The Evolution of Mass Effect’s Kaidan Alenko: A Soldier & A Lover

When it comes to Bioware games the draw for playing them are for the story, the characters, and your ability to romance certain characters in the game…if you want to of course. I’ve romanced Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins, Anders from Dragon Age 2, and now Kaidan from the Mass Effect series. At some point I plan on writing a post where I compare these Bioware men and how they rate against each other. For now, this post will focus on my impressions of Kaidan as a love interest. After finishing Mass Effect 3 I realized I have a lot to say about this Alliance military soldier. Any comments I make concerning the romance with Kaidan has been experienced as a female Shepard.

Starting the first Mass Effect, I was coming off of an extensive gaming marathon with the Dragon Age series. I’m not a huge fangirl when it comes to sci-fi genres. I would say I’m picky with them. Give me swords and magic and I’m all over that. Playing Dragon Age was a no brainer for me. I picked up Mass Effect at the recommendation of a good friend.

I won’t lie, I had a hard time getting into it at first. I still had to warm up to my Shepard and the characters the game slowly introduced to the player. I was aware of the romance options before playing. I already knew I was going to romance Kaidan, but every time I spoke to the guy I didn’t instantly fall for him like I did with Alistair. Maybe it was because Alistair wasn’t afraid to look like a total goofball? Maybe it was the sexy accent? Or maybe it was because Kaidan wasn’t Alistair? I obviously had Alistair on the brain and couldn’t shake him off just yet. Even Anders who has some serious personality issues had me on a romantic high for a bit after I finished Dragon Age 2.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I hated Kaidan. I’ve read lots of views about him online with mainly male gamers and a few female ones hating on Kaidan for being whiny or boring. Some also hated Kaidan because the voice actor for him was the same one for Carth of Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic, which is another Bioware title. Not much love for Carth either as I found out, though I have never played KOTOR myself. Then again, Alistair is another Bioware guy most hated by male gamers too. Go figure. But Kaidan whiny? No. No where have I encountered him being a complainer. Unless you consider a guy talking about his feelings as being “whiny.” Boring? Maybe a bit, but it’s really a matter of going out of your way to talk to him. If I wasn’t already determined to romance Kaidan on my first go with Mass Effect, I would have passed over Kaidan as unremarkable eye candy.

When talking to Kaidan you find out a lot about his background and personality. He is a biotic soldier who got implanted with what’s called the L2 implants to enhance his biotic potential. He got taken from his home as a kid to control and train his biotics at a special school for biotics known as the Biotic Acclimation and Temperance Training or what most biotics nickname as “Brain Camp.” Kaidan is soft spoken, reserved about how he expresses himself, loyal, and is just an all out nice guy. Much of his personality is shaped from his experience at “Brain Camp” when he lost control of his biotic powers due to anger against his instructor for treating a girl named Rahna, who he had a crush on as a teen, too harshly. As a result, he snapped the instructor’s neck in half. After seeing Rahna become afraid of Kaidan and distant from him because of the accidental killing, he ended up being more cautious and self-controlled in how he approached things from then on.

A romantic moment from Mass Effect between a female Shepard and Kaidan

When I had Shepard romance Kaidan in the first game, you can see how he is visibly interested in his commanding officer but is holding himself back from fully embracing it. It is quite cute to see him at a loss for words when you converse with him and choose the more flirty, romantic dialogue options for Shepard to say to him. He is very guarded throughout the courtship until it takes a point in the story where Shepard and the crew are grounded by the Council and then the possibility of dying from their mission on Ilos for him to finally let go and allow his feelings for Shepard to take over. I also think it’s fitting for female Shepard to be the more confident, take charge kind of woman when it comes to knowing what she wants. Hell, when their first kiss finally happens it is Shepard who initiates the kiss by pulling him to her and laying one on him. Any doubts Kaidan might have had in romancing his commanding officer goes out the window in that moment.

My first initial reaction to completing the romance with Kaidan in the first Mass Effect isโ€“โ€“how should I describe it? It is nice, but I don’t think it set my heart beating rapidly in my chest like the scenes with Alistair did. It is lukewarm at best. Thinking about the first game and comparing it to how the romance plays out with the rest of the series, it makes sense why it isn’t as heart pounding for me at least. The romance in the first game is approached in such a way as a coming together of two people who probably never expected to find themselves looking for a relationship or love while on active duty.

The romance is a little ambiguous too because neither Kaidan or Shepard ever mention the words, “I love you.” This is quite different in my opinion. Playing the Dragon Age games and having the much expected consummation of the relationship after successfully completing a romance with someone, you will almost always have the character mention how much they love your playable character. In regards to Kaidan from the first Mass Effect game, he and Shepard know they are drawn to each other but they both aren’t quite sure if what they feel is love just yet. Kaidan does admit he cares for her and doesn’t want anything to happen to her, but that’s it. Most of the time they address their flirting and sweetness on each other as, “whatever this is.” They are trying to figure out if they have a serious relationship developing, but with all the major missions like stopping Saren and then Sovereign, it doesn’t give them much time to sort things out yet.

This leads into Mass Effect 2 where I believe only a few weeks have passed since stopping Saren and Sovereign from obliterating the Citadel from the first game. The Normandy is attacked by the Collectors. Shepard tells Kaidan to abandon ship while she goes to the cockpit to get Joker and to help him onto the escape pods. Joker makes it into one, but Shepard gets thrown into space after the Normandy explodes and she dies. Two years later and a miraculous resurrection thanks to Cerberus, Shepard is alive and kicking.

The romance scene between Shepard and Kaidan is very brief, and it’s the only time the player gets to see Kaidan for the entire game. In it, Kaidan is overcome with a multitude of emotions as he embraces the woman he thought died the day the Normandy was blown to pieces. However, the tender moment is short lived as Kaidan remembers how it took him two years to get over Shepard and is now angry with her. He goes on to say how it was painful for him to try and cope with the loss of the woman he loved only to find her alive but working with Cerberus. It becomes too much for him to handle. Shepard can try to appeal to Kaidan to join her team, but he refuses and walks away leaving Shepard at a loss for words over the confrontation.

A reunion on Horizon in Mass Effect 2

When it comes to the infamous meeting with Kaidan on Horizon in Mass Effect 2, the opinions I’ve read about this meeting had many players upset over how he reacts to their Shepards. Most saw it as Kaidan being harsh and not understanding, or having an option where Shepard tries to reason with him and have him see things from Shepard’s perspective. When I watched the scene unfold, I’m of the opinion that Kaidan’s reaction to seeing the woman he fell for suddenly alive again after two years of trying to get past her death is justified. I agree, Shepard should have been able to explain her side of things to Kaidan, but in all honesty what person would listen to reason after having feelings they thought they put behind them suddenly resurface like a punch to the gut? It’s too much to process at that very moment. The man did think Shepard was dead for two years. You can’t suddenly reappear into someone’s life and then act as if what that person went through is no big deal. It also doesn’t help to discover the woman Kaidan loves and respects is now working for Cerberus, a shady organization that has a bad reputation for being a pro-human terrorist organization.

No amount of pleading and begging will get someone to stick around to hear anything the other has to say. In Kaidan’s case, he needed his space. Rather than choose the options where my Shepard responded to Kaidan’s anger in a defensive way, I chose to go with the “good” responses. Playing as Shepard during Mass Effect 2, I always pictured her to be hurt that Kaidan doesn’t welcome her back easily, but she would understand where he was coming from and not really blame him either for reacting the way he does. They both reach points in their lives where things are different and uncertain. The world and each other doesn’t look the same as it did before.

The email Shepard receives from Kaidan later in the game details an apology for how he reacted to her on Horizon. The email is full of emotion and uncertainty. He explains how it really was tough for him to get over the loss of Shepard and how much the night they spent together before the Ilos mission from the first Mass Effect meant everything to him. The closing of the letter does open up a possibility of hope for their relationship by saying, “When things settle down a little…maybe…I don’t know. Just take care.” Obviously, at some point between the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 Kaidan realized he loves Shepard. The meeting on Horizon confirms that he “loved her” by saying it to her as he takes his anger out on Shepard for not contacting him sooner after she came back from the dead. I have to note that Shepard doesn’t have any dialogue options where she says she loves Kaidan, but I guess for the meeting on Horizon it would be difficult for Shepard to pull out an “I love you” when your love interest is too angry to think straight.

In Mass Effect 2, Kaidan’s appearance may be all too brief but you do learn new things about him. He has risen up in the ranks with the Alliance to become a Commander, and he’s less reserved about his emotions when he confronts Shepard. The player watches Kaidan subtly change over the span of two years. I actually wished there was more chances in the second game to see more of his character develop, but I suppose a brief meet up is better than nothing. If anything, Shepard’s death and then resurrection in Mass Effect 2 along with Kaidan’s emotion filled confrontation with her on Horizon adds a layer of uncertainty and a huge hurdle to the romantic subplot. If Mass Effect presented the idea of a romance just starting and finding how two people fit into each other’s lives, Mass Effect 2 gives us a scenario where two people have changed a great deal and they just don’t know how to get back to each other after so much time has passed.

The height of the romance and character development for Kaidan comes in Mass Effect 3. By the third game, Kaidan has been promoted to the rank of Major and heads the 1st Special Operations Biotic Company. Much later in the game, he gets promoted as the second human Spectre for the Council. His development as a character sees him as confident, a leader, and not as guarded as he was from the first game. Kaidan as a character comes a long way from the first game as do many of the original characters from the first game. The romance and drama heats up several degrees higher than what we get from the first game as well.

During the mission on Mars, Shepard and Kaidan are working together again but they still have some unresolved issues to discuss. Kaidan is still uncertain about Shepard’s loyalties based on her past association with Cerberus. It’s up to Shepard to regain his trust again and convince him that her alliance with Cerberus was always temporary and an unwilling one at that. It takes a near death experience for Kaidan on Mars and then a test of faith during the assault on the Citadel to have him willing to trust Shepard again. There are just so many great romantic moments between Shepard and Kaidan in Mass Effect 3. The hospital scenes with Kaidan are very heartbreaking to watch, but brings out more tender moments between Shepard and Kaidan. My all time favorite scene from the romance is the date on the Citadel Shepard and Kaidan have after he is accepted back onto the Normandy. It’s in this scene where we have Shepard and Kaidan reestablish their relationship and love for each other. A lot of the voice acting done by Jennifer Hale as female Commander Shepard and Raphael Sbarge as Kaidan is one of the best I’ve heard by far in this third installment. They really sell this romance path very well to be convincing.

Kaidan’s new and even better character look in Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 is the best installment for the romance subplot for Shepard and Kaidan. I found myself falling for Kaidan by the third installment when I still had a mild interest in the romance story in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. The romance also reached a good place storywise. By Mass Effect 3 you can tell these two characters have been through a lot and have changed a lot because of their experiences. With all the life and death missions they seem to find themselves in, Shepard and Kaidan both realize that life is too short and they need to spend the moments they have together and accept their feelings for one another. Both characters freely tell each other they love each other, though Kaidan may have said it more freely than Shepard, taking her the third game to finally tell it to him. The only thing I wish Mass Effect 3 had more of was interactions between Shepard and Kaidan. The click on a character and hear pre-prepared dialogue from the character is a bit lacking in my opinion. Despite that, you get a really great and emotionally satisfying romance subplot with Kaidan. It ties up their developing relationship since the first game, and gives all the loyal Kaidan fangirls the warm, sexy, and beautiful romance we all dream about.

For those who think Kaidan is an uninteresting character to get to know, let alone romance, are wrong. Kaidan is probably the more normal of the Bioware men I have romanced so far. I won’t get into the comparisons here, but maybe people find Kaidan boring because he’s closer to a real person you may actually meet in your own life. Alistair and Anders both have a doozy of emotional baggage and are probably not the most stable type of love interests a girl would want when you really think about it.

With Kaidan, he doesn’t have any overwhelming emotional baggage, and the slightly tragic things in his past like accidentally breaking the neck of his instructor for the sake of protecting a girl he liked then are things he acknowledges has happened to him, but he is able to move on. He isn’t crippled by the experience and he doesn’t hate all alien races based on the action of one during his time at “Brain Camp.” He is thoughtful, open minded, respectful, loyal, has a wry sense of humor, and he loves deeply. And yes, it doesn’t hurt that Kaidan is gorgeous to look at. He’s also a sensitive kind of military soldier. Instead of getting the usual tough, macho kind of soldiers, you get Kaidan who is a capable fighter but isn’t unwilling to wear his heart on his sleeve. The bottom line is Kaidan exhibits the kind of characteristics most girls would want in a guy. If these qualities make him bland, then I’d rather take him over a character who has emotional instability issues.

I consider Kaidan to be one of the most well developed characters in the game with a great romance story a Shepard can explore with him in the Mass Effect universe. I would categorize this romance subplot as one where a lot of obstacles need to be overcome before two people can settle into the beauty of being able to find each other against all odds, and have the opportunity to love each other even as the world may be crumbling around them. This romance has the feel of a great love story that can go either way, whether it’s in tragedy or with a warm and fuzzy happy ending. After romancing Kaidan, I wouldn’t hesitate to romance him again in another playthrough. Kaidan is just too charming to pass up along with Alistair of Dragon Age: Origins.

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64 thoughts on “The Evolution of Mass Effect’s Kaidan Alenko: A Soldier & A Lover

  1. Oh no no no no no…..this is bad. This is so bad, I can’t even…dammit simpleek!!! This is going to be a pretty pointless comment, but hang in there!

    At first, there was: Alistair!!! (Insert biggest smiley face ever) I loved him, I still love him, and by god, I will continue to love him.
    Then there was Kaidan and that went something like this:……………………………………………………………………………………………….good-bye many more hours of my life, hello Kaidan romance!!!
    I know, you told me this post was coming and I have been excitedly waiting for it, but I honestly did not think that I would get so hyped up to want to immediately replay ME 1 and 2 just to romance him! Oh my god…why?!

    Whelp, now I am off to romance the socks off of Kaidan because I NEED to see this relationship and how it pans out! So, thanks a lot simpleek for cutting out another chunk of my soul to offer up to the ME series! Thank goodness summer is right around the corner and free time will come…well, not by the truckload, but more than now anyway.
    And in case it didn’t come out well enough in my babble, I LOVED this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I don’t know whether to say sorry or not regret enticing you to play through and stick to a romance with Kaidan. *cue devilish laugh*

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post from one Mass Effect fan to another. ๐Ÿ˜‰ With all the romance options I have yet to explore from both Dragon Age and Mass Effect, I could easily write more opinion posts on the romances. I really want to play as male Shepard who romances Ashley soonโ€“โ€“at least until I finish a few other games first. I haven’t found any real impressions on the Shepard and Ashley romance because so many gamers seem to hate Ashley more than Kaidan I think. With all the hate Ashley gets, Iโ€™m thinking she may not be as bad as she appears to be.

      Yes, I encourage you to romance the socks off of Kaidan, Yuuhi! You really wonโ€™t regret it if you are a sucker for good romances like I am. ME1 and ME2 makes it easy to not get into the romance at first glance, but trust me the stuff they did for Kaidan by ME3 is justโ€ฆwow. I ended up feeling tingly all over every time the game had a romance scene for Kaidan and Shepard. It was the same feeling I got with a romance with Alistair from Dragon Age.

      Keep an eye out for my comparison post of Alistair, Anders, and Kaidan at some point in the near future. Itโ€™ll be a mammoth of a post, but Iโ€™m impressed by how different all these Bioware men are from each other. I really can analyze the character development and romances of these Bioware games to death. They are just that good!

      1. …What?

        I take a break from replaying ME for the 5164646341th time and I find out that you are planning a comparison post of ALISTAIR, KAIDAN, and Anders(lower case since I haven’t played DA 2 yet!)?!

        Oh god, kill me now. I’m going to have to replay DA after reading that post and then I will probably need to get DA2 as quickly as possible and then…damn, summer will probably be over after all that. Aww, to hell with it! Bring on your post!!! I’m looking forward to it!!!

    2. I have played the Kaidan romance multiple times and I can’t help but feel guilty when financing someone else! I can’t do it! I get a sick feeling in my stomach lol. Im overly attached to Kaidan. Hope u enjoy exploring the gorgeous beast! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I used a male shepard, and Kaidan died for me in ME1. It’s crazy how many different things you can do in this series. You just wrote a whole article on something I basically didn’t see at all in the games, despite playing them all just like you.

    1. It’s insane, right? We all play the same game, but it still turns out differently for everyone. This is why I love the high replay value of this series. The experience will still come out slightly different each time you play. It’ll take years I think before you even get to experience every possible variable you can get out of this game.

      1. I LOVE that about Mass Effect! One of the most moving scenes I had in ME3 was the result of so many variables – Wrex survived Virmire, did Mordin’s loyalty mission, saved the genophage research, kept Mordin alive in the suicide mission – all before I’d even mapped my course for Tuchanka. Nobody else I know got the same scene at the end. First time I ever cried at a video game.

      2. I love the high replayability of Mass Effect too. The different variables makes you want to play again to see other outcomes. I need to do one where Wrex and Mordin die, but I always have a hard time wanting to kill characters off. I’m currently doing a playthrough with male Shepard, and I sacrificed Kaidan. One of the hardest things I had to do, but I wanted to see a different version of the story. The same can be said about the romance paths. I want to see what romancing a different character feels like. Mass Effect will be one of those games I won’t get tired of.

      3. I love Kaidan and I have tried to romance someone else in ME2 but….no….I just get the worst feeling ever! I try to tell myself “dude, its a freaking video game” but I just cant do it. I’be just started a maleshep playthrough and i am not looking forward to sacrificing Kaidan. I tried to do a playthrough like that with femshep and instead romance Garrus but I just couldnt do it. I got all teary eyed and crap but I don’t know. I guess I have played the game too many times with Kaidan that I havr just gotten used to having him around, u know ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I just wish there were more interactions between Shep and Kaidan (or any LI). I feel that Bioware dropped the ball a bit on the romance aspect. I mean, they are in love…why can’t they move into Shep’s cabin or at least talk more and kiss or hug or something!!

    1. I completely agree. That was the only thing I was surprised about with ME3. There was at least more chances to interact with the crew or your LI in ME1 & ME2. I was expecting a whole dialogue tree of choices to go through with each character you decided to speak to rather than you click on one character and they spout out some randomized dialogue. On some occasions Shepard responds to the dialogue, but that’s it really. The third game, you only got the dialogue options with the characters whenever you were notified that someone needed to speak with you or whatever. It really is a case of what could have been. Still, I am satisfied with how female Shepard’s and Kaidan’s romance path went.

    2. Haha hecks yeah! I completely agree! They don’t even freaking kiss in ME3 until the very end! Geez cmon even Ash got a kiss at dinner!!! More Kaidan! Maybe a future story expansion dlc idea???

  4. Since I’m playing ME3 now I had to read this post! I love analyzing the characters in the Mass Effect series.

    Personally I had to go with Garrus for my canon Shep, but I loved this recording of Kaidan’s voice actor Raphael Sbarge reading the ME2 letter after Horizon. It ALMOST made me stay faithful. (Time for a second playthrough!) Maybe you already found it, but if not, it’s definitely worth a listen.

    1. I can really find a lot of things to write about when it comes to the characters from Bioware’s games. They really are well-written.

      I really want to try a playthrough where my female Shep romances Garrus. I’ve heard plenty of good things about him too, but Kaidan has become one of my favorite LIs to romance thus far. Right now, I’m replaying the first ME as a male Shep who will be romancing Ashley. All this bad mouthing about her character made me want to give the male Shep a go as well as see Ashley’s romance path. She really can’t be that bad, right?

      Thanks for the YouTube link. I have heard Raphael Sbarge’s wonderful reading of the letter Kaidan sends to Shepard from Mass Effect 2 before. Because he does the voicing of his character so well, it makes me wish the reading of this letter ended up in the game itself. And the voice acting definitely gets even better in ME3. I’d recommend staying with Kaidan in a future playthrough. Such a satisfying romance path.

      1. I agree, the voice recording should have been in the game! (Vid messages seem appropriate for the Mass Effect setting anyway, IMO.)

        The Garrus relationship has been my favorite BioWare romance so far (though who can forget Alistair in DA:O?!) but I’m excited to try the Kaidan romance next time too. After I give ME a break for a bit, I might try playing as a male Shep as well. It would be fun to learn more about Tali that way, as she’s one of my favorite characters.

        As for Ashley… She seems to me like a very well-done character because she does spice up some love-her-or-hate-her controversy!

  5. Where specifically or what scene does Kaidan say “I love you”? I heard in a few YouTube montage vids but never recalled hearing myself besides the evacuation scene.
    And I totally agree with this article! I friggin love Kaidan in mE3 and I don’t understand why people hate him because he has one of the most interesting back stories ever and….he is incredibly gorgeous so yeah. Good article

    1. Thanks for commenting. I believe he says he loved her during the argument scene between Shepard and Kaidan on Horizon in Mass Effect 2 if I’m not mistaken. But yes, Kaidan is the ultimate dream guy. He’s also one of the better developed male love interests to come from Bioware.

  6. I do admit…..Kaidan did get a lot more gorgeous in ME3. But what I didn’t really like about Kaidans romance in ME3 was the fact that some conversations u have with him in the game are somewhat ruined by the most awkward comments. The scene with him after u see Jacob and he talks about “practicing”….need I say more on that note. Or the main romance scene at the end! Stupid femshep had to spark conversation with “ill never forget the first night we bunked together.” “Haha yeah I was pretty uh…spectacular….if I remember right.” “Mhm. *wink wink*” like cmon, really?!?!?! Totally cheasy and unnecessary. The scene would hav been a lot cuter without the wierd comments lol :/ just sayin. Even then, Kaidan romance is still the freaking best!!!!

  7. I am currently playing through Mass Effect 2 after romancing Kaidan in Mass Effect 1. When I first started getting into the romance I felt horrible cuz I am a HUGE Dragon Age: Origins fan(300+ hours here) and I romanced the hell out of Zevran. My heart literally throbs with Zevran. And then there’s Kaidan…. Part of me feels for Garrus, with all of his guilt and me wanting to be a good friend and comfort him. Through my guilt, I find myself dying for more of Kaidan. I was so heartbroken when Shepard died after telling Kaidan to leave her. And reuniting with him just to have him angry. I have yet to play Mass Effect 3, since I am on my first playthrough ever of this series. But I cannot wait to see how it ends. It’s going to be satisfying, and like you, I can’t wait to compare the romances of Kaidan and Zevran, though it’ll be hard to do that. (;

    1. Thanks for commenting! I only ever romanced Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins. I also thought I wouldn’t love anyone as much as I loved Alistair from that game, but now I find myself loving both Alistair from Origins and Kaidan from Mass Effect equally. They are both quite charming in very different ways. If anything, I’d say love both Zevran and Kaidan. I mean, why not? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Enjoy playing the rest of Mass Effect. Kaidan’s romance gets quite steamy by Mass Effect 3!

  8. I am just now finishing my first play through of Mass Effect and I agree with many of the things you said about Kaidan being a much more stable character. I too, lost my heart to Alistair so much that I could never bring myself to romance Zev as much as I liked him. It did take me a while to warm up to the much lower key Kaiden. (I could not even bring myself to romance anyone in DAII because all the available choices were so angsty and Varric was not on the table.)

    However, I did finally learn to appreciate his nice guy attitude and warmth and was looking forward to the big scene.. And for much of it he spoke with his back to the camera!!!!

    I was fully expecting that whatever tame sex scene there was would be very male oriented and that close to all the skin shown would be female.. so no surprise there.. but what were they thinking with that camera angle where such a long strip of crucial emotional dialog is delivered as you stare at the back of his head?
    I felt so cheated that I was just about to walk away in disgust from the rest of them but what you said about ME3 is making me hesitate… There is just the fact that i will have to wade through ME2 to get there. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    1. Yeah, there were moments where the romance scene wasn’t as pulse racing as it could be with Kaidan. This is why I didn’t quite get into his romance initially. ME2 actually has him appear just once throughout the whole game, and many players have reacted badly to his reaction to your Female Shepard if he was romanced.

      Still, it wasn’t until Mass Effect 3 that I was sold on romancing Kaidan. There are just too many great moments with him that it makes up for a lot of things in my opinion. Now I’m a full on Kaidan fangirl. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The sad thing is if you go and have a look at the exact same scene on youtube with Male Shepard and Ashley. ( I don’t recommend it as it is very annoying.) She is standing in the exact place that Kaidan is but in contrast to the fact the camera never cuts away from the back of his head.. You get to watch HER face every word she speaks and she speaks a lot more. The whole scene is beautifully and lovingly crafted and longer and neither character is given short shrift to animated expressions of passion. Not only are there more romance options for the male oriented player to choose from but the hidden fact is that every one of them is treated with much more time and attention and money than the one single option they give a female player.
    I like to have story and fight the reapers.. but conversations with Liara are frequent and copious. Conversations with Kaidan occur, as I am sure you noticed, with such rarity you want to alert the media every time he sneezes. I think since they provide a male love interest at all that fairness would dictate at least an effort to make that one experience be as well made as all the choices that a male player has.
    Either that or only charge me a very small percentage of what a man has to pay for the game. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t mind him getting mad at Femshep.. especially since he suffered thinking she was dead. That he is not much in the game is annoying but not a deal breaker since from what you say it seems to get better in 3. What I mind is if they tell you there is content for you and take your money for it and then don’t bother to make it quality content because they don’t consider your demographic important. That seems to me to be what happened at least with the direction of the love scene between Kaidan and Femshep in Mass Effect 1.

    At least from what you say, the writing is up to par. I am still trying to make up my mind and you have caused me to at least pause and give it another thought before heading out the door and trying not to let it hit me in the butt.

    Spending that long anticipated moment, staring at the back of his head and wishing fervently I could see his eyes was extremely off putting to say the least. Seeing on You tube what it COULD have been is infuriating.

    I think I will reload an old game of DAO and let Dahlia Lynn’s modded Alistair comfort me for a while now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kaidan will just have to understand.

  10. Oh sorry, I should have specified. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was referring to the scene in Mass Effect 1 right after you access the galaxy map and head to IIos and the love interest comes to your quarters. What you DO see of Kaiden’s face during that exchange is great. It is just that there is so little of it compared to the loving treatment afforded the other (usually more interesting to the average male) romantic partners in the game.

  11. Okay. So I just listened to the beautiful voice actor letter and that decided me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I never had the slightest problem with his voice acting. It is all suede leather and hot spice . All the voices and acting in this game were of the highest quality and I can’t remember any of them that weren’t perfectly cast. This was nothing but lovely. What a great job he did with it. I would say that I cannot believe that they didn’t include this in the game but after my experience so far I’m afraid I believe it too well. Despite that I think I will continue on. How can I not? Kaiden and I have come this far..
    Thanks so much for posting this!

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts on such an old post! It’s amazing how this post still gets hits and reads several months later.

      Yes, the voice actor for Kaidan (Raphael Sbarge) is amazing. The Horizon letter was a nice thing he did for the fans. Bioware really should have done a voice message type thing in game. It’s harder to hear the emotion when a player is reading it.

      What’s funny is that I have been doing a playthrough of Mass Effect with a male Shepard this time and I haven’t noticed the inequality, I guess you can say, between the male romance and female romances. Or at least as you said, when it comes to Ashley vs. Kaidan in ME1.

      I wanted to romance Ashley in my first male Shep playthrough, but accidentally romanced Liara instead. I didn’t pay attention to camera angles that time, but I did remember not seeing much of Kaidan’s face in the romance scene in the first game. Now I need to go back sometime and do a new playthrough to look for these things you pointed out.

  12. That’s the only bad thing about playing an old game for the first time is that most discussions are several months old and nobody cares anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I can’t believe that so few except me even seemed to notice or care that through all the most passionate parts of his speech we were staring at the back of his left ear and half of her face.. and the camera never cut away from that. I think his voice acting alone saved that scene from a complete disaster.

    Thank the MAKER that after all my hours of playing and looking forward to that one scene that the characterization, writing and dialog was great and Mr. Sbarge’s acting and voice superb and our visual imaginations are up to filling in the image of his eyes as he was speaking.. cause whoever was behind the (camera) was filming for himself.

    The reason I say that is that because the scene was being staged by men they did what pleased them without even considering pleasing the audience of that scene was likely to be. The majority of men would way rather watch the woman’s face if they had to watch that scene at all.
    (Which kind of makes me wonder just how considerate those guys are of their wives in the bedroom and whether their sweethearts birthday presents end up being things like footballs and power tools.:-)
    I have heard that Liara will Ninja-romance you if you aren’t reeeallly careful. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad I managed to keep her at arm’s length but I expect it is not as easy for a male Shepard.

    I am taking heart that you did not notice a repeat of this in the rest of the series.. I am looking forward to the rest of it. I just last night finished the game. Still trying to come back to Earth and get some work done before Amazon mails me the next installment and I disappear again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I romanced Kaiden from the start. First, there was not many options for a female shepard and it just got worst in ME2, so I waited faithfuly until ME3 because I could not bring myself to romance anyone else. I know, it’s just a game, but how I wish they could have incorporated a more SIMS like approach to the romancing. I guess romancing it not the point of the game! I love Kaiden’s tough military side, but also his humane side. You are totally right about a “normal” character without all the baggage and that is a nice touch from BioWare. I love this post because I feel it responds to my romantic ideals and secret fantasies that I have about my female shepard and Kaiden and the true reason I am hooked to this game, the storyline. Its so good that I don’t want it to end…ever! I was waiting to play Dragon age when I had more time, but now I think I’m done for it after reading this ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks a lot ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. I’m always amazed when a post I have written several months ago still gets found. Thanks for the comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I love how Bioware writes their characters. I think Mass Effect and Dragon Age has some of the best character writing I have ever seen for a game. You should give Dragon Age a go for sure! As I have said in this post, Kaidan took some time to grow on me, but I became an instant fangirl once I discovered what made him such a great love interest choice for Shepard. He is truly an ideal man!

  14. I haver really enjoyed your post, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts.

    I played Dragon Age some years ago but I don’t know why I never really got into it. I was too much into TES: Oblivion at the time to fall for DA but after reading your post I may give it another try if I can stop replaying Mass Effect.

    I finished my first play-through of the three games a couple of weeks ago and I loved every bit of it (maybe not the ending ;)). What is really great in these games are how well all the characters are written and how you come to love and care for all of them. The romance with Kaidan was so satisfying and felt so real that when he gives your Shep that look when being evacuated at the end of ME3, I thought that my heart may broke, so sad.

    I am currently in my second play-through of ME1 and although I was determined to not romance him and romance Garrus instead, it feels like cheating and I can’t just do it.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Kaidan. ๐Ÿ™‚

      You should definitely give DA:O a try again. The graphics are a bit dated compared to what the later Mass Effect games have shown us, but the story and characters are amazing! Stick with it. I became a fan for life.

      Have you played the Citadel DLC? It’s the best final single-player campaign for ME3. It makes saying goodbye to the characters a little easier and makes up for the disappointing ending.

      I haven’t tried another run at ME as female Shepard romancing Garrus yet, but I think I may have a tough time to let go of Kaidan. Still, I’ll do it because I want to experience that path. And, lots of fans have said Garrus’ romance is just as good as Kaidan’s.

      1. Dated graphics are not a problem when a game is good so I will give it another try maybe when I finish this ME play-through.

        I played the Citadel DLC when it came out. It was a bit strange for me because I played it in my first play-through (I got the three games this January so I’m a late comer to the trilogy) and I think that I may not have the same sense of sadness (?) that the players who experienced ME3 a year ago have. I don’t know what is to experience the game without the Extended Cut or without the Citadel DLC, although in the case of the Citadel I can see how it feels like a great farewell.

        I’m determined to romance Garrus at some point but it will be with a new character. I cannot bear the thought of my current Shepard romancing other character. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Just finished the third game yesterday, and I’m still heartbroken that my imaginary ending of Kaidan and Shepard sitting on his parent’s balcony drinking beer didn’t happen. I want to do another playthrough but I know I’ll just end up with Kaidan again. His face when you leave him in the extended cut DLC, it broke my heart in two.

    1. I agree. The ending was less than what’s desired, but I kind of feel the Destroy ending does leave you with a bit of hope. At the very least I did love how Bioware gave you the Citadel DLC. No matter what happens in the ending at least you got one last beautiful hurrah with your love interest and friends. It makes up for the disappointing ending.

      1. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the ending, part of me always knew Shepard would have to sacrifice herself. Haven’t played the Citadel DLC yet, really looking forward to it

  16. I know this is months and years after the original post but I like the article so much I just have to respond. What you’ve written is spot on. I just finished the series for the first time around so it’s still very fresh on my mind. I’m retired Navy so I felt quite at home in the Alliance Military, though certain regs seem a lot more relaxed in 2180-something.

    I played the default manShep. I tried femshep but I just couldn’t click with her. I always play male characters anyway. Of course that limited my interactions with Kaidan, who isn’t exactly friendly with Sheploo without a good deal of patience drawing him out. I see why many players gave up on him early.

    Looks wise I found him handsome in 1&2 but nothing to write home about. I did approve of his multi-ethnic look which is a large part of BW’s vision of 2180+ Earth. Wasn’t until the opening cutscene of ME3 that I did hard double take on his character model upgrade and felt stunned by his sudden sexual appeal. I did temporarily regret that he’d lost a bit of the SE Asian appeal of his eyes but the upgrade did wonders for him overall. His face is more open, expressive and inquisitive yet those big brown eyes still harbor a private soul and secret thoughts. If anything he is even more ambiguously multi-ethnic.

    Romance wise, for interested manSheps, he is well worth the wait. From the initial cut scene in ME3 until their “date” on the citadel there is plenty of tension building. Since his dialogue is matched to a femShep romance where he is the “man” of the relationship, he comes off as “enjoying” being the “boss” behind closed doors when dealing with a male Shepard. This is enhanced by the fact that he now outranks Shepard. But it’s never overdone into provoking incorrect assumptions about gay relationships. Since Sheploo is a manly man himself, Kaidan’s innuendo in this regard is pleasantly amusing and Sbarg’s husky burr is full of naughty promises. “Ok, you’re the boss. Except when you aren’t. And in that case… Find me later.”

    1. I donโ€™t mind you commenting on this post. ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, Iโ€™m flattered you feel really compelled to put your own two cents about it. Thank you for reading it and Iโ€™m glad you enjoyed reading about my take on Kaidan and the romance.

      I havenโ€™t tried a manShep romancing Kaidan path yet, but I do want to try at some point! Judging from what I read about how this romance goes and based on your own personal experience with trying it out yourself, it sounds like the romance will be just as sweet and epic as someone who played as femShep who romanced Kaidan.

      I heard the approach with a manShep and Kaidan romance was treated in such a way to make it realistic and believable. With the absence of actually being able to romance Kaidan in the first two games, Iโ€™m glad that Bioware took a different approach with this romance path, instead of somehow lumping them together all of sudden without any real logical context for them to start a romance together. I like the idea how these two men are realizing their feelings for one another for the first time and theyโ€™re both figuring it out and dealing with this new revelation. This path offers something really different and unique.

      While a femShep has the advantage of romancing Kaidan over the course of three games and has an established romantic history, Kaidan and manShep doesnโ€™t have that. By the third game, manShep and Kaidan are falling in love for the first time. Keeping in mind that theyโ€™re now in the midst of a serious war with the Reapers, it makes this romance bittersweet. They donโ€™t get to have as much time together since theyโ€™ve only realized their love for each other now, but they obviously want to spend as much time as they can together, even if itโ€™s for a short time. To me, that sounds like an amazing love story to witness.

      1. It is very sweet. More than once I thought I was going to get cavities. I see a massage therapist who is gay and described the relationship to him in every detail. He’s not a gamer but he agreed that it sounded very authentic and free of stereotypes. I also mentioned it was their intent all along that Kaidan be the comfy poly-curious man of the future.

        I can only speak for the Mark Vanderloo Shepard but there is just something about him in particular and Kaidan that makes a compelling match visually. For me at any rate. Kaidan is generally the quiet, reserved one and Shepard is the brazen, in the face one, but they seem to slightly reverse roles when dealing with each other. Not always, though, which I see as part of the charm. I get a happy smile seeing them together.

        I could rattle on all day about the collective merits of Kaidan. I see a lot of myself in his description and habits along with my tendency to over observe, over nuke and pick something apart. I don’t think I ever saw a birth month given for him but he is the posterchild Aquarius. Has all our best and worst traits if you are into that sort of thing. Sbarge is an Aquarius. Makes me wonder how much affect he may have had in the evolution of the character beyond the voice. Anyway… I’ll shush. Go try ManShep. You’ll like.

  17. Exactly!!! I LOVE Bioware game characters. I thought Alistar was the most lovable and cute one… but then I met Kaidan in ME and I totally fell in love with him. ^_^ I feel so empty whenever I finnish a Bioware game because I miss all the characters so much as if they were real people. They are so realistic and well written!

    1. I think that’s the big draw with Bioware games. Most of their characters are really well written and feel like real people you would want to meet in real life. It’s quite amazing actually. I look forward to their future games!

  18. It’s intriguing how your attachment to your Shepard through things like their love interest keeps you into the ME series. I’ve played through the series many times partially because I like to revisit Shepard’s relationship with Liara. Yeah, exclusive Liaramancer here. Kaidan would be my runner-up if Liara didn’t exist but I just can’t bring myself to not romance her. It’s been that way since ME1. It’s weird how a game can do that but it’s like not wanting to watch a video of something disgusting or painfully awkward even if it’s not actually happening. I just wouldn’t enjoy the series if Shepard’s relationship with Liara was platonic and it sounds like that’s how it is for you with Kaidan. I still like Kaidan even after the Horizon treatment. He at least apologizes in ME3 unlike Ashley. If she survives into ME3 I like to shoot her but if Kaidan does I like to invite him onto the Normandy.

    1. I think our attachment to the characters and the romances speaks volumes about how well the writers at Bioware want their players to really care about and connect with the characters in the game. It makes playing their games much more meaningful and a well-rounded experience.

  19. I haven’t finished mass effect 1…still didn’t get to choose who will live but uhh..spoiled myself..I regret it..alot.

    Anyways, there was something I didn’t like about the romance and it is the fact that there is no transition..or signal. It just came out of no where for me. Like I started talking with him and then BOOM! femShep flirted and I was like “wait what? WHAT!?”.

    But this is only because I missed the Citdale view. Where Normandy first lands on Citadel and Shepherd views the Citdale place alongside Ashley and Kaidan. Where he accidentally and cutely expresses his love to Shepherd..Shepherd notices this and uhh takes note…having not seen that transition sort of sucks.

    Unfortunately Kaidan gets to be in a disadvantage more than Ashley because of his back story. Just to be clear , anyone who thinks a man talking about his past and emotion is whiny… are wrong and is a complete jerk…okay that maybe a too extreme but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN OKAY!! HE IS NOT WHINY! its like femShep said, talking about your feelings makes you human.

    But sadly again that puts him in a lower scale than Ashley in terms of interest. When you go talk with Ashley her conversation makes it very multi dimensional..She talks about her family but yeah: you find out about her from different angle…herself, her sister, her mom, her family, and of course the family history..They are all in the same topic but they are in different perspective..all together sums up about her character. Kaidan on the other hand, his conversation is chronological..don’t get me wrong I think Bioware’s strategy to pull the audience to Kaidan in an emotional level was a nice plan and I loved hearing about his back story…not all together though, like really later maybe…I wanted to have other conversations from him…Instead of learning about cutting corners it felt like “me in the brain camp with the asshole turian part 4” (that turian is an asshole by the way).

    I remember femShep saying to Ashley that she talks to her to talk from heart and Kaidan to talk from head…I just uhh..didn’t really see that.

    I think this is why Kaidan is seen as whiny (to which I think he is not, he is more like the perfect husband material! give me a Kaidan and ill marry him any day…..that’s because I cant marry aliens BUT STILL)

    1. That’s probably the only really gripe people had about the romance system in the first Mass Effect game. There wasn’t any real obvious cues where you may be about to enter into romance mode with certain characters. This also happens with Liara too and not just Kaidan.

      It’s such a strange misconception to think that if it’s a man who’s being sensitive or expressing his feelings, he’s automatically labeled as a “whiner.” Showing emotion doesn’t make someone any less of a man than the next guy. Regardless, the developers do a great job of creating characters that are interesting and really diverse in their personalities. I’m glad Bioware has made characters like Kaidan who aren’t your stereotypical “macho man.” We have plenty of those types in other games. We don’t need more of the same.

  20. 2015!! I’m really late! hahahaha
    Hi! I’m from Brazil so just ignore all my mistakes, haha.
    I’m playing ME 2 a I started to read about kaidan’s romance because I love the relationship with him in the first game. Like you said, I saw a lot of terrible opinions about him and I thought “what? I think I might have played a totally different game, because my kaidan wasn’t like that”. People were talking a lot about Garrus and how he is amazing but I didn’t want a romance with him! And then I find your text and it makes me sooooo happy! Finally someone saying something good about Kaidan! I’m definitely going after him, no cheating on him in ME2 โค
    That's the first time I've read a lot of spoilers and I'm really happy about it! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Thanks!

    1. Not at all! I really enjoy getting comments on old posts I’ve written a few years ago. It makes me happy that people are still finding the post and enjoy reading it. Especially all the way from Brazil! ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, your English is very good and I didn’t find any mistakes at all!

      Have fun playing all three games of Mass Effect. It’s really one of the best series I’ve ever played. Reading mostly negative opinions and comments about Kaidan seemed unfair. For people to say this character isn’t worth the time to get to know is incorrect. After I finished playing all three games, I definitely had a lot to say about Kaidan and I guess writing this post back then was my desire to defend the guy. You also really have to play all three games and romance him all the way to the end to really appreciate Kaidan’s depth and growth as a character. That’s why I say he’s a largely different person from who he was in ME1 compared to ME3. I’m really satisfied with how the writers at Bioware developed his personal journey in all three games. It’s a testament to the developer’s dedication to provide gamers with deep and meaningful characters and stories in their games.

      1. Thanks for the reply!
        I think it’s really great when the writers spend some time thinking about the characters and how they’re gonna develop them, because it’s worth it. I’ve seen something similar happen in the new Tomb Raider (2013, ok, not so new anymore, haha). I love Lara Croft since I was little and I love how they gave her an evolution from a unexperienced girl to a survivor, without that sexual object image she used to have. When I played this game, I finally felt represented, as I’m feeling represented now with my FemShep and her relatioship with Kaidan.
        Well, when I finish ME 3, I’ll come back to say how it was!
        Thank you again, and see you soon!

      2. Ps: After reading your text, I think I’m gonna play Dragon Age too…
        (and that’s a problem, because I need to finish college and my boyfriend’s videogame isn’t letting me :P)

      3. I think you might have a problem once you start playing Dragon Age. Once you get into the story, it’s such a huge time investment to get as much out of the game as possible. Definitely enjoy when you get around to playing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I just finished ME 3 and I’m here crying like a baby. It’s difficult to talk about my emotions in another language. Portuguese is my emotional language, but I’m going to try.
    I became deeply involved with Kaidan. I’s amazing how I connected to a guy from a game! hahaha
    He’s a rare type of soldier, he’s not like James, hahaha. He’s sweet, correct, he cares about everyone, he knows how to forgive and when he needs to apologize. And he grows a lot. In Mass Effect 1 he looks like a child, afraid of his feelings. In Mass Effect 3 he’s a man, he looks older and he’s not just a shadow. Kaidan shows himself different from Shepard, but equally special.
    Now, I’m gonna read some fanfics (cause I don’t want to forget him) and maybe I’ll play again someday just to romance him one more time.
    I think I’m not ready to leave him. Maybe it’s because he looks so human, so real, so tangible. Or maybe I need treatment cause I miss a videogame character, hahahaha.
    Doesn’t matter. I miss him.
    Thanks again for your text. It was really inspiring! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the entire series! You’ve pretty much summed up mine and everyone else’s experience with romancing Kaidan through to the end. I was really emotional and highly impacted by Kaidan’s story and how much he loves Shepard. It’s such an epic love story, and not wanting to leave this character behind is a minor side effect of having romanced him. ๐Ÿ™‚ Reading fanfiction is the best cure because I honestly did the same thing. Thank you again for reading my post. I’m glad you felt inspired by it. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. It has actually been so long, I can’t really remember the ones I’ve read. I’d suggest going to fanfiction.net and start there. There have been plenty of really good Shepard/Kaidan fanfiction you can easily read.

      2. I absolutely did! I really agree and I loved the Extended Cut. Any chance to have more romantic Kaidan moments is always good in my book. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I totally relaTed with your entry here. I came back to ME recently after a major DA binge. I totally fell for Alistair and didn’t find that same romance in DA2. Then came Inquisition. The romances in this game had me doing multiple play throughs. At first I thought no one would compare to Cullen until I got my heart ripped out by Solas and then recently have fallen in love all over again with Dorian. I had to provide myself a distraction from thinking about DAI entirely too much so started ME again. I’m on the 3rd one now and just rekindled the romance with Kaidan. Right now, I’m a little disappointed be cause we just declared our feelings for each other and I go talk to him on Normandy and get a pre-recorded dialogue. Argh. I’m really hoping it will continue to evolve and while I know there is more content with him I’m really hopeful it will give me the feels like Alistair or Cullen gave me. Your entry here gives me hope.

    1. Casey, the romance with Kaidan starts very slowly, specially because you are his commander, I think he is trying to hide it somehow, but it gets better.
      I’m playing Dragon Age now and I’m with Alistair, but I don’t know, I miss Kaidan a lot, I felt that the romance with Alistair was too fast for me, like he was loving me out of nowhere. He’s a nice guy, but my heart belongs to another hahaha

    2. Thanks for your comment and I apologize that I’m only getting around to answering your comment now. I’ve been away on vacation at the time of your comment. I don’t know how far along in the game you got, but the Kaidan romance does get better as you progress in the game, especially by ME3. His romance path is very satisfying and well written. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you enjoyed all the other romances in DA and DAI. Have fun playing ME!

  23. I know this was written years ago, but…
    Yes, yes, yes. ALL of this. I romanced Kaidan my first play through of the series years ago and I haven’t been able to bring myself to stray in the 5-6 times I’ve played the series since. (That’s what youtube romance-compilations are for…shhh…don’t tell.)
    He is sensitive yet manly. He is powerful biotic, yet doesn’t feel threatened by Shepard’s authority or ‘bad-assery’. In fact, he is quite content to support her, and let her shine. (Garrus is a great ‘buddy’ to Shepard, but there’s too much of a rivalry there).
    He’s quiet, but he’s not afraid to speak up if the situation warrants it, or if he feels Shepard is doing something wrong.
    He is the perfect ‘other half’, custom-made for her personality.
    Ok I’m done. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am bookmarking this article so I can send it to all the people who look at me incredulously when I say that Kaidan is my favorite character.

    1. Oooh I feel so good reading your comment! I have a feeling that I always need to justify to other people why I love Kaidan so much. For me it’s very obvious, he’s incredible.

    2. I appreciate you still commenting on a post I wrote years ago, so thank you for taking the time to do so. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Kaidan post is still one of my top hit posts that still gets a lot of readership and shares. It makes me proud I’ve written something well that speaks to others who find it.

      I think it’s really easy to dismiss Kaidan as not being particularly remarkable. I guess it’s because he doesn’t really stand out immediately like Garrus or Liara. Kaidan’s character reveals itself and builds overtime until you realize he’s much more complex than he appears to be.

      And please do share my post as you see fit! If it helps other skeptics to see Kaidan in a different light, then my post has done something right. ๐Ÿ™‚

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