Thursday, July 18, 2024

That’s Underrated: Commander Shepard and Kaidan Alenko

One of the first romances that I witnessed in a video game was between Shepard and Kaidan Alenko in Mass Effect. I didn’t really have many feelings about it, but my cousin loved Kaidan and would gush about the relationship to me while I sat there, wondering why blue women were so attractive to my 10-year old self.

For those who don’t know. Mass Effect is a sci-fi space drama wrapped up in an action-RPG shooter. It’s all kinds of wonderful, and one of my earliest memories is obsessively watching as some of my older family members tried their hands at winning a copy of Mass Effect in a claw machine.

It was only years later that I realized how incredible the relationship between Shepard and Kaidan is, particularly how Kaidan and Male Shepard’s relationship was handled during Mass Effect 3.

As most fans will know, Mass Effect hasn’t been as forthcoming in its LGBTQ+ romances in comparison to the Dragon Age series. Despite Liara being an option for both male and female Shepard, no such option was offered to gay men throughout the first and second game. This was particularly difficult to comprehend as active users on the old BioWare forum had asked for Kaidan to be an option for gay Shepard. After all, it was only fair considering lesbian players had an option.

The patience of gay players was finally rewarded in Mass Effect 3, with both Steve Cortez and Kaidan Alenko being options for a gay, male Shepard. Straight, male Shepards still won out at the end of the last game, but the Shepard and Kaidan gay romance was touching and heartfelt in ways that I hadn’t expected from a series that refused to take what fans wanted seriously.

The romance itself touches on the giddiness of falling for someone over time. Kaidan’s confession of attraction is awkward, but strikes a chord in a different way if it’s towards a Male Shepard. He points out that since he has known Shepard that he’s never been with someone, and puts it down to being choosy, etc. It’s endearing, and it’s hard not to root for the two of them coming together after so long of being attracted to one another.

We just love Kaidan and Shepard, and despite the numerous masses lusting after resident sniper boy, Garrus Vakarian, we think it’s one of the best romances in the Mass Effect series.

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