Why Dishonored 2's Main Characters Are Voiced This Time

"It makes the game warmer."

11 Comments

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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GunEye

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Holy cow ! Tif taffing Taffers! Stephen Russell voices Corvo? THIS IS PERFECT! I always felt that Dishonored was a spiritual successor to Thief and is deeply inspired by that classic trilogy.

The developers know Thief 1-3 fans are also fans of this game - so they took the most appealing- fitting VA - Stephen Russel - Aka Garrett -Master Thief! SUPRELY EXCITED ABOUT THIS!! YESSSS! Also excited about Emily bot being some overly-used VA too. Splendid. Great move Arkane!! Thank you!

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ji-high

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Mute characters should stay in the past where they belong.

Lazy/broke developers came up with this 'immersion' bullshit to justify their shortcomings and you have morons parroting that crap as if it made any sense.

Unless you're some sort of idiot who can't even answer a simple question or show any kind of emotion, I don't see how a character not talking make the game more immersive.

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Araknyd03

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I'm 1 of the few people that didn't mind Corvo being silent.

The protagonist doesn't need to talk in every first-person game, and Portal 1 & 2 are proof of that.

That said, I think that Stephen Russell is a perfect fit for Corvo after seeing the E3 gameplay trailer.

For me, does he NEED to be voiced? No.

Is it a welcomed addition? Sure.

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godfather830

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I like my characters to have a voice.

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Pelezinho777

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Because there are two characters and they need to speak with each other?

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Thanatos2k

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First person games is pretty much the only genre where mute main characters can work. But not mandatory.

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R4gn4r0k

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I'd be interesting to hear Corvo's voice.

I just hope it "fits" as Corvo is definitely one of my favourite game characters from last gen.

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Spartan-1657

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Adding a voice to the character is a good thing. I don't understand these people that say "I'm projecting myself on that character". That doesn't make sense. No one else in the game is reacting to your emotions or feelings during the game so I don't see how it adds immersion. If anything, it takes away from it.

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Araknyd03

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Edited By Araknyd03

@Spartan-1657:

It's not so much as projecting, but as @balrogbane mentioned, it can pull me out of the experience if it's over-done.

It depends on the game.

I've had no issues with Portal and Portal 2, but the Portal series generally tends to get a pass or gets looked over because it's Portal.

In the 2014 Thief reboot I felt like Garrett was too much of a chatter-box, to the point where at times I was just like "can he please just shut the fuq up?"
After everything he picked up or interacted with it was filled with him talking.

In The Knife Of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches DLCs, I think Daud was done just fine and I really enjoyed it.

If Arkane sticks to that Daud DLC formula of speech I'll be fine with it, but if Corvo and Emily end up being a like 2014 Garrett chatter-box / parrot in Dishonored 2, that will get annoying quickly.

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Validifyed

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Edited By Validifyed

Having listened to the voice acting, I can say that (For me) the addition is nothing but a good thing.

Unlike games where I disagreed with the MC voice acting like Fallout 4, Dishonored has an amazingly well defined narrative, I could basically have told you exactly what the two main characters would sound like just from the pre-voice acted trailers and experience from the original game.

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Balrogbane

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I don't mind the character talking in a cut-scene. But in a game like this I'd personally rather my character not talk in-game. It pulls me out of the experience a bit and makes it feel more like I'm watching someone else perform the action rather than myself. I'd rather imagine what my character would say when I just pulled off something really cool than have him say something generic like "That was close."

That said I'm still very much hyped for this game.

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