One thing Bethesda has always been good at (other than, ya know, building insanely detailed worlds that can suck players in for hours on end) is convincing big-name actors to lend their voices to their games. “Convincing” isn’t the right word here. “Paying shitloads of money,” yes, now that’s more accurate.
For instance, who could forget Liam Neeson as “Your Dad” in Fallout 3?! Or Sir Patrick Stewart as “Uriel Septim VII” and Sean “I die in every role” Bean as “Brother Martin” in Oblivion?! What a double whammy!
And yet voice acting is often one of the biggest complaints people have about Bethesda games, and it’s not unfounded. Ever notice how every ghoul in Fallout 3 sounds the same? Sure, there’s a “male ghoul” and a “female ghoul,” but that’s it. Same goes for the Argonians and Khajiit in Elder Scrolls games.
I’ve always suspected that Bethesda “blows their load” (pardon my language) on one or two well-known actors, at the expense of voicing the remaining NPCs. Assuming Bethesda has a set budget for voice acting, I’d hazard a guess that they spend nearly all of it on a few big-name stars. Then, suddenly, they realize “Holy shit, we have 100+ other NPCs to voice, what do we do?”
Ah yes, we’ll just use the same dozen or so voice actors for all of them! Problem solved. Except, obviously, the fact that every Khajiit speaks with the same goddamn voice is one of the biggest immersion-killers in the game.
So I report this news with great trepidation, as I’m concerned Bethesda is making the same mistake yet again. They’ve recently revealed the star-studded cast of their upcoming MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online. It includes John Cleese, Bill Nighy, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Gambon, Malcom McDowell, and others.
Kate Beckinsale, the vampiric protagonist of the Underworld series, plays Queen Ayrenn, the ruler of the High Elves and leader of the Aldmeri Dominion, one of the game’s factions. Since I’ll be playing as a Khajiit when the time comes around, I’ll probably be hearing a lot from her.
And finally, Malcom McDowell, one of the biggest badasses alive today (the anti-hero, Alex, in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange) plays the nefarious Daedric prince, Molag Bal, the game’s primary antagonist hell-bent (or oblivion-bent) on enslaving the mortals of Tamriel.
Pretty impressive cast ya got there, The Elder Scrolls Online. Let’s hope it doesn’t mean that all the other NPCs have the same goddamn voice.