Romance is a major part of the Mass Effect trilogy, but figuring out exactly who you can romance – and how – is not always straightforward. If you’ve got your heart set on Tali though, here are the steps you need to take to hook up with everyone’s favourite quarian.
Step one, you need to be male Shepard, and step two, you need to be playing Mass Effect 2. Tali is never a romance option for FemShep, and even though she’s a crewmate in the first Mass Effect game, you’ll only be able to romance her in the sequel. As for Mass Effect 3, you will only be able to romance Tali here if you already completed the romance in Mass Effect 2, so keep that in mind.
You will meet Tali quite early in the game, during the first proper mission. However, at this stage she won’t come with you, and nothing you say has any impact on your romance. You should use Paragon responses with Veetor though, as he is needed later on.
It’s not until after Horizon, when you get the second bulk of dossiers, that you can actually recruit Tali. You can recruit your squadmates in any order, but if you’re planning on romancing Tali, it makes sense to pick her up first, as that gives you more time to talk to her. Your other two options, Miranda and Jack, will already be aboard by this point.
During Tali’s recruitment mission, you’ll have to explore a planet orbiting a dying sun, while avoiding the searing hot direct sunlight. Nothing you do here explicitly impacts her romance, but towards the end, you’ll meet Kal Reegar, and he’ll offer to provide covering fire. Tell him to stand down – letting him cover for you means he will die, and with him gone, Tali’s loyalty mission is harder to complete. Since failing the mission means you cannot romance Tali, keeping Kal Reegar alive is part of the long game.
Around the time Tali’s recruitment mission becomes available, so will loyalty missions. Initially, this will be for the first wave of recruits, so Garrus, Miranda, Jacob, Grunt, Jack, and Mordin. Soon though, the next set will unlock too. There isn’t a specific time for these, usually it’s just a couple of missions after the recruitment. Kelly will inform you that Tali wants to see you, and at this point, you can talk to her to unlock her loyalty mission. Prior to this, you’ll be able to talk to Tali immediately after she is recruited to get her thoughts on you working for Cerberus, but no responses impact your romance with her.
Once you unlock her loyalty mission, you should go and do that straight away to leave you with enough time to do the rest of the romance ahead of the suicide misison. Here’s a full guide on the mission, but the gist is that it’s a court case, and during the case you’ll reclaim a ship from the geth, finding evidence that Tali’s father is a war criminal. Back in court, you have five options, each of which have different impacts on Tali’s future.
- Option 1 – Charm: With a high enough Paragon, you can use the Charm response to clear Tali’s name without revealing any evidence. You will need to talk to the Admirals before going to the geth ship to accomplish this.
- Option 2 – Intimidate: As above, only this time with a high enough Renegade score.
- Option 3 – No Evidence: The regular Paragon option is to lie to the court and to claim you found no evidence. Tali will be loyal, will be eligible for romance, but will be exiled from the Fleet.
- Option 4 – Hand Over The Evidence: Do not do this option. This is the regular Renegade option, and while Tali’s name will be cleared, her father will be declared a traitor and will have his entire record expunged. Tali will not be loyal and will not be eligible for romance.
- Option 5 – Incite The Crowd: This is a secret response, only available if you choose Paragon choices with Veetor, keep Kal Reegar alive, and speak to both of them before heading to the geth ship. This option will be on the middle of the right hand side, and will see Shepard encourage Veetor, Kal Reegar, and the quarians in general to voice support for Tali. The charges against her will be dropped, she will be loyal, and she will be eligible for romance.
After this, there are three different conversations to have with Tali. You need to leave a couple of missions between each conversation for the new responses to become available. First, go to Tali and say “I want to talk about you.” She’ll talk about sharing suit environments, and hint that the only person she would consider doing that with is you. Choose any response other than “Goodbye,” then say “I’m interested.”
Later on, go back and again say “I want to talk about you.” After this, your responses should be “No, you weren’t”, then “I want to be with you.” Tali will ask for some time to think about things, so go and do a few more missions.
For the lock in, again pick “I want to talk about you.” This time, you’ll need to choose the middle option “Only if it’s safe,” which locks Tali in. At this stage, the only thing between you and Tali is Legion. After its loyalty mission, it and Tali will be fighting. You can either settle the fight amicably with high Paragon or Renegade, or side with Tali. Choosing Legion will end the romance. Even if you talk to Tali afterwards and win her around, the romance is still over.
Do all this, and when time comes to start the suicide mission, Tali will join you in your quarters.
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