Mass Effect is known for being pretty progressive when it comes to romance options, but its sequel Mass Effect 2 could’ve been more inclusive, if not for one infamous Fox News segment.
The intergalactic RPG was meant to include an option for users playing as a female version of protagonist Shepard to romance the character Jack. However, that was cut late in the game’s development after the series became a target of conservative news organisation Fox News, in a now-infamous 2007 segment.
Back then, Fox News had criticised the first Mass Effect for an optional sex scene, which it falsely accused of featuring full graphic nudity, and the fact that players could choose a same-sex romance with character Liara T’Soni.
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The news segment caused the Mass Effect development team to remove a sex-same romance option in Mass Effect 2, according to writer Brian Kindregan. “I was trying to chart out the arc of [Jack’s] romance, which for much of the development – it was actually very late that it became a male/female-only romance,” he told The Gamer. “She was essentially pansexual for most of the development of that romance.
“Mass Effect had been pretty heavily and really unfairly criticised in the US by Fox News,” Kindregan added. “The development team of Mass Effect 2 was a pretty progressive, open-minded team, but I think there was a concern at pretty high levels that if [the first] Mass Effect, which only had one gay relationship, Liara – which on paper was technically not a gay relationship because she was from a mono-gendered species – I think there was a concern that if that had drawn fire, that Mass Effect 2 had to be a little bit careful.”
However, because of the eleventh-hour changes, Jack still largely hints at being pansexual in much of her dialogue. She tells you about past relationships, having been with men, women and even in a trouple, but ultimately could only be romanced by male Shepards.
“I’ve definitely heard a lot from people who were surprised that Jack turned out to not be open to that. I understand why. I would say that there were a lot of seeds planted in her conversations that certainly implied that she was pansexual,” Kindregan remarked. “In the eleventh hour revision of cleaning that up, she’d already been partially recorded with voiceover. Not all of that could be changed.”
Notably, at the time of Mass Effect 2’s release, BioWare had publicly stated that the game’s development had not been affected by the Fox News coverage of the game, according to Kotaku. The developer has not officially commented on Kindregan’s latest remarks.
BioWare is currently working on a new main installment in the Mass Effect series. Back in December, the developer released a trailer for the forthcoming game, hinting that it could be a direct sequel to Mass Effect 3.