“It makes the game warmer” according to creative director Harvey Smith.
Arkane Studios is making quite a few changes to Dishonored 2 compared to the first game. Along with two playable protagonists, Dishonored 2 will also feature voice acting for both. This was done in order to draw attention to certain things in-game better while also making Emily and Corvo warmer characters.
Creative director Harvey Smith explained to GameSpot that the first game didn’t have voice acting for Corvo but the DLC Knife of Dunwall experimented with things a bit. “We did no voice for Dishonored 1; it was OK, you can do it. But then we experimented with the DLC, giving Daud a voice. It was crazy how useful it was as a developer. You often get players to a certain point and you really want them to look at this thing, but they just don’t see it. And so sometimes you can have the character go, ‘Wow, look at that!’ [laughs]. That’s a goofy example, but it works.”
Not everyone was open to the idea of having voice protagonists but the number who were was larger. “When something happens [in the game], and [Corvo or Emily] respond in a dialogue, you get a sense of the emotional reaction of the character. There’s a small percentage of players who always said, ‘Please don’t give the characters a voice, let me project myself’ But there’s many, many more people who said, ‘Corvo seemed like a mute machine and I really wanted to feel warmer about him.’ And so, when we started playing with Emily as a character, it was powerful.”
Smith considered Knife of Dunwall to be a good experiment for Arkane when it came to voiced characters. “[Experimentation is] one of those benefits of DLC that publishers often don’t see. The expense of DLC versus how much it makes often makes it a questionable gambit. But the fans love it and developers love it because we’re finally fluent with our tools, let’s make a mini-campaign. And then we also can experiment on things that we may apply to the next game. So [it has] indirect value, which is hard for capitalists to see.”
In the end, Dishonored 2 will benefit from voice acting for Corvo and Emily because, “It makes the game warmer, it gives you more clues, it’s easier for the level designers. You really understand who they are.”
Dishonored 2 is out on November 11th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.