Content of the article: "The biggest item on my TESVI wish list: Better voice acting"
Or rather, more varied voice acting, specifically when it comes to accents.
Voice acting is an incredibly important part of world-building, just as important as the sound effects, the ambient sounds, and even the music. It's a big part of what makes the world feel real.
Now, the Elder Scrolls franchise has always sucked deeply and vigorously when it comes to the voice acting, with a few glorious exceptions of course, so I'm not expecting them to make any drastic changes for the next title either. We're probably going to see the same handful of actors voice the entire game (as well as one or two amazing celebrities to represent a few important characters), but I would love it if that handful were to try and do different accents for the different races this time around.
Take Lucan Valerius and Belethor as an example; they're both voiced by Stephen Russell, and while I love the man for his contributions to TESV, he has made no effort whatsoever to differentiate the two characters from each other, or indeed most of his other characters as that jarring throat-and-ear-killing voice he does for Lucan and Belethor is one of the most common voices you hear throughout the game. It's not like Stephen can't do different voices either, the man is very talented and he's also the voice of Clavicus Vile, who sounds nothing like Lucan or Belethor.
Now, the reason I'm harping on those two specific characters is that they're from two very different races; one is an Imperial and the other is a Breton, but if it wasn't for their names and certain dialogue like "What is a Breton doing here in Skyrim?" I would never have known that. For all I know, they could've been regular old Nords if it weren't for their names (and them directly telling me who they are) because Nords come in different sizes and shades, and can look not too dissimilar from either Imperials or Bretons (a good example being the horse thief from the intro). The way people sound is very much a part of their identity, and it adds a lot of richness and diversity to a world.
During the quest In My Time of Need, we get to meet some honest-to-god Alik'r warriors from Hammerfell, and not just some Redguards living in Skyrim. When I first saw these guys I was very excited, because they look so alien and interesting compared to the rest of the land, and this is remarked upon by the town guards who find themselves baffled by the Alik'r's use of "curved swords" (an excellent comment that further emphasizes how exotic these people are to Skyrim). Unfortunately, when they opened their mouths they sounded like the whitest of Los Angeles' accountants, with some very thick Californian accents to go with it (the same one that every. single. child. has) and the immersion was immediately broken. Now, I can't tell you which accent they should've had, but I can tell you that this is definitely not the one I expected from them, and it absolutely hurt the identity that their clothes and backstory had set up for them.
I don't think that they'll spend the extra money on a wider cast of voice actors, because Bethesda doesn't seem to prioritize it, so my suggestion is to simply continue to do the thing they've been doing, but give generic accents to each individual race. They're already doing that to some extent with the Nords and the Dunmer (though they could do it a lot more often for the Nords), and it adds a lot to both of their identities. I'd like to see these kinds of race-specific accents applied to most of the generic characters, like shop keepers, soldiers, bandits, and so on, and then have them continue to do more individual ways of speaking for important characters. Not every Nord is going to have as thick an accent as all other Nords, and some might not even have one if they've lived their entire lives in, for example, Cyrodiil, but most of them would sound pseudo-Scandinavian (and that's important to their identity as well).
I'd suggest this list of accents:
- Imperials; a pseudo-Italian accent. Judging by their names and the way they've built up their society and army, it's clear that they're heavily inspired off of the Roman Empire, so it only makes sense that they'd sound a little bit like that too.
- Bretons; a pseudo-French accent. They're quite obviously based on the actual Bretons of France, and have the names to go with that. You really would expect a man named "Amaund Motierre" to
as he pours himself a nice vintage of grape juice.
- Nords; a pseudo-Scandinavian accent. They've honestly done a good job with the Nords. Their accent sounds like a bastardized mix of Swedish and Danish cooked up by someone who has never actually visited either country, and many of their names are traditional Norwegian names (or variations thereof), but they're not actually Scandinavian so they don't have to sound like they are. Keep up the good work on this one, Bethesda!
- Redguards; a pseudo-African. Africa's obviously a big place with thousands of accents, but just like with the Nords, the Redguards aren't actually African, so they can just try their best to sound Congolese or Kenyan and go with it. As long as they try to do the denizens of Hammerfell justice, and strengthen their identity through their voices, I'd be extremely happy.
- Altmer; a pseudo-Queen's English accent. "Aristocratic" and "haughty" are terms that describe the Altmer race well, and there's no accent that embodies this better than the Queen's own English. Have the voice actors do their best to speak like the illustrious Stephen Fry.
- Dunmer; a pseudo-working-class English accent. The Dunmer in Skyrim already speaks this way so I really have no notes to give. It makes perfect sense that they would speak this way too, as they are perceived as "trash" by the Altmer, which in my view adds extra justification for the Altmer to speak with a Queen's English accent.
- Bosmer; a pseudo-Irish accent. I honestly don't know much about the Bosmer as a race so I'm just throwing this one at the wall and hope it sticks. They're elves just like the Altmer and the Dunmer, but they're more natural and "green" which immediately puts Ireland into my mind. I suppose
from Vermintide has also influenced my view on this one.
- Orcs; a butch California accent. I honestly wouldn't change a thing about the way they've done the Orcs so far. As a non-English speaker, the California accent always sounded more macho to me than the British ones, and possibly due to most of the media I consume being produced in the US, it also seems like the most "standard" or "neutral" accent to me. The accent itself isn't actually important for the Orcs, just the rough and macho tone that the actors already use when they do their lines.
- Argonians; a hissing California accent. I have the exact same justification here as I would use for the orcs, except instead of a butch voice, use a "hissing" snake-like voice. Luckily, they're already doing this for the Argonians, and as a result, they sound fantastic (just like the Orcs do)!
- Khajiit; a feline pseudo-Persian accent. I'm not actually sure that their accent is Persian, but I feel like I can detect some of it whenever they speak. In any case, it's all "pseudo" because none of these races are actually from Earth, they're all from Tamriel. Having said that, I have no notes about the Khajiit's voice acting, as I think it's absolutely superb!
- Do you prefer having not-so-great voice acting over having none at all in games?
- UPDATE BSG – My Russian father is willing to record broken English Scav lines for Tarkov.
- Submission for USEC 4 Southern Voice
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