The beginning hours of Starfield are basically a companion sampling platter. Almost immediately you're introduced to the members of Constellation and sent on quests that force you to pair up with them individually, which I decided to treat like tryouts to become my ride-or-die sidekick. I liked Sarah Morgan's kind (but vanilla) demeanor well enough, enjoyed Vasco's attempts at jokes, and was charmed by Barret's confidence, but space cowboy Sam Coe has one thing that no other Starfield companion has: the voice of one of PC gaming's most iconic protagonists.
Sam Coe is played by Elias Toufexis, the voice of Deus Ex's Adam Jensen. Though you probably didn't need me to tell you that if you've played Human Revolution or Mankind Divided, because Toufexis' gruff voice was instantly recognizable from Sam Coe's first line. When Ada-I mean Sam told me we'd be teaming up to go visit his hometown, I felt that wave of relief you get when you finally find someone you know at a party. Sorry Sarah, you've been great, I'm gonna go hang with my bud.
I'm not just in it for the familiar voice—Sam's a pretty fun ride-along too. He's got a cool hat that I'm considering making him gift to me, likes to give me the lowdown on new places we visit, and he's great in a fight. He's also virtuous, smart, and willing to help anyone, qualities that also remind me of Adam Jensen, though I'm not sure Toufexis' characters would get along. Adam is a stern, often abrasive instrument of corpos and governments. Sam is kind, sympathetic, and agreeable to an almost annoying degree. He's a single dad raising a daughter while also running errands for an explorer's guild, and yet somehow he's always in a good mood.
I've talked to at least half a dozen characters who already know Sam since he joined me, and of course they all like him too. What's with this guy?
Turns out Sam is hiding some baggage under all that leather. Starfield companions will slowly start to open up if you keep making decisions that they like. My deeper talks with Sam have mostly been about his daughter, Cora, and his strained relationship with his ex. The two of them were partners in the Freestar Rangers, and while I've yet to finish his companion questline, it sounds like he wants me to help smooth things over with her.
Sam's optimism is occasionally a little much, but it sounds like Toufexis had a great time bringing him to life. In an interview with PC Gamer (which we'll publish more from soon), he said he had a very easy time relating to Sam.
"Of all the characters I've played on TV, in videogames, on stage, Sam Coe is the closest to me," said Toufexis. "[I would think], 'oh yea I'd say that, I would do that. I treat my daughter the way he does,' for the most part. There are choices you can make that will change it up of course."
As I cruise through the galaxy listening to Cora tell her dad a joke, share a haiku she wrote, and ask to stop by a bookstore, I've wondered if Sam and Adam are more alike than I've been assuming. They're both driven by a sense of duty, but one of them hung up their badge to settle down and while the other plunged into darkness. Maybe Sam is just what Adam Jensen would've become if his girlfriend hadn't been murdered and his body turned into a superweapon. There's definitely a softie buried somewhere under that pancake stack of trauma.
Or maybe I'm reading too much into two very different characters voiced by the same guy. I'm fine with that too, because it's just nice to be reminded of a great pair of RPGs I haven't played in far too long.