Go ahead and mock me, but I enjoy swooning over my sweet fictional boys. Dating is complicated. Being in love with fictional characters is easy (if really pathetic, I know).
Obviously I prefer some of the romance subplots in games over others for various reasons, and I find the BioWare romances to be the best. So I’ve decided to go through the romance-able characters in my favorite BioWare games (plus Obsidian Entertainment’s KotOR2, which has some of the awesomeness of BioWare’s KotOR1) to rank the pros and cons of each one in a handy list, in the order in which the games came out. (Spoilers for Baldur’s Gate II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect ahead.)
Pros: Loyal, angsty past
If you actually can get past how rude Anomen is to you (see Cons), he winds up being very loyal. He sticks by you no matter what and does his best to defend you against any of the myriad of things that attack you. He’s also got some angst, which is always a plus for me. What can I say, I love a good tortured past in my fictional boyfriends.
Cons: Egotistical jackass, just plain mean, moody
Unfortunately, Anomen is a huge jackass. In some of the early romance conversations, he flat out says that you need protecting because you’re a girl and gets pissy if you ask him why the hell he’d think that, especially since the PC is the child of a god and could kick his ass without breaking a sweat. He wants to become a knight, but he’s got a temper that he can’t keep in check very well. He’s constantly yelling at you then apologizing later. Not a very stable guy. He also has a really bad relationship with his family and takes no responsibility for anything ever.
Boyfriend grade: D-. Total jerk, doesn’t appreciate the PC half as much as he should, and probably needs counseling.
Baldur’s Gate II – Haer’Dalis
Pros: Flirty, nice, fun
While Haer’Dalis wasn’t technically a love interest in Baldur’s Gate II, I heard a rumor that he was supposed to be included as one but was cut due to time constraints, and I believe it. He flirts with the PC often and is generally a pretty nice guy. If you have Aerie in your party, that whiny pathetic ex-winged elf girl, Haer’Dalis will begin a romance with her where he helps increase her self-esteem and actually turns her into a slightly tolerable character!
Cons: Not totally human, talks like a weirdo, fakes emotions
Haer’Dalis is actually a tiefling, meaning he has some fiend blood in him. Not necessarily bad, but kind of weird. He also talks in metaphors and Shakespearian flowery verses, and speaking as someone who’s been talked at like that before, it gets obnoxious and is not as cute as the speaker thinks it is. He’s also an actor and even admits that he feigns a lot of the emotion he says he feels, which eventually leads to his breakup with Aerie.
Boyfriend grade: C-. Maybe okay as a short-term boyfriend, but definitely not up for any serious relationships.
Pros: Flirty, angsty, romantic
Ahh, Carth. Hated by men, loved by women. This Han-Solo-esque pilot definitely has that angsty past I love (see Cons also), and once he starts trusting you a bit, he turns into a big flirt and a real sweetheart. He’s also hugely romantic and seems to care deeply about the PC, after they work out all their issues anyway. Carth also remains loyal to the PC after she leaves him behind to head into Unknown Space a year after KotOR, and he keeps on with his duties as a Republic soldier while he continues looking for her and hoping for her return years later.
Cons: Whiny, really paranoid, very difficult to earn his trust
Carth has a really awful past that he kind of whines about all the time. But hey, if your mentor/BFF betrayed you and destroyed your planet, got your wife killed, and had your son abducted/raised by Sith, you’d be pissed and out for revenge too! He has trouble trusting people and it takes AGES for him to get close to the PC, and then he wants to kill her after he finds out she’s actually ex-Jedi ex-Sith Lord Revan. Awkward! Fortunately he gets over it.
Boyfriend grade: B+. As long as you aren’t a recovering Sith Lord, he’d be a pretty perfect boyfriend.
Pros: Idolizes PC, sticks to the Light Side because of her
The Juhani “romance” isn’t a true romance in the same way that Carth’s was, as it’s made clear through the dialogue that the female PC’s feelings for Juhani aren’t the same as Juhani’s are for her. Despite this, Juhani idolizes the PC, as she was the one who saved her from becoming a slave on Taris and helped her become the Jedi she is today. After a momentary fall to the Dark Side and being redeemed by the PC, Juhani does her best to strictly adhere to the Jedi teachings and stay firmly on the Light side.
Cons: Turned to the Dark Side at one point, wild mood swings
She did, however, “fall” to the Dark Side after she attacked her Jedi Master, who provoked her into it. Seems like questionable teaching, but hey, those Jedi can be weirdos sometimes. She gets really upset about her past and the bad stuff she’s gone through sometimes, but quickly calms down.
Girlfriend grade: C. The hero-worshipping thing could wear off, plus a Jedi having such mood swings could be dangerous.
Pros: Sarcastic, flirty, smart
Atton Rand, yet another Han Solo wannabe, is one of two love interests available for female PCs in KotOR2. He’s definitely got sass and is really sarcastic, flirts with the PC a whole bunch, and is really smart – after all, he does figure out how to keep Kreia from reading his thoughts (most of the time, anyway). In the cut ending for KotOR2, there’s a chance he can get fatally wounded attacking Darth Sion, after which he’d finally confess his love for the Exile. There was also the chance that he could survive and leave Malachor V with her on the Ebon Hawk. Unfortunately, since both of these endings were cut from the game for time, I have no idea about the circumstances or how they actually happen.
Cons: Kind of messed up, ex-Sith and former Jedi-killer
Atton has a dark past – he actually joined the Sith and was on an elite team that hunted down and killed Jedi. One of the Jedi he encountered told him that he was Force-sensitive, and he killed her for it. So, yeah he’s a little psychotic. Fortunately, this incident made him leave the Sith, and he seems to feel really guilty about it, so I guess that makes it a little better? But still, I wouldn’t want to date someone who used to be a murderer, no matter how charming they are now.
Boyfriend grade: B-. He is REALLY charming and sarcastic, which I love, but he did murder Jedi in the past, which is creeptastic.
Pros: Sweet, loyal, kind
Mical, or Disciple as he’s called throughout the game, is a historian and servant of the Republic who joins up with your team if the PC is female. He is nothing but sweet throughout the game, and though it’s obvious he has a crush on Exile, he doesn’t really do much about it and there isn’t much flirting.
Cons: “Friend-zone,” kind of boring, secretive
I see the Disciple as a guy stuck in the friend zone. He’s definitely interested in Exile, but is just too “nice” (and probably too naïve) to actually make a move. His personality is always just that – nice – which kind of bores me. Though I admit I haven’t really played through the game with Mical in my party very much, I think it’s because there was just never really anything about him that really stood out to me. And as nice as he is, he’s still secretive, as he works for Admiral Carth Onasi and reports on what Exile’s up to, and never actually tells her so, weirdly enough.
Boyfriend grade: C+. Probably a great guy to take home to your parents, but not very exciting.
Pros: Charming, loyal, snarky
Sky, that charming rogue voiced by the ever-awesome Cam Clarke, is pretty awesome, but I kind of see him as Carth v1.5. He’s less whiny, more flirty, and more snarky, but the main point in his angsty past is just one of the three big things that Carth went through, so I can see why he whines less. He’s a mythical China version of Han Solo, very suave and sarcastic and confident. Also this is the first BioWare game where we get a kiss scene for female PCs (male PCs got smoochies in KotOR), so yay!
Cons: Kind of similar to previous characters, still mourning wife/daughter, hesitant to commit
Like I said above, Sky is a little bit weaksauce. He’s a nice enough guy but his personality isn’t as deep and he’s not as well fleshed-out as a lot of their other characters – honestly, it seems like they took what worked with Carth and just toned down the whining. Personality-wise though, he is still mourning his wife and daughter, who were murdered by slavers. He’s driven by a desire to avenge them, which you accomplish about ten minutes after meeting him. Easy peasy! After losing his family, he’s a little hesitant to commit, and doesn’t tell the PC he loves her before she goes in to “save” her master, who winds up killing her. He regrets not saying it, and once she comes back to life, they finally get together.
Boyfriend grade: B. If you can get him to commit without getting yourself killed, he’d be a pretty solid guy.
Pros: Badass, independent
Silk Fox is the first actual female-female romance in BioWare’s games (since the Juhani romance was pretty one-sided), just as Sky is the first male-male one. She’s a princess in disguise, finding out information and kicking ass while pretending to be Silk Fox; she knows nobody tells the real truth to a princess, so she goes out to get it herself. After the game’s over, she becomes the Empress, and if you wind up with her, she shares her power with you and defends you to anybody who’s critical of your relationship.
Cons: Not very affectionate, bossy, can be kind of mean
Being a princess, Silk Fox (or Sun Lian the Heavenly Lily) is used to getting her way. All the time. You have to be careful what you say to her, since even as Silk Fox, she’ll get pissed off if you don’t talk to her with the right amount of respect. She definitely takes charge once she joins the party, and is a real jerk to your childhood BFF Dawn Star.
Girlfriend grade: B-. Probably busy being Empress, and she won’t like any of your friends.
Pros: Sweet, compassionate
Liara is a “young” (100ish) asari who you rescue from being trapped in some ruins. She pretty much falls in love with you after your first conversation, which I attribute to her basically being a teenager, thinking she’s in love with everyone she meets. She is really sweet though, and surprisingly compassionate – she doesn’t blame Saren for the things he’s doing and actually feels kind of bad for him, after you discover the power of Indoctrination, anyway. This might be because her mom also fell victim to Sovereign’s Indoctrination, so she can understand what happened a little better.
Cons: Naïve, young
The fact that Liara falls for you instantly was really off-putting for me. I guess I like having to work a little harder to win the hearts of my NPCs. But like I said above, this is part of her character – she’s really young, so I think it’s more of a hero-worship thing than her actually being in love with you.
Girlfriend grade: C+. She’s nice, but she could get really clingy really quick, plus she’s really young, so who knows how long it would last?
Pros: Charming, thoughtful, romantic
Oh Kaidan. Where do I start? To begin with, let me say that it didn’t help when I realized that Kaidan and Carth are voiced by the same person (I heart you, Raphael Sbarge!). Then when I saw that he was way flirtier and sweeter than Carth, and had an Angsty Past but didn’t whine about it, I was totally sold. Kaidan is as flirty as he can be without breaking regulations (since you’re his commanding officer), and always tries to keep these regs in mind so that neither of you get in trouble. The conversation before the space!sex scene is one of my favorite convos ever, hands down, because he’s just such a sweetheart about everything. The relationship he and Shepard develop is a great partnership, where neither one relies on the other too much, but they can always count on the other being there when needed.
Cons: Very self-controlled, sometimes overly protective
During his biotic training, Kaidan accidentally killed a (jackass) instructor who hurt his friend and pulled a knife on him, leaving him very wary of ever not being in complete control of himself. He’s not really one for “letting loose,” and I assume he doesn’t drink. He’s usually good about letting Shepard be the commander, but near the end of the game he tries insisting that something she has to do is too dangerous and tries to stop her.
Boyfriend grade: A. Pretty much can’t top a soldier who’s sweet, thoughtful, and has an angsty past he’s totally recovered from. I guess this is why he’s fictional. Sigh!
Well there’s my list. Anyone who wants to argue my grades/pros/cons, please do so! I’m the first to admit that I’ve definitely got a type and it totally influenced my grading, but I’m definitely willing to be debated on some of these (I’m sure Mical and Liara have more good points than I’ve listed here). Or if anybody has a favorite fictional boy/girlfriend that I didn’t include, I’d love to hear about them! :)
(This article was also published on GamingAngels, check it out!)