BioWare's Casey Hudson has revealed that the final part of the Mass Effect trilogy will strike a blow for sexual equality, offering players who choose a male Shepherd the option of pursuing same-sex relationships for the first time.
The first two Mass Effect titles came in for some criticism from gay rights groups at launch, as it was discovered that players creating a female Shepherd - the lead character of the game, playable in either gender - could successfully pursue an apparent girl-girl relationship, while male Shepherds were left with a straight guy-girl pairing as their only option.
BioWare's excuse - that Shepherd is written as a straight character, and the apparent girl-girl pairing doesn't count due to the second 'girl' actually being a member of the monogendered Asari, a race which merely appears to be made up entirely of bi-curious hot blue space chicks in tight leather - left many role players feeling short-changed, and the sequel's failure to add a bit of guy-on-guy action left gay gamers unfairly railroaded by the plot.
BioWare's Casey Hudson, development lead on Mass Effect 3, has some good news that may - for some gamers - make up for the title's launch delay: same-sex pairing will be included for both male and female Shepherds. "Happy to confirm [Mass Effect 3] supports wider options for love interests," Hudson wrote on Twitter to fans of the series, "including same-sex for male and female characters, reactive to how you interact with them in-game."
Hudson's news will come as a welcome surprise to those who felt restricted or marginalised by the original game's romantic sub-plots, with gamers now able to explore a fuller gamut of human - and, indeed, alien - sexuality. Whether BioWare manages to handle the matter with taste and tact, however, remains to be seen: while the previous titles remained fairly sedate, fading to black at the 'critical' moments during a coupling, it's possible the company is planning to send its sci-fi stars out in a blaze of inter-species glory.
Mass Effect 3 is due to launch in the first quarter of next year, on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.