Starfield’s Protagonist Almost Had a Voice

starfield voice

Now, for the gamer that hasn’t yet connected with the glory that is Bethesda Game Studios, Starfield’s unvoiced protagonist might seem like an arbitrary thing – why does it even matter? Well, consider for a moment that one of the elements that people hated the most about Fallout 4 (2015) was that the protagonist was voiced.

It was far too drastic a change from the expected formula and it stripped away some of the RPG magic that made Fallout (and by similar association, Elder Scrolls) so great. It was tough to immerse yourself in an RPG that spoke for you, effectively.

What if we told you that Starfield’s protagonist almost had a voice?

Would It Have Ruined It?

It was one of the biggest bugbears about Fallout 4, with conversations being whittled down to four preset choices – positive, negative, sarcastic, and whatever else BGS could shoehorn in. It was the first Fallout game to have a voiced protagonist, and the die-hard fans of the post-apocalyptic franchise hated it – for the most part.

In an interview with GQ, it was revealed that – in the beginning – Starfield’s protagonist didn’t just have a planned voice, Bethesda Game Studios actively started recording player-character dialogue.

It was ‘eventually stripped out’, but it’s not explained how far they got into recording those lines before the ultimate decision was made to remove them. In the interview with GQ that featured the likes of Todd Howard and Emil Pagliarulo, it was said:

The team did, initially, record player character dialogue, like in Fallout 4, but eventually stripped it out – having a preset voice and intonation took too much from role-playing whoever you want to be.

Instead, Bethesda reverted to the older formula that still works remarkably well – the classic ‘head-zoom’ mechanic that the older Fallout games did so well. It focuses your attention on who you’re talking to, and having no voiced protagonist means that it was easier for Bethesda to feature more dialogue choices.

Of course, there’s still the element of the response, as whoever you’re talking to will talk back, but now it’ll seem as though they’re talking to you, and not your sarcastic/angry/happy/indifferent player-character.

Would you have silently raged if Starfield featured a voiced protagonist?

For more Insider Gaming news, check out our coverage of the New Game+ mode coming to Starfield

  1. This was one thing I didn’t like in BG3 the silent character, despite having to chose your character voice.
    So definitely disappointed in Starfield decision to remove them.

    1. I actually would have been incredibly thrilled and relieved in Starfield featured a voiced protagonist. I understand making the player character silent has its benefits, especially for role-playing, but the narrative and overall immersion is greater when you’re able to hear the character speak and emote when interacting with other people or just responding to events in the world. I was disappointed by Bethesda’s decision but I think it’s going to be a great game nonetheless.

  2. I guess I’m part of the minority who prefer a voiced protagonist instead of a silent one. Fallout 4 is the only Bethesda game I bought because of this reason. I really wanted to buy Starfield but if my character is going to be mute all the time… no thank you!

  3. I agree with Tupac, i would have preferred my character to be voiced. Disappointed that i am going to be mute.

  4. Yes what I want is 10 choices that have 2 of the same outcome – not 2 voice acted, meaningful choices.

    I’m over silent protagonists. Imagine if the Geralt of Rivia or Commander Shepard were silent.

    People need to get over this idea that you’re unable to be whoever you want. You’re making the same choices with 10 unvoiced options as you would with 2-3 voices ones.

    Budget is another insane argument I hear people make. Look at audio books. How much does it cost to produce a book of 100,000 lines of dialogue? Is that going to break the budget for a multi million dollar product? No. Is it going to cost man-hours to pull out each line of dialogue and assign it to a scripted sequence? Yes – but they’re already doing it for the NPCs.

    I hate that it’s 2023 and we still cut these corners. The player character is consistently the weakest story element in a game dedicated to player choice.

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