Every BioWare release can be depended upon for one thing… novel-length threads on the developer’s social forum regarding who can be ‘romanced’ in the game. So powerful is the interest surrounding the potential targets of virtual sexing that it’s capable of sending BioWare staff members into a state of incoherence. With Dragon Age II (the latest in the series of premier romance simulators) it’s time to look at some of the proposed encounters that narrowly missed the final cut.
The following article is one hundred percent based on painstaking factual research. Shame on anyone that chooses to believe otherwise.
A Hectic Encounter
Noting the success of the Dragon Age II/Dead Space 2 crossover promotion featuring ‘Ser Isaacs Armour,’ an enterprising marketing executive proposed a fresh tie-in involving one of BioWare’s earliest games. Owners of MDK2 who had also pre-ordered the would be able to unlock a romance-able Kurt Hectic. Any photograph of the MDK2 box next to an original receipt for the game was acceptable as proof of purchase, so long as it was faxed to EA’s Anchorage office between the hours of 2:01am and 2:04am on a Thursday.
Kurt was to come complete with his ribbon parachute, inviting players to trigger a moving cutscene in which the former janitor alighted gently upon the bed next to Hawke in a shower of rose petals. Sadly, this scheme fell foul of focus testing when players admitted they found Kurt’s refusal to take off his coil suit slightly weird (they also confessed to being intimidated by his odd helmet).
Lovemaking Style: Hectic, obviously.
Sample Dialogue: “Yes, it’s all over.”
That Girl You Like
An audacious plan that would’ve allowed buyers of Dragon Age II to import the face of ‘that girl they’re stalking through Facebook’ onto an in-game NPC. Once uploaded, ‘That Girl You Like’ would trigger some brand new dialogue options including, the ability to insist that you’re a really nice guy actually and that maybe you could just, y’know, hang out sometime.
This romance option came with an enchanted Valentine’s Day card of desperation (+12) that would not be reciprocated in-game or in real life. If Hawke ever gave up his pursuit of That Girl (by going more than two in-game hours without awkwardly trying to engage her in conversation), it would open even more dialogue options through which the player could self-importantly complain to other party members about That Girl probably only goes for bikers and meth-heads anyway and is almost certainly a gold-digging tart too.
This controversial romance option was intended to unlock after eighteen Facebook friend requests had been rejected by the stalkee; one for every release in the BioWare catalogue. It was cut from the final code following clear legal advice.
Lovemaking Style: Restraining Order.
Sample Dialogue: [All dialogue now conducted through lawyers.]
Hawke’s Own Face Drawn On A Paper Bag
Originally planned as a secret unlock for anybody that pre-ordered two copies of the Dragon Age II signature edition at a retail outlet (and requested that at least one of them be placed in a bag), this unorthodox romance option was intended for the more narcissistic RPG player.
At any point during a regular romantic encounter, Hawke could use a dialogue option to suggest to the romanced party that they wear a bag with his or her own face drawn on it during the deed. It was hard-coded into the game for every prospective conquest to reject this suggestion out of hand and leave Hawke and his bag alone in the bedroom/tent/side-alley together.
This would trigger a fourth-wall-breaking, existential inner-monologue about the nature of player agency in videogames that would conclude with an agonisingly slow fade-out over embarrassing scenes of Hawke groping the bag and weeping. For just $4.99 (400 MS points) players were given the chance to download a stick over which the bag could be placed, offering it a puppet-like semblance of life.
Lovemaking Style: Solipsistic
Sample Dialogue: *Embarrassed rustling*
BioWare is able to stay on the cutting edge of romance simulator design because as a developer it embraces and explores different standards of beauty. That’s why Dragon Age II offers romantic encounters with beautiful, busty maidens with thin waists and small-chested beautiful maidens with thin waists, alongside buff elves and muscular, attractive men.
Initially included in this vast spectrum of attraction was Manny, the functionally alcoholic manticore. Voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, Manny was intended as rambling comic relief for the party but, as players got to know him, they would come to realise that there was a softer, sadder side to this seemingly gregarious creature of legend.
As they quest together through a series of ever-more-familiar caves, Hawke’s fondness for Manny would grow until it blossomed into some tender, soul-searching moments. Alas, a gentle embrace would end in disaster as several of the manticore’s poisonous quills become embedded in Hawke’s toned arse. A possible tie-in deal with Webkinz collapsed after Benjamin’s audition tape was leaked to the stuffed toy giant and Manny was quietly dropped.
Lovemaking Style: Paralysing.
Sample Dialogue: “Hawke there’s nothing wrong with lying to women. Or the government. Or parents. Or God.”
Tali Another One Up
Ahh, Tali’Zorah. What can be said about you that hasn’t already been debased many times over by some creepy posts on the BioWare forums? Very little. Realising what a powerful draw Tali could be for a prospective Mass Effect/Dragon Age fanbase crossover, BioWare had bold intentions to include her in Dragon Age II as part of a hidden side-quest.
Hawke would hear news of a disturbing cult who expressed their worship of a dome-faced goddess – by drawing pictures of her in compromising situations – and be invited to investigate. After saving her from cultish clutches our hero goes through a lengthy sequence in which he assures Tali that she almost certainly won’t catch dysentry by breathing the miasmic air of Kirkwall. Players then get the exclusive chance to give her a light peck on the cheek. Only one unlock code for ‘Dragon Age II Tali’ is known to exist. It was made available to the guy who provided an in-depth, scientific breakdown of Tali’s sweat, because lord knows he needs some kind of comfort in his life.
Lovemaking Style: Mysophobic.
Sample Dialogue: “Why yes Hawke, my sweat is indeed a natural performance enhancer.”
Dragon Age II is out now for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, featuring romance options only marginally less ridiculous than these. Read Tim’s verdict in our full review