Starfield Almost Had A Voiced Protagonist, But Here’s Why Bethesda Decided Against It

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Starfield‘s protagonist is not voiced, but that wasn’t always the case. In pre-production, Bethesda Game Studios wanted to have a voiced protagonist, and the company even hired an actor and landed on a voice. However, after some time, the developers found that the voice was “too specific.” Then things changed in a way that design director Emil Pagliarulo believes had a big benefit on the game overall, he told Polygon.

“Do we have, like some RPGs do, four voices? Do we have one voice, but hire someone else who’s more convenient? But [in Starfield] you can make every different type of person. We realized that the only way to really do it and let the player be the person they want to be was to have an unvoiced protagonist,” Pagliarulo said.

The identity of the actor who could have voiced the protagonist is unknown. Pagliarulo went on to say that there was a time in the video game business when “every protagonist was voiced” in the AAA space, but for Starfield, not having a voiced hero allowed the team to achieve even more.

“There’s a big argument, if in Fallout 4 and other RPGs, players don’t like reading a line of dialogue, a player response, and then they click it and get [a different spoken line]. But the problem is, then you read it, and then you click it, and you have to wait for them to say the same thing,” Pagliarulo said.

“So that’s not ideal either. So then we just arrived at, What if we just go text? and it was just really freeing. And, I mean, we have over 200,000 lines of spoken dialogue in Starfield with no voiced protagonists. And it was not having a voiced protagonist that allowed us to create such a big world.”

Starfield is the first new game from Bethesda Game Studios since 2018’s Fallout 76, a game that was not critically adored at launch but has since gathered steam and dedicated following. Starfield presumably would have been a multiplatform game prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of parent company ZeniMax in 2020, but now it’s exclusive on console to Xbox.

Starfield’s rollout begins August 31 for people who bought the $100 Constellation Edition or the $35 upgrade. Everyone else, including all Game Pass members, can begin playing on September 5.

Starfield exclusive on console to Xbox means Microsoft is missing out on millions of sales, but Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer is confident the game will make money.

For more, check out GameSpot’s Starfield preorder guide and our rundown of when, exactly, the game releases where you live.