Starfield's Silent Protagonist and Dialogue System
The decision to make Starfield’s protagonist silent is part of a wider reaction to Fallout 4’s voiced protagonist and dialogue wheel, as Bethesda discusses how Starfield’s dialogue system works.
Although Starfield’s gameplay is markedly different from Fallout 4, there are some design choices that the upcoming Bethesda RPG shares with the doomed Fallout game, and one in particular has drawn a strong reaction from the developer. While Fallout 4’s voiced protagonist met with a largely positive response from players, the game’s dialogue wheel was met with a lot of negative feedback, and Bethesda has taken that onboard when designing Starfield.
Starfield, however, has no voiced protagonist, and instead uses text-based dialogue. This, Pagliarulo says, allows players to be “whoever you want to be.”
“We could actually go back to the way it’s always been and just have text-based dialogue. You, as the player, have complete control over what your character is saying,” he says.
The dialogue wheel in Fallout 4 was added as a concession to the voiced protagonist, but players didn’t like the discrepancy between what they chose to say and how their character responded. By removing that, Starfield’s dialogue is entirely player-controlled, allowing for more variety and personality.
“This [absence of a voiced protagonist] really opened up our worlds,” Pagliarulo continues. “We have over 200,000 lines of spoken dialogue in Starfield. Oblivion was about 40,000 lines, so we’re like three-and-a-half times bigger than we were back then. So that’s really exciting.”
Starfield bears more resemblance to Oblivion than any other Bethesda game, chiefly in terms of dialogue and the shift back to a more traditional style. This, combined with the absence of a voiced protagonist, has led Xbox boss Phil Spencer to compare the upcoming game more to the Elder Scrolls classic than any other Bethesda game.
Nevertheless, Starfield does share some similarities with Fallout Shelter in terms of base building and customization, but in other ways the game resembles Oblivion more than any other Bethesda release. The return of the Adoring Fan character is a prime example, bringing a cheesy but charming humor back to Starfield that’d be more at home in the Elder Scrolls game than in any of the Fallout games.
With Starfield’s launch still a ways off and many of the game’s features still a mystery, there’s plenty to discover as we eagerly await the release of Bethesda’s next big project.