Dear game developers, if you happen to find yourself working on a title that features a huge (but essentially faceless) NPC support cast; perhaps one where gameplay happens to swing close to the phrases ‘open world’, ‘free roaming’ and ‘sandbox/toybox’, could you please do me a small favour when it comes to your voice actors. One thing and it’d only take you a few moments effort to completely eradicate this minor gripe I have.
Could you please give your actors differing lines?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking for more lines. The number of recordings needed could stay exactly the same. No, the problem I have is when you have a number of different NPCs all react to certain situations with exactly the same line of dialogue. Different actors, different voices, but all the same line of dialogue.
It just destroys your sense of immersion when a crowd gathers and two separate NPCs parrot the same sentence within seconds of each other. Annoying in itself but when you’ve clearly gotten multiple voice actors to read the very same line of dialogue when they could have just as easily read two different lines (but with basically the same intent), it’s really frustrating. Just think – the meaning would remain intact and you’d avoid giving the player the impression they’re experiencing of some kind of hive mind.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re an assassin with a death-wish when it comes to urban path-finding, a thug with Russian accent or a jump-suited saviour trekking across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, you’re going to encounter this flaw. The voice acting in these types of games is often top-notch and as a whole, it does a wonderful job of fleshing out the environment, making you feel like you’re within living, breathing historical city / hive of sin / radioactive cesspit (delete where applicable). It’s rather like listening to a symphony only to find one of the musicians couldn’t find their violin this morning and decided to make do with a pair of bin lids instead.