When BioWare and EA began to roll out the marketing for their next-gen RPG behemoth Dragon Age Inquisition, plenty of the game’s features got their time in the spotlight. The combat, the overarching story of Templar/Mage conflict, the world itself, and the colorful characters set to join the player on their journey. One aspect less advertised – but just as important to seasoned BioWare fans – was the studio’s approach to more personal relationships; particularly of the romantic variety.
It’s easy for the uninitiated to dismiss BioWare’s signature brand of romance as serving no purpose beyond titillation or wish fulfilment, but it’s no overstating the case to say that growing to care about the story’s main players in a Dragon Age title is a legitimate facet of the overall experience. And with Inquisition, the developers outdid themselves.
With characters more complicated than ever before seen, taking a variety of appearances and arcs over the course of the game’s lengthy campaign, some advice will come in handy. The writers have gone out of their way to make the heart of every Follower available to the player – even if their romantic interests lie elsewhere – meaning those characters may not state just what kind of relationships are likely in the long run. So, allow us to take care of it.
Cullen – Human/Elf Female Inquisitor
It isn’t just Followers that can be romanced in Inquisition, but the Inquisitor’s advisors as well (a possible conflict of interest, we’ll admit). The former Templar Cullen Rutherford is one such example, overseeing the military forces and planning of the player’s army – when not being awkwardly drawn into more romantic conversation (by either a human or elf female).
Since it’s Cullen’s business to know what the player is up to, a romance is only possible if the player is not engaged in any other romance. It’s clear from the outset that Cullen’s morals aren’t really in question – no matter how heated the conflict between Mages and Templars has become – but it will take plenty of time before he drops his guard. One more tip: don’t discuss ingesting Lyrium, and you’re good to go.
Blackwall – Female Inquisitor
If Cullen is a devoted soldier, then Blackwall makes him look like a rent-a-cop. When word of a Grey Warden in the Hinterlands first arrives, seeking out the source of the rumors will lead the player straight to the Warrior – and bring up memories of Dragon Age: Origins‘ Duncan almost immediately. The Grey Wardens’ ongoing battle against the Darkspawn is pushed to the background in Inquisition‘s story, but Duncan’s resolute commitment to recruiting men and women to the cause does the order proud.
Given the isolation of his life, a flirty female Inquisitor will convince Blackwall to join the cause rather quickly, though his inexperience with women becomes clear before long. Nuance or double entendre is lost on him, so the more blatant the romantic sentiment, the better. He may not be versed in the ways of love, but Blackwall’s life of service means he’ll warm up much faster to an Inquisitor who honors a dutiful soldier’s sacrifice above all else.
Solas – Elf Female Inquisitor
The supremely…’serious’ nature of Solas, an elven Mage is obvious upon his introduction, having spent his life separated from both the Dalish and city Elves, and mastering his magical abilities without formal training. Despite his lone wolf nature, the ages-old conflicts between the races of Thedas persist in his preference for romance, only opening up to the idea if romanced by a female Elf.
If your Inquisitor fits the bill, then the way to Solas’ heart (like anyone) is to show an interest in his interests; having acquired wisdom about the Fade and the true nature of ‘demons,’ being open-minded to Solas’ opinions (particularly about elf culture) and insights will grab his attention. Try to see the world from his point of view – and avoid killing when he explicitly requests – and he’ll thaw out soon enough.
Dorian – Male Inquisitor
Easily the best (and most clever) flirt found within Inquisition, Dorian has proven a popular romance option for both male and female players – but only male Inquisitors, as this Mage is the first homosexual character in the series to date. His personal armor of scathing wit and sarcasm will keep a male Inquisitor at bay, until his personal quest “Last Resort of Good Men,” at which point players can make their romantic intentions known.
From then on out, the time spent getting to know Dorian makes romance straightforward. As a former nobleman who cast off his family’s future and the Tevinter Imperium because of its hypocrisy and prejudice, a policy of freedom and respect is the way to go. Be direct, be honest, and be yourself, and Dorian will take notice.
Iron Bull – Male/Female Inquisitor
Even those who haven’t played Inquisition just yet have seen the one-of-a-kind sex scene an Iron Bull romance eventually builds towards. The immense, scarred, horned and calloused Qunari may not be what most will immediately define as “handsome,” but his magnetic personality is hard to resist. And the fact that Iron Bull is best known for his effectiveness as a spy, not just a Warrior, shows there’s more to him than first appears.
However, the Qunari notion of “romance” isn’t in line with the typical Thedosian: relationships can be incredibly deep without a physical expression, meaning a romance with Iron Bull means a heartfelt bond, first and foremost. Keep at the flirting, and he will eventually show a softer side – before the physical side of the relationship takes hold, bringing as much laughter as it does comfort.
Cassandra – Male Inquisitor
Those who played through Dragon Age 2 know that Cassandra Pentaghast – Seeker of Truth, and right hand of the Divine – is a force to be reckoned with. So it’s not surprising to see that the Warrior remains even more determined and resolute once her superiors are killed alongside countless mages. But as much as Cassandra may claim that there is no place for love in the midst of an Inquisition, determined suitors will discover otherwise.
Benath Cassandra’s rough exterior is a sentimental optimist; the Seekers of Truth have parted ways with The Chantry, but the soldier remains hopeful that all can be put right. Though she may outright state that a romance is simply never going to happen, thoughtful gestures – like having Varric scribe another of her favorite stories – will break through her defenses. It should go without saying, however, that to love Cassandra is to love no other.
Sera – Female Inquisitor
Assuming that players haven’t missed recruiting Sera altogether by ignoring the “Friends of Red Jenny” quest line in Val Royeaux, it’s an understatement to say that this Mage is a bit of a handful. If a female Inquisitor looks to start a romance, the ensuing scenes and conversations are just as unexpected and ridiculous. But if Sera is a player’s type, then they’ll likely eat every line of dialogue and absurd twist up.
In conversation, Sera’s approval can be won by making sure not to overlook the average person in the larger conflict surrounding the Fade Rifts. Since Sera has no taste (or time) for serious pontificating, living in the moment, and bringing levity to any situation will help a romance blossom. If that’s how you choose to play Inquisition in the first place, then this is a perfect match.
Josephine – Male/Female Inquisitor
As the face of the Inquisition’s diplomatic resources, players might expect Josephine to be less than modest. But it’s clearly this advisor’s tact and light touch that has made her the diplomatic powerhouse she currently is, able to defuse explosive situations, or acquire clandestine information with words alone. Pair that strategy with her humble personality, and a path to romance should be fairly clear.
Obviously, players who prefer to settle situations with brute force or threats aren’t Josephine’s idea of a perfect mate (and the player is likely to reciprocate). Inquire about her past, and begin flirting once Skyhold is unlocked, and Leliana will ask what intentions the Inquisitor has. Make your feelings known, and the courtship can continue.
Unfortunately, not every character players encounter will be open to a love connection. Varric is a lover of words, first and foremost; Cole isn’t really the… romantic type; Morrigan may still be dealing with the fallout from her previous romance; Vivienne is, frankly, out of the Inquisitor’s league; and Leliana has more pressing matters to concern herself with than flowery flirtation.
Players can still flirt and compliment until they’re red in the face, but most of these non-romanceable characters will make it clear that they’re not interested almost immediately.
Whether these details are heartening, or devastating to some players (particularly those who had previously romanced the likes of Leliana or Morrigan), we trust that entering the hardship of combat without wondering how many ‘secret admirers’ are hiding in plain sight is likely a good thing. In the end, nearly every relationship offers something special to the players willing to find it; that may not mean finding love in the time of Fade Rifts, but BioWare’s emphasis on bonding and characters goes well beyond romance.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.