fi fan’s dream come true, make it no wonder she’s got such a following.
Please, hear me out on this one. Sure, Anders has a tendency to glow blue and kill people whenever he gets mad. And sure, he looks like he could do with a shower, but in between slaughtering Templars and blowing up the Chantry, his romance is surprisingly romantic.
Hawke meets him in his clinic, where he cures the poor for free and plots a revolution (swoon). You ask him to lend you a map, and in the same conversation, he yells about mage rights, talks about his cat, and asks you to help break his friend out of prison. I’m already hooked.
In the romance, he’s undeniably passionate and dotes on Hawke, but the literal spirit living in his head does cause a few complications. Regardless of whether he’s romanced, he will always become more and more consumed by the cause for mage rights, and this is only more poignant if he’s shacked up with Hawke, his one anchor on reality.
The fact that his romance intertwines with the main plot so well makes it one of the stand outs of the game.
5. Bastila Shan
Classic BioWare time. Bastila is a major character and companion in 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and with a romance that puts even some of the bigger budget games to shame.
Her character is the first real challenge of the Jedi doctrine we see in a mainstream Star Wars story, especially if she romances the player character. When we first meet Bastila, you attempt to save her from criminal captors, only for her to break out herself. This headstrong Padawan starts out as the perfect Jedi—determined, passionless, cold—but as the events of the game (including some flirting/teasing from the player character) prove, this is an unrealistic expectation the Jedi put on their pupils.
What makes her one of the best romances is that the romantic subplot complements the message of the game. You follow her through her loyalty to the Jedi, her fall to the dark side, and her redemption. It also helps that she’s real cute, and has a breathtaking deep voice, courtesy of the brilliant Jennifer Hale, better known as female Shepard in Mass Effect.
4. Miranda Lawson
I mean, just look at her. Do I even need to explain why Miranda makes the list? This Mass Effect 2 companion is a great, uh, asset to the team. But even putting that skintight jumpsuit aside for a second, Miranda is still a surprisingly well written character with a great romance.
Genetically designed by her weird dad to be perfect in looks, intelligence, and physical prowess, Miranda initially comes across as arrogant. But beneath that self-protective layer is an ordinary and caring human being trying to do some good.
From her genetic perfection to her wavering support for her employer, Cerberus, and her deep desire for love, Miranda is the best Mass Effect 2 has to offer, even in a game full of well written, nuanced romances.
We’ve talked a lot about bad boys, how about a bad girl? Sure, you can’t trust this pirate as far as you could throw her, but that’s just part of her charm.
Isabela sweeps you off your feet the moment you lay eyes on her. You walk into a pub and find her taking a swig of ale and beating up a bunch of guys who dared bother her; that’s all my boxes ticked already. And just look at that outfit! A good-looking, hedonistic pirate with a penchant for knives and a kleptomaniac? I’m in love.
Of course, because this is BioWare, there is much more that meets the eye. Underneath that laid back, innuendo-laced rogue is an actual care for others, which she is jokingly horrified by. Not that she gets too deep—Isabela is, without a doubt, one of the funnest romances put in a BioWare game.
And we couldn’t go much further without entering Ferelden, could we? Dragon Age: Origins is a masterclass in BioWare storytelling, and this shines through in fan favorite black mage, Morrigan.
This witch joins the warden early in their quest to end the blight, and throughout the journey you dig away at her layers of mystery, but never quite get the full picture. Origins was all about inverting fantasy genre conventions, and Morrigan is no exception. Sure, she was raised by her mother to be a dark, manipulative, stoic, stereotypical witch, but as much as Morrigan pretends she is, she’s more than this.
Through the romance, you see that she does want to live among ordinary people—not in a swamp—and that she does want love, as much as she turns her nose up at it. And rather than be the cliché of a woman learning to open up and run off into the sunset with the hero, she doesn’t. Because of how she was raised, and because of how the world of Thedas treats its mages, she doesn’t end the game collapsing into the arms of the player. Instead, she leaves. And that’s why her romance is brilliant, it feels true to the world Dragon Age creates.
She must get a bit chilly in those robes though.
1. Alistair Theirin
Sorry, not sorry, Cullen fans, but BioWare absolutely peaked with this fair-haired Templar boy, and you know it.
Where do I begin? Self-deprecating humor, cute as hell, sarcastic, clumsy flirting, all wrapped into an adorable blonde package. Alistair is just perfect in every conceivable way, and I will gladly die on this hill.
I’ve bigged up the bad guys/gals of the series, but it’s an awkward guy whose too scared to say the word “sex” who stole all our hearts. Alistair has been treated awfully his whole life, and all it did was make him kind. Shoved from pillar to post, he finds his first real connection with the warden, and slowly falls in love with her as they end the apocalypse.
The reason why I had to give Alistair the top spot is because of how much he’s stuck with me since I played the game years ago. When I think of Dragon Age, and I think of sitting at the campfire, talking to Alistair about life, the war, family, politics, and whether I’ve “licked a lamppost in winter.”
“What? Lead? Me? No, no, no. No leading. Bad things happen when I lead. We get lost, people die, and the next thing you know I’m stranded somewhere without any pants,” says Alistair when I ask if he wants to be in charge—make more male companions this goofy please.
GameLuster’s Tuesday 10 is a weekly column that highlights memorable, light-hearted facets of video games or the industry at large. The No. 1 is a hill no one should die on, but it’s a hill that should be admired from afar.