One of the best-known features about BioWare’s games is the rich and emotional connections it allows its player characters to form with NPCs, including romantic relationships. That’s why so many people were surprised when the developer revealed that Anthem, its upcoming sci-fi RPG, would not feature romances.
The announcement was met with some derision from longstanding BioWare fans, some of whom said that the romance gameplay is the main selling point of the studio’s games for them. But the developer has now suggested that Anthem could add romance gameplay after the game has shipped.
Speaking in an interview at E3 2018, BioWare general manager Casey Hudson pointed to Mass Effect‘s Garrus as an example of when fans loved a character so much that the developer made him romanceable in Mass Effect 2. “That same opportunity exists here,” explained Hudson, noting that “If people really like a character and they want to spend more time with them, want a relationship with them, that’s definitely in the cards for the future.”
Garrus isn’t the only example of when BioWare has allowed players to romance a game after players expressed their strong affection for them. For example, after players bemoaned a lack of gay romance options in Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare made Jaal a romanceable character for both male and female versions of Ryder. So fans will feel confident that BioWare will stick to its word if they show their enthusiasm for a particular NPC.
However, some fans may argue that there is very little opportunity for them to fall for any particular character in Anthem. While the game will feature meaningful friendships and interactions with NPCs, it has been confirmed that Anthem will not feature NPC squadmates as BioWare is more interested in promoting co-operative play with real, human players than it is with AI-controlled ones.
Again, while fans may fall for a non-squadmate NPC, there are substantially fewer opportunities for that to happen if players are unable to spend time with them on the battlefield. BioWare fans speak highly of these moments, in which an NPC makes a funny quip or when there is banter between two party members and so players may wind up feeling less strongly towards NPCs without this opportunity. This could potentially make any resulting romance (should BioWare decide to add it) feel less meaningful, which means that the developer will have to think carefully before it releases any post-launch romance.
Anthem will be released on February 22, 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.