For My Third Time Through Dragon Age: Inquisition, I Promise I'm Not Gonna Romance Iron Bull

Yesterday I made the hardest choice in Dragon Age: Inquisition. I decided not to romance Iron Bull.

This is my third playthrough of Inquisition. I wasn't a big Dragon Age person when I started it the first time around. In fact, I'm not really a big fantasy fan, but the game had come highly recommended by several friends and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. That first playthrough blew my mind, and it became hard not to think of the choices I made as canon. Sure, I'd recruited the Templars instead of the mages on the second go around because I'd heard that "Champions of the Just" was a great quest, but everything else was more or less the same, just with a human instead of a Qunari. I still alienated Solas, didn't get close to Sera or Blackwall, reunited Celene and Briala in the quest "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts". These are the choices that feel like the game's canon, to me.

I may make some of those choices again, but I had to draw a line somewhere. In my last two games I romanced Iron Bull and this time I've promised myself that I won't, because I want to finally experience something new.

As a person who grew up watching movies such as She's All That, it was hard to say no to Iron Bull. He's voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr, who is simply having a wonderful time. In a metatextual way, Bull was always the most appealing option. He was new to the series, like I was, and largely didn't give a shit about the long histories and political tensions of Ferelden and Orlais. His romance isn't a sweeping epic, unlike other options, which lay on the angst to an embarrassing degree. Bull is just a very large guy who likes to fuck. When the chips are down he'll commit, but it's always on your terms. He's very open about being dominant in bed and he's respectful of your boundaries. Sure he's a spy for the Qunari, who seek to conquer the world, but at least he tells you about it, and allows you to decide for yourself whether or not you'll trust him. That kind of gentle, kind love is my bread and butter. That's the kind of thing that makes She's All That fun to watch - you're seeing two people learn how to trust each other, even if they make some mistakes along the way.

Zamn, zaddy

In this playthrough I've been eager to unlock the quest that will allow me to recruit Iron Bull. He's just a great party member. I love his banter with the other characters. I like his gruff, no nonsense demeanour. I like that he is roughly the size of a truck and voiced by a '90s teen heartthrob. No matter what, I want that in my party. I've come to realise, though, that I shouldn't romance him for the third time.

I'm playing an elf named Shesta this time around, and while the Dalish elves are still outside of society, they're more inherently ingrained into the politics of the world than my Qunari and human characters were. I'm trying really hard to play her that way. Whenever a character asks me if I believe in the Maker, I remind them that the elves follow their own gods, for instance. That means Shesta probably has more reservations about being with someone like Bull than my previous two Inquisitors did. I still feel as though I'm breaking the canon of my playthroughs, but this feels truer to the character I'm playing as now.

Instead, I've set my eyes on Cullen Rutherford, who first appeared in Dragon Age: Origins. He's cute, my rough-around-the-edges warrior likes how awkward he can get, and she relates to his struggle to understand how to do the right thing when so much is on the line. The truth is that unlike the first time I played this game, I'm now already invested in the world of Dragon Age. I don't need Iron Bull to be an anchor for me - I know what's going on, I know what the ramifications of my choices are, and I feel as embedded in the world as Cullen is.

When I think about what I'm missing out on, it feels a little like a break up. I'm not going to hear Freddie Prinze Jr call me "kadan", which means "my heart" in Bull's native tongue, this time around. Being with him again would just be a repetition of the same choices I always make, though. In real life if you're stuck in a rut in a relationship, breaking up is what you do. It's scary to take that leap, but it gives you a chance to meet someone new, and fall in love all over again.


Comments

    I still believe that Inquisition had the weakest roster of companions, even outside of romance.

      I kind of disagree, or rather I think everyone is just as good as the other games.
      Bull is a super fun guy and it's cool to chat with him about the Qun and his old life.
      Cassandra has a great character arc, especially if she ends up as the divine and she's adorable when romanced.
      Varick is still the cool guy he was in DA2.
      Cole is like a more interesting Justice from Dragon Age Awakening and I liked how drastically you could end up changing him.
      Blackwall isn't super interesting but he's got the dependable old soldier feel down to an art-form and the twist to his backstory was pretty cool and VERY divisive if you'd been romancing him.
      Vivian was meh, I barely remember her. She's probably the character who most needed something more going on for her.
      Sera is divisive, I found her very annoying but in my second playthrough I found her more tolerable. I still never had her in my party.
      Solas is pretty fantastic, he provides great insight into old elf lore and the fade. He's an annoying ass if you do stuff he doesnt like but he's a pretty chill guy if he's your friend. The one real mark against him for me is he becomes a much better character AFTER he leaves your party in the DLC.

    I remember seeing the character introduction for Iron Bull before the game came out and having a distinctly bad impression of the character from it. Man was the marketing for the characters in DA:I kinda bad because Iron Bull is great and always a fun character to have in the party just for conversation.

    The bonus of not romancing the Iron Bull: if you keep him and Dorian in your party (and you're lucky!) they will romance each other. The banter between the two of them is awesome.

    Every time my GF loads up a new DA:I playthrough (several times a year, typically), she ponders not playing an elf who romances Solas.
    Then she makes a fucking elf mage. Every time.

    She complains that it'd feel like she was cheating on Solas if she romanced anyone else.

    Yeah. Solas.

      Several times a year? Wow.

        I could understand if she was going with different origins but female elf mage every time? madness.
        I can't completely blame her though. Romancing Solas is super cool when the last DLC rolls around and you get the final scene with him. It's a great moment when your just good friends with him like my characters were but has a bit more of an impact if he's the love interest.

          I always tend to go for the female romance with with female characters but in Inquisition a romance with Solas seems to be the canon choice for me

    Are we going to find out about a career worth of suppressed harassment claims against Gita from tearful game characters in a few years? Me thinks we shall!

    "My lord, I thought I was being summoned to battle the evil black dragon in the darkness of the Azanian Abyss with Gita and our party members! But, when I got there, warrior Bartle and Shefu the mage made some sort of excuse and left me alone with her. She made some pretence, claiming to heal me and... I.. I... I can't go on!..."

    Good luck! Cullen is adorkable (my first Inquisition romance but even so, I don't think I'm biased?) and the addiction plotline is certainly interesting. It's also nice to know that I'm not the only one playing or at least thinking about Dragon Age: Inquisition this Valentine's Day >_>

    You're gonna romance the f*** out of Iron Bull...

    You're so bravery and strong willed. I remember telling myself the very same thing on my second playthrough. Then my third... then my fourth... fifth... I've lost count now I'm so deep in Bull. How did you manage to overcome his irresistible body and voice? Tell me so I can break this cycle.

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