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?