A lot of ideas and creativity go into making video games, particularly long running, content-rich video games. But not everything that's planned makes it into the final product.
Time or money runs out, or maybe content gets cut due to executive meddling. Maybe the creators just change their minds. As a result, many games ship with the relics of inaccessible content still hidden in their code, waiting to be uncovered by nerd detectives with the right technical know-how.
We've already plundered the vaults of Fallout's hidden cut content, this time we'll have a rummage in the dummy closet of #BioWare #RPG franchise #MassEffect. And speaking of closets...
Secret Same-Sex Romances
Romance dialogues and sidequests between the player character and NPCs are one of BioWare's most recognizable trademarks. The company's also noteworthy for its support of LGBTQ content in its games, but in the early days of the Mass Effect franchise BioWare were far more squeamish about including same-sex romance.
In the first Mass Effect, Commander Shepard has the option to pursue heterosexual romantic involvement with a human squad member — male Shepard with Ashley Williams, female Shepard with Kaidan Alenko — but either gender could romance the Asari squad member, Liara T'Soni.
At the time, the Liara-FemShep pairing caused some controversy for its pretty tame lesbian love scene. BioWare defended their position by claiming Liara is an asexual alien, so technically speaking it's not really lesbian. But by human standards, the Asari are pretty feminine.
Same-sex romance options were written and fully voice-acted for Kaidan and Ashley, but they weren't fully implemented in original game. Now, it's debatable whether at any point BioWare were serious about including these characters as homosexual romance options but the content is so complete that it's possible to activate and play through them completely via the use of save edits.
There's no official same sex romance options in Mass Effect 2. It seems Bioware was so taken aback by the reaction from the gamers regarding Mass Effect's so-called 'lesbian scene', that they decided to play it safe with ME2.
But the game code suggests that they were at least considering the idea. Dialogues cut from the game suggests that at one point during development Tali and Thane could be romanced by both male and female Shepard, and the DLC code even indicates that Jack and Miranda could have had FemShep romance pairings.
BioWare would introduce fully playable same-sex romance content in Mass Effect 3. Interestingly, Kaidan from the first game now swings both ways, but there's still unused Tali-FemShep romance dialogue hidden in the game code. Locked away in ones and zeros, there's a long running lesbian-Quarian love story that was never told.
The Guns You Can't Get Your Hands On
Four secret weapon manufacturers (Batarian State Arms, Cerberus Skunkworks, Hahne-Kedar Shadow Works and Jormangund Technology) were cut from the original Mass Effect prior to the game's release, but all of their weapons and armor are still available to use in game...if you're willing to cheat and use console commands.
It's not just personal equipment that was cut from the first game. Some bits of dialogue also indicate that you would've been able to buy upgrades for the Mako.
Mass Effect 2's combat was notably changed from the first game, with all weapons being solely clip-based. But it looks like this was decided quite late in development, as an unlimited-ammo option (as in the first game) was programmed in, and can be reactivated by modifying the game's Coalesced file.
There's a similar situation going on in Mass Effect 3. Editing the Coalesced.ini file can open up a huge selection of heavy weapons that were cut from the game. These include the Particle Beam (like the Particle Rifle from the From Ashes DLC), the Avalanche (blasts cold energy), the Grenade Launcher, the Hydra (cluster missile launcher) and the Arc Projector.
Heavy weapons were available in Mass Effect 2, but it seems that BioWare deemed them too overpowered for the sequel at some point late in development, although some still appear in select missions as temporary equipment.
Aside from the heavy weapons, the hidden Mass Effect 3 files also contain unused war assets, and the Citadel DLC has new power and intel assets that can't be activated in-game. One of them, 'Khan's Network Exposed', gave the player an increased maximum capacity for grenades, which isn't possible by any other means. Mods for the base game and the DLC are available to activate these.
Cut Story Branches From The Quest Tree
There's an absolute ton of cut dialogue in the Mass Effect series as BioWare trimmed down their story, or refined their characterizations of various NPCs.
One of the most gut-wrenching choices in the Mass Effect franchise occurs in the first game, where the player basically has to choose to sacrifice either Ashley or Kaidan. But at one point it must have been possible to save both of them
A piece of cut dialogue states that both Ashley and Kaidan could be rescued during the Virmire mission, with both commenting on a stunt Shepard pulled to rescue both of them. But this option was cut by BioWare on the grounds that it would make writing future plots in the sequels more difficult and convoluted.
In Mass Effect 2, there's an unused dialogue set for Grunt's loyalty mission that suggests an alternate outcome near the end of the game in which Grunt actually considered taking up Uvenk's offer to join his clan, and Shepard could order Grunt not to.
However, Grunt would have taken offense to that later on, telling Shepard that it was 'going too far.' Unused Paragon, Renegade, Charm and Intimidate options exist to placate Grunt and persuade him to stay.
Lost In Space
This is just a selection of the most notable cut content from the Mass Effect franchise. BioWare's cutting room floor is littered with snipped dialogue, cut sidequests and minor characters that never got to make an appearance.
Some of these are easily justified, but in other cases it does make me wish that the games had been worked on for a little longer to add in the extra details. Who could forget the half-baked endings of and subsequent corrections to Mass Effect 3?
Do you wish that same sex romances had been included earlier in the series? Or heavy weapons in Mass Effect 3? Let us know in the comments!