Starfield dev reveals why voiced protagonist plans were scrapped after hiring actor

Jeremy Gan
Starfield protagonistBethesda

A Starfield developer has revealed why plans for a voiced protagonist were scrapped early into production despite Bethesda already hiring an actor for the job. 

When Starfield was shown off in Bethesda’s showcase in 2022, it was confirmed that your character would not have a voice. Naturally, the decision split fans down the middle. 

On one hand, it avoids any backlash the Bethesda would receive for voiced protagonists like in Fallout 4, but on the other, some have still been left wanting some input from their main character.

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And it turns out, Starfield very much could have had a voiced character like Fallout 4, however, plans were scrapped, according to one of Starfield’s devs, even after hiring a voice actor. 

starfield footage leakedBethesda
Plans for a voiced protagonist in Starfield were scrapped in early production

In an interview with Polygon, Lead Designer Emil Pagliarulo said, “In pre-production, the plan was to have a voiced protagonist. We hired an actor, we got the voice, we listened to him, and were like, ‘You know what, this guy is too specific.’

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“So then what are the options? Do we have, like some RPGs do, four voices? Do we have one voice, but hire someone else who’s more convenient?” questioned Pagliarulo on the difficulty of giving voice to a protagonist who could embody anyone. 

Starfield follows a long tradition of Bethesda RPG games, allowing players to create their own character down to minute details. But because of how hard it can be to give a voice to these uniquely designed figures, Bethesda most often chooses not to have voiced protagonists.

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“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 of their decision. 

He reflects on the AAA industry’s trend of voiced characters, “There was a time in the industry where every protagonist was voiced. It was a AAA thing. We started realizing, ‘You know what, maybe that’s not the case, maybe fans will actually enjoy the game even more’.”

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About The Author

Jeremy is a writer on the Australian Dexerto team. He studied at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and graduated with a Bachelors in Journalism. Jeremy mainly covers esports such as CS:GO, Valorant, Overwatch, League of Legends, and Dota 2, but he also leans into gaming and entertainment news as well. You can contact Jeremy at jeremy.gan@dexerto.com or on Twitter @Jer_Gan