Mass Effect: Andromeda launches this week, inviting fans to reflect on their time with BioWare’s epic science fiction RPG series. The Mass Effect trilogy is often revered for its writing and memorable characters, each of whom the player could develop a unique, personal relationship with. But for some players, Mass Effect was nothing more than elaborate dating sim masked behind the imposing threat of an alien invasion.
The ultimate goal for a certain contingent of Mass Effect players was to get down and dirty with their favorite of the game’s romantic pursuits. Before Andromeda introduces us to a brand new wave of characters to lust after, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember all the smutty space action offered in the first three games.
As a potential lover, Morinth talks a big game. The Asari warrior boasts that her previous partners have experienced a greater pleasure than any normal bonding can offer. Naturally curious, Shepard is promptly greeted with an untimely death for trying to get lucky.
Certainly the most unethical of Shepard’s potential romances, the Commander is able to successfully woo the journalist profiling the Normandy with little effort. After a private interview, she expresses concern for her career as Shepard hits on her, but agrees to an exclusive, intimate moment together.
Kaidan is such a boring character that most players don’t spare him a second thought when choosing who to leave stranded on Virmire. Even fewer players feel the burning passion to get with Kaidan romantically during the first game; those who did were rewarded with this fairly tame sequence where he teases his commanding officer before a bout of physical activity.
Like most Asari, Samara is a stoic, capable ally to keep around. Shepard can try their hardest to flirt with her, but will often be denied. However, if the player is persistent, they can crack this cold exterior over time. Their budding romance culminates with an almost-kiss among the stars, before Samara leaves, asking to be left alone.
Mass Effect 3’s “Citadel” DLC features a great deal of fan-service moments and payoff to the relationships the player sustained over the course of the trilogy. However, they can also stumble into an unexpected fling with the Prothean character Javik, and immediately regret it. The short scenes picks up in the morning after a night of drinking and dancing, where Shepard coldly tells the alien to share “not a word” of their time together.
After risking their lives in the action-packed climax of Mass Effect 2, Shepard and Miranda spend most of the next game in a long distance fling. They eventually meet up, and the Cerberus Officer spends most of their time together profusely apologizing for trying to brainwash Shepard. Not the best pillow talk.
When Ashley comes to visit Commander Shepard before their final mission in the first Mass Effect, her fixation is on literature rather than love. She approaches, quoting “O, Captain, My Captain,” in an attempt to set the mood. Though the actual sex in Mass Effect is mostly the same, just with the characters swapped, Ashley and Shepard have a more believable connection than the joyless Kaidan.
It takes quite a bit of persuasion to get James Vega comfortable with the idea of seeing Shepard as more than a military commander, but in the “Citadel” DLC, he finally gives into his desires. Under his rugged, buff, exterior, James shares a sweet conversation with Shepard and even cooks eggs in the morning.
Fans who were invested in Tala’s story over the course of the trilogy were desperate to see her unmasked by the end of Mass Effect 3. Though their romance leads to a tender scene where the pair confess their love for each other, the payoff is a small, poor quality photo of what we can assume is supposed to be her face left by Shepard’s bedside.
Shepard helps Steve Cortez get over the loss of his husband, with a touching scene at Mass Effect 3’s memorial wall. From that point on, Cortez’s admiration of Shepard is more than that of a leader, and while dancing in a nightclub, the two share a kiss, confirming their feelings for each other.
Liara remains the obvious choice to romance in the first Mass Effect for many reasons. She’ll get with you regardless of your gender and her fling with Shepard carries over throughout the entire trilogy. In this first encounter, players get just a hint of the powerful lovemaking Asari are capable of.
Returning in the trilogy’s final chapter, Kaidan Alenko is given much more character this time around. Wounded and nostalgic, Shepard and Kaidan share a drink and one last night together before heading out to fight the Reapers. This time around, Kaidan is interested in Shepard whether they are male or female, and regardless of their romantic history.
Following their time together in Mass Effect 2, Thane and Shepard are separated at the start of the final chapter. He can be visited in the hospital, where he apologies for his condition and injuries, but Shepard will silence him with a kiss. By this point, Thane is over the physical complexities of an interspecies romance.
Shepard’s romance with this powerful biotic can begin and end with a steamy scene stuffed in a small room, but Jack will then grow cold. If the player is persistent in pursuing a dedicated relationship with Jack, she will admit her vulnerability and the two come together in a tender, tearful embrace.
Communication specialist Samantha Traynor won’t waste any time trying to get with Shepard. She invites herself up to your cabin, and makes herself comfortable in the shower, inviting you to join her. From there, the two are locked into their fling for the rest of the game
This Cerberus officer will play hard-to-get for most of Mass Effect 2, denying Shepard’s advances and mentioning that he doesn’t consider their romance an option. It takes quite a bit of prodding, but eventually Jacob will sneak into Shepard’s room and confess that he wants to be with her.
Shepard and Garrus continue their flirty fling in Mass Effect 3, spending their time together making jokes and reflecting on their journey together. Garrus is a wonderful partner for Shepard, but their romance robs the player of a hilarious scene where they interrupt Tali and Garrus hooking up in the bowels of the Normandy.
Though Kelly Chambers spends most of Mass Effect 2 as Shepard’s personal assistant, the two can start a romantic venture together. This is mostly comprised of heavy hints and flirting on the ship’s command deck, until after the game’s final suicide mission. If Shepard saved Kelly, she will visit their cabin and perform a seductive dance as a way of saying thanks.
After an absence in Mass Effect 2, Ashley returns pretty pissed off at Shepard for his connection to Cerberus. It takes a lot of arguing over the course of the game to get back on her good side, but players can rekindle the pair’s romance and finally get some closure before the final mission.
In one of the series’ more tragic relationships, Shepard must come to terms with Thane’s disease slowly killing him. When the two reconcile this inevitable outcome, they share a passionate kiss and vow to feel alive together for at least one night.
Tali’s crush on Shepard starts fairly early into the game, with her nervous body language so apparent that he asks if she is blushing under her mask. (She probably was). However, life for Quarians is dangerous outside of their suits. Tali takes a great deal of antibiotics to boost her immune system and share an intimate evening with the Commander. If that’s not love, what is?
The building sexual tension between Shepard and Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 make for some of the game’s most entertaining character interactions. She will repeatedly try to deny the Commander’s advances, right up until the moments before their suicide mission, where she calls him down to the engine room for some one-on-one time.
If the player chose to keep it so, Liara and Shepard can have a complex, lengthy relationship that spans each of the Mass Effect games. By the time the final act of the trilogy rolls around, their love is more matured than any of the other characters. Their attachment to each other is based on a mutual respect, though the cosmically-enhanced sex isn’t bad either.
The second chapter of this trilogy gave in to one of the most demanded features after the first game, the ability to seduce the loyal, charming Garrus Vakarian. Though humans and Turians aren’t quite compatible sexually, the romance between Shepard and Garrus is emotionally satisfying for anyone invested in the character arcs over the length of three games.
AJ Moser is a freelance journalist and recently exiled Game Informer intern. To read more of his work, as well as musings on Star Wars and the indie rock scene, follow him on Twitter at @AndMoser.