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TriplZer0 avatar 11:53 AM on 02.14.2013  (server time)
Love the One You Can’t Be With

or Three Valentine's Day Videogame Crushes

With Valentine’s Day—the contrived greeting card holiday day of love and romance—upon us, I figured now would be the perfect time for us gamers to reflect on those characters we desperately wanted our avatars to be with but things just didn’t work out.

This post is for those times where we loved the ones we couldn’t be with.

Why does it always seem to work out that you want what you can’t have? Maybe it’s something with the way our brains are wired. I don’t know. I’m not a love doctor (Mario). However, I can name (at least) three times this console generation where I wanted one thing and the games themselves wouldn’t allow it.


I’ve written about my thing for Tali before, but it’s worth it again. During my time with Mass Effect, Zoe Shepard might have shacked with up Liara (mostly because Kaiden was about as interesting as soggy bread), but she only had eyes for the Quarian down in Engineering.

She went out of her way to make sure Tali got to come on all the best missions—Virmire, what up!—and had only the best equipment and armor. Shepard asked nothing in return, mostly because in the first game, Tali’s not a romance option for either male or female Shepards.

At the time, I had no idea what she looked like, so it was all up to the stellar script and voice work to make the magic happen. There was just something about the way Tali evolved as a character that caught my eye. She starts out naïve and out of her depth, but by the end of the game she showcases a dry wit that had me cracking up.

And she only got better as the series went on. By the time Mass Effect 3 came out, my Shepard had broken up with Liara on the off chance that somehow Tali’s (literal) programming had changed to allow her to be a potential partner for female Commander Shepards. Nope! Instead, I was treated to a funny and sad scene of Tali and Garrus making out before the final mission on Earth.


Let’s move away from games where you get a little more agency when it comes to creating and defining your character. Here’s an example from Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3, two games in a series known for telling a focused, linear story with pre-defined characters.

I never played the first game, but right off the bat in Uncharted 2 I liked Chloe. She was sarcastic, in control, and looked out for herself first. All qualities I admire. Whenever she’d suggest the sensible thing like running away, not dying, or not risking her neck, I always nodded along. There’s a reason that Tom Cross praised Chloe so much in this Gamasutra article.

According to the developers, Chloe was supposed to “be a foil for showing not only what Drake could have been if was a little bit darker but also to play off Elena, because Elena's the good girl that does the right thing all the time.”

Good! I for one was bored when Elena was introduced in Uncharted 2, probably because she was a new character to me. She always wanted to do the noble thing even if it was dumb and dangerous. That’s not me. But the game didn’t let me shape Nathan Drake as much as I did with Commander Shepard. So by the end of the game, I was shouting at Nate to go with Chloe. Obviously she was the better choice and a much better fortune hunter. They could be rich and have awesome adventures! What was he going to do with Elena? Journalism and stuff? How ethical and boring.

Things only got worse in Uncharted 3. By the start of that game, you learn that Nate and Elena have broken up, are on a break, or something like that. Great! So he ditches the superior lady in the last game, and now he’s single again? It was like pouring salt on the wound when Chloe showed up again and Nate still went after Elena.


It’s not surprising that another character from a BioWare game is on this list. In my opinion, they do good work. I also couldn't find a screenshot where she didn't look strange so I decided to use this wallpaper (where she also looks strange).

Like Tali, she’s not a potential partner for a female character. So like my version of Shepard, my Warden had an unrequited thing for Morrigan even though she ended up with Allistair. (A marriage of convenience to become Queen).

However, like Chloe, she has a lot of qualities that I admire. She asks the obvious, but sometimes uncomfortable questions: “Why are we helping these people again? They can’t do anything for us in return.” She’s powerful and independent, but unavailable during certain playthroughs. Of course that only made me include her in my party more often. Hearing her bicker and make fun of Allistair was one of my favorite parts with Dragon Age: Origins.

I wanted my character to go with her at the end of Witch Hunt, but it wasn’t meant to be. Morrigan declined my character’s offer (fondly I might add!) and stepped through that portal. The Warden was left behind with nothing more than memories of their time spent slaying Darkspawn together.

So there you have it. Three loves. They were the obvious best choices, but due to design choices, none of them were ever realized. Oh well. There’s always Dragon Age III and Not Mass Effect 4 to look forward to. I hope your characters (and yourself) are luckier in love than mine were.

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