There is quite a lot of Starfield. A gajillion planets. A crafting system I still haven't unlocked all of. An embarrassment of cowboys. But there's one thing it's relatively sparse on: voice acting, specifically for the game's main character. Starfield opted for an unvoiced player character for its space-based antics, possibly because everyone made fun of the Fallout 4 dialogue wheel, but it turns out that wasn't always going to be the case.
In a post on Twitter, voice actor Elias Toufexis (Starfield's Sam Coe and Deus Ex's Adam Jensen) confirmed that, once upon a time, Starfield's main character was going to be decidedly chattier. In fact, he and fellow actor Cissy Jones (Starfield's Andreja) worked on voicing the male and female version of the protagonist "for months" before Bethesda decided to toss the idea completely.
Yeah it’s true. @cissyspeaks and I were originally the player voices in #Starfield. We worked for months. When they decided the player should be voiceless they gave Cissy and me Andreja and Sam Coe. Games NEVER do this. Once you’re out you’re out. Good on Bethesda pic.twitter.com/QpGoC6YmWnNovember 8, 2023
Not to worry though, because the studio clearly didn't decide to cut the actors loose. Instead, they assigned them to Sam Coe and Andreja, for which Toufexis seems very grateful. "Games NEVER DO this," wrote the actor, remarking in a later tweet that he would "always work with Bethesda because of this. Top tier respect." Jones hasn't posted about the story herself, but did retweet the original post by Toufexis.
Plus, a little bit of their performance remains: the grunts and groans your characters make as they hop, skip and jump about the galaxy are still those provided by Jones and Toufexis.
I was pretty lukewarm on Starfield, but Andreja was by far my favourite companion to drag around space with me, while PCG's Morgan Park couldn't recommend taking the voice of Adam Jensen with you strongly enough back when the game came out. For my money, the pair are some of Starfield's strongest companions, in no small part because of their acting, and while I'm always sad at any moment in my life during which I am not playing Adam Jensen, I'm nevertheless glad I can take that voice around with me as a third party.
Plus, let's be honest, I think I prefer it when my own authored characters are mute. For figures like Geralt of Rivia, who have pre-established backstories and relationships to the world they're in (plus an already set appearance and identity), voice acting makes sense. With a character I've designed from the ground up, the voice acting often fails to fit with my idea of the character and curtails the number of potential dialogue options you can have in each situation. I reckon Bethesda made the right choice here, both in opting for an unvoiced protagonist and in giving Andreja and Sam to Jones and Toufexis.
One thing I'm not sure about is if those characters were just sitting around unvoiced when Bethesda decided to hand them out, or perhaps not even created yet. I've reached out to ask about that, and I'll update if I hear back.