When Bioware first showed off Mass Effect: Andromeda, some fans didn't care about the premise, the story, or the combat. The question many of us had was, "what aliens can I fuck this time?"
Fear not, thirsty reader, you can indeed fuck some aliens in Andromeda. Like many Bioware games before it, Andromeda allows you to build relationships with your crewmates, some of which culminate in strong friendships, while others bloom into full-on romances, sex scenes and all. (Spoilers and some NSFW content ahead.)
I was surprised to find that Andromeda lets you flirt with other characters almost immediately after meeting them. This threw me off. Realistically speaking, I would never just launch into the whole "hey baby~" thing, because that would make me a creep. Worse, what if flirting too early caused some romance options to close down the line? I didn't even know these people yet, I can't just start flirting with them, I thought.
So, I chatted with everyone, got to know them a little. I was intrigued by Cora, my second-in-command, because she seemed like a badass. But there was some inherent iffiness to our potential relationship: she had been promised the role of Pathfinder, but it was unfairly awarded to me instead. I thought we might have to work that out and get to a good place first, where the power dynamics don't feel off. But by putting off the flirting, I completely overthought how the mechanics in this game actually work.
I kept waiting for the "right" time, except that time never came. (Too real.) I was almost near the end of the game when I realised, wait, I've barely even expressed interest in this woman. By the time our final big interaction happened, it was too late. I had blown it. Our relationship had gotten a little flirty, but it could never progress anymore. Only later did I realise Andromeda requires you to flirt consistently with people if you want to make them potential lovers.
Here's Cora's sex scene, if you're curious:
I'd say this is the best sex scene in the game, which kinda makes sense, because Bioware highlights it even in its marketing material. There's a sense of playfulness, coyness. The kisses look pretty decent considering the animation quality of some of the rest of the game, allowing it to approximate a sense of intimacy. I'm particularly taken by the part at the very end: it's subtle, but you're watching Ryder thrust into Cora. Usually, video game sex scenes don't actually go there: they will show you some skin, some moans, and more vaguely imply things, but that's about it.
Though things didn't work out with Cora, Peebee the Asari was pretty forward with me -- I mean, hell, the first time I met her, she literally jumped on me. So, I flirted back. It felt natural, unlike all of my other potential love interests. Peebee is interesting in that, if you want, you can pursue something completely casual with her, no strings attached. "Doesn't matter if you have something else going on, I can be utterly discreet," she tells you.
Your relationship with her won't necessarily affect your relationship with other people, not at first. The first time you sleep with her is pretty fun -- you're in zero G!
With Peebee's talk of needing to relax, I could see where this was going a mile away...but I still enjoyed it.
Curiously, if you tell Peebee that you do want strings, you can get a different sex scene down the line:
As veteran fans know, the Asari can "meld" with partners. The Mass Effect Wiki describes as this as the unification of the nervous system, so that partners can share memories, thoughts, and feelings as one. What really intrigued me about this scene is that Peebee's mind meld looks different than ones we've seen in previous games. Here, it's an otherworldly purple vortex.
In older games, we've seen very different kinds of melds with Liara, depending on the tone of the scene. It makes sense that melds can change depending on the emotion, but I hadn't considered that individual Asari probably have very different experiences of the phenomenon, too. That's cool.
Something that I don't like about this scene, however, is that it plays out exactly the same if you're playing as a male Ryder. Actually, given the specific animations, the entire thing makes more sense if you're playing as a dude. Hard to feel special when you know it's been recycled, you know?
Anyway, my tragedy was that I turned down Peebee when she became interested in a serious thing, because I was holding out for Cora. I ended up with nobody. Womp womp.
Let's talk about the new alien joining the Bioware fuckhouse: Jaal the Angaran. I played as a male Ryder, so I couldn't romance him. The thing about Jaal is, he's a sweet boy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He tells you about his insecurities, how he's unsure of what to do with his life. I loved Jaal's tenderness and was very sad that I couldn't romance him, especially after watching his sex scene:
Andromeda sprawls in a way that makes it hard for any place to feel special, so this moment really stands out. "This is my favourite place in the universe," Jaal declares. "Where's yours?" Oof. My heart swells. All the same I am tickled that Jaal immediately gets down to work at the end of this scene. Get it, boy.
Another alien I wish I could have romanced: Vetra, the kickass Turian:
It's so like Vetra to pull some strings to get you some real steak. The fact it isn't appetizing doesn't even matter, it's an endearing gesture that humanizes Vetra in a way that most sex scenes in Mass Effect don't (so to speak.) You'll note, however, that this scene is way less explicit than the other ones. Bummer.
Perhaps the most disappointing scene is Liam Kosta's, which you can view below:
Don't get me wrong, Liam is a good man who wants to make the world better. That idealism, combined with his accent, is a potent mix! But getting it on on that gross couch...not sexy. The fade to black doesn't help either. Why can't this be Cora-level spicy?
Then there's Suvi, the science expert. (Skip to the 11:40 mark.)
I loved my deep conversations with Suvi, her dorkiness, and her cute-as-hell accent. I wanted to read her thousand page manuscript on dirt. I wanted to be awkward with her....but she prefers women. Judging from this footage, however, I'm disappointed in the quality of the animation; it's leagues away from the attention to detail put in, say, Cora's scene. Are you starting to see a theme here?
And here's Gil, the ship engineer (skip to the 4:34 mark):
Gil's romance stood out to me, largely because of the poker scene. I got to know him in an interactive way, without actually having to shoot anybody. Low bar, I know, but we're talking about video games here. Plus, Gil's tension with the Salarian pilot was a fascinating look at the way Andromeda fleshes out its characters. Again, you'll note that the actual sex scene isn't very explicit, but hey, there's a whole lot of making out, at least.
Surprisingly, you can romance a Nexus reporter:
Something something, space ethics. No but seriously though, this is way better than punching journalists.
One of my favourite romances in the entire game has to be Reyes Vidal:
Reyes is a smooth smuggler, and my pick for the coolest NPC in the game. I loved getting to know the seedy underbelly of Kadara with Vidal, and was shocked at the big twist at the end of his storyline precisely because I romanced him. What a bastard. I loved him and his entire questline, even though it never gets particularly explicit. It kinda doesn't have to -- the quest itself is the thrilling part.
Overall, while Mass Effect: Andromeda's sex doesn't reach the amazing heights you see in Dragon Age Inquisition, and while most sex scenes pale in comparison to Cora's I am happy that Bioware have given us more chances to fuck in space. That's all I wanted, really.