Dishonored 2’s voiced characters make for a “warmer” game

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Dishonored 2 (3)

There’s something to be said for the strong, silent type. The protagonist who lets his actions talk for him, instead of flapping his gums constantly. We live in an age however, where it’s actually odd not to hear the hands we’re controlling in front of us that happens to be in the middle of a murder-spree, utter a few lines. It’s an idea that the first Dishonored game played around with, as lead character Corvo was as quiet as a fart in church while he was blinking all over the place.

That’s all changing in Dishonored 2 however. This time, Corvo has some vocal talent from Bethesda veteran Stephen Russel for his pipes, while Erica “The Magic School Bus” Luttrell brings Emily to life. While the first Dishonored game experimented with voice acting in the Knife of Dunwall DLC, Dishonored 2 is going to make full use of its voice actors to create more engaging characters. Something that harkens back to that DLC which featured Michael Madsen as Daud and shaped the franchise sequel.

“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,” creative director Harvey Smith said to GameSpot.

Dishonored 2 (1)

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.

One of the biggest advantages with having voiced characters, is that your audience will have someone to more easily sink their emotional hooks into. Voices create personalities, personalities create an emotional investment for the player. But the idea of voiced characters in Dishonored 2 was an idea that was originally met with a bit of resistance from Dishonored fans.

“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 explained.

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.

That all came back full circle with the Knife of Dunwall DLC, which Smith says served as a valuable experiment for the direction that Dishonored 2 would take while also creating DLC with actual value, something that publishers tend to forget about. “[Experimentation is] one of those benefits of DLC that publishers often don’t see,” Smith 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.

In the end, it’s not just about creating better characters, but a better game overall said Smith. “It makes the game warmer, it gives you more clues, it’s easier for the level designers. You really understand who they are,” Smith explained.

Read  Dishonored is taking a break as Arkane moves towards more online-focused projects

Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

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