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Why Dishonored 2's Main Characters Are Voiced This Time

"It makes the game warmer."


Dishonored 2 makes some pretty big changes to the formula. While the first game only included one playable character, Corvo, the sequel has two: Corvo and Emily. Additionally, Corvo and Emily are fully voiced, whereas Corvo did not speak in the first game.

GameSpot recently spoke with Dishonored 2 creative director Harvey Smith about this dramatic change. He told us all about why developer Arkane made the decision, what it allows for, and more. Smith said the first Dishonored having no voice for Corvo was "OK," but explained that giving Corvo and Emily a voice for the sequel allows the game to be "warmer" and easier to navigate.

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The first Dishonored experimented with voice acting with the Knife of Dunwall DLC, in which Reservoir Dogs actor Michael Madsen voiced the character Daud.

"We did no voice for Dishonored 1; it was OK, you can do it. But then we experimented with the DLC, giving Daud a voice," he said. "It was crazy how useful it was as a developer. You often get players to a certain point and you really want them to look at this thing, but they just don't see it. And so sometimes you can have the character go, 'Wow, look at that!' [laughs]. That's a goofy example, but it works."

The other major benefit of voiced characters is that players can become more emotional invested in their stories and the world overall, Smith said. Not everyone wanted to see voiced characters for the sequel, however.

"When something happens [in the game], and [Corvo or Emily] respond in a dialogue, you get a sense of the emotional reaction of the character," Smith said. "There's a small percentage of players who always said, 'Please don't give the characters a voice, let me project myself' But there's many, many more people who said, 'Corvo seemed like a mute machine and I really wanted to feel warmer about him.' And so, when we started playing with Emily as a character, it was powerful."

Smith circled back to the Knife of Dunwall DLC, saying it served as "training" for Arkane as it related to voice characters and being able to experiment. He also mentioned that sometimes publishers don't see the value in DLC.

"[Experimentation is] one of those benefits of DLC that publishers often don't see," he said. "The expense of DLC versus how much it makes often makes it a questionable gambit. But the fans love it and developers love it because we're finally fluent with our tools, let's make a mini-campaign. And then we also can experiment on things that we may apply to the next game. So [it has] indirect value, which is hard for capitalists to see."

Overall, Smith said he's overjoyed that Emily and Corvo will speak in Dishonored 2.

"It makes the game warmer, it gives you more clues, it's easier for the level designers. You really understand who they are," he said.

Stephen Russel (Thief, Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) voices Corvo, while Erica Luttrell (The Magic School Bus, World of Warcraft) plays Emily.

Dishonored 2 launches on November 11, 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. At E3, Bethesda confirmed that you will be able to play through the entire game without any powers. We also learned about a Dishonored 2 collector's edition, while Bethesda confirmed that preordering the game gets you a copy of Dishonored Definitive Edition.

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