BioWare has announced that, for the first time in the series, the female version of Commander Shepard will feature in the box art and advertising campaign for Mass Effect 3, and is allowing fans the chance to decide what she should look like.
Like many role-playing games, the Mass Effect series allows the player to customise their character's gender and appearance. While the resultant character will always be known as Commander Shepard - if only to make life easier on the voice actors - it allows for a greater flexibility than with games that force you into a pre-defined role.
While the game itself is happy to cater to either gender, the company's advertising has been a decidedly more XY-themed affair. In all the company's advertising - and on the cover of the game itself - the default male Shepard model has been used.
BioWare has decided to mix things up for the conclusion of the trilogy, and has announced that the female Shepard - known by fans as 'FemShep' - will be getting the limelight. The only trouble is: nobody knows what she looks like.
More accurately: nobody can agree on what she should look like. Unlike the male Shepard, the female's appearance has never been set in stone in any advertising campaign or artwork. As a result, the only true FemShep is the one created by each user: near-unique, and impossible to capture in a mass-market campaign.
To give fans a chance to see something approximating their own character on the cover of the game, BioWare has produced six pieces of artwork that differ in only one way: the face used. Visitors to the company's Facebook page are asked to 'Like' the one which they prefer - in other words, the one closest to the character they've spent a few hundred hours with throughout the previous two games - with the promise that whichever gets the most votes will appear as the 'official' character.
The artwork can be found over on BioWare's Facebook gallery (opens in new tab).