Choosing who to romance can be an important part of any Mass Effect Legendary Edition playthrough, and if Shepard seeks some stability, they may consider beginning or rekindling a romance with Ashley Williams in Mass Effect 3. If Ashley was chosen over Kaidan as the Virmire survivor, she will again appear as a squadmate in Mass Effect 3 starting in Priority: Mars. Unlike most squadmate romances in Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Shepard does not need to have romanced Ashley previously to romance him during Mass Effect 3. She is one of only three squadmates with this unique mechanic; the other two options are other former Mass Effect 1 squadmate romance options Kaidan Alenko and Liara T’Soni.
While the romances in both Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 are largely one-night experiences, the romantic relationships between Shepard and their squadmate paramour in Mass Effect 3 are generally more complex and mature. Shepard and their love interest will deal with real issues, including building trust, making commitments, and struggling with the emotional toll of war. Based on the events of Mass Effect 2, Shepard lost Ashley’s trust while choosing to work with Cerberus and will need to gain it back to begin or rekindle the relationship. Similar to Kaidan’s trust mechanics, Shepard will need to be kind to Ashley, explain himself, and visit her often to earn enough points and reestablish the trust they had in Mass Effect 1 if they want the romance to work. Shepard will also need to make sure to comfort Ashley as she grapples with the consequences of the war against the Reapers. Here’s how to romance Ashley, either for the first time or as a continuation, in Mass Effect 3.
How To Begin Or Continue A Romance With Ashley In Mass Effect 3
To romance Ashley in Mass Effect 3, Shepard will first need to clear his name and try to rebuild a friendship with her. Ashley’s romance in Mass Effect 3 parallels Kaidan’s so players will find much of the criteria the same, with a few minor differences. During Priority: Mars, Ashley will ask twice about Shepard’s trustworthiness and involvement with Cerberus in Mass Effect 2. During the conversation, players will need to select dialogue options that demonstrate his condemnation of Cerberus. These include It was a temporary alliance, You know me better than that, You think I’m like him? and I’m still that guy.
After Ashley is injured at the end of Priority: Mars, Shepard will need to visit her at least three times at Huerta Memorial Hospital on the Citadel. The first time, she will not be awake. The second and third times count toward building trust, and Ashley herself will send messages to Shepard asking him to come visit. Shepard can also pick up a gift for her, The Collected Alfred Tennyson, from Sirta Supplies in the hospital lobby, and give it to her during the second conversation. Typically, the best option in all conversations is to stick to the Paragon dialogue options. This shows Ashley Shepard’s interest and offers points toward regaining her trust.
During the second conversation at the hospital, if Shepard did not romance anyone else in Mass Effect 2, he will have the option to affirm or reaffirm his affection for Ashley. This serves as a soft lock-in point for the romance, letting Ashley know Shepard is interested and opening new flirtatious dialogue options but not forcing the player to fully commit yet. If Shepard was in a relationship with anyone else, especially if they had romanced Ashley in Mass Effect 1, they will need to make it clear during this conversation that they are choosing Ashley. If they were unfaithful, they will need to admit it and apologize.
During Shepard’s third visit with Ashley in the hospital, she will finally be up and about and announce she has accepted Udina’s offer to become a Specter. While there is no special romantic dialogue check here, there are trust points associated with this visit that can help ensure Ashley survives the attack on the Citadel.
During Priority: The Citadel II, as Ashley escorts Udina and the Council out, Shepard will need to either pass a Trust or Reputation check to get her on his side. Like other decision-based mechanics in Mass Effect, Ashley’s trust depends on the number of points players accumulate throughout their playthrough of the series. The points break down as follows:
- Romance Ashley in Mass Effect 1: +2 Points
- Cheat on Ashley in Mass Effect 2: -1 Point
- Do not admit to or apologize for cheating on Ashley in Mass Effect 2: -1 Point
- Save the Council in Mass Effect 1: +1 Point
- Do not save the Council in Mass Effect 1: -1 Point
- Do not save Captain Kirrahe in Mass Effect 1 and have Thane die in Mass Effect 2: -2 Points
- Use Paragon dialogue with Ashley during Priority: Mars: +1 Point
- Use Renegade dialogue with Ashley during Priority: Mars: -1 Point
- Visit Ashley in the hospital once while she is awake: +2 Points
- Visit Ashley in the hospital a second time: +1 Point
- Lower weapons during the confrontation in Priority: The Citadel II: +1 Point
If during the confrontation players have -1 Points or lower, there is no way to talk Ashley down, and she will be killed by Shepard’s squadmates when she tries to shoot. If players have 0 to 3 Points, they will need to pass a difficult Reputation check and use the Charm or Intimidate dialogue option to convince Ashley to trust Shepard. If they have 4 or more Points, Ashley will immediately side with Shepard with no other obstacles. To continue the romance, Shepard must get Ashley on his side in this confrontation. He can, however, use the Renegade interrupt to shoot Udina themselves without penalty to Ashley’s trust.
Following this mission, Ashley will meet Shepard at the Normandy Dock: Bay D24 when the Commander opens the door to return to the Normandy. Ashley will explain that Admiral Hackett has asked her to join the team working on the Crucible but that she would rather be reassigned to the Normandy. Shepard will need to pick the Welcome aboard dialogue option, and she will rejoin the squad and appear around the Normandy for short chats. If Shepard tells her to work with Hackett, players will be locked out of the romance and will not have another chance to interact with Ashley until the end of the game. She will not be available in the Citadel DLC either.
Unlike Kaidan, Ashley has two separate Citadel scenes during which she and Shepard can flirt. These serve as the final lock-in points for the romance. After these scenes, Shepard will no longer have the option to commit to a romance with anyone else. In the first scene, Shepard will need to comfort and encourage Ashley at the Memorial Wall in the Citadel Docks: Holding Area location, usually with the Paragon dialogue choices, as she mourns with her sister. Shepard should also take the Paragon interrupt that appears to progress the romance further. Then, sometime later, Ashley will message Shepard and ask to meet him at the Citadel. She can be found at the Apollo Cafe in the Presidium Commons. To lock in the romance, Shepard should take the Paragon dialogue track. Choosing the Renegade options in this conversation will permanently end the relationship and lock players out of it for the duration of the game.
Like other romanced squadmates at the start of the Citadel DLC, Ashley will be the first squadmate to come to Shepard’s aid during the ambush. After the final fight, Shepard can meet her for a drinking contest at the bar inside the Silver Coast Casino, where he can either keep pace with her or allow her to win the contest. Ashley is an optional invite to Shepard’s party and, if invited, the two will wake up in bed together the morning after.
Just before the mission Priority: Cerberus Headquarters, Ashley will come to Shepard’s quarters to try and offer some comfort as they ruminate on the loss they have experienced. As long as Shepard does not reject her outright, the couple can confess and affirm their love for one another, kiss, and spend the night together.
Ashley will also be one of Shepard’s final goodbyes during Priority: Earth. If Ashley is part of the squad during the run up to the beam, she will become severely injured and evacuated back to the Normandy. No matter what, Shepard will need to leave her behind. The two will confess their love for one another one final time here. In the epilogue, she will be seen either putting Shepard’s name on the Memorial Wall or refusing to do so, depending on the player’s chosen Mass Effect 3 ending and total number of War Assets.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with backward compatibility for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.