The recent release of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition has come with various revelations about the history of the series, and some changes: elements that were cut (opens in new tab), some that couldn't be restored, and tiny tweaks you probably won't even notice (opens in new tab). One of the big discoveries was that certain same-sex romance options were planned for inclusion during development, to the extent that scripted dialogue exists in the game's files, but didn't appear in the final product.
Some of this will come down to the process of developing a game with this scale of script and player choice: voice actors always record many more lines than are eventually used, simply because it's much easier to have the options available than to have to go back and re-record. But as former Bioware animator Jonathan Cooper revealed earlier this year, other elements of same-sex romance were removed from the games for much more dubious reasons.
TIL you can't romance Jack as Femshep in Mass Effect 2. I animated both scenes for Male & Female. We prevized Jacob as the male/male, matching shot-for-shot from Brokeback Mountain. Was told at the time "America isn't ready for it". Perhaps it still isn't. https://t.co/jyOSwxFwEMJanuary 26, 2021
Cooper went on to say: "We matched Brokeback so it wouldn't be unacceptable: but different rules for film and games I guess. Personally I still believe it was the wrong call to cut, as we protested at the time. People with a problem with can go fuck themselves—they don't deserve to play our games."
A new report on the Gamer (opens in new tab) speaks to Mass Effect modder Ryan ‘Audemus’ Ainsworth, a renowned figure within that community, about just what same-sex romance options already exist in the Legendary Edition's files. Ainsworth says there's dialogue relating to the characters Jack, Jacob, Kaidan, Ashley, Miranda, Thane, and Tali.
"There’s dialogue present for all of these characters, yes," Ainsworth says, although in varying degrees: some cut romances, such as that between Ashley and Kaidan in Mass Effect 1, are fully present. In Mass Effect 2, the dialogues for unused romances are partially present but missing later scenes. Ainsworth provides the example of this romance between female Shephard and Miranda, which restores audio lines from the game's files.
The full report is well worth a read (opens in new tab) and gets into some of the technical side of why the Legendary Edition has made this possible. But the long-and-short of it is that modders can begin restoring the (currently) seven same-sex romances found in the game's files, and in most cases with 'official' audio to work with.
“[With] the fact that all of the unused same-sex romance voiceover is still present in Legendary Edition’s files," says Ainsworth, "these mods are not just on the table— they’re pretty much certain to be made."