The biggest difference between Starfield and Fallout 4 is Bethesda’s decision to use a silent protagonist this time around. But this was not always the case.
In a recent interview with ribbed, lead designer Emil Pagliarulo spoke about the decision to feature a silent protagonist in Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi RPG. When asked if Bethesda went the direction it did due to the negative fan reaction to Fallout 4, Pagliarulo said that was a factor. Fans will remember that the voicing protagonist of Fallout 4 drew criticism for its low number of dialogue options despite having over 13,000 lines of dialogue.
However, there seems to have been a point where Bethesda wanted to give a voice to its hero and even recorded a few lines of dialogue.
“We hired an actor, got the voice over, listened to him and said, ‘You know, this guy is very specific,'” Pagliarullo recalls.
It seems that the designers of Starfield wanted to make sure that players get the maximum range of expression. Apparently, Bethesda considered using multiple voice actors, or simply choosing one “more appropriate” voice actor. But eventually, Bethesda realized it wasn’t going to work.
“We realized the only way to really do that and allow the player to be whoever they want to be is to have a silent protagonist,” Pagliarullo said.
Starfield’s approach reflects change across the games
Pagliarulo continued to consider a protagonist role voiced in AAA games.
“There was a time in the industry where every hero was voiced. It was an AAA thing. We started realizing, ‘You know, maybe that’s not the case, maybe the fans will enjoy the game more…’ I mean we played with different things. There’s a lot of argument, so he was there Fallout 4 And other RPGs, players don’t like to read a line of dialogue, or a player’s response, and then click and get it [a different spoken line]Pagliarolo said.
“But the problem is, you read it, and then you click on it, and you have to wait for them to say the same thing. So that’s not ideal either. So we just got to, ‘What if we just text’?” “It was really fun. And I mean we had over 200,000 lines of spoken dialogue in Starfield with no voice heroes. And it wasn’t having a voice hero that allowed us to create such a big world.”
Silent heroes seem to be popular in RPGs due to the popularity of fully customizable characters. Baldur’s Gate 3 is among the latest releases to choose to leave its custom hero unvoiced. However, other major RPGs have had a lot of success with voiced heroes, including Mass Effect.
We’ll see for ourselves how successful Starfield Mode can be when it launches globally on Xbox Series X|S and PC on September 1. Meanwhile, check out our exclusive interview with director Todd Howard.
Kat Bailey is IGN’s News Director and co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have advice? Send her a direct message at @the_katbot.
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