What's up fanboys and girls!? Since we are all on pins and needles waiting for more information on Dragon Age: Inquisition's two remaining LI's and their potential limitations; I figured it was high time to pull together everything we know so far and perhaps share some of my on theories on romances in the world of Thedas.
WHAT WE KNOW:
The potential romance we currently have the most information on is with the massive, one eyed mercenary and Tal Vashoth Qunari, the Iron Bull. It had been rumored for sometime that players would be able to romance the horned giant: In Iron Bull's character profile (released 06/09/14), BioWare staff writer Patrick Weekes, hinted by saying, "The Iron Bull really loves life outside the demands of the Qun, now that he’s gotten used to it, and he does everything big. He overeats, drinks himself sick, and will hop into bed with anyone he’s reasonably sure he won’t break." And Bull's voice actor, Freddie Prinze Jr., stated during a BioWare interview (released 06/20/14) that the Iron Bull would "Have sex with everyone and move on his way... He's James Bond of Qunari". However, It wasn't officially announced until July 12, 2014, during the "Building a Better Romance" panel at the GaymerX Con. It was here, Patrick Weekes, informed excited fans that “No matter what gender or race you pick? You will not break". Translation: Absolutely anyone, can attempt to ride the bull.
Along with everything we know about the Iron Bull, BioWare has also made public that there will be 8 romances in game, total. Of which five, have already been confirmed: Cassandra Pentaghast, and Ser Cullen have both been confirmed as straight romances options, Sera was announced as an exclusively female romance and Dorian as exclusively male, while Josephine Montilyet was confirmed as another bisexual romance option.
It has also been made very clear that there are two of our companions we will definitely not be romancing. Leliana will not be romanceable because of her potential romantic history/involvement with the Warden in Dragon Age Origins and Cole, well. There's lots of reasons. But mainly, he has the mental capacity of a child and is not exactly human or... even trust worthy for that matter. Did you happen to notice where Cole is standing in group photo that looks a lot like the Last Supper painting (See Dragon Age: Inquisition, Companions & Advisors image above)? Yeah, that's where Judas is suppose to be. Two words for you: DANGER ZONE.
Please, please, please remember that most of the following information has NOT been confirmed by BioWare and is based solely on my on theories and intuitions based on the information we have thus far.
Before diving into my own predictions as to who our final two LI's will be, let us first address the topic of "Race Gating". This is a subject that has been popping up all over the BioWare forums, Twitter feeds and Tumblr, and it has quickly become a source of anxiety for many DA fans. What exactly is "Race Gating" and how will it effect the players choices when it comes to romance?
When the BioWare devs refer to race gating, they mean that there are particular companions we will encounter in game that may be romanceable but potentially will only be available to a certain race/races. That there are characters that will have a biases against one race in particular or (I'm assuming) all races but their own.
It was confirmed by BioWare during the Raptr Q&A, that took place back on June 2, 2014, that at least two of our potential romances in DA:I will be limited by such a preference(s). I and I believe many other DA fans had been under the impression that that meant that the unannounced romances were the two the devs were referring to. I am afraid to say, that it now appears as though that is not the case. BioWare's lead writer, David Gaider, made a rather vague comment on Twitter on 07/19/14 that threw this assumption clean out the window.
What I think Gaider means here, is that only one of the unnamed romances will be race gated, which in turn means that 1 of the 5 confirmed romances (excluding Iron Bull, since it was already confirmed that anyone can get some sweet, sweet, Bull lovin) will have these race limitations. Gaider could also simply be saying that he specifically, never made such a declaration. Which leaves me admiring how almost everyone on the BioWare staff has been trained in subtle art of verbal misdirection. These are not the romances you are looking for. That's right, I made a Star Wars reference... don't be jealous.
Let's assume that David Gaider meant the ladder for a minute and follow the logic rabbit trail. Who out of the confirmed romances could potentially be race gated?
Dorian is the first that comes to my mind simply because of the Dragon Age lore dealing with the conflict between the Tevinter Imperium and the Qunari. The two factions have been at war for centuries and even though Dorian is said to be "The Redeemer" of his Tevinter home- there is still a possibility that our oh so stylish mage, has not managed to shack off this one long standing prejudice.
When considering the events that took place in DA 2, this bias against the Qunari could also be true for either Cullen or Cassandra. But both of them also come with their own unique sets of baggage when it comes to relating with other characters.
Anyone that played DA Origins as a female mage knows all to well the charms of the former shy and stammering Knight Templar. As a mage, you could play either as a human or an elf, and both races could easily get their flirt on with Cullen. Based on conversations with Cullen in Dragon Age 2, he obviously has negative feelings towards the Qunari and if his remarks towards Orghren in Dragon Age Origins is any kind of reflection of his opinions of Dwarves, he is clearly not very fund of them either. Potentially, this makes him a really good candidate for race gating, while still leaving him relatively available for a lot players.
I honestly don't think Cassandra Pentaghast will be race gated (for reasons I will get into later) but if you look at her character, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. I say that based solely on her fervent religious beliefs and convictions. If your inquisitor is a human noble, or mage they will either be a fellow believer or know her belief in the Maker well enough to understand her far better than any Dalish Elf, Surface Dwarf or Vashoth inquisitor ever could. The Dalish Elves believe in their Creators, Surface Dwarves generally hang on to their Paragons and the Vashoth, though born apart from the Qun, still have their own philosophies. None of these differences in faith would make a relationship with Cassandra impossible, but it is still enough I think, to give someone pause. In the real world, relationships are hard and when people have extremely different religious beliefs and/or political views it can make them even harder. Making Cassandra Pentaghast race gated is arguably, more realistic. But don't worry my straight fanboys, I wouldn't get too worried about Cass having these race limitations... yet.
Josephine Montilyet and Sera are a little harder to pin down because less is known about them. But from the very little we do know, I don't think it is very likely that either of these romances would be restricted by racial preferences.
Making Josephine race gated quite simply wouldn't make any sense for her character. Her role in the Inquisition is as a Diplomat, her sole purpose/objective is to help make sure that everyone is playing nicely. To me, based on her character summary and profile, it seems as though Josephine will essentially be the equivalent to Mass Effect 2's character, Kelly Chambers. For the love of Christ BioWare, please don't turn another seemingly sexy and intelligent woman into joke by making her do a ridiculous, and not to mention pointless, "strip tease". Pretty please with a cherry on top and everything... Moving on.
Sera lives up to her title because she is legitimately "The Wildcard" in this capacity. All we really know for certain about her character is that she is apparently super awesome, she has an amazing giggle snort and is a former member of the mercenary group, Friends of Red Jenny. We also know from Sera's character summary that she is very much a creature of the moment. “She is not about what’s right, she is about what’s right now.” Assuming that her nature is as wild and free as it sounds, I don't foresee this playful, Elven rogue as having a problem with something as trivial as race.
I think out of the 5 confirmed romances, that we will either see Dorian or Cullen as a race gated romance, but I am definitely leaning more towards Cullen. The evidence for him is by far the most damning. But a lot of us have already had the opportunity to get to know Cullen and it is therefore a hell of a lot easier to build a case against him. Perhaps BioWare will throw us a curve and it will be Dorian or even Cassandra. But as of right now, my money is with the former Knight Templar.
It's time to address the final two and there are only four of our companions left that could potentially be LI's. So who will it be? Again, please note that the following is only my predictions based on what I know and/or believe to be true. None of my speculations have been confirmed. Now let's break some hearts.
Straight boys forgive me, but I do very much believe we are going to have an uneven split this time around (that's why I don't think BioWare would race gate Cassandra). Vivienne is beautiful, powerful, a force to be reckoned with and from what we know of her so far, Madame De Fer (Lady of Iron) will undoubtedly have little patience for love. Titles like the Lady of Iron and "The Ambition" don't leave anyone with the impression that Vivienne will be the warm and fuzzy type; unless it brings her one step closer to her goals of course. Also during the “Freaking Out the Neighbors” panel at GaymerX Con this year, both David Gaider and Patrick Weekes had some pretty interesting things to say. Together, the writers were gingerly trying to reassure the straight, male gamers that they would have exactly the same amount of options as they have had in the previous two DA titles and they had nothing to worry about... In the past, that has always been preciously 2 options. For me, that is a pretty clear indicator that Vivienne is out of the running.
Allow me to be totally upfront for a moment and say, I am a HUGE fan of Varric Tethras. I have been hoping and praying that BioWare might make our Paragon of Manliness a romance option ever since I found out that he would be appearing in Dragon Age Inquisition. I'm mean honestly, who can resist that chest hair? If only wishing made it so. There has not been so much as a hint from BioWare that it could even be a possibility and there is a lot in Varric's cannon that would make it seem perfectly reasonable that he would not be interested in trying to start any kind of romantic relationship. However, I have not entirely given up hope yet. Out of the three gents left standing here, by far, Varric makes the most sense to race gate. Both practically and technically speaking and also because of his above mentioned cannon. Making our Paragon a romance option for Elves and Humans would be a daunting enough challenge for any game developer, but what about the Qunari?
I admit, I love everything about this picture- but that being said, as a graphic artist by profession, I understand just how difficult it would be to make this work. The animation and programming that would be involved in making this happen would be a God damn nightmare. The hours it must have taken to make this possible for the Iron Bull, is simply mind boggling. If BioWare does (perform the miracle) make Varric romanceable, the easiest solution for the game developers in terms of animation would be to make him only available to other Dwarves. There is hope, my fellow worshipers of glorious chest hair. Just please let me know where to meet you all for the prayer circle.
Due to a small bit of hinting DA fans received on Twitter this past week, it is starting to look as though Solas might have a solid footing in the romance race. During a Q&A with Solas' voice actor, Gareth David-Lyod, he cryptically responded when asked whether the solitary Elf would be on the market for love:
This is by no means is a yes, but it certainly doesn't look like a no either. At this point it is hard to say for sure. Knowing BioWare, this response could simply mean DA fans won't be disappointed with all of their romances options in general. Again, I have to admire the quality of BioWare's vague yet affirming statements. Without knowing anything about Solas other than what is seen in his character profile and the chance he could be the good match for a race gated option (Humans and Elves outside of the Dalish have never really been fund of each other in DA lore), I am personally hesitant to take this statement from David-Llyod as confirmation of anything.
There has been hinting for quite awhile now from BioWare that the Grey Warden, Blackwall will be a romance option. A small suggestion of it was made during the Raptr Q&A and since then the BioWare devs have taken to torturing the fans with endlessly teasing and contradictions:
Blackwall is vulgar and hates sex... *Sigh*. Why must the BioWare staff abuse us so? Anyone who follows their Twitters feeds knows all to well to NEVER take anything they say too seriously and to remember they are human too, and are fully capable of sarcasm. To me, this teasing might as well be confirmation of the fact the Blackwall is a romance. Especially if you know the DA lore dealing with Grey Wardens. Some of the notable physical changes that occur when someone becomes a Warden is an increase in appetite and libido. We also know that Blackwall is nearing his Calling, and BioWare just loves to rip our hearts out with a good tragic romance and a romance with Blackwall already has all of the trade marks.
I predict that the last two romances will more than likely be 2 bisexual males. I believe Blackwall will be a non-race gated romance (due to the Wardens willingness to work and integrate with all of the races except the Qunari), and will definitely be a tragic love affair. And for me, the final spot is a coin flip between Varric and Solas. Though if Gareth David-Llyod's vague statement is to be taken as confirmation, it is more likely Solas.
But at this point, no one but BioWare can say for sure. Let us all hope that with Gamescom a mere 8 days away, that we will be in for some much needed DA:I, romance news and updates.