Do you pursue romance in RPG's?

I used to go ahead and do the romance thing just because it was there, but I've recently stopped pursuing it. At some point, I'm going to play Mass Effect Legendary, and I'm not sure what I'll do there.

One of my problems with it is how poorly it is usually done. Sometimes you don't even know that you are about to flirt when you pick a dialogue option, and I'm almost always embarrassed by what my character ends up saying.

Female character: "Thanks for finding my paper glue. I'm going to go back to my room and finish my project."

I choose *Alright. Maybe I'll see you later tonight*, and my character says, "If you want to do nude gymnastics in your room later, you know where to find me....grunt....grunt"

Almost makes you think there could be sexual harassment issues in the game industry.

But I know a lot of people absolutely love having romance options. What are your opinions on it?
 
I've recently stopped pursuing it
Female game characters everywhere heave a big sigh of relief.

I'm almost always embarrassed by what my character ends up saying
Re your example, are you saying you make one dialog choice, but your character says something significantly different? That seems odd.

I don't play games which have a romance line, but if I did my expectation would be like your usual experience…
how poorly it is usually done
…so I would be inclined to avoid it.
 
Jan 22, 2020
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Bioware have really distilled the old romance plot down to basics haven't they? Nowadays you just pick a party member who you like/don't hate and pick the dialogue option with a love heart any time it appears. DA:I has particularly clumsy dialogue for this, but at least Cassandra has that stern teacherly vibe that I like so much, whatever that says about me. I still usually pick someone to romance each playthrough just as a point of difference, and pray that noone enters the room during any robotic sex scenes.

It's one of the things they used to do much better back in the Infinity engine days. Compare newer romance sub-plots to, say, the journey Jaheira takes from mourning her husband to accepting the comfort of an old friend, and finally coming to view that friend as something closer while overcoming the guilt she feels over moving on. Or Viconia accepting her life on the surface and reevaluating her own morals over the course of a budding relationship with a non-drow. These relationships had so many ways to play out, and to progress you had to really consider your responses. Great writing, voice acting and simple graphics leaving much to the imagination were all a help as well.
 
Re your example, are you saying you make one dialog choice, but your character says something significantly different? That seems odd.
Yep, that's what I'm saying. There's always a connection of some type between what you select and what they say. For instance, in the example I gave, I chose "see you later" and the game expanded on that. Check out this mod that helps to fix that https://www.nexusmods.com/masseffectlegendaryedition/mods/839

The first line in the mod description is: "While not nearly as bad as ME3 (for the most part), ME2 is sometimes a major exercise in frustration when trying to talk to people without Bioware assuming you want to romance them. "

Bioware have really distilled the old romance plot down to basics haven't they? Nowadays you just pick a party member who you like/don't hate and pick the dialogue option with a love heart any time it appears.
I haven't played a Bioware game like that, but I would consider it a huge improvement to have the "love heart" available (see mod above) over just being surprised that you picked a flirty answer as in the original Mass Effect trilogy. Maybe the later Dragon Age games did that? I only played the first one.
 
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Great writing, voice acting and simple graphics leaving much to the imagination were all a help as well.
I've been trying to put my finger on this for a long time! I find reading allows me to engage in a story a lot more than watching it play out with inconsistent quality voice acting over jerky, in-engine cut scenes. Even if the writing is great it spoils the mood. I couldnt take the Dragon Age stories seriously for this exact reason. Wish i could see past it.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Jan 14, 2020
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I'm quite ambivalent when it comes to romances in game. In the past a tried to do them in every game, but this has changed. Basically they don't provide me fun anymore, so I have a quite neutral attitude towards them. The Mass Effect series romances with Normandy crew were mostly well done however. At least they involved a decent amount of talk before the romance was concluded. I don't like when this feature is shallow and without proper sense.

Of course there are games where a quick romance is justified by the story. I don't mind those because they play a part in something bigger and are properly embedded in this bigger part.
 
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That's not even a party member - that's a gal that helps craft stuff, I think. Or maybe it was the one that helps you in The Deep Road? At any rate, DA:I lets you ask just about anyone for some romance. (Hence the name Inquisition? ;))
That's the scout Lace Harding. To be fair, she's pretty adorable. And from memory you can't actually even romance her, just flirt with her a bunch.
 
Nov 27, 2020
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Always, at least in Bioware's Dragon Age, and Mass Effect games (even ME Andromeda). For me, it added to the immersion I felt within those worlds and added to the overall story in some way. I think for the most part those romances were well done, and could be skipped entirely if a player just wasn't into it.

Bioware have really distilled the old romance plot down to basics haven't they? Nowadays you just pick a party member who you like/don't hate and pick the dialogue option with a love heart any time it appears.
Unfortunately, I think this is very true. With each succeeding game in both the DA & ME series, those "romances" have become way too easy to accomplish; it felt (feels) like a gradual degradation of those "romantic" quest lines; they just became too simplified to actually feel real. In fairness to DA Inquisition, those "hearts" on certain dialog choices could be turned off in the option menus.

Compare newer romance sub-plots to, say, the journey Jaheira takes from mourning her husband to accepting the comfort of an old friend, and finally coming to view that friend as something closer while overcoming the guilt she feels over moving on.
This may have been one of the most complex romances ever, continuing through at least 3/4 of BG2. To see the gradual change in Jaheira in becoming more than just a friend. It depended upon certain dialog choices throughout the game. One of the best RPG romances ever.

Other RPGs also have romantic quest lines. The closest one I've found to Bioware quality was Greedfall. Greedfall, for such a small studio like Spiders, produced an RPG almost on the level of early Bioware games. The romantic quest lines were well done, and stretched throughout the game.


There are also RPGs that I've modded companions into the games, and followed the associated romantic quest line.
For Skyrim, there's Vilja:
Vilja in Skyrim at Skyrim Special Edition Nexus - Mods and Community (nexusmods.com)


For Fallout New Vegas there's Willow:
Willow - A Better Companion Experience at Fallout New Vegas - mods and community (nexusmods.com)


If you love either of those games, those mods will greatly change and enhance your experience. They both have involved and complex romantic quest lines.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Vilja is great even if you don't mess with the romance. The accent is perfect for Skyrim!

Final Fantasy 7 (the original) had an interesting sorta-romance. There's a bit of a love triangle at the start of the game between the main character (Cloud) and the two women. About a third of the way through the game, Cloud goes out on a date with somebody at an amusement park. The game watches what your responses are, who you talk to first when there's a choice, who you bring in your party, and other such things to decide which girl you go on the date with. (If you're very careful, you can even end up on a date with one of the other characters - which makes for a couple of funny scenes.)

I don't think any other game has weighed in those sorts of things but, to this day, if I want to romance a particular character, I make sure I talk to that character first whenever possible!
 
Jan 22, 2020
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I don't think any other game has weighed in those sorts of things but, to this day, if I want to romance a particular character, I make sure I talk to that character first whenever possible!
Dragon's Dogma had a part in its storyline where your 'beloved' is kidnapped, and the game decides who this wil be based on your 'affinity' which each NPC, a large part of this being calculated by the frequency of your interactions. This apparently led to a lot of players who neglected sidequests finding the shopkeeper from Gran Soren being held captive, since he was the only person they talked to every time they came back to town.
 
Dragon's Dogma had a part in its storyline where your 'beloved' is kidnapped, and the game decides who this wil be based on your 'affinity' which each NPC, a large part of this being calculated by the frequency of your interactions. This apparently led to a lot of players who neglected sidequests finding the shopkeeper from Gran Soren being held captive, since he was the only person they talked to every time they came back to town.
Did players have to save the shopkeeper to regain access to the shop? If so, at least the players are properly motivated to retrieve the kidnapped 'beloved'.
 
Jan 22, 2020
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Did players have to save the shopkeeper to regain access to the shop? If so, at least the players are properly motivated to retrieve the kidnapped 'beloved'.
They did, and after being saved they'd return to the main city regardless of where they were normally found so it became a way for players to move a favourite merchant over to the city which was more convenient and central.

Such a great game, and closest I've come to playing a Berserk video game. Or at least a good one.
 
As an additional task playing the game, i do pursue romance/friendship activities. if anything it fleshes out the characters, even if sometimes its basic and easy.

Shamefully, i sort of stopped playing Stardew valley because i couldn't pick my own digital waifu in game... I put too much thought into it tbh.
 
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I used to pursue romance in games for the sake of completion. I still do if I know I can get all of the achievements in a game; if it's likely I won't, I tend not to bother unless the game really pushes it.
The problem I have with romances in today's games, which I think began with Dragon Age, was that romance is like morality: it's a meter that will not benefit or detract from your experience until it fills heavily one way or another. Either way though, you must partake to gain mechanical benefits, and with how most game interfaces work these days, it's hard to know exactly how important those (de)buffs are.

With how much effort Pathfinder: Kingmaker made to appeal to the nine alignments you could lean toward - including neutrality - I'm amazed that characters don't pick up on your romantic interests, or more specifically, one's lack thereof. Just as people and actions will be shaped by your morality, so too do I think that people you've been through Hell and high streams with will notice that you're single, and want to know why you choose to be, given the initiative you've taken for everything else.

I guess that, like morality, I think romance works best when the player decides for themselves if a companionship is romantic or not. Dragon Age did this with morality where it doesn't make you a paragon or a renegade, but simply someone who chooses to do something in that moment (even if the choices are black and white, I grant you.) Because in real life we don't have those meters of opinion or morality, which would really help me given I'm autistic and despite not understanding social cues at all, miraculously became part of a relationship. I could also do with quest journals to figure out how that happened!
 

Frindis

Moderator
I did in Mass Effect 2 (Miranda) and Witcher 3 (Triss and Yennefer), but I was most pleasantly surprised with the romance option with Judy Alvarez in Cyberpunk 2077. It kind of felt like a growing relationship, with text messages back and forth, other small talks at apartments, gifts, and some quite memorable side quests. It's not perfect, but at least for some time, it felt like a growing relationship with some ups and downs. Of course, it ended up in sexy time also, but in this game, it felt a bit more natural.
 
Jan 26, 2022
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I used to go ahead and do the romance thing just because it was there, but I've recently stopped pursuing it. At some point, I'm going to play Mass Effect Legendary, and I'm not sure what I'll do there.

One of my problems with it is how poorly it is usually done. Sometimes you don't even know that you are about to flirt when you pick a dialogue option, and I'm almost always embarrassed by what my character ends up saying.

Female character: "Thanks for finding my paper glue. I'm going to go back to my room and finish my project."

I choose *Alright. Maybe I'll see you later tonight*, and my character says, "If you want to do nude gymnastics in your room later, you know where to find me....grunt....grunt"

Almost makes you think there could be sexual harassment issues in the game industry.

But I know a lot of people absolutely love having romance options. What are your opinions on it?
I did in The Witcher. In TW3 if you pursued the ladies in the various places, you got XP. Okay, 2 XP points, but XP is XP. :D
 

McStabStab

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Jan 13, 2020
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Romance in games is such a weird thing. My character had sex with Panam ONCE in Cyberpunk 2077 and then we began acting like we were practically married and had been together for years. It's a really strange way to look at sexuality. In games I don't seek out emotional attachments when it comes to romance because it never seems to add up. I like The Witcher's take on it a little better, seems like a more reasonable approach to dating around.
 

Frindis

Moderator
@McStabStab I did not really like the relationship with Panam, it felt a bit rushed. Judy, on the other hand, felt more realistic and it also took some time to build. Even had some really nice romantic moments aka the diving mission to mention one. I still hope they implement a romance option with Rita Wheeler. She is hot as hell!)
 
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Nov 27, 2020
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Romance in games is such a weird thing.
Very true. If it's done well, it can really add to the immersion of a game world for me and it feels like a real relationship. Not just the sexual situation, but how you both act and react within the game world, and with each other, both before and after any physical involvement. Done not so well, romances with characters can have a "tacked on" feel and actually detract from immersion because they feel so fake.

@McStabStab & @Frindis - I really hope to play Cyberpunk 2077 this year (based on patches or content additions) as I had such high hopes (probably inflated hopes) that the 3 different life paths would make for very different experiences, and romances with different characters. But from what I've read, the life paths don't make much difference and the romantic relationships are a bit limited.
 
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