Mass Effect: Andromeda's next patch will introduce another same-sex romance option for male protagonist Scott Ryder, delivering on BioWare's promise back in April to expand those choices.
Jaal, Ryder's squadmate, is now a potential romantic partner. At Mass Effect: Andromeda’s launch in late March, Scott Ryder's heterosexual romantic paths outnumbered the same-sex relationships, and none of the same-sex romantic partners were part of Ryder’s squad. The disparity had disappointed some fans of the series.
In a blog post describing the patch changes, BioWare acknowledged the criticism and the reasons for selecting Jaal as a romantic option, noting that as an angaran (natives of the Andromeda galaxy) his species express their gender fluidly.
"It seemed only natural that Scott could have a relationship with Jaal," wrote Conal Pierse, BioWare's community manager.
"We understand that a character’s orientation is an important part of what makes them feel real," Pierse said further. "The relationships with your crew are some of the most loved and cherished parts of our games, so we wanted to make sure we got it right."
BioWare developers consulted with LGBTQ persons both working in the studio and from outside it to determine an emotionally authentic option in the Mass Effect: Andromeda cast, arriving at Jaal.
"Our writing, editing, and animation teams worked together to ensure this change made sense for Jaal’s character," Pierse said, "and the result is a relationship we hope feels as fulfilling and memorable for Scott as it does for Sara."
The change is noteworthy but not the only one in the 1.08 patch. Many more options are available in the character creation suite, including two new head models (one female, one male), another complexion and more skin tones. All sexes may use any hairstyle option, including smooth baldness if preferred. Changes to one's appearance may now be made mid-game onboard the Tempest, Ryder’s space vessel.
Many other granular changes, described here, are introduced with the patch, too. BioWare weathered pointed criticisms of Mass Effect: Andromeda at its launch in late March, with romance options only a part of them. Poor facial expressions and animations were among the biggest complaints issued to the studio.