Alright, this is gonna be my final wall of text in this topic. Pinkie-promise.
I'm sorry, but again, there is romance and then there is sex. Romance can lead to sex, but sex does not mean romance is taking place. Likewise, intimacy does not necessarily mean sex either. Two people can share very tender, open and meaningful moments together without having sex. Sex, when done right, is the ultimate and deepest level of romance and intimacy; becoming as one physically.
Sure. I don't think anybody here is arguing that sex and romance are necessary for each other. Sex can be just sex too (for those who enjoy that sorta thing - and mind you, that falls very much in character for Astarion and Lae'zel, imo). Just as romance without sex is fine (like SH), sex without romance is also fine (like Lae'zel). Whatever makes sense for the character will do, imo. Then if it develops into something else later on (or not), then that's fine and all - but not every romancable humanoid being should be the "let's take this very slow, and then get married and have babies once this is all over"-type - because that would not make sense. At all. Some people are simply not like that.
So, I do think that romance scenes in the game would make the game more emotionally stimulating. I think one of the things BG3 is lacking is that Larian needs to draw players in more and get them to fall in love with the origin characters. We need more comradery. We need to feel more like the part is a group of friends by the time the Celebration event occurs. In order to do that, we need more intimate dialogue between the characters. And I don't mean romantic intimacy. I mean one-on-one dialogues that are more heart-felt and interesting. These need to help the players connect more and care more for the characters.
You'll get no argument from me here! I absolutely 100% agree that there should be more character-bonding (and not necessarily in romantic ways). :] In both character commentary (monologues), dialogues and group banter.
But the point is that each character needs to have more that draws you in and makes you like them. Then, when it comes to romance, we need the player to trigger it so that they can romance whoever they want and not be romanced by the others. I don't want Wyl hitting on me when I feel more like he's a bro and we should be kicking back and just joking around together as opposed to him wanting to share a bunk with me. Likewise, some have expressed that they don't like Lae'zel and find her repulsive, so I'm sure they don't like her proposition as much as I don't like it. (And I like Lae'zel and would like to know more about her character. I'm telling you. There's more to her.)
I absolutely get your point here, and I feel very much the same on many occasions. Absolutely, one can "just turn the character down" - but that does not "undo" the suggestion and it does leave a rather weird taste in one's mouth. (DA:O severely scarred me for life here - friendzoning Alistair was painful.)
Before I move on to my personal opinion on the matter, I'd like to add: I GET IT - onesided feelings is a rather real and "realistic" problem. It shouldn't be "that much of a deal" to just say "no". But for some people it is awkward, weird and (just like in reality) it simply won't go back to "normal" afterwards. Having even an AI character that you do not deem appropriate for romancing coming on to your PC is difficult and it is not enjoyable. While playing DA:O I 100% envisioned Alistair as some sort of younger brother - and when he REPEATEDLY tried to make advances on my character, then things got so cringy and awkward that I simply couldn't drop the awkward feeling whenever I saw him. Especially not with the responses he gaves (those who knows, they know I guess...)
BUT despite all this - I do NOT agree that the PC should have to make the first move. Because that simply does not make sense for a lot of characters - and I feel like a player shouldn't have to pick options that do not suit their characters just to "open up" the romantic (not to be mistaken for flirty) dialogues. What I would like, ideally, is some sort of friendzoning option similar to that of Leliana (DA:O) - it was simple, perfectly crystal clear what the options meant and it simply "switched" the romance off without actually hurting the NPCs feelings. She simply swapped from romantically interested to friendly interested just by the way you chose your answers and it was VEEEEERRRYYY obvious which ones where the "FRIENDZONE!"-options the first time she started having the first "romantic" conversations with you (which was kind of subtle hinting, but still obvious enough - like seriously whoever wrote the entire thing is a genius). While obviously this is most unrealistic since a real person would A) take the hint and hide their feelings, or B) proceed anyways and follow their feelings - it is still, imo, what grants the best player experience. Because this is one of these things that I think NPCs can do better than real people. Let us "turn off" their romantic interest if it makes the session uncomfortable - at least when we're talking about our companions that will actually stick around for the entire game. Obviously - if some NPCs that will occur once or twice or every now and then gives my character some unwanted attention - then I'll just deal with it. But it is SIGNIFICANTLY harder when it comes to companions that is around pretty much... Always. :|
Then, as you get more flirty dialogue with the one you are romancing (or more than one if that's your cup of tea), then things lead to more scenes with just the two of you down by the river or whatever sitting and joking and flirting. Then maybe showing a more innocent kiss. Then maybe the next time it is more of the two sharing a glance with one another as they are sitting around the campfire with the rest of the party. The two then slip away one at a time so no one really notices...or maybe they do. Maybe one party member watches one of you go and smiles knowingly to the others. The two romantic individuals find a moment off in the small alcove across the log at camp. One pushes the other up against the wall and they share a bit of passion there. But it is kept brief to indicate it hasn't been taken to THAT level yet. The next time fade to black. All of these things being triggered by the player so that they can take it to the level they want to take it to.
Sure. Those types of romances should definitely be available for those who likes this kind of thing. I mean, like I mentioned before... My characters are usually not very quick at jumping into bed with someone - that would just be out of character for them. So they just either shrug or laugh it off, or some (looking at my rogue character) would probably get offended and proceed the conversation accordingly (probably with a fancy punch). I mean, I am not gonna argue against you on this, because I too felt like it is more than a little out of place (and this is just my opinion, I respect those who think otherwise) that all except SH wants to bed your character during the very same night. :'] Apparently I looked so troubled IRL that my SO actually had to take a look at my screen and ask wtf was going on (and then he just laughed as I explained and said "go with the vampire dude" XD ).
Then the relationship indicator could change to Lover or something once you have reached the full blown relationship level. If they really wanted to, they could then incorporate jealousy in the party between individuals, like how Aerie and Jaheira were fighting over the MC. I mean, if they did it right, they could really make the romances interesting and more fun and not so much 0 to 60 sex, and it should span out beyond Early Access if necessary. I mean, I get that you have a tadpole in your heads and you might move a bit quicker than a standard relationship, but it shouldn't feel so rushed.
Sure, a better relationship indicator would certainly be welcomed. Jealousy, as long as it makes sense for the characters, could be fine too - and like you said, there certainly would be (or are, rather) potential for great "romances" in BG3. :]
I even think Lae'zel's romance could be way more interesting. Instead of offering herself to you at the Celebration, I just thought she'd be way more tough to crack. She doesn't like feeling vulnerable, so I would think that she'd be fighting any feelings she might have for the MC. I was thinking it would be far more interesting for her to resist sex with the MC until after her character is broken or something more substantial. Maybe the party visits her creche and learns that they are just going to kill her too and there is no cure. Then everything she has believed in is a lie. Even after that, after she breaks down and shares with the MC her shattered hopes and dreams, then I figured it'd be better if she fought it all the more. Part of her doesn't like being so vulnerable with you, so she resists any deeper connection in spite of her attraction. Little by little, she is whittled down until she can no longer handle it. She THEN loses it and throws herself at you, after she's been thoroughly pushed to the point of breaking.
I mean, it doesn't have to be that, exactly, but something more than just, "You killed goblin leaders. You make me hot. Let's do it." So boring and lame, vulgar and crass and pointless.
Even Astarion's could be more enticing. Him just saying, "I mean sex, Darling," is just not sexy. If he was feeling some appetite for such things, why not have a scene at the celebration where it shows you moving off by yourself and Astarion is suddenly there, coming out of the shadows. He then tries to smooth talk you, using wit and flare to try to entice you to do things with him.
Shoot! Even if Lae'zel did that on Celebration night, that would be better than simply approaching her in the middle of the party and having her say she wants to do things with you. There's no romance in that at all. There's got to be some sort of seduction. Right now it's just uninteresting and like the party members are asking you to go hang out at the mall as opposed to being max level intimate with them.
Regarding Lae'zel - I agree with most people above. Being physical and blunt IS VERY MUCH in character for someone like Lae'zel. If it could develop into something deeper later on is one thing - but as it is right now... She is one of the characters that this behavior really makes sense to.
Regarding Astarion, I don't know... While I do not dismiss your idea as wrong - I feel like both could be equally "true" for his character. He does feel like the type that could try some more... Seductive methods than just "Let's have sex." - but at the same time, regarding the particular circumstances, I felt like it was very "Astarionish" of him to be blunt with a "I am bored and this is awful. Let's ****?". I'll admit though - I do agree, that in general (maybe if he would have been sober ? xd) the scenario you painted would feel more accurate if we assume that he have been used as "bait" or something back in the city... And, imma guess wildly here, having him turn up uninvited with seductive and tempting proposals would prooobably result in him reaching a higher romancing rate. But please, Larian, if you do go with this; make us able to not just verbally deny him, and give us the option to physically decline (like the elbow-scene
). "WTF ARE YOU DOING HERE? *SMACK* "
Finally - I just wanna add that I do agree with you on many points. I am not much for the "quickie" romances that is the result of pure thirst, and I do very much appreciate when things develop more slowly and that it is based on someone actually falling in love with the PC overtime (and vice versa?). My absolute favorite romance ever is Aloth (... Yup, very slow and VERY vague to say the least) and his character was so insanely well written (AND VOICED!!!) that it STILL completely blows my mind every time I think about it - even if he would not have had an actual romance available, he'd still be my favorite companion of all time. Now, granted - most people here have a lot more experience than I when it comes to CRPGs and romance options, but I do have quite a few characters that I remember fondly (some from romance runs, some just in general). My favorite prior to Aloth was Ifan, mostly because he was already from the start so similar to my character (while Aloth was the polar opposite) and Ifan's character just felt right from the beginning (again, in opposing to Aloth where everything developed very slowly with no natural chemistry in the beginning - it just so happened to be that way when the story unfolded
). I would make a list to mention some more of my favorites - but ... I'll just leave you with my top two favorites :]